Sunday, December 29, 2013

Drinking beer around the holdiays...

There’s just something about drinking Craft BEER

Around the holidays,  holly and Ivy applauding

Oval lipped wreathes awaiting

Wide-eyed new year inaugural swig

(rose bowl) Vats of tinsel flavored beer

There’s just something about drinking (beer)

Screeching  Amethyst  solstice pink

squinting  across  the panoramic dry eraser board of the west

peach lights fizzing into inky cognizance

Clydesdales sipping from the antipodal trough in the nativity scene

 Neighborhood Bar transitioning into a diminutive Christmas village

Fraught with carolers and coasters

Drinking holiday beer on the obligatory pictorial x-mas card

  Dissipated Puddle around the pitcher of poured draught

Crimson Frosty Snowman melting in a greenhouse

conveniently located at the north pole,

There’s just something about drinking (Beer) amidst

Festooned wicks dripping off gutters in illuminated pout, drinking

In the starchy nest of Santa’s lap

Supplicating Ewok Village awaiting sozzled

 St. Nick, lumbering  down the brick chute

 With a pony  keg and 12 pack over the girth of his shoulders


 Something about Sticking your lips

into a dollop tundra of foam

As if pressing your tongue to a frozen

water pump handle at recess, or

 Conveniently handing George Bailey

the amber holster of a Schlitz

Cozening him not to leap

Lips smiling head of duck

At the Chinese Christmas table

Severed in one wisp of the cleaver

While you wore second hand glasses

The Christmas story even you forgot

There's just something about drinking (beer) 

Kissing the cherry peppermint

breath of the  elf you adore

Hoping you can buy her enough (BEER)

To wake up next to her nine hours later

wearing only an ugly Christmas t-shirt

And panties her hair an unkempt

Halo sitting atop tree of limbs

 A star of David shimming in

The east of her eyes.



Friday, December 27, 2013

12 beers of Tartan day 11:Taking a post-coital holiday dump with a dark Elf...

The final two beers featured on the Tartan Inn winter tour are the Jordan and Pippen of the brewsky holiday season. Dark Horse's 4 elf winter warmer Ale is more naughty than nice, leaving your lips coated in a spicy residue that feels like you just monopolized the last half-hour beneath a malty mistletoe making out with the Ginger bread man. This beer doesn't play any reindeer games, it creates them. The first sip destroys the interior of your palate with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg swathed in a subtle slurp of cloves. Yes, it dominates, tackles your tongue like Santa endeavoring to harness the reins on his docile ferrying doe-eyed mammals
It more than just stuffs your stocking.

It erupts in a festive chariot of holiday flavor.

One beer left to go...

drinking' santa's private reserve ale w. co-owner Joe Hauk

Christmas is officially over...let's shoot santa....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

12 beers of tartan day 10: Accumulation winter seasonal

It's the day after Christmas and I'm, in the immortal words of Clark Griswold, hap-hap-happily  hungover with Dean Martin and Danny fucking kay  sippin' an Accumulation, a seminally hoppy white India Pale Ale winter seasonally crafted by our fair-weather friends' at Fat Tire. The label itself shows a picture of a very winteresque 'If the trailer is a-rockin' don't come a knockin' stationary RV,' and the beer presents a palatable snowflake succulent aftertaste lightly sprinkled with a bouquet of hops. The two bad boy (big boy) beers on tap for the next two days. Can't wait!!!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas. Holy shit.

..and don't forget the Tartan winter beer tour blowout this Saturday night!!!

only two beers left on my tour!!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas fellow scribes!!! (and leftover holiday heaps of sibling rivalry as well)... a testament to my literary bachelorhood, this Christmas I received, a fart mug from my sister Bethany VonBehren O'Brien (which, ironically, sounds just like my inflated muffled editor in New York) a SMELL MY NUTS candle from my (innocuous) sis' Jenn Gordon and a (I have never heard of it before) Poo-pouri (a sort of hygienic tonic use to douse and quell the noxious anatomical odors of, well) from my blithe cousin Jayma Lynne which I randomly picked up in our annual Dirty Santa...I tell you, all I can say is, come here an pull my finger....(oh, and happy new year!!!)


