I (as demonstrated before) love me some Miller High Life. One summer, my pal Joel and I used to have a 12-pack chilled for us to drink on the porch every night at 2 am once home from the bars. One other summer (this was before High Life had a little hipster resurgence, too), my pal Erik and I drove up from Chicago to the Miller Brewing Company in Milwaukee and forced some sadsack salesperson to go into a back room and bring out a dusty box of High Life merch for us to wade through (we did buy a lot, admittedly). So, me and High Life have had a long and fruitful drunken relationship. And I’ve always referred to it, bottle, can, or keg, as the Champagne of beers. Now, the below ad is telling me that only bottles fit that description, and only uptight Wall Street types can drink said bottles, while working class chums are stuck with stinky ol’ cans and looking sadly at the privileged others. Damn, is even High Life stuck within some class-conscious vortex of suck? Or am I over-reacting? Should I just get a beer and go outside far away from corporate living and drink it and fill my talk hole with its golden goodness?
It could be said that this is the last day of summer (the Friday before Labor Day and all), the last day when, at least out here in Seattle W-A, the sun is still shining brightly and the backyard is still calling out to be sat within and relaxed within and shirtsleeves are still just dandy as attire (with pants, or without, your call), and while there might be a small bit of chill in the air, it’s possible in that summertime way to ignore it (cause really, isn’t summer about ignoring responsibility? Being more grasshopper than ant?). That’s today folks, and on a day like today, though I might sing the praises of high-falooting cocktails, and might even have one later, what I really feel like on a day like today is a cold bottle of Miller High Life. Probably I feel that way cause my old pal and serious bartending angel Joel Meister and I used to drink them like water throughout the summertime months when we were a bit younger–heck, we never had a fridge from late May through August that didn’t contain at least two bottles in it no matter the hour of the day for emergencies–and those were good, memorable months that embodied that whole recklessly lovely tipsy-ness that is summer. What’s all this shake up to? Me giving out a toast to everyone celebrating that last day of summer, a toast in the form of the one and only Champagne of Beers, a toast to you. Drink up pals, and hold on to that summer sun as long as possible.
Chicago Confidential: The Low Down on the Big Town is a 1950 tell-all by reporters (and authors of Washington and New York confidentials) Jack Lair and Lee Mortimer, which is both “uncensored” and “shocking.” And reading it, I’m sorta shocked. The indie-rock haven that I know and love used to be a combination of Sodom, Gomorrah, and a Rambo movie, with more sex, death, grifts, grafts, and gambling than this poor boy can understand. Maybe the authors toned it up just a snitch? And maybe Chicago just used to be more rootin’ and tootin’. Maybe I just lived in the wrong neighborhood? Maybe if I would have crick’d my neck out longer (ala PhiSmi) I would have seen more? But wait, wait! This isn’t about Chicago and its malcontents, this is a quick paean to my favorite Chicago bartender and longtime close pal, Joel Meister. See, Mr. Joel (as many know) lives in rowdy Chicago, and tends bar, and rules, damnit, rules. Which is why I want to dedicate this quote to him, completely un-confidentially.
Burlesque bars are few on the near North Side beyond the mile of Clark Street dumps. There is only one open stripper on Rush Street, the Spa. Most establishments are restaurants or cocktail lounges with only a singing pianist, male or female, for entertainment, plus the inevitable B girl. The initiates hang around to drink, talk, meet old friends or pick up new ones. But the bartenders will get you anything you want–tell you where there is a crap game, contact call girls, or take a bet on the horses. Throughout Chicago, bartenders function to a much wider extent than they do in any other known place. It is the fashion to advertise their names in connection with saloons and restaurants, as though they are stars. And some of them are, with individual followings because of their wide usefulness. Their local appellation is “the mixo,” and they are heavily tipped.
–Jack Lair and Lee Mortimer, Chicago Confidential
PS: Don’t forget, when in Chicago and having Joel pour you or shake you or strain you one: “they are heavily tipped.”