There is this guy I always see at my local dive, literally every time I’ve been to this place, no matter the time, this man is there. I don’t want to be that guy when I get older. He can’t be a good role model, good role models don’t drink beer by the pitcher at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday.
Sometimes I get lost thinking about the lives of other people, what they do with their days, what makes them happy, which moments they look forward to, and I think about how I would fare under those same conditions. I don’t want to be in this place long enough to grow old here. I don’t want to slowly see the places I grew up change and turn into something totally unrecognizable, and I definitely don’t want to bitch about it while I day-drink at at a bar located in a residential neighborhood.
I want the place I grew up to be a nostalgic memory that I look back fondly upon, not somewhere I would give anything to escape. I hope all the hard work I’ve put in pays off, that I’m not stuck tending bar at Finnegan’s when I’m 40.
I’ve been listening to Aventdale Bowling Club a lot recently, “Old Dogs” and “Home” are hitting a little differently lately. If you haven’t heard of Aventdale Bowling Club, go check it out, you won’t regret it. “Old Dogs” is a song about all the people who didn’t leave their hometown after graduation, and how their lives have turned out, over an incredible jazz instrumental. “Old Dogs” makes me think about that old man at the bar: he was a high school kid once, he had his whole life ahead of him, and he ended up stuck where he started. That just makes me sad. “Home” is a more mature, reflective song. “Home” is that first trip home after making something of yourself, which I really want to do someday, I just have to make something of myself first.
So, I’m a tad drunk, (shocker), and I’ve been thinking about the creative process, how the flow of ideas in my brain translates to the words I type out. I can’t control their generation, so I have to filter them for content. Due to my wonderful neurological disorder, I’m bombarded by thoughts every second of every day, and some of them aren’t pretty.
My thoughts are coming in free form jazz, with no semblance of structure or decorum, they just exist. I’m not blessed, I’m cursed by the inability to capitalize on the ideas I have, and when they don’t materialize, I feel like a lazy sack of donkey shit for not being focused enough to do anything with the gift I’ve been given. Wow, that’s such a douchey thing to say, there are millions of people who also got straight A’s in English who don’t think they’re gifted writers, so what makes me so fucking special?
Maybe bitching about how unhappy I am online isn’t healthy, maybe it’s just a coping mechanism, maybe I’m just full of myself and like to read my own writing, I really don’t know. What I do know is that Frank Sinatra sounds better on vinyl, Hunter S Thompson was a genius, and that Lil B the Based God is an internet icon.
Home can be complicated, it can be where you live, it can be where you sleep, it can be where you feel most comfortable. I’m incredibly blessed to not only have a home, but to have a home away from home, away from home. Finnegan’s is where I went for my 21st birthday, and ever since I’ve felt at home there. Finnegan’s is such a big part of my life, so many noteworthy things have happened here; my friend Tim realized his girlfriend was the worst when she drove an hour and a half down to the bar because Tim didn’t respond to a text fast enough, it’s where I realized that I really like bluegrass music, it’s where I feel the most comfortable outside the creative prison I call my house, it’s where I discovered the second-best burger in town.
Finnegan’s is not your average dive bar, it’s 50% Dick’s Last Resort, 25% 1960’s watering hole, and 25% hipster hangout. If you can’t tell, I love this place, it’s where I feel relaxed, and that’s really important to me because there are so few places I can let my guard down and bullshit with the best of them. I have this annoying habit of trying to get out of my own head by listening to other people’s conversations, and the conversations I’ve overheard are worthy of their own podcast.
I have this really bad habit of losing faith in my writing ability when my posts don’t get viewed, and Fin’s, as my friends and I call it, is where I go to decompress and hide from the world. Fin’s is my Narnia: I can hide from the world here, I really need to do that sometimes.
Some people are afraid to come to Finnegan’s. Those same people probably wear life jackets in the pool. Fin’s may be a little rough around the edges, but that’s what I like about it, I’ll never have to worry about it being crowded, or the prices going up, or if they’ll run out of my favorite beer. Fin’s is consistent, it’s the Curren$y of bars: you know exactly what you’re going to get, and sometimes it’s better.
