Sep 302009

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Eddie Hazel
Eddie Hazel - California Dreamin'



I am in the wrong business.

Dec 042008

Remember my Cerevisaphobia series? If you don’t, refresh your memory by rereading the mission statement and first case study. And then crack open a cold one and prepare yourself for round two.

The death of American industry has not been kind to Milwaukee. Not only did the city see Asia and NAFTA draw away the thousands of manufacturing jobs that gave it its main raison d’être, it let slip its crown as the font of America’s worst beers. Milwaukee was once inundated in piss-poor pale lagers, a sixth Great Lake of fizzing straw-flavored mediocrity. Miller. Pabst. Blatz. Old Milwaukee. Milwaukee’s Best. Olde English. And of course, the beer so identified with the mid-20th century American industrial working class that every can used to come with a union card, a hardhat and a beatnik club: Schlitz.

I identify Schlitz mostly with the crowd of DXM-addled leather-clad rock’n’roll burnouts loosely associated with my high school who drank Schlitz because it was some combination of cheap, ironic and cool-by-dint-of-obscurity. But back in the ’40s and ’50s, by all accounts, Schlitz was the stuff. Your granddad shotgunned Schlitz, and he did it while his other hand was shotgunning Nazis in la Occupied France. The baby boomers happened because of the Greatest Generation’s decade-long Schlitz drunk (so when Social Security implodes in the next decade, blame the beer). But Cerevisaphobia isn’t about historical context. Cerevisaphobia is about how sketchy the beer aisle is in the Internet’s great marketplace of ideas. On we go:

Overweening Cerevisaphile Sez:

Clear bottle, 946 ml, Old Stock VI evening, savoured on March 23 2007; eye: straw, no effervescence, clear, white head; nose: corn, sugar, stale, adjuncts; mouth: sugar, oxidized, adjunct, corn, average carbonation, grainy texture; overall: no thanks FRANÇAIS Bouteille transparente, 946 ml, soirée Vieux Stock VI, savourée le 23 mars 2007; oeil : paille, pas d’effervescence, claire, mousse blanche; nez : maïs, sucre, éventée, additifs; bouche : sucre, oxydée, additif, maïs, carbonatation moyenne, texture granuleuse; en résumé : non merci

You know what’s odd about this one, other than the fact that anyone would measure a red-blooded, amber-colored American workingman’s beer like Schlitz in fuckin’ pansy-ass faggy goddamn Frenchy Canadian milliliters? It’s that this guy, despite being Canadian, has English bad enough that he obviously had to consult a dictionary, and in doing do chose to translate “additif” as “adjunct,” rather than the correct (and obvious) cognate. But it’s good to know that somewhere in the wilds of Quebec, our Francophone neighbors are savouring our worst beers. No wonder they want to secede.

Overburdened Cracker Sez:

What’s wrong with you girly men. There’s nothing that says “how can I be any manlier” than when you’re holding a can of Schlitz. You can drink those pussy beers all you want but there’s something about the beer that made Milwaukee famous that makes me want to either rebuild an engine or grill up a juicy porterhouse. In fact, I’m scratching my balls as I enjoy a cold one right now.

This may well be ironic (the spelling is pretty good); but then, the gauge of truly profound stupidity is to see how well it would translate as overly broad irony. Take for example something like The Secret. The Secret is dumb. How dumb? A short story based on a premise of millions of people spending billions of dollars on a merchandising empire that touted the secret power of getting everything you want by wishing really super hard would be dismissed as hacky and overblown. That’s fucking dumb. So perhaps we should give our Schlitz-loving friend here the benefit of the doubt and assume his limitations are sweetly genuine.

But here is my question: I do not require a Schlitz to want to grill up a juicy porterhouse. I, in fact, pretty much would always like to grill up a juicy porterhouse. I want to grill up a juicy porterhouse right now, even with all this attention I’m devoting to giving my balls a thorough scratch. Does this mean that even without the help of a masculating can of Milwaukee’s finest, I am more of a man?

This does not bode well for the state of manhood in America.

Next up: Hell, I don’t know…Natty Ice?

Jun 022008

I’ll admit it: I like beer. I’m not making a bold statement; pretty much everyone in the world, except for people in those countries that cut off hands for minor criminal offenses, is fond of the stuff. When even the Turks have a national brand, you have a popular beverage on your hands. But while everyone likes beer, some drinkers are bound and determined to turn beer from a pleasant and universal diversion to a grim and sober ratings game in which beers are ruthlessly lined up and measured, after which any found to be somehow deficient or not Western European in origin are scorned and summarily eliminated.

