The Cup is Still Full

My downfall came quicker than I expected, but it was going to happen. I don’t know if I lost confidence in myself because I lost my ability to drink or if I lost my ability to drink because I lost confidence in myself. Either way it was inevitible. Thankfully my run did not end with one big drunken disaster, but slowly stumbled to an end over the course of an entire year, it was a long bout of mild confusion and hard embarrassments, but I’m still here, still drinking beer.

When it comes to drinking you often have to make the same mistake about eleven or twelve or twenty or in my case about thirty times before you start to make changes. It’s not a steady downward trend, some good weeks can make you feel like you got over on it, only to fall further back the next week.

After a wedding in 2004 I drank a lot and I puked. I remember it because I had leaned my head far out of the passenger window but 70 MPH HWY winds caused blow-back that created a light speckled pattern across the interior fabric that covered the roof of our mini-van. I had hoped it was unnoticeable but the next morning my three year old daughter had questions. I didn’t puke again until 2019. Then I puked again two more times in 2019, violent, loud, explosive puking. 52 years old, puking from drinking too much, not sweet.

I’m not a doctor or even much of a reader so I don’t know the medical term to describe what happened to me, but I’m not the same. Anybody who knows me has heard me say “I can’t sit down when I start drinking.” It’s something I’ve said hundreds of times throughout my life. My back straightens, muscles I didn’t know were tense start to loosen, even muscles in my face. It’s a sensation that starts a full 15 minutes before the warm glow of alcohol even reaches my brain, but that part doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t get the building physical high – and when I really binge, I don’t rise to the occasion.

I don’t take back any of my prior enthusiasms. I ran into problems with drinking in my ‘30s. Hangovers would last two days, but I didn’t quit. Instead I came up with a drinking plan. Eventually I could skip dinner, take a few handfuls of vitamin B, drink double IPAs all night long, stay sharp, and in the morning I felt great, light, hungry, alert, eager for coffee and breakfast. That was true. I stand by all my previous beer drinking advice. I can say with confidence that I was living my best life. However, there may be an age limit.


5 years ago I wrote in Brewz-Newz that I was looking forward to looking old. I thought it would be nice to graduate from creepy old dude to kindly old man. I thought I would get grey and soften up a little, but that’s not what’s happening. The hair is still dark but the decay inside of me has bubbled to the surface. I can harsh a buzz just by walking into a room.


A few years back I stopped being impressed with myself. Last year I went through a long period of not liking myself. That was a new thing. I had minor issues. Normal stuff that many people have had to deal with their entire lives, like feeling ugly, getting drunk, but not kick ass drunk, involuntary naps, and how freaking frustrated I get when I can’t see things that are right in front of my face. However, as the wise Billy Ray Cyrus once told his daughter Miley, “life is a series of adjustments.”

“When all else fails lower your standards” was a t-shirt I wore all the time when I was in high school. It was a shirt my Dad bought for himself from a street vender in Berkeley. I thought it was hilarious and wore it all the time. Now I live it.


10pm used to be about the time I had energy. Now in 2020 when 10 pm rolls around I I’m not ramping up, I’m winding down. I sit-down in front of the TV. My consumption of Netflix DVDs has increased three fold this year. I get tired earlier. On the positive side I very rarely have those days where I go into work on two or three hours sleep, that used to happen at least twice a week. I think I’m sleeping more now than I have in my entire life. I also can spend a little extra for nice beers like New Glory or Modern Times because I don’t drink them all in one night.

I do nearly an hour of stretching and physical therapy every morning or my right side goes bad. It’s a physical breakdown and it won’t get better. My right shoulder isn’t hooked up right, back muscles have to compensate. If I don’t get blood coursing through those muscles they tighten up, it feels like a piece of solid wood is stuck behind my shoulder, they pull on my neck which locks up, the lower back gets unstable, the hip gets sore and I have a grinding sensation down in my heal. It’s a whole set of dominos that I’m always trying to keep from falling. I have to take it easy, sudden movements have consequences. On a positive note, thanks to the morning regimen my left side still feels like I’m 30 years old.

