Spoartspoartspoarts!!!

Some sportswriter called my mom and I have done nothing since

In less than a week, I will be turning 27 years of age. With this turning of the clock, it signifies my mid twenties gone, the good times never to return; I am closer to my 30s than my roaring and uncaring college years. To my 22 year old post graduate self, I am now the old creepy guy at the bar. I am by no means an old man – 27 hopefully isn’t even half as long as I will live – but I have lived hard so I hope that my insight, while insignificant and generally rambling, will be of some use to someone.

Throughout my life, there have been two topics I have refused to discuss in public. Politics and religion. I allow others to speak to me about them – to be honest, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it in any public gathering – but I will not divulge the way I feel about them. I have lived in bliss this way. With seething anger on the inside as someone explains to me the value of trickledown economics, I would swallow my pride and calm the beast inside me who wanted to strangle the very throat that was espousing the words directly off the pages of Atlas Shrugged.

I have always been frustrated, angry, disappointed even, whenever a close friend of mine would begin to talk to me about their far right leaning attitudes. I used to be a conservative, way back in high school, borderline naïve at a small all-boys Catholic preparatory school. Hell, my mom regales me with a tale of when I was small child, I asked her to buy me a small stuff animal and she refused. I started ranting about Clinton’s taxes and how unfair it was that a young rotten child like me couldn’t get exactly what he wanted. My dad, at the time a staunch conservative, was blamed for this. “Genetics…” my mother would mutter under her breath as she dragged me out of the toy store.

As I have gotten older, however, I have seen what far right conservative attitudes have brought us. It’s not very far. And it’s terrifying to see how so many have been brainwashed by those with the power to do so and have bought into the narrative.

We live in strange times. Every generation says this but at this point I firmly believe it. We’re advancing further and further both scientifically and technologically to a point that had previously only been imagined in fiction. We will live longer than any other generation on earth. We will, in theory, be healthier and will have the ability to (but sadly, probably not the access to) have treatments for ailments that would have ended our lives just a few short decades ago before I was born. At the same time, we live in a society that, despite all the advancements, has regressed to a point not seen since Upton Sinclair.

Unemployment is down, but part time employment has skyrocketed. 40 hours plus with no benefits, no future, no pension, no real ability to save. Almost every person I know, myself included, is trapped within this area. But we’re all scared. I may not implicitly state when talking to people in general “I am terrified for my future” but goddamn it I am absolutely terrified. I have no student loans mind you, imagine what someone with actual legitimate oh-fuck-I-have-to-hand-over-one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-goddamn-dollars issues has to deal with on a daily basis. We are derided and mocked for still living with our substantially more successful parents in my generation yet there is very little way to escape the nest without good luck or extreme poverty. In the eyes of the right, this is what we should be — slaves to the free market. Unable to think or breathe or act as independent individual human beings, instead drones to capitalism paying our dues to the God of the Dollar so that we too can have a little bourgeois family and a four door bourgeois sedan and a little bourgeois white picket fence. We’ve been told that we should just be happy for work in general and not complain – take what you’ve been given. So we do. We deal with it and we survive.

This allows the corporations to increase their bottom line – look we’re hiring! But the positions are now part time. The recovery is a fraud. Once a worker outlives his usefulness as a part timer and eventually makes too much hourly he will be let go and replaced by someone younger, less experienced, but equally hungry and willing to learn and after a little bit of training will be substandard to the original employee but close enough that no one will notice any more than a slight drop off in quality. Meanwhile, the right has shoveled the bullshit down our throats that if we simply work hard enough and prove their worth, they will succeed. Straight out of the playbook of Rand. We’re living in John Galt’s wet dream and there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. They’ve sold us the idea that we’re all just one or two breaks away from making it big and that by rocking the boat we’ll ruin our chance at winning that lottery so don’t upset the status quo.

We’ve been taught that the only way to make money in this world is to do something practical. STEM. Be unable to critically think as an individual or a human being and instead only be able to look at the bare bones bottom line of just about everything. What good is critical thinking outside of abstract mathematics? If you can’t provide anything of real value to the world via your degree you are worthless. What value is that? What are we teaching everyone where this is okay? That someone is sub-human for entertaining the thought of becoming a part of the humanities? Because people literally cannot think for themselves without appealing to the authority of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or some other dingus who is only famous because they can talk louder than other people?

I’m angry. And I’m scared. And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Perhaps most despicable of all, the right has co-opted religion as their excuse for this control. They are using religion to push their regressive agendas to keep the rich in power and numb the general masses from the fear that they are feeling every day. The evangelicals promising damnation for all those who do not follow the strict path that a thousands upon thousands of year old book set forth for our culture. It is humorous to me that conservatives appeal to the authority of ancient thinkers like those who wrote the bible and our country’s forefathers when they had no concept of what society would become, no understanding of the scientific majesty of the cosmos – these people didn’t even know what a fucking germ was for Christssakes – but yet these are the people we should turn to for our understanding of the universe and how we should treat others.

I’m a fan of God, don’t get me wrong. I was born Catholic and survived almost 20 years of Catholic education. I am also now an atheist. But I am willing to admit, that if I am wrong, and God does exist, I will accept the punishment of whatever non-believing will bring me. But I can be a good person without the existence of God. The Bible exists as a foundation to tell us how to act as human beings. It is nothing more than a social contract so we don’t kill each other (which, shocks of shocks, we do anyway). As Galileo said, “The Bible is a book that tells us how to go to heaven, not the way the heavens move.” In other words, learn your ethics from Jesus but don’t believe that some dingus built a giant boat and then saved two of every animal you fucking moron.

But yet we’re too interested in picking and choosing based on our own agendas than believing the whole of what the Bible tells us. Gay people are bad, the Old Testament says so. Well guess what, the Old Testament has some choice things to say about women on their period too. Or that you shouldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Or that you shouldn’t even have a single sexual thought for a women unless you’re married and if you are married and think someone else is sexy hoo doggy man are you screwed. The framers of the Bible didn’t understand human nature because they were closer to goddamn Neanderthals than human normal contemporary human society. This was not a brain trust here.

And yet, somehow, the right wants us to believe a book rather than science. And people fall for it. People believe that the earth was legitimately built in 7 days. I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s personal beliefs here but in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, to sit there and go “This isn’t true I don’t care” I hate to say it but you aren’t noble, you’re just ignorant. This is where conservatives really get me. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary of nearly all of their beliefs, they can sit there and go “Well I have the right to say that.” You don’t. I can’t look at the sky and go “Guess what guys, the sky is green.” No Andy the sky is blue. “I don’t care, that’s my beliefs.” Are you kidding me? How absurd is this?

The left isn’t free of blame either. Where are the balls on the left? Why isn’t there a single person who stands up and calls these people out on their ignorant and wrong opinions? What are we so afraid of that no one can stand up for themselves? I see suffering every day working in Manhattan. I have watched homeless people die right in front of me. But yet we can’t have social programs because some people can abuse them. We should “drug test people on welfare.” This is really great stuff. If we judged people based on gaming the system, what about all the rich people who ship all their money overseas to avoid paying taxes. Where’s the anger about that? We can only use gaming the system to dog whistle? We can’t use it to expose the fraud that these other people pull?

