Tag Archives: Hampden

Deleted Scenes, The Life and Times @ Golden West Tonight

As Walter Sobchak once said: Life does not stop and start at your convenience you miserable piece of shit.”

Such is the case tonight when the Deleted Scenes show will start sometime after 10 whether it’s convenient for you or us or the rest of Baltimore or not. And for most people, we’re guessing that comes down to not.Late Monday night might be a convenient time for people who work in restaurants or second-shift retail, but for the rest of us, it’s quite inconvenient.

The Chop, however, is blissfully funemployed at the moment, so we’ll likely head over to the Avenue tonight, even though we’d rather have it start at 7 and be in bed by 11.

Deleted Scenes brings their new record to the Golden West tonight.

You can’t have everything, after all, and even though we may have to stay up late to see this show, at least we won’t have to fight crowds. In fact, it may be our last chance to see Deleted Scenes with a little elbow room, because if they’re not filling every room they play now, it’s only a matter of time. Their second full length Young People’s Church of the Air is a very solid follow up to the excellent Birdseed Shirt, and is going to bring people out in numbers in the near future. In fact, tonight’s show is the very first chance you have to buy it on vinyl, so if you want to be the first one on your block you have no choice but to turn out.

For those of us who aren’t voracious vinyl collectors, or who can stand to wait 3-5 days, you can simply order it here or stream and purchase the record in convenient digital format.

Deleted Scenes is making their way up and down the coast with The Life and Times which makes for a pretty tempting double bill. We’re not going to front… We’ve never even heard of The Life and Times until just now, but after checking out their site we highly suspect that’s probably our fault and not theirs. Sounding kind of like a cross between Juno and early Jimmy Eat World, their stuff is right up our alley, and we’re looking forward to checking them out.

And really, that’s the whole reason why we bother to go to crummy little restaurant shows on Monday nights, and why we go to so many shows in the first place… to get to know new bands. It’s sometimes less than convenient, but it beats the hell out of sitting around reading Pitchfork.

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Golden West Cafe is at 1105 W 36th Street in Hampden. 10 pm doors.

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Tomorrow: Baker Artist Awards Closing, Pissed Jeans

One of the best things about living in Baltimore, and perhaps the major reason we love it so dearly, is the ability to go from something very highbrow and sophisticated to something decidedly lowbrow with absolutely no transition in between.

That’s exactly how our night looks to be shaping up tomorrow, when we’ll be going directly from one of the BMA’s “late night” parties over to the Golden West for an actual late night party. There’s 2 to 1 odds that the phrase “Oh you think you fancy, huh?” will come into play at some point tomorrow.

Pissed Jeans plays the Golden West tomorrow.

If you haven’t been to one of the Baltimore Museum of Art’s late night events yet, you’re absolutely missing out on one of the best things in all of Baltimore. The museum has been throwing Saturday night parties at the close of each of its special exhibitions recently, and each one has been bigger and more fun than the last with food, music, cash bar, and free or very cheap admission. Tomorrow’s event is free, and will have a distinctly Baltimorean feel to it as it marks the closing of the Baker Artist Awards exhibit.

This year’s winners were, of course, Gary Kachadourian, Audrey Chen, and Shodekeh, who will be joined by several more familiar names including Ellen Cherry, Justin Sirois, and the Copycat Theater.

But we can only pretend to be rich and classy and sophisticated for so long. By the time this party is over we’ll be more than ready to hie to the Golden West for Sub Pop’s Pissed Jeans. What’s Pissed Jeans? It’s a big dirty dick that fucks you in the ear. It’s the kind of band that makes beer drip from the ceiling and nice things get broken. It’s the sound of America falling apart at the seams.

It’s also Dana’s birthday. Happy birthday, Dana.

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How to Stage a Boycott, Hon

Most of you probably well remember the Great Hontroversy of December 2010, in which Denise Whiting trademarked the term “Hon” in various forms, and crowed about it in the media in an attempt to drum up publicity for her newly opened tacky souvenir shop, just in time for stocking stuffer season.

Ink was spilled and the fat was chewed (and not just in the restaurant), Facebook groups were formed and street protests organized, but in the end all it really amounted to was a collective “Yeah, fuck that lady.” Fast forward to June 2011: Honfest is upon us again, and Whiting has managed to piss people off even further by banning the sale of cat’s eye sunglasses and cans of hairspray and telling people that their political opinions and religious beliefs are not welcome. Everyone shall worship at the altar of HON, and all hail the mayor of Hon Town.