I know, the concept sounds German, but this growing beer snobbery seems to be chiefly an American concern, a way of overcompensating for the grave sin of allowing our very worst beers to take over the world. The Germans are not beer snobs, because they don’t have to be: their tap water is 8 proof and their children are weaned on Löwenbräu. The first word of 48% of German children is “Reinheitsgebot” (the first word of the other 52%, of course, is “lebensraum“). In America, though, we have as little use for subtlety as we do for A-cups and open borders. We discovered a few years ago that much of the world’s beer isn’t pale amber and made from rice, and goddammit, we’re gonna buy it all and we’re gonna like it better than anyone else likes it. Because we’re the best.

And so we now have the cerevisaphile, a new class of connoisseur created when the overflowing barrel of national wine pretension sloshed over into the beer aisle. These are men – and make no mistake, this is an entirely male pursuit – who gingerly decant their beer, time the duration of its head with a stopwatch and make elaborate tasting notes between sips. (“Hoppy character, smells of wheat with distinct notes of yeast and an overwhelmingly liquid mouthfeel.”) But our boy Newton wasn’t wrong, and unsurprisingly the American beernaissance has given rise to a vociferous cadre of counterrevolutionaries, clinging with grim determination to the boozy soda water that slaked America’s thirst throughout the century of its ascendancy. For every dude who wants you to know that he can tell a weizen from a weizenbock, there are three who think he’s a queer for not drinking Old Milwaukee.

In a perfect world, these types would be relegated to bars, liquor stores and automotive sporting events, but unfortunately, our noticeably imperfect world has Tim Berners-Lee in it, and so every single one of these people has migrated to the Internet. Especially to beer ratings sites, where they gleefully share tasting notes and accusations of pansy-assedness. And it is those sites – specifically, – that are the focus of this series of posts.

The idea is simple: I pick a terrible but much-loved American beer, the kind churned out by our major breweries and enthusiastically consumed at barbecues, sports games, pool halls and racialist power rallies all over our fair land, and then I scour’s review pages for the beer for both a pretentious, overcomplicated cerevisaphile takedown and an indignant, often barely coherent glowing 5-star endorsement. Basically, I’m looking for the worst possible way to express two very basic ideas: in the former case, “It sucks”; in the latter case, “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

We start, fittingly enough, with Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer of aggressive mediocrity which has not only retained its faithful following among the blue collar but entered the anemic embrace of those trendy Williamsburg types, who think pretending to be poor is the very apogee of arch irony (it’s funny, you see, cuz they’re not). So without further ado, the best of on the most middling of American beers:

Overweening Cerevisaphile Sez:

Pours a clear straw sort of color with a quickly dissipating head leaving no lace, bubbles flying up from the bottom. Mostly a grain smell, pretty clean, with a hint of floralness. Grainy in taste, but not in a bad way, a little bit of corn, and only a touch of hops. Taste almost dances on your tongue with the amount of carbonation. I imagine this as a great beer with many different foods. Higher carbonation, but seems to be a nice addition to this one. Light to medium body, I expected very light body, but having a little something there is nice. I usually don’t save any room for macro’s in my fridge, but I may be able to squeeze a little room for this.

I’m not sure if the PBR demographic, or anyone else, is concerned with how much “lace” the stuff leaves. Or at least, nobody goes to the mini-mart and carefully considers the optimal lace-to-price ratio of all the beers sold in individual tallboy cans out of the cooler full of crushed ice.

Overburdened Cracker Sez:

Okay so you’re layin on a beach, minding your own buisness when all of a sudden…BAM!!! you get hit in the crotch with something…it’s an ice cold PBR. You crack it open & take a sip and all of a sudden the Doobie Brothers show up and they’re playin “China Grove” and it rocks…hard. You’ve just experienced Liquid Cold Sunshine that gets better each and every time. Natty Ice and Genny Cream Ale are for fratboys…Pabst is for the distinguished alcoholic.

Okay, that’s actually kind of funny, but…maybe I’m conceited, maybe I need to get the redness of my blood checked, but a product that interrupts a pleasant reverie with testicular pain and an appearance by the Michael McDonald Clearinghouse Players doesn’t get five stars in my book. That is such a beer commercial conceit, though: a man pops a beer in the overbearing drabness of the real world and is magically transported to a hoppy carnival land where real men play some real MOR rock while fake blondes shake some fake tits. That, son, is America. It’s too bad that doesn’t really happen. It would force the hipsters to move on to a new beverage of choice (Olde English eight hundos? Molson Lite? Pulque?), unless of course they find the Doobie Brothers somehow ironic.

Next up: Schlitz!