there’s a chance we can make it now

“How many?” the proprietor at Do Re Mi asked.

“Thirteen,” Trisha said. Trisha made a rare visit to the East Coast this past weekend, and trashy karaoke in Allston topped the list of events.

The old man rubbed his chin with his thumb. “Normal rooms, very crowded for thirteen. Party room, best size.”

He led us back through winding hallways, carpeted in purple all-weather fabrics and indirectly lit. I had never been taken this far into Do Re Mi before. Typically, I show up late for whatever’s going on and wave at the front desk. They smile and point me toward the only other room in the building with white people in it.

The party room: a suite the size of my apartment. Leather couches at least a decade old, with stools and a poorly kept piano in the back. And a massive, widescreen TV up front.

“Whoa,” we said.

“Eighty dollars an hour,” he said.

We spent the rest of the evening fighting over the karaoke machine’s remote and belting out classics from the days of late night partying: Queen, The Darkness, Rage, Green Day, etc. I brought a half-pint of Canadian Club and ended up consuming all of it.

Allston hipsters, like I used to be, enjoy the shady and the cheap. It makes the minimal care they take of their own lives seem almost opulent in comparison. The dive bars cater to college students and the laundromats stay open late. I mention this only because we had some reservations about returning to Do Re Mi, having heard that it expanded and renovated. Would it still have its seedy charm? Could it still pass for a front for Thai prostitutes in the evening hours?

Let me assure you, scenesters and unemployed heroes, that the new Do Re Mi is worth every penny you pay. Sometimes, you just have to spend $340 on the party room.

all just a little bit of history repeating

Thursday was Fraley’s bachelor party. I caught up with the crew at Smith & Wollensky’s downtown. They had just completed a few laps at F1 Racing and had sped here to make the 7:00 dinner reservation. The order of arrival at Boston’s best steakhouse had nothing to do with who won the go-kart race, with Serpico and Auston narrowly beating Fraley by a few minutes. “And we were hurrying,” Serpico said. “We may have swapped paint with some cars on 93.”

Over three bottles of red – S&W will keep bringing out more wine unless you tell them not to – we cut into some au poivre fillets and swapped anecdotes. Auston recounted the story of his best man losing his wife’s wedding ring the day of the wedding, while Ben (the ring-bearing best man for this ceremony) gradually paled in the corner. I talked hip hop with Jonathon W. and Will, who sided with me on the Lil Wayne debate on Overthinking It.

The party detached from S&W and wandered Boston’s South End, stopping in a couple pubs whose names I can’t remember. But that’s why I take photos – so I can recall moments that would otherwise leave me, just as consciousness left me in the back seat of a cab between the Back Bay and Davis Square. That’s also why I recount stories starring people you don’t know. This weblog’s primarily a journal for me: a means of remembering what I’ve done that I can look back on in two, five or ten years.

Of course, if Thursday night was any indication, a few beers and the company of lifelong friends can jog the memory as well.

how old are you, are you old enough?

1. “I went to The Pill for the first time.”

“How was it?”

“It’s great. It’s a new wave / indie pop dance night. Good crowd; hipsters, but less intense.”

“Less intense?”

“Yeah, dialed up only to about a 3. Not trying as hard to not try as hard, if that makes any sense.”

2. I had the above conversation with Rachel V. at Copperfield’s Down Under, a basement bar and music venue near Fenway attached to the well-known Red Sox boozer. We were there (along with Vickie and RJ) to see Bonus Round, a cover band fronted by a coworker of mine. They played all night to a bar packed to capacity and covered both Concrete Blonde and K’s Choice, and if you need me to say than that I can’t say enough. I’ll be seeing them again.

3. There is no #3.

know when to walk away, know when to run

Continued from yesterday.

For all that I love casinos, I have never been a big fan of gambling per se. It combines two pastimes that make me incredibly self-conscious – losing money and doing something I’m not an expert in. I get weird and finicky when my friends watch me play. I alternate between wanting to dive right in and wishing I could be done sooner.

I really love casinos more for the scene than anything else. Folks staying up late, eating ridiculous food (vacation calories don’t count), seeing live music and dancing until the morning. Free drinks. Overdoses of oxygen. All good things.

So for any game I play, I work out a strategy which will allow me to stretch my stake for as long as possible. The casinos don’t get you with the possibility of a big payout; they get you because you don’t know when to quit. So I use the following method:

  • Start with a stake of x.

  • Play some games. Keep track of how much you lose – meaning, how much money hits the table and doesn’t come back – not how much you win.

  • When the amount you lose equals x, walk away immediately.
For a good evening of gaming and a game with decent odds, x should be 10-20 times the table minimum. I went in with a much smaller stake and ended early, with about x/2 in chips. But even then, with fatigue creeping in and the solidity of my method behind me, I heard the whispers creeping around my brain. You can’t be done yet. Look at all these people having fun. You planned on playing with more anyway, didn’t you?

But I shut that noise off quickly. I was already up for the weekend, in that I gave the casino $100 and they gave me a priceless steak, so I wanted for nothing else.

Fraley, Melissa and I took the last limousine shuttle back to the hotel. We tried to wait for Mark and RJ, but they had to cash out (Mark lost a little more than I did; RJ won back the cost of his dinner). I collapsed exhausted once I got to the hotel.

