At the Anchor Bar

Packed into its nine large tables and underneath several antique stores worth of trinkets, the Sunday afternoon lunch rush begins at the Anchor Bar in Superior, Wisconsin. The crowd is a mix of hungover college students who just got out of bed, and families who just got out of church.

They all come for the food. The Anchor Bar's menu is a simple one; it consists entirely of burgers. (Technically you can order a grilled cheese if you're a vegetarian, but no one ever does that.) The variety of burgers available is impressive however. There are 15 different 1/3 pound creations to choose from, with options ranging from the bizarre: the Cashew Burger (topped with cashews and mozzarella cheese) and the Hawaiian Burger (topped with a slice of grilled pineapple and mozzarella) to your more standard cheeseburger and bacon cheeseburger. They're cooked on the same grill that the bar has used since it's founding in 1977.

“The grill is magic,” said Tom, one of the cooks. “I just flip 'em and dress 'em.”

And these burgers are cheap. Every regular-sized burger is priced between $3-4. The one pound monster burger called the Gallybuster goes for $5.25. Fries can be added for a buck, which everyone does because they are ridiculously good. They are made by placing a potato in a contraption that looks similar to a can crusher. The contraption slices the potatoes into french fry shapes, and into the deep fryer they go. As the menu puts it, 'They were potatoes a minute ago.' The drinks are cheap too. A 34 oz. mug of Leinenkugels or Grain Belt can be had for $2.75. Pitchers of beer are $4.50, $2.50 after 10 pm.

The after-church crowd casually converses, with the discussion frequently drifting upwards toward the mesmerizing collection of knickknacks mounted on the walls and ceiling of the dim, cramped bar. Collected over the years through auctions, rummage sales and sometimes the generosity of its patrons, the Anchor Bar has developed a definite maritime theme: maps, globes, life preservers, (including one from the infamous Edmund Fitzgerald) ropes, pulleys, and hooks, paddles, dozens of framed pictures of the gigantic ships that populate the Duluth/Superior harbor in the summertime, etc. But if you look hard enough there is some weird stuff to be found: A ventriloquist dummy, a rocking horse, three old dentist chairs that surround one table, mannequin heads, a prosthetic leg and foot, a book containing a complete list of new Wisconsin statutes and ordinances enacted for 1917, the list goes on.

A table of grandparents with their grandchildren becomes enamored with the gigantic blue plastic sailfish that is roped in directly above their table, until their food arrives. The baskets of burgers and fries are carried out by the only cook on duty, a pear-shaped old lady with short purple hair. 'Here she comes, Ms. Superior...' a UMD student jokingly sings at a nearby table to the tune of the Ms. America jingle.

His friend offers a meek laugh, still reeling from an unpleasant encounter with one of the waiters. The friend had asked the waiter 'what beers they had,' to which the clearly aggravated waiter replied 'Christ, do you really want me to name all of them?' Which he then sarcastically attempted to do, rattling off 15 or so different names until finally the student, obviously newly legal, settled on a bottle of Bud Light. The Anchor Bar is not renowned for its customer service.

Another member of the hungover college kid table returns from the bathroom having discovered another piece of the bar's charm. The bathroom's ceiling is covered in graffiti. There's the offensive, (Mike B is a CUNT) the religious, (Jesus is love) and a whole lot of unintelligible ramblings that seem to be typical to bathroom etchings. And a lot of them are etchings, literally carved into the ceiling.

His tales of the bathroom literature are cut short by a cacophony of shrieking and stomping. A group of five people enter and head straight to the bar. There are four females, two dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, two dressed like they came straight from a nightclub. They are accompanied by a man who looks like a parody of a pimp: he's wearing a white Sean John tracksuit matched with impeccably white Nikes. Below his crispy gelled hair stylish glasses perch, tinted a light shade of brown, which matches his mulatto skin. A meticulously constructed, pencil-thin beard hugs his jaw line and he is wearing a gold chain and several rings.

