Bart Plantenga’s
Confessions of a Beer Mystic #19

Nielle truly enjoyed etching rosary-shaped bite marks into my neck, knowing that I’d be going home to my “wife.” She wasn’t sure why she did this. Jealousy? Territoriality? Carnivorous cravings? Beer-addled devotions? Scarification rites? Well, yes — and no.

Nielle means “smut” in French, or that’s what someone once told her. Or was it a scarlet meadow flower? Or Italian for a decorative black alloy used for inlays? Her parents thought Nielle was a brand of margarine in the Midwest with this pretty and vaguely swarthy milkmaid as logo. Anyway, her parents don’t know Cote d’ Azur from coat of paint.

“They watch news on the tellie, pay taxes, vote for Presidents, for school boards, and the right to shop on Sundays.” And this willful almost haughty embrace of ignorance is what she ran away from.

I had met her only weeks earlier, walking a neighbor’s dog with a longing stride that overstepped its bounds, right out of a film’s dream sequence.

“I wish I was your dog.” I announced from the park bench.

“So do I. I’d have you on a choke chain and a short leash. Are you dog or pedophile?”

“Which do you prefer? Pet or petofile?”

“I expect the courtesy of bein’ left alone …”

“For how long? The rest of yer life?”

“I expect you to let me walk this dog in peace.”

“But who’s walkin’ who anyhoo?”

“One yank on yer choke chain and you’d know.” And seamlessly, without a need to rationalize the marvelous, we ended up hanging on my stoop, in parks of crumbling concrete, in art galleries, and the Linger Lounge, talking about the awesome mechanics of a dog’s jaw. And then a snake’s. I entertained her with wild tales of black eyes and brown outs. Sometimes we’d brown-bag it. Suck brews through straws. Get skunked. And I’d let Nielle go just minutes before I could expect Djuna back to maybe change into her club-networking-gear. And the closer to a run-in it became the more aroused I got.

What Nielle had resented most thus far, was having to endure a life devoid of true adventure.

“It’s too early to tell. I mean, you haven’t been around long enough to not have a life to complain about.” These deep eves left her primed to share my moments of inebriated ultra-awareness. “Because drunkenness opens us up to enlightenment’s possibilities. It allows us to extract the “OM” from a LindeboOM or a DOMinion Beer. Beer apparently secretes this coded cheesy and viscous goo (not unlike smegma?) that actually initiates the yeast’s own mating processes. This coded goo allows the yeast to imitate the human sex hormone — gonadatrophin. This chain of tiny fungus organisms converts sugars into alcohol. This was discovered many hundreds of centuries ago when the skin of a fallen fruit broke open, exposed itself to the natural yeast in the air, and there began to ferment.”

“Holy Saccharomyces! The first inebriated soul!”

“And then you see that beer head and male gonad might, in fact, be related.”

“To suck one is to suck the other?”

“Well …”

“It’s almost like this sneaky yeast does this to ingratiate itself into our human lives — imitation as a form of biological flattery. Once in our lives it assumes a central cog (keg?) in our psyche’s dealings with amour, inebriation and light. Like a ‘liquor vitae,’ the ch’i, the life energy, the electric fluid that flows through our blood, lymph and nerves, carrying our essence to every cell — and beyond. Enhancing our magnetic core that attracts us to other human reservoirs. Thereby linking aesthetic beauty, blind lust, and beer ineluctably in this delicious neuro-comedy of life. And so beer (and its adherents) must also surmount disorder, search for supreme integration, make amends between the shifting territories of mind and environment.”

“All this seems delightfully, yet unreliably clear, don’t you think?”

“Well, monks in the Dark Ages knew all about this yeasty marvel. That’s why they brewed beer and allotted themselves and guests up to a gallon a day!

“They made beer outa oatmeal, burdock, dandelion, nettles even spruce. They knew, and that’s why beer was considered a divine libation. That’s why the earliest breweries were also places of worship. That’s why, eventually, priests and popes condemned the intake of beer and the peculiar exaltation it produced because it came too close to suggesting divinity. It threatened to subvert some of their monopoly power in their roles as supreme intermediaries between god and imbiber, between gut and soul. And holy men and gurus are always blocking the way between us and the other side.