I gave this post a positive title because I had a lot of bitching to do, but in the end I know my life is wonderful. That’s the really fantastic and positive thing about drinking, it helps you feel how lucky you are and the feeling doesn’t end when the drunk ends, it resonates.


POST SCRIPT

The art on our wall for this post is Murray: A lot of people remember Murray as a photographer among other talents, but the Murray I knew was first and foremost a great beer drinker. He was always drinking really good strong beer, but he never seemed to be drunk. At the end of his life Murray moved from San Jose to Sacramento. I think he was there for less than a year but when he died the local tap house dedicated a barstool plaque to him . BrewzNewz president of operations Dave Ninja was there for the ceremony, he told me tears were shed.



In one weekend Murray Bowles had three different celebration of life events in his honor, in San Jose, Berkely, and Oakland. Afterwards I was little Murrayed out, but the nice thing about it was that I felt a connection to a scene that I thought had little to do with me anymore. However, at the Oakland show I loosened my right ear plug to talk to people so many times that later when I woke up in the middle of the night, it sounded like a steam engine was barreling into my ear. Thankfully by morning a closer to normal level of ringing had returned.

I wrote this during the Corona Virus shutdown. We are lucky, so far both the wife and I are still working, she at home, me in an office space where even during normal times I only speak a few sentences to people each day. The shutdown has been easier on me than anyone I know. Except for our three day family trip to L.A. last year I spent every one of my vacation days at home. Walking the dogs is more getting out than I need these days. Sometimes I feel cooped up in the house, but when I go out to pee in our side-yard I stare at the moon and the clouds for a few minutes and I come back in feeling fresh and renewed. Not that this shutdown situation hasn’t caused stress. My only concern when it started was my son’s musical. So many kids put in so much work, not just learning the songs and the dance routines, but the musicians, the lighting, the stage work. It all comes together in this amazing communal event. After getting the go ahead the day before, all six shows were cancelled on opening night. My son is positive and resilient so he handled it well but I stress ate and gave myself my first ever case of heartburn. Then the full shutdown hit. My wife and daughter were going to to take their very first trip to Europe. It was going to be a high school graduation present for my daughter. I would have felt fantastic for both of them while simultaneously not having to go anywhere myself. Hopefully it is only postponed.

The only change I’ve had to make is bringing a leash for my dogs. Now that everybody in our town has been forced to adopt my lifestyle the formally seldom used parks and trails are teaming with people.

Our sideyard



My wife is dealing with more and is tougher than I am in many ways, my kids are calm and good natured. There have been no tears or breakdowns. I have concerns about the future but right now we are fine.

(Last minute addition – I wasn’t going to say anything but when I say my wife “is dealing with more”…
The other night I woke up on our couch about three in the morning and went out to the side-yard to pee, I noticed the bathroom light was on, meaning my wife was up. After I came back in the house I heard a loud “THUNK” and I immediatley thought “that sounds like my wife just fainted” and she had, she’s never done anything like that before. Coincidentally the last thing I watched before falling asleep was a short video from Sean Evans, he’s the guy who interviews celebrities while they eat hot wings on youtube, it’s my favorite show. For Christmas my wife got me a “Hot Ones” hot sauce package. Anyway, in his video he did a short Covid update for the show. He also explained that he had a cut on his face because he had woke up at 3am to pee and fainted. Then he came to and while walking back to bed he fainted a second time and cut his face on a table. But he had gone to a doctor and he’s %100 okay, no problem at all. I was thinking about it. So I’m helping my wife get back to bed and she fainted a second time! It should have really freaked me out, but I was thinking “This is the exact same thing that just happened to Sean Evans, and he’s a %100 fine.” So I get her into bed and once she was lying down she did seem to be okay. In the morning she was even better than her usual self, she had been in a lot of pain for a while, she finally went to a doctor and has started injecting blood thinners because of a blood clot in her leg. Before that she had other ailments, in December she had a long running chest cold that was so bad she thought she must have had pnmonia. The first time we heard about Covid I said “People at work are going to think you have it, you cough all the time.” The other morning the news mentioned that a common side effect after a Covid recovery is blood clots, but I don’t want to speculate too wildly.)


