Monday, December 28, 2009

A Year In St Louis... (Plus My Top Five Moments)

So, I guess I can't call myself "the new guy" anymore, can I? This Saturday it'll have been a year since I packed up the rental truck and made the long trek down to St Louis from Chicago on January 2nd. In anticipation of the move, I started on December 18th 2008 with this post, so I suppose the One year anniversary of the blog has already past. It's so funny looking back at that post because it reminds me of just how much of a crazy thing it was to move here on such short notice. This resonates - "I'm doing this alone and I have no idea what I'm doing." That sentence is dead on. But then again, I'm not sure I ever really know what I'm doing. Hell, the same could be said about this blog (the story of which can be found in this post about the newspaper article from back in July). The good news is that, even after a year I find something I love about St Louis everyday.
Keep in mind I could never say that about anywhere I've ever lived. From the way Soulard looks in the morning (I think it's at it's most historic around 7:36 A.M.), to the my recent fascination with the old streetcar system, there are so many forgotten layers to this city that I don't think I'll ever get bored seeking them all out. Of course, St Louis wouldn't be worth anything without the people. Congratulations on being super nice, STL! That said, my top five St Louis moments/places/things this year...
5 _ Going to ridiculous amounts of Cardinals games
I could probably pick a top five moments that just involve being at a baseball game, but I'm particularly fond of the game that, I think, went 15 innings. By the time it got to the 11th inning I was able to get right up behind the Cards dugout and watch the game from there. Pujols won it at 1 A.M. on a double to center. Good times.
4 _ Training for the Marathon in Forest Park
You have no idea how many hours I spent running that 5.6 mile circle. I know it like the back of my hand - which incidentally I'm not sure I could pick out of a lineup of hand backs. For blogging purposes let's just go with it as a figure of speech. Anyway, there is nothing that equals this park in terms of sheer and audacious usefulness. To give you an idea how much other cities should wish they had a park like this, let's do a little comparison skit I'll just type off the top of my head. Okay, so pretend you're crazy thirsty. Because this is just fiction let's really go for it and say you've been looting sporting goods stores all day and you're parched. Now, you have this tree in your backyard, but all it does is grow stupid leaves. Well, it just so happens your neighbor has a tree too, but all it does is grow delicious water. You'd want that water right? Of course you would. And, somehow, I've lost my point here... Anyway, it's awesome. Yeah, that's what Forest Park is like.
3 _ Mardi Gras St Louis
As fully reported in this early Arch Observer post, this was likely the most fun I've had all year and that's saying something. I doubt this year will be able to live up to last, but I'm certainly willing to give it a try.
2 _ The Mississippi River
Sure, she's a nasty beast. Floods, murder, general grossness and a dark shade of mud aside, she's still what made St. Louis what it is today. I've been lucky enough to drive along side of her and the Arch on the way to work for the past month, and although there's that big shiny symbol of St Louis on my left, I'm mostly drawn to looking out over the water on my right. The strange thing is that I don't know why I'm so drawn to it in the first place. I suppose it's the raw and natural power of it. The fact that it's such a symbol of America and an important natural resource might have something do with it, but I have a feeling it has a lot to do with it being a natural boundary. Almost like it's protecting us... And I don't mean from East St Louis.
1 _ Supporting Downtown
I think what I love most about St Louis is the opportunity. We have this downtown full of historic and interesting buildings (many of which stand empty) that have so much potential. I've loved being a part of and supporting the new life that's popping up all over town. There's such opportunity for this city to reinvent itself and I want in. I was just speaking with someone who is also not originally from St Louis about living here and they mentioned that this is a city where you can make what you want of yourself. There aren't very many obstacles. That's true on many levels and the same could be said of downtown. This infrastructure is a clay that can be molded into a true 21st century city. We have all the pieces - all we need is some people who want get dirty. (You'll see some of them in the blogroll - check them out.)

Yeah, I know, this post got a little deep. It's hard to not be reflective at the New Year, though. I feel compelled to thank all of St Louis for such a great year. I've never felt more welcomed into a community. I'd also like to thank you, the readers, for sending me recommendations and the nice emails. And also, perhaps most of all, for sticking with me through the slow blogging times. I know that's annoying, but the good news is the beard thing is working! It's been 9 days since I blogged and my face looks like it's being attacked by ants.
Have a safe New Year, everyone. Mardi Gras is right around the corner!

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Water Is Delicious. Seriously, Try Some Of This Water... Right?!?!

Seeing that this is the shortest day of the year I couldn't find a reason for not making this the longest article title of the year. Actually, I just making that up. I've been looking for a fake reason to make a long title like that and this is as good a fake reason as any. Oh, and look at that - less than a week since I wrote a post. My non-shaving plan is working out splendidly. I probably wouldn't have chosen today as a great day to write, but my beard is itchy.

Man oh man, is St Louis proud of it's water. And to be completely honest, they should be. As someone who was germophobically opposed to drinking from the tap, as soon as I drank St. Louis water, I was hooked. I'm seemingly not the only one who agrees. I saw a recent tweet from Mayor Slay (who does do his own tweets!) that claimed that St Louis water ranks as one of the tops in the country for cleanliness and taste.
You know what's hard about being Mayor? Everyone wants to prove you wrong, me included. Can we get an answer from the Google machine? *pointing to the top right of my screen* Google machine: "bleep bloop blop beep" Well, look at what we have here. Saint Louis ranks as having the 9th best water in the entire US of A for 2009.
Yes, I realize this doesn't make sense. We get our water from the Mississippi River - the garbage disposal of Chicago. Look, I don't make the rules here. It's states plainly on the Environmental Working Group's website that they are indeed "scientists," and if I know one thing about scientists it's that they specialize in science. Don't fight it. It makes you seem like the crazy one.
Now for the tricky one. Who cares how clean your water is if it tastes like a sewer? Plus, scientists can't prove that something tastes better than something else (actually they can - they're scientists and can do anything). Well, here's an idea. Get hundreds of the country's Mayors together, have them all rate tap waters, tabulate the results, get yourself a winner, and pray that nothing important happens the weekend of the year where no town has a mayor. Oh, it's happened? And St Louis wins! Wow, we really are in water heaven.
I've saved thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars on bottled water since I've moved here and it's all thanks to you, City of St Louis Water Division. I have no idea how you can take Chicago's sewage and somehow turn it into better water than the stuff they drink up there, but hats off to you. And from the looks of your website, I'd say you guys are still busy. The latest news is a rate hike in 2008 that was right on the heels of your win for best tasting water. I'm going to pretend you're working with scientists to make it even better. Think about it! New and improved water! I'd gladly pay more gents. For dramatic emphasis I think I'd like to write that again. I'd gladly pay more.
Immediately going to shave.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Weirdest Beard In All Of St Louis

