Slumming With the Special

Many Philly bars have a drink special that is simply known as the “Special”. This special is a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and a shot of whiskey. Often time this special can be had for as little as two or three dollars. It is a cheap way to get oneself hammered without drilling a hole in one’s wallet.

Now, those who know me are familiar with my penchant for exotic and extreme beers. I am one of those snobbish individuals who feel beer should provide actual taste along with the alcohol buzz. That is one of the reasons that I rarely drink mainstream beers. When I do, it is usually due to some social type situation where it would be rude to do otherwise.

So now that I wrote the two preceding paragraphs I have to link them together. Millions of people around the world will be shocked to learn that I recently indulged in the “special” at a concert. They will, no doubt, be disturbed to learn that I was not held at gunpoint nor was I doing it to impress a nubile, young female. I did it completely of my own volition.

I ordered “the Special” to the shock and horror of my tablemates. One of these companions became a beer snob because of my corrosive influence. He watched in horror as I consumed this special. Due to my twisted sense of humor, I took great joy in shattering his illusions. I took a couple swigs from the can and then drained the whiskey shot. I am unsure what whiskey was used for this special and perhaps its best that I don’t find out. It surely did nothing beneficial for my internal organs. Having recently read Sacher-Masoch, I found the strength to order two more specials before the night was over.

 Now after all this fun, I have to try to evaluate the beer. It’s hard to critique a beer that is very thin in body and extremely light in flavor. It also becomes hard to really criticize because this lack of character and inoffensiveness is exactly what the brewers are gunning for. They want 5% abv water and that is close to what this beer is. It should be served ice cold and drank very quickly. There really is not much to savor.

I actually did pour some of the beer into a glass just so I could examine the hue and aroma of the brew. The very pretty waitress was quite amused at my act. The beer is what you would expect. It has that fizzy, yellowish hue with very minimal malt aroma. I think the aluminum can might provide more actual flavor or aroma than the hops so we won’t need to go there.

 As for taste, this is actually not the worst thing in the world. The SAB people are serious in their efforts to bring this beer back. It has enjoyed a bit of trendiness as an alternative to Budweiser or Coors Light. There are many people who don’t really like intense beer flavors but like drinking beer. Since standing around holding a bottle or can of Bud or Coors is about as cool as standing around eating a McDonald’s burger, they need a lightweight alternative. Enter Pabst Blue Ribbon.

 There is really not a lot of flavor in this beer. It mostly has a light malt flavor. They may have used a hop or two in brewing this beer. Lab results are not back yet. It is a fairly smooth drinking beer though. It didn’t have any off flavors or any foul type tastes. I’m sure many geeks will jump in and note that a beer must have flavor before it can have off flavors. I’m not that cynical.

 This would be a good lawnmower beer. It is wet. But I have to note that the brewers were gunning for exactly what this beer is. They weren’t trying to create fruity esters or have an intense floral hop bouquet. This is a beer equivalent to fast food burgers. It will please many people as long as they are not expecting anything gourmet or exotic. I don’t expect very many beer geeks to enjoy this beer as a drinking experience. It would be a beer to drink if you were planning on inhaling beer and catching a mighty swift buzz. It will appeal to drinkers of mainstream beers if they are willing to put aside their prejudices and give it a fair chance.

 As for the generous rating, I’m going to give the beer, I want to offer this explanation. The beer does achieve the results the brewers intended. Therefore, I am rating it upon that basis. It was not as horrible as I expected it to be. It was not a great beer either. I’m not going to recommend it because it is now part of a brewing conglomerate and no longer an independent regional beer. I don’t have to play the save the regional brewery card for this one. Drink it if you must. Drink it if you wish. Just let me close by saying that I didn’t feel all that hunky dory when I woke up the next morning.


I’ve always had a bit of a linebacker mindset in spite all the poetic pretense.  In another life, I suppose I would have made a living ripping the heads off of sissy quarterbacks.  I’ve always fancied myself charging at a problem like an angry rhinoceros.

Alas that great career never evolved.  My knees and ankles had other plans.  But I always think back to the best compliment I ever received.  It was a friend who told me that he always visualizes me in one of those old fashion leather football helmets.  I imagine I was probably being a hard head.  I guess I always have been old school even though I wear a progressive’s garb. 

