Saturday, April 24, 2010

Surfing the Bleed On Vacation - Boston - Day 2


Day two began with a wonderful room service breakfast. Now, don't get me wrong, we're certainly not the kind of people to indulge in room service but my mom had us sign up for some special Kimpton package which gives us a daily $30 room service credit. If you've got it, flaunt it. Right? Once energized by a great breakfast in bed, we went on the search for comics and various other forms of entertainment.

After a quick train ride, Agnes and I found ourselves on the search for Comicopia, the comic shop recommended to us by Ming and her sometimes collaborator, Kevin Church. Kevin and I don't really know each other (outside the occasional Twitter conversation) but when it comes to comics in Boston, I trust his opinion implicitly. Unfortunately for us both, Agnes and I are both early risers. Boston, dear readers, is not an early riser city. We made it to the comic shop at around 10 in the A.M. only to find it still closed. No worries though, as it was just down the street and around the corner from the awe-inspiring site that is Fenway Park.

At this point I have to mention that my wife was a real trooper yesterday. As you'll soon realize, Day 2 of our trip was a very Brett-centric day. She handled it gracefully.

So yeah, Fenway was amazing. We walked around the exterior, Agnes taking pictures and me alternating between the tactile experience of dragging my fingers along the bricks and prancing around like a giddy schoolboy. Which, to be fair, is what I'd been reduced to. Just seeing Fenway, much less being inside it, is a lifelong dream. Those moments when dreams are realized are always very, very special. Understatement of the year, right? More on Fenway tomorrow though, as my father and I will actually be inside baseball's most famous ballpark tonight.

We killed enough time around the stadium for the comic shop to open up. While Comicopia is in a bit of a cramped space, the owner has done his best to get as much out of that space as he can, with cleverly arranged racks leading from the kids titles in the front (where they should ALWAYS be) to the weekly new releases and adult comics in the back. Comicopia looks, smells and feels like a local comic shop should, complete with a wide selection from each genre of comics and a very friendly staff. Now, I can't walk into a good comic shop without shelling out some of my money. I had to restrain myself as we're on a pretty tight budget this trip, but I did make a couple of purchases. Based on good reviews I've read and the staff recommendation, I purchased volume one of The Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Willson, III. I also picked up Kevin Church and Benjamin Birdie's The Rack, a collection of the first year of Kevin and Benjamin's hilarious webcomic about the lives of a group of comic shop employees. I've only read bits and pieces of The Rack online so I'm really looking forward to diving into this headfirst on the plane ride back to Nashville.

After the comic shop we stopped in the John Fluevog shop so I could purchase a new pair of nice, awesome, protect-against-Satan shoes. Typically, when I go on a trip, I pack a good pair of boots and a ratty pair of sneakers. This time I forgot the boots and, surprisingly vain as I am, felt the need to purchase a nice pair of shoes for wearing to any potential nice dining experiences. But let's be honest, it was really just an excuse to get some new Fluevogs. I love those shoes!

More interesting than the shoes I purchased was the person I met at the Fluevog store. One of the employees was a charming and energetic young girl who makes her own webcomic over here. We talked comics, exchanged information and tentatively set up an interview for sometime in the future. And isn't that awesome? Comics is such a universal language. I can't go anywhere in this country without meeting someone that loves comics and/or makes comics.

After the shopping trip we came back to the hotel, grabbed my folks, had a couple beers (so it begins) and headed down to the harbor for a seafood lunch at The Barking Crab. The meal had its highs and lows, but overall the experience was good and the service was excellent, an aspect of Boston I've been pleasantly surprised with. We've had fantastic service everywhere we've been so far. Two things of note happened at The Barking Crab. One, I consumed lobster for the first time ever. I enjoyed the lobster and was genuinely surprised and delighted that there was a different texture and flavor to every area of the beast, but ultimately I wasn't blown away by it. I understand why people like it, but after reflecting upon the meal, I'm not quite sure why it's considered such a delicacy. Good, but not great. The second thing worth noting about this meal was the beer brewed by the Harpoon Brewery exclusively for this restaurant. The Barking Crab White Ale is an unfiltered wheat beer that starts smooth and finishes crisp and fruity. It was one of the most refreshing and enjoyable beers this snob has ever had and was the perfect compliment to the seafood we were all consuming. Seriously, I thought it was so good that I made everyone at the table try it and then subjected them to fifteen extra minutes of table time after the meal just so I could consume a second. Like I said, a very Brett-centric day.

After the late lunch, Agnes and I made our way out to our friend Jeff Artiaco's old stomping grounds in the Allston area. Agnes grabbed some ice cream at a cafe Jeff used to frequent that was right across the street from the liquor store where he used to work.

The staff, much to my delight, had Double Nickels On the Dime by the Minutemen playing on the stereo.

After ice cream we landed at Jeff's favorite dive bar, the Silhouette Lounge.

Bud Lights were consumed (only by me), jukebox tunes were enjoyed and two heated games of Cricket (the dart kind, not the kind with knickers and weird bats) were completed. I won both, but I'm proud to say that Agnes more than held her own with me (I'm pretty good) and brought it down to the bullseye both games.

At that point I was pretty lit and decided that I needed food, so we went to the burger joint Jeff had suggested, a place called Our House West. Our House has a bit of an identity crisis. One part divey diner, one part upscale lounge, one part coffee house and one part sports bar, I would have felt a lot more comfortable with it had they just picked a theme and ran with it. But we weren't there for the ambiance, we were there for the food. And to a lesser extent, the beer. I was pretty much done at that point, but I wanted a beer to go with my burger. So I ordered a Naragansett Beer, the local cheap beer of choice. Considering myself something of a cheap beer connoisseur I decided I couldn't leave Boston without trying one of these beers. Well, I can say that I tried it and that, with the exception of the awful Genesee Cream Ale, it is the worst beer I've ever had in my life.

Luckily the burger was exceptional. I ordered what they called the Canadian, a thick, juicy burger, cooked to order and topped with a thick slice of cheese and a few slices of Canadian bacon. They even served it with romaine lettuce (not the typical iceberg that you get with most burgers) so I did something I've never done in my whole life; I ate something other than just mustard and cheese on that burger. That's right mom and dad, I put that romaine lettuce on that burger.

And it was awesome! I know that this sounds ridiculous, but if you knew how picky an eater I'd been growing up, and what great strides I've made as an adult, you'd understand. Putting anything other than mustard on a burger is a big step forward for me. The lettuce, man, it added this really rustic, earthy texture and flavor to the burger that accentuated the already stellar taste. Maybe I was just drunk, but I think it was one of the best burgers I've ever had.

After the burger and a long train ride back, Agnes and I collapsed into bed and fell into a deep and satisfying sleep.


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