Upcoming EventsThe Medicine of Flowers: A Flower Essence Workshop
Thursday, August 7thNatural Beauty Workshop
Tuesday, August 12thBeer Shamanism 201
Thursday, August 14th
Waxing Crescent Moon
2 days old
Archive for "Blog"
I am grateful to Leigh Patterson for inviting me to share 5 THINGS I’m into right now on Alldayevery. Please enjoy!
Yeah yeah yeah! Travis and his wife Iris and their boy Louis are back in the Bay and we are hosting a TRAVIS BLANKET SHOW this Thursday, July 17th. Please come check it out! In the meantime, here are some shots of all of them at home, seeming to make blankets in the way he does actually make blankets.
Travis inherited his big loom from his grandma, who took it over from her best friend. It’s a 1920′s model from the Reed Loom Company. On it here is a blanket that Travis is working on for the show–it has a cotton warp that was dyed in Tessa Watson‘s indigo vat at the Berkeley Art Museum during The Possible show and Sally Fox’s wool that Travis works into homespun.
The homespun is spun on this spinner. Louis knows what to do. That top shot is really just a floss for that Bauhaus Archive poster that’s so great (they’re offering a similar one now, not as great but still really nice).
The other loom that Travis is working on these days is one of four of the collapsible models he made for The Possible, much like the ones he’s made and worked on publicly for years. AND YOU CAN TOO!!! Rigged up here is another plain weave blanket that will be part of the show at the shop.
And here is a look at Thursday’s showstopper, which is also an extension of the work Travis made at the big Berkeley show. Thousands of visitors to The Possible worked on the floor looms he set up there. Their weavings were stitched together to produce reams of fabric, which Travis cut up so that swatches could be included in an edition of artists books. Here is the husk of the original, stitched on a backing fabric to make yet another blanket.
Travis will be working on one of his collapsible floor looms at the opening, and he’ll be coming by to keep working over the course of the show. Please come by yourself, meet Travis, and enjoy the show!
Blessings on instrumental music the likes of Santo & Johnny’s slide guitar tunes! A frequent soother and joy-bringer in my home, this Italo-American Brooklyn duo put some serious work as young men in the 50′s, creating a plethora of tracks that went to of the top charts in the US, Mexico and Italy. The boys were taught to play by a Hawaiian trained guitar teacher and a bit of the Hawaiian influence hangs around all the while, making for an especially special chilled out vibe. Please to enjoy!
His campaign statement declared: “I want it to be understood that we are a bunch of tree-huggers and mystics and peaceniks. My main occupations are Hippy Priest, Spiritual Revolutionary, Cannabis Advocate, shade tree mechanic, cultural engineer, tractor driver and community starter. I also love science fiction.”
THANK YOU STEPHEN GASKIN
The wonderful ceramicist Patricia Yenawine has been teaching me much in the last year! While at the wheel I’ve also been taking in her musical tastes. This week’s playlist is a sampling of some musicians she appreciates and a few I’ve encountered through Patricia’s selections. May they inspire!
Beer brings us together. From mead-hall toasts to happy-hour pints, backyard keggers to sunny afternoon biergarten picnics, downing a few beers connects us — kings and subjects, brothers and sisters, friends and strangers. Sharing beer is an important ritual, and has been since we first started brewing at the dawn of civilization, 10,000 years ago. Beer makes us human.
Problem is, most beer today is soulless. It’s lost its place in the world. Made with chemically treated water, imported hops and grain, lab-calibrated yeast, and by enormous internationally-owned corporations, most of today’s most popular beers are abstract, buried under ads and image. A can of Budweiser, like Warhol’s Coca-Cola, tastes the same in Denver or Detroit — and might have been brewed in Brazil.
And almost all beers — wheats and stouts, pale ales and porters, hundreds of styles, thousands of brands — have one little green thing in common. Hops. The bitter, leafy flower cones of the humulus lupulus plant are, in fact, required by law. Brew without them, and it’s not beer, technically, but a food product — and regulated by the FDA, a legal snafu most professional brewers would rather avoid. So hops, today, are nearly universal. But it wasn’t always so. Far from it.
