Beerchaser Miscellany – The Bad, the Unfortunate and the Good!

In one of my last posts entitled “Destiny of the Dives,” I listed a number of Portland bars and breweries that had closed based on the pandemic and resulting lockdowns and the civil disorder that was rampant in Portland last year.  Unfortunately, there’s a couple more, both of which I had hoped might reopen, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Bailey’s Tap Room – right on Broadway in downtown Portland and known since 2007 for its robust tap list (its twenty-six rotating taps were displayed electronically) will definitely not reopen although that was the intent when it first closed.

Unfortunately, the Upper Lip – a great lounge on the upper floor of the same building – is also gone.  The building was quickly sold and who knows if another watering hole will eventually take over the space.  An article in Brewpublic.com echoed the same pessimistic outlook.

One of the first electronic displays of its kind

Willamette Week reported in a  January article headlined  An Oregon economist could not think of another example of ‘an area that has so quickly fallen into disfavor.’”:

“Portland plunged from one of the most desirable cities for real estate investors to 66th among 80 cities (Urban Land Institute)….The reputational damage is what’s going to exacerbate or prolong what we saw unfold in 2020.”

Grixen Brewing – my former neighbor was one of the partners in this brewery opened in 2013 in SE Portland that featured a spacious taproom and good beer.

Great taproom and quality beer…

Grixen — Sorry to see them go…..

It was announced in August that they would temporarily close although their website now states:

“We have permanently closed.   We are still navigating a way to keep the beer alive.  Follow us on social channels for announcements.” 

Well, there is nothing in social media or on the internet that updates that info except a piece in NewSchoolBeer.com in October stating “Lease the Former Grixen Brewery.”  I hope I’m wrong, but don’t count on seeing them again.

Tax and Legislative Changes and Lifting of Restrictions

Fortunately, at least in Oregon, there are some positive developments which will now help bars and breweries after a tumultuous year.

Oregon Craft Brewers avoided what would have been a 100% tax increase:  “The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress Dec. 21 includes a set of tax breaks that offer substantial relief for Oregon craft brewers, distillers, winemakers and cider makers, who are among the small businesses hit hard during the pandemic.” 

As an example, a brewery that produces 10,000 barrels a year would have jumped from paying $35,000 a year to $70,000 a year in excise taxes

My favorite cocktail — gin – up with olives

  At the end of 2020, Oregon Legislators passed a bill that allows bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks for offsite consumption – something the industry has been seeking for the last year statewide.  It requires food with the drink order, but that’s a start.

Well, it took long enough, but at least they got this one right!

  Because of falling COVID rates, “For the first time since November, restaurants, bars and brewpubs in the Portland metro area will be allowed to reopen their indoor dining rooms at a limited capacity at the end of the week.”  (2/12)

So on 2/12, Portland area Beerchasers, while still practicing social distancing and wearing masks, could go out and support their local watering holes and not just  sit in the cold with portable heaters.

And to show how it goes, just when the COVID restrictions were loosened, Portland and the burbs got hit with an incredible ice storm that closed roads, led to hundreds of thousands losing power and trees either coming down altogether or large limbs breaking under the weight.

Matchsticks….! My sidewalk and street

I’ll take a pint over push-ups or pilates…..

Our own street and sidewalk looked like a behemoth tossed limbs like match-sticks.

But I’m confident normality will resume In Oregon.  It’s just a matter of when and how one defines “normality!”

After all, it was reported by Willamette Week, that a recent national survey by the American Addiction Centers revealed that bars won out over gyms on which adults missed most.  In Oregon bars won by a decent margin: 59% to 41%.  Go figure!

The Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and a Sad Farewell..

Followers of this blog know that one of my favorite dives outside Oregon is Darwin’s Theory in Anchorage Alaska.  I first came across this unique watering hole in 2014 and it has been serving beers (not on tap – just bottles and cans) for over forty years.

I always look forward to their pithy and biting quarterly newsletter – until I can return, but was glad to see in the latest edition that they reopened in late January:

“Several establishments won’t be opening at all.  Some were old, established icons around town.   (We will reopen) with the same wonderful staff that are known and loved – some as long as twenty six years.  Some minor tweaks were done during the shutdown, but the same free popcorn and free Jukebox will still be there too…..So get vaccinated and let’s end this crap.” 

My last mention of Darwin’s was to post a picture sent by Jon Magnusson’s – father-in-law to our older daughter when he and his wife, Nancy and two good friends, Dr. Bob and Stephanie Thompson visited Anchorage on a trip to see the Northern Lights in February, 2020.

I told them they had to check out Darwin’s and I got a text from Jon with the picture below and the comment, “Exploring Darwin’s – Great Place.”

From left – Jon and Nancy Magnusson and Stephanie and Dr. Bob Thompson at Darwin’s Theory in February 2020.

We were shocked and saddened to learn that Dr. Bob passed away last week following a heart attack while swimming.   He practiced Family Medicine in Seattle and was loved and respected by patients, colleagues and all who knew him.

In 2013, he was honored as the Outstanding Health Care Practitioner in Washington State and as stated by the CEO of the Valley Medical Center where he practiced for over thirty years:

“Dr. Bob, as he is fondly known, has worked at Valley for over 25 years and he is an emblem of what it truly means to be a tireless and compassionate care giver, committed to helping people in need.”

Dr. Bob Thompson was an outstanding person-of-faith who worked on many volunteer medical missions including Belize in Central America and Albania.  He was active in numerous charitable organizations and a loving husband, father and grandfather.  We will miss him.

New Times for Old Town

In an 8/16/20 Beerchaser post, I mentioned how entrepreneur, Adam Milne, the founder of the iconic Old Town Pizza in 2003 and his later expansion to Old Town Brewing, faced challenges during COVID and the riots/protests in Portland this summer.

Adam Milne – a bright and creative businessman

They caused him to temporarily close one of his his two establishments – the downtown location as reported in a July 12 Willamette Week:

“‘The moment of a temporary closure became, sadly, clear on Thursday when our revenue for the day was $18.75,’ he says….. ‘We really need help from the city. Downtown businesses have been hit especially hard with the high density, vandalism and tents in front of our business.'”

While Old Town Pizza is still closed, he has not been sitting idle and will expand with another eastside location besides the Northeast Brewery.

Just this month, he purchased Baby Doll Pizza on Southeast Stark – he won’t change the name although it will now feature a number of the excellent Old Town beers on tap.  Baby Doll is known for its’s New York style pizza.

Congratulations Adam.

Parting with Encouraging Words

In my recent post, Destiny of the Dives, I bemoaned the loss of some historic Portland watering holes, but parted with a hint of optimism – that during and after the pandemic – required restrictions, a number of establishments have either expanded or innovated to stay open and in some cases, grow and prosper.  The pent-up demand caused by isolation would be a beacon to Beerchasing…..

And then I came across an outstanding January 12th article from New School Beer.com that was stunning in the expansiveness of such plans in 2021 —  The Most Anticipated Upcoming Oregon Breweries and Taprooms of 2021 — New School Beer + Cider

The most exciting news is the info about Steeplejack Brewing – plans to open this summer – a heartening story not only because of the spirit of the co-partners (Brody Day and Dustin Harder) who are two college buddies, but because their partnership and cooperative efforts with the Metropolitan Community Church.

Portland’s Metropolitan Community Church

The result – a wonderful historic landmark will be saved and still serve as a community gathering place.  This is an incredibly ambitious project. Stay tuned and Godspeed!

“The church at NE 24th and Broadway is a landmark of Portland’s Sullivan’s Gulch neighborhood known for it’s ornate steeple and long history.

The building’s most recent owners Metropolitan Community Church left the building in 2019 and it narrowly avoided being demolished. Turning down competing bids, the MCC leaders chose to sell the space to two homebrewers who wanted to keep the building intact and as a central hub or the community.”

Conceptual photo of the planned brewpub

Amen!!

 

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter —Moving and Shaking

In a recent post on Thebeerchaser, entitled “Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who?  What? Why?)”,  I listed the thirty-five individuals I’ve named in the almost ten years since this blog started.  These “honorees” may or may not have anything to do with bars, breweries or beer, but have interesting stories and have made their marks in both their personal and professional lives.

And their stories continue so I decided to give you an update on what five (or maybe six) of them have done recently – even during the pandemic to continue their legacies.  To see their stories in the original posts, click on the link that highlights their names.

Dwight (The Godfather) Jaynes – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (December 2016)

The Godfather

Besides his blog, this Oregon Sports Hall of Fame journalist (also five-time Oregon Sportswriter of the Year) and broadcaster, works for NBC Sports NW.

Since the start of the NBA Season, he and Chad Doing, co-anchor of Rip City Drive on Portland’s Rip City Radio, do a one-half hour segment before every Portland Trailblazer game.

Chad Doing

This “Blazer Warmup” is entertaining and informative.   They play well off each other and Dwight’s knowledge, both of the history of the Portland team and his analytical insight make this a show worth watching.

Chad is a delightful radio personality and unlike some talk-show hosts, he doesn’t take himself too seriously although he’s very knowledgeable and provides good commentary.

Jay Waldon – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (March 2016)

This Portland attorney and former colleague at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt has an active Energy and Environmental Law practice.  Since being named a BOQ in 2016, Jay has continued moving and shaking.

In 2017, he was admitted to the US Rugby Hall of Fame.  He is now Chair of the US Rugby Foundation’s fundraising and has served as a Director.  A 2017 article in the Providence College News (his undergrad alma mater) stated:

“(His contributions span) nearly five decades as a player, coach, TV broadcaster, and ambassador of the sport. He began his rugby career in 1968 as a University of Virginia graduate student, where he received his master’s degree, worked on his Ph.D., and then received his juris doctorate while serving as a player, president, and captain. Waldron played on numerous rugby representative teams and won the university boxing championship.”

The Dancing Bear spars with Ray Lampkin

(The story of the UV Boxing Championship is worth a glance alone and explains how he acquired the moniker “The Dancing Bear.”)

As you will see if you check the original blog post, Jay’s yearning for adventure (possibly caused by some of the blows to the head on the rugby field or sparring with pro-boxer Ray Lampkin) have led him to extreme adventures.

Death Wish? (This is Waldron)

Among these are river rafting including a 1996 China trip down the Upper Yangtze, in addition to motorcycle racing and well over twenty road trips on his motorcycle throughout the US, New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

Jay still practices law and continues riding his motorcycle – he favors BMW’s or Ducati’s (“Harleys are too slow, too clumsy, too noisy.”) which was the cause of a recent concussion and broken clavicle – but that’s another story.

And speaking of Dwight Jaynes, you can read The Godfather’s recent column about both Jay and his son, Shane, at the link below.

Shane was just announced as the new Offensive Coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. He evidently inherited some of his parents’ work ethic and athleticism.

Karen and Jay have been married for fifty-two  years (they met at a bar when Jay was a bouncer – but that’s another story…) and both have won decathlons for their age group at the Multnomah Athletic Club.

https://www.nbcsports.com/northwest/seahawks/father-seahawks-new-oc-shane-waldron-hard-work-can-do-amazing-things-people

Karen and Jay Waldron (Did not wear a bow tie when he was a bouncer….)

Shane was most recently the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Los Angles Rams.

This followed assistant coaching gigs at Notre Dame, the New England Patriots, the University of Massachusetts and the

Shane Waldron in earlier coaching days

Washington Football Team (formerly Redskins).  He played football at Tufts University where he was a tight-end and long snapper.

Amy Faust – Beerchasr-of-the- Quarter (April 2017)

Amy had a very successful career as the co-host of the award-winning Mike and Amy Show on KWJJ – the Wolf, which ended in 2018 after almost twenty years.

Not a long-term career option

Upon graduation from Scripps College, she realized (rather quickly) that she was not going to make a living as a professional mandolin player and singer in a New York City group called The Bushmills.

Her fascinating career through 2020 includes stints in documentary film production, freelance writing, authoring advertising copy, producing TV commercials, television production and as location manager for the show Portlandia.

Amy’s journey continues to be fascinating, having attended a eight-day Clear Lake, Iowa school in 2018 at the World Wide College of Auctioneering where she was certified to be a benefit auctioneer.   In addition to her other work, she now emcees/auctioneers fundraising events.

Program Host at Portland Classical 89.9 FM

Then her background in writing and broadcasting led to her two current roles – copywriting for national brands and, most recently, as contributing host and producer of On Deck with Young Musicians for Portland’s All Classical Radio (89.9 FM) each Saturday at 5:00 PM.