Why doesn’t anyone stand up and say this is not the way the world should work? Why is there no voice that is there that tells the right that acting like a victim does not mean that you are a victim?

The left’s reform voice is suddenly Occupy Wall Street, which is either trolling us with Justine Tunney or doing absolutely nothing. Instead, we have trolls like Tunney telling us that unions are evil? That technology is the future for the value of society? It’s the same hidden bullshit that the right feeds us about work and worth. Tech workers are wage slaves just like the part time workers are – all because you get fed Fillet Mignon at lunch and get personal shuttles and nap rooms don’t make you any more of a wage slave than the rest of us.

Obama offered us change and nothing changed. And the right hates him for even trying. What do we do with an entire political movement not based anywhere in reality?

To which I ask: why isn’t anyone else fed up with this? How are none of us not mad as hell? How do we take this anymore?

Drunken Prospectus: DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus

I headed out to the Bottle King liquor store by my house today after returning from my former home of Scranton, PA, in search of something strange and delicious. After a night of getting faded with one of my best friends and previous star of an earlier Drunken Prospectus Random John, slinging bottle after bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brûlée at impossibly low Northeastern Pennsylvania prices, and drunk texting my entire phone book how much I loved them, I needed a second round. Upon entering the craft beer section, the angels trumpets themselves sounded from the heaven as apparently today was delivery day and the shelves were stocked with delicious, delicious craft brews. It was a beautiful sight.

DuClaw brewing, located in Baltimore, has probably not watched The Wire because it is a brewing company and it therefore cannot watch television. Hidden in the six pack section which I never really venture, was a container that proclaimed “Sweet Baby Jesus!”. My friend Tim, “The Beer King” himself, told me about it and I greatly respect his opinion when it comes to beer. The bottom of the six pack proclaims that for buying this beer I have awesome taste as well as both “wise and incredibly physically attractive” which is all very much the absolute truth, confirmed by beer.

The beer is a chocolate peanut butter porter which was a sweet change of pace from The Bruery’s Oude Tart which was a bitter masterpiece. DuClaw claims that “one sip and [I’ll] be saying Sweet Baby Jesus”. After a couple sips I have not ejaculated that yet; however I am very confused.

It’s tasty, eminently drinkable. Sweet, chocolately, peanut buttery. If you love Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups like I do you will adore this. It’s a liquored up version of that. The smell is enough to kill someone with a peanut allergy, it instantly hits your olfactory nerve with an overwhelming Skippy aroma. It’s dark, heavy, delicious, but not something you want to drink a lot of. Maybe it’s my old age, maybe it’s my crippling hangover, but after two of these all I want is something different.

Dessert beers are always a little too much. Last night with Random, we both agreed that we needed something to switch things up after slinging down the Creme Brûlée. And after the second bottle each and we almost brawled with some dingus who decided to act tough in front of his girlfriend who later dramatically broke up with him in front of us, all I could think was that 9.5% alcohol is a little heavy and also that the girl at the bar missing a couple teeth (the NEPA smile) was looking more and more attractive with every sip.

Anyway, while I am enjoying this beer, like the Creme Brûlée, it is a little much. I like chocolate. And I like peanut butter. But would I spend all night drinking both? Probably not. At least not without something in-between. If something can be too delicious for it’s own good, a beer like this would be an apt example. It makes me long for hops and beer flavors and things that actually taste like a real beer instead of candy.

At least now I don’t have to raid the leftover Halloween candy.

On Sanctimony, Drugs, Revenge, and the Hall of Fame

Now that the Hall of Fame fallout has settled and three warm bodies will actually be attending an induction ceremony in Cooperstown, the sanctimonious hand washing can come to an end. Score another victory for the morality crew (but not Jack Morris, thank the good lord); the ones who were too silent to speak up when the problem spread like cancer and all too eager to make a mockery out of The Process. In order to honor the game, those deemed the best need to be respected and the fact that certain players have been cast under the induction threshold due to whispers and rumors is completely unacceptable.


There is an inherent impotence to sports writing. Writers love the game but couldn’t play it; media members with access to teams have to play nice and be non-confrontational in order to provide the best information possible. As a member of the media, you can’t fight back and stand up for yourself when you get mocked by an overgrown adolescent jock who went 0-5 and is taking it out on you.

I took a sports writing class in college, when I was younger and naive and had hopes and dreams that one day I could be a distinguished and talented writer instead of a disgraced former blogger, and one day the adjunct professor taught us about confrontational interviews. We watched tape of hilarious outbursts, you know, “I’m a man! I’m 40! Come after me!” so on and so forth. Then it was our turn; the teacher made believe he was an asshole coach and had a mock press conference. I came in completely unprepared, asked a very stupid question, and got absolutely buried much to the enjoyment of my peers. This was a fake exercise and I was completely embarrassed. This wasn’t even real; I can’t even fathom what it feels like in a real world setting.

In 2011, after I said some nasty things to Jeff Pearlman on twitter and he called my mom, I met him at an event in NYC. He was speaking at some Deadspin sponsored sportswriter symposium at some bar in Greenwich Village. He spoke about a player who, when he was first starting out as a writer, made fun of him and refused to talk to him during a Spring Training many years ago. I didn’t strike me until years later that perhaps all of the steroid sanctimony could have nothing to do with taking a stand or doing what was right, but instead being a revenge fantasy toward the players who treated these writers wrong.

Everyone knows that there is an extreme inconsistency to how PED users have been treated by the members of the media. Some guys get vilified while others get a pass, no questions asked. Barry Bonds was a huge well established jerk. Probably still is. But he’s also the greatest of all time. A-Rod, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Manny — guys who did steroids but were also, for a lack of a better word, douchebags. These are the guys deemed unworthy and evil, while guys like Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Jason Giambi, well, you never really hear too much about their useage. They’re all considered nice guys, good clubhouse guys, fan favorites who are engaging and played nice with the media.

Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio, I have no idea what kind of people they are. Both have been surrounded by the idea that they cheated. Piazza has had whispers forever about his personal life and he’s probably a jerk. If you work long enough in sports, you know that there are plenty of stories about players that get whispered but can’t get reported because they can’t be verified. Go to the Winter Meetings or talk to someone who has worked directly with a team, be regaled  with tales of players buying bar tabs at 3 am, infielders sleeping with their team’s sideline personality, recreational drug use, stories of unbelievably mean behavior. By extension, all these rumors and half whispers, there has to be a reason why these reporters feel the way they do and can’t come out and say — there is certainly an opportunity and possibility of bias. It appears, at least to me, that poor treatment lead to the desire for revenge.

Jose Canseco tweeted earlier something to the effect that the Hall of Fame voters have already inducted PED users. While I have no idea which player he is insinuating used, I think Canseco is a poster child for this bias. The man is a clown. Clearly. His twitter account is an embarrassment and the way he acts, while not my business, is not the way a serious person conducts themselves. This being said, he has been absolutely right in almost every name he has provided and has been laughed at, derided, and mocked despite the fact that his accusations have been far from baseless. In a sense, the way that he has conducted himself toward others has ruined any chance he has at being a legitimate source of information.

