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Thoughts On The Chicago Office From A Bitter, Jealous, New York Employee

I had the pleasure of experiencing the new Chicago office earlier this week. It's been reviewed in depth already, but this was my first time and I'd like to review the House that Big Cat built from the lowly perspective of an orphaned New York-office piece of shit. In other words, honestly. 

We flew out for the combine and the brass put us up in a swanky hotel in the financial district. With that as our base, a kitchen-sink crew that included Feits, Klemmer, Marty, Tommy, Dana, Billy, and Will Compton spent a few days mixing it up in Chicago. Let's dive in: 

Overall Atmosphere

Positive. Suspiciously so, like visiting North Korea on a curated tour where you suspect you're not seeing the underbelly of starvation and despair that typically fills the halls. In fact, it wasn't until I was on my return flight that I discovered a dirty Chipotle napkin tucked into my coat pocket upon which was scrawled "HELP US — NICK" in human blood. I shan't, obviously. He made his bed. 

But from what I was allowed to see, the vibes are high. Laughter and bouncing basketballs ring out in the open-format colosseum. The bathrooms are absolutely spotless and the urinals don't gurgle endlessly, waiting for a plumber who refuses to return after the Chernobylic meltdown Big Ev left him last time. People arrive early and stay late. The place is so big that you can easily find a peaceful corner from which to write. Or, if you prefer being in the mix, it's only a football's toss away. Natural light from the outside world layers with the hundreds of staged lights for the many sets that invite you to present your next idea. I found myself blinking profusely. Nick thought I was communicating in morse code, hence the note. 

It's all very stimulating. I stress-snacked on packages of gummy bears and hugged people where a handshake was preferred. By day's end, I was utterly exhausted. But boy, what a place. 

Nicky Smokes is alright. 

I'd met this guy only once before, on a night out with Dante at one of the many under-14 nightclubs he owns. It's tough to get a read on someone in the middle of a baht mitzvah afterparty, so I was pleasantly surprised by the Nicky smokes I came to know this week. First, I think he's a promising blogger. A bit green around the ears but he picks original topics and lets fly. Do I wish he'd avoid sentences like this one, about dating 30-year-old women:

They know what they like and they're not afraid to teach you either lol….

Yes. We work for a $14 billion company. Ending a sentence with "lol" and then a four-dot ellipsis is, to this reader, syntactic genocide. I made this point to him and he laughed it off, saying he writes the same way he texts. I suppose there's charm in that. Keith Richards wrote his entire autobiography in the same off-hand language he uses for speaking, and people hailed it as a triumph. I made it ten pages. 

Beyond that, Nicky's upbeat, present, and a solid basketball player. He doesn't shy from tussling with the big dogs of the Chicago office, and yet he maintains a reverence for Barstool that warms the heart. Keep up the good work, young man. You might be on to something. 

Billy Football is NOT alright.

This dude is an insane person. I realize this isn't exactly news to many of you, but my past personal interactions with Billy have been warm and amusing. One time, we slipped into a conversation about China's military capabilities and what, if anything, we might able to do should they decide to attack Taiwan. It was a mistake. Billy turned it into a "I've got more friends in the military than you do" dick-measuring contest. Apparently, he moonlights as a xeroxing aide at the Pentagon—a building that was not, I'm told, struck by a plane on September 11th. From that point, I learned to keep our topics in the range of pre-workout scoop size and the superiority of NESCAC athletics to the Ivy League. Better to keep the bear happy. 

On Monday, as we waited for the evening quiz portion of the combine, a four-on-four pickup basketball game was organized. We struggled to figure out the teams because in general, we whites overestimate our pickup prowess but want to feign good sportsmanship. This combo of ego and fake fairness tends to prolong the team-picking process to a point where our muscles grow cold, which leads to higher injuries than you'd find in a more diverse game. Lots of "we need to split me and Tom up" and "it's not really fair if those two are on the same team" bullshit. I simply said I wanted to play on the same team as Billy because I feared the bodily harm that would inevitably befall me were I to find myself boxing out the elbow-lashing, orbital-bone-breaking, conspiracy-theory-guided rage toddler known as Billy Football. 

