I suppose, as a writer, occasionally one must sacrifice the subject at hand for whatever preys upon the mind. So it is today.
I am not much like a man of 50. I am not that disturbed by what's on the screen at the theatre or that the country is going to hell in a handcart. I do not bitch and moan about taxes or the cost of gas or all the ways that average individuals refuse to obey the traffic laws or how in my day people were a lot more polite. I will admit that the service in restaurants was better some decades ago, but at the same time I must also confess I give a lot less of a shit about things like good service. I'm perfectly happy to get my food, however surly the server happens to be this afternoon. I did work as a cook once. Now matter how unhappy the server may be when at your table, this is nothing compared to how the server is in speaking to the cooks.
Nor have I somehow become disturbed by technology nor the way the young are supposedly more promiscuous today than they once were. They're not, by the way - it only seems that way because it is possible to post, replay or discuss such moments repeatedly and endlessly. I'm very sure that Loni Anderson or Farrah Fawcett were fucking everything that moved in 1978 (yes, I know those names are unknown to many of you), but the 'proof' of such things came in a few soiled magazines that could easily be ignored. Whatever the case, I don't find myself particularly moved that the Miley-naked-on-a-wrecking-ball won best MTV video . . . well sure, why not, it has to have been the most talked about music video of the year. Hate means as much as Love in this culture - they're both passionate sides of the same coin. "Best" means "Loudest" - and from all this noise it managed to emerge into even the cloistered walls of tired marketing business meetings this year.
At 50 I'm entirely comfortable with the proliferation of sex. I think of my parents at this age, when I was 22, hearing their tireless drone about the death of decent culture in . . . well, let's see, that would have been 1986. Yes, the pornographic horror show represented by television like Dallas and L.A. Law. Sigh. Yeah, I'm good with internet porn. It's fine. It has a place.
Mostly, I find myself annoyed with things I can no longer get. Like decent beer.
I was invited out to a sort-of-hipster bar in town that caters mostly to wannabe artistic posers who have, in their thirties, barely reconciled with the reality that grunge is over and everything they ever dreamed of being in high school is now impossible. Just about the time they were in high school, however, and aching about for cheap beer to assuage their Teen Spirit, a group of entrepreneurs realized that the ability of people to recognize the difference between bitter and sour was seriously for shit. Some of these entrepreneurs that were geographically local took it upon themselves to create what is now hipsterishly called a 'micro-brewery.'
Through a strange process we call technology and development, over the course of thousands of years it was discovered that the larger the container in which one brewed beer, the greater the separation between the clear, desirable liquid at the top of the mash tun and copper and the crap that gathers at the bottom. By creating really large vessels, in the neighborhood of 25,000 gallons or more, a satisfying, bitter beer could be drained off, a beer that was not also sour and weak.
Microbreweries generally cook beer in containers that are between 3,000 and 10,000 gallons, where the wort and the sparge water are collected at the same time, producing a completely shit-tasting beer that - through a process that I shall describe soon - has now become considered "the way beer should taste" in the minds of ignorant hipsters. To this crowd of people, beer without that back-room floor mop taint tastes 'weak' or 'flavorless.'
How has this happened.
Well, it is all a brain thing. The micro-brewery industry in the mid-90s (and probably earlier in other parts of the world - I live in the dog's armpit, culturally) was able to get itself off the ground by selling beer as much as 25% cheaper. This meant that virtually everyone between the age of 16 and 19 was disposed to spend less money on more beer that - however shit the alcohol content - at least kept the average teenager's mouth full. During that crucial four-year period, however, beer goes from something you drink so you don't look like a loser to something you drink because you've actually adjusted and adapted to the flavour.
Only the flavour they began adapting to in the 90s was the sour flavour of micro-brewed beer. Or as I think of it, badly brewed beer. Fuck. They might as well make their beer in a bathtub.
For twenty years, however, I haven't had to care. I mean, fuck it, so they drink their swill and that's their problem. Philistines.
Except, of late - and I mean in the last year or so - I've come across two conditions that have begun to annoy me.
The first is that this is now becoming the only kind of beer available. At least, in this country. I have to go more and more out of my way to find a decent German beer or even a pint of Guinness, which is inconceivable to me.
The second is that bar staff are becoming profoundly aggressive in selling their micro-brewed shit to me. There are now about two hundred such breweries in Canada and the business has become very competitive, so much so that just to get their beer into a bar the breweries will underprice themselves in the hopes that someone will get a taste for what they're making. This has allowed many bars - hipster bars - to specialize in not specializing their beer, because they can get it all cheap, cheap, cheap.
This has led to a certain thought process that says, "Hey, we have 62 kinds of beer, there must be one that you like! Let me rattle off all their names to you right now!"
Except, of course, that every single one of them is shit. Something that you cannot explain to the annoying, anxiously pitching server because the server doesn't know fuck all about how beer is made or even that there is such a thing as a science of making beer.
And people ask why I'd rather be living in Europe.
On three occasions in the last three months, I have had to get rude with a server just to get them to shut the fuck up and stop giving me brand names, so that I can tell them I'll have a Glenfiddich instead.
Somehow, this feels connected to my getting old. Still, the porn is better now.