Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Celebration Savannah, Ga Memories

The first time I realized that St. Patrick's Day was a big party celebration for adults, I was a year out of college.

I had taken job as a sports writer at the Savannah News-Press in Savannah, GA. The sports room was filled with young writers who spent almost as much effort – almost – spending their meager wages on cheap beer and pursuing girls as often as stories. I fell into it immediately.

After a couple of months, a buzz started circulating through our sports room (we were, wisely, separated from the rest of the paper's editorial staff. The best-looking reporter, a knockout in the State section, was clear to the other side of the building).

The buzz was about St. Patrick's Day. That was odd, I thought. Savannah did not have a big Irish community and nothing about the place that I could see indicated that this would be a big deal. But the discussion among the staff was which day to take off work – we could either have the night before St. Patrick's Day or the day itself.

I opted for the day itself. There's a parade, I was told, and River Street is flooded with revelers. The area in front of the best bar on River Street, Spanky's, gets so crowded it's elbow-to-elbow outside the place. Our cheap beer newspaper hangout bar, Pinky Master's, closes the night before at 3 a.m., and re-opens at 6. This, I had to see to believe!

And after seeing it well, I could hardly believe! I went to check out the parade, thinking it was some small affair, but it was huge. Tens of thousands of people lined the route. One of the first things I saw was our mayor stumbling around in the crowd. It was 11 in the morning.

I eventually made my way down to River Street and stopped dead in my tracks. I had never seen more people in one place in my life (not even at Neyland Stadium on University of Tennessee football Saturdays). I later learned that 300,000 people come into Savannah each year for St. Patrick's Day. They all seemed to be on River Street at that time.

I squirmed my way to Spanky's and could not get near the place. The entire area was like a block party, people cheering, laughing, swigging beers and coaxing others to do crazy antics. Savannah, you see, allows drinks on the street, just like New Orleans.

Everyone was yelling in the direction of Spanky's and I soon learned why. The managers were hanging out of a couple of second-story windows waving t-shirts and girls were baring their breasts to get one of those shirts. I later learned it's an unofficial tradition called "Tits for Tees." I immediately approved.

No sooner was I taking in this scene when some guys picked up a girl standing right next to me, lifted her up with their hands above their heads and began to pass her to the front. Along the way, the girl's shirt was removed and, much to my viewing pleasure and surprise, her jeans, as well. She was laughing the whole time, got to the front and flashed, earned her t-shirt and even managed to recover her jeans.

I was hooked.

And so it was that I learned St. Patrick's Day is a big deal, a huge party for adults. Now I'm living in Los Angeles, and one of the best places to party is just down the street in Hermosa Beach. There's even a parade, though it's nothing like the one in Svannah. And there are fun places at Irish bars all over L.A.

And there are some great places for St. Patrick's Day around the USA, as well, including Chicago, Boston and New York City.

Still, I've got to get back to Savannah.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hunting For Happy Hour Bars

It's one of the great creations of bar and restaurant owners, a chance for professional patrons, to act like college students again by watching their wallets instead of their waistlines.

I am referring, of course, to Happy Hours. Yes, those lovable little nibbles that bars and restaurants give us for brief moments, usually 5-7 M-F. Half-priced appetizers and drink specials bring in post-work crowds with the idea, of course, to have people stay after Happy Hour expires so they buy food and drink at regular prices.

Some, of course, are better than others. I had taken it upon myself to research not just a few but ALL the Happy Hours in the Hermosa Beach/Manhattan Beach/El Segundo area of Los Angeles to post and article on PubClub.com. The challenge was immense, far greater than I had originally envisioned, because so many places in these South Bay Beach Cities now have a Happy Hour.

I not only wanted to review the place and the deals, but also to hit them when they were happening. A unique aspect of PubClub.com – and one of its strengths, if you ask me – is that it focuses as much on the atmosphere of a place and the crowd in it, as it does the actual establishment. After all, how much fun is it to be sitting practically alone somewhere when throngs are having the time of their lives just a few doors down the street? Very little, I tell you!

So not only did I have to hit the Happy Hour spots and check out the menu and drink items, I had to hit them at their Happy Hour peak.

I started in what I call the "Rosecrans corridor," a four or five block area of Rosecrans Ave., in what is technically El Segundo but locals still count as Manhattan Beach. For a while, the town's top Happy Hour was located here and the spot was McCormick & Schmick's. You pay normal price for drinks but could get many menu items for less than $5. It was once packed with locals on Fridays but now has only a few of the long-time regulars.