This bias has festered and bled into the unchecked voting practices of the BBWAA and the obnoxious proselytizing that the Hall of Fame voting season inevitably brings. If we don’t — and can’t — know the full story but we do know that certain players who have been kept out and forced out due to inconsistent voting practices have been not necessarily the best of people, I don’t believe this is a difficult conclusion to jump to. 

The name of the game has become revenge — that these cowardly scribes can’t come out and exactly say why they dislike a certain player but also couldn’t fight back at the time of the original indiscretions. Years later, in a passive aggressive attempt to make up for this, they have used an easy excuse to attack, tarnish, and bury these players.

No wonder the print media is dead.

Subway thought 12/31/13

I know why you don’t smile
anymore
not like you did
in all those old photographs
of better times
and immature bliss
of brutal nights
and broken hearts
love found and love lost
searching for one for the night
but as you look
watch as the room is drawn to you
fine china skin and hazel eyes
and a sadder world
without you flashing that smile
the one that doesn’t show
anymore
no matter how ugly you
thought it was
I wish that I could
you know
give you the answers to all this
raise my hand
and hope you’d finally pick me
but I know why you don’t smile
anymore

Bonus Subway Thought 12/22/13

I had a lot of free time today. Maybe I’ll make this into a regular thing if people actually like it.

11)
the muscles slightly rip
and tenderly tear
upon the pounding of the 200 pound truth
of metal and steel
it was supposed to be easier
I thought to myself
as the blood and tears and sweat
mingled into a primal cocktail
intended to get me drunk
on my own self worth
certainly ive had my handful
of one night last stands
but the terrifying banality
of meeting someone new
just doesn’t speak to me anymore
im older, wiser
more cautious
more afraid of your carefully laid trap
you’re falling into it now im afraid
so while the muscles grow and swell
and the heart is a muscle right?
a muscle that has been exercised too hard, for too long
from the jealousy of your love
it’s not your fault
that my anger gets the best of me
and im too impatient for you to come to me
but that’s fine, it’s just an exercise
for when the game actually begins
the more you protested
that you were different
from all the ones that came before
the more I knew you
were the same
kindred spirits are never meant to be, i understand
and while the one muscle
I didn’t exercise
should have made the decision for me
i look at what I chose to do instead
while looking at myself in the wall length mirror
I feel a little regret growing
underneath these taut muscles
and the half baked dreams of my mid 20s
wash away with each drunk mashing
of that cursed send button
scorching the earth
and salting the plains
making sure nothing grows back again

Subway Thoughts 2013

Over the past year or so since I’ve started working in the city, and in an attempt to overcome to overwrought internal angst I feel sometimes, I began a small project to start writing every day in the notes app on my iPhone. I would share them every once in a while with close friends and such but I never imagined that it would become enough to be either able to be posted or worthwhile.

I’m not sure if any of it is really any good, but I’m posting it in more of a cathartic releasing sense. I hope you enjoy

1)

to my old friend johnnie,

my colorful friend

who each night is there 

to listen

to hold

to warm

my amber restorative

for a moment, just a moment of clarity

run through it all

as we slowly drift apart

reminding me of my

lies

loves

failures

dreams

loss

and as he slowly gets up to leave

i plead with him not to go

but hey, you can always stay

i can restore what’s left

and top him off

to my dear johnnie

my colorful friend

please don’t ever leave

2)

pale skin and late autumn hair

a natural beauty that none possess

a world that is blessed

not only to have you in it

but for you to have yourself

for all of this was made for you

at least in these sad eyes

a muse, a kind but lost soul

searching for meaning in this dictionary of life

but finding no definition on the page

how much it pains me 

that you cannot see it for yourself

with the cunning objectivity you desire

do not wander the earth

like the blind beggar

there is magic in your heart

the greatest gift of all

3)

if all art is stealing

then what of mine?

are the feelings real?

or are they something else

that i picked up

over time

from the other miserable visionaries

who came before

was it a warning to know

that heart breaks

life changes

that there is emptiness

that there is fear

or was this all stolen

taken

for the sake of being worse?

4)

man stands alone by the railroad tracks

waiting for a train that will never come

warm december rain splashes against his face

washing away years of frozen tears

he listens to every sad song 

that were written about you

he said some terrible things about you, didn’t he

that you were disingenuous

a liar, a thief, a user, a loser

is that all true?

his heart says yes but something in him feels no

was he projecting his inadequacies onto you?

or were you really taking advantage of him?

he misses you sometimes but every day will get easier

just add you to the timetable

of trains that never came

that could have delivered him

to somewhere, anywhere

but this broken down town of abandoned factories and shattered dreams

he’ll give in one day, when that train arrives

but that isn’t today

5)

two planks crossed in this pit

meeting again, maybe anew?

a flick, a flash

the match head burns

and for an instant the heat

but how quickly it burns!

illuminating the hollow emptiness of her soul

that you used to fill

which you will now replenish with 80 proof 

to accelerate that final spart

when the match has burned

to singe your fingertips

and to remind you

to feel alive again

6)

the battle of self-improvement rages on

two great ships fire their cannons at each other

until their shells are depleted

the captain looks out

war torn, weary

two dark brown pools of lifeless mud

thousand yard stare ahead

will it get better as more shots ring out overhead

zinging, singeing the air

tracing all the way back to the past

seeing her face in his lost minds eye

asking, pleading, begging

will things be different now?

but the battle will rage on

until the final shot rings out

that ends it, but just for him

7)

on the first day of class

i thought

47 more years to go

basement party drinking game

ending tonight in walks of shame

but the next thing i knew

there was only 40 years to go

on the morning of my first commute

i thought

37 more years to go

shuffling weighted feet

across the dirty concrete

when the novelty wore off

there was only 30 years to go

that afternoon she broke my heart

i thought 

27 more years to go

i’m seeing someone else for the best

you need to leave the nest

by the time i got over it

there was only 20 years to go

when the last of my friends got married

i thought

17 more years to go

their endless bliss

could i know none of this?

maybe there was time to avoid this fate

but there was only 10 years to go

when i knew that my story had been told

i thought 

7 more years to go

rose colored film kept memories nice

i wished then i could do it twice

but the only thing i could think

if only it was 47 years ago

8)

stray cat laying in the alleyway

the moonlight glistening off her matted pelt

licking her scars from fights

she knew she would never win

reminders of times much worse than this

but she tries and survives day to day

because what else is there to do?

other cats have been adopted

and others put down

while all you want is to feel loved

to feel a warm fireplace

and snuggle up close, purring in contentment

i bring the stray warm milk

and she looks at me and asks

why is it like this?

i don’t have a real answer for her

as hard as i try

but all i know is stray cat

i can see the beauty in you beneath the matted fur

and decades old scars

when you do leave

like all stray cats do

all i ask is that you see the beauty i see in you

i hope you know

i’m a stray cat too

9)

after a couple bottles of wine

you lean in for a kiss

but she recoils like a .44

kicking like a mule

"i won’t ever love you"

she says to you

on a frigid cold night in the city

not like the way you do

or the other boys who have come

before you, the ones who

turned her into the person

she is today

she is afraid, hopeless

damaged?

as much as you are

if not more so

and while in that head of yours

that painted a beautiful picture

of white picket fences

and fruitful love

and the happiest life you’ll ever know

the truth is

that you never will

not with her after all

but with someone

who will replace her

you will meet the person

who will glue everything back together

and if that person never comes

you are at least a friend

and that’s better

than being nothing at all

10)

baseball is the greatest sport you know

where else can you fail seven out of ten times and be a superstar?

certainly not in this life of ours

where everything is magnified

imagine if your life

was analyzed, quantified

i can understand the pressure

of call-in shows asking

"why did that bum see that girl?"

