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Answering Your Burning Grammar Questions

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We're joined this week by a special guest blogger. Patricia T. O'Conner, a former editor at The New York Times Book Review, is the author of the national best-seller Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, as well as other books about language. She is a regular monthly guest on public radio station WNYC in New York. Learn more at her website, grammarphobia.com. Today she's answering questions from our readers.

Q: "All right "¦ so there's no good reason to not end a sentence in a preposition "¦ but that doesn't mean that I have to like hearing, "˜Where you at.'"—Posted by Fruppi on 5/5

A: The problem with "Where you at?" isn't that it ends in a preposition. The problem is that it shouldn't have a preposition at all. (What it ought to have is a verb!)

Constructions like "Where is my car at?" and "Where are my keys at?" are considered substandard usage because "where" makes the addition of "at" redundant. "Where" essentially means "at (or in) what place," so adding another "at" is overkill. It's roughly equivalent to saying, "In which pocket are they in?"

Q: "Can we look forward to a discussion of the singular they this week?"—Posted by s michael c on 5/5

A: I didn't discuss this on the blog but I'm glad you brought it up. The singular they or them or their has been considered wrong for a couple of centuries, and it's still a no-no. (Example: "If anybody uses a cell phone, tell them not to.") But it's become so common that only a few of us diehards notice anymore! That doesn't make it right, though. They, them or their are not legitimate singular pronouns, according to nearly all usage and style guides. And I don't like using "he or she" and "him or her," either.

Here's some historical perspective. Once upon a time, English speakers routinely used they to refer to indefinite pronouns that take singular verbs, like anyone, anybody, nobody, and someone. The Oxford English Dictionary has published references for this usage going back to the 16th century. But in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, grammarians began condemning the use of they as a singular pronoun on the grounds that it was illogical. Numerically speaking, they were right, but this left us with a great big hole in English where a gender-neutral, number-neutral pronoun ought to be.

That's the way things stand now, despite all the history, leaving the careful writer with the problem of finding an acceptable alternative to the singular they.

Here's one solution: In a long piece of writing, you might use "him" in some places and "her" in others when referring to a generic individual. Another solution is to write around the problem—don't use the pronoun at all. Example: "Someone forgot to pay the bills" (instead of "their bills"). Or: "If anyone calls, say I'm out" (instead of "tell them I'm out").

If you do use they, them, or their, then make the subject (or referent noun) plural instead of singular. A sentence like "Every parent dotes on their child" could instead be "All parents dote on their children." Instead of "A person should mind their own business," make it "People should mind their own business." Be creative. Disregarding the plural nature of they isn't the answer.

Q: "Would you please address the misuse/overuse of the word myself? It seems the use of the word has become more popular lately. One example I hear a lot is "˜Myself and my friends"¦.' This sounds so wrong to me, or am I incorrect? Another one is irregardless. Is that a real word?"—Posted by JaneM on 5/6

A: People use myself when they can't decide between "I" and "me." This isn't just a cop-out; it's bad English. The word myself is reserved for two uses: (1) To emphasize: "Let me do it myself." (2) To refer to a subject already mentioned: "I can see myself in the mirror." If you could just as well use "I" or "me," then you shouldn't resort to myself.

As for irregardless, it's definitely out of bounds. It blends "regardless" with "irrespective," and the result is a redundancy that has both a negative prefix and a negative suffix! As one reader (lala) so cleverly commented, it's a one-word double negative! Is it real? Well, lots of people use irregardless and you'll find it in dictionaries, so it's real all right. But not everything in a dictionary is good English. Read the fine print: Both Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.) and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.) call it "nonstandard."

Q: "If President Bush (41) and President Bush (43) were walking down the street together, what would be the correct statement? "˜Here come the Presidents Bush "¦ the Bush Presidents "¦ the President Bushes'? Or, "˜Here comes President Bush and President Bush'? These questions must be answered before the next President is inaugurated."—Posted by Witty Nickname on 5/6

A: Your first suggestion is right: "the Presidents Bush." Similarly, Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams are often referred to jointly as "the Presidents Adams" or "both Presidents Adams." When in doubt, think of Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov).

