Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Chop Goes to Ascension Island

Yes, Choppers, The time has come for us to once again leave you high and dry for a while. Our bags are packed, our affairs are in order, and our blog is on hiatus for the next several weeks.

It’s been pretty sweet hanging around this winterlong, doing the whole home for the holidays, eat a ton of food, drink copious amounts of booze and sleep 12 hours a day thing, but it’s time we got back to work. After all, this whole blog business is less than lucrative and the mortgage here at the Chophouse isn’t going to pay itself. Tomorrow we’re going to get on a plane, and eventually end up on Ascension Island. We’ll probably be back in 5-8 weeks.

Ascension. 7° 56′ 0″ S, 14° 25′ 0″ W

A lot of you were more than a little curious when we turned up at Diego Garcia last year. These places are insanely remote and inaccessible to just about everyone. Up until now, we’ve kept our occupation a secret as part of our identity, but the time has come to make it known.

The Chop is a poacher of exotic endangered sea turtles.

We go to the ends of the earth with an Ahab-like obsession to track, hunt, and destroy as many sea turtles as we can find. This enables us to maintain our luxe Baltimore lifestyle for months on end without working. A couple of giant shells and a few pounds of turtle meat can keep a man in the finer things for quite some time. That’s why we spent so much time in the Emirates and Bahrain on the last trip. Where do you think the market for endangered trophy turtles is? America? Oh hell no! Those Arab sheiks and princes eat that shit up though. They love it. You haven’t lived until you’ve dipped turtle-hummus out of its own shell or seen an 18 year old Arab belly-dancer raqs sharqi on the back of a gilded loggerhead. Trust us, you’ll never go back to the Hustler Club again after that.

Look at those beady little eyes. Pure evil.

But why do we do it? How could we sink so low as to prey upon these defenseless, endangered, majestic creatures? (You mean, aside from the money and exotic travel and thrill of the hunt and general Hemingway-esque appeal of it all?) We’ll tell you. We HATE turtles.

We hate their little turtle faces. We hate that they’re hiding in shells all the time. We hate the fact that they have flippers instead of legs. We hate that they’re all old. We hate that they’re slow. We hate that they lay dozens of eggs at a time. Delicious eggs. We hate that they look like dinosaurs. We hate that people think they’re all wise and shit. Shut up turtle! You’re not smarter than me! We hate that they’re not mammals. That’s cold blooded, yo. We hate that they spend 100% of their time eating and sleeping. Get a job. We hate that they can hold their breath longer than we can. We hate Charles Darwin because he was a turtle-lover. We even hate the Terps. Go Duke! We hate that that captain from Whale Wars loves turtles. Fuck that guy too.

The Chop's most painful childhood memory.

But why hate so much? It’s personal. A turtle killed the Chop’s father! And not how you think either. It wasn’t choking on turtle soup or being crushed to death while sunbathing in the Bahamas. It was the assassination of Papa Chop by the coward Michelangelo. He posed as a pizza delivery boy and nunchucked our father to death, escaping down an open manhole. Ever since then, we’ve pursued him with futility to the far reaches of the globe. It is our life’s work to seek him out and make him pay with his life for that hateful deed. Him, and all testudines cryptodira everywhere. Revenge, thy name is Chop!

Seriously though: We’re going to Ascension tomorrow. We’ll be off the internet for a while, but we’ll try to take some better pictures now that we have a half decent camera phone. We’ll post them when we return.

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City Paper’s Free Movie Night @ Charles Theater Tonight

The good news? It’s movie night. The bad news? There is no bad news. We all get to go to the movies for free. What could be bad about that?

The City Paper loves and appreciates its readers so much that they’ve decided to partner with the Charles Theater to treat us all to a free movie tonight. And not just like “Oh look, Sony Pictures gave us 200 promo passes to that crappy Green Hornet movie, so go see that.” No, not like that at all. They’re doing it open house style, and letting everyone choose what they’d like to see from among the Charles’ current selection of movies. First come, first served.

A visual approximation of the Chop at the movies.

For our money (or in this case, for free) we’d recommend snagging a seat in the theater for Casino Jack. The Jack Abramoff scandal was big. It was huge. It was so big that we should still be talking about it today- big enough that Abramoff should still be in jail for a long time yet, instead of making pizzas in Park Heights. At least Kevin Spacey is one of a very few actors you can point to in Hollywood and say “That guy’s a good actor. If he’s in a movie, it’s probably a good movie.” And since Oliver Stone was nowhere near this one, we’re betting we’ll be able to stay awake the whole time.

Your other choices tonight are:

Rabbit Hole, a boring movie about old people feeling feelings. Nicole Kidman and Sandra Oh. Yawn.

Blue Valentine, a boring movie about slightly younger people feeling feelings. Sundance may like it, but we’re betting there’s not enough sex and nudity to keep us interested.

