Home for music and weirdos, I mean The Smiling Skull not my boyfriend’s house

Cheap beer, live music, and no ID requirements at the door. It’s basically what broke college student dreams are made of. While it may not be a gem to many the Smiling Skull Saloon is definitely a remarkable part of Athens.

Athens has a large music scene and The Skull is one of the many locations used as a venue to book shows for local and other up-and-coming musicians. Shows at the Skull tend to be more punk rock oriented with the occasional bluegrass band. This is only my second year at Ohio University but I’ve been able to see numerous bands at this small dive bar alone.

The crowds at shows tend to get very rowdy, especially after a night filled with drinking. Last year New York punk band, Bbig Pigg, was wrapping up the show for the night as last call approached. I was hoping to stay until the very end of show but during one of their songs a member of the audience stole the microphone from the vocalist. The microphone thief then smashed his beer bottle onto the ground. Shards of glass flew all over the place and I was so excited I didn’t realize some of the pieces cut my legs and were stuck to my clothing.

Love
Graffiti wall inside the women’s restroom

In”Smiling Skull Saloon a sanctuary for students and townies alike,” Emily Bohatch captures the essence of the bar. She said the usage of old license plates and photos hanging on the walls as decoration of bar “embodies a sense of tradition and home.”

The vintage posters and photos hung around the walls surrounded by graffiti are what make the Skull some kind of time machine for me. Even though the bar is only 16 years old the graffiti is a sobering reminder that I’m only going to be here for four years. I should enjoy it just like everyone else who left their mark somewhere in the bar.

The decorations are not the only thing that make the bar remarkable for me. It’s also the people I’ve met and stories I’ve learned. There’s always an interesting mix of patrons which make up of bikers, ‘townies’, and college students.

The most interesting to talk to have always been the older crowd of bikers and ‘townies’ because they always have a story to tell about “back in the day” and you can see how people’s eyes light up when reminiscing.

One of the most notable characters I’ve met has been Santa. A tall, older man with a beard that reaches his belly who sits by the door greeting people. There hasn’t been a night in which he isn’t filled with jokes and compliments.

Everyone in Athens has a bar that they prefer, and the Skull is definitely it for me. Many people I’ve met are usually not too excited about the idea of going to a dive bar at first but it’s an experience they end up enjoying. The Skull stands out and is unique, just like its patrons.

Top 7 relationships in Athens, Ohio

We have all heard about the Hollywood celebrity dating scene, but I bet you didn’t know we have our own celebrity couples in Athens, Ohio. The rich and famous have made their way to our college town and I bet you run into them more than you think. That’s right, I’m talking about the bars and restaurants that are open after dark. We crowd them, take pictures, and follow their every move. You have been so focused on your favorite that I’m sure you haven’t noticed that they are all secretly in relationships. It’s true, and we have the inside scoop for you!

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Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill

Let’s start with two of the most famous establishments in Athens, Jackie-O’s and Uptown Grill. These love birds have been eyeing each other from across the street for years. After hanging out, listening to music, and enjoying the unique beers Jackie-O’s has, you can walk down the street and order the famous Chicken and Waffle sandwich. This is one couple you do not want to mess with.

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Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva

Big Mamma’s Burritos and Casa Nueva is one couple that is juat too hot to ignore. They are both so bold, but together would be a powerhouse. If you start to get hungry after too many margaritas, your next stop should be Big Mamma’s for one of their signature burritos. While there is a separation between them, these star crossed lovers can’t be separated. Te amo!

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Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough

Our next couple may be long distance, but Broney’s Alumni Grill and D.P. Dough will always be close at heart. With the word “alumni” in the name, it’s safe to assume that a lot of alums visit while reliving their glory days. Since they are veterans, they know how to beat the hangovers. They can order their calzones and meet it in the hotel, just in time for bed!

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Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies

What is better than cookies and coffee? Nothing. Tony’s and Insomnia Cookies is a match made in Heaven. After drinking a Hot Nut, a mixture of coffee and liquor, the only thing that would make your night better would be a warm cookie! The best part is that Insomnia is open until 3 am, so you can pick it up on your way home!

