One reason I have blogged for so long (although not very often as of late) is that I enjoy the discussions that occur. I’ve made a lot of friends through blogging, some of whom I’ve never met in-person. Hell, I have over 830 friends on Facebook, a high percentage I’ve never talked to face-to-face. I love that I have so many virtual friends. It’s kept me sane in times I felt alone.
Still, it’s nice to see a friendly face now and again, to shake an actual hand. And I was able to do a lot of that at the Bill Callahan show.
As soon as I entered Mojo’s patio preceding the actual venue, I was greeted with friendly faces chilling, enjoying the nice weather. There were friendlies at the merch table and every step between me and the bar. People I usually hang with at another bar were at the end of Mojo’s bar. On my way there, I passed friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. And more pals, acquaintances, friends-of-friends, etc. poured in from the back as Callahan’s set neared.
You don’t know how meaningful this is for a guy who once penned a blog called “living in misery.” Don’t get me wrong, I long for city-living, but if I have to live in Middle Missouri, I at least want to hang with some good people. It was a nice night to say “hello” and catch up with folks. I suspect the same will happen in the fall when Neutral Milk Hotel(!) stops here.
Speaking of friendly faces, Bill Callahan started early – which works for working parents like myself. He opened with “Sycamore” and danced around his catalog without moving much for the rest of the night. He brought with him a couple of players – one on guitar and the other on bass – both seated. The crowd was a bit ornery as the drinks flowed, but as soon as anyone realized Callahan was singing again, they politely stopped talking. I’ve never seen anything like it, but maybe all those people really are as nice as I think they are. You know the type: friendly midwesterners. And Bill Callahan was liking it, sneaking in a pleasant smile here and there.
I like friendly faces filling my favorite hangouts and occupying their stages. There’s nothing quite like a familiar smile, warmed with alcohol, and willing to chat. I had a little of this in previous lives, but not quite like this. In adulthood, there’s less transition as folks settle in for the long haul. Sure, people move, but adults know each other for decades. I haven’t lived in Middle Missouri for even one of those, but I already have found a community of friends, pals, acquaintances, and friends-of-friends to make an enjoyable evening with a wordsmith like Bill Callahan so much more enjoyable.
Last night I took my four-year-old to see punk and riot grrrl icon Kathleen Hanna speak for a Women’s History Month series held at Columbia College. While between projects at work, I decided to see what was written about the talk. The regular news sources summarized Hanna’s visit succinctly, but there was nothing coming from a local blog. There aren’t many good blogs in this town these days, but a void needs filling and I’m about to get back on that horse.
As I mentioned above, I took my daughter to see a woman whom I think is a great role model as she grows and develops. Kathleen Hanna is a strong, smart, and creative adult woman I want my kid to look to for inspiration. She has people like that in her life now, but it doesn’t hurt to find more.
My kid was in awe. First of all, she insisted on sitting in the front row. We skipped over a couple of seats that looked to be saved and settled in. It just so happened that one of those seats was Kathleen Hanna’s! When a woman began to welcome the audience, my daughter asked whether or not that was Kathleen Hanna. I promptly informed her that no, Kathleen Hanna was sitting next to her. It was all that four-year-old could do to contain her excitement.
She really loved any time Hanna referred to rocking and bands. See, my daughter loves riot grrrl bands. She’s particularly fond of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag. (She just wrote a letter and drew a picture for Wild Flag to be mailed ASAP.) She loves the power and upbeat energy from that era of music. The fact that it’s all made by women doesn’t hurt either.
Hanna gave the kind of talk one would expect. She told her story, full of valley girl vernacular. She had slides of rarely seen zines and flyers. There were grainy videos of her various bands. She had great anecdotes of major indie and punk rock players. She told stories of inspiring young women fighting the patriarchy at every turn.
A running theme was her attempt to take back space normally occupied by males. There were rooms in a community center, rock venues, even the space in front of bands to be occupied. Underlying all of this was the space men and boys take up that can’t be seen, the space occupied by ideas and words. Hanna challenged these spaces and found room for herself and the girls who joined her in the fight.
At some point, a guy sitting in the back yelled out some fairly off-topic statements and questions. I won’t dignify either the content nor the deliverer of such idiocy as it completely disrupted the night by identifying or detailing what was said. Hanna was knocked off course a couple of times. Finally, she regained her bearings and told the guy to “shut-the-fuck-up.” Then she demanded he leave.
Instead of leaving quietly, the “heckler” continued to be obnoxious until college staff and a few audience members helped him leave. The debate over his comments continued today on Facebook, but I don’t want to spend anymore time on this as the dude was totally out of line.
Two beautiful things resulted from this conflict. First, the outburst demonstrated Hanna’s point about men always taking up space that wasn’t theirs, infringing on a woman’s chance to express herself. Second, it provided an opportunity for my daughter and really any young woman in the crowd to see a need for feminism as well as said feminism in action.
Fuck that dude and all the jerks and bullies like him.
