Monthly Archives: March 2011

Top 10 Signs You’re Too Old to Be at the Hardcore Show

It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to grow out of hardcore. It happens to all of us sooner or later. Even the legit, bona-fide True Til Death types among us will eventually stick with the records they grew up with, and turn out to shows less and less often.

There’s no denying it: hardcore is a young man’s game. While there’s no age limit on a dance floor, there are some unmistakable signs that you’re too old to be on it…

Sacred Love plays CCAS tonight. 7 pm doors.

10. You shave your head to hide baldness, not to look tough.

9. You only wear your New Balance sneakers and Adidas shorts to the gym.

8. You actually go to the gym, and don’t make any jokes about hating ‘the jocks.’

7. You’re asking your wife to hold your coat.

6. You’re not wearing anything with varsity font writing on it.

5. You understand that getting ‘stabbed in the back’ happens all the time and isn’t worth writing a song about.

4. You only round up your crew when someone gets married or dies.

3. You’ve ever described a straight edge tattoo as ‘cute’ with a knowing snicker.

2. Records that you own became collectible while sitting on your shelf.

1. You had a Krishna phase.

We’re probably gonna go out to the hardcore show at the Charm City Art Space tonight, even though according to this list we’re way too old for it. Connecticut’s Death Threat are coming down to play with Youngblood Records’ Sacred Love. Alpha and Omega, Expire, and Dead and Dreaming are also on the bill.

Five bands… we may need a nap in between.

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Charm City Art Space is located at 1731 Maryland Avenue in Station North. All Ages.

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House Rules: How To Throw a Proper Bachelor Party

Spring is nearly upon us here in Baltimore, and on the heels of the first sunny days will be another Spring wedding season. For the women and the coupled men out there this can mean the welling up of all sorts of conflicting emotions, leading to long discussions and life choices. For a consummate bachelor such as the Chop is, it means nothing more than that we’re officially on the cusp of bachelor party season.

For the groom and his friends, a bachelor party means making memories of male bonding, drinking, debauchery and debasement. If you’re selected as the best man though, it means a whole lot of work.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

A well planned and successful bachelor party might just be the greatest gift that one man can give another. As with any great gift though, it’s the thought, effort, and considerations that go into it which make the thing so great. Anyone can throw a keg on the back porch and order a bunch of pizzas, but you’re the best man. The party you throw needs to be the best it can be. Follow these rules to insure that it is.

The best man is in charge.
From the moment you’re named best man, it’s understood that it’s on you to produce a bachelor party. You may ask the groom for one or two suggestions, mainly to get an idea of the scale of the party. You don’t want to plan a simple night out in Fell’s if the groom is expecting a weekend blowout in Atlantic City. Once you agree on the scale though, no more input from the groom is really necessary. You may even want to keep him on a need-to-know basis. He’s riding shotgun in this adventure, and a few surprise turns thrown in will make the trip that much more fun.

Plan your logistics.
If the party does involve travel, a weekend in Atlantic City, a trip to see the Ravens on the road, or anything of that sort, or if certain friends live great distances apart or travel is required for the wedding itself, its obviously that much more difficult to swell the guest list for the bachelor party, and four guests might be plenty. If, on the other hand, someone in the company has a large suburban house with a club basement and an in-ground pool, go ahead and invite as many people as possible. Whatever you do, plan early, and keep everyone apprised on any changes that may arise. You should also make all guests aware of what the dress code will be. We recommend nothing less than collars and jackets. Ties are preferable.

Always arrange transportation beforehand.

Arrange transportation.
This will be specific to your locale and plans, but make sure your plan doesn’t involve drunk driving and leaving cars parked in tow away zones willy-nilly. Whether you get a limo, rely on cabs, designate a driver or whatever, just make sure you’ve got something lined up for the evening.

All day, all night, or both?
One of the best ways to go is to throw a progressive bachelor party. Start small in the afternoon with just the groomsmen enjoying some daytime activity; a round of golf, playing the horses at Pimlico or something of that nature. Have a few more friends meet the party in the evening for dinner, and then come one come all for the rest of the night.

Plan your budget.
Whatever you’re planning, you should have an idea of how the expenses will break down for everyone. Try to strike a fair balance between baller and budget. Everyone should know beforehand how much cash they should be expected to show up with, and there’s no way around it; a good, memorable bachelor party ain’t cheap. This is one advantage of a progressive party, if someone’s not exactly flush, he can beg off dinner and join the party later to save a few dollars.

