Category Archives: Other

Chop Style: Avoiding the Freshman Sydrome

First things first… The first thing is that we’re happy to announce that this blog was recognized yesterday by the City Paper in their annual Best of Baltimore issue as being Baltimore’s Best Local Blog. The BoB award carries a lot of weight in this town, and most of your finer local establishments display one on their walls from some year or another, so we’re excited to have one of our own to put in the office. We’re looking forward to spending long hours staring at it while we’re lazy and distracted and saying to ourselves “What the fuck are we going to write about today?” which is how blogs are made.

We also want to thank the CP staff for paying enough attention to remember that we are a blog. If we were handing out advice to a beginning blogger, it would not be “don’t write anything at all for 3 months” which is exactly what we’ve done up until yesterday. It means that much more to us for having been offline these 90 days.

A visual approximation of the Chop being the best.

So like we said, we get a little award suitable for framing. But the real prize when you win one of these is that you score an invite to the annual Best of Baltimore party, and get to hobnob and schmooze and glad-hand with the other winners, and of course, be privy to an open bar.

So we went there yesterday, and we did that. We even managed to get a date for the event. And without saying too much about it, we didn’t look at it as one of these “Oh I just need somebody to go with so let’s just go and hang out or whatever” dates. It was more like one of these “She seems pretty awesome and I really want this to go well and I’m kind of nervous about it and I still sort of can’t believe she said yes.” kind of dates. The best kind.

Which brings us to the main idea of this post. For a big date, or any type of big event whether it’s a job interview, a holiday, a wedding or what have you, the temptation is always there to go shopping beforehand and find something new to wear. It’s a temptation we usually resist, and we recommend the rest of you do the same.

Think about the beginning of high school. The first day of ninth grade is a big fucking deal for most kids. You’re out of middle school, and thrown in with a lot of older kids. You may be meeting kids from other middle schools, taking new classes, dating for real for the first time, and you’re trying you’re level best just to fit in, let alone cut a great figure down the hallways.

Maybe it’s different for girls, but for most of us boys your mom dragged you to the mall to hit the back to school sales and made you try on jeans and shirts for hours on end, wouldn’t let you get any of the things that you really wanted, or anything that wasn’t on sale, or anything that couldn’t double as church clothes- in short, anything good. So the first day of school rolls around and now that the clothes are bought you actually have to wear them, and in addition to all the hassles and stresses and pressures of starting high school, you’re constantly thinking “Do these jeans look like Dad jeans? Do these look like floppy clown shoes? Does this shirt make me look like a doofus?” And you wish you’d never gone shopping at all.

We’ve got it better as adults. Most of us have a much improved sense of style and a better sense of self than we did at 14, and we’re free to buy and wear what we will without any help from Mom. All the same, the Freshman Syndrome still persists.

Sure, those pants look great, but do they look great on you? That sweater is nice enough to be an investment piece, but will it itch your neck until you wash it a few times? New shoes are great to have, but they’re even better after you’ve broken them in and they’re not stiff and unforgiving. At the end of the day, looking good is mostly about confidence, and it’s hard to be very confident in something you’ve seen only once in a store mirror. The clothes that really inspire confidence are the ones that we know fit the best; that we’ve seen in our own mirrors, that we’ve been photographed in, that have generated plenty of compliments in the past. Better than new clothes are your favorite clothes.

Having a closet full of clothes that we can count on is one of the best things about being a bona fide adult. In our case, we’re always prepared for anything from a wedding to a funeral to a formal event, or even a date… no trip to the mall required.

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Tomorrow: Charles Street Friday Market @ Charles & Lanvale

The Chop has always has decidedly mixed feelings about farmers’ markets. We’re certainly glad they’re there… no doubt about that. At the same time though, we don’t actually go out to them and buy produce as often as we probably ought to.

We like the Waverly market quite a lot, but it ends at noon and quite frankly if we’re waking up at 10:30, getting dressed and running out to buy vegetables isn’t always at the top of our priorities list, especially if we’ve still got to go into Giant for items not available outside. That’s the reason it took us so long to get to the JFX Farmers’ Market, and now that we’ve been, well, we’re in no rush to go back. The JFX market is just the right mix of dirty hippies, snotty yuppies, oblivious children, and a 30-deep line for coffee to make it equal to about the 5th level of hell.

Charles Street Friday Market combines two classic Baltimore pastimes: buying produce and drinking in the street.

The new Charles Street Friday Market might be a little more up our alley. First of all, we don’t have to roll our ass out of bed at the crack of 9 am to get there on time. The Lanvale Street location is just about perfect for being close to home and central, but not blocking up Friday rush hour traffic, and being in Station North (we suspect) will draw a better mix of people than some other area markets.

We were out of town last Friday for the inaugural setup of the Friday Market, but we expect it will have everything the JFX offers, only on a decreased scale. We’re looking for tomatoes and corn and spinach and asparagus… the hula hoops and baubles and scented soap are none of our concern.

But perhaps the best thing going for the Friday market is that they’ve got the one thing we may love more than coffee… beer. The market is sponsored by Frederick’s Flying Dog Brewery, and you can even sip on an Old Scratch or a Snake Dog while you’re shopping. In addition, the Metro Gallery will open its doors at 3 pm with happy hour specials, and is also now featuring a carry out license for beer and wine.

The combination of a farmers’ market and a happy hour isn’t just clever, it’s one of those ideas that’s so ingenious that we didn’t even know we needed it in our lives until someone invented it. As if you weren’t doing enough good by supporting local farms and brewers, a portion of the market’s sales will go to benefit League of Dreams, which helps children with developmental disabilities get involved with baseball and softball throughout the area. It’s not just win-win, it’s win-win-win.

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Charles Street Friday Market runs from 3-8 pm every Friday in the unit block of Lanvale Street.

