Sunday, May 31, 2009

No. 40

Beer: Warsteiner
Date: May 30th, 2009

Place: Old Magouns Saloon, Somerville, MA

I went to Matt's to go get a pint, but the number I was on meant that I couldn't have a beer unless I found a very specific one.

I needed a forty.

It was that or it was some Jack on the rocks.

And while I thought finding 40 oz. of beer in one bar, in one container might be one hell of an adventure, it turned out to be easier than I thought.

a) Put Matt in charge.
b) Walk down the street into the pub, tell the man you need a 40 or you are headed elsewhere.
c) Watch a 40 oz. glass come out of nowhere.
d) Drink beer from boot.

No. 39

Beer: Whale's Tale Pale Ale
Date: May 28th, 2009

Place: The house, Somerville, MA

Leave it to us to throw a barbecue with friends on the one day where it gets colder than it should rightfully be in the summer, the day where 50% chance of rain is realized, the one day out of a year that we could finally get with Andi and Tony. The day right before they took off for Spain.

We'd put it off long enough weather be damned and thought that if we didn't just finally get together then it would never happen. Like volunteering or going to prison: until you finally just do it, it seems so hard to accomplish – the second you do, you get it.

The one thing that we thought would be great, at the time, when we forgot that we didn't live on the beach or in an arid or even seasonally warm place was to have a barbecue. What the weather didn't scare out of me the responsibility did.

Cooking is one thing I've never felt really accomplished in nor even really adequate. It's a skill that I think in my head belongs to those kids who have dads who teach them what to and how long to and why to grill certain things and not others and if those kids have dads who are not there or into museums or whatever else then they never learn. As of press time no one has ever died from eating my grilled bits and I reckon while I might not be a great cook I'm sure not a killer, and I don't plan on starting that up now.

So I sipped my beer talking with Tony by the grill as the chicken sausage sang, the coals died, and the party moved inside to panfry the death-factor out of the links.

Monday, May 25, 2009

No. 38

Beer: Miller High Life
Date: May 24th, 2009

Place: The Moffit's, West Hartford, CT

The fact that I was in the wealthiest state in the union, thereby being one of the wealthiest places in the entire world - and by the default the wealthiest place in the history of mankind - and I was drinking a a Miller High Life in a 46oz. plastic cup made my Memorial Day Sunday the most ironic in recent memory.

Our retreat from the liberal right coast wherein we reside took us to John and Stephanie's house in Connecticut. They are with child and due in a matter of weeks. If there is anything that I know about babies is that they put mommy and daddy out of the social sphere for a minute or two. I decided to seize the moment and head down west, after about .008% convincing for my wife. She wanted to get out into the open road as well.

I met John at the Patagonia store in Atlanta. We worked together. John was one of the people who showed me that a college degree didn't matter and if you were smart and well read and nice and with it you could hang in any crowd any time. After meeting John, I was kind of bummed that I'd spent so many years in college. This guy is going to go places. I don't know where. But somewhere.

John reminded me that I went to his apartment one night and watched a very sad and very disturbing movie. I had. Because we somehow ended up being neighbors in Atlanta for a few months, and I'd walked over and seen Charlize Theron acting sad and disturbing and I also think I watched Vertical Limit there, too, at some point.

Well, John did go places. For one, he went to Connecticut. To the wealthiest state in the union, to stock up on cheap beer, keep true to his roots, and get his something important degree at UConn where he sits in a lab and grows bacteria and sees what they do when introduced to other bacteria and write papers and get really well known in certain circles and become a dad.

We were both excited that he was going to be on the blog and we were going to share a beer in what we hope would become a much more frequent occurrence.

No. 37

Beer: Hop Rod Rye Ale
Date: May 23rd, 2009

Place: The Other Side, Boston, MA

Good stories interest me. Good ideas excite me. And since there was a great idea and a good story, I was ready for a beer. The story? Seven ballparks in seven days, all via Amtrak.

The boys from Seven Inning Stretch were in town, on another journey of trains, dogs, beers, baseball, tours, beers, double beds, beers, beers. I was glad to host them and glad that one of them was among my former roommates.

If I had an extra minute to think about it, I'd count and then tell you for sure that I've had 22 roommates over the years. A Brit, A Korean, a guy who ran the Boston Marathon twice, a man afraid of stickers, some lady from Malaysia, a UGA grad. But since I'm not counting, I'm going to say 21. One of those was Jonas. And even though we just lived together for about nine months, we were in two different houses and had far fewer beers than I thought we would.

See, I'm fraid Jonas and I became roommates right as Jonas was trying to figure out what was next in life. Those critical junctures are ones full of uncertainty and I don't blame the man for having fewer than a dozen beers on the porch with me at our second house after we struggled though the hottest summer on record (Google it) in a gorgeous house that had a serious air conditioned problem only eclipsed by a landlady problem. I can't tell you how miserable that house was, amidst a history professor's books - a man from Duke who was on sabbatical for a few years who left this books in the house - bookcase after bookcase filled with fire and ideas and the combustion was resulting in heat heat heat.