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Day 8/9: Christmas eve with a Goose Island (and Founder's Breakfast Stout) frothing forth with indelible memories of Christmas' past...

Day 8 on the 12 Beers of Tartan is Goose Island Harvest Ale, intrinsically an autumnal beer. If you would like to read how this author feels about drinking beer in autumn (my favorite literary season) click here to read a poem I wrote about the subject (yes, I really did run naked with a sylvan herd of deer next to the police station in Marquette Heights after our adrenaline-fueled alcoholic augmented first reading at Tartan Inn).  As a festive libation Goose island bottles a beautiful  though extremely limited Sixth Day ale whose recipe alters from year to year and whose proceeds go to a Chi-town charity.

The weekend convened slathered in a dusty slate of ice, the alley and arteries of West Peoria chapped in arctic sheaths of crackling white, a leftover slice of wedding cake stowed in the bottom depths of the deep freeze, a swan-song souvenir culled from another time.  Since (opportunely speaking) all weather is bona fide quality beer drinking weather I found myself at the Tartan Saturday morning drinking with poet Kyle Devalk and hanging out with my dear friend Gavra Lynn, pounding PBR’s in tandem with  high alcoholic quality beers such as HE’BREW (10 % ABV) while listening to HAIM over and over again ( are we rockin’ the menorah or what!!!!) My dear friend co-owner and craft beer aficionado Tom Inman popped in and we had a long discussion about the reissuing of DOGFISHHEAD and writer Del James. Due to its russet brick exterior drinking at the TI sometimes feels like you’ve sauntered into a chimney from a Dickens’ novel, although never a bleak house, just a propensity for Great expectations when it comes to quality beer, intellectual banter and good times.   


The next day I found myself engulfed in the church of my youth, sitting in the front pews amidst the elbows of my relatives watching as my cousin Brianna’s daughter dandled in the cradle of my cool cousin Shawna 's arms. Six-month old Kayla Jo then hovered over a diminutive pond of sacrosanct liquid, the Reverend cupping his palms, sprinkling her forehead in the hollowed appellation of whatever universal patriarch, progeny and ubiquitous comsic pulse exists. It felt good to be  surrounded by my family,strapped in like a book of Romans roller coaster into the pews the lower Hampshire of my family's collective anatomy once practically mortgaged another lifetime ago. It felt good seeing my former sixth grade geography teacher Ralph Teske ( with his chessey jokes, ie, Climate is what you do to a mountain) and Tom Zaia inquiring if I am still running and trying my best to bite my tongue and say 'Look there's Pastor Schudde!!!' during the Nicene Creed. Felt good performing ordained spiritual calisthenics, standing and sitting, reciting familiar passages in the colloquial droll (after all these years I still have the call to Christian Fellowship memorized!!!) Felt good seeing Gary Heinz, informing him of my recent cross-country camping travels with my friend Valena (ie, we were just on our way to Missouri to by cigarettes when we ended up 18 hours later camping next to the craggy presidential countenances in South Dakota) and thanking Gary, for introducing me to Mattheison State park. For taking me canoing with my father and the late-great Mike Dewitt.   
For instilling in the narrative theme of my life a love of just wanting to be outdoors basking in trees and open cornfields all the time. 
But more than anything else it felt good to sit in an almost football fourth and one huddle with my family and sing Christmas hymns. Those who know me know that I hail from a family of musical savants and how growing up there was always the ivory sprinkling of a piano (or the stringed dirge of a cello or the pubescent squeak of a violin) echoing in the background and both my mom and dual aunts were in charge of nearly all the music at the church. It felt good to sing in a clan of Lutheran limbs again. To hear the guttural bass clef of my Uncle's baritone. To hear my aunt Chris voice flutter into the invisible rungs of sheet music. To watch my mom pray with her hands geometrically configured at almost shoulder level, as if saluting something metaphysical, which indeed, she is. I thought about when my grandma (who attended Christ Lutheran all her life) died and how after the doctors promulgated their grim assessment to family members that she wasn't going to make it through the night--how all of us brought Lutheran hymnals to the hospital and formed a human rhombus around the raft of her hospital bed, singing Lutheran songs as sifted from one port of consciousness into the inscrutable lip of what is to come. 