Hanna recovered and continued to present her story. I geeked out over a video of Bikini Kill. My daughter geeked out over a Le Tigre video. We both laughed over the cabaret video Hanna shared.
It was a fun and empowering night. I wish my daughter could have met Hanna, but that will have to wait for the letter my girl intends to write to one of her newest heroes.
If you see this, Kathleen Hanna, know that you made an impression on our little college town and one four-year-old in particular.
For more on the talk, check out The Missourian’s take.
As you may have noticed, life gets in the way of my blogging. Of course, it gets in the way of many things.
There was supposed to be a beer tasting to attend Saturday, but I promised to DJ the Hairhole benefit. That didn’t happen either as my kitchen sink decided to quit working. Saturday was spent trying every DIY method for unclogging a drain only to have to call Roto-Rooter on a Saturday night.
Then there was the birthday party for a five-year-old and friends came for dinner…
The heavens parted as we sampled some beer, including my two latest homebrews. The first was the New Slan Saison which after only one week in the bottle is fully carbonated. The same can’t be said for the scotch ale, but I’m hopeful it will turn out fine by this coming weekend. (Then again, I’m not 100% sure I added priming sugar. Never homebrew when you’ve had a few beers already, kids.)
And when these friends took off, I hit the Blue Note for a Built to Spill show. I’m not sure why I still go to BtS shows. It’s pretty much the same thing every time. Even the band seems to mail it in a bit, but at least it was something. A rock ‘n roll escape from life. They played all or at least most of the “hits.” It’s old hat for them, but they didn’t disappoint.
Maybe life will quit getting in the way and I’ll find some inspiration sooner or later.
It seems my role in the world is shaping in front of me. Aside from father, husband, instructional designer, etc., I’m beginning to see myself as a curator of sorts. This blog is ground zero, but I have and will venture out from time to time to curate craft beer and indie rock cultures.
I bring this up because my gentleman dabblerhood has me prepping for more DJ gigs. No. I am not that kind of DJ (nor this). The kind of DJ I am is the kind that plays his own records between bands at a Hairhole benefit and once again for Monday Vinyl at Uprise (September 24th). In this capacity, I’m not really creating anything. I simply present what I think is good and worth preserving.
How can this translate with my craft beer enthusiasm?
Well, it has with my involvement in the Columbia Beer Enthusiasts. I helped create and manage their online presence while doing my part to create events that promote craft beer to all of Middle Missouri. I’ve even been asked to host some beer/ice cream/record pairing events, but that’s still top-secret. I’ll let you know when this materializes.
All of this curating comes together in written form on the blog you’re reading right now. Hopefully, it will eventually materialize on actual paper, but that’s a work in progress. I may have to back off and curate some other writers to accomplish this goal…
Anyways, the point is that if we can’t create, we should curate. Consuming thoughtfully is good, but it barely contributes to the cause. Curating promotes a culture to the masses, encouraging others to join in or at least appreciate said culture. Maybe I should just change the blog’s name to Curating Beer and Pavement…
Or not. Thanks for reading once again and participating in the conversation.
Most of Sunday, my daughter and I spent our time together watching YouTube videos of Riot Grrrl bands and listening to Wild Flag. Of course, there were several renditions of “Call Me Maybe” in between, but the day belonged to rock. This sudden interest into Daddy’s music was spurred on by a couple of screenings of School of Rock, a film where Jack Black pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious elementary school where he discovers his students to be gifted musicians he convinces to play in his band. Thanks to this one film, the grrrl is all about the rock music right now.
The obsession has continued through the week as every evening is filled with more YouTube videos and bedtime is dominated with Daddy sharing his exploits as a live music fanatic of the last 20 years. She is particularly fond of videos in which Kathleen Hanna pogoes. Her requests for more stories has me searching the recesses of my brain for G-rated rock show tales. It’s an interesting time to be Lucia’s father.
What it all has led to is a request from my daughter to see her first rock show. Apparently, seeing Dubb Nubb several times has not fulfilled her need to rock. I am now faced with finding the right situation where I can make this dream come true.
I was a late bloomer. My first rock show didn’t happen until I was 18. We lived an hour from any city featuring rock concerts and even then I wasn’t interested in the hair metal and country most of my classmates were going to see. Then, one St. Patrick’s Day, my brother and two or three other guys drove the hour to the Newport Music Hall in Columbus to see my first rock show: Soul Asylum with Vic Chestnutt and The Goo Goo Dolls (when they were punk-ish). From that night on, I was hooked. I can understand my daughter’s longing to see music performed live.
As a parent, I have to set some boundaries for the kind of show she can attend. I mean, she’s not yet four (9/11) and this puts some serious limits on what she can and can’t see. for example, she will not catch The Melvins for her first live rock experience, even if it is on a Friday night. I’m considering some basic criteria for this event, criteria that may put off her first concert experience for another year, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of time to rock.