Lunch with Amy in 2016

A Portland native, Amy has lived in New York, LA, Dublin, Paris, and DC, but I’m glad that this truly captivating individual continues to call the Rose City, her home.

Jack Faust – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (September 2014)

In a recent (February 1) article in the Portland Oregonian on the late actor Bing Russell, Jack, who was a very good friend and played a key role in the wonderful story of The Battered Bastards of Baseball, was quoted on his friend and client:

“’The world was his stage,’ says the retired lawyer and former Portland TV personality. ‘He was the most unforgettable character I ever met. Bigger than life.’”

Jack Faust in 2012 Beerchasing at the Buffalo Gap

The article mentions Jack’s recollection of the arbitration in which he was the lawyer in the litigation against Major League Baseball and stated of his star witness:

“’He (Bing) was Jimmy Stewart playing Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’ Faust, his lawyer, wrote years later in a remembrance of his friend. ‘This was not about money, Bing said, it was about the soul of a city.  The testimony ended with Major League Baseball’s lawyer answering ‘God, no,’ when he was asked, ‘Any more questions?’”

Jack Faust at a 2014 Beerchasing event in Frank Peters’ Grand Cafe.  Frank “The Flake” was the legendary Manager of the Battered Bastards. (Faust’s Oregon State jersey was at the cleaners.)

Russel was offered $20,000 to settle, but refused and “Bing won — he was awarded a staggering $206,000, an amount he had suggested.”  And to read more about the incredible story of another character – Frank Peters – in that saga read: https://thebeerchaser.com/2013/01/23/a-frank-conversation-about-the-grand-cafe/

And for those wondering, Jack and Amy Faust are the only father-daughter Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter and are well deserving of the “honor.”

John Runkle – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (August 2019)

Those who follow this blog know that my favorite watering hole of the almost 400 visited in ten years of Beerchasing is the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak, the Montana village, where I  stayed for two nights on a 2019 Montana road trip.

That’s where I met one of the most charismatic Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter, John Runkle – besides owning the Saloon he owns the Yaak River Lodge – a mile down Yaak River Road.

Notwithstanding our divergent political views, John and I had great conversations while I was there getting information for the blog and we have stayed in touch electronically since that time.

Thebeerchaser and John in 2019 – notice whose on the right…..

You should read John’s story in my August 2019 post and his interesting background growing up in Orange County, CA, his military service as a paratrooper, his success in real estate and how he ended up in Yaak in 2004 after first purchasing the Lodge and then The Shame in 2013 – out of foreclosure.

Since I fell in love with Montana on this six-day solo road trip before I picked up my wife who flew into Billings for the remainder of our fifteen-day journey, I’ve subsequently read a number of books about Montana history – particularly on its early mining industry, the outlaws, vigilantes and the efforts of early law enforcement to enforce justice in the raucous frontier environment.

And I can just picture John as a larger-than-life sheriff in one of those historic towns such as Virginia City, Lewiston or Fort Benton.

And being a sheriff, might have come in handy when he encountered a crazy guy with an A/R 15 who John bear-sprayed after he tried to get back in the bar after Runkle kicked him out.  (See this story in the Daily Missoulian entitled:   “Troy Man Charged Following Saturday Night Incident at Yaak’s Dirty Shame Saloon.)

The Dirty Shame is not only a great and historic dive bar, but a cultural phenomenon and John, through his dynamic style of communication, entrepreneurial spirit, story telling and splendid sense of humor, maintains the spark even on cold Big Sky nights.

Part of John’s story is how he met his wife, Dallas, about five years ago when she applied for a job at the bar while on break from getting her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Arizona State University.  She is now a teacher and tutor.

Their adorable older daughter was two and one-half years old when I was there and Dallas was nine months pregnant with their second daughter.

The Proud Papa with “The cutest little girls in the World.”

In a January 16, 2021 Facebook post, John wrote:

“So my wife is pregnant again.  Can someone explain to me how a 60 year old man
keeps getting his wife pregnant?”

Well, the 131 comments responding to his rhetorical question are entertaining as you might imagine.  So what’s ahead for this guy?   Well, if you check out the info in the link from Yaak River Realty, you will see the opportunity to purchase the Dirty Shame for $349,900.

In a telephone conversation with John today, he said that the Lodge is also for sale. “When I was younger, I didn’t mind the snow and cold weather. Now I do.”

The family will be moving to Yakima for about a year where Dallas is teaching and then ultimately to Texas where most of their families live. I asked if he was going to own a bar in Texas and he said, “If I do, it will not be a seasonal one like the Shame.”

We ended the conversation with him asking me if I was going to be in Yaak on Saturday night.  “Don, it’s the first time male strippers will be appearing at the Dirty Shame.” 

I told him that I’d wait for the Adult Easter Egg Hunt in April when it’s warmer. Go Figure…

Art Vandelay – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (January 2014)

I’ve known most of the BOQ’s personally, but never had the opportunity to meet this titan of the latex industry.  Notwithstanding the fact that Vandelay Industries flourished supplying PPE during the pandemic, Art became depressed and out of sorts.

During the lockdowns, he was consumed with watching old Seinfeld reruns, binge rubber bridge matches and recording the whale migration along the California coast.  However, after recollecting old memories such as his two-year tenure as president of his eighth-grade class and the thrill of being voted “Most Likely” his senior year in high school, he got inspired.

Ensconced at corporate headquarters

Thus, his malaise ended and with the election of Joe Biden, he took action notwithstanding his one-time admonition at a corporate retreat, “Annoy a liberal – Work – Succeed – Be Happy!!”

Drain the Swamp???

Art started lobbying for the Secretary of Labor position until a White House official phoned him and stated, “The closest you are going to get to a Cabinet position is to enroll in a woodworking class at Community College.”

So while Art is temporarily stymied, stay tuned for continuing exploits and the future Work of Art.”  *

* Thanks to Carson Bowler – a Vandelay understudy and mentee and his assistant, Doreen Winterbottom for their cooperation.

 

Cheers and Stay Safe!

Destiny of the Dives!

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

My beloved City is a MESS!

Portland, Oregon – the Rose City – again made national news last week because of continuing riots.   The city has served as an unfortunate national example of the most contentious and continuous riots/demonstrations since March.

A riot in August and still going on….

Many of those participating are exercising their First Amendment rights and feel strongly about the causes eliciting their participation.

That said, many just revel in  looting, indiscriminate violence and attacking law enforcement officers and demonstrators opposed to their views – if they even have them.

The question is how long does this continue especially given the impact on downtown businesses, many of which are small family-owned enterprises.   A 1/24 headline in  Oregonian entitled, “Pedestrians Vanish from Downtown” stated that foot traffic is down 80% from 2019.

Economist, Bill Conerly

Well known Oregon economist, Bill Conerly, describes the current situation and the implications in an excellent article in Forbes Magazine entitled “Death Of A City – The Portland Story.”

The impressive high-rise building in which I worked for twenty five years now has a fence around it to prevent vandalism and Starbucks and other vendors have disappeared from its lobby. (They were possibly going to remove it after the Inauguration.)

PacWest Center –Now fenced off and mostly vacant lobby.

This led the Oregonian in a January 22, story to ask, “What are we Marching for?  On inauguration days in Portland, protestors and observers wonder alike.”

“An on-the-ground view of Wednesday’s protest shows the lack of cohesion, the divergent ideas of what constitutes free speech in Portland and the turbulence of the crowd…..’I don’t know where the %*#% I’m going, but I don’t give a *&^%,’ yelled Princess Warner (20)……’This is the worst *&^% march I’ve ever attended,’ another one yelled.”

Other than hoping that someone shows Princess the *&^%$ way to Disneyland, I won’t make any other comments except to say, the riots are a primary factor contributing to the demise of my beloved dive bars (and other businesses.)

A grunge bar with character…

Just a few blocks away from where this unlawful assembly occurred and my former office, is the diminutive Yamhill Pub – not a dive, but a noted grunge bar that I featured in 2015 – home of $1.50 PBR Happy Hours.

In my last post I wrote about the GoFundMe campaign to save the Yamhill – struggling to survive based on pandemic considerations and restrictions.  Although the pub had a Facebook post on January 5th, nobody answered the phone tonight (Friday) – not a good sign.

https://thebeerchaser.com/2021/01/07/leaving-2020-in-good-taste/

The grunge bar interior at the Yamhill

The Concern….

I have written about dive bars before in Thebeerchaser – first trying to define them in 2011 – “Analyzing Dive Bars Head First” but also periodically citing the concern about their continuing existence.  A Portland Mercury article in 2016 featuring the Portland Dive Bar Preservation Society stated:

“Portland’s lost a bunch of dive bars recently. A few were absolute shitholes that deserved to disappear, but most were victims of circumstance and change. A number of other bars have changed ownership and been fancied up to suit the modern market. Dive bars, if not endangered, are at the very least under threat.”

This 2016 piece listed twelve classic Portland dives that might be endangered:

Reel’ M Inn, Billy Rays, Kenton Social Club, Georges, the Trap, Ship Ahoy, Blue Diamond, Tavern on Denver, Checkered Flag, My Father’s Place, Slims, Water Trough Saloon and the Lariat Lounge

Billy Ray’s – Still a Neighborhood Institution

The good news is that of these, only two have closed permanently – Tavern on Denver and the Water Trough Saloon although the legendary Reel ‘M Inn – known for its fried chicken and jojos since 1994 – is closed indefinitely.  Fortunately, the others are still pouring cheap Budweiser to regulars.

West Coast Dave Hicks at the Reel M Inn

That said, every week one can read about other bars or breweries that have not weathered the pandemic lockdowns or the depressed economy.  The following January article from Portland Eater gives a fairly extensive list of the bars and eateries (about eighty) that have closed since the Pandemic.

I would add to that list the following three bars:  the Old Gold, Paydirt and the Oregon Public House (closed indefinitely.)

Since the Oregon Public House was an innovative community experiment, we hope that later this year they will reopen and not only serve good beer, but also continue their support of deserving non-profit organizations in accordance with their motto – “Have a Pint – Change the World.”

“Have a Pint – Change the World!”

For memories sake, I will just mention a few closures of the almost 400 bars and breweries visited and reviewed by Thebeerchaser since 2011 and the links will take you to the reviews if your are interested. There are two on the list of closures that I will highlight, because they break my heart and if you read the reviews I wrote, you will understand why (Links over the name)

Crackerjacks Pubthis wonderful pub – “a beloved dive bar and pizzeria for more than 30 years” – I visited twice in 2014 and was the closest to a Cheers ambiance of any in the ten years I’ve been on this exploration of watering holes.   

Thebeerchaser outside one of his favorite stops on the Tour

Sam and Jimmy – two gems met on Thebeerchaser’s Tour

The first visit was with my good friend, “West Coast Dave Hicks” and not only was the food great – as it was on the second visit – but the Manager – Sam and the cook, Jimmy were wonderful and friendly people.

The Tanker Bar – this beloved dive bar at the east end of Portland’s Barmuda Triangle “spent the last decade serving cheap well drinks and airing Blazer games.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my most frequent Beerchasing companions – Portland lawyer, Jim Westwood and former Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter – whose mom was my high school Latin teacher for two years, accompanied me in 2013 and also translated the motto – in Latin on the bar’s logo – for me “In heaven there is no beer, so that’s why we drink it here.”

The regulars will miss the Naughty Bingo Nights each Tuesday which had a signature cocktail list featuring The Naughty Bingo Martini.  Jesse, the bartender, was a class act and helped make this early stop on my tour of bars a memorable one.

Jesse and Jim Westwood share stories at the corner of the bar

Sidecar 11 – this upscale “hole in the wall” bar visited in 2013, was not one of the most memorable, but distinguished itself with signature cocktails and an  impressive wine list.  The bar also featured great art by local artists.

One of the many good bars on Portland’s Mississippi Ave, Sidecar 11 closed “after years selling barrel-aged cocktails and whiskey flights.”  It also had a beautiful backbar displaying an incredible array of whiskeys.

The General and Aaron

As usual, the bartender, Aaron, was friendly and I also enjoyed my companion, retired lawyer and Air Force National Guard General, Larry Paulson, who after he left our law firm became the Executive Director of the Port of Vancouver until his retirement.

Portland Brewing – This one is also based on sentiment because my former law firm (Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt) represented them for many years.  Our partner, John Guinasso, who provided excellent legal counsel to the Brewery for many years, would periodically bring a case of their flagship beer – MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale – to the office on Friday afternoons and we would toast the end of the week.

