Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Punch Drunk

Jack's Cookie Capitalism

Posted By on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 1:24 PM

Last week in San Francisco there was some controversy over an industrious young lady and her plan to sell Girl Scout cookies on the sidewalk in front of a medical marijuana dispensary. Danielle Lei, the enterprising Scout in question, managed to sell 117 boxes, her entire stash, in just less than two hours. That's nearly a box a minute. If you were wondering, medical marijuana is legal in California but users must be at least 18. Danielle is only 13.

Since this do-si-do decimation, people have congratulated Danielle and her parents for their entrepreneurial spirit and the sheer genius of the plan. But expectedly, some peanut-butter-pattie-party-poopers haven't been high on the idea of Girl Scouts being anywhere near drugs — legal or not. The Colorado Girl Scouts even Tweeted that they don't allow their girls to peddle the sweets in front of marijuana shops, even though marijuana is legal and its usage ubiquitous in that state. Why be such Samoa-stick-in-the-muds?

Meh? Does that play? Sure, why not.

I understand both sides. I get it. Drugs aren't necessarily bad, but drugs mixed with kids, especially innocent little princesses, are.

God forbid, if the few deformed, probably hunchbacked, three-eyed sperm I've left miraculously defy the odds and fertilize an egg, which then produces a girl, I wouldn't want her near drugs until she was old enough to make informed decisions. Well, realistically I'd just let her mother make those decisions because I'd probably be avoiding the law under an alias in South America, working as some sort of gringo sex-tourism guide by then. But I trust her mother would agree with me on this.

And it isn't as though, when younger, we didn't all sneak down to the railroad tracks that ran near our childhood apartment complexes or to the woods behind our friend's house or to our bedroom closet to dabble in "the green arts" from time to time. That's a rite of passage in Chesterfield County.

Teens and younger are trying drugs and parents just need to deal. Especially because it'll become even more accepted and prevalent as the country becomes more liberal.

And it isn't as if this little girl on the sidewalk in San Francisco was dealing with shiv-wielding crackheads or volatile drunks. I mean, this wasn't Oakland. She was selling cookies to people who smoke weed. In my experience, 95 percent of the time, they are like docile Hindu cows. Sure they have a greasy sheen and might smell a little funky, and OK, rarely would you want to actually hang out with them in public, but these are normal people who just want some damn cookies.

Plus, lil' Danielle made a killing off of them, of which approximately 75 percent will go directly to the Girl Scout council, which apparently does a lot of good things, maybe. Wait, where does all that thin mint go? According to vague statements on the Girl Scouts of the USA website, the money is used to "enhance each girl's Girl Scout experience."

Well, whatever.

If for one second you think the Girl Scouts aren't some powerful corporation preying on the minds of weak-willed consumers, then you're sadly mistaken. It's nothing but a huge, naked money grab covered up by pretty, brilliantly green sashes.

Maybe that's a bit of hyperbole. But in this world, money talks, and nonsales-motivated, 13-year-old, below-average earners walk.

And I probably just cursed myself into a lifetime of fathering women. Again, South America. Si, yo soy Juan Pablo. La casa de putas y el alcohol es de esta manera. ¡Vamos amigo!

Moving on.

Perhaps the Richmond Girl Scouts should take a hint. Of course weed isn't legal in Virginia and may never be — not that it stops anyone from partaking or makes it even remotely difficult to obtain. So in lieu of marijuana shops, the young women can get creative:

Step 1: Hop in minivans and head to Cary Street Cafe, Kulture, Monroe Park or pretty much anywhere on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.

Step 2: Set up a table full of delicious Girl Scout cookies.

Step 3: PROFIT.

Trust me, this plan can't fail.

C'mon ladies, start thinking outside of the box of delicious trefoils. The Girl Scouts of the USA, aka the Iron Green Sash, won't ever be able to obtain enriched uranium and wield totalitarian power with you gals selling a few boxes of lemonades to daddy's work buddies!

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Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Punch Drunk

Jack tackles diversity in the locker room.

Posted on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 4:00 AM

The big news the other week was that Missouri University linebacker Michael Sam had come out of the closet — which, if all goes according to plan and he gets drafted by the NFL in May, would make him the first openly gay, active football player in NFL history.

This is a giant step for the LGBT community and a massive leap for the NFL, America’s most popular, testosterone-oozing, violence-ridden, homophobic boys club.

I suspect it won’t be as easy for Mr. Sam to simply integrate himself in a locker room at first. I mean, if you’ve been in any team locker room, anywhere, ever, you see that men call each other homo and other lewd turns of phrase as an innately accepted form of male bonding. It’s the same way in restaurant kitchens or auto body shops or any blue-collar establishment where men work together — and it’s unfortunate.

If you grew up in the ’90s, attempted to play sports and listened to Biggie and Wu-Tang — things that a lot of white males in Midlothian did, like me — these words probably were added to your vernacular. That’s just the way it was, although it’s something I feel remorse about now. We also wore Timberlands and goofy, oversized, Nautica polo shirts, hung out in food courts and doused ourselves in Cool Water before dates — things I also put in the regret file. Unfortunately, a lot of straight men still speak this way, even if they support the LGBT community.