“Some half-crocked power priests even stretched the ‘insidious delusion’ references, trying to associate beer-head, godhead, and the more unseemly Satanic activity of ‘‘giving head.’

“Beer used to be poured onto fields to bless the harvest. After which farmers masturbated on their fields to doubly assure an abundant harvest.”

Nielle loved these stories and rose quickly to fill the position of “Brownie.”

“Maybe that’s why they built St. Bart’s Church in New York on the site of an old brewery the way Moslems and Christians in Spain were always building on top of one another.” It was this type of conjecture she was sure would enamor her to me. She was right. She liked being called “My Sweet Brownie” and “Lil Acolyte” because of the “light” in “acolyte.” I was pretty sure it wasn’t spelled that way but I wasn’t about to point that out and risk breaking our spell. The more confused things got the more I managed to make a lovely sense of it.

[Nielle Bron: “Furman Pivo is a true zymurgist, mental seismologist, and artist who calls his pieces ‘repairing rips in the big dark.’ What exactly IS his art? Well, first off it’s OUR art. He has the power to douse lights, streetlights mainly, and I have the power to enhance that — call me an amplifier then — which offers him the opportunity to color in the urban scars of light with his own personal darkness. We free the dark so it can reunite with its atmospheres. I compare him to Mark Rothko, that master enabler of dark. I’ve done my homework. Critic Michel Tudor once said of Rothko: ‘He produces an oasis of light that protects him. A light intended to benefit only individuals, in secret.’ It’s THIS kind of light that we seek to preserve and enlarge.”]

Nielle said: “Plato said that perfect men, philosopher kings, should have absolute power.” Nielle, my plum-eyed houri, was truly ready to tag along. We had fasted and deprived our bodies of sleep. We had welcomed the excitement of the unexpected into the pores of our souls. The famished adrenalin-driven anticipation, hyperaesthesia, the isolation, the “snugfests,” debilitation, the noise (Coltrane’s “OM”) that led to sensory rearrangement, and potions of narcotic ale, ex lupulis confectam, a lovely bouquet, replaced the notions of makeup and jewelry as we headed out into the night.

I clicked on the microcorder stashed in my coat past the pocket hole, into the unexplored body of the coat to make a secret sound recording of our journey. I would play this on my radio show for an audience that did not exist.

We had become Brahmans of Brew by that 1st night. In search of that brackish crepescule, that grey zone, that netherland where beer meets dark, where soul floats into alignment with ale, where I “encounter darkness as a bride and hug her in my arms,” as William Shakespeare put it. And we found our 1st street light, a wounded one spitting out its last feeble flickerings along Lexington Avenue where whores with the longest legs on the planet wear boots up to where their crotches whisper “toot sweet.”

I stepped boldly under this light and dragged her with me. The light went easily and naturally the way of a thousand black eyes before — POOF! — like that. And that’s all she shone. Like suffocating a lover with a dark blanket.

One whore, on the corner with zippers that looked like teeth riding her thighs, thanked me with a nod. This would become a moment branded indelibly into the memory of Nielle.

“Whether or not these people committed shameful and fabulous acts, the putting out of lights and indulging in promiscuous intercourse I know not.” Justin DeSade, NYC Commissioner of Public Lighting was quoted as saying in a Daily News article about the recent rash of outages.

Law enforcement, social architects, and bureaucrats understand that light is a tool of surveillance and control. Light makes conscious what is better left UN. Light leaves humans squeamish, camera-shy, blinded; it circumscribes instinct, clips the wings off fancy, defines the parameters of lust and behavior so that erogenous zones are renovated as trade zones. They know that light stimulates commerce. And they know that in order to control the marketplace and society and its collective unconscious, they must control fear and the consumption of palliatives and annex darkness. Their frontline defense is streetlights — manifest destiny in the shape of 175-watt unshielded mercury vapor lamps or the more common 150-watt cobra-head fixtures. That’s why to disperse a potentially unruly scrum of festivity-seekers management always turns up the lights after a concert to send its revelers scurrying home like Blatta Americana, common cockroaches. That’s why cops patrol the dark sectors carrying flashlights, scarring the fields of night with vectors of light, attempting desperately to contain night’s ooze toward squalor and ecstasy.