Q: "What's the best contraction for "˜am not'? For example, how should one best end this sentence: "˜Since contractions are required, I'm forced to use one now, am I not?'"—Posted by John on 5/7

A. This is a very interesting question! The answer (aren't I) takes us back to the history of the most fascinating contraction of them all: ain't.

Today, ain't is considered the poster child of poor English, but it wasn't always so. It was probably first used around 1600, just when most of our English contractions—all perfectly legitimate, I might add—were being formed: don't, can't, isn't, and many more. For centuries, ain't was just one of the crowd. It was first seen in print in the late 1600s, spelled an't, a'n't, and eventually ain't. (Some scholars believe the new spelling may have reflected the way the word was pronounced by certain speakers.)

Ain't was originally a contraction of "am not" and "are not." But by the early 1700s, it was also being used as a contraction for "is not." And by the 1800s it was used for "have not" and "has not" too, replacing an earlier contraction, ha'n't. Naturally, as ain't took on more and more meanings it drifted further and further from its roots, and here's where the grammarians and schoolmarms took notice. Contractions like can't and don't had clearly traceable parentage, but ain't had so many possible parents that it seemed illegitimate. So 19th-century critics turned up their noses and declared ain't a crime against good English.

That created a problem, of course—what to use in place of ain't I as a contraction for "am I not." The obsolete "amn't I" was a tongue-twister (it survives today only in Scots and Irish English). As we all know by now, we ended up with aren't I, which clearly makes no sense. How can we justify it if we don't say "I aren't"? And how did it come about, anyway?

As it happens, aren't I didn't exist until the early 20th century, when British novelists and dramatists started using it to reproduce the way upper-class speakers pronounced ain't I. (In the mouth of an old Etonian, ain't rhymed with "taunt" rather than "taint.") Illogical it may be, but aren't I caught on in both Britain and the United States. It may have come out of left field, but today it's standard English while ain't I definitely isn't.

Too bad. I rather like ain't, though I'm too cowardly to use it. If it hadn't outgrown its old meanings of "am not" and "are not," it might be acceptable today. And we'd have a sensible contraction for "am I not."

Q: "The English/Irish refer to a team as a plural thing ("˜England are playing great football this season'). I realize the English invented English but this drives me nuts! To me it is a non-issue. A team was, is, and always will be ONE team, no matter if there are 2 people or 2,000 people. A couple is always two but it is still just one couple. And certainly not to argue with you but I don't like your example "˜A couple of tenants own geckos.' I think the only reason it sounds acceptable is because the word tenants is plural. But you always have to ignore prepositional phrases. Anyway, just my two cents."—Posted by Rob on 5/8

A: The British have a much broader attitude toward collective nouns than we do. To us, "team" is singular, but to them it's a collective that they treat as a plural. In fact, things like soccer teams ("Manchester are leading"), companies ("Mobil plan to invest"), and government bodies ("the Cabinet have met") are all treated as plural in Britain.

They use punctuation marks and articles (a, an, the) and all sorts of other things differently, too. But do NOT assume that British English is purer or more correct than American English. Many characteristics that we identify with modern-day British English—the different usages, spellings, vocabulary words, some points of grammar, even the British accent with its broad a's and dropped r's—developed after the Revolutionary War. Remember that the Colonists brought with them 17th- and 18th-century British English, much of which has been preserved on our side of the Atlantic (and much of which has been altered on theirs). So what's considered correct in London is not necessarily correct in Philadelphia. A chapter in my next book will be devoted to this issue, which I discussed recently on my blog. Here's a link.