Hey, have you ever had one of those 2 months where you consistently find yourself not blogging? For someone who enjoys it as much as me, I can say, with relative certainty, that it's not something I want to go through again. To prevent this from ever happening again I figured, from now on, I better implement some repercussions.
Thinking of self-inflicted punishment is no easy task. I don't want to do anything that can do physical or psychological harm. Unfortunately, that takes up most forms of punitive measure. There's always embarrassment, but I've never been one to worry too much about that. Nope, I think it's going to have to be something that not only I would hate, but would play on my sense of vanity. The answer is so easy! I. will. grow. a. beard.
What? That doesn't impress you? Even with my dramatic writing style there using all the period nonsense? Well, think again. Not only were those periods awesomely dramatic, but facial hair is a bit different for me than most dudes. First of all, let's just put it out there... The nickname: I once was the assistant coach for my boss's daughter's softball team back in Chicago. These were only 12 year old girls and they had a nickname for me - Weird Beard (note to self: awesome roller derby name). The reason for this ridicule? I have ridiculously patchy facial hair growth. It literally grows in patches.
It's a bit hard to tell (or maybe not?) in the very scruffy picture at the top of the homepage, but I have whole oceans of face void of any hair where any normal man would grow face fur. It really does look, well, weird. This wouldn't bother me so much if it weren't for work and generally looking presentable. I like to think it makes me look older.
One other strange fact about my facial hair is it's slow, easy-goin' growth. Seriously, I shaved Sunday morning - It's now Tuesday night and I barely look like I have a 5:00 shadow.That's a live shot as I write. Now combine that with the fact that my beard is, in fact, weird and maybe you can see where I'm going with this.
I'm making the commitment that I will not shave until I write a proper Arch Observer post. Don't you see? It works out perfectly. I'd likely have to write at least once a week unless I want to start showing up to client meetings looking like I tried shaving a map of Pangea into my face. A few weeks ago I took this picture:It was the point at which I couldn't let my facial hair grow out any further. My weird beard was itchy and becoming slobby. It was my breaking point - A breaking point that I can guarantee I'll be sneering to myself in the mirror about very soon.
I hope this works out because I need to do something... I've got all sorts of posts that need to be finished including a big one about my ride on the St Louis Metro with Courtney Sloger. There's video! Plus, the discovery of the graffiti wall!
Let's make this official, shall we? I, Jim Barnthouse, solemnly swear to not shave until I finish a new post on Arch Observer or until the coming internet wars destroy this site. Done and done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winter in St Louis Keeps Me Warm <-- See What I Did There?

Please don't count me as a fan of Winter. Ignore the fact that I love the holidays, fireplaces and the sudden plethora of clothing options. After you make fun of me in your head for a minute or two, forget about the way I jump around the house from window to window during the first good snow of the year. Instead, think about what sucks. Gloomy days, if you can even constitute 8 hours of daylight as a "day," tend to suck some of the life out of you that could have been well used on jumping around the house looking at frozen water crystals falling from the sky. Think about the week following a snowfall where the left over slushy snow turns wintery shades of black and grey. And then, of course, don't forget the bitch of them all, the cold.
Oh yeah, cold likes to mess with you. Right now it's the middle of October and 45 degrees feels pretty effing cold. You're all bundled up in a coat like you're hunting Sasquatch in Canada. But if this were January and the temp was 45, we'd all be running around in T-shirts like we're hunting Chupacabra. See? Jack Frost is straight up effing with us. And that's exactly what makes St Louis so great.
Once the shock wears off and we get used to the temperature, Winter is a fairly quick and harmless yearly ritual for St Louis. I say this comparatively, of course. I'm sure the Winter just seems like the Winter to native St Louisans, but to a Chicagoan it's awesome! It's as if Winter is just getting started and never gets to full strength. What is usually a good 4-5 months of demoralizing, snowy and blustery hell for Chicago is only 3 to St Louis. You have no idea the difference that makes unless you can do math. If you can't, the difference is 1-2 months. Metaphorically it's much bigger, though.
Actual photo of actual Chicago snow

Consider this; The average snowfall for St Louis in January is 5.4 inches total. Total! In Chicago that's fairly run of the mill for one snowfall! Average for the month in Chicago: 11.2 inches. A pretty large difference.
Still, even with so much less snow, St Louis is affected by snow more than Chicago. 3 Inches and the schools close down. The streets of Soulard never get cleared as far as I've seen. So maybe it all evens out? Nope.
The average high temperature in St Louis in January (the coldest month) is 39 degrees. The average high for Chicago in January doesn't even hit freezing! 31 degrees. My point is that even when it does snow in St Louis, and the city ridiculously grinds to a halt, the snow rarely lasts more than a few days. Meanwhile, in Chicago the snow-covers last weeks at a time. Psychological advantage: St Louis.
Here it is in rudimentary graph form:
You'll notice the only place Chicago and St Louis are tied is in the number of days in January.
The real trouble you get in a St Louis winter is the threat of ice storms. They happen fairly regularly here and although I wouldn't go so far as to call ice storms demoralizing, they do shut down a city something fierce. I suppose a shutdown city is good for at least one profession... Super-villain. They love that shit. For the rest of us though it's just the price we have to pay. A day or two stuck at home relaxing...
Anyway, St Louis, as you gear up for some good old fashioned winter depression, think about your neighbors to the north and then point and laugh. They have the Cubs AND worse weather. Things aren't so bad.
*Please note that I still love you Chicago. To prove it, I'd like to reenact a scene so common in movie relationship spats. Here goes... "Don't you dare shut me out" Annnd scene.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Arch Rival Roller Girls And A Man Named Clownvis

There's a moment in every man's life where he gets a hankerin' for some good, old fashioned girl-on-girl action. This is opposed to new fashioned girl-on-girl action which is stupid and probably just a fad. No, old fashioned is the way to go and I was lucky enough to see some of that hot, hot action with a dude named Clownvis. [Note: If you are my young cousin or one of my nieces from the future, this post is not actually about sex. I was using some double entendre to pull the reader in. Yeah, it's predictable and somewhat tasteless, but what can I do? Sex sells. Please visit your local library for more info on sex. Do not google that shit.]
On a late August night I headed down to the All American Sports Mall to check out the championship match of the region's Flat Track Roller Derby league, Arch Rival Roller Girls. Now, I'm not one to gloat, but I'm no stranger to Roller Derby. I'd seen a match or two on TV back in the 80's. You know what I'm talking about... Girls beating each other up on the rink in ridiculous WWF-like moves. Oh you don't? Well that's awesome because it gives me a reason to show you this!

