Sunday, February 28, 2010


One of the newest joints on H Street is called Toyland. The place is on the South side of H between 4th and 5th streets. A friend and I went there for the first time on Thursday night for a few drinks and here are my initial impressions.

They have a small but interesting beer and cocktail selection, and what appeared to be a decent wine list. (Side note: Is everyone in this town out of Malbec? Is there a Malbec shortage? Last 3 places I've heard it ordered they've been out of it.)

The decor has a sort of late 60s vibe with fake formica covered tables. The table tops are kind of sticky. You cannot slide your beer bottle of glass to one side of the table with your hand. One possible result of trying to do that is that your beer will topple over on to the pants of the person sitting across from you. I tipped over 2 bottles before I realized why it was happening. No, I wasn't drunk. Hadn't spilled a beer in years.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


You know what? Fuck it. We're back.

Some friends of ours who live in Dupont Circle recently started a Dupont Circle drinking club--The DCDC, they call it. Despite being Capitol Hill residents for some time, Forever Bisque and I have been invited to attend various DCDC functions on a trial basis. The DCDCers are lovely people, but they seem to lack the rage to live that CHBarReview brings to the table. It was this realization that convinced us of Capitol Hill Bar Review's continued relevance. After a nearly 3 year hiatus, it's time to rumble again.

Last night, after a plenty of drinks and palaver at the Black Fox. The DCDCers appeared to be winding down. We walked a few of them back to their homes in the gayborhood around midnight with a tacit understanding that Bisque and I would keep chasing Wednesday night around town. The odds that we would find what we sought at the bottom of our next glass seemed, at that point, to be at least 50/50, so we turned the corner and ducked our heads into Townhouse Tavern, a divey little dugout in Dupont which we Cap Hillers have come to appreciate.

I ordered us two beers at the basement bar from a golden-haired bartendress and we sat across from each other at a table in the center of the room. Talk wobbled from hard-boiled detective novels to gambling on college basketball. As we were talking through the bubble teams for this year's tourney, a slender young Indian woman in a white sweater came in, sat down at the bar, and began jotting things down in a small notebook. Now, my weakness for dark-haired women is well documented. Suffice it to day that I was a bit intrigued. As Bisque, rambled on about Donald Westlake, I kept one eye on the mysterious maiden and the occasional staccato bursts of her fine-tipped pen. A poet? An MFA grad student knee deep in creative writing coursework? Is she returning my glances? I think she might be...

I went up to get us two more beers. She said hello and suggested that we sit up at the bar with her. I coolly accepted and motioned to Bisque to join me at the bar. Bisque, the bartendress, the mysterious girl, and I started chatting. At this point we were probably the only people left in the bar. I was enjoying myself and figured I was well on my way to at least making out with the mysterious girl at some point in the near future. Then we started talking...

"So, what's with the notebook?" Might as well get the obvious question out of the way, I thought. "Lists." she said. " I make lists." She began paging through her notebook and stammering semi-unintelligibly about various lists, notes, and drawings she'd produced over the last few weeks. I looked her in the eye again and that's when Morpheus handed me the red pill and saw things as they really were--this girl was crazy as a two-headed billy goat.

My brief illusion now bludgeoned, we downed two more beers and walked out into the cold. After a few seconds, Bisque lit a cigarette and said, "Was it just me or was that girl strange?"
"Wasn't just you." I said. "Let's go home."

We went home.

R. Chowder

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't Call it a Comeback

Yes, we've been away again, but now we're back with a vengeance. Bou and Row have spent the last month frolicking about Europe.

Our first adventure led us to Spain. After a relaxing fishing trip off the coast of Mallorca, we headed over to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls where many a poor red scarf wearing sap was gored because of his drive for meaningful participation in his own culture (lucky for us--we can just go to McDonald's and down a McRib for that shit.)