"why does he keep on screwing up?"

and everyone picking apart 

for not being successful more often

maybe we should all be more like baseball

and laud our few successes

try to forget the times

we grounded out, popped out, struck out

and focus on our home runs

and runs batted in

that could make everyone happier

like the beginning of spring

playing pepper, fresh cut grass, the crack of the bat

the pitcher delivers and you swing

can you get on base?

or is it time to just retire

There Will Come Long Dingers

In the Stadium the PA announcer sang, Tick-tock, seven o’clock, time to play ball, time to play ball, seven o’clock! as if it were afraid that nobody would. Yankee Stadium lay empty. The clock ticked on, repeating and repeating its sounds into the emptiness. Seven-nine, baseball time, seven-nine!

 

In the clubhouse, the breakfast stove gave a hissing sigh and ejected from its warm interior eight buckets of Big League Chew, eight cans of Red Bull, and sixteen tins of Copenhagen.

 

"Today is November 1, 2013," said a second voice from the back of the clubhouse, "in the city of New York, New York." It repeated the date three times for memory’s sake. "Today is the day after Game Seven of the World Series."

 

Somewhere in the walls, relays clicked, highlight reels glided under electric eyes. Eight-one, tick-tock, eight-one o’clock, off to the game, off to the at bats, run, run, eight-one! But no bats slammed, no carpets took the soft tread of groundballs. It was raining outside. The weather box on the front door sang quietly: “Rain, rain, go away; rubbers, raincoats for today…”

 

And the rain tapped on the empty Stadium, echoing.

 

Outside, the parking garage chimed and lifted its door to reveal no waiting cars. After a long wait the door swung down again.

 

At eight-thirty the tarp was wet and the outfield was a puddle. A lone groundskeeper swept the rain into a drain, where cold water whirled down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea. 

 

Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.

 

Out of warrens in the wall, many employees like mice darted. The stadium was acrawl with the small cleaning crew. They thudded against the statues in Monument Park, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. The House the Ruth Built was clean.

 

Ten o’clock. The moon came out from behind the rain. That House that Ruth Built stood alone in a city of rubble and ashes. This was the one stadium left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.

 

Ten-fifteen. The outfield sprinklers whirled up in golden founts, filling the soft morning air with scatterings of brightness. The water pelted the bleacher seats, running down the charred right field  where the outfield walls had been burned evenly free of its blue paint. The entire west facade of the Park was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man celebrating a victory. Here, as in a photograph, a woman hoisting a beer over her head. Still farther over, their images burned on concrete in one titanic instant, a large man, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him the shadow of another player, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.

 

The five spots of paint—remained. The rest was a thin charcoaled layer.

 

The gentle sprinkler rain filled the garden with falling light.

 

Until this day, how well Major League Baseball had kept its peace. How carefully it had inquired, “Who ruined baseball? How could these bastards tarnish the legacy of such a great game?” and, getting no answer from the fans or the players themselves, baseball had shut up its windows and drawn shades in an old maidenly preoccupation with self-protection which bordered on a mechanical paranoia.

 

It quivered at each suspension, MLB did. If there was an amphetamine suspension, the media snapped up. The player, startled, would never cheat again! No, not even any player can tarnish this House!

 

Yankee Stadium was an altar with forty thousand attendants, big, small, servicing, attending, in choirs. But the gods had gone away, and the ritual of the religion continued senselessly, uselessly.

 

Twelve noon.

 

A lone sports writer whined, shivering, at the main gate.

 

The security guard at the gate recognized the writer’s voice and opened the stadium. The writer, once loving and optimistic, but now given in to being jaded and constantly waxing poetic about “the good old days”, moved in and through the stadium, tracking mud and spewing bile. Behind it whirred angry fans, angry at having to listen to the vitriol, angry at what has transpired in this game.

 

For not a program from game seven blew under the door. The offending litter, seized in miniature steel

jaws, was raced back to the burrows. There, down tubes which fed into the cellar, it was dropped into the sighing vent of an incinerator which sat like evil Baal in a dark corner.

 

The writer ran upstairs, hysterically yelping to anyone who would be stupid enough to listen, at last realizing, as the ghosts of the stadium realized, that only silence was here.

 

It sniffed the air and reminicided about what transpired yesterday. The highlights of last night were playing. “It is high… it is far!! It’s is gone!! It’s an A-Bomb from A-Rod!!” 

 

The writer frothed at the mouth, lying now in the promenade, sniffling, its eyes turned to fire. It ran wildly in circles, biting at its tail, spun in a frenzy, and died. It lay in the parlor for an hour.

 

Two o’clock, sang a voice.

 

Delicately sensing decay at last, the regiments of those who read PED articles hummed out as softly as blown gray leaves in an electrical wind.

 

Two-fifteen.

 

The writer was gone.

 

In the cellar, the incinerator glowed suddenly and a whirl of sparks leaped up the chimney.

 

Two thirty-five.

 

Beer taps sprouted from the vendors carts. The gates rose to show overpriced merchandise. Martinis manifested on an oaken bench with an all you can eat buffet in the Legends Club. Dubstep played.

 

But the buffet was silent and the drinks untouched.

 

At four o’clock the buffet folded like great butterflies back away into the walls.

 

Four-thirty.

 

The scoreboard walls glowed.

 

The players profiles took shape: Ichiro, Rodriguez, Jeter, Pettitte. The walls were glass. They looked out upon color and fantasy. Victory films docked through well-oiled sprockets, and the walls lived with happier times. The infield grass was woven to resemble a crisp, cereal meadow. A highlight of a game winning walk off home runs and there was the patter of feet and the murmur of a crazed crowd. A still image of A-Rod thrusting the World Series Trophy above his head. Now the scoreboard dissolved into distances of home runs hit into the Autumn endless sky. 

 

It was victory’s hour.

 

Five o’clock. Over 24 hours ago, the fans poured into this stadium.

 

Six, seven, eight o’clock. The memory of last night faded like magic tricks, and in the dugout

a click. In the metal stand opposite the bullpen phones where the space heater now blazed up warmly, a champion’s cigar popped out, half an inch of soft gray ash on it, smoking, waiting.

 

Nine o’clock. Fans who were here wished that there was heat as nights were cool here.

 

Nine-five. A voice spoke from the study ceiling:

 

"Baseball fans, which poem would you like this evening?"

 

Yankee Stadium was silent.

 

The voice said at last, “Since you express no preference, I shall select a poem at random.” Quiet music rose to back the voice. “Sara Teasdale. As I recall, your favorite….

 

"There will come long dingers and the smell of the ground,

And Alex Rodriguez circling the bases with the loud crowd sound;

And the fans cheer in the bars at night,

While wearing their pinstripes, black and white;

But sadly the love of the game was consumed by a fire,

News of suspensions coming over the AP wire;

And not one will care of the winning of the game, not one

Will care at last when the witch hunt is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,

if baseball perished utterly;

And Selig himself, when he woke at dawn

Would scarcely know that the fans were gone.”

