21 The Epitome of a Theatre production: Stone Soup Theatre project’s long anticipated adaptation of “21, The epitome of Perseverence”

When life hands you lemons, as the saying goes…but when life hands you lemonade add vodka and throw a party! Okay, I’m not quite sure how that relates to a powerfully important theatre reading I attended last night in a Roger’s Park church auditorium, except when the hangover inevitably comes after the party, which of us learns that lesson, and which of us sets out to carry that lesson to others? I know, it’s a stretch, but bear with me.

This chilly mid-October evening I gathered with friends and residents from Rogers park for a reading of Katie Abascal’s stage adaptation of Chris Patterson’s inspiring and potent autobiography “21: The epitome of Perseverance.” Abascal undertook the project a year ago, immersing herself in Patterson’s recollection and lesson about growing up on the streets of Chicago, gangs, racism, prison, choices and resurrection as a force behind organizations like ONE and Ceasefire, which are working to stem street violence. What emerged at this early reading was intimate and visceral theater.

“This is a brand new script,” Alexandra Keels, of The Stone Soup Theatre project, told a gathered audience of about fifty friends and neighbors. “It is a beginning step to what this play will look like.” Adding that she and the cast believe that this play is “important to humanity, but also to Chicago and to a lot of people.”

Joining Patterson and Keels on stage were members of Ceasefire, several members of Stone Soup and Steve Stinson, who stared in a previous Stone Soup production, the critically acclaimed “Tamer of Horses.” Seated together this collection of seasoned and fresh voices began powerfully and confidently with the lyrically structured script. Underneath it all, this is a history of Chicago written from the streets and does not pull a single punch, nor does it make excuses.

But the power of the script comes from the audacity of using the author’s own voice. In ways no one else’s voice would suffice What emerges is stunning and intimate, as “21” Patterson’s gang name as a youth laments not his fate for ending up in prison, but his choices. The audience becomes part of an internal dialogue, as memories, choices, voices and recriminations carry us along the road of Patterson’s life. Ceasefire member, and a man who can relate deeply to Patterson’s experiences with street violence, Willy Dixon is a standout, moving seamlessly and convincingly through a broad range of emotions, and who deftly took on several characters despite having no previous acting experience.

Patterson and Keels afterward talked about the difficulty in bringing such an intimate story to the stage. Patterson relives and relates difficult moments from his own life. A PTSD survivor because of many of those experiences, those experiences never lose their power and potency. But Patterson comes to this with a rare perspective and resolve. He is determined and focused, and comes to his new found purpose with a professorial passion, offering a weighted and experienced lesson to share.

The final rendition of the play opens later in 2014. Given the quality and character of this sneak preview Stone Soup’s adaptation of “21: The epitome of Perseverance” will be a must see when it hits the stage.

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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The Living Constitution and the Amendment that dare not speak its name!

WARNING: After this you may never view the constitution the same ever again.

It is a matter of perspective, it would seem, dividing the Left and the Right on which constitutional amendments are the most important. To the paranoid, frightened or dangerously immature, the second amendment would pretend to be the most important. Fear not, however, this is not just another gun-grabbing Liberal dirge I actually see value in responsible gun ownership, with reasonable oversight. And if I may for a moment, the perverse every man, woman and child packin’ 24/7 culture is the mark of idiots not patriots. By that measure child porn should be legal, or screaming the N-word in church should carry no repercussions because they are the ultimate fulfillment of the First Amendment.

Too much? The NRA has fought even the most “liberal” gun restraints, advocating for guns to be carried everywhere, and that people should own machineguns, and that there should be no restrictions at gun shows- shown as the primary source of guns that end up on the killing streets of this nation. Rep. Joe Walsh on his nightly gun porn-propaganda program argues for guns everywhere and screamed his paid for outrage by advocating a boycott of Starbucks simply because the CEO requested-requested-requested that patrons not bring weapons into their coffee shops.

The promise of the constitution has always been hard-fought and won through non-violent action. Photo courtesy of Jerry Boyle and Occupy Chicago

The promise of the constitution has always been hard-fought and won through non-violent action. Photo courtesy of Jerry Boyle and Occupy Chicago

Walsh, the NRA, Beck and other gun pornographers attest that the right to bear arms at church, while shopping, during sex is a God-given right. Simply because someone writes the words down as a God-given right doesn’t…does anyone believe that god appeared to the so-called founding fathers to proclaim that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”? Seriously?

True to the letter of the law, I should be able to keep a bazooka in the car, or own a rocket launcher or be able to lay landmines around my property. They are all “arms” after all. But we don’t allow such arm-aments of warfare in civil society in America, do we? Reasonable people understand that Thomas Jefferson likely did not anticipate a Predator drone or even the Thompson submachine gun, which was responsible for unprecedented carnage, even by today’s standards, on the streets of this nation before being banned during the 1920s and 30s.

