Sunday, July 25, 2004

WEEKEND: Not a Success and Not a Failure, the Great 90-30 Pub Crawl Only Gets Half Way to Goal

A veteran English pub crawler told me Sunday that "on a pub crawl you never actually finish. Something always will happen." I had just dragged 15 people from Eighth Street Southeast to U Street Northwest on the 90 bus, and the prospects of bringing them, plus 10 mid-crawl joiners across town to Wisconsin Avenue were not good. Three and a half hours in, I declared an all-stop at 11:30 p.m. Because of institutional obstacles put in place by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, getting across town by bus to stops three and four would be very, very difficult.

On the surface, the great pub crawl I had planned for Saturday was a failure. Our crosstown journey from Eastern Market to Georgetown via U Street and Glover Park got stuck at Ninth and U streets Northwest.

"I don't think you can categorize this as a failure, because we hit 50 percent of the places and then we decided to have fun," one Moon Township, Pa., participant told me after an unplanned diversion to Stetson's.

'Spray Me, Spray Me! I'm Funky!' After starting at Finn Mac Cool's Cork Publick House across from the Marine Barracks on Eighth Street Southeast, 15 hardened souls waited for a Route 90 bus on the deserted street. The gates of the Navy Yard could be seen down the street past the Southeast Freeway, and the bus was late, about 5-10 minutes behind schedule.

Since we were waiting for the bus outside the Marine Barracks, our crew was in full view of a globe surveillance camera at the corner of G and Eighth streets. When two friends got embroiled into some light-hearted rough housing, one ended up in the Barracks hedges. This attracted the attention of a Marine guard, who came out to casually monitor what we were doing. It isn't every day when 15 friends are waiting to board a bus on what is normally a desolate Southeast street.

One participant, oddly enough, brought a canister of Degree aerosol deodorant along for the ride. It was part necessity perhaps, but it was more of a quirky pub crawl commodity. When the Degree was taken out on the bus, I reminded my friend that WMATA had put out a rider alert some time back that terrorists could use aerosol canisters to spray harmful agents on the commuting populous. As we made our way up Florida Avenue Northeast, passengers on the Route 90 bus were looking at us strangely, but we came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't the Degree canister stoking terrorism fears, but was probably the Degree canister itself and what it was doing with group of party-going bus riders.

When we disembarked at Vermont Avenue, the canister of Degree made a return. As IDs were being checked to get into DC9 on Ninth Street, one friend joked to the other with the Degree canister that he needed a spray down. When a homeless man loitering outside the bar heard this, he quickly jumped up to my friends and exclaimed: "Spray me! Spray me! I'm funky!"

So the smelly homeless man was sprayed, recommending the impromptu service to another.

We're Not in Kansas Anymore. In the minutes leading up to 11 p.m., there were concerns about getting to stop No. 3, Bourbon, over on Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park. I knew this was going to be the most difficult move. If we would be adhering to the spirit of the all-bus evening, we would have taken the Route 90 bus through Adams Morgan to Wisconsin Avenue, where we would have had to transfer to a 30 bus. Because of the 30's reliability and late-night service, we would have most likely walked 10-15 minutes downhill to Glover Park.

In reality, it could have worked, but only if everyone really wanted to do it. Some wanted to go on, others wanted to stay. So we stayed.

After enjoying DC9 for a few hours, it got boring. We wanted a change of venue. So we decided to go to the old stand-by, Stetson's. Walking from the eastern end of the U Street corridor to the western end, was a journey through the street's transformation from D.C.'s Black Broadway to abandoned riot-scarred mess to diverse up-and-coming quarter to its current state as a fully-realized gentrified zone replete with a Quizno's and Starbucks.

As we walked past Cardozo High School, toward the eastern end of the corridor that still strikes fear into some Dupont denizens, a car with Virginia plates parked. Out of it came a group of girls who were going to who knows where.

"Hey Alyssa, we aren't in Kansas anymore," one said, making additional comments on their "ghetto" parking spot. U Street is an exotic, out-of-the way destination to many and therefore stirs up safety concerns, most of them unwarranted.

So onward we went to Stetson's, where the bar staff was wearing kilts for an undetermined reason. A group of promotional "Miller girls" were out in full force at the bar passing out Miller beer visors. One was passed out to a pub crawl participant, it was thrown into the air, hitting another bar patron. Embarrassed, my friend didn't want to retrieve it. A companion instead approached the visor-throwing victim, but to no avail, the woman now in control of the visor was agitated.

"Now, its mine now, bitch ..."

One friend remarked how the presence of the Miller girls was a promising sign that the economy has been improving.

"We're losing all of our manufacturing jobs and we're gaining in service jobs. [With the Miller girls], we're keeping the populous happy."

And with a late-night stop at El Tamarindo for enchiladas, rice, beans and a Negro Modelo, the evening concluded by 3 a.m.

Overall, the night wasn't a success, nor a failure, but was enjoyable all around.


At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We were waiting for you at the finish line in Georgetown. You failed to finish, but it sounds like you had fun. Georgetown turned out to be an interesting adventure. While walking down towards the river some bouncer was overheard saying there was a "DOA" tonite. That doesnt sound good.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger The Bull said...

The staff at Stetson's ALWAYS wear kilts. I'm not sure why, but at least two of the waiters have them.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great entry, but I feel compelled to point out that the area near Finn MacCool's is hardly "desolate". And I'm sure they're plenty used to young drunkards by the Marine Barracks (though perhaps not young, drunk busriders).

Also, they were probably wearing kilts at Stetson's because one of the bartenders there is from Northern Ireland and sports his kilt every chance he gets.

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