Beer and Pavement

Gentleman Dabbler

Posted in Intersections, Manifesto by SM on July 25, 2011

In the August Spin[1], Stephen Malkmus shows off his living room. At some point, he describes his record collection…

I have all kinds of weird records that I could talk about – not as many as deep collectors, but as a gentleman dabbler, I have some stuff.

The part of that quote that caught my attention was the term “gentleman dabbler,” a term that seems to refer to someone who is experienced and knowledgeable on a particular topic but not as much as the “experts” of said topic. A gentleman dabbler has a nice collection with some unique pieces. His knowledge is vast enough to know what’s good and what isn’t, but it – like his collection is not comprehensive.

Take Malk’s record collection. It would be hard to believe that someone who has been in the business as long as Stephen Malkmus has doesn’t know a thing or two about records. However, he openly admits that he’s no completest record snob. Unlike Thurston Moore[2], Malk can openly admit that he doesn’t own every record.

It is tough to admit that one doesn’t own every essential record or hasn’t tried every beer when others look toward someone for blanket consciousness. Let’s imagine that someone publishes a blog on a subject…or two. Should he be required to know everything about those subjects? I don’t think so. It’s not possible.

The gentleman dabbler allows for holes in knowledge base or collections. These holes allow for learning and discussion. I feel as though I am a gentleman dabbler. No one comes to this blog for research purposes or expertise[3]. They come here for entertainment and discussion. If you want expertise, you’ll look elsewhere.

That said, I struggle to fit into the beer blogosphere. Anyone can write a music blog. We give our opinions with varying degrees of knowledge. On beer blogs, a certain amount of expertise is expected. This is troubling as I get a lot more attention for my beer posts than I do for music. Luckily, most people have been kind.

So, keep in mind that this blog is for the gentleman dabbler. I dabble in indie rock. I dabble in craft beer and home brewing. This is not a place for expertise. This is a place for discussion and entertainment. Thanks for dabbling with me. There’s more to come…

1Yes, I read an issue of Spin. I had to fly this past weekend and left my book at home. This was the best choice on the airport magazine rack. Spin is my generation’s Rolling Stone. That should tell you all you need to know.
2The scope of Moore’s collection is legendary. He only keeps a small portion in his apartment, but there is a storage space somewhere that would be every indie geek’s wet dream.
2Well, except for poorly written SPAMbot messages I get from time to time. Something like: “I so hapy I find you blog. It will help with a reserch project I must compete. Keep up the good wok!”

14 Responses

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  1. David Bowen said, on July 25, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Yikes. If you’re a dabbler, what am I? That’s how I’ve always thought of myself (or when I’ve been drinking or am being fancy, as a dilettante). Maybe I’m just dabbling at dabbling.

    Seriously, good post. I can relate to and appreciate your point of view. It’s never been intentional, but I’ve never been interested in one thing long enough to want to become a completist.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on July 25, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Oh, you’re a dabbler. A gentleman might be another issue…LULZ.

      Unless you spend all your time studying a topic, you’re probably a dabbler. I think I ran into trouble last week saying that the geeks, nerds, and other obsessives were experts. Gentleman dabbler just gives me a new way to identify myself and what it is hobbyests do, especially when they blog about their hobbies.

  2. Stan Hieronymus said, on July 25, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Years ago I was driving Corey Harris and his band members to and from a local music festival. Turns out Harris tried a little homebrewing and all 3 were interested in beer so we talked about “new wave” brewing.

    We also talked about Napster, music criticism and other music-related subjects dear to them. Jamel Millner, who played supporting guitar, considers himself a music educator, and when I said I’d be as happy writing about music as beer he said, “Don’t do it. Most music critics don’t know what they’re talking about.”

    I explained that whether I was writing about musicians (as I sometimes have) or people in the beer world most of the stories would fit into the category of “profiles.” That I could talk at length about a subject they didn’t know too much about gave them the impression I had some expertise. Were I to have begun talking about the sometimes blurry line that separates Cajun and Zydeco music then Millner would have been far more skeptical.

    I’m not sure how much expertise it takes to write about the relationship between people and the beer they enjoy or people and the music they enjoy.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on July 25, 2011 at 11:29 am

      Agreed. I’ve found that music bloggers don’t read each other and comment, especially when opinions on music are involved. Beer bloggers are a bit more intimidation, though they’ve been nothing but nice to me. I suppose it has more to do with my own insecurities as I post my stance on beer and music.

  3. Sud Savant said, on July 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    Love the term, “gentleman dabbler.” If any beer snobs give you any grief, they have clearly forgotten that all were new to a certain bottle of beer at one point in time. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, but there is a problem with not wanting to know.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on July 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Thanks, yo! Yeah, “gentleman dabbler” caught my eye as soon as I read it.

      I think a bigger issue is that in this age of anonymity, we are all a little “braver” than we would be in normal, face-to-face situations. Of course, “braver” is just a nicer way of saying “ruder.”

  4. Nick said, on July 26, 2011 at 11:39 am

    I’ve always thought of myself as a jack of all trades, master of none. And I’ve always thought that kind of sucked because it would be nice to be really really good at something rather than pretty good at a lot of stuff.

    But I like the way you explain the gentleman dabbler. He “allows for holes in his knowledge.” Everyone has holes in their knowledge and it’s better to accept those holes then try to fill every hole in one topic. I will now be proud to refer to myself as a “gentleman dabbler”. Plus, it’s so much sexier.

    • builderofcoalitions said, on July 26, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I know what you mean. If I had been really good at any one thing, I would have been huge. Instead, I have a regular job, kid, wife, mortgage, and a few hobbies. It’s nothing special, but it’s a decent life. And I already feel much sexier as a gentleman dabbler thanks to your comment.

  5. […] nothing wrong with being a Dabbler. We don’t need to be consistent, we don’t need to know it all. In fact, it’s far more fun […]

  6. […] proclaiming myself a gentleman dabbler, time for such pursuits has been scarce. Or at least the time for blogging about my hobbies has. […]

  7. […] just can’t maintain a certain level of entertainment and consumables to keep the average gentleman dabbler properly […]

  8. […] just can’t maintain a certain level of entertainment and consumables to keep the average gentleman dabbler properly […]

  9. […] I think my issue with writing said lists is down to feeling that my experience of any one art form (or whatever else) hasn’t been necessarily broad enough in order to put together a meaningful list. Perhaps I’m just too much of a Gentleman Dabbler. […]

  10. […] 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 […]

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