Now, Michael Sam is 6-foot-3, weighs 260 pounds and is built like a Mack truck, so I pity the corn-fed, hillbilly nose tackle that decides to drop a slur on him. The guy is gonna get dropped like third-period French, and it’ll be just lovely.

And if you’ve been to an NFL game then you know there will be drunk fans who will berate Sam and say horribly offensive stuff, because a good percentage of the people who attend NFL games are backwards, revolting and illiterate. I mean, have you ever tailgated at Fed Ex Field? But time will heal all, and Sam’s teammates will support him, and we’ll probably forget about what a big deal this all was.

What we need to hope for is that Michael Sam’s move will lead another closeted athlete — a huge star — to emerge to tell the world he’s gay. I’m looking at you, Kobe. That’s when it becomes a true nonstory. When that happens, a few years down the road, a professional athlete’s coming out won’t even make the papers anymore.

As we see every day in professional sports, you can get away with murder, rape, racism, drug abuse, performance-enhancing drugs, delinquent child-support payments, animal abuse and domestic violence — as long as you perform on the field or court. Everything can be spun into a story of redemption or the long road back or some other bullshit, as long as you put up the numbers. We let men who have a history of beating women continue to be play the role of hero on the field, but we can’t let a gay man just be himself?

Since the announcement, I’ve seen a couple of people saying that this isn’t news, and they don’t care about an openly gay player, and that they want to focus on sports, which is complete crap. It’s a way for the God-fearin’, secretly homophobic old guard to sidestep the issue completely — an easy out. They’ll talk about Mike Vick killing dogs till they’re blue in the face, but a courageous young man breaks a barrier and comes out — nah, that isn’t news.

But let’s be clear about this: It’s major news and its importance can’t be marginalized. It’ll be interesting to see what happens May 8, when the NFL draft begins. Will a team select Sam based on merit alone? Will it select him for the good press and goodwill that inevitably will come? Or will teams avoid him, saying he’s a distraction? Because he’s a sideshow that one anonymous NFL exec already has said “isn’t that good anyways?”

And just think, once we get past this, and a few others come out, once the professional sports, anti-gay frontier that is the NFL has been explored and settled, we can start focusing on the last strongholds of anti-gay bias. Professions like hairstyling, interior decorating, regional theater, women’s tennis, women’s softball, wearing leather vests and riding around on Harleys, back-up dancing, etc.

There will always be people who refuse to change, leaving an undercurrent of hate and inequality toward the LGBT community. But real progress is being made, the tide is turning and Sam’s announcement meant something special to a lot of people.

It’s a beautiful thing.

And hey, at least we aren’t Russia. I’d probably be piss drunk on vodka all the time too if I had to deal with its draconian laws and aggressive repression of basic human rights.

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Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Punch Drunk

Cats Want to Kill You

Posted By on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Preconceived notions of people, places and things can be hurtful, and in many cases, completely wrong. By refusing to judge and not rushing to judgment, we open our minds and broaden our ability to learn new things. Unfortunately, judging others is easy and not as time-consuming as having conversations with people and reading books and attempting to learn the things we don’t know. Let’s face it, in the age of advanced technology and instant information, there’s always an easier way.

So let’s get out our phones, pop on Google and let the robots do the work.

The Google search algorithm is great because it attempts to finish your thoughts when typing in terms. Generally it returns results that are most popular or most searched. Basically, it will do the thinking for you. For example, when I type in “Kim Jong-un is,” the top term finishing that phrase is, “a Pokemon master.” Now I don’t know if that’s a racially insensitive thing, or some popular website, or a meme, or if Kim Jong-un really is a Pokemon master — and I don’t care. Because from now on, for better or worse, I will associate Kim Jong-un with Pokemon. I’ll be in a bar one night talking about North Korea and drunkenly say: “I heard Kim Jong-un is a Pokemon master. I swear, man.” People might even believe me.

You also can change the word “is” to either “wants” or “hates,” and then discover all sorts of knowledge or preconceived stereotypes. For example, did you know that Ronald McDonald is evil, cars hate pedestrians and cats want to kill you? I had no idea!

I bring this up because last week the Twitter feed @Amazing_Maps came up with a U.S. map that showed the results produced by Google’s auto-complete function for each state after typing in “Why is [fill-in-the-blank state] so ...”

Some results were predictable. Why is Texas so big? Kansas, so flat? Utah, so Mormon?

Some were odd. A lot of people apparently wonder why Pennsylvania is so haunted.

Many results were just plain insulting with their blunt honesty. You know, why is Louisiana so racist? Why is Georgia so backwards? West Virginia, so poor? Maine, so white? Seriously, it’s like a freakin’ L.L. Bean catalog come to life up there. Why is that?

And I, like anyone who’s driven the turnpike en route to New York, frequently find myself trying to figure out why New Jersey is so bad. No, I’m kidding. I could easily reel off 20 answers to that query.

