Home Long Reads The Bro Down: Summer

The Bro Down: Summer

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Each week, Bro Jackson’s deep roster of writers and degenerates takes on a hot-button topic. This week, tips for summer in American cities. It’s that New Urbanist Classic lifestyle–be about it.

Jorts Night

Summer can’t just show up and tell me what to do or what to wear. I wear the pants in this relationship. More specifically, I wear the jorts in this relationship. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of “jorts,” it’s a portmanteau: “jeans” and “shorts” turn into something more beautiful, simplified, and easier to pronounce.

There are a few naysayers out there who wax poetic with encouraging phrases like, “Shane, those make you look like trailer trash.” To these people I say, “You’re just jealous of my three-stripe socks.”

I bet by now you’re thinking to yourself, “How can I be more like Shane? I want jorts. I want to feel the wind breezing through my mullet. I want to get drunk and yell at my cats before 2 p.m. every day. Where is my IROC-Z?”

Jorts are a lifestyle decision, and in order to make that decision, you’ll need to absolve a pair of your current jeans from protecting your shins and ankles. Any old pair of scissors and a marker will do. You simply mark roughly where you think “shorts” should happen, and begin cutting. It helps if you’re drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon through the entire process. – Shane Morris

Don’t get cancer (go to Montana)

I fucking despise sand. It gets everywhere. It’s infuriating in that it never goes away with its herpes-like ability to linger, finding for years afterward it in clothes, the floorboard of the car, the soles of flip-flops. And the only thing I hate more than sand is the sun—93-million miles away, my aching ass. The thing is relentless and evil with its constant beat down of anything in its path, breaking me down like Lucas Jackson in a hotbox. I’m an on-the-cusp ginger so the sun and sand turn me off more than white dicks turnoff Kim Kardashian. I want nothing to do with either. And people from Arizona who say, “Oh, but it’s a dry heat.” Really? I have AIDS, but it’s a dry-AIDS so it’s bearable, right? My favorite spots this summer will be my trip to Montana where I hope to find places where there’s a frost on the ground in the morning; and while I’m in Chicago, I’ll spend this summer like I spend most summers: finding central air and drinking copious amounts of bourbon while all you people get sun-and-sand cancer. – Ken Griggs

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Douche it up in the CHI

Who needs the nasty smell of salt in the air that comes with living on a coast? Who needs the sun rising and setting over a mountain or ocean? Who likes waves when they’re NOT generated by storm winds? No one, right? I mean, why would you even want those things when you could live on top of Lake Michigan, where sewage treatment facilities float a mere three football fields out to sea from where you’re cavorting in freezing water? You better believe it, friends. Despite how I make it seem, Chicago is an underrated summer getaway for anyone who loves hitting the Jersey Shore or Santa Monica Pier. Why? Because Castaways.

Anyone who has ever visited me during the summer months has said “OMG, I never expected . . .” like 50 times.

“I never expected Millenium Park to be so cool.”
“I never expected there to be so many outdoor activities.”
“I never expected to fear for my life at the Taste of Chicago.”

But chief among the OMGs is is “OMG, I never expected Chicago to be such a BEACH town.”

Yep, North Avenue Beach is a straight up douchebag beach just off of Lincoln Park, replete with a hundred beach volleyball courts, kayak, bike, board and jetski rentals, shaved ice kiosks, not enough bike lockups, and the piece de resistance, a fake landlocked steamer-ship-turned-bar called Castaways.

I’ve been to Castaways exactly once during my tenure in Chicago and, wow, it is not the right place for a thick middle-aged woman. The people that you’ll find there on any given day are all candidates for the “Real World”–beautiful, drunk, and dumb. They’re Big Ten style Chads and Trixies, the kind of people who pay $7.50 for a draft beer in a red solo cup, lean back in their chairs, survey the mass of beautiful bodies nearby and say “I wonder what the poor people are doing today?” It’s not uncommon for bros at Castaways to chest-fight each other until their pasty Midwestern sunburns finally make them step off or for adorable petite brunettes to run crying after their boyfriends and get knocked down by tourists on rented bikes who don’t wear helmets because “it’s a bike path, dammit.” (I know, right?) Castaways patrons are a step above Snooki and Pauly D, but ONLY a step, and they take baby steps backward the drunker they get.

