Ol’ golden hair is calling and I must go.

I took a little detour today to an isolated spot in northwest Kansas on my way to Texas. This part of history is not as well known, but is no less significant, and is just another example of George Custer’s egocentric, disregard for others that resulted in the pointless deaths of many of the people around him. In the late 1860’s this area was a hot zone of activity during the American Indian Wars. In 1867 a twenty-four year old Lieutenant named Lyman Kidder was asked by his superiors to deliver a message to Colonel Custer who was camped 90 Miles to the south. What Kidder didn’t know was that Custer had gotten bored at his camp and decided to move to a different location without notifying his superiors. Arriving at Custer’s camp and seeing it was empty, Kidder decided to head south to Fort Wallace thinking Custer probably headed there. Unfortunately this change in plans led Kidder and his 10 men into a group of Cheyenne dog soldiers and a mix of Lakota warriors.

Ten days later one of Custer’s scouts stumbled across a dead Calvary horse and found the arrow pierced corpses of Kidder and his men in a ravine. Kidders body was identified only by his shirt. Most of the dead men in Kidders group were between the ages of 18-21, most of which had never even seen an Indian before. Custer’s response to the tragedy was: “Each body was pierced by 20 to 50 arrows, and the arrows were found as the savage demons had left them, bristling in the bodies.

Whether Custer was remorseful for switching camps which led directly to his fellow soldiers deaths, whether he was egocentrically remorseful due to a possible reprimand that might blemish his spotty career and result in a demotion, or whether he saw this as a tool to feed his own propaganda campaign and fuel his hatred for what he referred to as “savage demons” we can only guess. But at this point the flute had been firmly placed in his hands and he had become the pied piper of death, bringing a lot of innocent people down a dark path of no return which would soon play out at the Battle of the Washita and The Battle of the Little Bighorn.

-NP

Congaree National Park, South Carolina.

A small park with a boardwalk through a swamp (they prefer the polite term “floodplain”). The main function of the boardwalk seems to be to better present visitors to the swarms of mosquitos. Step off the boardwalk and into the realm of the four varieties of venomous snake that inhabit the park, including the “ubiquitous” cottonmouth. Run from the snakes and find yourself in glades of poison ivy or stumbling into wasps’ nests or webs of biting spiders. On the plus side, the trails are marked (when they’re not completely washed out), so as you run screaming in circles waving your hands to fend off mosquitos, you’re likely as not to impale yourself on a jagged Cyprus stump.

The Hoppy Grail

Who would have thought a little town at the foot of the Blueridge Mountains in West Virginia held the secret of youth. The serum I’m referring to is Lunar Eclipse Stout – which is only available at a small Slovenian restaurant called Dopra Zupas in the town of Beckley – an old turn of the century house converted into a restaurant serving food and craft beer. From this point on in my trip, I more or less screwed myself. Trying to find a brew that would compare to whatever magic elixir was in that glass was going to be tough. It’s since became a quest. A quest for something that compares to the Hoppy Grail.

New Glarus.

I started my Saturday off at the New Glarus Brewing Company in Wisconsin. Founded in 1993 by Dan and Deborah Carey, they produce seasonal beer as well as six staple beers that are available year round – Moon Man, Raspberry Tart, Serendipity, Wisconsin Belgian Red, Two Women and Spotted Cow – their most popular beer.

First brewed in 1997, Spotted Cow is a cask-conditioned ale, sweetened with corn. They brew about 45,000 barrels a year, which accounts for about 40% of all the beer New Glarus makes in a year. An unfiltered brew, (meaning the brewers yeast is still in it) Spotted Cow has a smooth 4.8% ABV and is one of Wisconsin’s most well known beers.

The brewery itself started in an old abandoned warehouse with used brewpub equipment. The Carey’s hit a stroke of luck when they acquired a million dollars worth of kettles from a retired German brewmaster for just over twenty grand (scrap metal price) thanks to the couples business savvy and Dan’s excellent brewing prowess (he apprenticed in Germany) they’ve grown to be the 25th largest brewery in the nation.

