At the age of seven it seemed like the longest word I had yet heard of: Paleontologist. No doubt my parents would recall that practically nothing but dinosaur this or dinosaur that left my mouth for much of the next few years. There was relatively little literature in the early 1970s for the novice about Dinosaurs; I devoured everything I could find. And though it was a fair distance from our rural Illinois home, my parents regularly indulged and encouraged my passion with regular trips to Chicago’s Field Museum.
I dreamed one day of being a Paleontologist. I wrote a letter to the head of the department at the museum and got a reply encouraging me to pursue my studies, and that one day I might be a famous scientist. I still have the letter somewhere. I pursued a career in art instead, and ended up in broadcasting, an author and in logistics.
In a few years I’ll approach five decades since I first walked through the doors and beheld the mind awakening majesty of the great hall. The Field Museum has changed much in that time. Still, in all that time it has never lost its breathless wonder for me. From the halls that map the evolution of the planet and its myriad and wondrous life forms, to the eternal assertions of the ancient Egyptians and the legacy of the vibrant indigenous cultures who effused the Americas for more than 13 millennia before Columbus and the Europeans arrived. In my dreams I retrace those uncountable steps which have come to help guide and define my understanding of the world and my place in it.
And so, in a word, the Field Museum is about evolution, and evolve it has. On Saturday’s radio show, (11am on AM1680, que4.org) a friend of the station shared samples of a local Craft beer available only at the Museum’s new, The Field Bistro, a comfortable and elegant adult respite, features several local brews. Ah, my father would have been in heaven compared with the old days with a somewhat austere basement cafeteria of greasy fast food and fountain sodas. We sampled Tooth and Claw, Dry Hop Lager, brewed exclusively by Chicago’s own Off Color Brewing for the Bistro.
The beer poured, into a pint glass bearing its name, to a slight burnt gold, clear with a one inch fluffy white head. Breathing in a beer is essential to truly valuing the taste. This was light and bready, balanced slightly by that citrusy hint of hops. The first taste was straight forward, reminding me slightly of a freshly brewed European lager on tap at a Prague brewery in the early 1990s. Tooth and Claw, I found, had that great sense of balance between sweet malts and bitter German noble hops. I found that malty fullness first, with a citrusy bitterness that lingered for just a moment. This one I would have bared with a hearty stew hinting of fresh rosemary, grilled meat or a smoky cheese, or porcini or portabella mushrooms for our vegan friends.
I have to confess, at first I failed to recognize Off Color. The label of Tooth and Claw is dutifully understated for the museum. Beer enthusiasts, particularly in Chicago, will recognize their hand drawn cartoonish labels. Last year Revolution and Beer featured their full and rich Scurry Dark Honey Ale. Their Troublesome Gose Style Beer remains one of our favorites. Tooth and Claw proves that Off Color is moved from a competent brewer to one of the important brewing houses in the city. If you ever need an excuse to go to the museum!
It’s funny, about the time I was discovering dinosaurs as a young boy my father let me taste beer for the first time. It too was a local beer, with a ubiquitous name, and one tethered deeply to Chicago history. My palette for beer has greatly evolved since then, just as all those years visiting the Field Museum has helped evolve my intellect and sensibilities. I still find wonder in the world, and new discoveries. Hardly a year passes that I do not find myself exploring those great and seemingly endless halls. It is the sense of adventure and exploration that holds the key, whether at the museum, somewhere in the world and in a new beer. That’s the stuff.
Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at www.que4.org.
WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. His new book “A Tragic Fate: is an unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit www.revolutioandbeer.com
The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting. Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.