As the craft beer industry continues through it’s first real boom period, we’re likely to hear more and more about one brewery being upset with another for cribbing ideas or methods from one another. The beers themselves have even begun to mimic each other in style and flavor. We’re at the very tail end of brewers still trying to figure out what really works in a retail marketplace. Just as one brewery finds success with a gluten-free bourbon peach kombucha beer, it’s only a matter of time before we’ve got five more to choose from. (Think the avalanche of pumpkin ales we drowned in following the rise of Southern Tier’s Pumking.)

Nowadays, brewing the beer is the easy part when you consider what it takes to sell it in such a competitive marketplace. What works in the brewpub might not do so well on the shelves of a grocery store. Think about the shelves of your local beer store. What does it take to stand out these days? Everyone’s label art is shiny and fun. It has to be, or else it will be swallowed up in a sea of ambient label fonts and brown glass. Rogue Brewing has even gone as far as spray painting their bottles hot pink to catch a few more eyes at the beverage center.

One of the first notable micro brews to market their beer in such a way is, yes, Magic Hat. While certainly no Magic Hat apologist, they certainly have themselves a dedicated following of people who just simply do not care about malts and hops and just want to drink a beer because they think beer is tasty. They’ve done an especially great job of branding their flagship beer, #9. The bright orange cans and logo have made it the go-to favorite beer of people who do not give a shit about beer. They might drink Miller Lite or something else regularly, but MAAAAN if they didn’t love the beer they tried at their nephew’s college graduation party and had to tell everyone about it.

One brewery from Lexington, Kentucky called West Sixth Brewing flew a little too close to the sun, and is now the subject of a lawsuit with Magic Hat over trademark infringement. I first heard about this yesterday, when West Sixth launched a campaign smearing Magic Hat as corporately-owned (true) legal bullies (maybe true) who are just being big old jerks and telling them they have to change the branding or feel the wrath of South Burlington heaped upon them.

This morning, Magic Hat issued a press release with their side of the story. They say they attempted to work with West Sixth prior to any litigation, and only considered legal recourse after West Sixth stopped cooperating. Magic Hat says they had an agreement for several changes to be made before West Sixth walked away from the table. According to the press release, those changes included:

1. Remove the design element that mirrors Magic Hat’s #9 starburst/dingbat star packaging;

2. Use and promote the wording West Sixth Brewing in conjunction with the design (Magic Hat agrees that this will help eliminate confusion);

3. Work in good faith to phase out and replace any existing materials that may contain the prior version of the encircled “6” design;

4. Amend its current federal trademark application or re-file the application with the new design.

What the press release also included, which is at the top of this post, was a side-by-side picture of the two cans, something West Sixth’s petition to boycott Magic Hat doesn’t think to include. I was more than willing to jump on Magic Hat yesterday after reading their side of the story. Problem is, I take one look at that photo and I immediately see their gripe. I don’t think they were trying to deceive anyone. The regular West Sixth logo appears to be some kind of pea green, not orange. The similarities remain. Just because you didn’t mean to rip anyone off doesn’t protect you from someone saying you ripped them off. While yes, it’s slightly silly to point out that a six is an upside-down nine, but the thing about beer cans is that they can be shipped or even displayed upside down whereas bottles can’t. It does not take much to confuse people these days, so don’t act like it’s out of the question more than a few people to make that mistake.

At this point, regardless of how this shakes out, consider it a massive win for West Sixth. Hell, I hadn’t heard of them until yesterday but I found it interesting enough to break out the old keyboard machine and write. Win or lose, their name is out there now. I can’t exactly say I agree with their tactics, but they’ll be painted as the brewery that dared to challenge the big bad corporate brewery for having the audacity to have a logo similar to one they created after the fact. People love an underdog story.

Problem is, our homie the underdog in this situation is in the wrong. Which is why I’m politely asking West Sixth to never do anything that forces me to side with Magic Hat ever again. You guys do your thing quenching the thirsts of the people of Lexington, Kentucky. It’s a noble calling. But Magic Hat has nothing to gain from a war with you other than it’s intellectual property back. I don’t need to defend them anymore than you’re attempting to milk this situation for all the publicity you can needed to be pointed out.

I still won’t be buying any Magic Hat though, just not because of this.

[I wrote this originally as a FanPost for SB Nation blog CagesideSeats. I wanted to repost it here, since I spent a lot of time writing it and I don't know whether anyone would read it there.] 


“Wrestling is not killing Scott Hall. Scott Hall is killing Scott Hall.” – Eric Bischoff

 This is likely to be an unpopular opinion around these parts, for obvious reasons.

