Monthly Archives: November 2010

Tomorrow: On The Block Screening @ Windup Space

Okay, okay. Simmer down a little. We know you’re excited because you feel like it’s Friday, even though it’s only Tuesday, and instead of spending the rest of the week at work you get to spend it stuffing your maw with turkey or tofurkey, or good tawny port, and starting your Christmas shopping and laying around in sweatpants watching movies.

All of that is preferable to your job where you’re underpaid, overworked, and under-appreciated. We get it. We know. But come tomorrow when it’s time to wash away the cares of the workweek with whiskey and gin, you’re not going to want to do it in just any bar. You’ll want to do it at the Windup Space.

On The Block screens at the Windup Space tomorrow night. 9 pm.

You already know that the Windup Space is the go-to spot for the very best in awful movies, and tonight the crew from Gutter Magazine has dug up a true cinematic gem for your viewing pleasure.

They managed to track down a VHS copy of On The Block, shot and released right here in Baltimore 20 years ago, and largely forgotten since. One look at this incredible trailer will convince you that this is something you need to see. Sex, drugs, vice, cops, drama, politics, depravity; On the Block gives the whole family something to be thankful for.

And that’s not all. Poppin’ Pietro spins for happy hour before Nikki Le Faye heats up the crowd with a burlesque routine from 8 o’clock until the feature begins at 9. Throw in drink specials and no cover for the night, and this is bound to go down as one of the highlights of the entire holiday season.

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Windup Space is located at 12 W. North Ave. in Station North.

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The Chop Announces the Death of Voicemail

Some of you may know this already. Some of you may be scoffing and cluck-clucking and clicking away from this page.

Still more of you may be shocked. What’s the meaning of this? Voicemail is alive and well. I just left a bunch of them this morning. Well, people still play vinyl records and sit through the Latin Mass, but you know what? They’re both dead, and so is voicemail.

This kind of technology is about as current as voicemail.

Either way, it’s got to go on record.

Most people have no idea how to leave a proper voicemail. Some of you don’t even know how to check your voicemail, and those of you who do know often don’t bother. Of the few who do bother, most of you do it only to get rid of the little icon on your phone screen, and we suspect you’re not even listening to the messages you receive. With the ubiquity of cell phones, you’ve already seen who called and guessed or found out what they wanted.

The Chop remembers a time when there was no such thing as a voicemail. Even then we hated leaving messages on “answering machines”. Most of the messages we’ve heard in life have consisted of half umms… and uuhhhs…. and any one that contains a phone number has to be listened to a minimum of two times. Enough already.

As slow as we were to embrace text messaging technology, we go on record today as embracing it fully and happily.

As of today, the Chop is not leaving any more voicemails for anyone. If you can’t answer your phone, we might hang up and send you a text (since this seems to yield better results anyway) or we might even just give up and call someone else. Likewise, don’t leave us any more messages. Just text. Seriously, we’ll get right back to you.

You don’t even have to wait for the beep.

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Chop on the Spot: Bluegrass

You don’t need us to tell you about the food at Bluegrass. There are already plenty of reviews out there in the Sun, The Citypaper, Baltimore Magazine and elsewhere. Baltimore is very much a city in which restaurants are their reputations, and when a place like Bluegrass opens up, everyone seemingly wants to be the first one in, and the first one to make that reputation. We’re not just talking about newspapers and magazines, but also about sites like Yelp and Chowhoud, which tend to fill up with very strong opinions from self-appointed experts soon after any decent restaurant opens its doors.

We like to eat as much as the next guy, and even more than that we like to cook, and manage to stay busy enough in the kitchen here at the Chophouse. One thing we don’t like to do though is to write about food. This is not a food blog, and never will be. We’ve already gone on a rant about foodies, and it wasn’t until we checked out Bluegrass’ website and found this little gem that we realized we weren’t alone in our opinions. (Click that link. It’s very much worth your time to read.)

We’re here to tell you that Bluegrass has a bar.

My Old Kentucky Home.

We’re here to tell you that Bluegrass has an excellent bar. With its modest portion sizes Bluegrass has become the kind of place that is becoming increasingly popular in Baltimore; the sort where people go to eat a little and drink a lot. To our mind, if the cocktails are the main attraction, then why even bother with the menu?

Thanks to a bit of architectural foresight, the space’s two dining rooms (upstairs and in the rear) as well as the kitchen (in the basement) are well secluded from the bar. It may technically be a restaurant bar, but it feels very much like an updated version of the South Baltimore corner bar that it is. Being on its own, the intimate bar space is left entirely to take on the mood and feeling of whatever patrons happen to inhabit it at any given moment, which should be the way with all great bars.

But the patrons themselves can only do so much. It’s up to the bartender to do the rest, and with their formidable selection of Bourbons Bluegrass does a fine job of holding up their end of the bargain. Throw in 6 regularly rotating taps, a good selection of bottles, occasional firkin nights, and some purely professional bartenders who pour ’em strong, and you’ve got a recipe for a truly great bar.