Adventure was now the throb in the blood, the beer in the glass, the light in the bulb. Nielle was totally beside herself. She took photos of the patch of darkness above where once had hung this pulsing testicle of light. Her full smile made her eyes go Chinese. She gave me full credit as the “king of mind” and “ruler of dark” (capital letters come later) for the whole phenom.

This allowed me to make a deeper play for her. I drew her into the phenom and turned on the charm of my light and flattered her further and further beside herself. Of course, too much light can trim the edges off the dream.

“Yuh, know, if it’s all about darkness then why not just poke our eyes out?” She needs to know under the scream of the FDR. “Like Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder. They’re soulful.”

“Well, I figure, we need the contrast of light to fully appreciate darkness. That’s what ETERNAL light is all about.”

“‘Light doth seize my brain / With frantic pain.’ William Blake. He was there.” Nielle had an incredible memory.

And with black eye #2, and then #3, #4, and #5 — those delicious proofs of my prowess — I magnanimously suggested that it was the result of our COMBINED bio-electro-magnetic impulses. And I stared into the depth of her bottomless pupils and said I foresaw times when our combined bio-electrical surges and brain-matrix linkages would render us unstoppable and mythological.

I saw wild embraces where our contours would take the shape of one another. I imagined us watching the docks’ last glowing ashes fall into the river like exhausted fireflies and the pillars, which had once been trees, collapse like an old man’s legs, giving way into dark water.

On my stoop, (where were the porch monks?) I proposed we rub vigorously together to increase our collective charge. I’d acquire her positive charges and she, my negative and vice versa, exchanging charges late into the night. Eventually we’d go on a so-called Blindman’s Holiday, do the so-called “feelie zoo” to get around the fabulous surface that is her skin, the magnificent eclipse of her body.

“Henry Miller once said, ‘It is obvious enough that the sexual life flourishes better in a dim murky light: it is at home in the chiaroscuro and not in the glare of neon light.’” She thought scholarship was sexy. She was hopeful that the words of others could still influence us. She wasn’t far gone, no, she was far and deep into it, the real it.

We wondered if indeed this activity would save us from the brutal anonymity that the tireless pursuit of individual distinction had hollowed out for us.

What made our subsequent illumination even more remarkable was that she had actually begun to glow like a broody “black light,” as she, herself, had come around to jest. She was black, yes, and I wanted her, or at least her skin, to absorb me.

I told her about how Dr. Harold Burr, a pre-Curlian scientist, had already proven the existence of halos. He discovered that ALL organisms have unique electrodynamic systems with their own voltage patterns. Some humans, he discovered, had learned to harness these voltage surges. These are mystics. Wilhelm Reich thought that some of these hypercharged beings had repressed biological surges which produced malevolent charges or “armors” of muscle.

“Why do men tap the tops of beer cans just before they open’m? To warn the beer gods?”

“There’s a chemical explanation. It has to do with assuring that not too many over-anxious bubbles are clinging to the tab hole.”

She was impressed by the way I had seemingly gathered all the random awesome intelligence of the night and made it intelligible — and sexy.

This was a time of lightheartedness, of precocious exploration. A time during which her heavenly body didn’t so much reflect light as ABSORB light and heat, and all my lunging desire with an awesome indivisibility.

to be continued – #1 #2 #3 #4 – #5 – #6 – #7 – #8 – #9 – #10 – #11 – #12 – #13 – #14 – #15 – #16 – #17 – #18

How to become a Beer Mystic – by Mike Golden


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

Sharon Mesmer interviews the old Beer Mystic @
Confessions Of A Beer Mystic by Bart Plantenga

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