I was thinking about my grandma and family and the evanescent fumblings of the calculated breath of time when I ordered a Breakfast Stout (or double chocolate coffee oatmeal stout) and held it like a gavel and began to take intermittent swigs. The label of founders breakfast stout features what looks like a six month old playing a self-taught rendition of ‘here comes the airplane,’ a pastel Little Lord Fauntleroy literary born with a silver spoon in his mouth. It is well known in the brick man cave of T.I that this is one of my favorite winteresque drops. It’s malty, if brassiere’s correlates with ABV content it would be a g-cup (8.3%). It doesn’t overwhelm the palate.  It is the color of the Christmas soil in which the evergreen tree of your dreams was recently poleaxed.  There’s a mulchy residue to the brew that isn’t overwhelming plus a coffee-subtle caramel  flavor leaving a hickey of hops tucked in your lips like a wished for venereal disease. It’s a beautiful beer, but what I like most about Founders breakfast stout is how, by pure color alone, it reminds me of the exact color of the sky that Christmas eve the year I turned 21. I was working full time at a bookstore in the mall. It was Christmas Eve and the mall was festooned in spools of corded pine and tinseled garland as throngs of coated patrons forming a flotilla of limbs toting oversized bags milled and clattered and jockeyed for position accompanied by a heralding holiday soundtrack overhead, the masses, the petulant whine of fire-hydrant sized moppets straddling the bulbous contours of Santa’s beer belly, the monotonous din of solicitous salvation army bells clanging in limp cadences in the chestnut-fused distance.  As most can attest to, retail sucks year round, and sucks to the nth degree around the holidays. After locking up I walked through the linoleum concourse, walked out to my silver '86 Chevette (color of a can of Coors' Light), accompanied in tempo by frigid bulbs of  exhaling breath. I stopped at a Starbucks, fired up a cheap cigar and began to drive, alone, swallowed into an inky vat of winter darkness. It wasn't cloudy but somehow the stars were occluded. There was banks of snow blanketing both sides of the road where, six month time,  emerald stalks of corn would salute. I drove for forty-five minutes, the side window half-down, blasting into the country, taking swigs of my coffee, biting into my cigar, thinking of her smile, thinking of her warm neck and kissing her forehead, the crimson splotch of a wayward barn sporadically slouching in the distance. The creature I was visiting lived in the country, about an hour out of town. She was home from college for the holidays. I remember driving up the gravel ribbon of her rustic driveway and, in the cold, watching how the side door of her country house opened like the lids on an advent calendar, seeing her in the doorway of light, wearing a long purple fairy-tale dress, her long blond tresses dripping past the wedding ivory flank of her neck.
She had been waiting for me.
I left my car and lifted her up. She couldn't stop smiling. We couldn't stop kissing. We couldn't stop wishing each other a merry christmas.
Later that night we would make love while her parents slept upstairs, our bodies, next to christmas tree in the basement, in the dark, wanting to gnaw into the moment, not wanting to pull out, not wanting to leave this transitory pulse of time.
That was a long time ago and sometimes, it still hurts esp. around the holidays.  Just like the finish of the Beakfast Stout some things linger in the holiday hearth of your chest, reeling you back to an earlier time. Dear friends may whatever wounds you harbor this holioday heal in a scab of promise, may whatever libation pours from the draught of your being hold you close until the chartered end of time.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Day Seven: Angry Orchard crisp Apple...


There's something about the title of this next beer that is all too seemingly reminiscent of that scene from Wizard of OZ where Dorthy and the Scarecrow saunter upon what in retrospect appears to be the animated geriatric wing at the local arboretum  fraught with thoroughly baritone-voiced and pissed off botanic limbs hurling the forbidden biblical fruit of Adam in the fashion of balls and strikes. Angry Orchard Crisp Apple (served also on draught at TI) may not get you exiled from either Eden or Emerald City but it should undubitably ensure a munchkin-land smile on your face.

From the outset I should declare that, with the exception of Strongbow and Woodchuck's Pear the last thing you'll causally see me sipping across the oaky plateau of a neighborhood tap is a hard cider. Perhaps it has to do with a class field trip in thrid grade at Tanner's Orchard and having to urinate and peeing on a nearby apple tree only to realize that Alicia Wycoff was behind me, princess of the crayola kingdom that is elementary school, giggling and gesticulating in confetti cackles, marring the future author  with an aversion towards anything apologetically apple for life.

