Monday, August 31, 2015

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 16 … Lizard King in the City of Light.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 16 … Lizard King in the City of Light.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

(Sixteenth in a series chronicling my travel year 1985)

The way from Le Havre’s rail terminus to the port city’s preposterously cluttered dockside was signposted, but only barely. Considering the impact of the fearsomely irksome French tongue on my fragile youthful psyche, the route might as well have been entirely unmarked.

Predictably, the tourist office was closed for a lengthy midday break, but I glanced at a city map someone had haphazardly Scotch-taped to the window, and made a few mental notes, plotting my own way to the sea by winding through the streets toward a jumble of cranes visible on the skyline.

Soon enough there was a larger thoroughfare, and then directions in English posted for the benefit of British lorry drivers. After that, it was easy.

All the while, another youthful backpacker seemed to be following me, always a half block behind, displaying the usual signs of confused timidity, trying his best to look oblivious by gazing first at his shoes, then toward the rooftops, and otherwise averting his eyes whenever I paused to study the streetscape.

It was comical, but seeing him fidget made me think: Two months into my first trip to Europe, could it be that I was already looking into the rear view mirror? It appeared he was just as uncertain of the route as me, but trusted that somehow, some way, I actually knew what I was doing, and where I was going.

A foolish American tourist … actually, two of them. But I was leading, and he was following. Earlier in the summer – for most of my life up to that point – it would have been the other way around. Processing this information would require more thinking, and more drinking.

Meanwhile, Le Havre was no garden spot. Rather, it was the required linking point to oceanic access, because after connecting all the land (and one river) transport dots on my itinerary map since Munich, I’d finally run out of continent on the pathway to Ireland, which was a very important goal for me in 1985.

---

When I joined the backpackers’ queue in Le Havre for the ferry ride to Rosslare, it had been only five days since the last night of relative revelry in Munich, where my cousin Don Barry had assisted in the enjoyment of fine continental summer days and nights amid beer, pork and pervasive Gemütlichkeit.

Staying at separate hotels, long before mobile devices and with no real interest in trying to learn how to use local phones, which cost money otherwise devoted to beer, we’d prearranged everything around periodic meetings at the Gleis 16 Imbiss in the Hauptbahnhof, where solid and liquid sustenance could be acquired at intervals between long Munich walks.

One afternoon was given over to the city’s art museums, and another for a hike to the Nymphenburg palace. Evenings were the domain of the Mathäser beer hall. I wouldn’t be seeing Don again on the trip, and since the next stage of the itinerary would take me back to Paris, and then on to Ireland – and since these places were particular passions of Don’s – Munich offered a final chance to pick his brain, which is a task always best pursued with Leberkäse & Lager. So we did.

From Munich, I caught a train to the city of Mainz and walked from the station to the bank of the Rhine River, where the boats awaited. The plan was to ride one of them to Koblenz, then debark and travel by rail to Kӧln. By this point, it would be late in the evening, and I’d hop an overnighter to Paris, arriving in the best possible position to cherry-pick from the cheap summertime hostels located in temporarily abandoned university dorms.

I’ll grant that it wasn’t a particularly novel idea to take a Rhine cruise, but the July weather was ideal and the scenery gorgeous. There was a succession of tidy, well-ordered towns, surrounded by vineyards perched on slopes, accented with church spires, with manicured castle ruins atop adjacent promontories.

At every bend came another postcard photo opportunity, and this posed the usual problem, because I’m one of the world’s worst photographers.

It would have been a better idea for me to buy the postcards and concentrate my precious, allocated film to taking informal pictures of actual people, but this somehow did not occur to me. At the moment, on the ground, all I could think about was how Europe looked, when the more important considerations were how it felt, and with whom I was sharing the feeling, whether a short-term travel companion or random passerby.

For use in Europe, I’d brought a trusty, manual transmission Pentax K-1000 and a lead-lined pouch filled with film enough to (hopefully) last the whole trip. The pouch was recommended as a precaution against intemperate x-ray machines at the airport, which may or may not have been necessary, but when it came to ineptly framed postcard views, I’m the sort who takes absolutely no chances.

In today’s profuse digital world, there exists no compelling reason to refrain from taking literally thousands of photos, as saved in a space the size of a newt’s eye. I’ve done it, then culled a few dozen to post on social media and forgotten the remainder.