On the other hand are primarily Progressives, Liberals and centrists who believe that the First and the Fourth amendments are the most sacrosanct. And there is a substantial case to be made that no other freedoms are possible without the right of free speech or the prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure remaining strong. Many would argue that the current masturbatory-schoolyard impassion over guns points to a notion that the constitution is a historic document in need of constant scrutiny, oversight and evolution. That argument is supported by the fact that women and blacks can vote, and that prohibition went into effect banning liquor, and then was repealed by reasoned souls.

In defense, a bit, of the gun-pervs, no change should ever be made lightly, and must always be viewed in context of the past, present and most especially the potential for future abuse. But the constitution is very definitely a living document. The all but forgotten 3rd amendment that protects all of us from soldiers quartering in our homes is a shining example. It is an example that neither the Left nor the Right seem to refer to much. The Left simply ignores it as a relic of the past, while the Right just hopes that it remains safely in the shadows where it won’t be used again their flimsy as toilet paper arguments for gun proliferation. The 3rd amendment truly is the amendment that dare not speak its name

Many will find this shocking, some a heresy and others outrageous, but despite pretense, the constitution and these United States is a deeply flawed document, only curtailed from being a document of oppression by the diligence and sacrifice of citizen activists. Every defense-every defense and expansion of civil rights for the truly common citizen has been hard fought, not by gun slinging Tea Party types, and definitely not the cottage-cheese assed playground bravado of talk radio hosts, but by the stalwart, unflinching activism and organizing of citizens compelling change through non-violence. That the state and status quo media have always tacitly and often explicitly encouraged or supported violence against those activists underscores the oppressive tendency a static or unchanging constitution would protect.

Need more evidence? Everything is, as we have seen, in the perspective, and perspectives by their nature inform interpretation. The very first line of the constitution may be interpreted to completely negate all of the amendments to the constitution. Through that interpretation every American may be stripped of their “God-given” rights: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It is this that becomes the most dangerous threat to the freedom of Americans, “… insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare…” First of all, they spelled “defense” wrong, at least by contemporary standards-part of that living document thing. But “insure domestic tranquility?” That is a dangerously broad and interpretive phrase. What becomes the bulwark against its abuse is the weight of the citizenry, not with guns. That has never worked, but with true pressure by an active and engaged citizenry…

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF EDWARD SNOWDEN

NSA WHISTLEBLOWER TELLS HIS OWN STORY IN LOCAL ACTIVIST’S SATIRICAL NEW PLAY
Thursday, November 14th at 8:00 pm.
PROP THTR, 3502-04 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
$10 tickets on sale at brown paper tickets.
Friday, November 15th at 7:30 p.m.
The Berger House Mansion, 6205 N Sheridan Rd Chicago, IL 60660
$20 tickets on sale at brown paper tickets.

snowden-poster-r

CHICAGO – W.C. Turck, a Chicago-based activist and playwright, has announced the premiere of The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden, a comedic poke at the security state and spy culture through the (fictional) words of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, appearing consecutively at Prop Thtr and Berger House this November.
 
The man responsible for one of the biggest intelligence leaks in US history is talking again, but this time he’s telling his own story. In this satirical triumph by local activist W.C. Turck, Edward Snowden emerges from his undisclosed location to hold a very personal press conference on what brought him to expose the dirtiest secrets of our National Security Agency. With a razor wit, Snowden reflects on his journey, his new home in lovely Russia, and the comfort he takes in our government’s promise not to torture or execute him. 
 
With a directing team plucked from political sketch comedy company Democracy Burlesque, The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden takes an irreverent, poignant look at freedom and privacy in our time. Is Snowden a traitor? A hero? Could this be “the Most Dangerous Play in America?” You decide.
 
“We think this is an important play. We think this is a play that needed to be done now,” said Turck. “One of the things we want to do here is talk about privacy and freedom, and how the two are inextricably connected. We’re going to do that in a fun, entertaining and comedic way with a great cast and a great directing team.”
 
This is the second play by W.C. Turck, following his 2011 Occupy Chicago collaboration, Occupy My Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol. Based upon the Dickens classic, Occupy My Heart was written as a celebration of the movement, intended to bring the spirit and message of the Occupation to a broader audience. It gained national attention with a series of free performances at Grant Park, Prop Thtr, and Studio BE. Now Turck has once again taken up his pen to illuminate another issue with comedy, heartbreak, and hope.
 
