In 2002 I had a fever for 9 weeks and it helped solve a personal mystery of what happened to me in San Francisco.

I’ve never been depressed. At my lowest in life I’d describe myself as melancholy. I’ve seen depression devour people. Not me, I was prescribed drugs for my periodic displays of idiotic behavior. I was a dumbass, but drugs didn’t help that.

The first time I did drugs was in the mid ‘90s when ADD first became a thing. The pitch was “Hey, maybe this attention disorder is why you’re a loser!” The test indicated that I didn’t have ADD, but a doctor prescribed dextro-amphetamine to “help even you out.” The only thing it did was prevent me from sleeping. I called to complain and a nurse told me “your body will eventually get used to it.” I put the bottle in my refrigerator and forgot about it. A year later I said, “hey, what happened to that bottle of pills?” and my roommate told me that one night she had emptied the bottle, smashed the pills with a hammer, and snorted them up her nose. I said, “really???” but I think she was serious.
Later on a new highfalutin amphetamine called Adderall was available. It was suggested that I give amphetamines another shot. I kept a sample in my glove compartment for a few months. When I did try it HOLY CRAP. Adderall is amazing! I went from feeling grumpy and half dead to being happy and social the entire day. Whenever I hear an actress or a comedian being interviewed on a podcast and explain that they were having problems with drugs and alcohol but they were prescribed Adderall and they are feeling good. I think, “Yeah, NOW YOU’RE HIGH ALL THE TIME.”

The wife said, “102.6” and I was stunned.
I had been complaining to her that I had been out of it for a few days. She wanted to put together some patio furniture but I couldn’t deal with it. When she brought out the thermometer I explained to her “No, I’m not sick!” I was frustrated, irritated, and fighting off dread because the way I was feeling was familiar. I actually said to her, “this is the way I used to feel when I lived in the city.” When she told me I had a fever my mind was a little blown because my only symptoms were tiredness and mental burnout, but I was happy to learn it was just a fever.
A month later, the fever was still with me. I had assumed I had mono because that’s the most common virus with a long running fever. However an internist at Kaiser told me tests showed that there were already expired mono cells in my blood. She asked, “Do you remember feeling especially run down sometime in the last two to five years? That would have been about the time you had mono.”

When I moved to San Francisco it didn’t turn out the way I hoped. First I blamed it on the warm stale air of the basement office space that I had moved into. Also, my plan for not having running water was to sign up for a gym membership. I thought it was a genius move on my part. $150 rent in downtown San Francisco but with the amenities of a fancy gym a few blocks away. Without parties or roommates not only was I going to be able to focus on having the most badass record label and zine in the city but I was going to be ripped! However, just 5 minutes of lifting weights would tire me out. One time I forced myself to run on a treadmill for 20 minutes and was wiped out for the rest of the day. I blamed it on being out of shape from my summer truck-driving job.
When I moved out the office into a flat at Divisadero and Fell I was getting stuff done but never kicking ass at any point. I complained about “coffee doesn’t work for me anymore” and told people how I used to enjoy working on zine stuff but now even small jobs seemed like a pain in the ass. I thought it might be the SF climate or living in traffic. Depression was brought up as a possibility. I didn’t know it was just the late stages of mono and since I described it in those terms it’s easy to see why after a 15 minute appointment I was prescribed anti-dressants. My only question was “can I drink when I take these?” The very laid back Indian doctor chuckled “a couple of beers no problem.. eh you may feel more drunk than usual, but you save money on beer!”

Drugs Broke My Brain, Drink Beer!

When a guy I knew suddenly jumped on top of a fence and started drunkenly cat-call passing high-school girls after just four beers or the time a laid back friend of a friend unexplainably started a fight with a 7/11 clerk or that one time I was at an A’s game and from across the field I saw a guy from my softball team drunkenly shouting at players, then bending over and dropping his pants – he seemed genuinely surprised when security came to escort him away – and this was before the game had started, most people see things like that and think, “That guy was wasted!” but I always suspect they aren’t wasted, they just can’t handle alcohol because they’re on anti-depressants.

“Dr. Malcolm Bowers of Yale found in the late 90’s over 200,000 people yearly are hospitalized with antidepressant-induced manic psychosis. They also point out that most go unrecognized as medication-induced.”