Also on this evening's agenda was Cozymel's, the Daily Grill (since closed), a bar at the Belmar Hotel that turned out to be nice but practically empty and the new "hot spot" of this area, Salt Creek Grill. I did all but Salt Creek in one night. Since that time a couple of new players have emerged and most recently I tried out the $6 burger at Fleming's Steakhouse. It's big and hearty, and Fleming's Happy Hour is in effect seven days a week, and even on holidays. Here's PubClub.com's review of Fleming's Happy Hour.

And so it went for several weeks, from Sharkeez Hermosa Beach to Sharkeez Manhattan Beach (#1 in the list for the combination of the crowd and the 2-for-1 drinks), all over the Hermosa Beach Pier and surrounding area, downtown Manhattan Beach and even back again to places. Two spots have since closed (Beaches, which had the longest Happy Hour running until 9, is the other) new places have emerged.

For instance, the day before checking out Fleming's, I was at Union Cattle in Hermosa Beach. I certainly enjoyed drinking 22 ounces of beer for $8 as much as the view of the Pacific. Here is that review.

PubClub.com will be doing individual reviews as well as keeping the main article up to date. And you can guess what that means – a lot of time spent researching the Happy Hours in the South Bay!




This blog is written by Kevin Wilkerson, publisher of PubClub.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Where to Spend Fat Tuesday & Mardi Gras Parties

When I was in high school, our band director (yes, I was in the band; alto saxaphone if you must know) told us to get out and hustle to sell a lot of some type of product to the community because we were raising money to go on a trip.

At first, we yawned, thinking it was another band camp. But then he said we were going to New Orleans and marching in Mardi Gras parades! Well we could not get our hands on whatever it is we were selling fast enough. I think it was plastic polar bears that you put baking soda in to remove refrigerator orders; my mom was the only person who could move them and she alone practically sent the entire band to New Orleans.

But go to New Orleans we did, and as a wide-eyed 15-year-old it was an eye-opening experience. About the the first thing we did was walk down Bourbon Street. A couple of us suddenly found garters at our feet; they were flung by prostitutes hanging out on the balconies. Nothing we had ever seen in Knoxville, TN, prepared us for that, I can tell you!

The parades themselves are pretty much a blur – we marched, and marched and marched. It seems as if they would never end. I was fortunate enough to be on the outside of a row and I had dozens of drunk girls coming up planting huge kisses on me and putting beads around my neck. I'm not sure I've ever had a better Mardi Gras!

Needless to say, Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday have always held a special place in my heart. And so it was with much pleasure that I began to discover celebrations outside of not just New Orleans, but Rio, as well. For example, there are HUGE, million-person Carnival parties in Cologne and Dusseldorf, Germany. And a slightly smaller one the Swiss capitol of Bern. Check out this list of Top Carnival Party Places for PubClub.com

So where will I be this Fat Tuesday? Going to San Diego, where they block off the Gaslamp Quarter with bands and a parade. I've been before and it's a blast.

But hey, if you want to go to New Orleans, here's what it's like, complete with a parade schedule for 2011.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!


This blog was written by Kevin Wilkerson, publisher of PubClub.com.

It's Difficult for the Average Barfly or Partier to Relate to Charlie Sheen

The media outlets – all the way from major networks such as ABC's 20/20 to the Today Show and of course the celebrity gossipers – can't get enough of Charlie Sheen.

And, apparently, Charlie Sheen can not get enough of them.

The popular actor is not having a meldtown, he's having a volcanic explosion followed by a river of unending hot lava flow. But that's not really the point here. What is of issue for this blog is that while the public is eating up all this Charlie Sheen drama as if it were Taco Tuesday in Manhattan Beach, they really cannot relate to his antics.

Even those who go out a lot (many souls joke about being "professional partiers) can't comprehend of what Sheen does on a regular basis. Heck, even college students can keep up with him. Sheen probably can outdrink an Irishman and out-chug an Aussie, for crying out loud. He must be something at a Greek weeding. Sheen, after all, says he has "tiger blood" and Adonis DNA."

He does, to borrow a term from the sports world, "take it to another level" with his admitted cocaine use. That's over the top (and so 80s, too). Good, wholesome partying involves booze and beer, not drugs.

Then there are the women. Hookers, porn stars, models. They are no doubt attracted to Sheen for his brilliant personality, not his $2 million-an-episode salary.

All of those things are simply out of reach for the average barfly.

