Patrick can be found pouring pints and discussing a wide range of topics at the Civil Life Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Patrick Hurley is to me one of the reasons the Civil Life lives up to its name. In fact, he was one of the first people that I ran the Civil Life name by. The name which the great Tuan Lee came up with over a year and a half ago. His response was, “One could argue that drinking fine ales is a sign of a Civil Life.” I have known Patrick for over 10 years and have served him many a drink across the long wooden bar at 33, my former stomping grounds. I have been privileged to serve him wine and beer through a good portion of his Doctorate studies at SLU and I remember quite clearly the day his book ( http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pynchon-character-names-patrick-j-hurley/1009153734) was published. In fact, it must be duly noted that the first time I ever brewed beer was with Patrick Hurley, his wife Teresa and Tuan and it was at his, the “Hurley House” which is now the name of his soon to be thriving book company, www.hurleyhouse.com Patrick and Teresa’s house is filled with isles and mountains of books with just enough room for a table and a place for friends to sit as food is passed around and for laughter to fill the space between all those books.
Patrick can be found behind The Civil Life bar carefully pouring the most discerning patrons pints on Tuesday, Friday and Saturdays. He at times will take his turn at Jenga as well and his methodical play often sets the stage for much longer games of Jenga that are played well into the night but not past 10:45. Much longer than when I play the first few rounds haphazardly removing the small wooden blocks with a fervor and carelessness choosing speed over stability. He is an unassuming chap and approaches new interactions with a quiet and sincere disposition that when given the right nudge and a few hello’s over-time evolves into the classic bartender patron relationship that I so dearly believe in. His current friendly mutton chop beard much reminds of a very traditional bartender’s appearance in the roaring 20‘s. A bartender working despite the law of the land which threatened his very livelihood. Patrick’s literary background may be paralleled by others but rarely is bested and most importantly he disseminates it with an uncanny ability to do so without the patronization or the verbal jousting I abhor. Instead, it comes across in the kindest of ways and the great respect Patrick has for the literary world extends into his great respect and understanding of the art of conversation.
The art of conversation thus implies two individuals equally partaking in a dialogue offering points of views and counterpoints to flow to and fro. Great conversations must also allow the intermittent comical statement of which Patrick has mastered. I know this because, I know him and I know how many times I have learned a great deal from him, had many laughs and have never felt I was being taught. (Chris our resident painter and our bartender on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday days is equally adept and grabbing a conversation with either of them is well worth the paltry price you pay for a pint or a even that delicious half pint at the Civil Life.)
Patrick has put into my hands the great works of Flann O’Brien (At Swim two Birds) and Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim) and I have put into his hands, great bottles of wines and delicious beers for as many years. It seems we have mutually benefited from this exercise. We have talked countless hours on many topics and I have greatly benefited over the years from his perspective on topics ranging from music to literature to beer. Patrick embodies the age-old pursuit of intellectual curiosity which at times seems something our society is fighting to maintain and preserve. It is our plight at the Civil Life as well. He is always reading, always exploring.
But what does all of this mean. That is if you are still reading. Please continue.
It is with great appreciation that I announce the Civil Life Library. A library chosen by Dr. Patrick Hurley which includes over 130 well selected books that are sure to tickle the fancy of anyone who prefers words on a page to pictures on a screen. Books for paging through include: A Century of Enterprise: St. Louis 1894 to 1994, Beer Can Collecting, Darts. Books from the great literary giants: Saul Bellow, James Joyce, Tolkien and Vonnegut just to name a few. Books written by some of the world’s most prolific writers who were as equally blessed with a penchant for pints, whisky and gin as they were for their literary prowess. And let’s not forget Pynchon who is also represented and as noted on whom Patrick has published a book.
A great library was indeed a must in our pursuit of changing this old warehouse into a traditional functioning public house complete with a long wooden bar, beers that flowed like water and sandwiches that taste as though God himself has made them. (Note: That is a little bit of a stretch but we do make really good sandwiches and we must note we don’t know if God even makes his own food. He most probably has other people make his food.)
Patrick and I share the same beliefs. That pubs stand for something beyond their walls and beyond the flowing beverages. That pubs are the last protectorate of the art of conversation and we at the Civil Life take our role very seriously. An art that relies and has deeply seeded roots in all of those books that adorn our walls in our homes and too often play second fiddle to that shiny box with flashing lights whose mere goal is to keep us enraptured enough in order to keep paying ridiculous amounts for cable. The art of conversation and the literary world fight the same fight.
