Saturday, July 30, 2016

Make America's Beer Great Again



There was a $9.99 sale on 12-packs of Budweiser beer at a corner store recently, which I bought without realizing the cans had been rebranded as "America" for the summer. One of the multiple ironies is that Bud is now owned by the Belgian conglomerate AB InBev who were trying to capture patriotic millenials as new customers. According to an article in Business Insider, the campaign has been an abject failure. Millenials have been migrating to wine and craft beers and aren't about to drink weak, old-fashioned swill whether it's wrapped in the flag or not. In fact, during my lifetime we have gone from a country that featured about a dozen domestic beer brands to this startling statistic from Bloomberg News: "There are now more U.S. breweries than at any other point in recorded American history. According to data released today by the Brewers Association, there were 4,269 operating breweries in the country at the end of 2015, surpassing the previous record logged all the way back in 1873 when a lack of transportation and refrigeration meant breweries had to be local."



A 12-pack of America beer turned out to be the perfect accompaniment for the last two weeks of U.S. presidential party conventions which I glanced at on a DVR with my partner Tony who was transfixed by the car wreck of the Republican convention and the slick, uplifting rhetoric of the Democratic convention. My favorite speech was First Lady Michelle Obama who seemed to be channeling Scandal's Kerry Washington offering one of her frequent, inspirational Shondra Rhimes soliloquies. The most interesting commentary I have read recently is a July post by UC Berkeley linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff called Understanding Trump, which explains why he's winning. It's long, frightening and makes considerable sense. Here's a sample:
As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories. Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.




Coincidentally, I've been reading my first Octavia E. Butler novel, set in Northern California during a dystopian near-future, 2032 to be exact. Her voice is that of a black, sci-fi Cassandra, and reminds me of Doris Lessing and Margaret Atwood at their visionary best. Speaking of Atwood, her novel The Handmaid's Tale, published in 1985, is a spookily perfect envisioning of a country led by someone like Mike Pence, where abortion is murder, women are the property of men, and gays are hung by their necks at city gates for being "gender traitors."



Doing research for this post, I discovered that Parable of the Talents is actually the second in a two-volume series so I am going to return to it after reading the primary Parable of the Sower. There was a startling bit of futurist synchronicity, though, when I stumbled across the above text on my commute home yesterday. Texas Senator Andrew Steele Jarret, a right-wing, racist, fundamental Christian rabblerouser is running for president and his slogan is "Help us to make America great again." Butler published the book in 1998, and was going to write sequels but found the prospect too depressing. She died young at the age of 58 in 2006.

9 comments:

Janos Gereben said...

The Butler discovery is far more interesting than the beer thing, although America the Beer is...

Dividist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dividist said...

Since Tony was watching the RNC more closely than you, he can confirm that Trump and the GOP seemed intent on migrating the "Make America Great Again" slogan to the somewhat more pithy "America First".

I found the history of "America First" and the "America First Committee" with it's connection to William Randolf Hearst, Charles Lindbergh, real life Nazis and American Nazi sympathizers in the 30's even more interesting.

Hattie said...

Fascinating post with a lot of stuff to follow up on. Thanks.
I saw a car covered with pro-Trump, Hillary hatin' bumper stickers parked in front of the coffee shop across the street from us here in Seattle. Looked like a couple of skinheads in the car, looking for a caffeine fix, I guess. Figured they were out of towners.

sfwillie said...

Hi Michael, Glad to see your job hasn't gobbled you. Just the commute would wear me out.

Trump and Budweiser are such easy targets: they're the bunny slopes of criticism.

For the record: McCain is NOT a war hero. He IS a war criminal.

He was shot down while committing mass murder.

Have a blessed day.

Mike Wallach said...

You missed discovering Beer America at the Sharp Park Benefit in June. They offered cans of either America or Tecate to the players. Not wishing to offend anyone on either side of Trump's imaginary wall, I had one of each.

Michael Strickland said...

Dear Willie: I love "the bunny slopes of criticism."

Dear Mike W: During the RNC, I actually was drinking Tecate. And you're right, psychologically speaking, it would have tasted better on a golf course.

nancy namaste said...

The information about beer is interesting, although I have never been much of a drinker. Congratulations on tackling Butler; I read a couple of her books but found her version of the future so disturbing that I could not read any more. That's not to say that she's inaccurate; she's probably more astute than I allow myself to believe.

janinsanfran said...

Somebody left bottles of Bud Light where I am staying with my MIL. After a week here, I figured I should try one. I have never encountered a more putrid excuse for beer, anywhere. Never again.