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March 31, 2009


Read this ASAP! Thanks to Andy for the link.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:35 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Random stuff

Is there a sniglet for ...

sink... the realization that you have just put your hands under an old-fashioned sink -- one without a motion sensor?

This must be a relatively new situation, since sinks, toilets and paper towel dispensers with motion sensor activators have only recently become commonplace.

Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with sniglets, they are words that "don't appear in the dictionary but should." The term was coined by comedian Brad Rich Hall.

Since I get out a lot, I'm used to just putting my hands under a faucet and expecting water to come out, or waving my hand in front of a paper towel dispenser and expecting the stuff to roll out. 

But there have been more than a few times when I've gone into a bathroom, stuck my hands under the sink and nothing has happened ...

Normally, it takes me a second or two to realize that it's an old-fashioned sink -- one without a motion sensor. I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack, by the way.

Is there a name for this realization?

I'd have to say, my favorite sniglet is ignasecond -- the moment you realize you have just locked your keys in your car. And what is probably the most instantly recognizable sniglet is pediddel ("A car with only one working headlight"). I always wondered where that word came from.

Something else I didn't know -- when you spot a pediddel, you're supposed to kiss the person next to you, at least, according to Sun columnist Susan Reimer. Wish I'd heard of that rule earlier. On second thought, maybe not.

Hee hee.

But I would like someone to suggest a name for the "moment of no motion sensor" realization. If someone comes up with one I really like, I'll give that person a prize.

(Sun photo by Christopher T. Assaf)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:17 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Tale of Little Havana and the MIZOD

little havana baltimoreThe more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of boiling down Little Havana's zoning issues into a children's story.

In case you're new to this little saga, read yesterday's post and Midnight Sun Mixologist Evan's post on his blog.

I have spoken with Little Havana's owners, and the city council is currently figuring out a way to keep them here. And before we get started, know this: MIZOD stands for Maritime Industrial Zoning Overlay District.

I'll keep you posted on all that serious stuff.

But for now, please read and enjoy the Tale of Little Havana and the MIZOD ...

For many years, Little Havana lived in a house down by the harbor. She liked it there, and many people came to see her.

When Little Havana first built her shanty by the sea, not many other people lived nearby. She didn't have neighbors, and would have been lonely if it weren't for all of her guests.

But as time went by, the land around Little Havana's home began to change. More and more people came and built homes on the street by the harbor. Suddenly, everybody wanted a home by the harbor.

At first this was a good thing, and Little Havana welcomed the company. But more and more neighbors kept moving in. These neighbors wanted to keep building more and more houses, but Little Havana's home was in the way.

little havana baltimoreLittle Havana was sad. She knew she would have to find a new place to live, so she started looking for other homes. She didn't want to move far, and found a new home just down the street from her old one.

"Hurray, a new home," she thought. "Now I can have all my friends over again!"

Little did Little Havana know, but there was a big problem with her new home. She was so happy to buy it, she didn't realize the house was right next to the Land of the MIZOD.

The MIZOD was a kingdom of loud, smokey factories where big ships came and went. The MIZOD had been that way for many, many years, and didn't like change.

The MIZOD Minions didn't want Little Havana moving in by them, and decided to do anything they could to stop her.

Little Havana was all set to move into her new home. But just before she could, MIZOD Minions crept in and claimed it for themselves. Suddenly, Little Havana's new house belonged to the Land of the MIZOD, and there was nothing she could do about it.

Sad and frustrated, Little Havana went to the castle where the Queen of the Land and all of the Queen's advisers sat. Little Havana pleaded with them to push back the MIZOD so she could move into her new home.

The Queen's advisers leaned back, scratched their heads, rubbed their bellies and thought about it. They thought and thought and thought, and finally, after weeks of thinking, they had something to say.

"The MIZOD is too strong -- we can't fight it," the Queen's advisers told Little Havana. "But there is something we might be able to do."

To be continued ...

(Sun archive photos)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:40 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I like the Abbey Burger Bistro's second floor

abbey burger bistroOf course, I only have a photo of the first floor.

But at least it's the Abbey (1041 Marshall St.).

The second floor is all wood and brick -- a drastic departure from its predecessor, Sky Lounge. 

Amie and I went there a month or two ago, and the service has improved noticeably since I reviewed it.

If you haven't checked it out yet, put it on your itinerary. The burgers and beer list ain't half bad.

(Photo courtesy of Alexander D. Mitchell IV)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:17 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 30, 2009

Same name, different song. Which one wins?

billy joel circa 1993

Last week, Midnight Sun scribe Lindsey Citron did a little digging and came up with a pretty extensive list of totally different songs that share the same name.

There are some pretty wild ones, and I'm sure Lindsey just scratched the tip of the iceberg. So feel free to add yours to the list. Here goes:

"[Female Dog]" -- The Rolling Stones vs. Meredith Brooks
The figurative versus the literal.

"Vienna" -- Billy Joel (pictured) vs. The Fray
The Fray takes on the lonely aspect of a foreign city, while Billy Joel romanticizes the idea of leaving it all behind. ...

"We’re All in This Together" -- Ben Lee vs. High School Musical
Whether you liked it or not, after High School Musical debuted, little Zac Efrons were everywhere chanting this Disney-fave. Ben Lee’s version has the same catch phrase, but with just a slightly better set of verses before and after.
"Alcohol" -- Barenaked Ladies vs. CSS
With lyrics like “Am I a horse? / Am I on fire?” we find ourselves asking if there is more than just alcohol in the mix of CSS’ song.
"Higher Ground" -- Stevie Wonder vs. Bedouin Soundclash
Stevie Wonder’s classic phrase takes on a religious tone in the ska-reggae hit by Bedouin Soundclash.
"Amsterdam" -- Coldplay vs. Peter Bjorn and John vs. Guster
There’s something about those Socialists. The Coldplay song is more famous, but Peter Bjorn and John and Guster get points for including the city’s name in their lyrics. Oddly enough, not one of the versions explains what exactly happened in Amsterdam. Between the hot air balloon in Guster’s song, to the trance-like whistling in PB and J’s version, one thing is for certain: Strange things happen in Holland.

"Closer" -- Nine Inch Nails vs. Jimmy Eat World vs. Kings of Leon
It’s hard to hold any song against one that lines up “you let me violate you” and “penetrate you” back to back, but Kings of Leon produce a ballad that, well, more suits its name. Jimmy Eat World’s version deserves an honorable mention as well.
"Superman" -- Dave Matthews Band vs. Lazlo Bane
Both Supermen claim not to be so in their individual renditions. Shouldn’t the titles be “The Un-Superman?”
"Intuition" Jewel vs. Feist (pictured)
It’s hard to remember if Jewel’s song existed before the Schick razor commercials. Feist’s has more of a singer-songwriter feel than a full-fledged radio-pop song.
"Bang Bang" -- Iggy Pop vs. Dispatch
One bang-bang to wake you up and the other heading towards outer space make for two great songs.
Even more:
"Hollywood" -- Madonna vs. The Cranberries
"Whiskey and Wine" -- 311 vs. and Matt Costa
"Everyday" -- Buddy Holly vs. Dave Matthews Band
"Stronger" -- Kanye West vs. Britney Spears
"Someday" -- The Strokes vs. Sugar Ray
"See the World" -- Gomez vs. The Kooks
"Run" -- Ben Kweller vs. Amy McDonald
"California" -- Any and every surf-rock band in the United States.
"All At Once" -- The Fray vs. Jack Johnson
"Again and Again" -- Keane vs. The Bird and the Bee
"I Want You" -- The Beatles vs. Bob Dylan
"Satellite" -- Dave Matthews Band vs. Guster vs. TV on the Radio vs. Anna Nalick.
"Invisible" -- Modest Mouse vs. Taylor Swift
"Is This Love" -- Bob Marley and the Wailers vs. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

(AP photos)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Random stuff

Little Havana and the MIZOD

little havana baltimoreSounds like it should be a children's book, doesn't it?

I was all set to write about Little Havana's (1325 Key Highway) fight against the Maritime Industrial Zoning Overlay District. I spoke with one of Little Havana's owners and took a bunch of notes, but never got around to blogging it.

Then I saw Midnight Sun commenter Evan's post about it on his blog, and thought, ah, to heck with it -- I'll just link to him. He lays out the whole situation pretty well.

Dig it.

(Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:22 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

So I checked out the new Looney's South

in Maple Lawn. What if I wrote the review in the voice of the average Looney's South patron?

It's pretty cool,  bro. Tons of flat screens. Like, you can't even see the walls 'cause there's so many flat screens. They've got stage, too, man. Some band was playing. They were OK.

Hee hee. It was pretty crazy in there, though. Took me a while to find the place, too ...

I got lost in the labyrinth of faceless shopping plazas that is Columbia for a while. Since it's so new, the number for Looney's isn't listed yet. After a few tries, somebody finally picked up the phone at the Looney's in Canton and gave me the number for the Looney's in Maple Lawn.

Even then, I had to drive around a while before I found it, because it doesn't have a sign out front yet. That didn't stop hundreds of thirsty bar-goers from descending on the place, though. At 10 p.m., it was slammed. I think it shows you just how much the area needed a big sports bar.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:54 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 29, 2009

Quote of the day

"Early to rise and early to bed makes a man healthy, wealthy and socially dead."

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:56 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

March 28, 2009

I've seen the future and I'm not sure I like it.

record and tape traders"It's the ultimate Socialist conspiracy."

That's what one of my coworkers said when I told him about the closing of Record and Tape Traders in Catonsville.

Backstory here.

Basically, it all boils down to this: There is now a generation of young adults who believe  music, movies, art, photography and news should be free. Gee, thanks, Internet.

There are many other factors at play here, of course, but this is a big reason why thousands of people in the journalism and music businesses are losing their jobs.

And though I'm no political idealist, when I think about it, it really seems to be cultural socialism at its finest ...

Granted, ripping music and movies is illegal, but that hasn't stopped people. Everybody who can go online has access to movies, music, art, news etc. -- for free. As a result, we've seen a drastic drop-off in the quality of some of these things.

Take news, for example. Newspapers generate a huge amount of content. They always have. Bloggers don't. They never have.

So what's going to happen when more and more newspapers fold? The quality of the news you get could very well decrease, plain and simple. And that troubles me.

Sorry for the depressing post. But this is on my mind, and I wanted to share it.

(Sun photo by Amy Davis)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:25 AM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

March 27, 2009

Win a new set of breasts at Angels Rock Bar/Mosaic

martinis.JPGLocal promoters JetSetMafia and the Cosmetic Surgery Center of Maryland have put together a beauty contest. Grand prize is a free breast augmentation valued at $6,000.

There are two preliminary rounds. The first is at Angels Rock Bar tonight. The second is at Mosaic April 4. Five contestants from each preliminary round will advance to the finals.

The finals will be held May 8 at Angels Rock Bar and May 9 at Mosaic. The grand prize will be awarded to the contestant who can bring the most supporters to the bar.


(Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:14 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Go to the BARCS fundraiser at Mother's tomorrow

barcsI would like to take a moment and pump this fundraiser for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS). 

BARCS does some really cool things in the community, as far as caring for animals goes. Amie got her cat Fiona there.

The fundraiser is 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday (tomorrow) at Mother's on the Alley (1113 S. Charles St.).

