Sunday, November 20, 2011

BEER!

When I arrived in The Congo, at 11:30 at night, this bottle was in the fridge.  And I knew I was home.


Man, I love beer.

One of my favorite things about being a globe trotting, high rolling, occasional pants wearing son of a bitch is being able to check out the local beers in all the countries whose borders I have darkened.

The thing that stood out for me most upon arriving in the DRC, the big difference between Asian and Africa (or at least The Congo's corner of Africa) was how much better the beer was.  I don't know if it is because they normally brew with rice in Asia, or whether African beers use darker ingredients, or what.  I will say, though, that I haven't tasted a beer with as much thunder as Tembo since I left the states.  Taiwan wins in the name department, though, hands down, as evidenced by the greatest name for beer of all time:

 Poetry.  And foam.


Beer, to me, is like a delicious, frosty mnemonic device.   I can remember the first beer I had the night I arrived in Myanmar- my first time out of the USA, about to start a new teaching job, having left behind all my friends and family, at 9pm I walked out of my hotel and  down the rotted, shattered street to a "beer station".  I couldn't understand the language, everyone was staring at me, and I was equal parts tired, excited, and terrified.  But once I was firmly ensconced on the cheap plastic stool that I would soon learn was a universal object in Asia, I managed, through much pointing and money waving, to order a glass of their beer (Tiger Beer, which is actually from Singapore, but Myanmar had their own brewery).  Halfway through I felt better.  That could have been the formaldehyde they add to beers in Asia, but I won't question the result.

I remember my first beer in Vietnam.  Thailand.  Cambodia.  Athens.  Mallorca.  Santa Fe.  

I remember the last beers I've had with good friends- that last night rocking it in Santa Fe, the all night farewell KTV rager in Yangon, PJs in Taichung.

Last Thanksgiving, after my eye surgeries, I was sitting alone in my house.  Blind, incidentally, and pretty bored. Crying bloody tears, which looked bad ass but cut down my social life for a while. A knock at my door  and two minutes of fumbling and tripping later, I was holding a bottle of Taiwan Stout in my hand, courtesy of the guard from downstairs.  He even opened it for me and told me not to spill it in my eyes.

Helpful advice.

So what's my point?  I dunno- maybe that I drink too much beer.  These days, though, it's more than beer.  For me, that simple drink is laden with memories and meaning.  I can't drink a Heineken without recalling the first time I saw Fight Club.  A Sam Adams reminds me of leaving the hospital after The first Deathmatch and having Dagny scrape coagulated blood out of my hair.  Fat Tire summer beers make me think of Santa Fe, sitting with Carl rocking the bonfire, while dodging the nails which always shot out of the stolen pallets (yoinked from the cable building- the same location where we filmed the infamous Channel 70 Movie- cheap plug!) as they heated up.  And Coronas, of course, take me back to the days of the Gene Hackman feud, and the rage.  That sweet, sweet rage.  

Some people keep photo albums, or have old letters.  For me it's beer and music (which will be another column).  So drinking beer is like drinking my past.  It has its own history, like a long Island Ice Tea without the spray on tan and spiky hair. 

So to all my friends and family, past and present, I'll have a beer tonight and think of you.   Come by and share one! I have a great beer drinking porch now- it's deliciously white trash.






Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicks Dig Me In Poland

Oh, yeah, Bogdana, you know you want some.


So my last entry cast a steely eyed gaze towards Latvia, where I assume my greatest fan(s) are/is.  When I picture this erstwhile soul, I envision a gigantic mountain of a man wearing an awesome Russian style hat with my face on it, knuckleduster rings that spell out "LIPPART", and parts of his (or her- that'd be kick ass) clothing smoldering for no immediately identifiable reason. 
When I turn my attention to another country though, the land of sausages, Ivan Putski, and Behemoth, I get the distinct impression of a massive swarm of women roaming around the country wearing nothing but sparkly blue high heels and an over sized Inebriation T Shirt.  For some reason a few of them are riding lawn mowers, but that is neither here nor there.
What's Inebriation, you ask?  See that logo on the top of this blog entry?   
Go on, look.  
Savor it.
Yeah, that’s the stuff.
Why would a gorgeous Eastern European woman, so recently plucked from the iron hand of communism, or something, wear a shirt with a logo like that?   
Simple.  That's my old band, and the chicks dig me in Poland.  Without any solid evidence to back this up, I will state categorically that I am to Poland as David Hasselhoff is to Germany.  And before you scoff and mock me for comparing myself to The Night Rocker (great album), remember, dear reader: he gave a concert on the Berlin Wall, and it was torn down shortly after.  Or during.  I don't know, I was young.  My demo goes on sale in the back streets of Poland, and, now, post Inebriation, when was the last time you heard a Polish joke?
Case well and truly rested, your honor.
So how did this happen?  How did I become such an icon to the Poles?  Like most things involving me, the whole thing doesn’t make very much sense.  Read on . . .
The story has more twists and turns than those weird linked sausage things, but basically is this.  During my formative years in high school, nearly twenty years ago now (goddamn) I was in Inebriation, a kick ass death metal band from New Jersey.  We were pretty young, and quite stupid, but what we lacked in creativity or musicianship we made up for in our quantity of black t shirts and poorly judged facial hair.  We did two demo tapes over the span of almost four years and played tons of shows, some of them in front of more than ten or fifteen people. 
What did we sound like?  Click here and listen to our most well loved song, a stirring exploration of the perils of faith in a world of low production quality.
As is the destiny of all super groups, we eventually broke up my senior year of high school due to creative differences over the use of my girlfriend at the time.  The drummer took the guitarist, the name, the songs, and the girlfriend. The new Inebriation, sans my awesome bass playing and kick ass vokillz, played one show without me and faded into oblivion (I think we had that song title back in the day).  As for me? I went on to the kind of solo career only matched by the dude from Music and Lyrics.  I worked on other things over the years, put out some demos, played a few shows, but for all intents and purposes left the rock star lifestyle behind, except for the chaps.  
Until a few years ago when a polish record store owner/magazine publisher tracked me down for an interview.  For whatever reason, our second demo had made a bit of a splash on the polish death metal scene, and some people were releasing it and selling it in the stores out there.  According to him, there were almost three hundred sold out of his store (we originally made 50 and I think most of those were left on the floor of The Stone Pony).  He asked for an interview with me, sent me some flyers and pictures of the store (with the Inebriation demo advertised- so cool).  For a while we talked about me flying over and playing an Inebriation reunion show, consisting of me and whatever drunk Polish guys wanted to learn the songs.  Since we only used like two chords it wouldn’t take long.  Financing, timing, and my job got in the way, but for a brief flicker of time I had the delicious fantasy of becoming a very minor underground polish rock star. 
Which probably meant I would need to buy a new jacket.  Maybe one with extra zippers.
I never saw any money from this, of course, but I never see any money from anything so no big deal.  Doing the interview and seeing those pictures was cool enough to satisfy my massive ego.
The point of the story?  That you never know.  We recorded that demo when I was seventeen and now, nearly twenty years later, while sitting in Burma, someone from yet another country gets in touch with me (he said it took him a few months to track me down) to let me know that my old, forgotten music had reached a new audience.  I have made the conscious choice to picture the aforementioned audience as beautiful twenty five year old women, sexy in a vaguely gothic kind of way (at least one of those three hundred probably was, anyway- I mean, it’s just math in the end) but even if they’re not, like maybe they’re really 35 or something, it’s still a great story, and underscores how you never know in what way your actions will change the world you live in.
Even if nobody buys your t shirts.

Seriously, who could resist this?  Rock on, sweet prince.