“The goal is to encourage as much conversation as possible,” said Turck. “And hopefully some change from the current security system that we feel threatens our democracy, civil rights, and the rights of those around the world.”
 
 
The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden
 
Thursday, November 14th at 8:00pm.
PROP THTR, 3502-04 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
$10 tickets on sale at brown paper tickets.  
 
Friday, November 15th at 7:30 p.m.
The Berger House Mansion, 6205 N Sheridan Rd Chicago, IL 60660
$20 tickets on sale at brown paper tickets.
 
For more information, visit the show’s official website: RepublicofSnowden.com.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT:
 
W.C. Turck is a Chicago-based author, activist, broadcaster and playwright who in 2011 wrote and produced the Occupy movement-inspired play Occupy My Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol, which drew standing room audiences and received national attention. Turck grew up amid the civil rights movement, visited the Pine Ridge reservation during the “uprising” in the mid 1970s, witnessed the war in Bosnia, and organized relief for Rwanda during the genocide. Those momentous events have informed his work ever since. The first of his three novels, Broken, One Soldier’s Unexpected Journey Home, was recommended by the National Organization of Mental Health Institutes for its treatment of PTSD. His second book, Everything for Love, a memoir of his experiences in the Bosnian conflict brings a wholly unique human explanation for the conflict. An expert in Balkan history and culture, Turck studied nationalism and genocide, looking for a simple, single framework common to all nationalist movements; an idealized culture, victimized demographic, an external enemy and an internal betrayer. His third e-novel Burn down the Sky, is based on his very real experiences on the front lines of the so-called war on terror. In March of 2012, he published the novel The Last Man, about a world run by a single corporation. Turck is currently the co-host of the popular Chicago public access TV show Revolution and Beer in which a panel discusses political issues over great craft beer. For more visit, RevolutionandBeer.com.
 
 
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS:
 
Celia Forrest last collaborated with Commedia Beauregard as the assistant director for Corleone, and has previously stage managed the Chicago debut of A Klingon Christmas Carol. Celia studied theater at Macalester College in Minnesota and spent five years working for Stages Theatre Company as a resident artist, actress, stage manager and teacher. She is a producer for Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s longest running political sketch comedy troupe. 
 
Erik Parsons is currently the artistic director for Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s only political sketch comedy company (only the politics are naked!). He also helped found the New Suit Theatre Company (entertaining educational theatre for adult audiences) where he served as the associate artistic director from 2009-2011. Growing up in a family of artists and educators, Erik developed a deep affinity for live performance at a young age. Prior to setting down roots in Chicago in 2006, Erik was life-long nomad, having lived in 15 cities and 10 states at last count. Through his travels and experiences, Erik has developed what he calls an ‘equal opportunity sense of snark’, which infuses his artistic work with a distinct sense of humor and unyielding honesty. When he is not producing, directing and/or performing, Erik works with wonderful children on the autism spectrum with HFAS to help them reach their immeasurable potential.
 
 
ABOUT THE CAST: 
 
Nick Haugland (Edward Snowden) is from Buffalo, New York, and after finishing college at the University of Tampa, moved to Chicago to join Second City. Currently he is a write of wrong and actor of evil with Democracy Burlesque, Chicago’s only political sketch comedy comedy. Past credits include The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tampa bay Performing Arts Center, Die Mommy Die! at the Orlando International Fringe Festival and, most recently, at the Abby Hoffman Festival in Chicago.
 
Arne Saupe (NSA Agent Flenkins) came to Chicago from Kent, Ohio with a degree in Applied Mathematics and has since become a graduate of the acting program at the Second City Training Center. He has appeared in such plays as Johnny Theatre and Leaving Iowa; InnateVolution Theatre’s The Infernal Machine, Right as Rain,and the 5-3-1 New One-Act Play Festival; the Cornservatory’s Dr. Astronaut; and Commedia Beauregard’s Master Works: The Van Gogh plays.   
 
Catherine Povinelli (Russian Agent) was a Finalist in The Most Dangerous Stand Up Comedy Competition. She is an Ensemble Member in The Hard Comedy Offline @ The Camden Fringe Festival London, Belle in The Hard Comedy YouTube Channel’s Real World Disney Princesses, Semi Finalist in London’s Funny Women Stand Up Competition 2012, and has performed numerous stand-up gigs in London, Edinburgh and Chicago. 
 