Many bibulous and riotous times were had. The calimoxo flowed like coke and wine, paella was eaten like it was leftover, room-temperature Papa John’s laying around the morning after a good 2nd Saturday. Many Museos de Jamon were visited, and lispy, aggressive women with lusts for life fixed our eyes in conversation while we tried to plead innocent of American barbarism. Despite Row beating up some vegetarian bullfighter named Romero, and some other drama which we may or may not save for our mamas, the Spanish leg of our trip was a drunken success.

Next it was on to the Tour de France....

At first, watching the alpine stretches of the race was a bit tiring due to the elevation sickness that befell us both. However, we found our way to the training tent, and after a few EPO cocktails, we felt surprisingly refreshed, what with all the extra red blood cells. An unexpected downside of doping our blood to better observe the race was that it took longer to get drunk, and when the Euro is bludgeoning the dollar like it is these days, that makes France expensive.

Following Montaigne's famous aphorism, "For what ails you, Albania the answer be," we decided to trek down to Tirana. After an emotional visit to the Unkown Partisan Monument, we felt inclined to drown our sorrows in carafe after carafe of Raki and Korca beer at the local pub. For one reason or another, we fell in with a bad crowd, and only by our wits and guile did we manage to escape. Still, there's nothing quite as rousing as a Raki fueled night at the Pravda Lounge if you ask us. But hey, had to be done. We had to fight them there so none of you have to fight them here. (We're pretty sure the Albanian mob won't come looking for us on the Hill...)

So Capitol Hill Bar Review is back, and none the worse for wear, whatever that means.

Soon we'll be making our way to the H St. bars and you'll finally find out whether they're cool or not.

Monday, July 2, 2007

RFK-- Stadium Arcadium

You may have noticed that Capitol Hill Bar Review hasn’t posted much for awhile. In the meantime, we’ve been inundated with email from thousands of readers wanting to know what gives and demanding new posts.

Armless Jane: “Are you guys on the wagon or something? WTF?”

Saucy Chaucer: “Has CHBR lost its Rage to Live?”

Feckless Finnegan: “I swear to you. I am perched on the edge of my balcony. If you guys don’t post again by June 26th, I’ll jump.”

Well, with apologies to Finny’s mum, it so happens that we’ve been spending a reasonable amount of time drinking beer in RFK stadium since our last post. Bouillonnui is a bit of a Tigers fan, and Rowdy is down for basically anything that involves baseball and/or nachos, so we wound up watching the entire Detroit/Washington series. (Quick note: If you, by some strangeness of character or act of God, have become a Nationals fan in the last couple of years, you might want to stop reading now because this story won’t end well for you.)

Just before Game 1 of the series, we grabbed some dinner and margaritas at La Lomita on 13th and Penn. The Bouillonnui/Detroit contingent was large—Papallionnui and Mamallionnui had actually driven down from Michigan to watch the series with several other family members in tow.

There’s always something slightly intoxicating about walking into a major league baseball stadium on game-day. Don’t get me wrong. Watching a game at RFK is nothing like seeing a game in old Tiger stadium, Fenway Park, or Camden Yards, but it can still give you a little tingle. What grabs you first is the sound—the slow roar that emanates from the crowd interspersed with the looping cries of the vendors. Then you look around. There is beer everywhere. There are hotdogs and nachos and pretzels, and as you walk down the corridor looking for your seating section, you catch glimpses of the field, the green carpet of Bermuda grass trimmed tight like a fresh military haircut.

I have these moments when I forget that America is the greatest country in the world. It’s natural, I suppose, to have thoughts like “Is it really ok that we’ve dropped thousands of tons of depleted uranium munitions on Iraq?” or “Is this really the ‘freest’ country in the world? I bet I could hold up a ‘Bong Hits 4 Jesus’ sign in Sweden.” Well, there are two things that render those thoughts meaningless—one is March Madness; the other is the elation of walking into a baseball stadium in mid-summer. And I can promise you all that as long as those two American traditions remain intact, the terrorists will never win.

We found our seats near the middle point of the lower section on the first base side and sat next to a couple of middle-aged, mustachioed Dominicans who spoke lazy, Caribbean Spanish. It was hot, about 96, and later, when I arrived home, I would take one look at my sweaty, matted hair, and shave it all off.

