Beer and Pavement

Re-imagining Beer and Pavement

Posted in Life, Meta by SM on March 8, 2013

reimagine

As you may or may not have noticed, I have horribly neglected this blog over the past several weeks, even months. Sure, I’ve been busy. There’s the gig that pays and the coursework ahead to make myself smarter somehow. There are the demands of parenthood and other familial obligations.

Then, there is the boredom. I still love craft beer and records. Don’t worry. The problem is that there’s a lot more to me than some things I consume. It gets hard to come up with ideas for writing about beer and indie rock several times a week. I’m a little bored with only writing about these things. I need to shift my focus to something more holistic or universal or something.

Ironically, the reason I started this blog was a way to write about things I loved instead of writing about myself all the time. That former blog was living in misery. lim is an artifact from a a period of my life that I don’t ever want to lose or alter. It would be disingenuous to go back and pick that blog up where I left it. It also feels wrong to leave this blog behind in order to start anew.

A little while back, this blog was better known as Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement. That’s a mouthful, but it represented what I wanted to do which was build something meaningful out of consumables, namely beer and indie rock. Over time, I recognized that people didn’t feel like referencing the whole Building International Coalitions part and tending to focus on the beer and the Pavement parts. This made sense, but somehow I found my posts turning somewhat forced and formulaic. And that’s when I began to produce less material.

Interestingly, over the course of this blog’s existence, I’ve made some good friends – virtual or otherwise. I don’t know that our relationships are deep, but we seem to mutually enjoy the dialog. So, it kinda made me realize that I could once again write about my life and people might even read it. I doubt I’ll average ~100 views a day like I once did, but that’s okay.

Does this mean that there won’t be anymore posts about records and beer? No. Of course not. However, this is not exclusively a beer blog and it’s certainly not a music one either.

What will I write about? I don’t honestly know. I mean, I’m a dad, husband, instructional specialist, record collector, homebrewer, progressive thinker, etc. I wanted to write about last weekend’s True/False fest and may still. There will be trips and media about which to comment. I may even allow a look into my life, something I did often at lim. Whatever I write, I appreciate those of you who look in from time to time just to see if I’m still breathing. I am also not offended if you pass on my future posts. There are lots of other blogs out there that write only about beer and they need your readership.

Whatever. Beer and Pavement lives for better or worse. Thanks for reading.

When Life Gets in the Way

Posted in Life by SM on August 27, 2012

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.

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Some Ideas that Were Lost

Posted in Life, Uncategorized by SM on August 16, 2012

I was rather absent from this blog a few weeks back. I hope to make amends for this egregious error in presence over the coming days and weeks. I did well last week to post five times. So far, this week has been more of the same.

The funny thing was that during my brief hiatus, I tried to write several times. However, I just couldn’t muster the ideas or time to finish my thinking. Below are snippets from a few of those lost posts…

Mail-Order Happiness

I actually didn’t write a thing for this post. I just remember sitting around, waiting for a shipment from LetsPour after receiving several packages from Insound. When one lives in a smallish city, two hours from any major (or mid-sized) city, mail and UPS often provide a respite from small-town drudgery. I may still write this post as I get at least one Insound shipment every-other week and am always contemplating another order from LetsPour.

[untitled]I thought for sure I published this, but a quick search of my archives suggests otherwise. Here’s what I had…

No, this isn’t about the nostalgia drummed up by Pitchfork TV’s documentary about Modest Mouse’s 1997 album The Lonesome Crowded West. Rather this is a bit o’ nostalgia over the West Coast IPA, the style of beer arguably most responsible for starting this whole American craft beer boom than any other. IPA’s alone are quickly taking the place of pale ales and lagers as craft brewery flagship beers, but the West Coast IPA set the standard. It took me a while to come back to these beers. Before “getting into craft beer”, I was drinking quite a few IPA’s. Then, I discovered the DIPA/Imperial IPA and I was blown away. Boundaries were pushed. If a beer wasn’t approaching double-digits in ABV and triple digits in IBU’s, it didn’t interest me. From there it was sours, imperial stouts, numerous Belgian styles, and so on. The more “extreme” the better. Somehow the unbalanced West Coast IPA was too ordinary, almost a session beer. Then, Missouri saw an influx of West Coast breweries enter the state. Lagunitas, Stone, Green Flash, Deschutes, Caldera, etc. all came to the Show-Me state with IPA’s in tow. So, our shelves and taps…