Sometimes just smile

and take the damn compliment

it won’t come again


I remember riding the train from Munich to the town of Dachau.  The purpose for this train ride was to visit the Dachau concentration camp that stood there during the Hitler regime.  It has been converted into a museum.  The belief is that we must never forgot it to prevent it from happening again.  It is good to try to tweak the consciences of humans but many remain unwilling to learn the lessons of history.

You can tour the barracks where the prisoners were held.  They slept on hard wooden bunks and the sanitary conditions were horrid.  The prison was originally designed to hold communists, Reichsbanner and social democrats.  These were considered to pose a threat to the regime.  It would later hold citizens from Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland among other countries.  The ovens used to cremate dead prisoners is also standing.

The factory has been converted into a museum.  This provides a lot of photographic evidence of the horror that took place.  There was one black and white photograph that leaped out at me and haunted me for months.  An American soldier is walking toward a mass grave.  The photograph is so clear, you can see the look of horror on his face as he approaches these decrepit corpses.  You could almost feel him trembling; feel his hands sweating as he tightens the grip on his gun.

I was overwhelmed by this photo.  Eyes welling up, I needed to rush out of the building to recompose myself.  I was in a daze riding the train back to Munich.  And, of course, once back in Munich, I was hanging out and drinking with Germans at the Hofbrauhaus.  Everyone was drinking and laughing.  The oompah band did a ripping cover of “Hotel California.”  I was still shaken up.  I was looking around at friendly, accommodating folk and wondering “How?”

The reality is that we all have dark impulses and we all have frailty that can be exploited by morally bankrupt leaders.  After victory over evil, there is still the need for reconciliation.  Redemption is possible.  The Germans have worked for decades to ensure that this horror not be repeated.

This is something that we should always keep in mind when we confronted political and partisan divisions.  Eventually, you do need to negotiate and find ways to come to peace.  Most people have both good and bad impulses.  We are all capable of great acts of kindness or great acts of evil.  John Lennon once stated that we all have a little Hitler and a little Jesus inside of us.  We really want Jesus to win out.  The Germans were not and are not all evil.  However, great evil was perpetuated in the name of nationalism and patriotism.

We may view our political opponents as evil—and it may be that the dark impulses are prominent for them.  But there is still humanity within them.  We need to reach for that compassion and decency.  If we are ever to achieve lasting peace and justice and fairness to everyone, we have to find common ground and we have to find that decency within ourselves.

We do need to reach out to adversaries.  What’s interesting is when I went to Germany in 2011, I learned that Germany is the only country in Europe with a growing Jewish population.  The German people did have to confront and own that horror.  Steps needed to be taken for reconciliation. To their credit, they made that effort.  Now Germany is arguably one of the greatest proponents for democracy and human rights on the planet.

We need to start viewing our political adversaries as flawed human beings and not as monstrous demons.  It is a long shot but the human race does still have a chance.  We don’t have to be the perpetual fuck-ups that we are now.  It requires tenacity, courage and vision.  A small does of forgiveness might go a long way as well.  Why not keep striving to become something better?  We do have a lot of choices.  That is one that should be easy enough to make.

#dachau #munich #politicaladversaries #concentrationcamp

Hope and History Rhyme

I was riding a Lyft in Denver.  We were on the highway making our way toward a brewery that specializes in chicha and pulque.  The Lyft driver was playing the radio and it featured music from Cameroon.  I was just playing around with my phone when I noticed a post from American singer Rhiannon Giddens.  She posted a stanza of verse by Irish poet Seamus Heaney:

History says, don’t hope

On this side of the grave

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme

It really felt great reading those lines.  Being half Irish, I do sometimes get emotional when reading Irish poetry or listening to traditional Irish music.  I didn’t cry or even need to fight back tears.  I did feel a deep sense of relief and restored hope.  But I also felt a sense of urgency.  There is a lot of work to be done.  The damage done in recent years is not permanent but it will require great effort and work to repair.  Like it or not, this includes being gracious in victory and reaching out to adversaries to find common ground.

We do need to let justice rise up.  We need to reclaim humanity for everyone.  We do need to be kind and compassionate towards one another.  Saying or thinking that you are better than the other person accomplishes nothing.  You must elevate your own consciousness and become a better person.  And if humility doesn’t come with enlightenment, you aren’t there yet.  We do have a chance to make this a better world but it won’t be easy.  Posting clever memes on Facebook isn’t going to make the world a better place.  It might even make it worse.  The real work is in our interactives with people in our day to day lives.  It is within our reach.    Let’s find a way to make hope and history rhyme.


