The Chicago Way Part 2

To leave off where we were yesterday, my coworkers and I left Lizzie McGill’s Irish Pub and ventured through the streets of Chicago. Somehow we made it to The Billy Goat Tavern, or as some of us had called it “Billy Goat’s Gruff.”

For those who have not heard of The Billy Goat Tavern, think back to the early days of “Saturday Night Live” and the skit where John Blushi kept saying “Cheezeborger, Cheezeborger.” During the day, this is how the Billy Goat actually was, though the ordering moved at a faster pace. If you were placing your order to the cashier with a thick Greek accent, you wasted no time in ordering for fear of getting chewed out by the cashier or the cooks. However, it was not just the staff that gave the Billy Goat life. The walls were decorated with signs, posters and newspaper clippings of Chicago’s past. If Lizzie’s is my home, the Billy Goat would be my vacation spot.

When we returned that night, it was a calmer atmosphere. Perhaps it was because of the change in staff over the day and that some customers were coming in after a long day of work. For some of us, it was a chance to get some food to hopefully slow the effect of the beer we had drank at Lizzie’s. After we had gotten our food, Kurto bought a round of beers for us. We were joined by our ads guy Joey, who had taken to exploring Chicago by himself.

As most of us were wolfing down our borgers and Libs was matching us in the beer realm, Freese grew excited at the group of journalists – donned in their suits – sitting behind us and talking about their day.

Taking my eyes away from the articles that documented the newest buildings in Chicago, I turned back and glanced at these professional reporters in awe. This is what Bri, Adam and Manda have must have been felt when they were in the presence of top Primerica executives, or how a group of Spokane Indians fielders must have felt when they learned they were sharing the field with some outfielders from the Chicago Cubs.

Besides the professional reporters, there was a group of college journalists, who were attending the same Associated Collegiate Press convention as us, were sitting at a table near the jukebox. We learned this as Kurto selected a couple of Michael Jackson’s songs. As Jackson’s “Billy Jean” filled the air, our table once again busted out in song, much to the amusement of our fellow convention attendants.

After Kurto’s songs were done, the other group picked their own music. As a soothing “When the moon fills the summer house” played from the speaker, Kurto’s eyes lit out as he shouted “The 5th Dimension, this is my jam!”

Just as the band was letting us know that it was the “Age of Aquarius,” Kurto began doing this dance that I can only describe as a combination of belly dancing and crotch thrusting. It was a dance that will forever be burned into my memory. It was a dance that had the rest of us laughing our asses off.

The dance was cut short as Kurto grabbed his coat and said, “I gotta go, there’s no way than to end on that.”

The rest of us grabbed our jackets and followed our friend out of the door, Once we were out of Billy Goat’s Gruff, we once again erupted in laughter before going back in the direction of Lizzie’s. Our second stay was not exciting as our first, though Freese and I shared with each other our past fanfictions.

After one last Kilkenny, I followed my friends back to the hotel and began planning how I would prevent the morning’s hangover.

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The Chicago Way Part I

I recently looked back on my trip to Chicago back in November 2012. Here are a couple of posts that detail one of the nights I spent with my coworkers. This is Part 1

As my roommates attend a conference in Atlanta and I am days away from graduating college, my mind goes back to the trip I took to Chicago back in the fall of 2012. I will make this into two parts.

It was on the evening of Nov. 2, on the third night of would be my final Associated Collegiate Press conference. While this was a time to drink in all of the information provided to us by experts in the field of journalism – not to mention all of the swearing and nudity that was in the King Koretzky’s presentation – it was also a time where I got to know hang out with my coworkers on outside of the news room. On one particular night a bunch of us decided to visit Lizzie McNeill’s Irish Pub, which was in stumbling distance to our hotel.

Evan, Libs, Dr. Meyer, Freeze and myself walked in the door, the regulars were all huddled at the bar. I immediately took to the green t-shirts and the giant Irish flag that adorned the walls while my companions quickly took a seat. I was home.

The red haired waitress came over and in her thick Scottish accent, asked our drink order. I glanced at the beer menu, unsure of what to order, though I had to make my decision quick or else I would look like an amateur drinker in front of the waitress, though that opportunity would come later. I decided to order a red ale, though it was joined by a shot of Jameson whiskey. My second beer was a Kilkenny, a cream ale that I immediately I loved, all most as much as the waitress.

Kurto and Xopher later joined us and ordered their first drink. As the basketball game went into halftime and the speakers in the bar played Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality,” which is the theme song to Chicago native pro wrestler C.M. Punk, Kurto and Freese wondered if they could watch the Seattle Sounders game, to which I said I could get the waitress to come change it. After three beers, my confidence was at a high, kind of like that mouse who sipped the left over wine out of someone’s glass and then began looking around the corner, asking “where is that damn cat?”