This morning, it was announced that Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon, had reached his goal on the fundraising website IndieGoGo to fund a hip replacement surgery. I think it was nice that so many people have been able to find it in their hearts to give generously to what seemed like a noble cause. Hall’s been taken under the wing of Diamond Dallas Page, whose yoga program has spun into a way for him to publically rehabilitate former star wrestlers-turned-addicts, all while touting the benefits of DDPYoga (formerly Yoga for Real Guys.)

The road is littered with the stories of wrestlers broken down by years of abuse at the hands of the industry and the drugs they take to counter it. Scott Hall’s story is sad, but it is in no way unique. There are hundreds upon hundreds of former wrestlers who wake up every day in excruciating pain. Lots of them probably need the same kind of inpatient surgery and therapy that Scott Hall just got the internet to bankroll.

The first vehicle Page hoped to use to promote his fitness routine was Jake Roberts, whose struggle was initially captured on film in Beyond the Mat. Roberts was moved into an “accountability crib,” with Page and related DDPYoga employees for the purpose of documenting Jake’s rehabilitation. Hall has also been moved to the same observation house, following a medically-supervised detox that Kevin Nash correctly postulated would be necessary before Hall could attempt said salvation via yoga.

It’s with this that before Hall can even attempt yoga, he needs a new hip. According to the IndieGoGo site, at only 54 years old, Hall has “a pacemaker and difibrillator (sic) implanted for his heart, and he can barely walk due to extreme arthritis in his hip.”

As an unemployed former professional wrestler, it should come to no surprise of anyone that Hall is without proper medical insurance. Whatever your political ideologies concerning that might be, he was looking at paying out of pocket for an incredibly serious inpatient medical procedure to the tune of $80,000.

Of course, why pay for years of your own self destructive behavior when you can ask people on the internet for pity donations, which if you ask me, is what we have here. $80,000 is a lot of money, folks, no matter how you spin it. While you celebrate the accomplishment of reaching the fundraising mountain top, ask yourself what’s really at stake here.

The altruistic nature of what Page is doing comes with the asterisk of it being the best possible promotion for his business venture. What better publicity could there be for a wellness program than being the man who cleaned up Jake Roberts and Scott Hall? Page has positioned himself in a way that he can’t really lose here. If he fails, he can just say that Hall and Roberts didn’t have what it took to get clean. If he succeeds, it becomes his go-to sales pitch. Page seemed to have a genuine respect and hope for Jake Roberts, but I believe he simply sees dollar signs when he looks at Scott Hall.

As an owner of the DDPYoga program and frequent user, the onus of responsibility for the program is on YOU. It’s spelled out over and over in the materials that come with the DVDs that the only person who can make this program work is YOU. Somehow I think the message has been skewed in Hall’s case.

There is also the angle that should Page succeed here, he’ll be doing what Vince McMahon and WWE could not do: clean up Scott Hall. There is minimal risk with the potential for extremely high reward. DDP is a small business owner, after all. He’ll get to stick it to McMahon and the vaunted Wellness Policy and scoff at the notion the company tries to help its former talent.

Then again, this is chance number 8,465 for Hall, whose problems were so out of control, ESPN ran a story on their investigative news show “E:60″ chronicling the depths of Hall’s substance abuse issues. It was startling and pathetic, but came as no surprise to anyone even remotely familiar with the behavior of Hall. The piece began with the footage of Hall making an appearance at an indie show in such horrible condition that it was disturbing that the promoter went ahead with the match. This of course glosses over the fact that Hall showed up like that to begin with. It also included what comes across as gloating that he totaled “eight Cadillacs” after leaving WWE in 2002.

It is behavior that without some kind of intervention, likely would have killed Hall. However, part of dealing with life-altering issues is confronting the problem and accepting the consequences. He’s been to rehab 11 times. At what point does saying “I’ll go to rehab,” become a defense mechanism?

Getting a hip replacement funded by wrestling fans on the internet is going to do nothing for Scott Hall. If anything, it’s a bailout. While it is very nice that Hall has been sober since being in the same house with DDP and Roberts, the biggest criticism is “What happens when those two aren’t being babysat by Page?” These are serious questions because as many of us know, it’s a cold world out here. What happens when there is literally nothing stopping either man from relapse?

Roberts, to his credit, really seems to be trying. He struggles with his demons, but through humor and self-deprecation, he at least comes off as genuine when discussing his past and his struggle to get better. If it was him who needed the hip replacement, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

Hall, on the other hand, is a shell of a human being who hip replacement surgery will likely cause more harm than good when we close the book on Scott Hall. Remember, this is all just so he can start doing a yoga program with DDP. Hip replacements are life-threatening for completely healthy people who were not sacrificing their bodies on a nightly basis.

