Beer and Pavement

The Building International Coalitions through Beer & Pavement 2020 Presidential Ticket

Posted in Activism, Intersections by SM on July 8, 2020

I haven’t written one of those tongue-in-cheek bits about the importance of craft beer and indie rock, or indie beer and craft rock, for a while. But no other time in our nation’s history is a better time than now to make a (not-so) serious endorsement for the 2020 presidential election. I mean, our current choices are a giant douche or a turd sandwich, so what have we got to lose?

I have opted to go with a presidential ticket that represents both craft beer and indie rock, which is loaded with faults, I realize, but will at least provide possibility in a post-Trump world. The biggest problem with this approach is likely that the demographics are a bit skewed. Both fields are largely white – though not entirely. Even harder is how male-dominated they are. So, I will likely have to contend with both downsides to my proposal.

Let’s begin with the craft beer side of the ticket…

Craft beer is loaded with oversized personalities of self-made men and women who understand leadership and organization building. They are typically well-traveled. They have some college but rarely hold advanced degrees. They can often be economically advantaged as they have sunk millions into brewing beer. So, they aren’t all that different than Trump, aside from being better read, traveled, and having better taste.

Diversity in the craft beer community isn’t a strong suit. I recently came across a list of Black craft brewers. While I’m sure they all make great beer, none of them were heading well-known or large-scale breweries. There even seem to be less women. Yes, there are many great brewers at big-time breweries, but there aren’t many headed by women. And what about women of color? Oof. Let’s just say that while craft beer is for everyone, it’s not exactly led by everyone.

Of course, I don’t know that our electorate is ready for a truly diverse ticket. The one president we’ve had who wasn’t white and male was Barak Obama. And even he had his white male running mate. So, I nearly resigned myself to giving half the ticket to yet another white male.

I came really close to nominating friend of the coalition, Stone’s Greg Koch. He is a charismatic evangelist for craft beer, particularly his own. However, he’s approachable in that he’s not snobby about his beer. His company is a shining example of the industry and has grown to incredible heights, even opening a brewery in Germany.

However, he’s a white guy and he likes Metallica. So, I decided to look elsewhere.

What this ticket needs is a respectable elder statesman. We need someone with the right pedigree and a certain level of sophistication that returns some respect and admiration to the administration. What this ticket needs is Garrett Oliver.

Garrett Oliver

Oliver is ideal as he is a Black pioneer in craft beer. He holds a degree from Boston University. He traveled Europe and returned with inspiration to build something great: the Brooklyn Brewery. Oliver is a winner of the prestigious James Beard Award as well as a successful author. He’s a New Yorker who can carry that all-important state. At 57 years old (58 by the election), he is both old enough to have accumulated essential life experience without being too old to competently lead. No one dislikes Oliver and everyone loves his beer.

Garrett Oliver is an easy choice for one half of our ticket.

Indie rock has a similar diversity issue, but it’s not nearly as bad as craft beer’s. Although very white, indie rock artists are diverse in gender, sexual orientation, and various other ways. That said, I decided to seek out the best woman for the job. Where Oliver gives the ticket a Black voice and face, a woman will inject the administration with something it’s never seen.

At first, it was hard to think of a female candidate. A lot of the women I listen to are amazing, but too young to be president/vice president. Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield seems awesome and has a nice redemption story, but she’s only 31. Angel Olsen was another musician who came to mind, but she’s only 33.

Then, I had to consider older indie rockers. This is fraught with complications. Musicians tend to have bouts with drug addiction or other less-presidential behaviors. I don’t personally think this should exclude them from consideration, but it will be a non-starter for many voters. For example, I considered Kim Deal, one of my all-time favorite people – not just artists. However, she’s had her bouts with addiction and seems to be recovering and producing some great music, but I can’t let her opponents tear her down for past transgressions.

I considered Liz Phair, but she’ll be unfairly accused of Karen-ism. I don’t think Liz Phair is a Karen, Becky, or Susan, but her social status might pigeon hole her into such a box. After reading most of Phair’s memoir, Horror Stories, I realized she has led a pretty upper-middle class life that’s fairly conventional. Is she cool? Yes. Is she one of the most gifted song writers of her generation? Oh yeah. But is she a good fit for the current political and cultural climate? I don’t know.