Summer Melts Pretentiousness Away

Something happens every summer where all the normal stresses are lifted. The world feels fresh and new again. Of course, having worked in education for 15 years means that summer is vacation time or at least a slower work time. Still, the summer seems to melt away all those things we are typically preoccupied with that don’t really matter.

Beer and rock ‘n roll are two of those things that lose a lot of pretentiousness when warmer weather rolls around. Beer somehow becomes lighter and colder, often consumed straight from the can or bottle. Rock music becomes less complex and…

Explaining I Have to Do

There are good reasons for my absence. – That’s where it ended.

Imperialist Pale Ale

The legend of the IPA has been told and retold and corrected and told again. So, I won’t go there. Instead, I’ll write a bit about a favorite beer and a nice meal prepared by a friend.

I mention imperialism in the title ’cause it’s on my mind. I posted this link making fun of British athletic prowess or, more specifically, their lack of athletic prowess. I directed the jab at some British friends who quickly came to the Queen’s jocks’ defense, but I countered by pointing out their imperialist history. Long story short, the thread fizzled from there.

I digress.

This evening, our friend Srirupa prepared a wonderful Indian feast for us. I chose to pair the meal with…well, what else? An India Pale Ale. – I honestly can’t remember which IPA I had that night.

Pucker Up

My beer club met Sunday afternoon to sample some lambics, sours, and a few fruit beers. I can only assume the inclusion of “fruit beers” was to give our tongues a break and to hopefully not scare away those who feel intimidated by sour beer.

I’ve Got Style, Miles and Miles

So much style that it’s wasted.

A nice discussion happened on Twitter and was picked up at A Good Beer Blog over style and whether or not it even matters. It seems the limitations of textbook style can be frustrating. Either we’re disregarding entire collections of beers that don’t match our own style preferences or we’re left with beers we don’t know what to do with because it doesn’t fit a particular style. Either way, style can be limiting.

Beer styles are like musical genres. They are both based on key characteristics that make it easy to categorize a beer or band, respectively. However, beer and music rarely stick to prescribed style and genre guidelines. You pigeonhole something so that you either limit its uses or never even give it a try in the first place.

There’s one thing we should all remember in the instance where style or genre stops all thinking: Constructs were built to be torn down.

That’s not to say that style doesn’t serve a purpose. It’s a neat compartment which one can place a beer. It’s shorthand for describing what you like (or dislike). Genre does the same for music…

So, what do you think? Are any of these worth revisiting?

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.

A Daughter’s Request

Posted in Life, Records by SM on July 19, 2012

Studying Wild Flag.

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.

Aging

Posted in Beer, Life by SM on July 11, 2012

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.

Anniversaries

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Life, Records by SM on July 10, 2012

Man, it’s been quiet around here…

Last night was my seventh wedding anniversary. We opted to stay in and have a nice dinner, much to the chagrin of my three-year-old. After all, my partner is the best cook in this town (not counting chefs and even then it’s close). It was steak and loads of veggies from our CSA.

Normally, such an occasion calls for a ridiculously boozy imperial stout of sort or another, but I opted for the nice Port Brewing Anniversary Ale my friend Alex sent me. My wife had wine and the kid drank her milk and water dutifully.

Anniversaries are for reliving important moments in our lives. I attach conversations, food, drink, and music to these moments in time. I still remember the shot of Żubrówka I downed at the conclusion of the ceremony as well as the one I had after the pictures were all taken. Then there was that first homebrewed hefeweizen (courtesy of my FiL) and a blur of an evening. All these memories come rushing back every year on July 9th.