In the end, the surgery was funded and Scott Hall will attempt his grandest comeback yet. If it works, I will be the first person to eat these words and say I was wrong. Page can pat himself on the back and Hall can live out the rest of his life one day at a time.

I want to believe. No one wants to see someone who genuinely wants to get better fail. This isn’t the first time Hall has been confronted with his demons and said he’d change (remember the 11 trips to rehab?) While I get the feeling this could be his last, I wouldn’t bet on that either.

No one likes to see their heroes fall from grace. No one said you had to help them get back up either.

(Writing this is part therapeutic exercise in saying goodbye to a car I used to drive, and part me reassuring myself that I’m not suffering any memory loss on the day after)

Any names or likenesses have been changed, just in case.


Crude MS paint rendering of scene

Last night, I was in a car accident. The other driver lost control of their vehicle and left the road, jumping over a turn lane median  some curbs separating the right turn only exit and the westbound only entrance* and smashing into the back end of my car. I was spun out about 180 degrees into the road, while she continued along the same path in which she hit me, only to stop after driving onto an adjacent lawn and into a nearby parking lot and hitting an old, beat up luxury car that one of the paramedics remarked had been sitting there for years.

(*I have no idea what to call this. See diagram for clarification.)

The back end of my car was pretty much destroyed. The bumper was ripped off and flew roughly 40 feet into the road. All the lights were shattered and laying around the scene. The trunk appears folded in on itself and inaccessible. The fender points downward toward the street. My licence plate is still missing.

The car, remarkably, was still drive-able, and I moved it out of the road and back to where I was when I was originally struck. I don’t know if I should have done that, but I wasn’t immediately hurt and the adrenaline had definitely kicked in by that point so I was on autopilot. Made more sense to block the entrance to the store than the middle of the road. This wasn’t the first accident I had been in, but it was the first one where I was hit head on from someone coming in an opposite direction. She had originally been headed to hit me between the driver’s side doors, but I saw her coming and attempted to get out of the way. I don’t really care to consider what could have happened otherwise.

At least two individuals stopped to see if we were okay, both of whom attended to the woman in the other car while I was on the phone with the police. In my confusion, I told them the wrong street name. They would call back later after a squad car arrived to tell me I screwed that up. I deadpanned that I had just been in an accident, to which the officer scoffed at and reiterated that I had given them the wrong information before hanging up on me.

The paramedics that arrived questioned me, like they are supposed to do. They asked if I was okay, a few other questions about whether I had head pain, neck pain, disorientation, etc. All of which I was glad to say I was not dealing with. They moved on to question the other driver, who also reported no injuries.

So, since both drivers were okay, it then became a matter of dealing with the bullshit that goes into something like this. I was definitely upset but remained calm as I realized this all happened simply because I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. The woman who hit me was on the phone as well, in a shouting match with who sounded like her mother after calling to tell her she had crashed.

I provided my AAA information, and the police officer took my license and registration before he encountered the other driver. Let me tell you, it is incredibly disheartening to see a police officer not only recognize the person who just smashed you with their car, but immediately announce that he had “something to tell her,” in the kind of way your mom would ask to talk to you when you got home after she discovered pot in your dresser drawer. It was less than encouraging.

Every possibility is swirling in my head. Is this lady some kind of frequent flyer at the booking station of this city police department? Watching her get placed in the back of his cruiser only made me more anxious. Did I just get hit by some uninsured car thief? Was she drunk? Either way, the cop was looking into both of our records and I’d have an answer soon enough. I had started to collect debris from the road and discovered that rear bumpers are much heavier than they appear.

Meanwhile, a tow truck had shown up. A man in a fancy coat jumped out and crossed the street. He looked less like a tow truck driver and more of a pudgy American Eagle employee. In a very strange manner, he attempted to strike up a conversation with me. It was as if I wasn’t staring at the back end of my car scattered across 200 square feet of pavement. He was trying to ask me where I was taking my vehicle. A sales pitch, is what it was, as his shop appeared to be up the road. Probably heard on the scanner and responded to see if anyone would need a tow truck. He gave me his card and tried to talk me in circles into agreeing to bring my car to his shop. I told him that AAA had already summoned a truck, and that I was still trying to put this all together.

I might have just been in an accident, but I couldn’t help but feel incredibly put off by someone who was feigning interest in my well-being, all while hoping to trick my panicked self into making a snap decision about where my car was taken. He assured me he would see to it that the insurance adjuster wouldn’t “lowball me,” as doubt seeped into my mind regarding his amount of say in those kinds of decisions. A timely phone call from my Mom would give me the excuse I needed to separate myself.

