Sunday, May 08, 2016

Joshua Pietrowski shares a story, and I'm grateful.

Joshua Pietrowski is the brewer at Turoni's in Evansville. We've been friends on Facebook for a while, and I finally got to meet him in Ft. Wayne at the Brewers Conference in March.

He's a big, ebullient, well-spoken character in the Falstaffian vein, and it turns out that we have mutual friends. Joshua grew up with the son of my buddy Lee's brother-in-law.

I trust he won't mind this reprint of a Facebook status update, from just after the conclusion of the Craft Brewers Conference in Philly last week.

My days are spent bemoaning the sterility of what passes for "craft" culture these days, when this wonderful transformational art form sinks so very often to the same level of vapid "me first" consumerism that impelled the revolution in the first place ... and then comes Joshua Pietrowski to remind me that all is not lost, and we're still capable of literacy and feeling outside the narcissistic box.

Thanks, man. I needed this. A lot.


I took an abnormal amount of pictures today. I was going to put them all on Instagram for everyone to see all the great places I ran to and from in Manhattan. I'm not going to share those with you. I would, however, like to share a story.

Merl and I wrapped the night up at the Skylight Diner. This thing could have been straight out of Seinfeld. I got there, ordered a crappy beer, and took my chances on a real New York Reuben (where they use Cole Slaw instead of sauerkraut and Russian Dressing instead of thousand island), and after it had been cooked and delivered to the diner counter where I sat, something strange happened.

Two bites in, I noticed a man about my size, decked out in full construction gear, still wearing his orange helmet, watching something on his phone. It was so odd, because whatever he sat watching for at least five minutes had classical music playing in the background, not exactly what you'd figure a three hundred pound third shift behemoth of a man in the middle of picking up a round of cheeseburgers for his crew to be in to.

Two bites later. I couldn't get this weird thing out of my head so I looked back over at him to realize, fully, what was going on. On his cell phone danced little girls in leotards, delicately and out of rhythm to the suspect classical music, as I put two and two together. One of those was his daughter, and he had to settle for video because he was stuck at work. I looked up from the phone to the man's face and caught him choking back tears, slowly using grimy fingers to wipe away those tears beneath his glasses as he watched the most important thing in his world bob and weave and twirl back and forth across a stage.


For every one thing that divides us, there are ten that make us family, sometimes before we even know each other. For every fresh crack or new divot on the surface of our old souls, there are ten patches of scar tissue that remind us that we have survived. That we are surviving. This is not an easy time to feel unified, here in the easiest time there's ever been to be alive, and I know that some days we wake up and think that nothing is worth anything anymore.

I only got half way through that Reuben, and that guy was gone about two minutes after I caught him sobbing. I think he had to get back to work. And I decided not to post those forty pictures because at the end of the day, those places, they're just brick and mortar and some other man's memories. I truly love to travel, and I get to do my fair share of it. But my favorite thing to bring home is not a new Michigan hat, or a new pint glass for my collection at home, but a lesson. The kind that teaches you to step back, put the sandwich down, and realize that even the Skylight diner can be a holy place, and witness to those fleeting moments when heaven crashes into humanity.

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