No matter how much I drink, and I have tested the limits of drunken consciousness at least two thousand times in my lifetime, the only times I have ever been blackout drunk were when I was on anti-depressants. Thankfully I didn’t do anything more horrible than usual, I just didn’t remember doing it. At first I thought people were fucking with me or THEY were the ones that were confused. Dumb stuff like reprimanding my roommates for moving my car and then all of them trying to convince me that I had done it. Luckily, after I made a spectacle of myself at the Monterey Pop Festival some good people staged an intervention and I stopped taking Prozac.

I’ve got two friends that went to the hospital, one very nearly died, because they drank while on their prescribed medications. One was casually referred to as an alcoholic his entire life. However, after his stay in the hospital he was weaned off multiple medications that he had taken since childhood and now he’s just a guy who will have a few beers.

May cause a loss of interest in sex
Just for comparison’s sake, those excited faces of people riding rollercoasters, that’s what I used to look like every time I saw a naked woman.
I was never “casual” about sex. I was completely enthusiastic, it was always pretty much the greatest thing that ever happened in the world and that’s how I learned drugs can be scary powerful. The day I looked at a naked woman and nothing happened I knew my brain had been broken.

Matty Luv
Back in 2001 the greatest songwriter of our generation was court ordered to take medication and stay out of the city while he waited for a court date. He stayed at our house, everyday the wife and I would go to work and he’d sit in our backyard and smoke cigarettes. He said (paraphrasing, of course, however he said it was more poetic), “this would be the perfect time for me to write some songs, writing songs is my favorite thing, but I’m on this medication and I don’t feel anything, everything is flat. I can’t write songs.” and I said “I know exactly what you mean!” and I told him about the sex thing.

I blame it all on the Benzos
Don’t read this section because I’m full of shit. This part is complete crap. This is when the drunken guy is rambling on and it’s sad. I tried passing this theory off on The Wife two different times, once on a dog walk, and once at our favorite bar on date night and she dismissed my theories in 30 seconds both times. But I do wonder why in my early 30s I started getting crippling hangovers but now at age 50 I can drink so much that it scares me a little. Benzodiazepines are tough on the liver. They can give you a gut and shaking hands, very similar to the effects of alcohol, plus all drugs and alcohol are worse when you combine them. I remember asking the doctor “Why do my hands shake all the time?” and she told me it was “a natural tremor” Then I got a beer gut the size of a basketball. I don’t think alcohol was the problem with me. What I had was an excess of enthusiasm. The 90’s were a very fun time. I didn’t want to miss anything so I went out 4 or 5 nights a week. However, at home I was sober. Ironically, the bottle of pills that were just a little something to calm me down so I’d feel less like drinking may have lead me to become a bigger drinker. Inspired by my gut and Tom Hopkins at MRR I went on a diet that severely limited my beer intake. Instead of buying a 12 pack of whatever I started concentrating on what my beers would be, I’d think of them longingly beforehand and then pour them in a pint glass and stare at them worshiply before drinking them. That’s how I got into craft beer. So now I don’t go out much but drinking at home has become my biggest hobby. I was inspired to write this post after reading an article about doctors who noticed a rise in the number of their patients reporting a problem with anxiety and panic attacks, after comparing medical histories they noticed a preponderance of benzo prescriptions (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin etc.) even prescriptions as short as 90 days 10 years earlier. I thought ah ha! It made sense to me. I think there is a fine line between enthusiasm and anxiety. You joggle that part of your brain…. nine years ago when I had a problem I tried to explain to the wife why I suddenly refused to go out anymore, at the time I didn’t know what anxiety was so I described it as “a sense of evil hovering over me” she said “If that’s what’s happening you need to see a doctor” and I said, “No! I think that’s why it’s happening!” I suspected it before I read about it. But just to reiterate, I am completely full of shit. There are too many competing factors to consider and I didn’t take any medications for very long. If you get on Google and add search terms like “testimonials” you can find whatever you want to see. I’m making excuses for my failures and weaknesses. I don’t blame the doctors either, I was a guy, delivering pizza ten years after graduating from college, and they just figured I must have issues and was self-medicating. At the time prescribing medication was considered low risk compared to the hazards of heavy drinking. It’s different now. Although, I did recently read that 9% of all kids in the United States are given Ritalin or Adderall. (In France it’s less than half of 1%) 1st – 5th grade I couldn’t sit at a table with other kids. In the 3rd grade I was kicked out of class so often that I was sent to a different school with an “open pod” where we’d work on our own and keep a journal of our progress. I thrived in that atmosphere but most the other unsocialized kids didn’t so the experiment was ended. However, there is no doubt that in today’s schools, instead of open pod learning I’d have been given Ritalin and later Adderall and, of course, I would have become a doctor.

