Words

The Philosopher Gets His Hands Dirty

By Mike Allen Cover photo of Robert Izzat by Mike Allen Ideas ain’t worth shit. No one cares about ideas until they have some tangible value or physical manifestation to justify the brain weight. Case in point: I’ve been trying to give away this writing (just portable ideas really), and no one wants that bullshit. Maybe I’m a shit writer, or maybe I need to treat my words as a valuable commodity, with a commensurate price. Here’s a better case in point: Alexander Baretich, a guy who bursts at the seams with ideas. Like an itinerant philosopher, he discourses on a steady stream of things you probably heard about in critical theory classes: deconstructing colonialism, critiquing the nation-state, engagement with the disenfranchised, et cetera. Boring stuff mostly. But me, I’m rapt. I love this anti-imperialist, deconstructing Otherness crap. It helps that my critical studies professor was pretty hot. So what did Baretich do with these ideas? Why have I even heard of him? I don’t just read Jacques Derrida and Martin Buber for fun. He designed a symbol, a flag even. Personally, I’d prefer a kite. No one flies flags anymore. But now we’ve got something tangible, something we can…

The Kommie, the Yank, and the Holy Gose Ale

I am a former Soviet, smuggled over the Iron Curtain in my parent’s gonads like some Cold War technology and assembled in the USA. The other night, I was at the Alberta Street pub, listening to the musings of local Slavic rock band Chervona. I should have been drinking vodka. Instead, I was slowly nursing a New Belgium 1554 Black Lager for a period much shorter than my own gestation but surely a longer process than usual. It was like reading a fine book. Each sip was a page revealing another character. In a moment of emotional flavor, at only 5.6 ABV, I could feel the warmth of the beer moving slowly through me. Its nutty taste made me happy, and its chocolaty aftertaste gave me the feeling of being privileged, decadent, and pampered. Soon my bar stool buddy and I were having an intense discussion about the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. You would think that when two former Soviets discuss history, things might turn crazy quickly. But, since we were drinking craft beer and not vodka, the conversation stayed nice and calm. It dawned on me that the craft beer I was drinking is revolutionary in itself and that drinking…

Beer: Near and Dear

With over fifty microbreweries within PDX city limits and dozens more minutes away from the epicenter, Oregon has more craft breweries per capita than anywhere else in the U.S. These myriad choices can be dizzying. PDX Magazine is here to help our readers with semi-regular feature articles exploring some of the area’s greatest breweries. We start our adventure with Baerlic Brewing (pronounced bear-lick), which is located just up 11th Avenue from the PDX offices. They’re one of the newest breweries in town and they preach a mantra of keeping their beer “near and dear,” sourcing local ingredients whenever possible. And so, less than a football field away from our headquarters, we step into the world of Portland craft brewing. From the moment we walk through the door at Baerlic, our senses are bombarded with moist and mouthwatering aromas of mystical mash concoctions created by the bustling brewmasters and sud savants. The sudden departure from the typically crisp Portland night air as we enter the warm and tastefully barren establishment causes the palatable aromas, such as wheat, barley, and yeast, to be all-encompassing and tantalizing, leaving we patrons focused and determined. Approaching the spigot-forged wall of delicacies, we take in the colorful contrast between the chalk-lined reader…

Squirrel Benediction

By Mike Allen I finally took the leap and fried up a batch of squirrel—gray city squirrel harvested from my backyard. I’ve been halfheartedly killing them for a while now because I hate them and everything they stand for, except free lunch. It’s clear from the little bites taken from each and every piece of unripe fruit on the trees that the squirrels expect a free lunch. I’d been watching them from the kitchen, climbing up into the trees, eating all the figs and persimmons, digging their little walnut stashes all throughout my raised beds, where they might return sometime in the spring to dig their booty, carelessly tossing my seedlings aside. I was helpless as a baby in the sewer, since my .20 caliber Sheridan Blue Streak blew a gasket a few months ago. It sat impotent in the garage, as I stood at the window. But thanks to the good people at Ollie Damon’s (not the counter dude, he’s a dick), I got my long arm back, working better than new. It was time to rain hellfire on these vicious little rodentia. And I did. But after a few carcasses tossed carelessly into the city compost, guilt began…