The brewery was founded in 1986 and has flourished with a great taproom and restaurant:

“(In 2008,) it was sold to Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing and then this entity was acquired by North American Breweries in 2010 and based in Rochester, New York. Two years later in 2012 this conglomerate of breweries was purchased by Florida Ice & Farm Co., based in Costa Rica.”) 

And that, my Beerchaser friends, illustrates why we should be concerned with the future of independent breweries as well as the neighborhood dive bar.

A Hint of Optimism

I’ll close with at least some good news.  A number of existing bars and breweries – those with a combination of sufficient space, adequate capital and management creativity and just plain grit – have either expanded or innovated to stay open and in some cases, grow and prosper.  Below are some captions for the stories on these enterprises:

Buoy Tap Room – Expansion Planned

Astoria’s Buoy Beer and Pilot House Distilling Are Preparing for Growth Along the Columbia River – Willamette Week (wweek.com)

http://Migration Brewing Is Opening Its Fourth Location in the Former Hopworks Space on North Williams Avenue – Willamette Week (wweek.com)

Produce Row Cafe Has Reopened Its Patio for Service After a Two-Month Closure – Willamette Week (wweek.com)

The great patio at the reopened Produce Row

The Owners of Roscoe’s Have Turned an Old-School Chinese Restaurant Into the Craft Cocktail Bar North Portland Has Long Needed – Willamette Week (wweek.com)

Beerchaser Regular Westwood at pre-pandemic Beerchase at Mad Hanna

https://www.wweek.com/bars/2020/12/16/one-northeast-portland-dive-bars-plan-for-surviving-the-pandemic-transitioning-into-a-general-store/

The owners of Mad Hanna have come up with one of the most innovative ideas by integrating a new General Store adjacent to the bar and I would bet that it will continue to thrive after the pandemic is over.

If you have not checked out this wonderful neighborhood-dive bar, you should definitely put it on your list and try their $4.50 Happy Hour peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I am grateful to my friend Hillary Barbour, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Burgerville. who introduced it to me and I returned with Beerchaser regular, Jim Westwood. (And Northwesterners, if you have not tried Burgerville take-out during the pandemic, you are missing out.)

And you can see others examples.  For instance, last weekend Church Bar – whose motto is “Eat Drink and Repent” – did a live, virtual concert entitled, “Save Church Bar.”

Mansfield toasting 95 patents at Church

I certainly hope this innovative bar with great ambiance survives so my former Schwabe colleague, Intellectual Property attorney, Jon Mansfield, can again post his 95 Patents in commemoration of Martin Luther’s 1517 masterpiece “Ninety-five Theses” on the entrance.

16th Century Theologian Martin Luther

As you can see by the example from the photo above while Jon was drinking a cocktail at the bar, he and the great theologian have a striking resemblance!

Onward and Upward

But all of us – whether in Portland, Boston or Amsterdam – can help these establishments to survive until they reopen and normal Beerchasing can occur.

Get a gift card, or order takeout – food and/or a growler (tip well!)  (The Oregon Legislature passed a bill this month in Special Session in which bars can now sell cocktails-to-go provided some food is purchased with the highball.)  Or just call the owner or manager, offer encouragement and tell them you will return when you can.

Because the alternative, if many of these independent entrepreneurs go out of business, is their locations to be absorbed by Applebee’s or a bar such as the Yard House – a sterile chain of bars owned by the same corporate entity as the Olive Garden and in my 2016 review I concluded that it did not “measure up.”  (Are you prepared for unlimited garlic bread with your pint of beer?)

Portland’s Yard House – Is this the kind of entrance you want to see on your neighborhood bar?

Wear Your Mask, Stay Safe and Blessings in the New Year.

Leaving 2020 in “Good Taste”?

Image courtesy of Pam Williams

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

The Taste of Beer – Follow-up

In my last post, I did a rant, of sorts, about beer reviews – where some of the descriptions of my favorite beverage, in the reviewers’ attempt to be creative, are ridiculous.   I had saved examples clear back to 2014 to illustrate my point.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/12/23/holiday-cheer-and-the-taste-of-beer/

The Von Ebert Boarmobile

The reaction was positive and I wanted to follow with one more current example – from Willamette Week’s 2019 Beer Guide.

It’s an excerpt from the eighth-ranking in their Beers-of-the-Year the Pilsner (4%) from Von Ebert Brewing – a small and good brewer right in Portland’s Pearl District

 I’ll follow with what I regard as some common sense advice on tasting beer from two experts.  I might add, that of all of them, this description was one of the most ludicrous although the brewery’s Pils is a great beer:

“When the first sip of Von Ebert’s Pilsner crosses your lips, it tastes as if you were reading a 19th-century love letter painstakingly translated from German.

Three different Pilsner malts, each with its own crackery nuance, join like the tiny gears inside an imported continental timepiece, ticking beneath a flowery blend of Perle, Saphir and Tettnanger hops lifted into your nose by spritzy natural carbonation. And after weeks of cold-temp lagering, you can actually read a letter through it.”

“Crackery nuance?”

Wie hat Ihnen diese Beschreibung gefallen?

Oh sorry, I meant “How did you like that description?”  I got so carried away with German that I forgot some of you may not be enlightened enough to know the nuances of German to English translation (much less the “crackery nuance” he mentions). The reviewer’s tirade of wacky similes made me laugh.

For some more practical advice, and because he is a smart and gifted entrepreneur with common sense and a great knowledge of beer, I asked Adam Milne, the owner of Old Town Brewing for his take. (His brewery also produces one of my five favorite beers – Shanghai’d English Style IPA – a 2018 Gold Medalist at the World Beer Cup.)  His e-mail stated:

“I always like one of two approaches. One is to use common terms that are known to beer drinkers, so the readers have a universal understanding. This can be words like bitter, hoppy, fruity, malty, IBU’s and many others. 

The second approach is to go outside the beer world for terms that apply to food and drinks that everyone is familiar with. This can be describing sodas, cakes, fruits or vegetables. Basically compare to any ingredient in a grocery store or made in a restaurant. This allows for people who are not as familiar with beer to easily relate.”

Goethe – did not mix German beer and love letters

Notice Adam did not use Shakespearean metaphors or an example from Wolfgang Von Goethe although the WW reviewer might have taken the advice from this 18th century German poet, playwright, novelist and scientist who opined:  “A person ‘hears’ only what they understand.” 

I thought another good source might be an article in Draft Magazine entitled “What a psycholinguist can tell us about how we describe beer flavors,” but unfortunately, Draft Magazine was discontinued in 2017 and the pieces is no longer available.

There was, however, a practical article entitled “How to Describe Beer Like a Pro,” that seems reasonable.  https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/how-describe-beer-pro

Finally, before I leave the subject, I have to give Parker Hall, the reviewer from Willamette Week at least some credit.  Although I think his beer reviews are pretentious, I respect his education and background.  He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music – a very respected institution, where he studied jazz percussion on a scholarship.

Oberlin – respected educational institution

“He remains a professional musician in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, and is an award-winning homebrewer besides being a contributor to Portland’s alt-weekly Willamette Week.”

And While I’m Ranting About Reviews…

I guess before I depart from the subject of reviews, I’ll also talk a bit about book reviews.  Obviously, my exploits to new bars was stymied this year by the virus, so I read a lot more – mainly fiction, but also some good non-fiction works as well.

2020 warranted escapism so a much of my literary menu was thrillers by popular authors such as Lee Child, David Baldacci, Harlen Coban, etc.  But I found that relying on well known authors to rate their contemporaries is not very helpful in selecting a good read.  Usually, they are one or two sentence comments on the front or back covers and thrillers typically have phrases such as “fast-paced, a real page turner, superb plotting, absorbing nail-biter, an all-night read, etc.”

James Patterson writes of Lee Child, “I’m a fan.”   Best selling author, Lisa Gardiner writes of David Baldacci, “…one of the all-time best thriller authors,” and New York Times best-selling author Lisa Scottoline states, “Baldacci delivers, every time!”   One has to ask, with their writing demands and appearances, how thoroughly are these best-selling authors going to read and digest another writer’s book?

Perhaps others have arrived at the same conclusion as stated in a 2012 Los Angeles Times article,Why is Amazon deleting writers’ reviews of other authors’ books?”   The author quotes Amazon in a response to a reviewer inquiry:

Amazon Book Store

“We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product. This includes authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product. As a result, we’ve removed your reviews for this title.”  (emphasis supplied)

And, of course, this raises all kinds of questions such as, “How does one define ‘directly competing?'”  The article quoted one writer opining “….author-on-author reviews comprise so little of Amazon’s overall site content as to be nothing more than a “sparrow’s fart.”  Evidently, Amazon amended its position because the policy now allows authors to submit reviews of others’ books:

“….unless the author has a personal relationship with the author of the book being reviewed, or was involved in the book’s creation process.”

A Solution?

Now since in the last blog post and this one, I railed against the over-the-top creative license by beer reviewers and now I’m slamming book reviews for being boring gibberish, one might ask, “Okay Don, what’s your solution?”

My answer – after giving it about the same amount of contemplation that Lisa Gardiner demonstrated in her review of David Baldacci’s book above – is in two parts:

First, since one of the purposes of book reviews and comments is to help readers avoid wasting their time on bad books and other literary works, reviews should be limited to those of lousy writers, poets and other artists.  To illustrate, I will use the example of English poet William Topaz McGonagal (1825-1902).

I became aware of him from a calendar of events in the Oregonian which noted the date of the death of the man “who is affectionately considered Britain’s worst ever poet.”  Upon researching, I learned that others “celebrate” him in more exalted terms – “The world’s worst poet.”

An excellent 2011 article in the British newspaper The Independent entitled, “The Story of William McGonagal” stated:

“In his lifetime, he was a music hall joke….He was paid five shillings for a public recital so that his mostly working-class audiences could jeer at his bad poetry or pelt him with rotten vegetables…..

….Yesterday, the writer and comedian Barry Cryer went on the Today programme to pay tribute to the Dundee bard, and recite the only poem McGonagall was ever paid to write, which was an advertisement for Sunlight soap:

Requires minimal elbow grease….

‘You can use it with great pleasure and ease — without wasting any elbow grease.'”

In concluding this section and without trying to overdo the topic –  albeit extremely fascinating –  I leave you with a poem he wrote after visiting New York City.  It gives credence to the Wikipedia summary:

“He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers’ opinions of his work….. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme.

McGonagall’s fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language.”

Empire State Building – Tall,  but more than thirteen “storeys”

“Jottings of New York” by William Topaz McGonagal

Oh mighty City of New York!  you are wonderful to behold,
Your buildings are magnificent, the truth be it told,
They were the only things that seemed to arrest my eye,
Because many of them are thirteen storeys high.

McCongagal died in Edinburgh in 1902 in poverty and was buried in a pauper’s grave  leaving behind a vast quantity of work and a reputation that endures more than a century after his death.

To reinforce my point – reviews of bad literary work are much easier to write, there is more consensus on the degree of unworthiness, it helps readers avoid wasting their time and it may actually help the author’s awareness.  (I just need to be hopeful that reviews of this blog and the manner in which I play the oboe since retirement will be only mildly disparaging when included under this standard.)

“Bard” Reviews

Furthering my argument to essentially limit critiques to lousy literature or maybe even substandard beer, I would submit that the model in the following article could be used to promote creativity and more inventive descriptions.    Book Bub published a captivating piece, “Twelve of the Funniest Shakespearean Insults” – replete with affronts which would be fit for describing either a shoddy literary work or hideous malted beverage.

For example, let’s assume you’re about 120 pages into a novel that is boring, puts you to sleep and has no redeeming literary value.  You could aptly describe it as, A fusty nut with no kernel,” (from Troilus and Cressida Act 2, Scene 1).

Now since my nickname is “Dirt” as you will see from the blog header above, I might take issue with the following.  It could describe an author who should be pursuing a career using his or her hands to produce a product other than the written word – O Gull! O Dolt! As ignorant as dirt!” (Othello Act 5, Scene 2)

Or let’s suppose you hit a new brewery and after sampling their flagship beer, you have to force yourself to swallow the loathsome malted concoction.  It would lead you to describe the brewer as, “Thou cream-faced loon,” (Macbeth Act 5, Scene 3) while describing his brew as “(A) mouthful of foul deformity.”  (Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2).

This scheme could be expanded to other classical philosophers such as Machiavelli who might have been describing a writer when he wrote  – “……fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.”

Socrates (left) with buddy, Aristotle

Or perhaps, Aristotle, advising a scribe to pursue another occupation – “To avoid criticism – say nothing, do nothing, be nothing!”

