Beer and Pavement

Decisions, Decisions

Posted in Challenge, Life, Live, Pavement by SM on June 30, 2010

So, this is happening1.

Basically every band I listened to in college (and many since) are getting together for one special weekend in Vegas. Matador, one of my all-time favorite labels, is throwing their 21st birthday bash in Sin City featuring – among others – Pavement, Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth, Belle and Sebastian, Spoon, Yo La Tengo, Cat Power, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The New Pornographers, Superchunk, Chavez, and many more yet-to-be-announced acts. I’m sure those still to be confirmed could include a reunited Helium, Liz Phair doing Exile in Guyville in its entirety, and maybe even a Sleater-Kinney2 or a Lou Reed3. Whoever fills the final bill, it will surely be one of the most amazing weekends ever for those perpetually stuck in ’90’s indie rock nostalgia4.

Now comes the decision part. Seems easy, right? Find a way to go, never regret it. Well, not so fast.

I already booked my trip to Pitchfork in Chicago in a couple of weeks5. That’s a three-day pass, train ride, and hotel stay over a long weekend that might not afford me another getaway this year. Besides the cost, there are things called “familial responsibilities” and a “job” to consider. Can I really leave my family for yet another long weekend for rock ‘n roll indulgence? Is it fair to my partner or child? Am I slacking on my work responsibilities?6

So much childcare already falls on my partner. Is it cool that I just take off for a weekend of rock shows while she’s stuck at home, alone with a two-year-old? What message does that send to my daughter that Daddy takes off for weekends at a time whenever he wishes? What about a family vacation, something we have yet to do7?

My job is another issue. I work with schools. This trip would easily require me to take two days off at maybe the busiest time of year. Am I doing a disservice to my employer and my clients by taking off at such an important time?

And back to the cost. Doing some estimates with my cousin, it’s looking like a $500-$700 trip before the tickets. After Pitchfork and all the beer and records I’ve purchased (or have committed to purchasing), my bank account is starting to dry up. I’m just ahead of my credit card, but that could shift if I fall behind at any point, easy to do with a trip coming up.

I figure I’ll have to make a few sacrifices to make this trip happen. First, there will have to be a promise that our family will travel. I’m proposing a trip to wine country over the winter holiday. My partner has always wanted to go back to that part of California and it would be a legitimate chance to get away. It may cost me more money in the long run, but it might be worth it for the sake of the familial unit8.

Work? Well, I have the days. It will be fine.

Money is a bigger issue, but I have that figured out as well. With my cellar filling up as I type this, I won’t really be in that much need of beer. I could still have a beer here and there, but the mid-week beer with dinner would stop. I would cease to buy beers just because they’re in the stores and not in my cellar. The craft beer aspect of this blog would suffer9 , but it would be in the name of the ultimate concert experience. I would surely make it up with an epic tale of indie rock excellence like no one has seen before10 .

That leads me to the payoff. I would actually put my money toward one tangible thing and not spend it willy-nilly11. My liver would surely recover as I could imagine my beer consumption to drop incredibly12. The number of records delivered to my front door would also drop, but this would allow me to appreciate the new music I am able to consume and let some of the faddish stuff pass on by13.

There really is only one choice. I just have to make it work. A slip up in finances or an inability to make a cohesive argument to my partner14 could cripple the plan before it’s hatched. It will take careful planning and persistence, but I think I’m up to the task.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Update: I have the green light. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out the details. Tickets, rooms, etc. If I write more about it, it will mean I was lucky enough to land some tickets.

1Which I basically knew once this article hit my Google Alert.
2They’re on Matador’s Euro label and have hinted at a reunion themselves.
3Reed has one release with the label.
4Which describes me perfectly. The funny thing is that I’ve seen almost all the bands mentioned so far. So, you’d think that seeing them in their primes would be enough. Apparently not.
5I’m still very excited about this festival as there are plenty of bands I already love playing as well as a few I’m interested in seeing for the first time. Plus, there is the whole Pavement and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion reunions.
6These are sad ironies for the mid-thirties indie rock geek. I can now afford to go to such events, but I don’t really have the time to do so.
7Yes, we have traveled, but other family was involved. Sure, seeing family is nice, but it’s not a vacation. Sorry, I love you all, but it’s no getaway.
8That and there are some pretty amazing breweries in wine country. So, I would not go without a luxury of my own. Russian River, here I come.
9 Of course, most of you could care less about the beer posts and I only post one to two times a week. how much suffering is that really?
10 In other words, the post for that weekend should be as epic as anything I’ll post here. The pictures alone should bring a tear to my readers’ eyes.
11 Meaning that I will not buy cups of coffee on the road or bottled water. There won’t be that lunch at Subway because I forgot to pack a meal. I’ll simply plan better or go without. It also means that I won’t buy records and beers just because I can. It will be good for my spending problems.
12My liver and my waste would benefit greatly. I’ve needed to cut back for a while now. This might be what puts me over the top.
13There are some releases by bands I know and love that will still be pre-ordered in the coming weeks no matter what I decide.
14This is harder than it sounds as she is a rhetorician by trade. She studies arguments. That’s not any easy debate to win.

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Posted in Beer, Intersections by SM on April 19, 2010

I had a couple of choices of what to do with my evening the Saturday before last. There was the rock show at an undergrad dive featuring some locals I like and an interesting interloper. Then, at the last minute, a fellow Beer Enthusiast invited me over for a tasting1. Knowing the host and the other guy he invited, my choice was easy. (I’ll get back to this later2.)