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Pigskin and Kisers on Court BBQ

Life would be a “boar” without Pigskin and Kiser’s BBQ together. This relationship was a no brainer. Nothing goes together like beer, BBQ, and country music. These two have just that! Kiser’s on Court is now open until 3 am on Friday and Saturday. This combination would be the perfect “cure” for any weekend night!

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Union Street Diner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull

Here in Athens, Ohio, we don’t judge. When we heard that Union Street Dinner, Cat’s Den, and The Smiling Skull were in a relationship together, we welcomed them with open arms. All three of these places are located on Union Street and you can’t have one without the other. While these bars are considered “townie” bars, students just can’t resist them. After listening to the music and sitting on the patio, the only other logical stop would be the dinner. Thankfully it’s open 24/7.

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Buffalo Wild Wings

And, of course, there’s always that one friend that will fall into the “forever alone” category. That friend is Buffalo Wild Wings. This restaurant serves food and alcohol late into the night. Between the beer, wings, and giant TV’s, why would you need anything else? Don’t worry BW3’s; we still love you!

Since the lifestyles of the rich and famous are constantly changing, what relationships are your favorites? Comment below and tell us your favorite duo in Athens, Ohio. You never know who might be next!

All photos and graphics of Athens, Ohio were taken and made by Hannah Funderburg

Where would ‘Parks and Recreation’ characters drink?

If there’s one department Court Street is not lacking in, it’s bars. Each has a certain je ne sais quoi. To describe these distinct personalities, let’s turn to the television show “Parks and Recreation.” Specifically, if the show’s main characters were to take a road trip from Pawnee to Athens, where would they hang out?

Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson is not one for social gatherings, especially when it comes to enjoying a drink. So no bar on Court Street is likely to be his cup of tea (or rather, his cup of Lagavulin). Picture this: Ron sitting at the bar, drinking a Scotch (neat) while seven-plus college students invade his space, maybe rub against his face, laugh loudly while trying to get served, and prompt Ron to look extremely displeased. No, Court Street isn’t where this mustached man would spend his time. The best option for Ron would be Zoe on East State Street off Court Street. Zoe is a restaurant first, bar second. Ron would ask for a secluded table, order a large steak (rare), and keep the whisky coming. Court Street and Ron Swanson do not mix.

April Ludgate

A great fit for this dark, twisted woman is the Smiling Skull Saloon. The Skull is dark and full of townies and bikers whom April would love to observe and interact with. The Skull’s West Union Street location is a bit off the beaten path, as is April. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, so avoiding social interaction is easy. You don’t have to worry about peppy, loud college students here. A popular opinion among such students is that the Skull plays host to “weird people” and the name of the bar is often associated with a facial grimace and the phrase, “It’s so creepy!” It is definitely not on a party-hungry student’s list of places to hear the latest sugar-coated teeny-bopper hit. There’s a lot of black clothing, beanies, and you may or may not find discarded extras of drugs on the top of the toilet in the bathroom. The Skull is the perfect place for Ms. Ludgate.

Andy Dwyer

With its hipster vibe and reputation for hosting local bands, The Union Bar and Grill was the best bar for Andy. His band, MouseRat, could have played there and been a huge hit. It would have been a match made in heaven. But unfortunately the November fire derailed this option. (R.I.P. Union. until you rise again). Consequently, some recalculating is needed to determine Andy’s best match. A close second to Union is Casa Nueva Cantina and Restaurant. Casa hosts live bands but in a much calmer environment. It’s the bar to go to to sit back and enjoy your beer with friends and just hang out.

Side note: Andy Dwyer likes to jump out of/over things, so if he is sans band and in that particular mood, then Stephen’s On Court would be the bar for him. Their bottom bar has a window that is known for getting jumped out of. I would be lying if I said I didn’t know this from personal experience.