Now, beer at baseball games has never been known to be too cheap, and RFK is certainly no exception. However, you can get a reasonable amount of bling-bang for your buck if you hit up the Guinness/Harp stand. I mean, a Guinness will run you around $6 in most D.C. bars these days. You can get one at RFK for $6.50 so you don’t exactly feel like you got sodomized on the deal.

Here is the skinny, baseball-wise:

· Tigers came to town for interleague play with a chance to move into first place ahead of the Indians.
· The Nationals suck and have sucked all season.
· Detroit’s Magglio Ordoñez is flat-out redunculous this year. Right now, you could throw a chick-pea anywhere near the plate and he’d hit it for an opposite field double. (see Rowdy’s post-game phonecall with his Pa below)

Rowdy: Hey Pa, what’s up? I just got back from the baseball game.

Pa: How’s Detroit look?

Rowdy: Indestructible, but they were playing the Nats…

Pa: Ordoñez get any hits?

Rowdy: You tryin to be funny? He went 7 for 10 in the series.

Pa: Wow, he’s batting like .350 isn’t he?

Rowdy: Try .382

Pa: Dear God.

· Tigers swept the series and scored 32 runs in 3 games.

A particularly pathetic play occurred midway through the top of the 5th inning in the series finale that I feel I must mention. Detroit’s Brandon Inge hit a ground ball to Nats shortstop Cristian Guzman who, instead of getting in front of the ball, bending his knees, and trapping it in his glove with both hands, decided to lazily bend over at the waist and make a one handed grab at it without moving his feet toward the ball at all. He bobbled it, was charged with an error, and allowed Inge, to take first base. Inge later scored.

It was, perhaps, the most insultingly lazy play I have ever seen attempted by a major league short-stop, and a slap in the face to all of Washington. I would’ve been pissed if the shortstop on my little league team had pulled a stunt like that, and my little league shortstop wasn’t being paid $4.2 million dollars a year. Not to mention that here we are in a city chalk-full of problems that need urgent attention and we’re about to spend our tax dollars on a new, $611 million baseball stadium, so you’ll have to excuse me if I find it F-ing incredible when Guzman decides it’s too much of a bother to move his fat ass two steps to the left to get in front of a ground ball. That’s a show of disrespect to the entire city. Also, Guzman may not have heard any of the curses I threw in his direction from the upper deck of center field, but I like to think they had something to do with his recent thumb injury.

By invoking the outlandish cost of the new stadium in the previous paragraph, I don’t mean to come off anti-baseball, because I’m anything but. What I basically object to about the new stadium is the swankiness of it all. The new stadium is clearly designed to cater to the wealthy, and given the diversion of public funds into it, it is bad form to spend so much money on things like “luxury suites” that will almost certainly be gobbled up by rich lobbying firms. The one thing that will make me puke up my ballpark frank at the game is watching a pharmaceutical lobbyist in the luxury box rub some congressman’s ass while Ryan Zimmerman strikes out for the 3rd consecutive time. (speaking of Zimm, MLB needs to put some theme music rules in place. Should Zimm really be able to play “This is Why I’m Hot” every time he steps up to the plate when he’s batting .245? Get on that, Selig. Might be a good distraction from Balco et al.)

On a slightly different note, I gots several lefty friends who reference certain intellectuals (Chomsky) out there who say sports serve to re-direct the energies and attentions of the public away from political realities, and towards meaningless events that feed into primitive gladiatorial pleasures and contribute to a false consciousness that positions subjects of the same political class against one another. They aren’t necessarily wrong, but they commit the same error of omission that many Marxists and folks on the left commit—they fail to acknowledge and properly account for the symbolic side of social existence. It's such a terribly unimaginative position to take, and what I would say to Chomsky is this: Do sports not also serve a valid, theatrical function in our world?