Tickets are $50 pre-sale and $60 at the door, and get you open bar, appetizers and the NCAA tournament on 18 flat screen TVs.

Do it.

(Sun photo by Glenn Fawcett)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:40 PM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

I'll bet you didn't know

I secretly write for the Wall Street Journal using an alias.


(And thanks to Patchen for the link.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:47 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Random stuff

All-you-can-drink at Power Plant Live

power plant livemartini Here's an upcoming special worth noting:

On April 9, Power Plant Live will debut 5 Ways Thursdays, a weekly discount designed to save you $$$.

Here's the skinny: From 10 p.m. to close every Thursday, patrons can pay to get an open bar at five different bars in Power Plant Live.

The participating bars are Mosaic, Rock Bar, Mex, Luckie's and the outside plaza lounge.

5 Ways Thursdays costs $10 for women and $15 for men ...

Not bad. I can see a lot of people taking advantage of this -- especially when the weather warms up some.

Since I'm shilling for Power Plant Live, I'll open this post up to any other bar owners who want to advertise their recession specials. I know there are more out there, but it's impossible to track everybody down. 

Got any other solid specials for me?

(Sun photo by Doug Kapustin)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:05 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Dan Deacon voted 99th Unsexiest Man of the Year

dan deaconThe folks at The Boston Phoenix have rated Baltimore-based experimental composer Dan Deacon No. 99 on their list of the 100 Unsexiest Men of the Year.

I love this line in their blurb about him:

anyone who’s met this amusing musical experimentalist will tell you that Dan needs to experiment with some deodorant.


In all honesty, I have to admit, Deacon does have that hipster stink going. Don't get me wrong -- he's a really smart, sweet guy. But much like the rest of Wham City and most of the hipsters in town, he's not big on personal hygiene. 

Who took No. 1?  Rush Limbaugh. No surprise there.

Some of the list's other highlights: 

93. Russell Brand (comedian)

78. Chris Martin of Coldplay

71. John McCain

42. Matthew Broderick

13. Joaquin Phoenix

7. Jim Cramer

(Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:42 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Local music

March 26, 2009

Mount Vernon needs a sports bar

mount vernonYeah, that's right. I said it. Heck, I'll say it again: Mount Vernon needs a sports bar.

Don't write me off just yet. Hear me out on this one. I lived in Mount Vernon for a time, and I used to get so frustrated at how impractical that neighborhood is.

Why isn't there a good place to go watch a game? More importantly, why is it that every time I ask this question to someone who lives in the neighborhood, they sniff at me and say, "If you want to go to some meathead sports bar, go to Federal Hill or Canton, jerk."

What they don't realize is that in addition to the meathead joints, Fed Hill/Fells/Canton have some of the most unpretentious neighborhood bars in the city.

And by looking down their noses at these other neighborhoods, all they're doing is furthering the stereotype that Mount Vernon is full of snobs ...

That's not true, either. Not everybody in Mount Vernon listens to obscure music/goes to MICA. I know there are people who live there who would like to see a cheap spot to get breakfast, more convenience stores open 24/7 and more regular bars.

I remember going out on a Saturday night and being so frustrated at the lack of bars I could patronize that weren't high-end clubs or gay bars. I remember waking up on a Sunday morning and being so frustrated at the lack of cheap breakfast joints I could patronize that weren't uppity/expensive cafes.

I'm not saying they should turn the Peabody Library into a Hooters. Having one or two low-key sports bars wouldn't ruin Mount Vernon. Far from it.

But aside from Mick O'Shea's and maybe Midtown Yacht Club, there are no places where you can chill and watch a sporting event in Mount Vernon. That stinks.But I doubt change will come anytime soon.

Also, thanks to Midnight Sun commenter ryan97ou for suggesting the topic.

(Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:13 PM | | Comments (48)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Gutter Magazine reviews all of Baltimore's nightlife bloggers

i like the night life babyI didn't even know some of these people existed. I mean, who is Sam Sessa?


Dig this sweet roundup Gutter Magazine did of all Baltimore's nightlife blogs. 

How did Midnight Sun rank? A modest 5/5. OH YEAH! OH YEAH!

What I like about this blog is the comments. Sessa, by I guess just writing consistently, has managed to be a real force in the local bar industry.

But the folks at Gutter also had some constructive criticism for Midnight Sun ...

They wrote: Yeah, I know it's got to be daily, but some of those micro entries are useless. I would like to see Sessa get back out there at night.

Duly noted, Gutter. Duly noted.

Anybody else have some comments to make about Midnight Sun, while we're on the topic? Anything else you'd like to see more of/see at all on Midnight Sun?

(Awesome Sun photo by Monica Lopossay)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:32 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The review: Pratt Street Ale House

I'm sure I'm going to get ribbed for my semi-kind review of the Pratt Street Ale House, which recently replaced the Wharf Rat. Here's an excerpt:

The renovations turned the charming Wharf Rat into the streamlined Pratt Street Ale House. Plenty of character was lost in the process, but I think the Ale House will appeal to a much wider audience....

I already got an e-mail from one reader, who said:

You were kind in your review – the place could be in an airport in Des Moines, Iowa and no one would know the difference. At least the beers are still available – but the hand pumps were gone when I stopped in.

Also in today's paper is a centerpiece on the comedy troupe Second City and a Meet the Band on The Dialogue.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:14 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Baltimore Beer Week is just bubbling over


Beer blogger Rob Kasper, Casey Hard from Max's and a few of their cronies have come up with a most delicious idea: Baltimore Beer Week.

Kasper was telling me about it, and there is a glimmer in his eye that tells me some kind of evil genius is at work here.

Go to his blog and find out more about Baltimore Beer Week.

"It will put us on the map -- or the floor," Kasper told me. "We're not sure."

Kasper also asked for comments about the official Beer Week logo -- pictured, at right -- on his blog. 

I say two thumbs up. No wait, one thumb. I need the other one to hold my mug.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 25, 2009

Review: Britney Spears at the Verizon Center last night

britney spearsMy ears were ringing before the show even started.

So many teens, pre-teens, post-teens -- all wailing like banshees for Britney Spears at Washington's Verizon Center last night.

Though piercingly painful, the crowd's gleeful shrieks for Brit-Brit only added to the excitement. And what a show it was.

Yes, Britney lip-synced the whole thing. But let's be honest -- nobody was there to hear her sing.

I'll bet nobody cared. All that crowd wanted was to be dazzled, and Britney didn't let them down. The sheer spectacle of the whole thing was stunning.

Instead of a stage, there were three circular performance areas -- modeled after a three-ring circus. The tour is in support of Britney's new album, Circus, and the show is kind of like a wicked, hedonistic night under the Big Top ...

Before Britney hit the stage, we were treated to a video in which celebrity gossip queen Perez Hilton gushed about Britney's comeback. He was dressed like a screwy Victorian monarch, and gleefully gnawed on a scepter topped with a baby doll's head after giving his introduction. Weird.

For the first song -- the title track from Circus -- Britney descended from the ceiling in black boots and a red ringmaster's jacket. Brit seemed stiff and wooden for most of the track, but warmed up after a few minutes.

britney spearsOver the course of the night, Britney seemed to make an entrance from every angle. She popped up from the floor, dropped down from overhead and, once, even hopped on a suspended human platform made from two interlocked contortionists and rode it up to the rafters.

All the while, a posse of dancers, contortionists and circus performers darted around the bubbly popstress. Fog rolled across the circular stage, sparks shot down from the ceiling and camera flashes flickered from the audience like strobe lights. At times, it was almost too much.

By the way, if you're planning on seeing this tour and haven't bought your tickets yet, try and get seats near the center of the venue. Britney tended to play to the audience nearest the middle ring.

No, there weren't any wardrobe malfunctions. But Britney did have a new getup for each song. She donned Middle Eastern garb for "Me Against the Music," a song she recorded with Madonna, and came out dressed as a police officer for the final song, "Womanizer."

Britney drew heavily from her Circus and Blackout albums for the set, and occasionally played a hit from years past. A bumping rendition of "... Baby One More Time" was a show-stopper, and would have made a better encore than "Womanizer." But now I'm being nit-picky.

This is Britney's first tour in about five years, and she's is eager to reestablish herself as one of the world's biggest female entertainers. If last night's show was any indication, Britney is well on her way.

Welcome back, Brit.

(Top, AP photo. Bottom, handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:08 AM | | Comments (34)
Categories: Local music

And the winner is ...

Joe! The mystery bar is indeed the Pratt Street Ale House.

I am shocked that Joe, whoever he is, guessed correctly. I mean, that place looks drastically different from when it was the Wharf Rat. Joe, e-mail me with your address and I'll mail you your prize.

And thanks again everyone for playing.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Name That Bar

Name That Bar, Vol. 2

namesnotherestupid.JPGOKOKOKOK GET READY KIDS!

You know the drill by now.

If not, it's so simple: The first person to correctly identify the bar pictured here wins a most awesome prize from Midnight Sun.

It's that easy, ladies and gentlemen: Post a comment, win a prize. I'll identify the winner in a couple short hours.

And no, the answer is not in the file name this time. I still can't believe I did that last time.

All right, GO!

(Photo by Alexander D. Mitchell IV -- Mid-Atlantic Brewing News)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Name That Bar

March 24, 2009

Why don't more bars cash $100 bills?

it's all about the benjamins, baby

A couple years ago, I went to Italy to visit some family and see some sights.

While I was there, I noticed that everybody demanded exact change. It drove me nuts. If I bought a sandwich for 6 Euros and tried to pay with a 10 Euro note, they would freak out.

That doesn't happen here in the states. At least not that often. 

But I have heard from several people that it's incredibly hard to get a Baltimore bar to take a $100 bill.

I don't roll deep like that, so I don't know from personal experience ...

I'm sure that depends on how much the customer with the $100 has spent in a bar. I mean, buying one $3 beer and trying to pay for it with a Benjamin is more than a little ludicrous.

But I think that if you spend more than $30 in a bar, they should break your $100 -- especially if it's a Friday. I know bars aren't banks, but a lot of people get paid in $100 bills on Fridays and want to go out to the bars to spend that moolah, daddio. 

And what kind of message does it send if, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you can't drop a Franklin on the bar and expect them to break it?

I rest my case.

(Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:49 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Ropewalk Tavern gets a smoking ban exemption

ropewalk tavern baltimoreIt is now legal to smoke cigarettes and cigars inside Ropewalk Tavern (1209 S. Charles St.).

Ropewalk recently received an exemption from the statewide smoking ban.

It's technically called an economic hardship waiver, and to get it, they had to show sales losses of 15 percent over the course of two months.

I went there last night and enjoyed a fine cigar, a fine beer and some fine company -- just like the old days.

But the McFaul clan, which runs the place, reinstated smoking in a smart way ...

Instead of allowing people to smoke on the first two floors, where it would stink up the room, they are only letting customers smoke on the third floor. 

ropewalk tavern baltimoreI didn't even know Ropewalk had a third floor. Come to find out, it's a pretty nice space, with leather sofas and chairs and Ronald Reagan memorabilia (Ropewalk is a Republican-themed bar).

Oh, and I got a kick out of all the signs warning patrons about the smoke, too. 

Ropewalk isn't the first cigar bar to get an exemption. The Havana Club (600 Water St.) received its waiver last June. Max's Taphouse (737 S. Broadway) reopened Max's Tobacco Company so that patrons could smoke cigars indoors.