Where the Google auto-complete game gets really fun is when you apply search terms to a map of the world. The results change frequently because Google’s algorithm processes billions of daily searches, but some of the better auto-completes are hilarious and completely out of left field.

For instance, did you know that Bolivia hates Chile, Chile hates Argentina, and Argentina hates Justin Bieber? I mean, I guess Bieber-hatred trumping socio-economic rivalries and deep-seated cultural rifts between countries in South America isn’t really a shocker at this point, but still — an entire country hating you is nothing to sneeze at. Good job, you little tool bag. You may already have known that Russia wants Alaska, Mexico wants Texas, Japan wants Hawaii and that Germany wants its gold back, but did you know that Australia — much like cats — wants to kill you? It’s true. Don’t ever, ever go there.

Also, Canada is boring, South Africa is a country, Lithuania is suicidal, Greenland is melting, Ecuador is lovely this time of year, France is either bacon or is so gay, and my personal favorite, the Czech (Republic) is in the mail. I feel smarter already. Let’s get hyper-local.

Now we already know that Virginia is for lovers. But have you heard that Richmond Virginia is ghetto? OK, yeah, I had heard that too. It’s an arbitrary assumption because we as Richmonders know that for the most part, Richmond is not at all “ghetto.” It’s like you lead the nation in per capita murders a few times in the ’90s and all of sudden in people’s eyes you’re ghetto? That’s so unfair!

It isn’t like we’re Ciudad Juarez. I’ve heard it’s pretty awful down there. It’s like, murder capital of the universe. All drug cartels and decapitations. I mean, I haven’t been there, but I have a buddy in Detroit whose brother lives there. So you can imagine.

Oh and Detroit? Great, if you’re into “ruin porn,” not great if you’re into anything else — like staying above the poverty line or “living.”

Jeez guys, open up your minds.

Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Punch Drunk

Jack's Gag Order

Posted By on Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 4:00 AM

In what's become some sort of Virginia tradition, outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell played a few harmless Executive Mansion pranks on incoming Gov. Terry McAuliffe, which included hiding a real, stuffed, snarling bear (stolen from the natural resources part of the Patrick Henry Building) in one of the bathrooms. He also hid an alarm clock, timed to go off early Sunday morning after Saturday night's inaugural ball, in one of the drawers.

"But the first lady was not up yet," McAuliffe told those gathered at his first Cabinet meeting, as related by CNN. "So I can't wait to call him today. I got to tell him you didn't beat me, but you got my wife up."

Before that, McDonnell was the victim of a prank by outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine, in which Kaine hid cellphones in the walls of the mansion and called them at all hours. Before that, Kaine entered office to find a cardboard cutout of his predecessor, Gov. Mark Warner, in his shower.

Backslappy, bipartisan bonhomie and high jinks, whether meant to be playful or not, are nothing new in politics.

In 2001, the White House transition between Bill Clinton and George Bush was marked by "damage, theft, vandalism and pranks," reports described. Clinton and his staffers were accused of taking gifts meant for the White House. They also reportedly left obscene graffiti on a few walls in addition to removing the "W" key from every keyboard in the entire place, which is pretty hilarious actually.

Dubya later paid the Democrats back by leaving Barack Obama with a hopeless quagmire in the Middle East and a really shitty economy. More of a "long con" on his part, but still quite effective in terms of entertaining spoofs.

Some other, less notable political pranks include in 1837, when at the end of his tenure, Andrew Jackson left a rhumba of rattlesnakes in the White House for his predecessor, close associate and "that dastardly coward" Martin Van Buren. Whether friend or foe, everyone called everyone "dastardly coward" back then.

In 1909, Theodore Roosevelt left the diseased bones and carcass of his beloved war horse, Little Texas, at the foot of the presidential bed for William Howard Taft to find. Although Helen, the new first lady, contracted malaria from the stunt, the two men, both Republicans, shared a laugh about it later, as almost everyone had some sort of old-timey disease back then.

In 1933, Herbert Hoover, upon moving out of the White House to make way for FDR, left "a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage" and almost of a decade more of high unemployment rates, misery and hopelessness. Herbie was just sort of an ass like that.

The year 1934 saw German President Paul von Hindenburg, his health in decline and aware that Adolf Hitler was angling for and most likely would take the presidency upon his death, fill the Reich Chancellery presidential bathroom with balloons, shake glitter all over the Reich stationery and then loosen the tops on all of the executive salt shakers. An enraged Hitler spent weeks finding the hilarious aftereffects of Hindenburg's gags.

Lastly, in a tradition started by LBJ in 1969, presidents 37 to 39 — Nixon, Ford and Carter — all left "upper-deckers" in multiple White House toilets for the next man to find. President No. 40, Ronald Reagan, puttered around for eight years unable to "find that damn smell," unintentionally ending the juvenile presidential pooping practice.

So as you can see, this Virginia gubernatorial trickery is nothing new in America or elsewhere. Although I did find these recent lighthearted larks to be a bit tame for my tastes. I mean, a stuffed bear? Hidden cellphones? A cardboard cutout?! We can do better, Virginia.