However, in 1985 I returned from Europe with as many as 20 rolls of film, containing hundreds of photos, for which I spent hundreds more in dollars developing the film not into prints, which would have made a modicum of sense, but slides, because I refused to settle for photo albums filled with prints when I could stage evening-long lecture/projections over drinks and snacks.

This worked – for a very short while. Folks got wise, and the following trip came and went. Now the closet is filled with archaic remnants of a lost methodology.

Thirty years later, the 1960s-model slide projector is too balky to use, and even when it actually worked, the bulbs eventually became stupidly expensive to replace. I really need to do something about this, and get my ancient collection up to contemporary standards, although based on the pricing I’ve seen to convert slides to digital images, this project may need to await a lottery win.

On the other hand, if I were to see the photos again, it might contradict the narrative I’ve been writing. It’s a tough call.

---

There is a vague recollection of walking the streets in Koblenz for a few hours before boarding the train for Kӧln, where the platform was an insane mob scene reminiscent of the post-election ride to Athens in May following the Greek election. Had I not possessed a first-class railpass, my berth would have been a seat on the floor by the toilet, but I found an empty spot in a compartment with six seats, and managed to nap for a few hours.

Paris came early, and while the stay was instructive, my blasé overall reaction to the French capital puzzles me even now. There were no bad experiences of the sort that Americans constantly reference in their lists of grievances; rather, Paris struck me as self-absorbed and impersonal, much in the fashion of most big cities, though not somehow aimed at me.

I spoke no French, but learned the usual fawning basics: Please, thank you and “biere, un pression,” which just might imply a desire for draft beer. I smiled a lot, remained humble, and frequented ethnic shops, where English seemed to be spoken more readily. There were no notable problems.

There were no outstanding experiences, either – save for one, although first there was the required tourist’s checklist of “musts” for checking off: Notre Dame, the Louvre, the opera house, the Left Bank’s venerable Shakespeare & Co bookstore, the catacombs, the site of the Bastille, a day trip to Versailles, and obligatory nightly meals at the very same North African couscous restaurant that Don and I had visited on our whirlwind rail trip from Turin earlier that summer.

The Eiffel Tower? It was out of my budgetary league, and there’s that pesky, usually latent fear of heights. The money saved was a bottle of inexpensive wine earned.

In all honesty, the only Parisian shrine with true resonance for me was one having least to do with the city, and where a bottle of wine proved handy: Jim Morrison’s grave, located in the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, and tucked away behind mausoleums and chapels.

Naturally, the remainder of the cemetery has quite a lot to do with French (and European) history. Among the interred are Proust, Chopin, Molière, Piaf, Delacroix and Oscar Wilde. The Communards’ Wall, where 147 revolutionaries were executed in 1871, is a must visit for anyone fascinated by the history of rebellion.

However, it was the Morrison’s legacy that drew me to Pere Lachaise to pay my respects. The lead singer of The Doors died of a heroin overdose in Paris in 1971, when I was eleven years old. Much of it was lost on me until Danny Sugarman’s book “No One Here Gets Out Alive” was published in 1980. Only then did the long-defunct band and its resident poet/shaman/singer begin to appeal to me.

(Did you know that the late Sugarman married Fawn Hall, who as Oliver North’s document shredder of a secretary became involved in the Iran-Contra scandal?)

You might say I was going through a phase, to the point of Mute Nostril Agony (pulled from a Morrison lyric) serving as one of my college intramural basketball team’s names. Consequently, when I learned that his grave was a place of pilgrimage, international rock music solidarity and drinking, it was clear I’d have to go there.

To find my way to the grave site, I merely followed the “Jim lives” and “break on through” graffiti scrawled everywhere until voices and music could be heard. The immediate scene has changed since then, but at the time, there was open space around the grave, with room for a couple dozen people to congregate.

A bust of Morrison donated by a Croatian sculptor had been placed atop the block-like marker a few years prior to my visit. It was frequently painted and repainted, stolen and replaced, and later permanently removed. It was a messy area filled daily with Doors parishioners partying, much to the annoyance of local officialdom. Candles, cigarette butts, food wrappers and empty wine bottles were all around.

