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Des Moines, Iowa


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The Forgotten Post: Homecoming 2008

Geoff Wood

I wrote the following a couple weeks ago about an event several weeks before that - it's about time that I got around to posting it:

To tell the truth, the concept of “Homecoming” seems a bit old school and hokey to me in the context of modern society. However, for the past two years Homecoming weekend trips have been among my favorite trips back to Ames.

Last year, it was a beautiful weekend with an early game. I made the solo trip in the night before and hit up Campustown with Brad who was in from Kansas City. We had a good time but the best part of the weekend was the rare two-to-three hour postgame tailgate in ol’lot D1 north of Jack Trice Stadium. It was very chill; just an eclectic group of my fraternity brothers (some of which I hadn’t seen since graduation) sitting in bag chairs, alternating between discussions of memories of the old days and news of what life was currently bringing to all of us, and, of course, drinking canned beer until the coolers ran out.

This year, I made the solo trip again and this time met up with Hope and I’s perennial host in Ames, Austin (who was solo for the weekend himself) at Wallaby’s on Friday night. We stayed out late which, in our old age, directly translates to a late start on Saturday morning.

Austin is now the Chapter Advisory Board Chairman for our fraternity and he had responsibilities at the house so we headed that direction right away. We where were celebrating the Chapter’s 95th Anniversary and the ribbon-cutting on the summer remodel of the house. Brad arrived from Kansas City a couple hours later and we toured the remodel and watched the ceremony, all the while dodging falling blueboard from the lawn display. The house looks awesome and with the biggest pledge class in 10 years it looks like the Chapter is primed for great things. 

Next up was a chapter-sponsored tailgate in Tent Row where we had the chance to meet up with more old friends, both Phi Delts and others with an interest in the chapter.

As we approached game time, I received a call from Kerry and Renee that they had four tickets in the new Jack Trice Club section of the stadium and that two of them were ours if we wanted them. I’d never sat in the club section and was quite excited. I quickly found some friends who needed seats to take my usual tickets, grabbed Brad and we took off.

The new club section is quite impressive and a great way to watch a game. At least I think it’s great, I found that I had trouble concentrating on the game with all the distractions. The section is heated, which is great for a night game in late October, its brightly lit, it has its own video screens telecasting the scoreboard, it has free food (including Clone Cones), it’s own bar (yes, inside the stadium) and, thankfully,  it’s own bathrooms. I really like our usual seats, we’ve had the same ones since graduation, and I’ve always said that I have no desire to move. However, if I could afford I’d take the Jack Trice Club anytime.

Despite my insistence that Kerry and Renee stay in town for the evening, they left after the game and Brad and I made our way over to the new Alumni Center. They were having a reception for young alumni, of which I am apparently considered, so we did a quick tour, chatted with the folks we knew then made our way to Campustown. Along the way we did a quick and random walk through an SAE house party (don’t ask) before arriving at the bar formerly known as People’s. This was the second time that I had visited the current “Papa’s Corner” and the first time I had seen more than 5 people inside.  The place was crowded, they weren’t real prepared to handle it, and we left after a couple drinks.

We made it a block or so to a new (at least to me) pizza place that was crowded and looked like a good idea. We grabbed a few gigantic slices, sat down with some random students and asked them what they thought of the election (remember, this was October). We played along with what may have been the most ignorant conversation on the qualifications for office of then-Senator Obama to ever take place so close to an institute of higher education.  A few minutes later we ran into Jay and Pete, two fraternity brothers I hadn’t seen in sometime, and ended the evening hanging out with them as they took care of their own monster pizza.

All in all, it was quite a weekend. That’s two-for-two on great trips back for Homecoming; unfortunately, neither of them were due to the football being played.  Let’s hope that next year’s Homecoming is just as good and in the midst of a great football season, as well. 

I guess we'll win a game this year

Geoff Wood

I boldly predicted that the Cyclones would most likely go winless after watching the UNI debacle in person. I'm very happen to report that I was wrong. As you undoubtedlby, have heard, the Cyclones took the Hawkeyes and their 17.5 point favoritism down (and how!).