 
ABOUT THE VENUES: 
 
PROP THTR is a Chicago storefront theater focused on original or newly adapted theatrical works based in literary traditions. Prop was established in 1981, making it one of the oldest surviving non-equity theaters in Chicago. Prop Thtr has produced over 80 productions in its history, over 40 of them being world premieres, and is home to a number of Resident Companies and guest performances. For more, visit PropThtr.org.
The Berger House Mansion is a breath-taking Historical Landmark located on Sheriden Rd in the Edgewater community, the park overlooks beautiful Lake Michigan. As an early proponent of developing street-end beaches on Chicago’s north side, Berger Park Cultural Center has now become a neighborhood icon.
The mansion also boasts a magnificent outdoor space along Lake Michigan with breathtaking  views. Located just minutes from downtown, this unique space offers many opportunities for special event and meeting rentals including three rooms that can be used individually for intimate gatherings or together for functions that can accommodate up to 100 guests.
Berger Park
Chicago, IL 60660

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Ha Ha Tonka in no danger of settling with Lessons: Revolution and Beer music review

It seemed only appropriate to crack a bottle of Missouri-based O’Fallon Brewing’s Pumpkin Beer, while giving a listen to Lessons, Ha Ha Tonka’s 4th release from Bloodshot Records. The beer poured to a sunset red, with the rich, but not overwhelming hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. The quality of beers from O’Fallon’s has always been top-notch, a consistent striving with each new beer. Like all good craft beers, they are much less craft than art, those artists supremely focused on continually striving to be better.

Settling is a curse to an artist. There must be that tension in their art that belies searching and exploring. A great artist is never settled, always hungry, and by definition growing. That growth is the measure of an artist. There is a sense to the new album from Missouri Indie artists Ha Ha Tonka that they are writing music they want to write. Rather than pander to marketing, mimicry or bar taunts, the band takes on that journey with Lessons.

The songs feel at once familiar and new. Cold Forgiver, track 10 renders a familiar Beatles tone but carries a fresh immediacy. Lead singer Brian Roberts’ voice is at once familiar and fresh, and capable of heartfelt resignation over class distinctions, as with American Ambitions. And this is a gentler album than Usual Suspects. It feels more roots, like recollecting familiar ground after a long journey. Usual Suspects felt like that start of that journey. Lessons feels like a reflection, a thoughtful sojourn along that road.th5

This not just another bar band with catchy roots riffs. Ha Ha Tonka has matured through four continually strengthening albums to Lessons. It’s proof that they have staying power beyond a handful of recycled themes. No recycling here, just solid roots with a vision and exploration all their own that leaves me wanting more. Just glad to be along for the ride. Think I’ll crack open another O’Fallon’s and give Lessons another spin…

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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Glenn Beck’s Blaze site and network supporters of Right-wing terrorism, and the fraud of Facebook activism

Nakedly supporting a siege by right-wing sycophants using truckers as surrogates and patsies, Glenn Beck’s media perversion of the First amendment has entered the same arena of facilitating terrorism against the American government that he once accused Al Jezeera of doing with bin Laden affiliated groups. This weekend, a FOX news and Tea Party concocted and driven assault by truckers, endangering thousands of drivers around the nation’s capital, will demand the impeachment and removal from office of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Eric Holder for “crimes of treason and misdemeanors,” said a spokesperson for an organizer. They also added a demand to “remove all Muslims in our government,” according to the Facebook page, a technology right wing truckers are obviously adept at-indicating someone behind the scenes may be instigating this.

Zeeda Andews

Zeeda Andews

For now the source of all this seems to be a wing-nut named Zeeda Andrews, with shadowy connections to various right-wingers, and who seemed to specifically be highlighted and promoted by Beck’s organization. It is notable that Andrews, who can’t even not look wacko in her Facebook picture is quoted as saying that “Osama Bin Laden is our President Obama do your research. The CIA has been preparing for this since he was a boy. They have same height, bone structure, hands and ears both are left handed the Osama face was created by Hollywood. The fox is in the hen house.” On her Facebook page one trucker went so far as to post this message: “Why does it seem this is a fake page??? Just set up for this agenda… Does zeeda actually exist or is all part of a hoax to trick drivers into thinking there part of a cause…
Would the real Zeeda Andrews please stand up please stand up…(?)truckers where threatening to stop a major highway blocking access to the nations Capitol.. with no protesting permits or any rights… that’s a risk to national security bordering on terrorism.. I’m sure the cops did threaten them right back…. sorry, but DUH!!! “

Glenn Beck’s “The Blaze” propaganda and hate site, pretending as news, in the opinion of this writer, bent over backwards to frame, support and excite readers about this blatant act of terrorism. Unfortunately for the Truck-party “patriots,” they could only muster 30 trucks, rather than the thousands they and their media bosses promoted. A number of those were reportedly stopped and warned about disrupting traffic on already congested Washington DC roads, commuters now victims to what amounted to a truck gang. Virginia authorities reported that weather and traffic volumes made the protest virtually inconsequential. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/va-state-police-trucker-protest-launched-on-i-95-north-vehicles-head-toward-beltway/2013/10/11/c8049b7e-3266-11e3-89ae-16e186e117d8_story.html