The show will need to be outdoors, mainly for two reasons: not all shows are all-ages and the noise factor. It’s one thing to get your 16-year-old into a bar to see a band; it’s a completely different thing to sneak in a four-year-old. Besides, I’m not sure that’s the best environment for someone so young. The outdoors provide space for people to spread out and avoid awkward situations around small children and vice versa. Plus, sound doesn’t seem to do as much damage when it can harmlessly float to space and not bounce off the walls. My hearing is shit and there’s no need to put my kid through that before she attends elementary school.
Bedtime is an issue. I’ll have to find a show on a weekend or one that takes place earlier in the day. The trouble with this is that most of the outside shows here in Columbia are on weeknights. That makes for a rough morning getting her to preschool. An all-day even is the next logical step, but we’ve missed out on most of the festivals for the summer or at least their bargain pre-fest prices.
Finally, the band or bands to see have to be worthy. Although it is not for me to say which bands or musicians you should like, I do have a right as a parent to steer her toward whatever music I feel is acceptable. Of course there will be a time when my opinion won’t count, but until then, I control the stereo in my house and I have the credit card.
So, this adventure may have to wait a year. Next summer she’ll see her first rock show. I just hope I can deliver Kathleen Hanna or Wild Flag.
Half the time, I write about how old I’m getting. This is not one of those posts.
When brewing beer – particularly at home – aging beer to that perfect moment is as inexact a science as one can find. That’s usually why I go with IPA’s and the like that need to be consumed ASAP for fear of them losing their hoppy bite. Even this truism with brewing IPA’s doesn’t always work. I brewed an IPA last year and it needed the extra month in the bottle before it really tasted good.
Aging for pro brewers can be just as hard, but they have a lot more beer to work with, staff, meticulous notes, etc. My aging process is a crap-shoot. Luckily, it’s worked out well for me so far.
I have three(!) such experiments in aging going on right now. This is strange for me as I rarely have more than one beer in secondary at a time. And even when I have, It’s been one beer is going in while the other is going out. However, for various reasons, I am sitting on three beers aging in secondary.
The first is the one that’s been in for two months and may stay in for another 2-4. It’s my Belgian-syle Quad, better known as Guided By Voices. This beer, like all my beers lately has nailed both OG and FG. It was supposed to host some dried fruit, but I opted to let it age without so that the natural flavors would come out on its own. This beast is sitting at just under 11% ABV, easily my booziest effort yet. I don’t want to try it yet, preferring to be surprised, but it smells so good.
Why am I waiting four or more months to try this beer? A friend suggested six and most of the bigger Belgian beers sit around for a long time. It will age as long as I feel like aging it. I don’t think it will hurt the flavor whenever I decide to open it. I can always age it some more in the bottle. Either way, I have boxes of 750-mL bottles just waiting to be filled with this thick, rich concoction.
The other two beers – one a Saison and the other a scotch ale – are for a special occasion. My wife officially becomes an associate professor with tenure on September 1st. To celebrate, we’re throwing a party and I brewed these beers for the event. The Saison is a crowd-pleaser and the scotch ale is for her as it is one of the few styles she enjoys. I’m hoping that I timed both beers to be ready by the 1st. Right now, they both sit in secondary vessels, awaiting their bottled homes.
The Saison is a repeat with a few minor tweaks. First of all, I forgot to include honey. It was nowhere on the recipe for some odd reason. Also, I used the wrong caramel malt (80L opposed to 20L). It’s a long story as to why the mix-up happened, but the beer actually didn’t start out as dark as the last time. Finally, I actually got the yeast to cooperate this time around. The first time, I used a smack-pack that just didn’t really take off. It was in dire need of a starter. Since I’ve had so much luck with dry yeast packets. I just threw in an entire pack and mixed it with my aeration wand. FG was achieved in small part due to my patience but in large part due to the extra warmth I added with a warming belt.
In the secondary, the Saison is sharing space with some additional Sorachi Ace hops and Rosemary. I’m hoping that this will make the beer a bit more fragrant. It should at least make it good for beer can chicken.
The scotch ale was a complete experiment. I’m not even sure if it truly matched the recipe I wrote. Still, it fermented just fine. I’m a bit worried that an American yeast in a Scottish beer will not show the character a scotch ale should demonstrate. So, I added some oak chips soaked in cheap scotch whiskey for a little depth. Ideally, this beer would sit for two months on the chips, but I don’t have that long. Six weeks will have to do.
The second beer is called “Tenured Dingo”, a tribute to my wife whose last name is the same as the baby-eating, Australian dog. At best, the beer will be rich with flavor and really wow our guests. At worst, the beer’s namesake will tell that it would be good with a burger, something she says about every beer, regardless of style.
Aging happens in other ways. As my hair grays, my record and beer collections age along with these homebrews. As change happens in my life (wife’s mentioned tenure, a new job for me), change will occur in those carboys. I’ll do my best to keep you all updated on developments as they happen, but as you probably can tell, keeping a blog up-to-date is not always an easy thing to do.