“When you get fat and lose your hunger, that is when you know the sellout has happened.” – Bruce Springsteen

In May 2006, the company broke ground on a $21 million facility on a hilltop on the south edge of the village of New Glarus. The facility was designed to look like a Bavarian village and has since become a Wisconsin Wally World destination for up to 150,000 people a year. Parking is not a problem, since there’s a Wayne Newton style bus parking area. It’s not everyday you get to go to Branson Missouri in Wisconsin.

The only things missing were the Spotted Cow effigy standing at the front entrance (with the punched in nose compliments of Chevy Chase) and a Spotted Cow mascot handing out utter shaped balloons to the kids. And maybe there was, I didn’t see them as I was too busy swimming through a sea of people to find a spot in line to purchase drink tickets, so that I could be redirected to a second line to get a beer.

“Your approximate waiting time from this location is 30 minutes. Please take one of our complimentary souvenir catalogs and watch this televised brewery tour on the big screen tv in front of you and have a great day.”

In Canada, we had a government run merchandise store called Consumers Distributing. Dead looking attendants greeted you behind cold hard counters. I would fill out a form for the item I wanted, wait in line for what seemed like forever, then hand the form to the dark wraith behind the desk who would go into a back room to try and locate the item on the form. (Always on backorder. Always)

The website slogan for the brewery is – “Welcome to our quaint little brewery nestled on the outskirts of New Glarus, Wisconsin.” This is equivalent to saying “McDonalds, over 20 served.”

New Glarus Brewery is a perfect example of corporate mashing and what happens when business takes precedence over production. Not that there’s anything wrong with that from a business standpoint. If the money is rolling in, jobs are being created and the local area flourishes. The owners and investors couldn’t be any wiser, shrewder or better at filling their coffers. They’ve done a hell of a job turning their quaint little brewery into an enterprise, with the soul purpose of draining the wallets, purses, pockets and allowance of every man, woman and child. Yes, even children are not immune. The plethora of stuffed spotted cow toys is overwhelming in the Walmart size gift shop connected to the tasting room. According to their website, New Glarus consider themselves to be agricultural manufacturers, not retailers.

Really it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a hands on Mom and Pop experience, someplace where you can cozy up to the brewers and the bartenders, or talk about the real things in life with the person sitting beside you, (I like my bullshit down to earth) you won’t find it here. You will find that one middle aged slumlord in his Ralph Lauren polo sporting a Rolex – minus the Swiss time movement, talking about his golf swing and how the Lexus dealership in Madison is better than the one in Milwaukee, as he buzz’s on a thimble size glass of Raspberry Tart.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a family experience, where you can bring the in-laws and let the kids run around in circles to burn off the candy grandma gave them, all the while sneaking in a couple of very excellent, much needed brews and not feel guilty about drinking them – this is the place for you.

I prefer the smaller, less commercial establishments, not the stuffy energy that flows out of the corporate Bavarian walls here. But in hindsight, I can’t criticize the beer flowing out of New Glarus, it’s excellent. Just be sure to bring a friend, because walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Cheers! 🐄

NP

Communication Breakdown.

Watching the Christian Bale movie “Hostiles,” I found myself relating to the quandary of man when it comes to communicating, saying the things we want to say and the struggles to put our sentiments on the line for fear of seeming too vulnerable or coming off as a candy-ass.

In the movie, Captain Joseph J. Blockeris (played by Bale) is a hard man. He’s lived through the Civil War and the American Indian Wars. He’s seen death, dealt death and avoided death most of his life, so with that, you would think it wouldn’t be difficult for him to keep his composure as he’s been accustomed to enough strife over the years to be impenetrable. But he still has cracks where compassion shines, and there are times when his vulnerability shows through his rocky demeanor. As I was taking all of this in, feeling like I was right there beside him, it was hard not to get choked up a bit.