 

The fire burned on the dugout ground and the cigar fell away into a mound of quiet ash on its tray. The empty seats faced each other between the silent walls, and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame played.

 

At ten o’clock Yankee Stadium began to die.

 

The wind blew. The sanctimony of A-Rod’s World Series victory was too much. Baseball was ablaze in an instant!

 

"Fire!" screamed a voice. The fans tried to ignore the sanctimony, many blogs were written about the greatness of the Yankees 28th World Series title. But the writers continued to write, licking, eating, destroying the legacy of this victory, while the BBWAA took it up in chorus: "Fire, fire, fire!"

 

The game tried to save itself. The league suspended A-Rod immediately after the victory but the inaction simply sucked upon the fire. The brand new corporate stadium gave ground as the fire in ten billion angry blog posts moved with flaming ease

from section to section and then up to the upper deck, where the real fans sat. While more intelligent fans squeaked from the recesses of the internet, pistoled their well reasoned arguments, and ran for more. 

 

But too late. 

 

Somewhere, sighing, the first fan shrugged to a stop. The tide of celebration had ceased.

 

The fans who knew that there was never any halcyon days was gone.

 

The fire crackled up the stairs. It fed upon the legacy of the game in Monument Park, like delicacies, baking off the history of Yankees baseball, tenderly melting the statues into unrecognizable blobs.

 

The fire backed off, as even an elephant must at the sight of a dead snake. Now there were twenty snakes furiously trying to explain how awesome it was that the most evil heel in contemporary baseball lead the Yankees to a title, killing the fire with a clear cold venom of embracing PEDs.

 

But the fire was clever. It had sent thousands of tweets and articles to simply say that baseball was ruined. An explosion! The loudness and constant medium to proselytize had simply beaten down those willing to fight the good fight.

 

The fire rushed back into the hearts of every casual fan. Yankee Stadium shuddered, A-Rod’s clutch hit bruising the game’s soul, its bared skeleton cringing from the backlash, its wire, its nerves revealed as if a surgeon had torn the skin off to let the red veins and capillaries quiver in the scalded air. 

 

Help, help! Fire! Run, run! 

 

Heat snapped the victory banners like the brittle winter ice. And the voices wailed Fire, fire, run, run, like a tragic nursery rhyme, a dozen voices, high, low, like children dying in a forest, alone, alone. And the voices fading as the reality of what the writers — not the players — had done to the legacy of the game finally began to set in. 

 

All of the voices eventually died.

 

In the Bronx, the Stadium burned. Ichiro, Jeter bounded off. The players ran in circles, changing sports, and ten million animals, running before the fire, vanished off to watch the National Football League….

 

All the voices were dead. In the last instant under the fire avalanche, other choruses, oblivious, could be heard announcing the score, saying that the game was safe, that A-Rod’s victory did not hurt the game. It was a scene of maniac confusion, yet unity; singing, screaming, a few last fans trying to shout out the horrid opinions away! And one voice, with sublime disregard for the situation, announced the game, remembering the better times until all the ability to care about the sport of baseball burned, until all the fan’s will withered and finally, the pro-PED crowd cracked.

 

The fire finally engulfed the stadium and the game had burned, puffing out skirts of spark and smoke.

 

In the Stadium, an instant before the rain of fire and timber engulfed the legacy of the most storied franchise in baseball history, preparing for a game which will never happen again at a psychopathic rate, eight buckets of Big League Chew, eight cans of Red Bull, and sixteen tins of Copenhagen, which, eaten by fire, started the writers into a frenzy again, hysterically hissing!

 

The crash. The upper deck coming down into the Legends seats. The Legends seats into the infield, infield into

the clubhouse. The World Series title, the legacy of the sports, A-Rod’s walk-off, and all like skeletons thrown in a cluttered mound deep under.

 

Smoke and silence. A great quantity of smoke.

 

Dawn showed faintly in the east. Among the ruins, one wall stood alone. Within the ruins of Yankee Stadium, a last voice said, over and over again and again, even as the sun rose to shine upon the heaped rubble and steam:

 

""An A-Bomb! From A-Rod! Ball game over! World Series over! Yankees win! Theeeeeee….""

Drunken Prospectus: Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

Before I start, what bullshit is this that Dogfish doesn’t make a 69 Minute IPA? Sure I could mix 60 Minute and Magic Hat Number 9 but I feel like the boys in Delaware are missing out on an ace opportunity here.

When I think of a “Holy Grail” of anything I instantly think of the best, obviously. The perfect example of a genre or thing. Not just the best in the sense of telling that girl you’re talking to that everything she likes is the best in a half-hearted and shitty attempt to flirt and look cool (you don’t, loser) but in a legitimately earth-shattering, “my life will never be the same afterwards” sort of level of good. A thing that you remember each and every time you’ve had it as some sort of magical, ethereal experience.

For me, Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA is this “best” beer. Sure, it’s detractors think it’s overrated and only obsessed over due to its rarity and in plenty of regards they’re absolutely right. The demand for a beer will always supercede overall quality (what’s up Pliny the Elder, come at me haters) and either way everyone secretly wants what they can’t have. 

Goddamn it though, you jerks who think 120 Minute is overrated, I’ve always thought it’s a good fucking beer.

I talked about it a little bit in my previous IPA extravaganza Drunken Prospectus a few months ago but 120 Minute is my personal favorite beer. Few years ago, when Dogfish Head was the star of a Discovery Channel docudrama, they fucked up a batch of 120 Minute. Apparently shit really hit the fan — the fucking dumped the entire goddamn batch that year. After the tears stopped welling in my eyes long enough to form cohesive thoughts, it settled in that there would be no 120 Minute for the foreseeable future. They created a perfect “New Coke” storm — demand for last years batch would cause that price to rise and future batches would be impossible to acquire because demand would be insane and I resigned my self to the fact that I would probably have it only sparingly afterwards.

Before this happened, I had 120 Minute a few times. Unmemorable times. Afterwards, it became an event. Whenever a beer menu was thrown in front of my greedy, thirsty, alcoholic maw I had to see if the place had this wonderful drink on hand. Rarely did they ever. Between 2011 and now, I can remember two specific times I had it — once in Scranton, PA, beginning a night sharing an insanely priced two year old bottle at a bar called the Backyard Ale House with my friend Random John and ended with me carrying his 260 pound ass up a hill home. The second time was in Allentown, PA, when upon eating dinner with my mother realized that they had 120 Minute on tap. An average dinner with the mom turned into an 120 Minute extravaganza, ending only when the keg kicked and my mom accused me of being an alcoholic.

Anyway, yesterday my buddy Matt texted me that a liquor store 30 minutes away from him (ha ha imagine if it was 120 mins away? or 69 minutes away??) and I didn’t believe him. I’ve had near misses before, cases rumored to be here, bars having it there, it was always a clusterfuck and I never ended with the goods. We drive down and got there, after a few minutes of pacing back and forth, our unending social anxiety making us unable to ask for help, a kind employee saw us and told us the good news — they had it!

