So I just had as good a weekend as you could have. Swung up to Burlington Vermont to meet my friend Tom Harrington’s wife, Bernice (lovely person), and also meet his munchkins, James and Mary (beyond adorable). Stopped at The Alchemist Brewery in Stowe to get some Heady Topper Double IPA, along with some Focal Banger and some other surprises.
Went to a distributor and got a four pack of Sip of Sunshine. Megan, my girlfriend, is quite happy about this.
Vermont, as I’ve found out, is something of a Mecca for awesome beer. These are all brands that rate high on The Beer Advocate’s list of great beers. Actually, they rate beyond high. They score a perfect 100, which qualifies them as world class.
Had you told me I would be drinking a world class beer two years ago, had you told me that I would be this road warrior who pays visits on his assorted friends in the Northeast, I would have shaken my head and said that you had the wrong guy. But no, I am now officially a free man, and I roam the highways, staying with good friends from my days at UMASS who actually tell me that they’re glad to see me.
Bob Miller, Tom Harrington, Tom Aczel, Julian Parker Burns…these people are not just friends, they are amazing hosts. They give me a place to stay, and they often prepare breakfast for me. They show me where I can grab a bagel for breakfast if I am hankering for such things.
Lately I try to come bearing a gift of some sort. For Tom Aczel, I came bearing the gift of some of my potent potable loot from Vermont. For Tom Harrington, I came bearing my four string electric tenor guitar, the better to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” for his munchkins, along with the Wiggles’s “Teddy Bear Waltz.”
The munchkins smiled. They made these adorable movements with their arms to indicate that they were shining stars, as their parents had taught them. Tom (Harrington) pretended to be asleep when I played “Teddy Bear Waltz,” and his kids woke him up.
I could not have bought such a moment with all the money in the world.
Then, yesterday night, Tom and I saw “Get Out” at a drive in.
A Drive In.
I have not been to a drive in since The Westbury Drive In on Long Island became a multiplex.
“Get Out” was the best horror film I’ve seen since “Parents,” a massively underrated film from the 80’s that is one three films in which I had difficulty sleeping afterward. The other two films were “Dawn of the Dead (the 1978 version),” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
For whatever reason, the silent monoliths in “2001” scared the living daylights out of me, and this was a film I saw when I was 16. For some reason, after I saw this film, I just kept visualizing the scene in the film when a withered Keir Dullea touches the silent, black monolith, which turns him into a star child.
Sorry for that spoiler. I really haven’t ruined much. And as the star child slowly turns in space until it’s looking directly at you…that scene terrified me, for some reason.
And as for “Get Out:” okay, I slept after seeing it, but I’m not sure I would have slept that well had I been 16. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a film with such coiling, excruciatingly tense menace; it really is one of the most intelligent (and entertaining) horror films that I’ve seen in a long time.
Which leads to this moment, when I sit here, drinking a Heady Topper, and eating a really great burger at The Three Penny Tavern, here in Montpelier, Vermont.
Montpelier is simply not a place that feels like a state capital. Its Main Street is maybe four blocks, and the blocks that peel off of that Main Street become residential or non-store blocks quickly. It really feels more like a town than a city.
Yet there are places to get good beer (as there are, it would seem, in all of Vermont), and there is The Three Penny Tavern, which serves Heady Topper, and has truly wonderful burgers. Alas, the beer distributor a few doors down was out of Heady Topper and Sip of Sunshine (as they often are), but that wasn't a big deal; I was just hoping to get another four pack for Megan. I have a good quantity of Heady Topper and Focal Banger, so I’m in good shape.
I will also be giving some of this to Megan’s friends, Joe and Laurie Occhipinti, who have become my friends (always a good sign that a relationship is working).
I have written about them so much in my personal journal that the word processing program I use to write these entries autocorrects me when I spell their name wrong. This is technological progress.
The bartenders at The Three Penny Taproom are always nice. Today the bartender is Tiffany. She’s really nice; that’s her picture at the beginning of this entry.
If you go to The Three Penny Taproom and Tiffany is working the bar, tip her generously. I did.
Just had a wonderful conversation at the bar with some folks about “Get Out.” I was talking about how I’ve literally had conversations with folks at the school where I work where people have said things like “I don’t understand why black people are so upset, and why they do all this Black Lives Matter stuff (sometimes, these people use a word more intense than “stuff”); there were problems, and in the 60s, they took care of them. It’s over, and I’m sick of them whining about this.”
Yes, they said this.
These folks, being that we are in Vermont, had other ideas.
The conversation was interesting.
Anyway, I was driving back from Burlington, and I had a thought that was so new, so luminous, that I had to follow that thought.
There I was, driving home, thinking about how I would arrive back at my apartment at seven o’clock, and a persistent thought began to invade my mind, like a welcome revolution that multiplies like a healing virus:
“You don’t need to just drive straight home, you know. You can stop in Montpelier, and go to The Tree Penny Taproom, and have a Heady and a burger.”
And so I did.
So I sit here in The Three Penny Taproom. I have eaten a really awesome burger. Tiffany has given me a Heady Topper, which went perfectly with the burger. I have
“The Nick Tosches Reader” by my side, and now, having written this blog entry, I
can dip into it.
I will be home in plenty of time to get enough sleep for work tomorrow. This is a good thing. Life, in fact, is good.
Leif, over and out.