Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We spent November 17th Around A Lot of Folks Who Probably Smoke Weed

I didn't get to post this last week like I had intended. This is all about two weekends ago.

As amazing as last Friday night was, Saturday was pretty great, too.

Lil’ Troublemaker had stayed with his grandparents the night before so that Mrs. Troublemaker could come and watch me be great, so after we picked him up we headed downtown for the ICE (Indie Craft Experience) Holiday Shopping Spectacular.

It was held at Ambient Plus Studios. I don’t know exactly what Ambient Plus Studios normally is, but it was a huge loft-like room with tons of room for over a hundred vendors. There were a number of food trucks outside, but we had already had an extraordinarily shitty experience at El Torero.

            Yeah – let me talk about that for a minute. For those of you that never get sick of hearing about my tragic dining experiences; hang in there – you’re in for a treat.

We as a family really love Mexican food. Or Tex-Mex or whatever. Fontera is good, but I think my favorite is El Torero. There are two within our general circle of travel and I like one more than the other. But we went to the other one because it was more on the way. Not totally on the way, but closer.

It took a long time for our waiter to show up. If you don’t know, the typical El Torero dining timeline works like this:
  • 12:00 PM – Walk in
  • 12:03 PM – Receive chips, salsa, and water
  • 12:06 PM – Place orders
  • 12:13 PM – Receive orders
  • 12:28 PM – Receive bill (I don’t call it a check because it isn’t one)
  • 12:45 PM – Pay bill, leave generous tip
  • 12:47 PM – Leave

We got our chips and salsa kind of fast, but they were gone by the time our waiter showed up. Well, almost gone. We didn’t eat all of them because about halfway through the basket we found some chips that tasted like they had been seasoned with dishwater. I don’t know what the deal was with those. And the shitty part is that you don’t give up because of one nasty chip. Your mind won’t let you believe more are going to be like that. It’s got to be an aberration, right? So you get a couple more good ones and then another foul-tasting piece of nasty. I probably bit into three or four gross chips before I gave up. Mrs. Troublemaker stopped after my initial grossed-out reaction. I need to file that away for future reference. If there’s ever a limited supply of delicious food, all I have to do is act like I took a bite of something gross and she’s out.

It’s also tough to be unpleasantly surprised in front of a five-year-old. My natural reaction to biting into a sour chip would be to go, “Bleah – fuck. Gross,” in a moderately loud voice. But I make a point of not saying “fuck” in front of my son because that’s the kind of classy guy I am. So instead what comes out of my mouth is some unintelligible gibberish like, “Blefuhhhhgruh,” which is probably a worse example to set than just saying “fuck” in the first place. But it happened quickly and I didn’t have the convenience of preparing for cursing like I do when we’re playing video games. I suck at video games, so I’m always prepared for cursing and just make pirate noises – “Aargh” or “Yaaar” happen a lot.

Anyway, we got some gross chips. I understand why our waiter took so long. There were at least three or four other tables with people at them, so the guy was obviously in the weeds. Once he did show up he grunted at us. I know you think I’m joking. I know you’re sitting threr reading this and thinking, “Well he must have just been a little gruff or maybe quiet. But I can’t believe he simply grunted because that’s fucking ridiculous!”

I shit you not. He grunted. He walked up and went, “Hunh.”

We kind of looked at him for a minute and decided we had better go on and give him our orders in case we never got another opportunity. He pretended to write them down and then left without a word. Our food came about fifteen minutes later (keep in mind the above timeline that has been accurate for approximately 753 other visits to El Torero) and it was wrong. Mrs. Troublemaker’s order was twice as big as it was supposed to be, but at least it was the right food. Mine wasn’t even close to correct. I order the #6. Always. Almost every Tex-Mex place has a #6 and it is always the same thing – taco, enchilada, rice & beans. I don’t deviate ever if I can help it. I am a man who does not like change. What the waiter placed in front of me was not a taco, enchilada, rice & beans. It was a thing that looked like the enchilada’s weaker, less productive cousin, a pepper covered in mouse turds, and refried beans with all of the beans somehow removed.

But I didn’t want to deal with this guy anymore so I just took it. I thought it might be a sign from above that I needed to try something new. Perhaps God was telling me to expand my Tex-Mex palate. I used to only ever eat sweet and sour chicken when we got Chinese until a delivery mishap put General Tso’s chicken on my plate. Now I only eat chicken prepared by the General. Maybe we were in a similar horizon-broadening situation.

Nope. It was all edible, but nothing I would ever ask for again. I don’t know what I ate or why that jerk brought it to me, but I don’t want it again.

We also had to ask for silverware for Lil’ Troublemaker four times from three different people, we had to request refills, and the waiter literally threw the bill at the table as soon as our orders were dropped off. It was fucking ridiculous. When I went up to pay there was already another dude standing up there looking frustrated. He looked at me and said he hadn’t seen anybody for several minutes, so I went over to the table where our asshole waiter was sitting and asked if there was anybody available for me to give money to. He grunted again and yelled something into the kitchen, prompting a fat little man to step out and call me amigo.