At two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon their intentions are clear: They came to drink. After taking an Anchor Bomb (two maraschino cherries soaked in a shot glass full of 151 rum - available for only a buck!) at the bar, they find a table and continue ordering drinks while one of them shows the group how to tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue. Their conversation is much more interesting than the grandchildren's sailfish fascination, or the college kid's rehashing of weekend shenanigans. Although they speak in loud, quick bursts, which renders most of their discourse indecipherable, it's clear that it is a vulgar, sexually charged discussion. Needless to say, the raucous crew accelerated the exodus following the lunch rush; the Anchor Bar cleared out quickly.


The combination of delicious food, cheap booze, its thousands of trinkets and quintessential Wisconsin atmosphere has brought the Anchor regional fame. One bartender, Rachel, recalled a time when she was in Minneapolis on a flight bound for Las Vegas. While making smalltalk with the man seated next to her, she mentioned she hailed from Superior. The man, a resident of St. Cloud, immediately exclaimed “Oh, have you ever been to the Anchor Bar?” Shortly after telling that story, a man who had just finished his meal walked up to the bar and asked Rachel he could have a card, a menu or pen, anything with 'Anchor Bar' written on it so he could document his stay at the iconic tavern.1

But the Anchor will never be bastardized into a tourist trap.

“We're not trying to get rich off it, and I think that is a big part of it's success,” said owner Adam Anderson. “It's ridiculous to pay more than five bucks for a burger.”

On Friday night the Anchor Bar is packed. The college kids are back, putting work into their impending hangovers. A group of regulars is entrenched at the end of the bar, 20 cigarettes deep into a 70-cigarette night. A statewide smoking ban is going into effect on July 5, so they enjoy indoor smoking while they still can. The air remains relatively clear due to the bar's two Smoke Eaters, which are barely noticed amongst the tangled thicket of antiques growing from the ceiling. There are plans to build a smoker's patio out back this summer. With the exception of one table at the far end of the restaurant, families and the elderly are absent. A steadily growing group of people anxiously lingers by the entrance, waiting for a table to open up.

The jukebox blares over the loud crowd. Linkin Park, Beck, Meatloaf, 3-6 Mafia, Journey, Tim McGraw – there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the music selection. Any top 40 hit in the last 40 years can and will be played, and only the college kids seem to mind, or notice.

There are two working televisions at the Anchor Bar, both located behind the bar.2 A Lifetime movie plays on one of the TVs. Some watch impassively, others ignore it completely. No one asks to change the channel, although, as some college kids note, both the Bucks and the Timberwolves are currently playing. The other TV is tuned to Animal Planet. Nobody pays any attention to the giant wildebeast being devoured by crocodiles.

Perhaps this is due to the giant Gallybuster being devoured by an obese Packers fan at a table across from the bar. A few onlookers express a mixture of awe and disgust as the tower of three 1/3 pound patties topped with American cheese and fried onions overpowers its two flimsy buns. It quickly devolves into a sloppy mess of ketchup-covered ground beef chunks, interspersed with bits of disintegrating bread. A fork will be needed to complete this meal.3

In one of the more perplexing displays of wasted money, three people sit at the bar's slot machines. These are not you typical casino slot machines however, in that they don't pay out any money. They take money, people press some buttons, lights flash and electronic wheels spin, then the machines ask for more money. This group of people engages in this expensive, pointless routine for 45 minutes before moving on to pool.

One of the waiters, understandably stressed due to the large crowd, argues with a middle-aged patron. This argument, which seems to happen fairly often, is over the Anchor Bar's 'no plastic' policy. Only cash and local checks are accepted here. There is an ATM near the entrance, but it comes with a $2.50 surcharge. The patron, after voicing his displeasure with the policy, goes grumbling to the ATM. Next time he'll be sure to bring cash.


It's Tuesday night and business is slow. A family of six, a table of college kids, a table of tatooed 30-somethings, and a handful of old barflies is all there is. A CNN news show and NBC's 'The Biggest Loser' flicker muted on the televisions. Ms. Superior is back at work in the kitchen, flipping burgers while chatting with a waitress.

