11 July 2011
KOTBR #131 | Flat12 Milk Stout at La Revolucion Café & Bar
Make of these reviews what you will. I suppose this is what happens when one watches too much soccer, reads too much Hemingway, sees too many Robert Rodriguez films, and watches the Planet of the Apes movies one too many times---
The waning sun warms me through the windows of the Fountain Square cantina on this summer evening. In this season, I should be content, maybe even happy. But darkness rules me because three days ago, I watched the men in green vanquish my men in white. El Tri is what the men in green are called. They come from the south. They are quick, skilled, and lethal. Though the men in white drew first and second blood, they could not defend themselves in the end. So when the contest was over, El Tri held the gold prize, while the men in white held only wounded pride.
According to a wise general, one should keep friends close and enemies closer. So I sit in the cantina, which is a place where my enemy might dwell. The place is called La Revolucion. Luchadores leer at me from the walls. Crucifixes stare me in the face. The Virgen de Guadalupe, who is everywhere, casts her sad eyes on me. Yet everyone I see here is a gringo like me. They are pale gringos, wearing trilbys and tattoos, red white and blue cans in hand, yellow corn tortillas filled with fragrant foodstuffs resting in baskets on the bar before them. And they are oblivious to the darkness, all of them joyfully devouring their food and drink.
The blond woman comes and asks me what I want. I gaze at the slate board on the wall and spy what I desire: a Milk Stout from Flat12 Bierwerks. I know it’s anomalous to drink such a beverage in the warm weather, but I do not care. Darkness requires a dark drink.
The blond woman soon returns with the beer. The evening sunlight shines on my glass, which sweats like Jonathan Bornstein chasing Giovanni dos Santos in vain. I raise the glass to my nose and inhale. Scents of powdered cocoa and brown sugar tug at me, pulling me down into the depths of the glass. Then, a midnight-colored wave washes across my tongue, bathing my mouth with cream and semi-sweet chocolate. Slowly, my spirits lift. The murky potable has begun to chase away the darkness. I think I’ll have another. 4.20 Mugs.
It's not that I hadn't seen a worm dried up on a summer sidewalk before - it's just that I wasn't used to waking up with one stuck to my face. I felt bruised. Not so much in a specific place; an all-over body bruise, a heavy weight draped from my shoulders to my knees. This was my first morning in Mexico.
I'd come to Nogales the afternoon before. While visiting my cousin - a US border patrol agent living in Sedona - I'd decided to add Mexico to the list of places I'd visited. Louisville, Kansas City, Iowa City, Memphis, Mexico.
"There's nothing to see," he said, "Just people trying to sell you junk." I decided to go anyway. I didn't own any Mexican junk.
The border is a weird place. Even the American side seems like Mexico. Duty-free shops dotted the border. Expensive big-name jewelry sold from behind barred windows. Buses taking Mexicans to shop at American Wal-Marts. It's the opposite of promise.
I walked through a fence, and my language didn't feel like it worked anymore. Out into the city streets and everyone's trying to sell you something. Drug stores. I was looking for soccer jerseys. And Mexican Coca-Cola. With real sugar.
Everyone wants you to visit their store. Every store seems like a trap. Are there laws here? Do the cops even understand English? Who do you call for help in Mexico? This place is a stereotype. But worse.
I can't cope. Maybe a drink will help. Is this bar safe? I can't be kidnapped here; certainly I would have heard about the Americans being kidnapped in Nogales.
Taps. I know these taps. Sun King. Gumballhead. Goose Island. Flat12. Where am I? This isn't the Mexico I thought I'd walked into. Flat12 Milk Stout? This doesn't make sense. Nothing makes sense. I'll have the milk stout.
Maybe this is Mexican coffee? Cocoa powder dominates. I've never had Mexican coffee. I like this, in any case. Coffee and cocoa powder. Thanks, I'll have another. I'm glad you speak English here. You seem like nice people. I'm tired. Tequila? Sure. I'll try that. You seem like nice people. More? I should go outside and see what's happening. I need to get back to my country. One more drink? Sure...