Despite the best efforts of FOX and Glenn Beck, they failed to generate any actual support

Despite the best efforts of FOX and Glenn Beck, they failed to generate any actual support

The turn out was reminiscent of a protest earlier this year by Adam Kokesh, who incited a march on Washington July 4th with guns. Fewer than 10 of the 6,000 Facebook “attendees” appeared. Kokesh loaded a weapon in the pre-dawn hours downtown and posted the video on line while offering explicit threats for a violent uprising against the government. Kokesh was later arrested on weapons charges. On the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” Facebook Page sported 183,000 likes, most of that likely built and artificially generated by various rightwing groups for the appearance of populist support, thousands more pledged to attend, an indictment of the fake activism of Facebook. Pretend activists on all sides of the political spectrum proliferate on Facebook, in which simply clicking the “Like” tab suffices for true activism.

The issue is not whether there are fundamental issues and criticisms, some rising to outright dangers to American democracy and freedom, of the Obama administration and the Democrat Party, but about the duplicity of right-wing terrorists in so-called independent clothing. With both democrats and republicans in government complicit in self-serving and ideological squabbling that is crippling the function and efficiency of the government, imperiling the international integrity of the nation while steadily degrading the integrity of the Bill of Rights, it should be immediately suspect when either side specifically targets the other exclusively as this group has done.

As with Kokesh earlier this summer, this blatant act of bullying illustrates to facts. The first is that the right has reached a level of desperation, and this is the first in what could become a number of violent tantrums for those whose outdated, bigoted and ignorant views are increasingly rejected and marginalized in America. It also underscores the success the right has had in undermining a mature and informed electorate, instead seeding their minds with conspiracies, innuendo and paranoia, which beck has done to great profit. Instead of engaging and maintaining a sustained responsible interest in t heir government, an over-entertained, FOX-hyperbole- fueled audience responds in tantrums and knee-jerk reactions, when all of the issues they should truly care about would find solutions if they had simply paid attention.

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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Beer of The Week: Saved from the skunk! Unibroue’s Don De Dieu

IMG_3143One thing I’ve learned in life is, always have a spare. While that is generally not recommended with wives and girlfriends, it comes in handy for beer. Although to be completely transparent I once made two dates with two different women on the same night to see which one was the better of the two. They discovered my little scheme however, and I ended up sitting at a bar alone. Moving on…quickly.

The wife and I headed up to the Lake Superior shore, among the wilds and autumn colors of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Lately I’ve been on a bit of a Farmhouse Ale kick, and their widely varying palette from some local and national brewers I’ve come to enjoy. As a bit of a foodie and a novice, but competent chef, who spent a number of years in the restaurant business, I have found the depth of a well-crafted Farmhouse Ale works, dare I say, better than most wines of comparable quality. This is not to take away too much from wine. I have had some amazing ones, and I honed my palette for tasting, and acumen for food pairing with wine. That said, I feel I have matured into great craft beer. As I joked with a couple of good friends a short time back, who also evolved strongly to craft beer, “wine is the training wheels to great beer!”

But I digress. Eight hours on the road, and the wife and I were ready for a meal. As she put together a salad of greens and tomato from our garden back home, I tossed a couple of steaks on the grill at our rental overlooking Lake Superior. From the deck, just across the road, and through a silhouetted line of fluttering birch and tall pine, thunderous waves beat one of the most pristine and line beaches on the continent. As the steaks sizzled beneath those cloud brushed treetops, I popped the cork on a highly recommended Prairie Belgian-style Farmhouse Ale from Krebs Brewing out of Oklahoma.

It poured nicely, with a rich, golden color and an inch deep white head, but when I lifted it to my nose it was quickly apparent something wasn’t right. The first taste confirmed, that deeply soured turn indicating a bad or “skunked” beer. I was heartbroken, and this isn’t a shot at Krebs, which as I said, comes highly recommended. It happens. It was just that I cared for this beer in anticipation, protecting it from light (light damages beer), kept it at a stable cool temperature.  As I said earlier, perhaps not too convincingly, I always have back up. With a Prairie Ale in hand I grabbed a bottle of Unibroue’s Don De Dieu, a top fermented Triple Wheat Ale, with a generous 9%ABV-just enough to sweep away the long hours of driving as we settled in for the night.

