He was a newspaperman by trade, a Yorkshireman by birth (of Lithuanian heritage), a witty speaker with a dry sense of humor, an erudite author of books on beer, and an adherent (when there had been few) of beer style and terroir. Today would have been his 68th birthday: Michael Jackson, the Beer Hunter.
I recently talked with a professional brewer who dismissed Jackson as "that Englishman who was always drunk." Well, I'm (not) sorry, but that's a calumny.
Jackson, so outspoken in his advocacy for good beer, long waged a private battle against Parkinson's Disease, its progressively deteriorating symptoms observable as slurred speech, rigidity, and herky-jerky movements. After publicly revealing his disease a year before his death in 2007, Jackson would quip that he was writing a memoir entitled, "No, I'm Not Drunk."
In Jackson's second appearance on the Conan O'Brien show (embedded below), you might notice the disease's effects upon him, but you can't miss his wit, sharp as always. Jackson may have been losing, but he wasn't surrendering. Even O'Brien, beyond his schtick, was gracious.
Today, in Michael Jackson's honor, consider offering a donation to a charity funding Parkinson's research. And then, of course, toast his memory with a good beer ... but for Jackson's sake, pour it in a glass.
"It's a waste of money if you drink out of a bottle because so much of the taste is in the aroma."
- To help find a cure, you can link your home computer into a worldwide distributed computing effort - Folding at Home - run by researchers at Stanford University to better understand protein folding errors, believed to be a cause of Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and other neurodegenerative diseases. There is no cost.
- More YFGF posts on Michael Jackson: here.
- Follow the Brookston Beer Bulletin's comprehensive calendar of beer birthdays. It's a marvelous resource for learning more about the folk who make, bring, and talk about beer.
- More of my short list of Birthdays in Beer: here.