On Friday we sampled the Bellissimo Grande’s continental breakfast (Marriott quality, I’d say) and watched Dirty Jobs before Fraley invited us back to his parents’ house in Rhode Island. My GPS and my reckless driving got me there before Fraley and Melissa, but only just.

Fraley’s mom showed off their new enclosed porch and chatted us up for a few minutes before Fraley’s dad returned from the store, laden with smoked meats. He grilled up burgers and chorizo for all of us while we watched the Red Sox recover from an early 0-3 deficit. They’re generous and tireless hosts.

RJ betrayed us to go play Rock Band at Melissa and Fraley’s house, so I drove Mark back to Boston alone and loafed around the apartment for a bit before heading to 90’s Night, which had a light but comfortable turnout for the 4th of July. That bar gets more entertaining every time I show up, what with helping drunk girls up off the floor and watching portly construction contractors try to pick a fight with Rick. And every time I wonder if Mike isn’t the best DJ in Boston, I go to another club and realize that yes, Mike’s better than that DJ, too. God damn. (Oh, and: last Friday featured the return of Katie to the Allston scene. I don’t expect to see much more of her, for obvious reasons, but I’m glad she’s still mobile)

I don’t think I did anything else of merit that weekend – hell, I didn’t speak to another human being for all of Saturday – but Thursday and Friday were enough.

I need a miracle, I need a miracle

Sleep evaded me this weekend.

I made a long delayed return to 90s Night (warning: MySpace) at Common Ground on Friday. New friends and old showed up – Skim, Rick, MPerrotti, Jen, Cheshirepk8, Paperface, Ryan, Kate, and of course our vigilant DJ (yes, I know I’m forgetting some people – comment if I missed your name / LJ). We kept the slam-dancing drunk Allstonians in a tight knot until a bouncer could come scoop their beer bottles off the floor. I worried that he’d consider us part of their crowd, but Rick made a Bouncer-Dismissing Gesture and we got out okay. I would like to learn that gesture.

Afterward we tromped across the street to Redneck’s, who follow a business model that really should get more play:

  1. Sell fried food; and
  2. Stay open 30-45 minutes after the bars close.
I didn’t have a stomach for cheese fries at the moment, so I sat there while Jen explained the origin of her LJ handle. “What superpowers do you have?” I kept asking.

When Redneck’s kicked us out, the posse degenerated into one of those leaderless mobs where everyone shouts and laughs for ten minutes but nobody actually goes anywhere. The party kept threatening to go to Brookline and continue drinking, but I waved off and returned to Davis Square (which, Skim’s villainous slander notwithstanding, is still the coolest place to be).

I did some grocery shopping early on Saturday. What I thought would be a literal milk run turned into a three-bag trip, including a stop off at a bake sale for Obama on the walk home. I bought a brownie (more out of my love for baked goods than any particular political affiliation) and ate lunch while watching Netflix.

Kristen and her roommate Jeff invited me to their Midsummer’s BBQ just up the road. No one had adhered to the implied theme of dressing up like a faerie, which I considered fortunate. I surprised myself by being sociable at a party largely full of strangers: talking Keynesian economics with Jodi, comparing Maryland stories with Becca’s friend Anna, chatting up Mike and his girl Karen, etc. Two beers that I set down ended up tumbling over, which I blame on the slope of the backyard and not at all on the three that I drank on an empty stomach.

Colby threw another legendary luau later that evening, which I arrived at early enough to get some chicken and birthday cake. Megan and her coworker Renee floated over from the earlier Midsummer’s BBQ, proving that everyone knows someone who can get them into this party. I saw most of the Nebulas‘ set, watched Dea and her friend do firespinning once the sun went down, then hit the dance floor indoors for about 2 hours without break. If you haven’t been to one of these, keep in touch with me around June next year and I’ll bring you along.

Greg had folks over for board games on Sunday. Amy throttled me in a quick round of Battlelore, then I played some folks in EVO before the pizza arrived. I struggled my way through two rounds of Mario Kart Wii – the steering wheel responds better than you think! – and wrapped the afternoon with Pick Picnic and Pandemic (of which more later – it’s really fun).

Hawver had the brilliant idea of getting the old crew back together for burgers and cheap beer at Our House West in Allston, across the street from the Brain Trust. I drove directly there, watched Hawver slaughter his way through a round of Big Buck Hunter, then flagged the waitress down. “When do you start serving dollar burgers?” I asked.

“We … don’t?”

“Oh.” Not only does Our House West no longer serve $1 cheeseburgers on Sunday, I’ll bet no one currently working there remembers that was ever an option. You can’t go home again.

Hawver, Fraley, Melissa and I reminisced on a grand scale, talking about the days when we all first met each other. “We never really talked,” Mel said to Hawver, “because you always fled whenever I came over for gaming.”

“I really could not stand your dice rolling,” Hawver confessed vehemently.

After making fun of Fraley’s musical taste for a while (“Fraley, this is the Clash”), we went our separate ways. I ended back in Davis, where I dropped in on Katie H.’s place to watch the last half of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone. Never been a huge fan of the series, so the addition of Rifftrax made for a welcome distraction. I laughed myself silly.

I did not end up in bed before 1:00 AM on any night this weekend. This may be a recovery week for me.