Tag Archives: bar wisdom

north and south

On Sundays in Jack of the Wood

There’s an unplugged Irish session.

People just show up and start playing. It’s a hell of a thing,

watching violinists improvise.

They close their eyes and listen intently to each other, hardly moving

before slowly lifting chinrest to jaw, and then the bow moves.

After that, things go quiet in other areas of the world.


I drank Green Man

–from the cask, not the standard delivery, mind you.

Cara from Columbus sat next to me, and told me how

she met Hal on the Appalachian Trail.

“I just decided to do it, one day,” she said. “The AT.”

“I was heading in one direction, and he was headed in another.”

How else do things like that happen?

Cara and Hal moved in the same direction after that.

Neither one knew what was next, but they were looking

for a different place, separately.

They found it together.

“It’s not perfect,” she said, “but nothing is. We love each other.

And we’re figuring it out as we go.”

I looked up above the bottles and saw Jack looking back.

I thought about death and rebirth, and finished my pint.


lovesick drifting

On the way to the Charleston Brewing Company, there was a young man wearing a Carhartt jacket with an Alaskan beard who had an open guitar case and a sign that read “Lovesick Drifter.”
I tossed a five and nodded to him. I knew what the sign meant. He increased his chord progressions into Irish folk as I rounded the corner.

Inside the brewpub, I said, “I’m an IPA man; give me something strong.”


I made quick friends with George
From Seattle.
He told me the 1940s inspiration for Forever Amber, the beer he was enjoying. “Ah, a kindred spirit,” I thought to myself. “This will be a fine night.”

He was wearing a gray Nike Dri-FIT turtleneck underneath an insulated red-and-black checkered flannel. His eyes twinkled as he spoke. Here was a man with stories.

We shook hands and he spoke of Cumulonimbus,
at the Sound Brewery north of Seattle. I wanted to go west again.

He ended up being the owner. The Charleston Brewing Company was for sale in less than a month. “This place,” he gestured, “is great. But there’s not enough money for the hassle.” He talked about staffing difficulties, inventory control, overhead, and much more. I had worked a lot of different jobs over the last two decades, but there were things of which I hadn’t even thought. Still, I couldn’t believe it; I would give up a lot for the opportunity to own a place a fraction that big.

On the other side of George was Joe. Joe was in the restaurant business and had been his whole life. He told me about Kobe beef. “Global warming is a global issue,” he said. He talked about out of print Vonnegut, and asserted that if we don’t change our ways in the next fifty years, we would be extinct. He was appalled that someone lit tap water on fire.

I thought about that quote that tells you what beliefs you have in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and so forth.

Joe argued with George about the viability of natural resources. It was comic, to a point–telling an engineer what’s going on with the planet.

Joe asked us to rank our favorite words phonetically. His were “transmontane and pep.” He emphasized pep. I took a drink or several, and then offered mine: “Loquacious and inebriated.”
George laughed, rubbed his index and middle finger against his thumb, and said “Benjamin Franklin.”

Somehow mixed drinks came up, and I said, somewhat panicked, “I’ve never had an Old-Fashioned!” George said that he hadn’t either. Josh the bartender smiled, and said, “May I make you gentlemen one?” George said, “On me!” And that was that. When the drinks were ready, I said, “Don Draper, motherfucker!” Down the drinks went. That round, a few more rounds.


After a while, the crowd thinned, and we ran low on laughs. We paid our tabs. George showed me around the property, offering his vision for what might happen to the business once he sold. I was heavy-hearted, but more in awe that such a thing was created, made complete, and sacrificed.

We said goodbyes, and I stepped outside. The city was empty, even for a Monday.


“Content is king,” I thought to myself as I walked through those vampire streets.