The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

More Hofstra photos

Here are a couple more photos from the Hofstra, as promised. Also as promised, they might not mean anything to people who didn't live there, but to us alumni, they might bring back either memories or today's lunch. First, the original Unispan, looking north from the apex over Hempstead Turnpike:

The north-central Student Center stairs, leading down to the Small Clubs Office (which has since become a game room):

And when you need that massive dose of greasy pizza in the afternoon, where better to get a slice than the Rathskellar:

Finally (for now), a nod to everyone at HTV:

Round-up of suspicious stories

Someone has put something in the water today. News organizations seem to have made some surprising discoveries today:

Oh, wait—that last one is real. It's still a foolish story.

I'll post more throughout the day as I discover them.

Reaction to "Silly Goose"

Reader DM commented on yesterday's lament about Inbev acquiring Goose Island Brewery:

This is definitely not a good thing, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as people are making it out to be. The brewpubs are reported not to be in the deal (I'm not sure how that is), but that is what I've read.

They are also bringing in Brett Porter to run things, who is a pretty good brewmaster from Dechutes Brewery out in Oregon. I've have a few of their brews and they are pretty good.

It makes absolutely no sense for AB to change the beers or water them down. In doing so they will lose the customers they currently have. Let's face it, the people that drink Goose Island will notice a difference if they begin to drop the quality and turn it into a Bud Light Wheat. And there is no way they will pick up the Bud Light drinkers of the world in doing so.

I think what is more likely is that we might see some of the less profitable beers dropped from production and they will start to push the more profitable beers like 312 and Honker's Ale. Hopefully they'll continue some of their more complex beers like Bourbon County Stout, Sofie, Matilda, Green Line and the IPA.

I'm in no way advocating this change. Having a great indie craft brewery sell out to one of the big beer corporations is never a good thing. I just don't think it will be nearly as bad as most think. At the very least we need to wait and see what happens. I guess if they do change things for the worse there is always Half Acre, Metro, Haymarket, and Revolution brewery for Chicago craft beer drinkers.

Still, I think we may have seen the last of the cask-conditioned ales. And will I still have MBA (Master of Beer Appreciation) privileges at the brewpubs? Will I want them?

Silly Goose

More on Anheuser-Busch's sad acquisition of Goose Island Brewery. First, Brewmaster Greg Hall told the Tribune about the trouble he's seen:

In an interview with the Tribune last month, brewmaster Greg Hall said the company’s sales had “outpaced our forecast in 2010, so that we weren’t quite ready for all of the growth we got.” Goose Island also hired an investment banker to assist the family in securing funds for expansion.

Although the Craft Brewers Alliance’s 2006 investment in Goose Island has technically exempted the brewer from craft-beer status, the company’s popular brands have shared the problem of other craft beers: increasing capacity to meet surging demand.

Goose Island is best-known for its 312 Urban Wheat Ale, and respected in craft circles for other products like Matilda and Bourbon County Stout. Goose Island has been outsourcing some production and seeking additional investment to expand capacity.

And Chicago Public Radio had some local bar owners on to wring their hands:

[B]ar owners like Phil McFarland, who runs Small Bar in Chicago's Ukranian Village neighborhood, said he's conflicted about the merger.

"I don't guess that Anheuser has bought them to make Budweiser knock offs and part of the appeal of a brewery like Goose Island is that they have the recipes they do that have the, sort of, respect in the market that they have and from a business point of view, I would have to think they'd be sort of crazy to mess with that too much, but time will tell," McFarland said.

Meanwhile, Chris Staten, the Beer Editor of Draft Magazine, said the acquisition shows Anheuser's further commitment to the craft brew market.

In other words, this is a classic "bookend" story. Goose Island has already become a major beer producer, no longer really a craft brewery, so no one can really do more than shrug. And Inbev, which owns Anheuser-Busch, is too big and stupid to make their own beer up to Goose Island's quality, so they just figured they'd buy the place. Hey, big companies buying small companies happen every day; what could go wrong?

There goes the brewpub

Four years after starting a distribution deal, Goose Island Brewery announced today that they've sold out completely to the megabrewery:

Goose Island Beer Co., the Chicago-based brewing powerhouse, announced this morning that it will be taken over by Anheuser-Busch.

Brewmaster Greg Hall will be stepping down.

