Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Devil Made Me Do It...

The poster said it was a New Year's Eve EVE party so that made your partying BEFORE all the amateur drinkers went at it Sunday night and DUIs start flying around in a blur of flashing blue light specials.

The new Home Team Bar-B-Que on Highway 61 has been mentioned by fellow bloggers and it was on my way to the Terrace to see The History Boys so checking out the pulled pork sandwich with 2 sides was logical. With a frosty cold beer.

The poster drew us back after the movie to hear my first Country Punk Rock band. They were from New Orleans, we were told, and they did play one fast-paced kinda Cajun Zydeco tune. Merely a tribute. But what about that flyer! Who could resist?

There were ample smoking areas - out front and out back - which left the inside with plenty of clean air. The restaurant portion was shut down by the time the movie was over and we returned and a neat rocking bar scene was going on. An early song reminded you to be careful what you wished for and the lead singer sang he wanted to be "locked overnight in a liquor store with you."

Tony, the Manager-who-books-the-music, assured me they indeed would be a venue for the upcoming February Blues Bash and rattled off some familiar names of performers he has already signed. "I'll have two surprises though and I'm not telling anyone yet," Tony added.

I plan to stop in again. Did I mention there's no smoking?

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Smoke Is Clearing...

Hey, two more of my favorite restaurants and bars have created new NO SMOKING policies to make me happier...and continue to keep me as a loyal customer. Both are on newly-revitalized Montague Avenue in North Charleston, just off Park Circle.

I chatted with some of the staff at the Madra Rua and at Sesame and at each place, they expressed happiness at NOT having to breathe air they could actually see!

I go out a lot and carry professional ear plugs - and often see others wearing some at live concerts - but had not figured a way to avoid polluting my lungs and smelling like an ashtray after an evening out. Last night I stopped in again at the Pour House in West Ashley and saw they have finished the elaborate deck out back and continue to invite smokers to step out there to exhale.

Charleston owners apparently are setting new rules instead of waiting for changes to be imposed. That's neat. And makes good business sense.

About that picture ... yes, some places create "theatrical fog" for lighting effect but a lot is cigarette smoke. Fake fog doesn't cling to your clothes.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Car Bombing Incident

This evening I wandered upstairs at Mellow Mushroom, sat at the bar and asked for a Boddingtons. Sorry, the cheerful barkeep replied, won't have any for a few more days...when the truck arrives with the next delivery.

He also didn't have any Speckled Hen or Tetleys but did suggest an Australian creamy ale I had never tried and, while it looked murky, it went down well.

He was quite busy and I watched him filling something from containers on the back bar and asked what it was. L.I.T. he answered then brought over a shot for me to try. I LIKED the taste of Tea from Long Island and explained I had quit liquor years ago and now merely sipped beer. He opined I was missing a lot.

About half way through my Aussie ale he came back to say he had found a few cans of Boddingtons and was chilling one down for me. I thanked him.

He began making four drinks that looked like chocolate milk shakes and again, I inquired what it was. He pointed down the bar and said the group was having Car Bombs. He was surprised that I didn't seem to know about them since I enjoyed English and Irish beers.

My glass was empty so he brought the familiar tall yellow can of Boddingtons and poured it into a fresh pint glass. "I covered the can in ice and sprinkled salt over it to make it colder quicker," he commented. It was ready to drink and tasted perfect.

The young bartender then announced that the group down the bar had ordered me a Car Bomb so I could experience it:

3/4 pint Guinness® stout
1/2 shot Bailey's® Irish cream
1/2 shot Jameson® Irish whiskey

Add the Bailey's and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey's on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. If you don't drink it fast enough it will curdle and increasingly taste worse.

He did all that and then, with a cheery wave and a raised toast to my new buddies, I dropped the shot glass into the beer mug and chugged down this adult milk shake. A warm feeling diffused through me as some liquid that had overflowed on the bar was quickly wiped with napkins.

"Man, this was a great taste."

I had dinner and later drove home pleased with the experiment. Wonder if they would consider changing the name to Irish Friendship.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Getting Carried Away...

Atlanta is only a 5 hour drive so going over for TWO touring band concerts, visiting a Presidential Library, seeing the World's Largest Aquarium and enjoying some different fine dining seemed like a good idea. And of course it WAS.

I'm older and wiser so obviously that is NOT me but someone much younger and much bolder being held aloft at the Tenacious D concert.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass drew about 5,000 dedicated fans as they wrapped up their national tour Tuesday night at Gwinnett Center, about 25 miles from downtown.

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band are touring again after a 10 year absence on the road and they filled the Phillips Arena on a frosty Thursday evening.

Seger played Charleston on his last tour a decade ago and is due here in January so plan to get your tickets ASAP.

The Atlanta Aquarium opened about a year ago and has Beluga Whales and huge sharks and more Stingrays than our hockey club has players.

There's a long glass tunnel hallway in one of the five sections where the fish swim above you and on both sides so you almost feel immersed.

The Carter Library reminded me of my visits to the Truman Library in Independence, MO. Both libraries have replicas of their Oval office and both have the familiar sign on the desk "The Buck Stops Here."

I did not see President Carter this trip but he and I met years ago when the President stopped in Hannibal, Missouri and I was on hand to give him and Amy some tourism folders and a coffee table book about the "Show Me" State.

A few years ago I sent this photo to Atlanta and he signed it and had it sent back. I am the one with white hair.

I'll add some more pictures later and suggest you check out the new Aquarium and the Carter Center on your next trip to Atlanta.

And, don't miss the opportunity to see and enjoy Bob Seger on January 9 at the North Charleston Coliseum. It's a GREAT show.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Missouri - Smack Dab in the Middle

As the State of Missouri Director of Tourism, I was invited to spend the 4th of July (early 1980s) in St. Louis and be part of the gigantic celebration planned on the grounds of the famous Arch - Gateway To The West.

I could relax and enjoy myself, maybe even take a few bows and not have to do any of the planning or worry about any of the details. A no-brainer. This I could do.

The people who WERE in charge of planning had their hands full. The Park Service had just planted hundreds of new sapling trees all around the grounds of the Arch and the main concern was to keep people from trampling them. Oh, and gathering together 500 Porta-Potties. And directing traffic and parking.

By the time the holiday weekend ended, more than 1,000,000 people had gathered and the young trees were just an expensive memory. Ella Fitzgerald entertained the crowd one night and Elton John another evening. I was down in the massive crowd sipping a cold Augie Busch product when Elton John took the stage.

Hundreds of thousands of sweaty beer-drinking people crammed very close together do not automatically get out of the way politely even to let a performer get to the stage so I was not surprised when a cordon of burly blue-clad St. Louis policemen formed a triangle and rammed their way through the crowd, knocking people this way and that. But where was Elton John? Running along in the midst of his protectors? What if he fell behind?! Or tripped?

As the police ringed the stage, Mr. John stepped out into the spotlight...dressed as a policeman.