Issue February 25, 2014

Bar Belle: Fourth grade firing squad

Last week my entire livelihood was questioned by a large group of inquisitive fourth graders. I was asked to stop by Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary on “Career Day” last Friday to talk about what I do at this here paper. I gave my little spiel about being editor, assigning stories, looking for misspelled words, working with freelancers, making sure those freelancers turn in their homework on time, writing, interviewing and everything else we do to make LEO the best paper the city has to offer.

I held up the five most recent issues like I was at Show & Tell and just dabbled in journalism in my spare time. I was prepared for the wonderment and awe-inspired gasps that were about to be hurled my way. First question from the shy girl in the back: “Have you ever got to meet Beyonce?” Second question from the eager young man up front: “Have you ever interviewed the president?” I was caught off-guard. My boastful confidence shattered all over the floor as I searched my mind for someone famous they might know who I’ve interviewed. “Are you familiar with Joan Rivers?” I nervously mumbled. “Kathy Griffin?” “I met Debbie Gibson — she’s kinda like Beyonce but blonde … ask your parents.”

My most proud accomplishments had been cast aside like a green Skittle. I felt bullied and insignificant. I wanted my mom. And then the boy with the round glasses decided to speak up: “So, basically, you have other people write your stories, and you just have to make sure everything is spelled OK and look for pictures? That sounds pretty easy to me.”

“Well, eh, um, yeah,” I uttered. And then I spoke in metaphor about juggling lots of balls, and having to write, too, and that my life is hard, dammit! And journalism is tough, and that they should always pick up newspapers and not rely on the Internet for news. I think I got through to them.

When I left, I was a wreck. I was sweating, panting and questioning my entire existence. And then I took a deep breath and remembered that happy hour was just 30 minutes away. I do work hard at my job, and it can be quite stressful some days. But perhaps I should start looking at life from a fourth grader’s perspective and just chill out. I’m not saving babies or building bridges. I’m putting out a product that tells stories — stories of our neighbors, stories of our politicians, stories of triumphs over inequalities. As long as people want to read these stories and pick up LEO, we will continue to provide entertainment, news and commentary. Now can someone get me Beyonce?

Bloody beer juleps
Of course I couldn’t brag to the kids about being the Bar Belle (“I write about drinking … Kool-Aid”), but it does gets me access to some pretty sweet gigs in town on occasion. Three of those occasions just so happened to take place within the last few weeks, and here’s a recap.

LEO’s first ever Bloody Mary Battle took place Feb. 16, and I was one of the judges who helped determine which participating establishment had the best bloody breakfast drink in town. We decided it was: 1) Village Anchor, 2) Boombozz Taphouse and 3) Loui Loui’s. The people also voted and chose: 1) Outlook Inn, 2) Boombozz Taphouse and 3) Village Anchor.

Next up was the Four Roses Mint Julep contest on Feb. 20, where I was also a judge — and a happy one at that (the julep is one of my favorites). We sampled five variations on the Derbytime cocktail and gave the gold medal to Jason Stark of Martini Italian Bistro, silver to Michael Anderson of the Monkey Wrench and bronze to Isaac Fox of Volare Italian Ristorante. The people also got to vote and chose: 1) Jason Stark of Martini, 2) Karla Ramsey of Troll Pub and 3) Isaac Fox of Volare.

Finally, tapping out my week was the Tailspin Ale Fest on Feb. 22 where I was not a judge but just a happy participant, shuffling from station to station trying beers from all over the country. From stouts and porters to pale ales and IPAs, I became a human dump bucket, and it made me hoppy and incessantly giggly. It’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it.

Drunk Texts of the Week
• I never agreed to anal beads!
• I smell like roast beast
• You have this huge piece of bullshit in your underwear
• Im not drunk, Im dodging pot holes

Send your drunk texts to shavens@leoweekly.com. My blog is at barbelle.leoweekly.com. Word.