Upon reflection, it’s unfortunate that some of these utterances were not employed during the election cycle this last year.   So ends my rant and I guess, if reading annoying and trite reviews is my biggest annoyance, I’m pretty fortunate.

So Happy New Year from Thebeerchaser.  We are thrilled and encouraged that our two nurse daughters both recently received their COVID vaccinations and let us hope that the vaccines end up in arms around the world in a rapid, safe and responsible manner.

That said, since I’m a healthy, retired guy under 75, my older daughter when I asked her when she thought I would get my shot, responded with the following photo and said, “Drink up, Dad!”

So, until then, I will be a faithful mask wearer as I hope you will be.

Holiday Cheer and the Taste of Beer

Image courtesy of Pam Williams

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog by clicking on the title above to see all of the photos and the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Happy Holidays, Beerchasers.  In what may be my last post of 2020, I will address one topic which is very interesting, yet tends to perplex and frustrate me. Let’s talk about

The Taste of Beer…..

A Portland “grunge” classic

Although this blog is primarily about bars and breweries, I often mention beers – especially those produced by the various breweries visited and which strike a chord.   

I’ve covered “basic” beers from the $1.50 Happy Hour PBRs at the historic Yamhill Pub  *1 in downtown Portland and the $1.00 draft Hamms (it used to be all day on Wednesdays…) at The Standard in Northeast Portland.

Buck pints – gone but not forgotten

*1  A November story in Willamette Week stated that this institution – at one time it sold more PBR than any bar in Oregon and in the ’90’s was no. 5 in North America – may have to close.  “General manager Kevin Hill has launched a GoFundMe campaign to save the Yamhill Pub, which is struggling financially during the most recent governor-ordered restrictions on dine- and drink-in service.” 

And conversely Janet and I enjoyed a Grolsch Premium Lager in Amsterdam’s Cafe Karpershoek in 2013 – the oldest pub in Amsterdam dating back to 1606 when Dutch sailors and merchants bellied up to the bar.

We’ve experienced some of the wonderful and innovative craft beers such as the Shanghai’d English Style IPA – a 2018 Gold Medalist at the World Beer Cup produced by entrepreneur, Adam Milne at Old Town Brewing – in Portland, Oregon where one can enjoy some of the finest micro-brews on the planet.

Janet at the bar in the Cafe Karpershoek

Now, I also remember life at Oregon State University in the late ’60’s, when the brew choices were all essentially “beer you could see through.”    I loved Schlitz Dry beer although Blitz Weinhard was plentiful on campus.  Of course, when one of the frat bros made a trip to a state in which you could buy a case of Coors – not available in Oregon until 1985 – he gained immediate popularity and new friends. 

However, what mildly irritates me are reviews – those where beer geeks – similar to some snooty wine connoisseurs – go into extravagant, grandiose and sometimes ridiculous detail describing how a beer tastes. 

That said, I realize that producing the ingredients for beer and the brewing process itself has gotten very technical and increased in sophistication to produce the outstanding mix of products from which beer drinkers can choose. 

For example, programs such as the Oregon State Fermentation Science Major have trained and educated outstanding brewers and enhanced the quality and flavor of beer immensely –  “a hands-on applied science addressing the biological, chemical and physical processes of fermented foods, including those used in the production of wine, beer, and spirits…..”

How cold was it? Sign outside Lumpy’s Landing

I’ve  progressed from not really knowing much about beer except that it’s much better really cold and in a frosted mug and have gained an appreciation for the rich history of brewing which goes back thousands of years.

“…..ancient Chinese artifacts suggested that beer brewed with grapes, honey, hawthorns, and rice were produced as far back as 7,000 BC.”  (Wikipedia – The History of Beer.)

I’m trying to educate myself on types of beer (ales and lagers – depending on the fermenting process), brewing styles, differentiation in ingredients and elements of taste.

A prime resource for beer education

There are some great online references and books such as the highly-rated The Beer Bible by Northwest author, Jeff Alworth who is also the originator of the Beervana blog. His almost 600 page book, with five appendices, could fill an upper-division college course on beer.

Lisa Morrison – also known as The Beer Goddess and a previous Beerchaser of the Quarter on this blog also wrote a good basic book on NW regional beers in 2011 – Craft Beers of the Northwest.

And after viewing the following sentence on page four of Jeff Alworth’s book, I thought that perhaps I was being too cavalier in dismissing the intricacies of beer taste.  Was I missing something when I raised a mug?

“When you sit down with a glass of beer, you do a lot more than taste it.  You will eventually put your papillae to the task, but they won’t work alone.  Your eyes take in its color, clarity and vivacity. 

Your nostrils detect sharp or subtle aromas drifting off the surface.  When you taste, you’ll be smelling the beer while its inside your mouth.  Your tongue, meanwhile, will be noticing whether its prickly with carbonation or smooth and still, whether it is thin or creamy or thick.  You don’t merely taste a beer, you experience it.”

However, after looking up the definition of “papillae” (a small rounded protuberance on the tongue) and realizing that I don’t really think about the prickly nature of beer while quaffing, I realized that I should not alter my own approach. 

Beer expert, Jeff Alworth at the Benedictine Brewery structure raising in 2017

I really love beer, but a major factor in my enjoyment is the social interaction with companions while imbibing.  That and drinking in the ambiance and unique character of each dive bar and brewery I frequent. 

Focusing on “mouthfeel” which is defined on page 599 of The Beer Bible as “Qualities of beer other than the flavor; includes body and amount of carbonation,” would detract from my Beerchasing experience.

I also respect those home-brewers who want to enhance their expertise and those in the brewing industry where it is a bonified occupational qualification to possess this technical knowledge.  And there are national and international brewing competitions such as the World Beer Cup.

It’s the world’s largest beer competition and labeled as “The Olympics of Beer.”  In the 2018 competition, there were 295 judges, three-fourths of them from outside the United States and beers from over thirty countries.

One can also choose to become a:

“….beer judge and work your way up the ranks evaluating beer to the Grand Master level. The (goal is) to remove as much of the subjectivity involved in evaluating beer during competitions as possible by giving all certified judges the tools needed to objectively evaluate the beers they judge.” https://winning-homebrew.com/evaluating-beer.html

But many of the beer reviews one reads in publications are pretentious and questionable.  My favorite example was so ludicrous, I saved it from five years ago. The reviewer, from a Portland weekly newspaper, was describing a new Gose beer introduced by an Oregon coastal brewery:

“”The first sip of the brew was like tasting the salty foam just as a large wave crests off the Oregon Coast.”

“Gasp – Gurgle – Glub – I think I have salt in my lungs….” (Off Lincoln City, Oregon)

I haven’t seen any more reviews from this columnist who most likely drowned while pursuing his next review, but there are others which also struck me as set forth below.

Small anti-hero??

Perhaps this is the challenge of those who pen reviews – trying to be creative and interesting, thereby using superlatives and hyperbole to capture the readers’ interest.  It happens with book and movie reviews too, as exemplified by this review of “The Joker” which hit theaters in 2020:

“Joker is so monotonously grandiose and full of its own pretensions that it winds up feeling puny and predictable.  Like the anti-hero at its center, it’s a movie that is trying so hard to be capital b – Big, that it can’t help looking small.” 

Let’s take this example from a Willamette Week’s Parker Hall 1/22/19 review of Day Runner IPA from Portland’s Threshold Brewing.  Now perhaps more sophisticated beer experts could truly discern the flavor he describes but take a look:

Rub your hands together and then give a “high” five…..

“A blend of Columbus and Ekuanot hops brings piny tar and tropical funk furnished by a tiny bite of freshly baked sourdough that makes your mouth water for the next sip, it smells like your hands would after an afternoon trimming Portland’s second favorite intoxicant. 

It’s a welcome and decidedly West Coast interpretation of the style that melds classic lupulin bite with deep hop flavor….”

Now remember, the reviews I’m talking about are not those in beer geek periodicals, but newspapers and publications for a general audience.   Heater Allen – a wonderful family brewery  in McMinnville, Oregon, gets a number of raves for its beers including this one from the 2014 Willamette Week Beer Guide where its Isarweizen was rated number six out of the top ten Beers of the Year.

“If you’ve only guzzled Widmer or Blue Moon, prepare yourself. This beer will thump your nostrils with the smell of clove and then strike your tongue with the taste of banana.  It’s creamy and crisp, something like chewing a slice of Juicy Fruit gum – in the very best way.”

“So sweet, you can’t help but chew” – and in the very best way!

Now while brewing creativity is a good thing, one reader argued about restoring some sanity in his clip entitled, “Holiday Ale Festival Gone Amok” when he described a disturbing trend in the annual Portland event in 2018 as:

“The festival’s hallmark has always been wonderful strong, winter ales and cask conditioned brews. Just the thing to blast me out of my IPA rut. But this year the festival got too cutesy and lost its way. The so-called stouts all tasted like milkshakes or Snickers bars.  The ales were so fruity that a better name might be the Kool-Aid Festival. 

And then there are the sour beers. There are probably some folks who actually like this stuff, but how many sour beers does it take for the rest of us to learn what we truly don’t like? Let’s take the Holiday Ale Festival back to its roots and put great winter brews back where they belong.”

To demonstrate how the trend to get a sweet confectionary flavor has escalated, let’s look at a few more.  Ten Barrel Brewing released The Last Blockbuster which was described as “having a light body and smooth finish with nuances of red licorice.”

“Nuances” of Red Licorice……

And here’s another one that I’ve saved about Priem Brewing (Hood River) Vienna Lager

“The relaxed toastiness, gentle caramelly sweetness and elegant body that define (this Vienna Lager) are all present, as are deeper notes of liquid toast, caramel apples and hints of toffee. A swallow brings out smooth cashew butter and dried, herbal hops balance the semi-sweet finish.”

The composer would judge the symphony of flavor as “classical”?

Now, Pfriem references the beer as a “malted symphony that would make Mozart proud….” and the review above was even in Draft Magazine, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen “liquid toast”.  (Although the Urban Dictionary defines “liquid bread as “A beer with a high specific gravity at the end of fermentation resulting in a dense beer.”)

It also sounds like this reviewer would get the same eclectic taste by stuffing the entire contents of his Halloween bag in his mouth in one gulp.

After griping about this brewing pattern, I’ll end the comments about beer reviews on a more positive and healthy note (except for the “chocolate milk” reference below).  While I’m not a great fan of stouts and porters, I did like the description of Most Premium Russian Imperial Stout from Gigantic Brewing – another Portland brewer. 

It was also in the WW 2014 Beer Guide and was favored as the 10th Best Beer in 2014: “In a beer scene lacking in big, bottled Imperial Stouts, Gigantic’s might be the czar.”  

“Thick as chocolate milk and black as the Mariana Trench, it masks its 10% ABV in a complex, aromatic palette of flavors, intermingling touches of raisin and prune with deep caramel and nuts.  It’s dense and robust, not to mention, dark – like a Russian winter’s night.” 

We need to add some raisins and nuts

For accuracy sake, I would also point out that while one would expect the Mariana Trench which reaches depths of 36,000 feet in the Pacific to be black, the hue in its ocean floor is actually “….a yellowish color…because of all the decaying plants and animals, animal skeletons, and shells that are continuously deposited there.”  

(If you’re wondering why I’m quoting from  2014 published reviews, it’s because I’ve been meaning to write on this topic since that time….)

Scriptural Guidance?

Since this is the Christmas and Holiday Season, I thought there might be a Biblical reference – from the Holy Bible versus the Beer Bible -which would provide some direction on the issue of beer flavor and taste – and I discovered one.

Proverbs 20:1 states: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” 

A brawler…..

A “brawler” would hardly be perceived as a brew with “nuances of red licorice” or a “gentle caramelly sweetness” or for that matter, “creamy and crisp – like chewing a slice of Juicy Fruit Gum.”  This – in contrast to an imperial stout or porter, both characterized by their dark color and full body.

The gold standard probably being Guinness Draught, which Guinness states is “distinguished by its legendary stormy surge upon pouring.”  That and a brew such as Smuttynose Imperial Stout can definitely be considered as “pugnacious.”  (Perhaps those who prefer dark beer can consider this as Old Testament Divine Guidance.)

The Beerchaser’s Favorites

Since I talked about beer itself – rather than breweries in this post – I’ll end by offering my five favorite Oregon beers (in no priority).  And hats off to the beer aficionados who are into the more esoteric brews.  But I graduated from an aggie college and have less refined and expansive preferences based on my education at Price’s Tavern in downtown Corvallis.

I am not offering any flamboyant or eloquent rationale except, “I really like them!”