The nods, the facial expressions and the one syllable sounds, were very much a part of this movie. The simple gestures that have so much meaning in a mans world, but mean little to a woman other than annoyance, as they see it as just another part of our lack of communication. It’s not that we can’t communicate, i think it’s just that we do it differently than women.

So I found myself thinking about why we are the way we are. Why do we have so much trouble putting our feelings on the line, why is it so hard to communicate how we feel, and why do most of us prefer to keep our problems to ourselves? Why are we portrayed as unfeeling, unemotional socially inept Neanderthals. I’m not a psychologist, so I’m going to wing it from what I’ve read and use a seldom used phrase called common sense, which is as rare as a unicorn nowadays.

Too often I find myself struggling to find the words to express how I feel. In my generation, we were taught to suck it up. Crying was not accepted and expressing your inner-self was considered weak. We weren’t really given a stage to talk about how we felt and instead were quickly told to move past it and be strong. This leads us to throwing our feelings aside or burying them and never really addressing the issues.

My dad had 5 brothers – all straight up saddle bronc farm boys. Growing up, anything outside the realm of masculinity was considered being a “tit,” a word my uncles frequently used. Expressing your feelings in this kingdom was almost a crime. Luckily I had a mother that gave me enough love and affection to even things out a bit. On the downside, this would come back to haunt me when I would head down south to visit my dad in the summertime. Entering his world of rodeos and cowboys forced me to buck up and be the kid I thought my father wanted me to be.

My first taste of machismo reality happened at a barn dance in Wisconsin, when I was six years old. A boy was teasing me about my Canadian accent. A bit older than me, raucous, uncouth, a little shit – very similar to the dime a dozen ruffians I grew up around living in single parent neighborhoods until my mother was remarried. I finally got mad and pushed him and the battle was on.

Instead of the normal routine, where an adult would break up a fight like in the playground at school, the “adults” whistled, and blissfully cheered – this was a hard, cold, reality check for me, considering I’d always looked up to adults as protectors and role models. Add that to this kids rough cut, bull riding father yelling – “hit him like I taught you!” at that point I felt pretty small.

I looked over at my dad, hoping he would liberate me, but the “you got this” look he gave me, indicated I was clearly on my own. I compare it to a baby bird falling from the nest. I wanted to show my dad I could be tough, but I was bogged down by this terrifying new plight that scrappy little hair pulling monster had gotten me into.

In the end not much came out of it, rolling around on the floor, lots of straw dust, grabbing and clawing. I remember my eye being poked.

When all thirty seconds of what seemed like thirty minutes was over, my dad patted me on the back, said nothing and life went on. Within a couple of hours it didn’t matter much, because being a kid, the next big adventure takes precedence over past events pretty quickly and it was soon forgotten. But I often wonder today if my Dad was proud of me or if I embarrassed him with how I fought.

We can act tough, but at the end of the day we’re still human. So despite how we’re raised, we still have those moments of vulnerability where the walls come down and we let shit out, which can be a mess since we’re flushing our brains out of a lot of the things that have been building up over weeks or months.

Like most men, usually we’re more communicative or we’ll say something about how we’re feeling when things build up to the point where we can no longer hold them in. The problem with this is we’re not at our best during these times and tend to lash out and say things we don’t mean and regret later. So we’ll retract what we said after the damage has been done and try to change it and in the end come off as contradicting or confusing. After going through this a few dozen times, you realize it’s just easier to keep your mouth shut, for fear of regretting it later.

If you’re like me, (I think a lot of men are like this) you take the shortcut around confrontational situations, which in reality can handicap us even more. It’s easier to just agree or ignore or bury it, just to move on from it. By avoiding talking about the problem, or something that might cause a rift in our relationship, we can continue to act like no issue exists, which allows us to continue moving forward in a way thats less stressful and convenient for us, because we know a full conversation can trigger things we don’t want to deal with. We do what we can to run from it and hope it just goes away, when in actuality we’re just causing more damage. It’s a form of managing a situation to our advantage because with all the shit we deal with in the working world, we don’t want our relationships to be stressful like our everyday lives.