Whatever happened to the days when your frenemies woke up in a Tijuana jail cell missing a kidney or got arrested for unknowingly having a dead hooker in their trunk? Where are the mean-spirited monkeyshines that made this country great? You know, like soaking a guy's wooden teeth in laudanum or rigging a man's most trusted dueling pistol so that it backfires and shoots him in the face, or even the simple practice of recommending a prostitute that you knew to be syphilitic?

Oh, and Gov. McDonnell, it's too late now, but you should've left a fake Rolex, some Anatabloc and a case of Gatorade on the kitchen counter for McAuliffe with a little note saying, "Welcome to perk city, Terry!" *smiley-face*

C'mon Bob, if you can't make fun of yourself, then who can you make fun of?

Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Punch Drunk

Jack's Pickled Power Proposal

Posted By on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 4:00 AM

It came to light recently that a U.S. Air Force general was fired from his job after thoroughly embarrassing himself during a four-day official visit to Moscow. The cause for Maj. Gen. Michael Carey's termination, as given in an official report released three weeks ago, was boorish behavior and drunken shenanigans via vodka inebriation. My favorite description of just a few of his antics comes from Gawker:

During a lunch banquet with the Russians, where toasts were exchanged, Carey got more blotto and "gave a toast to the group which included comments regarding Syria and Mr. Eric Snowden [sic], which were not well received" by the Russian hosts. He also bragged about the "hot women" he'd met the night before and made fun of the Russian translators. Later, on a tour of a Russian monastery, Carey slurred and interrupted the tour guide, at one point trying to fist-bump her. "He was not totally coherent," one witness said.

Some other highlights of Carey's awesome bender include his trying to storm the stage at a Mexican restaurant called La Cantina while a Beatles cover band played. He "wanted to sing with the band," according to reports. He also met two British women who he was seen "cavorting with" on multiple occasions.

The rub is, Carey wasn't just a low-ranking cog in the machine. He was in Moscow to take part in a joint nuclear security training exercise. He was — until he got pissy on the Popov — the head of all land-based nuclear missiles in the United States, which apparently he boasted about to many people while he was loose on the Goose.

Upon being interviewed by investigators about his behavior, the general refused to answer most of the questions or said that he didn't recall any of the incidents in question, a tactic that may have seemed flippant and rude, but in all likelihood was true.

This is the same guy who presumably was carrying the now metaphorical nuclear football. This drunken sot had his finger on the button.

So the general got tight as a tic at a Russian state affair? So what? I'm not here to put this guy on trial. Few diplomats on a night out with Russian hosts have been able to avoid getting sloshed and then mingling with the young devotchkas.

The epic vodka-soaked Kremlin banquet is ingrained in Russian culture. Man of steel Josef Stalin would use them to pickle his guests in an attempt to embarrass and undermine them. The wily Uncle Joe himself would only sip on a light wine that was said to resemble the vodka his guests were being forced to down with every toast.

Unfortunately the art of deal brokerage in America, at least in the current climate, appears to be much more staid and formal. Less smoky Chicago back room, more stick-up-the-ass, conference-room perestroika.

Openness, while the key to a healthy democracy, tends to slow the process down. Decisions get made by everyone, sober. I don't see any fun in that.

One of my favorite drunken deal-making tales comes from 1947, when Tom Yawkey, the Boston Red Sox owner, and Lee MacPhail, the New York Yankees general manager, were tying one on and got to talking about potential trades. Late in the evening or early morning, they agreed to swap their stars Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, straight up. A blockbuster, life-altering, completely unfathomable deal that would have changed the history of baseball in America as we know it. Later, upon waking up with what I'm sure was the mother of all hangovers, Yawkey reneged on the deal.

Perhaps we need to introduce more alcohol into our own local politics and baseball deal-making?

I propose Richmond Flying Squirrels Vice President Todd "Parney" Parnell — also a man of considerable thirst — and I as dealmakers and enablers. We'll rent out a room in the back of Morton's. There, plied with numerous bottles of high-end scotch and expensive burgundies, paid for by the city's rainy-day fund, we'll help broker a deal for the new stadium between Mayor Dwight Jones and City Council.

Although I can't accurately predict the drinking temperament of our city's dealmakers, logic would tell us that half of the teetotalers on the council will be asleep in their creamed spinach before nightfall, while Jones, a man known to drink high-end cognac with no discernible effects, can then bully the remaining members to accept his downtown stadium plan.

Then of course we'd go sing karaoke at Cha Cha's, take amphetamines and flirt with young women.

And that, Mr. Parnell, is how you cut through red tape.

Na Zdorovie!

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Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Punch Drunk

Jack's 2014 Prospectus

Posted By on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 4:00 AM

It's time for my sweeping and bold predictions for the new year. In light of this week's issue of Style Weekly, I'm also going to score each one. But ignore that, because the numbers mean absolutely nothing. Unless you want them to.