IMG_3139Truth be told, Unibroue has always been my back up, thanks to their consistently supreme quality and taste. I had been looking forward to sampling Don De Dieu for some time. In the softening light from the surrounding woods it poured to an orange-amber hue with a robust foamy white head. The aroma was of a vanilla sweetness laced with honey n fruit. The taste was rich with a malty-caramel sweetness, deepened with orange and a nutty character that played well with the grilled steak and the earthiness of the salad in a light olive oil and vinegar dressing.

IMG_3135So, alright, the rule of having a back up isn’t always a hard and fast one. Maybe it isn’t that best strategy with women, to say the least. But for beer sometimes it is necessity. So when it comes to having a back up, let’s just say it is a good general rule of thumb and leave it at that.

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Frustrated with humanity-sometimes. CAUTION, Explicit Language, and even more Explicit Reasoning

It hit me hard yesterday, c Confronted by the injustice to Herman Wallace, the man held by the state of Louisiana in solitary confinement for 41 years, essentially as revenge. It started me on a slide when news of dozens of elephants had been slaughtered in Africa for their tusks, deepening an already critical issue bringing those great and majestic creatures to the brink of extinction. Then there was the general lack of interest in combating across a broad level of society in even giving a shit about global warming and the gouge, rip and tear policy of upending the planet for every last drop of fossil fuels like some desperate junkie tearing apart a home for the smallest fix. So then there was the story about the amount of trash left in orbit around the planet, making it treacherous for any wayward alien to come anywhere near this planet and bitch slap us into a perspective on the precious nature of the planet and universe simply by showing up. Top that off with a new island created by a recent earthquake off the coast of Pakistan, which is now essentially a trash can and ashtray instead of a place of marvel and science.

So by around 3 I was in one hell of a mood. Polishing a science fiction I have been working on the last year or so I began hoping for that planet killing asteroid we will no longer detect as we all but abandon space and science in favor of stupid and wasteful shit like war, and while we do less and less with the money steadily being stolen or given away to corporations. We are sliding backwards into this primitive tribalism the world over, a species wide psychopathy of piggish, linear thinking idiots. And I hope it isn’t an arc of civilization we are on, as if we momentarily peaked as a civilization, and now are plummeting back to insipidness.

I’m trying to keep a better perspective, imagining the love between parent and child, two people falling in love, the help of a stranger. Then I start thinking that parent may teach that kid to grow up as an asshole, those two people falling in love will vote republican and say stupid ass things about homosexuals, immigrants and other religions. Told you I was in a shitty mood.

The novel is titled, “An Angry Jasper Adventure: Skullboy and escape from Chicago.” The novel is about a burned out space bounty hunter whose mouth gets him in trouble, most especially with his space hooker girlfriend, who is also a spy for the rebel alliance on earth. You’ll all be shocked I’m sure to know that it is a very sarcastic piece. He’s about had it with humanity too, but finds good in people despite himself. It is not autobiographical. It is not. Just drop it… Anyway, here is a taste of the book:

He was a huge sod, with arms the size of tree trunks. His mis-formed face was folded with a feverish scowl betraying a murderous mood. The deep lines of his brutish forehead overlapped, shadowing deep-set black eyes. A huge double chin and crooked jaw protruded almost grotesquely outward. Scars, odd lumps and strange patches of hair covered his face.

That massive head sort of lolled back and forth to a rhythm of short, grunting breaths, like a mad dog that ought have been put down long ago. Drinking only helped focus his nasty mood. He’d gone through a bottle of vodka already, and was well into his second. Giant hands wrapped fully around the bottle, as though he meant to crush the thing, or that he might just swallow the whole damn thing, bottle and all. The ashtray before him was filled to overflowing.

The guy stunk something awful, a putrid mixture of sweat, turned liquor and death. The kind of stink that chased flies away, made hogs bury their nose or made maggots gag. But it was his expression that told the lout’s story best. It was the face of a man who knew he was done for, and now it was just a matter of how many he would take down with him.

He lit a cigarette and looked up through a cloud of smoke at a figure striding down the center of the street. Tumble weed bounced between the approaching stranger and the tavern, chased by a dusty gust of wind. The fugitive grinned and crumpled the lit cigarette in his palm. When life becomes a cliché, he thought of the tumbleweed, then it’s time to get out. But he was damned to leave this world easily, and certainly not alone!
And I started thinking about that asteroid, and how it might be the best thing to the rest of the decent people of the universe. God forbid the same pigs on this planet just leave a trail of shopping malls, environmental rape upon uncounted worlds and piled of cheap trash in every fucking corner of the universe.. Porn instead of art will proliferate for millions of light-years in every direction because from a prurient and capitalist dominated culture porn sells to uneducated and reactionary rubes way more than art and literature. Hell, the Right all but champions that perspective in efforts to screw with public education, defund the National Endowment for the Arts and to undermine the importance in multi-dimensional thought and cognition through liberal arts degrees, especially literature. Okay, maybe Angry Jasper isn’t the most literary thing I’ve done, but I sneak in some deeper thoughts, like a statement on pop culture to influence future history when viewed totally out of context. Also, shit blows up in the book in some really cool ways.

