Cubs Vs. Diamondbacks, 7/21: "Lukewarm Beer" Edition

Last Saturday's game against the vaunted Diamondbacks and their gang of talented no-namers (Luis Gonzalez, where have ye gone?) promised to be glorious. Not as much for the game itself but the conditions surrounding the game. Perfect weather (75 degrees, nary a cloud), three of my good friends whom I see but a couple of times a year coming into town the day prior, and of course, bleacher seats. I'll try to keep the recap relatively brief. If I were to go into too much detail, arrests would be made, readers would be alienated and I would have to go into hiding with Salman Rushdie.

Anyway, the previous night involved crusted steaks, fancy beers and mashed potatoes at Wildfire, a carnivore's wetdream. We scored the one mafia booth in the place, overlooking the main dining room, and proceeded to eat like kings (gluttonous, evil ones) and tell tales of past glories. Then it was on to Louie's Pub, for a drunken night of karaoke and revelry whose sheer decadence and spirit have not been seen since the infamous sing along to 'Tiny Dancer' was captured on film for "Almost Famous".

And then to wake up the next morning hangover free? Roofs were raised. Adopting children in celebration was contemplated.

The only hiccup of the night occurred when we got home and I sat in my boxers, drunk and despondent, trying to blow up the air mattress with our air pump. I sat there for what seemed like a good five minutes, trying to shove the air pump into the hole without success. I finally just sighed and said, 'This is frustrating at best.' Then we finally figured out that you had to use the attachment for the airpump (which was hanging conveniently, seemingly idiot-proof, from the pump itself).

So the morning started off with me trying a new recipe for 'strawberry oatmeal pancakes'. To say that this experiment went horribly awry would be an understatement. It was like someone literally pooped on plate, covered it in strawberries and then had the balls to serve it to respected guests. Lives were almost ended.

We hop onto the Ashland Bus (#9) to get there nice and early for batting practice. Pickup the tickets at Gate 12. So I do. I open the envelope. Terrace Reserved? Shit, I thought I got bleachers. This is frustrating at best (think air mattress). The guys come to my rescue though and say they don't care, this gives us more time to drink before the game. I think to myself, 'but we could just drink in the bleachers too', but I appreciate their attempts to cheer me up so I say nothing.

We decide to go to Merkle's because, well, it has Hawkeye flags, and these are all Iowa boys. Turns out to be a solid choice. No food is consumed, but I devour two Bloody Mary's (extra olives) and the guys put down a few beers. Cold beers at that, what do you know?

We head off to the stadium and take our seats. Section 236, Row 2. Shit, these are good. No bleachers, but we have a killer view and now our beer is delivered to us. We waste no time in ordering the first round of Old Styles. Not a whole lot of action to speak of, save for Angel Pagan's run scoring triple, which really got the kids going. Rich Hill was erratic but mostly effective. You can tell the Cubs really miss Derrek Lee when he is out of the lineup. (Thanks Captain Obvious!)

But that didn't really matter on this day. The company of good friends, 5 rounds of 'lukewarm' Old Styles, some nachos and peanuts all helped to soften the blow. Cubs lose 3-2, but in the game of life we all came out winners.

After the game we walk all the way to Schubas on Southport, where the giant Schlitz sign beckons us. A round of Schlitz all around! It tastes surprisingly good, but perhaps the five rounds of Old Style at the game had something to do with that.

Back to my apartment. Quick naps are taken. Dreams of steak and Ronnie Woo Woo. We shower and change and begin to drink again. My special Sausage Party playlist on the iPod speakers is a hit. There's a stretch where we hit back to back songs by Cash, Motorhead (yes Motorhead), the White Stripes, The Beastie Boys and Eagles of Death Metal that really bring the house to it's knees. Beergaritas are mixed. Insults are traded.

We head out to eat at El Barco (which I dubbed 'best restaurant in Chicago' a while back); you know you get a lot of food when you have four healthy men in your group and order the 'Dinner For Two' and still have leftovers. A sizzling platter of everything from steak to shrimp to octopus to potatoes and rice, all served with tortillas and the best refried beans known to man. From there, I try to impress with a couple of Bucktown clubs which turn out to be way too cool for school. One buddy turns to me and goes, 'We're Miller Lite guys stuck in a Heineken commercial'. Touche.

My three buddies are single and want to 'dance'. I'm married. Not so much. I remember someone telling me this place called Liar's Club is cool. We hop in a cab and tell him to punch it. Liar's Club is nothing if not shady from the outside. In fact, it could be abandoned. But we persevere and head inside. Right off the bat you can tell we're going to like this place. It's dark, slightly dingy and the crowd is eclectic without being scary.

Behind the bar, they have four giant replicas of the KISS Spin Magazine Covers from 1996. That's just fucking awesome. The back of the DJ booth has a cardboard KISS cutout. Someone has drawn a mustache on Ace Frehley. It suits him. I'm reminded of the new Dunkin' Donuts commercial with Ace and I smile. We end up spending the next 3 hours here, staying until 3AM. I haven't danced that much, well...ever. The DJ was playing everything we would request. Granted, most of it aged us horribly and screamed 'drunk out-of- towners' ('Sabotage', 'Fat Bottomed Girls', 'Mr. Brightside', anything by Jay Z or Kanye West), but after a whole day of booze filled excess, who gives a shit? Lots of drunken exclamations of 'greatest bar ever dude'.

I can say sober that it was indeed a cool bar. There was even a little-used upstairs part with a separate bar, pool table and pinball machines for those who would prefer a relatively low key night.

It was a weekend filled with debauchery, beautiful weather, Wrigley Field, Brewers losses, and steak dinners that would make Tommy Buzanis envious. The Cubs may not have won on Saturday, but that's okay. You can't win em all. Though this year, with the Cubs for the first time, I'm beginning to think that yes, yes we can.

Rich really bumped up a few notches in my book when he read the Cubs starting lineup on national tv in the voice of Kip from Napolean Dynamite.

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