Monday, March 30, 2009

No. 24

Beer: Shipyard Old Thumper
Date: March 28th, 2009

Place: Fore Street, Portland, ME

I didn’t mean in particular to have a beer or have an expensive dinner or eat a duck’s testicle but all three happened Saturday night after we’d driven up to Portland, ME to see Pete Miller and his friends play a show at the Empire.

And to be quite honest, I’d like to not talk about the testicles any more and so while I’m at it I will just say they weren’t half bad and tasted a lot like a scallop with a bit of salt, gamey one might say, exciting our waitress might say, and more than might, that is precisely what she said, and that might be why we got them, I can’t be sure.

We’d shown up to a place that was recommended by a friend and it was such such a neat place and the kitchen was in the very middle and you watched everything get prepared and there was like a beet closet or a produce time-out booth or something but it had clear windows and you could see all the vegetables they used for the day because the farmers just drive them up in the morning and they cook just what they have and what they have at times is a bit intense (beef hearts, duck’s testicles) but is such a cool place and I’d suggest Googling Fore Street in Portland now and read about it and then get inspired and then drive up.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you about the ‘Duck Fries.’

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No. 23

Beer: Gouden Carolus Ambrio
Date: March 25th, 2009

Place: Novare Res Bier Cafe, Portland, ME

Micah is to beer bar what underage college student in a bar is to security guard.

Beer bars scare me.

I say How is the Poperfienden and they say It is a lot like the Whosit with the heart of a Thistledowner and I say That sounds really good, I think I'll have that and so long as they don't ask me what a Whosit is or how a Thistledowner tastes I'm safe but I try to avoid eye contact so I don't have to have that converstion because the other thing about being in a beer bar is that people really really want to talk about beer and they think I so want to talk to someone about the HarpoonStallion and all I can think is that I really want to drink a beer. If I wanted to talk, I'd have phoned my order in.

I always feel like I'm going to get found out.

I love beer, but I've still not figured out beer. I've also never figured out football. I don't care what the defense is reading or what package they are in or if there was a block in the back. I know I know enough to sit down an entire Saturday and watch the hell out of football. But I'm not there to discuss nuance. I'm not at a coaching clinic. I'm at a Saturday in the Fall. With two things I've not figured out. And I don't feel the least bit guilty.

So I ended up at Novare Res in Portland on a cold spring day sharing a beer with Pete who I've really just met recently becuase I know his sister. I thought it would be great to stop on my way back to Boston from an undisclosed location (business related) and talk about not beer but music, design, the complexity of eating olives and how they don't go with Belgian beer. I think we equally avoided talking about beer, even though at some point I went off on a Scotch Whisky tangent which is a third thing I don't know about but like anyways.

Monday, March 23, 2009

No. 21 & 22

Beer: No. 21, Pabst Blue Ribbon, No. 22, Trader Joe's Bavarian Hefeweizen
Date: March 21th, 2009
Place: The House, Somerville, MA

The PBR I had as an official co-host of an unofficial corn dog party. The Bavarian I had as an apology to all those beer lovers who'd question how PBR can make it into my top ninety nine what the hell are you thinking man?.

It'd been almost two months since I'd had two beers in one day. Think about that. Fifty seven days passed, and I'd had only 10 beers - not more than one per sitting. Of course, I'd learned my lesson well back in January, when I thought beer grew on trees and I could just have a couple any time I had a good excuse and then ended up overdrafting (pun intended) from my beer balance.

To put my last two months into perspective and prove to myself that I'm really sacrificing and blah blah blah my friend Dave had 10 beers in six hours.

If I'd had ten beers, I'd be on the floor. Praying to sweet self control and Jesus and mumbling incoherently while people pass me and avoid making eye contact and wondering when the last time I bathed was. Not Kuhl. He's a real man. A man who can kill and easy dozen. Or, in the case of Saturday, on National Corndog Day, can slam 10 corndogs, 10 PBR, and 10 servings of 10 tater tots. It's only been done a handful of times over the last five years. And it was done in our fair Commonwealth on Saturday.

I'm approaching the quarter mark of beers, the quarter mark of months, the first 25% done of the hardest exercise in self control that I can imagine. Clearly I'm not in the armed forces and was born into a fairly entitled civilization.