I'll write more on this later but I put our pictures up on picasa so I thought that I'd get them linked here.

Friday Night before the Big Game out at People's and Shorty's in Des Moines:

Game Day!:

My Own Private Hello Dave Show

Geoff Wood

Last weekend was the eagerly awaited Cystic Fibrosis benefit "Forrestor's Festiv-ale" featuring the music of Hello Dave.

There were eight of us (or eleven depending on your definition of "us") and none had ever been to the event in any of the prior years so we weren't sure what to expect. We knew that the tickets paid for food and drinks throughout the four hours and that the band would be there but that is about it.

We walked in and were each promptly handed a "tasting glass" which looked very similar to a double shot glass(1). The majority of the buzz was under a large tent were 40 some vendors had set up their wares. We started off with a marvel of modern food integration: samples of bacon cheeseburger's with a glazed donut for a bun. I think the full thing would have killed any one us but the samples were outstanding.

Over the next four hours we sampled many, many of Indy's(2) best foods and drinks (ranging from microbrews to domestics to imports). Highlights included Fort Wayne's Warbird Brewery and a somewhat girly lemonade-mixer (that I can't remember the name of) that each of the guys enjoyed. We tried countless others including the many Goose Island varieties, Heineken Light and a couple of brews by Trader Joe's. We even tried enough Miller Chill to know that even on firesale a case would not be a good idea (something I've feared ever since the Tequiza debacle at 509 Welch in the Summer of 1999). Other food hits included mini-carnitas burrito's from Chipotle (excellent) and wings from BW3's.

Speaking of Chipotle, the band was setup right behind them. Literally right behind them. There wasn't so much of a dance floor as the place the Chipotle guys were working and then Mike and the boys singing and playing. We snuck through the vendors and tried to re-create a mini-version of People's right here in Indy (and I think we did a pretty good job). We met a couple new friends - other Hoosier fans of Hello Dave and together we lamented the fact this probably wasn't the type of show the band was hoping for to make a surge into the City. The four of us sang along to every song (even the cover of Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane" with obvious local references) and our other friends filtered in and out as their interest waxed and waned. It pretty much turned into our own private show.

As the afternoon started to come to a close, we noticed that the combination of free drinks and "tasting glasses" made it hard to track our individual amounts of consumption. We paid a little for that later on but nonetheless it was a great time. Now if we could only get The Nadas to make a stop in Indy...

1. Extra wide not tall 2. Not necessarily "Indy's" since several were from restaurant chains

A Week in Downtown Des Moines

Geoff Wood

Last week was my regular trip back to our office in Iowa and, after talking with my friend Erin, decided to change things up a bit. Erin, who we met here in Indy, works for one of the mega-insurance companies based in Des Moines and we decided a couple months ago to try to coordinate a trip so that we could ride together and I could show her that Iowa is a fun place. Since her meetings are in Des Moines and she always stays downtown I planned to stay with Mr. Downtown(1) and just commute up to the office. When I called on Monday afternoon to let him know when I would be getting to town he told me that he was near death(2) and I could stay if need be but it would best if I found some place else. I scrambled a bit and was able to get my other downtown connection, my brother Joe and his wife Mary, on the phone and they said it was fine to crash at their loft in the Hubble Building. In fact, they were going to visit our folks for most of the week so I'd have the place to myself.

Downtown Des Moines had changed a lot recently so I was excited for the opportunity to visit the new venues and check things out. Through the course of the week we were able to do a couple return visits to local favorite "The High Life Lounge", a night at Tony Bohnenkamp's new East Village venue "The Grand Piano Bistro", dinner/Crappy Beer Night at Buzzard Billie's, a happy hour beer at the new "People's Bar and Grill"(3) and a walk through of a couple other bars including the new speakeasy-style secret bar "Shorty's".

