I Live My Life on a Six Second Delay

Anybody that knows me personally, or has even met me briefly, knows that I’m a little bit dialed back. I’m always behind in the conversation. I don’t get the jokes. I also don’t understand how things work in the real world. My wife tells our kids, “Your dad is actually really smart” and they laugh!

I think I’ve tried to learn how to spell the word beuitiful well over 50 different times in my lifetime. It’s a word that I’ve never been able to master.

When kids don’t do well in school I often hear their teachers say, “He’s a good student! He understands the work. He just doesn’t test well.” I was the opposite of that. I had no idea what was going on, could never do the work, and my teachers thought I wasn’t trying. However, I’ve always tested as much smarter than I am in real life.

At the same time I was failing out of high school I scored in the top one percentile in reading comprehension and vocabulary when my school had us take the National Achievement test. The obvious explanation at the time was that I must be a genius. For that reason I started college a year ahead of my classmates. As it turns out, today genious (that’s how I just spelled it without spellcheck) is not the go to term people use to describe me.

Recently I’ve done some self-assessment, thought of my strengths and weaknesses. My biggest weakness is that I’m done. I’m a little too content with where I am in life. I am a glass half full type of guy to my detriment.

As classic old timer Larry Miller says at the end of each one of his podcasts: “If you have a job to go to and a home to come home to and somebody there that loves you. Buddy, the games over and you win, and that’s the truest thing I know.”

Pete at 8 Bridges

Pete at 8 Bridges

We hadn’t seen each other in over 12 years but when my still semi-ambitious friend Pete came to visit the Bay Area recently we realized that we still have a lot in common. We both have transitioned from the world of punk rock to the world of craft beer. For instance, Pete used to go on tour with his punk band, and likewise, I used to go watch a lot of punk bands. And today, I like to go to a lot of brewpubs, and Pete is working on opening his own brewpub in North Carolina.
He wanted to visit the growing Livermore beer scene while he was in the Bay Area, “check out floor plans” etc. Later on he admitted it was just an excuse to spend a day drinking.
Pete and his wife have two young twin daughters. They look and act like two kids playing the part of twins in a movie (as in a romantic comedy, not The Shining). Pete’s sister was babysitting them and meeting us later. I suggested 8 Bridges Brewing to meet up at because they make a point of being kid friendly. Times have changed so quickly that it’s hard to believe that just 15 years ago “kid friendly” referred mostly to parental hell holes like Chuck e Cheese’s or a McDonalds with a play-land.
Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 12.03.16 AMWhen my kids were toddlers I used to tell the wife, “If I could start a business I would open a brewery and it would have a kid’s play-land!” I brought it up often. She laughed and said it would never be allowed. Not all that long ago the most popular image of a beer-drinking dad was the dumb drunk who yelled at his kids. Homer Simpson being the comic version of the classic stereotype. Wine was classy but beer drinking was done by sad bitter people in dark bars -not out on patios in the sun like it is today.

Some of the tap list at Altamont in Livermore

Some of the tap list at Altamont in Livermore

I’m not sure when it was built but the first kid’s play-area I ever saw at an actual brewery was at San Rafael’s Pizza Orgazmic.

I’m not sure when it was built but the first kid’s play-area I ever saw at an actual brewery was at San Rafael’s Pizza Orgazmic.

Earlier this year we had planned to buy from a food truck parked out in front of Gilman and then walk over to Fieldwork Brewery. However my son couldn’t find any food he wanted so the wife suggested we go to Pharm Burger -which her phone told her was nearby. The plan was to just get him a burger to go and head to the brewery. There was a line, I was annoyed, however, as we got to the entrance I noticed an 8 Bridges tap behind the counter, then a whole bunch of taps including two from Fieldwork. Then my wife said, “This looks like your type of place honey!” and pointed at a picture of a cow and a sign stating that their burgers were all from lovingly raised grass fed cows. As explained at length in an earlier post, I don’t buy meat unless the animals are happy and slaughtered gently. Cage free baby! The A’s game was on the TV. I said, “Okay, I guess we can forget the brewery and just stay here.” Then we sat down and there was a toddler play area! WOW, icing on the cake. This kind of place didn’t exist just ten years ago. Our kids are too old for us to take advantage of it now. I just appreciate a kid friendly culture that treats adults like grown-ups.IMG_3223 (2)

Sauced in Livermore, contract brewing through Working Man Brewery

Sauced in Livermore, contract brewing through Working Man Brewery

The “art on the wall” for this post is a photo of our kids as toddlers that hangs above the living room TV.