Tom Haverford

Considering Tom was part-owner of a club called the Snakehole Lounge, Court Street is a fantastic fit for him. There are so many options. But the right combination of sleazy, yet faux-VIP is Courtside Sports Bar. The two bar stations and outside area of Courtside give it that “high-end” feel that’s perfect for Tom. Courtside plays host to Ohio University athletes so there’s a high possibility of running into a campus celebrity. Tom Haverford is all about local celebrities. It’s the perfect opportunity for him to schmooze. Courtside is one of two bars specifically known for being the bar to go to if you’re underage. (The other being The Crystal, which if you go to the bars in general, you are all too aware.) We have now arrived at the sleazy aspect of Courtside. Courtside is no Snakehole Lounge, but it’s a fine substitute for Tom.

Donna Meagle

Donna Meagle is too cool for the bars of Court Street. If we had a cigar and wine club, it would be a match made in heaven. Alas, we are not Pawnee, Indiana, and do not have such an establishment. Donna would treat herself to a more expensive bar like J Bar. The bar itself isn’t particularly any classier than the other bars on Court, but it likes to pretend it is by charging more money for its drinks. It is classier than The Crystal, though. But that’s an easy feat. J Bar also has a very aesthetically-pleasing brick wall on its top floor that is nice for taking pictures against. Donna is all about social media, so some pictures with the brick backdrop would do nicely for looking like she’s in a fancier place than she is. Donna probably would just rent that entire top floor of J Bar, if we’re being real.

Leslie Knope

Leslie Knope loves waffles. Her favorite type of food is breakfast food. “Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?” What goes great with breakfast food? Coffee. What bar has a signature drink that is coffee-based? Tony’s Tavern. Their Hot Nut is a hot shot of coffee and hazelnut liqueur. I’ve never had one myself, and couldn’t bring myself to taste one just for the purpose of this article because I hate both coffee and shots, but I have heard good things, the majority of which come from my roommate, Sarah Bernstein. “You’ve never had a Hot Nut? Are you out of your mind? They’re so good! You’d love them!” Shut up, Sarah. But I can associate a thing or two, and when I think of Leslie Knope, I immediately think of the Hot Nut. There is no other factor in this equation. Leslie Knope would go to Tony’s specifically because of this drink.

Ben Wyatt

Ben is a beer guy, and a bar known for their wide variety of beers is Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery. The bar has 38 beers on draft, so this gives Ben ample opportunity to try a new beer or two because God knows, there has to be a beer out there he enjoys more than Miller Lite. One would hope, anyway. Jackie O’s draws a diverse, friendly crowd that creates a relaxed atmosphere for someone to sit back and enjoy her beer. Jackie O’s also features live bands, but the music is more blues/garage-rock.

Jerry Gergich

Who cares? He’ll ruin everything anyway.

Ann Perkins

Although Ann has had some great character development, a central theme in her life is her dating situation. It always seems to be her storyline. That being so, Ann would go to Broney’s Alumni Grill during one her dating phases because a large portion of its patrons is the older crowd, which is more of Ann’s niche. Single Ann would go to Broney’s to put herself out there, dating-wise. Even Ann in a relationship would go there with her significant other to mingle with other couples in a calmer environment.

Chris Traeger

If you take Chris Traeger to any bar, he will — “literally” — find any way to remain positive. Even if he is taken into The Crystal, where it almost always spells like urine and feces, Chris would spin that situation positively. That’s what he does. He loves positivity. But I won’t use that as a fallback. He still deserves a well-thought-out Court Street bar choice. This beautiful man would fit in well at The C.I. It’s heavily populated by Greeks but in a surprisingly harmonious way that you don’t have to worry about being annoyed. It’s an overall happy atmosphere and even though the bar gets a bit crowded, you only have to dance your way through. Chris Traeger dances a mean jig. Dancing and happiness are two qualities The C.I. and Chris have in common.

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Hannah Haseman is a strategic communications major in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She spends a startling amount of time watching television shows and movies. Her dream job is to critique those in the entertainment industry through reviews or, more specifically, the bulls-eye section of Entertainment Weekly.