Let me be clear, I love Kim Deal and Liz Phair, but we need a female Bernie Sanders on this ticket. That’s why we need Kim Gordon.

Kim Gordon

At 67, Kim Gordon’s at the perfect age for the office. She is a working mother who has strong ties to the East Coast (NYC, Western Mass) and California where she grew up and currently resides. Gordon was a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders and appears to support all his positions politically. Yes, she is divorced, but who isn’t? Plus, she came out of that marriage stronger than ever. I don’t think Kim Gordon will take shit from anyone and her presence will command respect in a room of world leaders.

Since we have not had a female president and she is the senior of the two candidates, I would nominate Kim Gordon for president and Garrett Oliver as the VP. There’s no way the Queen of Indie Rock and the King of Fine Craft Beer could lose to a giant douche or a turd sandwich, No way.

Convince me otherwise.

Black Lives Matter at Beer & Pavement

Posted in Activism, Intersections, Life by SM on June 29, 2020
Drawing by Ben Chlapek and I forget what the beer was. It was good. Pic is from my IG.

I couldn’t bring this blog back without at least addressing all of this [erratically motions in the general direction of everything]. Specifically, I’m talking about the current Black Lives Matter movement.

“Why would a blog about beer and indie rock write about race?” you might ask.

Let me reply.

I started blogging as a way to express myself. Now, I’ve veered here and there and back, but a constant part of that expression has been been my love and – shall I say – my need for music. It’s a somewhat niche obsession, but I love independent rock music. (I’ll address beer later.)

Any lover of rock n roll must at some point – willingly or begrudgingly – admit that rock music was appropriated by white people from Black culture. It’s fact. It can’t be denied. Some will try or simply ignore history, but most come around at some point.

I decided a long, long time ago that I was cool with this. I mean, it’s shitty that Elvis and every white dude after him have profited greatly from Black people, but isn’t that what white people do? We profit off the work of others, particularly Black people. We white people are the worst.

As I said, I was okay with rock music being Black music, not necessarily the stealing part. No one epitomized rock music for me more than Prince. For dudes 5-10 years older than I am, it’s Bowie, but for me, it’s Prince. Who could have heard “Little Red Corvette” or watched their first R-rated flick by the title Purple Rain and not want to be Prince or at the very least follow him to the ends of the earth?

In Prince, I found a performer that took on sexuality, race, the status quo… He was weird and he could play guitar like a mother fucker. I listen to primarily guitar-based music because of Prince.

I have not always been so well-versed or even comfortable with race and racism, but Prince opened me up to learn. Prince demonstrated that there was culture and perspective way beyond my nearly all-white hometown. Not only did I search out new and different kinds of music because of his influence, but I searched out film (Spike Lee) and books (Malcom X) to feed my appetite.

All this is due to Prince. Prince taught me about humanity and that included Black people.

I recently read that there’s a push to put up a statue of Prince in Minneapolis in place of Christopher Columbus. Yes, there is not already a statue of Prince in Minneapolis, his hometown and there’s one of Columbus. I was shocked to find this out as well. Hopefully, this is rectified.

On to more important things.

So, Prince was my gateway to weird guitar music, but he was also my path to being open to discussions of race and racism. Do I get it right? Usually not. But, as I explain to my children, we (white people) are all racist to some degree because we have benefitted from from racist institutions in some way or another. However, we have a choice to ignore this fact or do something to change it.

I’m trying my best to change it. I’m trying to change me and I’m trying to change the system, because it’s rigged, yo.

Now, there’s nothing all that insightful in this post. I’m just a white guy trying to do what’s right. I’m a white guy who recognizes the humanity of Black people and that they deserve all that we white people take for granted on the daily.

Now I’m just rambling.

Look, remember that if you’re reading this, you probably love rock music. Rock music is the music of Black people (along with hip-hop, jazz, etc.).

Or you’re reading this because you like beer. Apparently, having a beer with someone as you talk about important issues is a thing. Go here and buy some beer brewed by Black people. Then, donate to these organizations.

There. I covered beer and indie rock, but now I’ve got you thinking about race. Join me for a discussion in the comments.

#BlackLivesMatter

(I’m not fooling myself. 1-2 people will comment at most. This blog has been idle for two or three years.)