One of my fellow mourners offered me a puff from his pipe. I politely declined. Strange days had found me, and it was okay, even if my shirt smelled of ganja the rest of the day.

Speaking of music, there is a final omen to record before leaving Paris for the coast. At the university housing block, I noticed a British rock and roll magazine parked atop the breakfast table. It was trumpeting something called Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief, as scheduled for worldwide transmission by satellite on July 13, 1985.

The Wembley concert venue was close, though out of the question, as I’d made no plans to visit the UK, but when the concert aired on television, I’d be in Ireland somewhere. A mental note was made, and the train for Le Havre boarded. Roughly a month remained, and the home stretch was about to begin.

---

Previously:

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 15 … The traveler at 55, and a strange interlude.

The PC: We pause Euro '85 to remember the Mathäser Bierstadt in Munich.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 14 … Beers and breakfast in Munich.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 13 … Tears of overdue joy at Salzburg's Augustiner.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 11: My Franz Ferdinand obsession takes root.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 10: Habsburgs, history and sausages in Vienna.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

FOSSILS 25th anniversary party camp-out RSVP are needed.

I have almost no time to devote to the run-up, but I'm happy someone does. I'd promise to post some archival materials, except it isn't likely there'll be time.

Expect to see me on Saturday. Need to get my RSVP in ...

OUR SPECIAL DAY IS COMING SOON! MAKE YOUR RSVP NOW!

FOSSILS 25TH ANNIVERSARY PARTY AND CAMPOUT

WHEN: FRIDAY, SEP. 11TH, 7:30 PM TO SUNDAY, SEP. 13TH, 12 PM
WHERE: 7720 CORYDON RIDGE ROAD, LANESVILLE

September marks the 25th year of existence for FOSSILS. We intend to celebrate our Quarter Century in epic fashion with a weekend long party and camp-out. The Capshew's are graciously hosting our Club at their home/compound. We will be starting Friday evening with dinner and ending Sunday with Bloody Mary's and breakfast. In between will be lots of delicious homebrew and great food. Family's are WELCOME. Kids under 21 will eat for FREE. Please fill out the RSVP link above.

We will have a raffle Saturday night, don't forget to bring cash and an item to contribute. If you know of someone that used to be involved in FOSSILS, especially the early years and has drifted away - reach out to them and invite them to attend!

EVERYONE over 21 will receive a FOSSILS 25 Anniversary Commemorative Pint Glass with your RSVP.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Rob Caputo will serve as interim executive director of the Brewers of Indiana Guild after Lee Smith steps down.

There never was much of a public explanation as to why my friend Rob Caputo left Flat12 Bierwerks earlier this year, and it's not my objective here to speculate, but when he exited Flat12, he also left the board of the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

Now another friend, Lee Smith, is leaving her position as executive director of the guild, and Rob's filling in on an interim basis, pending the usual hiring process.

And: I'm gradually negotiating the sale of my share of NABC to my partners. When that's finished, I'll resign from the guild's board. Until it is, well, I'm not dead yet.

All the best to Lee headed one direction, and Rob another. Good people all around. At some point, when it's really necessary, I'll allow myself to think about how much I'll miss the many good folks in the brewing business -- and there are many.

Not yet, though. There's too much to do.

A Note from the President

As most of you are aware, the Guild's Executive Director, Lee Smith, will be stepping down at the end of the month.

Lee was this organization’s first Executive Director and helped us position ourselves as one of the nation’s best guilds. We wouldn’t be where we are today without her contribution. We thank her for her years of service and wish her the very best of luck in her future pursuits. Cheers, Lee!

Along that vein, we are proud to announce that Rob Caputo, former board member and Vice President, has accepted the role as Interim Executive Director through the end of the year. We look forward to utilizing Rob’s experience and organizational skills to lead us into the future. Welcome back to the team, Rob!

We will also be forming a hiring committee to begin the interview process for a long term replacement for the position. That process is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Thanks to all for your support of Brewers of Indiana Guild!

Greg Emig
President
Brewers of Indiana Guild

Monday, August 24, 2015

David Pierce has returned to BBC St. Matthews, and Josh Hill is now head brewer at Bank Street Brewhouse.

