Athens Across town Battle of the Bars

Part of what makes Athens so great is there is so much to do when the sky turns dark. The nightlife scene makes Court Street come alive, with bars lining both sides of the street. There are even bars a little off the trail of Court, and every bar is unique and offers something different.

On a recent evening, I decided to compare two very different bars across town to see just how different tastes can be in Athens. I was also hoping to catch karaoke night at both, but was only successful on one front. And when determining which bars would make the best comparison, it became clear that it couldn’t get much different when it comes to the Smiling Skull Saloon and Red Brick Tavern.

So in the name of good journalism, I trekked out to visit these two bars. I also dragged my best friend along for support and to enjoy what I assumed would be mediocre karaoke.

Before this little experiment, I had never been to the Smiling Skull. Upon entering, I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in. We arrived at 9:15 and the bar was pretty dead, so it was easy to remain low-key and grab a table.

An older couple was running the karaoke table and I couldn’t wait to see who would step up to the microphone. The clientele was mostly middle-aged with a sprinkling of students, so it was going to be an interesting night. First up was a man who, unsurprisingly, sang a country song. He was actually really good.

Skull1A slew of slow karaoke songs followed that started to put me to sleep. But things got interesting when a man decided to give all he had to his performance, including dancing/flinging himself all over the stage. His wild performance gave new life to the night.

A duo of young women sang “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood while their friends videotaped them and cheered along the entire time. Shortly after another duo led the bar in a sing-a-long of “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani.

The best performance of the night was a young woman singing Tina Turner. She was so effortless. My friend and I had been chatting and not really paying attention, but as soon as she started singing we were locked in and focused. What made it even better was that she was casually sipping a beer while singing.

Once The Skull got packed, we decided to make out way over to Red Brick. I was honestly a bit embarrassed I was going there as a senior and for any reason besides Brick Break. But I swallowed my pride and went in. I was surprised to see it so busy (I guess freshmen have to go somewhere) and disappointed to find it wasn’t karaoke night.

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I have been to Red Brick for karaoke once before, and I was sad I was missing out on the disaster that it is. None of the people I saw sing here were even close to being a good singer, but they knew that and still made it wildly entertaining. Just picture a bunch of freshmen boys belting out the oldies with the occasional somewhat current song and that is Red Brick karaoke night.

Freshmen are too wild for me and I felt like a grandma this night. Watching a young couple argue right next to me was awkward but I couldn’t look away. People bumped into us and didn’t apologize. My best friend and I exchanged “I’m too old for this” sentiments.

Despite feeling like the oldest gals in the room, we had fun and danced by ourselves in a corner by the bar and people watched. People watching at Red Brick is really something.

These two bars are vastly different, but still offer a good time to their patrons.

Looking for a bar that’s just right? Shuffle with us

Ask any Bobcat, what makes Court Street unique to Athens and most will reply with the crazy number of bars. There are about 20 bars located in Athens and 13 of them are on Court Street. With so many bars, finding the perfect one with the right atmosphere can be tough. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, here is a guide to help you find the place to satisfy your late-night drinking. 

Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 North Court St.

This is the first stop on our Court Street bar shuffle. Students come here every Wednesday for Lucky’s liquor pitcher deals. Spending five bucks on these pitchers is worth every penny. You really get what you pay for. However, this bar is known to be one of toughest to get into. Be prepared to show multiple forms of I.D. at the door because the bouncers don’t mess around. This bar is also famous for being the local Steelers bar so naturally Browns and Bengals fans rarely ever go here.

Cat’s Eye Saloon, 12 North Court S.

Right across from Lucky’s, Cat’s Eye is not the place for underage drinkers. Try to use your fake I.D. at the door and it’s guaranteed to be taken away. The frequent visitors at this bar are mostly Cleveland sports fans. They even have a drink named after the Cleveland Browns. Cat’s Eye offers good prices and has plenty of space to accommodate your social activity. There are plenty of pool tables in this bar and one of the best places to play a game without the fear of jabbing someone because it is too crowded.