The Fever
They didn’t figure out why I had a fever for 9 weeks, but that’s not unusual. The internist told me that while a nine-week fever is extremely rare there are thousands of known and unknown viruses in the world. The only thing somewhat unusual about my case was that I hadn’t recently returned from a foreign country.

Brewery culture has passed its punk rock stage. The once fun and exciting industry is struggling to keep touch with it’s friendly community spirit. On the whole it’s still very positive and now throwing some beer drinking tables out in front of your establishment is more expected than verboten.

I apologize for the lack of Miley Cyrus in this post. My favorite YouTube music video this past year was Miley on the Ellen Show “Younger Now.” It’s a spirit lifter. It was going to be the YouTube clip that I ended this post with but then I wrote about Matty Luv and there is some Hickey news.

The Naked Cult of Hickey
Two times last year I was at a party and the same thing happened, once in Sacramento with somewhat younger folk and once at a kid’s b-day party in San Jose with some aging punks. Somebody introduced me to a few people and they said “He’s the guy that used to do The Probe!” and I was met with uncertain but friendly nods, then “he had a record label too, he put out the Hickey LP” which was followed by opened mouthed impressed faces, handshakes in appreciation of musical history, genuine heartfelt dedications, “that record… one of the greatest… that’s why I….” etc. So I feel almost like there is a legacy to uphold but it’s not my own.

Sometime in the next week or so I’m going to drive out to see Fred of Thrillhouse Records and hopefully we’re going to drink at a brewery down the street from his record store, which is the part I’m looking forward to, but the reason I’m going out there is to deliver artwork for the full size Hickey LP booklet because Thrillhouse is going to repress it on vinyl.
He gave his blessing for this but I think at some point Aesop or maybe it was Matty said there wouldn’t be a second vinyl pressing. The first one was a major undertaking. To keep the LP under $6 Matty had to scam the copies for the booklet which was a major time consuming undertaking, involving several locations. Aesop hand screened all of the front covers, and then they had friends come over to do individual artwork on all of the back covers. I wasn’t there, but I know this wasn’t some SF hippy pot smoking art party. It was probably pretty ugly, I’m sure everybody was on meth; there were time constraints because Hickey was going on tour. I think it involved a lot of folks that had been up for days scrawling with big markers and gluing stuff.

Okay and, if that isn’t the most beautiful song you’ve ever heard … then you and I have a different idea of what the most beautiful song in the world is.


We’re closely connected, two degrees of separation, but I think I’ve only talked to Fred of Thrillhouse Records three times. The first time he sent an email asking for my input when he decided to open up a punk rock record store that would double as label and a venue. I said NO!!! DON’T DO IT!!!
The next time was 10 years later on my 40th birthday. A group of friends met at Pacific Coast Brewery in Berkeley, and in the afternoon we drove across the bridge to Beach Chalet Brewery in SF. When we were there my friends Bill and Brad walked up to our table out on the lawn with a circle tray full of whiskey shots and they were doing some drunken’ drink whiskey chant. I thought because it was my birthday they were making me do a bunch of shots. I was annoyed because I was already happily drunk on beer, but not to be a killjoy I quickly grabbed the remaining six shots and drank them down. (Later I chastised them for buying me so many shots and they told me they were just passing out shots to everybody, but I grabbed them all) so 30 minutes later we were at Thrillhouse Records and it was a major struggle to keep myself upright. The Four Eyes were playing in the basement. I remember the entire place was spinning. However, I made it to the basement and grabbed a post coming down from the floor. After the first band everything finally stopped spinning and someone handed me a tall can of beer. It was good! I was back! I had rallied through it, but I had to pee. In the backyard there were some nice shrubs but also signs that said not to pee in the backyard because of the neighbors. So I went upstairs to the living quarters above the record store and there was a long line of people waiting for one toilet. I said, “No way, we can speed this line up by peeing in the shower drain. So I pulled the curtain to the tub back and I was peeing in the drain and Fred walked up and said “Hey! Please don’t pee in our bathtub, people live here, that’s where we shower!” So that was the second time I talked to him.
The third time was at Craigums and Mary wedding and he didn’t say. “Hey you’re the jerk who tried to kill my dreams and you peed in my bathtub!” He was nice and the Hickey LP is an all time favorite of his. He’s a product of that Mission scene and despite my warning that it would end with him crushed and broken hearted, over 20 years later he is still going! So yeah, happy it is Thrillhouse repressing the vinyl.

