Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Punch Drunk

This Week: Election Season in a Bar

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Election year 2012 guarantees to put Virginia on the map. Sure, 1607 was solid, and 1776 was nothing to sneeze at. Hell, I'd even give you 1861's secession mania as a sort of watershed year. But all will pale in comparison to 2012.

Virginia's future, the future of our children, the survival of the entire human race could very well hinge on what happens Nov. 6. So could power shifts, wealth transfers, entire classes of people affected by ensuing reforms, and other ideological and political mumbo jumbo.

It's all down to the O-GOD (Original Gangsta Ol' Dominion).

James Monroe was the original Ol' Dirty, but that's neither here nor there.

We're about to witness a slugfest and sure-to-be tight U.S. Senate seat battle between former governors George Allen and Tim Kaine. Now if they actually got in a slugfest, my gut tells me that Allen's size advantage eventually would give him the victory, although Kaine seems to have that brawler's instinct and probably would fishhook Allen in the testicles as he fell, creating a "Rocky II" effect in which both men would fall to the canvas, and then, well, I digress.

Where was I?

Right.

Freakin' election season has descended upon us like a pack of bloodthirsty wolves on a baby smeared in peanut butter. The unassuming, hard-working or unemployed Virginian, of course, plays the peanut-butter-smeared baby in the dramedy that is party politics.

Through November, much of the nation will turn its lonely, jaundiced eyes to Virginia — a place where many eyes already have been glued for the past few years because of the GOP's innumerable attempts to return the state to a time when electricity, the steam engine, women's suffrage and consensual male-on-male butt sex were unheard of.

"Ahhh, the good ol' days," sighs Ken Cuccinelli, as he reads this paragraph and then gazes out of his office window,
smiling.

Bottom line: A heated election season is the most annoying time to be in a bar. Even more annoying than the penis-straw hell that is bachelorette-party season.

There are so many barstool bards who insist on talking about politics. And seeing as I must still pretend to like drunks in order to pay my bills, I lend an ear.

These self-taught vagabonds attempt to espouse their candidate's platform by spouting off numbers and facts gleaned from a popular blog or their cousin's buddy Frank, who used to be a parking attendant at the statehouse but now earns his living as a "sanitation consultant" at the local RV park.

Meanwhile, I glance around the bar, silently deciding which blunt object I want to pick up and brain this guy with. My fellow bartender — a man who doesn't take shit for long — Dustin Askew prefers the cold steel of a Coors Light tap handle.

With this in mind, I give you…

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Things I'd rather discuss in a bar:

- Recent rashes and their locations upon the body.

- Why you suspect it burns during urination.

- The ongoing genocide in Darfur and what we can do to continue ignoring it.

- Women's sports and what we can do to continue ignoring them.

- Painful and embarrassing memories from the deepest recesses of our souls.

- Moms having sex. Not MILFs. I'm talking about our moms.

- Whether or not the burning sensation and rash are related.

- Whether Justin Bieber will be able to make a Justin Timberlake-like transition to adulthood, or is doomed to remain in tweeny-bopper hell forever.

- Why the government-mandated $200 that you have to pay in child support each month is just too damn much!

- Creative solutions for avoiding debt collectors and friends to whom you owe money.

- What you had for lunch.

- "The set of fun bags on that hose hound" (motion toward one of the waitresses).

- "Seriously brother, this rash has taken out a 30-year lease and is planting seedlings on the frontyard. Follow me to the bathroom and tell me what you think."

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Use this list as a handy guide for changing the subject the next time some drunk in a "Dirty Dick's Crab House" T-shirt tries to juxtapose the evils of Obamacare and his forklift accident-related bad back.

Let's leave the political discussion out of the bars and keep it on the Internet, where the armchair pundits are safe to remain anonymous, be as ignorant as humanly possible and never fear recourse.

But let's not kid ourselves about one thing: In a real fight, Virginia's outgoing U.S. Sen. Jimmy "Born Fightin'" Webb would slap around Kaine and Allen like two Saigon pimps.

