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…recently illustrated artwork for the Gary, Indiana-based 18th Street Brewery.

Erik’s illustrations are featured on 18th Street’s American pale ale, which is better known as Temporal Purgatory. On a can, Erik’s work looks like this:

18th Street Brewery's Temporal Purgatory artwork by Erik Rose!

Head-on, it looks like this:

I'd drink that!

If you zoom into the tombstone with the cross on top of it on the left, just above the skeleton’s hip bone, you’ll find this:

Now with more Zori!

Zori, which is the last name of our other good friend Milan.

And if you zoom in above and to the left of the skull’s mandible, you’ll find this:

I've made it!

Shady! Yay!

You know you’ve made it when your last name shows up on a can of beer,

-Shady

You may remember this, which detailed that move.

Anyway, nine years later, in July 2003, I moved out of Columbus.

Before last month, I had only been back to Columbus twice since 2003: once to give a lecture about Tastes Like Chicken at my alma mater (CCAD), and another time when I was passing through on my way to Pennsylvania.

Oddly enough, that last time was in October 2008, and I was going to Pennsylvania to celebrate the recent marriage of my good friend Jamie and her new husband Dave.

Last month, I returned to Columbus a third time (in 11 years… holy crap) because Jamie and Dave (who are now expecting their first child) threw what would prove to be a memorable (and epic) reunion party.

Old friends, some of whom I’ve known for over two decades, came from all over the country to celebrate food, friendship, and a little bit of fire.

We kicked shit off right at Thurman Cafe. Oh, sweet baby Jesus… I’ve missed you.

A burger from Thurman Cafe. This would be my death row meal.

After a day of prep (to be read: a shitload of drinking to cope with our Thurman-induced food comas), we kicked off October 11th with a stop at Young’s Jersey Dairy, the farm we spent our first pumpkin picking at in October 1994.

There are three people in this photo who were also there on that first outing 21 years ago: John Marshall (first guy on the far left), Bryan Loar (fourth guy from the right), and yours truly (idiot wearing the bright-as-fuck orange pants all the way on the right).

The first stop: Young's Jersey Dairy!

Three-quarters of the original 206 Crew reunited (We miss you, Special K!)…

The 206 Crew: Part I

…who pretty much look like slightly older (and in my case, balder) versions of these three kids from December 1994.

Three-quarters of the 206 Crew.

Later, we were joined by a second-semester 206 Crew member: the Goon!

The 206 Crew: Part II

So many folks showed up! I love each and every one of them dearly.

The whole gang was there. And I love each and every one of them.

We quickly fell into our old hijinks… which, for some reason, usually involve farts.

Old shenanigans.

Before I left, a few of us ventured over to 886 N. Dennison Avenue, which (from 1999 to 2003) was famously known as “The Coop.” The two windows on the left of the second floor look into my old bedroom. This is also the building where Tastes Like Chicken was born.

The Coop: Original

I experienced so many amazing moments in this building…

886: 1999 - 2003

…and I experienced all of them with these two guys: Milan and Brett, my fellow original members of the Coop Crew.

The Coop Crew: Now

The last time we were together was at Brett and Marci’s wedding in September 2005. Before then, one of the last times we were together was in this photo, which was shot on the front steps of the Coop near the end of June 2003, just before we moved to Milwaukee, and Brett moved up to Cleveland.

The Coop Crew: Then

When we were living at the Coop, our good friend Michelle lived right next door at 888 N. Dennison.

Michelle and I returned to reenact our neighborly feud (which never really existed). Thankfully, no one was home at the time; that, or they just wondered why some old strangers were snooping around and taking photos on their back porch. Either way, this photo made it all worth it.

886 vs. 888

Back in the day, Milan had a habit of “tagging” Michelle’s apartment. He would write “WALL” on her walls, or “FISH TANK” on her, you guessed it, fish tank. One day, he wrote “MICHELLE” on the ledge outside her window.

It’s still there.

Michelle's name (thanks to Milan) is still written on the side of the building. In crayon.

