I had this thought while stuck in holiday traffic over Columbus Day Weekend: everything you need to know about society can be learned on a busy highway.
As I stood at a standstill on I95, I had some time to think, and it came to me: what better metaphor for America than a bunch of assholes trying to shave seconds off their commute by cutting in front of other assholes who drive too slow in the fast lane?
Everyone in the U.S is trying to go somewhere, and since smartphones became a thing, nobody has any patience anymore, so everything has to happen NOW, and nowhere is this clearer than the highway. As I was driving home, some douchenozzle in a tinted Audi cut me off going 90, and I thought about how that embodied the “fuck you, do something about it” attitude Americans have adapted in the last decade. In another era, this prick would’ve had to maneuver his horse across the same patch of dirt that I was on, but I could force them off the road and go about my business. It’s a little harder now, when that means scratching some portfolio manager’s $100,000 dick extension, and getting sued into oblivion.
The combination of “Fuck you, get out of my way” and ” Go jerk off to another Fast and Furious movie you future Driver’s Ed statistic” sums up everything other countries make fun of us for; the selfish attitude, the naive “Nothing bad is gonna happen to me because I’m special.” nature of this country, the way we generally disregard public safety, makes me think that the rest of the world looks at us the same way I look at crack heads on LivePD who deny that the crack in their pockets is theirs.
I didn’t see a change in behavior until I was crossing the border into New Hampshire, where there was a much stronger police presence. Immediately, traffic slowed down, causing morons who weren’t paying attention to slam on their brakes and potentially risk getting slammed in the back by some other prick who was too busy changing the song on his phone to pay attention to what was happening in front of him. The police act the same way sharks do on a coral reef: they patrol and circle their territory, keeping everything around them at a permanent state of anxiety, because every animal knows that if the shark wants to hurt them, there is nothing that can be done to prevent them from killing them.
Whenever I get super bored on the highway, I look to the median strip. I’ve seen couches, empty 30-racks, hubcaps, fenders, dead animals, lost trailers, and much more. It’s really interesting to see the things people will leave behind because they inconvenience them. That bike you saved up for is left behind because “It’s too far behind, we can’t go back” and is immediately forgotten. I don’t think we care enough about the things we buy. They’re just temporary distractions that are meant to make us temporarily feel something so that we keep buying shit we don’t need in order to chase that feeling. These edibles are starting to kick in, so I’m going to end this and stop rambling.
I had an idea awhile ago; I should try and write a book. I’ve always loved them, and I think I have a halfway decent story to tell, and I think I’m a decent enough writer to make something passable.
It’s hard though. I didn’t realize how hard it would be, which sounds like such a stupid thing to say. I need to change a few names and details to keep from getting in legal trouble, because the book is about 4 summers of my life on Frye Island, and I was kind of a little shit back then.
I’m about 4 pages in, and already I’m struggling. I’m not crazy enough to think that I’ll be able to write a 200-page book in a couple days, and even then, I’m not sure it’s going to be a story worth telling. I’m struggling to place all of the stories of my life into a palatable form that other people will read, and that won’t piss off the people involved in the story. Maybe I’ll just call it fiction and add enough wild shit that nobody will notice.
I love making things, and I want to create in different mediums, so maybe this book will be something great, maybe it will be abandoned in the pursuit of another medium, but I can’t say for sure right now. One thing’s for sure: if this pans out, you’ll all be inundated with my half-assed attempts to market it and see if people like it.
I hate snow. It’s the worst part of winter. If you’ve never had to shovel snow, you’re lucky, it’s awful. Imagine this: it’s 7am, you’ve got to go to work in an hour, it’s 15 degrees out, the wind is blowing cold air straight into your brain, and there’s 200 pounds of frosty bullshit blocking your car in. You really can’t just ignore it, or it’ll freeze into an immoveable block of ice that won’t go away until May.
As I type this, it’s snowing out, which means that I’ll have to venture out into the snowy roads. There are few things worse than driving your crappy front-wheel drive sedan in the snow; you have to be careful turning, speeding up, slowing down, stopping, going uphill, going downhill, it’s just a nightmare. The only thing worst is how people from New England drive in the snow. You’d think they’d get used to it, but no, they still drive like nothing’s there, and end up running off the road, or crashing into each other. Every time I see some yokel in a giant SUV going 65 in a 30 with 5 inches of snow on the road, I wonder what’s going through their head, do they want to skid off the road into a snowbank, because that’s how you skid off thebroad into a snowbank.
Other than that, snow isn’t all bad; it’s pretty to look at, as long as I’m not planning on going anywhere and I’ve shovelled the important parts of my house. I love walking down the street during a snowstorm, looking at the snow-laden trees. I can only handle snow until New Years, anything after that just bugs the hell out of me and is an inconvenience.
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.