The Fighter is all about loudmouth assholes from Boston running around acting like loudmouth assholes from Boston. It’s got Marky Mark in it, and Conan O’Brien’s sister, who is now in jail.

The movie Somewhere is directed by spoiled Hollywood brat Sofia Coppola, and is about a spoiled Hollywood brat. Very meta. Bill Murray isn’t in it though, so to hell with it.

As we said, it’s first come-first served, with about 800 seats available total. All screenings start at 7 pm, with doors opening at 6 pm. We say get there at 5:45, bring a flask and tweet about it in real-time while you wait.

Also: let’s get this on record Baltimore… One (1) person may save one (1) seat at the movies. This business of one guy trying to save 4 or 5 seats in a theater is bullshit. It’s got to stop. If you try to save 4 seats by yourself, you’re being rude. Even if you say “Oh sorry. SORRRRREEYYYY. These are saved.” in your most conciliatory and saccharine tones, you’re still being an asshole. We will call you out on it, especially if there’s 2 minutes to showtime and the place is full.

2011 is the year of not taking any shit off of people who are pretending to be nice but actually being rude.
Fair warning.

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House Rules: Servers and Bartenders, Put Away Your Cell Phones.

We don’t usually embrace curmudgeonly rants on this blog. Even though we’ve got a category for rants, only a couple of those entries could actually properly qualify as one, and even so they’re not the sort of rants that are full of expletives and exclamations.

It is Baltimore Restaurant Week though, and while we were talking about restaurants yesterday it got us to thinking. We have just one simple idea to impart to you today: waiters and waitresses need to put away their goddamn cell phones while they’re on shift.

OMG! It's my BFF on BBM!

We understand that servers are people, and that most people are assholes about their phones. Since we bought a Blackberry we’re on it all the time. We also understand that servers are not defined by their jobs and that they have more interesting things to do than to bring us extra mayo and a free refill. We get it. We know that there’s some pretty cool parties going on tonight, and that you’re only doing this shit until you get a break in your field and that degree starts paying out like a slot machine. Besides, it only takes a second to look at your phone so what’s the big deal, right? Yes we know that. But we also know this:

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” -Abraham Lincoln

It’s hard to argue with Honest Abe’s logic, and whether you’re in a white tablecloth Michelin starred restaurant or a greasy diner, a certain amount of professionalism is called for. If you came to the table to take our order and we brought out a cell phone and checked our email, that would be pretty rude, and there aren’t many servers that we know of who would bear it with a smile.

We’ve even noticed a rash of phone-checking by servers in restaurants whose policies forbid cell phone use by patrons.

Every time we’re eating or drinking and we see a server at the waitstand, cash register, or end of the bar checking his or her phone, it’s just, to us anyway, a great reminder that our table is not really a priority, and that that person would much rather be somewhere else doing something else with someone else.

Just as most restaurant employees are relegated to smoke outside the back door, kind of near the dumpster, so should the nasty habits of twitter, facebook, and IM be relegated to out-of-sight areas of the building, or simply discontinued entirely. A server who’s not preoccupied with phone messages is a more efficient and better-tipped server.

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House Rules: Making Multiple Restaurant Reservations

Getting a table at your favorite restaurant is seldom a pressing problem in the Baltimore restaurant scene. The only place that ever seems to have much of a wait is the interminable, befuddling Cheesecake Factory at Harborplace. They might as well call that place the Waiting Factory. We never understood it. Apparently suburban fatties really like their cheese in cake form, and are willing to queue up for it.

Anyway, while waits aren’t generally a problem, there are certain nights when restaurants do crowd up. Baltimore Restaurant Week is now in full swing, and one of the busiest dining nights of the year, Valentine’s Day, is right around the corner. On big dining evenings like that, most people just pick out their favorite place, zero in on the hot new buzzed-about spot, or pick the nicest restaurant they can afford, try to get a reservation, and then hope the kitchen and waitstaff don’t get horribly backed-up in the weeds. We’ve got a better idea.

If you want a table for two for Valentine’s Day, you should have reserved not one, not two, but six tables last week. (Or you can still try to do it right now.)

Hear us out on this. Reservations are free to make. It doesn’t cost you anything at all. They’re also very easy to make if you are acting well in advance. We’d never suggest that you make a reservation in bad faith and hold up the table, we’re just saying that the restaurant business is business, and your dealings with the restaurant are, in a sense, business dealings.

You’re in competition for a place at the table, literally, with other customers, and making three, four or half a dozen reservations early will place you at a competitive advantage against them. As the date draws closer and the prix fixe menus are released, the New Year’s entertainment is announced, or your after-dinner plans are finalized you can better make your decision, a business decision, on where to dine.