Shockoe Stadium Strategy Scuttled: As much as I personally would like to see a new minor league baseball stadium downtown, a feeling that the Richmond Flying Squirrels seem to share, I predict this thing never gets off the ground. Two City Council members already have said no to the proposal, in essence, and the other seven are cautious to the point of inertia. I understand that this is a big undertaking of which every fiber, every inane, detailed minutia must be scrutinized. There can be no other way. My problem is the lack of enthusiasm and the openly cynical eye that the council appears to bring to this thing. It's depressing and harmful to the prospect of lift off. It's no good — all of this dicking around and inaction, and it eventually could lose the Squirrels to a city that has its act together, which would be heartbreaking, and I say that with zero hint of sarcasm. -479

Beers on Captain Buzzy! I don't have 8,000 words to explain the Cap'n Buzzy-Church Hill imbroglio that's ripping apart a neighborhood. Just Google "Captain Buzzy" and click the news button. I will say that it's trivial and childish and supremely entertaining. I predict that Captain Buzzy's enemies will get their comeuppance. Just let Captain Buzzy live, man! +47

Winter Is Coming: And it will be cold and it will be gray and it will last you for the rest of your life. But seriously guys, the Farmer's Almanac wouldn't lie — we're going to freeze our nips off this winter. So go buy your own cow and get about a metric ton of bread, then immediately begin breaking down furniture to prepare for the great fire. Also, bring up multiple barrels of ale from the cellar for Lord Tyrion. He likes to drink in the evenings. -281

Uranium Mining Ban Lifted: Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, despite promising to veto any bill that would lift the 1982 Virginia uranium mining ban, will pull a flip-flop and cave to the well-heeled uranium mining lobby. He wants that sweet, sweet yellowcake money — Virginia's drinking water be damned! Like they say, moneyed Beltway insiders only party with the purest enriched uranium — straight from the source. None of that stepped-on, baby-laxative-laced, depleted Kazakhstan junk. -100

We're Thirsty, Gentlemen: The much-hyped, long-awaited Rogue Gentleman bar finally will open in Jackson Ward. Shots of Fernet Branca for us all! Oh you aren't familiar with Fernet? Don't worry, owner and chef Johnny is a self-appointed Fernet brand ambassador and he would love to tell you why you aren't cool enough to drink it. +39

Cuccinelli Beats the Count: Down after his loss to Terry McAuliffe and out of the attorney general job, the Cooch will rise again. He's like those pesky granules of sand you get in your butt crack at the beach. You know? Sort of feels like sandpaper sodomy back there? Yeah, he's like that. There's no way he's going to silently slip off into the private sector. -12

Richmond Becomes the Cool, Tough Kid at the Back of the Bus: A spate of national media attention from Frommers, the Huffington Post and The New York Times (among others) will all of sudden turn the little Civil War history stop of Richmond, Va., into a very vogue destination. We're going to be like Portland a few years ago or Austin before that. I mean, we as Richmonders already know how edgy and hip and underground cool we are, but tourists are just starting to realize it. And what do tourists have? That's right, money they wish to part with. Let's smile in their faces while we pick their pockets clean. +129

Baby Cheetahs Hit Their Terrible Twos and Melt Area Man's Heart: The Richmond Metro Zoo's baby cheetahs stay freakin' adorable. You can take that to the bank. It's a stone-cold, lead-pipe lock. +658

Final tally: +1

Thanks to the strong baby cheetah finish. I think it's safe to say that 2014 is looking bright for Richmond.

Now commence with using this issue to line the cat's litter box or to wrap up whatever little trinket you got your mistress for Christmas or as kindling to start a fire to burn down your restaurant for insurance money, you crazy kids.

Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Punch Drunk

Jack's December To-Do List

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 4:00 AM

The holidays usually bring along a pretty solid bender, and I find that if I don't write things down, I may end up forgetting about them. As you can see from the personal to-do list I've written for myself, this month has a pretty full slate:

• Go on Amazon.com. Spend 10 minutes buying crappy impersonalized gifts for everyone on your list. Raise a toast to yourself, you emotionless robot. Raise another toast in the name of efficiency. Lean back in chair. Laugh maniacally.

• Take one of Richmond's world-famous tacky light tours. Immediately regret it. Repeatedly raise toasts with the multiple hip flasks that you remembered to strap on. Get kicked off tour for walking up and down the bus aisle and asking people if they want to "mouth hug you under the mistletoe."

• Watch apathetic front-running hipster fan base dwindle as Virginia Commonwealth University's men's basketball losses mount. Halfheartedly think about raising a toast to no one in particular. Mumble something about "havoc." Lose interest.

• Be guardedly optimistic but prepared for more gubernatorial sleaze as Terry McAuliffe readies himself to lead the Commonwealth. Raise a toast to whoever is near. Say something along the lines of, "Well, at least it wasn't that other wacky sonuvabitch, am I right!?"

• Set an aggressive holiday party attendance schedule, but make sure to attend only the ones that offer open bars. Raise multiple toasts to (insert name of party host here) because, "This sonuvabitch, I've known this sonuvabitch for years and he always — yeah this freakin' handsome moron — he always throws one helluva bash!" Put your arm around said bash thrower. Get real close and all red-faced and sweaty, ask him if he wants to go do drugs in the bathroom.