So here I am today on the verge of drinking what I have considered for years to be my favorite beer and I can’t shake the thought that 120 Minute is overrated. It’s rare, hard to get, blah blah blah, but is it a good beer overall I asked myself, staring into the mirror early this morning, throwing on a hoodie and sweat pants because I’m a degenerate. Has my years of not being able to have it softened my ability to critique this beer? Or has my years of cigarette smoking and cheap booze ended any chance that my refined palate could appreciate the deliciousness? Or, god forbid, could I actually be WRONG about something?

If this is the Holy Grail of beers, am I the Nazi in Indiana Jones who chose poorly?

The answer is as follows — of course it’s fucking amazing are you kidding me?

Here comes the Beer Nerd Loser Stats — pouring a beautiful dark reddish brown, like a dark brick that gets you very drunk, the no headed beer is an assault on your senses, motherfucker. You get a little alcohol, but not much considering this beer is 15-20%. It’s sweet, sugar and fruits dominate your mouth and perhaps most surprising of all not hoppy at all. It’s complex. Difficult. Strange. But delicious. Then you finish, a little boozy, warmth in your chest and throat, and all of a sudden all the floral hops and sugar and fruit flavors explode in your mouth. Bonging this would be a terrible choice, albeit a choice that if I ever decided to kill myself that sounds like a not bad way to go.

It’s in all honesty a near perfect alcoholic drink.

However. Now this is where I get a little weird. It’s not a beer. 120 Minute is closer to a fine wine or even a good liqueur. I would just as quickly drink 120 Minute after a good dinner or as paired in a meal than drink it ever like a beer. It’s the cognac or brandy of “beers.” As a beer? Or even an IPA? Compared to the other times that Dogfish Head provide, the 60, 61, 75, 90 — it’s not as good of an IPA as them to be honest. But as a drink in general, it’s one of the best and a complete, memorable experience, one that you could blog about and obnoxiously tell all your friends because you want to seem cool and mysterious but in reality you just like drinking.

It’s somewhat similar to a thing I ran into when I finally tried Johnny Walker Blue for the first time. I’m a big scotch fan, at least I try to be on my poor man’s Dewar’s on the Rocks budget, but when I can have it, I enjoy a good J Dubz. Sure, it’s the Coors Light of scotch but for what it is it’s enjoyable. Anyway, I was in Phoenixville, PA, a few years ago and my ex-girlfriend offered to buy me one for my birthday and of course I accepted. I can’t turn down a girl making barely minimum wage buying me a $40 glass of alcohol, right?

Anyway, when I had it I was disappointed, at least in terms of it’s quality as a scotch. It’s a good drink, but I didn’t find it to be a very good scotch at least compared to the flavors of Black and Gold that I was used to. I’ve had the entire Johnny Walker Rainbow and honestly, I think Black is good overall. Blue was just overpriced and not a big enough leap between their other drinks to make it worthwhile. And when you’re drinking it and going “Man, I really wish I was drinking Laphroaig right now, someone screwed up.”

But it’s still a fucking good blend. Disappointing, but a good blend. Similarly, 120 Minute is not a good beer. It’s simply not a beer. It’s a wine, it’s a liqueur, it’s an animal all its own — but not a beer. It doesn’t taste like a beer. If you think it’s a beer you will probably be disappointed. But as a drink? I feel it’s one of the best alcoholic beverages I’ve ever had in my life somewhere ahead of Long Island Iced Teas and slightly below a well made dirty martini.

That’s not to say I’m disappointed, I hope I didn’t give that impression. I love the 120 Minute IPA. It’s an experience. I will remember today as “The Day I Drank Great Beer and Then Wrote About It On The Internet For All The People Who Don’t Read The Shit I Post On Here” forever. 

However, 120 Minute is so weird and so wonderful and so different that it doesn’t fit into the category of beer. It transcends beer. 

Personally, I wish more companies would take chances making heavier ABV beers and become More Than Beer. A Beer Spirit, if you will. You see beers hovering above 10% but never as high as this. It’s a wonderful flavor and experience and I hope everyone can try it at least once before they die.

Just don’t call it a beer.

Drunken Prospectus: Stone Brewing Company RuinTen

There is little doubt that Pale Ales, most specifically Indian Pale Ales, seem to dominate the craft brewing market. Each time I go into a beer store it seems that the craft beer section’s shelves get more and more packed full of these hoppy monstrosities. For whatever reason, microbrews and beer aficionados are finding themselves drawn into drinking lots and lots of IPA.

Let’s talk about the history of the Indian Pale Ale (this is the boring part where I make believe I know what I’m talking about). IPAs were created around the late 18th or early 19th century depending on who you ask and were strong, hoppy beers transported from England to India (hence the name). They were shipped this way because the long journey would spoil other beers and would lead to very sad and sober British colonists. So they added a shitload of hops and it would survive the journey and age in the barrels and the British would drink it and go “Blimey! This is one delicious brew!” or something like that and it’s still a popular flavor to this day.

I had a conversation with my friend Matt about the current popularity of IPAs. We both think this has a lot to do with the style of beer that Americans are used to. For a very long time, the only things we had available were Pilsners and Lagers, neither of which can be necessarily described as “hoppy.” Beers like Budweiser, Coors, Pabst, et al, they shied away from the hoppy notes because of a fear that the average beer drinkers palate either wasn’t ready for or would not enjoy extreme hops. But now that people are more willing to try certain beers, a flavor that they haven’t really had that much of before is suddenly something they crave. IPAs have always been around as one of the old school American style beers but I don’t believe they were nearly as popular as they are today.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily true but it sounds smart so I’m going to go with it.

Obviously, the mother of all IPAs is the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. Clocking in at like a bagillion ABV (I think it’s 18%) I’ve had it only had it twice in my life – once in a craft beer bar in Scranton, PA, (right?) during the Great 120 Minute Shortage of 2011 and the second time in Allentown, PA, where they had it on tap. Both times it was a remarkable experience and if you can find it, it is most certainly worth the extreme price. The 90 Minute and 60 Minute are both very good for the style but nothing competes with that 120 Minute.

I couldn’t get my hands on any 120 Minute, so I went with a new annual release for today’s Drunken Prospectus: The Stone Brewing RuinTen IPA. Their Stone Ruination IPA turned 10 years old last year and in order to celebrate, they made a special version which due to its popularity and so now it’s an annual release this year. I’ve had Ruination and I like it despite its bitterness so I am excited to try this one blind especially since I missed the “original” one last year. They say that it has like five pounds of hops and they unironically say that it is “recklessly hoppy” which seems rather out of control if you ask me. It’s 10.8% which follows my personal taste and rule that the only beers worth drinking are above 7% and I will not hear otherwise

Remember, I will be following the following rules from Beer Advocate when it comes to reviewing:

Keep it real – I am the realest motherfuckin’ beer drinker ever

Appreciate what you’re drinking – Beer is good and stuff

Drink responsibly – Whatever you say buddy.

 

Pouring the beer, the first thing I noticed was an assault of hops. I’m not kidding – as soon as I started pouring it smelled like alcohol combined with a Cyprus Hill concert (hops do have a similar taste and smell to marijuana – not that I would ever know of course as I did not inhale and did not enjoy it, obviously – however other than that they are unrelated plants). They were not lying about the bitterness either, as the first taste was overwhelmingly bitter. It’s bitter in a good way, of course, like drunk texting. It’s got a slight alcohol burn at first which is sort of off-putting but otherwise it’s not so extreme to be a detriment. After a few moments and I guess your mouth adjusts to the bitterness you start to pick out the other flavors – a little bit of acidic, fruity notes like citrus and grapefruit. It’s not a bad choice for the summer if you like hops.

