Saturday, September 13, 2008

Viejo Chicago: The Off Days

A day after traveling to Chicago to see the Red Bulls lose on a pathetic giveaway goal to the Fire, the only acceptable response was to drink our faces into the ground... and that is what we did.

With the start of the NFL season upon us, there was no better way to spend our time than at Chicago's German-American Festival. As one of the guys put it, "we went from Chicago to Munich in 10 blocks and didn't even have to go through customs." We got there sometime in the middle of the afternoon. After a couple of liter beers, things started getting more interesting as we met the gentleman below now referred to as "10 Cent," a true P.I.M.P. if there ever was one.

I vaguely remember it started getting dark outside and after 5 or 6 liters of Hofbrau, we were leading all the dances and songs in one of the tents. At one point, Chef Leon decided it would be funny if someone took a dive into the large pile of ice laying on the ground. With $50 on the line, I surely wasn't going to say no. See my ice dive here.

At around 10 PM, the German Festival ended and a few of the peeps ventured back home not able to fight through the boozefest and continue on. Went to a lounge called Rodan that had a DJ playing techno all night. Pretty decent atmosphere for a Sunday night. Went somewhere else after that which was open to 4 AM (most places close at 2 AM and a few open at 4. You have to ask around about the 4 AM places).


On Monday, the boys decided Ist Miller Zeit! To translate, "It's Miller Time." Yep, we made the 90 mile trek to Milwaukee to hit up the Miller Brewery. The place is damn impressive. It's a 5-6 block square campus.

Here Chef Leon and myself (NJB holla!) are pictured in front of the Miller Truck. The tour was decent and presented some quality photo opportunities. The beer sampling was better than other tours as they actually give you three full beers. No costs. Not bad.

Afterwards, we drove through Milwaukee looking for the oldest bowling alley in the United States: Holler House. What we found was a not completed two lane alley that looked straight out of the movie Kingpin. Would have been historic to grace the lanes of this fine establishment, but it was not meant to be.

After the brief stop at Holller, we ventured to Miller Park to pick up a game of the Brew Crew. A really nice stadium with a retractable roof which was gold as it had been drizzling on and off all day. Most of the fans' attention was on the Packers-Vikings game taking place simutaneously, so it was amusing to hear a random cheer throughout the game knowing it was when the Packers had made a big play, caused a turnover, or scored some points. Too bad for the Brewers, as they blew the lead in the 9th and lost the game to Cincy. Definitely a good idea to check out Milwaukee when you're in Chicago, but I wouldn't recommend doing more than 1 day there. I just wish we had the time to hit up Madison and University of Wisconsin. Now, that would have been the shizzy hizzy.


Tuesday was a fairly relaxed day as we decided to stay in town and save ourselves a bit in anticipation of the US/Trinidad match on Wednesday. Took the crappy, above ground subway into the main part of the city and spent a ton of time around Millenium Park. New York has a beautiful skyline, but Chicago's is not too shabby either.

Millenium Park is a cross between Central Park and Rockefeller Center. I won't spare you with all the details, but I spent a half hour walking through some giant pool that had water spitting out of a computer mouth.

We drank some more and headed over to the Southside of Chi-Ca-Go for the White Sox/Blue Jays game. Had some excellent tickets courtesy of CBS Chicago (Thanks CA!) where we were seated about 20 rows from the field behind homeplate. Cool experience seeing Ken Griffey Jr. actually playing live. Without those injuries, he could of shattered Aaron/Bonds HR record.

Later this weekend, I'll discuss the big game: USA/Trinidad WCQ from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. I'll go through some of the chants and highlights from the match that you wouldn't have seen on your screen at home.

Until then, a NJ Fist Pump for Michael Bradley for his goal against T&T.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Viejo Chicago: Day One

It was a sunny Saturday in Chicago, when ESC NYC and ESC NJ Fistpump stamped its tickets to the Second City.

Upon arriving, Fina, Flip, the Chef, and myself headed from O'Hare to our destination, Wrigleyville, the land of Bratwursts, blondes, und traffic. It didn't take us long to reunite our rivalry with El Tri as we flashed our favorite score in front of a stand selling Mexico flags in Viejo Chicago.

After picking up food, drinking supplies (yes, there was a jager purchase), and a poor Home Depot purchase, we drove back to the airport to pick up the Meow Pump. At the point we dropped our bags at the haus and headed out towards the game. A stop was made at the Omni Hotel to pickup local expert and historian El Polaco. Several minutes of weekend gridlock rush hour traffic later, we finally got on the highway headed for Bridgeview, home of the Fire.

For those who have never been to Bridgeview, I wouldn't call it a Cosmopolitan paradise. Upon entrance, I thought I was at a county fair or rewatching a scene of the James Vanderbeek masterpiece, "Varsity Blues" with the massive gravel lots. *Cue Foo Fighters*

The stadium itself is a nice facility. Roof over the sideline seats added a nice touch. The brick facade in front also makes it unique in the American soccer landscape. We were situated in Section 134 located in one of the corner sections in the stadium. We were able to stand in the first row and were able to chant at will, but had to keep it New England clean. The 12 of us who were there sang throughout the entire match doing the usual cast of songs: We Love You, Forza Metro, Soy del Metro, and Dale Me. Thanks to those back east for the complimentary messages during the game, much appreciated. For those that didn't see the match, RBNY lost a tough 1-0 game to Chicago. A bad clearance by Diego Jimenez allowed Stephen "They call him IT" King to put away an easy chance to give the hosts the victory. Section 8 does some nice things with the flags, but overall they did not play a huge role in creating a loud atmosphere at Toyota Park. As a comparison, I'd suggest that the DC Supporter Groups are visibly louder than those in Chicago.

Highlight of the game was a token appearance by everybody's favorite reservist David Roth. Youtube's got it on tape. (Thanks Tilt.)

After the game, the group along with Pinto and the Reichert sisters ventured off to The Globe Bar to watch a replay of the USA-Cuba match. Mr. GPS told us it was a 5-10 minute walk from Aarhus (that's house for those not familiar with Denmark). Over half an hour later, we arrived at The Globe.

Not a bad bar. It reminded me a bit of Nevada Smith's, but less of a college crowd. It was pretty full when we arrived shortly after midnight. The match was historic as the US entered Havana and left with a 1-0 victory. Props to the small contingent of fellow Americans who found a way into Cuba and sang for the country. Hopefully, we will see you in Chicago.

Once we hit the 80th minute, the party truly began as the first shots of Tequila made their way to the ESC Boys. Several beers, shots, and songs later, we closed out the bar. Luckily, there was a quality Mexican joint two blocks down the road that allowed us to refuel with amazing burritos. There's not much better than a 3 AM burrito. The bars had closed up for the night and we finally headed back to Wrigleyville to call it night.

Some other notes of the trip so far:

  • On Sunday, we left from Chicago to Munich and we only traveled 10 blocks. No customs either.
  • The ultra zoom in of Google maps.
  • Local celebrity and sensation 10 Cent.
  • Ice Diving
  • Three Hour Song and German Dance
  • Acknowledgement of the Hat
  • Miller Campus
  • German Fistpump
  • Holler House
  • Cerverceros
  • Brew Crew
More updates later. Pictures and videos when I return to Jersey. Until then, I leave with you this 10 Cent inspired moment.