Friday, December 18, 2015

Seek First To Understand: Why the Four Peaks Sale Feels like Shit

I could give a shit about beer. I don't drink often and when I do I drink whiskey. The news that Anheuser-Busch purchased Tempe-based craft brewery, Four Peaks, is not concerning to me because I fear AB will turn the Kiltlifter into Clydesdale piss but rather because the Phoenix Metro Area has lost one of its very few homegrown cultural banners to a cringe-worthy conglomerate.

The Valley is a cultural wasteland, full of strip malls, isolationist libertarians, dust, young transplants from the northeast looking for work, cacti, young transplants from California looking for affordable cost of living and, during the winter, rich people escaping the chill of Chicago. A large percentage of people here come when they need to and leave when they can. Like Las Vegas, Phoenix exists as an affront to nature, a place built here just because it could be and not one that's benefited from multiple generations of people coming here, setting roots, and building something layered and interesting because this was a place that made sense to live.

Now look, I like it here. The baseball and food has been enough to keep me satisfied. But for people looking for an energetic, invigorating place to live, Phoenix is outpaced by plenty of other metropolises. People in search of the things Phoenix can provide can find more concentrated doses of those things west of the Mississippi if they want to in Austin, Dallas, San Antonio or Denver. Folks living west of the International Time Line looking to move to the United States have cultural lubricant in San Francisco, Seattle or Los Angeles. Phoenix has plenty of Mexican immigrants but the political climate here hasn't exactly allowed their culture to thrive and permeate into the local zeitgeist.

So when something like Four Peaks, which was founded in 1996 and rests in a building from the late 1800s, begins here, grows here and thrives here it is good. Precious few things do.

You know when you're making your bed and you go to put on the fitted sheet, you stretch it around the corner of you mattress and then move on to the other three only to find that your original corner has slipped off? That is what it was like to read this morning's news. Only the cultural backtracking that the deal signifies isn't as easily fixed. People who live here and want to continue to do so while, hopefully, something better grows around them just saw a beacon of light older than the Diamondbacks snuffed out with a few signatures.