Beer and Pavement

Boys Only

Posted in GenderBender, Manifesto by SM on January 25, 2010

“Boys Only” is not the most accurate title for this post. I mostly wanted to address the idea that certain things are for only the manliest of men. It’s the idea that rock ‘n roll and beer (among many other things) can only be properly appreciated by the most testosterone-riddled individuals is what I want to refute.

I remember seeing Pavement in the spring of 1995 as they supported Wowee Zowee. My sister and I were able to almost reach the stage for Pavement’s set. Directly in front of us were these bros and their little girlfriends1. Besides their drunken slurring and spitting, these “fellow” Pavement revelers were shirtless and ready to kick some ass. Already sweaty from openers Fuck and Dirty Three, my sister and knew that we were in for a long show.

Pavement came out and the ruckus began2. The bros moshed like there was no tomorrow, high-fiving at the start and stop of every song. God3 only knows what they were screaming throughout the set. I don’t think they were making any requests as I’m pretty sure they barely knew who Pavement was.

Why were these two mooks even at this show and why did they feel the need to not let anyone else enjoy the music? I see these same guys4 at every show, particularly outdoors. For whatever reason, someone5 has played for them a Pavement, Sonic Youth, or Dinosaur Jr song that they thought rawked. This emboldens them to not only attend indie rock shows but to then “show these indie fags how we throw down at an ICP show, bitches!” Really? Do we need this element at indie rock shows, too? They already took over grunge6 and emo7; now they want slow-core, shoegaze, and math rock to complete their dominance of the summer music festival circuit. Why does rock music have to be so masculine? I don’t care what a guitar represents. This is why moshing didn’t last. No one wants that shit at their Iron and Wine shows!

While I think indie rock’s separation from a testosterone-fueled mindset is pretty straightforward8, beer is another story. Beer, whether it’s swill9 or good craft beer, has been claimed by the manliest of men. For Bud Light drinkers, it’s the quantity of beer you down in a sitting. You’re only a man if you finish this case on your own. With beer geeks, it’s about quality. “Don’t bring that silly New Belgium Fat Tire10 to my party. We drinking nothing but the Stone Vertical series in order! Boo-ya!”

Well, maybe it isn’t that bad, but I am let down time and time again at beer tastings. The beer arms race is out of control. It used to be about discovering a brew you’d never had before at the grocery or beer shop, but now it’s all about getting every beer from out-of-market locales. 12% ABV, fermented in bourbon barrels, Brettanomyces, 100 IBU’s, blends, collaborations, etc. The escalation to try every beer or at least have one in your cellar is intense.11

I sometimes complain to my beer geek friends that I have more beer than I know what to do with between searching local stores daily, having my mom bring me out-of-market brews12, and brewing my own. They all look at me like there’s fish coming out of my forehead. “You can never have too much beer!” they exclaim. Silly me. My liver and self-respect be damned. No drink up.

Of course, the overtly masculine male takes over everything. Football. Darts. Sheep herding. Gardening. Cross-stitching. Everything. It’s in their nature. There’s no room for vulnerability or a feminine sensibility. Join in or be the fag they knock to the floor.

I don’t love things like music and craft beer because I am male. I love them because they make me happy. There is no reason why these things have to be bastardized by tired gender stereotypes.

As much as anyone, I like to let off a ton of steam dancing at a rock show or playing air drums whenever possible. This is a expression of pure emotion. It isn’t an opportunity to assert my masculinity.

I don’t have to down a bottle of beer in one long gulp or hunt down every rare beer just to prove myself a worthy beer geek. Beer should be about enjoying a quality beverage, pairing it with good food, and sharing it over good conversation.

I submit that not only are these pastimes (as well as many others) not for boys only, but they don’t have to be hyper-masculine hobbies either.

As a programming note, I want to apologize for the excessive footnoting. I was influenced by the author John Sellers and blogger doublewordscore13. It will happen again. It’s like old-school hyperlinks, but I have those too.14

So, have a beer for me and drop the needle on your favorite record. I’ll see you next time.

1What I mean by “little” is that they were rather short and petite. This in no way was meant as a demeaning comment toward the young ladies. Rather, it addresses these bros’ preference for petite girlfriends. It also addresses their unrealistic expectations for the female (as well as male) body to stay tiny and fit throughout life. I’m sure these same bros had a rough time once they knocked up their girlfriends (possibly on that very night) and watched their flat bellies turn round. I feel sorry for their spouses, children, and mistresses.
2My most vivid memory of this moment also involved a shirt as Spiral Stairs/Scott Kannberg came out in this homemade t-shirt which read something like “I ♥ PAVEMENT” in red letters on a white shirt with red 3/4 sleeves. That part was pretty sweet.
3Stephen Malkmus
4Not actually the same, exact bros. That’s an exaggeration to demonstrate how similar every concert situation I have includes dudes with backwards hats and too much to drink. Mooks. Douches. Frat boys. Whatever.
5This would be their roommate from freshman year, that smart girl they think is cool but would never admit it to their bros, or the VJ on 120 Minutes they happen to catch after passing out from a night of binge-drinking and date-raping.
7pre-New Found Glory
8I haven’t even mentioned the constant one-upsmanship of indie geeks and record store clerks who have everything The White Stripes ever did on vinyl for Sympathy for the Record Industry or were at the last North American Pavement show and the final Afghan Whigs gig. This issue is addressed more in the beer section of my argument.
9Why do people drink yellow fizzy beer? It’s more rice than anything and you have to drink a shit-ton to get even a little tipsy. Why not have three good beers and enjoy the buzz and the flavor?
10Of course, I call it “Flat Tire” which isn’t OK. New Belgium is maybe the greenest brewery in the world. That and they do make some good beers. I love me some La Folie.
11I fall for all these things. My cellar is overflowing as I write this. I think I have a problem.
12That’s Ohio. Best recognize!
13Whom I once got fired, but he is as loyal a friend as there can be. I am indebted to him forever. You should totally click through to his blog so that his stats are completely skewed towards my site. He’ll begin to think that all of his readers have come from me.
14Now, I’m just getting lazy with these things. Maybe next time I will utilize the footnotes more efficiently/effectively. And if you’re reading this, you have to be reconsidering adding me to your RSS reader.

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2 Responses

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  1. Zach said, on January 28, 2010 at 7:31 am

    What if I’m just an alcoholic?

  2. doublewordscore said, on January 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’m curious how much of an impact the manpacks have made on artists. How many of them have consciously or unconsciously calibrated their sound to cater to the hordes?

    Wilco has, at least since the addition of guitarist Nels Cline. I saw them in concert last year, and not a song went by without an opportunity for the manpacks to put on their guitar face.

    If there’s a reading equivalent to guitar face, Chuck Palahniuk is trying to get it out of his readers.

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