mom and pop
Tuesday, May 22 2007
The local Kingston brewery is Keegan Ales, and while I don't think much of their two other products, their extra-hoppy Hurricane Kitty "coppery India pale ale" is like no other beer you've ever drunk. These days it's the beer I buy when I'm not buying malt liquor. It's more expensive than the competition, but I believe in supporting and even evangelizing local businesses, and (in any case) the flavor is worth the premium. In the past Keegan Ales featured a tasting room in the front where, on infrequent (though popular) weekly occasions, free beer was given out to any who happened by. Recently, the brewery has set up a proper bar in the front and added a movie room between it and the industrial brewing operation. Tonight was the first-ever of an anticipated program of movies shown in the movie room. It was Independent America: The Two-Lane Search for Mom and Pop, a movie about the nascent movement to support local businesses and avoid big-box chain stores. Being a local mom & pop industry, it made sense that Keegan Ales would show such a movie, though their intention (as I later learned from one of the Keegans himself) is to show a wide range of movies, not just pedantic ones in support of their mode of business.
As citizens go, my wife Gretchen is much more attuned to the destruction wrought by chain stores than most. She actively boycotts not just Walmart, but also Barnes & Noble, Borders, and (though she's no coffee enthusiast) she's alway talking smack about Starbucks. I consider myself a liberal, aware citizen, but before living with Gretchen my greatest concern was price, not politics, when I bought things. The only product line I considered beyond the pale was Coors, though I generally preferred local companies to chains. Somehow she found out about tonight's showing at Keegan Ales, and that was how we spent our evening.
As we were driving to Keegan Ales, Gretchen had the radio tuned, as always, to 92.9 FM, the local nostalgia station for our increasingly long-in-the-tooth generation (why would capitalists care about our baby bust?). A new-wavy song sung by a woman came on and, like many of its generation, it had a repetitiveness about it that has gone completely out of fashion. Sure, there's techno and electronica, but the repetitiveness there is for a more primal biological purpose. In the 80s, though, it was standard practice for a chorus to be sung four times in a row, with very little between that and the next time that chorus was sung four times in a row. I may not have known it at the time, but this might well have been the reason I never liked Hall & Oates, whose repetitive songs themselves were played with exasperating frequency. That whole 80s sound, overproduced with layers of primitive synthesizers; I remember fearing that it represented some sort of endless dystopian future, a complete abandonment of the more organic qualities of the late-60s sound I prefered. It's no wonder that I enthusiastically supported such retro-organic rock movements as grunge, alternative, low fi, and thrash metal.
There's nothing like that first sip of Hurricane Kitty, particularly after an afternoon enhanced with pseudoephedrine. Unfortunately, though, the movie wasn't all that great. Part of the problem was that it didn't really deliver the goods; we were shown relatively few examples of mom and pops succeeding. Another problem was that it had been shot entirely in video, and video never looks good on a big screen. When I went to get a second beer at the bar, a young woman who introduced herself as Jessica made an unsolicited favorable comment about my jawline, and then asked me about the movie, and I said that the fact that it had been shot in video was making it difficult to watch. At this point she tried to make a witty comment reflecting knowledge about what I was talking about, but all it did was showcase her dismal provincial ignorance. Still, anyone with an appreciation for Keegan Ales can't be all bad.
Gretchen is a chameleon when it comes to presenting me to those whom she knows. In the past I've noted the various ways she's hurried to introduce me as her husband. With creative types I'm a "visual artist," but with most other people I'm a "computer geek" (which is, I'm led to believe, a good thing these days). Tonight, though, with the friends and acquaintances she knew at this movie, the first thing of note about me was that I'd built my own solar panel "from scratch." That's impressive, at least with people who are trying to shop locally from mom & pops while reducing their carbon footprints.
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