• Tell Mom you're going to take her to the Bizarre Bazaar® — Richmond's annual, massive Christmas craft and gift expo. Actually follow through with said promise and take Mom to the Bizarre Bazaar®. Get to the Bizarre Bazaar® and immediately ask yourself, "What the hell am I doing at the Motherf'n Bizarre Bazaar®?" Raise toast to self for being a good son. Begin to drunkenly refer to everything you see as bizarre until Mom gets super pissed and annoyed and demands to be taken home. "Mom, this bazaar is sooo bizarre. Would you not agree with how bizarre it is? Look at this bizarre little nutcracker, man! Hey Mom, OMC had a hit single in 1996 with the song 'How Bizarre.' Do you remember that?"

• Watch the mayor's bold downtown ballpark power move get stonewalled by lack of imagination and bullshit bureaucratic red tape. Raise a toast to the illusion of government progress. Say something under your breath about "damn dirty politicians" and "sonuvabitches."

• Wistfully reminisce about the Gus Frerotte-era while the Redskins continue their cellar-dwelling ways. Raise a toast to self for being a Dallas Cowboys fan.

• Start fake Twitter accounts for Richmond's City Council members. Reserve the handles @AgelastosMissingBeard, @KathyTheBull, @RavishingReva, @ChuckyDynamite, @BedroomEyesBaliles, etc. Watch City Hall PR people fail to understand this thing called social media and freak out over something completely inconsequential. Raise toast to self for bringing a semblance of whimsy to staid old City Hall.

• Go ice skating at the downtown rink on Broad and Sixth streets. Raise toast using thermos filled with coffee, Bushmills and Baileys. Drunkenly plow through a group of kids because you're tipsy and just remembered that you have no idea how to ice skate.

• Attend the Grand Illumination this weekend at the James Center. Get friends to take the obligatory picture of you humping one of the reindeer and Lite 98's Shelly Perkins in the baffling role of Snow Queen. Raise a toast to never growing up.

• Check out the huge, ornate Christmas tree in the lobby of the Jefferson Hotel. Use this as an excuse to wear your Sunday best and hit up the bar at Lemaire for five or six house old fashioneds. Raise an old-money Richmond toast and offer a longwinded address about the "Confederasah." Misattribute the entire thing to Jefferson Davis. Annoy the bartenders and patrons alike by goose-stepping around the bar while loudly humming "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." While being escorted out, continuously yell something about the South rising again.

And finally. …

• Put down your stupid, well-worn toasting glass and do something good for someone who really needs it. Don't immediately post about it on Facebook and don't do it for your own smug self-satisfaction. Try to remind yourself that there are many people who won't get to raise any toasts this year. Appreciate how lucky you are. Hug Mom. Apologize to her for that ugly incident at the Bizarre Bazaar®.

Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of "Mornings with Melissa and Jack" on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Punch Drunk

Jack's Take on the Ballpark Debate

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones announced last week that baseball and the Richmond Flying Squirrels are going downtown. The years-long, polemic issue about whether to keep our minor-league team on the Boulevard or move it seemingly has come to an end. We're building a stadium, retail, a hotel, you name it — right in the heart of the city. It's happening.

I think it's fantastic. I love it. Any effort to make Richmond bigger and better is an effort worth undertaking. Now, like with any venture of this magnitude, some people are concerned, as well they should be. Things are going to change, which is scary. Who coined the expression, you have to crack a few eggs and disturb the nation's largest antebellum slave-trade site and burial ground if you want to make an omelet? I believe it was Vladimir Lenin.

We know downtown Richmond will be a construction-debris-ridden, street-detour-mazed, potholed, twisted metal and steel hellhole until about 2016 or whenever this immense project wraps. How do we know? Because downtown Richmond already is a construction-debris-ridden, street-detour-mazed, potholed, twisted metal and steel hellhole. So it's safe to assume a $200 million project will only add to the mess.

We can probably also expect the next biblical flood that hits to swamp the Shockoe Valley flood plain and destroy our new stadium at some point. That isn't news. We'll just build stronger walls and blindly hope for the best. Oh, and God hates a coward.

But what about the outliers? The not-so-obvious affected parties? The butterfly effect that will come with a change in the status quo — or, in this case, a monster, landscape-altering, moon-shot of change?

What about the Boulevard north of Broad — a street and neighborhood that slowly was edging toward respectability with its influx of homegrown, independently owned restaurants and businesses? This area may have a difficult time surviving the loss of minor-league baseball. The fear being that a Detroit-like urban decay would set in while the strip clubs tucked away in Scott's Addition begin to slowly encroach upon the main thoroughfare. This would lead to transients from the Greyhound bus station multiplying. Taco shops would revert back to smut-peddling stores. The white flight of fancy barbecue joints like Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue would encourage the return of beloved, yet sort-of-gross joints — like Bill's. The Diamond might become a husk of its former self. A giant, worn-out shooting gallery for Virginia Commonwealth University kids to paint murals all over. The new Richmond "it spot" to score drugs.

