Beer and Pavement

My Obligatory Anti-SOPA Post

Posted in Activism by SM on January 18, 2012

All the SOPA stuff today will make it easy for me to fill a post today. I’m really too busy to post this week. The goal is to get something out by Friday and pick up the pace next week. Until then, I will tell you how bad SOPA is. It’s bad. It’s bad for the internet. It’s bad for free speech. It’s bad for learning. It’s just plain bad.

From what I understand, there aren’t even enough votes in the House or Senate to pass the thing and the president doesn’t support it either. I’d post links, but they’re all blacked-out. (Not really. I’m just lazy.) So, I think we’re in the clear, but it’s good that we stand up for some freedoms periodically just to keep Washington and corporate America aware that we’re paying attention. Sometimes.

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Hurricane Irene Relief

Posted in Activism, Life by SM on December 6, 2011

This is the time of year we all try to give back. We here in Missouri know more about this than most as we pooled together our resources to help the victims of the tornado in Joplin this year. As a community, we are helping that community recover.

Of course, since that tragedy, there have been others. The havoc wreaked on the east coast by Hurricane Irene was pretty devastating in its own right. Thankfully, there are individuals trying to help those communities affected by the hurricane as well.

Kara McGraw is someone I’ve “met” online as she’s worked hard to promote bands at her label to a lowly blogger like myself. I’ve even scored some free music and a spot on a guest list out of it.

Kara is from one of the affected communities in Vermont. She wrote a Christmas song to help raise money for victims of Hurricane Irene in Vermont. Listen & download the song for free here. Donations can be given as it’s one of those “name your price” deals. You get to help out a community in need and receive a nice holiday song in return. Win-win.

There’s more info about the song here and a video below. In the meantime, consider donating what you can this holiday and keep those affected by Hurricane Irene in your thoughts.

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On Black Friday

Posted in Activism, Beer, Intersections, Life, Manifesto by SM on November 26, 2011

So, Black Friday was the day I couldn’t get a post out. Honestly, I was tired and a bit stuffed. It just wasn’t meant to be. However, I did manage to post two placeholders and today I should be able to publish two posts. Beyond that, I think I can finish out this month. There are no promises for December, though. It might be back to three posts a week, but we’ll see.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the unofficial holiday of capitalism, Black Friday…

Can someone tell me why it’s okay to camp outside a Walmart so that one can beat down their doors and mob the store, but it’s not okay for Occupy Wall Street folks to do what they do? The crap that went on early yesterday morning makes me rather sick and ashamed to be an American. People make absolute fools of themselves for some cheap junk.

We tend to recognize our Black Friday with an old fashioned Buy Nothing Day. I left the house long enough to grab another holiday tradition from the local video shop, Team America: World Police. And that’s how we do in this house.

However, in case you’re wondering, Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement does have an official stance on Black Friday. It’s cool to shop on Black Friday, but if you do, it’s best to go local. Your local brew pubs and record stores need you. Don’t bother with Walmart or Target. Keep it local this entire holiday season, in fact.

For record stores, check the Record Store Day website. Once a single day in the spring, Record Store Day has become its own movement that can be celebrated year round. I just wish there was an actual record store here where I could celebrate. Maybe the next time I’m in St. Louis or back home in Columbus, I’ll have to do some shopping.

Then, for the beer enthusiast, the Brewers Association is the place to go. I need to get down to our own brew pubs, Broadway and Flat Branch for some holiday cheer here in Middle Missouri. Check the site for the craft brewers where you live.


Posted in Activism by SM on November 16, 2011

There’s not a lot to say, but you should really go here and then go here and let your representatives know what’s up.

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Posted in Activism, Intersections by SM on October 21, 2011

So, I was having trouble coming up with something to write. It seems that I’ve been wrapped up in all the #OccupyWallStreet drama. To satisfy this occupation of my attention, I could go to our own Occupy COMO demonstration, but I figured I’d blog about it instead. (It takes all kinds to make a social movement successful.)

What does a blog about some guys hobbies have to say about the Occupy series of protests? Plenty. So, I’ll keep it brief.

You see, craft breweries and indie labels are occupying their industries in much the same way those protesters in NYC are doing. They’ve held a spot in their respective industries that their corporate overlords don’t like. It makes corporations nervous to see the little guys one-up them. Craft breweries and indie labels represent a portion of their market they can’t have. They represent defiance. Corporations don’t handle defiance very well.

