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Here's a toast to ... whatever

OPINION

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September 18, 2013|By Hector Luis Alamo Jr., @hectorluisalamo | For RedEye

Most people have come down with beer brain at least once in their lives. It's that phase of a night out—usually after 1 a.m., just as the party's begun to die down—when you and your friends start brainstorming ambitious plans for the future. It's nothing like "We Bought a Zoo." Our plans are more like something out of "Bar Rescue."

In fact, the Spike TV show has made our beer brain even worse these days.

For those of you who are cool enough to not know what it is, "Bar Rescue" is a show in which a bar expert visits a failing establishment and turns it around. The show airs on Sundays, which are usually our detox days when we fill the hours with eating and drinking at a slow and steady pace to ease ourselves into Monday. We get pretty hammered, but nothing that'll bite us in the ass come Monday morning.

By the time "Bar Rescue" comes on at 8 p.m., my friends and I are feeling ... happy. As the expert yells at the bar owners for all their mistakes and shows them what they can do to make their place profitable as balls, we start talking about how simple and fun it would be to run our own watering hole.

We pick a theme for the bar—sometimes it's Latino, sometimes it's Vegas—and divvy up the roles, deciding which one of us can head up security, who'll be behind the bar and whose family member can be in the kitchen.

Then we elect a neighborhood, and here again, each person puts forward his or her own stomping grounds. We claim to understand our respective scenes, so we know how best to serve them. Or we might pick an up-and-coming area we think can do with a dose of what we'll offer—Little Village, Uptown, Humboldt Park or, heaven forbid, some suburb on the edge of the party.

Everything seems pretty straightforward until we get to the initial investment part, where we let out a collective sigh and chalk up our dead dreams to the system.

Ironically, most of my friends are second-generation Latinos, which means we come from pioneering stock. Our parents and grandparents dreamed up crazy dreams and actually went after them, whether it was coming to America without knowing a lick of English or opening their own clothing stores. Hell, my grandma did both.

I'm both proud and ashamed to admit that if my immigrant grandma were young today and watched "Bar Rescue" once or twice, she'd have her own bar open by October. My grandma was so entrepreneurial that I don't say I like M&M's in front of her for fear she'll pressure me into joining the candy business.

Immigrants are like that. They're the kind of people who find a way to make money and let things like "initial investments" and "work permits" take care of themselves.

Being born in America, my friends and I are not like that. We see more obstacles to our dreams than our parents and grandparents saw to theirs.

Maybe the obstacles are real and being an American allows me to see them when my grandma can't. Maybe they're not real and I'm just a hopeless Millennial.

Whatever the case may be, a guy can still dream, can't he?

I don't know. Pass me a beer.

Hector Luis Alamo Jr. is a RedEye special contributor.

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