As for the collective noun couple, I don't agree that an attached prepositional phrase should be ignored when you're deciding whether the word is singular or plural. Certainly it's singular here: "The couple next-door vacations in Hawaii." But just as certainly it's plural here: "A couple of my friends vacation in Hawaii." And couple is plural here even without a prepositional phrase, because it's assumed: "Where do your friends vacation?" "¦ "A couple [of them] vacation in Hawaii, and a couple more prefer ski resorts."

Q: "I feel like I remember having read in my old college Chicago Manual of Style that there are a select few proper names for which the possessive is ' and not 's. I think one was Jesus (as in "˜He followed Jesus' teachings,' not "˜He followed Jesus's teachings'). I think it was the same for Moses and Sophocles "¦ am I making this up?"—Posted by lala on 5/8

A: You remember correctly! The usual practice in making names possessive is to add an apostrophe plus s. But there's an exception. When a Biblical or classical name ends in s, the custom is to add just the apostrophe: Jesus' disciples, Hercules' strength, Xerxes' writings, Archimedes' principle.

We also drop the s and use only the apostrophe in certain idiomatic expressions with the word "sake" (this avoids a pileup of sibilants). Examples: "for goodness' sake," "for conscience' sake," "for righteousness' sake," "for convenience' sake."

Q: "OK, so this has always really bugged me: is it the 1970s or the 1970's? For example, "˜I was born in the 1970s.' Or, "˜I was born in the 1970's.' I was always under the impression the apostrophe was erroneous, but I guess I might be wrong!"—Posted by Beth on 5/8

A: It's true that you never add an apostrophe to make an ordinary noun plural. But the plurals of numbers are another matter, a style issue that publishers have differed on over the years. In the first two editions of my book Woe Is I, my recommendation was to add an apostrophe plus s to make a number plural: 3's, for example, and 1970's. This was the style then recommended by the New York Times. Since then, both I and the Times have changed our opinions.

I now advise using only the s, with no apostrophe: 3s and 1970s. The third edition of my book Woe Is I (due out next year) and the children's edition, Woe Is I Jr. (published in 2007), reflect this change. I still recommend using the apostrophe to pluralize a single letter for the sake of readability. Without it, a sentence like this is gibberish: "My name is full of as, is, and us." Translation: "My name is full of a's, i's, and u's."

Yesterday: Five Lessons in Punctuation. Wednesday: Five Lessons in Grammar. Tuesday: Debunking Etymological Myths. Monday: Debunking Grammar Myths.

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The Best Dive Bar in All 50 States
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Dive bars are the perfect antidote to exorbitant cocktail prices and highfalutin mixologists who insist on putting a dozen ingredients into your whiskey sour. These casual, unpretentious spots serve a variety of inexpensive beers, cocktails, and (occasionally) snacks. Although there are tons of dive bars scattered across the country, we’re choosing the best dive bar in every state, based on the bar’s drink menu, reputation, and overall aesthetic.

1. ALABAMA // THE UPSIDEDOWN PLAZA

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

Founded in 1962, the Upsidedown Plaza might be the ultimate spot for good drinks and good times. It stays open until 2 a.m. every night, giving patrons plenty of time to play pool, dance to oldies, and sing karaoke.

2. ALASKA // SANDBAR

Location: Juneau, Alaska

Sandbar serves Alaskan beer on tap and delicious halibut fish and chips. The friendly bartenders, three pool tables, and golf game machine keep customers coming back.

3. ARIZONA // RIPS BAR

Location: Phoenix, Arizona

People come to Rips Bar to let loose and forget their troubles. Expect to find killer ales and cocktails, a fun rockabilly vibe, and bar games including pinball, pool, and darts. There’s also karaoke, open mic events, and all-day drink specials.

4. ARKANSAS // THE WHITE WATER TAVERN

Location: Little Rock, Arkansas

Head to this hole in the wall for strong whiskey, cheap beer, and live music. The atmosphere is eclectic, with tons of twinkle lights, graffiti on the walls, and a Miller Lite clock behind the bar. There’s also a canoe hanging from the ceiling.