The new People's is good and bad. I wasn't overly impressed when I walked in. New-People's is really two bars, "The Backstage Bar" is the normal everyday bar and the second bar is the big music venue(4). The former isn't very impressive or distinguished. It's quite simply "a bar". Considering my pre-conceived reservations, I was impressed to see a large sign saying something to the effect of "Welcome Cyclone Fans". However it was missing all the paraphenlia from Ames that made Peoples, well, Peoples. We chatted up the bartender and a manager that was familiar from Ames and found that they did plan to bring more of it down from Ames so maybe I'll change my opinion next time. The manager did take us into the music venue and I did like that - it was still lax on memorabilia but featured a couple familiar items (notably the bass drum with "People's" painted on the side(5)). We found out that the capacity of the music area alone is three times that of the old place in Ames. It will be interesting to see how that changes the acts that play the place. Most acts that followed the Iowa college circuit of Ames, Cedar Falls and Iowa City could draw enough to make the old place full but the sheer size of the new place will probably be difficult - not to mention Court Avenue is not walking distance from any college campus. Tom Z is obviously somewhat aware of this since he's already pulling in his Alive Concert Series connections to book bands that either used to be big and have dwindled or had a big hit or two once upon a time(6). The first of these was Sister Hazel who played last Friday night following an opening act of new original music by Tony Bohnenkamp.

Speaking of Tony, we actually visited his new place twice this week. Ben, Alisha and I spent Wednesday night there planning to see Pianopalooza. We ran into Tony soon after arriving and he told us that Jared was on vacation so Mike Butterworth of Nads' fame was sitting in - good deal. The show was a lot of fun, they alternated between cover songs and Nadas tunes and even played one of my favorite Tony-pened songs "Somewhere"(6) that was recorded as part of The Heroes experiment. Several of the songs that were played are favorites of mine that Tony doesn't like to play without Butterworth including the aforementioned "Somewhere" and Jackopierce cover "Vineyard". It was one of those fun shows that I used to get to regularly in Iowa but now only see on occasion when I'm back and the schedule works out.

The bar itself was nice. I'm not very familiar with the East Village but it's a hike from Court Avenue (and even further from where I was staying at the Hubbel Building). The building is old (Ben claims it's the oldest building east of the river in Des Moines) and is simplistically decorated in blue paint with pianos literally hanging on the wall. It's quite large and a little sparse with a big bar in the back, stage up front, and tables in between. We sat at the bar which was great for service but not so much for seeing the show. We were relegated to the bar when they told us that they reserved all tables for food until 10 PM even though the show started about 8:30 (next time I'll wait to eat there). The don't have any beers on tap but have a wide selection of bottles from around the world that are reasonably priced. I tried a few and settled on a Scottish beer, Belhaven, for $4 per. Not the cheapest place for drinks but not out of line, either.

My only real caution is to check out who is playing before you stop in. We met up with Kerry the next night and decided to make the hike back only to find the bar mostly empty. Kerry was high school friends with Tony's co-owner and wanted to say hello. Unfortunately when we got there she wasn't in (nor was anyone else). There were probably 20-30 people listening to a very loud jazz duo that was a big change from the night before. It's not a "bar band" venue so it will definitely draw a different crowd based on the specific act of the night so before going I'd encourage anyone to check the schedule. I'm looking forward to my next visit.

(1) Most of you call him "Ben". (2) He survived. (3) Really just "People's Bar" since the grill isn't going, yet. (4)This may or may not have a name. (5)I believe this sat off the stage on top of the bathroom's in Ames. (6) These bands can be quite fun, like when we saw Gin Blossoms at the Simon Estes Amphitheater a couple years ago. (6) My request.

More People Identified in the Nads' Video

Geoff Wood

I recieved the following e-mail from Dave this morning and I thought it worth posting:

"Just reading up on your blog about good night girl. In the very beginning, as the camera is moving through the line, that is Paisley leaning on the building, Rebecca is right next to him, and Huff in the large pink stripped shirt next to her. I am either right in front of huff or out back peeing on the building one last time. :)"

Excellent. I haven't heard from Dave in awhile. We were roomates back in Iowa but now only run into each other everyonce in awhile, like at the Iowa State/Toledo football game last fall: