Tag Archives: music

7pm The Suck

After the past two weeks of quiet nights, we are back to the regular crowded house, with reggae and house music dominating the atmosphere. It’s almost enough for me to request that the back corner get revamped into a tiny card and writing space just for me. I’m not here quite enough to justify that but a man has got to have a dream. I can only take so much unts-unts-unts before I start thinking I’m in eurodisco hell and comprehending why any music with guitar is better than better than non-guitar music.

Papa Noel ale

I’m sipping on Alameda’s Papa Noel, again two weeks after the fact. It’s remarkably easy to drink, with a loose chocolate-caramel vibe.

At the table to my left, three men are arguing about the myth of President Regan. Loudly.

Man, the 80’s fucking sucked. This is the loudest thought in my brain, as they deconstruct how brilliant a President Mr. Regan was, while also insisting Carter was an asshole and…ugh.

Man, the 80’s fucking sucked. Middle school, high school (which all good humans despise), the greediest greed ever starting up and some of the worst goddamn pop music known to man.The girlfriend even commented on this, listening to mix tapes I made during the era, because that was all we had to play while moving and organizing the house.

“Your taste was awful,” she told me while listening to a song whose lyrical content could be summed up with the statement: ‘We play rock on the radio’.

“Sometimes,” I replied. “I mean…it was the 80’s. Nearly everything that I liked that was really good wasn’t popular, or was popular 10 years ago. Everything else was just filler but I didn’t think I had much choice, then.”

“Man, the 80’s were awful for you,” She didn’t know the half of it.

Still, I made it. Most of us did and there’s always something good about surviving.

Half way through the Papa Noel and I’m reconsidering my position; this ale seems a little thin. It doesn’t taste bad but if it was bulked up just a hair in the mouthfeel, I’d probably promote this beer from decent to really good.

I was also tempted by Gilgamesh’s Vader because part of growing up in the 80’s is knowing who your villains are. Glad I dodged that one though: I got a sip from a friend and it smells and tastes like freshly used coffee grounds. To hell with that.

That’s a pretty dissatisfying beer sampling for the night. I think I may have to try another in order to recoup my losses. I have choices: something better is certainly out there. Wish me luck.

The Local: Matchbox Lounge

matchbox lounge“For meetings that are not entirely business, but not exactly personal either, the best places are litle pubs, with five or six tables at most.” -Anton Gorodetsky, Twilight Watch by Sergi Lukyanenko.

I’m all scattershot now.

Usually I arc out a narrative as I walk to the bar. In this case, it was going to be something about how the Whiskey Soda lounge wasn’t for me but when I left I walked by the Matchbox and thought; I didn’t know that was a pub! So here I am.

On my way here though, about 42nd and something, just after walking under the monkey arm tree, I heard a jingling, a kind of limp beat. Looking for the source I saw a fuzzy kitty, brown-gray with a black collar, limping between two houses. It’s silver and red tags clanging together as it gimped to what I hope was a safe location, left forepaw held up and dangling in the way that animals have when they’ve hurt a limb, it caused me to stop.

Owch. You need help there?

The cat stopped and looked at me. None of your nonsense human; I’m on my way home.

I certainly hope so.

Though I began walking on and heard the jingle of movement I still worried. The cat has a home, fortunately.

Now instead of a narrative I have jumbles of thoughts, like a Boggle board; scents of pine, lemongrass, and smoke, girls playing on their front porch, a strange starburst shaped thing with blue and purple colors on another, and look, there’s a Cube.

Who the fuck thought that Cube was a good name for a car? Brought to you by the people who named ‘orange’.

The Matchbox treats. The bartender has an Isis shirt on and we talk about the upcoming Melvins/Isis split and tour. All of fifteen seconds and the Lounge has won me over because there’s a heavy metal bartender. The art on the wall ranges from multimedia to sparse, local artists with their wares on display, a solid wal-o-hol and a nice jukebox selection; some music expected, some not. Plus, I can see from there Johnny Cash is there and liking Johnny Cash is pretty much quintessentially American. Not everybody is going to get Metallica or Crooked Fingers; everybody gets The Man in Black.

