Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Meta-Pfiffing: Perpetual devotion

Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things.
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Six months into a reinvestment of devotion to writing on this here site, along with the promise of a brief vacation on the horizon, it seemed a good time to take stock of the Pfiff! situation, having just passed through a veritable whirlwind of activity that hasn't been duly documented. To wit:
I am, by all reasonable accounts, an intensely neurotic human being. It's rare for me to experience anything interpersonal without analyzing the occasion in retrospect through a funhouse mirror of exaggerated embarrassments, shameful asides, missed opportunities and guilts of sin (sloth and gluttony being perennial favorites). When I was younger, these harping memories would have normally revolved around either something stupid involving icky girls or some quality forehead-slapping in recollection of a particularly noodly, pointless guitar solo. Nowadays, though, it either has to do with poor judgment in raising my daughter (hint: if you make a joke by putting something in your mouth, any toddler worth his or her salt will likely mimic the joke) or in the dumbstruck half-witticisms I hear exiting my mouth during the increasingly frequent beer-related activities of late.

That's right: beer activities. I've said it. No shame there. No staring distractedly at my shoelaces while tracing circles in the dust with my toes, incoherently mumbling beneath my breath. Read any good books lately? Visit that new exhibit at MOMA? See any good live music? Any new hikes worth mentioning? I'd look you straight in the eye, shoulders relaxed, knees slightly bent: "Actually, I've been pretty busy with the beer."

Playing part in my neuroses is the fact that while in resurrecting the writing after a sabbatical of sorts (not a sabbatical on the drinking of beer, mind you, just one of forming coherent opinions about it, let alone setting them to writing), my perspective on the craft of brewing has thankfully grown wider in the past six months, only while the depth of the topic itself has seemed to grow at an exponential rate during the same time period. When beer, of all things, is even being advertised as part of this year's Slow Food Nation event at Fort Mason (curated by Magnolia's Dave McLean, nonetheless, and featuring an "outdoor beer pavilion" with "60 different microbrews from bottles, 30 different brews from casks and 60 different brews from kegs" yum yum yum), the stage seems set to usher in a new wave in American beer culture. And while the lens of the Internet Age is undoubtedly convex, giving any subject a perceived depth of discussion and information that's far greater than the reality, it seems likely that the camera obscura image that a snapshot of the Web's beer-related activity isn't an illusion of the amount of attention the topic's been recently garnering. The punk in me feels like a hanger-on, but the cheeseball in me is basking in being a part of it all.

A defining element of neuroses is that they are, above all, not based in reality. And recently, there have been enough (not terribly embarrassing) opportunities for the rational part of my brain to remind the rest of it to just clam up and enjoy the ride. Notably, a tasting-to-end-all-tastings hosted by the eminent Jay Brooks not only produced one of the more charming recent portraits of a beer blogger as a young man, but had a huge impact on my personal feelings on tasting, appreciating, and enjoying beer, while reminding me that there's no use in ever trying to outdo it.

On top of that, I had the splendid opportunity to make the in-person acquaintance of a few of the other members of the nascent Bay Area Beer Bloggers group at a gathering at our home during one of the more perfectly enjoyable Marin summer afternoons we've been exposed to this year. Once trapped within our outer-locking portcullis, we stole the chance to pour copious amounts of homebrew into their unwitting glasses while (kinda) discussing the state of affairs of beer culture and writing in the Bay Area.

And finally, Shawn the Beer Philosopher gambled that it wouldn't harm his reputation as upstanding member of the online beer community if he were to publish a lengthy interview with yours truly in his new Barstool Confessional feature, one that I treated with a true Method approach, not only taking care to enjoy some top shelf ale while composing my responses, but by allowing them to ramble on to a length apropos of the responses you'd be subjected to if you truly were to query me whilst pub-seated.

So while the cheeseball in me is basking in the heat of activity surrounding local beer culture, writing, and its online presence, the complete dork in me is thrilled with the possibilities for the future of the culture, the writing, and the tastings around the bend. Thanks, reader(s), for making this a place you regularly visit. Let's all see what's next. But first, a vacation.

On a related note, my Supplication pontification didn't take the cake, but the winningest entry deserves a hearty cheers as it's a pitch perfect insight to the homebrewer's world.

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