Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jack McAuliffe, Total Goddamn Hero of Craft Beer, Returns to Sonoma County

Posted By on Tue, Jan 8, 2013 at 11:57 AM

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Inevitably, anyone who's polished off a few pints at the Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa eventually looks up, sees a sign on the wall that reads "New Albion Brewery," and wonders, "What the hell's that sign mean?"

As any beer snob sitting at your table will quickly tell you, New Albion happens to be hailed as the first "microbrewery," at least as we know the term now. They may explain that New Albion, in Sonoma, pioneered the way small-batch beer was made. They may even report that New Albion founder Jack McAuliffe lived in mythic seclusion for almost 30 years, brewing out of the limelight in Texas, completely unaware of his status as a totally goddamn awesome pioneer of the craft beer movement until his rediscovery a few years ago.

That's why it's kind of a big deal that on Thursday, Jan. 10, the Russian River Brewing Co. welcomes the man himself, Jack McAuliffe, back to Sonoma County. And who's coming with him? Ahem: Jim Koch, from Samuel Adams.

The whole thing's a celebration of Samuel Adams' re-release of New Albion Ale—a nice gesture on Sam Adam's part using Jack's original recipe. I'll let Russian River's Natalie Cilurzo take over:

Brewing pioneer Jack McAuliffe and the legendary Jim Koch, the face of Sam Adams, will be at the pub from 6-8pm discussing their recent "collaboration" on the resurrection of New Albion Ale! New Albion Brewery was located in Sonoma, California, from 1976 to 1983. This was the first newly licensed start-up craft brewery in the United States after the repeal of prohibition right here in Sonoma County. It's safe to say Jack was the first nanobrewer back when no such term existed. Vinnie and I were lucky enough to get our hands on the original New Albion Brewery sign which has hung proudly in our pub since the day we opened.

We will have New Albion Ale on draft at the pub that evening and hopefully for a few days after. Boston Beer is releasing bottles with an incredible reproduction of the original label for national distribution, but I'm not sure how much or where it will be available. I'm just excited to have it on draft at the pub while Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch are both in the house! This is such a rare opportunity to have these two brewing legends in our brewpub at the same time.

Needless to say, I'd advise getting there early.

Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch speak at Russian River Brewing Co. on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 6-8pm. 725 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. Free... and packed. 707.545.2337.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Downtown Santa Rosa Loses a Candy Shop

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 3:47 PM

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Goodbye, $1.49 soft-serve cones at Wednesday Night Market: Sweet Tooth, the short-lived candy shop on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, is closing.

During the store's closeout sale, everything is 75% off.

Last week, the store's windows were newspapered up, with a note indicating that the store was being renovated and the frozen yogurt machines serviced. But today, there were customers filling up bags full of cheap candy and bidding their adieus.

The space, which formerly housed Fleet Feet and, long ago, Burlington Bakery, is up for lease. Given that Santa Rosa is now allowing wine tasting rooms downtown, who knows what might occupy it next?

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What Would a Psychopath Do?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 3:10 PM

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Did you know that 1 in 25 bosses have psychopathic tendencies? Actually, that sounds about right. The information comes from a new book by psychologist Kevin Dutton, The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success.

The book also lists the top ten jobs with the highest rate of psychopaths.

1. Chief Executive Officer
2. Lawyer
3. Media (Television/Radio)
4. Salesperson
5. Surgeon
6. Journalist
7. Police officer
8. Clergy person
9. Chef
10. Civil servant

I'm particularly interested in the reasoning behind #6, and not at all surprised by the the job that takes the #1 spot. Corporations were already diagnosed legally insane way back in 2003!

It's comforting to see that only one of these career paths allows for the legal use of gun power. Though it might make you think twice about getting surgery.

According to SF Gate, Smithsonian magazine makes it appear that psychopaths actually make nice neighbors and maybe even drinking buddies.

"Psychopaths don't procrastinate," the Smithsonian reports. "Psychopaths tend to focus on the positive. Psychopaths don't take things personally; they don't beat themselves up if things go wrong, even if they're to blame. And they're pretty cool under pressure."