Breweries like to commemorate their anniversaries as well. As mentioned, my seventh was spent nursing one such beer from Port Brewing. With its fruitiness and boozy heft, the Imperial IPA stood up well to our top sirloin steaks. I may have held onto the beer too long to fully enjoy the hoppy nose I’m sure it offered when fresh, but the beer was so masterful in all other areas that it didn’t really matter. While it certainly was a proper brew for anniversaries – mine and theirs – I wouldn’t hold onto one until the next. Drink it now if you are lucky enough to find a bomber.

The music last night also hearkened back the days leading up to our wedding. My partner has particular tastes and isn’t always interested in what’s new. In those days, we wore out my copy of Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It in People. So, it seemed apropos to put the album on.

I like anniversaries. They don’t have to be big events. Sometimes a nice, quiet dinner with my two favorite people and a good beer is all I need.

[Previously…]

Come to my DJ night!

Posted in Intersections, Life, Live, Pavement, Records by SM on June 4, 2012

Tonight, I am playing records at the Uprise Bar here in Columbia, MO for Monday Night Vinyl. If’ you’re nearby, stop in. The set starts at 9PM and will last until either they kick me out or I run out of records. The latter is more likely than the former as I have a pretty substantial list from which to work below as well as a plan to play through The Walkmen’s Heaven to finish off the night.

You may also follow me on Twitter where I will do my best to update records played and beers had. (I updated the list with what I can remember. I wrapped about two minutes past closing. It worked well and didn’t have to pay for one beer. Said beers: 4 Hands Pryus Saison, Avery 19th Anniversary Tripel, Bacchus.)

Track(s) | Band/Musician | Album

  1. Cut Your Hair | Pavement | 12 ” single
  2. Here | Pavement | John Peel Session 7″
  3. Baptiss Blacktick | Pavement | Summer Babe 7″
  4. With a Girl Like You | Condo Fucks | Fuckbook
  5. Stockholm Syndrome | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  6. Autumn Sweater | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  7. Little Honda | Yo La Tengo | I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
  8. The Wall | Yuck | Yuck
  9. Head to Toe | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″
  10. Shocker in Gloomtown | The Breeders | Head to Toe 7″ (GBV cover)
  11. Auditorium | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
  12. Motor Away | Guided By Voices | Alien Lanes
  13. Try Harder | Times New Viking | Dancer Equired
  14. Mr. Superlove | Ass Ponys | Mr. Superlove
  15. My World Is Empty Without You | Afghan Whigs | My World Is Empty Without You
  16. If I Were Going | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
  17. Gentlemen | Afghan Whigs | Gentlemen
  18. Divine Hammer | The Breeders | Last Splash
  19. Boyfriend | Best Coast | Crazy For You
  20. Walk in the Park | Beach House | Zebra
  21. Go Outside | Cults | Cults
  22. Forward Forward Back | Believers | Believers
  23. Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  24. After Hours | Caribou | Andorra
  25. Desire Be Desire Go | Tame Impala | Inner Speaker
  26. Rock and Roll Will Never Die | Neil Hamburger | Hot February Night
  27. Sink to the Beat | Cursive | Burst and Bloom
  28. Going Back to Cali | LL Cool J | Less Than Zero
  29. Michael Jackson | Das Racist | Relax
  30. Scenario | A Tribe Called Quest | The Low End Theory
  31. Hey Ladies | Beastie Boys | Paul’s Boutique
  32. Gangsta | Tune-Yards | Whokill
  33. Eleven | Thao & Mirah | Thao & Mirah
  34. Bellbottoms | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
  35. Ditch | The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion | Orange
  36. Busted | The Black Keys | The Big Come Up
  37. Gloria | Patti Smith | Horses
  38. Born to Run | Bruce Springsteen | Born to Run
  39. A More Perfect Union | Titus Andronicus | The Monitor
  40. Xmas Trip | Run On | Start Packing
  41. You’re Pretty Good Looking | The White Stripes | DeStijl
  42. Indian Summer | Beat Happening | Jamboree
  43. Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover) She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover)
  44. She’s Real | Built to Spill Caustic Resin | Built to Spill Caustic Resin 10″ (Kicking Giant cover) Here She Comes Now | Nirvana | 7″ split w/Melvins (VU cover)
  45. [whenever you see fit] | 7MO6DES4T-HMOEURSEO | [whenever you see fit]
  46. Slap Me | The Folk Implosion | Take a Look Inside…
  47. You and Me | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
  48. Might | Archers of Loaf | Icky Mettle
  49. Untitled | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
  50. Obstacle 1 | Interpol | Turn on the Bright Lights
  51. Look out the Window | The Walkmen | Split EP
  52. Laminated Cat | Loose Fur | Loose Fur
  53. Farewell Transmission | Magnolia Electric Company | Magnolia Electric Company
  54. The President’s Dead | Okkervil River | The President’s Dead
  55. King of Carrot Flowers part two | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  56. King of Carrot Flowers part three | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  57. Oh Comely | Jeff Mangum | Live at Jittery Joe’s
  58. Heart of Gold | Neil Young | Harvest
  59. Waiting for Superman | Iron and Wine | Around the Well (Lips cover)
  60. Waiting for Superman | The Flaming Lips | The Soft Bulletin
  61. Inside the Golden Days of Missing You | Silver Jews | The Natural Bridge (and maybe something else from this album)
  62. Honk If You’re Lonely | Silver Jews | American Water (and maybe something else from this album)
  63. The Wild Kindness | Silver Jews | American Water
  64. Discretion Grove | Stephen Malkmus | Discretion Grove 7″
  65. Two Beck tracks that I’ve forgotten…
  66. Fall Away | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
  67. Gorgeous Georgie | Stephen Malkmus | Mirror Traffic
  68. Billie | Pavement | Terror Twilight
  69. Fight This Generation | Pavement | Wowee Zowee
  70. Two States | Pavement | Slanted and Enchanted
  71. Stereo | Pavement | Brighten the Corners
  72. Fillmore Jive | Pavement | Crooked Rain Crooked Rain
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That thing I posted elsewhere on poor news coverage of a strange coincidence or something like that