That's real talk right there.

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Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback? Email bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Punch Drunk

Jack's take on big-boxing RVA

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Despite the tenacious yard-sign campaign waged by its detractors, the evil big-box corporate takeover of Carytown has drawn nigh. Fresh Market, Panera Bread and a Petco are set to open in mid-September, in the new Carytown Place development at Nansemond Street and Ellwood Avenue — formerly a retail dead zone occupied by a Verizon exchange.

The march of progress — or illusion of it, depending on how you see it — isn't being stopped now, but there's still a debate over whether this will help or hurt Carytown.

So many questions. …

Will adding a few more big boxes to an area that technically has a few already, including Kroger and Martin's, make any difference whatsoever?

Will the indie stores that thrive down the block take a hit, or will the increase in foot traffic be a positive thing? Will there be even more foot traffic?

Will everyone's ultimate fear be realized as Carytown morphs into Short Pump?

Will an armada of soccer-mom-driven minivans engulf the area, unleashing swarms of stroller infantry onto the streets, ruling Cary Street through a mixture of fear, baby spittle and coordinated sidewalk clogging?

Is the ballyhooed Fresh Market salad bar really as good as its supporters claim?

There will be no revelations until September — and even then, more concrete answers won't appear until a year or so later.

Demetrios Tsiptsis, the owner and bartender at one of my favorite watering holes, Carytown mainstay the New York Deli, says that this is nothing new for the area.

"There are so many chain establishments here already," he says. "At one point there were three 7-Elevens. There are chain banks. Thousand Villages [is] here, Yoga Source, a cellular store. For all practical purposes, Ellwood Thompson's is becoming a chain. We have Sweet Frog and Yapple fighting it out. Ben and Jerry's was here — twice. This is a market-driven neighborhood."

Bottom line: "Anything will be better than a Verizon call center," he says. "What good was that doing? Now would I have preferred Trader Joe's move in? Of course, but I'll settle for a Fresh Market."

The local buskers aren't complaining either. One young man on the corner of Cary and South Auburn streets — who assumes I am a cop and won't give me his name — offers the most reasonable perspective.

Without stopping his drumming and staring straight ahead until I drop a dollar in the jar — a slight grin creeping across his face — he simply says, "More people, more money."

No complex jargon, no long-winded lecture on feasibility or the core tenets of supply and demand, no anti-corporation spiels about the death of the mom-and-pop store here. He clearly understands the basic concept of a competitive marketplace, and he knows that banging on upside-down buckets is a profession that needs traffic to survive.

The same can be said of every other business in Carytown.

Now let us all meet at the salad bar and embrace the change, competitive pricing and wide variety of dressings that soon will be at our disposal.

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Drinking for the Gold

A number of Olympic-related drinking games have surfaced, because everyone knows that world-class athletic competitions and alcohol go together.

Trevor Dickerson, a 24-year-old friend, entrepreneur and self-styled mayor of Short Pump, entered the bar last week with a game he created. One of his "rules" is to drink every time someone wins a medal. Because at 24, any half-baked reason to binge drink is taken with gusto — and, in Trevor's case, with a well-executed, color-coded chart explaining the rules.

Professionalism and class give most stupid ideas — like drinking to excess — an air of legitimacy. Bravo, Trevor, bravo.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm also not above concocting half-witted reasons to imbibe. Last Tuesday was the day after Monday, for instance.

So if you or your friends have gotten creative with your Olympic-style drinking competitions or use excuses like the men's synchronized diving prelims as a reason to celebrate life, tell me about it at bartender@styleweekly.com.* I'll devote a radio segment to the most creative responses on "River Mornings With Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 The River.

* Any submissions involving the dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers, disappointment to our great nation, perpetually shirtless male bimbo Ryan Lochte will be discarded.

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Have a question for Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback? Email bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also serves as co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

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