After you’ve decided where to dine, you can easily cancel those reservations you’re not going to use. Remember, it’s just business. The hostess or floor manager is not your boss. Neither are they your parents, college professor or landlord. You don’t need a good reason to cancel a reservation. You don’t even need a poor excuse. You’re the boss. When it comes down to it, the restaurant and the other diners may even be relieved and happy to see a table open up at the last minute and get some breathing room.

As an added benefit, you may be able to help out someone you know by virtue of your advance planning. Maybe a friend of yours screwed around and forgot to make that Valentine’s reservation until too late. Maybe one of your in-laws was going to be out of town, and now will be staying around, but stuck eating at Sip and Bite. You can always tip them off to one of your extra reserved tables, with the restaurant being none the wiser. If you do this often enough, you’re going to be using made up names anyway. Just be sure to give each reservation the same name, as to avoid confusion, and change that name the next time you go out to eat.

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Awesome Saturday Again in Baltimore Tonight

We’ve talked before on this blog about the Baltimore phenomenon we’ve taken to calling Awesome Saturday. The movers and shakers and event planners in this town who plan things in advance all seem to zero in on the last Saturday of the month to book the really cool stuff, and at least 3 great events will all happen at the exact same time. It’s usually the last Saturday, anyway. Sometimes it’s the third Saturday. This month, after Christmas and New Year’s and all, it’s both.

There are three shows going on tonight that are all worthy of your attention. We still don’t really know which one (or more) we’ll get to, so we’re going to tell you about all of them in a Just the facts, ma’am sort of way.

A visual approximation of Joan of Arc eating dinner at the Golden West.

The Sidebar is drawing first blood with 4:30 pm doors on a huge bill at Incest Fest, the general idea of which is a small-timore style crossover day of bands and friends sharing the stage in common bands and side projects. Highlights include the straight-out-the-garage rockabilly style of Young Jaguars and the one and only TUNNELBIKE!

Up at the Metro Gallery it’s gonna be Sick Sick Birds, who we talked about on Wednesday when they played with the Queers in DC. They’re playing with Squaaks, White Tiger and the Bed of Roses, and former Government Issue frontman John Stabb’s latest band Sleeper Agent, who were one of the subjects of our first post ever.

Finally, the Golden West in Hampden is hosting Joan of Arc. You would think that would be a no-brainer, since we love Joan of Arc and all the bands in tonight’s other shows are local, but they’re also playing Monday at the Black Cat, so there’s your second chance right there. Tonight’s show also features Philly’s Algernon Cadwallader, who’ve made a career out of sounding exactly like Cap’n Jazz, and Soft Circle.

Wherever you or we or any of us end up tonight, it’s bound to be an awesome Saturday.

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Metro Gallery is at 1801 N. Charles Street in Station North.

Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W. 36th Street in Hampden.

Sidebar is at 218 E. Lexington Street Downtown.

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Super Art Fight 9 @ Ottobar Tonight

We haven’t made it out to a Super Art Fight yet. We’re overdue. Way overdue. It’s been our understanding that it gets bigger, better, and badass-er with each installment, so with the approach of their 9th battle, it’s safe to say that it’s going to be the best one yet.

Here at the Baltimore Chop, we like to try to give you the dope on events happening in town, mixed with a little opinion, but sometimes the facts are hard to come by. Some bars and restaurants still don’t have their own websites. Some bands rely on abandoned Myspace profiles as their whole web presence. This is not the case with Super Art Fight.

The tag team tournament is only part of the pandemonium in store at SAF9 at the Ottobar tonight. 9 pm doors.

They blog the hell out of their events. If you want to know what to expect tonight, you can read all about it on the SAF blog, which has no less than 8 separate blog posts about tonight’s event. Hell, that’s almost too much. With all that info out there, we can’t even pretend to try to break it down into one little preview post.

Once you click over there, you’ll see the same kind of detailed posts highlighting SAF taking its show on the road, too. Super Art Fight-of-mass-destruction-program-related-activities have taken place all over the world (from Virginia to Connecticut), and we’re greatly heartened to see Baltimore’s quirky and creative side so well-represented abroad. Tonight the Ottobar, tomorrow, to infinity and beyoooonddd…” Or something like that.

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Ottobar is located at 2549 N. Howard St. All Ages.

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The East Coast, Simplified

People from Boston are great…

    …until you get them talking.

People from New York are interesting…

    …until you get them talking about food.

People from New Jersey aren’t as bad as all that…

    …until they start talking about New Jersey.

Those corn-crackers in Delaware are nothing but a bunch of trifling toll collectors.


People from Philly are really awesome…

    …as long as no one mentions pro sports.


People from Baltimore are the best people on the face of the earth…

    …until you mention you’re from DC.

People from DC are delightful…

    …until you get them talking about their careers.

And people from Virginia are wonderful…

    …until it’s time to talk about the South.

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