By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
We all pine for simpler days, like those in high school when our only real worries were what to wear, who was engaging in heavy petting with whom (or, better yet, actually doing the deed), who you were going to stuff in his locker that day, when you were going to sneak out of school to do absolutely nothing constructive, who the week's big game was against, who was going to buy booze for the party after the big game, and where you and your friends could clandestinely drink said booze and get out-of-control drunk so that there would be plenty of gossip on Monday.
We here at the Institute try to maintain this level of immaturity, with only a few concessions to what passes for adulthood. We don't care quite so much what we wear, but are constantly on the lookout for those of the opposite sex who do care and like to outfit themselves in provocative accoutrements. We still love to hear who is sleeping with whom, but we regard it more as a recreational activity than a life-changing event. Instead of skipping trig, we look to skate out of our jobs sooner than later. We have discarded physical hazing for verbal abuse. We are not playing in the big game anymore, but our favorite professional and college teams' schedules hold critical importance. And while we can buy our own booze, we're still looking for that perfect place to consume it.
This is why bars like Gennaro's (2598 South Broadway) survive. Fondly recalling the isolated construction sites, woodlands or basements of our early drunks, we yearn for bare-bones, stripped-down spots where all that matters is if there's enough beer and women to go around.
As we headed down Broadway to Gennaro's, which was recommended to the Institute by an unidentified Bleary-Eyed Reader, the Jewish Representative and I pulled up to a stoplight next to an extremely attractive young lady, who ignored our stares. Instead, she coolly lit up a cigarette, prompting the Jewish Representative to tell her: "You're hot and you smoke. That means you're slutty, too." We felt it set a good tone for the evening. So did our first glance at Gennaro's, which is definitely stripped down. So did the fact that the next person to walk in was a potential female representative to the Institute.
At eight in the evening, there were four other patrons in the bar, two of whom probably worked there and had decided to stay on and entertain two regulars, the very stereotypical Flotsam and Jetsam brothers. These are the guys you see at every dive, hammered beyond all recognition and welcome to the point that they can get their own drinks from behind the bar. The bar here resembles the ideal basement bar at your rich friend's house back in high school, right down to the kegerator with dirt-cheap pitchers of PBR -- except that Gennaro's prices are cheaper than what you paid at your high school keg party.
Though you could smell the lingering odor of pizza, Gennaro's was missing what every juvenile party also lacked: food. We'd showed up just after the kitchen closed, which gave us little option beyond busting open the smokes machine so that we could eat the cigs within. Even though we figured it would be good roughage, we concentrated on quelling our hunger pains with very inexpensive drinks, including the superb cranberry vodka advocated by our new female companion. Beyond the pinball machine, entertainment options were also limited, because the corner TVs had already been shut off -- making this the quietest joint we'd ever been in. And the potential female rep refused to dance on the bar for fear of sticking to it permanently.
No doubt, Gennaro's is a good bar -- and it could rapidly turn into a great bar with the right crowd. It's a fine start-your-night spot if you get in before the kitchen closes, and even better for overnight workers who want to enjoy an end-of-shift liquid breakfast and kick their football viewing off right. This is no-nonsense-drinking territory, just like when you were young and had to drink as much as possible as quickly as possible because at any minute, Deputy Dave Rickus of the Olmstead County Sheriff's Department might roll in and take all your kegs. But to get thoroughly shnockered here, you won't even have to dig into your lunch money.