Black Habit

 1.  Black Habit Brown Ale – (7.8%) the flagship beer of the Benedictine Brewery at the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary brewed by Fr. Martin Grassel

2.  Sticky Hands IPA – (8.1% – 110 IBU) Block 15 Brewery in Corvallis 

3.  Oakshire Amber Ale – (5.4% – 24 IBU) from Eugene’s Oakshire Brewing 

4. Shanghai’d English Style IPA – (6.5% 65 IBU) – Portland’s Old Town Brewing

5.  Buoy IPA – (7.0% – 70 IBU) from Astoria’s Buoy Beer Company 

But I Can’t Forget….

And I would be remiss without this honorable mention.  Now, I realize that this American lager is a Wisconsin – not an Oregon beer – from the brewery founded in 1844 and unfortunately now produced by Miller Coors, but it’s still a great beer. 

Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) – (4.74%)  Pabst Brewing Company

An outstanding honorable mention

Besides, in Thebeerchaser’s opinion:

“PBR tickles the olfactory epithelium with a pleasant and satisfying aroma and provides a hint of the forest on a fall day.  And the smooth malt-infused taste this sophisticated pilsner gives mid-palate is memorable.  

Topping it off is the no-nonsense hoppiness which creates an emotional mouthfeel similar to the crest of a wave breaking in the Pacific off Lincoln City, Oregon at high-tide.  PBR is tantamount to the Nectar of the Gods!”  (Don Williams 2020)

Christmas and Holiday Blessings from Thebeerchaser

And may all your shots be Pfizer rather than Vodka!

Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter (Who, What, Why?)

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Followers of Thebeerchaser blog know that generally, each quarter I try to convey the story of an interesting individual or group – a departure from my usual reviews of bars and breweries. Originally, I posted a Beerchaser-of-the-Month, but that schedule precluded doing justice to each story, so I moved to a Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter (BOQ).

Who are these people and why do I devote space in my blog to the thirty-five individual  “honorees” named during the nine + years I have been authoring Thebeerchaser. The answer is pretty simple.

Throughout my earlier years, during my career and in retirement, I have met (or read about) many fascinating and wonderful people with compelling stories and both notable exploits and accomplishments.  Those I’ve featured may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer. Exploring how to chronicle the BOQ tales has been fun and gratifying.

The late author and humorist, Brian Doyle

I’ve known almost all the BOQ’s personally – and in a few cases, such as the late Brian Doyle – a noted NW author, I met them after writing and asking to meet them over a beer – asserting that adding the BOQ entry to their resume would pack the same punch as having a notary-of-the public designation. 

One of my early “honorees”, Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt – author of the magnificent treatise, On Bullshitsurprisingly responded to the missive I sent him at the University informing him of this new accolade with the following e-mail:

Dear Mr. Williams,   First of all, thank you for the honor of naming me the January 12, 2012 Beerchaser of the Quarter.  I have looked at the blog in which you announced my receipt of this distinction, and I was impressed by its wit, its charm, and its erudition. 

Emeritus Professor Harry Frankfurt

Also, I enjoyed the pictures.  I intend to follow your blog regularly.  Anyhow, thanks very much for writing.  Sincerely,  Harry Frankfurt”

Beerchaser followers have sometimes asked for a list of all those I’ve written about.  Although you can access the posts, by clicking on the category at the left side of the blog header above, I haven’t to this point published a complete roster of this disparate group comprising academicians, athletes, authors, clerics, consultants, developers, environmentalists, friends/family, media personalities, military veterans, musicians…..well you get the idea.

Coach Dee Andros – celebrates the Giant Killer 3 to 0 victory over top-rated USC in 1967

And joining these individuals listed below, are four groupsthe 1967 Oregon State Giant Killer Football Team, the 1798-99 Crew of the USS Constitution (Unfortunately, none of whom I’ve met!), OSU Football Coach Mike Riley and his 2012 Team and Lawyers, – the latter based on the respect and admiration I gained – for at least most of them – working with these professionals for almost forty years.

Drinking a Sam Adams IPA at Dirty Nelly’s in Boston

Oh yes.  And there is, appropriately, one Beerchaser-of-the-Year (well, actually it should be 40 years).  She has been my life partner since March 29, 1980, but also supported me in the pursuit of this idiosyncratic hobby over the last nine years.  Janet even went so far as switching from her favorite vintage of wine to IPAs on our road trips exploring new watering holes.

Janet on Alaska Cruise

The BOQ’s are listed by year below in reverse chronological order ending with Harold Schlumberg – one of the few I have not met, but the first person, I named in 2011 shortly after starting Thebeerchaser.   Yes, in some years, there aren’t four but let’s not get too formal. – this is a hobby!  Before enumerating them below, I thought I’d give you an idea of their memorable exploits by this simple quiz.   The answers are at the end of the post after the list:

  1. Who are the father and daughter who both garnered this title in separate posts?
  2. What BOQ has the nickname “Godfather?”
  3. What BOQ is known as Oregon’s “Beer Goddess?”
  4. What family member of Thebeerchaser took a deep dive?
  5. Who is the only BOQ whose existence is questionable – not that that’s a bad thing!
  6. Vandelay —– Latex  – Really?

    What 2012 BOQ was recently inducted into the State of Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for two sports and what other BOQ did he join in that organization?
  7. What two persons are the only married couple named as co-BOQ for their outstanding long-term environmental work?
  8. Sam Holloway with Guinness Master Brewer, Fergal Murray

    Which BOQ is a tenured professor and internationally recognized micro-brewery industry consultant? 
  9. Which BOQ was named because of his heroic military service and is also not only an author, but served two terms as Mayor of an historic Oregon City?
  10. Which BOQ authored a book known as “the most influential crime novel of the last 50 years” and had an opening line that one author/reviewer described as “….probably the greatest opening line of any book I’ve ever read.” 
  11. Which Portland lawyer was named BOQ not only for his legal skills, but helping put Portland State College in the national spotlight during the 1960’s?
  12. Who is the BOQ who designed the memorable logo for Thebeerchaser?

You can click on the link over the name of each BOG below if you want to see the narrative and pictures in the original post.  And if you want to suggest an individual worthy of this esteemed title in the future, please leave a comment or e-mail me.

2020

Fr. Chuck Wood Catholic Priest 12/4/2020
Billy Main Football player – entrepreneur 5/25/20 – 5/11/20
Lawyers Lawyers 8/31/2020
Jack and Jan McGowan Environmentalist – non profit leaders 2/19/2020

No 22 – Billy “Rabbit” Main

2019

John Runkle Owner – The Dirty Shame Saloon  8/13/2019
Col. Terry “Spike McKinsey – USMC Marine Aviator and Base Commander 3/26/2019

Marine Aviator Terry “Spike” McKinsey

2018

The 1967 Oregon State Giant Killers Collegiate Football Team 5/20/2018
Mark Edlen Developer and Philanthropist 2/7/2018

Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Mark Edlen

2017

Fr. Martin Grassel Benedictine Monk and Benedictine Brewer 7/1/2617
Brain Doyle – Beerchaser Eternal Author and Humorist 6/9/2017
Amy Faust Media Personality and Writer 4/11/2017

Amy Faust – now on Classical 89.9

2016

Dwight Jaynes Media Personality, Journalist and Writer 13/13/16
Kelly Gronli Symphonic Musician – Oboist 6/29/2016
Jay Waldron Attorney, Athlete, Adventurer 3/29/2016

The Godfather – Dwight Jaynes

2015

Capt. Rick Williams USN Retired Military Veteran and Energy Consultant 10/22/2015
Sam Holloway University Professor and Micro-brew Industry Consultant 8/25/2015
Lisa Morrison Bar owner, Author, Media Personality 4/9/2015

First a hardhat diver, then submarine rescue vehicle then skipper of a nuclear sub

2014

Jack Faust Lawyer and Media Personality 9/2/2014
Steve Lawrence Veteran, Lawyer, Author, Mayor 5/29/2014
Brian Doyle Author and Humorist 2/24/2014
Art Vandelay Latex??!! 1/31/2014
Janet Williams Wife and Outstanding Human Being 1/19/2014

Jack Faust and son, Charlie, at Bailey’s Taproom

2013

Johnny Brose Winemaker, Brewer, College Instructor 11/14/2013
Jud Blakely Veteran, Consultant and Writer 9/16/2013
Doug Bomarito Veteran and Lawyer 9/16/2013
Jim Westwood Attorney and Civic Leader 3/28/2013

Lt. Jud Blakely in Than Thrah Viet Nam – July 1966

2012

Forrest Green Musician, Environmentalist and Counselor 11/4/2012
Mike Riley and the OSU Football Team Coach and Players 10/23/2012
Craig “The Dude”  Hanneman Athlete, Executive, Elected Official and Mountain Climber 8/27/2012
John Terry Historian and Journalist 5/29/2012
Dr. Harry Frankfurt University Professor and Author 1/6/2012

 

The Dude on Mt. Everest Climb

2011

Four Bartenders Portland Area Mixologists 11/9/2011
James Crumley Author 9/27/2011
Harold Schlumberg Retired Chemical Engineer and Philosopher 8/29/2011

Phoebe – Bartender at the Brooklyn Park Pub – my first bar visited

Answers to the BOQ Quiz Above

  1. Jack and Amy Faust
  2. Dwight Jaynes
  3. Lisa Morrison
  4. Rick Williams – my youngest brother
  5. Art Vandelay who has a remarkable resemblance to lawyer, Carson Bowler
  6. Craig Hanneman and Dwight Jaynes
  7. Jack and Jan McGowan 
  8. Dr. Sam Holloway
  9. Steve Lawrence
  10. James Crumley
  11. Jim Westwood
  12. Jud Blakely

Cheers and Have a Safe and Joyful Christmas and Holiday Season

 

 

Father Chuck Wood – Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Followers of Thebeerchaser blog know that each quarter, I name an individual or group as my Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.  They may or may not have anything to do with bars or beer; however, the “honoree” has, in my humble opinion, made a contribution to society and a good story I try to convey.  (For the BOQ posts, see the tab on the left side of the header above.)

Dr. John Walker – Portland State University graduate school

As an example, my last group so honored was Lawyers – in light of the 40+ years I worked with these professionals.  Individuals who have garnered this designation include veterans with distinguished military service, authors, athletes, media personalities, civic leaders and academicians including my graduate school professor of public finance – Dr. John Walker.  

The individuals whose stories I related in 2020 include William Tucker (Billy) Main – an outstanding member of the 1967 Oregon State Beaver Giantkiller Football Team and Jack and Jan McGowan – the co-Executive Directors of the outstanding Oregon environmental group SOLVE.

Jan and Jack at their Sisters, OR home

This quarter, Fr. Chuck Wood, joins another man-of-the-cloth, Fr. Martin Grassel (Order of St. Benedictine) in BOQ membership.

Fr. Martin, a Benedictine monk, is also the Head Brewer for the Benedictine Brewery – one of three in the US owned and operated by Benedictine Monks.  I have been privileged to be involved as a volunteer with the Brewery and development of the St. Michael Taproom since late 2017, where our motto is “Taste and Believe” and our flagship beer is Black Habit.

Head Brewer and Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary Procurator, Fr. Martin Grassel

Through involvement with the Brewery, in part, I became a member of the Abbey Foundation of Oregon (AFO) Board of Trustees, which is where I met Fr. Chuck – another member of the Board.  Before telling you Chuck’s story, a few general comments on why I wanted to share it with you.

I’m a Presbyterian, so before becoming involved in the Brewery and the AFO, I had essentially no prior contact with either priests or monks.  Since then – fall of 2017 – I’ve become good friends with both a number of Benedictine Monks who live at the Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary and the priests involved with the Abbey.  (Perhaps the picture below, will show why you should visit the beautiful and expansive grounds on the Abbey Hilltop.)

Without exception, they have been wonderful caring and dedicated men of God.  The monks at the Abbey pray collectively six times a day and rise at 5:00 AM to commence their prayer and duties.  They also have diverse backgrounds, for example, Fr. Martin, graduated from the University of North Dakota in Computer Science and after graduation worked as a software engineer for Honeywell Corp in Phoenix, when he got the call which brought him to Mount Angel.

Abbott Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, grew up on a farm in a small town in Idaho and became the twelfth elected head of the Abbey and Seminary in 2016. Before he was elected Abbot, Fr. Jeremy taught theology at Mount Angel Seminary and at Sant’ Anselmo University in Rome.

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll OSB

He has published three books and fifteen scholarly articles on Evagrius (a Christian monk and ascetic) and related topics in ancient Egyptian monasticism.