Can't imagine why:

Anheuser-Busch reached an agreement to purchase the majority (58 percent) equity stake in FSB from its founders and investors, held in Goose Holdings Inc. (GHI), for $22.5 million. Craft Brewers Alliance Inc. (CBA), an independent, publicly traded brewer based in Portland, Ore., that operates Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona breweries, owns the remaining 42 percent of FSB and reached an agreement in principle to sell its stake in FSB to Anheuser-Busch for $16.3 million in cash. Anheuser Busch holds a minority stake (32.25 percent) in CBA.

Goose Island sold approximately 127,000 barrels of Honkers Ale, 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Matilda and other brands in 2010. To help meet immediate demand, an additional $1.3 million will be invested to increase Goose Island’s Chicago Fulton Street brewery’s production as early as this summer.

"Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers," said Goose Island founder and president John Hall, who will continue as Goose Island chief executive officer. "This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch will bring resources to brew more beer here in Chicago to reach more beer drinkers, while continuing our development of new beer styles. This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success."

This means the Goose Island brewpubs will become Applebee's but brew Bud Light on-site. And with increased production, Goose Island beers will have to lose complexity and quality to compensate for larger batch sizes. But hey, $16.3m is a fair pile of cash. And Tyranena isn't too far.

Still, I'll miss the great beers.

Language evolves; so does swearing

The New Republic's John McWhorter doesn't worry about public cursing:

Language is all about creeping numbness, jokes wearing thin, feeling devolving into gesture. Terrible once meant truly horrific. The will we use to mark the future once meant that you quite robustly “willed” to do something, but diluted into just indicating that sometime you would.

Hence a burnt steak as terrible, a good movie as awesome, trivial terms like shopaholic based on the glum source alcoholic, and just as naturally, we now have snowpocalypses, and even what we process as irresponsibly casual usages of Holocaust. Profanity is hardly immune to this inexorable weakening, and as such, what we process as a peculiar encroachment of curse words into the public sphere is actually a matter of the words ceasing to be curses in any coherent sense.

Of course, there are societies where certain words remain forbidden for millennia, when a societal taboo exerts a block upon the natural process of dilution. Taboos once kept English curse words truly profane, but the cult of authenticity key to modern Western identity has vastly weakened those taboos. Hence in recent decades, the grand old four-letter words and their ilk have been swept into the vanillafication hopper.

When Bono said fucking brilliant at the Golden Globes ceremony in 2004 or Melissa Leo said fucking easy, they were using the word as a rendition of very that carries an extra component of lowest-common-denominator, incontestable genuineness. In all languages, there are ways of striking that note: Others in English include using -in’ rather than -ing or eliding subject pronouns in phrases like Hope so rather than I hope so. Fucking brilliant today urgingly connotes, whether or not we would put it in so many words, that something gratifies in a way that we all can empathize with, gosh darn it, despite possible quibbles as to whether it should be brilliant—the implied quibble in Bono case for example being the questionable artistic value of the award in question.

Friday miscellany

In no particular order:

  • Today is the 100th anniversary of the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York, in which 146 workers died. If you want to know why we have unions in the U.S., read the story. This is the world to which the radical right are happy to return us.
  • I have to hand it to Citibank and their crack team of fraud preventatives. Last week I bought a plane ticket from Chicago to London for about $700. A few hours later I attempted to put down a £100 deposit on a hotel room in London. Citibank declined the smaller charge, because it was an international purchase without card-in-hand, as they say. Note I bought the airline ticket online also.
    A 10-minute phone call to them, followed by an apologetic phone call to the hotel, and it went through fine. This morning, I bought a £58 round trip rail ticket from London to York on a day within both the air ticket and hotel reservation (both of which Citibank knows about), and their computer called me within seconds to warn me of yet more fraud. Fifteen minutes later they have finally—finally!—acknowledged that I might be in the UK for a couple of days, and possibly will be using my credit card to make reservations ahead of the trip. Note to people outside the US: They're not trying to protect me; they're trying to protect themselves. In the US, card holders have a $50 liability limit for fraudulent transactions; the bank's liability is essentially limitless. But still, guys?
  • Microsoft's Raymond Chen has a funny anecdote about the Seattle Symphony Orchestra's front office getting confused between Paul Cézanne and Camille Saint-Saëns, complete with a handy chart to tell the difference.

That is all.

Eighth Amendment issue at Logan

Sitting in the lounge at Boston's airport, I have to ask them what crime we all committed to deserve the punishment they're inflicting. They're playing a Muzak version of "My Heart Will Go On" (from the movie Titanic).

It's like drowning in rancid honey. Blah.