I’ve mentioned my friend Marty’s website on here a few times… www.aguywalksinto365bars.com. Marty Wombacher started a quest in 2010 to visit a different bar every day for 365 days straight. If he missed a day, he would have to start all over. When you visit his website which, of course, is updated every day with pictures and commentary from the day before, you are not only taken on a journey through the watering holes of New York, Cleveland and Peoria…you’re also taking a journey with a funny and fascinating individual.
Marty may be embarrassed or mad at me for devoting this entire blog entry to him, but I feel it’s warranted. Yesterday, when I visited his website, the number astounded me…he had just visited his 360th bar. Only five more to go. He’s flying in from New York to Peoria today to finish up the tour. As you’ll read on his sight, the last bar is a special place for him, and I plan to be there with him to celebrate. After all, what he has done is no small accomplishment. Can you imagine going to a different bar everyday, and not just having a drink, but a minimum of three drinks, as outlined in the rules of Marty’s bar crawl? He must spend at least an hour at the location. And most importantly, he must meet and mingle with the bartender and the patrons…because everyone knows that people are the main reason someone frequents a particular spot. That takes a lot of personality, and sometimes a lot of guts. How easy do you think it is to walk into a place you’ve never been in before, and try to start making friends?
Marty has literally met thousands of people during this journey. And he has consumed massive amounts of alcohol. Don’t worry, he had a check-up with his doctor a few weeks ago, and everything was fine. He has heard amazing stories told by people from all over the world. In fact, in Australia, he’s a bit of a folk hero! Early on in the crawl, the New York Daily News ran a story about Marty’s quest, and it was picked up by the worldwide news services. Before he knew it, Marty had a guest spot on Australia’s version of “Good Morning America”. After that, he even had visitors come from the land down-under to join him on the crawl.
There is no secret to Marty’s success…he’s a hard-working journalist who has never been afraid to push the envelope and try new things. While he still lived in Peoria, he and a friend invented a game that was a parody of Trivial Pursuit that gained national attention. And also while living in Peoria, he started publishing his own magazine called POP, or People of Peoria. It was a great magazine that still gets talked about today.
Then Marty got the idea that to really pursue his dreams, he needed to move to New York. So a little over 17 years ago, he sold everything he owned and left for the Big Apple to make it as a writer. He picked up some freelance gigs, but decided that if he really wanted to achieve his goals, he would have to self- publish. Thus, fishwrap was born. It was a magazine that made fun of other magazines…and it was great.
Then came two books. The first was a pre-cursor to the 365 bars concept…it was called “99 Beers Off The Wall”, and was kind of a Zagat’s guide to the bars in New York City, as seen through Marty’s eyes. He vowed to drink 99 beers in 99 bars in seven days. He did it, and the book was the result of his travels. A couple of years ago, he published another book, “The Boy Who Wanted To Be A Firetruck”, which was a collection of essays about Marty’s experiences…another great book.
After that, he did another magazine called “Natalie Word”, but then decided to give the web a try. After a couple of initial websites didn’t get the traffic or the following he wanted, he hit on the 365 bars concept and smacked a home run. On its best day, his site received over 18,000 hits, and still averages about 5 to 6 thousand hits a day.
Cheers to a great journalist and a good friend. I can’t wait to toast you at bar 365!