The Hickey song I ended this post was not from the LP, but I already ended another post with the Hickey LP. That was the one where I mentioned Steve from 1234 Go! Records in Oakland repressing the CD.
Also, speaking of the Four Eyes, when I looked to see what other bands Fred had put out on his label. The Four Eyes is one of them. This website belongs to Dave Ninja of the Four Eyes. He started BREWZNEWZ and sent password log-ins for his friends to contribute. I was the only one who did so eventually this just turned into my personal blog.
Artwork by Hal MacLean. The Matty Luv “Art on our Wall” this post is by Bradley Roberts. No “featured beer” this post because I’ve gone on too long, and I stole the photo of Thrillhouse Records off Instagram from a member of a Japanese hardcore band called For Life.

How much can I drink without slowly killing myself?

IMG_4467I’m not going to try to be funny or amusing. I haven’t posted anything on here in a while partly because every time I attempt to write something I try to be funny and amusing and those are two things I seem to do best inadvertently.
One thing in life I am good at is drinking beer. This just occurred to me today. I’m always wondering what am I doing with my life? Duh, I drink. I put a lot of effort and planning into it too.
However, there have been a few changes since my “drinking for life” post 4 years ago. A beer blog post that literally changed lives. (see this testimonial)

How to Survive the World Air Guitar Championships, aka The Hangover Cure that Changed My Life by Dan Crane

Don’t look at me that way! If you want to drink, believe in the B!!!

Sure I’m not a doctor but it’s funny how many people fight me on the effects of vitamin B or shrug it off as hocus. Its not some mind over matter “it works because you believe it” crap. Fuck the Internet and AM radio newsman with their mocking stories about how vitamins don’t do you any good. Yes, those are reports on legitimate studies, but heavy drinking is different. It puts your body through the ringer. Because drinking is voluntary doctors only advise people to cut back, they don’t give advice on how to increase the amount of alcohol you can drink. That’s what friends are for.
Then there are prenatal vitamins. If vitamins don’t work why does every single doctor prescribe prenatal vitamins to a pregnant woman? What do you think is more draining on a body, a tiny fetus that only takes what it needs to survive or 3 bombers of double IPA that enters your bloodstream and then ravages every cell in your body? Take the vitamin B if you are drinking heavily. If you are like my wife and usually stop after one drink or two and you feel fine then don’t worry about it, but heavy drinkers, especially older ones, should take vitamins, especially B.
Recently, Justin Crossley, the great host of The Brewing Network missed some shows because he was in the hospital for some complications related to vitamin B 12 deficiency. When he explained his job and told the doctor he would continue drinking the doctor said, “then you better take vitamin B12 everyday for the rest of your life” It’s not some mythical hangover cure, it’s about staying healthy enough so you can live to drink another day.


A few years ago I went to a doctor because when I woke up one morning I was sore across my rib cage and abdomen. The feeling was similar to a time in high school when I tried to impress a girl in PE class by repeatedly doing belly flops onto the hardwood floor during volley ball because it had made her laugh (I never talked to her, in high school my method for attracting girls was based entirely on physical comedy). However, that morning I hadn’t done anything so heroic. The doctor asked me for a rundown on my food and beverage intake. I hesitantly explained to him that I normally don’t drink as much as I had that week, but there had been a double IPA fest on the weekend… I have a process for drinking, and I’m constantly making exceptions due to regular life happening, but most often I’m able to drink fairly heavily without any of the associated bad side effects like hangovers or energy crashes. It had been a good week and I had been drinking for several days (also sleeping and going to work, not drinking continuously) A day earlier I was starting to feel “ragged” which is a term I use when I still feel good, but I can tell I’m starting to wear down. My favorite way to deal with that is a night of gluttony. (I’ve decided to delete the details of what a night of gluttony consists of out of shame.) (Well, do I really have any shame? Basically it’s a regular night of drinking except at the beginning I add a big hunk of the forbidden red meat and two bottles of wine.)
Gluttony night always feels wonderful but the next day the body goes into restorative mode and doesn’t want a drink, that’s how I put the brakes on when I start sliding down the drunken rabbit hole.
So I had only gone to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack, but after hearing my story he told me he wasn’t worried about my heart but he thought I had probably given myself either pancreatitis or at least gastritis. He drew a diagram and explained to me how each of those organs reacts to excessive alcohol and the problems associated with each.
Thankfully it turned out to be false alarm, but his explanations did give me a window into how my drinking adventures could come to an end. I’m about to turn 50 and I’m starting to break down. I need glasses to read. I need subtitles to watch Netflix. This year, for the first time in my life I pissed my pants, and it almost happened twice! So I know my internal organs probably aren’t what they used to be either. Plus, only one of them has to break down before I have a serious problem.