Actually, that all sounds sort of awesome.

And what of Shockoe Bottom as we know it now? Will the area lose its authentic gritty street feel to a wave of chain restaurants and shiny new, soulless, faux-gastropub-taproom monstrosities and big-box retailers? A Willow Lawn East, if you will?

Will little, yet integral things such as my beloved 25-cent taco and 50-cent light beer Tuesday nights at Tiki Bob's Cantina be forced to shutter? We need to consider these things, because getting drunk and fed on the cheap while surrounded by scantily clad, loose-moraled girls from Mechanicville in a faux Polynesian atmosphere is something that I as a Richmonder am damn well entitled to. It's something I've come to expect.

And what about the fate of the Exxon at 17th and Broad streets, aka "that creepy gas station where it feels like you're going to get stabbed at any second"? As money comes in and gentrification takes its inevitable course, you'd hope that we could at least replace it with a Wawa or maybe one of those fancy Uppy's. I beg of you, is upscale gourmet food and coffee in a gas station setting too much to ask?

And the 17th Street Farmers' Market? You know that place with the green roofs in front of Havana '59? You know, where they usually have one or two gypsy vendors selling hand-woven scarves and produce? Does the Bacon Festival ring a bell? No? Anyways, what becomes of the Farmers' Market? Will somebody please think of the children!

This stadium and all that comes with it will be a much-needed shot of life for the 18th Street corridor. I think we can also agree that The Diamond is decrepit and something needed to give. The Giants' Double-A affiliate and our minor-league team, the Flying Squirrels, have brought back pride and joy to Richmond summers. Whether or not you agree with the move to downtown, keeping them around, fat and jolly, should be an absolute priority. And no, "fat and jolly" isn't a cheap shot at the Squirrels' vice president, Todd "Parney" Parnell.

I commend the mayor and his team for taking action and I look forward to all the speed bumps and petty fights and construction halts and money issues and tax hikes and unseen catastrophic dilemmas and City Council obstructionist muscle-flexing that will come along with it. This is a move that will indefinitely redefine our great little city, and I can be the biggest, sarcastic, cynical asshole, but I'm dead serious when I say that it really is an exciting time to be a Richmonder.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Punch Drunk

Jack goes on a nostalgia trip with Lou Reed.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 5, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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Lou Reed died last week at 71. He was a cantankerous, revolutionary, avant-garde, proto-punk-rock legend who stood by his principles and blazed a unique path. He will be missed. But don't worry, this isn't going to be some B.S., elegiac, verbose obituary. Everyone and their mother will already have done that by the time this column goes to press.

Instead I'm going to tell you a story.

It had been about seven or eight years since I'd listened to Lou Reed or his long-defunct yet completely seminal band, the Velvet Underground. His death and a subsequent listen to some of my favorite tracks took me right back to those halcyon immediate-post-college days.

One night — I think I was 22 — I was hanging out in the basement of a bar with some Asian guy that I met God only knows where. Guy was straight out of a John Woo movie, a slick-operator type who drove a black Mercedes. Seemed to always be blowing wads of cash, the procurement of which was a mystery to everyone, although we of course had our theories. Really nice guy though. I can't give too many more details because this human Dyson vac is probably still around town somewhere. Or he might be dead or in prison. The story isn't about him anyways.

So flash-forward about eight hours and the next thing I remember is the sun being up and I'm walking from downtown back up the hill to this fleabag apartment I was renting in the Fan right next to Buddy's. By the time I get home it's 11 a.m. and blazing hot. My one window unit is broken, I'm sweating my face off, freaking wired and tired at the same time, and I put on Velvet Underground and stare at the ceiling, just being completely depressed and devoid of hope. Lou's was beautiful, gritty and honest music, but it's never gotten accused of being uplifting — especially when you're coming down.

It's easy to rehash and even glamorize memories like this now, but at the time it was pretty awful. Maybe the worst morning ever — and I've had some really bad ones.

Strangely enough, I hadn't thought of that night and morning in a long time, but the news of Lou Reed's passing took me right back to that twitchy sauna of a hellhole on Stuart Avenue.

Lou was one of those artists you heard and maybe didn't get or even enjoy. But for whatever reason you just knew you were listening to something important. His death really brought back some amusing and some less than amusing memories from the years when I returned to Richmond after finishing college.

Memories, like this last one, that are probably best left in my early 20s.

It seems that most people associate the memories of certain periods and days of their lives with the music they were into at the time — or at the very least, have certain songs trigger long-dormant memories — good and bad.

Scientists have actually found that the region of the brain where memories of our past reside and are retrieved also serves as a hub that links familiar music, memories and emotions, which could explain the memory flood you experience when a certain song or artist comes on.

And don't you just love it when that happens?

Like when a well-timed Cranberries song comes on and I'm magically whisked away to ninth grade. The acne, the lack of cool friends, the agony of trying to talk to girls, the raging hormones, the sudden presence of uncontrollable erections during class and having to stay seated after the bell rang while you pretended to look busy because you couldn't stand up.

