Books and Beer: Everybody Behaves Badly

Bell's and behaving badly
A Hemingway-themed beer to go with a Hemingway-themed book.

For the friends of Hemingway in 1920s Paris, everything was dated B.S. or A.S. Before the publication of The Sun Also Rises, their lives were complicated and largely anonymous. After Sun, their flaws were exposed to the world.

The story of the making of this literary masterpiece is told in Everybody Behaves Badly, an account of Hemingway, his friends and the events that inspired the first modern American novel of the 20th Century.

I paired the book with Bell’s Two Hearted. One of the early IPAs, it’s been a favorite ever since it first surprised my taste buds on a 100 degree day at the Capital Fringe Festival. Tangy and citrusy, it defines summer to me.

Named after the Two Hearted River in Michigan, a favorite vacation spot for young Hemingway, and the setting for one of his most famous short stories, it’s perfect the beer pairing for a book about Papa at work.

And it was recently named the best beer in America.

What does it take to create a novel? For Hemingway, it meant betraying nearly everyone in his world – mentors, drinking buddies, literary rivals and even his wife – as he strived to become a giant in American letters.

The Sun Also Rises was a revolution when it was published in 1926, a fusion of high/low style, in which Hemingway took postmodern “less is more” prose and married it with a scandalous story of dissipation among the idle rich. What lifted it above a drunken yarn was the epigraph from Gertrude Stein, “You are all a lost generation.” This defining quote, as well as the title, turned the novel into a representation of youth scarred by war, seeking for a meaning in a landscape without God or authority.

The novel is less a story and more transcription of a disastrous trip to see the bullfights in Pamplona. Following the debacle, Hemingway wrote the book in a period of weeks, not even bothering to change the real names of people that he used in the first draft.

The characters in Sun are all real, and scarcely disguised from their actual counterparts. The most appalling depiction is that of Harold Loeb, who admired Hemingway with almost slavish devotion. In return, he gets mocked in the novel as Robert Cohn, a Jew who doesn’t know his place, with the temerity to romance Lady Brett, a woman that he certainly doesn’t deserve. It was a portrayal and a betrayal that Loeb never got over and one that he spent decades trying to understand.

After the publication of the book in 1926, there was a craze to be like Lady Brett, the hard-drinking sex symbol of the novel. Like her literary counterpart, Lady Duff Twysden was a broke alcoholic of a dubious lineage. Fleeing debts and family complications, she ended up in Santa Fe, before dying of tuberculosis. Hemingway, cruel to the end, told his biographer that her casket was carried by former lovers, who dropped it at the funeral – a fictitious tale.

Her husband in the novel, Mike Campbell (the real Pat Guthrie), the very model of the dissipated English upper classes, died of a drug overdose, owing money to bars and hotels all over Paris.

Depicted as trying to trick Cohn into marrying her, Frances Clyne (the real Kitty Cannell) went on to one of the most fascinating lives of all the people mocked in The Sun Also Rises. After surviving Paris during Nazi occupation, she become a game show guest, noted for her expertise in everything from timeless glamor to surviving prison. One subject she wouldn’t discuss: Hemingway. She thought he was a bastard from the very beginning.

While the backstories in Everybody Behaves Badly are fascinating, what makes the book great is the story of how Hemingway created his masterpiece. Everybody Behaves Badly is a writer’s book – I’ve never read a book that does a better job explaining how a novel actually gets written, showing how Hemingway took real events and transmuted them into his novel.

One character Hemingway leaves out of the book: Hadley, his wife. The Paris Wife depicts her as crushed by this omission, knowing that she was losing her husband.

By the time The Sun Also Rises is published, Hemingway was moving on from the woman who subsidized his early writing efforts for a richer catch: the heiress Pauline Pfeiffer.

Thirty years later, in the posthumously published A Moveable Feast, Hemingway tried to blame the pernicious influence of rich friends on his decision to leave Hadley. They said that Hemingway deserved someone more stylish than doughty Hadley.