I am a good tipper. I am not an amazing tipper because I can’t afford to be, but I tip well when it is deserved. But I am an utter cock when it isn’t. I wrote “zero” in the line for the tip and told the guy at the register that I was not tipping because the waiter was literally the worst waiter I had ever had. This is not true – it was that douchebag at Elmyr – but they didn’t need to know that.

Thoroughly dissatisfied with lunch, we made our way downtown.

There were some food trucks parked outside of Ambient Studios and Mrs. Troublemaker goes, “Ooh – is that Pallookaville?” which would have just been a huge slap in the karmic face given what we’d just been through. But no – these were just regular food trucks. Not the mighty purveyor of comestibles that produces corndogs so amazing they’d make the Pope go, “Fuuuuuck.” So at least there was that.

It was five bucks per adult to get into ICE. I’m not gonna lie – I was none too pleased by that. I mean, I get it; but I didn’t like it.
(I took three pictures inside. This is the only one that survived.)

Once inside, though, we found a pretty wonderful assortment of goods and vendors. Our first stop was the corner shared by Belligerent Monkey, Third Half Studios, and Urbnpop. This was dumb because we are always going to spend a lot of money with these people. We have pretty open access to them and could buy wares any time we want. Instead we go to these art shows and ignore everybody else and buy stuff from our friends because, quite frankly, everything they do is awesome. Monkey in particular had these little skulls he had painted. There wasn’t a particular one that caught my fancy this time, but the skulls were really rad and a new thing for him. I’ll end up getting one (or more) at some point. He also has a new TARDIS painting that I really dig.

But we still managed to spend some money with strangers. Here’s a rundown of our haul:

Adorable stuffed narwhal from Jellykoe
We got this for my soon-to-be-born niece. I’m already an uncle several times over thanks to my wife’s family, but this will be my first niece or nephew related by blood. And what other than a stuffed narwhal would you get for such an occasion?
Rad prints from Urbnpop
I wish Chris Hamer would stop showing up for these things because we always spend too much money with him. This time around Mrs. Troublemaker had to have his take on Maleficent. But he had such a great deal on prints we had to go ahead and get a Devil’s Rejects and a Mars Attacks. Then we saw a small Adventure Time one for Lil’ Troublemaker.
Several goodies from ThirdHalf Studios
I already knew I was buying one of those Doctor Who plates before we even got down there. But then they’ve got all of those buttons and magnets. And Mrs. Troublemaker had to have that little Bride. We also picked up a few buttons and magnets.
Cute plush skull ornament from Cellardwellers and Such
We got this for my soon-to-be-born niece. I’m already an uncle several times over thanks to my wife’s family, but this will be my first niece or nephew related by blood. And what other than a stuffed narwhal would you get for such an occasion?
AMAZING LUCHA LIBRE ITMES!!!!! from VivaGreetings
I could not believe my eyes when we came upon this booth. It was chock full of luchador goodness. Magnets, t-shirts, coin purses, pocket mirrors, and even wrapping paper. All adorned with the likenesses of my masked heroes. I could have spent a fortune there, but it was the last booth we hit and I had already spent a fortune. I had to have the sheets of wrapping paper and Lil’ Troublemaker wanted the magnets.
Pictures of an incredibly sexy masked man from LeahandMark.com

The folks from LeahandMark.com had a corner of the studio set up for pictures. Obviously I was going to pose for pictures.

There was so much more there than just the few vendors we bought from. Pretty much anything you could think of that can be hand-crafted was there – all created by local, independent artists. ICE is the purest form of supporting local merchants and artisans. If you’re in the Atlanta area I highly recommend you check out one of their shows. Heck, even if you’re not in the area I’m sure you could do a little research and find a similar event where you are. There’s no other way you’re going to find unique and original gifts. Or just do what we did and buy a bunch of stuff for yourself.

We got back home and hung out with Lil’ Troublemaker for a while until my mother-in-law came and picked him up. We had more business Saturday night.

I don’t like being out two nights in a row. About one night every couple of weeks is as much as I feel is reasonable. I just want to spend as much time with my son as I can, but we as parents need to do stuff, too. But I had bought tickets for Cypress Hill a couple of months earlier and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the ring announcing gig so we were spending two nights out.

The show was at The Tabernacle. I kind of like The Tabernacle. It isn’t my favorite place to see shows, but it’s growing on me. It’s pretty easy to get to, there are many parking options, and it’s huge but it doesn’t feel huge. Or maybe it isn’t huge but feels that way. I’m not sure. But it’s a good venue.
We decided to try and time our arrival to coincide with the opening act finishing. This is a tricky proposal, as you never know exactly how long the opener is going to go, how ready the headliner is going to be, or if they might have slipped another opening act in without advertising it. But we arrived right as the stage crew was finishing the setup for Eric Bobo’s drums. Well done, us.