Posted in Life by SM on May 31, 2012

I posted this over at the CoMo Collective. It’s something I’m somewhat proud of and feel this audience should read it and comment as well. It’s related to the kinds of things I support on this blog but I’m not 100% how. Any comments are welcomed. I’d love to continue this conversation with people who don’t necessarily live here and know any of the parties involved. Sorry for the non-beer post. Look for a Session piece on Friday (I hope.)

KOMU ran this story about connecting a rock show flyer to this past weekend’s Brookside Apartment complex fire near downtown. The rock show in question happened over three weeks ago at the Blue Note and featured local bands Enemy Airship and Believers plus Daryle Bascom’s Videology. The poster in-question was printed by our own Ben Chlapek, an accomplished poster maker here in town.

The disappointing part of the story is that KOMU reported that the poster was being considered in the Fire Marshal’s investigation, insinuating that Ben and the other artists involved in the show were somehow at fault for the fire. Sure, KOMU didn’t directly say that Ben et al. were responsible for the incident, but their irresponsible reporting is going a long way toward dragging the artists’ good names through the mud.

The damage was done in two ways. One problem lies in how KOMU reported the story in the first place, leaving the audience with very little context to see the full picture. The second issue arises when they post these kinds of stories on Facebook and allow the uninformed to run wild with hyperbole and sensationalism.

KOMU reported only part of the story, leaving assumptions to be drawn by their audience. There’s the implication that the drawing is of the Brookside Apartment complex. However, there is no identifier aside from the fact that the building on the poster LOOKS LIKE EVERY OTHER APARTMENT COMPLEX IN COMO. It says “Brookside” nowhere, nor does the image include street names “Walnut” and “College”, where the fire took place.