That means there are now about as many cigar bars in Baltimore as before the smoking ban started.

Fancy that.

(Top, Sun photo by Gene Sweeney. Bottom photo by me.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:03 PM | | Comments (36)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Why Club Charles doesn't round up

club charlesAfter I posted a link to my piece about too much change at Club Charles (1724 N. Charles St.), Dick Martin e-mailed me with a really interesting back story.

The business at that location has been in Martin's family since the 1950s, he wrote.

Here is why Club Charles doesn't have even drink prices, according to Martin:

It was approx 1980, when the Club Charles was still the Wigwam, we tried to streamline operations behind the bar and rounded off the prices on everything so it was all even dollar or buck-and-a-half amounts, tax included ...

But the Department of Revenue for the State of Maryland did not like that one little bit, no sirree ...

There was something in the tax code prohibiting "tax included" prices.

Now you're going to tell me about all the other bars that do it, but I already know about all the other bars that do it. I also know that lawyers and accountants from our side went down to the Department of Revenue and pleaded and pleaded, but all we ended up with was a 5% tax bill plus penalties on all sales that year that had been rung up "tax included."

Why aren't all the other bars forced to split their prices? Why hasn't anyone complained to the authorities about them? Why was the Wigwam singled out for enforcement?

Ah, the mysteries of life in Baltimore. No answers, only confusion.

(Sun photo by Elizabeth Malby)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:17 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Wanna know what Eddie and Steve won?

steve's prize packAll kinds of good stuff, man!

First off, if you remember, Steve from the Name That Bar contest last week? Of course you do.

As you see in the photo to the right, Steve picked up some 3D glasses, some Monsters vs. Aliens coasters, Yanni's newest CD, a History Channel special about the plot to steal Abraham Lincoln's body, and a bobblehead doll from the movie Tropic Thunder.

The red thing at the bottom of the pile is a Frisbee which, unfortunately, wouldn't fit in the envelope. So I kept it. 

Next up is the Wickedly Awesome 10,000th Comment Prize Pack, which was awarded to Eddie.

Here it is ...

eddie's prize packI sent Eddie the entire Fast and Furious franchise -- all three DVDs. OH YEAH BABY.

In hindsight, I'm not sure whether that's a prize or punishment. Hmm.

Eddie also received a Tropic Thunder bobblehead, as well as a Dirty Marmaduke Flute Squad T-shirt.

Thanks again for playing, everyone. I'll give away another wickedly awesome prize pack this week. Stay tuned!

(Photos by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:30 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Name That Bar

March 23, 2009

Bar Time vs. Real Time

time clock

I'm probably going to catch a lot of heat for this one, but I've been meaning to write about it for a while, and I don't mind stirring the pot now and again. Here goes:

Will someone please explain the purpose of Bar Time to me?

Just about every bar I've been in (at least in Baltimore) sets its wall clocks ahead at least 15 minutes.

I'm not sure how long this practice has been going on.

Probably a long time.

And I'm not sure who thunk it up.

Probably no one knows.

I assume Bar Time was invented to make sure that nobody is left drinking in the place at 2 a.m. -- just in case an inspector from the liquor board shows up. That way, nobody gets fined for drinking after hours.

But I have a couple of problems with Bar Time, and I'll bet I'm not the only person who does ...

Bar Time only becomes a factor twice a day -- at last call and happy hour. Depending on the bar, last call is sometimes as early as 1:30 a.m. Real Time (that's 1:45 a.m. Bar Time), and bars often close at 1:45 a.m. Real Time (2 a.m. Bar Time).

one cool clockAs you can imagine, this can get incredibly annoying. I mean, yes, I understand bars can close whenever they want.

But setting the bar clock 15 minutes ahead and then pointing to it and saying "Hey man, it's closing time" when it's not closing time for another 15 minutes is just plain shady.

They should just close at 1:45 a.m., plain and simple. No hiding behind a clock set to the wrong time. 

Bar Time is also messes people up near the end of happy hour.

Midnight Sun reader Mike S. was recently at two bar/restaurants that shall remain nameless (ahem, ahem) about 10-15 minutes before happy hour specials ended and was told to buzz off. According to Bar Time, happy hour was over.

That's a dirty deal if I ever saw one.

Mike S. writes:

To deny someone a half price or Dollar Off drink at 5 to 10 minutes PRIOR to posted or advertised or menu-note HappyHour Time Ending is deceptive, bad for business, and costs the pub good retail Food Business.

I agree, Mike. 

Though I think I understand Bar Time when it comes to closing for the evening, I don't like it. And I definitely don't like being scammed out of a happy hour special because of Bar Time.

I want to hear from industry people as well as some average bar-goers on this one. Is Bar Time fair? And is it fair to close early/end happy hour early based on Bar Time?

(Top photo from Sun archives. Bottom Sun photo by Amy Davis.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:49 PM | | Comments (40)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Baltimore magazine starts a new nightlife blog

on the town baltimore magazine

I've always said the more competition, the better, and I mean that. I do not want to be the only nightlife blogger in Baltimore. So let's all give a warm welcome to On the Town, Baltimore magazine's new nightlife blog.

Looks like On the Town is being written by Jess Blumberg and Amy Mulvihill. Amy and Jess, I'm looking forward to reading!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Claymation videos from two good local bands

All I need is one more for a trend.

Here are two new music videos done by two area bands ...

First up is Middle Distance Runner, a Washington-based indie rock group. This video is for their song "The Unbeliever." Check it out:


Next, we have a video from the Baltimore-based four-piece Tears of Mars, for their track "Equity." Enjoy:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:27 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

March 21, 2009

Dig this photo: Indiana Live! Casino

indiana live! casino center barWow.

I stumbled upon this photo of the new Indiana Live! Casino in Shelbyville, and just had to post it.

This thing in the middle of the casino is called the Center Bar. I suppose it's a working bar.

It kind of looks like a gigantic bug zapper, or an evil computer that Arnold Schwarzenegger would try to destroy in a "futuristic" 1990s action movie.

Hee hee.

Maybe it's more like something you'd see on an episode of Star Trek. I'll have a glass of your finest Romulan Ale, please.

(Photo by Heather Charles/The Star)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:45 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 20, 2009

At what point do flat screens and beer signs get tacky?

lucys baltimoreAs I mentioned earlier, I dropped by Lucy's yesterday for a couple gin and tonics to celebrate Amie's acceptance to a dermatology residency.

While there, I looked up and saw this banner. It's not a bad special, honesty -- you buy a pint of Samuel Adams and you get to keep the pint glass.

But I question the need to hang this big banner inside such a gorgeous space.

I had a similar thought when I went to the new Pratt Street Ale House (which replaced the Wharf Rat) last week ...

The downstairs bar had almost 10 large flat screen TVs and a dozen speakers. Granted, the Ale House is not as nice as Lucy's, but that's still a pretty classic-looking pub space.

And I understand that a lot of people think the more TVs the better. That's fine, and it certainly has its time and place. ESPN Zone in the Inner Harbor comes to mind.

But I believe there can be a balance -- a way to tastefully put TVs in a pub, and a way to tastefully advertise cool specials without spoiling the space. Am I wrong?

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:39 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Where is the best place to watch the NCAA tournament?

terps.jpgMidnight Sun reader AC-M sent me an e-mail a couple days ago wondering where the best spots are to watch the tournament.

She writes:

I find I struggle every year trying to figure out who/where has the package, and sometimes am disappointed that a bar with loads of TVs is showing just 2 games.

And bonus points for people who can identify places downtown to sneak out of work to watch during *ahem* lunch.

I caught a couple of the games in Lucy's (21 N. Eutaw St.) and Pickles Pub (520 Washington Blvd.) yesterday, and of the two of them, Pickles is the better place for game-watching ...

Normally, I don't like it when bar owners shamelessly plug their place. But I'm going to make an exception here. If you own a bar and want to boast about your gameday package and the number of flat screen TVs you have, go for it.

Oh and by the way, I chose this photo of my alma mater basketball team, because they won like winners last night. Will they keep it up? Probably not. But right now, they're winners, and I like winners.

(Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:57 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Why I didn't post much yesterday

I was at the University of Maryland School of Medicine's annual Match Day to see what future awaited Amie, my fiancee. She's going to graduate in May, and was hoping to get into a dermatology program ...

There aren't many dermatology spots to begin with, so it's pretty competitive. But I never had any doubts about what would happen.

In case you're not familiar with the whole process, medical students apply to a bunch of residency programs. Then they do interviews. Finally, they rank the places at which they interviewed, and the places rank them. All this data is fed into a giant supercomputer and the outcome is stuffed into envelopes and handed out on Match Day. Talk about nerve-wracking.

Sure enough, Amie "matched" at a dermatology program in Washington. She's going to spend a year at Mercy Medical Center here in Baltimore first. Then she heads to Washington.

"I'm so excited," she said this morning.

I am too.

And though I don't normally post much about my personal life, I'm so proud and impressed that I had to share it with everybody.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:18 AM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Random stuff

March 19, 2009

Some news, some notes, some whatnots

benn rayI'm technically off work today, which means I'm going to be posting less than normal (imagine that!).

I do have some random tidbits to share with you, though.

First, the Pratt Street Ale House is open. I went there last week and wrote a review, but it won't appear in the paper until next week.

The owners have made some pretty drastic changes to the place -- in a pretty short period of time, too ...

I'll share some more about my visit with you later today or tomorrow. Also, Midnight Sun reader ryan97ou sent me a link to Beardymore, a new blog that chronicles some of the more notable beards around town. Pictured is Benn Ray, co-owner of Atomic Books in Hampden. I'm not sure who is running this blog, but I like it.

Also, Bert's Eats and Drinks, which replaced Rocky Run in Charles Village about a year and a half ago, is closed. Can't say I'll miss it, but I'll bet the neighborhood will. There aren't enough bars up that way.

(Photo from Beardymore)


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:27 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 18, 2009

Blast from the past: Club Charles circa 1951

club charles baltimoreSince I know a few of you love learning about a bar's history, every once in a while, I'll dig into our archives and fish out a Blast From the Past for ya.

Here's one about the Club Charles. I had no idea it was such a swingin' place back in the day.

This piece was written by Gilbert Sandler way back in 1992.

On New Year's Eve, when the nostalgia can flow like champagne, Baltimoreans who were around in the 1940s and '50s tell stories about the Club Charles.

For a decade, the Club Charles -- the one at Charles and Preston, not the 1990s John Waters favorite "Club Chuck" a few blocks north -- was Baltimore's claim to nightclub fame ...

Ordinarily, New Year's Eve at the club was a scene of extravagant New York-style stage shows, complete with big-name stand-up comics (Martin and Lewis), big bands (Ted Lewis), celebrity vocalists (Sophie Tucker) and, of course, funny hats, confetti and noise-makers.

But when the clock struck midnight Dec. 31, 1951, a few people in the Club Charles knew they were saying goodbye to more than the old year; they knew there wasn't much time left for the club. The nightclub business in Baltimore had fallen victim to changing tastes, particularly to the city's attraction to that new entertainment medium, television.

maker's markThe club would close by spring. Lou Baumel, one of the owners (and now proprietor of the Harvey House), was there that New Year's Eve. He was one of those who knew the Club Charles was on its last legs. So did Sidney Weinberg, the club's accountant, who lives today in retirement in Florida.

