Top of the Town 2013 Staff Picks

By City Pulse Staff

Best bathrooms: Mac’s Bar
Ahh, sweet relief. Is there anything more comforting in a restroom than wall-to-wall original artwork? Or the unmistakable scent of urinal cakes (old and new)? How about hand-scrawled messages that may, in fact, be about you?

A good bathroom is a rare find. That’s why whichever band I make it out to see at this eastside gem plays second fiddle to the men’s room atmosphere. Mac’s doesn’t bother with such pretentious fixtures like “fully operational toilets” or “stall doors that lock.” Why should they? And the grime, stickers and personal inscriptions just scream: “Look, but keep your hands to yourself.” (A coworker says the women’s room is equally enjoyable.)

Most complain about breaking the proverbial bladder seal, especially at a packed show. Not me — I look forward to it when I go to Mac’s. What bit of wisdom will I pick up tonight?

Here’s some — several notes suggest avoiding some guy named Phil at all costs, like this one: “Phil doesn’t believe in cancer research.” Screw you, Phil. And thanks for letting me know, Mac’s. —Andy Balaskovitz

Best place to view wildlife within 10 minutes of downtown: River Trail near Mt. Hope & Aurelius

Deer browse, and sometimes stampede, along a driving range. Herons stalk their prey, hunched and sneaky, like Richard Nixon pacing the halls of the White House. Huge carp writhe and make love in the spring floodings. Woodpeckers peck, peepers peep and turtles turt. It all happens in a remarkable patch of Lansing just north of Mt. Hope Avenue and west of Aurelius Road, a five-minute bike ride from City Pulse’s office on Michigan Avenue. Here, the Lansing River Trail snakes past Mt. Hope Cemetery around a lovely pond and follows an artificial ridge before winding into the woods toward Hawk Island, creating a compact ecosystem with a four-season crush of wildlife. In spring, three-petaled trillium pop open by the thousands on the cemetery hill. In fall, thistles explode along the trail, drawing clouds of yellow finches. Forget-me-nots carpet the banks with Impressionist lushness, ignoring the field guide and persisting into August. Even the clams in the riverbed are huge. And there’s always that same guy with his laptop at Bench 2. Check it out sometime. — Lawrence Cosentino

Best place to see college students eat it: downtown East Lansing

“Let’s get f*#%ed up!” are the last words many college students remember before a night of mischief and mishap. Loyal to their promise, they reach a point of inebriation where basic functionality is a bigger challenge than the LSATs.

Although these people end up missing their own antics, there is no reason to let quality amusement go to waste. The corner of Abbot Road and Albert Avenue transforms into a stage of world-class entertainment every Thursday, Friday Saturday night. This prime location has a view of the East Lansing bar trifecta.

High-heeled girls and stumbling guys pour out of Rick’s, Dublin and Harpers in droves of rowdy drunks just after closing time. The scene almost looks like a choreographed performance — girls falling over the same sidewalk crack and guys throwing up in the same corner. This gem of a spot is the place to be to see the last remnants of dignity disappear. —Marisol Dorantes

Biggest blow to pub crawlers: Bonnie’s and Irish Pub

It’s nothing short of tragic that the Lansing area has lost two iconic drinking establishments in 2013. Bonnie’s Place had been a frequent winner of Best Burger in the City Pulse Top of the Town Awards, but after 23 illustrious years of stacking sweet, sweet ham onto smoky grilled hamburgers, Bonnie’s shuttered its doors in February.

Still swooning from that protein deficiency, the Irish Pub & Grill closed just over a month later. The Irish Pub was a fantastic example of all-service bar and grill, with great drink specials, a broad menu that included salads as big as your head and variety of events and entertainment. Like Bonnie’s, it was a welcoming environment for all, and an awesome venue for people-watching.

These businesses suffered from the constant construction on Lansing’s main thoroughfares. Thankfully, other iconic establishments such as Art’s Bar, Moriarty’s Pub, Stober’s Bar and the Peanut Barrel are more insulated from that danger. Still, the cautionary tale of Bonnie’s and the Irish Pub is a good excuse to go out and hug your favorite local watering hole. —Mary Cusack

Best Place to Find a Former President Advertising Cellphones: Lucky's food market

Just another liquor store boasting about their great deals on throwaway cell phones. But that...I think that's George W. Bush inside that phone!

Not sure how Dubya got trapped inside this vintage-looking flip phone ad, but there he is, greeting visitors to Lucky's Food Market with his trademark mischievous simile. Did anyone OK this celebrity endorsement with the former president?

Either way, Lucky's proudly sports the only mural you will ever see of George W. Bush encouraging you to activate your phone at a liquor store (probably). Enjoy this piece of history, Lansing! —Dylan Sowle

Most uncomfortable place for an interview with a homophobic politician: the men’s room in the Anderson House Office Building

In February 2012, when Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema was a state representative, I asked him for comment on a resolution he opposed. We were inside the Anderson House Office Building in downtown Lansing. He said something along the lines of, “Sure thing. Come with me.” I knew all about Agema’s far right, anti-gay ideologies, so it surprised me when he led me into a bathroom. (I had assumed we were going to his office.) I said to him, “I can wait outside.” To which he responded, “No it’s fine. When you gotta go, you gotta go.” He then positioned himself in front of a urinal. “Fire away,” he said. Before HE could start firing, I told him I’d wait outside and scurried out of the room. When he came out he had no interest in talking to me and pushed me off onto someone else for comment. —Sam Inglot