The ceiling in the bathroom has been painted black, although some of the more vigorously etched statements remain visible. Two of the slot machines are out of order, although no one attempts to play the remaining working machines.

One of the barflies asks a college kid, who is sitting at the bar paying for his meal, (with cash of course) if it's supposed to rain tomorrow. The kid replies “Fuck if I know. I think the weatherman said it could but you know that [weathermen] don't know shit.” The barfly, taken aback by this vulgar response, quickly turns away. The kid, who overestimated the man's crustiness, sheepishly tips out the bartender and makes a quick exit.

“How's was your food?” the waitress asks one of the men at the bar.

“It's great, as always,” the man replies.

Of course it is. In the eclectic chaos that defines the Anchor Bar, the food reigns supreme.

1 A more nationally-known Anchor Bar is located in Buffalo, New York. That Anchor Bar is the birthplace of the Buffalo Wing, a staple of any Super Bowl party worth its salt.
2There's one other TV that stands unused near the entrance. According to the waitress you need a paper clip to turn it on and change the channel, because the remote is lost and the buttons fell off sometime during the last decade.
3On an average night the Anchor Bar goes through 120 lbs. of ground beef, 150 lbs. of potatoes, and 25 lbs. of bacon, all delivered fresh daily


Lecture in Labovitz

"Damn this is nice," I remarked to my friend as we traveled up the new, white stone staircase.
"Yeah that's because the business school alumni are the only people that make any money after they graduate," my friend retorted as we strode past the wall-mounted flat-screen monitors on our way into room 118 of the Labovitz School of Business and Economics.

We took our places towards the back of the lecture hall, sliding into our black computer chairs while simultaneously grabbing our laptops out of our backpacks.

The room was bustling with people performing the same procedure: Backpack on table, coat on back of chair, remove and stow iPod, settle into chair, remove laptop, start laptop, throw backpack under table, check text messages, make small-talk with neighbor, time permitting.

As a Poly Sci major, I found the number of laptops (and other miscellaneous electronics) in use during class surprising. 80-90% of the class had laptops open during lecture and pretty much all of those laptops were on Facebook.

The fashionably dressed brunette in front of me already had three facebook chat windows open, which she was rapidly typing in between checking her email and downloading and opening notes off of a class website. A true businesswoman.

Class started with a YouTube video on Business Ethics that played on two huge screens mounted above the blackboard. The identical screens each measured 6-8 feet in height and the video quality was surprisingly good.

After the video the professor attempted to start a discussion as most of the class returned to Facebook. My attention returned to the brunette's Facebook. In addition to her business-like multitasking skills she was a world class stalker, rifling through friends' (or enemys'?) pictures with an admirable speed and efficiency. Girls sure do like taking pictures of themselves. Her profile had over 1,500 picture tagged. Ridiculous. She now had four chat windows open. Her class notes were long gone.

Just for kicks I tried to search for her profile. No dice, although my feeble effort drew a chuckle and condescending head shake from my friend. I put away my laptop and resigned myself to a notebook and pen. Doodling would have to do for now.


Ron Artest is Batshit Insane

I know saying Ron Artest is crazy is like saying Mila Kunis is hot or Packers fans are fat, but I feel like most people don't really appreciate the depth of his lunacy.  A quick rundown of the craziest man in sports:

-Of course there's the infamous Pacers-Pistons Rumble at the Palace.  I would've given every cent to my name (aprox. 43 bucks, but still) to be at this fight.

    -Then there's the recent revelation that Artest used to enjoy a little Halftime Hennessy when he played with the Bulls.  In trying to clarify his claim of drinking during games, he somehow managed to reiterate his desire to box Ben Wallace after his career is over, which he first proclaimed in a 2005 Penthouse Magazine cover story.

    "I don't want to fight Ben Wallace in no street. I don't want to fight Ben Wallace on no basketball court. But after our careers are over, I will fight Ben Wallace in the boxing ring. But not out of hatred. But out of it would be a good boxing match. So don't look forward to me fighting Ben on a basketball court, because that's not going to happen."

     If that ever happens I got $100 on Big Ben. He is one bad lookin' dude.

