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On Saturday, Dec. 19, the band UK Grief was walking past the legendary Fireside Bowl in Logan Square on its way to perform at a party celebrating the start of winter. We saw a skinny dude with tight pants, an over-sized winter cap and a goldfish-shaped birthmark under his right eye outside enjoying a cigarette. Reclusive Chicago author Clive Javanski and keyboardist for UK Grief knew him and asked “what the fuck he was doing there” since it was no longer the punk venue it once was.

Clive was regaling the smoker about the time he was saw Shellac at Fireside where he passed out in the bathroom and “broke my ass.”

A tall blonde girl with red streak in her hair and large black glasses walked outside and asked me if I had a light. I did. I don’t usually smoke, but I always keep a lighter on me for when tall blonde girls with large black glasses ask me for a light. I really liked her plaid holiday skirt and black tights and I’m sure she had smoker’s breath but I wanted to find out by kissing her. She said her name was Cortenya and insisted myself and the rest of the band (Aidan and Sasha) and join her for a quick drink at Bob Inn, a dive bar across the street.

Most dive bars have a name that give it away that it’s a dive bar. At Bob Inn you could cozy up to the longtime regulars who remember what it’s like to use a rotary phone or play pool with the cute DePaul grad student showing off her new pixie cut while kicking your ass in pool.

The bar reminded me of a place my dad took me too on Christmas when I was a kid. While he was upstairs changing into Santa Claus he fell through the ceiling right on the bar. Fortunately he landed near the taps and quickly poured himself a Guinness.

It’s one of my favorite holiday memories ever.

Cortenya and I took a seat at a little booth chair by the wall facing the bar, while across from us Aidan was already hitting up a 50-plus excitable woman with spiky white hair to smoke pot outside.

“I haven’t smoked that shit in 25 years and I’m not about to start again now,” she said.

After a few beers Cortenya pulled a mistletoe out of her handbag and put it over us and asked for a kiss. She then joined us at the gig, which was in a 3-story home owned by “Teddy O” – a Japanese transplant who owned a fashion store in Wicker Park and said he was UK Grief’s biggest fan. The basement of what was once a 3-flat apartment building had been transported into an underground club.

We played a few holiday and wintry tunes. Two visiting German girls joined us for a cover of Perry Como’s “Christmas Dream.” We also did a shitty cover of Say Hi’s “November Was White, December Was Grey” – one of my favorite songs. The highlight of the set was a cover of Material Issue’s “Merry Christmas Will Do.” Second was our take on James Brown’s “Let’s Make Christmas Mean Something This Year.”

After the set I searched for Corteyna. I wanted her to pull out the mistletoe again. And she did, only it was over her and Teddy O’s head as they kissed in the kitchen.

“Fuck me,” I said.

Sasha joined me. She pulled out a little bag of marijuana and held it over our heads. We kissed.

Happy Winter to all!

 

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