Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jackson -- Legends of their Craft

NOTE: If you are here because you were curious and Googled "Wayne Gretzky Alcoholic" I will just tell you right now: I don't really know but he seems like a good guy and if he can pull off being the greatest player of all time and being a boozehound then more power to him. I doubt he started his winery to supply himself with stuff to drink. 

This is a blog about wine, beer ans spirits and the adventures you have when consuming and pursuing them. We hope you read on despite not knowing very much about Number 99's private life. 

You can find us on Twitter @Adventures_alc if you have a question and we are on Facebook too.

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Recently, Wayne Gretzky turned 50 and it got me thinking. Every hockey player since has lived in the shadows of Wayne.

No matter how good you get there will always be Wayne and his 60 records, golfing and enjoying his retirement. Like Plato to philosophy, everything since him is a footnote.

But it’s not like living in the shadow of a legend takes the fun out of the game. Which is a good thing because beer and alcohol writers have their own shadow over them—the shadow of Michael Jackson. What does Michael have to do with beer? Everything.

If you didn’t already know, Michael was the world’s foremost beer and whiskey journalist until his death in 2007. I never got to meet him, but I have read many of his books. If you read them you will feel that you know him a little bit too, but not as much as he does his subject matter. Jackson was a master beer writer. In fact he transcended this niche. He was a travel writer and social historian of the highest order.
Heck of a dancer, but no beer drinker
I was lucky enough to look through his books and papers which are now in the care of Oxford Brookes university in the UK National Beer Library - a fitting home.
Can I live up to Michael? Does such-and-such beer writer live up to Michael? I just don’t think that way. If Sidney Crosby wakes up every day struggling to be Wayne he’ll never touch him. Sydney goes out to be the best Sydney he can be. Best to just lace up, play the game and have fun. Michael's 'shadow' is a testament to the greatness of beer culture, not an impediment in the way of progress and opinion. Michael is a totem of his craft and culture.

If you want a quick sip of Michael’s writing I am happy to oblige you. Here is a link to a collection of Michael’s writing printed in magazine and newspapers worldwide. Here is his Wikipedia page in case he come up in Jeopardy. Here is Michael’s last interview, with Dan Shelton. My personal favourite of book of his is The English Pub.

Now that you know a bit more about the MJ of the beer world, do you want to read about my visit to see his collection? I thought so! What a coincidence…that will be an upcoming blog for your enjoyment.


  1. off to a pub shortly, I will raise a glass to the king of pop/beer

  2. Both MJ's are forever associated with Beer for me, actually. When the other MJ died I was working at a brewery and his songs played on the radio all day. I was at a pub when I found out.

  3. my only comment is that the image of 99 wearing nothing but soap suds and a smile is MINE and was shot with his permission...it's freshly stolen ALL THE TIME but with the internet there's little I can do ...not to protect my former friend but so as I could make some money...

  4. ...and BTW I have been sober for 17 years...doing my best/worst drinking during the time i was 99's friend and (almost) personal photographer while working the sports beat in Edmonton and covering the Oilers from 1980-92... through Jimmy Moss, former driver and brother of longtime girlfriend Vicki Moss, I basically lived to follow 99 photographically on and off the ice...Jimmy is now passed away but I used to be able to call him and find out what 99 was doing at any time during his day and evening ... he was always very good to me in that he would sign autographs and give me his game played hockey sticks so i could donate them to charity auctions in all sorts of banquets and events in Edmonton. I NEVER got a dollar from him for any of the pictures I gave to him through the years ... but I used to drink with him REGULARLY ... he started with the few beers after a game and he graduated to 'the hard stuff' with first scotch then he introduced me to his new favorite poison Lemon Hart dark navy rum and coke ...by the dozens...in fact when he got sold to L.A. he asked me while on a visit to YEG for a game to send him a CASE of the rum to him in L.A. but I couldn't because of cross border shipping laws ...

  5. as his drinking became more and more as I was told he started to loose a step towards the end of his career and from the time he left the Kings to go to St.Louis first and the great one and brett hull experiment didn't work he arranged the trade to the rangers to reunite with his best buddy messier (who screwed me on a side deal involving a pair of game worn gloves for a photo poster for the rangers locker room, but that's another story)but that didn't pan out either and all he got was throttled and beaten to a pulp on the ice by anyone who cared to hurt this old man to get him out of the game and it worked...so speaking about getting screwed I'd back up the train to when he was a King when he and I negotiated a deal for me to recieve a very valuable game worn jersey so I could pass it along to a collector in St.Louis so I would be able to afford to purchase digital camera gear and be current with the photojournalists and go forward ... many thousands of dollars were on the line and he agreed that he would do this for me while he came through Edmonton

  6. ... all was on track and I waited outside the Kings dressing room as per his instructions and that's when he would do me this great favor after all the years that he trusted me let me work for him with images for no cost for the most part and he ... invited me to his wedding ... his home and what I thought was his inner circle called F.O.G. (friends of Gretzky)...instead ...that night plans changed and as I waited for 99 himself as per the arrangement but a little man Rick Minch who worked as a PR flack for the Kings came out with a plastic bag that was all steam filled as if it was a jersey that 99 had just worn through the game and sweat stained and autographed and said ..."this is it...Wayne doesn't want you to ever try to contact him or any of his family EVER again...do you understand ?... I asked why but Minch just said DO YOU UNDERSTAND? and I complied by saying yes...so as confused as I was I left the Arena with what I thought was the garment that would change my professional career forever and give me a brand new start in the digital world

  7. ...it meant NO MORE FILM...period ...UNTIL the next day I called a good friend who ran a company selling trading and dealing in "PROfessional & AMateur" products to hear him say "The jersey you got last night is a phoney...it wasn't game worm and is not worth more than what any joe blow off the street would buy it for ..." I asked how'd he know and he told me that a CCM rep who supplied the Oilers with all their clothing in those days including jerseys called him and said 99 told him that there's a guy who is going to be trying to sell a game worn jersey to someone for big money BUT IT'S A FAKE so beware...that was mid February 1996 and I never tried to contact him again ...never knew why he blew me off after all those years being his friend until June of 2002 when my 19 year old son was killed by an impaired driver in Alabama while on tour with his band Compromise...lo and behold 99 sends me a faxed and copied note expressing his condolences for my loss...it even then was a failed attempt at showing me he was thinking about me after a half a dozen years when he kicked me to the curve...I write this on this site for the simple reason that 99 has made a lot of money peddling his poison first with his wine and now with his whiskey ...I dare him to get sober ... get his liver checked for enzyme depletion and see how better he will be off without the drink ... I have more stories that I may or may not publish here about my dashed and destroyed relationship with a guy who I trusted to be my friend for life ... but that simply wasn't his plan

  8. ... I have invited him to explain to me why he did what he did back then and further to most recently when I was diagnosed with lung cancer ...he promised through his other best buddy Don Metz of Aquila Productions of Edmonton to broker funds and provide me with a generous donation to me but later reneged on his promise for YET ANOTHER unknown reason[s] ... I can only pray for he and all his people ...hear me later