Sunday morning I awoke to a Benedictine hangover and a 1,500 word message from a dude I’ve never met. Absurd conditions both and the proper authorities have been notified, but at least the message was a really thoughtful essay about the closing of a beloved bar, a place I’d been a couple times and found a bit corny and was thrown out of once, but so what. It was a bar and therefore it was Quite Good and this dude and his friends lost it and that sucks. RIP to the East Village nachos and Red Sox bar. May your jalapenos be forever pickled in the decent hereafter.
Online friendships are good, especially these distant days; if you’ve got a bar eulogy to get off your chest, send it my way. But if there’s one drawback to the unreal life it’s that I can’t steal half your beer while you’re in the bathroom and if there’s another it’s that online relationships can foster an inflated or lopsided sense of familiarity. What I mean is you motherfuckers think you’re so smart, you’re so convinced my life is completely devoid of employment or cause for celebration, and you’re only half right. You wanna know the first thing I drank last weekend?* Moderately fancy Champagne on Friday night, in honor of the end of February and the beginning of my nephew Teddy.
So yes, happy March to those who celebrate and happy Teddy to us all. The Champagne was Veuve Clicquot and it was lovely, tasted like pears I’d say, if I had to say. I’d had it before because that’s the Champagne they tend to give ya, isn’t it? First time buying it myself though because I think it’s only $40 good rather than the $60 they charge around here. It’s the Patron tequila of Champagne: sure, understand that successful marketing has added a tariff you needn’t pay, but don’t let yourself get so wised up that you trick yourself into thinking it’s beneath you when the chance arises to sneak it onto someone else’s tab. But OK then, why did I buy it with my own wife’s money? Because it was the only half bottle the store had and I couldn’t commit to a full 750ml since at the time we didn’t know Teddy’s name yet. I would of course love, cherish, and nurture any in-law’s offspring, but I’m not splashing a full bottle of Champagne on some fuckin Jeffphew or Stephaniece*.
In other excellent personal news, I got a good email last night! This is the first email I’ve gotten in 11 months that wasn’t from a publicist pushing a CBD-infused 2% ABV, 87-calorie, ginger-collagen-flavored semi-erect seltzer. Wait, that’s not true. I also get emails from unemployable newslettrists who think it’s fascinating that they drink beer; stressful ones from the library telling me how long I have to download a book that I can’t remember ever having heard of never mind reserving; the property management company happy-to-announcing that I can now pay rent online; and the razor blade company asking me to consider shaving more of my body more often. This good one from yesterday and the top of the paragraph, though: some hotel in London extending my voucher till the end of the year!
Apparently I was due in London at one point in 2020, which seems plausible I guess but I’ve stopped keeping track for sanity’s sake. But it’s time to start thinking about the more pleasant reality that awaits a lot of us the second half of 2021. People are getting vaccinated and within the next couple of months I intend to join them, and then some middling period of time beyond that I can conceive of getting on an airplane! It seems preposterous that this first airplane would deposit me in another country, though, so I still intend for my next flight to land in Chicago.
We started visiting Chicago a time or two a year in 2016 and we never stay long enough. I know, I know, that’s what you always say about vacation, but in this case it’s extra-true because Chicago is just unfathomably enormous so even after 5 or 6 trips I don’t feel like I understand anything about it other than the restaurant tax is exorbitant and variable—I’m pretty sure it’s higher on the left side of the street and I suspect I once got tagged an extra two percent for wearing brown pants—and the beer is peerless.
A couple weeks ago some Internet guy sent me a box of Chicago beer that included the fantastic Dovetail Helles and Urban Brew Labs Packy, a New England IPA just as good as any of the ones you find around here. The highlight of the box, though, was Half Acre Bodem IPA, a perfectly balanced 6.7% ABV blend of grapefruit and pine and tropical gunk that is neither West Coast nor East Coast but instead a combina- oh christ who cares. The point is that Bodem is my favorite IPA and if I had regular access it’s all I’d drink for at least a month.
*I’m going to start doing a “first thing I drank last week” segment, I think, as a way to brag about not drinking on the early and middle days (the week starts Monday morning). It’ll run every week until I forget, although it’s also reasonable to interpret any silence on the matter as “four ounces of apricot brandy decanted into a partially rinsed-out yogurt container when Em’s in the shower on Tuesday morning.” Tune in next week to find out I guess, this cliff ain’t gonna hang itself.
**Stephanie’s a perfectly good name.
Still getting a kick out of your articles. Hope you're still getting a kick outa writing them.