5. CALIFORNIA // CLOONEY’S PUB

Location: San Francisco, California

Situated in the Mission district, Clooney’s Pub is a casual spot famous for its circular bar and friendly service. Happy hour starts bright and early—at 6 a.m.—and for entertainment, there's a pool table and TV.

6. COLORADO // THE SINK

Location: Boulder, Colorado

bar back at The Sink
The Sink

With $3 well drinks, $4 drafts, and $5 martinis during happy hour, the Sink knows how to please. Everyone from chef Anthony Bourdain to former President Barack Obama has visited the bar, which has been open since 1923. Order the bar’s legendary burger and pizza as you marvel at the trippy artwork on the walls and ceiling.

7. CONNECTICUT // THE HUNGRY TIGER

Location: Manchester, Connecticut

Originally a soda and ice cream shop, the Hungry Tiger is now a beloved dive bar and music venue. Sunday brunch features cheap Bloody Marys and Bud Light pitchers, and the spot serves delectable burgers, wings, and sliders.

8. DELAWARE // FAMOUS TOM’S TAVERN

Location: Hockessin, Delaware

With $3 beer and $4 wine and liquor, Famous Tom’s brings the boozy goods. The TVs play plenty of NFL games, so you can watch your favorite teams as you sip your drink.

9. FLORIDA // FREE SPIRITS SPORTS CAFE

Location: Miami Beach, Florida

Bartenders pour generously at this Miami Beach bar. After you knock back a few drinks, try the perfectly greasy chicken fingers and fries and relax in front of a sports game.

10. GEORGIA // NORTHSIDE TAVERN

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

North Side Bar
Daniel B., Yelp

Built in the ‘40s, Northside Tavern was a neighborhood grocery store and gas station before it morphed into a blue-collar bar. With live music seven nights a week and paintings on the wall dedicated to blues and jazz musicians, this dive bar is a music lover’s paradise.

11. HAWAII // HANKS CAFE HONOLULU

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

Located in Honolulu’s Chinatown, Hanks Cafe Honolulu is a tiny bar with a big heart. The bartenders are friendly, the walls feature island-inspired portraits, and a jukebox and live music keep guests happily entertained.

12. IDAHO // WHISKEY RIVER

Location: Nampa, Idaho

Whiskey River has been around for almost a decade, offering a full liquor bar and tons of bottled beers. There’s a dance floor, darts, pool tables, and a jukebox, and the bar stays open until 1 a.m. every night.

13. ILLINOIS // THE DOUBLE BUBBLE

Location: Chicago, Illinois

People rave about the Double Bubble. The neighborhood bar serves craft beers at reasonable prices, and the TVs play plenty of football games. If you’re an Irish whiskey fan, be sure to get a Jameson shot.

14. INDIANA // CHECKERED FLAG TAVERN

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana

Checkered Flag Tavern
Linda M., Yelp

Checkered Flag Tavern has a great selection of draft beers, liquor, and burgers. Named for the Indy 500, naturally, the bar has plenty of non-alcohol related entertainment including a photo booth, pool table, darts, and live music on the weekends.

15. IOWA // THE HIGH LIFE LOUNGE

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

The High Life Lounge is a popular destination for beer aficionados. Lovers of Miller High Life (the “champagne of beers”) will especially love this bar, which has a ‘60s and ‘70s vibe thanks to the vintage beer signs and retro wood paneling. If you work up an appetite, try the fried dill-pickle spears and the cheese curds.

16. KANSAS // JOHNNIE’S ON SEVENTH

Location: Kansas City, Kansas

Established in 1934, Johnnie’s On Seventh has long been one of Kansas’ favorite watering holes. The retro vibe and friendly regulars will make you feel right at home, and the darts, shuffleboard, and popcorn machine will keep you entertained all night.

17. KENTUCKY // T. EDDIE’S BAR AND GRILL

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

If low-key bars that serve cheap beer are your thing, head to T. Eddie’s Bar and Grill in Germantown. With 42 craft beers, a fenced-in back patio, and karaoke nights, you can’t go wrong.