This is the book where got most of my ideas, the guy that wrote it in 1999 was a nutritionist. The book says nothing about a gluttony day. Before writing the book he drank 8 glasses of wine a night for three months and lost 30 pounds or something like that. My objective reading it was not to lose weight or live longer but learn how I could drink as much as possible without getting hangovers. He never wrote a follow up and doesn’t have a web site so I’m not sure how everything worked out for him when he got older

This is the book where got most of my ideas, the guy that wrote it in 1999 was a nutritionist. The book says nothing about a gluttony day. Before writing the book he drank 8 glasses of wine a night for three months and lost 30 pounds or something like that. My objective reading it was not to lose weight or live longer but learn how I could drink as much as possible without getting hangovers. He never wrote a follow up and doesn’t have a web site so I’m not sure how everything worked out for him when he got older

I’m comforted by the fact that Duff Mckagen was drinking 11 bottles of wine a day at the time his pancreas exploded because I’m nowhere near that.

I had a similar reaction several years ago when I was emailing with my old friend Jeanette from the city. She was writing about how happy she was with a guy named Heiko that she was with. “The only downside is that he’s an alcoholic.” Normally the difference between an alcoholic and a drinker is that the former is an asshole. So I asked what made him an alcoholic. She said that weekend, even though he knew they had plans on a Sunday, he still went out drinking the entire night Saturday. Then, still wreaking of alcohol, to get himself right to go out Sunday he didn’t eat anything but lined up several vodka shots along the kitchen counter and then quickly downed a couple of beer chasers to start his day.
Aha! I thought, I’m perfectly fine. I don’t do Hair of the Dog. The whole point of my drinking regimen is so I look forward to drinking each day. If he can drink like that then I have no problem. However, it turned out that Heiko wasn’t the best benchmark to measure my health as he literally drank himself to death at the age of 39.
A doctor told him that he would die if he continued to drink. At first it seemed that he would accept his plight. He stayed every day with Jeanette and helped her with a dog kennel she was running at the time. He was sober for a few months. Then he fell off the wagon and very shortly after that passed away. Jeanette was there and of course was devastated for quite a while as he had been the first guy she had fallen in love with for many years.
I’m explaining this because Jeanette isn’t on any social media. She wrote this wonderfully sad little one page dedication (poem?) to Heiko and almost nobody saw it. How do people share their grief when they aren’t on Facebook? Well, she told me that there is a place on Valencia Street near her apartment called “The Pirate Store” and “when nobody is looking I’m going to hang this up next to the fish tank” (I just have her phone photo of it so hopefully it’s legible.)


Why I did 30 days without drinking, it’s nothing exciting

It would be fun to say that I had been Inspired by Miley Cyrus and her sobriety break, but several factors had to come together at once to make me do this. First I saw Jay (Loudmouth) document a 30 days sober on his instagram page and thought, “yeah, I should do that sometime just to give the liver time to regenerate” and also this year I started getting a little raw feeling in my stomach after drinking all day. Gluttony night also stopped working for me. It used to be if I was invited to a brewery the day after a gluttony night I would still go but take it easy. The last time it happened I even said to the wife, “I need to take it easy this time” instead I had three heavy beers there and then when we got home she saw me pouring and feeling inspired in the kitchen, she held me by the shoulders and said, “remember you said you should take it easy” so I thought yeah, after this one I had been looking forward to that bomber of Bear Republic Fastback Racer Double IPA, but I’ll just have the regular Racer 5 instead. Then of course I had both of them. It was fantastic too! I didn’t regret it. However, I decided I needed to work on being more physically active to make up for my increase in drinking. Of course, I proceeded to wrench my left leg/hip pretty bad while trying to do just that, so instead I started sitting on my ass whenever possible and after a few weeks I felt soft and pickled. Finally I tried to compensate by drinking lighter beers but that wasn’t fun. However, the #1 final decider was that my beer fridge was almost empty anyway. If I had beer in the fridge like I normally do, if Raleys had a buy 3 get one free six-pack sale that week, then I would have thought, “I can’t quit now. I have all this beer!”
It didn’t matter that it was the middle of summer and there were several prime drinking days on the calendar. There was also never any doubt that I would go the distance once I started, ultimately I am much more obsessive than I am compulsive. I think I’ll get this posted a day before the 30 days ends. I forgot to weigh myself so I don’t know if I lost any weight, but my waist is about an inch smaller, most likely because the swelling of my internal organs has temporarily subsided. The wife thinks that I’ve been “more calm” which to me feels like “just a little more dead inside.” I started going to bed at 11pm instead of my usual 1 or 2am, but I didn’t feel any more rested, just got tired earlier, probably more akin to death row inmates who sleep 20 hours a day because they have nothing to live for. Other than that I’m the same person.

