blue ribbon tank: hand fishing the ecstatic trance

The search for genuine American weirdness. To look for manifest destiny under all the rocks, roadside billboards and backwoods of the cultural bi-ways. The new series of Will Ferrell ads for Old Milwaukee is a case in point of combing American mythology from Melville, and Hawthorne up to the troubadours of American music into a retro chic appeal for the old America, the ragged glory. It plays on the marrying the old with the quirky, edgy tradition of Richard Brautigan in a similar template that Heckler and Associates achieved with an equally moribund low quality beer in the 1970′s with Rainier; equally infamously not well liked or very good for that matter.

The sound of the saws could
be heard most of the time and when there
was darkness trash burners glowed red
against the sky. We did not have a father
and our mother had to work very hard.
My sister and I got our spending money
by gathering beer bottles that had been
thrown along the highway or left around
the sawmills. At first we carried the
bottles in gunny sacks and cardboard boxes
but later we found an old baby buggy
and we used that to carry our bottles in.
We took the bottles to a grocery store
and were paid a penny for small beer bottles
and two cents for large ones. On almost
any day we could be seen pushing our baby
buggy along the highway looking
for beer bottles. ( Richard Brautigan )

…According to reports, Ferrell pitched the Pabst Brewing Company the idea himself, and agreed to do the spots unpaid on the condition that they aired locally. In the ads, he lampoons his status as a Hollywood celebrity while fishing in the Mississippi River near Davenport, Iowa and drinking a can of his favorite brew. wasn't convinced, and noted a 2010 report about Ferrell's website, Funny or Die, developing sketches for Pabst, the parent company of Old Milwaukee. They also pointed out that the Old Milwaukee website is in full retro mode as well, with grainy old commercials featured that matching Ferrell's ads' vibe. Read more:

…He also engages in hand fishing for a “little piece of America,” and extolls the virtues of Davenport as an “Old Milwaukee kind of town” … one letter at a time. Read more celebrity gossip at:

The 165-year-old Pabst Brewing Company – which owns 32 brands, including Schlitz, Colt 45, Lone Star and Old Style – actually is a misnomer, since it no longer owns its own brewery. (It contracts with others, including MillerCoors.) Pabst was established in Milwaukee in 1844, earned its “blue ribbon” status at the World’s Fair in 1893 – but shut down its last Milwaukee brewery in 1996….

---The Plan B analysis even says that P.B.R.'s embrace by punks, skaters and bike messengers make it a political, ''social protest'' brand. These ''lifestyle as dissent'' or ''consumption as protest'' constituencies are about freedom and rejecting middle-class mores, and ''P.B.R. is seen as a symbol and fellow dissenter.'' Eventually all of this sounds like satire, but the punch line is that it isn't really that far off from P.B.R.'s strategy. In theory, a company that discovers one of its products has started growing of its own accord could simply do nothing. But it's hard to do nothing. Especially for marketers. For P.B.R. it was clearly important to at least appear to be doing as little as possible. This is one reason that a traditional response to the discovery that ''alternative people'' were buying the beer in Portland -- taking out ads on local alt-rock stations -- was nixed. It's one reason that when Kid Rock's lawyer came sniffing around to work an endorsement deal, Pabst said no. It's one reason that the company has passed on the chance to back a major snowboarding event or to sponsor an extreme athlete. It's one reason that even upbeat five-year plans for where the brand may go envision no television advertising at all.--- Read More: image:

…The company was bought in 1985 by beer tycoon Paul Kalmanovitz, who died in 1987. Pabst was left to the charitable foundation following the death of his widow. The IRS has repeatedly declared since 1996 that the foundation couldn’t own a for-profit business and set a 2010 deadline for the sale, according to Beer Business Daily.

According to Ad Age, Pabst Blue Ribbon posted gains in the four weeks that ended May 16 – while Bud Light, Coors and Miller Lite all declined. (Just four of the top 30 beer brands showed upticks at the beginning of their crucial selling season.) It’s good news for the brand that once was one of America’s most popular beers – sales peaked in 1977 with sales of 18 million barrels per year, and bottomed out in 2001 with just 1 million barrels sold….