Eat dinner.
The Chop heartily endorses a sit-down dinner in the nicest restaurant you can afford as part of any bachelor party. It’s a great chance to enjoy a bit of luxury, carbo-load before a night of heavy drinking, and exchange toasts. Depending on the number of diners at your table, you may want to ask everyone to lay out a certain amount before you even sit down. Make the amount high, like, so high no one man could possibly order that much. Then let everyone order what they will. There should be plenty extra, which can be used toward the tip and the groom’s meal, because The groom isn’t paying for anything tonight. If there’s still cash leftover it can be put toward a bottle of champagne for the table, the night’s cab rides, etc.

Something else to take into consideration if you’re going to have a dozen or more for dinner is the possibility of renting a private banquet room, arranging a prix fixe menu, or securing a couple hours of open bar. This can be easier for everyone involved, and you may save a few bucks in the long run.

Tom Hanks is still the gold standard for zany bachelor parties.

Strippers.
Strippers are still mandatory for a proper bachelor party, but they should not be the focus of the entire evening. A quick visit to one strip club will suffice. The longer a large group of guys stays in a club, the greater the potential for all sorts of trouble to occur. At a minimum, you’ll see all the money fall out of your pockets and may be pressed for bottle service by some shady club-manager type. And of course, someone’s going to make a bad decision sooner or later. Stay only long enough to get an eyeful of the girls and get the groom a lap dance, then move it somewhere else.

(By the by, we recommend the Red Room on the Block. Just make sure you pack your picnic basket.)

Party ’til you drop.
Most of the party will make it home eventually, but whichever groomsman has the biggest, most comfortable house should designate it as the crash pad for the night. The crash pad should be stocked ahead of time with enough liquor to wind the party up, some gourmet drunken snack foods, and brunch supplies for the morning after.


One final note…

As technology changes, the rules change too. We recommend that as best man you be the only one at the party with a working cell phone. Anyone needing to contact the party should contact the best man. The groom should have his phone taken away for safe keeping as soon as the party begins, and all other guests should be asked to keep their phones off for the evening. Everyone should be fully involved in the night, and calls and texts, Foursquare check-ins, Facebook statuses, and tweets are just distractions, as well as an easy way for fiancées and their friends to get too nosy in real time. We’d like to see the no phones rule become the new standard and tradition.

And of course the old standards and traditions still apply: whatever does or does not happen at a bachelor party is never to be discussed in mixed company. Ever.

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Not Just a Game Screening @ 2640 Space Tonight

The Chop is not a lawyer. We’re not a banker, a military officer, or a city councilman either. Somehow though, we ended up as one of these people for whom everything has political overtones. We make no bones about being a labor-loving, Secularist, pro-choice, pro-gay, anti-war Lefty. It’s a worldview that informs everything we do, and every decision we make, from the place we choose to live to what we read, watch and listen to, and even to what we eat. You can believe that those Few who have money and power approach everything politically, and until the rest of us begin to do so as well, nothing will ever change.

Not Just a Game will screen at 2640 tonight. 7:30 pm.

Dave Zirin realizes this as well. Zirin is sports editor at The Nation, and also the host of an XM radio show, columnist for other publications, and author of several books. He’s dedicated his career to the the coverage, study and understanding of sports. Zirin is nearly alone among sportswriters in comprehending that the games we watch and play inform every aspect of our social structure and interaction. From the ongoing NFL lockout to Luke Scott’s absurd love of guns and Orly Taitz, to whether your kid ends up playing basketball or lacrosse, politics is pervasive on every level of sports.

We say that Zirin is nearly alone in that world, because the increasingly-popular Deadspin will never hesitate to jump on a story with deep sociopolitical overtones. From Ben Roethlisberger’s alleged sexual misconduct to racism and gender bias on the PGA tour, Deadspin seems to understand that racism, sexism, homophobia and class warfare drives page views much harder than mere box scores. Zirin though is the polar opposite of Deadspin. Where the latter represents the worst in muckraking and questionable reporting reminiscent of the early days of the Hearst papers, Zirin is a sort of HL Mencken of the sports world, reminding us that the final score is irrelevant, not because we’re playing for fun, but because the only victories that matter are won away from the field of play.

Tonight the Red Emma’s collective will host Zirin at the 2640 Space for a Screening of Not Just a Game, which is based on his 2008 book A People’s History of Sports in the United States. The film explores the history of sport running head-to-head against politics in our culture, and Dave Zirin will be available for discussion and Questions afterward.