That said I was surpised how much I enjoyed this beer. Essentially more of a late-autumnal campfire beer, it has a wicked bite, a coppery drizzle, and a slight alchemical Yukon runoff semblance that feels that you have spent the bulk of the day panhandling gold in artcic clime.

What I enjoy most about the drop is that, while bitter, the tartness doesn't overwhelm you. It settles nicely and (almost) beckons you for an additional round forgoing wizened woodchuck and choosing the wicked cidery witch of the west instead.

For an apoplectic cider intent on rage, is a very appeasing drink indeed...

and hey, five more days of the tour and two more days til'....


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tartan Inn Holiday Beer tour Day six: Batch 19


Perhaps the only thing more enjoyable than drinking beers around the holidays is legally being denied the opportuinity to intrinsically indulge. Being 17 and having a bottle of vodka camoflaged in the back of your closet awaiting the friday night beneath the poetic penumbra of lonely bleachers when your unfledged tastebuds will be tempted with the forbidden alcoholic ambroisa coerecing you to imbibe with burgeoning bliss and sophomoric glee.

 Distributed by Coors' brewery the BATCH 19 aims to be the recipe of an orphaned beer form your great-grandfather's era.  This is a field goal beer. It punts the interior of your palate. Akin to the Vanilla porter, it is light, a breath of brew. While I can't imagine getting seriously soused off this drop ( or ordering this on draught if I did ever find myself in a prohibition-era speakeasy) its a refreshing chirstmas ornament of a libation that leaks through your palate, seminally planting a chirstmas star on the evergreen of the pithy drinkers anatomy. 
and, hey (shit) its three days til christmas... 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tartan Inn Winter Beer Tour Day 5: Celebrating Solstice with Shiner cheer

The first beer I ever stole was a Shiner's legendary Bock. I was 19 years old and had spent the summer visiting my brothers' Matt Brown and Mark-Andrew Feaster in the inexhaustible swelter that is Dallas, Texas in the summer months. Back then accumulating Shiner's was like trying to sunggle Coors across the Continnetal divide thrity years ago. You just couldn't find it up north. Filching my brothers' fridge and stowing a six-pack in my carry on to nurse on the flight home seemed like a lesser crime.
Solstice at Sandridge...
 Rudolph nosed and cranberry in hue, Shiner’s Holiday cheer is a festive teardrop of a  dunkleweisen is a intrinsically a dark wet-dream wheat seasonal, celebrating the gradual preponderance of swelling darkness into flickering tree lights of another year soulfully eclipsed. The beer  hiccups in a holiday wreath of flavor, pinching with hints of miracle street molasses married with a splash of peach, leaving a tinsel aftertaste in the terminal of your lips. It is the perfect brew to make out with beneath the bough of the mistletoe at the office Christmas party when the punch bowl has gone dry.



So this solstice, under a swelling umbrella of darkness, sip into Shiners holiday tithe, and wait for the rebirth of light leaking at first in  coppery alchemical spittles of wheat and gold. 


something soothing for solstice...

Friday, December 20, 2013

12 beers of Tartan Inn.. Day 4 Leinenkugel's Snowdrift Vanilla Porter

I sold my first short story when I was 19 years of age and, ardently fueled by the incendiary alphabetical embers of literature and all things poetically post-coital, I aptly did what all lapsed Lutheran lads who hail from the genital wart of the Midwest do when they sell their first short story-- I bought a one-way airplane ticket to Appleton, Wisconsin to pursue the benevolent frost-bitten fingertips of the proverbial  girl of my dreams  (i.e., the one who got away--elbow nudge-- eh, son).

Needless to say it didn't work out. Largely because she was still in high school and still living with her parents.  Partly because she harbored loveable jean-jacket Lesbian-proclivities which I adored (she sent me high school standard mixed-tapes of the Indigo Girls). Inevitably I left the state of Wisconsin downtrodden and disconsolate, adverse to all things related to cheap pilsner and overpriced cheese curds.

Ibid for the Green Bay Packers as well, who opportunely won the Super bowl shortly upon my return.