The “art on the wall” for this post is a photo of our kids as toddlers that hangs above the living room TV.

Back when our kids were in a double stroller, downtown Pleasanton had a Wednesday night “wine garden” in a downtown parking lot. It was nice just to get out and I ran into some people I hadn’t seen in many years and they had their kids with them. It was a really nice scene. Then there was a minor incident involving a drunk 18 year old, even though he hadn’t been drinking in the wine garden the next time they required that everybody keep their drinks in a designated area, basically a group of child-less 20 somethings were roped in a corner. There was a band playing with a giant empty spot in front of them because everybody that had been in front of the band the last time was now roped off in the pen. The families had moved on. We never went back.

Featured Brewery: Drakes I think Drakes was the first warehouse style taproom I ever visited, – about 16 years ago. On Friday nights they would roll up the warehouse door and they had a table with four taps, IPA, Pale, Amber, and Hefeweizen. They had little glasses with a handle (had the wife hold that one up for the photo) and we would buy $2 tokens for refills. It had sort of a “is this legal?” vibe to it because it was out in the parking lot behind the Home Depot. It was mostly a thing to do before A’s games. Later on people started bringing food and grilling. Once I walked up to one of the tables and said “How much?” The guy told me “Go ahead and have one! This is a community, people bring food for everybody!”       These days the spot has moved a little over to the right and is called the Drakes Barrel Room. I recently sent an email to a guy named Tom that I hadn’t seen in two decades to ask if I could buy him some beers there. I remembered I owed him and it had sort of bothered me for a long time. I picked him up at his house in the Oakland Hills and we went to Drakes. As it turns out he couldn’t remember my last visit or why I would owe him anything. He wasn’t even aware that he had started following me on twitter, which is how I found him. I had just come up on his phone. From his conversation he was clearly more concerned about managing his properties and hadn’t thought of me or anyone else from the past in years.                                            At the brewery I told him I was curious about a 23 year-old girl he had brought to my house over 20 years earlier. She had a bag of lingerie with her that she “kept at a friend’s house” because her husband wouldn’t allow her to have it. However, she had a collection and she wanted to be able to walk around with an audience. Sort of do a photo shoot kind of thing where she would try all of them on. Tom called me because I lived in a giant house with 10 roommates. At the time I remember wondering why she would marry a guy that she had to hide her lingerie from, but I didn’t put much thought into it. A few months went by before Tom called without much warning to let me know they were on the way. Her husband was away at work and they just had a few hours. I had beenout all night and wasn’t well prepared. When they arrived she took off her clothes and we took a photo together out on my balcony. She held up a Probe, like she was reading. She had to hide her face. Selfishly, I remember thinking I wasn’t going to get any good photos for The Probe if she had to hide her face. She seemed to be somewhat underwhelmed by me as well. Luckily, we headed downstairs where some of my roommates were. They were younger and more lively and enthusiastic than Tom and I so at least she had a good time with them before it was time for her to go. Tom had called me afterwards and said she wanted to make sure that none of her face was showing in any photo I put in the zine. “It would be really bad news if her husband or any of his friends were to see it.” There is a photo of her backside in Probe #6.                                                                                                    So at Drakes this year I asked Tom, “Was she a Muslim?” He seemed taken aback by the question. Uncomfortably he said that he didn’t think she was religious. I said, “But where was she from!?” He said. “Hawaii.” I said, “Oh man, I made up this story in my head that she came to the United States to be … wait a minute. She had a really thick accent! ” Tom paused and said, “You know what? … I think she came from India.” She had later gone to Hawaii and after that he had lost track of her. I was hoping for a more interesting backstory. Several years earlier I had thought of her after listening to an audio book version of A Thousand Splendid Suns. The ominous warning from Tom about not showing her face, the hiding of the undergarments, her brown skin and accent made me suddenly realize. “Oh man … not just an awkward marriage, maybe she was a refugee who had escaped devastating cruelty and sexual repression only to wind up at my house!” I felt bad because I had done a piss poor job as a liberator. I kicked myself for not having a better appreciation for the risk she was taking. Then again, she may have been a previously liberated. I really didn’t know.                                                                       Then things got interesting, I mentioned the Main Street Brewery. Tom nodded, but said he always went to Jim’s Restaurant when he was in Pleasanton. I replied that was right by my house. So he explained that before his mom had passed she had lived at the Parkview. I told him that’s where my dad had lived also! Wow, we could have crossed paths. Then Tom said, “Wait, is your brother a big guy?” It turns out that Tom knew my dad well. “And the little boy and the girl that came with your brother those are your kids?” We were both a little stunned at the coincidence.                                                                     Remembering his mom Tom started to choke up and had to stair down at his beer for a while to compose himself before speaking again. He said his mom hated to see people that were alone, that was just the kind of person she was, so she had insisted on sitting with my dad to keep him company. My dad had a table off to the side and everyone else sat in groups. That’s how Tom knew my dad, and then also my brother and my kids. He never made the connection to me because I had been Aaron Probe in San Leandro. Tom would visit his mom on weekday afternoons and I took my dad out on Sunday mornings so our paths never crossed. Even if they did I said I might not have recognized him because he had gained about 100 lbs. He explained the weight gain was fairly recent. He was recovering from two knee surgeries and had had trouble walking for a long time. For the last year of his life my dad was confined to a wheelchair. He had to be moved from Parkview to a facility on Neal Street. I would push him around town on Sunday mornings. I’d either take him to a park or into downtown Pleasanton. I used to wish there was some sort of informal beer garden that I could just wheel him into. We had beers a few times at other places but it was awkward, the patios were a tight fit and they didn’t open until 11:30. He couldn’t communicate at all or even recognize names and faces, but he still understood the beauty and the freedom of sitting outside with a beer in front of him. Last year McKay’s tap house opened on South Main Street, exactly what I was looking for, a nice outdoor setting, a large backyard patio area and it opens at 11am. – kids, dogs, bikes, a good tap turnover and wheelchairs and strollers can roll right in there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