However, the choice did not sit well with me. Sure, the beer and conversation was a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday evening, but I wondered what was happening to me. I used to always go out to see rock shows, especially locals with new out-of-towners sharing the bill. Was it a case of old age sneaking up on me? Am I too old to hang out at college bars drinking bad beer3? Was I not a good friend/cyberfriend4 to one of the band members who’s been unsuccessfully inviting me out to shows for a while now? Was I choosing beer over rock ‘n roll? Is that even possible?

The answer is not easy. On one hand, I’m too old to rock, making me rather boring. On the other hand, I’m a jerk who all but promises show after show to demonstrate support for the local scene, but never follows through5. Neither answer paints me in a very good light.

Of course, I still go to rock shows. Last Monday, I did see Japandroids. I arrived way too early, opting to sneak out for a beer or two at a bar with a much better selection. I completely missed the two openers for a chance to down a good west coast IPA in a can6 and an expensive Saison I’ve already forgotten.

Granted, my time for such pastimes is precious these days with a nineteen-month old telling where to sit and choreographing my every dance move7. That child even makes me more accountable to my partner who needs a break now and again. The time for one interest is barely there, much less the time for two hobbies. Yet, I still find a way to pack in some of it.

Someone will point out that it’s about priorities, but I don’t think that’s completely accurate. For example, I was fully prepared to make my inaugural trip to Dark Lord Day this spring. Then, there was Schlafly’s Repeal Fest this past weekend. And beyond that, there were little beer trips here and there to plan and scheme8. I was fully prepared to make myself into a full-fledged beer tourist.

That was all before Pavement decided to play the Midwest. I bought my three-day passes to Pitchfork in Chicago along with train tickets and a hotel room. (Plus, I bought a ticket for their September gig9 in Kansas City.) Beer tourism was put on hold for Pavement.

So, I haven’t totally prioritized beer over music. It just happened that way on one particular weekend. My age is not the problem; lack of time is. So, that’s why I’m trying to blog about both in this space, trying to show how together, (craft) beer and Pavement can build international coalitions for peace, love, and happiness.

Or some shit like that.

Back to the beer.

We drank this:

The blank bottle is my homebrew, Wowee Zowee, which is a huge double IPA named for a Pavement record by the same name. I’ll post on this some more once the labels are affixed to the bottles. Just know that this beer is filthy.

Next to the homebrew is De Proef Signature Les Deux Brasseurs Ale brewed with Jason Perkins. I know, I know. It’s not the catchiest name for a beer, but it is gooooooood. Those dudes at De Proef keep tapping into the best and brightest brewers in the US for these special releases. I can’t remember exactly what it tasted like, but I remember that it’s good. I’d say you should buy any 750 mL bottles you find with the De Proef name etched on its label. For reals.

Moving right, the beer with the frog on it is a Hoppin’ Frog IPA. It’s as solid an IPA as any west coast IPA and it’s from OHIO10.

Let that sink in for a moment: a great west coast IPA from OHIO.

Then there’s The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel. Supposedly, there’s Thai basil in them thar bubbles, but we couldn’t taste ’em. It was really, really good. I need to get a hold of some more beers from The Bruery.

After that is the Mikkeller 1000 IBU. I’ve had this beer before, but it somehow tasted even better on this particular Saturday. You’d think a beer with 1000 IBU’s would be so bitter that it would teeter on the edge of undrinkable, but the malt backbone holds up well. Mikkeller is an interesting “brewery”. They’re these hipsters who travel from brewery to brewery, stirring up their magic concoctions and charging an arm and a leg for them, but somehow it’s worth it. With the rise of bourbons and vodkas made by hipsters, it seems that their true calling is in booze and not music11. Just sayin’.

I know almost nothing about Southampton Cuvee Des Fleurs. It was murky and stank. That’s a good thing. It’s sort of like a garage band with a fat-ass bassline who laments everything and is really not appealing in any way…but you love them anyway.

The last is the Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee Macadamia Coconut Porter. Yes, that is a mouthful and so was the beer. Don’t go looking for this badass porter at your local pharmacist. I’m pretty sure they’re all gone. Normally, porters are not my thing, but the coffee is so rich in this one. It must be the coconut.

In summation, the beer was good. We talked about our kids but mostly the beers. Priorities, man.

1A fancy term for getting together, pouring a few beers, and shooting the shit.
2Skip down (up from the footnotes) to read about the beer and to skip my mid-thirties crisis.
3I sort of outgrew this early on, aside from a few disastrously embarrassing evenings/mornings.
4I say this b/c we’ve struck up a good online friendship, but in our only face-to-face meeting, I ran the other direction. Of course, I was taking my daughter to the restroom to wash her up for dinner at a brewery where said-friend/cyberfriend was working, unbeknown to me.
5I blame this on Evites and event invitations via Facebook. It’s easy to mark “maybe” or even “yes” and then not show up. I am guilty of this over and over again.
6A Caldera which is always delish.
7Seriously. When we dance, she now tells/shows me which dance moves are appropriate when.
8I have been working on wine country (also plenty of beer), Portland, Colorado, and Belgium trips for a while now.
9On the same day as my kid’s second birthday.
10The best part is that it will soon invade my current home state, Missouri.
11Sort of growing tired of hipsters branding themselves as authentic music “aficionados”. Sort of wish hipsters would leave the music blogging to those of us who “really get” music. Feeling jealous of their ability to brand their lifestyles as “music-obsessed” and “with it”.