That was many blue moons ago and my antipathy towards our northern neighbors has waned, largely in part to the quality libations imported by beers imported by New Glarus and Schell and cheapo Lacrosse and (oh yeah) Jacob Leinenkugel.

This is a beer that the Tartan has on draft. The beer is gentle and offers a sprouting yet mellifluous pour. For a porter (and I like my Irish brick heavy porters) it baptizes the palate with the trickling pluck of a Christmas Goose feather. Out of the 12 superlative Beers featured on the Tartan Inn's Holiday Beer tour I would argue that this one is the lightest. There is an almost tangible fluff. Like catching a flake of arctic precipitation on the tip of your cheekbone or (after being double-dog dared, of course) sticking your timid schoolboy tongue to the frigid phallus of a courtyard flagpole only to find yourself seconds later,( momentarily, at least) making out with lips of snow angel minutes before she melts in the incipient breath of spring.

It is a delicate beer.

drinkin' Snowdrift vanilla porter at T.I w. my good friend Kyle Devalk

Those who drink with me know that every year during the first breach of accumulative snow, in homage of the late-great Rick Baker, I forgo my allegiance to my beloved Sam Adams and plant Moosehead (The beer Baker states in MARY,ME was the 'best damn beer he ever tasted') in the fresh tuft of snow. The last year I found myself inexplicably including the Vanilla porter to keep the Canadian Lager company.  Like an ice-sculpture it is delicate and complex, evaporating in snowflakes beckoning the talents of your taste buds to succumb to a second round even if, another Christmas ago, you lost the love of your life, this beer somehow will serve as a bellwether, a harbinger of chin up holiday-hope keeping the kettle of your spirits warm.

--this is what happens when Ernest drinks too much Linenkugel's around the holidays (note 80's side-pony tail crimped hair girl of my dreams in the background)....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

12 beers of Tartan Day 3...a "knight" of Sam Adams winter Lager

-the author showcasing SAM ADAMS' winter lager clad in knightly armor (thanx valena!!!) Time to 'sleigh' some Clydesdales...

Here's where things gets tricky: I drink more Sam Adams than anyone else I know. For the longest time it was the only quality lager available in soused stumbling distance of my apartment. Cruise the arteries of West Peoria on any odd calendar square  and at least four times a week you will espy my lanky gait  lugging a cardboard 12-pack of Sam Adams SEASONAL VARIETIES on the girth of my shoulder blade as if ferrying a cube of mortar to construct a pilsner pyramid from Pharaoh's exodus of empty beer-bottles. Perhaps it was my affinity for Johnny Tremain in 5th grade or that I always kind of always harbored a hardcore Molly Pitcher wearing a three-corner hat and nothing else fetish.

 The first beer I legally purchased on my 21st birthday was a six pack of Sam Adams Boston Lager from the now defunct Sullivan's grocery in Campus Town.  Since then I literally drool like a pissed-off Pavlovian Chihuahua if I am denied my weekly fix. No other American beer company that I know of goes out of its way to alchemically concoct a yearly of array of diverse and virile-brew in seasonal tempo with the gulp of each season.  They have a beer that perfectly correlates in tandem with the taste buds of every week of the year. How I adore the subtle splash of hops hinted in the Latitude, White Water or Noble Pils IPA. How nothing beats watching nonstop repeated viewings of Boondock Saints and Good Will Hunting (both Boston milieu-flavored movies) on St. Patrick's  Day while swiging an Irish Red or a (hard to find these days) Boston Ale or a Ruby Mild. How I always find myself taking a seminal swig off a bottle of Alpine Spring tailgating with my raucous bothers outside what to me will always be Comsikey park on opening day, my south side hardcore unyielding White Sox pride cemented with every crisp swallow  or re-watching Johnny Tremain after drinking (at the Tartan) during the West Peoria fourth of July parade sipping on a Revolutionary Rye Ale later that night, the breezy still-life wisp of dusk transitions into an thunderous applause of stratospheric neon shingles or come late summer, smoking my pipe on my back steps, reading William Faulkner, dipping into the avuncular swill that is Porch Rocker or walking barefoot through the stolid crunch of variegated auburn leaves abutting the lower level of Bradley park in early November quoting Walt Whitman while covertly nursing a Harvest Ale thinking how every human being living in this area code should sneak a beer into Bradley park and crunch around in the leaves sans shoes.