Each game is densely laden with plots and subplots. Protagonists triumph and fail due to combinations of natural ability, character, and chance; and all you can think to say is “sports are a meaningless distraction”? Ummm... Since when isn’t all of life a meaningless distraction? The next thing you know you’ll say we shouldn’t read novels because they’re just fake stories meant to distract all the rest of us from being just like you. Thanks for your concern, Noam, but only an unimaginative dullard could think that professional sports can’t be more than an empty distraction. I shall keep watching baseball, anti-capitalist sympathies intact. And while I'm at it, I think I'll have a few beers and some nachos.

-Rowdy Chowder

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Club

Yuppers, the legend is true. There really is a dance club above the Hawk n' Dove, and those of you looking to relive your College experience, The Club is for you. Not so much the part where you enrich yourself, study abroad, or make lasting friendships, but rather, the part where you dress up like a skank, put on some Axe, down a fifth of Popov, grind on several anonymous dance partners through the night, and do the sweaty late night make-out on the dance floor routine.

Really, who needs Adams Morgan when you got The Club? You can avoid the lines and the insane crowds, and you have the added bonus of hanging out with a bunch of Marines. So you can get hammered, have a good time dancing, and, assuming you're not holding some grudge against Freedom, hook up with a Marine to help the war effort.

If you live on Capitol Hill, you should definitely hit up the Club at least once. As they say on their website,

In the heart of D.C you'll find your not so typical "dance club".
Catering to the college crowd, we know how to party! With disco lights, a moderate dance floor, and the areas hottest bartenders and bouncers-you are sure to have a night to remember.

They ain't kidding neither. Rowdy's been to the Club just once. He walked up the stairs, saw a topless girl writhing on the bar, smirked, and turned around and walked out (I know, I know, there's something wrong with Rowdy). Also, there was the night Bouillonnui watched as a Marine and a snarky looking Hill staffer almost got in a fight. That's always an interesting dynamic to watch play out. On the one hand, you're just waiting for the Marine to absolutely destroy the guy and thinking to yourself, "Oh shit, I just hope this guy hasn't learned any kill moves." On the other hand, you keep watching said staffer talk about the validity of Sen. Inhofe's global warming views, and you start thinking, "Maybe it's ok if he just gets his jaw broken." And really, it would be.

Our advice is to spare yourself the cab money and added insanity that comes with going to Adams Morgan, and instead go to The Club sometime soon. We recommend going on a Saturday night when they have $5 pitchers from 9 - 11. Order one of the specialty shots they have, such as "Blood Clot" or "Sex at my House", hit up the dance floor and let the inevitable craziness begin.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

June 2nd Saturday

For those of you whom, for whatever reason, were not able to attend the recent 2nd Saturday party at Capitol Hill Books, we have again taken the time to recap the events that transpired.

Around 4pm on Saturday, the air outside hung heavy with hedonism. Perhaps, we thought, there will be no middle ground this evening—all or nothing time. Things appeared to be coalescing. When the Admiral finally unveiled several cases of wine and queso, the patrons seemed primed for debauchery.

There are days when what at first seem like widely disparate, almost subterranean phenomena begin to group themselves into a sort of worm-like self-organizing system of meaning that slowly works its head above the sand and shows itself. In this case, the phenomena that came together were as follows: The bookstore fridge was stocked with Tecate, Pilsner Urquell, and a case of white wine; Mr. Bisque was en route to store and ready to unwind after a hard day’s labor; confirmation text messages blipped themselves into being on our cellies; and Boullionnui was wearing the same T-shirt for the 3rd day in a row, and it had never looked so right.

The party started at 4pm sharp and within seconds we were half-way into the first jumbo bottle of wine. We wandered upstairs to find two giggly interns occupying several chairs in the fiction. Chit-chat meandered from chick-lit to lit-crit and back again, but somewhere around the time a third fit of giggling erupted from the interns, Rowdy shook his head bemusedly and tumbled back down the stairs to find 3 Brazilians browsing European history. Anyone worth their salt knows that one surefire way to spice up a party is to add Brazilians, and these were no exception. It soon became apparent that they would be in it for the long haul.