We stopped next door and visited (and smoked a filterless Lucky Strike with) our old friend Eddie (who famously gave us this shotgun as a going-away present when we moved out of Columbus)…

Eddie!

…and his sweet wife Rose.

Rose!

Before it all ended, a group of us met for lunch at Katalina’s for Nutella-filled pancake balls and thick-cut bacon.

The Last Supper (or, more accurately, Lunch).

As Jamie drove Michelle and me to the airport, we made our way through downtown one last time. The city looks completely different than it did when I left 11 years ago, but somehow it still feels exactly the same.

Cbus.

It was such a great weekend. Seriously, it was one of the top-three events of my life, right up there with our wedding on October 30th, 2011, and my surprise birthday party on September 3rd, 2006.

Sure, the food and booze helped, but it was the friends (who are family), the laughter, and the love that made the weekend so amazing.

The bathroom walls in Katalina’s are covered in chalkboard paint; sitting in a tray beside the sink are sticks of chalk, which everyone is encouraged to use.

I did.

Truth.

And I do.

Let’s do it again… soon,

-Shady

…for this:

But not so much for this:

Love getting mail,

-Shady

…hijacked my cell phone at a party last weekend. When I finally got it back, my phone was… well, different.

The first menu page hadn’t changed:

The second menu page, however, had a bunch of wonderful new apps including “The Holy Bible,” “Boy Ahoy” and “FOX Sports” among others. (Note: The first three apps in the top left were already there.)

The third menu page was filled with a bunch of pro-Republican, Justin Bieber and vegan apps. Oh, and one about periods. I’m still trying to figure out which one of these is the scariest.

The fourth menu page was… sigh, you get the idea.

My calendar was also hacked. The next day, for an entire hour, I was scheduled to eat my grandma’s creamy potato chowder.

Every day thereafter, and I mean literally every day thereafter, at 4:00 AM (with an alarm that was scheduled to go off) I would be reminded that I have AIDS.

On September 11th I would be reminded to “never forget.”

And on Sunday, October 30th, which also just happens to be our wedding day, I was scheduled to “kiss happiness goodbye” in Chicago.

With friends like these,

-Shady

…is in this three-part documentary short titled “Three Guys Walk Into A Bar…”

Dig it!

Dance, dance,

-Shady

Back when I was living in Columbus, Ohio my friends and I started a quote wall. Whenever a bit of brilliance (or otherwise) poured out of someone’s mouth, somebody would yell “Quote!” thus nominating it for Quote Board status. The quote then had to be seconded by someone (it almost always was), and then it would be written down to be forever immortalized on the Quote Board.

This is the modern day equivalent of that classic piece of my past.

QUOTE BOARD:

“Justin is the Fartune Teller.”

– Milan Zori, 10/31/10

The context of this one isn’t hard to figure out,

-Shady

Or at least that’s what I’m being told.

Lemme bring you up to speed:

I wrote a little all-ages book called “Missing the Boat” that Image/Shadowline/Silverline is publishing. This 88-page full-color beauty was drawn by the super-talented Serbian monster Dwellephant! And the best part?!? The best part, my friends, is that this book is in stores today!

Don’t have a copy? Call up your local indie bookshop and order one.

Don’t have any legs to get to said local indie bookshop? Visit Amazon.com here and order one.

Want me to sign your book? Awesome, because I totally want to sign it! Unfortunately, I don’t have my copies yet, so you’ll have to wait!

Want to play a fun online game? Click here for Puzzle Farter!

Dwellephant and I worked hard on this book for months, and I’m so happy and proud (and relieved) that it’s finally out. Now I just hope it sells a million copies so I can finally pay off my school loans.

Or I hope it sells at least ten copies.

I need a life bailout,

-Shady

PS: Check out the cover for the book here:

"Missing the Boat" cover

And our awesome “About the Author & Artist” photo here:

"Missing the Boat" creators

Special thanks to Kat Berger for taking the photo.

Old Poop!