Even your mere attendance tonight is an overtly political act, as your $10 admission will go to benefit both the Baltimore Algebra Project and the United Workers, two local organizations which focus on social justice in Baltimore.

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Further reading: Bret McCabe interviewed Dave Zirin in this week’s edition of City Paper.

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Chop Style: Katt Williams, the Worst Dressed Man in America

Well, you may think we’re picking at some pretty low-hanging fruit here. We definitely are, but it has to be said. You can Google it for pages and pages and no one in the entire blogosphere has come out and said it yet… Katt Williams is the worst dressed man in America.

And we mean the worst by miles. Far and away the worst. Worse than Jack White, worse even than Bam Margera; in fact, Williams is high in the running with Gadhafi for worst dressed man in the entire world.

When wearing suits, always make sure your shirt matches your baseball cap.

Now you might think we’re just one of the haters. Haters gonna hate and all of that business. Not true. We might do a little hating on guys like James Franco or Adrien Brody from time to time, but they’re actually well dressed and good looking. We could never hate on Katt Williams, since we have no ambition at all to dress like a schizophrenic homosexual leprechaun middle-school pimp.

It’s hard to fuck with a guy with a Gucci endorsement like Franco, but anyone can steal Katt Williams’ look with a trip through the clearance racks at A.J. Wright or Foreman Mills. Just search out the brightest, most garish pieces you can find. Make sure they’re all 4 sizes too big and don’t match each other at all. A leopard print suit is a basic staple, but a pink suit over a t-shirt is another way to go. With suits that loud though, you have to make sure all your accessories are as gigantic and bright as possible and that your haircut and facial hair are as ridiculous as possible.

If those instructions aren’t precise enough, please to enjoy this video in which Williams takes you into a store and shows you point-by-point how to dress like a complete and utter clown.

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A Side By Side Comparison of Baltimore Roofers

Most of you may remember that there was a torrential rain about two weeks ago. It rained hard for 30 hours straight. It was the sort of Baltimore downpour where Thames Street threatens to flood, gutters back up with Utz bags and hair weaves, and broken umbrellas are forsaken all over city streets.

The Chop was dismayed during this rain when a teeny-tiny spot on our bedroom ceiling increased in size several times over. It was clear that water was coming in somehow. Not much of it, but better to stay on top of these things early. We were going to have to call a roofer.

Abell Row House by local artist Robert McClintock.

Now, we’re still relatively new at this home-ownership business. We haven’t got a lot of experience in hiring contractors, so we thought we’d seek out the best we could find. In their best of 2010 issue, Baltimore Magazine printed a ‘throwdown’ among two area roofing contractors, and declared Fick Brothers the best roofer in the city.

So we called Fick Brothers. The lady who answered the phone (a secretary? a receptionist? Who else would answer a phone?) wouldn’t or couldn’t take our appointment for an estimate. She insisted that so-and-so would call us right back, which she did… more than two hours later. By that time, we had already set up an appointment with another company.

The runner up in the Baltimore Magazine article was Brothers Services. They were at least capable of taking an appointment, but that’s about all they were good for.

Now, the Chophouse is a rowhouse of the type illustrated in the picture. There is a small bit of roofing over the bay windows on the second floor, then a parapet wall, then behind that begins the main roof. The stain on our ceiling is near the bedroom windows, and it’s clear that the leak is not in the main roof, but somewhere near the front.

On the appointed day, Brothers showed up two hours late. When someone did arrive, it was a kid who couldn’t have been more than 22, tops. The card he handed us said “assistant manager.” We were pretty dubious about this at first. Even if this kid was totally competent at actual roofing work, he was certainly not a professional estimator. When we call on a company that is so well regarded, we’re calling for someone with many years, or decades of experience.

The kid went up the ladder, and when he came down our suspicions were confirmed. He pointed out 3 areas where water could be coming in, and recommended tearing out and replacing the entire section of roofing above the windows. And this was at a minimum. Then he started in with the “Well, we have an in-house mason we could call for that wall and blah blah blah…” He couldn’t even give us a proper estimate, but had to “talk to his boss” and said he’d email it to us. We suspected he was trying to get us over a barrel, and when the estimate came in the next day it was $2184.

Thanks to social media, word of mouth travels a hell of a lot faster than it used to. We put word out that we were looking for an honest roofer, and by the end of the day a friend came through and recommended Horizon Roofing. He said that Ken (the boss) had come out to his rowhouse and assessed a problem, and ended up telling him how to fix it himself. That was all we needed to hear.