A visual approximation of our sentiments toward Honfest.

So we’re Skipping Honfest this year. This isn’t really news, since we’ve never actually been to any of the previous Honfests. Shitty grandpa music and overpriced Heinekens aren’t really our cup of tea, and we’re put off by anything that’s so cartoonishly self-referential and clichéd, especially when it’s organized by one of Baltimore’s most hated people. Honfest is not so much a festival to be enjoyed, but a product to be bought, paid for and consumed.

We wouldn’t call it a boycott though, and we bristle when we hear other people use the term. Most people in the modern age have a poor understanding of what a boycott actually is, let alone the skills or wherewithal to organize one successfully. Before you go calling for a boycott this weekend, or anytime, it’s a good idea to know what the keys to a successful boycott are:

  • Fight a grievous wrong. It’s difficult for any boycott to be successful without broad public support. It helps if what you’re fighting against is universally seen as an injustice. Child labor or unsafe working conditions are good grounds for a boycott. While Hon, Inc. has shown an incredible amount of hubris and alienated the community many times over, it’s hard to argue that there’s much actual injustice being done here. Some, but not much.
  • A pre-existing organizational structure. Some of the most successful boycotts in history haven’t been carried off by people coming together, they were won by people who were already together. The Montgomery bus boycott was only possible because churches and civil rights groups were already well organized, and were able to mobilize their members. Ditto with the California grape boycott, the core of which was the United Farm Workers’ Union. A Facebook group by itself is not an organization. It’s merely a tool for disseminating information among an organization.
  • Strong Leadership. At the head of every successful boycotting organization, there’s strong leadership. MLK. Cesar Chavez. Gandhi. Leading an actual boycott is a full time job. It’s not something to which you dedicate half an hour of internet time a few nights a week.
  • Dedicated foot soldiers. A true boycott of Cafe Hon, if it were to have any economic impact at all, would require people standing out on the Avenue morning, noon, and night wearing tee shirts, carrying signs, handing out literature, and making a case to the general public of the grievous wrongdoing we mentioned before. Any volunteers?
  • A manifold boycott strategy. You don’t just send an email blast, show up on a streetcorner and yell boycott. Who are you anyway, Jesse Jackson? A successful boycott requires a lot of advance planning. Even with something as small scale as a restaurant or a festival, if success is expected, there are enormous organizational, logistical, fundraising, and public relations challenges to consider. Do you just want to skip the festival, or do you want to boycott its sponsors as well?
  • An attainable set of goals. Part of that strategy should be a set of goals or reasonable demands. The idea of bringing the big bad evil corporation to its knees by crippling it economically is as cartoonish as the beads and beehives that are about to take over the Avenue. The goal of a boycott isn’t bankrupting anyone, it’s getting your target to change its behavior, e.g. integrating buses or paying farm workers minimum wage.
  • A viable alternative. Key to any boycott is not just saying “Don’t buy that” but saying “Buy this instead.” Fortunately, in the case of Cafe Hon, we’ve already got that covered.

Organizing a legitimate boycott is a lot of work, and can be a very long-term undertaking. When the faux-Hons invade the Avenue this weekend, we won’t be boycotting. We’ll be protesting in a truly homegrown Baltimore way- talking shit, holding grudges, and counting down the days to Hampdenfest.

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Secret Mountains, Dangerous Ponies @ Golden West Tonight

We were sad to hear the news a few weeks ago that the Hexagon Space was closing. We’re sad to hear about any venue closing up, even if we don’t go there very often. Fletcher’s, The Supreme Imperial, even Hal Daddy’s; we may have gone there pretty seldom, but any venue is better than no venue in our eyes.

That said, we weren’t exactly losing sleep over it. The law of supply and demand has always governed underground music venues in Baltimore, and sometimes it almost seems as if one space needs to close before someone else will take the initiative to open a new one. Every time we hear about something like this, we’re sorry for it, but more than anything we’re excited to see what new thing the future holds.

Secret Mountains plays Golden West tonight.

So it is with the Hexagon. The way that City Paper article reads, the thing that takes the Hexagon’s place might even literally take its place, and another DIY venue is not out of the question for that address. The room is a great place to watch bands, but Joy Martin is right… there had to be more shows there in order to make the space live up to its potential. The last time we were there was actually more than a year before the closing.

In the meantime though, the shows must go on, and the scene is none the poorer for losing Hexagon. For instance, tonight the Golden West is hosting a show which is nearly the exact same bill as one of the better Hexagon shows in recent memory. Local favorites Secret Mountains are rejoined by their Philly friends and contemporaries Hop Along and Dangerous Ponies.

