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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Brian Costello

Way out in the country (well, what's left of it) some people prefer crates, and others prefer barrels. Different cities have different opinions; like Chicago strikes me as the definitive crate town, and Milwaukeeans love to sing "Roll Out the Barrel," and that raises the crucial distinction between the two because barrels you can roll easily--they're round--but crates take lifting and crates are often if not fragile themselves then the cargo inside the crates is fragile and you don't get a "this end up" arrow on barrels but you do all the time with crates, and, furthermore, they carry different things; barrels carry beer, and crates carry kangaroos mistaken for giant mice.

Disaffected suburbanites like neither crates nor barrels, preferring to store their bohemian nonsense in those stupid bike messenger bags. I mean, that's so wrong to just not have an opinion on the matter. Crates? No. Barrels? No. I mean, jeez, me I don't own crates or barrels but only because crates are destroyed once you open them and barrels aren't fun when you're lugging them up 3 flights of stairs, especially when you can get beer, root beer, and gun powder in smaller, more portable packages, you know?

But, affected suburbanites and city lovin' yupsters don't wanna choose between crates or barrels: they love them both! I'm not sure why, because of what I just said about crates breaking after one use and barrels being kinda impractical, but I wasn't in the focus groups or market research surveys when they discovered people want a one stop shop for BOTH crates AND barrels. There must be something to the research, because Crate AND Barrel stores are big deals everywhere, from Lincoln Park to Highland Park, from Kirkwood to Brentwood, from Winter Park to Winter Springs.

And what the hell's wrong with bags anymore, heh? Why just crates or barrels? Like choosing between Bud and Bud Light, or, just as bad, Bush or Gore. Boxes? Cabinets? Shelving? The storage world is vast, so why limit yourself to only two choices?

I'm a barrel man, myself, as you may have gathered. But that's only, like, if I had to choose only one to take with me on a stranded desert isle because I could do make-em-up games for amusement, or throw the barrel at edible animals (hunting purposes). Barrels are fun, with the right attitude, and that's why disaffected-suburb/city-dwellers just don't get it and shrug and say, "Hrmphh, I would never set foot in Crateand Barrel!" Gosh, I wouldn't either, but only because I can't afford it, and the only barrel I want is a nice big barrel of Dad's Root Beer. To really taste the full flavor of root beer, you have to stick your head in a barrel of Dad's Root Beer like you're bobbing for apples and lap it up like it's the woman you stayed celibate for until marriage.

If you look at the overall percussiveness of the two, you'll plainly see how barrels are superior. Crates, you might be able to take a couple even strips, put handles on 'em, and you have slapsticks, but a good wooden barrel o' fun is a drum already! Just get a couple of thick John Bonham treetrunk drumsticks, and you can pound along to "We Will Rock You," or if you wanna play that rhythm faster you can play along with that classic M.O.D. song "Bubble Butt," and flip out freeform when Billy Milano does: eighth note, quarter note, (repeat 7X): Bub-ble butt, bub-ble butt, bub-ble butt, bub-ble butt, bub-ble butt, bub-ble butt, she's so fat. (freeform here) BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhbbul buttttuh.

Chicago's a crate town (why?) because it's a shipping hub. Crates don't roll off forklifts as easily as barrels. Fine, but I'm not in shipping, so I have as much use for crates as I do palettes. This is why, after (very) careful thought and deliberation, I prefer barrels to crates, and I suggest you do the same and quit feigning apathy. Thank you.

Brian Costello is afraid of the dark without you close to him. "Awww," indeed. He has a zine. He calls it "The New England Journal of My Ass." Funny ha ha. He is starting a band called The Short Bus of Love. He will never live in New York.

He may be contacted: Lesoapbox@hotmail.com