I’m venting, obviously, but I am nonetheless concerned that we’ll turn the rest of the universe into a big crap pot like we are doing with the planet. And I am concerned, if we can survive our current planet wide slide towards ultimate banality of blind gluttony, that we’ll view the jewel of the universe as our own gravel pit, strip mine and sewer. And my most eloquent wish for all humanity in that regard is to please WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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40 Gallons a Pint: Fracking’s threat to beer in Illinois

It takes almost 40 gallons of water to produce a single pint of beer. In 1516 the Germans adopted the beer purity law, called the Reinsheitgebot. That law prescribed that only three ingredients could be used: barely hops and water(They didn’t understand the microbiology of yeast yet). Brewers have been flirting with that basic equation for centuries, but the common denominator to all beer is water. In fact, more than 90% of beer is water. But there’s more to that seemingly simple equation. Accessibility, cleanliness and mineral content are all critical components to producing quality beer, and now that balance may be in jeopardy.

Why should the average consumer care? What if it meant that favorite brew would cost three, four or five times what it cost now. With the average 6 pack costing on the order of around $9 or $10 dollars, that means a 6-pack could cost anywhere from thirty to sixty dollars, as a number of brewers and industry analysts have predicted. Sound far-fetched? Guess again. That reality could be hear sooner than you think. And if anything should get Americans to sit up and take notice of corruption and mismanagement by their government, it has to be threats to beer. Having to pony up 40 bucks for a six pack might finally bring Joe six pack out into the street.

Brewers such as Big Muddy Brewing in Southern Illinois could be forced out of business as  access to clean water is imperiled

Brewers such as Big Muddy Brewing in Southern Illinois could be forced out of business as access to clean water is imperiled

Legislation in Illinois could put regional brewers, bars, distributors and restaurants out of business overnight, affecting thousands of jobs and costing the state, already hard hit by unemployment, millions of dollars. This on top of the damage to the environment, devastated water supplies, ruined farmland and more. Here a bit of science offers glimpses of a looming environmental and economic catastrophe. At the core of that issue is water, its availability and the protection of a resource far more important to life on this planet that gas.

The new Madrid and Wabash valley earthquake zones could be affected by fracking.

The new Madrid and Wabash valley earthquake zones could be affected by fracking.

Much has been made about mounting evidence that fracking causes earthquakes. There are fears that fracking in eastern portions of southern Illinois could stress what many scientists fear is the unstable Wabash Valley Fault zone. That was the conclusion of the British government after a series of small quakes was linked to nearby fracking wells. Much of the European Union has already, or is in the process of strictly limiting fracking because of a broad spectrum of threats from water safety, environmental damage to quake hazards and economic worries. The United States has instead turned a blind eye to those concerns, instead pandering to fracking interests.

Fracking will negatively impact southern and western portions of the state, areas already burdened with limited fresh water availability

Fracking will negatively impact southern and western portions of the state, areas already burdened with limited fresh water availability

For Illinois, it comes down to this-where is the water? Geologic and hydrologic surveys are nakedly clear, as are historical maps of habitually drought affected regions of the state. Simply stated, water is more abundant adjacent to the Mississippi River, northern Illinois and nearer to lake Michigan. Thousands of fracking rigs are slated to sprout like some rusting forest across regions of the state pushing carcinogenic chemicals to pulverize thousands of feet of rock, pushed by millions of gallons of water for each rig. That water, filled with chemicals, and impossible to clean must be segregated forever in EPA approved pools. But underground, no one knows what the damage to the environment or to aquifers supplying water to communities.

The areas, alarmingly, most affected by fracking, and where the majority of fracking rigs will be built are portions of the state in which that precious resource are barely maintaining their delicate balance between sustaining the land, farms and communities. More frequent droughts attributed to Global Warming will pose a mounting threat apart from fracking. Farms in that rich and expansive region have already faced significant hardships and losses. The exponentially huge burden by frackers on the water supply will exacerbate that already acute situation.

Drought patterns for 2012. 2013 will prove to be even more acute

Drought patterns for 2012. 2013 will prove to be even more acute

All of this begs a deeper question regarding the cost effectiveness when viewed strictly in economic terms. Too often, and fracking is but the latest episode of this sort of short-sighted thinking. The fracking controversy illustrates how industry bullies through legislation with little regard to the long term ramifications. The failure to innovate towards clean and renewable sources of energy in favor of short term windfalls and periodic “gold” rushes has left terrible destruction and messes yet to be dealt with in their wake.

