Tag Archives: Brian Strumke

I Know It’s Wrong, But I’m Doing It Anyway.

Remember the first time you read The Catcher in the Rye, Baltimore? Remember when you put the book down and said to yourself “Holy shit! He’s right. They are all a bunch of goddamn phonies? Remember how you were about 14, and you finally learned to begin to spot the differences between what people say and what they do? Remember how you swore you were going to stay true-to-self and ride a merry-go-round with your kid sister and rub out some of the ‘fuck yous’ written on school walls?

Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way, has it? Adulthood is a bitch, isn’t it? It really sucks to realize that you’re not alone in the world. And more than that, it sucks to realize that it’s not just you against the world. It sucks to finally understand that preventing little kids from falling off some mythical cliff doesn’t pay money.

"If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody."

The Chop has, on occasion, been accused of know-it-all-ism. (We know, shocking! right? We couldn’t believe it either.) This is a criticism we’ve never taken to heart though, because we know it’s not quite accurate. We’ll freely admit that there’s plenty we don’t know. There’s stuff we don’t even pretend to know. If we don’t know, we’ll admit it outright, and if we’re wrong on something, we’ll admit that too. It feels good to do, believe it or not.

But one thing of which we’ve never been accused is being phony. And it’s because we know and often use one handy little phrase:

    “I know it’s wrong, but I’m doing it anyway.”

Stop for a second. Think about that one. Let it sink in for a while. Consider, when’s the last time you said that? When’s the last time you heard anyone say that? Ever? Be honest, if you have heard someone say “I know it’s wrong, but I’m doing it anyway.” didn’t you feel a little bit of admiration? Isn’t there something slightly subversive in that? Something individualistic and true-to-self? We think there is.

We all do wrong, all the time. None of us are saints. Even the most generous among us is going to be a little selfish. Even the kindest is going to be a little cruel. Even the softest of us will be a bit callous from time to time. Whether you’re cheating on your diet or your husband, you know you’re doing wrong, and all the excuses, justifications, and self-bargaining we do only makes the thing worse.

We might even argue that lies, justifications, promises to make it up later and excuses are even worse than the thing itself. This is where guilt comes from. This is where hurting other people starts. If you’re sorry later, say so. If not, don’t. Either way, if called to answer for something the admission of wrongdoing will cut the conversation short, and will save a lot of rhetorical gymnastics on both sides. Does your boss want to hear all about why you were late, how you’ve always been early in the past, how there were factors beyond your control, and how it will never happen again? No. She just wants to hear that you know it’s wrong to be late. Say that, and that’s the end of it. More than that… it’s actually quite liberating to say. It gets easier every time.

This is just one example of the way-too-many we’ve been encountering in our own life lately. In this holiday season of guilt, indulgence, greed, envy, and all those other sins, we encourage you all to go out and do wrong openly- because heaven knows you’re going to do it anyway.

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Cheers! The Culture of Drink in Early Maryland @ Homewood Museum

If you know the Chop at all, you know that we’re the type to take our drinking very, very seriously. Of course, we strongly believe in drinking responsibly, but to us ‘drinking responsibly’ doesn’t just mean taking a cab or laying off the Jaeger shots… it means drinking the right way.

So, we’re trying to buy a dining room group at the moment. This is a task which has so far required no shortage of time and effort in straining our eyes to look online and driving to and fro from store to store to deal with salesmen and parse the differences between “cherry” and “cherry satin”. It will undoubtedly require yet more effort in painting, wallpapering, and possibly even installing new lighting. This is not to mention considerable expense.

A drawing room at 1515 Linden Avenue in Reservoir Hill, 1886. Photo courtesy MD Historical Society.

But you may ask, “Chop, you’re a single bachelor. Most of your meals consist of Midnight Snacks on the couch. What do you need with a fancy-schmancy table?” Well, you’re right. The table and chairs are mostly an afterthought. What we’re actually shopping for, and what will be the true centerpiece of the room, is the bar.

It’s well known that our grandfathers were better drinkers than we are. The Chop’s own grandfathers are a case in point. Do you think they ever drank beer from “aluminum bottles”, or asked if their wine was “bio-dynamic”, or mixed anything with Red Bull? Of course not. They learned to drink in World War II.

But what about our grandfathers’ grandfathers? The landed gentry and patriarchs of the Old Line State? How did they drink? For they are the ones we should be emulating if we really want to do it right. Cask Madeira, Terrapin Stew and 20 year rye? Yes, please.

This is why, before we rebuild our bar this Fall, we’re going to stroll over to the Homewood Museum and have a look at their exhibit Cheers! The Culture of Drink in Early Maryland.

The exhibition is on view as part of the regular Homewood tour, and focuses on how the Carrolls and other early families procured, stored, served and sipped their wines and whiskies.

While we’re at it, we might even come back tomorrow for the Museum’s Historic Home Brews talk and tasting featuring Baltimore native and Stillwater Ales founder Brian Strumke as part of the 2010 Baltimore Beer Week. If you can’t make it down to the Museum of Industry for the Official Opening Tap Ceremony you can still taste some of the best beer in Maryland right here at Homewood, just in time for Friday happy hour.

Cheers.

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Tapping ceremony and home brews tasting require advance registration. See bbweek.com for more information on all beer week events. The Culture of Drink exhibit runs from Sep. 16 until Nov. 28 2010 from 11am-4pm Tue-Fri and 12-4 Sat & Sun.

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