The Best Bars in America (according to the word of AzN)

Cause I’ve always wanted to make this list and folks always be asking me for recommendations when they’re “forced” to visit any of these cities. Why even bother going to some of these cities? Because when I travel through Asia, I’m one of many. I’m Thai in Thailand, Vietnamese in Vietnam and for damn sure I’m Korean in Korea. But when you’re in most of middle America, you stick out like a bright yellow jaundiced thumb. So in no particular order other than me just trying to remember these drunken nights:

Buckhorn Exchange

Buckhorn Exchange, Denver CO: The oldest restaurant in Denver is over 200 years old and has a bar upstairs with Macallan 16 for $12. There’s taxidermy everything on the walls, even a zebra, which would only be possible if Teddy Roosevelt himself shot and killed it in Africa and brought it back (which he did).

Wood Tavern

Wood Tavern, Miami FL: By the time I got to the Wynwood District, apparently a one block version of Silverlake in the heart of Miami, I was sick of beach deco and sugary tropical drinks. After a dinner at the Shepard Fairey designed restaurant across the street (not as bad as it sounds), we walk into this bar and all we see is cheap beer, a taco stand inside a car and a trivia night going on in the auditorium in the back. Loved it so much we went back the next night and the whole block is practically closed down for the weekly biker meet up. In any other hipster bar in the country I would mean bicycle. But these are Harleys and it was a sight to behold.

Murray Bar, Livingston MT: As seen on No Reservations, the chef next door makes a mean steak and even invited us to some hot springs up the road the next day. That’s how nice they are in Montana. I’ll also never forgot the woman who left the bar for a minute and used her wallet and her flip phone to save her seat and drink. Where the hell am I?

Nye’s Polonaise

Nye’s Polonaise and Polka Bar, Minneapolis MN: One side of the bar has a lady on a piano who plays along with your karaoke stylings. The other side is an award-winning polka band. You can go back and forth and did I mention you can order piroshkies here?

Taos Mesa Brewing

Taos Mesa Brewery, Taos NM: Steel corrugated tilt-up brewing company with live music and great beer in the MIDDLE OF NO WHERE New Mexico. Drive a few miles down and look straight down the Rio Grande. Get scared and go get drunk.

Kennedy School

McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland OR: Portland is the greatest drinking town in America. I said it. These McMenamin guys convert anything and everything to a bar: hospital, hotel, and in this case, an elementary school. The classrooms are now hotel rooms, the boiler room is a restaurant, the school auditorium is a music venue and everyone wants to go to detention (its a bar, duh).

Robert’s Western World

Robert’s Western World, Nashville TN: I don’t like country music, but give me beer, bourbon and BBQ and I will line dance all night at this honky tonk just down the street from the Grand Ole Opry.

Riverhorse Inn, Milwaukee WI: So this one time I went here cause a random electro DJ crew was playing and next thing I know I was buying a round for the bar (its Milwaukee prices folks) and convinced some couple to drive me back to my hotel. So yea, this place is awesome.

Whiskey River

Whiskey River

The Whisky River, Charlotte NC: Dale Earnhardt Jr’s bar in downtown Charlotte is huge and has a mechanical bull. Went with a group of folks from NYC and we saw two girls ride it the same time and all we could talk about was how ironic this bar would be if it was in Brooklyn.

Angel’s Share

Angel’s Share, New York NY: Like everyone else, I like this bar cause no one knows its there. Which is a lie, cause now everyone knows its there.

Big

Big, San Francisco CA: Just like Angel’s Share, its hard to find. No menus, the bartenders have a conversation with you and find out your favorite ingrediants and liquor and make something according to your táste notés. They don’t even have a WEBSITE folks!

Zig Zag Cafe, Seattle WA: Best Fernet cocktails ever. Will make you zig zag back and forth on the way home, especially up those stairs.

Bar None, Vancouver BC: Some white girl with a tattoo arm sleeve stepped up to ME at this bar and it was fantastic. The bar itself? OK.

Maker’s Mark Distillery, Loretto KY: I can drink Maker’s Mark for free and all I have to do is drive an hour outside of Louisville to do it? Done. Bonus points: only place in the world to buy the moonshine version of Maker’s.

Marvin

Marvin, Washington DC: If the Thievery Corporation opened up a restaurant/bar and named it after their favorite singer it would be this. Cause they did. Did I mentioned how great laid back and awesome the music is? I wonder why.

Jacoby’s German Biergarten, Detroit MI: Within stumbling distance of the Renaissance Hotel across the river from Canada. The bar tender played hyphy all night for us when he found out we were from SF and Oakland and then he convinced us to go to a secret bar in a warehouse 5 miles from downtown where they only served beers and balloons of nitrous. Did I mentioned how fucked up Detroit is these days? Or how awesome Detroit techno is? Cause all the above is interrelated.

Bon 4 de Juillet!

My buddy Tinio posted this on FB today and I don’t see what else can be more fitting on the Fourth of July than a bunch of surburban French kids channeling every action scene from American movies and making this awesome mess. AMERICA FUCK YEA!