If you’re the type who likes taping shows or taking photos of them, this one would be a good choice to document. Three great bands for five bucks on a Wednesday, after all the real-job-having nine to five types have packed it in for the night. This show will be one of those little things that makes Summer so Summery, and if you’re serious about getting your Summertime fun on, this one’s not to be missed.

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SnoBaltimore Zine Release @ Atomic Books Tonight

No lie Baltimore, we’ve been craving a snowball lately. Like bad. Like a real one, that stains your teeth and tongue and comes in a giant styrofoam cup- none of that fake-ass Rita’s junk. We’ve yet to find one either. It’s still only May. Schools have been in and it’s just now Memorial Day weekend, so what snowball stands we have chanced to come across have been closed. After this weekend though, it’s officially snowball season.

Atomic Books hosts a release party for two local publications tonight. 7 pm.

Most snowball stands have something less than what you’d call a comprehensive internet presence. Many of them are such small small businesses you won’t even find them in the yellow pages. This was the necessity that mothered the invention of the Baltimore Snoball Collective, and the publication of the first edition of their SnoBaltimore Zine, which along with the Baltimore Time Travel Anthology will be the subject of a release party at Atomic Books in Hampden tonight.

Since the Chop has already time-traveled in Hampden once this week, we’re going to focus on snowballs. More specifically, grownup snowballs. As we said recently, Tequila and Key Lime is a winning combination, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

We can’t have our readers just will-nilly mixing liquors and snowball flavors! That would just end in toothaches, stomachaches, and heartache for everyone involved. It’s with this sentiment in mind, and in honor of tonight’s event that we’re proud to release our Guide to Snoball Flavors and Liquor. There are thousands of workable combinations, and many of them really are very good, but if you’re new to the idea of mixing a childhood favorite with a staple of adulthood, this is a good starting point:

The Baltimore Chop Guide to Snoball Flavors and Liquor

Tequila… Key Lime, Kiwi Lime, Papaya

Brandy… Blackberry, Black Cherry, Black Raspberry

Bourbon… Peach, Butter Pecan, Lemonade

Light Rum… Cherry Limeade, Strawberry Mango, Mai Tai

Dark Rum… Pina Colada, Guava, Banana Daquiri

Gin… Sky Blue, Watermelon, Pink Lemonade

Orange Liqueur… Tutti Frutti, Dreamsicle, Egg Custard

Vodka… Anything. You can’t go wrong with vodka.

(All flavors chosen from the 2011 Southern Snow list of flavors.)

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Best Bets: Baltimore’s Best Liquor Stores

Sometimes you just want a six pack of Heineken. That’s a problem easily solved. Other times, all you need is a bottle of Beam. You can find that just about anywhere. Occasionally though, you need to go above and beyond. If you’re planning for a large party, stocking your bar from scratch, or starting your wine collection you’ll need a liquor store that goes above and beyond.

The shops mentioned here aren’t so much liquor stores as they are liquor wonderlands. They’re like candy stores for grownups. They’re the places you keep coming back to, because they’ve got more different bottles in there than you could ever possibly drink, try though you might. They are, simply put, the best.

A visual approximation of the Chop buying a bottle at one of our favorite liquor stores.

Beltway Fine Wine. You’ve probably driven by Beltway at a pretty high speed and not thought much of it. It’s easy to miss, being jammed underneath an Ethan Allen furniture store. What you don’t realize from the road though is that it’s got the same square footage as the giant furniture store above it. It’s huge. There may be some strange obscure liquor somewhere in the world that Beltway doesn’t have, but we kind of doubt it. 8727 Loch Raven Blvd, Towson.

The Wine Source. As liquor stores go, the Wine Source is the Chop’s home base. Simply the best inside Baltimore City, as the rest of the stores on this list are all out in the suburbs. If the Wine Source had a walk-in beer cooler and a better parking situation, it would achieve liquor store perfection. 3601 Elm Avenue, Baltimore.

Dawson’s Liquors. We’ve never actually been to Dawson’s, because it’s in Severna Park and we only pass through that way about once every 10 years or so, but we were tipped off to it by our man over at I Hate JJ Redick who’s always on point, so we’re going to take his word for it. We hate to judge a store by its website, but theirs is pretty damn good, and crappy stores don’t usually invest in outstanding websites. 589 B & A Blvd, Severna Park.