MUSIC

Important and timely for this post are two bands, 50 Million and Shellshag.


I always thought 50 Millions “Sleepover” was one of the best songs I put out on Probe Records. However, as great as that song is the record was so strong that most people seemed to prefer “Whiskey Eyes” on the other side. Whiskey Eyes was “side burly” a hard nosed noisey rocker. “Sleepover” was “side gurly” a very sweet and fun love song – it was sweet and nice but hard around the edges.


A year or two after that record, not knowing my label was about to go belly up I asked 50 Million if I could put out another record. They gave me cassette tape. There were some really awesome pop songs on there. They also had a lot of good noise and rock stuff. I asked, Hey can I just take the pop songs and make a fantastic pop record? They said “But then it wouldn’t be 50 Million record.” Most of the stuff on that cassette was later on the “Bust the Action” LP on Broken Records which I insist you should check out if you are inclined at all because here is the thing. 50 Million and Shellshag have already removed themselves from all streaming services, they barely even exist on youtube, the 50 Million records are sold out and now they are removing themselves from band-camp also. However, up until May 20th 2020 you can buy their entire digital discography for $30. Over 300 songs. There will be another 50 Million record upcoming. Wade has had a stroke so I guess he can’t play drums, but he’ll be playing guitar.
I tried to find a youtube link for “Sleepover” but there isn’t one so here is “Amy Jahn” from “Bust the Action” listen to it if you haven’t heard it yet! I have a very short clip of 50 Million playing Sleepover from a October 2017. I’ll put it on my youtube channel right now so I can post it here.



I saw on Instagram that 50 Million would be playing at NOON in Clarion Alley in SF. My wife and daughter dropped me off at the Pleasanton BART station around 7am. I wanted to get there early so I could pregame the show by drinking at the the Double Play sports bar which opened at 8:30am. I was worried they wouldn’t allow drinking in the alley. When I got there I saw Jason Bean and he told me drinking in the alley wouldn’t be a problem. There was a table to donate money and they had cups, so it turned out my pre-game plan was a little over the top. When 50 Million started playing “Sleepover” I took out my phone and recorded that clip, more than 20 years after they first recorded the song.

_________________________________________________________________________________
CODA, This is over. Good post. End It

That was the post. If I wanted this to be art I would end these sooner. Unfortunately I’m inflicted with that sometimes annoying human need to share my life. I’m not autistic or on any spectrum but unlike many people, socializing does not activate my dopamine receptors. Since I have no motivation to talk to people I go on too long when I write. I also can’t see the social cues telling me to wrap it up.

Sean Evans interviews Paul Rudd/ Cauliflower wings.


Food is one of the cornerstones to living a good BEER CENTERED LIFESTYLE. I deleted that entire section because it was just too much to get into, too particular about me and I already did an entire post about the moral perils associated with the munching on of animals http://www.brewznewz.com/2015/10/ One thing that changed since that post is that Buffalo Cauliflower has become a thing. It’s a nice midday food if you are going to be drinking all day and plan to be up all night, and if you aren’t into amphetamines it’s the way to go.



I already know what my next step down is going to be. Beer drinking has motivated me for years to be careful with food. I was always anticipating my next beer high and didn’t want to cut it short by eating food that was dumb. I’ve weighed roughly 195 lbs for over 15 years. Early last year It went up. I brought it back down but I think in the future I’ll be moving up a weight class on a more permanent basis. I can feel it. I’ve already ended my strict no sugar rule to mostly no sugar. I also started drinking red wine more often. It’s a lazy alcohol. Hopefully I’ll just put on one layer of weight, if I start to blow up I’ll have to do something about it. It won’t really become a problem until I have trouble putting on shoes. That’s when the slippery slope begins.

