Category Archives: whatever you say

Whatever You Say 38/Second Pint OFB

“You know who owns the Washington Post?”
Backcountry-Suck It Trebek IPA

“Jeff Bezos?”

Nods, “He’s a liberal cunt.”

This was a conversation I overheard in Backcountry Brewing in Squamish, British Columbia.

And that was how I knew that Americans had failed the world.

On the upside, the beer I was having was pretty good;

The Suck it Trebek is a NE style, hazy juice box IPA. It’s also got some density on the tongue that I’m good with. It’s mining the grapefruit note but the beer keeps things on the sweet side, and the finish isn’t sharp at all. I like this one.

Backcountry Pils

Next up was the Trailblazer Pilsner and like the OG pilsners, it has a sourdoughish nose and finishes very clean and very crisp. I’m digging it, I tell my friend and as I say that, a hit of bread-ness comes up on the finish. I’m really liking this beer and am impressed with anyone who does a really good Pils.

But what stuck with me was listening to the conversations that the locals were having about the state of American politics, and one man in particular who was assured that “President” Trump was absolutely doing the right thing-that any problems his administration was having, specifically the dentition of hundreds if not thousands of refugees and children was the fault of the previous President (and only him), and not the result of specific policy choices.

And in response to reporting that Trump is a liar and deeply problematic for multiple reasons, this man had decided to write off the owner of the source of the reporting.

It took a lot of restraint to keep myself from getting involved with that conversation. It wasn’t mine though, so I tried to focus on the company I was with.

I couldn’t let it go, though: America has allowed an unwise, callous, racist, bigoted, sexist criminal to take the lead-and people are following it. Not just Americans. The world.

Because that leader has a voice and that voice has been amplified now by power he should not have been given…yet here we are. I shudder to think at the consequences for us, the ones that America must take on and the ones others will foist upon us.

So I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the power that America has comes with responsibilities, and those responsibilities extend not just to our fellow citizens, but to a wider audience as well. We owe it not just to the world to exercise our responsibilities in a kind and just manner, but to ourselves. Perhaps especially to ourselves. If you aren’t registered to vote, now is a good time to do that.

I grinned sheepishly at my friend while a misinformed man loudly dismissed the facts at hand, and when he said “Can we go?” I gladly agreed. There would be no point in involving myself in a conversation where I did not belong. But we’d had a couple tasty beers and our own company was good; there was no reason to let our day be spoilt.

Today’s second pint goes to the Oregon Food Bank.

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Whatever You Say 37/Second Pint TAC

Crooked Stave: Nightmare On BrettIt is another fortunate week for me, as I have a friend visiting from out of town and I get to take his recommendation.

His choice: Crooked Stave’s Nightmare on Brett, a sour ale with a raspberry base, aged in whiskey barrels. This ale is not too sour, raspberry in the nose, blackberry flavors in the sour, but the whiskey is not there at all. I found this to be surprisingly drinkable, which was great. My friend tends to enjoy really sour ales and I just don’t have the stomach for them, so it’s cool that this worked out.

It was especially nice to come to Bailey’s, since it was one of his favorite places when he lived here. That’s certainly one of the things I enjoy about going back to Spokane, though most of the places I used to go aren’t there now, or, truth be told, fitted me at that place and time and I’ve been gone for twenty one years.

I wouldn’t mind if for a few months, this entire series became about visiting with people I don’t get to visit with often. I know I’m doing this in part to try and reach out in a world that seems like it’s becoming very closed in and scarier than before but getting to visit with friends is still the best.

Today’s second pint goes to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Whatever You Say 36/Second Pint NMD

It was my first time at the Portland Bottle Shop but I came here because a friend of mine recommended it-and he was kind enough to join me.

Holy Mountain Witchfinder saisonHe pulled out a large bottle of Holy Mountain’s Witchfinder, a saison that, because Holy Mountain, has also been soured just a little. And just a little is perfect for me. So we split the bottle and got to have a chat.

Which was nice. Making friends is a challenge as an adult, and part of that challenge is staying friends. Who has time, when there is so much to do?

So one must make time.

Most of the time, when I go out I’m interacting with strangers. It’s nice to interact with friends occasionally.

Today’s second pint goes to No More Deaths.

Whatever You Say 35

John McCain died yesterday, and today I attended a memorial for a friend who died a couple weeks ago.

