Bart Plantenga’s
Confessions of a Beer Mystic #6


There are those that know magic exists, but don’t know how or why it does, and those that do magic every day, but aren’t even aware they’re doing it. You could get stuck in a dichotomy between the two camps, unable to become an actual Beer Mystic no matter how much you guzzle between the lines, if you don’t actually submerge yourself in the text beneath the head. Sorry to hype the almighty type here, but to dylanize the cannibal, the changes they are about timing, and no matter what dangerfield you’ve followed down the road of self destruction in the past, you probably haven’t consumed anything with as much hidden gusto or as little secret kickback behind it as Bart Plantenga’s still unpublished ineberotic end of the century confessions of urban transcendence since the first day you stubbed your reality on A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.

Though all similarities between Furman Pivo and Carlos Castaneda’s journeys end with the discovery you’ve been transported to the next level of mutant cognition by Pivo’s ballsy, yet elegant, street-wise hops, if you’re stoked to the gills when that realization hits home, it won’t help you hold on to what’s right in front of your nose without drinking liberally from the language on a regular basis. Before you dive in, however, remember, there’s a fine line between drinking liberally and drinking gluttonously, even from the words, and that’s the reason that the brew that fills the Holy Grail has always been hidden right out in the open, in the tap on the bar in front of you.

Aye, let there be witnesses to the rise & fall of human dignity crawling around on the floor and puking its depraved guts out on our very feet. If you have to ask what’s on the menu, we can’t serve you. If multiple epiphanies were that easy to have, any drooler could drown in them, just like anybody can get drunk and make an asshole out of themselves. Beer Mystics, however, are a different breed of cat.

Sons & Daughters of the spiral of high wisdom found in lowlife dives, Beer Mystics have the power within themselves to illuminate blackouts without reverting to neon proselytizing. There ain’t no glitz on a Beer Mystic. A Beer Mystic doesn’t have to prove they can drink the whole fucking keg in one sitting. In other words, when the warm secure glow of realization begins spiraling in the belly, a Beer Mystic recognizes the knowledge being handed to them for what it is, and nurses the symbolic fruition into their own experience of reality.

In the same way a keg should not be devoured in one sitting, this book, if you can find it, should not be devoured in one sitting either. It should be nurtured through the great spiral, one word, one sentence, one epiphany, one chapter at a time. It could take you one brew a chapter to get through, it could take two, it’s as impossible to guess anyone’s number as it is to label the brand they crave to reach the understanding of their own understanding, but there’s no doubt, when they get there, when you get there, when I get there, we all know we’re there. And no one can tell us any different.

The sign of a true Beer Mystic, of course, is the ability to hold on to the spiral within themselves once they reach it. Most aspirants feel so good once they reach the Holy Plateau they have the overwhelming urge to feel better, and before they know it, the state of their consciousness is unconscious. Even the memory of the moment has gone back to the ether, and will only come out the next time — if there is a next time — they reach the peak of understanding the condition their condition is in. More self-developed than naturally gifted in the psychic arts & crafts, Beer Mystics, are always in-process, so always aware of how fleeting the spiral’s illumination may be. Like a zen archer, this awareness allows them to recognize the spiral and hold on to the illumination, long after the moment of cognition has passed. Obviously, Beer Mystics are a different breed of cat.

Mike Golden / Rudy’s Bar & Grill
– Hell’s Kitchen, NYC – 7/31/99 –

“I remember dark heads in our red Rambler,” I tell Djuna. “Counting seas on the moon, with my brother. Tracing the blue lunar seas on my Etch-A-Sketch. Tracing the crags and curves, eyes, head, mouth, each dip ad dimple. So that faraway places could look more like us. I remember thinking brown cows, like the ones at the farm museum with their pink butt holes aimed back at us, made the chocolate milk served to us at the end of the tour. And, based on what my old man said, all I needed to do was pump the tail to get my own glass full.”

Djuna, being close at hand, made cringing attempts to taunt me out of these reveries that irresponsibly did not include her, by poking her pointy tongue into my urethra. Roto Rooter never felt so sexy.

“If I can’t be included I will keep you from letting them take you as far as they would take you if they could.”

“The beckoning chest-high grass full of warmth and crickets whispered to me at dusk as I romped around nude through the field that had no end.”

“Oh, is this Little Hussy On The Prairie?”