Man, those years were fun and not at all awkward.

"Zombie" comes on the radio and Boom — I'm right back there at James River High School!

That I actually listened to and enjoyed the Cranberries obviously was doing me no favors in the cool and girl departments, but what did it matter? I could barely form coherent sentences around women at the time anyways. I spent most weekends playing video games or making backyard wrestling videos with friends who were in the same boat.

Eventually I got on some high-powered medication that cleared up the acne, and not to brag, but at 30 years old, if I'm drunk enough, I'm actually able to have coherent conversations with women. Hell, I even had sex with one of them. Most importantly though, I still listen to the Cranberries and that isn't changing.

Just like ol' Lou, I won't compromise who I am (or my horrible taste in music) just because something is uncool or unaccepted (or overly accepted) by society at large. *

The second you compromise your principles is the second that your life becomes somebody else's.

* Unless money is involved. Then I'll compromise absolutely everything.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Punch Drunk

Coherent viewpoints, but not so much that you’d notice.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 4:00 AM

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Last Call

Scientists long have estimated that asteroid 1950 DA is on course — within a 20-minute window on March 16, 2880 — to crash into Earth. It’s only a 0.3-percent chance, but such a miniscule probability makes it 50 percent more likely to come flaming down than any other asteroid. It supposedly would hit somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, creating insanely large tsunamis, aka homicide waves, which would absolutely crush Virginia and very possibly end life as we know it.

NASA eggheads say it would be similar to the asteroid that stopped the dinosaur’s reign of terror about 65 million years ago. Sorry, it wasn’t some white-bearded, magical soothsayer-creator type who lives in the clouds. It was an f-in asteroid. Get over it.

I know you’re asking, who gives a flying dump about this futuristic, possibly fabricated, mass-murdering molten rock of doom? Mile-wide asteroids flying through space? Dinosaurs? Fossils? Pangea?

But what does it all mean, Basil? The good book told me nothing of this!

Our kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ grandkids won’t even be alive if and when this thing begins its great terror cleanse. And even if they were, I’m sure we could send a ragtag team of completely undertrained, blue-collar, deep-core drillers to land on the asteroid and dramatically blow it up while a used-to-be-awesome-rock-turned-soft-rock band’s pussy soundtrack plays.

That’s just basic science.

I bring it up because what if you really knew the end was coming? What if you had a magical watch that told you exactly how long you had to live? Would it make a difference? Would you change anything? Do I sound like a horrible John Mayer or Tim McGraw song?

I think I’d tell certain people that I loved them. Hugs and kisses and all that jazz. Then I’d probably go completely off the rails. Free-base heroin while base jumping off the Burj Khalifa in Dubai or something neat like that. Maybe gather my friends and play demolition derby on Monument Avenue with machine guns and grenades while high on peyote. Nothing too crazy.

Perhaps you’d focus on staying the course. Working hard and continuing personal growth. Learning, doing, experiencing, meeting new people. Trying to bring meaning to a life still undecided, still undiscovered.

Many of you probably would drink your faces off. Some of you would make passionate love to your true mate until your genitals ceased to work. Others might try to make love to every potential mate within a 5-mile radius until, well, your genitals became extinct. All perfectly normal reactions, and for many of you — especially my friend Kyle — just a normal week in the life.

It’s an experiment in time wasting to even consider crap like this, I know. If the Death Maven — what I’ve lovingly renamed asteroid 1950 DA — arrives bearing mass destruction and face-melting super waves, it’ll be 867 years in the future. Things most likely will have changed here on Earth.

I mean, 867 years ago it was 1146. It was the High Middle Ages, which makes it sound like a fancy time to be alive, but it really wasn’t. They didn’t even have Chick-fil-A or Starbucks. They did have Genghis Khan, but he wasn’t anything like the do-it-yourself-hot-bar, Mongolian grill that we’ve all come to know and love. And the women? Let’s just say that grooming wasn’t a huge priority back in the time of plague. It was very much like the 1970s, actually. The life expectancy was 12 years.

Again, basic science stuff.

So to circle back, we’re all going to die. Today, tomorrow, 80 years, centuries from now.

Something I’ve been working on before my untimely and much bereaved passing, something that I will pass on to you: Next time you get upset, take a deep breath and get over it. Everything is petty in the big picture, especially when we’re talking this macro. Do what you can control and try your best not to worry about the flotsam that orbits you.

Unless you’re a ne’er-do-well oil rigger tasked with planting a nuclear bomb deep within the Death Maven. Then you better damn well be worried, you worthless sack of shit. My 28-times-great-grandson, Jack*, is depending on your lazy ass to drill baby, drill. People said you were the best GED-equivalent, pretty-boy, washboard-ab, deep-core-drilling prodigy, absolute moron — that out of all the people in the entire world — we could choose to demolish this freakin’ asteroid! Now prove it!

*It’s in my will that every male born in the Lauterback lineage be named Jack. Call me George Foreman.

Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at bartender@styleweekly.com. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.

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