Knock Off Nights


Every Sunday, Rick, T-Nuts and I would go to Acme Bar and Pizza to watch the NFL games.  We got to know the bartender, Kelly, and a few times we waited around the place before it opened and she let us in early.  Those were, very likely, the best days of my life.  Sitting at the bar, drinking Budweiser with my two best friends and watching football from noon until night…nothing could beat it.  I remember how we’d do shots of Rumpleminze with a great drunkard named Paulie who went to Acme every night of the week, and how we’d put five bucks in the juke box and play Prince’s Greatest Hits in its entirety.  I get misty eyed just thinking about it.  About those Sundays, I mean.  Not Prince’s Greatest Hits.  That’s more about booty shaking.

Rick and T-Nuts were still going to Acme football Sundays when I moved away to North Carolina.  Upon my arrival, I immediately began looking for a Sunday hangout – a replacement Acme, if you will.  It took a couple weeks, but I eventually settled on a little piece-of-crap joint called The Room, where I started spending my Sundays.  It was a dive like Acme and the bartender looked sort of like Kelly.  Really, though, it wasn’t the same.  My friends were gone, I couldn’t stagger home, and Lynyrd Skynyrd is not an acceptable alternative to Prince .  The whole operation got depressing quickly.

The next season I watched football at home.  I likely saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars that year.

I'll have the shrimp burger value meal, to go, with a barf bag.

Although The Room was really its own entity, to me it was an Acme knock off.  Today,  I found myself thinking a lot about knock offs.  In Korea, they’re all over the place.  It seems like for every foreign product or store, there’s the wacky Korean imitation running along besides it.  There are a lot of McDonald’s here, for instance, but there’s also Lotteria.  It’s a similar operation; the interior of the “restaurant” (I refuse to refer to either McDonald’s or Lotteria as a restaurant without putting the quotation marks around it) is identical to McDonald’s and Lotteria’s colors are even the same.  On the other hand, McDonald’s has the Big Mac, while Lotteria has the bulgogi burger and the shrimp burger.

I needed a coat,  so this afternoon I went to the store and purchased a puffy North Face knock off called “Plus Mountain.”  The North Face is super popular here, and there are plenty of knock offs floating around.  The Plus Mountain is pretty awesome, but my favorite has to be The Black Face.  I somehow have difficulty imagining a store called “The Black Face” finding success in most places.  Its appeal, much like the shrimp burger, is probably limited to people who just don’t know better.

I also found myself munching on Jacker potato chips.  Jacker looks exactly like Pringles.  The big difference is that it totally sucks.  The chips are half an inch thick and taste burnt.  In the morning I enjoy my Lion cereal, with the cartoon character who looks a lot like Tony the Tiger and, like Tony, gives me the thumbs up when I see him.  He’s a happy knock off, and he encourages me.  The tagline for the brand should be, “Theyyyyyyy’rrrrreeee Good!”

In addition, I find myself frequently having knock off nights here.  I go back to the same bars or restaurants over and over, apparently with the hopes of reliving certain times from last year that were marvelous.  But here’s the thing: ten years ago when The Room bummed me out, I started to wonder if my weekends and social life had become a sad simulacrum of my college days.  I felt like I should be doing something different, that I should be progressing.  The booze was the same, the people might’ve been different but they filled the same roles, and I was trying really hard to have a great time, but there was always something that seemed to be missing.

Now, I don’t mind my knock off nights at all.  I even look forward to them.  My Plus Mountain jacket keeps me warm.  As bad as Jacker potato chips are, I still keep buying them.  And my lion cereal is good for my self-esteem.  Yeah, I admit, I live the same night over and over…that’s cool.  Knock offs have value, apart from simply reminding us of the real deal.  So the next time I’m with the same people at the same place, I’ll remind myself: Tonight might not be the greatest night of my life, but it looks an awful lot like it.


20 thoughts on “Knock Off Nights

  1. Yes! I’ve got quite a few years on you, but I still find it hard to move from the “should be” feeling to accepting – and reveling – in the here and now, knock off or not.

    And love the “Unbelieveable – It’s Not Butter!” That’s actually an improvement on the original.

    • Yeah, I agree. The ‘should be’ feeling to tough to shake, and although I try to write all cheery and sunny I wouldn’t have thought this in the first place if it wasn’t bumming me out a bit.

      I thought that Butter thing was really funny. It’s just funny that someone is knocking off “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” in the first place.

      Good to hear from you, Westerner!