There is little attempt by KOMU to present Ben as anything more than an “artist” or band member. Keeping him faceless allows the audience to make all sorts of judgments on his character (depending on their views of artists). Obviously, I know Ben and have some idea as to how much he cares for this community. Aside from Ben’s released statement, KOMU did very little to paint an accurate picture of who Ben is. Doing so would have left them with virtually no story.

A little Googling would have revealed a pattern of flaming buildings in Ben’s work. Said work is not only engaging but making some noise in the poster art world. Still, flames are present in other examples of his prints. Check the two prints below. Should we also blame Ben for the end of the world in 2012 as well as the destruction of Inuit homes? The point is that there’s a pattern that suggests the show’s flyer had little-to-nothing to do with the apartment fire. He draws buildings on fire from time to time. It’s merely a coincidence that someone thought the poster portrayed Brookside.

Now, there’s the Facebook post. KOMU has made a concerted effort to engage their viewers through social media. While this sounds great to someone like me who values the community dialogue social media encourages, the combination of a lack of context and someone to monitor these discussions leads to a misinformed public jumping to conclusions, something a news organization is supposed to combat.

The above comments are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discourse that often results in KOMU Facebook posts. Some of the most bigoted and vile statements I have ever seen in COMO happen on these threads. To be honest, these reactions are tamer than most KOMU stories. Still, people were quick to jump to the conclusion that Ben and the bands were somehow involved in the fire.

KOMU failed to present the full story as well as monitor their own discussion. I help run this blog as well as other blogs and several Facebook pages and groups. If someone posts something that stinks of libel and/or intolerance, I at least will call them out on it or even remove their comments. While I get that KOMU wants to allow their viewers the liberty of speaking their minds, this sort of “discourse” only spirals down a rabbit hole of ugliness.

The full story would have not only included Ben’s profile but a list of other avenues the fire marshal was investigating. There have been rumors of poor treatment toward laborers floating around the project. What about the many residents angered by the continued development of downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods? How about the fact that it’s dry in Mid-Missouri this time of year and these sorts of things happen in new construction projects? Instead, the KOMU story only gives one possibility for the investigation. The audience is led to believe that this is the only angle officials are investigating. I find that hard to believe. Including these other possible causes would have not only provided more context but would have lessened the negative effect on the artists. Again, this would have led to a less-sensational story.

One thing KOMU did mention in their story was Ben’s official statement (emphasis mine):

As a resident of the downtown neighborhood, I am terribly saddened to hear about the fire at Brookside apartments. The poster I created is, in hindsight, an irony and coincidence which I cannot erase. Out of respect for the owners of the property and the future residents of the complex, I have taken the image off of the internet and will no longer display it in any form.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for KOMU. The station displays the image of the flyer in their original story and has posted it on Facebook (from where the above comments originated). I even have an image of the original flyer, yet have chosen not to display it here out respect for Ben’s wishes. Oh, and I’m sure you noticed the screen grab above on KOMU’s Facebook page. It seems Ben et al. should be singled-out for their artistic imagining of a building on fire, but KOMU can capitalize on the Brookside fire all they want.

What would be great is if KOMU actually covered the art and music scenes in a way that would have painted a much more balanced picture of Ben, Enemy Airship, Believers, and Videology. These components of our community are a vibrant part of what makes COMO great. I’ve mentioned and linked to Ben’s accomplishments, but what would the audience think if they knew about the label associated with Enemy Airship that often gives its music away online? Would there have been more familiarity with Believers had the news station already been reporting their debut release and all the buzz it’s creating around town and the rest of Missouri (and beyond)? Do they even know that Daryle Bascom has a long history in the music biz and that his Videology parties are among the most popular and unique of their kind? KOMU’s missing a large part of this story that would have surely painted a much more balanced picture of the situation instead of a sensationalized non-story.

That might be what’s most disappointing. KOMU is affiliated with our beloved MU Journalism School, home of the “Missouri Method.” Shouldn’t they have a higher standard to uphold?