Yeah, I'd seen that so I knew what to expect. It didn't matter that I had no effing clue how it was played - Because, really, who cares? I was about to see some straight up Jake The Snake style DDTs.
I had no idea how popular the Arch Rival Roller Girls were, but when I arrived 20 minutes early I was shocked that the place was packed. I had to park two parking lots away and the line to buy tickets was reaching far down the long hallway into the rink. Once I got through I headed up to the second level where the obligatory bar awaited me with the obligatory PBR special.
The first obvious difference between the above clip and the Roller Derby I was about to watch was that this match was going to be played on a flat track and there were no railings. "Audience participation," I whispered as I imagined the crowd surrounding the track shoving broom handles under skate wheels whilst dodging flying bloody girls.
As the lights dimmed the booming announcer uh, announced that we were going to have a special treat tonight. And then there he was. Perhaps the most perfect combination of two things people sometimes dress up as. Clown + Elvis = Clownvis. Or, the most awesome combination ever invented.
And then Clownvis went ahead and did something I wasn't expecting. He blew the effing roof off the place with the finest National Anthem I'd ever seen in a Sports Mall, either American or foreign. You could hear a pin drop. Need proof? Arch Observer video... "Give me a beat!"

I could barely contain my excitement for what I had just witnessed. It was the perfect introduction for what I expected to be a particularly violent and bloody derby.
Here's the thing... Yeah, that fake and ridiculously over the top Roller Derby you remember from the 80's? It's not like that at all now. It's an actual sport and one that I found more enjoyable and exciting as the night went on. In fact, I found myself getting really into it. They still hit each other but you aren't allowed to use your arms or legs. It's all about the hips and shoulders in real Derby. There's a ton of fast-paced slams and crashes but it isn't superfluous. There's strategy behind everything. The only issue you may have is figuring out the rules. Luckily, I don't have to go over them with you. Just check out Arch Rival Roller Girls website where they have a page dedicated to teaching you such things. And then, after that, check out some video.
One thing that hasn't changed is style. The Arch Rival Roller Girls are rocking some serious outfits of badassness. They also get to choose the names sewn/ironed/taped on to their jerseys. Some of my favorite names: Miss Lippy, Smarty McFly (her number is 1.21 Gigawatts!), Suri O'Killer, Riddle Lynn and Joltin' Josie. This makes me want to come up with a cool name for myself.... Damn, I just spent 15 minutes thinking of one and I've got nothing. How about Bad Ideas and my number can be zabillionity-gillion?
I know the new season starts sometime this Winter and you bet your black and blue ass I'll be there. Seriously, this is more fun than you are imagining right now. Plus, Clownvis could be there at a moments notice and that's something you can not miss. Point proven by watching the following video. Actually, all you need to do is forward it to 45 seconds and just hear a few lines of "Jesus Christ Eatin On A Chicken Wing." God bless America. And God bless you, Clownvis.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Woah. What happened?

I can't claim some sort of illness or being too busy. Actually, I can claim both, but I won't. Besides, my "illness" amounts to a three day cold and I had actual time to write. The problem was the parts where busy would happen would exhaust me enough that I preferred to think about blogging than actually doing it. Wait, you think it was just laziness don't you? Oh yeah? Take this -
Yep, that's me running a damn marathon on September 13th. That's 26.2 miles. I'm not sure how much you know about training for one of those but you spend a nice bulk of your week moving faster than any sane person - especially during the last month. It really cuts into your relaxing time. Add this to the fact that I've joined a new ad agency (St Louis based NGAGE), been partying it up at numerous Cardinals games (yay, we win) and continuously exploring/learning about living in St Louis (lots to write about) and you've got yourself a recipe for non-blogging.
Look, I know I'm not breaking any hearts here. And maybe if I hadn't claimed such frequent upcoming updates I wouldn't feel so guilty. That said, it's time for me to get back to while the getting is good. More free time + a backlog of St Louis fun = more Arch Observer-ing.
P.S. I really try not to make these posts about myself so here's a couple of extra apologies. Just put them in your pocket for an upcoming winter's day. Also, if you were a friend on Facebook you'd already know what I've been doing. Feel free to friend me if you're so inclined.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

St Louis Summer Of Aught-Nine... Best Ever?

OK, just bear with me here. Calling anything "the best" is, of course, subjective. Tie that to the fact that summer isn't over yet and I'm seriously jumping to conclusions and I'm just fine with that for a couple of reasons. First, if you weren't aware, this blog is mostly based on opinion. (Fun fact: It is also loosely based on the classic children's movie The Neverending Story. Oscar is my Luck Dragon.) Second, has this not been an awesome summer so far? Even if the rest turns out horrible I can't help but place it number one on my list of all-time best St Louis summers. I will admit that only being here for one makes it a very short list.
Falcor the Luck Dragon
Probably the number 1 feature this summer has offered is the weather. It has been downright pleasant if you haven't noticed. Many days of just highs in the 80's, only the passing rain shower and cool breezes has made this a fine year to be outdoors. Compare that to what most people will tell you St Louis summers are like and you'll know how much of a nice surprise it's been. According to Microsoft and their crackerjack team of weather scientists, the average high for St Louis in June is 85F and in July 89F. August drops back down to 88, but we are still talking pretty hot there. This year? The 2009 June average high was 87F. The July average high was... wait for it... 84 degrees! Using mathematics I've calculated that this summer has been indeed cooler. So far through August we are right on schedule with an average of 88F, but I'm cool with that too. I think having such a mild summer makes the hot days seem less hot.
Even if we had one of those notoriously hot summer's here, do you know what makes up for it? St Louis has long, easy springs and falls. In Chicago autumn lasts maybe three weeks and being that it's my favorite season I always felt like I missed it. Hopefully that's not the case this year. I wouldn't want to miss out on October especially. Reason being...
Go Cardinals! It's been maybe the most fun year ever to be a Cardinals fan. We started the year as over-achievers still winning while playing with a weak line-up. Now, through brilliant and shrewd front office moves, we've got a serious team to go with some serious numbers (6). These games have been so fun to watch this year and I feel incredibly lucky that I'm able to experience so many of them first-hand. And this Albert Pujols guy... I'll be telling my grand kids about watching him play if I ever get around to having actual un-grand kids. It reminds me so much of the Jordan years for the Bulls. He just wills the team to win. And that's not easy considering there are so many plays that he has no opportunity to contribute to.
The people of St Louis are getting excited. Walk into a bar during a Cards game and that's all anyone is talking about. Actually, walk into a bar during anything other than a Cards game and that's still what everyone is talking about. It's just fun to be a part of.
In the meantime, St Louis continues it's re-emergence as a destination city again. Every year the city continues to take baby steps towards building a thriving downtown. Sure, there are always bumps on the road such as the death of the Metrolink expansion, but in only 8 months I've seen some huge improvements many of which I need to write about in greater length. The new Citygarden which takes a page out of Chicago's Millennium Park, the Old Post Office Plaza, the new downtown grocery store Culinaria, the emergence of Midtown - the area between SLU and Downtown, and perhaps most important, the early talks of how to tie downtown back to the Arch grounds/the river. Having the Allstar game here during the recession that brought many improvements and projects to a halt certainly gave us a boost that many cities did not have the luxury of receiving. Hopefully, we retain some of that excitement to get things done.
And if not, then the Nothing has won and all of Fantasia will be lost. By the way, I think the next project should be building the Oracles over the Mississippi River. They shoot lasers out of their eyes! That'll teach all of the Cubs fans coming down for the next Cards/Cubs series.