I do know as men we’re more compartmentalized in how we think and communicate. Listen to a group of women talk and a group of men talk…you notice the differences right away. This is why we squirm when we hear the words “we have to talk”. The barrage of words mixed with emotions, intimidates us and makes us uncomfortable. (I got the same feeling I had in my catholic elementary school when I was sent to the office and the principal pulled out the strap)

Most of us men engage in “report-talk,” it’s a style focused on exchanging information with little emotional input. This is a way for men to preserve independence and maintain status in a hierarchical social order. It goes wayyy back to the dawn of man. This is part of the reason there are so many misunderstandings between men and women. When it all comes down to it, we’re simply wired differently.

It’s never easy to deal with a person who doesn’t express themselves. I’m first degree guilty of this. I think taking time in a relationship to understand why certain issues exist really helps in finding effective ways to overcome them. Yes, I’m stating the obvious here. Creating an environment that encourages open communication is important but it has to come from both sides. In general, as men, we need to lower our defenses and get more comfortable connecting with our emotions and share our feelings when talking to women -but it’s so much easier said than done.

On the other hand, women need to learn to be more concise and direct when talking to men, and try to keep their emotions under control. We both have to bend a little. It’s about finding that perfect balance (or maybe finding that needle in the haystack?) The openness you desire from someone is a two way street. If you hold back, that will only make it easier for them to do the same and this will come back to haunt you down the road. I know this through experience.

Keep in mind, if everything I wrote in the last three paragraphs was that simple, I wouldn’t be writing this in the first place. A lot of it is learning from our mistakes – if I had a dollar for every one I’ve made, I’d be a very rich man. NP

I posted a link at the bottom that I think every man should read.

https://www.bolde.com/open-letter-guy-cant-communicate/

The BozAngeles Breweries.

“I think I’m going down to the well tonight, and I’m going to drink till I get my fill.” – Springsteen

The Bridger Mountains are to the northeast, the Tobacco Root Mountains to the southwest, the Big Belt Mountains and Horseshoe Hills to the northwest, the Hyalite Peaks of the northern Gallatin Range to the south and the Spanish Peaks of the northern Madison Range to the south, make Bozeman, Montana, an outdoor enthusiasts wet dream. Yellowstone National Park is a 90-minute drive south, and “A River Runs Through It” was filmed on the nearby Gallatin River, so trout fishing is a given. If you’re lucky you might even find a lock of Brad Pitts hair on the rivers edge.

Restaurants galore and some good ones at that, a wine bar, a booming Main Street with eight breweries to go with it, make Bozeman a pretty cool little city. I use the word “little” lightly, as unfortunately, Bozeman has one of the fastest growing populations in the USA, (hence the BozAngeles label) with a large flux of people moving in due to the recent tech boom, it’s estimated that by 2076, Bozeman will be the size of Salt Lake City – thats a scary thought.

But things change and 2076 is 58 years away, so let’s head to the breweries and worry about that later.

My first stop was Map Brewing.

MAP, hands down, has the best view of all the breweries in Bozeman. It sits along the west shore of Glen Lake and the East Gallatin Recreation Area and looks out at the Bridger Mountains. During the summer you can rent paddle boards nearby and spend a few hours cruising around the lake, and of course finish with beers on the patio. They have a couple of award winning beers like the Northbound Ale and some local favorites like the Destination Session IPA or Smoked Lion Wheat Beer.

406 Brewing Company.

I love how experimental this brewery is – sometimes a beer just doesn’t turn out the way they’d hoped, and that’s fine by them. They let their customers decide what’s good and what needs work. They do have some staples that are delicious, but the fun is in trying new things. 406 is now offering food, so if you want to hang out and grab a bite, you’re good to go. I recommend the Strong Scotch Ale (6.2%)

Bozeman Brewing Company.