The Club Charles had brought to Baltimore the biggest stars in America's entertainment galaxy. But on this New Year's Eve, the fare reflected the hard times. A less-than-famous comedian named Joe E. Ross (he later starred in the TV show "Car 54, Where Are You?") was the headliner. He was backed up by the similarly less-than-famous band of (Baltimorean) Norman Brooks.

There were two shows that night, the first at 7:30, the second, a New Year's Eve spectacular, at 11:30. The cover charge was $25 a person. On the menu (accompanied by appetizer, two vegetables, dessert and coffee): crab imperial ($2.50), Maine lobster ($4.50), 16-ounce steak ($5).

Guests that night were greeted at the curb by a smartly uniformed doorkeeper -- Archie Williams, who doubled as bouncer with his brother Johnny. Once inside, patrons checked their coats and hats with Mary Perry, a fixture in the place who came around later in the evening to take photos. Guests were shepherded to three bars. One was the popular "Punch and Judy," where a puppeteer named Johnny Horn entertained with puppets while patrons partook of the potables.

The show started that night as every show at the club started: The 12-woman June Taylor chorus line came dancing, six to the left, six to the right, down 10 stairs to meet and form one long high-kicking line at center stage.

Then out came Ross himself -- with jokes then making the rounds of New York and Las Vegas. Before his applause died down, the June Taylor "girls" high-kicked their finale and disappeared up the stairs they had descended.

About 90 minutes into 1952, when Ross' last joke had faded into memory and when the June Taylor dancers had disappeared into the dark at the top of the stairs, it was all over.

So, symbolically, was an era in Baltimore, an era of the Coronet, the Blue Mirror, the Chanticleer and, especially, the Club Charles.

(Top photo from Sun archives. Bottom photo by Elizabeth Malby.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:18 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

This was the face I made

doh_face.jpgwhen I realized I had forgotten to rename the photo for the Name That Bar contest.

All you had to do was click "save as" and it told you what the bar was.


Silly Sessa screwed up again.

Or maybe I should blame you Midnight Sunners for being too tech savvy. It's always easier to blame someone else, after all.

Yeah, that's right, it's your fault. IT'S ALL YOUR FAULTS!

Hee hee. Thanks for playing. We'll do it again sometime soon.

(Photo of me by me for you)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:29 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Name That Bar

And the winner is ...

Steve, with the very first comment posted. It was indeed the Mt. Washington Tavern.

Next time, I'm going to make sure to change the file name. Doh! You live, you learn. Steve, e-mail me ( your address, and I'll put your prize in the mail.

And thanks for playing, everyone.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Name That Bar

Name That Bar, Vol. 1

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the very first Midnight Sun Name That Bar contest!

The game is a simple one indeed: I post a random photo of an unidentified bar, and you identify it.

The first person to guess correctly wins a prize.

Good luck!

(Sun photo by Glenn Fawcett)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:45 AM | | Comments (38)
Categories: Name That Bar

March 17, 2009

A really cool photo of ... Smoothteaze

This photo is from Patrick Smith (check out his site), a buddy of mine who interned at The Sun a while back and is now a freelancer. He covered the Senator Theatre conference last night for the Associated Press, and this was one of the leftovers ...


He snapped this photo of Smoothteaze and enclosed this caption:

I have some cool stuff of Smoothteaze, but thought this was appropriate. Kind of like the last singing performance before the movie (like they used to in the old days?) at The Senator. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:02 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

Unfulfilled promise: Quick tips

Last fall, I talked about starting a semi-regular feature called Quick tips, where local bartenders would share their advice on various aspects of the business. We heard from Queen Colleen about the best way to get a bartender's attention.

What else would you guys like to know? I'll float your questions to Baltimore bartenders and publish their responses here.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:55 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

Smoothteaze wants you to save the Senator Theatre


In my piece about last night's Senator Theatre meeting, I forgot to mention the live entertainment. The whole thing kicked off with a 30-minute performance by the Baltimore-based a capella group Smoothteaze (pictured).

Well, according to the members of Smoothteaze, Smoothteaze is Baltimore's "newest and hottest a capella doo-wop group."

Hmm ...

Lotta qualifiers there, wouldn't you say? Hee hee.

My favorite part of the meeting was near the end, when one of the members of Smoothteaze got up and said something to the effect of:

"I'm a member of the band Smoothteaze, and our Web site,, that's, our Web site gets between 1,500 and 2,000 hits a day, and we would be more than happy to put a link to the Senator Theatre's site asking for donations to help save the Senator. We'll put something on our site, that's, first thing."

The look on theater owner Tom Kiefaber's face was priceless.

 P.S. Be sure to get the URL just right. One wrong keystroke could mean NSFW.

(Photo courtesy of

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:55 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music, Random stuff

The good, the bad and the awkward: Handing out the Best of the Best of the Best awards

patrick russell of kooper's, slainte and woody'sBelieve it or not, a few bar owners didn't show up in person to collect their Best of the Best of the Best Awards at the Shindig a couple weeks ago.

I know, right? The shock! The horror!

The ... the ... nerve of these people!

Anyhow, I showed them. I showed them but good. 

I showed up at their doorsteps yesterday to personally present the awards. 

This doesn't sound like much, but some of these awards bordered on insulting. So to hand them out in person was fun, yes, but also incredibly awkward at times.

The first stop, MaGerk's, was the most awkward, actually ...

If you recall, I awarded MaGerk's the Biggest Meathead Magnet Award. It's kind of an insult, but in a friendly, 'hee hee' kinda way.

I rolled in there around mid-afternoon, asked for a manager and was told to walk upstairs and holler for "Erin." Here is a brief recollection of our conversation:

erin of magerk'sErin (pictured, right): Who is it?
Me: Sam Sessa from The Baltimore Sun. I have something for you!
Erin: What is it?
Me: I have your award!
Erin: Oh. Yeah. I heard about this.
Me (smiles politely, presents award): Here it is!
Erin (looks at award, frowns): But we don't have any meatheads here.
Awkward pause.
Me: Uh, yes, well, it's all in good fun, you know.
Second awkward pause.
Erin: Yeah. Well, I'll try and find a place to hang it. Somewhere.
Me: Can I take your picture?
Third awkward pause.
Erin: Sure.

Whew, man, I was glad to get outta there. Yeah I know the photo is blurry. I didn't want to ask her if I could take another one. She didn't take the award as well as I'd hoped she would.


Next stop was the Greene Turtle in Fells Point. They won Second Biggest Meathead Magnet. Co-owner Jill had -- gasp -- a sense of humor! She gave me a big hug and told me she couldn't wait to hang it somewhere. Thanks for saving my afternoon, Jill.

Then I strolled on over to Slainte, where I hoped to find owner Patrick Russell. He also owns Kooper's Tavern and Woody's Rum Bar. Woody's won an award for Best Place to Get Day Drunk. 

I walked into Slainte, and asked the first person I saw if Patrick was around. The guy turned to me and goes "Who's askin'?" I told him I was none other than the famed Sam Sessa. He gasped, gave a low, sweeping bow and ushered me to a table where Patrick sat.*

As you can see in the top photo, Patrick was quite pleased with his award. He tried to peel the $4 Dollar Tree sticker off the frame, and I had to stop him and tell him the sticker was part of the charm.

My last stop of the afternoon was Lagers Pub, the Bar We Love to Hate. Backstory here. Lagers didn't look open, but I tried the door anyway. It swung open, and I stepped inside.

All of the lights were off and nobody was there. I called "Helloooooo" a couple times, but no one answered. I set the award on the bar and slowly backed out the front door. For some reason, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I think someone may be in trouble. I just don't know. My spider sense was going nuts, though. Oh wait, I'm supposed to tell you about my super powers. Shh.

It was a chilling way to end a fun (and awkward) expedition. I still have a couple awards to hand out. Friends wasn't open when I was there, and neither was Club Charles. I'll try them both later.

*This particular story has been altered from its original version. It has been exaggerated for your reading pleasure.

(Photos by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:45 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 16, 2009

Update on the Orioles and "How 'Bout Dem Os"

Miss the first post about the song? Here it is. Mike Ward, one of the musicians behind the song, just send me an e-mail. It reads:

Saw your posts. Thanks so much. After I wrote you, we had a meeting with the Orioles. The production guy explained that the song being played at every game is all based on crowd reaction ...

However, we are hopeful that it will be almost every game, and the engineers at the O's were really excited about the song and had all kinds of cool ideas.

So, once the season starts we will see how well it's being received. If everyone loves it more cool things could happen. But it's on a trial period for now.

We are doing our best to promote the song. A couple stations picked up the song already. We got invited to do the Don Scott and Maty Bass Coffee With segment, and are playing opening day at the Babe Ruth Museum event, so things are looking good.

Anyway, thanks again!

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:35 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Local music

What is this place called?

?I drive by it from time to time and always wonder.

It's either HJ's Saloon or JH's Saloon. I believe it's on Eastern Avenue.

Even after reading the sign out front, I'm confused.

But it seems like this is one of the last old-school Fells Point bars where really low-key drinkers can camp out all day and all night.

Am I right?

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:04 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

More details about the potential Pigtown bar

pigtown bar baltimoreFrom the number of comments under the 'If he builds a bar in Pigtown, will you come?' post, it's clear we touched on a nerve.

Could Pigtown support a new bar? There seem to be a lot of people in favor of it, and a lot of people who think it's lunacy. 

Well, I'd like to reveal the potential bar owner.

Some of you have guessed it already: It's Jason Zink, the guy behind No Idea Tavern (1649 S. Hanover St.) and Don't Know Tavern (1453 Light St.) in South Baltimore. 

Here are Jason's ideas for the place, including food, drinks and decor ...

I have to admit, I have been fairly impressed with the amount of posts on this topic.  I asked Sam and Mr. Twain about this a few weeks ago as I consider leasing a spot on Washington Blvd. 

The location of the spot is 803-807 Washington Blvd at the corner of Scott Street. At the present moment, no deal has been signed as I still don't know what I am going to do.  

The concept of the place would be a restaurant with great food at reasonable prices, most entrees under $16 and most apps and sandwiches under $10.  

The restaurant would seat up to 100 people and the bar would be a horseshoe-shaped bar in front of the kitchen that sat up to 30 persons. No outdoor seating but the front would possibly be open but would at least be all glass, I wanted garage doors but Pigtown is still historic. The bar would focus on an extensive draft system, hopefully 20 taps with a decent bottle list. The wine list would be nice but nothing too crazy.

jason zink (in a sham wow snuggie)The one thing that I wouldn't have, is specials, meaning no 1/2 this, 2 for that, all-u-can-this, $1 that. It would be a place that wouldn't rush to open, but open when it is ready to serve. If I don't have the money to open it, then it won't open. Drinks would be moderately priced and would be the same every day and night.  

The draw would of course be the quality of food and (of course) TVs. Nothing too crazy, like an ESPN Zone, but enough to view every game from soccer to football, baseball, to ice hockey and of course basketball for March Madness.  

I am not sure if I would open for lunch, but definitely on the weekend for brunch, no mimosa or bloody mary specials, just an extra egg or slice of cheese to make the food that much better.