Whitman couldn’t see past

the death of the moment

but he remained alive

in spite of melancholy

He continued to feel joy

in the wake of sorrow

He continued to see light

in the torment of darkness

now he stands before me

invisible but presence felt

a guardian angel to protect

when I stray into danger

I feel secure in the knowledge

and continue my path

understanding a song of joy

he requested me to sing

though I know not the lyrics

SHOT TO HELL | PostPoems


Green Faeries Ruminating on Van Gogh’s Ear

It would seem that absinthe is becoming more prevalent in spite its prohibited status. It is appearing on television shows from time to time and virtually every European country has removed the ban on this product. I love the common sense ruling by the Dutch two years ago that there was no proof that absinthe is more dangerous than other liquors so it should be legal. Common sense in American politics? Thomas Paine, where art thou?

 In my travels in Europe I have indulged in absinthe on numerous occasions. I have also brought home absinthe for home use. I have found it to be an enjoyable drink and have yet to experience any delirium or even a viscous hangover. My absinthe experience at home includes proper perigord glasses, perforated spoons and a water fountain with four taps for proper preparation. I make certain to keep a stock of sugar cubes to entertain guests with properly served absinthe. I will not pour absinthe in a shot glass like an animal.

 There are many brands of absinthe now available. The French, Czech and Spanish seem to be most prevalent in making absinthe. The Swiss and Germans are also making significant waves in the absinthe subculture. I have had experiences with absinthe from all of these countries. I have bottles of absinthe from all of these countries sitting on my shelf. The traditional absinthes will generally be green although the Swiss have a penchant for clear absinthe. The Spanish and Germans tend to be more creative. We are seeing red and blue absinthes. There are also several black absinthes which often attain the level of 160 proof. The Spanish even have a violet absinthe which I have yet to try.

My initial experience with absinthe goes back a decade to my first visit to Prague. I was wondering through the Stare Mesto drinking in pubs. I happened upon a general store which had bottles of absinthe displayed in the windows. Did anyone really think I was getting out of Prague without indulging a green fairy? I bought a small double shot bottle which I drank straight from the bottle. Little did I know my sins.

 I was curious enough to try more. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve stumbled across the Charles Bridge at 3 AM on an absinthe and beer buzz with fog rolling off the Vtlala River and the statues of the saints breathing relentlessly down upon you. Other night dwellers appeared as silhouette figures as the moon shot down beams of mystical light. The Astrology Clock in the Old Town Square actually told time that night. It told me it was time to get back to the apartment and watch reruns of Baywatch dubbed into Czech.

 That was the early initiation. I have learned quite a bit about proper preparation. The traditional French method is to sit a sugar cube on a perforated spoon and drip water on the sugar. As the sugar drips into the absinthe, it will make the absinthe turn cloudy. Some of the better brands will turn a yellow-ish color. The sugar gives the absinthe a nice minty, licorice type flavor. Straight absinthe can be bitter at times.

 In Prague this past Spring I found a place called Absinthe Time. This establishment on Kremoncova is practically right across the street from U. Fleku,  the oldest brewpub in the world. Here I learned a bit about preparing absinthe. A beautiful Vietnamese girl dressed in all green taught me both the French and Czech preparations for absinthe. The Czech preparation involves fire so I am hesitant to try it at home. She also learned me a few mixed drinks. The Three Musketeers is a concoction of absinthe, tequila and Sambuca. Surprisingly smooth, actually.

 Having the water fountain is a great item. It worked well at my recent party. Some people tried the absinthe. Many merely wanted to witness the spectacle of proper preparation. The host graciously prepared absinthe for friends and crashers. The host also indulged in La Fee Parisian and Zelena Absinth Muza. The first was a French absinthe, the latter a Czech. The first was the better of the two.

 My favorite absinthe so far is the King of Spirits which is made in the Czech Republic. This absinthe features a picture of Van Gogh on the label. This absinthe is very flavorful. It costs a little more but it is well worth the extra bucks. Buy it overseas rather than ordering through the internet to save some money. It is well worth it for the experienced absintheur and the apt pupil of La Fee Verte.

 It will be interesting to see how the actual legal status of absinthe changes in America. It is already semi legal to possess as long as you don’t sell it or distill your own. I have actually shown bottles of absinthe to customs agents at airports who merely shrugged and sent me on my merry way. This is an interesting drink with an interesting history. More absinthe adventures and tales will be forthcoming to be sure.

 Stay tuned. . .