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The Current State of Craft Beer in 2014

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Manifesto by SM on October 29, 2014

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Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery and Momofuko’ David Chang had a spat. That’s a story, I guess. Or at least it’s GQ drumming up some page views with an internal disagreement from contributors, contributors who happen to be at the top of their respective fields.

Basically, David Chang hates snobbery in food and especially beer. That said, the dude runs with a crowd that hangs at restaurants you nor I will ever enjoy. (Although, my wife did eat lunch at Noma once. Whatever.) It seems that he draws the snobbery line at beer. Guy hates himself some beer geeks:

Beer snobs are the worst of the bunch. You know the old joke about cheap beer being like having sex in a canoe? I will take a beer that’s “fucking near water” every night of the week over combing out my neck beard while arguing about hop varieties.

Garret Oliver who is one of those epicurean snobs with which Chang eats and imbibes took issue with the jab. He calls Chang’s shit out:

It’s not the fancy beer you don’t like. You don’t like us, your people. You have a “tenuous relationship with the Epicurean snob set?” You are the epicurean snob set! I’ve seen you with champagne in one hand and a Noma lamb leg in the other, chatting up celebrities. Why you frontin’? You spent your first three paragraphs insulting people just like you…is the cash, fame and luxury not working out?

So, a maker of snobby things doesn’t like some other snobby things. In this case, it’s beer. Fine. Like your shitty beer. More good, craft beer for me. Except that his snobby beer friend points out the hypocrisy of such an opinion coming from said maker of snobby things.

I’ll come back to this.

In other signs of the craft beer apocalypse, The New Yorker just figured out that craft beer is suddenly fancy stuff. This realization is due to beer-centric restaurants getting respect in foodie circles, not because the beer is good (which it is). Beer is big in Brooklyn, so now we have to pay attention to it.

This third anecdote  is not necessarily about snobbery, but stick with me. Martha Stewart has a certified cicerone. Said in-house, beer expert/blogger did this little post selling the sour beer to soccer moms worldwide. Hops didn’t win wine drinkers over, but maybe open fermentation will. The sours in the post are presented as the sophisticated subset of craft beer, not like brutish IPA’s and imperial stouts.

And this is where beer is in 2014.

No longer do beer enthusiasts need to advocate for their favorite beverage. Craft beer has arrived, but is this what we wanted? Did we want beer to be unreachable? Did we want to turn beer snobs into just snobs? Did we need New York to discover craft beer?

What attracted me to craft beer was the accessibility. Here, in my glass, could be one of the best beers in the world. The best anything in the world usually demands a hefty price tag, but my beer didn’t cost me more than $5 at the bar or $10 for sixer.

Maybe this is what Chang is arguing. He would rather drink cheap, rice-adjunct, industrial swill than succumb to perils of beer snobbery. However, if you’re the kind who washes down your Noma lamb leg with champaign, what’s the point? Why not wash down that lamb with a barley wine or IPA made brewed by a local brewery? If you eat fine food, you should wash it down with a fine beer.

Still, the perception of beer has changed. Sure, there are still beer evangelists and those who think craft beer doesn’t get its due respect, but the need for craft beer promotion is dwindling. A craft pint in this town has gone from $3 to $5 with some beers demanding $7-10 a glass. Beer dinners and tastings are becoming as common as wine events, possibly even more. Beer has arrived, but is this what we wanted?

When I watch craft beer grow and evolve this way, it reminds me of the indie rock/alternative boom of the 90’s. Hardcore punk and indie rock of the 80’s was underground and of a certain accessible quality that mainstream rock could not replicate. Eventually, Nirvana happened and every band was signed. That or the audience grew for those still on indie labels, making it possible for a band like a Pavement to travel in tour busses as opposed to broken-down vans. The music was still as accessible as ever, but suddenly, it was held to a higher standard. The indie snob became a thing. It ushered in the age of Pitchfork where suddenly an organization primarily covering independent music was the trend setter and not MTV, FM radio, or major labels.

And then there’s the backlash. Pop music and less sophisticated forms of hip-hop became popular again. Ironically, this shift back to the superficial mainstream has meant a decline in profits for the industry as a whole. I don’t need to link to the endless number of Billboard articles to prove this point. Still, the indies that rose in the nineties are still going strong.