    -That's not to say Artest doesn't look jacked as fuck.  How would I know?  Because he recently went on Jimmy Kimmel in his underwear.

      -And apparently he has a thing for walking around in his underwear. In a Bill Simmons column this July, it was revealed that before Game 7 of the Lakers-Rockets playoff series last year Artest
        ".. missed the first two team buses (the ones for players, coaches and team personnel) from Houston's hotel to the Staples Center and barely made the third and final bus, which was reserved for business staff, sponsors and friends of the team. These stunned people watched Artest sprint to the bus right before it left, jump on and take one of the remaining seats ... yes, wearing only his underwear. Owner Leslie Alexander happened to be sitting on the bus and witnessed the whole thing."
        -Earlier last season Artest revealed that he had seen a friend murdered via lead stake through the heart during a heated pickup basketball game.  I guess that may explain some of the insanity.

          -On a lighter note Artest is a HUGE Michael Jackson fan.  He's wearing #37 with the Lakers because that's how many weeks 'Thriller' spent topping the charts.  When MJ died Artest did what any grieving fan would do: He recorded a tribute song.

            -According to this fairly comprehensive timeline of Artest's troubles, he has been suspended nine times for a total of 99 games, (the brawl at Auburn Hills accounting for 86 of them) and been fined seven times for $97,500. (Not including lost salary)

              -Also in the timeline were anecdotes of him trying to get a job a Circuit City as a rookie in Chicago (for the employee discount, of course) asking for time off during the season to promote his rap album, and breaking two of Michael Jordan's ribs during a pickup game when MJ was attempting a comeback.

              -He's even crazy enough to be a member of PETA, despite the fact that
              "Dogs owned by Artest spent a total of 77 nights at the pound since July because of poor care by their owner, costing the NBA star $1,942 in boarding and impound fees, county records show."

               So there you have it.  Ron Artest is batshit insane.  I doubt we'll ever see anyone as crazy and successful in sports for a long time.


              2009-10 Minnesota Timberwolves Drinking Game

              A mutilated zombie of a roster stumbled from the wreckage created by David Kahn's dismantling of the McHale Travesty this off-season. LeBron may have 3 titles before Glen Taylor and company can trot out a watchable product at the Target Center.

              So what are NBA fans in Minnesota to do? Wait it out and hope Rambis can develop Flynn, Jefferson, Love and Brewer into a solid core? Give up and pick a new team to root for during the rebuilding years? Switch attention over to Tubby's up and coming squad at the Barn?

              Well for starters we can drink.

              Drink 1
              *When a foreign guy scores. This includes Oleksiy Pecherov, Sasha Pavlovik and Australian Gigantisaur Nathan Jawai.

              *When Corey Brewer or Johnny Flynn toss up an airball or turn the ball over. I saw Brewer airball a free throw earlier this season. I shit you not. If that happens again just go ahead and kill your beer, crush it on your forehead and throw it at the TV.

              *When Al Jefferson gets destroyed attempting to play post defense

              Drink 2

              *When an announcer mentions:
              -Kevin McHale
              -Kevin Garnett
              -Ricky Rubio
              -'Rebuilding process'

              *When Brian Cardinal scores.

              *When there is a promo pimping another team's players as a reason to come to the game. 'Come down to the Target Center next Friday to see David Lee and the Knicks.'

              Drink 5

              *If the Wolves are winning at the end of any quarter.
              *If the Wolves fall behind by 25 or more.

              Put your beer down and gimme your keys
              *If Minnesota goes up by 25 or more, because you're not reading the score correctly.

              Finish your beer and break out the whisky
              *When you remember
              -No free agents want to live in Minnesota in the winter, thus diluting the value of any cap space we may have.
              -Ricky Rubio will never don a Timberwolves uniform.
              -The rebuilding effort relies on David Kahn, who was out of basketball for 5 years prior to his hiring, and Kurt Rambis, who is known primarily for his sweet goggles/mustache combo and getting clotheslined by McHale (ironically) in the 1984 finals.

              Drink up my friends, its gonna be a long winter.