This is Sam Adams and my affinity for their product and deference in the disciplinary art of craft beer runs deep.

They simply do not make a bad drop.

That said, Winter Lager is one of my least favorites. Not that its a bad beer, because its not. It pours like a friendly vat of molasses. It's spicy.  It's the perfect holiday beer back to something wickedly potent like Rumplemintz or Goldschlager. It's just that when you compare it  other holiday brews Sam Adams produces, chiefly White Christmas and the formidable Old Fezziwig Ale is falls a few French fries short of a happy meal.

But its still a good fucking beer (better than any of the recently released Budweiser project-12 thoroughly watered down releases) and, if you find yourself at Tartan Inn, I would not hesitate to
order a Winter Lager, take a meditative silent-night sip, think about Christmases past, and, )oh yes) smile.

..but maybe I'm readily amiss...Let's ask Santa Claus and Superman what they think about Sam Adams Winter Lager.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This is the naughty bad (big) boy beer that would have notably been excluded from Santa's doubly scrutinized list of domestically docile "acceptable boring obeying good little boy beers" with the exception that it knocked ol' Kris Kringle off his reindeer-driven pony Keg ass. This is the 39th consecutive year the San Francisco based-brewery has a released a limited edition holiday ale. Like our good friends' from Goose Island three hours north, Anchor Brewery alters the recipe of their holiday brew every year, offering continental craft beer connoisseurs across the snow globe with the annual gift of a new label and the transitory taste of a year gone pabst (sic), the promise of what it is to come with every sentimental swig this indelible libation willfully avails.

Here is why this beer is just fucking amazing:

Black as peasants' coal, it looks like Scrooge's overturned Dickensian  top hat when it is poured. It has a fluffed-licorice flavored petite peppermint  aftertaste that lingers on the rooftop of your palate long after St. Nick has scraped shingles off the top of your subdivision. It is pinched with spices and hop heavy on the alcoholic content caliber. In a nod to Good King Guinness-ceslas, it if light and heavy all at the same time, reflecting how I feel about the holiday clime, light and airy with the dalliance of yuletide, heavy and bruising with fleeting memories of yesterday. I had this beer early in the tour (say  around thanksgiving) and then had a few more last Saturday when my dear friend Gavra Lynn (who alchemically concocts a mean Bloody Mary)and I felt exactly the same, I poured the beer and held the glass up to the loops of pine festively festooned above the bar, brandishing my beer like a conductor brandishes a baton prior to the annual holiday showing of the Beer drinkers nutcracker ( a bunch of middle age overweight lads flouncing around stage with their shirts off to the music of   Tchaikovsky) feeling like I was about ready to conduct a timeless orchestral movement, not realizing that the symphony was sifting eloquently in my mouth with every sip of this ornate holiday brew.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

12 beers of Tartan Day 1 Sierra Neveda Celebration Ale


As a holiday greeting card of gratitude for graciously allowing us to host our monthly OPEN MIC POETRY READING at their fine West Peoria watering hole I've decided to chronicle the 12 BEERS Tartan Inn has festively featured on their WINTER BEER TOUR.  All the beers are currently showcased at Tartan Inn (i.e., the neighborhood bar of my dreams). On Saturday Dec 28th--Day 12- the Tartan will host a Winter beer blow out so be sure to stop in, ask for a beer tour card and imbibe in seasonal caroling-crafted bliss spotlighting Beers that are holiday Nutcrackers trouncing the entry of anything domestic and mass marketed and overtly watered-down. Beers that deck the interior lining of your liver with boughs of mistletoes and streams of lights. Beers that plant a poinsettia on the tip of your palette, washing away the beechwood aged transgressions of a year gone past.   

First on the tour is Celebration Ale, an amber-hued IPA that pours like a stocking filled with hops. Tartan has this beer on draught and it gushes into the translucent splash of the chalice in hibernating treacles of icicles at first, prior to filling the receptacle with a sudsy wreath of foam.  Those who are audacious enough carouse with me on a weekly basis know that I harbor a hardcore affinity for hops (check out SN's BIGFOOT later this year), what is enriching about the Celebration ale is the dimension of hop subtly. It doesn't set off New Year fireworks in your mouth, rather it sleigh rides down the copse your palette, leaving your lips satisfied and your spirits all but warm.  