The slowing down and considering and just thinking about my consumption has spilled over into a number of areas of my life. I'd already mentioned the water saving shower head we'd gotten. We now save a gallon of water a minute. And for the first time, I think I bartered for something.

I'd been coveting an old vintage looking bike since I'd seen my friend Jen's at the North Carolina Beach. While that bike is made in America GO 'MERICA! and that helps my current protectioist agenda that I've gotten into it doesn't help that any time we get something new it came from something else someplace else and one day will end up in another pile of else in someone's backyard spilling else into water systems and dumping (x-1) gallon a minute in a shower someplace provided someone bought a lower flow shower head that was made from else and if not than simply x number of gallons.

So I traded an old snowboard in my basement for an old bike that was made in the seventies and creaks and has one speed and is made of pure Detriot muscle (fine, English steel) and lets me slow down and just consider everything on my now 16% longer ride to work.

I didn't spend any money. Didn't go out of my way. Just got what I wanted by giving someone what they wanted. And what I wanted is hard to pedal on windy "spring" days like today.

Which is good. I can use the extra pedaling to burn off those corndogs.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No. 20

Beer: Wachusett Quinn's Ale
Date: March 15th, 2009

Place: The Coppertop Lounge, Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, MA

“I wish the economy would stop eating my friends.”

That was a status update from a friend who sat next to Robertson and across the hallway from Kuhl.

I think statistically I’m starting to feel it. One in ten friends of mine are out of work. Probably less. But it’s getting up there. I know it would be far worse if I were in the manufacturing sector or if I worked in a mine or if I were a gypsy. But I’m none of those things, and the eating of friends is starting to leave me feeling lonely and sad for them and hopeful that at some point soon we’ll hit the upswing.

Sunday night we headed an hour west to board with our friend Dave Kuhl. Our laid off friend Kuhl. Our eternally optimistic keeps getting up when he eats it that was just what I needed I really needed to get something to kick start me there are some good things in the pipeline I’m going to be fine Kuhl. I’m humbled by my friends who are rolling with the punches, masking any fear they might have – or simply trusting that there isn’t anything that worry or fear or lost sleep will make any better.

After a dismal loss in the ’07 Boston Kickball Finals, after a lost key forced him to ride in a tow truck with me from Vermont, after losing to UNC as an Illinois alumni, Kuhl is used to rolling with it. He’s just the kind of person that you love to have a beer with.

While the economy is eating my friends, I’m drinking them.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No. 19

Beer: Harpoon Celtic Ale
Date: March 14th, 2009

Place: Cleary's, South End, Boston, MA

It was supposed to be a shared beer at six. Chris was late because he was talking to a guy from Nevada. Trying to buy an Airstream to drive around the county.

Times like this, scary times that make you refocus, have a tendency to make you want to do things that you haven’t done before. Things you couldn’t have done before. Things that were inhibited by other things. Things like a family. Or a job. I bought Robertson a beer on Saturday night because he had become a statistic.

He’d been laid off.

Not that this was the first layoff that I’ve experience with Robertson. He was laid off in North Carolina as well. And as a friend summed up ‘If they let Robertson go, you know its getting bad out there.’ That was true in North Carolina, as I took off eight months later. And true now, as trillions of bits of wealth are moving to different columns.

Robertson is Creeper to most here in Boston. A nickname that came from his state (Virginia) as well as an isolated event one late evening, prompted by his creative director, that creeped someone out. Chris, Crepeer and Robertson are all interchangeable. Creep works too. Especially on a kickball field.

We’ve done so much with that guy over the past four years that I can hardly believe it. I’ve been boarding with him a bunch. Went to the Chesapeake Bay one July 4th when it was 104 out. He came down to our wedding. He’s such a part of our social interactions that I forget that he hasn’t always been one of my buddies.

Cue flashback music: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

And now, with some credit default swaps and some shady dealings, he’s going to be gone. Driving into the sunset, into some uncertain future.

I bought him a beer because on one government report he’s a statistic. But on mine, he’s a brother.

Pouring one out for you Creep.