When Ken came out for an estimate, he wasn’t two hours late but actually two days early. We were running out the door just as he arrived, but he left a detailed estimate in the mailbox that highlighted all the same areas over the windows, but his repair recommendations came to a mere $395. With a free servicing if it should leak again within 30 days.

We know who we’re about to hire, and we’re sure we’ll be writing Ken a thank you note in the very near future.

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E. Joseph & the Phantom Heart, Poly/Western @ Windup Space Tonight

Back in January we had some pretty nice things to say about local trio Poly/Western. Now that it’s almost April, we’re gonna go ahead and double down on those statements.

At that time, we’d been vaguely aware of this band, but hadn’t had the chance to see them live yet. We expected them to be good, but we don’t mind saying that they were great. They reminded us right away of some crazy hybrid of the Twilight Singers, Sense Field, Tool and Big Black. While the rest of the country is just catching onto stuff like Beach House and Wye Oak, we’re here to tell you that Poly/Western is on the vanguard of local talent, and they’re what Baltimore needs to start paying close attention to right now.

E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart play the Windup Space tonight. 9 pm Doors.

Those are some pretty bold statements for a band that has yet to put out its first full-length. We believe they’re warranted though. At the January show we picked up a free copy of their 3-song Orange ep, and it’s been in heavy rotation at the Chophouse ever since. We’d definitely advise you to check out the Poly/Western Bandcamp Page, where you can download the Orange ep, as well as the 3 songs that make up the Down Home Blizzard Demos. Giving a spin to either one of these brief recordings will easily have you wanting to play it again by the time it’s over.

Sharing the stage tonight and equally deserving of your attention tonight is Baltimore’s own E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart. The Phantom Heart is no small pill for the listener to swallow. On the face of it, this band makes pop songs. These songs, however, are not to be taken at face value. The artist page on their label’s site throws around the term “power-pop” pretty liberally, but we don’t quite think this does E. Joseph justice. A listen to their 2008 album All The Medicine In The World… will certainly remind a listener of the best of the 80’s, Duran Duran, Simple Minds and the like, but it also begs the question “What would have happened if U2 and Sting hadn’t fucked it all up for everybody?”

This is definitely some sub-genre of pop. Not power-pop, but we call it that because no one ever got around to naming it properly. It went extinct before anyone could. Only the Cure made it out of the 80’s relatively intact playing something close to this sound. It’s as dead as doo-wop. Dead as Latin.

If they’d been around 30 years ago, E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart are the sort of band that would have signed a multi-record deal on a major, been all over Vh1, and fueled many a post-prom heavy petting session from sea to shining sea. After the complete and utter collapse of the music industry though, they find themselves a perfect fit on the homegrown and very modern Beechfields Label. It’s no stretch to say that this band is revitalizing and reinventing pop music the same way that the Beechfields is helping to reinvent the music industry, and we’d urge anyone reading this to come out to the Windup Space tonight and support them both.

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Windup Space is located at 12 W. North Avenue in Station North. Survival Society and Me & This Army also play. Ages 21+

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Libation Lounge @ Gin Mill Tonight

It’s finally Friday, Baltimore. It’s a Friday after a hell of a long week, too. Between the crazy weather and the even crazier Libyans and all the other stresses of grown up responsibility, you look like you could use a drink.

Not just any drink will do on a Friday though. A pint of Boh or a shot of Pikesville in your ginger ale is seldom enough to wash away the travails of a long week and make the clock slow down for the rest of the weekend. A Friday night calls for a proper cocktail.

A visual approximation of the Chop getting stewed with Post Prohibition.

You’d be hard-pressed tonight to find any bartender pouring better cocktails that Josh Sullivan down at the Gin Mill. Josh is the writer behind one of our favorite local blogs Post Prohibition, which is an outstanding one-stop resource for all aspects of quality cocktail consumption. Featuring everything from original recipes to bottle reviews to house made add-ons (like scratch grenadine and bitters), Post Prohibition is an ever-expanding resource for anyone with a serious interest in cocktail culture.

The Libation Lounge is an occasional series of events where Josh comes out from behind the blog with a custom drawn menu of seasonal cocktails. Some are classics, some are updated, and some are original creations, but all of them are well-made and worthy of a taste. You can take a peek at the Hendrick’s-heavy Spring menu here, and we dare you to have a look and not find something you’d want to try.

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The Gin Mill is at 2300 Boston Street in Canton. The Libation Lounge event begins at 7 pm and will go on until last call.

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