Hops, or Humulus lupulus, the wolf weed, grows fast — a foot a day in the heat of summer. But it doesn’t grow everywhere. Think wine country: today’s hops come, mainly, from the Pacific Northwest, Germany, and, yes, China. Back before pressed and packed 200-pound bales of hops crisscrossed the continents, brewers flavored their wares with whatever they could find, whatever grew nearby. Heather flowers in Scotland, juniper berries in Norway, chamomile in Egypt, pine needles in Vermont. Foraged herbs and spices weren’t just convenient — some had magical power, and brewers used them to make their beers medicines, drugs, and gateways into the spirit world. Herbs like henbane, mandrake, mugwort, and labrador tea can be painkillers, dream enhancers, or even hallucinogenic. In 1699, diarist John Evelyn wrote that a dose of borage beer would “cheer the hard student.” Horehound cured a rabid dog bite. Extra-strong yarrow beer was the celebratory punch at some medieval Scandinavian weddings — Linneaus wrote that it “stirs up the blood and makes one lose one’s balance so that the guests became crazy.”
At an early brewery site in Skara Brae, Scotland, archaeologists found residue of a beer made with henbane, hemlock, meadowsweet, and nightshade. Henbane is mildly narcotic, supposedly producing a feeling of flight, and was a common component in witches’ flying potions. Nightshade or Belladonna, causes delirious hallucinations. (Ironically, it was used during the Inquisition to torture some of those same potion-wielding witches into confessing.) Meadowsweet contains some of the same anti-inflammatory chemicals as aspirin.
These shamanic beers were rooted in their place — made with what grew, what was in season — but were also doorways to another world, what ethnographers call an entheogen. From the Greek for “creating god within,” an entheogen is a drug used in a religious context, a tool or a pathway to mystical understanding of the sacred or spiritual dimension. Beers like these bond us with our fellow drinkers but also with the plants, the place, the seasons, and the unconscious.
You can rekindle that magic. Using herbs other than government-mandated hops is a way to stick it to the man, sure. A Colonial American–era poem about replacing imported (and taxed) Chinese teas with homegrown, and mildly narcotic, Rhododendron tomentosum or labrador tea, ran:
Throw aside your Bohea and your green Hyson tea,
And all things with a new fashioned duty;
Procure a good store of the choice Labrador
For there’ll soon be enough here to suit ye.
But it’s also a way to give your beers power — not just alcoholic potency, but the magic of place, of creation, and of connecting, if not with another dimension, than with our ancient past.
Learn the ancient ways this Thursday in the first of our summer-long home brewing series, Beer Shamanism 101.
William Bostwick is a brewer, beekeeper, herbalist, and the beer critic for GQ and the Wall Street Journal. He’s been making mead and other fermentables for years, and is writing a book about the great lost beers of history. His book, The Brewers Tale about the history of the world according to beer, will be published by W.W. Norton in October. You can follow him in various places @brewerstale on Twitter and @lonepineco on Instagram
May all the wonderful kiddos in our extended Gravel & Gold family pod find reason to dance and sing along to their aunties’ favorites for little ones. Especially my main girl Mila who turns the big ONE next week! These joyful songs go out to her sweet self!!
Most of what I know about music I learned from my great dear friend and stunner musician Robbie Lee. Roberto is always generating something new and touching some extraordinary insturment as a composer, improvisor, rock star and producer. He’s also got a great little record label : Telegraph Harp and will soon be releasing a new album “Dust Clouds May Exist.”
Kindly, Robbie has continued to educate me and now us all, with his addition to the G&G Playlist series.
These selections were inspired and brought on by the uncovering of Ravi Shankar’s “I Am Missing You” which I am singing in my head right now and will also be singing later and tomorrow morning also. It’s performed Ravi’s his sister-in-law, Lakshmi Shankar, who’s own music is featured, too.