---The patients think they own you and your time. They think you're their own personal garbage can. "I'd be home eating dinner and the telephone would ring, 'Help ! Doctor ! I'm dying! It's my stomach ! I've got horrible pains !' I would get up from my dinner and rush over there. "The guy would meet me at the door with a can of beer in his hand. 'Hi, dec, come on in. I'11 get you a beer. I'm watching TV. The pain is all gone. Great, huh? I feel like a million. Sit down. I'11 get you a beer, dec. The Ed Sullivan Show's on.'---( Brautigan ) Read More:,%20Richard%20-%20Trout%20Fishing%20in%20America.pdf

Its trying to achieve a meditation on the sublime, cultural phenomenons that mutate and try to evoke something beyond language, yet within a grammatical context. Something like language but as a language of the fragment, an in-between indicated by absence and in the case of excessive drinking the modernist theme, like Rimbaud, of self-destruction and redemption. Redemption through sin as acceptable discourse within the society of dissent. Like the sublime, this fragment hits us and leaves us thinking about something which transcends the advertisement and marks our identity in evolution.

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…Sales began climbing again in 2002 as hipsters discovered the beer. But there are concerns that Pabst – perhaps better known for its ultra-cheap price tag than its great taste – won’t be able to hold its ground against the booming craft beers industry. (Is craft beer recession-proof? Read Inc.’s take.)…

“You certainly seem to have command of that beer can. How much beer do you have left in that can?”
“Not much.”
“I think we’d better get the big boy another can of beer. I’d certainly hate to see that commanding beer grip without a can of beer in it.”
In Willard and His Bowling Trophies, Richard describes one of the Logan brothers (three guys who are pursuing their stolen bowling trophies) totally in terms of his beer drinking.
The beer drinking Logan brother had finished his beer. It was
his last one and he wished that he had another one. He had become
quite a beer drinker since the bowling trophies had been stolen.
He wanted to go out for another beer but he didn’t say anything
about it. His brothers did not approve of him drinking beer all the
time and he had been lucky to have the beer that he had just finished. Read More:

…Look for Metropoulos’s sons Evan, 29, and Daren, 26, to mastermind any Pabst makeover. Among the twentysomething tycoons’ hits include a relationship between Chef Boyardee and the WWF, and getting Bumble Bee tuna fan Howard Stern to promote the brand, according to Daily Finance. Evan also parlayed a Greek holiday chance meeting with Jennifer Aniston’s cousin into a product placement for another Metropoulos brand, Gulden mustard, in Aniston’s film “Picture Perfect.” And the brothers were instrumental in turning Perrier Jouet into the rappers’ fizz of choice, donating cases to their music industry pals and getting the brand featured in videos and at Limp Bizkit concerts.

Will aggressive marketing ruin Pabst’s street cred? Stay tuned.Read More:

Something beyond words. A fragment connected not to just words, but images, advertisement and technology. What the thinker Walter Benjamin described as “the ecstatic trance” and what Antonin Artaud was looking for in Mexico with the Shaman and peyote. The surreal element which takes a fragment of mass culture, the near worthless can and beer, and endows it with a psychic energy that destroys stable notions of certitude and perhaps, in the Freudian sense, installs the death drive- think Edward Bernays and cigarettes as torches of freedom- linking it to money and advertising.


First, an MSNBC report from 2010 indicated that Ferrell’s Funny or Die site was planning to produce sketches incorporating Pabst products—as part of an effort by the brewer’s new owners, the Metropoulos brothers, to revitalize a host of neglected labels. Nothing has yet appeared on Funny or Die, but these three spots could easily be seen as branded entertainment. Also curious is Old Milwaukee’s recent refresh of its website and Facebook presence, which puts other grainy Old Milwaukee beer ads front and center—classic spots from the brand’s history, including the Swedish Bikini Team (hailed on the Facebook page as “The Best Beer Commercial Ever”). Are the Ferrell spots supposed to hark back ironically to the brand’s commercial heyday? Read More:

Robert Crumb. Read More:

There was some beer in the back seat. It wasn’t exactly
cold, but it wasn’t warm either. I tell you I was really embarrassed.
I took a bottle of beer and got out of the car.
I walked up to the shepherd who looked like Adolf Hitler,
but friendly.
“I’m sorry, ” I said.
“It’s the sheep, ” he said. (0 sweet and distant blossoms
of Munich and Berlin!) “Sometimes they are a trouble but it
all works out.”
“Would you like a bottle of beer?” I said. “I’m sorry to
put you through this again. ”
“Thank you, ” he said, shrugging his shoulders. He took
the beer over and put it on the empty seat of the wagon.
That’s how it looked. After a long time, we were free of the
sheep. They were like a net dragged finally away from the
car….( Brautigan, Trout Fishing in America )

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