No scratch for beer on a Friday night?
The Ribbon and Young bros solve your plight!
I’ve got my fair share of secrets, some withheld for legal reasons given the statute of limitations in various jurisdictions both stateside and world-wide, extradition possibilities notwithstanding, and others withheld strictly for pride. In the later category, I’ve kept a secret now for close to two decades which I’ve finally decided to free myself from. I’ve lied about, evaded (externally and internally) and hidden this for far too long so I’m finally exposing it to the light of day; I LOVE PABST BLUE RIBBON.
That didn’t hurt nearly as much as I feared. It was rather liberating. Since I (a) have active taste buds in surprisingly good standing, (b) am possibly the furthest thing in the world from a hipster & (c) am a proud member of a race which prides itself on producing the best of EVERYTHING in terms of hoppy libations, I should probably be the last person on God’s green earth to state such a thing. Of course, given my druthers, when thirsting for a brew, I’d most like to have a Guinness, Belhaven, Smithwicks, Harp or something in that ilk. However, given economic realities, are those libations really 3 times+ better than the PBR (though hipster economics have recently raised the price unconsciously)? Now I know that my and very likely your grandfathers just turned over several times in their graves, but when you’ve got to really decompress at the end of a long work week for 6 bucks or less, the perfect economic solution is the PBR.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Being forced to post bail for a business associate early in the week had my beer fund virtually destroyed on a Tuesday with Friday’s pay day seeming an interminably unjust period of time away. Scanning the local supermarket wares, I had a sinking feeling of being forced to make it on two beers a day with my traditional high fare brews. This was entirely unacceptable. I very slowly made my way towards the more pedestrian fare with the Buds/Millers/Coors. It was looking slightly better but still not too good. The Busch tall boys (a solid improvement over the ghastly Bud rice-base brew) look promising, but since I’d strayed so far down from my IR section into the uber-American dregs I figured I should continue all the way to the bottom. After passing the Milwaukee’s Best (great, if extremely misleading, name) and the eternally blotto-inducing Schlitz, there it stood like some relic of the Eisenhower-era with its classic cheery logo, Pabst Blue Ribbon. I hesitated, looked furtively around to make sure that no one recognized me, took a soul-deep steeling breath and grabbed a 12-pack. I quickly exited the store and drove as fast as I could home, worried that a familial curse would strike me dead on the road.
I was sweating buckets as I ran into the house and threw my plebian brew in the frig. What had I come to? Where was my life leading? Despite my wildly fluctuating economic status (or maybe because of it), I had always maintained a certain standard of my libations. Any domestic brew had to be a local handcraft level (think Sam Adams or, if I were in the southwest, Shiner). Anything less and I was one step from becoming a wino. The B/M/C oligopoly-oligarchy of Yank brewing is a joke worldwide. Hell, the Mexicans Sol solidly beats those pilsner jokes ever time. Still, they had certain middle-of-the road respectability. But Pabst?!!??? It was brewed in Los Angeles, a gargantuan hot mess of a city which can’t even support a professional American-football team. As much as I hate most Hollywood movies and the LA Lakers, how could I trust that plastic-mess to produce anything I would put in my body?
I stared at my frig for two or three hours and then broke. Fighting back tears, I tore out a can from the pack, cracked it open and chugged it over the sink lest the Angel City swill caused me to retch uncontrollable. It tasted sort of like beer but with a(n) (un)healthy amount of dish soap mixed in. Figuring it was a defective can and now confident that my lunch Shepard’s Pie was staying where it belonged, I opened another can and “savored” the taste as much as I could. Again, kind of beerish in a really weak-ass way but laced with soap.
My curiosity piqued and a buzz starting to think about buzzing, I quaffed down a third and actually sipped and swished around the concoction in increasing bemusement. Whatever it was or wasn’t this PBR was certainly unique.
I looked at my music collection for something to keep me company on my journey towards Gods knows where. Van Morrison and the JL Hooker were definitively out of the question; only Scotch for those masters. Any good blues would be out of line. I like my REM but I always think that as more of a white wine music. My blessed G’n R has to be Nightrain all the way (my “wine” snobbishness is none existent so that’s never a problem). Garage rock is always Jose Cuervo (best with Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs).
Actually, I can normally drink beer with anything but I wasn’t sure if the PBR even qualified as beer. Then it hit me: AC/DC. The most prototypical yet underrated hard rock band of all time, AC/DC is basically a Scottish by way of Australia version of the Stones which means that they are even more parsimonious in their doling out their variety of timeless riffs, one-upping Keith stripping down from six to five strings (the Jimmy Reed effect) by going down to four strings. The Young brothers are complete garage mechanic geniuses and it’s my eternal pipe-dream that someday they’ll collaborate with those goofballs in Sonic Youth to force them to write a coherent song on which to put their guitar flights of anarchy (which is basically what Jack White did on Icky Thump but he’s not quite the soloist that Angus is though Meg White is pure, money talking that’- what-I’m-talking -about straight diggity Zen. Can’t the U.N. convince her to have in-vitro kids by Charlie Watts, Phil Rudd and Jason Bonham (the last one’s for the grandfather’s bloodline)?). If anything can make sense out of this Pabst, it’s them.
Feeling clichéd, I had to put on “Have a Drink on Me” which convinced me with its gallows logic to chug two more. Of course, I then had to go to “Shoot to Thrill” and though I didn’t have any pills on me, the Pabst probably had some soap tablets in it so that was close enough for me. I skipped around after that, going back to the awesome “Jailbreak” and “Baby Please Don’t Go” (almost up to the Van M’s standard) and all the way up to “Ballbreaker” (this was in the late 90s before the very good Stiff Upper Lip and the timeless Black Ice) and all points in between, the secret treasure being the Razor’s Edge track two “Fire Your Guns” which actually made the PBR taste logical.
As you can imagine, my 12-pack went away that night and I was forced to go cold turkey until Friday. Somehow, I didn’t mind too much. I woke up feeling great on Wednesday morning; my head was fine though my ears were still ringing from 5-hours of AC/DC on 11 (my neighbors mostly worked graveyards factory shifts which was why I picked that neighborhood).
I’d like to admit that I boldly bought more PBR from my local grocer that Friday, but I can’t. My shame still lingered. I furtively found an out of the way, run down gas station were the PBR 24-pack was an extra $1.00 than at my grocer’s. I had a wonderful weekend that only brought two noise complaints. It all made sense now; while in no way, shape or form can PBR be put in the same class as AC/DC (which is somehow a completely illogical yet perfect combination of Fosters and Guinness), they do somehow magically work together. Those same three chords repeated ad infinium until the Judgment Day with the slightest variations on those beautiful four strings and that unknowable soap taste are of the same ineffable, timeless ilk. Some day God willing I’ll attend an DC show (I’ve seen them 15 times) where they sell the Pabst (I’ve had to sneak in my cans each time which is like sneaking weed into Mexico) so I can truly drink my fill while the profits Young, Young, Rudd, Johnson and Williams blast out the basic truths of life while I have my soapy beer with bleeding ears, loving every minute of it. For now I have to content myself with a 6-pack (early middle age/spousal mandated restraint) every Friday at 7 when even Angel City beer makes sense and tastes somehow good. Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras.
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