The NeverEnding Story- Limahl

Monday, August 10, 2009

Soulard Farmers Market Nestled In Summer

As promised months ago, I have returned to the Soulard Farmers Market to soak in all the culture during the warm and presumably more active months. To be honest I've been back dozens of times since the original post. I go almost every Saturday, actually. Funny thing is - I rarely buy anything. I know that doesn't make much sense but I liken it to the grocery store. I peruse all of the fruits and veggies yet very rarely bring any home due to... "The Pressure." I use quotation marks here to make it read much more intimidating than it really is. Using reality, all "The Pressure" really boils down to is the urge to eat all of your purchased produce before it goes bad. I've never been one to be wasteful and that's my hard earned cash slowly degrading on my kitchen counter/hidden refrigerator fruit drawer (once your food goes in that drawer it is over for that particular food. It will never be eaten. It's science and you can't argue with science). The truth is I just can't take "The Pressure." It gets to me in a bad way if you count getting to you in a bad way as eating it all the first day I bring it home. At this point I tend to just skip getting produce all together. Still, this never keeps me from planning on buying some every time I step foot in the Farmers Market. This time was no exception.
As I had always suspected, contrary to the claims of Presidents Of The United States, peaches are, in fact, not free. I was forced to pay very near 25 cents for mine. Actually it was exactly 25 cents. Who really wants the change? And yes, I only purchased one so as not to lose another one to my fridge drawer of doom. I even waited a day to eat the one I did get. Dare I say it was the best darned peach I've had in a dog's age (peaches always make me talk old-timey).
Now, in the winter I claimed disappointment in the fact that many of the vendors sell the same produce you can purchase in the local supermarket. Unfortunately the same still holds true in the summer. As I don't purchase perishables too often, I don't know the difference in savings between buying from the two, but I've seen others marvel at the low prices in the Farmers Market. I'm not sure it's enough to counter the extra gas you'll burn driving down, but there are plenty of other things to purchase here.
There are fresh meat, eggs and flowers; a great selection of interesting pastas and freshly baked bread; a whole store of fresh spices as well as a whole section with flea market-like selections. Yes, you too can support Michael Jackson's death by buying an over-priced shirt with his likeness and years not dead printed on the front.
One new addition this summer is a large indoor store with freshly butchered meats and a large selection of jarred goods. What makes this store different is that it is run by the Amish. Well, I haven't noticed any claims that the store is Amish, but either the people working there are wearing the least revealing pieces of flair ever, or they're indeed Amish. They even sell fresh sandwiches which, as you know, I'm a fan of. I almost had one too, but instead opted for Julia's Cafe and their awesome Red Beans and Rice. Next time I'll get one because I can't imagine they aren't good. I'm not sure if I believe that because the meat is likely fresh or from my strange unsubstantiated trust of the Amish. You have it too, admit it. I feel a bit brainwashed all of the sudden.
How do I sum up the Soulard Farmers Market? First of all I'll say it's very much worth it to go down there just for the people watching. The atmosphere is a bit electric with the vendors shouting out the deals and the distant sound of jazz and bluegrass floating in from the outer edges of the market where the musicians are allowed to set up. As far as food goes, it's a great place to buy fresh bread (don't forget to barter) and pastas. My favorite thing about the market are the true farmer's stands where locally grown and hand-picked fruit and vegetables are available for purchase. You never know what they'll have any time you go. One week they'll have bushels of blueberries and the next raspberries. I'm not sure there's a great way to tell which stand has the local stuff, but other than asking, I think the easiest way is to look for what they are unloading the fruit from. Wooden bushels is a good sign. Waxed boxes with logos are not. The local farmer is where I got my peach from. It was worth every cent.
I think I might take the old Oscar drawn buggy down there again this weekend. Now that I've eschewed electricity and running water for a simpler lifestyle I no longer have to worry about "The Pressure." Wait a second... Damn you Amish and your entrancing yet trustworthy lifestyle!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Every Float Trip Has At Least One European

Very similar to the use of the term hoosier, I'm not sure it's well known or not in St Louis that float trips are mostly a regional thing. I can guarantee not too many peeps know what a float trip is up in Chicago and just doing a Google search for the term "float trip" brings up mostly Missouri float trips. Perhaps it's just the terminology. Surely people in other states get on rafts and float down rivers for fun, right? Oh yes - they certainly do. The only difference is they call it rafting and it usually includes white water.
For those unfamiliar with just regular 'floating', here's the breakdown of what's involved. First of all, you camp. Second, you sit on a raft for what's supposed to be 6 hours or so and gently float down the river. Third, you just get absolutely wasted. And that's about it. Well, my description is a little unfair. There are obviously many good things about them because people around here absolutely love float trips and seemingly look forward to them every Summer.
Now any regular reader of this here blog might be asking themselves why I would ever go on a trip that involves a body of water considering my past notes on the subject. That's a fair question. My only answer is that this is something I have brought upon myself. It's such a part of the St Louis lifestyle that, if I didn't at least try it, I wouldn't be truly experiencing St Louis. Besides, I was promised a very low occurrence of dead bodies in these rivers. I thought it best not to check their sources.
Not Our Campsite

Now for a quick rundown of the trip and please keep in mind that I don't enjoy camping, rafting is boring to me, and I don't get wasted (hangovers):

