Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Freddie and the Baby King of Norway

I could see his smile from behind as he hopped the last step and waddled his nonexistent ass into the bar. He was an orb of fat and back hair atop a small square of plaid boxers. An single scoop of tried jokes and b.o. I immediately wanted to call Freddie. Bulging through his once manly mane, Freddie approached the only decent looking girl in the place, who was seated close to the door facing inward to convey that old simple secret, "I am not easy. You have to talk to me first." He gave her neck a friendly squeeze more about his ability to get away with such a move than a gesture of friendship. He took up his pole position at the bar earned over the last month, paid for in half-paid tabs and requisite last call promisings, and tried to make her smile.

In my hometown in TN this ubiquitous move is found in year two of any Player's curriculum. After the paralysis before the fear of paralysis in the face of certain virginity (final exam, year one), it becomes all about the offense maneuver, judging tactics and timing. There are lateral moves that call for motion toward the confident ex-cheerleader (and subsets thereof, dependent upon her marital status, financial success and lasting popularity in the community she has no intention of leaving). A more linear advance can be made on those out of their element. With proper timing and tempo she can be laughing beside you despite your overbite and only three more drinks from eyes hard shut and gripping the door handle.

And then there are guys like Freddie. His is an effective confidence born of indifference, of admission of one's inexorably frozen fate. It is bravery before the barrel of a gun, discovering time and time again that some bullets are only deadly if you believe their bullshit. Most just hurt, and that's nothing but another tic come game time.

The resort bar is named Baby King Haakon's Bar and Grille (I couldn't make that up) having what to do with the local mythos of infant kings saved by Thorish half-brothers, epic decents down a mountain just outside the video arcade, peppered now with more mortal, but still impressive, boogie boarders. Here in the bar, it's a strange kind of beat down VFW and ecru collared visitor center. Some have ventured far to seek the firework marketing of a winter's fun pinnacled in chance adventure, family-gathered R&R tinged with the implied hope of a carnal backslide. Others are simply locals from the nearby town of Cable who have saved paycheck drippings for a chance to show spouse and kiddies Daddy ain't as bad as he sounds at midnight. More often than not the weekend getaways end up hair-splitting declarations of success, failure, and wall-mounted contentment.

I envied something in Freddie's gait, the gleam in his eye as he walked in the door. The happiness of seeing his people already at the helm, his throne, already warmed with the game. Not that being the one to pop the evening's cherry would have gotten him down. No, Freddie was the kind of returning band camp senior who relished that role too, took a repeated pride in being the one who got things going down here on the best part of the first floor by the arcade (Burn Out Champ two years running), where the real fun is should you drag yourself all the way down the hall, to Cable, to pay to play in the snow. The Packers were on, so that's all she wrote. The place was Hrothgar's mead hall after good defense of the realm, songs and swears swelling into the loyalty of small town souls to their chosen guilds. Almost medieval, just outside the urban glow of some bigger, real city.

Telemark Resort
Cable, WI
January 2008

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Brand New Sunny Happy New Year

The film of the last few years has been stripped, forcing me to accept potential as it mingles with brand new life. It is as though it heard me say Enough! No more waiting. As if the world I believe had not written us off. The passing thoughts and plans of Major Accomplishment, which had been taken down and stored, are suddenly assembled on the table in front of us. Stacked in columns of Babel or flat rows of solitaire. Red king on a black queen, maybe gin. The plans before us will be weighed against time, energy, and propriety, with a thumb on the losing side of chance. With a dare and an eye on the witching fade into the future we must order them and begin. Resolve them with the Reality. Though some plans must be postponed in lieu of others, it is the zest of those chosen that will propel us forward to what we are to become and become in the world.

It's the opposite of youth, the incessant revving of the engine in neutral, the starting point from which all things at once are possible, but not yet begun. I've spent entire summers there. Wasted years more lithe than these. But then perhaps it is a necessary waste charged with making us take up the years left with more appreciation, more focus, more commitment. To move beyond the regret of what we've wasted. That feeling that must devestate us, but show us it is not too late.

O what it takes to get some of us started! A glance at one's peers, perhaps. Desdamona's jump to an overdue musicality. The steady progression of those we respect in envy. Sons and daughters reminding us the wrinkles we've earned are lines of real demarcation. Regret is too easy. The water there is perfect. Stay a while, it says, build up your potential. It is important to visit, but never stay.

Whatever the causes and metaphors, the time has come. 21st century, a few years in. The placement of my thoughts and ideas and reverie and hope into this hole for reasons only my penchant for exhibitionism understands. That part of me which whispers unsense into the dark.

to compose in miniature with the belief that, like current web design paradigm,
a minimalism in form portrays content in a glorious fountain of gravitas.
As if sans serif ascribes to each the moving of mountains.

All of this in the afternoon sun, but not without a whiff of bowel. I know enough to know my epiphanies have their price point. Even the loftiest of notions have the ability to take sudden headers off cliffs. What I would pay for the optimization needed to assure successful flight. My bougeouis crust thicker, despite my best intentions, a possible side effect of age. How much effort will it take each time to strike some healthy vein? What it really matters in the long run. It takes a multi-dimensional chart to make sense of it all, the kind used in costly presentations at the Landmark Center not over the lunch hour, but at seven with apps.