Red Brick Tavern, 14 North Court St.

This bar is located next to Cat’s Eye and definitely the place to be during a Bengals or Reds game. Cincinnati fans flock to the bar to watch the games on Sunday afternoons. This bar is also notoriously known as the underage bar on Court Street, which is a huge turnoff for the 21+ crowd. Throughout the week, 18+ can get in through a cover charge of $3. It is pretty narrow inside the bar, which makes it hard to move around on crowded weekends. Red Brick is also known for its Wednesday karaoke night that attracts a decent size crowd.

The C.I., 32 North Court St.

This is definitely the bar everyone tries to make it to during a night out.  There is a lot of intermingling between Greeks and GDIs (God Damn Independents), which creates the perfect atmosphere. It gets pretty crowded at the top bar but there is plenty of space in the basement. The bartenders are relaxed and you can count on getting a drink quickly. They have an extensive list of bombs that you can choose from and offer free peanuts during happy hours. If you love the mix of Geek life and GDIs, then go get high at the C.I.

The Crystal, 34 North Court St.

This bar is famous for being the Greek bar on Court Street. If you go here you are bound to wake up with a stamp on your hand that will be impossible to get off. The Crystal has a special place in the Greek community, but chances are if you are a GDI, you are going to hate it. Getting a drink at the bar is nearly impossible unless you know the bartenders. During Homecoming and Greek Week, be prepared to see some crazy costumes from all the socials hosted at this bar. The Crystal is always crowded and the place to be if you are Greek but beware of the bathrooms.

The Pigskin Bar and Grille, 38 North Court St.

This is a popular bar among the 21+ crowd. It’s the best place on Court Street to order food and watch football games. The bar is spacious and has a great vibe on the weekends. This bar attracts a diverse crowd and really has no reputation. It is also stop one in the Bermuda Triangle, which is guaranteed to get you pretty messed up. (The Bermuda Triangle consists of three bars, Pigskin, Pawpurr’s and J Bar, in which you order their signature drinks. You follow this route until you get lost in the Bermuda Triangle.)

Pawpurr’s Bar, 37 North Court St.

This bar is always a good time. During Primetime, 8 p.m.-9 p.m., students flock to this bar to get half-priced drinks. Pawpurr’s also has deals during the week such as 50-cent draft night on Tuesdays and liquor pitchers on Wednesdays. When the bar gets crowded, it is impossible to get served and the bartenders tend to not make strong mixed drinks. If you are a regular, you know who the owner of this bar is because he loves to give out free drinks. This is the second stop on the Bermuda Triangle and students come and go as they please. Overall, this bar has a great mix of social groups.

The Pub, 39 North Court St.

This is one of the most laid-back bars on Court Street. They are known for their giant glasses of beer called Aquariums. This place is not essential to stop at during your evening but a great place to relax and have a nice drink. The negative side is the size; it is pretty small and can get really crowded.

J Bar, 41 North Court Street

Originally this bar was the Junction until the owner of Courtside bought the bar.  J Bar still continues their famous Junction Punch. This is a fruity drink that has way too much alcohol in it and is the drink to order on your final stop of the Bermuda Triangle. Their top bar overlooks the rest of the bar and is a great place to hold a social. Many Greeks and athletes come to this bar and it is not home to any under-agers.

The Over Hang, 63 North Court St.

This is a relatively new bar on campus that not a lot of people go to. Many younger students are too scared to go to this bar because it’s nice and intimidating. This bar is a great place to go if you don’t want to see anyone you know. There are a few regulars but overall has a diverse crowd. The Over Hang is the place to go if you want to get drunk off of $10.

Stephen’s, 66 North Court St.

This bar has gained popularity within the last couple of years. Greeks who cannot deal with the stench of Crystal, end up making their way to Stephen’s. Their three bars offer you a chance to get your drink fast. You can find space about anywhere in this bar whether it’s in the basement or by the top two bars. Be sure to watch out when walking down the stairs. They are steep and not ideal for girls wearing heels, especially since this bar hosts a lot of Greek socials and formals.