The camping was actually just fine. The Huzzah Valley Resort was one of the nicer campsites I have been to. If it weren't for the unruly guests this weekend I would consider their showers, although a bit low on pressure, on the high-end as far as campsites go. Unfortunately someone decided to do some unmentionable things to one of the shower stalls. And, yes, the unmentionable thing is probably what you assume, unless you're assuming that someone painted the stall in Unicorn blood. Why would you assume that? Gross... And dangerous.
Other than cleanliness, my other big problem with camping is sleep comfort. I can sleep in the craziest of positions and be completely fine. But turn the temperature a little bit too high and I'm tossing and turning. Being that camping usually takes place in the Summer, I usually have trouble sleeping. Luckily this time the temp was just about perfect at night. Right around 70 or under. Can't beat that with a camping stick.
The star activity of the weekend is the float itself, of course. Everyone packs up their coolers with all the finest wine spritzers (read: cheap beer) and piles into either multi-person rafts or two-person canoes. And then... they just sit back and float. Yes, this sounds like a nice relaxing fun time with some friends. And for me it would be except for a few small problems. First of all, we were sitting in these rafts on the river for something like 8 hours. 8!!! I was long ready for it to be over by 5. This is entirely too long although I assume it would be much faster in the canoe. Second, the drunken people are often waaaay too drunk. One good example I should cite was the massive 20 person beach brawl we witnessed about 2 hours in. This wasn't just a bunch of people kind of wrestling around. No, this was serious haymakers being thrown - and landed. And not just by guys! The girls were fighting too. Serious fighting. Like multiple kicks to the head fighting. It was ridiculous, dangerous and there was no one there to stop it. I actually feared someone could die. As we floated away after about 10 minutes of fighting it was still going on. It was ridiculous, but did give me the opportunity to pretend that one of those dudes said something along the lines of, "Welcome to the float trip, Bitch."
There were some funny moments too. Perhaps the highlight of the strange drunken behavior of the river folk was the gentleman offering to wash people with a bar of soap. This inspired one of the most quoted sentences of the weekend. A girl on a nearby raft points to me and says, "He's obviously European, wash him!" The good news was that I wasn't washed- I was, however, confused as to why I'd be "obviously European." According to the drunk girl it was what I was wearing. Please note that it was a white t-shirt, black shorts and sunglasses.
Overall, I'd give the entire weekend experience a 3 out of 10, but again this is personal preference. I certainly can see why it could be appealing to some people. As for why this is such a regional thing, I would guess it's because of Missouri's rivers. They are generally slow-moving, lazy rivers and there are lots of them. If they had more white water I would assume everyone would be just calling it rafting. In it's current state, however, you are unmistakably floating.
So here's something a little different for us here. I just picked up the new iPhone and one of it's many lovely features is a video camera. I planned on taking a lot of video of this trip and editing it together but with the wildness on the river I was very cautious of taking it out of the water-proof bag. That being the case, this should still give you a little bit of an idea of what floating is like minus some of the serious drunken behavior. Listen carefully on the bus we took back clip though. You should be able to hear what much of the day was like. You can probably also sense my enthusiasm for it. Plus, you'll see that I brought Oscar on this trip. I had no idea of how he'd react. Let's just say he would probably give it a 2 out of 10. So without further ado, the first of what will likely be many Arch Observer videos.
Oh, I'd also like to comment on the tons of feedback I received on the terrible picture of me at the top of the page there. Yes, Mom, friends, anonymous people and mythological creatures, I know it's a terrible picture. It's probably the worst pic I've ever taken and that's exactly why I love it! Unfortunately, it's also apparently a distraction so I'm considering changing it. Eh. Maybe the problem is that I just look too European. Yeah, probably.

[Note: Happy 50th post to me!]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The New Look

Tomorrow brings something I never thought would happen when I started this blog. Press.
Welcome, to anyone coming here for the first time after reading the article in the Suburban Journal by Shawn Clubb. I know the past month has been a bit lacking post-wise but I haven't eaten, visited, or generally been out of the house for over a month now. Ok, that was a lie. I have been doing all those things. Being your first time here this feels a little awkward now. How's this? I'll promise to never lie to you again if you promise to... I don't know - something. Just pay it forward like Haley Joel Osment (or HJO as I call him. My plan is to turn him into the next Neil Patrick Harris).
Original Arch Observer Header
Anyway, to celebrate this big day in the short life of, I've updated the look of the site. Now you'll see my giant unkempt head every time you come here. And yes, that's what I look like when I'm "observing." It still needs some tweaking but that's going to be the look for the foreseeable future. Let me know what you thinkies.
I seriously do have a large backlog of posts I need to write so don't think you're getting away from here without the promise of more of what makes St Louis, St Louis. You have an awesome, unique city, folks, and I'm going to continue to write what's awesome about it (even if I don't like it - I'm looking in your direction St Louis-style pizza).
It's crazy how this blog has gotten to this point. It all began as a way for my friends and family back home to see what I was up to and it quickly become something else entirely. What that is, I really don't know at this point. I think I'm just going to let this bad boy do it's thing. Unless it's thing is nuclear missile war like in War Games. I have no patience for such things unless it's starring Matthew Broderick.
And lastly, while this isn't a formal AO post, I'd like to take a moment to applaud the city on the All-Star festivities. I had never seen the City so alive in my short 7 months here. I just hope we can keep it up. Visit the City everyone! It's safe and awesome. Promise. For real this time.
More to come... Soon.

Most Popular Posts Of All Time! (Yes, only 6 months):
*** Update ***
Leave it to my Mom to let me know the article is already out. Suburban Journal it up.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Blackthorn Of Pizza And A Shocker