But, as F. Scott Fitzgerald predicted back in 1926, with every major new book, Hemingway would have a new wife. After Pauline would come Martha Gellhorn and Mary Welsh.

Write what you know. That’s the cardinal rule of writing. For Hemingway, that meant mining his own life for the material to create The Sun Also Rises. It’s his best book and the novel that frees American literature from its fussy and florid predecessors. Like a good IPA, it’s a sharp and refreshing shock to everything you’ve experienced before.

Waynesville is the Next Asheville

crossing Main Street in Waynesville
Main Street in Waynesville, NC

The world has discovered Asheville, anointing it the next Portlandia.

It’s easy to see why. This beautiful city ringed by mountains is surrounded by natural beauty and filled with breweries and a vibrant local food scene. Plus, it’s artsy, with dreadlocked kids playing drums downtown, a great indie bookstore and a literary history that includes Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. And it possesses an easy Southern charm, where you can tube down the French Broad River with several hundred friends while enjoying a cold beer.

I’ve been visiting the area for twenty years, ever since friends of mine moved from Florida to the mountains. (If you live in Florida, you retire to western NC for something different.) I’ve seen Asheville develop from a sleepy downtown lined with empty art deco buildings to a booming mountain town with a half a dozen new hotels under construction.

But now that Northerners have found this once sleepy town and decreed that it is hip, the search has begun for the “next Asheville.” Roanoke has a good case to make. It has everything Asheville has – a nice farmer’s market and a historic downtown set amid the mountains. However, it still feels a little industrial. A little too real.

The Washington Post tried to convince readers that Sylva was the next Asheville. I remembered it as the town with the paper plant on the way to Western Carolina University, where my friends went to school. It smelled. And it still smells, a lingering sulphur scent on certain days. Though it does have a beautiful view from the courthouse.

outside Panacea Coffee in Waynesville
Frog Level in Waynesville, NC

What’s the next Asheville? I’d bet on Waynesville, which has developed from a semi-dry mountain burg (there used to be only one bar on Main Street and it only served beer) to a busy county seat that’s home to several breweries, a Mast General Store and a hipster coffee house called Panacea. The coffee place is located in the delightfully named “Frog Level” down along the creek and the railroad tracks.

But what I like about Waynesville is that it still feels like a real place. It’s not just cutesy shops. The largest town west of Asheville, it’s where the mountain folk come to shop. And not just at Wal-Mart. Main Street is home to City Hall, the courthouse, the local newspaper, restaurants, art galleries, a bookstore and more. It’s the place where you’ll see your friends and neighbors.

From Waynesville, you can take NC-276 up into Pisgah National Forest, a lovely winding road that passes Looking Glass Falls and other waterfalls as it makes its way over the mountains. NC-215 offers a similar serpentine route. Or hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, located just out of town, and take a day trip to Smoky Mountains National Park.

So, if you’re looking for the next Asheville, you need to go just a little west. Thirty minutes outside the city, and over another range of mountains, you’ll find it. Waynesville. It’s a little colder. A little foggier. But it has everything to be the next Asheville – except tourists.

Adventures in Multimodal Transportation (and Drinking)

July 2
Moves, an iPhone app, allows me to track my rambles. Gray is Metro, blue is biking and green is walking.

In most of the United States, there exists but a single transportation mode: driving. You use a car to get to where you want to go. Government has created a massive transportation infrastructure to accommodate that choice – roads of all sizes, gas stations on every corner, parking lots everywhere. Other transportation modes (biking, buses) are distinctly secondary, if they exist at all.

Only in the centers of the most urban of cities is life any different. In select urban areas, other kinds of modes exist. Haphazard government planning has resulted in the occasional protected bike lane. Lack of regulation allows companies like Uber to start. Streets designed in previous centuries accommodate pedestrians who walk to work.

In a multimodal environment, you pick the right tool for the job. You can’t just drive and park somewhere – parking might be expensive or not available or you might not have a car (like me). Instead, you select the transportation mode that works best for you, balancing a mix of a factors including time, hassle, expense and convenience.