The reason these breweries and labels can take on corporate behemoths is because what they do comes from people. Despite what some might suggest, corporations are not people. What they do is for profit, to crush the competition, and to dominate their sector. And it’s okay not to see corporations as people. They don’t see us that way. We’re just numbers, demographics, and consumers. Craft brewing is about the people. Most breweries started with a guy or gal brewing some beer in a garage. Similarly, indie labels started with people wanting to get their music out into the world. Both have goals of making the world better, more enjoyable through their craft. Sure, a profit that allows them some financial security and the ability to take care of their people is part of it, but profit doesn’t come before quality for these entities.

Craft breweries are taking back the beer market, a market that used to belong to the people and not faceless corporations. There used to be breweries in every city. Then, Prohibition happened. Some breweries closed; others diversified. Eventually, a few larger breweries bought up all the local breweries. Eventually, beer went corporate. Then, certain developments happened. Jimmy Carter helped make it legal for folks to brew at home. A few folks traveled through Europe, discovering that beer could vary in flavor, appearance, and style. In the midst of all this, Fritz Maytag was making some things happen with the old Steam Beer Brewing Company. Three decades later, craft beer is slowly taking back beer for the people.

Indie rock has had a similar timeline and method. Punk rock showed kids they could make something people wanted to hear. Networks and labels popped up throughout the 80’s, making it possible for these self-taught, self-promoted, and self-recorded artists to make a go at a career. This movement gave independent artists scaffolding for gaining the solid foothold in the industry, again, returning a share of the market to the people.

Like the Occupy movement, craft beer and indie rock have taken a long and arduous path in taking on large corporations. The occupiers in New York and elsewhere are just getting started. Their fight is a noble one, but they are not alone. People all over this country are taking back some control from corporations. Whether that be in the form of establishing their own place in a corporate-dominated market or just a fight for an economic and political system that actually works for the people, we are all occupying space that corporations can’t have back.

Now, I recognize that this is just a post about beer and music. The actual occupiers are doing important work. And there’s no better talking head on the internet than Jay Smooth to put things into perspective…

Womyn’s History Month

Posted in Activism, GenderBender by SM on March 9, 2010

OK. So, I don’t know that this piece is post-worthy or not. I’ve had no time to work on it and really don’t care anymore. There were to be pictures and videos and possibly more footnotes than you could shake a stick at, but I’ve done as much with this as I can. It’s time to move on. Be nice in the comments. I have things to say in the coming days and weeks. Don’t unsubscribe just yet.

I used to teach fourth grade1. Every year, I’d make my students study up on Black history in February and women’s history in March. One student asked why they had to study about women for a whole month. I explained that every other month was men’s history month. The boys in the class thought this was great, but I squelched their celebration with the revelation that this isn’t fair to only recognize the contributions of women for one month a year, something they understood as poor African-Americans in the inner-city2. I earned a lot of respect from my girls that day.

So, it’s March again and it’s still Women’s Womyn’s History Month whether I’m teaching or not. It’s sad that we have to set aside a whole month for such topics just to insure that kids are presented with a balanced perspective on history3, but that’s how it is.

If I wanted my daughter to follow in the footsteps of any female rocker of the past century, I’d choose Katleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre fame4. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, even the underground rock scene was terribly sexist5. Hanna and her merry band of grrrls stuck it to the hardcore boys in the most punk way possible: They made uncompromising, vag-to-the-wall punk rock. Bikini Kill and the like stood up to the boys and put them in their place6.

It wasn’t just about the music. Hanna and others lead a revolution within feminist ranks, calling attention to the racism, homophobia, and classism that once plagued the movement7. Some refer to this era as the onslaught of third wave feminism. Whatever it’s called, Hanna and the Riot Grrrl movement broke down a lot of barriers. Suddenly, it was kewl8 to be feministy and not so hippie-dippy9. Hanna’s brand of feminism spoke to those not totally sure about its causes10.

For a taste of what I’m talking about, check this interview she recently did for GritTV here. Also, one can peruse Bikini Kill memories as told by their fans in the ultimate demonstration of community building over at the Bikini Kill Archive.

