The Schlafly Beer Employee Blog

December 1, 2017

Top Fermentation - December 2017


The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer Co-Founder Tom Schlafly

The envelope from the Office of the President of the Missouri Bar looked foreboding.  Before opening it I began to wonder what I could have done to warrant this official communication.  Was I delinquent on my bar dues?  Was there a disciplinary proceeding against me?  After opening it  I realized it was a personal letter from Morry S. Cole, the President of the Missouri Bar, congratulating me on my induction into The Gridiron Hall of Fame (aka Shame) with these words: “It is safe to say you have combined marginal talent with a superior sense of humor to create a nearly-tolerable comedic splash too many times to count.” What a relief!  Not only had I not been disbarred, but the President of the Missouri Bar had actually praised my “marginal talent.”

For the benefit of those alert readers (ARs) who have no idea what President Cole was referring to, The Gridiron Show is an annual production of The Lawyers Association that makes fun of lawyers, judges, politicians and society in general.  I began writing songs for the show in 1985.  Over the years my lyrics have spanned such disparate genres as rock ‘n’ roll (“Leader of Iraq” to the tune of “Leader of the Pack”); Broadway (“Heidi Fleiss” to the tune of “Edelweiss”); and opera (“Das Minegold,” a mini-opera about the woman who sued McDonald’s after spilling hot coffee in her lap).

My involvement with The Gridiron led to the formation of The Courthouse Steps, whom some ARs may have seen at The Tap Room and elsewhere. Some of the songs I wrote in this capacity included “ACLU” to the tune of “YMCA,” “Marijuana” to the tune of “Oklahoma,” “Al Qaeda” to the tune of “Elvira,”  “Toasted Ravioli” to the tune of “Toora-Loora-Loora,”  and a tribute to the Clinton White House with the memorable line “The pain and strain came mainly from the stain.”

Considering that I’m much more familiar with rock ‘n’ roll than with opera, “Das Minegold” was by far the biggest challenge in my Gridiron career. The fact that I was trying to write parodies of arias originally written in languages other than English made the task that much more difficult.  This mini-opera was performed at the 1994 Gridiron Show a month after I ran in the New York Marathon, meaning I was simultaneously taxing both my body and my mind that fall.

amazzoneferita-museicapitoliniDon’t mess with an Amazon.

While I was training for the marathon and trying to write new words for foreign operas, Jeff Bezos was founding Amazon in Seattle.  Twenty-three years later St. Louis is on a very long list of cities pitching themselves as a site for Amazon’s second headquarters.  As a chauvinistically loyal St. Louisan, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer additional reasons for Amazon to come here beyond those included in the official proposal (which I admit to not having read).

First, thanks in large part to Schlafly’s pioneering efforts, St. Louis now has a thriving craft beer scene that will make the relocated Seattleites feel right at home.  Second, thanks in large part to The Gridiron Show and other theatrical offerings, St. Louis has a vibrant and affordable cultural scene (unlike pricier cities on both coasts).  Third, St. Louis is located at the confluence of the two greatest rivers in North America.  Jeff Bezos reportedly chose the name Amazon because it was the name of the largest river in the world.  Given his stated desire to remain in North America, the best way to stay true to his original vision would be to locate at the intersection of the two largest rivers in the continent.  Finally, out of all the geographical features in the world, Bezos named his company for one in Brazil. If he really does have such a fondness for Brazil, he should realize that by locating in St. Louis he would be in the shadow of a brewery controlled by a Brazilian hedge fund.  He might even find people dancing the samba on Pestalozzi during Mardi Gras.

The Amazon River was given its name in 1542 by a Spanish explorer named Francisco de Orellana, whose expedition  encountered some ferocious female warriors who reminded them of the legendary Amazons. ARs who are versed in Greek mythology will undoubtedly be familiar with this tribe that inspired the name of the mightiest river in the world. According to some accounts (written by men) the Amazons were brutal and aggressive and their main concern was war.  One of their most famous battles was against the Athenians and was memorialized in marble bas-reliefs at the Parthenon and elsewhere.

Given the reported ferocity of the Amazons,  I suspect they would not have tolerated modern day harassers such as: Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Ezekiel Elliott, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Al Franken, John Conyers, Charlie Rose etc. etc. etc.  Considering the pervasive culture of harassment in Silicon Valley, perhaps Jeff Bezos was sending a message in naming his company for a tribe of powerful and independent women.

As far as I know, no modern-day Amazons have come forward to sue the company for using their name, which some historians say means “without breast” (because of their alleged practice of performing mastectomies on their right breasts to make it easier to draw bowstrings). That is not, however,  the case with Schlafly Beer.  As some ARs will recall, over five years ago some individuals named Schlafly filed a challenge with the Patent and Trademark Office to prevent us from getting a trademark for the name Schlafly in connection with beer. One of these individuals had married into the family and changed her name to Schlafly. She then claimed that the name (which was my name before it was hers) referred “uniquely and unmistakably” to her.  The other challengers also claimed that I was infringing on their rights to a name I’ve had longer than they have.  One of their claims was that the name Schlafly had not acquired any significance with respect to beer, notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of servings of Schlafly Beer that ARs and others have enjoyed in the past 26 years. Three of the challengers were licensed lawyers.  Their challenge is currently before the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

Sometimes what happens in real life is more ridiculous than anything I ever wrote for The Gridiron Show.


Tom Schlafly