I'm definitely bringing a psychopath along the next time I go on a high-stress adventure filled with eminent danger. Oh wait. As a journalist, I don't have to since I bring the psychopathic danger zone to all the parties.

The list of professions with the lowest rate of psychopaths is good too.
1. Care aide
2. Nurse
3. Therapist
4. Craftsperson
5. Beautician or stylist
6. Charity worker
7. Teacher
8. Creative artist
9. Doctor
10. Accountant

Seriously, craftsperson totally makes sense. What's more relaxing than constructing macrame plant holders and God's Eyes while wearing a knitted vest? Absolutely nothing. Hmmm, might be time to run out and get a loom to balance out all the psychopathic tendencies inherent in the newspaper business.

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Multi-generational study examines North Bay breast cancer rates

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 2:48 PM

An article in the IJ today paints an alarming picture of breast cancer rates in the north bay, and also looks at a multi-generational study begun 50 years ago to examine them.

The North Bay Area of Concern is depicted in green.
  • California Breast Cancer Mapping Project
  • The North Bay "Area of Concern" is depicted in green.

Breast cancer rates in most of the counties surrounding the Bay are 10 to 20 percent higher than the state average, according to a graphic featured in the piece. The higher instances of cancer are clustered closer to the Bay itself, according to the map, with less of a concentration in west Marin and Sonoma, north Napa and east Solano. Mirroring statewide trends, the majority of cases in the North Bay (71 percent) are found among white women, followed by African American women (11 percent), a jump from the statewide average of 2 percent.
The study aims to follow 15,000 families through several generations.
The image featured in this article is part of the California Breast Cancer Mapping Project, which identifies four Areas of Concern for breast cancer across California. They include the North Bay, the South Bay, west L.A. and south Orange.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Corporate Personhood Goes Carpooling

Because corporations are people, a Marin man argues that he may drive in the carpool lane with his corporation papers in the passenger seat.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM

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The idea that a corporation is a person, with all the rights and privileges of being human (but none of the indignations—like depression, ingrown toenails or chronic gas) is pretty ridiculous. That's why it's so great that Jonathan Frieman, a nonprofit consultant, is taking corporate personhood for a ride at a Marin County traffic court hearing on Monday, January 14.

Frieman was driving in a carpool lane last October, his only passenger being a stack of corporation papers in the vehicle with him. Frieman is now contesting the ticket on the grounds that since corporations are now considered people, than he actually did have someone else with him in the car, and therefore shouldn't be held liable for the $478 fine.

"Corporations are imaginary entities, and we've let them run wild," says Frieman in a recent press release. "Their original intent 200 years ago at the dawn of our nation was to serve human beings. So I'm wresting back that power by making their personhood serve me."

Frieman's hearing is scheduled for 3pm on Monday, and he says if his plea for corporate personhood is overruled, he's not afraid to take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hooray for a move straight out of the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington playbook!


Carpool image via Shutterstock.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Trouble with Narcissism: Finding a Balance Between Journalism and First-Person Narratives

Posted By on Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 3:26 PM

When all else fails, just read Joan Didion.
  • When all else fails, just read Joan Didion.
A piece by Gawker reporter Hamilton Nolan, Journalism Is Not Narcissism has stirred up quite the discussion. In the post, which has amassed thousands of page views and many comments since it went up yesterday afternoon, Nolan takes to task journalism students (and teachers) that emphasize writing about the self at the expensive of writing about the world. "Writing about yourself can be part of a balanced journalism diet, but it sure ain't the whole fucking meal," writes Nolan, before encouraging young writers to look beyond the mirror towards the billions of people in the world with interesting lives, and with stories that need to be told.

Stephan Elliott, the author of skewed and brilliant memoir The Adderall Diaries begs to differ in The Problem With the Problem With Memoir up today at the Rumpus. Elliot argues that writing about the self, in a form most often called memoir, doesn't necessarily equal narcissism.

"If you know journalists then you know there are many among them you would consider narcissists. And if you know memoirists, especially the really good ones, you know they are more curious than most about the world around them. I’m thinking of the few that I know well, Dave Eggers, Tobias Wolff, Cheryl Strayed, Nick Flynn. These are all amazing listeners. They inhale their surroundings."