There were a lot of people that voted for Obama that weren’t liberal or Democrat.  They were people who were looking for a messiah.  They wanted someone that could come in and miraculously fix all the problems overnight.  They don’t want to roll up their sleeves and work hard to make things better.  They wanted an easy fix.

Of course, being human, Obama wasn’t able to fix everything overnight.  This was the origin of what many now refer to as the Obama-trump voter.  There were people that voted for Obama twice and then switched to trump.  There was no ideological reasoning.  There is no political consistency.  These were the weak minded people that believe in this fantasy that a president can come in and fix everything.  They don’t understand the difference between a president and a savior.  If you want a savoir, go to church or a synagogue or mosque.  You aren’t going to find a savior in the voting booth.

Of course, a lot of republican strategists saw this mentality and figured, we need a candidate that can fit this bill.  A lot of people don’t realize that republican strategists were talking with trump about running for president as far back as 2011.  They wanted him to run against Obama in 2012.  They figured that he can go out and attract these people that are looking for a savior.  Since there is little political or ideological conviction among these folks, it’s easy to get them to switch from one party to another.

Of course, the person getting conned is generally not in on the joke.  They are being played.  They are being told that they’re really smarter than other people.  They’re being told that they are better than the other people.  They are being relieved of responsibility for the inadequacies in their own lives.  It is appealing to have somebody else to blame for what is wrong with your life.

Obama is a very rational individual who didn’t have much interest in abusing this false faith that many of these early supporters had.  The problem now is that you have a pre-eminent con artist with no conscience in a position to abuse the blind faith of the naïve.  You have a person who realizes he can abuse the power for his own purposes.  I don’t think you necessarily have bad or evil people.  I think you have desperate people who are too weak to look up and see the truth.  They can’t admit to themselves that they’ve been hoodwinked.

The really sad thing is that we don’t need a savior in the White House.  We just need a president that can go in and do the job.  We don’t need a celebrity or a star.  For politics, boring is better.  If you are doing the job well, nobody will be talking about you.  If you’re being discussed every hour of every day, it really indicates that you failed.

We can make our lives better on our own.  We need to look within ourselves and we need to be willing to figure things out for ourselves.  We can make smart investments and smart choices in our lives.  We can make the world better for ourselves simply by living better lives.  We don’t need a conald to make our lives better.  In the long run, the conald will only make things worse for everyone.  Let’s hope America figures that out before it’s too late.


So proof of Nostradamus’ prophecy is the submarines?  He wrote about a “fish with a human face” That must be a submarine.  But how do we really know.  Was he foreseeing a submarine or was he just trying to predict Charlie the Star Kist Tuna?  That is a fish with a truly human face—albeit animated.  Maybe he was really just predicting the advent of cartoons.  The world may never know.

Fish with human face

submerged beneath the ocean

fecklessly spying

the Nazis and the Russians

observing talking tuna


So now we have Scott Baio whining that he can’t get roles because he’s a conservative.  This is funny considering that Vince Vaughan and Clint Eastwood have little difficulty in getting work in spite their conservative views.

Let’s analyze things in a more realistic manner.  Scott Baio has always been a good looking guy.  He’s never been a particularly gifted actor.  He benefited from the looks.  Hollywood producers making movies and TV shows will very often need eye candy in the film.  We usually think of this for women but it also applies to men.  There are times that they want eye candy for the ladies so they look for a male bimbo.

So when they needed a good looking guy for the ladies, they would seek out an actor like Scott Baio to fill the role.  Now, we’re several decades past his prime.  He’s still a good looking guy—for his age.  So when producers need the male bimbo, they aren’t going to call him.  There are younger and prettier boys available.  They’re going to go for the newest 22 year old flavor of the month.  It’s their turn now. 

Nobody cries political bias for the actresses that got by on their looks as young ladies.  We just accept that they filled a purpose as eye candy in films and now they’ve been usurped by younger prettier models.  Why should it be any different for men?  If all you are is a bimbo—male or female—you will stop getting offers. That is simply the shallow culture in which we live. 

The younger ladies the filmmakers are trying to woo don’t want Grandpa Scott.  For fantasy purposes, I don’t even think the women his own age want him anymore.  We alL go for the young Adonis or Aphrodite in our fantasies.  There is very little prejudice at work here.  It’s simply a matter of a one trick pony going past his expiration date.  Take a few acting lessons and you might get some roles on Hallmark movie specials.  There might be room for him in the fantasy lives of the elderly women watching those movies.