Rachel McAdams and Her Soy Bean Boy Shorts

Dear Rachel McAdams,

I wanted to thank you personally. You’re hot (I had to stop watching The Notebook, cause I had a feeling you were going to die), you’re funny (I watch Wedding Crashers and Mean Girls whenever they’re on Starz), and you’re Canadian (which I can forgive you for). But that’s not why I wanted to thank you. I wanted to thank you for taking some of the slack for making America green, ever since I was forced out of office… Your push for bamboo lingerie has made up for all the work I wasn’t able to do with solar panel tax credits. But that’s not all, because all the work I was going to do with ramping America’s car industry up for a transitional switch from fossil-based fuels to hydrogen-based fuel seems completely worthless now that your website, greenissexy.org, is pushing for soy-based boy shorts.

Tastes almost as good as soy milk.

Thank you Rachel, I can finally move to Oakland now and figure out my next move while following your green initiatives from afar. You’re not American, but you do have the true American spirit that we should all strive to have.

Sincerely,

Van Jones, Esq.
ex-White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs

Tuan Luong and His Love of America’s Best Idea

Vodpod videos no longer available.

For those of you addicted to Ken Burns’ latest series of documentaries, The National Park’s: America’s Best Idea, like I am, you would know many facts that no one else would care about like Rockerfeller’s purchase of the Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho land that would become Yellowstone. You would also learn about Tuan Luong, a Vietnamese Frenchman who visited America and fell in love with the National Park system. He would end up at UC Berkeley doing a post-doc so he could be close to the California park system and is the only person to have photographed all 58 American National Parks. He also takes pics on an old-timey camera. What’s there NOT to like about this dude? And PEEP the French accent too. What a badass.

tuan-at-kobuk-dunes

Racism in America: July Round Up

I’m gonna start a new monthly series that’ll just sum up the month’s big news items on racism in America. The news will range from subtle, to internalized to the overt. What’s the difference? Glad you asked! Subtle is hiring a beloved African American actor to play a black haired hamster in a Disney kids movie and having him say catchphrases like “HOLLA!”:

Internalized is when a neighbor calls the cop on a Harvard Professor (the director of Harvard’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African & African American Research to be exact) when he’s trying to “break into” his own house cause the front door don’t work after a trip back from China (I guess the neighbor didn’t see all the luggage and the driver, who is Black, that was helping him).

I imagine this man wearing khakis and a tweed jacket, surrounded by Burberry or Wakamatsu suitcases, trying to climb into his rear window like Hugh Grant climbing a fence - Whoopsy-daisy! - and I don't see a criminal at all.

I imagine this man wearing khakis and a tweed jacket, surrounded by Burberry and Wakamatsu suitcases, trying to climb into his rear window like Hugh Grant climbing a fence - Whoopsy-daisy! - I don't see a criminal at all.

When the cop shows up, there’s a dispute about each of them showing IDs and Professor Gates gets arrested. If you’re keeping score, that’s American ethnic studies professors: ONE POINT and police officers in predominantly white cities (*cough* Cambridge *cough* Boston): ZERO POINTS. And big surprise, Gates is one of President Obama’s friends, and when asked about the situation, he said the Cambridge Police Department acted “stupidly” (Imma give the Prez 1 point for the correct conjugation of the word stupid to an adverb). President Obama speaks for everyone of color (that’s why I voted for him) that has been pulled over for being a minority (twice for yours truly) or had a gun pulled on him by police for no reason (thanks Santa Clara PD in 1997!). So FU Cambridge, you’re the only city in America that can possibly hate minorities more than Boston, I’m so glad I didn’t apply to Harvard (cause I would have totally not gone). (PS. this is the cop that “killed” Reggie Lewis too, I’m just sayin’!).

And BLATANT/OVERT racism? Kicking only the Black kids out of a private pool located near Philly. According this Washington Post article:

Horace Gibson, a parent of a camper told NBC that “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.” And on Tuesday, the swim club’s president issued a statement saying, “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”

That’s it for July! Hopefully next month’s beautiful August weather will dissuade racism during the height of the lovely summer weather, but I’m thinking not…

Thanksgiving Day Special: Racism

Pokemon!

 

Nothing makes me feel more un-American than Thanksgiving. I get it, my family immigrated here in the 70s. We didn’t come over here on the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria or Mayflower. We didn’t know what a Turkey tasted like until 1984. We never eat mashed potatoes for dinner. I couldn’t tell you the last time I ate cranberry sauce. This however, does not mean you have a right to prematurely assume that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Last time I checked, Thanksgiving was created to celebrate the first immigrants into America, and when I learned about it in elementary school (when I would draw turkeys with the outline of my hand), the immigrants that arrived on the shores of America were lily white. And the Native Americans that greeted them had just arrived across the Bering Strait from Asia (a millennia previously). 

So when you come up to me on November 20th and ask me what I’m doing for Thanksgiving, I’m going to say:

“Oh, the usual, Turkey, Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes. The works, you know what I mean Tad?!”

But what my passive-aggressive Asian-ass WANTS to say:

“We’re eating a mutha-fuckin’ turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes you racist fuck. What else do you think we’re doing? Sure, we’ll have escargot (thank you French Colonism!) and banana leaf wrapped sticky rice, but we’re gonna eat like its Boston Market on a Friday night biyyraatch!” 

Gobble Gobble.   

 

Angry Asian Girl