______________________________________________________________________________



I had a Guns n’ Roses phase. I don’t regret it but that only lasted a year, I was young, my Miley Cyrus phase is going on 7 years now. That’s how much better Miley Cyrus is than Guns n Roses. 7 times better! Tell my 20 year old self that Miley (who was still four years from being born then) kicks ass on them! She effortlessly breaks out in powerful vocals, people still try to turn her into a punchline but she is too strong, too legitimate, just a full time all around bad ass, never backs down, and continues to see the best in people. She’s past the age now that Axl and a lot of singers had to start working hard to keep their voices strong. She was amazing as usual, but her first two appearances after vocal surgery she’s changed her approach so I’m nervous and possibly even a little sad. Her EP “She is Coming!” was the best music that came out in 2019.



Jeff Goldblum was the least inspirational guest to ever appear on the hot wings show, but he asked Miley to sing on his record so he probably isn’t always a disappointment.

I’m just going to embed these videos straight in. This one isn’t even a video. I was only going to hightlight links except for 50 Million clip but when I do that the link completely opens to a new page instead of popping up within the text. Easier just to do this.

_________________________________________________________________________________
Will this post never end? One more thing.
Just to be clear, this isn’t an old man thing. Daytime shows are just better than nighttime shows. They always have been. They are raw and personal. Don’t be fooled by the lights stoner.

High school kids, 2018 Cleveland School of Rock. A++




And this fucking outdoor classic all-time fucking greatest. 1970 Detroit


The year I turned fifty-one I drank more than I have in any other year of my life.

Not a taste test. After a long night of drinking I found three different unfinished beers that I had misplaced around the house, yes I drank them.

For many years now I’ve continuously strived to drink as much as possible. When I first started on this quest I figured that being able to drink heavily without getting a hangover (along with the invention of the self-driving car) would be the pinnacle of drunken happiness. I was right. Hangovers are not an issue and my health is not an issue either. Still, I’ve decided to start drinking less. Money is the main concern, but my mental health is also in question.

When compared to wine high quality beer is inexpensive, but the price has gone up. For one, those hazy beers with the funny names often require double and triple the amount of hops and the fancy cans they come in can be expensive. Not only that, but similar to an issue I have with wine, I drink them too quickly. Brewing techniques (building up from a light malt instead of starting strong and using hops for balance) have progressed to the point that super hoppy beers are almost too drinkable. A bomber of good old-fashioned style double IPA lasts me longer than the big fancy four-packs.

Last May I drank a bottle of wine and three double IPAs before starting a 12 hour fast for a blood test. I wanted to get fair results by not cleaning up for a physical. I got a clean bill of health, my blood pressure is low, my liver is fine and despite everything I’ve heard about alcohol weakening the immune system, I haven’t been sick since 2017.

Anything that is considered food I eat. There is no cuisine that is off the table for me. However, I stopped eating sugar, no desert, no donuts, ice-cream etc. This seems to have improved my liver health and has shot my booze recovery time through the roof. I used to say the best reason not to drink too much was because you still want to look forward to drinking the next day. But when I stopped eating sugar I didn’t have to pay as much attention to how much I was drinking. Late night benders that used to put me out of commission for a day would only last a morning. At work I’d start daydreaming about my next beer right after my afternoon car nap. This meant more nights drinking as soon as I got home.

Which is always nice, but when you then keep drinking until 2am it cost money. Near the end of the year, even after I stopped buying the fancy cans and thought I was being thrifty with my beer purchases, the wife noticed the increase in spending. She had a talk with me about bills that needed to be paid down now so we could have room for some even bigger bills coming up in our future. It was the only talk I ever received about why I needed to drink less that survived scrutiny.

Not long ago we were raising two little kids, going back to school, getting new jobs, fixing up a home, money was tight, free time didn’t exist. From 2004 to 2014 planning ahead for any opportunity to drink beer was important, and difficult. Not anymore.