No, the place doesn't have a liquor license as of yet, but 1) we would have to apply for it and 2) we would have to go in front of SF and ask his permission and hopefully be granted one, of course a 7 day/ 2am license with food restrictions would be what we would be seeking.

I am concerned about the parking -- not at the present moment, but what will happen is, if I come there will be others that follow. We are doing it to make money, which will raise the property values of everybody's house. I just hope that people recognize this when they can't find a parking spot right away when coming home on a Friday or Saturday night for dinner that at least they will have a great place to go eat that they can walk to.

Ryan-feel free to contact me anytime: I actually live less than 100 yards away from this location at the present moment. I am a big fan of sponsoring teams as they can truly help a business.

I have an idea why the coffee shop, Evelyn's, went out of business as I used to frequent there back in the day.

I have read all of the negatives and I understand what I could possibly be getting myself into and this isn't a done deal just yet. I value Mr. Twain's comments as well as everybody else. I have done it twice so far and I think I can do it a third time, hopefully it isn't my ego thinking that I can do it but my knowledge of bars and restaurants. I have asked every bar owner in the area and they all say 'No,' but I do think that once one place goes in, then others will follow. I will be risking a lot.  

It is not going to be a "megabar" but it will have a big bar where people feel comfortable going to after work or after school. I will not be catering to the kids as they go to Cross Street Market to hang out with the other kids.

The place is huge but by the time you add the kitchen and storage, it will look a lot smaller. I am hoping to have everything on one floor, to be honest with you, I am not even sure if there is a basement.  

Once again, this is just a possibility and I asked Sam what he thought and he wanted to make it a topic. Like I said, I am very surprised about how many postings there are. It's been two years and I am getting that itch again to open something and Mr. Twain, I got to Pier V just a little bit too late, otherwise this would be a non-topic.

I would like to thank everybody who posted on this topic as I have learned a lot and it does seem to me that people do care in Pigtown. Now it just comes down to, if the price is right. Overhead is everything when it comes to the restaurant/bar business.


(Top photo from the AP. Bottom photo of Jason Zink courtesy of Captain Larry's.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:14 AM | | Comments (44)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Orioles agree to play "How 'Bout Dem O's"

oriole parkWitness the power of Midnight Sun!

Or maybe it was the power of ruthless, arm-twisting negotiations by a few local musicians.

Either way, the Orioles have agreed to play "How 'Bout Dem Os" about 10 minutes before game time at nearly every home game this season.

Did you miss the first post about the song? Dig it. ...


"If the song takes off, then they will add it into highlight reels, commercials, maybe more," musician Mike Ward wrote in an e-mail. "So for now it's on a trial basis."

Way to go, guys! Here's the real question, are they paying you any royalties? If so, I want my cut!

(Sun photo by Kenneth K. Lam)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:45 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Local music

March 15, 2009

Hilarious Egg Babies Orchestra video

Now this is good advertising. To promote their March 28th show at The Ottobar (where they will perform songs featured in popular movies), the Egg Babies Orchestra created this awesome video. It's a parody of horror/dramas featuring a hodgepodge of scenes from some familiar movies.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Local music

March 14, 2009

LiquorBoarding loves him some Morrissey

morrisseyMidnight Sun reader LiquorBoarding (the commenting name for city liquor board chairman Stephan Fogleman) happens to be a huge Morrissey fan. No, wait, make that a HUGE Morrissey fan.

This surprises me, because I thought Morrissey performs pretty much the same show every night.

Side note: The creepy thing about Morrissey is, the more you ignore him, the closer he gets.

Anyhow, I asked LiquorBoarding to write me a review, and lo and behold, he did.

Here it is ...

There's very little reason to leave Charm City these days, but if Morrissey's appearance last night in Durham, NC is a bellwether for his show at Warner Theatre on Saturday, I'd gas the car up for a trip down 95.

Morrissey, 49, was on five days rest as he took the stage at the nearly brand new Durham Performing Arts Center and he was in good spirits, too, joking about the fact that he had nothing bad to say about our new president and that it was "troubling."

Troubling for the fans was the cancellation of six of his first seven shows of this tour and an abbreviated set in Myrtle Beach, SC due to "illness." He did not disappoint them last night, making last night's show the de facto opener of a world tour that will stretch all over the United States, Europe and Russia.
morrissey%202.jpgMorrissey opened with a classic Smiths favorite, "This Charming Man," which has been updated with heavy bass and guitar by musical director Boz Boorer. (Prior to serving as musical director for Morrissey, Boorer wrote most of the songs for Siouxsie and the Banshees and Adam Ant. How's that for 80's street cred?)

The result on "Charming Man" and other songs is a harder and more danceable composition and clearly better than the many covers performed by younger bands. How many other artists have been around so long that they perform covers of their original work?
The show was very heavy on songs from the new album "Years of Refusal", including his instant classic performance of the aptly-titled "I'm OK by myself". He seemed to stretch his vocals the most on Years of Refusal's "Something is squeezing my skull" (about anti-depressants!) and mentioned that he needed to get that song out early in the night to hit the notes.

For the old timers, there were two more Smiths gems--"How Soon is Now" and "Ask".
Stage divers are commonplace at a Moz concert and last night was no exception. Morrissey was mugged a half-dozen times and this 40 year-old reviewer was able to make it on stage during the encore, "Irish Blood, English Heart".
Morrissey plays the National in Richmond, VA on Friday before taking the stage at the 2800-seat Warner Theatre in Washington on Saturday. Limited tickets (upper balcony) are still available in Washington. The 1500-capacity general admission show in Richmond sold out quickly in December. Moz turns 50 on May 22.

(Top photo by Fabio Lovino. Bottom photo by Travis Shinn.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:24 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Local music

125 Long Island Ice Teas in one day

Midnight Sun Mixologist Evan posted a jaw-droppingly awesome video on his blog the other day.He writes ...

See, a friend of mine who happens to be on one of the best trivia teams on Earth had in his possession a certificate for half off of a tab up to $1000 at said Don’t Know Tavern, and through a series of conversations decided to use it in the most cost-effective by alcohol volume method possible: purchasing 125 Long Island Ice Teas.

Click here to watch the video. Warning: It's rated PG-13.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:27 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 13, 2009

And the winner is ...

Ed, with his enlightening comment:

Pick me - so long as the prize is a lifetime supply of Resurrection.

Guess what, Ed? It's not. But it will be good, I promise you that. Email me your address:

Thanks everyone for playing.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:46 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Approaching 10,000 comments

This, dear readers, is a big one. It's coming up super soon, too.


Whoever posts lucky comment number 10,000 gets the most wicked, the most awesome prize I've ever given out. I'm being vague here because I'm not sure exactly what it is. Yet. But I will.


Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:52 PM | | Comments (22)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Quarter at Bourbon Street opens today

quarter.jpgEver wonder what Sam Chaney's been up to since becoming the general manager of Bourbon Street (316 Guilford Ave.)?

Wonder no more.

Today is the debut of The Quarter, a live music venue located inside Bourbon Street. Kinda in Bourbon Street and kinda not, actually.

The Quarter has a separate entrance, lighting rig, ticket booth, bathrooms and its own access to the rooftop deck, Chaney said ...

Paul Manna of 24-7 Entertainment (they book the Recher Theatre, among others) will be scheduling national, regional and local bands at The Quarter on a regular basis. The Quarter holds about 500 people, and it actually only takes up 1/3 of Bourbon Street's space.

"I know, it sounds funny saying the Quarter is a 1/3 but the Quarter comes from the French Quarter," Chaney wrote in an e-mail.

Tonight's show is Ashes Remain, Of Broken, Loving the Lie and Recast. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:39 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Local music

City Paper reviews 'Outgrown These Walls' by Caleb and Saleem

caleb%20and%20saleem.jpgI think this is the first time the City Paper has ever said anything good about something I've been involved in.

Remember the Baltimore Music Project? Here's the back story.

Now, read City Paper's review of the resulting album. Here's an excerpt:

So many rock/rap collaborations lean on either the novelty of culture shock, or the loudest each genre has to offer. But instead of combining chest-thumping rhymes and screaming guitar solos, Heggins and Stine are at their most contemplative throughout, to the point that when Stine plugs in an electric on a couple songs, it's almost jarring.

Here is their MySpace. Here is a link where you can buy the album.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:39 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

If he builds a bar in Pigtown, will you come?

pigtownA successful local bar owner (who shall remain nameless) is thinking about opening a bar in Pigtown.

Don't tell me to call it Washington Village, either. As far as I'm concerned, it's Pigtown.

Anyway, the location he's looking at is on Washington Boulevard, two blocks west of MLK Boulevard.

At about 4,000 square feet, it's a fairly large one-story space with high ceilings and a historic feel that he would renovate ...

I realize there are a lot of other factors in play here, such as, what kind of bar, what kind of prices, what food, etc. 

Let's just say this guy knows what he's doing, but is wary of investing money in a neighborhood like Pigtown. He doesn't think there is enough foot traffic -- even with the nearby medical school and stadiums -- to bring in a steady stream of business.

So this bar owner asked me to ask you about it.

What do you think? Is it suicide to open a bar in Pigtown? Or is there a big enough audience to make it work?

(Sun photo by Monica Lopossay)
Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:00 AM | | Comments (94)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 12, 2009

Concert review: Beach House at Sonar

beachhouse.jpgSun pop music critic Rashod Ollison checked out Baltimore-based ambient pop duo Beach House's show at Sonar last night.

Here's what he thought.

I was surprised -- Rashod didn't comment on the smell. The show was held in Sonar's club space, which was packed. And any time you crowd a bunch of hipsters into a small space like that, the smell is overpowering.

I understand the too-cool-for-you attitude. But no one's too cool for deodorant.

(Sun photo by Chiaki Kawajiri)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 5:28 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Concert reviews

Sneak peek: the new Looney's South

looney's south columbiaUnder the Admiral's Cup/Pub Dog post, I remember someone asking how many locations it takes to make a chain. As far as I'm concerned, three is the magic number.

That means Looney's Pub is now officially a local chain. Congrats, guys! 

Looney's South was scheduled to open in Columbia today (I'm waiting for a call back to see if it will indeed open on time). But in the meantime, I have a few Top Secret Sneak Peek photos to share with you.

All of these photos are courtesy of Midnight Sun reader MK. Thanks, MK!

MK also submitted some captions for the photos. Here is the caption for this one: just ONE of the bars with ONE of the banks of TV's -- this one has a RAW BAR

But wait, there's more ...

looney's south columbia



they were checking the height of the large screen that will broadcast the band playing at the other end of the bar. Under that screen? They plan to have a kids' area with a few Wii's to let the kids play!!!!!

This place is HUGE. This was a week ago -- the contractors have been working very hard to finish. I can't wait to see the finished product because even then was AMAZING. This one is just phenomenal!!!!!









looney's south columbia



look at the massive amounts of cableing being installed for all of the DTV boxes...INCREDIBLE # of flat screened HDTV's throughout there

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:34 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Senator Theatre is up for auction (again)

senator theatre baltimoreDid you see the piece in today's paper?

The historic theater could be up for auction (again) and possibly sold next month.

Well, if you have an opinion about it, feel free to share it with me.

People are very vocal when it comes to the Senator, and I'm happy to provide a forum where you can share your thoughts on the matter.

Unfortunately, as someone who has covered this particular topic (and could cover it again in the future), I'm unable to tell you how I feel about it. So the best I can do is ask how you feel about it.