Not very big, and somewhat crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, but it’s where craft beer was born in this town. Favorites like Bozone Amber Ale and Hopzone IPA are dispensed at numerous bars in the area, but it always tastes better when you’re drinking it at the source. A popcorn machine in the corner is the only food served (though there’s sometimes a BBQ truck in the parking lot).The oldest of the breweries in Bozeman, they’ve been brewing beer since 2001. Their most popular beer is the Bozeman Amber and it is fantastic! The tasting room is small with only a few tables but the atmosphere is a fun locals hangout.

Bridger Brewing.

This is located right across 11th Street from the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. They feature great beer and delicious pizza. This is a popular hangout for MSU students or anyone attending events at the field house. Try out the Vigilante IPA or the Ghost Town Coffee Stout. If you want something a little lighter, the Blond Ale or the Climb Every Mountain Hef will be right up your alley. Their pizza is delicious and they even brew root beer if you are looking for a kid friendly option.

Outlaw Brewing.

Outlaw is located a little off the beaten path on North 27th Street. It sits at the edge of a neighborhood and has a very local feel. But don’t sleep on Outlaw – the beer is excellent, including their Irish Cream Ale and Passive Aggressive IPA. In the winter the Russian Bill Imperial Nitro Stout is great after a day of shredding Bridger Bowl. Outlaw does not serve their own food but there is usually a food truck outside if you get hungry.

White Dog Brewing Company.

If you’re hanging out downtown, (which is inevitable) White Dog is the brewery to check out. It sits on the west end of the downtown area along side Bozeman Spirits distillery. It’s got a great little trendy vibe and some good beers that pack a punch. If you are looking for something light and refreshing, check out the Blood Orange Hef or the Blond Ale. If you crave something a little more full, try the Scotch or the Double IPA (both fantastic) If there is room to belly up you will be amazed at the bar top. It features a chilled metal strip to place your beer on to keep it frosty, and it actually works. They don’t serve food there, but you’re on main, so getting food isn’t an issue.

Bunkhouse Brewery.

This is one of the newest breweries in town and is located right near campus and around the corner from Bridger Brewing. They are focused on bringing back an older style of German brewing while still producing popular beers. Check out the Broadhorn Brown Ale or the High Lonesome Hef. This is a great spot to pair with a brew tour that includes Bridger Brewing.

Mountains Walking Brewery and Pub.

Another new member of the brew family in town. The menu includes hushpuppies with scallion aioli, smoked trout dip and sriracha and honey chicken wings as well as a pair of wood-fired pizzas. The wood fire, the open kitchen, the low ceilings and shared tables, all are part of Dose’s desire to create an atmosphere that feels comfortable. Try the Gallatin Roar Triple IPA or the Boxelder Red Ale.

NP

The Blind Owl.

A strange introvert with coke bottle glasses. In a lot of ways he was your classic nerd. When he started school, it was obvious he wasn’t like other kids. He was attuned to the world of nature. He was more interested in forests than people. Trees and plants became his best friends, his true source of peace and comfort.

He could forecast the weather by just a glance in the sky. A neighbor was reportedly unwilling to leave on a shopping trip until he advised her whether an umbrella would be necessary.

One time cold weather had descended upon the trees in his neighborhood, ice causing the branches to break. He ran down the street with his hands over his ears, tears streaming down his face, saying he could hear the trees crying.

He would collect twigs, leaves and other naturalistic objects. His clothes were often dirty as a result. He was like a modern day Henry David Thoreau, as if his hair had been combed with a pine cone.

He liked girls but had no sense of appearance or presentation. He was extremely clumsy and had no social skills. Bathing and using deodorant weren’t his thing. Friends and family would buy him clothes and underwear to at least keep him presentable.

His vision was terrible. His inability to see properly, heightened his natural introversion. When being around groups of people, he didn’t know how to act and would sit in a corner in a lotus position and read. He slept on his back with his knees in the air every single night. He lived in a messy apartment and took in a bunch of heroin addicts because he felt sorry for them, though he didn’t do heroin himself.

Then he joined a Rock Band.

