Jukebox Skipping

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Haunted Hangover Part II -- A Gathering of Spirits

Last year, as kind of a joke almost, I asked how many haunted bars there were in Omaha.  Being completely overwhelmed by the response, I thought "HEY! This sounds like a good excuse for a bar crawl!"  And, just like that, the first "Haunted Hangover" was born.

So here we are nearly a year later, and I'm getting ready to give the details about this year's Haunted Hangover on The Pat&JT Morning Show...that was a fast year!  On a side note, thanks to both Pat and Jill for giving me a shot and having me on the show more than a year ago, and then inviting me back to me part of the fun...I can never thank the two of them enough.

Oh, yeah...you're here for details.  Well that's simple...you have to wait.  Well, not really, you just can't sign up until October 1st at the stroke of midnight.

Here's what I can tell you:

  • When: October 26th, 2014. Starting at O'Connor's in the Old Market at 11:30
  • Ticket Price: $20 to benefit Siena/Francis House of Omaha
  • We will visit five locations including Borgata Brewery and Distillery, T Henry's and two "secret locations"
  • Live paranormal investigations by Brian Kent and my friends at Paracon 
  • Only 100 tickets will be sold
  • This is an all walking tour throughout Omaha's haunted Old Market
  • Appearance by amazing illusionist Joe Brogie
  • Samples of Jim Beam Jacob's Ghost and Beam Kentucky Fire
  • Fun provided by HitThatDive's "Master of Entertainment" The G-Man
  • Historical presentations about the Old Market
  • Shirts, raffles, giveaways...and that's what we cooked up a month in advance...it only gets better from here!

If you're new to the Haunted Hangover, here's a few links to give you an idea of what it's all about. 

At the end of the day, this is a fun Halloween-themed event that raises money for people in our community that need a helping hand.  Halloween is meant to be a scary time...wondering where your next meal is going to come from never should be. 

So, think about joining us this year as we wander the streets of Omaha searching for spirits, as we sip on (several, or more) spirits.  

Tickets go on sale October 1st...don't miss out!  Make sure you're always up-to-date with HitThatDive...by following on Facebook and Twitter, if you don't already that is. 

Get your tickets right here at www.HitThatDive.com on October 1st. Haunted Hangover Part II will be the most fun you can have having a few drinks, as you get scared half-to-death, while helping those in need in Omaha area.  See you on the 26th of October!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Doe's Place, Fremont, Nebraska -- REVIEW

148 North Main Street
Welcome to Doe's Place

Fremont, NE 68025

Kids, did I ever tell you about the time I was transported back to the year 1971 after walking into a bar in Fremont?  Really?  I didn't?  Remember, the story that included free "Alabama Slammer" Jello-O shots, a scene right out of the Twilight Zone, and a John Wayne movie that I had never heard of before?  I didn't?  How did THAT slip my mind.

Well, in that case, go grab me the entire six back of Tall Boys out of the fridge, pull up a chair, and take the phone off the hook.  Yes, "take the phone off the hook", that's what I said.  You don't know what that means?  Oh for crying out loud, just put your damn iPhones on mute.  And, before you ask, no you can't get the new iPhone 6...end of discussion.

It all started one Saturday afternoon...

PROS: Great bartender. Real people hang out in here. A melancholy feel, in a good way (if that's possible).

CONS: Some dude sitting in the bar had his new shoes stolen off his feet the night before. Rod Serling never made an appearance.  

Plenty of room for such a small bar
First Impressions: Imagine if you will, you're traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.  OK, that's going a little too deep, but just down Main Street in Fremont, a few blocks from the cluster of dive bars in town sits Doe's Place. It looks like any other bar in Fremont from the outside, but because it's a few blocks down from the other ones, it seems to be isolated in its own decade.

Letting my eyes adjust the the extreme contrast of a sunny day, and a very dark bar, the first thing I noticed was a group of older men sitting at a table playing cards that reminded me EXACTLY of the picture of dogs playing poker.  As I grabbed a seat at the end of the bar I hear a loud THHHH-WACK! "Just need to get these guts off the counter" the bartender said as I sat down.  Pesky fly 0...fly-swatting bartender 1.  I take a look around and see that there's a John Wayne movie playing on the TV (this is foreshadowing, remember it for later).  So far, so good.

Dogs playing poker!
The Bar: Standard-looking bar area.  Nothing fancy, but certainly not a dump by any stretch.  And for what it's worth, Doe's has some surprisingly nice tables throughout the entire place.  The bar seats roughly 10 people and has your choice of Bud or Bud Light on draft.  Looking to catch a quick smoke?  Just walk right outside using the door by the bar and you are good to go rain or shine thanks to the patio covered by a Menard's carport.