While these choices may seem complex, after a while you learn what works best for you. And it won’t be just one mode. My day on July 2 is a good example of what it’s like to live in a multimodal world.

Destination: U Street Metro
Mode: Bike
Time: 8 AM
Distance: 1 mile
Cost: Free

Every weekday, I trek from Logan Circle to Silver Spring for work. The first leg involves  biking one mile to the U Street Metro. I bike because it’s easy, fun and quick. Most of the journey is along the 15th Street Cycletrack, a protected bike lane that makes it safe. I have two bikes – a Specialized Sirrus and a Breezer folding bike. I take the Breezer because it’s the cheaper of my two bikes so less likely to be stolen. Even so, I keep it locked up with a Kryptonite lock at the Metro. Safety is an important consideration in urban environments.

Bike to Bakehouse. I pass by this coffee place every morning but usually don't have time to stop. Not today! Today is a good day for scones. #bikedc

Destination: Silver Spring
Mode: Metro
Time: 8:10 AM
Distance: 6 miles
Cost: $3

I’ve biked up to Silver Spring before but it’s nothing but hills and traffic so I take Metro instead. I take the Green Line to Fort Totten and switch to the Red Line. Most of the time, it’s a pleasant, uncrowded reverse commute that takes 20 minutes or so. My commute costs around $120 but actually it’s even less because I can take that money out of my paycheck pre-tax as a transportation benefit.

Destination: Whole Foods Silver Spring
Mode: Walk
Time: Noon
Distance: 1.2 miles (round-trip)
Cost: Free

There’s nothing good around the office so I typically walk up to Whole Foods in Silver Spring for lunch.

Destination: U Street Metro
Mode: Metro
Time: 4 PM
Distance: 6 miles
Cost: $3

Weirdly, on the reverse-reverse commute, the Metro ride home typically takes 5-10 minutes longer than the morning.

Waiting for Godot, I mean, Metro #wmata #igdc #sullen_streets #metro

Destination: Home
Mode: Bike
Time: 4:30 PM
Distance: 1 mile
Cost: Free

On the way home, I rocket down 13th Street and go around Logan Circle, which is always fun. However, it’s impossible to make a left on Rhode Island to my apartment building. Instead, I go to the next corner, stop, wait for the light to change, then turn around and come back. It’s one of those minor inconveniences that you get used to as a bike rider.

Destination: Aveda Salon
Mode: Walk
Time: 5 PM
Distance: .5 mile
Cost: Free

I got a $40 haircut! It was quite pleasant actually. Part of the reason I chose the salon was that it was within walking distance.

Biking with greens - it ain't easy #BikeDC

Destination: Glen’s Garden Market/McClellan’s Retreat
Mode: Capital Bikeshare
Time: 5:30 PM
Distance: 1.5 miles
Cost: Free (normally $8 for 24 hours but I had a coupon)

If you’ve visited DC, then you’ve seen the red Capital Bikeshare bikes. They’re impossible to miss. I took one from Logan Circle to Dupont Circle to meet friends for drinks at McClellan’s Retreat. I knew it was the fastest way to get where I was going and I had a coupon. And I didn’t want to have to worry about my bike, or about drunk-biking home. And they’re just fun to ride every once in while.

Best deal in the city - $4 beer at Glen's Garden Market #igdc #beer #lifeiswanderfood #dupontcircle

 

 

Destination: GBD
Mode: Walk
Time: 7:00 PM
Distance: .5 miles
Cost: Free

After a couple of bourbon-heavy drinks at McClellan’s Retreat, I had a hankering for fried chicken and biscuits. Thankfully, I could walk to GBD. I think I would’ve been a little wobbly on Bikeshare.

Dupont at twilight

Stout and a biscuit- pretty much all I need

Destination: Home!
Mode: Walk
Time: 8 PM
Distance: 1 mile

Nice to be able to walk home without having to worry about a driving a car after a couple drinks.