    • Haha – love my Paris B! When I first got here, my recruiter was this French Canadian guy, and he pronounced it like “Par-ee Ba-gay.” So I thought, “Okay, I guess that’s how you say it.” For about a week I called it that and everyone looked at me like I was a douche. Like ‘why is this American guy trying to be all French?’ It was embarrassing. But the place is awesome. Love that friend bread thing with the curry inside.

      Peace, waiting!

  2. Yesterday I was almost thinking about the same things. How the unbranded stuff can make you happy. How sometimes a copy of McDonald or Pringles or even Gucci can please you more than those overly priced brands

    • Absolutely. Growing up, my mom worked at Kmart, so we wore lots of knock off crap, like Wrangler jeans. At the time it was a bit humiliating. Yesterday, though, I proudly wore my Plus Mountain jacket. It doesn’t say ‘poor’ or ‘unknowing’ any more. It says ‘frugal.’

      Love ya Myth! Hope you’re well. : )

    • Well said, Lan. When I was in Vietnam, I ate pho and spring rolls almost every day, and each time was just as good as the last. God I love pho and spring rolls. Can you mail me some? Or come over and cook me some bun cha?

      What were we talking about again? I think my current hunger is affecting my responses…

      • Exodus

        haha i wish i could mail you all the amazing food in Vietnam. i like it when people appreciate and enjoy food. phở and spring rolls are my favourites too (well, who don’t love these anyway?). but phở in Saigon is different from phở in Hanoi. bún chả is not popular here since it’s a northern dish. but we have bún thịt nướng chả giò here (bún with roasted pork and fried spring rolls) and it is equally tasty.

        urg… water in my mouth… why are we talking about food again?

      • Exodus

        we southerners think Hanoi phở is a bit… plain since we use more ingredients to make the soup and we eat phở with more vegetables – i totally dig these, they give phở the unique scent. those northern folks, on the other hand, claim that their phở is the original (which is true – but just same as those British folks claim that their English is the original) and has a better sense of purity, and our phở is just a jumble of taste and smell.

        you have to come here and try it yourself to see which one you like better. it is said that if you like Hanoi phở, you won’t fancy Saigon phở and vice versa.

        ’bout frog legs, how did you have them served? i like to have them stir-fried with lemongrass and chilly.

  3. Oh crap! I saw billboards of Jacker chips when I visited Malaysia! At the time, I wasn’t so pre-occupied with the knock-off concept of Jackers, because I thought the name was just so wrong.

    Take away the chips, and it’s essentially a tube called a jacker. It might as well be called “Flesh Tube Chips”.

    • I like the idea that they “jacked” Pringles for their chips. Just as Ice Cube was “Jackin’ for Beats,” Jacker is jackin’ for chips. Haha I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about!

      Jacker is actually growing on me. It’s more of a potato skin type taste than Pringles, but it isn’t that bad. I’m adapting to it. Once you pop Jacker, you can stop…but eventually you go back.

      Peace Drew! Good to hear from you.

  4. Hey ! Happy New Year !

    There’s a Korean store just a spitting distance from our house ( so okay, I’m exagerrating,,, it’s about a mile ) and those pics you posted do look familiar. I swear I’ve seen a Jacker. If you’ve been to China, it’s even worse there. The box of Kellog’s is almost exactly the same, except there’s only one letter L.

    That pic of KFG is funny. KFG ? LOL

    • Lol. That’s great. Kelog. Jacker is strangely growing on me and I’m becoming quite fond of them. I don’t want to lead Jacker on, though, and I should be honest with Jacker…if Pringles comes back around my way, my relationship with Jacker is over. I’m sorry Jacker…I didn’t mean to hurt you.

      Peace Renx!

  5. oh man…now you got me rolling deep in nostalgia. We could probalby write a mulit-volume anthology of nothing but our Acme’s adventures.

    shit…now I gotta write about that place. What a benchmark for carefree youth and discovery. And for vomiting. Lots of vomiting.

    I once held the unlockable bathroom door closed with all my might while a friend blew lines of coke off his pack of Camels. And that was just how the night started….

    • It was the best. It was simple. I never picked up a girl there, or really talked to any girls. I got drunk. That’s it. For…what…five consecutive years or something? Remember, I had my 21st birthday party at that place? To me, it’s one of the most beautiful place in the world. I place it right above the Christ Redeemer statue.

  6. I guess, nothing can beat the times you had with your friends. 🙂 Let’s drink to that topicless! I haven’t tasted that Soju you have there. I once asked a colleague in SG if they have Soju in SG. And she was like, “Why you want to drink that? That’s cheap drink you know.” And I was like, “What wrong with that?” Hehe I guess I was curious with the taste. Our beer here in the Phils taste sweeter than beer from SG. Theirs is far bitter. Cheers! 🙂

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