Midway Liquors. If you’re traveling that far out Route 40 East, you must make a point of stopping in at Midway. Even if you have to pull a u-turn to do it. We’ve only been in there once, but we walked out with three good bottles of Scotch for $100. Those bottles would have cost $150 most other places, and that’s the beauty of Midway. You could say the same about anything in the store. 12320 Pulaski Highway, Joppa.

Honeygo Wine and Spirits. with their ‘Wall of Beer’ Honeygo is known as a go to spot for fans of microbrews and imports, and is even favored by one of Baltimore’s foremost beer experts. Of course, as any great liquor store does, they excel in their selection of wine and spirits as well. 5004 Honeygo Center Dr, Perry Hall.

Shawan Liquors. Shawan Liquors is in Hunt Valley. Like everything else in Hunt Valley, it’s pretty much by rich people, for rich people. So if you’ve got a taste for a well aged Islay or a Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape, Shawan is the place for you. If you want a 30 pack of High Life, well, they might have that gathering dust in the basement too. 11337 York Road, Hunt Valley.

Ronnie’s Fine wine and Spirits. Last but not least is the pride of Harford County, Ronnie’s in Bel Air. They’ve got a wonderful walk in beer cooler, as well as a ton of microbrews, a good selection of kegs, and a 3-for-$12 wine bin. They’re also known for their occasional blowout sales which draw large crowds looking to stock up. Putting every bottle in the store on sale once in a while is a policy we’d like to see more stores adopt! 1514 Rock Spring Road, Forest Hill.

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Chop on the Spot: Griffith’s Tavern

Part of the appeal of any neighborhood bar is being in a spot where “everybody knows your name,” but as we discussed in a previous post, a little anonymity can go a long way sometimes. There are times when a man wants a little solitude; not too much, just an hour or so to sit in the dark, not be bothered, have a drink and be alone with his thoughts.

It’s at times like these- these blessed, quiet hours, that you might find the Chop in Griffith’s Tavern with a cold draft and our phone turned off, hiding in plain sight. Griffith’s is truly the best of both worlds- the place where the bartender will learn your name and your drink, but where you’re guaranteed not to run into anyone you’d rather not run into.

Griffith's Tavern... the bar that time forgot.

In a way, hiding in plain sight is what Griffith’s does best. It sits there right on Hickory, just a block up from the Avenue smack in the dead-center of Hampden proper. It’s still pretty easy to miss though, being as non-descript as a bar can be. There’s comparatively little traffic passing that corner, and even some of the Hampden locals who pass the place on foot mistake it for being either a private club of some sort, or being closed down entirely. The small sign with business hours posted is the only clue that it’s actually a functional bar. Being attached to the back of a rowhouse, with solid steel doors and tiny, barred windows the place is willingly uninviting from the exterior.

On the interior, it’s nothing less than the bar that time forgot. Stepping inside the door is literally like stepping back in time. Wood paneling is the predominant theme, accented by a nicotine-stained drop ceiling, an ancient, never-refinished wooden bar, and a Bud Light clock over the video poker machine which looks to date from about 1985. One flatscreen TV jammed up in the corner is the only nod to modernity.

The flashback continues behind the bar, where you’ll see a few things that are tough to find in some bars these days; glass-door coolers with cans of Busch, pints and half pints of liquor for carry-out, snack food and a “medicine cabinet” stocked with singles of Tylenol, Advil, and Bayer, which come in handy in the kind of bar that opens at 9 am and has no food menu. There’s even an old coffee pot behind the bar.

Of course, the regulars at Griffith’s don’t notice anything being out of date, because that’s just the way things have always been. Griffith’s caters to Hampden’s last genuine Hons. We’re not talking about the neck-tattooed, Newport-breath, recovery program ‘Hons’ you find in Zissimo’s or Dmitri’s either. Griffith’s is like the beauty parlor; the place your mom and your aunt get together to gossip about the neighbor’s kids. A $2.50 draft is cheaper than a perm. Much like a salon or a barbershop, the conversation here is general. Anyone can take the floor and put in their two cents at any time, and not be thought rude for doing so. Or you can just sit back and listen. You don’t even have to listen that long before you hear a few good digs at the expense of a certain Hampden restaurateur.

Griffith’s may not be the best choice for Saturday night. It’s not the bar you pick to meet a friend for dinner. If you’re looking to flirt or meet someone, you’re definitely in the wrong place. But if what you seek is a cold beer and a peaceful hour, enjoyably spent then there may be no better bar in Baltimore.

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