Courtside Sports Bar, 85 North Court St.

This is the primary bar for Ohio Bobcat athletes and Sigma Pi’s. An evening at Courtside is guaranteed to be a crazy one. It’s impossible to hear what your friends are saying because of the loud rap music. It isn’t unusual to see students dancing on the tables or ordering rounds of shots. The bar attracts a diverse crowd including Greeks, business majors, and grad students. It is known for its outdoor patio area during the summer and a great place to watch a football game. Courtside attracts a big crowd every Wednesday for their 50 cent slice night of their famous pizza.

Broney’s Alumni Grill, 7 West Carpenter St.

Broney’s is the last stop on the Court Street shuffle and one of the nicest bars that make you pay for overpriced drinks. It is one of the most neutral bars on campus because there are a lot of different people who go here. Many international students have started to take over the bar, but there is something for everyone here. Alumni like to go to this bar because of the cleanliness, space, and diversity of drinks. Their patio is great on a nice summer day and a cool place to relax and have their famous champagne slushy.

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Angela Keane is a junior in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She is involved in Scripps Public Relations Student Society of America, ImPRessions, and Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. She will be interning with the Miss Universe Organization in New York City during Spring semester.

Declining house parties leave underage Bobcats out in cold

When 15-year-old Taylor Lykins stepped onto the campus of Ohio University for the first time in 2007, she was mesmerized by what she saw on the streets of Athens.

“It was house after house, party after party,” Lykins recalled. “Loud music and dancing completely took over the neighborhoods.”

Inforgraphic OU NightlifeEven though her sister, Emily, was only a freshman at the time of Taylor’s first visit, both girls said they were never short on things to do throughout Emily’s next four years.

“My boyfriend lived at a big party house,” Emily, a 2010 grad, said. “We always had some place to drink.”

Emily owned a fake ID but she found no reason to use it because her social life revolved around parties. Rather than barhop, she and her fellow Bobcats would spend the night jumping from one house to the next, red Solo cups in hand.

But by the time Taylor started her freshman year at OU in 2011, OU’s social scene had completely shifted.

“I went from not needing an ID when I was in high school to being a college student and all of a sudden needing an ID to do anything,” Taylor said.

Although Ohio University is known for its esteemed academic programs, rich history and quaint local flair, it is OU’s social scene that has grabbed national headlines throughout the past decade. OU graces Princeton Review’s Top Party Schools list year after year, and notorious party website BroBible recently published an entire article titled “10 Reasons Ohio University Is The Best Party School In the United States.” Both publications cite OU’s fest season, HallOUween, and homecoming traditions as the reasoning behind the university’s party school reputation — but make no mention of any house party culture.

Taylor Lykins isn’t the only student who has noticed Bobcats’ social evolution from house parties to bars: Many other Ohio University students claim house parties have all but disappeared from their social lives. Student-heavy streets like Congress and Palmer are still as chaotic as Taylor remembers, but rather than the neighborhoods overrun with Bobcats making their way from one party to another, the sidewalks are transformed into a maze of eager bar-goers heading Uptown for the night.

Unless house parties are thrown in conjunction with other events such as the fests or Welcome Weekend, OU’s nightlife now revolves almost entirely around the bar scene on Court Street.

Some students speculate that OU’s dying house party scene is a result of an ordinance passed by the Athens City Council in 2009 that makes it easier for police to shut down raging parties and prosecute disruptive students in attendance.

Before 2009, law required that police arrest and charge partiers with at least four separate violations before the party could even be labeled a nuisance. The ordinance passed five years ago requires only one violation and lets police arrest anyone who does not leave the party after it shuts down. The ordinance also deems landlords responsible for their guests’ uncontrollable behavior.

Arrested partiers face nuisance charges, which are minor misdemeanors that carry $150 fines for the first offense. If violators break the law a second time within 18 months, they face a fourth-degree misdemeanor that comes with a possible 30-day jail term and a $250 fine.

