The Salon Back East


Pabst Blue Ribbon, the choice of international filmmakers everywhere.

Herself and I were briefly patrons of the arts this week.

We had rented the House Back East™ to a gent name of Colm Ó Ciosóig, who was coming to town for an international film festival. Herself wondered how his name was pronounced — and so did I, being fluent only in American, Filth and Drunkard — so I looked it up.

Turns out Colm — a very pleasant fellow indeed — is the drummer for and one of the founding members of the band My Bloody Valentine, which recently concluded a yearlong world tour in support of its latest album, m b v.

• My Bloody Valentine’s YouTube page

Colm is also a film aficionado who shoots many of the backgrounds for the band’s shows, and he wangled a freebie to attend the TIE-Alternative Measures festival by agreeing to DJ at the closing soirée.

But it seems the festival endured a few hiccups and finally ended badly — some class of a dispute pitted the artists against the organizer — and come Sunday evening Colm popped round to inquire whether he might host a gathering of filmmakers next door. We were invited to join them.

We said sure, and before long there were a couple dozen artists, musicians and filmmakers from around the globe crowding the tiny house, merrily chattering away over barley pops. They were all quite delightful, and included us in their conversations, asking about the States and Bibleburg and complimenting the House Back East®. Marv’, the old saloon musician, would have had a wonderful time.

It was amusing to note that a thirst for Pabst Blue Ribbon is apparently not just a proletarian pose adopted by Yankee hipsters, because nearly everyone in attendance brought a suitcase of the stuff (we contributed a bottle of Bushmills). But perhaps the altitude affected consumption, because there was more than quite a bit left over after the party ended — about three and a half suitcases worth. A gaggle of journalists would have gargled the lot and eaten the cans.

So Monday afternoon, after Colm and the others had departed, I decided to support another class of artist — I hauled two suitcases down to Old Town Bike Shop as a gift to its long-suffering mechanics, who are always giving me freebies on annoying bits of work when by rights they should be charging me double.

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32 Responses to “The Salon Back East”

  1. John Dallager Says:

    PBR for the mechs at Old Town! A nice touch, OG….and I’m sure well-deserved and greatly appreciated. Good on ya! They’re terrific, as is John Crandall, the owner.

  2. khal spencer Says:

    PBR? Holy smokes, that brings back some distant memories. Mostly bad ones of serious hangovers.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I drank more than my share of industrial barley pops in college. We would drink anything — and I do mean anything — but for a while there it was Falstaff in long-neck bottles, because there was a bounty on the empties. Stack ’em up in the kitchen long enough and there was a freebie in there for us.

      I think Foster’s, Watney’s Red Ale and Guinness was about as uptown as we got, and that none too often. Miller High Life, Buckhorn, Olympia, Bud, occasionally a Michelob … just about anything but Rocky Mountain trout piss.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Rocky Mountain Trout Piss? That’s funny. Coors was considered a delicacy in Rochester, NY back in the daze. I think I sent you a wiki blurb stating Newcastle Brown Ale is blue collar stuff in the UK and upscale yuppie stuff here. Location, location, location…

        Back when I was an undergrad geology rat, folks brought cases of Coors back to campus from Western field camps to the department and we had Coors parties. Next best to that was Labatts and Molsons, brought back via Buffalo or the Thousand Islands from Toronto or Fort Erie. The springs on my old car took quite a beating hauling Canada’s Finest across the border.

        The local, ultra-cheap tonsil wash was Genesee Cream Ale. Urban legend was there was a large pipe running from the brewery in downtown Rochester to the River Campus and Todd Union.

        Looking back, it was pretty rough stuff but at 99 cents a pitcher at the Student Union, it got the job done…the job, basically, of keeping our GPA lower than it would have been.

        God, I lived through all that?

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        The absolute worst was Carling Black Label. Only beer I ever turned down. And that was overseas in the Army at 10 cents a can.

      • khal spencer Says:

        If Carling was as bad as Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey, I can understand why you turned it down. BV was our introduction to the “white light of alcohol”

        My hapless freshman roommate in the dorms once had to clean up the window and screen of the dorm room one floor down from ours after I….well, how shall I put this….sought intellectual clarity through Black Velvet and then rushed to the window to deal with the consequences of seeing the light so clearly. Jack London would be proud.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The worst beer I remember was Grain Belt. Like drinking piss from a plunger. Just awful. Although Schlitz Malt Liquor was pretty damn’ bad, too.

        The worst whiskey? Southern Comfort. Oh, Lord. Diabetes in a jug. Better you should hit yourself in the head with the bottle than actually drink the stuff.

        Likewise Boone’s Farm Apple “Wine.” Anyone else run afoul of that swill in their youth? I remember hearing that they force-fermented it using formaldehyde, but I know even less about chemistry than I do about everything else. The stuff certainly embalmed me a time or two.

