Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bier Beer

I have always instinctively subscribed to the doctrine by Marx (Groucho, I believe) that I would never join any group or club that would have me.  Nonetheless, I once applied to, matriculated at, and graduated from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio.   I even made friends there, had joint suppers, spaghetti, cheese fondu, loaves of crusty French bread, bottles of beer.  Over the years, I lost touch with everyone I knew at Antioch.

 Then about a year ago, just weeks prior to my having quadruple bypass cardiac surgery, I received an unexpected note.

Hi Bill.  Thanks for providing me with a wonderful Sunday afternoon’s entertainment.  I came across your blog – not entirely by chance – and enjoyed reading what you had written.  I wish I’d discovered your blog earlier.  Until about four years ago, when my dad passed away, I was in your neck of the woods about once a year for a visit.  My folks lived in Lawrenceville for some years…which my father and I affectionately dubbed Larryville....  I wasn’t able to discover whether your trip to France still is in the future.  On a continental scale, France is kind of in my neck of the woods.

By Carl Press on Click on Comments to Subscribe on 2/14/12

- On Fri, 4/6/12, william cotter  wrote:
To: carl_press@

What a wonderful surprise.  Don't know where to start.  I never check the subscription requests for my blog, because nobody ever requests.  Nonetheless you are not the first person from the distant past to locate me through the internet directing them to the blog.  Anyway, the trip to France had to be postponed until my wife and I are younger and richer.  I also regret missing you in Larryville.

Carl and I began to exchange e-mails, Facebook chats, photos, live Skype.  We learned by trial and error along the way how to set up and use these technological media marvels, challenging to a couple of old geezers.  We filled in the blanks with information about our families, our health, projects in denial of the aging process.  We discussed art, literature, technology, power tools, building construction and remodeling.   To bridge the six time zones between us whenever one of us logged on-line to chat, we experimented with using other media for notification, including cell phone texts.   I suggested telepathy.  Carl quoted his favorite writer Kurt Vonnegut: “Anyone who believes in telekinesis, please raise my right hand.” 

So I said, “I do not see any reason why my homebrew metaphysics should be any more disreputable than anybody else's or even the store-bought brands like Scientology, L.D.S., or for that matter what my redneck kinfolk used to call, "the Pope in Rome." Moreover, it will not make you blind or damage your liver. I do not offer it for sale and rarely even offer a sip to guests and old friends. While I do not ponder the nature and origin of life, except possibly by implication, I have long been interested in the communication of ideas, especially in the arts and especially the origins of ideas, what is often called inspiration. I do not believe God or a Muse plants ideas in the heads of artists. I believe ideas are a form of electromagnetic energy bouncing around the universe like the undying transmissions of radio signals from old Fibber McGee and Molly broadcasts. Who picks up these signals and how depends on the receiving equipment of one's brain and practice at tuning in. It is not a matter of the telekinesis quote from Vonnegut. The waves of energy are there, transmitted without intent or direction. Reception is entirely up to the downlink.”

Carl had been a theatre student at Antioch and had involved me in trying to convert some stories of mine into scripts for movies and plays, and he had recruited me as a tag-along for a documentary film for which he was the producer.  We had a birthday in common, June 6.  On our 1968 birthday, we downed a six pack of Lowenbrau dark, he reminded me.  I had provided the over-21 drivers license.  Carl went to Copenhagen in 1969 on a year-long program called Antioch Education Abroad.  He stayed the rest of his life. 

In Denmark, Carl worked as an actor, director, and creator of puppets.  With a little help from his friends, he raised as a single dad a son, Niklas, a successful bilingual journalist, Danish mother-tongue, English father-tongue.


carl press
06.06.1948 - 07.04.2013
Du indbydes til at tage afsked med Carl.
Afskedshøjtideligheden finder sted i kapellet
på Holmens Kirkegård på Østerbro.
Lørdag den 13. april kl. 14.00
Holmens Kirkegård
Øster Farimagsgade 46
2100 København Ø
Efter bisættelsen vil der være gravøl, hvor vi sammen kan
mindes Carl. Arrangementet er uformelt, men slutter kl. 17.30.
Vi håber du har mulighed for at være med.
Kærlig hilsen
Eva og Niklas

I always have trouble with the English funereal word “bier,” because it always makes me think of the French word biere and Kronenbourg, Jupiler, Stella Artois, et al.  The Danish language seems to have allowed for this with the term gravøl, which translates, literally, as "grave beer," according to Niklas.   I think that is much better than the inexplicable word “wake.” 

Even though my cardiac diet has no provision for beer, I am drinking a Loenbrau dark this afternoon for Carl’s gravol and telepathically joining in.

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