Image stolen from Chris's Flickr stream.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

No. 18

Beer: Hen's Tooth Ale
Date: March 13th, 2009

Place: The House, Somerville, MA

If there was a week that I needed to come home and have a beer, it was this one. If there ever was a week in which I deserved to come home and have a beer, it was this one.

Marianna's work laid off fifty people this week. It was a slow death layoff, too. Three days in which people - close friends among them - were picked off one by one. This one now can't pay rent. That one is moving back to Virginia. I don't know this one, but he is old and a proofreader and I don't know what jobs are available to those who make a living finding mistakes. Maybe he can be a consultant and let people know when they made mistakes. Like they made a mistake by giving someone a mortgage that they can't afford.
Or they made a mistake of thinking that a house is more than just a house. Or they made a mistake giving Bernie all their money. Or that they mistook the American Dream - which is also the undoing of the dream.

Mariana made it. Just got her salary, 401(k) match and summer Fridays cut. But not as much as some. I heard a group in the agency got cut to a four day workweek. A full 20% less cheddar to take home. Who's better off? Those let go or those hanging on? The ones free to look for a shrinking number of jobs? Or those in tied to sit in a place for a shrinking salary? I think the answer is the latter, though I can feel the fear in those places knowing they could have just as easily been in the former - or might be in a matter of quarters.

It was with a heavy heart that I drank half my beer.

I've always been a line item on a company's balance sheet. One which I feel quite honestly hasn't been very profitable. I bust my tail at times, and sit on it others. I sit in little rooms, rack my brain for ideas or images or words come up full sometimes and full of it most of the time. I toil for something I think it new and fresh and I'm told that it was seen last week, last year, in the late eighties. Nothing new under the sun.
I've pitched a dozen clients and billed hundreds of hours to agencies and been a liability and a drain on the ole coffers. For I've never been anyone who has brought new business into an agency. Not one account.

But twenty minutes after a meeting that came after two weeks of hard work three weeks after our own layoffs after a housing bubble burst after a few good years after a terrorist attack after a very entitled decade after we fought out of a time that looked eerily similar to our own after an embargo I went from the debit column to the credit column by winning a small bit of business. A bit of business that wasn't as big as the hope in everyone's eyes who knew, that for a minute or two, their job was safe and they could pay their rent and not have to move to Virginia.

It was with a content heart that I shared the second half of my beer with my wife.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No. 17

Beer: Flying Dog Imperial Porter
Date: February 28th, 2009

Place: The Hideaway Chalet, Killington, Vermont

And then there was Pete, Julie, Kat, Kay, Kay, Kelly, Jocelyn, Janet, Jonathan, Justin, Caitlyn, Allison, Paul, Marianna, Scott, Allison, Courtney, Dave, Braum, Sarah, and Doug. Twenty one twenty (and thirty) somethings in a small (huge) cabin tucked away (on the main drag) in Killington (Killington).

Our trip planned our trip months ago - the best way to go about finding lodging for two dozen twenty (and thirty) somethings on a mountain. Turns out, our timing was one week off. The week before, the mountains of Vermont got three feet of snow. We got rain the entire drive up. On Saturday, we got glorified ice cubes for the ride down.

High points:

Scott, Allison, Courtney and Dave driving in from Brooklyn. I’d not seen Dave in a year and half. We’d worked together at McKinney. I was sitting on the couch, looked up, and thought That mystery person there hugging Marianna looks a lot like Dave from behind. Turned around and there he was.

Saturday afternoon. The side of the mountain facing the sun turned to slush. And we turned into stuntmen. Jumping off of everything and landing some things. Sometimes on people.

Talking beer with Doug and Jonathan. Who shared the porter with me. And gave me lots of ammunition for my trial. Like where an amazing beer store is in Newton. And what the top ten beers are in the world.

Talking about my blog. Seems like it struck a nerve with a few.

Sharing a cigar with Pete, Paul and Justin.

Bananagrams. Namely spelling serifs.

The sunny drive out on Route 4. New England at its finest.

Low points:

Limiting myself to one beer.

The rain and fog.

The ice cube flume.

Feeling bad on Sunday morning. Could have been the screwdrivers, the cigar or the lack of sleep.