It’s one that we’ll be back to whenever we’re down that way, and perhaps even when we’re not. Some say Bluegrass is a destination restaurant, but for us it’s a destination bar.

The best part? They’re open Sundays.

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Bluegrass is at 1500 S. Hanover St. in South Baltimore. 410-244-5101. Closed Mondays.

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Future Islands, Lonnie Walker @ Ottobar Tonight

Well, we’ve got company this weekend. One thing to be said for the holidays is that they’re good for bringing people back to home and hearth and all that. People who used to live in Maryland come back to Maryland, and we’re glad to have them as ever.

So it is entirely possible that we’re going to be spending most of the weekend indoors, drinking the good stuff, eating like gluttons and doing a bit of the old male bonding you’ve heard so much about. You know: the sign on the front door of the house saying “no girls allowed” and all of that.

If we do make it out though, odds are it will be to the Ottobar for the Future Islands/ Lonnie Walker show.

Future Islands play the Ottobar tonight with Lonnie Walker. 10 pm Doors.

Future Islands has just been getting better and better for a solid year. They really hit their stride with the release of In Evening Air earlier this year, and are still coasting on that. We’re fond of saying that they’re going to ride it all the way to a Saturday Night Live appearance, and we might even start a facebook page about it. (And by might, we mean we won’t. Ever.)

Sharing the stage tonight is North Carolina’s Lonnie Walker, who are also sharing a new 7″ with Future Islands on Baltimore’s Friends Records label. We’d really like to see Lonnie Walker live, if nothing else because we can’t quite tell if they’re yanking our chain or not. 2009’s These Times Old Times was a well produced record which was a showcase for the band’s better than average writing and playing abilities, but at the same time we’re afraid to try to describe the sound at all, especially since it’s one of those cases where what you see live may or may not be reflective of what’s on the record. For us, seeing a band’s live set has always been a good indication of whether they should be listened to more closely or written off, and we suspect this could be the case with Lonnie Walker. If nothing else, they’re certainly one of those unique bands, for which every listener will have to make up his own mind.

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Ottobar is at 2549 N. Howard St. in Charles Village. Winks and Bobby are also on the bill. This is a late show: Doors at 10 pm, Show at 10:30. All Ages.

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Brian Posehn, Jim Meyer @ Ottobar Tonight

So there’s this guy. Brian Posehn. He’s pretty famous. At least, we think he’s pretty famous, since he’s been all over TV for like 10 years now. He was on that show Just Shoot Me on the regular, which was a terrible show, but he was also on Seinfeld and News Radio a few times, which were great shows. And Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, which also kind of sucked.

But besides that he wrote for Mr. Show, and he’s on a show now, called The Sarah Silverman Program, and since it’s on Comedy Central, it won’t air for a long stretch of time, and then it’ll air 9 times in 3 days. He’s also been on specials and comedy tours and put out records and everything else.

Brian Posehn brings the fart and wiener jokes to the Ottobar tonight. 9 pm Doors.

But despite all that, when we tell people “Hey, we’re really excited to have tickets to see Brian Posehn!” They usually come back with “Who?” And we have to say “You know… that giant nerdy bald metalhead guy with the thick glasses who makes jokes about comic books and bullies and geeksex.” So that’s what today’s blog is about. We’re going to the Ottobar tonight to see that giant nerdy bald metalhead guy with the thick glasses who makes jokes about comic books and bullies and geeksex.

And Jim Meyer, who you know well by now from Bar Bacon and if you don’t then shame on you. Bar Bacon is back with a vengeance and Meyer has been putting in work for a minute now, and he’s pretty much become the face of comedy in Baltimore. He’ll be joined by Tommy Sinbazo, & Peter O’Connell.

And not for nothing, but this is another show where we wildly missed our guess. We thought this thing would sell out way in advance, and we even went so far as to Buy Tickets Online while we were still in the desert. All for nothing though, since tickets are still available as of today.

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Ottobar is at 2549 N. Howard St in Charles Village. $20.00 advance, 18+ Doors at 9, Show at 10.

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An Evening With Terry Gross @ MICA’s Brown Center Tonight

Well, just when we thought we had learned our lesson about buying tickets for things in advance, we completely failed to secure tickets for tonight’s appearance by Terry Gross at MICA’s Brown Center. This is pretty disgraceful, since we’ve known about this for several months now. We even put it on our calendar and everything, but didn’t bother to look into buying tickets until it was well sold out. (Maybe just as well though; $50 is not a cheap ticket for a public radio host.)

Gross is, of course, the host of NPR’s Fresh Air, a daily arts and culture interview program which is easily one of the best things on radio and one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.

Terry Gross appears at a sold-out Brown Center tonight.

Even though we’re not going tonight, it gives us a good excuse to relate an anecdote which we found funny at the time.