As the waitress came over, everyone was quiet until Dr. Meyer pointed to me and said “he wants to ask you something.”  And like the mouse who finally saw the cat, I stumbled over my words for a moment until Freese asked if she could change turn the game on.

For a moment I was glad Freese made the save because if I would have been able to spit out a complete sentence, it probably would have been along the lines of “marry me.” instead of actually asking about the soccer game.

While we began to get into the game, Dr. Meyer made a calm exit. Meanwhile I was slowly turning into a Sounders fan and to celebrate my christening of watching my first professional soccer game, all of us joined in a singalong of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Hold My Hand.”

Unfortunately, the Sounders would end up tieing or losing the game – my brain has trouble remembering – which upset Kurto.  To remedy this, we would leave Lizzie’s and a take a trip into the city, though it would not be the last time we would be in the pub.

Spokane mayor focuses on sister cities

David Condon, mayor of Spokane, has several goals he would like to accomplish before his time in office is over. One of them is to visit the different sister cities of Spokane sister cities that are in Europe and Asia.

In a press conference held June 6, Condon discussed several items, including  how he has been keeping in contact with people from the sister cities.

Condon is set to meet with professors from China to look at Spokane’s universities and community colleges. According to Condon, China does not have any sort of community college curriculum in their higher education.

“They have a huge medical hub, but when they went to the Riverpoint campus, it took their breath away,” Condon said.

Condon is not the only Spokane official who has had the chance to visit the sister cities. The mayor said the royal court from the Lilac Festival traveled to Jecheon, Korea. Representatives from the Sister Cities Association of Spokane have also visited the Korean city.

One project Spokane has undertaken in hopes of connecting with its sister city, is the Sister Cities Garden Project at Riverfront Park. According to the Spokane Sister Cities’ website the goals of the garden include raising awareness in the global community, uniting the cultures of Spokane and its sister cities and creating an outdoor setting for international guests.

Another thing Condon wants encourage local businesses to appreciate the international people who come to visit Spokane and give them a culturally diverse experience that is different than what they get if they visited a small town.

“They don’t want suburbia, they want an intercultural experience,” Condon said.

In addition to meeting with officials from China, Condon will be traveling to Limerick, Ireland, June 11.

Sidebar: Spokane Sister Cities (source Spokanesistercities.org.)

Nishinomiya, Japan

Jilin City, China

Limerick, Ireland

Jecheon, Korea

Note: This was an assignment for Stimson’s Advanced Reporting class and one I wasn’t looking forward to when we first started it. It was cool getting to meet the Mayor and have a discussion with him about Spokane and its sister cities. Of course, this was four years ago and many other interesting things have happened in Spokane since then.

Disaster leads to Greek hospitality

Advanced News Writing/Reporting
Disaster leads to Greek hospitality
by Al Stover
Kaylie Phan and her two sisters had lost their way.Phan and her older siblings had been vacationing in Greece over the summer. While they were visiting Milos, an island in the Aegean Sea, they noticed they were separated from their tour group and traveled to an unfamiliar part of the island.As they were about to panic, they were approached by an older woman with droopy and tired eyes, wearing a thick dress over another. The woman  took them back to a large rock near the beach where they met up with some of the group.For Phan, who had traveled is various places in North America and Asia, the woman’s kindness showed Phan the well-known hospitality of the Greek people. Prior to receiving help from the woman, Phan had the impression that Greeks, like most people in other countries, regard American tourists as annoyances.

The Greek’s concept of hospitality and generosity to travelers, or xenia at is it known in the native tongue, has been a custom among the ancient times when an elderly couple welcomed the gods Zeus and Hermes into their home and were rewarded by the deities for their kindness.

Although the sisters were not Greek goddesses, they got to experience the hospitality and how welcome they were in the country, despite being from a faraway land.

Another moment when the sisters received the warm generosity of Greece was when they were having dinner and could not find their way back to their hotel. Two Greek women took it upon themselves to help the sisters.

“They literally walk you back,” Phan said. “They don’t just tell you ‘take a left, take a right.’ They took us back. I thought that was pretty great.”

In addition to receiving the help from the locals, Phan and her sisters actually began to experience more of the culture and an open and friendly vibe from the people when they were separated from the tour group.

[When you’re on a tour group] you’re surrounded by all of these people from different places,” Phan said,” But when you’re alone and lost that’s when people start to lend a hand.”

An aspect of the Greek’s openness that Phan experienced when she was not in danger was men of different ages wearing speedos, walking around the beach.

“I think I saw enough men in speedos for the rest of my life,” Phan said.