Enough about that.

The fellas came to town and we had a beer - they had a lot more than a, but I a single, and arguably the finest beer to date, a "high performance, turbo charged, alcohol burnin' monster ale with dual overhead hop injection that revs out the hop-o-meter at over 90 IBUs" - after the Freedom Trail and before we watched the Sox lose in a last ditch ninth inning rally.

Other Side from Trimming Society on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

No. 36

Beer: Gritty's Pub Ale
Date: May 14th, 2009

Place: Freeport, ME

I was going to write a book. That was my plan, at least. Or, if not a book, a blog. It seems it’s a lot easier to write a blog. Then you can pay someone to print it and bind it. Which becomes a book.

The book was going to be about my brother and I. About how we became best friends.

We weren’t close growing up. He moved back and forth from my mom and dad’s house, and I stayed put. He moved away and made new friends and learned about new bands and moved back in and had a shirt with a Philly Blunt logo and it and I was sure that meant he was currently doing drugs and the bands he listened to made me think the same. I remember sneaking his Weezer tape into my player and I loved it. He had a trunk with all his stuff. It moved West 20 miles then back. I don’t know how many times it happened. It seemed like a lot. When he moved out the first time, I guess that’s when I decided we weren’t friends any more.

I can’t remember a lot about growing up with Breshen. I remember blind rage at times. I remember fighting, him getting hit with a board in the head and how I would have taken a bullet for him, walking to the store to get Fireballs, hot summers and him leaving.

He went to sea at seventeen. I went to college the year later. We saw each other every few years. He got married. I skipped his wedding because I was in New Zealand. I got married and he skipped my wedding because he was in Iraq. He became a Chief and I became a designer.

I found out he was moving to Maine for a year and I was going to document it. My book was going to be about us. I was going to write about getting to know him more and learn about what he thought of our childhood and how was it on his side, in Huntsville and in the Navy, how was being a husband? A soldier?, what do you like in particular, damn I’d realize there’s so much I don’t know about him, come to think of it, there’s so much I don’t know about me, who are our ancestors? What boat did whomever come over on? I know part of us if Indian, but what about the rest? I live on a genetic island, I don’t know my brothers, I don’t know my family, I have run and I have made something of myself and I haven’t shared that with any of them.

Instead, over the past year, we’ve had a weekend, a lunch, a dinner, and a beer.

Trying to cram twelve years worth of life into twelve ounces of beer is far too much. So we didn’t - just sipped our brew, hugged, drove off.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No. 35

Beer: Tsingtao
Date: May 13th, 2009

Place: Kowloon, Saugus, MA

Marianna drove us.

We had dinner off Route 1 - the New England equivalent to Route 66 – at a Polynesian/Cantonese/Water Chestnut Asian lovechild that could have been a teepee if we were in New Mexico. Route 1 is famously bad and I’d only recently driven on it up to Maine, passing a 70ft cactus, putt-putt, a pirate ship, another Asian fortress masquerading as a restaurant, a Subway who’d saved the 50s roadside diner sign and put in their logo. I’m sure there was a castle at some point. What there was not; tact, restraint, median crossing.

Marianna drove because we just got a car. An automatic. And since she was driving, we went to find a place with a parking lot, a giant wood tiki statue, flaming entrees.

And now a tribute to the cars I’ve owned, in reverse chronology – and by default by price highest to lowest.

2003 Mazda Protégé

Procured on Monday with 26,000 miles.

2000 VW Golf

Purchased once I got my first real job. Which means I couldn’t afford it. Tis truly amazing how I managed a car payment while earning the same salary as a short order cook.

1994 Geo Tracker

Invincible. Never had to make one repair to it, except for replacing something on the wheels. Which was probably messed up the Thanksgiving that I got it stuck mudding before the Ole Miss / MSU game. It had no carpet, giant wheels, zero safety features, the radio was stolen in Atlanta (but it was broken and that dude got 0.16 for it at the pawn shop), I think it ran solely on the fusion of air and Teal and rattling seats.

1969 VW Type II

A bus. I bought it and didn’t know how to drive a stick so Daniel manned it back from Macon, Georgia as I kept asking how she drove. Correct answer: like a bus. Smelled heavily of gas fames except when overpowered by joints being smoked in it at the house. I enjoyed humoring the stoners. Was in mint condition until it broke and no one in North Mississippi could fix it and just the same because I didn’t have the money to fix it and I slept it in for a while and smelled like petrol. I sold it in its broken state to a man who drove up from Dallas and loaded it onto his trailer and drove off.

Epilogue: Seven hours later I get a call that the man’s truck broke down as he was towing the bus. He attempted to drive the broken bus to get help, and the engine seized up or caught fire or fell out and he was planning on suing. I never heard anything else from him.

1984 Toyota Camry

This is the car I had in high school. It had close to half a million miles on it (or maybe slightly over a million). I was hit in it while in high school by a man who had no insurance so I went to the junkyard (tetanus!) and walked around until I found a car that looked like mine and bought a door that didn’t match but it was on the passenger side so I never really saw it.