We were in a smallish German city on our trip to Europe earlier this year, where we found a tiny little record shop on a corner near the edge of downtown. There were some good vinyl and posters on display in the windows, but the first few times we went by there the shop was locked up tight.

Eventually we found it open one afternoon, and although we don’t mess around with vinyl records, we thought we might find some European exclusives as a souvenir for Roommate or even some eBay gold for our own benefit. We gave a nod to the proprietor who was busy with his macbook and started browsing the stacks. Instead of playing music we were listening to some old man go on about something or other over the speakers in English for several minutes. When he finally wound up his monologue, Terry Gross’ voice came over the air.

“Oh!” We say “You’re listening to Fresh Air! I didn’t realize you had that in Germany.”

When we said this to the guy behind the counter, his face lit up as brightly as a Christmas tree. It turns out that they do not have Fresh Air in Germany, but that he was listening via iTunes. When we mentioned that we regularly listen on the radio, and live sort of near Philadelphia (people abroad do not know where Maryland is), his perfect English became very excited. We recounted some of our favorite episodes, including the infamous Gene Simmons interview which was one of the most awkward broadcasts in the history of radio.

As it turned out, this record store guy was a huge and rabid fan of Fresh Air, and was trying to work his way through the entire archives of the show. Once he found out that we’d been listening for years, there was no shortage of questions, most of which we had no answers for.

There was one earnest question he did ask though, which we could answer with certainty:

“So, in your country, Terry Gross is a big star? Like Oprah?”

Not quite…

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If you’ve never heard the Gene Simmons Fresh Air interview, we strongly encourage you to click through and listen to it. It is not available in the NPR Archives, and it’s a solid hour of Simmons insulting Gross and NPR and making a series of very inappropriate and sexist remarks while making himself out to be a primal filthy rich sex god. In our opinion, Gene Simmons is a fucking clown, and Terry Gross is one of the greatest interviewers working anywhere today.

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Best Bets: The Best Cars to Drive in Baltimore City

Our neighbors here at the Chophouse are hood rich. They’re the sort of folks who drive nicer cars than the house they live in. Not judging, just saying. A top of the line GMC Yukon and a late model Sedan de Ville are some pretty nice wheels, and they’re regularly washed and shined by another neighbor who runs the part-time car wash hustle.

We’re just the opposite… for all the work and effort we put into decorating and maintaining the Chophouse, we bought our old Chevy specifically to run it straight into the ground. We wanted a Craigslist car that we could buy with cash on the spot and nail speed bumps, run red lights, skip oil changes, and generally abuse the hell out of. After better than 3 years of hard use, we’ve more than got our money’s worth.

A visual approximation of the Chop's driving habits in Baltimore.

Talking to our neighbor recently though, she admitted what we’d suspected all along; that a full size Cadillac is a giant burden to maintain in Baltimore City. She lamented the size, the necessary maintenance, the low MPG’s, the responsiveness, and every other problem you get from driving a suburban highway car in the city.

We often secretly wonder when we’ll run the wheels off of our Chevy, and it got us thinking about what our next car might be. Since we travel as much as we do, we’re going to need something without a payment that can sit for long periods of time, and that will stand up to cobblestones, streetcar tracks, potholes, water main breaks, snow salt, pigeon shit, parallel parking, and every other thing that the City of Baltimore can throw at it. Here’s a few picks from our shortlist.

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester. 2006 model shown.

Most people regard the Subaru line as being strictly for hippies and lesbians, but we say it’s the poor man’s Volvo. Hell, take a drive through Guilford or Roland Park and you might find that even the Rich Man is buying Subarus these days. Any Subaru you buy is going to have all wheel drive, which is a huge plus, especially during the winter months, and the forester packs a ton of space onto a relatively small chassis. These things are basically little urban tanks.

Honda Civic

Honda Civic LX 4 door. 1998 model shown.

You don’t need us to tell you that the Civic is a great car for Baltimore City. The Civic is a great car for everywhere. The only criticism that we can level at this model is that not enough of them hit the used market, and when they do people want a lot of money for them, no matter how old or worn they may be. If Hitler had had his boys invent the Civic instead of that crappy Beetle, most of Europe would probably sprecken zee Deutsche today.

Nissan Sentra

Nissan Sentra 4 door. 2003 model shown.

Humble, inexpensive, scrappy, and dependable; in many ways, the Sentra is the perfect car for Baltimore City. If NYC and DC are the Acura and the Avalon blocking up traffic and scratching their heads after a fender bender, the Sentra is Baltimore… taking battle damage in stride and giving you the finger while it hits the gas. We’ve got someplace to be and the Sentra’s going to get us there come hell or high water. Fun Fact: the Chop once visited a Nissan factory in Yokozuka, Japan.

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What about you, Baltimore? What are you driving around the city? Love it? Hate it? Recommend it to a friend? Let us know below.

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