Of course, Hanna is just one of many feminists/female-rockers-who-may-or-may-not-be-feminist I’d love for my daughter to look to for inspiration. A top-10 list is below…

1. Kathleen Hanna (Read above.)

2. PJ Harvey – No one rocks or takes more control of their sexuality than Polly Jean Harvey. She is so ridiculously bad-ass that she the same effect on her listeners as a  Mick Jagger or Iggy Pop. She’s not classically beautiful, but she gets your attention and tells you how it’s going to be.

3. Kim Gordon – She married a younger man in band mate Thurston Moore. She doesn’t stand out just because she’s the only w0man in the band, but because she’s friggin’ awesome. All that and she invented the baby-t.

4. Beth Ditto – I have never seen more of a punk rock moment than the night six or seven years ago when I witnessed Ditto take it off for the crowd, flaunting her voluptuous body for all the dykes11 in the house. The best moment of that show was when she called out the kid in the “Feminist Chicks Dig Me” t-shirt and informed him that they didn’t.

5. Kim Deal – I know she’s had a rough go of it with the drugs and alcohol, but she is arguably the most successful of all the former Pixies…in terms of record sales. That and she’s from Dayton.

6. Liz Phair – My early exposure to feminism happened when I first listened to Exile in Guyville. It’s been downhill from there.

7. Bjork – Unapologetically weird but not in that creepy, Tori Amos sort of way. No one sings like Bjork or attacks paparazzi like her either.

8. Thao Nguyen – Cool and self-assured, I don’t think any other musician I follow on Facebook sends me more political messages than Thao.

9. All of Sleater-Kinney – They should probably be higher on this list, but it’s not a contest. One member is maybe the best two or three drummers in indie. One member writes the best music blog on NPR’s site and makes a good viral video now and again. The third just belts shit out. When is their reunion tour?

10. Herself – Lucia, my daughter already has demonstrated a love and proficiency in music.I only hope that I will do enough to encourage her growth. Either way, she should always look to herself for inspiration in both her feminism and musicianship.

I know I’m missing someone. Who are you honoring this Womyn’s History Month?

Bonus Non-Rocker: Angela Davis – How many folks have ever had a former Black Panther as their professor? Davis talked the talk and walked the walk way before the Riot Grrrls. She is still one bad mother.

It’s a long story, but I may find myself back in a classroom yet.
2I mean, Black History is not only given a month itself, but it’s been relegated to the year’s shortest month. What kind of racist shit is that?
3Of course, I realize even these special months do not insure a balanced approach to history. For that, we must depend on Texas to make the right decisions and we know how fruitless that will be.
4Actually, I’d choose her mama, but in the interest of keeping this blog universal and devoid of too much personal information, I’ll leave her out of it. I’ll just say that my partner is the smartest and most thoughtful person I know, a perfect role-model for our daughter.
5Sans a more-enlightened rocker like, say, Ian MacKaye. Either way, there was not a lot of room at hardcore shows for girls and women. Hell, there wasn’t even a lot of room for those of us guys who don’t need to thump our chests and tear off our shirts.
6I could insert some emasculating idiom here, but it would defeat the point. The idea is to turn shit around on the boys. It’s always about sticking women back in the kitchen and all that, but why don’t we make the boys fix our sandwiches??
7OK. It still plagues the movement and many other movements. However, what Hanna and the Riot Grrrl movement did do was teach us to critically look at all perspectives, especially those that have been so embraced by our communities for a certain length of time.
8Sorry for the Carles slip there. I have been reading too much Hipster Runoff lately. Lucky for you, I am usually able to avoid such a miscue.
9FYI, I really don’t care for hippies, but I now just find them harmless, useless.
10By this, I mean boys like myself who were pulled in by the rock rawk.
11I mean this only in a loving way. I am reclaiming the term for my lesbian sisters and brothers.

Trust and Choice

Posted in Activism by SM on January 22, 2010

I trust my partner. She makes it easy as she is probably the smartest person I know. I know that whatever decision or choice she makes is researched and well-reasoned.

When she decided that she was OK with getting pregnant, I knew she had thought things out. If it happened, she would be due at the beginning of a semester, giving her leave for that entire fall.

As we navigated prenatal care and birthing options, her poise and thoughtfulness revealed themselves to me time and time again. No matter what doctors, midwives, or family thought, we knew that a home birth – one with as little medical intervention as possible – was right for us. It was her body, our fetus, and our choice.

