Monday, March 02, 2015

The PC: Reading is good in times of flat tires and gravity sickness.

The PC: Reading is good in times of flat tires and gravity sickness.

A weekly column by Roger A. Baylor.

Amid much breathlessness and the tepid detonation of leftover fireworks, we’re told that finally, Fat Tire will be available in Kentucky.

Relax, enthusiasts. The war is won. Lay down all your guns; give them up and then move on. Chuck your growlers. Supermarket ale from elsewhere will save the day, or some such meme in the making.


Okay, okay. I do get it:

New Belgium uses Fat Tire for amber-tinted cash flow so it can make more interesting beers in Colorado, North Carolina, Bogata and Papzaian knows where else, and so we’ll move along and consider some other items of beer news from the remarkably unprincipled times in which we seem to be living.

Better yet, let’s not. I’m having enough trouble with my blood pressure as it stands, and those pesky liver counts probably have risen since Gravity Head began.


Thankfully, music and literature always help calm the savage bile-ridden breast. There’s a pleasant Bartok string quintet playing as I write, and following is an excerpt from Elmer Gantry, the classic satirical novel.

Elmer Gantry, the traveling evangelist who loved whiskey, women and wealth, was conceived by Sinclair Lewis in a best-selling 1927 novel. Lewis went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Gantry went on to lofty-synonym status: Displays of hypocrisy and showmanship will often evoke his name, especially in reference to preachers — and, increasingly so, to politicians.

In this passage, the garrulous charlatan Gantry converses with the humble true believer, Pastor Pengilly – and it happens in Indiana, of all places.


He came with a boom and a flash to the town of Blackfoot Creek, Indiana, and there the local committee permitted the Methodist minister, one Andrew Pengilly, to entertain his renowned brother priest ...

… When he heard that the Reverend Elmer Gantry was coming, Mr. Pengilly murmured to the local committee that it would be a pleasure to put up Mr. Gantry and save him from the scurfy village hotel.

He had read of Mr. Gantry as an impressive orator, a courageous fighter against Sin. Mr. Pengilly sighed. Himself, somehow, he had never been able to find so very much Sin about. His fault. A silly old dreamer. He rejoiced that he, the mousy village curé, was about to have here, glorifying his cottage, a St. Michael in dazzling armor.

After the evening Chautauqua Elmer sat in Mr. Pengilly’s hovel, and he was graciously condescending.

“You say, Brother Pengilly, that you’ve heard of our work at Wellspring? But do we get so near the hearts of the weak and unfortunate as you here? Oh, no; sometimes I think that my first pastorate, in a town smaller than this, was in many ways more blessed than our tremendous to-do in the great city. And what IS accomplished there is no credit to me. I have such splendid, such touchingly loyal assistants — Mr. Webster, the assistant pastor — such a consecrated worker, and yet right on the job — and Mr. Wink, and Miss Weezeger, the deaconess, and DEAR Miss Bundle, the secretary — SUCH a faithful soul, SO industrious. Oh, yes, I am singularly blessed! But, uh, but — Given these people, who really do the work, we’ve been able to put over some pretty good things — with God’s leading. Why, say, we’ve started the only class in show-window dressing in any church in the United States — and I should suppose England and France! We’ve already seen the most wonderful results, not only in raising the salary of several of the fine young men in our church, but in increasing business throughout the city and improving the appearance of show-windows, and you know how much that adds to the beauty of the down-town streets! And the crowds do seem to be increasing steadily. We had over eleven hundred present on my last Sunday evening in Zenith, and that in summer! And during the season we often have nearly eighteen hundred, in an auditorium that’s only supposed to seat sixteen hundred! And with all modesty — it’s not my doing but the methods we’re working up — I think I may say that every man, woman, and child goes away happy and yet with a message to sustain ’em through the week. You see — oh, of course I give ’em the straight old-time gospel in my sermon — I’m not the least bit afraid of talking right up to ’em and reminding them of the awful consequences of sin and ignorance and spiritual sloth. Yes, sir! No blinking the horrors of the old-time proven Hell, not in any church I’M running! But also we make ’em get together, and their pastor is just one of their own chums, and we sing cheerful, comforting songs, and do they like it? Say! It shows up in the collections!”

“Mr. Gantry,” said Andrew Pengilly, “why don’t you believe in God?”


What a paragraph!

Meanwhile, opening weekend for Gravity Head 2015 was a smash, and the Sunday event at Bank Street Brewhouse went very well, too. I can only sincerely thank everyone who came, drank, worked, ate, organized, cleaned and kept the tradition vibrant. Against the Grain’s opening wave was exemplary, and I didn’t recognize Jerry Gnagy when he walked into the room. Well played, sir.

Each year at Gravity Head, NABC saves most of its own gravity-worthy beers to be tapped on the same day as kegs from our friends at Founders and Flat12. We do this on the third weekend of Gravity Head, which in 2015 falls on Friday, March 13.

The day begins at 11:00 a.m. Representatives from all participating breweries will be on hand throughout the day, although NABC cannot take responsibility for declining coherence as the evening progresses (or regresses, as the case usually turns out to be).

Take a gander at the program, and consider stopping by.


Recent PC columns:

The PC: Happy Gravity Head!

The PC: On barrelage, Dean Smith and diversity studies.

The PC: The Weekly Wad was a modest start.

The PC: Budweiser explains the Doctrine of Trojan Geese Transubstantiation.

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