Tag Archives: Summer

In Praise of the Cocktail Pitcher

As the weather here in Charm City becomes ever more pleasant and temperate, we’ve found that we’re spending a lot more time in the great out-of-doors. Of course, we’re not really the trail hiking and mountain biking type- most of our outdoor activities have more to do with following our bliss than with following a trail, and for us that often means raising a glass. Or three.

As anyone who’s sat outside relaxing for more than 10 minutes can tell you, running inside for anything is an incredible hassle. Man invented coolers because no one wants to take down their feet and leave a cool breeze for a steamy kitchen just to get another beer.

The cocktail pitcher: Summer drinking done right.

Whether you’re drinking beers in the backyard or cocktails on the veranda, the same principle applies. Yet for some reason when most people build their bars they’ll gather their bottles and even buy some quality barware, but neglect a crucial component to Summer drinking: the cocktail pitcher.

When most people think of cocktails in pitchers, they think of very specific occasions and drinks; the pitcher of margaritas for Cinco de Mayo, a pitcher of mojitos for a holiday cookout, or breaking out the blender for frozen daquiris. There’s some irony in that though. Most people hope to impress guests with their secret-recipe sangria, only to end up serving it in a crummy old tupperware pitcher which has seen more than its share of dishwasher heat and kool-aid stains. This will never do.

At the Chophouse, not only do we have a dedicated cocktail pitcher, but it occupies a prominent place on our bar. We keep it out in plain view because most dedicated cocktail pitchers are as elegant as they are useful. Whether vintage or modern, standing alone or matched as a set, cocktail pitchers are typically given as much care in their creation as in their design, usually being mouth-blown from crystal or very high quality glass. With most ranging from $20-$50, you can shop with confidence knowing that you’re likely to end up with more than your money’s worth.

Whether it’s sake punch or one of our favorite homespun highballs, we’re not sure how we ever got by without a pitcher. Pick one up for yourself this summer, and we think you’ll agree.

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Chop Style: No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

Well, it’s pretty hot outside. In the dead of Summer, most people want to get away with wearing as little as possible. Jorts sightings have been at at all time high in Baltimore recently, and tank tops and flip flops are out in force as well.

We would hope that it doesn’t still need to be said in 2011, but apparently it does. The old rule still stands: No shirt, No shoes, No service.

Even the diviest of dive bars require shoes and shirts.

These things may be optional in your backyard or rooftop deck, but out in the streets, shoes and shirts are still mandatory, no matter what the temperature. Sure, okay, if you absolutely must you can wear sandals the right way but you’ve got to have something on your feet.

This is Baltimore City… it’s filthy. Aside from the typical urban grit and grime, our streets and sidewalks are often full of broken glass, chicken bones, strip club postcards and all other manner of hazards. The Chop happened to sight a girl walking barefoot down Cathedral Street a few days ago, and we were nothing less than revolted. Walking or (God forbid) running barefoot in an urban street is not only dangerous, it’s disgusting. Not even Rex Ryan would tickle those toes.

As far as shirts go, you’re gonna have to keep that on too. Nothing says absolute white trash redneck like going shirtless publicly. Have you ever seen COPS? The shirts to skins ratio on there is always at least 2/5.

It doesn’t even matter if you’re a sitting congressman who hits the gym regularly… shirtless is simply not a good look on anyone. This summer, just keep it on. You might even think about a lightweight cotton or linen jacket as well.

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The Chop Approves of Selling Water on the Corner

Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone we’re officially in the midst of another Baltimore Summer, and all that that entails. As of now, and for the next three months or so we’re going to see all the hallmarks of Summer in the streets; packs of dirtbikes, open fire hydrants, Arabbers, and of course, kids selling water at intersections.

A little side-hustle for a kid selling cold drinks at traffic lights is a time-honored Charm City tradition, as much ingrained in the fabric of the city as formstone and painted screens. We here at the Baltimore Chop appreciate the work they do all Summer long, and we hope that this year they’ll multiply as fast as some other fads in street vending.

We're always happy to see some real small businessmen make an honest buck.

