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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Expert college drinker grades Logan's bars

By G. Christopher Terry

October 31, 2007 | For college students in this town who want to get their fade on, the choices are pretty limited. You can stay inside and drink for cheap, but people are going to start thinking you're an alcoholic or something if you sit alone in the dark getting ruined too much. To avoid everyone thinking you have a Problem, you are going to have to go out and blow some money. After you hit up the ATM and make sure you have your photo ID, what are the best places to go? Let an experienced college drinker be your guide.

The White Owl -- D

Certain brand names become so ubiquitous that they eventually encompass an entire market of products. Take my roommate, he refers to any videogame console as a Nintendo. Kleenex brand facial tissues and Chapstick brand lip balm have this going for them as well. It's really pretty ridiculous, people don't call cars Fords or TVs Sonys. But for whatever reason, certain brands are blessed with this cachet, and the White Owl is one of them. Any time you hear people talking about going to "the bar" in Logan, you can be pretty sure they are talking about the Owl.

Usually the products which benefit from brand ubiquitousness achieve their position due to a clear superiority over the competition, in the case of Chapstick, or because of unique conditions in the marketplace when the product first came out which allowed it to build up near-insurmountable brand recognition, like Nintendo. I haven't a clue why the White Owl enjoys such a dominant position in people's minds. Is it because it's big enough to fit most everyone that feels like drinking in Logan on any given night at once? I should hope size wouldn't be our main criteria.

There's a lot to do at the Owl, from darts to pool to those quiz show videogames that only weirdos play. The foosball table is a big waste of time, I'll warn you right now. It counts every ball that goes in as a goal and takes your quarter after one side gets ten goals no matter what, even if most of those goals were dirty. You can also watch one of the many TVs in the Owl, sit up on the deck when the weather is nice, or go into the nonsmoking room if you don't smoke (like me) and hate smelling like a can of butts the next morning (like me.)

I will play some darts, which are free at the Owl, or even shoot a game of pool if someone else pays, but mainly I am interested in drinking when I go to the bar. What does the Owl have to drink? Well, they have some sort of domestic light beer, I think it's Coors. That is the cheapest. Then you've got a pretty nice selection of overpriced beers that mainly only hippies drink. There's a fairly wide selection of bottled beers as well, which are on sale in case someone wants to pay more money for less beer for some inconceivable reason. I always drink Killian's Irish Red when I got to the Owl. It is kind of like the midgrades. It's a beer that is dark enough hippies will think you are drinking "Tom's Olde-Fashioned Berry-Infused Honey Wheat Grain Ale" or some such dreck. I've been going for years now and I have never ordered anything but Killians. The only time I drink anything else is when someone buys me a drink, like for example on Thursday someone bought me a Coors Light so I drank it but I was thinking about Killians the whole time.

I like diversions as much as the next guy, but when I go to the bar it is usually enough for me to drink mass quantities of alcohol and talk to the people I am there with. My desire to talk to the people at my table is where the Owl runs into trouble, because it seems like all the nights I feel like drinking there, they have a band playing. I hate bands. Why do they persist in playing stupid songs they wrote that no one has ever heard at obnoxious volume so I can't talk to the people at my table? If I were the owner of the Owl I would order any band to only play good songs everyone has already heard. Guns N Roses, Garth Brooks, Jimi Hendrix, these are good starting points.

You might be thinking a D is an awfully low grade for a bar that is basically all right and my biggest criticism is the bands always suck. Well, I haven't mentioned the lack of dividers between the urinals. Nor have I mentioned the disturbing sameness of the White Owl. Same smell the next morning. Same sleazy broads. Same rednecks, same dead-enders. Same jerks eyeball-fucking you every time you walk in the door. Why does everyone in the Owl stare at you every time you show your ID and walk up to the bar? It's really very odd and irritating, and between that and the lack of hard alcohol in the establishment, you've got a D. It's not polite to stare.

Mulligans -- D+

Basically the coolest thing to do in Logan is go to the Owl, drink a few pitchers, and then walk up to Mulligans once you have a pretty solid buzz going and get some real alcohol. Mulligans is a pretty cool bar with a lot going for it. For one, I never have to pay for a membership because I know one of the guys who works the door there and he is a really solid individual, always waves me right on in. If I had to pay for a membership it would blow.

The biggest plus about going to Mulligans is the ability to buy shots, mixed drinks, and Foster's Special Bitters in the green oil can. On college night Mulligans is a great place to kick it because you will almost always see lots of people you know and get invited to a fun house party later. That is what happened to me last Thursday night. It is almost like the fates conspired to make sure you have a good time drinking: from the Owl to Mulligans to Smith's is almost a straight line, plus last call at Mulligans is in time that you can make it to Smith's before they stop selling beer.