And thumbs up to a bar that can cram just about as much stuff in to one tiny bar as I've ever seen, but still has enough room to shoot pool. This place is magical I tells ya'! Of note...my can of Busch Light was a bit smelly, not the beer (although some will argue with me on that too) but the can itself.  Hold your nose and drink I suppose, right?

No flies...for now
The Crowd:  Well, let's see...you have the table of dudes playing Hearts...a few people that were trying to shake off yesterday's hangover by drinking cans of pop (or soda, depends on where you're from)...a few hard working farmers...and eventually a tan version of Boo Radley.

In a scene that I will never be able to forget, when asked where his new shoes were Boo, sort of matter-of-factly uttered that they were stolen the night before.  Presumably off of his feet while he was "sleeping". He was roughly my age, looked thoroughly defeated in life, and sat quietly at a table by himself.

For those of us that have complains about the size of the new iPhone, or the leather seats in your SUV burned the backs of your legs, take note...this is a person with REAL problems.  I wanted to buy him I drink, or snap a quick picture, then I thought to myself some people come to bars to be with other people, and some want to be totally alone (around other people) and decided to leave him alone. Good luck in life my friend, if anyone deserves a new pair of shoes ever again...it's you.

Just chillin' 
Service:  Faster than John Wayne with a six-shooter, the great bartender (occasionally on her flip phone) was as fast at slinging me another beer as she was with her trusty flyswatter...KAPOW!! Bartender 2 -- Pesky flies 0.  I didn't even finish my first beer out of the smelly can before she cracked another for me without asking. Yes! Two sips into that one and she offers me up a free Alabama Jell-O shot...who am I to say no?

Prices:  Standard dive bar pricing,  I think I was paying $2.25 for cans of domestic beer.  Looked like the Jello-O shots were a buck, if I didn't get mine for free, and they have quite an extensive collection (14 different flavors) of pop for sale for $1.50.  Who comes to a bar and buys a can of Squirt, when you can pay .75 more and get a beer?  Well, other than the people to my right drinking Diet Coke, so forget I asked.

Food: Didn't look like much more than Slim Jims and pickled eggs (.75 each) for food options.  But, on a neatly hand-written sign behind the bar they did mention that Friday is "Free Food Friday Noon-until it's gone!" While not actually food-related the sign also noted that the band "Welfare Lonnie and the Food Stamps" played there the night before as well.  Almost sorry I missed that one....

14 kinds of pop
Entertainment: Standard bar stuff...pool table...dart board...tons of sketchy games of chance that I'm never really sure how to play...and...three TVs. Now, on one of those TV's was a John Wayne movie (as has already been mentioned).  Not being the world's John Wayne movie fan, I finally had to ask a guy sitting next to me what movie it was.  With out hesitation, the entire bar says in-unison, BIG JAKE!!".

Two things happened at the exact moment, I was immediately reminded of The Lemonheads song "The Outdoor Type" because any ounce of dive bar "cred" I may have earned with this crowd was immediately gone for asking such a stupid question.  For those that don't know the lyrics from The Outdoor Type here's just a few of them..."I've never slept out underneath the stars, closest that I came to that was one time my car broke down for an hour in the suburbs at night, I lied about being the outdoor type."

For whatever reason, I was OBSESSING about what the vibe of what year this bar was giving off. 1967? Nope 1979? Nah.  1959. No that's not it either.  It was like the "spirits of dive bars past" wanted me to write down a specific number...keep in mind that I rarely (if ever) obsess about anything. And certainly nothing as totally meaningless like this. Finally, it hit me 1971...and for whatever reason...it was like I could move on.  Like that was the correct answer to a pop quiz from a bunch of drunks long gone.  I even made a note that just said "odd" next to the numbers 1971 when I finally was able to do something constructive...like check out the men's room!

A few hours later I got home and decided to look up more information on the movie Big Jake.  So off to IMDB I go.  Movie -- Big Jake. Starring -- John Wayne.  Filmed -- 1971!  For whatever reason, that kind of freaked me out, if only for a bit. OK...maybe that wasn't totally from The Twilight Zone...but I think I do need to run this story by Psychic Andy Meyers next time I see him.  In retrospect, I should have played the same numbers that day in Keno  and moved on with my day.

Restrooms:  Small. Clean.  Not too horrible.  If anyone from Doe's ever reads this...it looks like it's time for a new Air Wick in the men's room.  The current one looks like it's been around since...you guessed it...1971!

I can live with this
Bartender Chat: When not hunting down every last fly in the joint, my bartender for the day (Max I believe) was a hoot to talk with too.  And, it's hard to argue the logic of a bartender that says things like "When I wanna get drunk, I cut right to the chase. Shots!"  Amen, sister. Amen.

Final Impressions:  I walked out of Doe's not really sure what the hell happened?  Last time I ever do an Alabama Slammer Jell-O shot...I know that much!  Ultimately, I gained an even deeper level of appreciation of people that hang out in local bars, work hard jobs at a place like the nearby Hormel Plant in town for $8.75 and hour, and could spend their entire day complaining that life wasn't fair...but chose not to.

