Beyond the Pale
By Kurt Epps
August 31, 2007
Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter, has been called home--probably for consultation-- by the Head Brewer.
The Beer World will miss him, though it will not forget him. The many current tributes will, properly, chronicle his titanic presence (now absence) on the world beer scene. Wonderful and appropriately laudatory commentaries will be penned, and that's as it should be.
But let's keep this in mind, too.
Michael Jackson was a regular guy. I mean that in the highest sense of the word. Because regular guys are the salt of this earth. At the risk of sounding ungrammatical, he was the type of guy that Everyman would enjoy hoisting a brew with. To me, that's what the whole beer business should be about--good beer and good people to share it.
Sure, he had his patented shtick when performing, and most of us, who sat at his feet like Socrates' students, knew all the lines and when they would come. And, like children who ask for the same bedtime stories, we enjoyed the show. Who can forget the classic pairing of Richie Stolarz and Jackson at any beer event?
Did he know his beer? Yup. Did he have a wealth of knowledge and experience? yup. Was he revered? Yup.
But after it all, he'd sit down with any of us, hoist a glass and just shoot the sh!t without pretense or show. He knew that with beer there are no experts, though he was considered one. While he may have enjoyed the celebrity, he enjoyed life more, and that enjoyment was marked by his love of the average guy's beverage.
To me, Jackson's legacy will not be his monumental importance to the Beer World. It will be the fact that his life was a testimony to the importance of the regular guy.
So now another regular guy goes home. We all shall follow in our own time, because perfect health is, after all, merely the slowest way to die. But what lessens the import of that sad fact is that, while we're here, we can follow Michael Jackson's lead and enjoy the life alloted to us.
I'm raising my next pint to The Beer Hunter--and all the regular guys he represented.