--see what happens when Pee-Wee Herman drinks Sierra Nevada   at the Tartan around the holdiays!!!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Masturbatory Masterpiece...

Hailed in underground Literary octagons as a punk-lit post-modern “masturbatory masterpiece,” WHAT WE WERE BEFORE WE MADE SOMETHING OF OURSELVES  (often referred to by its street name as Yellow Monkey Bars and Unbidden Erections – a failed campaign) is a sprawling 1100 page anvil -heavy Britannica of sorrow, a linguistic continent littered with paragraphs of hurt,  an emotional exegesis imprisoning the bellowing clangs of the human heart. Written between 2000-2007 and tattooed in the tonal inflection of such narrative masters as David Foster Wallace and William Gaddis YMBUE chronicles the formative foibles and poetic puberty of four friends as they sociologically skid through the gilded guillotine Mascot-headed hallways  of Christian- Logos Seminary  (an ersatz liturgical academy with a  hippo pond, a 70’s flavored flower-power Jesus Gymnasium, the world’s Largest indoor biblical themed mini-golf course and a Versailles sized oscillating working mobile of the solar system) while evading the hegemonic hell of the bullying VARSITE ELITE basketball squad orchestrated by a sex-obsessed Headmaster via clambering up the rungs of their imagination.

Gargantuan and bawdy, Rabelaisian in girth and propensity  featuring Buster Highman (a Bavarian flatulent artist), Lynnford Collins ( a 13 year old drag queen) and Judith Goldstein (the closet Jew) and showcasing one of the most endearing protagonists to come along in contemporary letters YMBUE is a panegyric hymn to the Pale King Peoria of yesterday (ahem Lums on Western) a super hero swan song to both the transitory echoes of youth as well as a zany semi-autobiographical picaresque meditation on what we intrinsically were before we made something of ourselves.

 Starting in mid-November 2012 a fractal (chapter) will be posted every day until the novel is posted in its entirety Sept 2013. 

Feel free to slip in for a verbal nightcap or peruse an occasional post and (as always) thanx for readin’!!!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Letter to those he loves most in this world...preamble to my novel YELLOW MONKEY BARS & UNBIDDEN ERECTIONS-a failed campaign-...

The novel in autumn 2004 (note floppy and zip drives) phuckava sprawling-ass manuscript....

I don’t remember it like it was the proverbial yesterday but I remember it vividly nonetheless. I was blanketed in a sheath of autumnal light rereading a copy of Irvine Welsch’s TRAINSPOTTING next to a window on the sixth floor of Milner library at Illinois State University. It was after Vanessa and the van o’ Hale and smoking cigars while desultorily driving around feelin’ too good to go into work today. It was after Zachary was born. After drinking beer while basking in the incendiary glare of a bonfire at Jackie’s out on Airport road. After Laurianne had returned to France (and Patrick had traversed overseas to find her once again). It was after the dissolution of B. Dalton and Maid-Rite and a movie. After a voluptuous  Amber (calling Hale, myself answering mistaking him for another less fortunate David) thanked me gratuitously over the phone for the flowers I had purportedly sent her for her boob job (note: did she say ‘boob’?).  It was after the Drac mobile, after imbibing infinite amounts of unlimited carafes of coffee while performing botched Tarentino impersonations coddled between the vinyl nests of clattering banter that was Lums.  

It was after Freudian Press had dissolved.

It was after our sojourns to Wyld Side cabaret.

After Hale planted his grandparents into the scalp of the planet.

It was well after Patrick’s all-night-birthday party extravaganza where we would each woof down an entire Little Caesar’s Pizza while clacking dice before disappearing into the woods for pre-dawn water gun warship. It was after Downs Circle, after Warren espied Patrick perusing a Playboy which he deemed was merely a tattered copy of ‘Nintendo Power.’

It was after Marvel and DC. After the Yellow Monkey bars at CLS had been uprooted to pave way for an additional basketball gymnasium.

It was after, yet before, Metallica started to royally suck goats.

 Ironically, it was around the same time Lums on Western shushed the welcoming tint of its doors for all eternity.