1982 Honda Accord

Crap car. Bought for $600. Loved for the 3 weeks it ran. Doors weighed 700 lbs each. Solid Detroit muscle.

No better place to savor a bad beer while thinking of bad cars and praying the VW I just sold ninety minutes before didn't explode into flames.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No. 34

Beer: Stone IPA
Date: May 4th, 2009

Place: Common Ground, Allston, MA

I had a beer the other night with Isaiah out by his apartment in Allston. He'd asked me to go have a beer after Lent, because he gave up beer and meat and I'm sure had a miserable month and a half except maybe he thought more about the suffering of Christ so I bet the month and a half was long but quite introspective. We went to Common Ground which has a) amazing selections of beer on tap b) trivia, apparently, on Monday nights c) huge televisions.

I bought Isaiah’s beer. He’d just been laid off. His company, a big one that you can find in most of the cities in the United States, is cutting x% of stores because we are up the creek and our paddle was actually tossed overboard in the early 00s and we’ve all started to realize that so few of us make goods but rather are in services and oops.

Isaiah didn’t ask me to cover his beer. I did it because it falls into my guilt tax. I pretend that it makes up for having a job. How uncomfortable are we all nowadays? Those who are without a job who say they are free to do whatever they want and now is the time to fly and those of us with jobs saying we are thankful to have them and us all having guilt/anxiety tinged conversations while we try to see what the score is in the Capitals hockey game Hockey? as if we care but the thing that brings us relief is normalcy and triteness and dealing with the small things because the big things are scary.

Those big things don’t faze Isaiah. He moved from Chicago to plant a church in Boston. He didn’t have a job. Didn’t have any prospects. Just a tank of gas and the courage to drive East until he hit the ocean. He isn’t worried about a job now either. Just figures something will come along. Which it will.

It always does to those who don’t ask for anything.

Monday, May 4, 2009

No. 33

Beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon
Date: May 3rd, 2009

Place: Bukowski's Tavern, Cambridge, MA

I should have seen it coming from a mile away.

A fantastic beer bar lives just around the corner from us. It is called Bukowski's - named after the author and not a simple misspelling of the '98 cult bowling film.

It's a 21+ place that makes you feel like a total badass when you walk in to get a burger, and to get that burger you have to prove you've lived through a minute or two of Regan, twelve years of Bushes, a Clinton scandal and one hundred days of Obama. Even to think of the fries you must have some street cred.

They had a drinking club - the Dead Author's Club - where if you drank all hundred plus beers in a year then you'd get a mug and they'd engrave your favorite author on it and since we're in the cradle of education there are plenty of people who'd drink all those beers not because they like beers but because they'd like to prove they love books. Turns out, so many people did the deal and got the mugs and then got jobs or just ran out of money, being literature students and whatnot, and moved out of town that Bukowski's reportedly has a warehouse full of those mugs that are engraved with Tolstoy, Joyce, Dickens that they can't get rid of because they made a promise that if you drank the beers and got a mug you could come in and get a beer in your mug and if they threw out their mug then they'd be breaking a promise so they just stopped the club are are trying to figure out what to do with it.

In the meantime, there is a wheel you can spin, and then you are required to drink and buy whatever beer the wheel lands on. No complaining allowed. Which is mostly all I've done when I've spun the wheel. I've traded a cider and then complained about a Coors. But there's just something about leaving beer choice to fate.

The scary part is that there are a few $15 beers on the wheel. Which are fun to drink, but less fun to pay for. I convinced our waiter to give me a pass if I landed on a fifteen dollar beer. He didn't look happy about it, but he knew that I've lived through
Regan, twelve years of Bushes, a Clinton scandal and one hundred days of Obama so he let me have an out.

What he said: If you land on a fifteen dollar beer, you can spin again.

What he thought: Punk.

Fate and logic and universal irony and a bit of an unfortunate spin left me savoring my second Pabst Blue Ribbon of the year.

No. 32

Beer: LongTrail Ale
Date: April 30th, 2009

Place: Coogan's, Financial District, Boston, MA

Neptune and Uranus. What are the two ice giants?

Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut. Name three of the four states that allow same sex marriages.

Cirque du Soleil. This organization, founded by 20 street performers in Montreal, has been seen by over 10 million people worldwide.

Bangkok Dangerous. Something about Nicholas Cage and a movie being panned.

Book club. Why would a man sit in a bar playing trivia, apart from his wife, on a Thursday night?

Cider. Name the taste your beer gives on the back end, which would make you question whether you were poured the correct one or not.

Loud. One adjective to describe the speakers which are right in your ears, that would prohibit you from having any extracurricular conversation.

Cheap. The 1.99 PBR on draft.

Lost. How Micah feels in the Financial District.

Hungry. This would be the way one might feel if they were at the end of the month, and had spent all their allowance, yet really wanted a burger.