This brings me back to beer. Is Chang merely calling attention to craft beer’s inevitable backlash? Is this part of our collective beer evolution? It certainly seems to mirror the evolution of modern music. Even as some return to cheap American lagers, beer sales as a whole are down, except for the craft brewers who continue to succeed.

Craft beer and its fans should realize that we are getting what we wished for. We wanted beer served alongside the finest wines in the finest establishments. However, it comes at a cost – literally. The backlash is in full swing and it was inevitable. Still, craft beer should weather the storm the way indie rock has.

Just quit your prosthelytizing and snobbery and enjoy another beer.

Once More with Feeling vs Dark Penance

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Records, Review, Rock vs. Beer by SM on October 21, 2014

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Man, I haven’t done one of these beer/record reviews in a long, long time.

Above you will find an image of a record – a 10″ record to be exact – and a beer. The record is Once More with Feeling, the new EP by Ought I picked up at their show over a week ago. The beer is a little something from Founders I picked up before the show. It’s black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale called Dark Penance.

Once More with Feeling – Ought

This is not your typical Ought release. Well, they have basically only released the stellar More than Any Other Day on Constellation and a self-released EP of mostly the same material, but this offering is neither of those. From what I can tell and have read, Once More… features older material that was rerecorded and slapped on some 10″ vinyl. Half is recycled from the mentioned EP, but it’s been completely reworked. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t measure up with what might be one of the best LP’s of the year. In fact, this 4-song EP perfectly compliments it and adds to the still-young oeuvre in a meaningful way.

The EP opens with the slow burn that is “Pill” with frontman Tim Beeler’s vocals light but in front instead of his typical holler. This is a reimagined version of the opening track from their EP New Calm. It’s straightforward and sweet with some sad, sad lyrics before it unravels into a beautiful mess, Beeler demanding that you give it to him before he fades into oblivion. “New Calm Pt 2” is another rerecording of the final track of their self-released EP. Beeler’s talking, Byrne/Reed vocals are out front ahead of a Joy Division-esque groove and early U2 guitar onslaught. The experiment of “New Calm Pt 2” doesn’t stand alone, but it demonstrates the certain constraints and potential of the band to carry out a jam. It’s abstract musically and lyrically, featuring a rambling singer backed by a rambling band. The EP closes with “Waiting”, a more conventional track. Quick, moving, urgent, the band moves like a mid-nineties Chicago outfit in a hurry with that familiar David Byrne-like mumbling before breaking into his usual cries. This track could be described as the band’s “dance song” but I find a lot of Ought’s faster stuff danceable. Beeler asks, “How long have you been waiting?” over and over. I hope not wait too long before another release or live performance.

Dark Penance Imperial Black IPA – Founders

Up for the challenge is a first-time release from the Midwest’s best brewery: Founders. Intensely bitter, Dark Penance is painful to the tongue upon the first sip. The roastiness and extreme hop presence (100 IBU’s!) are unforgiving. But as one sips, the roast and hop flavors begin to separate themselves, allowing the drinker to take in the brilliance of this beer. There are two types of black IPA’s: the hoppy porter variety or dark hop bomb that’s really just an IPA in a cloak. However, this beer finds a balance in pushing the envelope – typical of a Founders beer. Founders just makes their beers overwhelmingly flavorful which somehow balances out. I wonder if as they were developing this beer, the brewers thought “oh, that’s too hoppy” or “the malt is too forward” or “it’s all roasted malt.” And instead of backing off any of those flavors, they brought up the other components to balance the whole thing out. And this works.

Intersections

On the surface, both Ought’s EP and Founders black IPA are immensely pleasurable. As I sipped the beer, I wasn’t sure if I was nodding to the blackness spinning on my turntable or the one in my glass. Both are exceptional contributions.

However, I find it more interesting in how they differ. Ought builds from abstraction, a dance beat, a sweet ditty into something gorgeously chaotic. However, Dark Penance was the opposite in that it opened with a punishing onslaught only to eventually reveal a balanced, glorious drink, perfecting for sipping with a great record on the play. The pairing was a success in contrasting styles with similar elements. I may have to try it again.