At around 7, we made the move to Tunnicliffs for dinner and more drinks. We came in about 20 deep and overtook the better part of the dining area. On the west end of the table, the Old Serbian nihilist (see last 2nd Sat.) had returned and was once again holding court. Ths time, however, his usual “Europe is dead” talk had been supplanted by a fear of German nationalists within the U.S. who may or may not be plotting something. At first listen, this sounded preposterous, but soon, we began to question our own complacence regarding the latent German-American threat, and began to wonder whether or not David Hasselhoff was somehow involved.

After dinner, we hit up the Key-Hole Bar in the basement of 18th Amendment for some pool and jukebox action. High Lifes were on special for $2 and there were good times to be got. Bisque tried to temporarily kill the vibe by playing two Megadeth songs in a row, but the inherent happiness of the Brazilian contingent wouldn’t allow our carnival caravan to be offput by a short barrage of death-metal.

Around midnight, Boullionnui was beginning to miss Battlecat, so we went to Banana Café to check out white Ray Charles, and he didn’t disappoint. And as if white Ray Charles wasn’t enough to blow our minds, the 50-year-old pony-tailed hippie dancing like an extra in a made-for-T.V. movie about Woodstock was. He left half the bar cracking up, and the other half staring at him in disbelief.

After white Ray Charles played his last number, we finally dispersed into the night, racking our brains for creative ways in which to pre-empt the morning hangovers that lie in wait.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

A Rage to Live: The Problem of Induction, or More Humean than a Humean.

Once upon a time in South America, Rowdy, Boullionnui, and two friends were finishing up their dinner as table-talk turned to the possibility of post-pollo entertainment. We all agreed that we probably shouldn’t go too hard since the next morning we would be attempting a climb to a glacial lagoon near the summit of Nevado Churup which stands at just under 18,000ft. But after dinner we found a few local hotspots and familiarized ourselves with a handful of smiling native women…

At this point you might be saying to yourself “What does any of this have to do with Capitol Hill Bars?” Well, be patient... After a few beers, the other two dudes stayed true to our plan of not overdoing it and went back to our place of lodging, but Rowdy and Boullionnui are not men who fall prey to such logic, for they possess a certain rage to live which renders them incapable of surrender. We pressed on to the wee morning hours and paid the price the next day on the mountain.

Now jump ahead two and a half years to yesterday when, after many Wednesday evening margaritas, we could’ve just called it quits. Some of our party did just that, and we bade them no ill will, but there was an implicit understanding that we could not follow a similar path. This is not what we do.

There are, no doubt, many of you out there who would flatly accuse us of being insane and illogical, of allowing our bodies and lives to be continually abused by implementing our policy of live in the moment and bollocks to the mañana. But are we illogical? Are we??? No, dear readers, not these barbloggers; Let us examine the problem of induction:

We give out a "heavy petting" award to David Hume who famously observed that we cannot logically arrive at the conclusion that the future will resemble the past in any way shape or form, and the argument that the sun will rise tomorrow because it always has in the past is circular because it inductively justifies induction. Rowdy and Boullionnui are keenly aware of this point and it genearlly leads us to live hard. After all, why should we worry about being hungover for work tomorrow when we cannot logically assume that our offices will exist by then? Karl Popper’s so called “solution” to this problem is merely a functional temporary concealment/avoidance of it, so that does nothing to slow us down.

While Hume himself allowed that radical skepticism is entirely impractical, this is just Hume protecting the world from the secret of the world, a secret that not all are hearty enough to live with. So while we readily admit that your life may not be able to handle Hume’s logical positivism, Capitol Hill Bar Review calls Hume’s scotch and skepticism, and raises him three Jager-blasters and a complete ban on a priori reasoning. In this way, we're more Humean than Hume.

Of course, we would never ask our readers to subject themselves to this sort of ban, but keep in mind that it is this strict reading of Hume that, in part, makes Capitol Hill Bar Review possible.

-Rowdy Chowder