Within weeks of moving to St Louis I began to hear whispers of the Blackthorn Pub and it's delicious yet slowly served Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Claims such as "best pizza in town" were being bandied about - which made going there all the more intriguing considering my hereto search for good pizza in St Louis had been somewhat fruitless. So, after a long 6 months, I finally made it to the Blackthorn Pub and I was hungry for some awesome pizza, or awesizza.
Now keep in mind what this place is known for, the first being, of course, the pizza. The second, though, is waiting. Whenever you hear about Blackthorn people will regale you with tales of waiting for 2 hours or more for these pizzas. They usually claim it was worth it, but still, 2 hours is a long time for a hungry boy.
The place itself really is worth a visit. It's dark, beat-up and, although not completely original (they have dollar bills stapled to the ceiling), it does feel like it has a personality. There's plenty of room for eating/drinking and the bar is plenty big enough to cozy up to. And you better be ready to hit the bar because that's the only way to order anything at Blackthorn Pub and I mean anything. Even your pizza. You'll know your pizza is ready when they warble your name over the loud speaker. The older intercom isn't crystal clear so make sure you listen for the vowels that vaguely resemble your name.
As for the pizza - Yes, it is good. Very good. If you like Chicago deep dish style this pizza should fulfill your pizzaing needs. Keep in mind though it isn't a deep dish in the traditional sense. This is a stuffed pizza through and through. The difference is in the extra layer of pizza dough on top but under the sauce. It's more like an actual pie and while this is very popular in Chicago, it is not the traditional deep dish. Luckily it tastes fairly traditional. The sauce is tomatoee enough with a hint of spice. Frankly, this is what makes the Blackthorn pizza. Their crust, while obviously fresh and cooked perfectly, is unfortunately not my favorite as I prefer a buttery crust. Don't take my word for it though- many deep dish pizza lovers would consider this crust extraordinary. The cheese was excessive enough so no complaints there. Thankfully there was no Provel to be found. All in all this was a greatly enjoyable pizza and I look forward to eating it again.
Now here's where you should all be very surprised... Or not. I don't know enough about this place. Either way, I've found real Chicago-style deep dish. And maybe it isn't made with as much care as Blackthorn and I can't account for anything else there, but Caleco's at Broadway and Chestnut, Downtown St Louis has my favorite pizza so far in Missouri.
Why is this a shocker? Probably because this isn't even a pizza place. It's a fairly commercial looking chain-like restaurant that has a billion other things on the menu besides pizza. Just perusing the menu if you're not careful you could miss the pizza section. They even call their deep dish "Sicilian Pan" and maybe it is, but it certainly tastes like Chicago-style to me. I really like Blackthorn's sauce but I *loved* Caleco's. Chunky bits of tomato and a real zing to it gives this sauce the upperhand. Their crust is even buttery just how I like it! While it still wouldn't be able to hold up to, say, a Giordano's pizza, you'll be hard pressed in St Louis to find anything closer. So far...

I still haven't been everywhere obviously so I can't equivocally call this the St Louis pizza winner just yet. I have tried Obama's fave, Pi, which I enjoyed enough but for an awesome hand-tossed try Feraro's in Soulard. If I'm going to eat a hand-tossed, Feraro's is the place. Plus, they make Buffalo Chicken Pizza- One of my favorites. I know there are few other places I need to hit that escape me for the moment, but I'll hit them.
In the meantime, if you're hungry after a ballgame don't forget there's a place just two blocks away busting out pizza better than most. If you like deep-dish I don't think you'll be disappointed. Consider me shocked. I'm not even sure Caleco's knows what it has there.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

To the Dude In My Apartment, Part 2!

Sorry to leave everyone in such suspense. I can see now the error of my ways. Apparently I never told my mother this story so she called me in a little bit of a panic. Don't worry... I refused to tell her what happened. I told her she needed to wait just like everyone else. She scoffed - I said something along the lines of "you better check yourself before you wreck yourself"- she exclaimed "don't hate the player, hate the game"- and then we hung up. I'm sorry Mom. I think we should squash this beef. I forgive you. In honor of this forgiveness I will refrain from typing the next line I was thinking (it was something like "bitches be crazy") and go on with the story.
The hallway where it all went down
So, where did we leave off? Oh yes, I was pissed that there was someone in my apartment. I could hear them in the hallway and I was about to turn the corner to face them. So I turned the corner...
Keep in mind that I am not afraid of whomever I'm about to confront. My adrenaline was pumping big time. In fact, I think I instinctively flexed my muscles or something. Kind of like when dogs and cats get that little stripe on there back when ornery. Either way, I felt somewhat scary although the reality of situation was probably quite different.
...and there he was. He wasn't a big dude. In fact, he wasn't initially threatening at all. He was wearing what I call "Summer Jeans" (baggy khaki cargo shorts), flip flops and a backwards hat. If he was there to kill/rob/rape me he was wearing the absolute best disguise ever. As soon as I took a good look at him I yelled (in my deepest voice (which is sadly not deep at all)) "Get The Fuck Out Of Here!" and he was obviously freaked out. Considering it was pitch dark inside the apartment and his eyes weren't likely adjusted I would suspect he couldn't see me. He gave a little startled jump and then immediately started towards the door. I took a step towards him and he said, "Oh, I'm sorry man... I'm sorry!" and ran out, closing the door behind him. I followed him to the door and locked it now fully aware of the absurdity that just had occurred.
I walked back down the hallway and looked around my apartment for any other prowlers that might be ready for me to yell at them and noticed Oscar sleeping in bed. Yep, that little punk who was so nice to have alerted me to the situation didn't think it was important enough to come be a badass with me. Imagine my young intruder's fright if a mostly naked man yelling at him was accompanied by a medium-sized, slightly intimidating dog who's only wish was to jump on him and awkwardly smell his crotch. Wait, I made it clear there that it would be Oscar doing the crotch smelling, right? Anyway, I can't say I blame Oscar for sleeping through the confrontation. He could probably smell the Hollister cologne on the dude from a mile away.
At first I thought there was no way I could get to sleep again after the excitement, but due to the non-scary nature of what went down it really only took me 15 minutes of figuring out how he got in. There were only two options... Either I didn't lock the door or he had a key. I got the locks changed the next day of course.
For a while I thought that the key thing was the likely scenario, but it wasn't a week later, still cautious about the whole person in my house thing, that I was headed to bed and thought it would be smart to check the front door for proper lockage. I even almost disregarded my better judgement, but finally relented and checked the door. To my shock it was unlocked. I couldn't even imagine a reason why I wouldn't have locked it the last time I walked Oscar but there it was. While I felt like a complete idiot it also left me a bit comforted. It was a stupid mistake on my part that allowed this to happen. I could live with that.
And now, a message to my very first intruder if he should ever find this blog:
Hi! I hope this post finds you well. I just wanted to say thank you for the great story you left me with. I honestly don't know what you were doing in my apartment but I have a few guesses. The most popular guess seems to be that you were drunk and went into the wrong door. The other guesses usually start with you looking for a place to crash and end with "wouldn't it be funny if you woke up in the morning and the dude was on your couch." I usually say, "yes that's funny", but secretly don't think so. My personal theory is that you were here looking for the suburbs. They're that way, buddy. If you're ever back in Soulard please don't hesitate to knock. I'll likely be much more clothed and hospitable.
Your Possible Friend,
Jim Barnthouse
Arch Observer

Monday, June 22, 2009

To The Dude In My Apartment, Part 1!