The hot takes of McCain’s life (amongst other things) leave me reluctant to lionize anyone. The Senator was a complicated person, to put it mildly, and he should be recounted as such. He had moments of courage and decency and that should be acknowledged. He also had a massive impact on the lives of people in this country and internationally and it was frequently horrible. One cannot tell that story without including both sides.

Kat was equally complicated-though her legacy is far more positive. While I knew her for almost two decades, I cannot say that I knew her extremely well. Despite that, she always made an effort to stay in touch and she was extremely gracious about introducing me to her friends and including me in events-and she was a woman who loved a lively party. I am honored she thought I would be a good inclusion to those parties.

She was also a stubborn, hard headed person with a world view that was both firm and encompassing. It made her a challenge to talk to, sometimes, because she could dominate the room.

Which is the worst I can say of her-and it is, as these things tend to be, a criticism of myself, too. (Something she wouldn’t hesitate to point out to me, a warm smile on her face).

In Kat’s case, her stubborn qualities came from a place of love-she wasn’t afraid to change. Quite the opposite; she was one of the more adventurous people I have met. Instead, she adamantly wanted the best damn thing she could get-be it food and drink, education or people in her life and she wanted the best FOR those people. She insisted on it and dug her heels in about it because she cared about them. At her memorial, it was said that she did not suffer fools and this was certainly true-fools nor the injustice that they would practice- found themselves at the brunt of her wrath.

margarita @ Sweet HereafterShe loved her friends with a thoughtfulness that I wish I practiced more. I think it was one of the reasons she had a spiderweb life, connected to so many different corners, yet a center of joy for anyone who was fortunate enough to be given her friendship.

She was big and brazen and forthright in ways I have yet to learn and quietly compassionate and loving to those around her in ways that I also have yet to learn. She is missed.

For the purposes of this blog, the other thing you need to know is that Kat loved good tequila and she loved margaritas.

So at the Sweet Hereafter I am having a margarita on her recommendation. On the rocks, salt on the rim, Hornitos. Whatever the next stage of her journey is, I know she will face it with a happy, brilliant ferocity.

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Kat introduced me to Kiva, a micro loan service where people with a little extra can help support others with a need. It was exactly the kind of thing she loved to do: chip in a little to provide someone else with the ability to make their dream work. Perhaps this notion appeals to you, too.

Whatever You Say 34\Second Pint Spread the Vote

Pfriem IPA“Oh, I just got the Pfriem (IPA),” he says, “but I’ve also had the Chuckanut and that was really good…” He trails off looking at the menu.

“Yeah, I’ve had Chuckanut’s stuff before; it’s typically excellent.”

“And I had the Anchorage…which, we used to get a lot-”

It is at this point that I realize I’m talking to a (former?) bartender from Bailey’s. I’ve come to the Upper Lip because one of their employees is moving down to California and they’re celebrating his last day. Which is as good an excuse as any to come down to write.

But it’s crowded and we’re in line, which is why I’m getting a recommendation while I can. The former bartender continues:

“-in the bottle and it was amazing. But the availability dried up and I haven’t seen any in while, so to see it on draft was pretty cool….It’s not as good on draft as it is in the bottle but it’s still worth drinking.”

So maybe I know what my second ale is.

But this one is the Pfriem and the nose is a nice whiff of pine. The finish, though, has a dish soap quality that makes it a lot less pleasant. And in between? Lemon. So it’s not very balanced and the finish is not for me. Which, while a bummer, isn’t a surprise. Pfriem is a brewery that everyone else seems to love and doesn’t click with me. I don’t understand why, exactly, I just know that people rave about them but when I try the beers I go ‘meh’.

Makes me feel like I’m missing out. Nobody wants to miss out.

The employees have gathered nearby, having their own mini celebration amongst the larger one. It’s a bit like looking into the past, having sat across the bar from most of those men and women over the past ten years. Quips and beverages traded, it’s a touch heartwarming to see them having a good time.

I suppose that is the best legacy most of us can ask for: that people will miss us when we’re gone and wish us well into the next voyage.

As legacies go, that’s not bad.

Today’s second pint goes to Spread The Vote.

Whatever You Say 33/Second Pint NNW

can of Tecate ale“You know,” the bartender says, “it’s like the second biggest beer in Portland,” as he brings me over a Tecate, wedge of lime resting on top.

I drink some without the lime while the bartender, the fellow who ordered the original Tecate and I talk housing in the area. He lives nearby in one of the new complexes, but he tells me it’s built like shit, because everyone is expecting the bubble to burst and to have empty apartments within 15 years.