The people that come to Finnegan’s are a special breed, I’ve been offered cocaine, I’ve seen off-duty cops gossip like school girls, I’ve seen parents bitch about their kids, I’ve seen a 17-year old with a fake ID literally thrown out of the bar. I feel more confident talking to people at Fin’s than I do anywhere else, and that concerns me, I should be able to talk to people everywhere, but nobody’s perfect. I don’t know if I should be concerned that my creative juices flow best at a bar, or that the bartender has my drink waiting for me when she sees me, but I do know that this place is important to me, and is partly responsible for the man I am today.
I like going to bars, it’s a nice way to get out of the house, it’s a great way to meet people around you, and it’s also my favorite way to experience music. The problem with bars is that too many of them suck. Clubs? The music’s too loud, the people dress like douchebags, and the drinks are overpriced and take too long to get. Cocktail bars? Also overpriced, but with a pretentious twist. The best bar experiences I’ve had have been at dive bars, and I’ll give you 5 reasons that you should go to them more._______________________________________
1. The Diverse Crowd
One of my favorite things about dive bars is that you never know who you’ll be sitting next to. One day you’ll be talking about sports with an off-duty cop, the next you’ll be arguing about politics with a financial planner, and I think that’s awesome. There are few places that bring people of all backgrounds together, and I think that’s causing a lot of problems for our country, we need to be able to separate politics from personality, or things are only going to get worse._______________________________________
2. So Many Cool Events
I have a soft-spot for live music, it’s just so much better than listening through headphones or speakers. Local bands playing at dives give you a more personal experience than any other venue. More bands should play at dive bars, they’d probably get more loyal fans. In addition to live music, my local dive does trivia nights on Wednesdays, and it’s the only time the place is ever packed, but that’s what makes it fun. Trivia night is also a great way to bring people together, I love debating the answers with the people on my team, especially if the answer is something ridiculous that nobody could know._______________________________________
3. They’re Great Community Builders
Building off the events aspect: communities come together at dive bars, I’ve seen co-workers meet for drinks, I’ve seen businessmen plan deals and I’ve seen people get jobs based off conversations with the right people. Being an active member of the community feels good, it feels good to walk into your favorite bar and feel welcomed. My favorite bartender has my drink waiting for me with a smile every time I go, and that feels good too. The longer you go to dive bars, the more people you recognize, and the more people you get to know. Some of the funniest people I know are wizened old construction workers downing Pabst by the pitcher and trash-talking everyone in the bar._______________________________________
4. They’re Much Cheaper
This one’s obvious, dive bars are cheap. Cheap is better than expensive. For ten dollars, I can go to my local dive and leave with a buzz and 2 dollars. You can’t beat that bargain._______________________________________
5. The Relaxed Environment
My local dive bar has been the backdrop for so many important moments in my life, it’s where my friends and I hung out when we just turned 21, it’s where one of my friends goes for advice when he doesn’t know what to do, it’s where I go to read and sip beer at 5 o’clock on a Tuesday, and I don’t regret any of it. Dive bars make people feel welcome, and the world needs more physical places where people interact. The dive has exposed me to groups of people I’d never be able to meet elsewhere, and that needs to be preserved. Dive bars are slowly dying off, which is a damn shame, so if you ever want to go somewhere new or try something else, go to your local dive bar, you won’t regret it.
For my friend’s birthday, we decided to do something different for a change and go to Boston for a night out. It went poorly. The journey in was a nighmare, but I thought it was just a momentary road block. Turns out, it was just the first thing to go wrong.
The Game Plan
We had a decent game plan: my friend Caleb and I would drive into the city early, get a parking spot that was affordable (not easy to do in Boston on a Friday night), and wait for my other friend Sherman to take the train to North Station. Easy peasy right? Wrong.
To The City
After arriving at Caleb’s house, we begin our trek into the city. Since Caleb used to drive into the city every day for work, he drives in, since I’m a very bad city driver, and would like to survive the night. It turns out this would be one of the better choices I made that night. Driving into the city on a Friday is one thing, but it was also Halloweekend, and there was a Celtics game that night, so we couldn’tve had worse timing. Cars littered the Mass Pike like some post-apocalyptic wasteland, none of them moving for minutes at a time. Wonderful. 20 minutes later, we were finally in Boston. Our next challenge was dealing with Boston drivers, who are a whole different species than regular drivers. Our welcome into the city was performed by a Silver Honda who had blocked both lanes.