The art on our wall segment: This relief was painted by my Uncle Art. “Uncle Art the artist!” I was fond of saying as a kid. Then “He’s an alcoholic” was always the next term people used to describe him. He lived alone in a tiny shack in the mountains of Felton California, one room of living space and one room for art with a big pottery wheel in the middle of it. He was the brother of my grandma on my dad’s side. She found him wedged behind his art room door. He died with his arms rigid in the air holding up a broom-stick in self defense. He also had a large gash in his forehead but fowl play was not suspected. He used to talk often of literally fighting off demons, they think that’s what he was doing as he died. Art Tober, he was 65.

The art on our wall segment: This relief was painted by my Uncle Art. “Uncle Art the artist!” I was fond of saying as a kid. Then “He’s an alcoholic” was always the next term people used to describe him. He lived alone in a tiny shack in the mountains of Felton California, one room of living space and one room for art with a big pottery wheel in the middle of it. He was the brother of my grandma on my dad’s side. She found him wedged behind his art room door. He died with his arms rigid in the air holding up a broom-stick in self defense. He also had a large gash in his forehead but foul play was not suspected. He used to talk often of literally fighting off demons, they think that’s what he was doing as he died. Art Tober, he was 65.

Update to Drinking for Life
Some recently completed long-term studies determined that high sugar intake may be just as strong a predictor of future liver disease as excessive alcohol. Previously on nights I didn’t drink I’d eat a ton of ice cream then complain to the wife that I always felt my worst on mornings after not drinking. I wasn’t joking! When I stopped drinking for 30 days I also cut sugar out of my diet. When I start drinking again tomorrow I’m going to continue to avoid sugar, as well as heroin and speed and smoking.
There’s also a strong correlation between drinking and hard work or exercise. People who drink tend to be more physically active than people who don’t. So far science hasn’t determined the chicken or the egg theory behind this. Also, the more active your lifestyle the less likely you are to suffer the maladies normally associated with drinking.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 8.51.11 AM

Miley News!
A few years ago I constantly told people, “In 20 years we’ll remember her twerking the same as we do cross-dressing and David Bowie, ultimately just one footnote in a long career.” Dead Pets featured the exploding brain of a 22-year-old teamed up with the “been there, tried that” Flaming Lips, seasoned dudes in their 50s, an overall tone that has served as my sad little musical comfort zone. At this point I’ve listened to Miley Cyrus and her Dead Pets hundreds of times. So you’d think I’d be over the moon that she has some new songs out. However these first two songs released so far have a super youthful emotional positivity to them. Don’t get me wrong, its terrific and I did expect her to go back to the roots, actually when I first heard Lady Gaga’s change-up “Joanne” I was surprised because that was exactly the style of classic soul burner that I had been anticipating from Miley, similar to a style she employed years ago for Lilac Wine. For me personally there are over 20 different songs on Dead Pets that I like better than her new hit but this time RCA is promoting it and she’s doing the media tour so… that’s just how things work. The new songs she wrote with her and just one guy named Oren playing all the instruments in a mobile studio. Once again deciding against using the RCA industrial songwriting complex to deliver a thumper. I’m really looking forward to the rest of it.

Seth and Devon mid-jump, from Probe #5

Seth and Devon mid-jump, from Probe #5

The Love Songs
The featured youtube for this post is an easy one because both of my kids appear in it 43 seconds in. Also, it’s the first “official video” (had a budget) these guys have ever done. 2/4 the members are descendents of Your Mother, the band that compelled me to start a record label over 20 years ago – and they are still going, recently touring the country and everything. God only knows what keeps them going or why their spirit hasn’t already been crushed. That’s a joke. I can poke fun at myself but Craigums, Bradley and crew are truly inspiring (to those who are prone to have such emotions). (Sorry, this is my the first ever sober Brewz Newz , you see what happens!) Also, starring in this video is the daughter of Seth, high-flying former drummer of All You Can Eat and today a guy who can build stuff and also works for the opera. A little skater kid named Max, son of Mellos makes an appearance, also Seth’s son, among some other spawn of Punks of Yore. Enjoy!

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



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!