Hop Heads

When I was invited to an "S & M" party in Clairemont, I didn't know what to expect. I imagined people snapping leather whips and wearing ball gags in their mouths. Approaching the party, I could hear the music throughout the neighborhood. As I walked up, a boy of about 12 years old yelled to me from across the street. He held up a cell phone. "If you don't tell those guys to keep that noise down, I'm gonna call the cops. I also know that there are people drinking back there." I said, "I don't think it's against the law to drink if the people are over 21." The kid said, "I'm not 21, so I'm calling the cops." I laughed and walked into the back yard.

Several people were wearing "S & M Printing" shirts. I met Scott Graham, one of the owners of the company -- S and M are the first initials of the two owners. Graham handed me a shirt. It has a picture of a girl in leather and reads, "No whips, no chains, just beer and printing."

Graham tells me they started printing part-time for local breweries. He explained that big breweries sell their used kegs to microbreweries, and S & M would print new labels to stick over the old labels. Their business grew, as did the partying. S & M scores beer cheap. There were six kegs here from the Coronado Brewing Company.

S & M got a permit for the band that was playing. They were so loud that when I asked someone the band's name, I thought he said, "Side Kick Lounge." When I asked a second time, it sounded like he said, "Psychic Hounds." I didn't ask a third time. I was told a band called the Booze Brothers had played earlier in the evening.

The police showed up around 8 p.m. They were shown the permit, and one of the officers asked that the music be turned down a bit and stopped by 10:00 p.m.

There was a bar set up in the back yard. The gal working it had a tip jar, and according to a sign on the jar all the tips were going to Hurricane Katrina relief. When the band took a break, Graham got on the microphone and auctioned off shirts and other items, all proceeds to go to the Katrina relief effort. When the bid on a long-sleeved shirt reached $80, someone who realized it was one of the owners who had the highest bid yelled out, "Come on, guys! People are throwing up in his back yard, and he put on this incredible party. Why does he have the highest bid? Someone else bid on this shirt. Let's raise some money for a good cause." The shirt ended up going for over $100.

The band had a soundman at the board. As he was turning knobs, we talked music. He once worked with local band Scoundrel. I told him I heard one of the guys in Scoundrel had died, and he said, "Yeah, the bassist. He had cirrhosis of the liver."

There were complaints about there being no food, though there was a table of chips and snacks. Graham told me that the BBQ guy had flaked out, so he ended up ordering pizzas. I thought the delivery driver was going to be tackled when he walked into the back yard.

There was one guy walking around wearing a silk smoking jacket and sunglasses. He had two females with him, and someone asked if he was trying to be Hugh Hefner. I overheard a few people wish him a happy birthday.

There were people at the party from New Zealand, and we talked about various accents. Another guy who was from England had a slight accent. None of us could figure out why Madonna, who's from Michigan, had a British accent before she moved to Britain.

A girl who heard us talking said, "Are you talking about that skank Madonna? She's such a slut." This from someone wearing a half shirt, with a tattoo on her back and a pierced nipple, who earlier told a guy that she and her friend would both "work him over" if they got enough alcohol in their systems.

One guy kept asking his friend if they could leave. I said, "Why the rush to get out of here?" He said, "This is a cool party, but we've been here for two hours. That's a long time to be at one place, dude. And we found out about another party in OB that's supposed to have a lot of hotties." His friend said, "There are hotties here, bro." The response: "Every one of them is married." They left seconds later.

I overheard Graham and the other owner of S & M talking about microbrews. I asked them why they liked microbrews more and got this detailed explanation about how beer is made and what makes it good. "We're 'hop heads.' We like 60 pounds of hops in beer."

A drunk guy leaving the party came over to hug Graham and talk loud -- two things drunk people think they're required to do. When the guy finished his hug, he stumbled and fell over a plant. Graham asked the woman with him if she was driving. She nodded.

I had a headache and was ready to leave by around 9 p.m. I overheard Graham arguing with the band. They were saying they wanted to play a little bit louder for the last 30 minutes of their set. He was pleading with them, saying that the cops told him they'd come back if it got too loud. After a few minutes of arguing, Graham gave in to the band, who sounded as if they had turned their amps up to 11. I heard them for a mile as I drove away.

Crash your party? Call 619-235-3000 x421 and leave an invitation for Josh Board.

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