So while its entertaining to watch from a distance, true party people and frequent bar patrons are hardly saluting Sheen. Yes, they are watching to see what will happen next, mainly because they like his character and "Two And A Half Men." Heck, Charlie Harper's life is the ultimate bachelor's fantasy – a nice beach house, plenty of cash and a revolving door of beautiful women.

But fiction - and Sheen's actual lifestyle – is a lot different than reality for the average Joe (and Jolene) partier.

This blog is written and posted by PubClub.com, a nightlife and world party website.

Students Pick Their Own Top Party Schools on PubClub.com

The great things about list of Top Party schools is that every college and university is on a level playing field.

There are no power conferences, no BCS, no divisions and subdivisions, no "bubble teams" fighting to get into The Big Show.

PubClub.com, the world party website, has compiled its list of Top Party Schools. The criteria is based on the students, the school's reputation as a party, the town it's in (Austin, for example, is a reason why the University of Texas is a consistently at the top of the list) and – in a ranking system unique to PubClub.com – alumni. That is, do graduates of a particular school continue to party long after graduation.

This last element is why USC makes the list.

PubClub.com also takes it one step further because the article gives everybody a vote! A comment section called "From the Grandstands" allows students to post their thoughts on why their school should be ranked. That's why you see such places as East Carolina, Wheaton College, Ithica College, Cornell, Southern Illinois and even Montana.

Here are PubClub.com's list of Top 10 Party Schools:
1.) Texas
2.) Florida
3.) Wisconsin
4.) Alabama
5.) UCSB
6.) Georgia
7.) Miami (Ohio) University
8.) Florida State
9.) Arizona
10.) USC

Here is the complete article with bonus rankings (including Best Cheerleaders) and all those great student and alumni comments.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Time to Party Again; It's Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day, March Madness & Spring Break

Now that February is in the rear view mirror – and are we not glad to see it gone, for it even snowed in Southern California – and March is roaring in like a lion.

In fact, February left us with a lot to ponder beyond how to dig a car out of a snowstorm when one is nowhere near a ski resort:
• What will happen in Egypt now that its citizens have overthrown the government?
• With similar unrest happening throughout the Middle East, and Libya on the verge of ousting its leader, how high will gas prices rise in the coming months (or heck, even days)?
• What to make of Moammar Kadafi's ridiculous military uniforms? Plus, he's had more rambling rants than Charlie Sheen.

Well, PubClub.com is here to tell you that help is on the way. It's March, and the madness has arrived. So don't just sit at home watching the TV, searching the Internet for the latest Middle Eastern country about to go down or wondering what CBS will do with "Two And A Half Men."

Get out there and party!!!

Here's what on the party landscape in March (and yes, it's all sheer madness):
• Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday.If you can't get to one of these places, then go out to anything resembling a local Cajun bar, put on some beads and let off some February steam. PubClub.com will in San Diego's Gaslamp District taking in the parade. Heck, might even be in the parade (6-11 p.m.)

• St. Patrick's Day. Now if you can't get excited to party for St. Patrick's Day, then it's time to start re-evaluating one's priorities. It's Thursday this year, which happens to fall on the opening day of...

• March Madness. Hey, even your boss knows why you are taking long lunches, making excuses to leave work early and are even watching games on the computer at your desk. (because he or she is likely doing exactly the same thing). Those first two rounds are incredible, the greatest spectacle in sports. Heck, maybe he/she will even let you go to Las Vegas for March Madness.

• Spring Break. Every college student's winter dream has arrived. It's time to head down I-75 to Florida, I-10 to Lake Havasu, I-37 to San Padre Island, or even a plane to places like Jamaica or Cabo San Lucas. Yes, mom and dad, we took our books to study!

• South By Southwest. As if Austin were not a good enough place to party anytime of the year, March 16-20 is this huge music festival taking place throughout the city. It is bigger, even, than a home UT football game.

So there's no excuse. Make the most out of March.

Monday, September 27, 2010

UCLA-Texas Road Trip Party Experience Report

The eyes of Pubclub.com were upon Texas on the weekend of Sept. 24-25. The occasion – or excuse, if you will – was the UCLA-Texas football game. The excitement of spending three days – we arrived on a Thursday – was too much to ignore. For PubClub and Bruin fans, as well.

This is a party report of the Texas football experience.

UCLA always plays at least one strong road game a year. In 2009, it was Tennessee at Neyland Stadium. Bruin faithful like to experience the flavor and atmosphere of different colleges, so several thousand travel to the games. In the case of Texas, many just wanted to party in Austin which is, without question, one of America’s great towns. There’s 6th Street, with its three-block lineup of bars that bring out college students with ridiculous pricing like $1 beers and $2 drinks, to the more refined areas for working professionals such as 6th Street West.