      • veloben Says:

        Yes, sadly, Boones Farm was an addiction sophomore and junior years of H.S. Grew up and moved on to inhalation therapy till grad school. Now it’s a good Malbec.

      • khal spencer Says:

        IIRC, I never was a user of Southern Comfort’s and Boone’s Farm’s products. That stuff was legendary in being awful and by the time I got to college and started numbing my brain in a serious manner, we could do better. Slightly better, at any rate. Genny Creme was tolerable on an undergrad budget, and besides, we were into recycling. Along with the legendary pipe between the downtown brewery and campus, there was a return pipe as well…

  3. weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

    Ahh yess….pbr, one of those beers to have when you’re having more than one. I prefer Old Milwaukee for American Rice Lager myself, but pbr will do in a pinch. Nice work helping out the thirsty lads in the shop though. You know they’ll appreciate it.

  4. Sharon Says:

    PBR is the top choice for all of the Austin hipsters.

    I’m not a beer drinker myself, as I prefer tequila and bourbon (although not at once). However, whenever I ask my college-age nephews what kind of beer is their favorite – – they always respond the same way, free beer.

  5. Derek Lenahan Says:

    Bless you Mr. O’Grady for sharing the wealth, I am sure a toast or two was raised in your good name. Wrenches remember these things. Kurt Sourbeer is still one of my favorite riders. The mechanics had to shuttle to the top of the downhill before food was available at the hotel, It was colder than a witches, well you know, at the top with no support in sight and the lunch hour long past, when who should appear with food and drink but Kurt Sourbeer. It’s the little things we live for, not that two suitcases of PBR is little but taken one can at a time it could be considered so. Well at least not more than two at a time.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Aw, you got to pass it around, Derek. No bogarting, as the fella once said, or something very much like it. We laid some on a neighbor, and left a few in the fridge for the next guests, and the rest went to Old Town. I should fetch them some proper local ale for solstice.

  6. Dale Says:

    Here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (the dangly part) PBR is seen, it is eclipsed Natty Boh, a suitcase of which may be had for a pittance.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Natty Boh! Now that’s one I haven’t tried, being mostly a confirmed Westerner.

      I can’t remember what I drank while living in Vermont (whatever it was, I took it by the pitcher while washing dishes at a Winooski pizza-and-sandwich joint). And while visiting Herself’s kin in Maryland I b’leeve I had a Yuengling or two or three, on the recommendation of the Drunkcyclist boyos.

      Most of the beers occupying the Mad Dog fridge over the past few years were out of Oregon (Deschutes), California (Lagunitas), New Mexico (Santa Fe Brewing Company) and Colorado (Bristol, Odell, Avery).

  7. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Say, you are a classy guy. And that sounded like a fun and unexpected evening, maybe the best kind of night out. Were any of them cyclists?

    I grew up just south of Milwaukee, and in my youth PBR on draft wasn’t half bad. Drank many a pitcher of PBR with eggs, sausage, and hash browns for breakfast at our local bar and grill after working the midnight shift. Got some strange looks from the folks coming in for a regular breakfast.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It was fun, Patrick. It was cool to see so many people from so many different places, all passionate about the same thing. Kind of reminded me of college, or my early days in newspapering, when there were official and unofficial “newspaper bars” (Jinx’s’ Place, New Tokyo Lounge), and we’d all hang out there, or at Mike Geniella’s house, drinking and hollering about shit as though it mattered.

    • khal spencer Says:

      What? Eggs, sausage, hash browns but no spam in it?

  8. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Sir, you forget that I was in the Army in the dark ages and already had my share of spam. What is chopped shoulder with added ham meat anyway? And then there is that gelatin stuff on top. Nasty.

  9. Libby Says:

    Just the kind of serendipitous encounters you hoped might happen when you got into the B&B biz? Sounds like a great time was had by all.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s been 99 percent positive, for sure, Libby. We’ve had a couple thoughtless guests who would’ve been better off at a Motel 6, but they’ve been the exception rather than the rule. If I don’t keep a tight grip on myself, I’m liable to regain my faith in the essential goodness of humanity.

  10. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    Boone’s Farm “wine” of any sort” ranks with the worst. You just had to bring that up. What’s next, Mad Dog 20/20? Hmm, is that where your moniker came from?

  11. Debby Says:

    Very cool, P’OG. I’m not familiar with the band but I love the name! I’ll have to check them out.

    Our cheap swill of choice back in the day was Old Milwaukee. In the really old days, there was something even cheaper and nastier called Lucky Lager. It was horrible stuff but it cost next to nothing. There would always be copious amounts of it at parties. People would drink one, complain about how awful it was, then reach for another!

    And yes, I remember Boone’s Farm from my high school days…

  12. Andy Bohlmann Says:

    Did I ever mention I was once in Tequila, MX for a stage race?

    Back in the ’70’s it was a wicked place…hard to remember, but true.

  13. The Salon Back East (Part II) | Mad Blog Media Says:

    […] We said sure, got invited to the do, and had a high old time. […]

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