“Question ignored. I sat on a tree limb with the setting sun on my dick. I thought of how many times my mother had told strangers and neighbors alike how long she’d been in labor — 42 hours. I remembered it distinctly as 36 when I was younger. Maybe this was her way of keeping up with the general inflation of disbelief. And I remember how the midwife said I didn’t want to come out, that I was holding on to the inside of the womb, ‘like a scared cat hangs onto a sweater like he knows something we don’t.’ Is how mom put how the midwife put it. I hid my dick between my thighs there in the fields.”

Djuna was all ears — and orifices — and made me get out of bed to demonstrate. And kneeling before me on the bed, she caressed me the way a girl might caress another girl. A tender satirical ham she.

“I tried to imagine being that girl with the last slants of sun beating down on my theoretical rearrangement of genitalia. I climbed a tree in the pasture, counted the cows as if they were clouds and waited in the limb’s crux for my body to start doing something. My skin was almost diaphanous, each pore of my skin was gaping, pulsing, begging to have my surroundings, the warm breeze, the scent of grasses enter me.”

Djuna was, by now, rolling her eyes, rolling them the way a steamroller rolls down a street. She just had no patience for what she called revisionist innocence.

“At sundown tiny lights hung suspended in the big dark like sad winks in a roadside tavern. Lit tents like hearts on fire. The darkness was full of insects and their predators and the predators of those predators. And what good is light? All it does is attract smogs of shrill-winged mosquitoes. I also remember deciding I wasn’t gonna talk for a week on that camping trip. But my parents put a stop to that, they were very angry and pushed me to make friends. ‘People are not people Furman, unless they talk.’ My ole man said.

‘Talk! TALK!’ My ole lady demanded, as they shook the confused rattle of my bones. Then my ole man tricked me into responding by ridiculing my favorite rock band. Called them homos. That got me going. In the campground we caught fireflies by the hundreds …”

“Cute as a children’s movie.”

“We put’m in a jar, then held the jar like a lantern to illuminate us doing these wild, hammy scenes. Casting crazy shadows against big outcrops of stone. I did a kissing scene and then a choking scene. You know, like in early silent movies. Henrietta walked the pirates gangplank. Helen struggled with a knife-wielder.”

Our immense hulking shadows — I thought to say, but instead edited it from Djuna — like raggedy extensions of spirit and unspoken desires blending to become this one, dark, multi-limbed spider.

“How thoroughly heartrending.”

“I enjoyed their company. It’s easy to say but really, these days it’s not. Neither of them ever wanted to squeeze fireflies between their fingers to see if the juice, the blood — if that’s what it was — was phosphorescent. Or swing toads by their legs over their heads like they were twirling lariats until the centrifugal force drove their guts inside out like Jamey and Paul used to do.”

“Awh, yer so sensitive!”

The female firefly during mating season hangs around on a fat, bare twig, responding to signaling males flying by. Her responses allow them to establish range and recognition. And the attractiveness of her flashing backside, her pale winking light guides the right male with the right lighting code in for a landing like she’s some amorous air traffic controller. Each firefly emits a unique signal that proclaims its species, sex, and excitability. I remember the burning itch in my crotch area that night after my romp through the fields. I remember in the tent having to show my father where it itched. And while Henrietta and Helen sat with my mom by the campfire, my father sterilized a razor blade with some rubbing alcohol. He then made me lay down on the cot so that he, sweat dripping off the end of his nose, Coleman lantern hissing, could carve out the tick from underneath my scrotum. I joined the girls at the campfire wondering what they were wondering. Was my limp noticeable? Did they even care?”

“Or me for that matter!”

“Adrenaline is what stimulates the ass of the firefly.”

“I wish it could be so easy for us.”

“For you its venom.”

“Oh, yea, I’m poison.”

“The firefly’s generator is apparently like some compact honeycomb churning with swirls of cool but intense radiance. Fueling the light is luciferin, or “light-bearing” substance, which oxidizes with luciferase, an enzyme produced in the stomach, when air is let in through small breathing ducts.”

“Oh yea, those sexy breathing ducts.”

“I remember Henrietta asking whether thunderstorms were somehow caused by atmospheric injections of the same kind of adrenaline fireflies have. My ole man joked about the gods going bowling. And the flames leaped up to meet our laughs. We were unsure of where to go with it.