              Procrastination: A How-To Guide to Not Getting Shit Done

              Got a 10-page paper due tomorrow? Here's how to not get it done:

              Productive Procrastination
              I'll get started as soon as I clean my room, do my laundry, put a sizeable dent in the dishes and alphabetize all my dvds. Where did the mop go? It's about time someone did something about our kitchen floor.

              Hot chick from Psych just uploaded pictures from spring break in Cancun. Nice. I wonder if she RSVPed to Mike's Bday Bash this weekend? Haha, I gotta link that video of my roommate getting kicked in the nuts to his wall, he'll love it.

              Catch up with Friends and Family
              It's been a while since I heard from Mike. I wonder how he's doing?

              Pointless Computer Games
              I can't believe he beat my high score in Minesweeper. We'll see how long that lasts. Maybe throw in a quick game of Solitaire too. And Tetris. Oh man I haven't played Snood in forever!

              Take a Nap
              It must be really hard on my eyes to stare at this computer screen for so long. Sooooo sleeepppyy. Quick power nap to recharge the batteries, rest the eyes and then I'll hit the books full steam, 100%, ready to go, no excuses. (20 minutes later) Ugh, somehow I feel more tired now. And my eyes are still pretty sore. (hits snooze)

              Make Food
              Who knew that a four-hour nap could make a man so hungry? It's waffle time.

              Clean Up
              Holy crap that syrup comes out fast, I'm gonna need a shower before I go anywhere near my laptop. Maybe I'll shave too. Ugh, it's been a while since I've cut my toenails...

              Work Out
              I'm starting to become a fatty. Hot chick from Psych won't care how clean I look if I'm rocking two chins on Saturday. 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups should help work off the waffles.

              Watch a Movie
              Damn you TNT! Why must you play 'Air Force One' every time I have a paper due? I'll just stick around until Ford bellows 'Get off my plane!' It'd be a crime not to stick around for such an iconic moment in American cinema.

              Oh Glenn Close, you silver little minx. Don't judge me.

              “Nah dude I can't I gotta... damn that's skunky! Your buddy just brought this back from Cali? Well I'll take a taste. (coughs violently) ... I might need some more waffles.

              Procrastination Rationalization
              This paper is only worth 20% of my grade and the professor takes off 10% every day it's late. So if I turn it in a day late that's only 2% off of my overall grade. And I could give two craps about 2% of my grade. I'm going to bed.


              6-1. Damn.

              Well the luck was going to run out sometime. You can't catch every bounce all season long. I'll take this loss as long as we take care of business against the Packers next Sunday. Which I think we will.

              I hated the Favre signing because he's such a media-whore and everyone just wanted him to go away. Plus he's a 40 year-old QB coming off of surgery on his throwing arm, which looked like a horrible idea on paper, especially when you factor in the thousands of hits he's taken over his ridiculous 277 consecutive games started.

              Well we're nearly halfway through the season and as much as it pains me to say it, I have to admit having Favre under center has been an absolute joy. Somehow he still has juice left in his cannon. Somehow he's turned Sidney Rice into Jerry Rice. Somehow he manages to come up with big third down conversions on a consistent basis. Somehow he forgot how to throw backbreaking interceptions into triple coverage. Somehow the Vikings have competency and talent at quarterback.

              I will continue to wait for the other shoe to drop. I still believe Favre will not make it through the whole season without his arm falling off or his brain falling into a vicodin-induced coma. Call me a hater, I just got a gut feeling.

              On a happier note I can't say I've ever enjoyed watching a Minnesota athlete (or any athlete really) more than AP. Not KG. Not Santana. Not Liriano circa 2006. Not even St. Paul's own Baby Jesus. (copyright Dan Barreiro) My. God. He's the perfect combination of speed, power and attitude. I wouldn't change one thing about him. He's an absolute monster and I love him.

              Here's to Favre escaping both the wrath of the Lambeau rubes and the wrath Gods of Karma next week. Godspeed Favre, we need you.