He could play the guitar and harmonica to perfection. John Lee Hooker claimed he was the best harmonica player he ever played with. He was able to perceive tiny graduations of pitch and tone which were inaudible to the average person.

He was so shy that onstage he would rarely gaze into the audience, and instead would close his eyes while playing, and if he did gaze into the audience, it was a blur since he rarely wore his glasses on stage.

He hated touring because he wanted to spend more time outdoors. He would bring his sleeping bag with him on tour and sleep outside in the nearest park or parking lot if there were trees near by. He would come back with pollen, mud and grass all over him, ready to hit the stage.

He would pack his own food in his suitcase while on tour, which included large quantities of brown rice and a camp stove. On one occasion at the airport, his suitcase fell open and rice fell everywhere, much to the embarrassment of his band mates.

Another time his band was busted for drugs in a Denver motel room, while they were being arrested, he was off collecting leaves in a nearby park and avoided getting caught as a result. He wasn’t into material things. He didn’t own a home and eventually would live in his van. His uncashed paychecks occasionally doubled as bookmarks. What was important to him instead was preserving the natural world.

The bands manager said “I took walks with him sometimes in different botanical gardens while on tour. Seeing a plant he had never seen before or a tree that there were only 20 of in the world, was like an orgasm for him.”

While the rest of the Band would be partying with groupies and drugs, he would be in the backyard staring at a tree. Sometimes while on tour, the band would pass a forest, and he would see a certain tree and yell “Stop the car!” Then run over to check out the tree.

He was a passionate conservationist who loved reading books on botany and ecology. He wrote an essay called ‘Grim Harvest’, about the coastal redwood forests of California. He was interested in preserving the natural world, particularly the redwood trees and started “Music Mountain Organization” dedicated to this purpose.

On a live recording he cut, he sings a song called “Pulling Hair Blues.” He gets personal and says in the song that he has been compulsively overeating, and pulling his hair out (as he did when he was nervous) he can’t sleep at night because he can’t be outside, he doesn’t like long train rides on the tour and it rains all the time, there is no relief for his troubled mind, and at one point, he mentions he can’t even get laid. As the song is played, you can hear the curious sound of titters from the audience, the nervous kind of giggle that some people produce when faced with something embarrassing. His raw, naked pain was just too much for an audience that had come to hear a rock show. Just as his strange personal habits tended to make women uncomfortable, his open vulnerability had made his audience uneasy.

When there’s so much going on in your mind, the world tends to recede a bit. He came into life with his music and his love for nature, but in other areas of being human he was just a babe in the woods. It would be painful to be human and just kind of not get the hang of it. He battled anxiety and depression in a time when the coping ammunition was rudimentary at best. Unfortunately, he lost the battle in 1970 at the age of 27.

Alan Wilson’s body was found in his band mates backyard in his sleeping bag, a mostly empty baggie of barbiturates laying beside him – pills he used to help him sleep and escape the war going on in his head. Although his death is sometimes reported as a suicide, this is not really clearly established. Wilson’s death came just two weeks before the death of Jimi Hendrix and four weeks before the death of Janis Joplin, two artists who also died at the same age. His band “Canned Heat” would go on without him, but they were never the same after Alan died. Lead singer Bob “The Bear” Hite, would overdose just a few years later.

If you ever watch the D.A. Pennebaker movie, “The Monterrey Pop Festival,” look for a nerdy guy with glasses playing guitar on stage, or in the movie “Woodstock” you’ll hear a high tenor, almost girly voice, singing about going up the country.

In order to support Alan’s dream, his family has purchased a “grove naming” in his memory through the “Save the Redwoods League of California.” The money donated to create this memorial will be used by the League to support redwood reforestation, research, education, and land acquisition of both new and old growth redwoods. Alan was a pioneer in his day. One of the first celebrity style environmentalists. He wasn’t into it for the fame and glory, his love for nature was unconditional. I can’t imagine what he would have accomplished had he lived a longer life. NP

http://alanwilsoncannedheat.com/woodstock-save-the-redwoods.php