I’ve always been an aggressive driver. I don’t race other cars. We are all on the same team. My issue is I can’t stand the sight of unused road. It’s a waste, so if cars in front of me have unused road in front of them I’m compelled to get to that unused road. Despite the misgivings of some passengers, I always felt, strongly, that my driving has been safe and under control. Until this year, this year I crossed the line, repeatedly, and I did it almost absent-mindedly. I kept saying. “Holy Christ, don’t do that again!, then the next day I would do it again. Driving has been second nature to me all my life, but this year getting my driving under control is the reason I started praying to God again. It’s something I never had to worry about before. Now, before I get in the car I put myself in a mental state where I don’t drive like a boulder tumbling down a hill.
It’s a similar story with the drinking. Too much untethered momentum.

The art on our walls for this post.
A friend Brandi got this for my wife on her birthday several years ago. I wasn’t happy about it then. I thought it was dark art. I thought blood was coming out of her eye. Now I look at it and it looks like she just has a little bit of rosacea. What was I thinking? Of course, in this photo I took of the painting from the reflection off the glass you can see Melvin sitting in the lower left corner, that doesn’t help.

 

Music
The last several Brewznewz Youtubes have been punk rock, so I’m unapologetically going back to Miley Cyrus.  I don’t think most people appreciate just how hardcore Miley is. As a fan I’m always a little nervous. Chances are she’s not going to bat 1,000 forever and she constantly does new things on the fly.
This was a morning TV show in Australia, Miley was freaking amazing as always.

Recently my 1997 Subaru needed $600 in repairs so we traded it in and got a 2004 Camry. Ha, I’m moving up in the world. But it’s true! The Camry is truly a LUXURY sedan. I called the Subaru the dog car because the interior was so thrashed I didn’t worry about carrying the dogs around in it. It also had a broken stereo so I could only listen to my cell phone by putting it in my shirt pocket and pointing the speaker up towards my left ear. The interior of the Camry is really nice, I keep a blanket in the trunk to cover the back seat when I let the dogs in. It also has a tape-deck which is awesome because I have a cassette adaptor so I can listen to all the music and podcasts on my phone in full stereo. The windows roll up into the door so there is less road noise and the windshield-wipers work too. It does have an egg-beater for an engine but that’s okay as I’m trying to be a more subdued driver. While I will miss the go-cart like simplicity of the old Subaru I won’t miss traffic jams with a manual transmission.

Similar to beer I probably need to spend less time on Twitter. On one hand it can be great. Unlike Instagram, Twitter can be very impersonal but I’ve found some reporters and other folks I may not have discovered otherwise. I’ve also taken some deep dives into some dumb shit. Okay, thanks for checking out BrewzNewz Go A’s!

___________________________________________________________________________

Crap, I “published” this but it doesn’t feel done. I edited out the mental health stuff to make this shorter and less complicated. However after doing that it just ends with a thud and some of the things I wrote no longer connect. However, I want to be done with this so instead re-editing the entire thing I’ll just add this brief addendum.

Addendum

I had a problem this year losing focus and acting absentmindedly. I don’t know if my brain has been pickled or if I just reached an age where the governing portion of the brain becomes weaker. I just pushed my limits every night. I’ve tried to change a few things this year with some success, and also some failures. I know a lot of people my age are forced to make life changes. We had a little play-off football party at our house this year and half the people there had recently quit drinking. At the party I made plans with my friend Ernie, we were going to make watching the playoffs fun by starting the next day at 10am on South Main Street, heading North and having a drink at every place downtown with taps. However, that night I continued to drink until 3am and like a complete failure of drinker I had to text Ernie at 8am and let him know I was too tanked to continue on another day.  I’m an asshole I used to lecture at people and lose respect for them as drinkers for that kind of foolishness. Day drinking is the best drinking. I need to be better! I will be better!

The Goldfish incident, not much to see here, I deleted this post and could have got away with it if not for my obsession with not wasting food. That and over sharing, the next day the Ninja’s came to town and I told everybody. I don’t drink milk or eat Goldfish so I have no idea what I thought I was doing here.

Okay, that’s it. I’m just going. It’s spring, enough with this! I’m posting this and then the only reason I need to be on this computer is for fantasy baseball!

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.”

DON’T BLAME SAN FRANCISO
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.

Miley
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.


POST SCRIPT

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.