In the end, this will all blow over. The fire marshal will quickly clear Ben and his mates of any wrong-doing. The investigation will focus on actual suspects and evidence, and the Brookside apartments will be ready a little later than expected. However, I wonder whether or not KOMU will update their story. Will they clear Ben’s name as well as everyone else involved with the show? It’s doubtful. That’s just not a story. It won’t bring in ratings. I’d love to be wrong, but I won’t keep my hopes up.

Mash Tun Reject

Posted in Beer, Intersections, Life, Manifesto by SM on May 21, 2012

I submitted a piece for the new craft beer journal Mash Tun and was all-but-assured that it would be included. Apparently, it was rejected. I say this because there’s no way for me to actually see the journal, but my name is nowhere on the announced list of authors. Plus, the editor quit replying to my emails. Oh well. I don’t have time to be a writer anyway. Below is what I thought would be a first draft, one that would develop after some suggestions from said editor. No hard feelings, just disappointment.

Update – The editor got back to me and explained that the piece didn’t fit with a few of the historical pieces included in the journal. Some assistant was supposed to respond to my emails but never did. Maybe I’ll try again.

Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement

We live in a world of turmoil and uncertainty. Economies are tanking. Tensions are rising with threats of terror and violence at every corner of the earth. Folks arbitrarily take sides. It’s a distressing time to be a human.

So, we look for escape. We take up hobbies to pass the time or alter our minds with chemicals in order to forget all of our troubles. Our daily lives are consumed with activities and interests that help us ignore the unrest all around us.

I have taken up a few hobbies in the interest of helping me avoid dealing with the chaos of our times. One such hobby involves beer, that of the hand-crafted, artisanal variety as well as the kind I brew in my kitchen. The other hobby has to do with my obsession over independent music, better known as indie rock, although no one really calls it that anymore.

On the surface, these two interests have very little in common, aside from the fact that they’re both my interests. However, I have found that one interest tells me more about the other every day and vice versa. Here we have two industries that defy the current downward trajectory of our economy through continuing expansion, improving distribution, and breaking into mainstream markets. Plus, they bring people together. All this is done by breaking from the status quo, suggesting that whatever is mainstream is maybe doing more harm than good.

There’s a coalition here to be built, a coalition between the craft beer world and indie rock community. You see, these two industries have more in common than they realize. It all comes down to the descriptors I and many of you use to describe beer and music. Craft beer is hard to maintain and develop without its independence while indie rock is nothing without a musician’s craft. This is where indie and craft meet.

I have explored the intersections between craft beer and indie rock for some time now. One aspect is simply the fact that we all love beer and rock music. The other aspect is the intersection between those descriptors “craft” and “indie”. For me it’s obvious, but for others, it’s a stretch.

Craft is generally considered a type of skilled work. Historically, craft has been judged not only on quality but also quantity. In order to maintain a high level proficiency, production had to remain small, manageable. Larger production tends to remove the craft, creating product with increased simplicity and often more defects. As more artisans or workers were needed, the craft was diluted. When craft is increased, volume tends to shrink, but the quality of the output grows exponentially. Independence from corporate interests can insure that the craft remains paramount over profits.

Indie is short for “independent.” To be independent, one must be self-sufficient, free from the tyranny and limitations of corporate decision-makers more intent on making a buck than putting out a good product. Independent rock music and music labels are considered such as they are not a part of corporate owned music factories. There are only 3-4 of these major labels left, but they are huge and deeply connected in corporate industries that have nothing to do with art or music. Still, as these major labels deal with the handcuffs of corporate profit margins, indie labels are free to let their artists create and hone their craft.

Craft and indie need one another, feed on one another. Indie labels happen to demonstrate a fair amount of craft among its artists. This focus is lost in the craft at the majors as the shift is toward making music that satisfies corporate bottom lines takes precedence. And craft brewers are the most independent of beer industry as they provide a higher quality alternative to the three or so corporate beer producers. One could really call them craft rock or indie beer if it was desired and neither would lose meaning.