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Tempering Expectations

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Records by SM on January 24, 2014

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Hopslam arrived here in frigid Middle Missouri and it brought along with it loads of hype and hops. My love for the beer has cooled but not totally gone cold. I have learned to temper my expectations, not lower them. This is a lesson learned from years of buying records and seeing rock shows. See, this blog’s original premise still works.

See, a beer like Hopslam is almost as much about hype as it is anything else. It’s released only once a year in limited quantities. It’s a beer geek’s beer, loaded with hops and booze. Those bright green labels picturing a poor bloke begin crushed by a giant hop calls craft beer consumers like voiceless sirens. (Can that even work?) The ~$20 makes you think that it’s a big deal. Oh, and it is a pretty good beer.

However, the next Hopslam doesn’t ever taste like the first one. This year’s version never tastes as good as last year’s or the one you drank seven years ago. I don’t know if it’s a problem of drinkers building it up too much in their own minds or something more akin to a heroin addiction. It’s probably a little of both. Either way, the hype and misperception leads to bitter disappointment every time.

Still, Hopslam is an excellent beer. I have come to expect a well-crafted beer that hides an incredible amount of booze while introducing my palate to some sweetness and bitterness without fail. What I don’t expect is the same burst of grapefruit or cat piss or whatever aromas the hops might unleash. It seems that big DIPA’s like this are really dependent on a large amount of hops. If one harvest or another is slightly off or just different in one way or another, the effects are magnified. The beer tastes different every year, but it is always well-brewed and worth a try.

I’m good with Hopslam these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Two or three Hopslams ago, the beer didn’t meet my expectations. I wanted that crazy honey-coated grapefruitiness that smelled of a cat lady’s house sweater I tasted just the year or two before. However, as explained above, the beer was different. On top of this disappointment, I really had to go out of my way to spend a lot of money on beer. Here in Middle Missouri, Hopslam lasts tens of minutes, not days or hours. So, if you want some, you better be prepared to stalk the local beer dealer. Then, you’ll pay $20 a sixer. I used to buy at least two, sometime more. If I had to work that hard and spend that much money on a beer, it better meet my expectations.

Hopslam didn’t meet those expectations. So, something had to change. Last year, I didn’t buy any in bottles, only on tap. The 2-3 Hopslams (plus a bottle from a friend) were more than enough. I didn’t overdo it. I don’t blow a wad of cash. It was a good beer among many. I was satisfied, but my exportations were not lowered as much as they were tempered. “Enjoy the Hopslam, not the Hypeslam” was my new mantra and it worked.

2014’s version rolled out this past week and I welcomed it. I wasn’t going to buy a sixer this year. I have a deal with my mom to grab one in Ohio where it sometimes sits on shelfs for weeks or months. Then, coworkers were running out in the middle of the day to see if the grocery nearby had some Hopslam. I joined them and scored a sixer. One’s enough.

I won’t write a beer review now. You should know that this year’s version is good. I’m glad I bought some and look forward to having more on tap or in a few weeks when my mom delivers the sixer she bought for me.

What I wanted to focus on was the idea of tempering expectations. As I mentioned above, tempering expectations is something I do. However, the ability to do such with beer has been a recent development. No, I’ve been tempering expectations for a long time in terms of what I expect to get from a new record or rock show.

I realize that it’s semantics and someone will undoubtedly argue that tempering expectations is the same as lowering them, but this is my blog post and I say it isn’t the same. Tempering expectations considers contexts and past experiences. It keeps me in the moment and more mindful of what I am experiencing. Tempering expectations doesn’t allow those expectations or preconceived ideas to taint reality. Instead, I can enjoy the experience in real time.

Take Stephen Malkmus’ new album Wig Out at Jagbags as an example. I loved, LOVED Mirror Traffic. My expectations were high for Jagbags, but I realized that this was going to be a different record and it needed its own opportunity to win me over. Of course, the album didn’t have to impress me at all. Malkmus has done enough in Pavement and with Jicks to earn my loyalty. Still, I listened with anticipation. To be honest, the first few listens didn’t impress. It took 3-4 concentrated listens for me to appreciate this record, but I did. Is it as good as Traffic? I don’t know. Does it have to be? All I know is that it’s a good record at this moment and I enjoy listening to it.