Even had we decided not to see the pregnancy to full term, I know that it would have been the right choice. My partner – and any woman for that matter – doesn’t make such decisions lightly. As with the pregnancy and birth, she carefully considers options and consequences. Birth is not a simple thing to make a decision over a cup of coffee or on a whim. Every person who makes a decision to have kids or not considers it very, very carefully.

I trust that anyone who is faced with pregnancy thinks long and hard about their next step. It would be foolish to think otherwise. They may not always make what you or I think is the right decision, but they take it very seriously.

It’s important that we trust women with such decisions. They can decide what’s right for their bodies. That’s not up to you or me and certainly not the government. I trust that every woman will make the choice that is right for her.

This trust is what drives the movement to protect a woman’s right to choose. I want people to trust that I will do what’s right for me, allowing me to make decisions for myself. So, I trust that women will do the same. Whether it involves birthing or abortion, it is important we trust women to make these decisions for themselves.

Let’s do what we can to keep abortion and other family planning measures accessible, safe, and protected under the law. Check out NARAL’s site to learn more about this issue of a woman’s choice and today’s “Blog for Choice” effort.

I mean, you don’t have to. It’s your choice. I trust you to make the right decision.


Posted in Activism by SM on January 20, 2010

I tried to approach the Haiti earthquake disaster on this blog, but I couldn’t find a way to do it without making light of the situation. Rather than offend or knock a people down some more now that they’re already so low, I opted to wait. I waited for the right message that somehow tied indie rock and craft beer to this devastating event in Haiti. Of course, there really is no way to do this smoothly, but I’ll try.

People all over are doing what they can to help the people in Haiti. It’s much like the outpouring that resulted after the Katrina or the tsunami disasters. When a disaster hits, we look out for our fellow man and donate what we can to help the recovery efforts.

Indie rockers are no different. Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne made a plea for her former countrymen in an online newspaper. Paste and a bunch of bands released some free music in exchange for donations to the relief effort. In an email I received from Port O’Brien today, they had music to donate as well…

TODAY – January 19- we are releasing a new EP called the Pan American Sessions. 100% of the proceeds are going to Doctors Without Borders and their relief efforts and aid in the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti. Its a devastating time. And we need to give. The EP is available via our myspace and for $4.  It contains 4 alternate versions of “My Will Is Good”, “Oslo Campfire”, “Calm Me Down”, and “Leap Year” all of which were recorded with Jason Quever at his Pan American Studios in San Francisco. For more information on Doctors Without Borders, go to our website.

Even craft brewers are getting into the act. Donations and benefit events are going on all over the beer world. has a full rundown here.

So, everyone’s getting in on the act.

In case you needed another reason, there’s this…

Now that I’ve given the disaster its proper time and respect, let me tell how I really feel. It’s too little, too late. Sure, we should all give to whatever Haiti relief effort we feel is best, but what have we all been doing for the past several decades? It’s not as if Haiti was a thriving nation with a pristine health care record and solid infrastructure. Nope. Haiti was a mess before this earthquake, is a more of a mess because of this earthquake, and will continue to be a mess long after this earthquake. The earthquake just called new attention to Haiti’s plight. We’ll give and give to Haiti…that is, until the next disaster.

How do I know this? Look at the areas affected by the tsunami. Look at New Orleans.

We’ll fall all over ourselves to help these people. We’ll save some lives. We’ll build some shelter. We’ll send a lot of food. However, when it no longer becomes cool to support Haiti, we’ll leave it as it was before the earthquake, worse even.

I know this is a big box of cynicism in a time we should be pulling together, but what evidence is there that Haiti will be different from disasters of the past? We’ll do what we can for a few weeks, then it will be time for those Haitians to fix their own country. As a friend paraphrased comments from Fark said, “They’re going to need a whole lotta bootstraps.”

That’s how we roll in the US. We have enough to get by, maybe even a little extra. There’s enough extra to give a little here, text something to give a little there, and maybe send a little more over there. Then, we pull out and expect that it’s fixed, because we have our own problems. We have to take care of our own. We have car payments and mortgages for homes we can’t afford and iPods to buy, etc.

I’m no better. This is just how I see it. Call me a cynic all you want, but it doesn’t make what I say any less accurate.

Maybe this disaster will be different, but I somehow doubt it. In the meantime, at least give something to the numerous causes linked above. Thanks.

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