With the passing of the new ordinance, Athens City Council and the police departments have seen positive results. In the last two years alone, fest season arrests have gone down nearly 25 percent. In 2013, police arrested 156 students at house parties during High Fest, Mill Fest, Palmer Place and Palmer Fest — a significant decrease from 2012’s fest season that resulted in 353 arrests.

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Photo by Maria Fischer

With many Bobcats feeling uneasy about hosting house parties of their own, students began turning to fraternity houses to throw the “raging” parties in true Animal House style. However, even Ohio University’s frats have backed away from being the go-to sources for house parties: Pi Kappa Alpha became inactive in 2012 and lost its 12 N. College St. house after officials found drugs in a warranted raid. Sigma Pi followed suit, losing its notorious 8 N. College St. house in 2013, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon is expected to lose its 57 E. State St. house early next year after a surprise membership review left nearly half of its members suspended and forced to move out.

Without house parties — Greek or non-Greek — to fall back on, this current bar trend leaves underage Bobcats in a dilemma each weekend: head out to Court Street in hopes of finding something legal to do, or risk an arrest by sneaking into bars with a fake ID. While house parties are certainly not the most effective ways to keep younger students out of trouble, OU’s former house party scene at least offered underage Bobcats more options for nighttime fun on campus.

“Other than go out to eat, there’s not much for underage kids to do on Court Street at night,” Nicolette Lambos, a freshman, said. “Unlike New York or nearby big cities like Columbus, Athens doesn’t even have a legit club scene for 18-year-olds to go to instead of sneaking into bars.”

In an effort to offer students more nightlife options, Athens attempted to open a club but it quickly failed. A dance nightclub, Evolution, was located at 19 S. Court Street and lived a short life. The Mediterranean restaurant Habibi’s opened two years ago and now sits in Evolution’s space.

In late November of this year, another club opened in the basement of Red Brick under the alias Club Underground. Hopeful that this club will be more successful than the last, Red Brick allows students 18 and older to dance the night away every Wednesday through Saturday.

But Athens’ inconsistent, on-again off-again club scene leaves many students far from hopeful.

“I doubt it will take off,” Andrew Dolan, a junior, said.

So if nightclubs and house parties are seldom found, what is an underage Bobcat to do? Type in a quick Google search of “Athens Ohio nightlife” and a list of bar after bar pops up. But of the 30-plus bars that appear from the search, only one offers 18-and-up bar nights: Red Brick.

Lauren Kumper, a Red Brick employee, said owners allow students who are at least 18 to hang out upstairs at the bar every Wednesday and Thursday.

“There’s a $3 admission and anyone under 21 can’t drink but at least there’s dancing,” Kumper said. “Wednesday night is karaoke night so a lot of freshmen and sophomores come out to the bar and do a song.”

While Red Brick offers underage students a few nights of fun during the week, these young Bobcats find themselves with limited options on weekend nights. This leaves Athens Pyramids, the local hookah bar, as the only remaining legal alternative to the Court Street bars and club scene.

Majed Batawil, Athens Pyramids owner, said his establishment has always been 18 and up.

“We don’t serve alcohol so you don’t have to be 21 to come in,” Batawil said.

Batawil said his customers are divided equally between underage students and Bobcats who are over 21 but admitted his staff still has to check IDs after a string of high school students were caught trying to sneak in.

Emily Lykins made note of the change in the campus dynamic when she returned in October for OU’s homecoming.

“It felt like it was a completely different school. Red Brick used to be so popular they had shot girls walking around and now they couldn’t get 20 people in there on homecoming weekend. I walked down the street my boyfriend used to live on and saw almost no parties.”

Lykins’ observations leave current students wondering what OU will be like when they return a few years after they graduate. With an increase in nightlife options and a decrease in house party arrests, perhaps police will loosen their grip and OU will return to its nightlife “glory days”: a time when students felt like they had more options than just a night spent drinking at (or sneaking into) the bars of Court Street.

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Maria Fischer is a journalism student at Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, falling somewhere between a junior and a senior. She is a self-proclaimed coffee addict and lipstick enthusiast. After completing her capstone in online publication production, promotion & design, she hopes to write for an online magazine and turn her passions for blogging and social media into a career. Visit her blog for Ohio University’s student-run fashion magazine, Thread, at http://frommetrocardstomealplans.blogspot.com.