“So they cut corners,” he tells me. The Tecate tastes like low rent Bud and I hold the lime up.

“You use this?”

“Yeah. Like Corona.”

“You squeeze it or just drop it in?”

“Some people squeeze it but I just drop it in.” So I drop it in and take another sip. The lime and the sparkle of the beer give me the impression I’m drinking something with a little more flavor. The lime juice around the mouth of the can fills my nose and overrides any other flavors. Probably keeps the beer from tasting skunked too, as I sip it on down. On the downside, the wedge occasionally clogs the mouth and I can’t drink my  beer.

“But they’re planning on turning this stretch of 11th and 12th in to the new Pearl (district),” he tells me, and that’s pretty disheartening. Nothing wrong with the Pearl but it isn’t exactly known for it’s livability. It’s a little San Fran: overcrowded, houses with zero daylight between them and an expense to match. I wonder if there are dive bars there to try. Maybe I should be exploring that area of town too; I have more in common with the dive bars than I do with any high end spaces.

“But yea,” he says, “they’re going to tear down those old houses-I used to live in one, just over there (he gestures) and put up apartments.”

“What’s the condition of the houses?” I ask.

“Eh, the one I lived in was built in 1900 and was on stilts. It’s not even attached to a foundation, you know? So the banks won’t let you renovate it-the cost is too much. Just put up a new building.”

Hearing this is a little discouraging. We’re all going broke trying to live here, and nobody with the power to do so seems to want to making living here feasible, either via wages or housing though truly both are needed. Which just feels like a smaller metaphor for the bigger one we’re all living in and that just makes me feel more discouraged than I did before.

I don’t object to new apartments or multi-use houses: cities NEED those things if they want people to live there. I just don’t want the city to turn into a place where people aren’t living together, instead separated into little fiefdoms where we try not to touch the ‘unclean’.

As I’m packing up my stuff, I hear the bartender say, “Oh, he’ll never make it to 2020,” and I can only hope the bartender’s wisdom holds…but I wonder if the rest of us will.

Couch on flatbed truckI’m walking back to my car when I have to stop. There’s a metal shop, closed for business but the gate is open, this couch on a flatbed on the street, a group of people cluttered around in the dimming day. Mad Max: Fury Road is being projected onto a small screen. There’s chairs and another couch and a table.

I am always going to stop to watch a little Fury Road.

I ask a man what’s going on, he says his friend, who owns the shop, does this every so often. After Fury Road they’ll play some vintage smut and cartoons, then some other film. There’s a cooler full of beer and soda and people are just hanging around.

“You’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like,” he says.

“Thanks.”

So I watch the end of the movie.

Today’s second pint goes to National Novel Writing.

Whatever You Say 32/Second Pint OHS

PBR at the Vern“Well,” he says, “I just had whiskey so I’m drinking crap beer with it,” justifying his PBR. “But it’s still better than my buddy,” he points to the can of PBR that is waiting for his owner to come back from the bathroom. I’m…not exactly sure that is how it works.

Either way, a PBR is what’s on the menu today at the Vern.

The Vern is a holdout, a dive bar in a neighborhood that won’t let them in anymore. I want to say it’s changed since I visited last, and I suppose it has. There is a giant poster for the movie Uppercut on the wall. I suppose that’s really it, which is fitting for a good dive bar.

On the other hand, like most locals, it has the charm of the clients but I’m really not interested in them right now. Just outside, in the truck parked right in front, a mutt is leading out the window with that doggy smile, hoping that whomever come out next will be its owner, or at least invite it into the bar. It isn’t barking or misbehaving: It just clearly wants to not be alone in the car.

That’s a pretty well trained dog, which I can’t help but feel bad for (and a kinship with) as the pooch retreats to the driver’s seat and waits. After a little while, the dog moves back to the open window at the passenger’s side and looks into the bar; ‘is this the person who will invite me in?’

I’ve been there, looking for a way into something cool and having no way to get invited to the party. Waiting and hope for the best. Never very good at making a thing happen, I try to be a good sidekick, at least. I honestly think I’d rather be outside drinking with the dog right now. Why not?

Times like this, I think I should establish a local of my own. The nomad life has its charms, but a pub I can walk to where they know me is nice to have, too. Bonuses if they have a dog.

Today’s second pint goes to the Oregon Humane Society.