(Sun photo by Algerina Perna)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:41 PM | | Comments (20)
Categories: Random stuff

The review: Best of the Best of the Best awards

These won't come as a surprise to any of you guys, but I decided to share our little awards ceremony with the dead-tree readers in today's column.

Since I don't have as much room in print as I do online, I picked 10 of the best (of the best of the best) awards and put a paragraph explaining each one. It's quite diggable, methinks.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:40 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Woman beaten, fatally shot outside Coconuts Cafe

coconuts cafe baltimoreSince things that appear on over the weekend can get overlooked, I'd like to link back to a piece by Brent Jones.

At about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, 25-year-old Sctario Tia Edwards of Baltimore was beaten with a pipe and fatally shot outside Coconuts Cafe (309 W. Madison St.).

According to police, there was some kind of altercation on the dance floor. Edwards' attacker left the club but came back around closing time, where she started hitting Edwards with a pipe.

The suspect then shot Edwards and another 26-year-old woman in a nearby car. Edwards tried to escape but the suspect shot her again.

A 27-year-old woman was also wounded by stray gunfire, according to police. Both the injured women are expected to survive.

I used to live right next to Coconuts, which happens to be the city's only lesbian bar, and I want to weigh in here ...

I lived one block west of Coconuts for a little more than six months. On Friday and Saturday nights, Coconuts gets packed. I never went in the place, though -- I was told by the neighbors that Coconuts had a women-only policy on weekend nights.

There is a big open parking lot right behind my old apartment, and it used to fill up on Fridays and Saturdays with Coconuts' clientele. That place always seemed to be packed until closing time. And the crowd could get pretty rambunctious. 

While I remember seeing a fair share of 20- and 30-something women frequent Coconuts, there always seemed to be more 40- and 50-somethings around.

I remember hearing verbal fights in the parking lot out back. But I never heard gun shots. And though those women were a little wild and crazy, even I was shocked to hear about this. I wonder if it will have a negative impact on the bar's business.

Violence like this can scare people away from a bar or club. But Coconuts is the only lesbian bar in town -- at least that I know of. And there are plenty of clubs such as Paradox that have fights outside on a semi-regular basis and still do well.

It could go either way.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:45 AM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 11, 2009

Concert review: Jukebox the Ghost at The Ottobar 3/10

jukebox the ghostAs a music writer, I hear a lot of good stuff that I know will not get the attention it deserves.

That's why I'm incredibly happy to tell you that Jukebox the Ghost filled The Ottobar last night (a Tuesday night, mind you). Even better: A ton of people in the crowd knew the words to their songs, and sang along with the trio.

Next week, Jukebox will set off on a tour opening for Ben Folds. Good things are in store for these guys. Lord knows, they deserve it.

Last night, they played most of their debut album, Live and Let Ghosts, as well as a bunch of new tunes.

Jukebox performs playful piano rock with morbid underpinnings ...

Listen to their music and the hooks grab you, the musicianship wows you, and only then do you realize the song is about someone lighting themselves on fire to warm the nearby homeless people.


Now, when I say "the musicianship wows you," I'm not saying these guys are show-offs. Far from it. I'm sure they could unleash some rather nasty riffs if they wanted to. But they don't. They keep songs tight and focused, only adding occasional flourishes. One of the best things a musician can learn is not to overplay, and the guys in Jukebox have it down.

If you have the chance to see Jukebox, take it. They might not be playing clubs this size for much longer.

(Photo by Shervin Lainez)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:45 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Concert reviews

I'll never eat corned beef and cabbage again

corned beef and cabbageWaaaay back in the dark days before Midnight Sun, I was a food critic. Bet you didn't know that.

Yes indeed, for about two years, I was the takeout food columnist, and I also reviewed restaurants for The Sun's annual Dining Guide. That was back when we had a Dining Guide.

It's been a while since I regularly wrote food reviews, and I was ready for another challenge.

So when Kate Shatzkin, the editor of the Taste section and the blogger extraordinaire behind Charm City Moms, asked me to write about corned beef and cabbage (the piece came out today), I jumped at the chance.

Little did I know what was in store ...

To be honest, I hadn't eaten that much corned beef and cabbage before this. I've had my share of corned beef sandwiches, and growing up, I would occasionally have corned beef when I was out and about. It was by no means a regular thing. And after this little corned beef binge, I can't say I'll ever order the dish again.

I ate five orders of corned beef cabbage in three days. Chew on that for a second. Five orders. Three days.

At one point, I actually felt physically ill -- not in the food poisoning sense, but in the sluggish, I-can't-go-on-eating-this sense. Know what I mean?

People seem to think that being a restaurant reviewer is one of the best jobs in the whole wide world. After being one for a couple of years, I don't know about that.

After all, there are only so many adjectives to begin with. You try writing about hamburgers without using the word "juicy," or Indian food without using the word "spicy." It's tricky business, I tell you.

Well, the piece is finished, and I learned a lot about corned beef and cabbage along the way. I'd say I learned enough for a lifetime.

(Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:08 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff

Changes at Tiburzi's

tiburzis baltimoreMidnight Sun reader Mike W. sent me this e-mail:

I was walking by the old Tiburzi's Saturday, there were guys painting the outside a light shade of green, then I saw this guy walk outside, looked like an owner.

He shook my hand and introduced himself, and said they are opening sometime the first week of April, as, and I quote "an upscale sports lounge." 

I think he said it will be called "Clutch" but I may have misunderstood him ...

I wason my way to the Canton pub crawl and had other things on my mind. He seemed nice enough, and said to check it out, which my friends and I may.

But I am a little skeptical about the chances of success for an upscale anything in Canton, let alone off the square. Anywho, just thought I'd pass this along. Maybe they will at least accept credit cards, which Tiburzi's did not in their last incarnation.

(Sun archive photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:37 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 10, 2009

Say hello to the new kid in town

michael cookmichael cookBaltimore doesn't have enough nightlife writers.

So it is with great pleasure that I welcome Michael Cook, a bartender who just started blogging about nightlife for Metromix.

His blog is called Booze and Old Bay, and you can find it here.

I wonder if he's going to blog about the Chesapeake Martini, which is served at Max's and One-Eyed Mike's. That's one of the only drinks in town that uses craziest uses of Old Bay ...

The Chesapeake Martini is comprised of three parts:

1) One 40-ounce bottle of Natty Boh in a metal bucket filled with ice and covered in a dirty rag (the dirty rag is key, I'm told)

2) One small martini glass rimmed with Old Bay

3) One chicken wing inside the glass

Pour the beer into the martini glass, tilt it up to your kisser, and all you smell is chicken wing. Take a sip, and the Old Bay sticks to your lips, but it's followed quick by a mouthful of ice-cold Boh. You're better off eating the chicken wing at the end of the first cupful -- otherwise it gets cold and clammy.

Anybody thirsty? Hee hee.

Welcome to the wonderful world of nightlife blogging, Mr. Cook. I think I speak for all of us when I say 'Write more.' We need to hear from you at least once a day.

Oh, and next time you see me out, come say hi. 


(Thanks for the photo, Metromix)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:07 PM | | Comments (12)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

The Reserve to replace Charlotte's

beer mugsGot the skinny on the new bar coming to the space on Light Street where Charlotte's used to be.

It's going to be a bar/restaurant called The Reserve, and will feature upscale pub food, outdoor seating and occasionally some low-key live music, according to co-owner Andrew Dunlap.

He wants The Reserve to have a good wine list and a great selection of beers on tap.

Dunlap said they're planning on giving the building a massive facelift. That's much overdue ...

Charlotte's looked great inside, but had a terrible outer facade. Dunlap wants to change that.

"We're putting some money into the place," he said. "The whole front is going to look different."

Dunlap seemed to be aware of the building's rocky history when it comes to live music. He doesn't want to rock the boat with the neighborhood association by hosting full bands at the place.

"If anything, we'll do a couple acoustic bands in there and keep the noise down," he said. "We want to be friendly to our neighborhood."

The Reserve's two other owners are Sean White and Thomas Brown. Dunlap said he has worked in the business for a few years, at places such as the now-defunct Sean Donlon Restaurant and Irish Pub in Annapolis.

"This is a big move for us," he said. "We're excited for it."

(I just love this AP photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:17 AM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Do you go to Coconuts? Or do you know someone who does?

Sorry to put out so many solicitations in such a short time. But I'm looking for someone who frequents Coconuts Cafe on Madison Street, or someone who knows someone who goes there. I need you to either email me or call me 410.332.6689

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:51 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Is the Federal Hill Fest of All any good?

I recently had a friend ask me if the Federal Hill Fest of All is worth going to. Anybody been in the past couple years? What did you think? The next one is this Saturday.
Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:23 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Random stuff

Locust Point Aloha Tokyo is closed

aloha tokyo baltimore

Sad news for fans of karaoke and Asian food: The Aloha Tokyo at 1120 Fort Ave. has closed.

I don't know exactly why, and it's always hard to track down a reason, but this looks like the bank repossessed the property.

Aloha Tokyo has a second location at 1218 N. Charles St. that's still up and running. But I rarely see many people in there, and wonder how long it can last.

The Aloha Tokyo on Fort Ave seemed to be pretty popular, but I never had the chance to check it out myself.

I went to a happy hour at the Mount Vernon location, and thought it was just OK.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:40 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 9, 2009

Are you drinking or smoking or exercising more or less since the recession?

Or all three?

Commander Meredith is working on a piece and needs your help. Email me your answers and I'll pass you along to her. Here's my email. Do it:

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:37 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Admiral's Cup could become Pub Dog

thirstydog.jpgThe rumors are true.

After I called him out on Midnight Sun, Pub Dog owner Steve Osmond phoned in to dish about his plans for the shuttered Admiral's Cup (1647 Thames St.).

If all goes as planned (and this could be a big "if," since it involves city permit transfers and such), Osmond wants to replace the Admiral's Cup with a Pub Dog.

"For the most part, yes, we're pretty sure it's going to be another Pub Dog," Osmond said. "It's up to Baltimore City to finalize all the transfers."

There is already a Pub Dog in Federal Hill (pictured), and also one in Columbia.

So wouldn't Osmond be competing with himself to a certain extent? ...

"I haven't done this kind of thing before," he said. "We'll see."

Plus, Admiral's Cup is a pretty big space (it's technically two buildings), so Osmond will have a lot of room to play with. Though he'd be competing with all of the other Fells Point Pubs (not to mention Brick Oven Pizza), I think Osmond could do well there.

At the Shindig, I chatted with Midnight Sun commenter Alexander D. Mitchell IV about the effects of the recession on local bar owners. What I'm hearing from bar owners is that things are just as good -- if not better -- than they were before the recession.

I think what it comes down to is the management. If a bar is well-run, chances are, it will flourish. There are always outside factors, but that is the heart of the issue. And both the Pub Dogs are run well.

But they'll always be Thirsty Dogs to me.

(Sun photo by Monica Lopossay)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 3:09 PM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Rumor: Admiral's Cup may have new owners

admiral's cup baltimoreAs noted in the headline, this is only a rumor. And we all know that rumors aren't necessarily true.

That said, I have heard from a reliable source that Shane Mitchell (of Avery's Pearl) and Steve Osmond (of the Dog Pub) are in talks to buy the long-shuttered Admiral's Cup (1647 Thames St., pictured).