If anyone wants to come to Chicago, I’ll be happy to buy you a drink at Castaways. But only if you let me give you a $10 and sit outside while you go inside and fight for it. – Kat Gotsick

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Explore the studio space

I’m a big fan of the Golden Rule as a piece of ethics. It’s simple, nearly universal, and it makes possible the development of societies. But there is one setting where the Rule should be suspended: at a pool party where alcohol is being consumed. In that case, we’ve made a silent pact with each other that the Golden Rule goes out the window and it’s OK to pee in the pool. All thought of “I wouldn’t want this guy to piss if he was standing next to me in a pool, so maybe I shouldn’t piss when I’m standing next to him” is discarded in favor of the self-centered “I’m pretty drunk and it seems like a big hassle to get out of the pool. I wonder if there’s any more High Life.” – Frank DuPont

Stay strapped

Having just had a baby this month, my husband and I are looking forward to this summer finding us broke and stir crazy. So we sat down and compiled a list of things that would get us out of the house, are free, and can accommodate an infant strapped to one of our chests. Here is what we came up with:

1. Disc golf
While my husband Roger has been hucking discs (apparently if you say throw a Frisbee you will be hacky-sacked to death by those in the know) since college, my knowledge of Frisbees is limited to backyard barbecues in the ’80s. A disc golf course popped up about a mile from our house late last summer, causing Roger to salivate. We tried it out last weekend with the baby (in her stroller, not strapped to one of us because it would cramp our hucking flow, bro) and it was an hour of free fun. Bonus points for being in an outdoor, wide open space in case our darling daughter decided to kick up a fuss. I was as abysmal as Roger was amazing. Find a course in your area.

2. Lincoln Park Zoo
Chicago may be the murder capital of the country, but at least it has a free zoo. I have never been the biggest fan of zoos, but now that we have no money and a child, it seems like the best way to kill an afternoon. As zoos go, the Lincoln Park Zoo is pretty great. It’s right on Lake Michigan, has lots of snack shacks, and the animals aren’t bad either. Like the disc golf course, our daughter’s potential screams will blend in nicely with the dozens of other crabbing kids being pushed or carried by fellow broke and sleep-deprived parents.

3. Street fairs
This is most appealing to us because it involves alcohol. While not completely free, it is up to us how much money we spend. We’re hoping to make it to Maifest in Lincoln Square this weekend with our darling dear strapped on firmly; dogs and strollers will get you evil stares from drunk festivalgoers, but a little’en strapped to a man’s chest gets nothing but sloppy high fives. And always remember–the $5-10 fee at the gate is a suggested donation only. If you arrive to the Fest in a shiny Acura, pay up. If you show up in a battered Saturn like us, save those bucks for the beer–after all, it all ends up in the same place. Just keep your baby far away from the cover bands that tend to populate one or both ends of street fairs. It’s bad for baby’s ears to be around such loud music, and no one that young should be subjected to such bad singing. – Erin Payton

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Texas Tube Steps

When non-Texans come to visit in the summer time, it’s pretty much my Lone Star duty to take them to a river, sit them down in an inner tube, place a cold beer in their hand, and push them off into the current for two-to-eight hours of foggy, sunny bliss. You may not know this, but Texas gets really hot in the summer. Like 105 degrees, oh-my-god-my-car-has-been-out-in-the-sun-all-day-and-is-now-hot-enough-to-roast-a-turkey hot. So you can see why Texans flock to the cool spring-fed rivers of Central Texas in towns like San Marcos and New Braunfels. 1

Beyond simply keeping Texans from bursting into flames, tubing is a communal event. You see folks from all walks of life on the river. Frat boys beer-bonging on the water. High school kids sneaking beers from unattended coolers. From-the-barrio, tattooed Mexican dudes giving out free body shots (Ask Robert Rich about this one). And the river connects them all. You’ll naturally float away from your group and end up pushing up against some stranger. Nine times out of 10, they’ll offer you a beer and share their story. If not, just paddle away and find someone more accommodating.