"How to Advance Successfully in Urban Stratego"
paired with Savignon Blanc.

"Speaking Effectively with Institutions of Art"
presented by the Walker. Bad martinis, extra.

Cover charge for the chimera of hope.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crumbs: I-VI

Snapshots from a lunch at Great Waters.

Pasty white men shot
Into suits
Sausages Bluetooth toward the future
Rightfully paved

Stumbling gentry
Eskimo pie lunch date
With oblivion

Tiny women keeping
Company with chimps
Success promised more than
This pimping

Another vagrant promenade
Every can's a hope
The leg up
Everyone else has been given

In the courtyard
Predictable pop music
No one knows where

The look of refinement
How quaint the thought
What am I
But the reason

Saturday, May 10, 2008


It's because our lives are not dramatic enough,
I suppose,

until the mannequins you love do not stare back
and t
he world is an equation you're just too stupid to understand.

Not the world but the continent we ignore
our chosen plot of better or worse,
old age pondering of paths not taken
like a lame consolation prize.

They say it all happens so fast
but only when you start noticing,
wrinkles and pain and things that leave you,
I should not be telling you this
so you can enjoy another day of blindness.

It'd be childish to think you don't know this, of course,
but f
act is there are skies that take you
for granted. Their
colors beg questions
you never make time to answer.

Aromas can put you a good 10 years back
to broad-backed pieces of luck with
fake tans that helped you join the ranks.

I love you
one of the best sounds
you'll ever hear,
sounds a lot like the birth of your first as he
fights his way into the world

It's because our lives are too dramatic

to waste time with repeated dress rehearsals,
especially plays that aren't meant for you.

Don't blow it by ignoring

the scenes around you -
tiny, meaningless things.

That's the one you get for free.

Find the things that teach you
what's nothing and everything

Keep them before you
til the credits roll.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


May 5, 2008

Waiting room at dentist.
No serrated wordplay
can cut through the MPR
classical monotone of
rambling and forced
hospitality that makes this
room a perfectly acceptable
place to die.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Old Oil

I had the rare pleasure last night of drinking old oil from a metal keg.

And it was sublime.

No, my penchant for the drink hasn't led me to panhandling Jiffy Lubes. Not yet. "Old oil" is the translation of Ola Dubh, Harviestoun's Brewery's unique collaboration with Highland Park, Distiller of the Year. I commend Bulldog in Nordeast for having the moxie to purchase two firkins of the stuff and serving it gravity as part of their regular Wednesday tradition, "Firkin Night." On Wednesday's the bar taps a firkin of a random beer - could be Summit, could be a rare, oak-aged elixir - and serves it without the use of standard Carbon Dioxide. The beer flows from the firkin like Gatorade from a Gott cooler. This old-school process elicits more flavor from any brew, considering it has it to begin with. Many macros taste so god-awful, they are served ice-cold, guaranteed to numb the tongue and hide the evil. Use marketing to tell your customers that this is "the AMERICAN way to enjoy beer!" and you've vindicated the way you hide your imperfections. But I digress...

Ola Dubh 30 starts with the brewery's award-winning brew, Old Engine Oil and ages it in casks used to store Highland Park's 30-year single malt scotch. This is the first ale to be aged in malt whisky casks from a named distillery and, with tracable casks and numbered bottles, the first with genuine provenance. Bottles are available in limited supply in the state for around $30. When I heard that Bulldog was offering 10-oz. glasses for only $6 AND served gravity? It's no lie I almost lept out the window to get to the car.

To the eye Ola Dubh is infinite black with reddish-brown hints at the edge. You see at once that it is too thin to be a stout, though the head was as dense as the best Guinness. The nose is that of a restrained baltic porter, a dank but clean cellar floor whose surface has enjoyed a spill or two of good whisky. Upon the first sip the word is creamy. At 8% A.B.V. this simply couldn't be smoother. I actually had trouble distinguishing when the thick, quarter-inch head ended and the brew proper began. The second word is balanced. After the cream one senses the impending attack of high-grade alcohol, but it never comes. The heat pirouettes and disappears behind a cashmere curtain of half-bitter chocolate. Truffle oil steps forward and punches the air only to be hauled off by security guards of currant, raisin, and clove. These flavors mug for the camera, each enjoying fleeting moments of fame. The result is an undulating spectrum of autumn for the beer-loving palate. The viscous finish brings you back to the name, and you're lucky. The oil bonds the deep flavors to your tongue to make this the best tasting–and longest lasting–beer you'll have in a very long while.

Future incarnations of Ola Dubh, I understand, are to include aging in Highland Park's casks of 40 and even 50 year single malts. Let's hope the Bulldog can commandeer a couple of those as well. If so, I'll be there, sipping age and strength in rare combination.


The Bulldog Northeast

Harviestoun Brewery