Mitchell hasn't returned one of my phone calls in more than a year, so I'm not holding my breath. And I've never spoken with Osmond. So I don't expect to hear from either of them.

But I wanted to float this out there and see what nibbles I get. If anybody knows more, please fill me in.

(Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:12 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Phantom to replace Kamp

club phantom baltimoreThat's about all I know -- a new club called Phantom is getting ready to open at 2314 Boston St., the space formerly occupied by Kamp.

I have thought and thought about this, and figured there can be only two reasons why people keep thinking they can keep opening high-end clubs and lounges in this city:

1) They can make a killing in less than a year. This is entirely possible, considering the covers they charge and the high drink prices.

2) They have absolutely no clue how many people have tried to "Bring Miami/New York/South Beach/Los Angeles to Baltimore" and have failed miserably.

If No. 2 is the correct answer, it's a little like watching lemmings run off a cliff ...

I mean, where do they get these investors, and how do they snooker them into spending millions on renovations?

It's not impossible to run a high-end club in this city. Red Maple (930 N. Charles St.) has been there for years. While it's had a few owners, Mosaic (Power Plant Live) is still up and running three nights a week. I just think it takes good management and a sharp understanding of how club-goers in this city think.

Anybody wanna place bets on how long Phantom will last?

Also, I'd like to thank Midnight Sunner jmgiordano for the initial tip.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

An offering to the porcelain god?

People leave some pretty weird things in bathrooms. When I see all of the dirty sayings, phone numbers and doodles written in magic marker on the stalls and walls, I often wonder: Who brings a Sharpie into the men's room in the first place?

But of all the things I've seen, this has to be the weirdest. Midnight Sunner Steve snapped this photo in the men's room at City Cafe (1001 Cathedral St.) after the Midnight Sun Shindig last week ...

toilet prayerApparently, someone left a handful of pennies and a note on top the toilet.

Here is what Steve wrote in his e-mail to me:

Not sure what caused this or why someone would leave a restaurant/bar bathroom set up with this bit of a shrine.

The note was in some foreign language and seemed to have the same sentence written over and over again--like a kid writing "I will not talk in class" 100 times for punishment.

The pennies seemed like an offering. After all in this day and age who is going to leave 50 cents on the toilet?

Does anybody know what the heck is going on here?

Was it a prayer to the porcelain god for help with a bowel movement?

Is it a Wiccan thing?

Did anybody else see this? 

We need answers. Help!


Posted by Sam Sessa at 8:23 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

March 8, 2009

"How 'Bout Dem O's"

A bunch of local musicians recently got together and came up with a song called "How 'Bout Dem O's." It's pretty funny, and a little uplifting too. Their goal is to get the song played at Camden Yards during an Orioles game.

Check it out here.

"Basically, we wanted it to be hopeful and inspiring and I'm really happy with the finished result," said Mike Ward, one of the musicians involved.

They had better play this song before some of the people in it get traded. Hee hee. 

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:56 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

March 7, 2009

Table-top tap systems go online at Mother's Grille

table-top tapsAhhh, technology.

A couple days ago, the folks at Mother's Federal Hill Grille (1113 S. Charles St.) installed a new system that lets bar-goers tap their own beers at their tables.

There are two tables like this at Mother's, one in the front of the restaurant and one in the new expansion. Each table has two taps.

"It's one of those things where I have to explain to people how it works and then they get excited and start using it," said Josh Goodman, the VP of sales for The Table Tap, the company that makes this device.

Here is how the system works ...

You sit down at the table with a couple thirsty friends. There is a small kegerator underneath the table. A server checks IDs to make sure everybody is of legal drinking age. Then the server fires up the table-top taps. Each tap dispenses beer by the ounce. At Mother's the pricing is 23 cents for an ounce of Miller Lite and 28 cents for an ounce of Blue Moon.


Are you with me so far?

Every 90 ounces poured (that's about five pints), the system shuts down, and the only way to fire it back up is for the server to come back and check in.

The way I understand it, this is a trial run. The eventual goal is to run tap lines from the bar out to a bunch of tables in the place. Each table would have an LED display that tracked how much beer was consumed, by whom, etc.

"This is more or less a chance for people to see it and feel it," Goodman said.


(Photos from Josh Goodman)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:00 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 6, 2009

The 2009 Midnight Sun Best of the Best of the Best award list

best of the best of the best awardWhat, did you think I was kidding?

Did you think there weren't really any Best of the Best of the Best awards?

Think again.

Not only did I come up with some wild and crazy categories (a few of which were actually thought up by Midnight Sunner Patchen), I had famed Baltimore Sun designer Carrie Lyle put them together. I had Curry printing print them out.

And I frantically ran to Dollar Tree yesterday to buy some faux-wood frames to put them in. Also, thanks to Midnight Sunner Jmgiordano for helping me frame them.

I've also got to thank all of the bar owners who turned out to accept the awards in person -- especially considering they had no idea what they were getting an award for. Hee hee.

Without further delays, here is the full list of the 2009 Best of the Best of the Best Awards ...

Category: Seriously, who buys enough of these toys to keep you afloat?
Winner: Atomic Pop

Best In-House DJs and Picklebacks
Idle Hour

Bar We Most Love to Hate
Lagers Pub

Most Awkward Time and Place to be Handed a Condom
Lunchtime at RA Sushi

Best Way to Skirt the Smoking Ban
Max's Tobacco Company

Biggest Meathead Magnet
MaGerk's Pub & Grill

Second Biggest Meathead Magnet
The Greene Turtle

Coldest Bathrooms

Best Place to Get Molested by a Bachelorette Party
Power Plant Live

Best Bar to Get Day Drunk
Woody's Rum Bar & Island Grill

Most Redundantly Named New Bar
Muggsy's Mug House

King Of Wikipedia and Other Online Sourcing

Most Royal, Regal Commenter
Queen Colleen

Most Connected Commenter
Mark Twain

Best Elvis Impression

Best Snarky Comments

Midnight Sun Mixologist

Best "Who's On First" Franchise
Don't Know Tavern and No Idea Tavern

We Can't Stand Hipsters But We Keep Coming Back
Club Charles

Most Maniacal Laugh
Joe Edwardsen of Joe Squared Pizza

Nobody Writes About Local Hip-Hop Like You, Baby
Al Shipley

The Best Brewpub in all of Mount Vernon
The Brewer's Art

Editor's note: Sorry for the lateness of this post. Since our computer system is apparently deserving a Worst of the Worst of the Worst award, I didn't receive any of Sam's messages asking me to publish this post. No cool framed award for that, though.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 4:24 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Recapping the Midnight Sun Shindig


Oh man oh wow oh man what a party!

Tons of people rolled into Brewer's Art last night for the Midnight Sun Shindig and the inaugural Best of the Best of the Best awards. We had Midnight Sun commenters. We had bar owners. We had bartenders. We even had some other bloggers there.

In short, it was wicked wicked, awesome awesome. At one point, both of the upstairs rooms at Brewer's Art were packed with people. WTMD gave away more than 40 gift bags in the first hour alone. And the Best of the Best of the Best awards were hits. The party raged from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

We had name tags made so people could know who was who. My worst fear was that everybody would sit by themselves and keep to themselves, but that didn't happen at all.

Here is a recap, complete with photos ...

BA and ecommerceconsultant mix it upHere, BA and eCommerceConsultant discuss the important issues of our day.

BA, who won the award for Best Elvis Impersonation, performed for us. It was glorious.

And I hear that eCommerceConsultant scraped himself off his couch this morning, still in last night's clothes. Classy!

I met the young woman in the middle but for the life of me can't remember who she is. 

Anybody know?






Jason Zink receives his Best of the Best of the Best award


To the right of this photo, Jason Zink (aka "Slinky Zink") receives his Best of the Best of the Best award, for "Best 'Who's on First' Franchise."

Zink slinked out after a couple hours, much to the chagrin of eCommerceConsultant.

I'm not really that tall -- I stood on a chair in a corner and conducted the awards ceremony. I'm sure the people eating dinner in the next room over loooooved me.





Midnight Sun Mixologist Evan (on

the right) brought some delicious green tea vodka and some of his trademark cringe-inducing bacon vodka. 

Here, Evan and Crazy Joe (left) have just had a Jesus Pig. Remember the Jesus Pig? We did them at the last Midnight Sun get-together

The Jesus Pig is a shot of bacon vodka dropped into a pint of Resurrection Ale and chugged. 

As you can tell from the looks on their faces, Evan and CJ just loved it. Mmm.

For the record, this year's bacon vodka went down much easier than last year's. Good job, Evan.



ron furman


Ron Furman, the owner of Max's Taphouse, got a kick out of his award.

Max's Tobacco Company won for Best Way to Skirt the Smoking Ban.

"I don't know if I should hang this up or not," he said. 

Hee hee.

Thanks for coming, Ron. It was great to see you there. 

Ron also told his awesome story about booking Hunter S. Thompson for a speaking gig back in the day. 


Midnight Sun wins Most Magnificent Blog of Them All


This was a total surprise: Midnight Sun won Most Magnificent Blog of Them All!

I thanked God and Amie and my mom and everyone who has helped me earn this amazing award.

Gee golly gosh, what an honor!















Brendan from the Idle Hour and his girlfriend were tickled pink at the awards. Idle Hour won for Best In-House DJs and Picklebacks.

I'm going to post a list of all of the categories and all of the winners later today.

And now, dear friends, we have reached the end of our little photo gallery.

Thank you all so much for coming. I never dreamed that something as silly as Midnight Sun could become such a fun meeting place for bar-goers and bar-owners in Baltimore and beyond.

And thank you to the wonderful folks at the Brewer's Art for putting up with our shenanigans.

All of you have made Midnight Sun into what it is today, and I can't thank you enough for that.

Here's looking forward to next year! We might have to find a bigger bar. 

(Photos by Courtney and Alexander D. Mitchell IV. Thank you both so much for shooting the party.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:58 PM | | Comments (19)

The review: El Basha


I don't write many negative reviews. And I tend not to give pessimistic outlooks in my reviews.

But I just don't think El Basha, the new hookah bar right near The Block, has much of a chance.

Which is what I wrote in yesterday's review. Here's a link. 

I found out the hard way that showering a belly dancer with money is a common thing. After this review ran, I got several e-mails from angry belly dancers, bemoaning my lack of knowledge.

One wrote:

In Middle Eastern Culture, it is a great compliment for a dancer to receive money, especially rained down upon them in the method you mention. This is customary overseas and within ethnic circles. It shows great respect for the dancers ability and knowledge of  the art form we call bellydance but is, in most other countries,  known as Raks Sharki. ...

I've been in just about every hookah bar in this city, and I've seen my share of belly dancers, but I've never seen this. That's why I thought it was tacky. But I believe all of the belly dancers who e-mailed me, and I owe them an apology. I also an apology to the gentlemen who showered this particular belly dancer with money.

I'm planning on printing a correction in next week's column.

Also in yesterday's column, I checked in with Ivars from Captain Larry's to get the official recap of the Snuggie Pub Crawl. Can you believe that 80 people showed up in Snuggies? Wow.

(Sun photo by Gene Sweeney Jr.)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:30 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 5, 2009

Tonight is the night

Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night. Tonight's the night.