A budget bar guide for Court Street newbies

It’s a Friday night in Athens, Ohio. The air is cool; the leaves have changed color and are starting to fall. College students chirp and laugh on the streets like ants scattering out of an ant farm, all heading in different directions. They yell, “Meet us there” or “I’ll be back in a few minutes.” These are not just students. They are experts on the best places to go on Court Street.

Uptown bar life on Court Street can overwhelm newcomers. Some students don’t even venture past where the bookstores and coffee shops morph into loud bar music, tattoo parlors, and head shops. The karaoke nights with live DJs and bands or unbelievable drink specials might actually scare some people rather than intrigue them. The idea that you can leave your house with a 20-dollar bill and come back with change might seem asinine, crazy, or ridiculous, but to us broke college students there is only one word to describe it: awesome.

Court Street is known for its delicious food, festive events, and multiple bars in less than a block. Some people might judge Ohio University, saying it’s a “small town with a big drinking problem.” It’s not necessarily “a problem,” but you definitely don’t hear crickets at the bar on a Saturday night. Maybe the real problem isn’t finding a fun bar because let’s face it, they all have their perks. The real problem is getting the most bang for your buck.

Every bar offers not only different drinks, but also a different atmosphere. When out-of-towners do visit they should have an authentic Court Street experience and know exactly what to try when a bartender looks their way. As an OU senior on a tight budget, I am no longer a Court Street rookie. I’ve had plenty of sad Sundays cringing as I log onto my bank account hoping to like what I see. After four years, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

Let’s start off at Lucky’s Sports Tavern, one of the most renowned sports bars on Court Street. It’s one of the first bars you will see after heading away from campus. If you’re from out of state, prepare to be asked for multiple forms of identification. This tends to be one of the stricter bars on campus. And if you are a Browns or Bengals fan, you might want to skip this bar after seeing the black and gold that coats the walls. Pittsburgh fans, this bar might hold you captive for the entire night, and you’ll love every second of it. Start your night off with a vodka lemonade ($3.25), a drink you could order at almost any bar, but for some reason it just tastes right at Lucky’s.

Next, hop across the street to Red Brick. Prepare yourself to be surrounded by freshmen using fake I.D.s and sipping Red Bull vodkas. (Because that’s what college students drink … right?) Order the Ricci Root ($2.50) (pronounced reach-y root). It’s root beer vodka, coke, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous you can ask the bartender to top it off with a splash of Baileys. It’s refreshing and tastes just like a root beer float. Red Brick features an interesting crowd. Besides many freshmen hoping to scoot past the bouncer when he’s not looking, many local Athens residents hang out at Red Brick.

After you’ve indulged, make your way past Court Street Diner, which is perfect for a rough morning hangover, and enter The C.I. Ask the bartender at the front bar for a basket of free peanuts. They’re delicious and provide just enough nourishment to keep you going for the rest of the night. If you’re more of a beer person, the C.I. has multiple drafts to choose from. But if you can handle your liquor, order an SMC ($1.75), which contains vodka, Malibu, cranberry juice, and dragon berry vodka. It’s the perfect mix of strawberry, mango, and cranberry. C.I. is also famous for their bombs (a shot with a chaser already poured inside). The prices vary, but some definitely worth trying are dragon berry bombs or a starry night. Be careful, though. A few too many of these might end your night.

For your sanity, just walk right past Crystal. It’s the most popular underage bar. It is where most of the Greeks hang out, and it smells like sewage. As far as notorious Court Street bars go, The Crystal takes first place.

Past C.I. and Crystal, there’s Pigskin. It is a nice escape from the wooden, sticky floors and crowded spaces of the previous bars. The open area provides room for more people, and the pool and Ping-Pong tables give this bar a laid-back environment. It’s a great bar to take a break from drinking, with its ample seating areas, but I highly recommend trying their Mojitos ($5). This is the most you will spend on a drink, but the end result is more than satisfying. The atmosphere allows you to enjoy your drink rather than chugging it down as you squeeze through the crowd desperately seeking the door.