See? It’s all about tempering those expectations so that we can enjoy what’s right in front of us. Stay in the moment. This year’s Hopslam doesn’t have to be last year’s or the version bottled six years ago.

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Damn it, Jim!

Posted in Beer, Challenge, Intersections, Life, Meta by SM on April 15, 2013

Jim wrote a post for the Today Show – his side gig – and now I feel as if I need to write an update since he linked my name back to this blog. People are surely going to click through to this blog and find nothing’s up-to-date. I gotta get current.

I mean, I did promise more posts recently, but my life has been crazy as of late. I’ll start with some bits from an unfinished post and then bring you all up to date. Maybe I’ll kick this thing back into gear soon enough…

djbo

Several weeks ago, I was set to DJ between some great local bands (Coward, Dark Blue Dark Green) for the release of New Tongue‘s excellent and very well received We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For. Had things gone as planned, I surely would have penned a full review of the festivities and what I spun on some borrowed dex. Then, I earned the nickname DJ Blackout.

Before I was set to spin, I was sitting with some guys in a couple of the bands, finding it harder and harder to follow the conversation. Things got cloudy. I started to sweat profusely. I excused myself to get some fresh air. Several steps toward the door and everything went black. Something/someone hit me hard between the eyes.

I woke up on the floor, wondering how I got there. All I could think was that I had planned to stay in that night, but I must have gone on some legendary binge. Someone cold-cocked me… or so I thought. This apparently was not the case.

People were all around me, asking if I was okay. With some help, I stumbled to my feet and located my glasses a couple of feet away. Soon, friends were there to steady me and grab me a chair. Eventually, they moved me to a table with water and orange juice.

I honestly have no idea what happened. Later that night, I insisted my wife take me to the ER just t make sure nothing was wrong. That is not like me. I hate doctors and hospitals. I was still pretty out of it.

The doctors had nothing for me. I wish I could tell you that I blacked out from drinking some crazy high gravity beers or that some unknown rival drugged my drink or that I got in a fight over which Pavement album is best. None of that occurred. The EKG checked out and my heart was in the clear. The doctors finally determined that I was dehydrated and needed to take it easy.

See, I had been training for a marathon (April 7th) and had run 20 miles the previous Sunday but had not done a good job of re-hydrating over the course of the week. I felt lethargic for a few days after, but things seem to be back to normal and I should be able to run that marathon.

As for why I actually passed out, we may never know. My doctor took some blood and ordered some additional tests, but I doubt anything will come up. The ER didn’t give me an IV. So, I suspect they didn’t think I was all that dehydrated.

Who knows?

What the episode did do was make me think that maybe I need to lay off a bit. I’m DJing (periodically), training for a marathon, taking a grad seminar for a PhD program, taking on more responsibilities at work, blogging (sort of), and generally running all over the place.

So, to put it succinctly, I’ve been busy.

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Fast forward a few weeks to said marathon. The weekend arrived and took it easy. My training had picked up a bit since the blackout incident. (BTW, my 4-year-old now know what “passing out” and E.R. are. So, there’s that.) I felt pretty rested. We had a nice dinner – pasta, of course. I planned to drink a low ABV stout or porter, but none was available. It’s April and bars are not serving many of these beers on tap. So, I opted for 4-Hands’ Reprise Centennial Red and Perennial’s Saison de Lis as they were the lower ABV options available on-tap. That and lots of water.

I barely slept that night, waiting for my 5 am wake-up. Once I did, it was canned coffee, a banana, and a Cliff Bar. I drank water from the time I left the hotel room, rode the MetroLink, and found the porta-potties. Then, I found my pacer (4:15) and waited.

So, I ran. There was the early pit stop to unload all those extra liquids (twice, actually). Anheuser-Busch was brewing and it smelled good – much like my kitchen or any brewpub on brew day. I climbed hills like a champ while others struggled. There was all the extra room when the half-marathoners turned to finish. I constantly cursed relay runners who raced by because they hadn’t yet run the 15-16 miles I had put in. Miles 18-20 was where I began to feel the pain and my pace dropped from that point on. Gatorade and those nasty gels made me nauseous. I turned down multiple shots of beer along the way…

I decided to run the final mile all the way to the end no matter what despite interspersed walking over miles 20-25. Motivation was given in the form of race volunteers telling us runners that it was all downhill to the finish. As I ran, I could see the bottom of this really long hill. The crowd was huge and I could make out some sort of line. However, as I approached, it was clear to me that this line was just some sort of shadow and the finish line was further up the next hill. And just before I reached the end of the hill, I realized that the finish was actually at the top of the next hill and that someone was cooking bacon. This all just made me more nauseous.

