Charlie's Blog: SOC 18


SOC 18

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

At the end of each work week, I like to sit down in my chair and pop the top on a cold can of beer. That beer is Pabst Blue Ribbon. I get plenty of ribbing for that beverage choice, and I have tried other beers. But nothing satisfies me like that PBR.

I have not always drank PBR. The first time I ever drank the stuff was as a wee lad probably in first grade when I snuck into the refrigerator and drunk a few cans of the old man's brew. He was a PBR drinker at the time, and I am grateful that he was. Had he drank something really horrible like Coors, I would have been put off beer drinking forever. But that first beer left an indelible mark on my psyche, and I am glad that PBR tastes as good now as it did to me as a child.

Of course, I quickly learned from the old man that beer was for grown ups and not for kids. So, I never touched the stuff again until over a decade later. In the interim, I drank whatever was available. There has been Coors Light, Corona, Miller Genuine Draft, countless craft beers, Budweiser, and Bud Light which is the number one beer in America. There is something sad about that fact, but there it is.

I have drank cheap beers like Busch and Natty Light. It was during this time of exploration for a cheap beer that was easy on the wallet that I returned to Pabst Blue Ribbon. There it was in its slightly sweet flavor. I remind people that it did indeed once win a blue ribbon for taste. Basically, PBR is a good beer with a bad reputation.

This realization came to me when I drank my first and last Shiner Bock. I was on a craft beer kick, and this one was recommended to me from a coworker from Texas. Apparently, Bock is a big deal in the Lone Star State. So, I dropped eight bucks on a six pack. When I drank it, it had a familiar taste to it. I let my wife have one, and she said that it also had a familiar taste to it. We couldn't quite place until it came to us. It tasted like PBR. To confirm our suspicions, we went online to read reviews, and the reviewers concurred with the PBR conclusion that we had. Here is a direct quote from Beer Advocate:
This beer tastes like Pabst Blue Ribbon mixed with sparkling water and just a hint of rust. Not altogether awful, but not what I'd classify as good beer in any way shape or form.
Now, I'm not a beer snob. I enjoy a craft brew as much as the next guy. But I have to level with you, folks. I can't afford to drink that stuff. It is too expensive. To me, craft beer is just a high priced fad. The Shiner Bock experience also told me that a 12 pack of PBR at $7 was way smarter than a six pack of this stuff at $8. Plus, I think PBR tastes way better than Shiner Bock. So, I returned once more to the Blue Ribbon, and I remain there to this day.

Now, hipsters have had a love affair with PBR for the last decade or so which is weird because there are cheaper beers than Pabst. I hear that Miller High Life has become the new hipster beer of choice which is fine with me. I've tried High Life, and I just never liked the taste. PBR was very popular in the seventies, and it has become popular once again. But it ain't Budweiser.

You get to a point in your life when you don't care to think about what you drink. This is the problem with those craft beer nerds. They overthink it. They want their experience to be more than what it is. Sometimes, you just want to sit back after a long week of working and just sip something that is refreshing and relaxing. And maybe you don't want to break the bank to do that. Pabst Blue Ribbon does that for working guys like me.

The problem with so many people today is that they are given to being pretentious. According to the dictionary, to be pretentious is "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed." PBR is a beer that isn't pretentious. It is what it is. I find that lack of pretentiousness refreshing in a culture saturated in marketing and hype.

Recently I read this article on progressive rock at the National Review website, and I found it hilarious. Over the years, I have encountered prog rock aficionados, and they were much like the beer nerds of today. Now, I've listened to a lot of this prog rock, and it has its moments of classic rock glory. If you've ever listened to "Roundabout" or "Long Distance Runaround" from Yes on the radio, you know they had some good songs. Here's the deal. You don't have to dive into the deep cuts on those Yes albums because they already play the good songs on the radio, and you have already heard them. Save yourself from wasting what remains of your finite existence and leave Tales from Topographic Oceans alone.

The problem with progressive rock is that it tries and takes the music of Chuck Berry and turn it into something on par with Beethoven, Bach. and Wagner. Progressive rock isn't alone in this idiocy. You have your guitar gods who want to show off their tricks like Eddie Van Halen. There was hair metal and glam rock. Then, you had the backlash known as punk rock except most of the music was just so much noise. So, I always come down to the same question. Who was/is the greatest band in rock, and my answer seems to always be AC/DC.

Now, for the snobby readers and staff writers at Rolling Stone, this answer is anathema. AC/DC lacks the seriousness of acts like Dylan and the Grateful Dead. But by the same token, AC/DC never dressed up in women's clothes or donned theatrical make up like KISS. The only gimmick they had was the schoolboy outfit that Angus Young wears which is more of a running gag than a gimmick.

AC/DC didn't make political statements or try to shock the parents with outrageous costumes and antics. They just plugged in those guitars and rocked. This is a band that has consistently delivered for decades, and they did it precisely by not being pretentious. Looking back on their history, there's nothing that is embarrassing or dated about them now. To give this context, here is Peter Gabriel from his prog rock glory days:

There are worse pics than this, and it makes me cringe to see a grown man in this get up. The guys from AC/DC probably still own and wear the same T-shirts and denim from the seventies and eigthies. I just don't see those guys looking back and cringing the way I imagine that Peter Gabriel does now.

I place a lot of value on living without pretension. There is humility in not pretending to be more than what you are. There is also a dignity in it as well. How often do we do things out of foolish pride that make us so ashamed later?

I see so much pretension going on these days. I feel guilty of being pretentious in my younger years. When you're young, you have a certain naive optimism about the world that reality beats out of you by the time you are 40. I see so many young people today thinking they are going to be millionaires with reality TV shows where they get paid just for being famous for nothing whatsoever.

For me, my pretensions melted away about the time I was 30 years old. I had quit the only job I had ever had that required a college degree knowing that it was the absolute worst job I had ever had in my life. I realized that I was not cut out for life in corporate management. I could not shake the blue collar mindset that had been drilled into me growing up. For instance, I couldn't understand how someone could get paid big bucks to be a consultant to companies to help them craft their mission statements. I still don't get that.

I have a low regard for people who aren't blue collar. I think the biggest crooks in this world wear white collars and ties. My working life has featured many encounters with people who got paid to not work. And I put the guilt ray on these people whenever I meet them. I don't preach at them so much as ask them questions. What exactly is it that you do? How do you create value? How do you make the world a better place? Our consultant friends working on mission statements usually look at the floor when I ask these questions, but I see much of the same behavior with other white collar types when I ask these questions.

I'm OK with people scheming their way through life. Just don't expect me to let you feel good about it because I'm not. You work your cushy job while I work my sweaty dirty job. I'll have a warm shower and a cold beer and sleep well that night. You'll have your scotch on the rocks and try to drink yourself to sleep.

This is a good place to stop. I am trying to get back to blogging on the regular again. My work ethic in the writing department has slid hard, and I need to get that back. Or maybe this writing gig is just me being pretentious.