Despite the small fortune I had spent earlier in the day I went into that show prepared to buy one or more Cypress hill shirts. I definitely wanted one and I knew the missus would want one if there was one cute enough. We went down to where the merch booth is and checked things out, but not only were there no shirts that were awesome, they were all $35. Ugh. No shirts for us.

There was a minor commotion going on to the left of the merch area. I looked over there and saw this short, rotund, bearded fellow. There were all these girls waiting to get their pictures taken with him. I realized it was the opening act – Action Bronson. I was faced with a bit of a conundrum.

I had made a conscious decision to skip Action Bronson’s set. Not because I disliked the guy. I’ve never heard him or heard of him. But we were spending two nights out and I wanted to maximize our family time at home. Plus, I was honestly still sort of spent from the amazing time we had at MCW. But I am somewhat of a whore and I do feel like pictures of me in my mask with famous people are entertaining (yes – of course I had a mask with me). I considered going over and getting a picture. But then I felt like it would just be too disingenuous. I wasn’t familiar with the guy and – even worse – had intentionally avoided his performance. So we went back upstairs with no amusing picture.
Cypress Hill came out on stage to kick it and the second they did the whole place filled up with marijuana smoke. It was amazing. Obviously I knew to expect something like that. Second-hand smoke has been a concern of mine for a while. My job “randomly tests”, so drugs are not a part of my life (and wouldn’t be anyway – I’m a dad and don’t have time for that shit) but I do end up in situations where they are around. I actually asked our physician about second-hand smoke and she said that I would have to be in a very confined space with intense smokers for hours for anything to show up on a urine test. I think I can manage to avoid that.

But man, we were high as shit Saturday night. Everybody was smoking. I wish so bad I had taken a picture of the bar because it was utterly empty all night. I’ve never seen anything like it. Me and the missus were literally the only people drinking, which I felt pretty stupid about because we were getting wasted for free out on the floor.


For their part Cypress Hill were awesome. They had a DJ and Eric Bobo but no band, which I thought was good. As much as I dig the live album that followed Skull & Bones, some of the songs lose something when they’ve got metal behind them instead of beats. B Real and Sen Dog were on fire the whole set. Those guys were in no way phoning it in. They were just as energetic and entertaining as they were when I saw them years ago with the live band. And they really front-loaded the set. Pretty much every song I wanted to hear got taken care of early – “Real Estate”, “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, “We Ain’t Goin’ Out Like That”, and a bunch more. They did a fifteen minute marijuana medley just to knock out their weed-heaviest tunes:


I was also surprised at how early on they played “Insane In the Brain”. I thought for sure that would be an encore.

All in all it was a great, fun night and B Real even “Liked” the above Instagram picture, which is one of my favorite Instagram pictures I’ve taken.

Yeah, I’m sure tagged pictures show up in his feed and he “Likes” them out of hand, but it was still cool to see that name pop up.

After the show we went to the Corner Tavern to meet Bear and the Kween of Krunk. I love those guys because they’re always out and they’re fun to hang with. Me and Mrs. Troublemaker were really hungry for some mysterious reason, so the Tavern seemed like a good spot. We got a table upstairs and I ordered a chicken sandwich or something. A few minutes later the waitress came back and said she was so sorry, but the kitchen was closed.

So you see? Are you beginning to understand that the culinary gods have it in for me? Honestly, have you ever heard of such shitty dining luck?

I was feeling super mellow (for some reason) and told her it was fine and to just bring me some chips and salsa. She did and it was pretty darn good chips and salsa. We sat and chatted with Bear and the Kween and also Mikey; who was there too. Me and the missus were in this kind of weird mood where we were tired but wanted to party some more, so we all went next door to this place called the Church. I was a little anxious about going to this place because sacrilege is a touchy subject with me. But the place didn’t seem to have any malicious intent. It was just really crowded and playing incredibly shitty music. But if you mind shitty music you’re not going to be able to hang out anywhere in Downtown Atlanta.

There were these two girls upstairs in Church that were doing a particularly obnoxious version of what I call “Movie Dancing”. Movie Dancing is where you are in a public place dancing, but you’re not dancing for fun or because you enjoy it. You’re dancing so people will pay attention to you. Movie Dancers do routines. They have specific moves and throw around these furtive little glances they think other people don’t notice. These glances are to make sure people are looking at them. Usually people are - not because they are interested in these great dance techniques, but because the Movie Dancers look like douchebags.

Me and the missus kind of wandered through Church and decided it was time to call it a night. It wasn’t a bad spot, just not where we wanted to close out the evening. We had discussed going to the Clermont because Atlanta’s Greatest DJ Quasi Mandisco was spinning there, but didn’t want to drive anywhere else and didn’t want to pay a cover.

The next day we found out none other than Woody Harrelson had been at the Clermont.

Dammit.

Him I would have gotten a picture with.
-Phantom



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