Still, I pushed forward. I later found out from my partner who was tracking my progress online that I picked up a ton of time on that final stretch. In my mind, I passed 100 or so people when it was maybe 5. Still, I finished strong. My daughter and wife were nearby to cheer me on and I finished within my predicted window of time.

Considering that I trained for maybe 5 months through the winter for my first-ever marathon – losing ~20 pounds in the process – I was pretty happy with a time of 4:22. I didn’t want any food or water or anything at the end, but I felt pretty good accomplishing a goal I set in the fall. Hell, I may even run another someday.

I eventually cleaned up, ate, and headed home with my family. Nothing tasted better than the beer I finally enjoyed hours after the race. It was my Black Francis Imperial Stout, made with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, and charred oak cubes all soaked in bourbon. The 9.4% ABV nearly knocked me out for the day.

That night, we attended our first Supper Club event. Supper Club is a group of couples who wanted to attend dinner parties where everything was provided by the hosts. Our group was so large that we split it with a rotating schedule to insure that everyone gets an opportunity to host and eat with everyone else in the group. The first night was a success. I hope to report on the dinner we host this summer where I plan to unveil a new beer I still have to brew. Details to come.

Beyond that (and hinted above) I have been taking on a graduate seminar in Human-Computer Interaction. The big project due at the end of the semester is a small study on the subject. We have human subjects and IRB approval. So, shit’s about to get real. And I will have even less time to blog.

Bill Callahan is coming to town and I will be DJing a joint birthday party for 50-year-olds. So, there’s that.

And I’m updated. Hopefully, I’ll have more interesting things to say in future posts.

Enjoy By 12/21/2012

Posted in Beer, Intersections by SM on December 21, 2012

I, like Lenny Bruce am not afraid. The Mayans are wrong about this one. The world will not end by 12/21/2012 EST. And if it does, I live in CST and should have at least an hour to take care of some unfinished business[1].

Our time on this planet is finite. Beer has expiration dates, some sooner than others. Even vinyl records scratches and softens over time due to continual playing.

It’s all coming to an end and we can’t take any of it with us. So, why not indulge a little. Get that one more experience in before it all comes to an end.

It makes record collections and beer cellars obsolete. Unused blogs sit and digitally rot, losing readers by the minute.

Stone's Enjoy By 12/21/2012
Enjoyed By 12/21

We should enjoy the freshest of IPAs before they go bad. Don’t let the hops fade. It’s important to smell the fruit and pine aromas and to allow their bitterness to defeat your tongue. I enjoyed Stone’s Enjoy By 12/21/2012 weeks ago and I’m glad I did. I’ve had too many IPAs who sat months on shelves outside their proper homes in beer coolers. My bottle barely spent any time on a shelf or even in a refrigerator. I mean, why wait when you know it’s peaking now and will only fade as the days pass?

Anyway, here’s a blog post to prove that I’m still around. In case, you know, the world comes to an end. And if it doesn’t, maybe I’ll post again sometime soon.

Notes:

1Actually, due to family travel plans, I will be in the Eastern Standard time zone. So, I get no hour, well aside from the hours I’ll have after Europe goes up in flames.

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I’m Just a Curator

Posted in Book, Intersections, Life, Manifesto by SM on August 15, 2012

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.

The Bourgeois

Posted in Beer, Intersections by SM on August 14, 2012

 

Beer – craft or otherwise – has always had a reputation for being had on the cheap. This mentality is what keeps so many from even trying a craft beer. Even for craft beer enthusiasts, complaining about beer prices is like complaining about the weather.

I won’t lie. I’ve spent my fair share on beer, but even I won’t (normally) buy a $45 bottle like our friend Jim of Beer and Whiskey Brothers fame. Well, I’d probably chip in to try some, but $45 is a lot to spend on one 750 mL bottle of beer. There’s something about that mental hurdle (that I clear regularly) that one should never pay more for beer than they do wine.