The transitions continue at NABC with David Pierce's departure, completing the circle back to Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville (St. Matthews). David opened the BBC brewery in 1993.

Josh Hill becomes the brewer of record at Bank Street Brewhouse, while Ben Minton continues to man the mash paddle at the Pizzeria & Public House. They both know what they're doing, having learned from the best.

Roger (that's me) is running for mayor of New Albany and trying to finish his latest Food & Dining column submission for Mr. White. As for these changes of late, baseball aficionados will understand: I'm an Oakland A's fan, and In Beane We Trust. Personnel moves are part of the business.

As for me, I could write a book. Maybe I will. The past two weeks have been crazily cosmic: Kate's and Amy's family business is going back to being just that. Josh has returned to NABC, and David to BBC. Meanwhile, I'm up on the heath with Lear, studying a soaked road map. An election in November will help determine my destiny. Not to mention our former longtime bartender Stephen Powell, who has reinvented street food in downtown New Albany.

The weird thing about it is this: If you don't know me personally, you probably think I'm a pessimist, solely because I'm better at channeling bile than defining affection. But a cynic is a closet optimist, and I think it's all going to turn out well for everyone involved, and for the company itself.

Renewal fever: Catch it!

Stephen "Taco Steve" Powell, his taco cart, and downtown New Albany.

Meet Taco Steve of Powell's Pigs & Cows.


You may know him as Stephen Powell, formerly of NABC, and now a taco entrepreneur in downtown New Albany.


This is Stephen's Taco Cart, which he's setting up on the corner by Hugh E. Bir's on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 6 p.m., past midnight -- or until he runs out of food.


Stephen gets his smoked pork and chicken from Shawn Pitts, operator of Shawn's Southern BBQ on State Street.


The tacos look like this ...


 ... and Ed Needham is a satisfied customer.


On Mondays and Tuesdays through the favorable weather season, Stephen will be setting up by Comfy Cow on Market Street between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Credit and debit cards are accepted, and he's been known to produce vegetarian black bean tacos.

Most of you know Stephen from his decades of bar service, so now you can visit him for all your taco needs.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Louisville: From Beer Engine to Monnik to your glass, quite soon.

These are two fine fellows with great ideas and a stellar location. All I can say is I'm pulling them to get up and going, and you should, too

Monnik Beer Co. hopes for long-awaited soft opening in September, by Kevin Gibson (Insider Louisville)

... After nearly two-and-a-half years of planning, problems and hours upon hours of hard work, Monnik Beer Co. is actually just a few weeks away from opening.

And then the real work begins.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ancient Rage returns to the Bank Street Brewhouse draft lineup.


The way it ought to be: A Friday in August cool enough to open the garage doors at BSB, and for me to wear a black t-shirt with no fear of sweating straight through it ... the Panama hat that Larry Schad gave me, now the official campaign hat ... Ancient Rage (barrel-aged IPA) back on tap, and me perfectly willing to have one with lunch in spite of my session proclivities because Josh Hill is back, and willing to serve me one.

Friday, August 21, 2015

More yawns as "New Albanian beer co-founder to depart."

"But Roger -- you, using religion as an analogy?"

It's been a strange past couple of days, so why not? I may be stepping away, but until all the documents are signed (which might take months), I'm not going anywhere, and so it's a bit weird to be eulogized before I'm dead.

Though flattering, too.

An ex-brewery owner? A future mayor? 30 years later, there's another fork in the road, and I'm pumped.

If I'm not elected mayor of New Albany, then I'll need to get a job doing something. Free-lance punditry doesn't pay well, although it suits my temperament. We'll have to wait and see.
New Albanian beer co-founder to depart, by Bailey Loosemore (Courier-Journal)

"Good beer's a religion. The business part just gets in the way."

The statement is a shot of criticism at the current state of the craft beer industry by longtime supporter and New Albany brewery co-owner Roger Baylor, who said it can seem nowadays to be more about looks than taste.

It's also Baylor's parting words as he permanently steps away from the New Albanian Brewing Company.

This week, Baylor announced he is in negotiations to sell his portion of the company to his New Albanian partners — ex-wife Amy Baylor and her sister, Katie Lewison — who started operating the business together at the former Rich O's Public House in 1992 ...