Now, I’m pretty tolerant of stupid people, but this guy was too much, not only did he block both lanes, preventing anyone else from passing, but it turned out he was waiting to pick someone up. After almost getting hit by 3 additional morons, we arrive to the parking garage had in mind. I knew the night had taken a turn when I saw the two worst words you can see on a parking garage: “Lot Full” Great, now we have to find another one that’s not too far away, and isn’t going to scalp my wallet. After driving a additional 10 minutes around the Seaport, we got lucky: a lot for only 7 dollars an hour, an oasis in a sea of 50 dollar parking. I get my ticket, and put it straight in my wallet as I always do. Thank God I did.
Now for the fun part: finding one person in a sea of thousands leaving the TD Garden after a Celtics win.
After walking a mile and a half in the blistering Boston wind, Caleb and I arrive at the Garden. We looked for Sherman for around 10 minutes before calling him, apparently he was waiting on the other side of the street, which explains why we couldn’t find him. We eventually pick him out of a crowd of drunk basketball fans who were singing a barely-recognizable version of Don’t Stop Believing. After finally meeting up, we decide to nix our plan and go straight for the nearest bar that didn’t look crazy packed.
Now, I’m not a big “crowds” guy, so I usually avoid crowded bars and places where I have to yell to talk, but I’m trying to get out and be more outgoing and such, so I thought it would be good for me to go to a more populated place. Within 45 seconds of arriving, I reconsidered my decision. The bar that had looked so empty and quiet on the outside was actually packed to the rafters with Finance bros in their Brooks Brothers suits and Patagonia vests. The only upside of this location was how quickly I was served a beer, the bartender was on top of her game, and I appreciated how quickly I had a beer in my hand. After learning that thevbar had a second floor, we mosey on over, taking an elevator up. I’d never drank beer in an elevator before, it was pretty cool. After reaching the second floor, we see that while it is less packed than downstairs, this part of the bar is still overpopulated with Patagonias. Surprisingly, we find a table and sit down. As I sip my overpriced beer, I start to be immersed in the conversations around me, none of them very interesting, most about basketball, the rest about how much working in Finance rocks, and how laid they’re going to get. Way to break stereotypes there guys. We finish our drinks and decide not to stay at this expensive post-graduation frat house. As we leave, Caleb suggests we stop at Pizzeria Regina, an amazing pizza place that’s open until the wee hours of the night. It’s half a mile away.
Rejuvenation at Regina’s
As we walk to Regina’s, I notice that we are very far away from our parking lot, and that we have quite a trek ahead of us on our way back. That didn’t matter, I was fixated on having a couple slices of amazing pizza and a beer or two, everything else was unimportant at the time. Just as we’re starting to have second thoughts, we see it: the giant neon sign for Regina.
We made it. After a brief wait, the server seats us and takes our order. Now, my pizza taste is a little odd, I’ve been in this pesto sauce mood lately, so I’ve been experimenting with different toppings. Tonight, I ordered a bacon pizza with pesto sauce. 5 minutes later, the server comes back with a chicken and pesto pizza, which isn’t a problem for me, but our server felt so bad that she offered to put extra bacon on it for no extra charge. How nice of her. After another couple minutes, she drops off this monster of a pizza with more toppings than cheese, and we all dig in like it’s our last meal on Earth. After we finish our beers and pizza, we begin the long walk back to the parking lot.
Finding the Car
By this point, it’s 12:30, and I’m starting to get tired, but we have a 3 mile hike before I can sit down and relax, so I figured the only way through it is to do it. We made it about a mile before I realize that the address on the parking ticket is for the wrong garage, and we’d been walking in the wrong direction for 20 minutes. Shit. Usually, every parking ticket I’ve ever gotten has the address and name of the garage, making it easy to find where you parked. Not this one. After having a mini panic attack at the thought of losing my car in Boston at 1 in the morning, my mind starts working. I check the GPS tracking app on my phone to see where we had stopped, and after double-checking with Google that it was indeed the place, we resume our journey. Around 30 minutes later, we arrive at where my GPS says my car is. There’s just one problem: it’s not the right lot. Now I really start freaking out, Caleb’s got work at 730, I’ve got to come in early myself, it’s going to be at least an hour and a half before I get home, and I can’t find my car. Things are looking bleak. After pacing around the area thinking of a plan, I see it, the most beautiful sight I’d seen all night: my car. After letting out a scream of joy, we rush over to the car, pay the 18 dollars for our parking, and get the Hell out of Boston. It’s 1:30.