Summers in Baltimore are hot. You’ve gotta stay cool, gotta stay hydrated. You can try to run into the corner store for that nice cold beverage, but you know how it is… there’s never any parking, and if you try to double park or sneak in on the corner, then you’ve got some jerk behind you blaring his horn, and then a bunch of stoop-sitters will start yelling about that because it’s July, and it’s fucking hot and everybody’s all sunburned and irritable and ready to pick a fight over nonsense. Besides, even if you make it to the 7-11 and back, you’re going to stand in line and pay like $2.50 for that crappy little bottle of water which may or may not be cold.

As we’ve said before, the best cars to drive in Baltimore City are economy cars, and specifically the kind of economy cars that you get used and pay cash for and don’t make payments on. Our own Chopmobile is so, ummm, economical that it doesn’t even have air conditioning, so you can believe that if we can score a bottle of water for a buck we’re going to chug it hard, and maybe buy another one at the next light.

Admittedly, buying several bottles of water in one trip is not the best choice environmentally, but it’s certainly a great choice for everyone economically. 24-Pack cases of Deer Park bottles were priced at 3 for $10 at the Waverly Giant recently, putting the cost per bottle at around 14 cents. Any store can make money selling water in quantity, because it’s so cheap to produce. Selling it at a stoplight for a buck will yield a profit of around 600% after you spend a couple of dollars for ice, and the drivers save 50-150% over mini-mart retail.

As valuable as this tasty, thirst-quenching community service is though, there’s one more benefit- a hidden benefit, that kids selling water bring to the city- namely that no intersection is big enough for two hustles. The more kids we’ve got selling water and sodas in the city, the fewer we have wielding dirty squeegees and demanding money for a worthless “service,” and better still, it means fewer dirty, pockmarked junkies panhandling our corners with cardboard signs.

The next time you buy a bottle of water from a kid on the corner, thank him not just for the sale, but for his hard work and community service as well.

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Update: We wrote this story a few days ago, and pushed it back to Thursday so that we could write about Anthony Weiner’s cock. We now find ourselves a day late and a dollar short, getting scooped by the City Paper. For further reading, check out Lee Gardner’s feature story this week on bottle rockers.

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Chop Style: How to Dress for Summer

Just do this… all Summer, all day long, every Summer, every day. These sons of bitches are so goddamn dapper that poor Brigitte Fossey can’t decide which one of them to devour first… and third.

Martin Sheen, Brigitte Fossey, and Sam Neill at Cannes, 1981.

If you ever wanted to know how to dress for Summer, cancel your GQ subscription and pay no mind to the blogs and the mall. Just do this. See how they’re standing on the middle of a beach in jackets and not looking overdressed? That’s style.

Wearing this in Baltimore could literally take you from the office to happy hour to the ballgame, from dinner at Bluegrass to Flicks on the Hill, or from a day at the zoo to a night on the Avenue. It’s also got the subtle advantage of being absolutely timeless. This photo is 30 years old, and it’s still going to look fresh 30 years from now.

Whatever you’re doing this Summer, do it in this.

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The Showiness of The Long Distance Runner

Okay, so we’re going to rant a little today. Just at tiny bit. We have to, because the topic we wish to address is such that the only way you can approach it is to rant anonymously on the internet. There’s no laws on the books about it- no signs posted, no accepted protocol. So we’re just going to come out with it here.

Yesterday was National Runnning Day and with the weather turning warm people all over are starting to think semi-seriously about getting in shape for the first time since their New Year’s resolutions. The sunshine is drawing people out to pool parties, the beaches, and to all sorts of Summertime activities where a decent tan and a trim waistline are de rigueur. It’s for this reason that the number of joggers out on the streets multiplies exponentially this time of year.

As Tom Cortenay will tell you, running is best done alone- not in the middle of a crowded city.

We’re not here to rant about running. Running is great. We endorse it. More people should do it. Hell, we should probably give it a shot one of these days. We’re not getting any younger, after all. Ninety nine per cent of all joggers are perfectly wonderful people enjoying a wholesome and healthy hobby. The other one percent are assholes.

