Thursday, April 25, 2019

Nurse The Hate: Stroh's Strikes Again

I was recently at a hipster bar that served Stroh’s beer in cans.  Stroh’s used to proudly proclaim themselves “America’s Only Fire Brewed Beer”, which is perplexing as I can’t think of what kind of competitive advantage could be gained with such a claim.  I don’t even know what that means when you get down to brass tacks.  It must have sounded good to whoever the Stroh’s CEO was at the time.  Everyone else around the table probably fell in line.  “America’s only fire brewed beer?  Whoa!  That’s good JB!  That could work!”

Stroh’s was very popular for a time.  I remember my father getting 12 oz returnable bottles at the beer distributor.  Pennsylvania, somehow still under sway of The Quakers in the 1970s, made it almost impossible to buy beer.  You could only buy it by the case from scary warehouse buildings or at exorbitant markups from bars as “sixes to go”.  I remember my father being a Bud man for a while, but he was always looking for “a good deal”.  I’m sure he paid a dollar less a case for Stroh’s and then justified it as being “not that bad”.  As I think about it, most of the neighborhood Dads drank Stroh’s.  What can I say?  It was a different age.

Stroh’s was the first beer I ever technically drank, though as mostly sips of the near empty bottle after my father had poured it into his trusty mug.  The first beer I ever drank clandestinely with “the boys” was a can of Genny Bock.  That’s not an ideal choice for a young teenage boy.  It’s also not an ideal choice for a middle aged man.  However, this is a post on Stroh’s.  Let’s stay focused on “America’s Only Fire Brewed Beer”, shall we?

The last time I had Stroh’s was at a high school party.  The guy having the party had cases of the stuff, undoubtedly stolen from his parents.  I never recall seeing his parents who had essentially allowed their son to be raised by Hazel, their cleaning lady that stopped by a couple times a week.  The open disdain between the son and parents was mutual.  The stolen beer would be ignored by the parents, not wishing a confrontation with their volatile son.  He was "difficult" as a boy, a condition that would later be called "Crazy".  I dove into the cold ones with abandon, probably getting crazy and having three (3) beers.

I remember the gurgling in my system.  I was concerned as this had all the makings of a "gastro intestinal crisis".  My instincts told me that a bunch of high school kids at a party would not be very empathetic about my situation.  I began to sweat on my brow as I noticed lines formed for the downstairs toilet.  I slunk upstairs to see if the master bathroom was open.  It wasn't and was in fact being used as a base of operations for the "popular girls".  The gurgling became more intense.  If I didn't know any better I would think I heard an air raid siren.  I was going to have to address this situation.  I panicked.  This was coming out.  Now.

I darted outside.  I had regressed to being a wild beast.  I had no choice.  I have never felt more like a filthy animal than when I was hunched over shitting by the pine tree in the corner of the back yard.  Having no paper, I wiped myself with dried leaves.  It was not ideal.  I abandoned the party and made a long walk home shrouded in shame.  It was the last time I had Stroh's.  

The hipster bar had it priced at $2 a can.  I will admit a dangerous curiosity washing over me.  For a mere two dollars I could dance with the devil, see if this horrible incident was a stand alone disaster or a natural reaction to "America's only fire brewed beer".  I thought about the night to come.  An opener and then we would play 90 minutes or so.  The men's rooms of the club could be described as "rustic" and "under equipped".  I'm older now.  Maybe wiser.  

I passed on the Stroh's.               

Friday, April 19, 2019

Nurse the Hate: Reviving My College Football Career

Les Miles
University of Kansas Football
Allen Fieldhouse
1651 Naismith Dr
Lawrence KS  66045

Coach Miles,

  First off, let me say how excited I was to see you get back to where you belong, running a major college football program.  I feel like your departure at LSU was shortsighted on that university’s part.  I am sure that they will come to regret that decision.  Obviously, their personnel move impacted me as well, as I had counted on being part of your squad this season and confidently striding the LSU campus as a member of the football team.  I suppose there is a silver lining in this unexpected layoff as I was able to further rehab and train, to put myself in an even better position for great success as a Kansas Jayhawk.

  I don’t know if you recall, but I had contacted you during your LSU tenure in hopes of joining the team and doing my part to help win the SEC.  Though many of my detractors would suggest that as a somewhat rickety middle aged man with questionable speed, I might not be the best choice as a featured punt returner, I would counter that my moxie more than makes up for the fact I haven’t played football competitively since 1982.  I will be a strong presence in the locker room, keeping the guys focused and leading by example.  In baseball parlance, I’m “a good clubhouse guy” and will bring a much needed winning attitude to the Kansas Jayhawk Football Program.