18. LOUISIANA // SNAKE AND JAKE’S CHRISTMAS CLUB LOUNGE

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Katie D., Yelp

Situated in a dark shack, Snake And Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge gives all who enter it the ultimate dive bar experience. Christmas lights illuminate the tiny space year-round, and the bar serves cheap local beers and shots every night (including Christmas).

19. MAINE // SPRING POINT TAVERN

Location: South Portland, Maine

Drink specials, good pub food, and live music? Check. Spring Point Tavern serves well drinks and Jell-O shots, and there are darts and pool to help guests unwind from the day’s stresses.

20. MARYLAND // BUCK MURPHY'S BAR

Location: Odenton, Maryland

Walking down the stairs to this basement dive bar will transport you to a simpler time and place. Everyone seems to know everyone else, and the cold beer and homemade spicy chili will make you feel right at home.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // THE VICTORIA BAR

Location: Greenfield, Massachusetts

The Vic is the ultimate place to down lagers, fireball shots, and Irish coffee while you watch a Red Sox game. The family-owned and -operated bar also has three big-screen TVs, a jukebox, and darts.

22. MICHIGAN // BANFIELD'S BAR

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Banfield’s Bar opened in 1982 and has been drawing in locals ever since. The hole-in-the-wall serves strong drinks and tasty burgers, and it hosts events such as ‘70s karaoke nights.

23. MINNESOTA // SKINNERS PUB & EATERY

Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota

Owned by husband and wife duo Pete and Molly Skinner, Skinners Pub & Eatery is a laid-back bar that serves beer on tap, wine, tacos and pizza. The big TV screens by the bar, plus the low prices, make regulars come back again and again.

24. MISSISSIPPI // THE PROJECT LOUNGE

Location: Biloxi, Mississippi

Customers rave about the friendly service, strong drinks, and rib-eye steak sandwich at the Project Lounge. The dark, smoky dive bar has an electronic jukebox and is cash-only.

25. MISSOURI // THE HAUNT

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

The haunt
Terri Daniels

Billed as a tavern for the macabre at heart, the Haunt is a Goth-themed dive bar with $2 well drinks, $11 domestic buckets, a pool table, and live music. If Halloween is your favorite holiday, you’ll love the spooky décor and horror films playing on the TV.

26. MONTANA // THE RHINOCEROS

Location: Missoula, Montana

Since 1987, the Rhino has impressed customers with its beer and scotch selections. With 50 beers on tap and more than 50 single-malt scotches, this dive bar also offers pool, shuffleboard, and plenty of good times.

27. NEBRASKA // BEER CITY

Location: Omaha, Nebraska

Across from Hitchcock Park is Beer City, a bar that offers $2 fireball shots every Monday, $5 pitchers on Wednesday, and karaoke on Friday nights. There are also free peanuts and popcorn, pool and darts, 11 TVs, and mini-golf in the back.

28. NEVADA // DOUBLE DOWN SALOON

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

double down bar exterior
Jonathon S., Yelp

Since 1992, Double Down has been a haven for people who want to break away from the pricey Vegas strip. Dubbed the anti-Vegas, this bar serves eye-popping drinks like the original bacon martini (Slim Jim garnish and all). There’s also pool, pinball, and live music.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // PENUCHE’S CONCORD

Location: Concord, New Hampshire

Penuche’s really promotes music and emerging artists. Bands play often and open mic opportunities abound. Whether you order beer or cocktails, this bar will put you in a partying mood.

30. NEW JERSEY // JIMMY GEEZ

Locations: Haledon and Oak Ridge, New Jersey

Jimmy Geez
Jonathan M., Yelp

Jimmy Geez dominates the north Jersey dive bar scene. You’ll find more than 20 beers on tap, chicken wings galore, and plenty of TVs tuned to sports games. Jimmy Geez also hosts live music and trivia nights, making it the ultimate hangout spot.