“My body, at 14, was all fucked up with awkwardness and self-doubt. Don’t sit too close to the fire with all them combustible hormones. Body parts conspiring to betray my best interests.”

Djuna ignored me but then later doused me in dark beer and drank of me to drain my flesh of all toxins and memory. Her flip flop moods, from fire to ice, from ire to nice was both vexing and challenging.

“A boy, according to Seventeen arrives at his sexual peak at 17.”

“It’s all downhill from there, a 60-year slide.”

“I imagined for a long time that all happiness was contained in the glistening graceful slender arms of Helen swimming in the morning lake.”

“That’s what makes you so charming, always telling me things I don’t wanna know …”

“While women — I’m harda hearing — have hormones that keep them waiting till 27 or 28 even.

“Or forever in our case.”

“Listen I can get letters of recommendation from …”

“I doubt they’re even old enough to write.”

“Ouch. ‘What’s god tryin’ to do,’ Henrietta wanted to know, ‘muff the whole deal before we even get started?’ I sometimes still see those lips, their sculptural lepidoptera perfection flitting before my eyes lit by the golden glow of a camp fire. And forever I associated lip and the “lep” prefix of the order of butterflies so that when I saw a butterfly they were really the lips of Henrietta, a physical manifestation of a spiritual state.”

“Please spare me!” Djuna’s jealousy disguised by contempt was as becoming as a beached transparent jellyfish revealing all its pockets of poison. “Just bury it in your next book that won’t get published.”

“That night a thunderstorm carved a river out of the road and sent forks of light crashing through the hemlocks. It sent mom, head full of curlers, dragging us through a downpour in jammies to the car. We faked sleep in the backseat, watched mom wipe the steam from the window to look at the tent. She cracked the window to curse nature or the pact my ole man thought he was making with it. A car, she told us, is the safest place, because it’s grounded by rubber tires. The ole man lingered in the tent, determined to outlast the storm. Lightning lit his silhouette. Mom, through a crack in the window, yelled for him to get his ass in the car. She only swears when she’s really scared and not in control. He raged back, his defiant knuckles punching the inside of the tent. I think thunder reminded her of airraids, as a teen, in Amsterdam back in 1944. Even today we kid her when she heads for the basement, where she sits and waits in darkness in the middle of Pennsylvania. That morning …”

“Oh, please don’t stop, I’m almost asleep, I’m almost nauseous.”

“The sky was clear and crisp. Campers wrung out wet clothes. The trees held so much more rain than I ever thought possible on their branches. It looked like suddenly gravity was pushing down against all these trees. And when I went to visit Helen and Henrietta I found their campsite abandoned, empty, disappeared.”

“They were smarter’n I gave’m credit for.”

“I scoured the site, kicked pine needles, looking for clues, secret messages perhaps contained in the way they had left a neat pile of kindling. It was that very morning that I had wanted to ask them to be my penpals. And it was in that instant of discovering the empty campsite that I unearthed the convergence of self-loathing and regret.”

“Heavy! I can show you plenty of other places you can look.”

“A firefly’s foreplay and reconnaissance maneuvers dampen under a bright full moon. Don’tcha get it? Fireflies shy away from urban auroras which muck up the purity of the night’s darkness and messes with their signals. The darker the night, the greater the connubial activity.”

“Tell me something I don’t already don’t wanna know.”

“Later I’d figure out the same at necking parties — the girls’ arms were never as lithe and perfect as Helen’s; the lips never as magnificent as the butterfly-wing lips of Henrietta — at pool dances and spin-the-bottle circles. The amount of necking and tongue-kissing was always inversely proportional to the number of watts, the interior’s brightness. People just don’t make out under thousands of watts of floodlight. Like at a mall; you never see people making out at a mall cuz light equals crippling self-consciousness. The more darkness, the greater the surge toward liberty.”

A curious piece of light sat tauntingly off to one side in Djuna’s left eye. Like a stiletto made of light.

“And every once in a while, ever since the discoveries made during these firefly nights and necking nocturnes, I’ve wanted to live by a campfire, have that be the illumination of our lives, and I’ve wanted to douse unbearable wattages, shoot out the massive lights that illuminate shopping mall parking lots to undo what doing had done.”

“Amen, ah men.”

(to be continued)

Confessions Of A Beer Mystic by Bart Plantenga

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Bart Plantenga – is the world’s foremost Beer Mystic and authority on yodel-ay-ee-hoo! ·

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