What follows is a true story.
It's 3:30 a.m. on a Friday morning. I hope I don't ruin the story by telling you I'm usually sleeping at that time. Because I was - and very soundly at that. Oscar is usually sleeping right next to me randomly kicking me in his sleep and tonight was no exception. The nice thing about Oscar is that he isn't a barker. I have very little patience for yappy dogs and it's one of the fine qualities of 'Scar that make us such dear friends. My Mother breeds Papillons. They're those little tiny dogs with flowing ear hair that always need to be carried. Not really my type of dog to say the least. They're also, perhaps, one of the most yappy dogs in history. It has fortified my distaste for them. I'll just say it - I sorta hate them.
Papillon: French For Annoying
But not Oscar. Nope, he only barks when either someone knocks on the door or gives a single, quick, little bark when he hears someone outside. I equate it to a warning bark. It's like he's saying to the passing stranger, "Hey Douchebag, you know there's a dog in here right?" And at 3:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, that's the bark I heard.

Oscar: French For Awesome
Naturally, as I awoke from the bark, I assumed there were some people walking past the apartment being too loud. I mumbled something to the effect of, "shub up Oskber", gave him a slight nudge and closed my eyes. Then, right as I began to drift back to sleep, I swore I heard what sounded like my front door opening. This caught my attention. A few possibilities began to sweep through my mind; 1. Is my neighbor getting home right now? I look at the clock. It's 3:30... No way. 2. Did I somehow leave the door ajar and the wind is slowly blowing it open? (Keep in mind my apartment door opens to the sidewalks of Soulard, not a hallway) No, there's no way I left the door ajar. I've been closing doors my entire life. I have experience. 3. Is someone in my apartment?
At first, that thought seemed unreasonable. I'm an avid locker of doors. I don't even think of it, really. It's like putting on a seatbelt to me... Just habit. Even when people come over, as I let them enter the door, I close it and subsequently lock it. So there was just no way someone was coming in without making a huge noise. Yet, as I sat up in my bed listening more carefully, I heard the distinct loud creaking my heavy front door makes when being opened. Yes, it was my door and it was being opened!
I immediately jumped out of bed and my first thought was to put on some pants. Nope, no time for that. I know what you're thinking... Luckily it was blue boxers day. Pink boxers day is Monday, everyone know that. I took the long walk from my bedroom door, through the kitchen and dining room, past the living room and approached the long hallway my door sits at the end of. On my way there I'm becoming more and more aware that there is indeed someone inside my apartment. I can hear his feet shuffling quietly. I'm barefoot and quite Ninja like in my light steps.
I have no idea what awaits for me as I'm about to turn the corner to face my first intruder, but for some crazy reason, I have no fear. I'm effing pissed. Never in a million years would I have even pretended that I'd be like that in a situation like this, but that's what was happening. For the first time in my life my "Fight" reflex was firing on all cylinders. It didn't matter who it was or that I was in my boxers... I was about to do something to the effect of ripping them apart.
So I take the corner and there he is...

Wow! This is exciting huh? This post is turning out so good I've decided to end it on a cliffhanger. Tune in later this week to find out what happens unless the box office receipts come back disappointing.

[Spoiler] - I don't die.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Should See The Bontanicles On This Garden

I know what you're thinking... "Jim, you blew it. A whole week went by and no post." Well, you're right to be angry. You should know that I do feel extraordinarily bad about missing posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been "Observing" (I promise to never call it that again). It's the lamest and most overused excuse in the book that for some reason everyone just excepts when you say it, but I was busy. And I was visiting Chicago for a couple days which also counts as busy. No matter, I'm back to my (at least) weekly schedule of tying St Louis experiences to pop culture references and personal anecdotes. That's all there is to my style of blogging, by the way. It's simple chemistry. You could easily try this at home but I recommend parental supervision or at least safety goggles. I keep an emergency eye washing sink right next to my laptop for errant Blue Vitriol splashes. That precaution is taken from experience. True 7th grade story. Anywaaaays...
Children at a Pond
Guess what I did the weekend before last? I finally fulfilled my promise to go back to the Missouri Botanical Gardens when it actually was the season for plant-life to show itself. For all my children readers, plants are a lot like bears in that they kind of hibernate in the winter. Except, with bears, you need to be careful when coming across one in the forest. If it ever happens, DO NOT RUN. You're either supposed to make a lot of noise and try to scare it off, back away slowly, or offer it a fist bump in accordance with man-bear law #47. If it fist bumps you back be sure to "blow it up" when pulling your hand back. To not do so is a great bear insult. Anywaaaays...
This Lady is doing it wrong and will obviously be eaten
I have to commend the Botanical Gardens. This visit was much more enjoyable and, dare I say, beautiful. This place is made for bringing your camera. Well, probably not originally considering it opened in 1859 (Hey, it's the 150 year anniversary! I think that's your moon rock anniversary if I'm not mistaken). I hadn't been so inclined to take pictures in years. And it's not just the plants the are so picturesque. The historical buildings and sculptures also force you to capture the moment as the light hits them in certain ways. It's inescapable with all that they have there and it's hard not to find yourself looking at something with an artful eye. Now, I don't fancy myself a photographer, but it even made me feel like I took some quality images. Oh good news! The Terrordome doesn't look so terrifying in the Summer. And it's actually called the Climatron which is just about as cool of a name. And decidedly Transformer-like, no? Anywaaaays...

