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Monday, September 26, 2011

Bar #36: Jadran Liquors

3025 W. Irving Park Rd.
7:30pm, Wednesday, September 21
Price of Old Style: FREE
Price of Hennessy: FREE

Most people are afraid of something--heights, the dark, public speaking, calculus...  With me, it's spiders.  I hate em...make my wife kill them...  Other bugs, snakes...I'm totally cool with them, but not spiders.  People say if you want to conquer your fear you need to take it head on.  Well, I'm not going to jump into a tub with tarantulas, but I did end up conquering a different fear last week.  My fear of Jadran Liquors...

Jadran Liquors is this little bodega-looking place on Irving Park that I had been scouting out ever since I started The Project.  It looks like one of those sketchy corner stores that you can buy the essentials and not much else, and the two times I have scouted it out there have been older men hanging out, sitting in folding chairs, drinking bottles of strange liquor, yelling at each other.  Why would anyone want to go there?  If I lived next door, I'd rather drive 20 miles to a Wal-Mart than buy toilet paper from this place.

Anyway, my brother and I needed to get this done.  They have an Old Style sign out front so we had to go in...  We got to the corner across the street, and we see 8 gentlemen sitting down all looking at a guy standing up, speaking and pointing...he is very animated in whatever he is trying to get across.  What was going on here?  Was this a local CAPS meeting?  Was that guy an undercover cop finally busting the joint?

We were pretty nervous at this point, so we ended up walking one block away on the other side of the street, crossing the street at the light (Sacramento), and then walking back down towards Jadran.  When we were getting close, I turned to my brother and said, "I'm just gonna go in...".

"You are?"

"Well, you had better be right behind me...", I responded.  The whole time I have this picture of Biff Tannen in my head (What are you...Chicken?).

I walk in, everyone stops talking and this guy immediately grabs my arm... "$2 to enter the bar," he says with a menacing look and this death grip on my arm...  What the hell is going on?  Are we gonna leave this place alive?

Everyone else then starts laughing and I realize this crazy man is just joking...  They then ask us where we are from, and they don't mean what neighborhood...  "Um, well, we're American...uh, German, Scottish..."  They didn't care, but they did care to tell us where they were from..we met:

  • Joey, a Serbian who worked downtown and used to be on Blago's campaign team.
  • Some guy from Croatia who referred to Joey as "the enemy" and told us two of the most racist jokes I have ever heard.
  • A younger guy from South America who was talking about his time in the army and mentioned the term "friendly fire" a number of times.
  • Edgar, who was from Montenegro and the guy who greeted us at the door.  He paid for our Old Styles, and then asked if we wanted a shot...I wasn't going to say no.  Shot glasses?  Nope.  He just put a bottle of Hennessy up to our lips...still hoping I don't get mouth herpes.
We spent the next 15 minutes talking to Joey, who proceeded to tell us that the other guys playing cards at the table and not speaking English were also from the former Yugoslavia.  I didn't get around to ask him how the hell this place stays open, while looking at the rolls of TP on the shelf that had "99¢" written in ink on each individual roll.  We also saw Joey kill two cockroaches that scurried across the floor (I would have totally got that).  Disgusting.

Once 8:00pm hit, the old man sitting at the door who hasn't said a damn word starts motioning towards the door, saying something not in English.  Joey tells us that the place closes every night at 8, which is probably a good thing.  As we walk out, Edgar gives me a hard slap on the back and says, "Thanks for coming in, guys...", which I think was his way of saying, "Don't come back anytime soon..."

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