As I said in the "Pros" of the bar that there was "melancholy feel, in a good way" at Doe's...and I'm sticking with it.  My time at here was far more moving to me on a personal level than I could have ever imagined.  Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes people steal your shoes.  And maybe, just maybe, if you acknowledge some of those simple facts (and not let them get you too down)  you can find a way to stagger back to a bar where your friends hang out and see if today just might be slightly better than the day before.  If not, you're in luck...you're already at a bar so just cut right to the chase...shots!

Hit This Dive!


I blame this

Friday, September 5, 2014

Where to Grab a Drink in Omaha -- Ebola Edition

Theoretically speaking...you're in from out of town and have never been to Omaha before.  After a flight halfway across the globe, and a police escort to one of our top-notch medical facilities, you find yourself sitting alone in your sparsely decorated containment facility.  What's a guy to do?

In our haste as a community to report every last second of the bubonic-like plague you've contracted, we've neglected to be a gracious host to our city. Among the things I'm told this city has to offer is a world-class zoo, underrated performing arts scene, and more one-named restaurants than almost any other city this size (I don't get it either) .

And, we have dive bars.  Like, a whole bunch of them...and some of the best ones are right outside the doors of the Nebraska Medical Center.  The Med Center is situated right smack dab in the center of town, an odd place to bring an Ebola patient, but that's now water under the bridge.

So, when nobody's looking, sneak out of your hyperbolic chamber, pretend to be the new orderly in town, take the freight elevator to the ground floor, walk out the back door of the hospital...and be ready to get your drink on!

**A note of caution**  Here in Omaha we're a bit new to the whole "I could potentially die from a predominately third-world disease" thing.  So, when out visiting some of the best dive bars we have to offer, always practice our now required "Ebola Greeting".

Know it, learn it, live it.

Bud Olson's Bar -- About as divey as a dive bar can get, Bud's is the perfect place to have a few cold beers between life-saving treatments.  And, the best part is Bud's is open Monday-Friday at 6:00...perfect for those round the clock nurses that seem intent on waking you up every few hours.

Alderman's Bar -- This has to be one of my favorite bar in Midtown on Leavenworth Street. It's a great place to get drunk, have fun and drink on the cheap. This really is a place that you would think most great dives should look like...complete with the kind of barflies you want to drink with...well when you're no so under the weather I suppose.

Marylebone Tavern -- You're in luck...the "Bone" has food on a Friday night.  Try the wings and tacos...and then head out back to their great patio to keep a safe distance from the regulars...no one here wants to call in sick on Monday with Ebola...but I suppose I don't have to tell you that.

Barrett's Barleycorn -- I'm assuming that volleyball isn't all that appealing at the moment. But, that's OK, stop on by anyway to try a cheesesteak and checkout the pretty diverse selection of beers. I just know the food here is going to be way better than the slop you'll be forced to eat at a hospital.

The Down Under --  For my money, the best place to hide out on this list.  It's just tucked away enough, and plenty dark, that nobody will really notice any potentially festering sores on your skin. Ask John about the special of the day...he's always got something good going on.

The Leavenworth Bar -- Tell Kirk and the gang that HitThatDive sent you.  Have a seat at the bar, shoot some pool and use the backdoor to occasionally check to see if anyone from the Medical Center has formed a posse to track you down.  Most of us have seen the Dustin Hoffman movie "Outbreak" and would prefer not to deal with that on a weekend, well, or ever for that matter.

The Neighber's -- Careful in here, there's a reason that this bar opens seven days a week at 6:00 AM, and that's because most of the staff of the Med Center clock out and immediately make a B-Line for this place the moment in opens.  Don't be confused, the beer comes in mason bars, those are not for specimen samples.

By my calculations, there's only four hours a day you can't find an open bar in that part of Omaha...is this a great city of what! Enjoy your time here, get better, and remember it's not that we're not a friendly bunch...we're all just a bit miffed (and somewhat freaked out) about the whole Ebola thing...as I'm sure you are too!  In any case, enjoy your time in our city. Cheers!

Welcome to Omaha...enjoy your time here.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Billie's Bar, Rising City, Nebraska -- REVIEW

730 Main Street
Only Bar In Town

Rising City, Nebraska

What are the odds that I can't even get a simple bar review right these days?  Gee, I don't know, like a 100%? Last week I ventured out past Loma, Nebraska on my way to the "town" of Garrison to stop by the Little Water Bar & Grill. And yep, you guessed it, of course I ended up at a bar called Billie's Bar without ever stepping into the place I just drove more than an hour to get to.