He has also written widely on liturgical questions. and published three books of poetry in addition to a recent collection of poetic essays called A Monk’s Alphabet.  (A wonderful book I would strongly recommend.)

The Abbot has a wonderful sense of humor and his humility endears him to all.  To see an example, check out this short video – one of the weekly inspirational messages – this one at Thanksgiving – he has given to those of all faiths during the pandemic: https://www.mountangelabbey.org/monastery/abbot-jeremy/abbot-jeremy-videos/

And with apologies for digressing – again…but I have been amazed at the wonderful  perspective and collective sense of humor all the clerics I have met possess.   While I  talk about this merriment more below, look at a brief preview with Fr. Chuck and two of his colleagues (Fr. Mark Nelson and Fr. Mark Bentz)

This YouTube clip is entitled “Three Priests React to Priest and Church Jokes,” and while some of the jokes are corny, just observing the fun these three priests have doing the bit, is well worth watching. (Click on the center of the photo below)

Father Chuck

Chuck and his dad in Washington DC.

Chuck was born in Washington DC in 1960 into a Catholic family.  His dad was a graphic artist and designer who worked for the Depts. of Agriculture and Labor.  His mom, raised a Baptist, converted to Catholicism and worked as a clinical and hospital nurse at both Howard University and in a private clinic.

The theatre, music and art were all avid interests – “I was a creature of artistic variety and was involved in drama from the time I was in grade school, but our plays were terrible and my talents as an actor were not so good!”  (You’ll have a chance to judge that below…)

His best friend starting in second grade was Vincent Cowal – they kept in contact and in one of a number of amazing “coincidences” in Chuck’s life, Vince now teaches media and technology at Jesuit High School in Portland where he is a respected educator.

Chuck Wood was a good boy growing up – never in trouble, having no curfew, and was interested in going into politics and government – maybe as a diplomat.  He graduated from St. Anselm’s Abbey School – an all boys school for grades 6-12, which was on the grounds of a Benedictine monastery and where “Where Bright Boys Become Exceptional Men.” 

St. Anselm’s Abbey School

A turning point……

Then in his sophomore year “I became bored with being a good boy.”   After a year of somewhat disruptive behavior contrasting with his former demeanor – although not resulting in any major trouble – he had a change of heart because of the influence of a young priest.

Fr. Thomas Kalita came to Chuck’s Catholic parish and helped the young man come to the realization that being a Christian meant not just going to church, but having a personal relationship with Jesus and helping others.

Fr. Kalita – a profound influence

In October 1976 at an evening service, he committed to do that.  “It changed my life.  My life now is a direct line from that day.”   He said that “prayers and circumstance got me to the University of Notre Dame.”

A central factor and one that “became part of my identity” was his introduction to People of Praise.  Founded in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, this organization has grown into a community of about 1,700 members…. in 22 cities across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.  To summarize their philosophy:

Jesus desires unity for all people. We live out this unity the best we can, in spite of the divisions within Christianity. We are Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians and other denominational and nondenominational Christians…. Despite our differences, we worship together. While remaining faithful members of our own churches, we have found a way to live our daily lives together.

Our community life is characterized by deep and lasting friendships. We share our lives together often in small groups and in larger prayer meetings……. We strive to live our daily lives in our families, workplaces and cities in harmony with God and with all people.”  (People of Praise webslite)

Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus

Chuck became a member of People of Praise  (POP) in the fall of 1978 while a student at Notre Dame and also joined the Brotherhood within POP committed to a celibate life.

He studied economics and government and was a “bad actor” in a number of University productions and “hung around with artsy friends.”   During this time his interest in journalism was heightened by writing articles for the school newspaper and serving as editor of the student magazine.

Preparing for life after graduation, he applied and was rejected for several jobs including a nationally known Catholic publisher, but a priest told him about an internship at the Catholic News Service in Washington, DC. and through the help of a Catholic bishop, he secured an interview in his senior year.

When the six-month internship ended, he was hired as a reporter – a job he loved and at age 24, he thought would be a great lifetime career. Moving back to South Bend, he took a job at a small publishing company.  Although Chuck was firmly committed to People of Praise, he had not seriously considered the Catholic priesthood.

Looking back, when he was about eleven, his Aunt Leona – a protestant – commented to Chuck’s mom, “He will probably be a priest.”   After he was ordained his sister stated,  “Chuck was probably the last person in our family to know that!”

Cardinal Francis George – another strong influence in Chuck Wood’s spiritual journey

Chuck stated, “God nudged and prodded me to be open to the possibility.”   And part of that “prodding” was moving to Portland in 1996 after driving across the country in two vans with ten other Brothers from the People of Praise living in communities in South Bend and Minneapolis.

This was, in part, at the urging of Yakima Archbishop Francis George who would soon be appointed as Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Portland and who was eventually created a Catholic Cardinal in Chicago by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

This move was a matter of faith as he was finishing his Masters in Theology at Notre Dame.  Three of the ten new Oregonians decided to attend seminary at Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary near Salem, Oregon – a Benedictine community.  Two started in the fall of 1996 and Chuck joined them in January.

“I attended high school on the grounds of a Benedictine Monastery and felt very comfortable in this environment,” he stated.  “I became immersed in the Benedictine tradition and love the intellect and culture.”

Mt. Angel Abbey Seminarians

Upon graduation in 2000, he was ordained a priest and his first assignment was at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in North Portland.  For two years at that assignment,  he and a colleague also co-pastored at Sacred Heart Church in SE Portland.

It also brought some special assignments with a Brother from POP in Minnesota involving teaching at a secondary school. He then returned to his long-term home in Oregon, where Fr. Chuck has served in a number of parish posts all in the Portland metropolitan area as follows:

2004 – 2010:  St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Gresham as Associate Pastor

2010 – 2012:  St. Clare Parish in SW Portland as Pastor

St. Clare Catholic Church

2012 – -2016: Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Lake Oswego as Associate Pastor

Now lest you think that Fr. Wood’s attachment to the arts diminished in his ministry and restrained him from showing his talents, take a look at this video below.

It shows him and Fr. John Kerns, the Pastor, rocking out and their “inspired” dance moves to the cheers of their congregation at Our Lady of the Lake’s 2014 Parish Festival.  (This one should make you laugh out loud….!)  And if you search YouTube, you can find more of Chuck’s artistic endeavors including a Gilbert and Sullivan entry. (Click on the center of the photo below)

2016 to present: St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Scapoose ( 20 miles from Portland) as Pastor

The beautiful sanctuary of St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church

St. Wenceslaus is a parish of about 275-300 households. They are fortunate to have a pastor with the faith, dedication, intellect, sense of humor and dance moves of Fr. Chuck Wood.

Since this is a blog about bars and beers, I ended my interview (unfortunately we could not meet face-to-face in a bar or brewery) asking Fr. Chuck about his beer-of-choice to which he replied:

“Because of pre-diabetes, blood sugar issues, I had to cut back on beer intake.  When I do drink beer, I like darker brews – stouts and porters such as Benedictine Brewery’s ‘Black Habit(an obvious choice) – and Hopworks Urban Brewing – ‘Survival – 7 Grain Stout.'”

In light of Fr. Chuck’s fondness for corny jokes, after I saw the video about the three priests, I sent him this bar joke – perhaps he will use it in the future….

A little variation with a computer reference..

“A priest, a minister and a rabbit walk into a bar and the rabbit says, “I think I may be a typo….” 

And finally, because I couldn’t resist, I leave you with just one more YouTube example.  Fr. Chuck sent this 2020 production to the Monastic Community, the AFO Board and the Abbey Staff by e-mail after Easter.

After a few months of the pandemic and lockdowns, people were looking for something light-hearted and positive and he accomplished that goal. He prefaced it with the following comment:

“While it’s still the Easter Season for a couple more days, I invite you all to take a look at an Easter video I put together. Just short of 6 minutes, it’s a spin on Pharrell Williams’ song, ‘Happy,’ from the 2013 movie, “Despicable Me 2.’ Pardon me if my ego is showing, but I’d be honored if you’d care to take a look.  Happy Easter!”

The reaction as you might expect was effusive and generated numerous thankful e-mail responses.  God bless you Fr. Chuck.  You are truly a Soul Man!  (Click on the center of the photo below)

Modern(e) Family

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

I have written at length in several posts about Thebeerchaser’s six-day solo Montana road trip in the fall of 2019 – solo, that is, until I picked up my wife, Janet when she flew into Billings for the remaining nine-days of our trip.

The trip began with two days in Yaak, Montana where I spent a great amount of time at the Dirty Shame Saloon, getting to know the unforgettable character and now friend, John Runkle while I stayed at John’s Yaak River Lodge.

Devouring John Runkle’s blueberry pancakes in the Yaak River Lodge dining room

Overnight stays in Kalispell, Hamilton, Anaconda and Livingston followed – all wonderful, towns that beckon a return after COVID becomes a vivid memory from 2020 – not one etched into our everyday thoughts and prayers.

Now during that time, I hit 29 bars and breweries in pursuit of my Beerchasing retirement hobby started in 2011.  Due to the number of establishments, aside from the Shame, I have featured multiple watering holes in each post until now — the Club Moderne in the historic mining town of Anaconda.

That’s because not only is the architecture and décor totally different than any other bar in Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming and Idaho, but the momentous story that continues to cement the Moderne’s legacy in the robust history of Anaconda is unique.

Now I am not and never will be a hunter, but I loved one almost universal characteristic of the Montana dive bars I visited.  Taxidermy is a recurring and dominant theme and as evidenced by the fact that there are 205 taxidermists registered in Montana and Helena even has the Montana School of Taxidermy and Tanning.

The 2019 annual convention of the Montana Taxidermists’ Association in Billings was the most well-attended ever according to the Billings Gazette.  The product of taxidermists is ingrained in the culture – kind of like soccer in Europe and losing in the Pac 12 Athletic Conference since Larry Scott became the Commissioner….

A notable example is the stuffed alligator hanging over what is reported to be the longest bar in Montana at the Blue Moon Saloon in Columbus Falls – the saloon also has a polar bear and grizzly in a gigantic glass display case among others on display. 

Although there are too many to mention in this post, don’t forget the albino mule deer fawn tucked in between multiple other formerly wild creatures on the west wall of the legendary New Atlas Saloon in the heart of Columbus – a bar that originated in 1906.

It’s described by Joan Melcher, author of two outstanding books on historic Montana watering holes:

“Hulking throughout the room are bald eagles, an albino mule deer fawn, a coyote howling to the moon, young bobcats fighting an Audak (African mountain sheep), a Canadian lynx, raccoon or two, a fox, a snow owl. moose heads, elk heads – buffalo, antelope, mountain sheep – all kinds of head….

….After a few drinks, you feel countless pairs of eyes bearing down.  You have another beer to relax under their scrutiny, look around again, and you’re among friends, the animals’ glares having softened to amused acceptance.”  (Page 95 – Montana Watering Holes by Joan Melcher)

One of multiple footrest spittoons at the New Atlas

The historic character is usually enhanced by dark wooden bars and backbars and in the New Atlas, spittoons, in the footrest running the full length of the bar.

But the Club had a one-of-a-kind exterior – at least in Montana – and possibly one of just two similar themes in the Western US (see below).

In Big Sky Country, such design was tantamount to finding a liberal arts major at an aggie school like Oregon State University or a guy, in what some regard as the Micro-brew capital of the Western Hemisphere, ordering a Budweiser at after-work gatherings in the PacWest Center in downtown Portland.  (Oh yeah, I guess I meet both of those conditions, but you understand my point – the Club Moderne is just very unusual and surprising given the context.)

Now even though I was a liberal arts major, I had to look up the definition of “moderne”  – it’s defined by the Free Dictionary, in part, as:

“Of or relating to the art deco style marked by bright colors and geometric shapes….An architectural and decorative style popular from the 1930s to the 1940s and characterized by streamlined and curved surfaces, strong horizontal lines, and minimal surface ornament.”

And the Club Moderne was added to the National  Trust for Historic Preservation in 1986 and described on its website:

“The bar was – and still is – a sight to behold, with its rounded front facade and Carrara glass panels that perfectly embody the Art Deco style of architecture popular in the U.S. earlier last century.  Club Moderne was built under the direction of owner John “Skinny” Francisco. The building was designed by Bozeman, Montana-based architect Fred Willson and built by local carpenters and craftspeople.”