Fans of Rules of Attraction will get that one. Anyhow, I'm pumped for the Shindig. See you at the Brewer's Art (1106 N. Charles St.). Remember -- it starts at 6 p.m. and goes until ... ?

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:55 PM | | Comments (1)

The Rowhouse Grille is coming along

rowhouse grill

Or at least I think that's what it's going to be called.

I'm talking about the new bar and restaurant that's replacing the Light Street Station (1400 Light St.).

You all know how I loved the Light Street Station.

I do like the name Rowhouse Grill, and I hope I'm correct here.

I Googled the name "Rowhouse Grill" and didn't come up with it, which means the name is an original idea. Those are hard to come by these days.

I thought I had one once, but I found out that somebody else had thought of it first ...

My next question is, what will they serve at the Rowhouse Grill? Barbecue, I assume. But you know what they say about people who assume things.

I think having a bar/restaurant here will help connect the Cross Street area to Fort Avenue. Right now, there is a pub-less gap between Don't Know Tavern and Muggsy's Mug House on Light Street, if I correctly recall. The Rowhouse Grill would help plug that gap.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:05 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Video: Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children on Baltimore Unsigned

Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children (sounds like a mouthful but it's a name that sticks with you) dropped by the WTMD studios for a Baltimore Unsigned taping not too long ago. This episode aired last night. You can catch the encore broadcast Saturday morning at 9.

Lazlo Lee and the Motherless Children are a duo that plays big and blistering blues rock. Faces were melted during this taping. Thankfully, I lived. But will you?

There's a great moment at around two minutes. Check it ...

Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:44 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Local music

Where the Foo Fighters get their rugs

foo-rug.jpgWe already know where the Foo Fighters eat when they come to town.

But where do Dave Grohl and co. get their home furnishings?

Why, at the Foo Rug!

Can you believe it? A whole department store made specifically to supply the Foo Fighters with rugs from the Orient. 

My, my. What a world we live in.

(Thanks to Midnight Sunner Chris for the photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:41 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Random stuff

March 4, 2009

Cleaning out Charlotte's

charlotte's baltimore"Gotta get up, get out!"

James Brown said that years ago. Then he went nuts, and eventually, died.

Charlotte's, the South Baltimore corner bar which replaced the Royal a few years back, is dead too.

Today, folks were cleaning it out, according to Midnight Sunner eGrooveCommerce, who snapped this photo and emailed it to me.

Now that is the kind of hot tip we here at Midnight Sun appreciate. And eGrooveCommerce will be rewarded for his bravery at the Shindig tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted with further updates.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:34 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Roll call: Who is coming to the Shindig tomorrow?

brewer's art baltimoreIn case you're stumbling upon this for the first time (and shame on you!), Midnight Sun is sponsoring a Shindig at the Brewer's Art (pictured) tomorrow (March 5).

It starts at 6 p.m. and goes until it ends. Probably pretty late.

Thus far, confirmed guests of honor include Ron Furman (of Max's Taphouse), Jason Zink (Don't Know, No Idea), Joe Edwardsen (Joe Squared Pizza), Chris Furst (Power Plant Live), Danny Young (Muggsy's Mug House) Brendan and Randal (Idle Hour) and many more.

Some of 'em might bring their managers, bartenders and maybe even a few regulars with them.

The Midnight Sunners who will be dropping by are Courtney, BA, Evan, Bryanintimonium, Mark Twain, jmgiordano, Patchen, Queen Colleen and a bunch more I can't remember offhand.

The question is, are you going to be there? Roll call!

(Awesome Sun photo by Jed Kirschbaum)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 1:03 PM | | Comments (31)

A look at the new Billabong Bar

billabong bar baltimoreYou've read the review.

Now, see the new Billabong Bar for yourself, high-definition digital cell phone camera style. Oh yeah, baby.

Look at that dark, mysterious coat of paint. Witness the rugged wood sign proclaiming to all the presence of Federal Hill's new Australian-themed pub.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. Here is ... Billabong.

Can't you hear can't you hear the thunder? You better run, you better take cover.

(Photo by me)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:52 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

March 3, 2009

Federal Hill wins Great American Main Street award

mainstreet.JPGBelieve it or not, Federal Hill was just named one of this year's five Great American Main Streets, according to a short piece by Sun reporter Brent Jones.

The reason?

More than 80 businesses have opened since 2000, providing 270 new jobs in the neighborhood. Federal Hill Main Street has rehabbed 58 historic structures and received $350,000 in public investment and more than $1 million from private donors.

Now, I'm going to open this up for discussion. I'd like to know if you think Federal Hill deserved this or not.

But before I do, I want to weigh in here ...

Keep in mind, I live in South Baltimore, so I'm not impartial here. I walk these streets ("a loaded six-gun in my hand") pretty often, and I've been to plenty of other cities too.

And I think this award is a little overblown. Maybe that's putting it lightly. Look, Federal Hill is a cool place. I like all the little boutiques. I like the bars. I like the Cross Street Market, which is the cleanest, nicest neighborhood market in town. 

But this is a relatively small part of Federal Hill. And look, I know it's technically South Baltimore and Federal Hill and all these other little mini-hoods jumbled together, but I'm using the blanket term Federal Hill because that's what most people call it.

There are plenty of vacant buildings and storefronts just outside of the small shopping center. It doesn't take you that long to see all the shops Federal Hill has to offer.

There are plenty of other towns and cities with much nicer, cleaner main streets. And I think that since the nice people behind the National Main Street Awards give out five every year, they may be running out of good main streets.

What do you think?

Also, thanks to Jason for the heads up.

(Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:07 AM | | Comments (81)
Categories: Random stuff

The Snuggie Pub Crawl recap

Snuggies Pub CrawlI couldn't make it to the Snuggie Pub Crawl this past Saturday because it was my lil' sister Rachel's 21st birthday. Thankfully, Midnight Sunner Evan has every sweaty detail:

Let it be known: The Snuggie Bar Crawl may or may not have been the best bar crawl in Baltimore history, but it was certainly the best bar crawl that Fort Avenue has ever bore witness to.

I remember seeing dozens and dozens of "Attending" RSVPs on Facebook shortly before the event and thinking "[Gosh darn it], this could be the best bar crawl Fort Avenue has ever bore witness to."

And by the time everyone arrived at Captain Larry's it looked like it was pretty much inevitable.

There were at least 60 people crowded into Larry's and additional people crammed into Rafters across the street, traffic literally began slowing on Fort Ave. to catch glimpses of the Cult of Blue as they assembled a horde to take a group picture ...

Everything went smoothly and according to expectation; drinking, revelry, making endless Snuggie jokes, the usual. Everyone was having a pretty great time, mingling and socializing from bar to bar (some of which seemed pretty overwhelmed by a fleet of Snuggies invading their place of business).

Things started to get especially interesting once we hit the fifth bar or so, as folks started getting pretty lit and began to resemble drunken wizards wandering around the streets in small groups, rather than a larger group of bar goers who could justify looking so ridiculous on a Saturday afternoon. As far as I could tell, only about a quarter of the bar goers made it past the fifth or sixth location.

southside.jpgRegardless, the crawl maintained its "total blast" status well until the very end. Even after the regulars at the smaller places gave us the stink eye and vacated. Even when the more imbibed folks started shedding their Snuggies like they were wearing itchy burlap sacks and opted for cheese steaks instead.

Especially when there were only a few of us left belting out karaoke at Paul's - a time during which I discovered Midnight Sun enthusiast BA has Golden Pipes. His Elvis is, like, to die for!

Congrats to the crew at Captain Larry's for pulling off a great time.


1. The arrival of Mr. Zink in his "SnugWow," a Snuggie wrapped in Shamwows. We used him to mop up many spills.

2. The presence of a friend of mine at Don't Know who was attempting to buy 125 Long Island Ice Teas over the course of the day from 10 a.m. till close. He did it.

3. A group of girls who decided that they should be Dark Jedis rather than people in snuggies and wore Darth Vader masks.

4. Let's just say people get slightly more perverted when Snuggies and alcohol are involved. Yikes.

5. The pure, distilled surreal droplets that came out of hanging out in Southside Saloon (pictured) and drinking Bud ponies with 20 people in Snuggies.

(Top photo by Courtney Block. Bottom photo by Sun photographer Elizabeth Malby)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:47 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Bars & Clubs, Random stuff

March 2, 2009

Video: "Let's Get It On" live by the Grilled Lincolns

We filmed this at the last Baltimore Unsigned free live taping at The 8x10. Here, the Grilled Lincolns turn in a pretty darn good version of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On." It's tough to take a classic that everybody knows and put your own stamp on it. But the boys in the Grilled Lincolns pull it off. Dig:
Posted by Sam Sessa at 2:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Local music

Disco Biscuits, Chromeo to headline 2009 Starscape Festival

the disco biscuits, starscape festival baltimoreJam band the Disco Biscuits (pictured), electro-funk group Chromeo and jammers Lotus will headline this year's Starscape Festival at Fort Armistead Park.

Bassnectar, Pnuma Trio, The Bridge, Shawn Caesar, Stanton Warriors, Chase & Status, Donald Glaude and Monsters of Jungle are among the other artists on the lineup, which was announced this morning.

The festival is set for June 6. Early bird tickets are $39.50 for general admission and $129 for VIP. Soon, these tickets will go up to $50 and $139, respectively.

Click here for all the details.

(Handout photo)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:05 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Local music

A night in the life of a nightlife columnist

slainte baltimoreFriday, February 27, 2009

It started with dinner at Slainte (1700 Thames St., pictured), because I needed to review a dish for a Taste centerpiece. I went alone, sat and read a book while I ate. 

On my way up Broadway, I noticed Reefers (711 S. Broadway) was open, so I went inside for a bottle of Yuengling ($2). It was 8 p.m. and I was one of five people in there, including the bartender.

Reefers looked like it could have been fun 10 years ago, but felt seedy now. My feet stuck to the floor on the way out ...

Midnight Sunner Evan and his buddies were using up a gift certificate to Don't Know Tavern (1453 Light St.), and invited me to help them out. Owner Jason Zink(!) was there, but I Don't Know if he saw me.

El Basha was next. More on the new hookah bar later. In short: Nice little place, poor location. Hookahs were $15. Belly dancer was good.

With the review reported, a couple close pals and I went to Club Chuck (1724 N. Charles St.) to meet up with jmgiordano. Dropped off a friend in South Baltimore and made it to Idle Hour (201 E. Fort Ave.) just in time for a nightcap.

Home at 2 a.m. Bed immediately afterward.

(Sun photo by Monica Lopossay)

Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:00 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs

Two stabbed at Kolpers, one dead

From a brief by Sun reporter Arin Gencer:

One man was killed and another injured in a double stabbing early yesterday in North Baltimore, police said. Nelson Gause, 29, of the 3000 block of Weaver Road suffered a stab wound to the head in a fight that broke out after a party at Kolpers Restaurant and Lounge in the 1500 block of Clipper Road in the Hampden area, police said ...

A 31-year-old man tried to chase and fight the person who stabbed Gause and was stabbed in the head and hand, police said.

Officers responded to the scene about 1:30 a.m., police said. Gause was taken to Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:28 a.m., police said. The second victim, whose name was not released, was taken to Union Memorial Hospital and was expected to survive, police said.

Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:32 AM | | Comments (27)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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