I once took an non-Texan to tube the San Marcos River. 2 He was doubtful of the trip from the start, saying he didn’t see the appeal of sitting for five hours of the day in slow-moving water with hundreds of other people. Ten beers and five shades of sunburn later, he was a believer. “You guys,” he said, “have got it figured out.” – Blake Hurtik

Forget sweet fests, catch a past-their-prime band for cheap thrills

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Nugent

This is a tough pick. I’ve had the (mis)fortune of seeing Aaron Neville and John Denver thanks to my mother, as well as a patchwork version of Lynyrd Skynyrd on campus at the University of Alabama homecoming in 2002. We didn’t even get to stay for “Freebird” because my stepmom forgot our game tickets at home in Atlanta.

However, all three atrocities pale in comparison to seeing Ted Nugent and ZZ Top at Gwinnett Arena in 2003.

Prior to the concert my dad and I were in an argument where we didn’t speak for two weeks, so, being the mature adult, he offered an olive branch of sorts. Turns out the olive branch was a ticket to Ted Nugent and ZZ Top. You know, because nothing buries the hatchet like a symphony of “Stranglehold” and “Sharp Dressed Man.”

The ambiance was delightful. It was a sold-out, smoke-filled arena. The crowd wore a uniform of cut-off No Fear t-shirts that provided ample room to display forearm mermaid tattoos. ZZ Top moved in synchronized unison the entire show with the same grace and fluidity as bearded Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots. Despite being the opener, Nugent stole the show. After a less than eloquent monologue about 9/11 and Saddam Hussein, Nugent proceeded to play a new song entitled “Kiss my Ass” which was more or less was a list of people that could do the aforementioned act. Then Nugent saved one final mega ass kissing for someone special. The lights went out, and a spotlight lit up a giant cutout of Saddam. Then, like a scene from Robin Hood (Costner not Crowe), Nugent lit an arrow on fire, pulled back his bow, and put one right between the eyes of the cut out.

The crowd roared. — Chris Marler

Eddie Money

I was given free (that’s always a bad sign) tickets to an Eddie Money show back in 2007 at a casino in Rhode Island. Now mind you, this was not two tickets to paradise, but rather tix to a smoke-filled, nickel-slot cesspool in the middle of the week. I thought it would be worth it for the kitsch factor alone, so I took my then-newlywed bride, Jill, for this would-be badass rock and roll show.

The casino was relatively new, but stunk like a pack of Camels and a hybrid of Jean Naté and Brut (by Fabergé). Jill and I grabbed two overpriced beers and waited for the Money Man to transport us to a time when venereal disease was a badge of honor. Thirty minutes passed, no Eddie. Forty minutes, still no Eddie. Money finally makes his grand entrance, clearly having found his wardrobe at Bourbon Outfitters. Money looks bad, like Don Knotts-with-a-fright-wig bad. The Money Man stumbled through three of his “greatest hits” and closed with “Two Tickets to Paradise.” The room was half empty by then, and Money stuck around to sign CDs, busted-ass tees, and any random saggy titties that wanted Sharpie ink on their person for the next three days. All in all, for a free show, I still wanted my money back. – Rumford Johnny

Foreigner

It was a pre-race concert for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. I don’t like it, but 80 percent of NASCAR fans fit the stereotype. Add to that the fact that you’re in Texas, and the odds of you picking a random person out of the crowd that has all their teeth, weighs under 300 pounds, and is wearing a shirt without any holes in it are low. These hot mommas (and daddies) were in heaven listening to one of the seminal bands of the ’80s: Foreigner. The group, minus their original lead singer, played all the hits with the blistering mediocrity you’d expect from a group that, honestly, wasn’t very good in their prime. I was shocked at how many songs I actually knew, but paid less attention to the music than I did the boozed-out cacophony of screams from 50-year-old women decked out in Dale Earnhardt Jr. tees.

Thank God I was there for the race. -- Robert Rich

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Troll the States, bro

I don’t understand people that have jobs, no children, and don’t use their vacation time for traveling. But, I suppose, part of the turn off to prospective globetrotters is that twenty-somethings all come back with the same fucking stories. White girls love Spain. This dude went to Germany and, whoa, those progressive tall bros from the future can drink. The ambiguously brown person with the horn-rimmed glasses went to South Korea and taught English. Julio went to Mexico to bone up on his Spanish and got really into cycling. That really liberal friend of yours took a trip to (South) Africa.