31. NEW MEXICO // SILVA’S SALOON

Location: Bernalillo, New Mexico

In 1933, a former bootlegger and moonshiner named Felix Silva opened Silva’s Saloon. Today, the biker bar is the longest continuously running business on historic Route 66. Dollar bills, raunchy photos, and old liquor bottles decorate the space.

32. NEW YORK // MILANO’S BAR

Location: New York, New York

Located on Houston Street a few blocks north of Little Italy, Milano’s Bar might be Manhattan’s best old-school dive bar. It’s been open since 1880! All-day-and-night specials include Tecate, Narragansett, and Rolling Rock.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // LOCAL BAR

Location: Apex, North Carolina

Local Bar began in the ‘30s as a gas station, but today it serves cold drinks to happy customers. Besides $1 Jell-O shots and Monday movie nights, the bar also has live music, pool tables, horseshoe pits, and dart boards.

34. NORTH DAKOTA // BORROWED BUCKS ROADHOUSE

Location: Bismarck, North Dakota

There’s something for everyone at Borrowed Bucks, from beer pong on Tuesdays to ladies’ night on Wednesdays (women can get $2 Schooners). Between sips of your beer, munch on the pizza and wings.

35. OHIO // BECKY’S BAR

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Although Becky’s Bar is near Cleveland State University, it’s not just for students. Since 1986, Becky’s has served a diverse group of diehard customers who enjoy the PBRs and IPAs, mozzarella sticks, and arcade games. There’s also a jukebox, biweekly karaoke, and multiple big screen TVs that play football, baseball, and basketball games.

36. OKLAHOMA // ORPHA’S LOUNGE

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Located in downtown Tulsa, Orpha’s Lounge is a small, welcoming joint with two pool tables and plenty of drink specials. Just be aware that some patrons still smoke inside.

37. OREGON // THE LOW BROW

Location: Portland, Oregon

Opened in 1998, The Low Brow might be the best place to unwind in Portland. The dimly lit bar discourages patrons from being glued to their screens, and the menu includes everything from nachos to kale salad.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // JAMES BAR

Location: Enola, Pennsylvania

For more than two decades, James Bar has served cheap drinks to thirsty Pennsylvanians. A neon Bud Light sign in the window greets customers, who can sip beer from Mason jars and play tunes on the bar’s jukebox.

39. RHODE ISLAND // CAPTAIN SEAWEED'S FAMILY PUB

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Captain Seaweed’s is a true dive bar—and proud of it. The walls of the Fox Point bar feature nautical décor, making it the right place for people who like sipping beer near ship wheels, life ring buoys, pirate paraphernalia, and whale artwork.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // TATTOOED MOOSE

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

the tattooed moose
Jimmy S., Yelp

Despite its extensive craft beer selection and tasty food, this downtown dive is down-to-earth and unassuming. Get the grilled cheese sandwich or the bar’s namesake burger, and wash it down with your choice of pale ales, pilsners, and porters.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // THE THIRSTY DUCK

Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

The Thirsty Duck is a popular destination for affordable drinks, great pizza, and live music. You’ll find groups of friends and coworkers singing karaoke, playing pool, and tossing darts.

42. TENNESSEE // DINO’S

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Dino's
Alex W., Yelp

As East Nashville’s oldest dive bar, Dino’s has built a rock-solid reputation as a top-notch spot. Beers include a selection of Coors, Budweiser, Stiegl, Yuengling, Miller High Life, and Tecate. Food options include cheeseburgers, fries, and fish and chips.

43. TEXAS // THE ABBEY UNDERGROUND

Location: Denton, Texas

This British tavern, located in Courthouse Square, has a little something for everyone. From imported beers and ciders to stouts and lagers, the Abbey Underground has an impressive alcohol menu. Different nights have musical themes ranging from big band and funk to disco trash and ‘90s dance.

