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JOHN BALL ZOO


NICOLE BAJEMA TENDS BAR AT HOLIDAY BAR


HANGING OUT ON… THE WEST SIDE


Look west across the Grand River. That blasted patch of crumbling asphalt, broken promises and yellowish haze supports a primitive cul- ture that worships the twin gods of Jager and Rumple Minze. This ain’t your grandpa’s post- apocalyptic nightmare. It’s the Beirut of West Michigan. I began my visit by putting on a leather thong, leather pants, leather shirt and leather do-rag, stuck a Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife between my teeth, taped an Adderall to my forehead, jumped in my ‘84 Monte Carlo SS and headed to the West Side.


Welcome to the thunderdome, my pets. 16 | REVUEWM.COM | FEBRUARY 2011


Arsulowicz Brothers built their mortuary there. It has been on 5th Street for only 60 years. The next generation of the extended Arsulowicz family has taken over and brought the bar up to date. They added hi-top tables, two new pool tables, nine HD TVs and a coat of paint. But they still have the classic 40-foot horseshoe bar. The Open Mic is hoppin’ on Tuesdays and there’s Gong Show Karaoke on Wednesdays with $4 Jager Bombs. Just make sure you try the Holiday Shot — Bailey’s and Rumple Minze. It’s a holiday every day at the Holiday Bar.


O


ur trip of harrowing torment begins at THE HOLIDAY BAR (801 5th St. NW). It’s one of the oldest businesses in Grand Rapids. Great grandfather opened the Ideal Tavern 105 years ago on Stocking Avenue. The bar had to move when the


family,” said Stephanie the bartender. And it’s a charming crew. The Unabomber sat down next to this reporter and flashed his tooth at me. They have Busch on tap and when I asked about signature cocktails, Stephanie just shook her mahogany locks winsomely. There are four TVs and a pool table, which is better than you have at your trailer, loser.


by Steven Geoffrey de Polo


stevendepolo@revuewm.com


I stopped in front of the Dirty Bird and set the Monte Carlo on fire. Dirty Bird is what they call the FLAMINGO LOUNGE (930 Bridge St. NW). This charming little spot is just what you’d expect. Dark. Musty. Stone cold stares. You might hear, “Jager will knock your dick in the sand.” Good thing the beer is cold and cheap. The bartender, Sue, has Farah Fawcett hair and cleavage down to her navel that would make Ice-T blush. She’ll pour you a tall Bud and slide a bowl of homemade chili in front of your pie hole. Don’t miss karaoke on Friday nights, either.


Beer is the star at the MERCURY BAR (759 Fourth St.). The cozy spot is open at night, has a walk-up service window and a deck. Mercury has a dozen Michigan beers on tap like Founders’ Backwoods Bastard and Short’s Soft Parade. There’s also a blackboard full of naughty shots that put the cock in tail. They have the Lindsay Lohan (Redheaded Slut with a Shot of Coke), Mercury Wings (Rumple Minze, Sambuca and shot of espresso) and the Furry Murkin (Frangelico, Grand Marnier and splash of soda). Writing this makes my liver ache. The Mercury shares staff and a menu with MONARCHS CLUB (646 Stocking Ave.). Monarchs has lots of Old World ambiance and $10 bottles of wine. Hungry? Let Tracy set you up with a steamy Italian Beef Combo. Poppa Steve had one with a snifter of Bell’s 10000 Batch Ale. He felt like a king.


I had a hankering for a dive bar so I hightailed it to the TRIANGLE BAR (1200 Walker Ave.). What this cinderblock box lacks in charm it makes up by facilitating alcohol into your bloodstream with alacrity. “The clientele is like a


I walked out and punched a marketing executive in the face and took his Harley. The geriatric scooter was low and smooth like a Depends. I wanted to balance all of that alco- hol with some protein from LEWANDOSKI’S MARKET (1107 Walker Ave. NW). The market was established in 1948 and Victor Hill bought it from the family 26 years ago. He only buys USDA Choice Beef from Fillmore Beef Co. in Holland. He gets whole sides of beef and can do special cuts. But Lewandowski’s is known for its kielbasa, which is made with coarsely ground choice cuts of pork and just enough fat for flavor, spices, and fresh garlic. They can make 3,000 pounds in a day and they sell 15,000 pounds for Easter. Christmas is only 10,000 pounds. The ladies behind the counter plied Poppa Steve with slices of German Wieners and spicy Hot Sticks. It was love at first bite.


I wanted to see where all that yummy meat comes from so I rode over to the JOHN BALL ZOO (1300 W. Fulton St.). The zoo is an easy half-day excursion for families with its manageable size and affordable ticket prices. Kids can feed birds, pet wallabies, fly through the air on a 400-foot zip


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