A few things before this one starts: 1) This isn't an "official" HitThatDive review because I didn't meet our "strict" editorial guidelines of having at least three beers. 2) I have a backlog of things that need to be written, so this one will be someone abbreviated.  3) Speaking of abbreviated, did you know that Rising City was the home of Clifton Hillegass, A.K.A. "Cliff" of Cliff's notes fame? Writing that just made me feel like Cliff Clavin...enough with the Cliffs already!

OK, so back to the Little Water Bar & Grill, apparently they don't open until 4:00 during the week. So if you ever feel like driving there in the middle of the week (like I did) please keep that in mind. Looked like a good little dive, and even had fresh horse poop on the street right in front.  Well, now that I think about it, so do many of the bars in the Old Market...so never mind that part, horse poop in front of bars is a dime a dozen these days.

This Place Was Closed
Now I'm just stalling...let's get to it.

PROS: Friendly regulars. Good food. Owner Billie seems like she would be fun to party with.

CONS: Arguably too nice inside to be considered a dive. My picture of the men's room came out blurry.
Super Clean

First Impressions:  Knowing not one thing about this bar before I walked in (other than it was listed as Hinkle's Pub on my AroundMe app), I was surprised it was as much of a place to eat than it was a bar.  Those of you in Omaha, think in terms of a place like Danny's on 72nd Street.  For whatever reason, from my seat at the corner of the very big bar, I was immediately reminded of the diner where Clark Kent got beat-up by a trucker in Superman 2...and I have no idea why.  To this day however,  Superman 2 is one of the few sequels that's better than the original. ..just FYI.

The Bar:  They have exactly one beer on tap (Busch Light), a fairly small selection of liquor but plenty of room to sit at the bar itself. Like I said earlier, this is as much of a place to eat as it is a place to drink.  My guess is, in a small town like Rising City, Billie's fills many roles including bar, restaurant, community center...you get the picture.  Only other place that a saw where people could meet up was the Post Office next door...but what fun would that be?  Of note...this might be one of the cleanest-looking bars in a 50 mile radius.  Looked pretty much spotless to me.

Hello Fellows!
The Crowd: In reading a lot of the response about Billie's on the HTD Facebook page, I bet this is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night for a good old time. Now, when I was here, it was mostly just a few older dudes having lunch and drinking lemonade.  Toward the end of my visit, a guy that looked like Uncle Rico form Napoleon Dynamite showed up, slugged down a beer, and went on his merry way. The rest of the crowd here could not have been more friendly to the outsider (that would be me) who was clearly the new guy at the bar.  I'm sure Billie knows who all was there that day, so buy them all a beer for me and I'll settle up with you on my next visit!

Service:  Friendly small town bar = friendly small town service. (See Cliff's Notes comment above)

Price:  Busch Light cans were setting me back $2.25. And the Philly Cheesesteak that I ordered (and came out on toasted Texas Toast and was surprisingly great that way) was less than $5.

The Tagline Says It All
Food: On a food note, I was there on enchilada day...and they also looked pretty damn good.  What you'll like when you stop by here is the homemade nature of all the food I saw coming from the kitchen that day.

Entertainment: What you would expect...jukebox...pool table...plenty of TVs to watch a game on. But, in doing some research, I did notice that a few months ago they had an evening of hot oil wrestling.  I can only imagine how that evening turned out?  For those that were there, any pictures of that evening will be added to this post if you send them to me! And let me know if you have any upcoming "Foxy Boxing" matches scheduled for the Fall too.

Restrooms: Much like the rest of Bille's, good and clean. There was some sort of spit cup on the wall in the men's room...I'm sure there's some story behind why it's there in the first place. Or, maybe it's just there to spit into. Sometimes I seem to over think things hanging on the walls in men's rooms...character flaw on my part.

Side Note: Billie's is easy to find if you're driving from Omaha.  Drive to Wahoo and get on Nebraska 92 going west. Keep driving until you see a store called "Pump N Munch"and bang a right. (Pun intended)

I Didn't Spit
Final Impressions:  I wasn't here long enough to give Billie's a final score...so I guess I'll have to go back! Although, I don't really need to do a whole lot more research to know that this is a great place that if you like a fun down home bar scene, you'll fit right into this bar with no problems.  So, back to an earlier question...is Billie's actually TOO nice to be a "dive".

The HTD definition of a dive bar is pretty simple...and that is it's the people IN the bar that make it a dive (that IS a term of endearment) and NOT how a bar looks... for good or for bad.  So, much like the Homy Inn IS NOT A DIVE BAR...a place like Billie's is a "dive" simply by the fact that it's frequented by a group of hardworking local people who I can only assume know how to cut loose after work or on a weekend night.

Billie's Bar is definitely worth a stop if you're even in that neck of woods...I know I'll stop by for a few next time I'm out that way.  Thanks Billie!  Hit This Dive.

Just Look for the Pump N Munch!