Now please don’t take any of this personally if that shiny box occupies a portion of your life. I myself have succumbed to the flashing lights many times as well. I once spent an entire semester seemingly stuck on a couch in college glued to a trial about a man that rode in a white jeep across the streets of California in a slow speed uneventful procession. This man then stood in a drawn out theatrical trial culminating in a tagline, “If the glove does not fit, you must acquit” that aimed to entrance and enlist us into justifying that monthly cable bill and defiled the use of poetry. But we all watched and reality tv was born.
All in all, our library is an addition that allows us to extend open arms to yet another demographic that is indubitably and equally welcome as much as our growing group of patrons that read the newspaper, the New Yorker, The Economist, play connect four, jenga, partake in a game of risk or head down with close friends to enjoy each others company. Our arms extend wide to all of you that help us in the preservation of conversation and revel in interacting with friends or random patrons and most certainly any of us behind the bar . We extend with great wide arms to you too Mr. or Mrs. TV watcher. To click off those absolutely amazing 44 inch HD TV’s with resolutions so fine and detailed that only a fool would doubt the marvel of ingenuity those tv’s have become. But that same ingenuity, causes us to sit silent in a room, eat our dinners with one eye on our food and forces a schism into our interpersonal interactions within our most sacred homes.
And please keep in mind, this point of view is simply one sided and simply singularly opinionated and derived from a stand point that in order for us to succeed at the Civil Life we must chide that shiny box and that expensive cable bill. We must drive you out of your living room and into ours in order to pay our massive debts to the banks that have foolishly lent us money. (This has been said before) And we at the Civil Life simply do not own a tv but we do own very large shiny equipment which we will soon put lights on. We also own an inflatable shark that can swim effortlessly through the brewery.
In closing, we implore you to come on down some evening grab a book and a much needed restorative pint. Sit at the bar and bounce a question off of Patrick, you’ll quickly understand why this post wasn’t just a few paragraphs. So, “Come on down. Help us in our mission. Be a part of what we are trying to do. And once you really understand what we are trying to do, can you kindly tell us”
Our Stuffed Animal Lodge
Kelly, our neighbor, gifted this reindeer to our pub. It looks quite nice hanging between the order boards.
Kelly is one of our neighbors in the great Tower Grove South Neighborhood. She was kind enough to gift this stuffed animal to us and quite frankly she bought it because every time she looked at it she laughed. We are now doing the same thing every time we look between our order board and see it sitting there. Someone thought we should put a red nose on it to which I said very sarcastically to the person that said it, ”Hey great idea, we can tell kids it’s Rudolph. A dead stuffed Rudolph on the wall in our nice pub.” FAIL!
Hence, there is no red nose but it still sure is funny.
Snugs and a snub.
A much needed shelf to set your beers while you open the door to the second floor.
Well, many of you have noticed a severe lack of posts to this blog and if you are somewhat good at addition you will realize we really are on day 60 or there abouts. The truth is it becomes fairly expensive to add new items to the bar everyday and well, some of the additions had to take a back seat to a much needed thing called paying property taxes which is coming up in about 2 weeks and supposedly is pretty important. Good thing is we are able to make our next round of loans/tax payments and that means we will be open for at least another month and a half! So that is great news.
Today’s addition is a much needed practical shelf next to the door on the first floor and the door on the second floor. This shelf allows one, being you or someone like you, to set down your beers and open the door with a considerable less amount of trouble than was previously experienced by people carrying beers from the first to the second floor. This shelf will most certainly cut down on the slight amount of spillage we have been finding as people juggle their beers in order to pass through the door. This was the main reason we added the shelf as quite frankly, spilled beer is a travesty.
On another note, we have taken the last few weeks to continue to tighten things up around the place. Dylan continues to add a few things to the walls. Our library is installed and quite shortly (maybe tomorrow) we will post about it on this site. We have seen a very nice increase in our food business and people like the great Pat M. text me, “That sandwich is (English word omitted) King” after taking a sandwich home for dinner. And to that I say he is exactly right. Pat understands a good sandwich and has spent a good part of his, like so many of us, eating sandwiches. So the kicker is not only does Mike’s Deli throw out a good sandwich, we also ensure you don’t have to take a bank loan out to pay for it. $6.00 is all we ask and quite frankly, you may find as good of a sandwich for 6.00 but I’ll bet you won’t find a better. We also have a very positive repeat sandwich business in the 90% range. Meaning once one buys a sandwich here there is a 90% chance that person will purchase another sandwich from us in the near future.