 

I honestly can’t imagine pairing this with any sort of food. It’s overpowering in a way, to the point where it seems like Stone simply wanted to be extreme. I like Stone, don’t get me wrong. They make some excellent beers. But things like Arrogant Bastard and this, sometimes if you’re not in the mood for it, they can be too much. That’s one of my major complaints with a lot of craft brews – instead of focusing on making good beer, they just try to make weird and obscene beers. Sort of like Rogue’s Voodoo Donut’s Maple Bacon beer which tasted like a crematorium smells. It was not a pleasant sensory experience.


This beer is like the perfect example of what I’m talking about earlier, by the way. There really aren’t any other non-craft options like this one. It’s not necessarily difficult to drink but I can’t imagine giving this to someone who has never had a beer before would enjoy it. I have a friend of mine who I pity sometimes who will not drink beer because he believes they all taste the same but he drinks pink drinks and other tropical beverages. Not to judge of course because he’s one of my best friends, but we used to name our college bar trivia team after his absurdly nuclear colored beverages.

 

Although, to be fair to him, one time my senior year of college — after drinking far too many shameful pink drinks – I forgot that I was a senior and tried to swipe into my old apartment using my debit card for about a half hour. Kept on calling people and asking them why they weren’t there (they graduated) and called my former roommates (which explains why they were former roommates, honestly) asking them why no one will let me into my apartment which seemed to be a very unfair prank. So, I guess like Jose Canseco, I too have time traveled.

 

My one former roommate that I tried to contact had no room to judge me, though – after drinking an entire jug of Carlo Rossi Chianti (only the classiest) a search party had to be sent out for him because no one knew where he was. Eventually he was found and then spent about two hours drunkenly making fun of everyone in the room who was taking care of him, which was a phenomenal time.


A word to the wise – as someone too who has also drank a jug of Carlo Rossi – don’t do that.

 

I’m finishing the first bottle of the Ruination now and it’s a lot more pleasant as I reach the bottom of the glass. I’m not entirely sure if that’s related to the fact that I’m gradually getting drunker or if I’m enjoying the flavor. As I said in the last episode of Drunken Prospectus, I’m not really a huge IPA drinker. I mean I’ll drink it but it’s not one of my favorites. This one is not bad, definitely on the top half of all the beers I’ve ever tried. We’ll see what the second bottle does to me.

 

I guess this is the point where I launch into story mode. I told this on twitter earlier but it’s such a fun story I want to tell it again. I met Louis CK the other day, which was a tremendously bizarre experience. I take the PATH to WTC and then take the E train up to 14th Street which is very inefficient but due to the PATH being a tremendous pile of shit I have to show up early and if I don’t take the local I’ll be like 30 minutes early for work and that just is weird. Anyway, I’m sitting on the E and we get to West 4th and I see a middle aged dude with his young daughter get on the train. Me, being Such A Nice guy, offers the seat to them without really looking. Sort of like “Here ya go, I’m getting off at the next…”

 

I look and I’m fucking face to face with Louis CK.

 

I’m glad I was wearing sunglasses because as I was saying “stop” my eyes literally bulged out of my head. I just offered my freakin’ seat on the subway to someone I respect as an artist and a comedian. He laughed (Louis CK laughed AT ME!!) and said that he was getting off at the next stop too but thanked me and said that it’s not very often that people are actually nice on the train. So I sit back down and then get off at the next stop with him and we went our separate ways.

 

So that’s my story about how I made small talk with Louis CK on the NYC Subway.

 

I think that it’s unfair sometimes how celebrities get treated. Like, sure I wanted to geek out and be like “Holy fucking shit you’re my fucking hero!” but like he’s with his young daughter. It would just be inappropriate I feel. And I would rather come off as relatively normal to someone like that instead of like, a creepy weirdo stalker. A much lesser celebrity meeting, but I got to drink with the members of Titus Andronicus after a show in Hoboken. I was wearing a Devils jersey and got approached by Patrick Stickles (the lead singer) and had a nice chat before the show and I got to drink with him. I think the major rule of celebrity interaction is just not to be a weirdo which I guess is a very important rule for day-to-day interactions with anyone, not just celebrities.

 

You don’t want to be my friend who ran into Zachary Quinto and yelled at him, “Whassup, Spock?”

 

I opened up the second bottle and gave my mom a taste (high five for living with your parents) and she liked it and she’s notoriously fickle with beer. Actually, she’s sort of a celebrity too as she was the one who Jeff Pearlman called on the phone. In case you’ve never heard the story (and even if you have and want to hear it for like the 15,000th time) a few years ago, I made a dumb comment about Jeff Pearlman on the internet and he ended up calling my mom because I was a jerk to him and about him. I’m sort of embarrassed by it now but I own it at least and it’s worth a few laughs at the bar sometimes.

 

The funniest part about it is that it actually cost me a three year relationship – the girl I was with at that time, we ended up breaking up about a month after the article because she couldn’t believe how awful of a person I was. I guess she took Jeff’s side, which I don’t blame her for. It was just a very weird experience overall; one that part of me wishes never happened. But it is what it is, I guess.

 

Jeff actually recently followed me on twitter which means I should probably warn my mom or something.

 

This is how much of a baseball dork I am — there was this one girl I was seeing for a while who worked for the Rays and was a big Rays fan and sometimes I wondered if the reason why she liked me was because she saw me as a market inefficiency. Before I could ask her we broke it off, so I guess I was sort of a non-roster invitee.

 

The more I drink this beer, the more I like it. It’s really roped me in now. The flavors pop the more I drink it. I don’t think this would age well, actually I don’t think it would age at all (hoppy beers age like shit). It actually, upon sipping more, tastes sort of similar to Stone’s Drink By beer series, which is a series of short-living IPAs that are meant to be drank immediately. It’s more powerful than the Drink Bys but it has a somewhat similar flavor profile.

 

Day drinking really is the best drinking. I know a lot of people will fight me over this, but there is something magical about being drunk at around the time everyone else is getting off of work. Sure, the vast majority of people are being productive members of society but when you’re day drunk, the world is your freakin oyster man. You can do whatever you want! It’s day time! I went afternoon drinking in Jersey City the other day at the Zeppelin Beer Garden which was absolutely fantastic and highly recommended. All beers should be served in liter Maßkrugs. Like there should be a law that says that the pint is bullshit. Liter beers are one thing the Germans did exceptionally right.

 

In retrospect, it’s remarkable that anyone actually even talks to me anymore. One of my sociology classes had a experiment where we had to “break societal norms” whatever that meant. I took it as “do something fucking stupid as hell.” So, I asked my friend Sam to dye my hair bright green. I figured that would be breaking some sort of societal norm. And it did, good fucking god it did. I was like 6’4 275 at that point and I was waddling my fat ass down the commons with bright green hair. I aced the project – the professor was very impressed but suggested that I go to therapy – and it lead to funny things like my dad visiting and screaming at me “You’re my son; not my son the fuckin’ asparagus.” It also lead to a Jesuit priest asking me if I was okay – if the Jesuits take notice it’s time to worry about your mental health.

