Thursday, January 29, 2009

No. 11 & 12

Beer: No. 11, Erdinger Weissbrau, No. 12, Craftsman I.P.A.
Date: January 24th, 2009
Place: No. 11, Red Lion Tavern, No. 12 El Prado, Los Angeles, California

That I was having beers with Dustin in Los Angeles and not in Portland was and still is mind boggling to me. But it happened and I can only be thankful that it did.

Of the 2,869 hours I worked at McKinney, 85 of them were spent playing foosball. Those might have been the most productive hours I had. If we fail to count the Travelocity Troll or The Secretary of Steak campaigns which I slaved over that died cold, violent deaths on magnetic walls.

I’d say the most productive, because through all the sh!t talk, all the bank shots, all the ‘it’s too loud so we are replacing your plastic ball with a cork ball’, through all the off season games at Tylers’s Taproom, I really got to know a group of five guys. One of which was Dustin.

He is a quiet guy. Doesn’t say a lot if he doesn’t know you. Which might lead you to assume that he’s planning your demise. (At least, in advertising, anyone who doesn’t talk much is suspect. If we worked at an accounting firm I’d think differently). But much like an onion, as the layers go deeper, you realize there is a truly caring, genuinely witty, fairly selfless onion in the middle. I never really got the onion analogy cause it still ends with onion.

I think Dustin is the only guy I know who doesn’t ascribe to any set religious belief who regularly volunteers to make other’s lives better. And you know that comes straight from the heart and not from a Gospel.

After his roommate was laid off from McKinney, Dustin moved in and slept on my couch. For something like four months. He and his dog Dewey. Dustin was trying to figure out his next steps and what life held for him and where to next and can I do something somewhere for someone that will matter. One day he just packed up his Jeep and his dog, and drove to Oregon. That was a very lonely day, it seemed.

Portland didn’t work out for Dustin. Both to his surprise and mine and to anyone who finds out Dustin isn’t in Oregon but instead in LA.

“Wait, you are going to hang out in LA with Dustin? Dustin? In…LA?”

I can state for the record that yes, Dustin…in LA, is doing fine.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No. 10

Beer: Fuller's 1845 Celebration Ale
Date: January 24th, 2009

Place: Our House, Somerville, Massachusetts

I met Marianna over some beers.

I was new in Durham. Didn't know where the post office was. Or where to get groceries, gas, coffee. One way streets from a time when there might have been critical mass downtown made it that much tougher to get anyplace. I was two blocks from work and that was the extent of what I knew.

But I also knew that my future wife lived in the same apartment number one building over. I'd been introduced to her the first day or work and found out she lived where she did and where that was was close to where I was and if I was going to fill my nights I needed friends and I needed them quickly. She extended an invitation to help if I needed anything. Which I did.

Like a hammer. A vacuum. One trash bag.

I continued to find reasons to invite myself over to this shy girl's apartment. She was quiet. Clean. Lonely? I hoped.

One night she offered a beer.

“My friend got married. The wedding was here. And since everyone traveled, I was given the beer. No one else could take it. You want one? It's probably a year old. Maybe not that old.”

Yes. I'd love a beer. Along with groceries, gas, coffee. It was a Michelob I think. And it was the finest beer I've had in my life.

So Saturday night we made dinner and I had another beer with this girl. Only this time she was less shy. Less a stranger. Three and a half years after offering stale beer in her loft in an old tobacco warehouse, she was my wife.

No. 9

Beer: Otter Creek Vermont Lager
Date: January 23rd, 2009

Place: Mountain Home, Stowe, Vermont

Friday did not end the way I expected when I woke up Friday.

I had a plan to drive to Connecticut to see my friend John. We were going to drive up to Mt. Snow in Vermont the next morning and do some snowboarding. There was the possibility that something might come up.

John and his wife don't use credit cards. If they don't have cash, they don't have stuff. Don't do things. Don't make plans. They are adults. They are responsible. They delay gratification. They play when they can pay. I respect the heck out of them for that and think that we could learn a lot from John. Wall Street system can learn from him. But Wall Street doesn't have jobs.

As a grad student, John gets loans. Which come in on Mondays and not Fridays. So my Fridays, when arranged around say, snowboarding, and around friends, say John, sometimes take left turns when I thought they were going to go right.

One of those turns led to me being on the road for four hours on Friday night, listening to Obama's Dreams of my Father, thinking about how long it had been since I was in the habit of taking road trips. Spontaneous ones, at that. Ones that start at 8pm on a Friday and end a quarter shy of midnight.

I had one beer with a friend from work, Zack, and a couple of his buddies from college. Turns out, their school and the Otter Creek I had were in the same town. Which I didn't know when I had bought the beer twenty five minutes before at a filling station off the side of a snowy state road.

I left five beers behind at the cabin Saturday. Hoping that someone who didn't use credit would find them and consider them a gift. A gift from their future, frugal self.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

No. 8

Beer: No.8, Peak Organic Maple Oat Ale
Date: January 21st, 2009

Place: Sunset Tap and Grill, Allston, Massachusetts

She borrowed them and used them in Colorado and punctured oh about 67 holes in them and then gave them back and then three years later when I moved to New England I decided I should get them repaired and took them to Patagonia and that’s how I met Rob.