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The Dating Game @ Ottobar Tonight

You read that headline right, Choppers. The Dating Game is at the Ottobar tonight. Not some obscure touring indie rock band called the Dating Game, but, you know, a homegrown version of the old seventies TV show. Their website is short on specifics, but presumably a handful of moderately attractive 20-somethings will get on the stage and answer some corny questions about dating, a girl will pick a guy, and they may or may not go on an actual date some time in the near future.

Second suitor: if we were making whoopee, what sounds would you make?

We are in full support of the staging of live game shows in local bars. It’s a trend we can get behind. We would have organized punk rock Jeopardy long ago if, you know, we weren’t just plain lazy about organizing stuff. We’ll be the first to come out and watch it though, as we were with the RTV ‘talent’ show and the Chatroulette Knife Throwing Contest.

The Dating Game at the Ottobar seems especially appropriate though since, well, who among us hasn’t met someone there? We’ve been on plenty of dates to the bar itself, and as for running into exes- well, there’s simply no better place in Baltimore for that.

We expect that tonight’s production will fall somewhere in that misty gray area between the dating show from Mallrats and some bona fide real life Hipster Wife Hunting. If nothing else, watching a bunch of awkward contestants stammer through embarrassing sex questions will probably make us feel pretty damn good about being single after 30. That is, as long as we can avoid getting the stinkpalm.

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Super Art Fight 10 @ Ottobar Tonight

It’s Super Art Fight night again at the Ottobar. Once again, there’s nothing we can tell you here that hasn’t already been said over on their very thorough and entertaining blog. They’ve got more inside baseball stuff over there than the actual Inside Baseball. Check it out.

SAFX is at the Ottobar tonight. 9 pm doors.

Then again, maybe there is one thing we can tell you that they won’t. Perhaps it’s out of modesty, but they’ve made no mention that they’ve been selling out shows left and right lately, and enjoying incredible popularity throughout the region. The last time they were at Ottobar, 450 people showed up. There was a line down to 25th street. If you’re going, and you should, make sure you show up early.

Like, 7 pm and sit in Charmington’s until the line starts to form early.

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Spring Meet Opens @ Pimlico This Weekend

So, we wrote a whole big blog post last year about how we were going to put on our Sunday best and go to Pimlico and piss away a few bucks and fake-it rich. As it happened, we got called up last minute to help a friend move. We swore we’d get up to Old Hilltop the next week, and then one thing led to another and long story short, we never made it to the races at all last year.

Well, the Spring meet is here again, and this year, goddamn it, we’re off to the races. We suggest you check out some live racing too, any day except the Preakness. Don’t go to Preakness.

Kegasus, and by extension the Preakness itself, is an embarrassment to our city before the eyes of the nation.

The Preakness organizers have failed miserably in recent years, and this year they’ve more than outdone themselves with the God-awful, thoroughly embarrassing Kegasus campaign. We’ll say first off that we’re no big fan of Danny McBride or any of the white trash, delusional, substance abusing memes surrounding his characters. It was bad enough when Keystone Beer ripped him off entirely, but this rip-off of a ripoff with a horse twist is more watered down than Keystone Beer itself.

Unfortunately, the Jockey Club and their ad firm Elevation Ltd. have decided to make an ‘outside run’ at the highly prized 18-25 male demographic, and don’t mind alienating anyone and everyone who doesn’t fit that demo along the way. The funny thing is, they had those customers locked up in the BYOB days, and blew it all to hell by discontinuing that policy. We understand that they’re trying their hardest to divorce the Preakness from actual horse racing by making the infield a generic rock music-and-shitty-beer festival, but as we’ve already pointed out, there are hundreds of festivals in Baltimore every Summer. Frat boys don’t need Preakness as an excuse to get drunk outside.

The way we see it, the Jockey Club blew a golden opportunity last year when they came crawling back to 18-25 year old males. They should have followed the example of Churchill Downs and divided their infield into sections.

Note: this is not actually Pimlico.

Even a very simple division like this one would make a lot more sense than having a handful of random frat bros wandering dumbly from tent to tent looking for the shortest beer line. We would have liked to see them make the backstretch the collegiate/rock concert/ all you can drink area while reserving the third and fourth turns for the Media pavillion (to which tickets could also be sold, because that’s a lot of real estate. Make the clubhouse turn some sort of family friendly picnic-type area, and market tickets to church groups and the like, and make the home stretch and starting gate area some sort of liquor company sponsored glutton’s paradise with food trucks, tents set up by regional restaurants, mircrobrew beer gardens and the like. Sell passes to each section at different prices, with premium charges for “2 section” passes, and even an “all access infield” pass for people who want to see the bands and get the best fare and best views.

Is this a brilliant revolutionary idea? No. But it’s a good idea. It’s a workable idea. It’s an idea that would make us seriously consider buying Preakness tickets, and it took us about one minute to think of it. If the Maryland Jockey Club would trouble themselves to think seriously about the Preakness for one fucking minute, their sport and our tradition would both be better off.

As it is though, we’ll be watching our racing with the pensioners on the non-stakes days, Irishing up our coffee and going two across the board on a maiden.

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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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Blog Contest Winner Announced

Last week we were pleased to announce our first ever contest giveaway. After a week of fierce commenting competition, we’ve assigned each comment a number and used a highly sophisticated, top secret MIT-developed and DARPA tested random number generator to determine a winner.

Congratulations are due to Lauren, a loyal reader and one half of one of our favorite local blogs, CharmedCity.

If you’ve read CharmedCity, then you know that Lauren and Megan both have excellent taste, and enjoy a tipple from time to time. We’re sure a tiny, turtle-=emblazoned shot glass will be a welcome addition on the CharmedCity home bar.

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