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Beer O'Clock GR

It's 12.57pm On Saturday January 23 And It's Happy Hour Right Now at 8 Bars In GR

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Meanwhile…at the Meanwhile.

By Ben Brugger

Me and Julio down and out at The Meanwhile.

There is a life sized hammerhead shark hanging over the bar. I almost feel like that one sentence should be the entire review for The Meanwhile. Seriously folks, what more do you need to know? I’m pretty sure that’d be enough to pique my interest. I mean, how many times do you see something like that in a lifetime? Not many, if my 33 years of experiences count for anything. A marlin? Sure. A singing bass? Yep. But a hammerhead shark? I’ve gotta tell ya Chuck, It was a first for me.

But enough about the damn shark, let’s get on with the review and kick it out for those of you that need a bit more word-garbage, and finger pointing to make up your mind…

Some time around midnight my assistant took a break from snapping close-up photographs of her beer and poked me in the side.

“Jesus, look at that thing.” She said, pointing over my shoulder.

A little shocked at having become a point of interest again, I mistakenly thought she was talking about the shark for the second time.

“I know! The shark! It’s cool! ” I yelled back a bit sarcastically. But halfway through my fit, I realized that it was something else. There was a new look of wonderment in her expression. Her eyes were splashed with this sort-of sparkled-out raver-under-a-disco-ball sheen that gave me pause.

“No.” She said grabbing my shoulder and turning me around. “Over there. The unicorn.”

Then I saw it, and understood. A Maruska print of a white unicorn rising up into the night sky from what appeared to be an alien planet covered in waves of multicolored sherbet.

“Holy shit.” I said. “That thing’s incredible.”

“I know.” She said.

And there were more. About thirty or so prints hanging on the wall behind the bar. I don’t know what it is about Marushkas folks, but it does it for me. Kind of like Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance with somebody after a few too many, or a sick day with the Price is Right. It takes me back. Turns the light on and blows the dust off all the old junk in the attic, if you know what I mean. Instant, O.G. times. Which is funny cause that’s the kind of feeling I get from the Meanwhile in general. Despite the fact that I’ve only been there a handful of times, there is something very familiar about the place, a sort of instantaneous good-old-times vibe that sends me back to my drunken twenties.

Struck a little giddy by this feeling, my assistant and I started listing off the different Marushka prints we’d seen over the years and all the places they’d hung and the time periods that surrounded them. Both taking a little walk down memory lane, drifting into a state of nostalgic-awe. The feeling lingered for most of the night and eventually got us into trouble, when, after a few too many half priced Michigan brews (Thursday night special!), we found it necessary to question some poor girl we’d mistaken for a cocktail waitress on the origins of the “Marushkan Unicorn”. The girl seemed confused by our attempts at communication and must have thought we were using some type of code for drugs because she kept insisting she didn’t know anything about any unicorns, or where to get any, and then wandered off towards her friends shaking her head and pointing at us. At that point my assistant felt it might be better to keep a lower profile and directed me to the back of the bar and set me up in front of a Dirty Harry pinball machine.

Which brings me to the next reason you should go to The Meanwhile. Pinball machines folks! Six of them, if my memory serves. A Lord of the Rings one, the Dirty Harry one I knocked around for a bit, and maybe 4 others that I was too unprofessional (aka drunk and in love with neon-Clint Eastwood) to get the names of. But they were good ones, none of those junky-old types that you think might be fun but are actually really difficult to master, and boring besides. Solid picks if I remember correctly, very solid.

And if Hammerhead sharks, Marushka prints and pinball don’t send you running over to Wealthy St., how about an enormous back patio, a kick-ass jukebox, crazy good deals on beer, good looking people doing interesting things, indoor plumbing, and a front door, which you should probably walk through sometime soon. Like maybe tonight.

The Meanwhile 1005 Wealthy St. Grand Rapids.


Photo by John Kratz.  Source: Flickr