So if you haven’t been down, or haven’t given our food much of a thought or just are tired of reading this blog rather than experiencing the Civil Life. Step right up, you are the next contestant on the Civil Life is right.
Trophies worth winning.
I have been making a few rounds after I get off work now as part of The Civil Life’s community outreach program. This past week, I walked into Colorado Bob’s on Morganford. I had quite the good experience getting to meet Bob and being taken care of by his staff.
During my time there (twice last week), A fellow drinker in arms purchased not one but two drinks for Dylan, Chris and I. This is always the kind of thing that makes me realize that some of the kindest, gentlest, most giving people spend some time each week supporting their local tavern and giving back to their fellow drinkers.
The age old custom of buying a drink is something that at times goes a bit unnoticed in a bar. In our case at Colorado Bob’s a little cup was placed upside down behind the drinks we were consuming. I then remembered a line from “The Tender Bar” when Uncle Charlie told JR, “Nephew, you’re backed up on Joey D.” Thus signifying he had a drink coming from Joey D (just in case you weren’t paying attention.)
So for years my parents have been keeping things that have long lost their usefulness. In this case, my childhood trophies from my years playing St. Francis of Assisi soccer (my grade school soccer coach has even been in to have a pint) still sat boxed up in my parents house. Mementos of a childhood quite long ago. I wish I had stories behind each trophy but it wasn’t like we one just one. The only one I really remember is the time we lost in the 5th grade after winning for our first 5 years. The team was crushed by a double over-time loss that sent us on a long overdue major lesson of life. You can’t always win.
But you can always buy a drink for a friend. And when you do that at the Civil Life while your friend is still drinking his/her beer we will put a trophy up to signify the beer ahead is paid for and coming down the pipe line. Your friend can bask in the glory of the trophy during that time. He/She can hold it up high when asking for their next drink and enjoy that obviously great feeling of winning a trophy that I can no longer remember.
Enjoying the camaraderie of a bar is a nice way to pass the time. Buying a drink for a friend is a nice way to enjoy camaraderie. It also helps us sell more beer.
A selection of current newspapers (Post-Dispatch to arrive soon as well), The New Yorker, The Economist and Beer Advocate will be available every day at the pub.
Every good pub should have a couple things. First of all, it should have good beer. Second, it should have good beer. Third, it should have good beer. 4th It should have things to read in case you end up strolling in and while you are drinking beer you feel the need enlighten your mind as much as you are enlightening your liver.
There are already a few regulars who routinely show up with something to read. Over time, I expect and hope this Civil action continues to grow. If I am venturing into a bar by my lonesome I often do the same thing. I’ll show up with a copy of a book I am reading and set it on the bar. I’ll read as I eat and in between chats with the bartender or patrons. Sometimes it provides a nice segue into a conversation and most of the time, if you find the right conversationalist that is all you need.
I have always thought the best pubs are the pubs in which you can just show up by yourself or with others...it shouldn’t much matter. Here, you will always know or at least recognize someone behind the bar and that should give you the comfort you need to come by whenever the mood strikes, whether or not you can find a comrade in drinking. We have kind likable chaps working behind the bar and if the business grows we can hire more. Back in the year 2009 when I was doing my drinkabout, I would wander into a pub daily for eats, for a drink and a little field research. Pubs are grand places to meet people and when they are run well they are the most accepting places on earth. We are constantly striving here at the Civil Life to improve upon what we are doing, to make our space more inviting and more comfortable for everyone except jackasses. Pardon my english.
Reading in a bar also shows fellow patrons that you are a regular patron of a drinking establishment. For bartenders, it is a sign that you are content with our place and also most likely a regular at either our place or a slew of places. It shows that instead of feeding sitcoms and flashing lights into your brain you have chosen the time honored tradition of deciphering choice letters formed into words and then crafted into sentences that gradually culminate into a story. This process is called reading and comprehension. You are doing it right now...good on you.
So come on down to the pub. Have a pint. Read something about the crazy world we live in. Discuss it with someone. Repeat as necessary.
Hello earthlings. I have been sent here to open a brewery. I hope you have time over the next year to check in from time to time and see our progress (or lack there of at times).
Morning beer delivery at Tynan’s Bridge House Bar in Kilkenny, Ireland.