Analysis

Distance Covered: 18.7 miles
Total Transportation Costs: $6

Bikes, trains, walking – multimodal transportation can seem complicated. But if you look how I transited around a busy urban area, it’s a model of low-cost simplicity. If I had to drive to all the places listed above, I could’ve easily spent $50 on parking, as well as the aggravation of dealing with DC traffic. Plus, biking is quicker for virtually any trip in the city.

So, give multimodal living a try. Ride a bike. Walk to the corner store. Take a bus downtown. There’s probably more than one way to get to where you’re going.

Tour de Fat Recap: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Mohawk nation

More than 7,000 people descended upon Yards Park in Washington, DC for the third annual Tour de Fat. For those unfamiliar with this unique event, it is a celebration of bikes, beer and fun sponsored by New Belgium, the Colorado-based brewer of Fat Tire.

I’ve attended every year for it brings together two of my great loves: bikes and beer. Here’s what it was like: Continue reading “Tour de Fat Recap: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly”

Friday Photo: Tour de Fat Edition

the couple that bikes together, stays together
The couple that bikes together, stays together. Maybe.

What can you expect at tomorrow’s Tour de Fat?

  1. A fun and safe bike ride around DC with people in costumes. Last year, we did a wonderful loop around Lincoln Park.
  2. Wacky bike-based entertainment, music and games. The photo above was from a corral of impossible bikes to try out.
  3. Delicious beer from New Belgium. This year they’re going to have some interesting seasonal varieties.

Everything kicks off at Yards Park in DC starting at 11 AM. Check out my photos from last year to sample the frivolity. Look for me on my beloved foldy bike. See you there!

Three DC Brewvet Destinations

Brewvet is a beer and biking challenge with the aim to get you to explore new neighborhoods and try delicious new beers. The rules of Brewvet are simple:

  • Eight separate bike rides to a different location
  • Buy or consume a beer at each location
  • Ride a total of at least 40 miles.

You have from May 1, 2014 through June 10th, 2014 to complete this challenge. Like the equally whimsical coffeeneuring challenge, the aim of Brewvet is to turn cycling into a fun adventure.

Where to go in DC? Here are three ideas for Brewvet rides in Washington:

1. Glen’s Garden Market
2001 S St NW
Washington, DC 20009

Grilled cheese and beer at Glen's Garden Market #errandonnee 10

Four-dollar beer. And not just any beer, but amazing local beer on draft, including DC Brau, Port City and 3 Stars, all of which you you can enjoy with a grilled cheese on their outdoor patio. Located north of Dupont Circle, you can also pick up organic snacks and sandwiches in the market. They also fill up growlers if you want to take beer with you. I really love this place. Afterward, I suggest a stop at Dolcezza Gelato to round out your urban adventure.

How to get there: If you’re coming from Virginia, get to the White House then take the 15th Street Cycletrack north and make a left at R Street. Maryland riders should get off Rock Creek Parkway at P Street.

2. ChurchKey
1337 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005

Weekend remnant - chicken and waffles

Saturday afternoons are the ideal time to visit this popular Logan Circle bar. It’s usually not crowded (especially around lunchtime) and their beer selection is the best in the city. I usually get anything by Bell’s Brewery. Also, they have four-ounce pours and low-alcohol beers if you’re concerned about biking while drunk. If you have friends without bikes, there’s even a Capital Bikeshare stand across the street.

How to get there: ChurchKey is at 14th and Rhode Island, a block from the 15th Street Cycletrack.

3. The Bier Baron
1523 22nd Street NW
Washington DC 20037

Bier Baron

The Bier Baron doesn’t open until three on weekends and the food is mediocre. But, they have a great beer selection from all over the world, a comfy vibe and it’s just a block from Rock Creek Parkway. This makes it a perfect Brewvet destination, especially if you’re coming from MD.

How to get there: Get off Rock Creek Park at P Street, make a left and it’s on your left.

Those are my suggestions for DC – what are yours? Where should I brewvet to in MD and VA?

Friday Photo: Elizabeth Taylor Edition

Enjoying #shutdown with an early beer at Dacha Beer Garden
Dacha Beer Garden. Taken with an iPhone 5 and edited in Flickr.