There are tons of great places to go jogging in Baltimore City. Whether it’s up the Jones Falls Trail, at one of our lakes, on a track at a high school or college, around one of the several large city parks, or just along a pleasant avenue like Keswick or Guilford or just about any street in Bolton Hill. Wherever you live, you can find a great spot in your neighborhood, or jog a different spot in the city every day of the week. Yet somehow, this still needs to be said:

Stop jogging on crowded commercial sidewalks.

This is a city of neighborhoods; of little main streets and town squares. It’s in these places where shops and restaurants open their doors, where people are coming in and out, strolling up and down, walking their dogs, stopping to chat, enjoying outdoor cafes, people watching, soaking up the atmosphere and all of the other things that make city life city life. These blocks are crowded. The last thing anyone needs is some sweaty jogger, oblivious in ipod headphones, weaving through the sidewalk, bumping into people and causing chaos. It’s annoying, and it ought to stop.

Honestly, it’s baffling to us. Why would anyone make a habit of running through crowded commercial strips where the sidewalk density can reach 50-100 people per block, when just one block over there’s a broad residential street with few if any people, less vehicular traffic, and fewer urban obstacles like newspaper boxes and bicycle racks? Why would you jog along Cross Street when you could run Riverside Avenue? Why do you need to run past the commercial blocks in Charles Village when you could just circle the JHU campus?

There’s only one explanation that occurs to us; that the few people who do make a habit of jogging in commercial districts aren’t really very serious runners anyway. They’re showoffs. ***OOOoohh. Look at me jogging! Do you see my natural tan? Do you see the carefully selected vintage tee shirt that I cut the sleeves off of? Did you notice that my ipod’s special running mix has Bon Iver AND Lil Wayne??? I”m sooo gonna post my time and mileage on Facebook as soon as I get home!*** Again and again, these are they type of people we notice running through commercial districts- not the kind who care about running, but the kind who care about advertising the fact that they run. Fuck them.

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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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Chop Style: Highwaters and Sandals

The Summer has officially begun in Baltimore. Memorial Day weekend marked its official start, and the holiday brought the stifling Summer heat right along with it. It breaks our Choppy little heart to think that for the next 3 months, most people in our fair city are going to forgo fashion altogether in favor of whatever they’ve got in their drawers with the fewest actual threads in it. We’re in for a long Summer of sleeveless tees, jorts and the rest of it.

Some of us haven’t given up though. We’ve said before that we do not favor shortpants on grown men, and that sandals are only to be worn in close proximity to water. However, if you followed our advice and bought a stylish pair of flip flops, you may be wondering exactly how the fuck you’re expected to wear them if not with shorts. For the answer, we look once again to Steve McQueen:

Sure, it's too hot to put much effort into your wardrobe. Good thing this look is effortless.

If you’re actually going to be near the water, there’s no better look than this one. Not even the fact that this photo was once misappropriated for a Gap ad can take away from this dead-on Summer style. Sandals are actually made for getting your feet wet, and so highwater pants are an appropriate match. In point of fact, this is the only time that highwater pants are actually acceptable.

We’ve also said before that we’re no great fan of the Sartorialist, and one of his recent photos illustrates how not to wear highwaters:

Don't ever do this in Baltimore. Ever.

Scott Schuman publishes this kind of crap all the time. We only had to go back a couple of days to find this one. Our man here is exactly what Huckleberry Finn would look like if he moved to New York City and became a high-class rent boy.

Those pants are not only cuffed, they’re tailored that way to show off what we assume are artisanal calfskin ‘workman’s’ boots handmade in some Brooklyn studio, which must be stank as fuck being worn sockless the way they are. The rolled up short sleeves on the shirt (note McQueen’s long sleeves) and the willfully arcane suspenders suggest this lad belongs in the revival road cast of Newsies, but the $2000 briefcase carried without any other business attire reminds us that, yes, this guy probably does hand out lunchtime blowjobs to wall street executives for a living.

A comparison of these two photos illustrates not only the best way to wear cuffed pants, but also how to distinguish a timeless and effortless style from an incredibly expensive costume.

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