Across the street you will see Pawpurrs, the bar known for its friendly owner,  drinks suitable for a college student’s budget, and the one place you will find yourself shamelessly singing along to boy band hits of the ’90s. If you’re not one to be right in the action, the open areas allow room for newcomers to just sit back, sip, and watch. Although the cleanliness and stench are only a little easier to deal with than Crystal, Pawpurrs’ perfect playlists accompanying a dancing stage and cheap drinks make the trip worthwhile. Order a Teddy Graham ($2), which is basically a White Russian with RumChata. It goes down smooth and tastes just like that childhood snack. After you’ve sipped down your drink, and maybe busted out a few Backstreet Boys songs, say goodbye and go next door to The Pub.

The Pub is small and tavern-like, but their Bloody Marys ($4) are to die for. They make them pretty spicy so keep that in mind when ordering, but as a pseudo-connoisseur, I’d say the Pub’s take the lead by far. After you’ve sipped on that, stumble right next door again to J Bar.

J Bar is known for its great playlists but pricey drinks (compared to its neighbors). The real way to go to J Bar is to drink before, that way you don’t find yourself racking up a tab there. If you’re feeling a little thirsty and craving a beverage, though, order a Crabbies ($4). It’s a ginger beer served on ice with lemon and lime, and it tastes incredible. It’s on the higher side in alcohol content but a smooth and light beer. The top level allows for plenty of space although it’s usually not empty, being an extremely popular bar among students.

For the final destination, stop by Courtside, located at the end of Court Street, to enjoy a few slices of delicious, fresh-out-of-the oven pizza (and an ice cold Blue Moon ($3.50) if you just so happen to find a few extra bucks in your pocket.). Courtside has some of the best bar food on campus, including pizza, wings, subs, salads, etc. Whatever your drunken heart desires, Courtside offers (or delivers).

“Closing Time” by Semisonic will play to signal the night is coming to an end. The lights will come on in all of the bars, allowing bouncers to start herding out crowds and prompting friends to reunite to end their night together. People will link arms, yelling to groups ahead to wait up and hugging goodbye, until tomorrow night. After you leave Courtside, you can look over your should at the lit up skyline of small-town Athens, Ohio. You are no longer lost. Athens found you and wants you to know you’re always welcome back.

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Richelle Miller is a senior at Ohio University studying strategic communication and marketing. She is a coffee-addict, bookworm, music-obsessed animal lover. When she’s not in classes, studying, or working, she spends maybe a little too much time on Court Street. Her dream job is to relocate to Southern California, become a writer, and have the ocean as a backyard view.

In search of the Court Street Stench

Picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds: the glowing marquee at the movie theater, the raucous laughter of buzzed college students, the feeling of weekend excitement in the air. You round the corner off Union Street and step onto Court Street when suddenly it hits you like a 10-ton bulldozer that’s been camped out at Baker all semester: A smell. A smell so foul it stings your nose. An assault so lightning quick that it’s gone as soon as you realize it’s there.

It is the Court Street Stench, and its source is unknown.

How can a town like Athens have such a stench clinging to its charming brick streets? A college town that students sometimes refer to (without a trace of irony) as “the promised land,” smells more like Chuck Palahniuk’s version of hell. How can this be?
I was determined to find out.

In order to determine the source of The Stench, I needed to first classify it. I needed to fully describe The Stench and then theorize about its source. In other words, I needed to really get a feel for the smell.

So I circled trash cans sniffing like a curious dog. I wandered down alleyways, documenting debris with photographs. I researched information on the grossest bars with the most pungent aromas.

It wasn’t enough. I smelled stenches (and lots of them), but wanted more definitive answers.

But maybe I’d been going about this the wrong way. Maybe instead of trying to track down a single stench, I should have been noting all of them.

Maybe the Court Street Stench isn’t just one smell after all. Perhaps it is a combination of smells: a putrid cocktail of bad food and bad behavior that coated our city streets.

