Sunday, September 21, 2014

Point of Brew: Back in the day with CWC’s Winter Concert


From page A9 | February 13, 2014 |

When out walking, one hears snatches of conversation of those passing swiftly by on bicycles; they talk loudly.

I heard one young man say to his fellow bicyclist. “I remember, back in the day, when a friend of mine got a Nintendo Wii.” And, with that, they were gone. Since the Nintendo Wii became available in November of 2006 this young man’s perspective about what is “back in the day” is underwhelming!

Right now, we are enjoying the 50th anniversary of The Beatles landing on these shores. Back in the day, I experienced The Beatles’ famous 1964 performance on the Ed Sullivan Show on an old black-and-white TV set that we were given. Although the screen was not very large, the cabinet was the size and weight of a washing machine and I had to borrow a wheelbarrow to get it home. The valves burned out regularly and we often visited Safeway to use their tube tester.

But there they were, The Beatles, on that shadowy old screen; we enjoyed their music (of course) and also their Liverpudlian accents that are so reminiscent of the tones of the English Midlands that we knew so well, back in the day.

There is some wonderful music from days gone by; as usual, this time of year, there is a splendid opportunity to explore and enjoy and even relive some of those lovely songs. I write, of course, of the Citizens Who Care Winter Concert, 22nd edition! The concert’s theme and title is “The Broadway Song Book of 1977″ and includes songs from “Annie,” “Chicago” and “A Chorus Line,” among other musicals that we loved back in the day.

We now have the chance to hear again that great music performed by a talented cast. Where: Veterans’ Memorial Theater, Davis. When: Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. Buy tickets at 530-758-3704 or The event is a fundraiser for the long=standing Yolo County charity Citizens Who Care, which provides time off relief to the caregivers of elderly folk.

I am not sure how anyone can enjoy the present without some real sense of the past. I suppose the callow youth, for whom “back in the day” is the fall of 2006, at least has some sense that the past has relevance to the present. In this context ,I happened to read an old column of mine from 2006. The following paragraph popped out; it refers to attending the Craft Brewers Conference of that year and attracting some attention there:

“Every year I am astonished and mystified by this attention and intense interest though, frankly, I revel in it. This year, for the first time, I realized that the craft brewing industry is full of young people; there are very few old brewers present, few éminences grises, few old-timers, few of the wise gray-haired, seen-it-all-heard-it-all types, few who have vast experience in the game and the perspective that sheer age brings to the conversation.

“And so the young brewers of the craft brewing community value and respect and seek out those rather few senior colleagues who attend the event. I am pleased to be one of them.”

I use “back in the day” in several different ways. For example, I use the phrase in reference to the genesis of the craft brewing industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I often address the lack of supplies and infrastructure and equipment and education suited to the new entrepreneurs of that time and, of course, how all those problems were eventually overcome leading to the extraordinary success of the craft industry we know today.

In an outrageously self-serving way, I am at pains to point out the educational role our brewing programs at UC Davis and in University Extension played, back in the day, and continuing to the present time.

Or I refer to “back in the day” when I first arrived in these United States in 1960 when we found adjusting to our new environment so difficult. Though we could navigate the American language, the culture was otherwise totally new and different; I often speculate, because of that experience, how those who come here with less than fluent English must struggle to adjust. They have my sympathy. No wonder they hold their own language and culture so close to their hearts.

Or I look “back in the day” to WWII and to the earliest days of it when I lived in my grandparents’ home in the South Wales; it was the home of a coal-mining family. Then I talk of plumbing: the lack of a bathroom but a guzunder (we called it jinky) and a good outhouse at the end of the garden; one cold-water tap. I describe the ever-living coal fire that warmed the kitchen (but not the rest of the house that was always a bit clammy and damp) and heated the great copper kettles for hot water for baths and tea and cooked our food and dried our clothes.

I reminisce about the rich glow of oil lamps for light on squally nights, and how that existence then was closer to how our founding fathers lived than to my present way of life.

So “back in the day” is an evocative phrase for me, and I just wonder how those words can mean anything to someone referring to 2006.

— Reach Michael Lewis at Comment on this column at



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