Outdoor drinking in Shaw used to mean sitting on a curb with a 40. Now it’s Dacha Beer Garden, a lovely open-air spot on the corner of 7th and Q NW. Dacha features some great Oktoberfest beers, as well as the opportunity to drink out of a glass boot. Plus, they even offer free little beers to government workers impacted by the shutdown (like me). Dacha is a great place to relax with a beer and a book.

But what really makes this place unique is the iconic mural of Elizabeth Taylor. It’s eye-catching.

DC Shorts: Where to Eat, Drink and Chill in the Penn Quarter

DC Shorts starts on Thursday! Now in its tenth year, the DC Shorts Film Festival and Screenplay Competition returns with 153 short films from 23 nations — including the country’s largest collection of short films by emerging Russian filmmakers.

Thousands of cinema aficionados will be on the streets of the Penn Quarter, going between the E Street Cinema and the Navy Memorial, the two main venues for the festival.

I’ve told you how to get the most out of Washington’s best film festival. Now here’s my advice on where to eat, drink and chill in the Penn Quarter. These are my favorites. Plus, what not do while you’re in DC.

chicken curry at Teaism
Chicken curry at Teaism.

Eat

  • Teaism. 8th and D St NW. Located next to the Navy Memorial, this is a great place to get Asian-inspired cuisine. While their bento boxes are works of art, I’m a fan of the Thai Chicken Curry – it’s tasty, nourishing and magically restorative.
  • California Tortilla. 728 7th St NW. Our local burrito chain. It’s called “California Tortilla” because “Bethesda Tortilla” didn’t sound right. The food is quick, fast and good, which is all you want out of a burrito joint. I always get the same thing – the Honey Lime Burrito.
  • Taylor Gourmet. 624 E St NW. Another local chain, Taylor features high-brow hoagies made on bread from Philly. You want to get the 9th Street Italian or Lombard Avenue, possibly with a side of Risotto Balls.
Our local brew - DC Brau.
Our local brew – DC Brau.

Drink

  • Iron Horse. 507 7th St NW. They have a great selection of beer and happy hour specials even on the weekends. Hang upstairs if you want to people-watch at 7th and E. Go downstairs if you want to play skeeball and high-five frat boys.
  • District Chophouse. 509 7th St NW. Located right next to Iron Horse, the Chophouse is a high-end steak joint. It’s a classy place to drink a Manhattan and listen to Sinatra, no matter your age.
  • The Passenger. 1021 7th St NW. Home to the local hipster set, The Passenger is a true original featuring exotic cocktails and the best bartenders in the city. Go early.
IMG_3901
The very mellow courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery.

Chill

  • National Portrait Gallery. 8th and F NW. Have time to kill between shows? The Portrait Gallery is open from 11-7 and features interesting photography, modern American art and one of the most beautiful courtyards in DC. Plus, there’s a little cafe with salads and sandwiches.
  • Renaissance Hotel Downtown. 999 9th St. I love a good hotel lobby and the Renaissance Downtown has a great one, featuring comfy couches, a bar, a Starbucks and even a little library to hide out in.
  • Chinatown Coffee Company. 475 H St NW. Regularly voted one of the best coffee places in the city, this indie shop makes great cappuccino. Plus, they serve beer, wine and absinthe!
january biking in DC
Tourists on distinctive red Capital Bikeshare bikes.

Bonus: What to Avoid

  • Harry’s. 11th and E NW. There’s a fine line between a dive and a dump, and this place is way on the wrong side of the line.
  • National Archives. 7th and Pennsylvania Av NW. I wish I could say, “Go see the Constitution!” But to do so means enduring metal detectors, hordes of tourists and certain claustrophobia.
  • DC Taxis. Dirty, unsafe and they don’t take credit cards. Avoid. It’s not a big city so walk, get a bike from Capital Bikeshare  or arrive in style in a private car from Uber.

DC Shorts is more than just a film festival. It’s a chance to explore the city. This weekend, do more than just see films – try some place new.