To test this theory, I turned to the best noses for the jobs: the general public. If the public could come up with one definitive smell or source, then I’d have my answer. But if I received a mixed review, I’d know I’d been sniffing up the wrong tree.

And so, on Dad’s Weekend 2014, I took to the streets (and to the bars) to interview everybody and their father about their opinions of the vile Court Street Stench.

From hookah smoke and vomit to greasy pizza and coffee, the answers were as strange and varied as Court Street itself.

Ian Slifcak, a junior studying Spanish and Political Science, summed it up best when he said: “Court Street is a lot of smells.”

Athens city officials seem to agree with Slifcak’s statement. When asked for his diagnosis of the stench, Director of Code Enforcement John Paszke couldn’t put his finger on just one smell . . . or one cause.

“I imagine it is a combination of many things,” he replied. “The exhaust fans from the range hoods of the bars [and] restaurants, the large quantity of trash in the dumpsters, cigarette smoke from outdoor sidewalk smokers, vehicle exhaust, vomit, and depending on the weather conditions, odors from the storm [or] sanitary sewers.”

After turning to experts and laypersons, I was both entertained and repulsed by the variety of responses I had received. My sources had helped me take inventory of the smells of Court Street, and confirmed that there was, in fact, a group of Stenches, at large.

Peter Shoup, a junior studying engineering, commented that Court Street is “kind of like a progressive map … you can tell where you are based on what it smells like.”

Inspired by Shoup’s comparison, I decided to map my data, in the interest of public safety. Even the experts weren’t able to make a positive identification of the perpetrators. It was up to me to inform the public about the predators lurking around every corner uptown.

So, again, picture it: You’re strolling through Uptown Athens, taking in all the sights and sounds. You pass Jackie O’s and smell beer and a yeasty beer-making smell.

You pass the Union which used to smell like smoke due to the abundance of smokers who lined the sidewalk but now smells like smoke from the Union Street Fire.

You pass GoodFella’s and smell greasy pizza, or “cheese and floor cleaner,” as one contributor put it.

You round the corner off Union and step onto Court and smell coffee from Whit’s right before stepping into our first danger zone. The trash can on the corner smells like vomit at all hours of the day and night, and citizens are advised to avoid this area, at all costs.

You cross the street to get away and are accosted by another Stench, in the alley by Brenen’s: courtesy of a perpetually wet, dripping dumpster.

You hurry along, keeping your nose forward, trying not to attract any more unwanted Stenches when you pass the alley by Mike’s Dog Shack, which is a known Stench hideout. You hurry on, sniffing over your shoulder every few paces to make sure you aren’t being followed.

You smell cheap burritos and pungent sauce at Big Mamma’s. You smell the mustiness of Red Brick’s damp basement dance floor. You smell incense at Artifacts, gas and exhaust at BP, beer and smoke surrounding every bar, when suddenly it hits you.

You’re surrounded.

The Stenches are everywhere. You can’t hide from them. You can’t escape them. They have representatives everywhere. No one is safe.

Most of the time they won’t give you much trouble. They’re mostly just mildly irritating. They like to get in your face a little, but they don’t usually stay too long, eager to find a new victim.

But sometimes, they’re more forceful. Sometimes they gang up on you and assault you out of nowhere.

Although The Stenches can be terribly unpredicatable, many sources affectionately attribute them to the dynamic nature of Court Street.

“I kind of enjoy the different phases of smells,” commented Slifcak. “In a way, it contributes to that special feeling of Athens [because] Court Street is where it all happens. It will eat you up and spit you right back out.

“After four years, you might miss some of those strange smells.”

Investigation contributors: Ian Slifcak, John Paszke, Peter Shoup, Elisabeth Rosenfeld, Emily Mueting, Doug Mueting, Scott Scheiderer, Jessica Wuensch

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Juliana Scheiderer is a junior at Ohio University majoring in Journalism and Spanish with a certificate in Law, Justice, and Culture. She loves writing about music, art, travel, and entertainment.