brother and dad

brother and dad

 

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The girl from India.

A while back we were at a toddler’s b-day bounce house party BBQ (that’s how I do most of my partying these days) and someone said something really funny. Everybody laughed loudly and just as the laughter died I suddenly got the joke and I laughed also. This happens to me often so I announced, “I Live My Life on a Six Second Delay.” Which brought another round of laughter. My in-law said, “you need to put that on a t-shirt and wear it” I didn’t do that but I wrote the intro to this post the next day. I embraced it as my own personal slogan.

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I recently realized that I took the line from Miley Cyrus. Last year when she hosted the VMA awards Mtv used a seven second delay for the live broadcast. Then six nights later she hosted Saturday Night Live. There was no delay on the SNL broadcast “but when you smoke as much as I do you’re always on a seven second delay”

Stoner Rock

I don’t happen to smoke weed, but I started listening to a few stoner rock bands, mostly while cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes. I somehow came across Serpents of Dawn on bandcamp, probably because there is a drawing of a girl on the cover. But the cool thing was I saw that Bart Thurber of House of Faith studios recorded it. It had that same great thumping bass and drum sound that I first liked on the Plutocracy 7 inch back in ’91 or so. I then looked Bart up and we exchanged email. His studio is in Oakland these days. I think Bart may have been responsible for some of the Probe’s early notoriety. I was told by a few band members that when they recorded at House of Faith they sat around reading The Probe in between sessions and many many bands have gone through there. Also, one time Bart’s roommate at House of Faith unprompted donated $500 to the printing cost of Probe. Eugene Robinson of the band Ox Bow said it his way of giving back to the scene.

Around the same time as Serpents two different stoner rock bands from Colorado, first Stone Deaf and then Black Magic Darkness liked the “NakedcultofHickey” hashtags on my Instagram so I downloaded and started listening to them too.

Some nights back I was doing some old man head banging at the kitchen sink and I turned around to see my 12 year-old son standing behind me, “Really dad?” But this stuff rocks!

2 thoughts on “I Live My Life on a Six Second Delay

  1. I stuggled with beautiful for many years. Then did this association thing. Start spelling beach : bea _ then the rest it easy utiful _ beautiful.

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