44. UTAH // X-WIFE’S PLACE

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Having fun at X-Wife’s Place won’t break the bank, thanks to cheap beer cans and shots. Customers can play pool inside or head to the big outdoor patio to play cornhole.

45. VERMONT // OTHER PLACE

Location: Burlington, Vermont

Other place
Matt S., Yelp

Dive bar connoisseurs love Other Place (The OP), where there’s plenty of beer, mimosas, and Bloody Marys to go around. The sports-themed tabletops, pool table, and occasional movie nights make The OP a neighborhood institution.

46. VIRGINIA // LYNNHAVEN PUB

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Friendly bartenders and a stellar selection of seasonal and Virginian craft beers make Lynnhaven Pub stand out from other bars. The mouthwatering brisket and barbecue tacos are also beloved.

47. WASHINGTON // THE MULE TAVERN

Location: Tacoma, Washington

Although the Mule Tavern serves an abundance of beer and cocktails, Moscow Mules are its specialty. Bartenders make ginger beer from scratch by juicing lemons and ginger, adding cane sugar and water, and carbonating the liquid. Moscow Mules are $4 during happy hour, and well drinks are just $3.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // THE BOULEVARD TAVERN

Location: Charleston, West Virginia

At the Boulevard Tavern, craft cocktails focus on bourbon and gin. You can’t go wrong with any of the bar’s signature cocktails, the best of which is the West Virginia Coal Rush, a honey-infused bourbon. Live music and open mic nights, as well as reggae Sundays, keep excitement levels high.

49. WISCONSIN // SILVER DOLLAR TAVERN

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Less crowded than nearby bars, Silver Dollar Tavern has been a family-owned bar since 1933. The shuffleboard, darts, and pool are a big hit with loyal customers. The bar is cash-only, but there’s an ATM inside.

50. WYOMING // THE BUCKHORN BAR & PARLOR

Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Buckhorn bar
RunAway B., Yelp

The Buckhorn Bar is older than you. It’s been around since 1900, and today visitors can see the bar’s famous bullet hole, elk, and two-headed calf on display. Tuesday is $1 pint night, Wednesday is karaoke night, and Thursday is the night for $1 jack-and-Cokes.

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History
Remembering the Silent Parade Civil Rights March of 1917

New York City had never seen anything quite like it. On July 28, 1917, between the buildings and businesses of Fifth Avenue, roughly 10,000 black citizens made their way down the street. Handwritten signs protesting racial discrimination and violence emerged from the sea of marchers; police mingled with 20,000 onlookers, ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble. Whose defense they might come to was in question.

Known as the Silent Parade, the event was the first of its kind on American soil—a heavily publicized, massive, and organized condemnation of civil rights violations that had been plaguing the country. In 1916, black farmer Jesse Washington had been lynched in Waco, Texas; a mob scene in East St. Louis just weeks prior to the march saw upwards of 200 people killed.

To draw attention to these crimes, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) field secretary James Weldon Johnson rallied his Harlem branch to make a public spectacle of their anger. His word spread throughout the black community, and by 1 p.m. that day, Johnson was part of an ocean of citizens walking in silence to condemn the deplorable racism and white supremacist activities gripping American culture. The only sound heard was the beat of drums. Some onlookers wept.

The visual impact was augmented by their choice of apparel. The women and children wore white; the men wore black. Messages like "Thou shalt not kill" and "Your hands are full of blood" were written on signs. Some of them addressed President Woodrow Wilson, who they felt was failing to live up to campaign promises to make America a unified and tolerant nation.

The peaceful demonstration began at 57th Street and ended at Madison Square Park, which saw the assembly cheer out of a sense of victory. Displaying a mixture of benevolence and mourning, they had demonstrated that the black community would not stand passively while being victimized. Today, the Silent Parade—which is being remembered with a Google Doodle to commemorate its 100th anniversary—is recognized as being a pioneering step in the struggle to achieve equality for all.

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