To that end I told myself that my 20s would be spent getting to know as many American cities as possible. They are cheaper and afford you the travel training necessary to get good at moving your Risk pieces across the globe later in your 30s. The greatest luxury to a big state school diploma is that after graduation people that you know intern and serve drinks in major cities. I’ve been lucky enough to spend my post-grad years exploring places like Seattle and Philadelphia with good people and their homefield advantage. It’s an age for group houses, sleeping on floors, binge balling, 3 live music, enjoying museums because you aren’t stuck at the Smithsonian with your backpack, promotional items from baseball stadiums, getting robbed by crackheads, bonfires, jumping off cliffs and into lakes.

President Eisenhower mapped out our highways like a veritable bawse. Go up and down or across–it’s sweet both ways. I had to drive on I-10 this month from Austin to El Paso for a funeral–even when stops include an IHOP and K-Bob’s Steakhouse, the open road is everything. It also gave me an idea: Plan a road trip around seedy motels and stopping in for a drink at highway bars that seem terrifying. Live to tell about it, and go to Prague when you can afford a decent hotel room.

Above all, map it out and plan around dates in stone. Otherwise, things fall apart. – Ramon Ramirez

Game the Cinema

Want to beat the heat? Let’s go to the movies. I know what you’re saying: “Josh, the movies are so expensive! I can’t afford it.” To which I respond: “Dude, stop talking to me, I wrote this yesterday, and seriously? You can’t afford $20 a week for two hours of blissful air conditioning and the chance at partial nudity? Come on!” But I’m here to help, cheapskate. It’s time to learn how to go to the movies without breaking your bank.

Before we continue, I want to be clear that we are not talking about going to second-run movie theaters; those smelly low-class establishments don’t afford us the opportunity to see the latest and greatest terrible Hollywood offerings on the first weekend; we need to be the first on our block to make fun of Ken Jeong’s penis. 4

First things first, you need to decide which theater you’re going to frequent and stick with it. I prefer Carmike Cinemas (you’ll see why in a minute), but whichever theater is your choice, you’re going to be going there for every movie, because you’ve completed the most important step in seeing movies on the cheap: You’ve signed up for their rewards card. All of the theaters have one and the disaffected teenagers working there are trained like monkeys to ask you if you have one. You probably didn’t want to seem like a dork or take the 45 seconds to sign up, but you need to. Regal’s is decidedly better than Carmike’s, giving you $2 popcorns and candy on Mondays and Tuesdays, and faster access to the free goods, so I think it’s clear that if you’re choosing Regal Cinemas as your theater of choice, you need to go on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you live near a Carmike, you’re going to the movies on Tuesday, when popcorns and sodas are $1.50. Or if you have a family, you’re buying a popcorn bucket at the beginning of the summer for $17.50 and refilling it for only $3.50.

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Now that we’re all signed up for a rewards card, we need to go see the movies, but if you’re looking to save money, you need to hit that sucker up before 5:30. We can all attest to the cheaposity of the matinee, but most theaters have a “Super Matinee” 5 when the tickets are even cheaper. Now that we’ve gotten in the door for cheap, it’s time to do some shady stuff.

Let’s face reality. If you’re going to a movie at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday with a refillable popcorn bucket that you brought from home, we can all agree that you are what the kids call frugal. So I’m not going to judge you for sneaking in to the next movie, and here’s the key. It’s one word: Confidence. Walk out of your theater, walk into the bathroom, go number one, and act like you belong in the next theater. You’re going to be fine, this is what the depressed teenagers expect and it’s what their corporate overlords want you to do because movie theaters operate like bars–the ticket gets you in the door, the money is made with food.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Carmike Cinemas to see “Fast & The Furious 6″ and “The Hangover III” while enjoying a bucket of popcorn and a Diet Coke I’m bringing in my pocket for $9. I’m beating the heat. – Josh Klein

Notes:

  1. Fort Worth recently tried capitalizing on tubing’s popularity by hosting select “Tube the Trinity” weekends. The Trinity is the river that flows through Fort Worth and Dallas and, from my estimations, probably has a pH level equal to Chernobyl thanks to years of various chemical dumping. This makes our precious few pristine rivers all that more valuable.
  2. My personal favorite. Less-crowded, more consistent water levels, and cheaper than New Braunfels’ Comal and Guadalupe rivers.
  3. When you spend $200 on food and beverage the same day you get a paycheck.
  4. Or praise it, depending on your vagina size.
  5. Carmike’s is between 4-5:30