For Elliot, good writing,whether about the self or the world (or both), means making connections to the larger world. This can be done with both the memoir and the journalism form. Over on her Tumbler, Roxane Gay (a writer who has mastered the art of making her own life into art without forgetting about the larger world) makes an argument for the necessity of telling a story in her post The Things They Carry, while arguing that its possible to make room for our own stories and and those of all of the more "interesting" people in the world. Like Elliot, who uses as Joan Didion and Tobias Wolff as examples of people who use the self to illuminate grander ideas, Gay argues that great writers can take any raw material and make it into something worth reading.

Besides, what's so awful about letting people tell their stories? "There is a proliferation of first person narratives because our stories are the one thing we carry with us that cannot be discarded or lost or, we hope, forgotten," she writes.

This morning, we had a short discussion in the Bohemian office about "navel-gazing" and its place in writing. The conclusion was that it's all about balance. Mention yourself, but don't worship yourself. And make sure to spend just as much time not mentioning yourself at all. Truthfully, journalists should be careful of over-using "I," especially when the self becomes more important and interesting to the writer than the subject at hand. But journalists and memoirists are two different animals. A journalist is not a memoirist. A memoirist is not a journalist. I've written my share of "first-person" stories for the paper, but just as often enjoy writing third-person pieces about fascinating people and events in my small community. Stories like these provide a chance to step outside of the self and to make connections outside of the almighty pit of the I. It's all about finding the middle ground between the two forms.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Best Books of 2012

Posted By on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 at 4:45 PM

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This week's issue features a list of the top-selling books at Copperfields Books for 2012. Spoiler alert: Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotica series by E.L. James written for those who want their S&M draped in a gossamer lens, takes the top spot. The rest of the trilogy lodges into the third and fourth spots.

Confession: I didn't read Fifty Shades of Grey, and don't plan on ever cracking its lightly illicit cover unless I'm somehow engaged in some sort of Guantanamo-styled book torture. I'm a bit like Josh Radnor's character in Liberal Arts when he berates Elizabeth Olsen for reading the entirety of the Twilight series "unironically": "With the many amazing books in the world, why would you read this?"

That said, here's a list of books that I loved in 2012. Mention these to me at a cocktail party and you'll certainly get a smile instead of a tongue-lashing.

1. A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

Hutchins' story of a man who struggles with intimacy after a divorce (and working on a project that involves his dead father's diaries and a computer) became one of my "can't put it down" books for 2012. It's always great to be surprised by a book's elegance and depth.

2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Here is the one place I crossed paths with Sonoma County readers. Cheryl Strayed's memoir about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to exorcise ghost and demons was one of the best-written books of the year. Masterful, devastating and inspiring, all at once.

3. Violence Girl by Alice Bag

Bag is one of the L.A. punk originals. Her autobiography is raw, contagious and burning with feminist power. At the same time, the musician and artist doesn't glorify the end results of punk rock and its many casualties.

4. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

It was a big year for the Dominican-American author. He won a MacArthur Genius grant, published an acclaimed collection of short stories, and made an appearance at Copperfields in Montgomery Village that included liberal use of the words "motherfucker" and "fuck" and "interlocuter." This collection is riveting and ragged; it captures the dilemma of masculinity and the failure inherent in the blind drive to "man up" even as the world around crumbles and decays.

5. The Danger of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott

Alcott is a young writer, but you wouldn't know it from this gripping, beautifully written debut novel. The Petaluma native, who now lives in New York, writes with the confidence of someone who's been fine-tuning her work for a long while. The book is a fractured love story, a story that falls into lyricism more often that not, and one that flirts constantly with a sense of the tragic.

6. How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

Warning: this book is not for everyone, and if you read it and hate it, please don't stop me in the street and berate me for recommending something to you that you hated. Some (like Gawker, which called her one of the 50 Least Important Writers of 2012) have labeled Heti's "novel" of artists living in modern-day Toronto as self-indulgent and navel-gazing. And it is! But Heti happens to have a navel that I find very interesting! I found this book to be brave and painful in the best possible way.

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