It was autumn; thirteen expired eliptical loops around the sun ago when sitting in the milner Library I decided to chronicle the foibles of those friends’ whom I love most of all in this world, toimmortalize our misadventures via words aiming  for a fifty page manuscript by Christmas.

 On Halloween I came back to Peoria with twelve double spaced comic-sans goth fonted pages (none of which still exist). By the holidays it was 120. By Easter that year three hundred (sing-spaced).  I worked as a Teacher’s Aid, moved in with Dave Thompson on High Street. When my father died suddenly in Feb ’02 the manuscript was 600 pages (maybe 100 of which have sieved into the final draft).

It sat like a fecund hen waiting to lay a Faberge egg. I went back to Bradley. I worked 80 hours a week. I lived with Hale. I lived with a Psychic who will perennially be Gandalf to my Frodo. I lugged the manuscript with me everywhere I went like a sac of irish potatoes the day after the feminine ended. I referred to it as my illegitimate daughter.

"Want to see a picture of my illegitimate daughter?" I would ay before plopping down the 500 page dossier of hurt.

I revised incessantly. In august 2003, three years after I had started the ‘script, I had a break through and started pissing out ten pages a day. The bulk of the manuscript was castrated. I began  again. When I graduated Bradley 2005 the draft resembled very little of the product I had intended it to be (note: you should see the outakes in the WWII chest in my mom’s basement). I handed Dr. Palakeel a 700 page  draft for my senior project. I got hired on at the library full time.  I fell in love with a classy girl who has lived in Europe for the past six years and wrote her a love letter a day for over a year. That autumn day when (with the help of Hale) still ranks as the best of my life, even though we never fucked and I ended up in the hospital with what could best be delineated as a metaphysical breakdown.

 Somehow I kept writing and somehow the manuscript continued to gain literary calories not to mention, in tandem with its author, a robust beer belly. By autumn 2007 the manuscript was over a thousand pages, a thousand pages that had been hemmed and hawed and bleed over, a total of 350,000 words.

The manuscript went on the backburner. I started giving a shit ton of local poetry readings. I read my work on a local avant-garde artsy radio station. I got fired from Bradley. I moved back in with Uncle Mike, the house on Heading avenue, placing a writing desk in the woods, the same woods that I had immortalized in  novel years earlier never having a clue that I would be crashing in (Nate Lockwood's granpas) house one day.

 I continued to write poems. I went to Hollywood and performed at a cool bar with some of the most salient up-and-coming writers in the country. I come back home where every writer in Peoria fucking hates me.

Such is the life of a writer. Such is the pleading, curdled vagaries of time.
                                                      *      *      *      *     *

In the stately Stephen King throne christening my every literary ambition, Yellow Monkey Bars and Unbidden Erection is my Dark Tower. My Infinite Jest. My Ulysses. My War and Peace, intrinsically, my life work. I have lived with it for almost a third of my life, a joy surpassed only by dual friendships Patrick (25 years) and Hale (27). The manuscript has served as my rod and my staff, it has held me up in hard times, like my two friends holding me up, refusing to allow my emotional mettle to succumb as I witnessed the final stanza od breath echo from my own father’s body.


The novel will be released on line close to it’s current (somewhat addled, somewhat brilliant) incarnation.  Some of the names will be changed cause I don’t want to get sued, but rudiments, capturing the breath of our youth and the vowels of our dreams (and West Peoria and failing and loving and giving) remain the same.

I will publish a different fractal daily for (shit) about the next 200 days. Sometime in DEC I’ll create a Facebook page but for now, everyday, click on the link b’low and you’ll find your Christmas gift from 13 years ago unraveling itself like a Dungeons & Dragons avatar map. The first 150 pages are almost completely autobiographical. Later on (as you know) the majority is Fictitious as fuck.
I’ll release a chronological ‘chapter’ every day with a reference to pg #’s to the original. Sometime in June when the final chapter is posted we will drink like there is no t’morrow.
So happy holidays and thank you for years of friendship and (in the immortal patois of Patrick ‘smarter than you) McReynolds, “Life is short. Times are hard. Here’s your fucking Christmas card.”
 Without further ado I give to you my heart, YELLOW MONKEY BARS & UNBIDDEN ERECTIONS-a failed campaign.
I hope you enjoy.
In eternal brotherhood.