ClimatronflowersShadows at the Botanical Garden
I'm about to blow your mind. Ready? Don't worry, I'm exaggerating. Ready now? The Botanical Gardens appeal to all 6 of your senses. I know, it sounds crazy! Let me expand on this.
Vision: The Japanese Garden. This was absolutely my favorite place to be in. The pond and rock gardens give it a very tranquil feel as I would assume they were designed for. There are also lots of small paths to go exploring along with a gigantic mass of gigantic Carp with gigantic mouths to feed. The kids love that. This is the perfect area for a picnic or a wedding for that matter... One was taking place there that day.
Japanese GardenJapanese TreeThrough the Leaves
Touch and Smell: Early on in the walk of the gardens, near the Eastern wall there is the Sensory Garden. As soon as I came across this little stopped at gem I knew it was going to be an awesome day. The problem is that the area doesn't look like much. There are some small plants and a little path, but nothing that's eye-catching. Most people were walking right by it. Well they blew it. True to it's name, the Sensory Garden contains herbs and plants that either smell wonderful or are strange to the touch. Plants of note were the one that, once touched, smelled of chocolate (I can't remember the name... damn it) and the Lamb's Ear which felt exactly like what you would guess an actual lamb's ear would feel like. I love interactive exhibits!
Sound: Sweet lord there are tons of birds living in this place. You could hear chirps and songs from every direction. Add that to the sounds of the fountains and babbling streams. Then multiply all of that to the sound of trees in the breeze. Now double it. Yep. Music to my ears.
Taste: I can't say I partook in any eating while I was there, but The Missouri Botanical Gardens claims fame as being the home to the state's first Green restaurant. Sassafras reduces energy consumed and waste as it's green tag might suggest. It also has a cool name. Sassafras. I may eat there sometime just to get a Chicken and Black Bean Quesadilla which sounds deliciously awesome.
Creepiness: Yes, the sixth sense is creepiness. As noted in the Tornado post, history can be creepy and the Botanical Gardens is no exception. Enter one Henry Shaw. By all accounts, Henry Shaw was a good man albeit a slave owner. Tower Grove Park and the surrounding community were once all his land that he had donated to the city before his death. The Botanical Gardens itself was his property that he developed and opened to the public. His home still stands there to this day and, if you are so inclined, you are invited to take a walk through it to learn of the history of Shaw and the Botanical Gardens. There are pictures of St Louisans visiting through the years as well as former employees of Shaw's. The old pictures are great and really give you a sense of times past, but man is that creepy. Creepier still, they set the house up like Shaw still lives there. It's educational and all to see how people lived back then - but still. Weird. Oh, not creepy enough for you? How about the fact that Shaw is buried at the Botanical Gardens?
Henry Shaw Tomb
Yeah, you can go visit him at his creepy mausoleum where a marble statue of him lying there dead (Let's just pretend he's sleeping) is surrounded by glass. Also, you are welcome to sit down at a bench nearby where his ghostly statue welcomes you to rest. I chose to use this as a chance to make friends with him.
Henry Shaw Statue
Anywaaaays... I highly recommend a nice little Sunday trip with the fam or a loved one. Or even better, go during the week. They have free concerts there on Wednesday nights and Chuck Berry is playing on July 24th. Those Wednesday night shows in particular look pretty awesome. You're even allowed to bring your own picnic! I can't say this about too many places but I'm excited to go back. I feel like I probably missed a ton of cool stuff and, since I wrote about that Quesadilla, I've been craving one big time. Plus I miss Henry. He makes the best gardens.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Hope You LOVE Bacon. I Already Know You Love Shakes.

Somehow, someway, it has taken me this long to hit Crown Candy Kitchen up there in Old North St Louis. And the sad part is I had read about it for months before I moved here. Maybe it was that I had failed to ask anyone to show me where it's at, or the fact that everyone tries to scare you to death about going North of Delmar for fear of being gang-looked-at. I know getting gang-looked-at (being looked at by someone you don't know who's "scary") can really freak someone out, but the North side was more abandoned than wrought with early 90s Snoop Dogs. THAT would have been awesome. Those cars bounce!
Crown Candy Kitchen (pic from the website)
It was sad to see all those historic buildings abandoned and in ruin, but it did make the drive to Old North extremely quick. The whole area seems like it could be a new Soulard actually. I know I've read accounts of what Soulard was like in the 70's and what I saw on the North side was the real-life version of it. Perhaps there is hope there. As I pulled up to Crown Candy Kitchen I did see signs of it.
Crown Square (from ONSL blog)
It looked as though there was plenty of rehab going on to store fronts right around the immediate area. As soon as I saw it I was reminded of a story I read about the restoration of a North side street mall and I was sure this had to be it. I googled a little bit since then and it seems as if the area will be called Crown Square. I like it! Even more impressive is what the plans are proposing. It sounds like Old North could really become an art center for St Louis. Well, I can tell you this much... The buildings are on their way. The street was full of construction with a few buildings seemingly ready to occupy. In fact, it looks as if the whole area as a whole is ready to explode onto the scene. Check out the goings on of Old North in this blog. What they are doing is pretty impressive. Revitalizing a whole area takes patience and balls. Not necessarily in that order.
Front Counter at Crown Candy Kitchen
Apparently it also takes bacon. Lots of it. More on that later. As I entered the corner building I wasn't struck with a sense that the place was ridiculously old. I mean, it opened in 1913, so it's old. It just didn't seem too old. Which is good in my book. I like the charm of a place that hasn't been updated since the 20's but I can't help feeling like it isn't up to code food preparation-wise. It's that damn germophobic thing again. Either way, I felt safe. The decor spans the decades which is maybe why it doesn't feel like a certain era. Crown Candy Kitchen isn't large by any means but there are plenty of tables, almost always full of people from what I understand. Today was no exception.
I arrived before noon which must have been a good plan because I immediately scored a table. Shortly after, the line to sit down was out the door. I was there to get one thing in particular... The famed Crown Candy shake/malt. I wanted to decide on that first. I'm still second-guessing myself on the choice of Coffee flavor with so many good choices, but the real trouble was what to eat. I was planning on ordering the BLT which many people had recommended until I began to look around the joint. It was obviously the most loved sandwich there as many people were munching on it. However, what they were eating looked nothing like a BLT that I'd ever seen. These weren't BLTs. These were bacon sandwiches. I've never seen so much bacon served to a person. I get it, people love bacon, but damn. I like bacon to an extent but nowhere near that much. I passed on the BLT.
The Crown Candy Kitchen BLT (from Iron Stef)
So what did I get? A turkey bacon sandwich. Why am I an idiot? Because it's a BLT with turkey on it. There was less bacon than the regular BLT, yes, but I still had to remove quite a few slices of meat candy. Thankfully I had my delicious coffee shake to wash the salt down with. When you order a shake they bring you out a gigantic metal cup that they make the shake in and a regular sized shake glass. From there you pour the shake yourself. That metal container holds about 4 shakes. Yeah, its large. And delicious. Nutritious? Well... No. They clearly state on their menu that their ice cream is made with 14% butterfat. While delicious it has no business being included in a healthy meal. Luckily you don't go to a place called Crown Candy Kitchen for healthy meals.
My Coffee Shake
Here's the question... How unhealthy is it? Let's compare the shake to an Oberweis Vanilla Milkshake. Oberweis uses 18% butterfat in their ice cream according to their website. That's a decent amount more I'd say. Now lets take a look at some nutritional assessments... Wow. 1080 calories. 72g of fat. 97g of carbs. That's for the serving size of "1 shake" whatever that means. You'd guess that Crown Candy Kitchen's shake would be a little less horrible for you until you realize that the serving size of these shakes there is massive! Who knows the number of calories and such are in there, but if you are drinking the whole thing like it begs you to do, you're likely going into a coma. Guess, what I did as soon as I got home? 2 hour nap!
So yeah, be prepared. You are likely getting a whole days worth of calories when you go there. A whole delicious days. The place is totally worth trying at least once. I know where I'll be bringing my Chicago peeps next time they visit. They love bacon.