The Journey Home
Now, I’d say Caleb drove like a bat out of Hell, but that wouldn’t accurately describe how fast this man left the city. I’d liken it to how a husband drives his wife to the hospital when she’s in labor. What’s usually a 45 minute drive took us 32, which I was thankful for. As we near Sherman’s car, Caleb starts looking tired, and his driving skills start to suffer. Seeing ad he had to get up in 4 hours, I decide to take over and let him rest a bit. As I sped home, I thought about how we’d laugh at how terrible this night was later. When I finally arrived back at my house, it was 3:15am. I set my alarm clock for 8:30, cringing when I saw how much time I had before I had to wake up.
I could’ve stayed home, watched Mad Men, and been asleep by 11:30. This is why I don’t like to leave my house.
Fall is here, and with it come a whole slew of different beers. Personally, Fall doesn’t really feel like it’s here untl the seasonal beers come out. Here are some of my favorites, some of them might be hard to find outside New England.
5. Pabst Blue Ribbon Hard Coffee
I know, I know, PBR is for broke college kids and hipsters, but hear me out. Pabst Hard Coffee is remarkable; Pabst combined a Stout beer with coffee, and made an incredibly drinkable beer that isn’t too heavy, and isn’t too watery. This beer is like aa White Russian had a baby with coffee milk, it’s creamy and indulgent, with notes of dark roast coffee and vanilla. It’s perfect for those crisp fall afternoons when you finish raking up leaves and want to sit back and relax, but you also want a little boost of caffeine to keep your day moving smoothly.
4. Newcastle Brown Ale
This used to be my overall favorite beer, but it’s fallen down from the top. Newcastle Brown was one of the first beers I ever had, and from then until about a year ago we were inseparable. One day however, the taste changed. It’s not a bad beer by any means, but it’s not the dark brown liquid magic that it used to be. Regardless, Newcastle is a nice entryway into the world of brown ales: it’s malty, its crisp, its got notes of caramel that make it incredibly drinkable. This is the only beer on this list that I’m absolutely sure you can find anywhere, so there’s no reason not to give it a try, you won’t regret it.
3. Leinenkugal Harvest Pumpkin Shandy
If you don’t like the whole “pumpkin” thing, skip on to the next one, you won’t like this. For the rest of you, this is the beer for you. Leinenkugal makes a whole range of shandies (half beer, half fruit juice), but the Harvest Pumpkin is the best one. It’s light in alcohol, only 4.2%, but what it lacks in punch, it makes up for in flavor. This beer tastes like an oatmeal cookie was made with pumpkin spice, then brewed into a wheat ale, with an added pinch of nutmeg and allspice. The nose is reminiscent of pumpkin pie, and it pours to a nice hazy amber color. I love this beer so much, it’s one of my overall favorites, and I’m super excited that it’s back, go try one right now.
2. Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest
This is Dad Beer at it’s finest: it’s bold, it’s brash, it’s dark, it’s just what your old man would order. Oktoberfest is one of the few beers from Sam Adams that I still enjoy, so whenever I’m in a heavy beer mood, I try to pick up a 6er and remember why I like it. It’s not the best beer in the world, but it sure as hell isn’t the worst. Oktoberfest has a really pretty golden-brown color to it, with a light white head that goes away in seconds. The caramel flavor is upfront and strong, but theres a slight spicy malt after taste that really makes this beer shine, in fact, it’s my favorite part of the whole experience. Perfect for sitting down and watching football or hockey with your kids/parents, or for sitting by the fire contemplating life.
1. Shipyard Pumpkinhead
Here we are, the signature Fall beer, the one we’ve all been waiting for. Pumpkinheads are universally loved by all my friends and family, even the ones who don’t like beer. For those of you unfortunate enough to have never had it before, Pumpkinheads are wheat ales flavored with real pumpkin spice, making a smooth, drinkable beer that doesn’t overdo the pumpkin flavor. For extra enjoyment, try pouring your Pumpkinhead into a chilled glass and add maple syrup and cinnamon along the rim for the best possible Fall experience.