Then there is the pre-game tailgate party and post-game celebration/drown the sorrows and blame the offensive coordinator bar blow-off talk.

Austin, it must be said, did not disappoint.

Well, for the most part. Thursday was fairly slow (by UT standards) on 6th Street. PubClub arrived in plenty of time for Happy Hour but there was little happening until nearly 11 p.m. When a few students did arrive to the bars, they were as difficult to talk to as California girls – something we came all the way to Austin to avoid! This certainly was not in character for a previous Austin experience.

PubClub also had a tasteless, useless “dinner” at a place that, on the outside, seemed to be a good choice. “Legendary” Tex-Mex a sign read outside of Chupacabra and it’s probably legendary all right because the salsa was flat in flavor, the chicken so bland it defies any further description and while the pork had potential, it was dry and what taste it offered was overwhelmed by a Texas-sized amount of sour cream. So basically there was no dinner.

Still, the beers were as little as a dollar at two of the most popular bars, The Library and The Aquarium.

The next day’s partying began at a great Austin bar a 15-minute (cab) ride from downtown. It’s an oasis – but not The Oasis – on Lake Austin called the Hula Hut. Right on the water, it’s a highly popular place for Happy Hour and weekends. A few drinks there turned into several drinks there. At night, we went to 6th West, a lineup of lounges and bars better suited to those with jobs rather than learning about jobs. We hit the hot trifecta: Star Bar, a lounge with a patio front and back and a lot of beautiful Texas girls in sexy skirts, Kung Fu Saloon, a more casual bar/lounge, and The Dogwood, a nearly-all-outdoor bar that had rocking music and rocking patrons.

Then it was game day! And in Austin that means getting to a campus bar, a place called Schoultz’s, 3 hours before kickoff. This is a German beer hall of sorts, with a large patio surrounded by two buildings with bars. It holds several hundred people and gets so packed there is a line to get inside one of its bars, even for those on the patio. Beers here are more expensive – $6 and $7 though they are 20 ounces – but for those without a tailgate to crash, it’s the pre-game place to party.

We walked the dozen blocks to the massive stadium, which was remolded only last year, and caught the band and cheerleaders entering the field through the tunnel (it’s at the Red McCombs Red Zone). In fact, the girls were posing for pictures in about as friendly a display of pre-game personality as their must be in all of college football.

UCLA, which can struggle to reach a respectable bowl – if making a bowl at all – always gets up for the big games and quite often, the Bruin fans return home with the satisfaction of an upset road win. In, fact, in the team’s last trip to Austin in 2007, UCLA whipped the Longhorns worse than any team in Texas history, 66-3. Remember the Alamo; heck, Texas fans were saying “remember 66-3!” wonder what they will be saying after THIS year? UCLA, two weeks removed from a 35-0 beating by Stanford at home, whipped No. 7 Texas 34-12.

Yet PubClub went to the University of Alabama and the desire to watch the Tide in a very difficult game at 10th-ranked Arkansas proved too much to overcome. So at halftime, after a walk around the inside edge of beautiful Memorial Stadium, it was back to Schoultz’s. Alabama was down 20-7 but the cute girls who had served beers loved PubClub and served beers at a discount (including throwing in a couple of freebies), a hot lady from Vanderbilt came in to root for the Tide and we celebrated as Bama made its fourth-quarter comeback. Soon, the place was filled with Longhorns, who had left their game early.

Eventually, the entire PubClub Party Group showed up and we were all amazed at how friendly the Texas folks were in defeat. They complimented UCLA and saved criticism for their team’s offensive coordinator. The loss did not stop them from drinking, that’s for sure. Oddly, UCLA fans were more in shock than were Texas fans; somehow the Longhorn faithful were almost expecting it, if not this week than another.

Later, on 6thStret, PubClub was standing by the bar at Austin’s spring break bar, the Dirty Rooster, when a girl climbed up the back of The Bartender (PubClub’s roving party animal and author of this blog) and hopped up on the bar. Seconds later she was joined by a half-dozen other girls and the place exploded. A female bartender then joined them and started spraying beer on everyone. This was like being in the winning locker room at the World Series.

The rest of 6th Street was going OFF, especially the upstairs balconies at Maggy Mays and the Blind Pig Pub.

So that’s a football weekend in Austin, another awesome experience in this totally fun Texas town.