 

Anyway, this beer is fantastic. It has grown on me so much, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a beer where the more I drank of it the more I enjoyed it. It’s very drinkable and highly recommended – I say that if you enjoy IPAs, you will really enjoy this beer. If you don’t like IPAs, then you know what? You may like it but approach it with caution. This beer is only for those who really love hops. It’s a damn fine brew.

Brewing Prospectus Part Two

After a quick tobacco break, we’re back.

I’m moving on now to one of my favorite “new” breweries, Maine Beer Company, up in – you guessed it!! – Portland, Maine. They don’t have any fancy labels (it’s just a white label that says “Maine Beer Company”) so you know it has to be good. I’m a big fan of their beer called “Peeper” – named after the frog, in case you were curious –  is a delicious hoppy beer which is probably one of my favorites.

Speaking of frogs, I have to tell you all about my old college bar. Located a block away from my old house in Scranton, the Frog was the place where everyone I knew used to hang out at. It wasn’t a great bar – in fact it was a terrible bar – but they served $6 pitchers of Yuengling and the beer was cheap, the times were good, and I can thank that stupid place for like 90% of me meeting girls which is sort of sad when you think about it.

  But it was a college bar. College bars are supposed to be cheap and stupid. And they had karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays and I sang the fuck out of some Livin’ on a Prayer so it could never be looked at as anything but endearing.

That being said, the beer that I’m drinking now is Mean Old Tom, a stour which has been aged on natural vanilla beans. Apparently the beer was named after the dude’s Uncle (everyone has an Uncle Tom, I think. It’s American law. I know I do. He’s a rad dude) and there’s a big frownie face on the front of it which is the opposite of what I want to be honest. But I know they make good beers and this is the only one I haven’t tried yet, so let’s give it a shot.

It’s another very dark beer, actually pours very similarly to the Tiny (what a shock!! Stouts look like Stouts! Unbelievable analysis) but it has a whole different flavor profile. It’s not nearly as thick as the aforementioned but the flavor is much, much different. There’s no ABV but it tastes a little lower, a much less alcohol smell to it. It’s got a lovely coffee and vanilla flavor to it which is amazing to me considering that I can still taste considering what I’ve had before.

There’s a big head (that’s what she said – I never said the humor for this would be highbrow) and the flavors are very nice. It’s not the best stout I’ve ever had but it’s still pretty delicious. This would be a perfect beer for the winter, like a nice cold night when you can’t afford heat and the only thing you have is the warmth of beer. Not that I’ve had any experience with that, of course.

Drinking this beer reminds me of a storm we had in Scranton a few years ago when I bought a case and drank some sort of coffee stout for a couple days when I literally could not leave my house because of a massive storm. We had a party one time and I was on a big health kick (before I decided that taking PEDs was the answer to “man I’m fat but there’s not much I can do about it because I’m lazy) and I bought a ton of Kiwis. We had this friend who used to come to our parties, his name was Random John. Random was a legend to us, a man who would appear at times but no one ever really understood why his name was Random.

Anyway, we were playing beer pong one night against him and for whatever reason he decided that the way to get into my head (I am a pro beer pong player, if anyone was curious – you weren’t but still) he started eating my kiwis. Just whole. Just shoving whole kiwis into his mouth. I have no idea how he was able to do it but he did.  It was impressive. Anyway, I got fed up with this at one point and after he literally devoured seven or eight kiwis, I was angry. So I grabbed the last kiwi to save it and yelled at him something about how much of a dick he was for eating all my kiwis. In my drunken state, I decided to throw it into the next room where people were dancing. And I nailed a dude with a kiwi, probably the best throw I ever made in my entire life. Just imagine dancing and getting hit out of nowhere with a fucking kiwi. Not something you would ever expect to be hit with.

I don’t think I’ve eaten a kiwi since. They’re bad luck, man.

Scranton was a weird place. I met a lot of remarkably rad people there but all I can think of is “Outside of drinking there is absolutely nothing to do here.” It was a cultural wasteland. I’m glad I went to college there, don’t get me wrong, but all things considered it was a bizarre place to live.

One of my favorite Scranton memories was when Shelley Duncan almost smoked my ex-girlfriend with a foul ball during a SWB Yankees game. We were sitting in the front row and he nailed that ball right at her. There was no one at the game so she ended up getting the ball but of course me, being the unbelievable awful person that I am, grabbed the ball out of her hands and raised it above my head in victory. I got booed by a lot of people at that game. Sometimes when I get curious why that relationship failed, I remember moments like that.

We also had a lot of fun getting drunk at Scranton-Wilkes Barre Penguins games, the AHL affiliate of the awful Pittsburgh Penguins. I used to play a lot of Guitar Hero and I ended up winning a contest at a bar called Andy Gavin’s where I got to play Guitar Hero on the ice for the chance to win an autographed guitar by the entire WBS Penguins team. So I go to the game and during the third intermission, I have to go down to the ice and the other guy who I was playing against was saying that he wasn’t very good and asked me if I was good or not and I was like dude you got this I’m awful and drunk. Which was a lie, because I was really fucking good, especially when I was drunk. I was playing one time and my roommate came in and I was playing and I picked “Life Wasted” by Pearl Jam and I said to him “I picked this song because I liked the song, not because I hate my life” (which at the time was a lie) and hit every note!! Amazing. Anyway, I ended up beating the shit out of this guy and winning this guitar which was cool as fuck.

I also got to yell at Al Roker. Back in 2007, The Office was reaching extreme popularity and was shockingly culturally influential  for a mediocre cinéma vérité improv comedy. The minds that be decided that it would be a good idea to have an “Office Convention” which was essentially all of the B list and below actors and actresses showing up in Scranton to promote the show. And Al Roker would be there to host the Today show. So everyone I knew decided to get really drunk and head down to the taping. I was tremendously socially awkward my first few years in college and was finally “finding myself” around that time and actually kissed a girl at the 14 hour party and we headed down to the taping. When there, a camera guy from an affiliate in I think Syracuse made the mistake of focusing the camera on me and I looked into that camera and yelled “Fuck you Al Roker!”

One of my prouder moments. Al would later remark that he believed that “half this crowd is drunk” which probably was a conservative estimate.

This Mean Old Tom beer is really good.  I think I’m biased toward heavier beers and stouts.

Let’s talk about the biggest thing that ever happened to be (which is remarkably sad to say) which was when Jeff Pearlman called my mom. If you don’t know, Jeff Pearlman was looking to write an article about people being mean to him on the internet and he chose me and @weed_mouse (one of my favorite twitterers to be honest) to make an example out of. I mean the dude literally called my mom. Could you imagine how funny that is? A New York Times best selling author literally called my mom on the phone because I was mean to him on the internet. That still blows my mind. Sure, my girlfriend at the time broke up with me because of it and my parents still look at me with a stare of constant disappointment but allow me to just mention how fucking funny that is. Totally worth it.

Anyway, this is getting remarkably long-winded for a one beer post. Next beer will make it more worthwhile, I swear. I don’t even remember what the next beer is