Right now you are probably thinking that Mulligans is an A bar, but it is time to start whacking points off. The cost is absolutely prohibitive. I have gone into Mulligans sober and started ordering drinks and dropped 80 bucks, no problem, and not even been that wasted. That is why it is key to get pretty drunk before you even go to Mulligans, because the drinks come in tiny plastic cups and cost like three-fifty each, add a tip in (because if you don't tip the bartenders there you WILL NOT get served) and that's five bucks a drink, and you can kill these drinks in about three sips. A good thing to do to be prepared is bring a 12-pack and hide it in the alley across the street, or out back, and make a few pit stops out there to pound beers while you nurse your drinks inside. At the price they sell these drinks, you would think OPEC had expanded its grasp and stopped refining Jagermeister.

Another really bad thing is when Mulligans gets too packed. It is a little hole-in-the-wall, and on college night they usually end up turning lots of people away. Everyone is crammed in there, especially around the bar, and it is next to impossible to get served in a timely fashion. The importance of tipping heavily is apparent to the guy who has been standing at the bar waving a $20 for so long his legs are tired. Here is a strategy I have been using with good results for years: when you finally get to order, just order like five drinks at once. You save on the tip as opposed to ordering five rounds of one, and you don't have to venture into the mosh pit again for a while.

Ultimately Mulligans is kind of like an overweight female Sheriff's deputy when you are in jail: you know she ain't that great, but she starts looking pretty good based purely on the lack of other options. I would bump Mulligans up into C range except I get the feeling the ownership knows what a good thing they have going for them, what with being the only conveniently located bar with real booze in Logan, and they don't put any real effort in except for replacing the furniture with cast-offs from the country club years after they should have and ordering new cases of booze. Oh, wait, I forgot about the new camera system they shelled out for to curtail people from sneaking in their own beer. I guess that's worth top dollar. You know what? I have a bad taste in my mouth right now. D plus, and that's final.

The Sultans -- F+

I have only been here a few times, because the Sultan's has a reputation as the redneck bar in town. I went there once when I was already absolutely shitcanned, and I had a pretty good time. I ran into Ryan "Scrappy" Larson and we tried to pick up on some Asian girls. Then this other time I went there when I was still pretty sober and I was all like, "What?! Is this it?"

The ceiling is too low and the seating is funny, the way I remember it there is like a waist-high wall cutting the room in half for no reason. I guess the Sultans has pool tables and a reasonable selection of beers so if you just want to go somewhere different it will do. They have Cutthroat Ale there, but I think the pitchers are smaller than the ones at the Owl. Basically the Sultans is an al lright place, but I will probably never go there again in my life unless it is someone else's idea and there's nothing else going on and they promise to buy me drinks.

The Eagles -- F

I have never even been to the Eagles because it is so far away. It is down by Fred Meyer's, so it gets an F. Hey, it's my rating system. I heard they have one dollar draft beers and one dollar shots, so if I ever go there and this is true and there's not too many dumb old people there, I will change this grade to a B because that is pretty solid value for your alcohol budget.

The Country Club -- B

This bar is so great I should give it an A, but since you have to be in the party of a member to get served, I am afraid I have to take points off. Plus if I ever actually gave out an A, then found another bar I liked better than the bar I gave an A to, I would really be in a pickle. To anyone reading this from the Logan Golf & Country Club, I would love some sort of honorary membership. I barely even golf, I just want to drink and tip extravagantly.

The last time I went to the Country Club I was with my buddy Glen. His parents are members so after a few games of pool in the basement, we sat down in the bar and started getting tore up. I had like three Red Bull/Jagers that came in tall glasses and cost less than the tiny ones at Mulligans even though they were like three times the size. Ask anyone who has been, they will tell you this bar is cheap and it is awesome! The cocktail waitresses are hot and friendly, and because it isn't too busy in there usually, they are very attentive and keep the booze flowing like wine. I think the selection of liquors is better than at Mulligans, so if you are one of those tools who likes to go around ordering strange drinks and then acting all put out when the bartender hasn't heard of it, this is your place. Some people have said they don't like the people who use the country club, but I enjoy drinking in the presence of wealthier, more refined old people.

Besides the hassle of finding a member to take you there, the other big problem with the country club is it is kind of far away. I say with the money you will save on drinks compared to Mulligans, you can easily afford a cab. In closing, I love to get annihilated at the country club, and I can't wait to go again and see how the new remodeled clubhouse looks!


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