Where am I? Who are you? This seems like a good place to sleep...
I hate that fucking smell.
It’s funny what goes through your head during times of trauma. I was lying on my back on a concrete floor in a room that very few knew about. Most people who learned of the secret room in the sheriff’s office would never have the chance to tell others.
I was determined to not become a statistic. But as the red-necked wallaby stood on my chest, wielding a truncheon in her hands while the joey in her pouch put on his brass knuckles, the only thing I could think is, Why can’t these fucking marsupials brush their teeth every once in a while?
Apparently, the state of macropod halitosis was the only clear thought I could come up with while I was having my ass handed to me by the tribe of wallabies that ruled this town. It was probably better than thinking about the excruciating pain I felt as the wallaby sheriff and her deputies tore through my soft, fragile skin.
My thoughts about bad breath quickly disappeared as they started another round of cracking my ribs with wrecking bars. Blood started spray out of my left side as they nicked an artery. As I blacked out and the blood that normally powered my brain started to spread across the floor, memories started to flash before me…
When I was a child, my family lived in the wooded hills about 40 miles south of Orlosburg. Many human families found safety in the trees and valleys and caves that were located all around. And since the trees prevented the sun from reaching the ground, the grasses that wallabies craved were hard to find. So wallabies didn’t last long down here.
At night, my father would tell me stories of his great grandfather who 63 years earlier identified the Great Wallaby Uprising in its infancy. Unfortunately, few took him seriously. “Oh that Jason, his drunken rants about wallabies are so funny!” they often replied.
But they went from finding it humorous to disturbing when Jason wrecked the grand opening of the “Animals of Australia” exhibit at the zoo. He slaughtered them all. They sent him to a mental hospital when they should have been exalting him.
Not long after, the uprising began. Orlo the Great, as the wallabies now call him, befriended Jason’s beer drinking associates. They were drinking at a Mexican cantina whose walls were adorned in symbols of Christ and Satan. Orlo was buying them heavenly tacos and devilish drinks, convincing them that the “lies” that Jason was spreading about wallabies weren’t true.
They didn’t want to believe the wallaby over their comrade, so they called Jason. They wanted to give him a chance to tell his story.
“We’re drinking with Orlo,” they said.
“Don’t do it, it’s a trap!” he yelled. “Out of curiousity, what drink did he buy you?”
“A Flat 12 Milk Stout.”
“What a jerk! Couldn’t he buy you a beer that didn’t taste like ash nor has a watery mouthfeel that leaves a soapy aftertaste?”
“You’re crazy Jason! This beer is great!” and they promptly hung up on him. They couldn't believe his assessment of the beer. Nor his anti-wallaby statements. They didn’t heed his warning. And moments later, Orlo murdered them. That is when the Great Wallaby Uprising began. The revolution started at Revolucion in the Fountain Square neighborhood of Indianapolis. Two months later, Orlo and his friends took over Indianapolis, and renamed it Orlosburg. Ten years later, what was once the United States of America was overrun by wallabies. And no one did anything to stop it. Because Fox News was pumping wallaby propaganda; it was run by the oldest wallaby of all…Rupert Murdoch. And for some reason, most Americans believed everything that Fox News said.
If only my great great grandfather’s friends would have been better friends. Then maybe we wouldn’t be ruled by wallabies. And maybe I wouldn’t have felt the need to carry on my family’s legacy of standing up to marsupials. And maybe I wouldn’t have spray painted “The Hoosier Beer Gut Lives!” across the Orlosburg Courthouse. And maybe I wouldn’t be here lying on back in the Orlosburg Jail as my life leaks out of my body, across the concrete, and down the floor drain. 3.00 Mugs.
Flat12 Bierwerks Milk Stout
Jim: 4.20 Mugs | Mike: 3.85 Mugs | Jason: 3.00 Mugs | Gina: 3.10 Mugs | Rod: 2.90 Mugs | Jess: 3.80 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.48 Mugs.