Fukushima Chernobyl and Three-Mile Island are cases in point. Despite those terrible nuclear catastrophes we must now deal with millions of tons of nuclear waste which will remain deadly for thousands of years. The gold rush of the 18th century cost the lives of as many as 100,000 Native Americans butchered in the orgy of greed in which only a very few profited. The environment was devastated and untold towns that sprang up overnight were eventually abandoned altogether.

So what does this have to do with beer? A number of down state, Missouri and Kentucky brewers, wine makers and the infrastructures supporting them would be devastated by damage to the availability of clean and secure water. Remember, state lines mean nothing to mother earth. An accident that corrupts an aquifer could destroy whole communities and spread beyond Illinois borders.

Brewers are already becoming alarmed by the threats to water supplies posed by fracking. In Germany the Brauer-Bund beer association has aggressively and successful challenged fracking initiatives. In New York last year Brewers, warning that fracking would drive them out of business won a moratorium on fracking. But in Illinois, the allure of fast return and the promise of thousands of jobs, and certainly political “favors” are driving a short term policy that will leave long term destruction in its wake. Sadly, the reality is that those jobs will be short term, and that only a fraction will remain only to be lost ultimately once the wells dry up.

So enjoy that beer now while you can afford it, because if unrestricted fracking is allowed in Illinois it’s going to cost you plenty, over the counter, when the bill comes for the cleanup and for all of those displaced from homes, jobs and communities. A remember, it’s great to run a tab and be the life of the party, but every party comes to an end. Then, it is time to pay the tab. The problem is, the politicians and frackers are running up the tab but sticking the rest of us with not only the bill, but the clean up as well.

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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A Breath of Freedom: The Tragedy and Triumph of Herman Wallace

I can’t stop the tears right now. I am not sure if they are tears of joy or something else, some cemented emotion-f105c1793a0879d0 that mixes rage and sorrow and elation all at once. Sitting on the couch with a bit of breakfast, the patio door is open to the courtyard and the world beyond. Away from the partisan bickering of ideologues who, like so many of us, take the autonomy to come and go for granted, who never question the freedom imbued in every breath, Herman Wallace never knew those luxuries.

On Tuesday, Brian A. Jackson, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ordered a dying Wallace released immediately from Louisiana’s notorious Angola prison, overturning his conviction for the murder of a prison guard in 1972. Wallace was placed in solitary confinement where he remained for 41 years. Wallace, now 71, is dying of liver cancer.

The circumstances of the guard’s murder were immediately in question. State witnesses against Wallace and two other men, dubbed the “Angola Three” were later discredited, and the physical evidence against the 3 may have been fabricated by authorities in retribution for efforts by the three to bring reforms and better living conditions to the prison. Judge Jackson granted Wallace’s petition over violations during the 1972 trial of his constitutional rights. It is notable that even the guard’s wife maintains that Wallace is innocent of the murder.

Wallace is now only hours from death in a New Orleans hospital. Still, the authorities in Louisiana at first defied the order by Jackson, who then threatened contempt charges if Wallace was not released immediately. That defiance underscores the malicious nature of the state authorities, a disturbing legacy played out more and more, and with greater and greater ambivalence to human dignity and constitutional rights across the nation.131001-herman-wallace-hmed-930p_380;380;7;70;0

But this piece is about the breath of freedom, which for Herman Wallace are only too few. And I know a little of what it means to lose freedom. Perhaps that is why this resonates so strongly, but I don’t know what it is like to face the retributive atrocity Wallace endured, borne from nothing more than vengeful authorities directly confronted with their own inhumanity.

And so I am watching this morning on “Democracy Now” the images of Mr. Wallace, all but hidden on the ambulance gurney. An oxygen mask covers his face, but his eyes are bright and filled with the light of freedom, if only realized a moment. But what struck and touched me most was that Wallace never conceded. He never gave up his dream, the right stolen from him, to be free. That it was realized for only a short time is both n injustice and an inspiration.herman-23

And the lesson learned from Wallace is that freedom is not a given, and is most imperiled by the state. It is our duty to humanity, our burden and our cause to champion freedom. Not a knee-jerk spasm that trades short term gain swathed in long term hypocrisy. Not the freedom that secures privilege and blessing for a few, but for the dignity of each person, on all colors, genders and religions. Let Herman Wallace be the face of that struggle, if you wish. He is but one of many millions around the planet and in this country. But stand for one just as you would stand for all.
Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at RevolutionandBeer.com. Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at www.glunzbeers.com.

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