The Beer Bourgeois doesn’t care about price. All they want are the best and rarest beers. That’s cool. It would be cooler if everyone could afford these special beers, but I don’t really mind that there are $45 bottles of beer out there, waiting to empty my wallet. I’ve been know to partake in the bourgeois shenanigans. I understand the allure and payoff involved in drinking expensive beer.

It’s an interesting issue when you factor in the cheap beer syndrome that typically prevails in diehard and casual beer drinkers alike. The diehard beer enthusiast complains because he has to have that beer or that these beers drive up the prices on more regular brews. The casual beer drinker doesn’t give a shit either way.

Something similar happens with records. While this sometimes happens with special packaging or pressings, it more often occurs when bands re-release their seminal work form decades past. Albums that could hardly sell more than a few thousand copies can now ask top-dollar for re-issues pressed on 180-gram vinyl and sporting new packaging.

There’s no better example of this than the flurry of reissues from 90s indie heroes Archers of Loaf. Two particular re-issues just came out a week or two ago in the form of All the Nation’s Airports and White Trash Heroes. The vinyl is non-black and heavy. The artwork has been completely re-imagined. The liner notes offer a bit more while the digital download still has more to offer. It’s everything for which an indie child of the 90s could ask and all for almost 20 bucks a pop, considerably more than what those records used to go for.

Let me be clear. I am not complaining. I am glad that these albums are receiving the proper re-issue treatment. I am elated to own all of Loaf’s full-length albums on vinyl. (Although, I already owned Vee Vee and a picture disc of All Nations prior to their reunion and re-issue-palooza, not to mention numerous singles and EPs.) This is a good development in that I get some nice records and these deserving artists finally get the recognition they deserve.

I’m also fairly willing to spend money on high-end beers. I mean, these are the best beers in the world and yet they’re still a fraction of their wine-y equivalent. I won’t buy cases of expensive beer, but I’ll buy a bottle or a glass on tap just so that I can try it.

So, this may actually make me part of the bourgeois with limits. I am firmly middle-class, but I have to budget my money. I guess more of us (reading this post) are in that situation than not.

So, are you a bourgois beer nerd/geek/enthusiast/whatever? Are you record-buying and concert-going behaviors of the bourgeois? I came to conclusions I did not fully expect. Where do you stand? Does it even matter? Am I just reaching for blogging topics at this point?

Either way, Jim liked the beer I mentioned above and the Archers of Loaf re-issues are totally worth the money, if you’re into that kind of thing and can afford it.

Why Liberals Never Win

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Mikkeller by SM on August 10, 2012

This went down.

One craft brewer beating up on a handful of niche craft brewers who in-turn beat back on the first craft brewer. Aren’t they all supposed to be on the same team?

It’s silly, really. Craft brewers own 5-10% of the beer market in the US. Why bash each other because one segment goes about their business differently than you? Wy not focus all your effort on the big boys?

For all their faults, this is something BrewDog does, but they are a minority. The Scottish craft brewers are in it just to take on the big boys. They feel no need to attack their own. Instead, they promote kindred spirits, even collaborating from time to time. When it comes to taking on a common enemy, craft brewers either turn on each other or turn a blind eye toward their macro adversaries.

In music, the same doesn’t typically happen. Although, sometimes, there are beefs, particularly if Wayne Coyne is involved. Still, indie rockers generally leave each other alone. It’s the fans and bloggers that like to tear down their own. Debates over how indie a band is or isn’t or whether or not a band is indie enough dominate conversation. Instead of celebrating indie rock, we make it a pissing contest where those who piss the shortest distance win.

This is why liberals never win.

The more thoughtful, critical side of the political spectrum constantly beats itself up over nuance, subtlety, and semantics. Liberals do more harm to one another than conservatives who tend to toe the party line. Liberals are constantly redefining what being liberal means while conservatives are set up to just do things as they’ve always been done.

Of course, there are exceptions. There always are. However, time and time again, I find the internal battles among liberals, the craft beer community, and indie rock to be frustrating. I mean, I love and identify with these communities because of their critical, reflective natures, but sometimes they do more harm than good.

Thoughts? Am I overreacting? Does this happen on the same levels among conservatives, macro brewers, or major labels? Discuss.

*Then, there’s this. Really? Who cares?

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