Beer and Pavement

On Black Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young and Old

Posted in Manifesto by SM on February 11, 2010

A comment in my last post struck me. Longtime reader and taint haiku-ist Carrie had this to say1:

This is why I feel I have to fight so hard to be credible, because most of the people my age–quite frankly–listen to music with no reference points (also note: I had a moment of swelling pride today when a 40-something guy on one of the online forums I frequent told me my musical depth gives him hope)

Two things: 1) The fact that as a youngster, Carrie has to fight for credibility due to her generation’s inability to move beyond P4k and iTunes. 2) Carrie is not like her peers in that she has impressive “musical depth.”

First of all, Carrie doesn’t have to prove anything. A quick glance of her blog, Colossal Youth, and you’ll quickly realize that she has plenty of credibility. This is also proven by my second thing above. I’m glad that is out of the way.

What I wanted to get at is the fact that it’s way easier to have musical reference points when you’ve been at it as long as I have2. Of course I know Pavement, Brainiac3, Guided By Voices, and Archers of Loaf3. I lived those years. There was no work involved. I went to the club once or twice a week and saw some shows. The local record emporium kept me updated. There was very little work to it.

I don’t blame the young for not always knowing music’s history. It takes work4. I don’t know that I always put in the work to know newer bands these days. It’s OK.

On the other hand, I did do a lot of the work necessary to gain that point of reference. I loaded up on quintessential albums in the used section at Used Kids5. I’ve read the books and magazine articles. I put in my time to learn about the trajectory of music. It’s not easy, but it’s totally worth it.

There’s no excuse with Google and Wikipedia and whatever not to know about music’s past. It’s easier than it used to be. Someone name-drops Lydia Lunch. You run over to Wikipedia and search it out to find that she was a pioneer of No Wave and has deep connections with Sonic Youth. It’s really not that hard.

Of course, we older folk can’t expect younger generations to know about our music if we don’t teach them. Take this evening. I had a conversation with a friend about the indie scene in Ohio back in the nineties6. It got some wheels in my head spinning. I put on some Guided By Voices while I fed and bathed my daughter. I sang and danced to the music and taught her a new word: Ohio. Her indie rock education began a long time ago, but this was the beginning of another conversation over Ohio’s contribution to music.

This does not leave out the young people. They have to hold old cranks like myself by the hand and tell us about new bands so that we don’t fall behind7. Of course, an exchange between young and old is always necessary to advance thought, even in music.

Anyways, Carrie’s comment made me think and think some more is what I’ll do.

There are more angles to look at this topic. Take beer, for instance. Kids know how to get shit-faced and have a good time no matter how terrible the beer tastes. Older beer drinkers know what tastes good and how to get the same effect out of three beers as opposed to twelve.

I have always felt that I’ve had a lot to learn from those younger than I, but they can learn from me as well. So, that’s where this blog fits in. I don’t have many readers at the moment, but I know someone will glean something worthwhile from my words at some point.

What do you think? What can we learn from each other? What have you learned from folks younger/older than yourself?

1In her comment footnotes no less!
2I was one of those kids affected by Nirvana. I smelled of the teen spirit. I grew up in grunge and the early days when hardcore transformed into lo-fi which later became the all-encompassing indie.
3If these boys are too obscure for you, look ’em up. Buy something today. I’ll wait.
4Although I always prided myself at understanding from where a band came or their influences, I can’t say I always put in the necessary work to truly get a band.
5If you’ve never been, it’s really worth the trip to Columbus, OH.
6Yes, we had a scene. Guided By Voices, The Breeders, Afghan Whigs, Brainiac, Gaunt, New Bomb Turks, etc.
7Or we could just read some blogs.


Posted in Intersections by SM on January 14, 2010

Tuesdays used to be a big, big deal for me. I would see somewhere weeks ahead of time that a record was set to release on a particular Tuesday. The date would be marked on my calendar immediately. I’d count down those days, insuring that I had the money in my account to make that purchase (and a few others) on the day of the release.