              Things I Learned In College

              Hard alcohol is responsible for 90% of the embarrassing/regrettable things I've done
              -Vodka, Whiskey, Rum and especially Tequila can, and will, kick your ass. One minute you’re slightly tipsy, swapping stories and laughing, generally having a good time. 30 minutes and four shots later you’re in a screaming match with your best friend, drunkenly texting your ex-girlfriend and vomiting on your neighbor’s porch. I’ve seen it happen more times than I can remember. Liquor may be quicker but there’s a lot less to fear if you just stick to beer.

              Going to class and paying attention will seriously reduce the amount of time you spend studying
              -This one seems obvious but it’s so true I needed to include it. Professors will talk about what is going to be on tests in class, and listening is a lot easier than reading. (Unless your teacher is from Slovenia and has kindergartener’s grasp of English, in which case you’re screwed anyway.) Go to class, stay off Facebook, take occasional notes, (copying PowerPoint slides word-for-word does not constitute as taking notes and won’t help that much) and ask questions if you’re confused. Professors like students who act like they care and probably will be friendlier toward you when it comes to scoring the blue book. Following this template for success is harder than it sounds but it will cut down on your last-minute library time by at least 60%.

              Intramural sports are awesome
              -While you’re sitting in class paying attention it’s always nice to have something in the back of your mind to look forward to; maybe it’s the remnants of last night’s Dominos waiting in the fridge, maybe its tonight’s big intramural softball game against those douchebags two floors down, maybe it’s both. I’ve been on intramural teams that were ridiculously good, and teams that have been embarrassingly bad, and I had about the same amount of fun on each team. You make some friends, get a little exercise, and compete in your choice of the laundry list of sports UMD offers: Co-ed inner tube water polo, curling, bowling, ultimate frisbee, the list is pretty extensive. No matter your level of athleticism or competitiveness anyone can find a niche in the wonderful world of intramurals.

              Free food is awesome
              -In college I’ve devoured hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, sno-cones, cotton candy, egg rolls, cookies and many other deliciously free snacks on a regular basis. UMD is full of clubs and organizations that are always recruiting more members, and their most effective tool is the enticing lure of free food. “Oh yes, I am very interested in joining the International Yodeling Society. Is that pepperoni? Well let me grab three slices and we’ll talk.” Always keep an eye out for fliers around campus advertising free food, because every free slice of pizza you consume is one less meal you have to make (and pay for) yourself, or one less trip to the DC.

              Lying and being a jerk to cops will just bring you more trouble
              -Acting rude and openly contemptuous towards cops has never helped anyone. If they ask if you’ve been drinking and you’ve already played like 12 games of beer pong, don’t lie to them. They know. They dislike dealing with drunken college idiots just as much as you dislike dealing with hardheaded police. Treat them with respect and they will appreciate it, and probably go a lot easier on you. I lived in a crazy party house last year and we always made a point to cooperate with and be courteous to police and there wasn’t one minor handed out all year. Coincidence? Luck? I think not.

              Don't throw parties in your dorm room
              -Trust me; getting written up in the dorms is an infuriating, insanely expensive process. Every year there is a handful of ‘Night Advisors’ that are sadistic, sneaky, super-sleuths who will ruin your party and your night. If you’re gonna party, have a few pre-game drinks and get out before 11 o’clock. Or better yet, don’t drink at all in the dorms. Make a friend who lives in the apartments or off campus. Just don’t let those power-tripping nerds win.

              Duluth is a beautiful city
              -You chose to attend college in one of the coldest places on earth. What were you thinking? Before winter’s frigid grip of death closes in on the northland get out and enjoy all of the awesome places Duluth has to offer. Ely’s Peak, Hawk’s Ridge, Observation Rock, Enger Tower, Park Point, Chester Bowl and Gooseberry Falls are all amazing places that are within reasonable driving (or walking) distances. Go to Canal Park and watch a humongous ship pass under the lift bridge. Go for a stroll along the Lakewalk. The point is get out and do as many outdoor activities as you can before it’s so cold icicles form on your eyelashes while waiting for the bus. Duluth has no shortage of options.