I got a Daily Bread common ale. I keep trying common ales in part because it was an extinct style-or nearly extinct-and I like the idea that what is lost can be revived. It’s the Roman Catholic in me; I have a thing for redemption, even if it’s beer. Actually, beer makes more sense than anything else.

However, the style just never quite works for me. A little thin in front like sweet air, a bit too bitter at the end, slightly dry finish in this case. I probably would’ve been better off with an IPA but I cannot resist the glory of new things. I think I’d rather have a proper mild ale than a common but oh well. What’s done is done.

The bartender removes a bottle of Johnny Walker red to light a candle behind it. I like that there are hidden candles. I don’t know how the drinks are here but I think this might make a good alternate for the Victory lounge on nights when that place is crowded.

I hope that cat made it home. It bothers me that I had to let it go. I am not a cat person but I dislike seeing someone limp.

Walkin’ down an empty road, no one left behind

I’m having to listen to a lot of ‘classic rock’ lately. This is temping; you go into someone else’s space and cannot make it your own. You endure the chairs set to someone else’s height, the jokes that go over your head, the subtle -but not cruel- shunning of the temp, who will be gone soon, the influence those who have jobs there exert over a workspace that is never really yours. So I listen to a lot of classic rock, because that’s what everyone else listens to. My shoulders hurt and I am being put into a time warp, where I am listening to music that lost all meaning for me twenty years ago.

Roughly the time Sub Pop was born. And a sonic revolution hit popular music.

Of course, I don’t know that the Melvins, Tad, Mudhoney, Soundgarden or Nirvana would say they were part of a revolution. Just look at the label of this beer; a perfect shot of Mudhoney rocking like hell, but in the same moment mocking the excessive bullshit and rampant vapidity of the time caught by Charles Peterson. Any member of those bands would probably point out that they were just doing what they loved, that the Afghan Whigs, Seaweed, the Posies and the Reverend Horton Heat were just as important to the scene. Lesser known labels and bands I couldn’t dig out of my skull if I tried would be praised for their contributions.  They just did what they loved.

I wasn’t a brewer then. I wasn’t even a drinker then. But I remember: people drank PBR, Oly and Schlitz (Zeke even did a song about it) because they were broke, at the show hoping for the best and getting to witness the comet in the sky, whether they understood it or not. How the hell can this beer match up to those times? Does anyone really want to drink a beer that reminds them of the terrible stuff they drank twenty years ago, smoke in their noses, ears ringing from feedback?

Maybe…if they’re drinking to forget. Of the bands around then, most of them have broken up. Some of the reasons are obvious, some not so-I still have no idea why Soundgarden called it quits. But I don’t drink to remember either. As I’ve noted before; we eat and drink in the now-just like we see music live: they play and when the lights come up, you go home, show’s over.

Sub Pop records still exists, of course. Band of Horses, Wolf Parade, Iron & Wine all bring great songs to us via SP even if the sound they brought to the attention of the world is ‘dead’. But like a great beer, it could only last for a little while. The now becomes a then, with a new band taking the stage, a fresh drink gotten between sets.

Loser is an exceptionally tasty pale, that reminds me a little of Ninkasi’s Spring Reign. A little more restrained on the back end bitterness than Ninkasi’s beer, but similar with it’s hoppy nose and an acute bitter in the middle that vanishes like the note of an amp ends when the power is cut and the show is over. It’s a tribute and a damn fine one at that. 

I hoist this beer in tribute to…well, everyone who made and loved the music. This beer may not be a revolution, but it does right by the people who helped bring a some great art to a kid who needed it, twenty years go. Cheers.

And much thanks to Fuz, for getting me a couple bottles to sample.  It’s good to have friends.