And the City of Anaconda – dating back to 1893 and a with current population of about 10,000, has an interesting history:

“…..founded by Marcus Daly, one of the Copper Kings, who financed the construction of the Anaconda smelter on nearby Warm Springs Creek to process copper ore from the Butte mines……

The Anaconda company expanded smelting capacity over time; by 1919 the Washoe Reduction Works could boast that its 585-foot (178 m) smokestack was the tallest masonry structure in the world and that the smelter-refining complex constituted the world’s largest non-ferrous processing plant. In 1980, Atlantic Richfield Co. closed the smelter, bringing an end to almost a century of mineral processing.”  (Wikipedia)

One of my friends lived there during the 1950’s and said that the town bustled with activity.  There was a bar on almost every block of Commercial Street.  But disaster struck in 2016 and a devastating fire ravaged the Club Moderne the night of October 3rd. To understand the sentiment of Anaconda residents, consider an article in The Missoulian when the Moderne reopened in the spring of 2017 after community efforts to make it happen.

One resident described the loss of the Club Moderne as “the most devastating thing to happen to Anaconda.”….Victor Zenahlik, a captain with the Anaconda Fire Department, said he felt “heartbroken and sickened” when he got the call to respond to the Club Moderne.  (The Missoulian – May 13, 2017)

But the Moderne, at least from what I saw, never lost the family-type character and historic flavor which defined it.  According to an article in the Montana Standard on 10/4/16:

“‘This is a place where you brought your lady. This is a place where you could be comfortable. This is a place where they had it similar to Cheers where everyone knew your name,’ he said. ‘Everyone was welcomed when they came to the Club Moderne. It was a comfortable place and it spanned all the generations — from 21-year-olds to 80-year-olds.” ”

The Owl – not an inviting environment

And it was the exact opposite of The Owl Bar – another Anaconda bar I visited which was one of the few places on my trip where I had the distinct vibe that those who weren’t regulars should probably find another place to drink.

Admittedly, this sentiment is based on only one try, although my visits to about 400 watering holes since 2011, gives me a pretty good feel for mood.   The Owl originally, and for many years, didn’t have stools at the bar which is some indication that it was more of a place to throw down shots than to mingle.

In contrast, the Moderne had and has a family environment which is what led to its recovery after the fire.   In the words of Stephanie Hekkel, the Moderne owner’s words, describing what she liked best – “….hanging out with some of Anaconda’s old-timers, who ranged from miners to smelter workers, lawyers, teachers and policemen…..They had their stools. Everyone knew where you sat…..Some regulars came five days a week.”  The Montana Standard 10/4/16

Is this what you call a “beer chaser…?”

I sat down at the bar and the friendly bartender, Destiny, went through the tap list while a woman named Wanda sitting on an adjacent bar stool, advised me that I should try the Bloody Mary – it was a great choice and not just because it was served in a tall Bud Lite glass….

It turned out that Wanda had some Oregon roots as she went to college at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon – about twenty miles from my house.

And joining in the conversation were two affable young guys – Kyle and Logan – who it turned out were staying at the same hotel as I was and were in Anaconda for a month on a contract for the Montana Highway Department to install underground culverts.  The Club had quickly become their “bar of choice.”

The front of the establishment where the bar and booths are located is a bright and inviting room where various ornate trinkets and mementos adorn a lighted display case over the full length of the backbar. (The Moderne does not have a website and research did not yield any underlying story, but they were interesting.)

Author Melcher describe the front room in her 2009 visit:

“We order drinks and settle in, taking in the unerring details of art deco design.  The perfect geometry of the back bar, the copper and aluminum checkerboard ceiling, the stainless steel accents, the angles and lines in inlaid wood, the chromium and leather furniture – all details – all preserved.”

The larger back room – once restricted for ladies – because in Montana, as in many American jurisdictions, females could not drink in the same room as males – they had a separate entrance on the side or back of the establishment.   It’s now reserved for community events with a number of chairs, a shuffleboard game and an electronic dart board.

As a wonderful coincidence, Camille (Cam) Fallow, one of our nearby Oregon friends, when I related my Montana road trip experience and visit to the Club effused:

“Oh, You have found part of Anaconda’s history!  Many years ago, Club Moderne’s bartenders wore starched white vests and ties and the back room area was very formal.

Much of the design of the building was unique.  Folks far and wide knew about Anaconda’s Club Moderne, owned and operated by my step-father,
Skinny Francisco!  So happy that you stopped by there!”

The picture below from the Club’s Facebook page affirms Cam’s statement in this picture on its 80th birthday in 2017, when everyone dressed up as in the “old days.”
So, if you travel to Montana, be sure to put this bar on your itinerary.  And speaking of Cam’s step-dad, Skinny Francisco, if you prefer a more urban setting on the West Coast where you can check out the art-deco architecture, you might want to try the country’s other Club Moderne in the heart of San Francisco.

Stookey’s Club Moderne is located between Nob Hill and Union Square on the corner of Bush and Taylor Streets, where owner Tim Stookey also provides the art-deco vibe according to an article in Liquor.com.

“Tim Stookey, Stookey’s namesake co-owner, has spent nearly 20 years behind a bar. After much reconnaissance, he landed on the space near the city’s Nob Hill neighborhood.

The building itself has, appropriately, been a bar since 1944 and in all likelihood, ‘they were slinging booze here since Prohibition,’ says Stookey. The former Faverman’s Pharmacy #4—there were once five locations in San Francisco—became Faverman’s Liquors and remained a bar until its current incarnation.”

Cheers and Stay Safe!

Image by Pam Williams

On Veterans and Lawyers….

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  Since this is a long post, if you are seeing it through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the narrative is not clipped or shortened.)

Based on the tyranny of the urgent as well as the unique challenges presented in 2020, we may tend to overlook our traditional commemoration of individuals and groups on Veterans’ Day.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic, experienced raging wildfires throughout the West, encountered protests and riots over the issue of social and racial injustice, witnessed businesses floundering or ceasing operation and endured divisive political campaigns culminating in one of the closest and most contentious elections in many years.   Oh yes – and now we face the ever-present dilemma of how, with many gyms still closed, to get back in shape and lose the poundage gained snacking during the lockdowns.

We cannot, however, forget those who had a profound impact on preserving our freedom –  our Veterans.  In this Beerchaser post, I’ll attempt to reinforce the importance of taking time during Veterans’ Day on November 11th to hail their dedication, sacrifice and patriotism.

A poster from 2013

In a recent post, based on my forty years of working with them, I named lawyers –  as a group -as my Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter.   Now I know some of you may think that the recent post-election turnout of lawyers exceeded the turnout of voters, but they are critical to preserving the Rule of Law – a foundation of our system of justice.

And below, I will single out a few of them – some who have previously garnered the “honor” of Beerchaser-of-the-Quarter, but should also be recognized for their distinguished service in the Armed Forces.  In closing, I name a few others who should also be saluted on this day.

The headline and narrative below first appeared as an opinion piece in my local newspaper in 1998.  It was inspired by an event at the law firm where I worked for twenty-five years – the last thirteen as the Chief Operating Officer.

A number of times in the past, I have asserted why Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt is an outstanding firm – not only for its superb lawyers and support personnel, but also its culture, commitment to civic engagement and community service. The event below is just one example of how Schwabe distinguishes itself and I want to share it again.

(The following was originally published in the West Linn Tidings in November, 1968.)

“Vets Stories Awe Law Firm, Honor Holiday”

Joe Willis

Joe Willis is a senior partner in the Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt law firm based in Portland, Oregon.  Joe was an E-5 (petty officer second class) in the Navy quite a few years in the past.

A few months ago, he sent an e-mail to everyone in the firm.  Joe asked military veterans to e-mail him back, indicating the branch of service and some details about when and where they served.  Those of us who responded promptly forgot about his unusual electronic request.

But Joe didn’t forget.  He felt that Veterans’ Day is now largely taken for granted.  Joe wanted his law firm to think about what it signifies.  On November 14th, he sent another e-mail with the invitation below inviting everyone to a social function honoring the men and women in the firm who are veterans.

Most people in the firm attended – many out of curiosity.  Willis made a few opening remarks (after all, he’s trial lawyer…) and then asked three of the firms named partners to relate stories about their military service.  We heard:

John Schwabe – After he graduated from college, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and then completed officer training. He endured beach landings and the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa and Saipan. For his service, he was awarded a Silver Star, five Bronze Stars and a Presidential Citation for Valor.

John told about coming ashore in the Battle of Tarawa as a Marine Corps officer.  Of the twenty-two men in his amphibious vehicle, only four survived – one of them received the Medal of Honor posthumously.  

John Schwabe was known for his humility and modesty and Joe had at one time asked him why he volunteered to go back on the last two of his four campaigns and John told him simply, “Because it had to be done.”

Wendell Wyatt – This former Oregon Congressman told about flying reconnaissance missions as a Marine Corps aviator in the South Pacific from 1942-46.

Marine aviator, Congressman and lawyer

Wayne Williamson – He related an exciting and somewhat humorous tale about when he was a Naval officer during World War II.  While his ship was in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Germans surrendered to the Allies.   Without much warning, a German U-Boat surfaced near them evidently to surrender.

German SS – “Surface and Surrender??

Armed to the hilt including a pistol, grenades and a submachine gun he didn’t know how to operate, he and his party boarded the sub.  They descended the ladder to take command of the vessel, which was a problem because no one in the submarine could speak English and none in the boarding party knew any German.

As everyone in the firm listened attentively, Wayne told how as he looked at all the German sailors surrounding them, he “got the giggles” at the absurdity of the situation.

The hour passed 5 0’clock, as the lawyers continued their stories.  No one left.  Everyone, but especially the young people, listened with rapt attention.  Joe Willis distributed a large sheet of paper with a chart he made giving each veteran’s, branch of service, rank or rating and duty stations.

US Army Intelligence and Security Command logo

Attorney, Jack Faust, who served in Army counter-intelligence, walked in wearing his kaki tunic (several sizes too small, which was probably why he didn’t wear the pants).

On display in the conference room was a pith helmet one of the soldiers had worn on active duty, along with some photos of people who were in the room, but “hard to recognize” from the photos taken years before.  People cheered as the veterans finished their stories.

That morning as I drove in, I bemoaned the fact that the firm was not closed to commemorate the holiday unlike government offices, schools and banks.  When I went home that night, I thought it had been the most memorable Veterans’ Day I could remember.  Each person who attended had been enriched by the experience.

Thanks Joe.  Well done.  Mission accomplished!

Well, that’s the Schwabe story, but there are some additional individuals who I want to salute on this Veterans’ Day – mostly lawyers, but also some friends and relatives:

Former Beerchasers-of-the-Quarter

(To see the full story of each BOQ including the full text of the medal commendations for Blakely, Bomarito and Lawrence, click on the link over their names below)

Jack Faust

Jack Faust – US Army –  He served in Army intelligence and counterintelligence during the Korean War.  From 1953-55 as a Special Agent in the US Army Counterintelligence Corps – detachment Far East Command, he was stationed in Korea, Japan and China.  Jack is a retired Portland attorney and the former moderator of the Town Hall public affairs television program.

Jud Blakely – USMC After graduating from Oregon State University in 1965, where he served as Student Body President, Jud was commissioned as a USMC 2nd Lt.

He spent a total of 13 months in combat ops in Viet Nam as an infantry platoon leader with India Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

He received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. His purple hearts were for a punji-stake puncture in his knee and shrapnel wounds in his forehead from a midnight mortar attack during the monsoons on the southern edge of the DMZ.

Jud writes and consults from his home in Alabama.

Doug Bomarito – USN – a good friend of Jud Blakely, Doug graduated from the US Naval Academy.  As a Navy Ensign, he initially was on a destroyer, but in 1969 volunteered for Patrol Boats River (PBR), which patrolled in the hostile rivers and canals.

Lt. jg. Bomarito

He served as a patrol officer for a number of PBRs attached to a River Division near the Cambodian border by the Gulf of Thailand.  It was, to say the least, hazardous duty.

February 23, 1970, on his 75th combat mission, the boat on which he was directing tactics and another for which he had responsibility, were ambushed by the North Vietnamese.

During a severe fire-fight, Doug and two of the crew were wounded and eventually medevacked to hospitals, but not before Doug completed his mission.  He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his heroism.

He is now a Portland lawyer.  Bomarito was a key player in developing, designing and funding the Viet Nam Veterans of Oregon Living Memorial. (see below)

The “grown-up versions of Blakely and Bomarito

Jim Westwood

Jim Westwood – USN This now semi-retired Oregon appellate lawyer in the ’60’s was the Captain of the legendary Portland State College Bowl Team which made headlines for its victories on national television.

