Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A-B's Stephen J. Burrows Will Rot in Hell.

Here's the encore presentation of a column first published in 2003, one that will retain a certain timelessness, at least for so long as its subject remains ensconced in a position of corporate authority.


I picked up the latest All About Beer magazine, eager as always to see which breweries had anted up hard marketing cash for the current month’s Beverage Tasting Institute rankings, but I didn’t even make it out of the letters section.

Therein was a missive from “A-B HQ” signed by Stephen J. Burrows, Chief Executive Officer and President, Anheuser-Busch International, Inc., detailing a 1911 agreement between A-B and Budejovicky Budvar in which the latter agreed to let the St. Louis company conquer the world and enslave the taste buds of every nation – or something in that vein.

A veritable Protocol of the Elders of Swill, initialed by one of the highest priests of corporate flim-flammery.

Like piquant slime from an over-burdened septic tank, Burrows bubbles up from the terra firma every so often to espouse the superiority of all things Anheuser-Busch, especially as they pertain to the continued, annoying presence on the A-B radar screen of the Budejovicky Budvar upstarts in the Czech Republic.

Thinking back to the recently commenced and as yet unconcluded Haliburton War (known by trusting sorts in the electorate as the “Iraq” war), Burrows functions somewhat as the “Comical Ali” of Anheuser-Busch: Grotesquely Goebbelsian, deadly earnest yet laughable, spouting arcane references to long ago treaties between the allegedly competing breweries that presumably were negotiated much like those between the federal government and Native Americans facing Gatling guns – with a Busch family member always keeping one hand behind his back, fingers crossed, ready to ram the peace pipe where the sun doesn’t shine when no one’s looking.

After all, that’s how you get to be a successful multi-national corporation.

In short, Anheuser-Busch’s dirty war against Budvar continues to be waged, the conniving generalissimos like Burrows and A-B’s stuffed corporate suits continue to be guilty of war crimes, and most of us are too busy scrambling to survive the Bush presidency to take notice.

You’re not where you come from.

As befits a multi-national corporation with little real interest in the essence of the mass-produced commodity it relentlessly peddles, Anheuser-Busch yawns at the antiquated notion advanced by many Europeans to the effect that there is such a thing as an “appellation of origins.” A-B touts the veracity of “Made in America,” but disputes the same reasoning if applied to a European brewery from which A-B’s founder “borrowed” geographical imagery more than a century ago.

Subsequently, generations of international lawyers have honed their Lexuses on the dispute between Anheuser-Busch and Budvar (or, in the German language, “Budweis”), and why not? It’s an endless cash cow, because in essence, both breweries are right. A-B had a copyright preceding the operation of the current Budvar company, and for hundreds of years before that, any beer from any Budweis brewery was a Budweiser beer.

There’s no reason why the two breweries can’t co-exist – none beyond the institutionalized megalomania that girds A-B’s very existence, and that makes the massive, bloated company so repugnant on so many different levels.

Another reason why the world hates us.

As always, much blame for this lamentable situation whereby A-B runs roughshod over anyone with the temerity to stand in its way, can be attributed to the benumbed and oblivious Joe Six Pack, whose ignorance and disposable income makes possible the existence and prosperity of Stephen J. Burrows and his fellow corporate assassins.

Indeed, the disconnect between the personal lives of ordinary people and the remorseless consumer culture they inhabit, some willingly but most cluelessly, has become more vast and unbridgeable than the oceans that no longer separate us from equally exploitable markets overseas.

In everyday life, there isn’t a honest blue collar working man alive, as well as a handful of narcissistic yuppies, karaoke singers, and yacht clubsmen – hell, even a golfer or two who’ve retained some semblance of dignity – who wouldn’t leap to the assistance of the Little Guy being bludgeoned into submission by a huge, overblown, pompous and arrogant bully.

Yet, sadly, they cannot fathom the resemblance whereby the 800-pound gorilla that is Anheuser-Busch lashes tiny Budvar through tactics calculated to make Al Capone blush, all the while egged on by obsequious mouthpieces like Stephen J. Burrows and his worldwide corps of cash-wielding lawyers.

So, as Sonny Bono once astutely noted, the beat goes on, and on, and on.

Add another name to the son-of-a-bitch list, Mr. Cobb.

There’s little that men and women of good sense and decency can do to derail the international A-B monolith, but I promise you this.

Not only will I refuse to serve Stephen J. Burrows should he ever wander into my place of business, but I will personally remove him from the premises if he refuses to respond to reason – and, given A-B’s legacy of arrogance, it is likely that he would display such obstinate tendencies.

There’s no Bud Light here, anyway.

1 comment:

Matthew D Dunn said...

Very nice as per the norm Roger.

Also, the Lupulin Land piece for Indianabeer.com finally went up yesterday. The webmaster claimed he didn't get my two emails and then he was sick for a week.

Unfortunately, the piece was a bit rushed to make it timely and a good ad for Lupulin, but it was all for naught.