  I couldn’t help but notice with a cursory glance on the web that the Kansas Football Program has struggled of late.  This is a big project you have taken on, but I am convinced you are the man for the job.  Let’s be honest.  It won’t take much to make people forget about “The David Beaty Era”.  I know you’ll win some ballgames.  But, you’ll need help.  After some soul searching I have decided to “throw my hat in the ring” to follow you to Lawrence KS and get down to the business of winning the Big 12. 
  Here’s my thought…  Bring me in to compete with Kwamie Lassiter II for the punt returner job.  Granted, he had a touchdown vs Oklahoma State last season while I woke up in bed this morning with my right heel in howling pain for no particular reason.  Sure, there are advantages to Lassiter on the field that are hard to ignore like speed, agility and courage.  However, I do bring “intangibles” to the field that will help even out the pesky measurables.  I’m just looking for the chance to compete and show you what three days of working out each week can provide.  My trainer said last week, “you’re not in that bad a shape for an old guy, all things considered”.  Not bad, eh? 

  I’m thinking positive about this Coach.  I will likely use my University of Kansas scholarship to major in French.  I earned an absurdly advanced wine certification last year, but between you and me, my French is so awful I make everyone in Paris wince when I open my mouth.  I’m hoping to master French, join a Frat, win some games, and help you turn this thing around in Kansas.  My company has a TV station in Kansas City, so maybe I’ll sell commercials there during the week and take my French classes at night.  It seems like a pretty quick commute.  Obviously, I will want to be on campus with the guys to help with the winning culture you’re trying to institute.  I’ll probably buy a video game system to help break the ice with my new teammates.  Invite the guys over for sensible snacks and gaming.  That sort of thing.  I’ll make the schedule work somehow.  Don’t worry about me. 
  Let me know if this plan seems reasonable.  I’m anxious to get to work.  I’ll probably add another workout day to my week too with the hopes of getting my 40 yard dash time down under 6.5 seconds by August practice.  I want to be ready for the opener vs Indiana State.  I’d like to get two touchdowns on those chumps.  Looking forward to joining the Jayhawk family.

Your pal,

Greg Miller                         

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Nurse the Hate: The Fire at Notre-Dame de Paris

The Lord never gives you more than you can handle.  This is, of course, blatantly untrue.  It is just a catchphrase like “it was God’s plan” to suggest that when the dust clears, and people inevitably move ahead left with no other choice, that it was “God’s plan” all along.  It is the Samuel Becket quote.  “You must go on.  I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.”  This floated in my head while watching Notre Dame burn this week.  Something beautiful which has endured through the ages gone in moments.  Everything is temporary.  Nothing is certain.

Paris has had a rough go of things lately.  Violent protests from the yellow vests.  Terrorist massacres in concert halls.  Full on flooding from the River Seine.  Now one of their iconic symbols burns.  It’s enough to make even the normally jaded Parisians take pause.  I have been fortunate enough to have been to Paris a few times.  I love the sound and rhythm of the city.  It is a city of nooks and crannies nestled between grand monuments of artistic vision.  Little cafes on side streets where people take forever to sip a drink while watching the endless parade of pedestrians.  It’s where I really saw Van Gogh’s work for the first time and my brain flashed “Oh, that’s why he’s great…”.  To see it right in front of you, to take in the colors, and the brush strokes…  I try to go to the Musee d’Orsay when I go to the city.  There is a room with Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, and Cezanne that is my favorite.  It’s arguably the finest art museum in the world.

Every visit to the city I would trudge to Notre Dame, usually crossing the Le Pont des Arts with all the locks attached by lovers making a romantic gesture and then doubling back on Pont Neuf to gain access to the small island where the Cathedral sits.  I understand that in 2015 the locks began to be cut down by the city as the weight of all the locks had made the bridge unstable.  For estranged lovers looking for the sources of their problems, look to this local government action as cause.

The Cathedral is massive.  If it had been built a few years ago, it would be impressive.  The fact that it was started in 1163 makes our American heads explode.  I have been inside the oldest house in Massachusetts.  It was built 550+ years later and is essentially a shack.  Notre Dame is a symbol of power and awe festooned with artistic treasures and works that span the ages.  I liked to spend time looking at the tucked away sculptures of gargoyles and demons on the side of the building away from the zoned-out group tours.  The back end of the cathedral has a relatively quiet park, a good place to sit and watch boats purposefully work up and down the Seine.  Many of the video angles of the fire had that area as the foreground.

A few blocks away I remember finding a small café in a little neighborhood.  I was hungry and it was off hours, early afternoon.  A small boy played in the empty café with his mother keeping a sideways eye on him.  I took a tiny table that was perched in rickety fashion on the cobblestone street in front of the doorway.  The bartender spoke no English.  I speak no French.  There was a daily menu of plats on a chalkboard.  I ordered a quiche and a glass of what turned out to be tough and tannic Cote de Rhone red.  The quiche was surprisingly good.  The sun struggled in the Spring sky to warm my face.  The little boy had returned to playing, singing a little song I didn’t recognize.  The bartender went back to prepping, cutting lemons.  I sat on the quiet street and watched the residents in their daily activities sipping my wine.  This tranquil vision is the one that pops in my head when I think of Notre Dame.

History is filled with massive fires wiping out cathedrals.  It’s the price of a 900 year old timber roof.  They usually rise again.  I think that we need their stability, to know that there is a brick and mortar line that passes through history to connect us all.  Regardless of our differences, people will come together to rebuild, to make sure that Paris remains Paris.  Although the city is a different Paris to all that live and visit there, Notre Dame has been a constant.  You must go on.  I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.