After graduation from PSU and before law school at  Columbia University, he was commissioned in the Navy and served as a Naval Intelligence Officer for several years.  Because of his superior language skills, he spent a year learning Thai – an extremely difficult language to master.

Steve Lawrence – US Army Steve is a retired lawyer and until recently, the two-term Mayor of the Dalles, Oregon went to Boise Jr. College after graduating from The Dalles High School, but enlisted in 1967.  He was selected for Officer Candidate School, was commissioned and then commanded an infantry platoon in Viet Nam.

While a Second Lieutenant, Steve recalled several “serious helicopter events” including two crashes nearby during fire-fights, and an Army pilot who made three passes firing on Steve’s troops and wounding half of his squad before the chopper was called off by radio.

His Silver Star was awarded for action in combat in July 1968 and Bronze Star for “his display of personal bravery and devotion to duty” in February 1969.  His Bronze Star has an Oak Leaf Cluster because he received a second one for meritorious service while still in Viet Nam.

The Late Colonel Terry “Spike” McKinsey – USMC Ret. – I first met this Gladstone, Oregon native who was to become a legendary jet pilot when we were shipmates on a Navy destroyer (USS John R. Craig DD 885) on our 3/c midshipman summer training cruise when I was in NROTC at Oregon State and he was at the Naval Academy.

Terry took his commission in the Marine Corps and after his eighteen-year career in the active military where he earned the nickname “Spike” because of his tendency to come in for “hard landings,” he flew for the Oregon Air National Guard.  As a result of his charismatic leadership skills, he became the Base Commander from 1985 to 1989.  He then flew as Assistant Chief Pilot for Horizon Airlines.

Spike passed away in 2019 and this excerpt from his obituary written by a USNA classmate sums up his character:

“During his 72 years, Spike’s undeniable strength, unconditional kindness, and unquestionable integrity made a lasting impact on his friends, colleagues, and family….. Spike lived a life true to his values. He stood for what is right and didn’t hesitate to step in when he saw injustice in action.”

Proudly on display at The Dirty Shame

John Runkle  US Army –  He joined the Army in 1980 and was ordered to Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia.  John became a Paratrooper with the 509th Airborne Combat Team, was shipped to Europe and graduated from the French Commando School. 

He also earned Spanish Jump Wings.  The big guy made a total of 53 jumps.

He served as a member of an Army Service component command of United States Africa Command, which although based in Italy, primarily operated in Africa.  His last billet was as an instructor at Fort Benning.

John is now the owner of the Dirty Shame Saloon and the Yaak River Lodge in Yaak, Montana.  I met him on my 2019 Montana road trip and “The Shame” was the most interesting and my favorite of any of the 400 watering holes I’ve reviewed since starting I started Beerchasing in 2011.

Thebeerchaser giving John two bottles of Benedictine Beer in 2019

Don (NROTC) Garry (USMA West Point) Rick (NROTC)

Captain Rick Williams USN Ret. – Although all three of the Williams boys served in the military, our youngest brother had a long and distinguished Navy career.

After graduation and commissioning from the NROTC program at Oregon State, he became a Navy hard-hat diver and then commanded a deep submergence vehicle (USS Sea Cliff DSV 4) including a dive to 20,000 feet in the Middle American Trench off Guatemala.

On his “journey” he went to Nuclear Power School after an interview with the late Admiral Hyman Rickover.  He retired as the Skipper of the USS Spadefish SSN 668 – a Sturgeon Class attack submarine.

And while mentioning submarines, I don’t want to forget our brother-in-law, Dave Booher, a retired teacher and school administrator.

Dave served as a sonarman on two Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines for five nuclear deterrent patrols and was aboard the diesel boat USS Dogfish – it was older than the Beerchaser, having been launched in 1944!.

Dale Harlan

Dale Harlan – US ArmySoon after the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and was sent overseas. Dale was awarded two battle stars and the Air Medal for service in the Central Pacific. Subsequently, he volunteered for the Parachute Infantry and was assigned to Company E, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles).

Dale received two battle stars in Europe, two Presidential Unit Citations, and a Purple Heart. He was severely wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium in January 1945.

He passed away in 2017 and had a distinguished career as a lawyer and elected official besides a life-long commitment to charitable and civic activities.  Dale Harlan is the epitome of those in the Greatest Generation and was a wonderful friend.

But my final recognition on this Veteran’s Day goes to two members of the military who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country:

Captain Donald Wilburn

Don Wilburn – US Army Air Corps – Captain Donald E. Wilburn was my dad’s best friend and SAE fraternity brother at George Washington University.  Don was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and died during World War II. I’m honored to be named after him (Donald Wilburn Williams)

Gary Kestler – US Marine Corps – Gary Kestler was my best friend at Oregon City High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1967.  He was killed by enemy rifle fire while on patrol in Quang Tri Province in Viet Nam on May 28, 1968.  In high school, Gary was a student leader, a multi-sport athlete and a friend to all.

So what are a just a few things we can do this Veterans’ Day to pay homage to those who served:

  • Show the flag at your personal residence.
  • Call a veteran(s) and thank him or her for their service.
  • Raise a mug and make a personal toast to those currently serving.
  • Send a check to the Viet Nam Veteran’s of Oregon Memorial Fund (VNVOMF) to honor all of our Viet Nam Veterans.  Send to:
Doug Bomarito, Attorney at Law
Past Chairman and President
7157 S.W. Beveland Street
Tigard, OR 97223
(503) 223-8285

Cheers to our Veterans!

Reflections on Elections and Rhetoric

(Welcome back to Thebeerchaser.  If you are seeing this through an e-mail, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking on the title above so the post is not clipped or shortened.)

While the virus is an insidious and continuing health threat and the wildfires which raged across Oregon and the West Coast brought staggering losses, another disheartening 2020 phenomenon is the ubiquitous and unfortunately unrelenting rhetoric surrounding the election campaigns.

The lack of civility and rational dialogue has redefined the meaning of “polarized” and we can only hope that after November 3rd, the citizenry of the US will pull together and a plan to conquer the virus is developed.

Meanwhile, it inspired me to re-read a relevant little book with some gems that seem strangely appropriate.   Excuses and Lies – Pithy Proclamations for the Workplace, Liked Ones, Loved Ones, Self Deceptions, Behaving Badly and Famously Infamous is a handy primer for many rationalizations or departures from the truth which are funny, but not pernicious – unlike those spewed forth in the current political environment.

This includes two of my favorites which I have used previously in this blog (and possibly in my own life..) both of which are in the “Self Deceptions” section of this little tome:

“It’s not drinking alone, as long as you have the TV on.”   (page 66)   

“Red wine prevents heart attacks, but you have to drink a lot of it.”  (page 66)

And it is difficult to argue with the major premises of the book including:

“Indeed, if the truth were consistently told, the result would be social anarchy – the end of friendship, correspondence, entertaining, cohabitation and dating.”  (Page 27)

The moral of this story?  If you love someone, lie – and if you really love them lie with scripted wit and creativity.”  (Page 47)

I’m not willing to accept a very cynical premise conveyed on page 62: “People who lie to themselves are more confident and self-assured than those who grapple with the truth of their own inadequacies.”

Benji – living on a farm in the country…

But what parent can argue with two deceptions in the “Loved Ones” section on page 48 including “We’re almost there,” or

“He went to doggy heaven,” the latter being a more spiritual version of, “We gave him a new home on a farm where he can really run free.”

Travolta in his personal Boeing 707 Jet

And it’s not just rationalizations with young children.  The book makes it all relative in the environmental context when defending one’s own lack of discipline for extra trips to the store, use of plastic water bottles (a ridiculous and outrageous habit) or griping about not being able to use a traditional straw in your soda:

“My carbon footprint is so much less than John Travolta’s.”

In revisiting this book, published by Knock Knock Press in Venice, California, it forced me to take down two other similar and adjacent works on my home office bookshelf – both of which I have showered with praise in previous blog posts – the brilliant On Bullshit by Princeton Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt and The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm by James  Napoli.

Napoli’s book is witty and brilliant – a dictionary with a broad range of definitions, but particularly relevant in the political realm.  They range from “activist” – “a person who cares about the fate of the world until reaching approximately twenty-eight years of age,” to “zealous” – “Fervently committed to being so fervently committed that nobody wants to talk to you anymore.”

And he is non-partisan, taking shots at both the left and the right:

Biased: “What pissed-off liberals call people they suspect might have a point.”

Conservative: “Someone who hates liberals because they have, at least once, seen themselves naked.”

JC

I recommend it because it’s 367 enjoyable pages of dry wit which will make you laugh even during a pandemic and with rich historical and geographical references.  Two last examples:

Julius Caesar:  “Dictator of ancient Rome.  His nearly fifteen years of conquest which resulted in the formation of the entire Roman Empire; now reduced to salad.”

Canada:  “Free health care.  Low crime. Birthplace of William Shattner.  Two out of three ain’t bad.”

Now, in two past blog posts, I have gushed, at length, about the profound wisdom of Princeton University Emeritus Professor, Dr. Harry Frankfurt in his essay On Bullshit.  https://thebeerchaser.com/2020/03/12/bs-revisited-if-only-i-had-known-in-2012/

One should go through this treatise to garner a better understanding of pre-election communication, but also to put that dialogue in perspective:

“The realms of advertising and of public relations, and the nowadays closely related realm of politics, are replete with instances of bullshit so unmitigated that they can serve among the most indisputable and classic paradigms of the concept.” (emphasis supplied)

So in order to get through the next three days until the election, you need some inspiring reading, I suggest browsing through these and having a good, strong alcoholic libation while viewing the unceasing political ads.   

The Rev. Swift

And remember these two assertions – the first, by Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) from my own collection of brilliant citations of famous authors and philosophers, I’ve collected over the years. Swift wrote satire and essays and political pamphlets – both for the Tories and the Whigs and was also noted as a poet and cleric.  (Wikipedia)

“If a lie be believed only for an hour, it hath done its work.”

Or from Excuses and Lies if you are caught drinking when it was discouraged or prohibited – from page 91:

“My juice must have accidentally fermented in the cupholder.”

1972 – Have Times Changed that Much?

I’ve mentioned previously that during the lockdown, my wife has justifiably mandated I go through the hundreds of old newspapers, magazine articles, e-mails and documents in our garage from my years in local government and legal management.

Garage Files…..Future High School Civics??

Having reread the aforementioned Lies and Excuses I lamely suggested, “But our granddaughters can use them in their future high school civic classes,” which she summarily rejected and asked, “Have you ever heard of the Internet?”   That said, it has been fun and interesting to wade through this eclectic collection of papers and documents.

And this unsigned letter, a copy of which I made when I worked in the Clackamas County Elections Department dated October 25th 1974, may be evidence that the political environment hasn’t changed that much from years gone by:

During the late 60’s and 70’s with the Viet Nam War, the continuing US Civil Rights Movement and the Nixon Administration, the country was polarized and politics was a nasty business.   In subsequent years, there was a least a modicum of bipartisanship with many beneficial policy issues initiated, destructive and discriminatory past practices remedied and we lived in a more united country.

I have a real interest in history and my intention is not to poke fun at the author of this correspondence who obviously was under some delusional impressions.  (In fact, I admire the fact that he laboriously wrote a long letter notwithstanding his condition: “I am right-handed but have to write with my left hand.  Hope you can read it OK – broke my elbow.”)

The missive demonstrates at least some of the intense emotions of that period. Now, the country is again divided, communication is often acrimonious and we are faced with enormous challenges ranging from the pandemic, wildfires, climate change and unstable global affairs.  

Cheers

My prayer is that after the election we as a nation can unite to address these calamities with concrete actions rather than rancorous rhetoric and that friends with disparate political philosophies can again, raise a mug of their favorite beer.

Then have friendly and respectful discussions (safely and in person).  It seems that we now consciously avoid that kind of dialogue because it will jeopardize the future relationship.

And one final comment from a usually non-political Beerchaser blogger.  I have enjoyed sharing the examples of lies, bullshit and rationalizations above from three “great” literary works. 

It should be strongly noted, however, that there is a vast difference between the everyday exaggerations, fibs, and cock-and-bull stories that most of us utter and the outright lies and falsehoods spouted by both public officials and elected officeholders with deliberate intent to deceive thereby violating their oaths of office. These are  pathetic and disgraceful!

Although I’m now not a member of the same political party, I yearn for the days of bi-partisan politics and some of the great elected officials in Oregon.  My friend, Matt Love, who owns the Nestucca Spit Press – a publishing house on the Oregon Coast recently sent me this decal which will be another garage treasure which is a keeper!

A leader for the ages….

If you have not done so Vote on Tuesday!