He has a couple of cool tattoos on his wrists. One is maybe Aramaic. One is clearly in English: a cross written in black letter with the verse ‘That they may have life and have it abundantly.” We started talking about churches and I found out he moved to Boston to plant a church and was an electrical engineer from Tennessee and was working there to pay the bills. I didn’t want to go to his church, but I did want to hang out. So we did.

We went one weekend last year with Rob and his house church to extreme northern Maine to camp and hike and cook over a campfire. There was a moose involved. Allegedly. It wasn’t at my campsite. I just operate based on the knowledge that I heard screams.

That’s how we really got to know him. He’s got a big heart and he really tries to know his neighbors and better his community and I think he and his wife’s plan is to move to Africa and serve those who are less fortunate. Now I have beers with him once a month or so. Just to catch up.

Rob got married a week after we did. Also back in the South. So we will think of each other, I reckon, each time our anniversaries roll around. Until we are too old to think or celebrate and then we can look forward to getting our eternal reward and seeing each other once a month or so in Heaven. Just to catch up.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No. 6 & 7

Beer: No.6,
Boddingtons; No. 7, Red Stripe
Date: January 16th, 2009

Place: The Thirsty Scholar, Cambridge, Massachusetts

My buddy Pete is an interesting guy.

He was the RA at Wesleyan to the guys who years later would be the band MGMT. He is a monster Oakland Fan. He is well read (always suggesting a book, I read the Nine based on his review) and well written (he's a copywriter at Arnold). He once got mugged by a man with the same name. After several months of prodding, he even got me to go to New Hampshire to knock on doors on election day.

I actually had lunch on my first day at Arnold with Pete. I didn't know of anyplace to go, and we headed to a place near his then apartment in the South End. We didn't really strike it off, in particular. I think Pete is one of those people who you misread as being one thing, as you are just trying to unpackage them, and find out they are another. He's a pretty sarcastic guy, and I've grown out of sarcasm over the past several years. So for a while, I really just thought he disliked me. Not in a "You'll rue the day you ever crossed Pete" kind of way, but just in a "You do your thing, I'll do mine."

I ended up working on a number of assignments at Arnold with him. The first several he was out of town for, on shoot, so the thought that I crossed him and that I really should rue the day and he was never coming back and I better learn to be a writer crossed my mind more than once.

Then, we spent about 4 months together in a room, 19 floors up, staring at the Charles River, watching the snow, thinking thinking thinking about a good idea for a bad product. Most ideas ended with us talking about how this widget wasn't necessary and we were just shills and what good are we doing to the planet and to people and then on a practical level what would we do if we just didn't do anything and how would we operate if the paycheck stopped coming because we told people that they didn't need this and would that reverse psychology really work and who cares it's just advertising.

Through that experience I really got to know him. And realized that he is a great guy. And realized that I'd been selling him short. And felt bad for thinking he hated me. I've found it to be true a number of times: we don't take issue with people; we take issue with our own issues. And once we get past our own hangups, we realize that the people are who they were, and it's us that have changed.

Pete had been trying to figure out a number of things with life and in the process his apartment came up for renewal and he just kind of decided to let to cards fall where they may. So, a few months ago, Pete moved upstairs with our landlord. So he's kind of like Joey from Friends now. Except better read.

He'd been gone for a month, back in the Bay area for Christmas and then in LA for a shoot. So once he got back in, it took a couple of beers to catch up and talk about inauguration day and college football (which he doesn't care for but I sure as heck do) and the neighborhood and the jobs and toss back and forth ideas on a number of random bits.

Like the lunch on the first day of work. With beer. And instead of with a acquataince, with a dear friend.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No. 5

Beer: Guinness
Date: January 16th, 2009

Place: Warren Tavern, Charlestown, Massachusetts

It's June 16th, 1775.

Charlestown, right across the Charles River from Boston, is really starting to come into it's own. It was at one point the head of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It's still one hundred years before it becomes annexed by the city of Boston. Everything is fine. Until the Brits show up and raze the city. The Battle of Bunker Hill is on the 17th. Everything is burned. Shot. Killed. Whites of eyes and pops of muskets and bye bye homestead.

According to historians, the Warren Tavern was probably the first building back after that battle. It was established by Captain Eliphelet Newell (presumably of the same Newell family who founded Charlestown in 1628) and named after a Dr. Joseph Warren - a hero who was felled at the Battle five years before.

The Tavern was the favorite watering hole of Paul Revere. George Washington drained a few pints in his day as well.

Not to anyone's surprise really, there isn't a British beer on tap.

Which is why, in a dark room dating back to 1780, I had a Guinness with my wife and her sister, who'd just gotten into town from New York City.

Quite a fitting day to have it, turns out. My fifth beer of 2009 came on the fifth month of being married to my wonderful wife.