Turns out, it doesn't matter if you're on his team or not: he hates everybody on the court equally. Everyone is an opponent, a threat. If you're his teammate, your mistakes are an incursion on his path to victory. He started coaching me, which was a bizarre thing to experience as an adult. "STAY IN FRONT OF HIM!" he'd condescend, after I was picked by one of their big guys, yelled switch, and Billy didn't switch. What's more, he's the guy who checks the ball and then jacks a three instead of inbounding to a teammate. We lost 11-0. 

In the combine, the producers asked me if I'd manage the vertical test for heat 2, having done it in the morning session. Billy went somewhere towards the end. It may seem hard to believe, but nobody else had a problem not toppling the pole. Who swings like that? That's how you remove a wasp nest from the Alpha Delta Phi patio to impress the rush chair. Billy then blamed me for his poor vertical numbers, saying my inability to prevent the thing from falling had cost him scores. The wiring of his brain is either completely tangled and short-circuiting in real time, or it was incorrectly installed from the start. A wonder to behold. 

Still, I'm fond of him. He's aware of his tendency toward extreme behavior, and he'll often tell me "we should hang out away from all this sometime" for I'll find that he's "pretty normal, actually." I look forward to it, Billy. 

The Toys/Perks

The golf simulator, the basketball hoops, the kitchen… it's fun. I believe Google was the first major tech company that decided to turn its offices into more casual places with nap pods and ball pits, firehouse poles and scooters. Their reasoning was that by making the office a place people didn't dread coming to, that didn't feel like a traditional office, the employees would stay longer, be more productive, etc. That is definitely the case here. If you're stuck in the trenches of an onerous podcast edit, you can hop up and go shoot free throws for 15 minutes. Get the blood flowing and reset; just what the doctor ordered. No need to head to the gym before or after work either. Just join a pickup game at the end of the day or throw some kettlebells around on the turf strip adjacent to the court. I even took a shower! The water didn't drain very well because the drain was caked in some chalky white substance that flowed like sea anemones when wet. Mesmerizing really. But there were clean towels and plenty of bath products from which to choose. 

I saw Jake Marsh working on his mid-irons on the simulator, and I went to catch up with him for a bit. After a handful of swings, he asked if I wanted to try. I picked up a 7-iron and hit all of three balls before White Sox Dave came over and said "my turn," then tried to rip the club out of my hands. Luckily, Nick was sitting with us and spoke to him like a mother scolding her selfish son. 

Nick: "Dave, you live here. Let Francis play. You can use this thing every single day." 

Dave: "Aww, cunt!" 

I hit about six more balls and told Dave he could take over. But then he pouted and said "I'm over it." So that was that. I miss him. 


Chicago has a dining scene that rivals New York. Perhaps not in depth, but the top spots are right up there. A bunch of us went to a spot called Aba. It was Mediterranean share plates, which Tommy initially wrinkled his gargantuan nose at. But once the flavored hummuses and whipped ricotta hit the table, ejaculatory tastebuds prevailed. 

I regret to say that Will Compton is my best friend. I wanted to feud with him because I like when he takes people in his laundry room for a digital spanking. I've always loved laundry rooms: the scent, the gentle tumbling sounds, the knowledge that you're getting your life back in order… laundry rooms soothe me. The prospect of being punished by Will from my happy place felt deliciously masochistic, and I thought I was well on my way. Alas, we are birds of a feather, and quite close now. 

I'll never get over the dimensions of Klemmer's face. He looks like he was born through a homemade pasta crank. Look at that grinning, cavatelli-faced elder. Protect him at all costs, for he is a delicate treasure. 

Overall Takeaways

The Chicago office was beyond belief. It's a city on a hill. Time flies when you're there. I admire the way they seem to be taking care of it. Either that, or their cleaning crews are inspired by God himself. Still, I left feeling that this Chicago vs. New York divide is pretty silly. I think there's Barstool Chicago, and then there's the rest of Barstool—many of whom happen to work out of a New York office which also houses the bulk of the marketing, sales, legal, and programming folks (aka the adults). We all fly under the same flag. Sure, they're the A-team. But Big Cat says we're welcome to come work there for a week whenever, and I will abuse that invitation until he changes it. Maybe I'm naïve but I felt proud of that Chicago office even though I don't work there and played no part in its evolution. 

Anywho! That's my long take. Hats off to you, Big Cat and all you Chicagoans. Now if you could just sort out that pesky murder problem, you might truly establish yourselves as the superior office.