There was a time in college when I’d even wait in line at midnight to pick up certain albums as they were released to the public. I don’t know why I had to have those albums right then. I just did.

Eventually, I learned that my favorite record store sold the new album’s promo copy days before the official release. It was technically cheating, but I didn’t care. Whatever I could do to get that new release in my hands was fine with me.

Things changed around the time Napster rolled in. Maybe it was because the record industry told us it was stealing as they sued unwitting college kids for ten times their tuition or it was my steadily growing income that kept me from pirating my favorite bands’ music. Whatever it was, I realigned my trips to Used Kids with the Tuesday release schedule.

Right up to maybe eighteen months ago, I was going to the record store religiously every Tuesday. As I grew older and had more responsibilities, I had less time to read the magazines and blogs in order to know what was coming out when. So, it was a surprise every week.

Then, I discovered Insound and the pre-order. Now, as release dates are announced, I put in orders for three or more records at a time, spread out over a couple of months. The UPS lady thinks I’m a DJ I get so many records these days. They’re always shipped several days before the release day and usually arrive by the weekend prior to the designated Tuesday. Even with this little end-around maneuver, I look forward to giving every record it’s due time by it’s release Tuesday.

I developed another hobby which involved release dates. Craft brewers like to do big PR campaigns whenever they bottle something new. Blogs start hinting at bourbon barrels, collaborations between breweries, and copious amounts of hops being dumped into brew kettles for weeks. Then, out of nowhere, much like a Pitchfork leak of an album cover, the label is posted somewhere. I drool much the same way when I heard Built to Spill or Pavement had another record on the way.

The difference between craft beer and music is that breweries have their own version of Tuesdays. Sometimes they’re Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, etc. A beer could be released on a Monday in Denver, but we won’t see it in Missouri for another two or thee weeks. Sometimes, it takes months to get a new release. The practice of waiting on Tuesday for record geeks just doesn’t equate for beer geeks.

That is, until this Tuesday here in Columbia, MO.

As word spread that Bell’s of Kalamazoo, Michigan was planning on releasing their insanely hoppy and hyped double IPA early this year, the collective beer community waited patiently for word of the beer’s arrival. I mean, with a name like “Hopslam,” it’s no wonder why hopheads across the nation long for this annual release every year. We here in Columbia (aka COMO), knew our day was Tuesday.

For me as a record geek, the arrival of one of maybe my three favorite beers in the world made me feel right at home. I wasn’t swinging by the record store, scoping shelves for new arrivals, but I was bugging grocery employees for any information I could garner regarding the sweet, sweet nectar that is Hopslam.

When the day arrived, it was all I could do to wait and try my new purchase. When I still bought CD’s, I’d remove the cellophane and pop the disc directly in the player, take the long route home, and listen away. Beer doesn’t quite work that way. There are “rules” about not opening the beer in a car as well as “suggestions” not to consume while driving. I even had to wait until my work day was over to enjoy this year’s release.

And like a great new album by one of my favorite bands, Hopslam doesn’t disappoint. Last year’s version was an over-the-top hop bomb that punched you in the face with grapefruit and cat piss. Unbalanced for some, I enjoyed the beer immensely for its aggressive style. However, this year’s beer impresses me even more. It’s so well balanced with a more pronounced honey and malt presence, somewhat missing from last year’s fresh version. Either way, the hype and the wait for this beer makes this annual event a lot of fun.

Release dates – whether for beer or records – is a religious experience. My Tuesday is a Christian’s Sunday or Jew’s Saturday. Tuesday is my Sabbath. It’s the birth and rebirth of my savior rolled into one day of the week, every week. Even when the UPS truck arrives on Monday or that new Southern Tier imperial stout drops on Friday, Tuesday is the day I worship. And isn’t that what religion is about? It’s about practices that bring peace and calm to your life.

I don’t pray to a god. I crack open a Hopslam, take in its Simcoe nose and roll the malt and honey over my tongue. I tear off the cellophane from a newly-arrived LP and drop the needle before leaning back. These things bring me peace. These are the times I can reflect upon and feel OK with the world.

Tuesdays do all that for me.