Note: The picture below was not last night. Where there was way more snow on the ground and a temperature of 7.

Monday, January 12, 2009

No. 3 & 4

Beer: Sam Adams Winter Lager
Date: January 10th, 2009
Place: Panthers Party, South End, Boston, Massachusetts

I'm four for four on beers at football games. Which I think is going to shape up interestingly in August, when the preseason top #10 Rebels take the field.

But this isn't about that, this is about this. My friend Dan and his inexplicable love for the Carolina Panthers.

Dan grew up in Chicago. Home of the Bears. And Pizza. And Blagojevich. Some time around '95, Dan's dad brought him home a shirt for a soon to be established team in the Carolinas called the Panthers. Whether is was the teal or the cat or the combo or the dismal performance of the Bears every year, Dan jumped on the bandwagon - which is still quite roomy - and became a Panthers fan.

Not one of those fair weather guys, either. One of those Every bit of sport paraphernalia in the house that has a sp0rt team is the Panthers. Throw pillows? Meow. Credit card? Meow. I have even heard he and his wife discussing a Panthers cruise in the Caribbean.

I decided that beer No. 3 would be well spent watching the outmatched Cardinals get owned by Delhomme + Co. with Dan and his wife and another 10 friends.

Three picks later, I thought it might be well to empathize with Dan and have No. 4. The final score (33-13, Cardinals) didn't even reflect how poorly the Panthers played. Which was hard to watch, there in the presence of Dan.

I think if the Panthers knew they had fans out there like Dan, with no ties to the state or the franchise, who just love pro ball and want to pick a team and stick with them throughout life through good or bad or sickness or injury or trades or unsportsmanlike conduct penalties or parades or playoffs or expansion team colors they would have played harder.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

No. 2

Beer: Victory Prima Pils
Date: January 8th, 2009
Place: Southie, Boston, Massachusetts

I'm panicked.

Like the time when I decided that I was going to be a vegetarian. What do you tell the Grandparent's at Thanksgiving when they offer ham and you are in Alabama where there are no liberals and even fewer vegetarians and the whole reason for pigs is ham and if you ain't having ham then what the dammit do you 'spect you're having?

It's like that. Tonight we are heading to a friend of a friend's house in South Boston to watch the FedEx Championship game betwixt the Gators of Florida and the Sooners of Oklahoma. I could seem, in about 56 minutes, like the most pretentious person south of Tremont street, as I walk in not with a six pack of cheaps but a one of Prima. And, much like being a vegetarian – no one else really cares about the reason that they don't eat this and do eat that and the ins and outs of the industrial farm complex – you can either choose to a) explain why you are weird or b) just sit quietly and naw on your leaf. Or in my case, hops.

I'm sure no one is going to give a second thought to it, but if some guy I didn't know showed up to my house with one beer and was rooting for the opposing team, well, I reckon he'd be on his way out the front door around the corner on to a bus stop or a trolly stop or the drive way (if he lived below the Mason-Dixon).

This is precisely where this resolution has gotten me at this point. Sitting in the beer store, looking for the singles (which are all either 40s or pints) that can go along with a theme (which I got with the name) or a season (which I missed [voted one of 10 best summer beers]) or a storyline or a flavor and realizing that this is way better than mindlessly grabbing a six of this or that. Even if it might destroy me.

Don't count it as No. 2 yet. Give me till about 9:30 EST, and then chalk it up. Win or loss, the name says it all.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

No. 1

Beer: Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale
Date: January 2nd, 2009
Place: Cabin, near Quint, New Hampshire

The first one was tough. Knowing the start has to be the start and that start will start when you start and the start isn’t the trickiest part. But the finish is. Once there is one then there are only 98 more.

But I decided to go for it on the second day of the year. I was with Marianna, Kay, Kelly, Jack, Scott, Sara, Braum, Sara, Dave, Chris and Jessica and we had just made it back from the mountain. We had been up boarding on Attitash mountain and the week before had been quite intense as was the weather for the drive up. We had 6” in Boston and less as we went further north. The mountain was fine but by mid afternoon the snow had given way to faint blue ice sheets the length of the mountain. That’s really how is it back East.

As the ice got icier and the day started to get over itself and the crew was bruised and sore, and the Cotton Bowl was on television 16 miles away, we packed up and drove back to Quint. We might have come back earlier, but I didn’t let people know that my bowl game started two hours before the lifts quit lifting. Figured we could catch the last quarter.

But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to. We were playing Texas Tech who had only lost one game and it was to a great Oklahoma team and they might have been waxing us as we were sliding down the mountain. But the text messages coming to my phone let me know that was not the case and that the best place for me was on the couch with a beer and with some friends and a fire in the place.

That’s how #1 happened. With a victory on the 2nd.

And I spent the remaining two days watching as others had as many beers as they wanted. With a pang of jealousy, but a little bit of excitement

I keep getting questions about what one beer is. Or what one beer counts for. I’m not about rules. One beer is what comes in one container, despite how small or big that container is. Sure, I could drink a keg and count it as one beer, but that’s not going to happen.