Now, don’t get me wrong, both indie rock and craft beer have intentions to make money. How else would they exist in a capitalist society? The difference between crafty and independent heroes and their corporate counterparts is that they won’t put profit ahead of the craft or their independence. Sure, some indies and crafties have sold their souls to corporations, but they are the exception not the rule. The indie and craft movements are about small scale and high quality. Corporations don’t know how to do this.

And we’ll gladly pay for whatever indie labels and craft breweries are selling despite higher prices. Even during this recession, indie labels (as well as the stores who sell them) and breweries have seen steady growth. Craft beer especially is growing at an incredible rate. Even during economically hard times, we’ll find the money to support independent, craft producers of our favorite goods because we know that their products are worth it. This is no truer than it is for indie rock and craft beer.

Despite the success indie/craft producers are enjoying, our corporate overlords still rule the markets, but their share is shrinking. The large, corporate breweries are watching their sales drop as is the industry as a whole. However, craft beer continues to grow. The music industry is suffering as well. Yet, more and more indies are popping up all the time and they continue to put out music. If there’s room for these smaller players in their respective industries, then they must be doing something right.

So, the indie and craft markets are what’s king these days. They may not own high percentages of their markets, but they have found sustainable business methods that feature slow, controlled growth and a focus on the craft. They maintain their independence through their success. This is where they intersect. I think there’s a lot we can learn from indie rock and craft beer. That’s where the coalition comes in. Here’s to building international coalitions through beer and Pavement and here’s to indie beer and craft rock.

Now, how did I ever come to this place? How have I made a connection that seems trivial at best and absurd at worst?

There are stories to tell that explain my epiphany. The stories are numerous and varied. Few occurred where I felt this deep connection between both craft beer and indie rock. However, the accumulation of these experiences have led me to this great cause of my life: building international coalitions through beer and Pavement.

Honestly, my first epiphanies happened in the 1990’s and they involved music more often than beer. There was a giddiness I remember feeling waiting for my first Pavement show in the Algora Ballroom in Cleveland, OH. A few weeks prior, I experienced an electrical sensation getting pummeled by Archers of Loaf in the old Columbus venue known as Stache’s. There were the hours pouring over records in my favorite record store, Columbus’ own Used Kids. These moments are etched in my mind forever.

Why did this music mean so much to me? There was an urgency, a hunger, a passion missing in the corporate sludge clogging the airways. These musicians were working stiffs like I am. They were doing something I could have done and they did most of it on their own with what little cash they could scrape together. It was accessible. It was authentic. It was ours.

Craft beer came much later. I suppose I had as much experience with music when I discovered Pavement and Guided By Voices as when I gave up corporate, rice adjunct lager for a Stone Ruination for good. I still remember that night I grabbed a sixer of something bland and a bomber of that epically bitter brew with the menacing gargoyle staring back at me. The night I cracked open that beer, it all changed for me.

There were other beer epiphanies. My first Russian Imperial Stout challenging my ability to finish a single beer in one sitting. The beers from Jolly Pumpkin and Russian River awakening parts of my taste buds I had long since neglected, never once thinking I’d rediscover them in a beer. Then there was the first time I tasted my own brew, realizing that I never learned to play guitar at the same level I learned how to properly dry-hop a beer.

Through all of these discoveries and sensations, the value of craft and independence stood out. From the ashes of DIY movements past rose artisans who create beer and art unlike anything corporate money could ever hope to emulate. Craft beer and indie rock share these values. In this, I find comfort in the human condition that encompasses an authentic even intellectual appreciation for a good beer or ear-shattering album.

So, as you enjoy your next finely-crafted double IPA, dry-hopped on unimaginable amounts of Simcoe or tongue-splitting sour ale, aged in Chardonnay barrels and infected with yeast strains formerly considered unacceptable for human consumption, drop the needle on that Guided By Voices record from your college days. Or when you attend the next Pitchfork-endorsed rock show among the PBR-wielding hipster set, order that imperial stout hidden in the back of the cooler. A coalition is being built through beer and Pavement, a coalition dedicated to craft and independence. It’s time to join us.