The eager tow-vulture moved on to the other vehicular carcass smoldering across the way, which sat immobile with similar damage but to the front end of the car. As I reassured my Mom I was okay and that she did not need to worry. At this point, the paramedics have left and the fire personnel that responded were milling about, their trucks serving as a warning for approaching drivers that someone fucked up over here. The other driver was still sitting in the back of the car, but did not seem to be in any trouble. A fireman suggested he probably just asked her to sit down and take a rest. Either way, I went through the trouble of forgiving this person right then and there, as nothing could be undone. She could have killed me. She didn’t, and I decided to move on.

This isn’t to say I wasn’t upset. That car took me everywhere. It was the first car I ever felt cool driving. It saw virtually every corner of the state. I had driven it since I bought it myself when I was 20 years old with the money from my first real soul crushing job. I had wrecked it before (my fault that time) but it was able to be salvaged. The transmission had started to slip before it was expensively replaced. It was the first thing I ever financed and paid for all my own. It was by far my most valuable possession and now, in all likelihood, it will be reduced to a line on an insurance adjuster’s legal pad.

As my tow truck arrived, I immediately (almost instinctively) asked the driver to take my car to his shop instead of the creeper tow guy, who had found a willing participant in the other driver. He agreed, and drove my car over to his flatbed to prepare hauling it off. The police officer summoned me over to him to explain what was going on.

He told me he knew who the other driver was since she was a local. He said the car did not belong to her, but that she was a legal driver and the insurance provided was valid. He added that she was cited for “imprudent speed” and assured me I was not being charged with anything. He hinted that this would likely prove beneficial when the accident was being reviewed for liability. He seemed to be expecting me to freak out and ask how I could be found liable for being hit while at a complete stop by someone leaving the road, but I realized the bureaucracy that would be at work here. Important to note that I never spoke with her directly, outside of her telling me she didn’t mean to hit me. I’m sure she didn’t. Insurance information was mediated by the responding police officer, which helped me in not reacting out of anger.

So I jumped in the tow truck with the non-creepy driver with the piece of paper filled out with the other driver’s information and a few odds and ends from my car stashed in my coat. We headed north towards the other shop, which was a little further from the scene than I remembered. During the drive, I received what was the single most awkward phone call I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. You see, in my attempts to get Creepy Towtruck Guy away from me, I had given him my phone number, hoping he’d take the hint when I went with the other driver. It went something like this:

Creepy Tow Guy: Hey Andrew, just wondering if you were coming to our shop.

Me: Uh, no, I left with the other driver, and he’s taking me to his shop..

CTG: Oh I thought we had decided that you were going to come to [my shop]..?

Me: Yeah, uh, I, uh, this is all happening so fast, I don’t, uh, they’re already driving…I hadn’t really decided, uh, it, uh…


I hang up the phone. 

We arrive at the tow shop, the foggy night even thicker the further you drove from the urban surroundings of my city and into more rural parts. The tow driver takes my information and drives my car to a spot located ironically next to a dumpster. He then took the ignition key with him and drove off. He must have driven to the far back of the lot, because I couldn’t tell where he went after a few minutes.

It was strange to stand there alone next to my car in the dark fog. It was quiet, and I just sighed that the run was over. My girlfriend was on her way to pick me up, predictably worried but grateful for my well being. I hoped she’d take her time. I was still walking and starting to compartmentalize. I anticipated an evening filled with customer service representatives and promises of action come Monday morning.

In some respects, I’m glad it ended this way. I would have rather been able to point the finger at someone else than see it slowly die because of my inability to keep up with the cost of repairs. It was approaching 200,000 miles. Knowing that it was a simple twist of fate helps in saying goodbye. All good things have endings. In that moment of solitude, I said goodbye to not only a car, but the car I spent the majority of my life as a young adult in.

A new car doesn’t just mean the end of the old one. Growing up doesn’t happen on your terms. Sometimes, it crashes into you.

(This was originally published in the December 21, 2012 edition of Saratoga Today Newspaper)

When the news first broke last week about the stunning and horrific scene unfolding in Newtown, Connecticut, I did what I always do. I jumped on Twitter.

 As more and more news trickled out, my stomach churned with sad disbelief and helpless anger. By now you should be well aware of what transpired in the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was a sickening display of violence most of us would have a hard time even imagining, let alone carrying out.

While Twitter and related social media outlets have definitely carved out a niche in the modern world of reporting the news, it doesn’t come without its flaws. Misinformation can spread very fast. Suddenly people far removed from the scene are the ones determining what is or is not valid enough information to relay back to their followers.

The hours following the attack were a time of mass confusion, as pure speculation began to be reported as fact on such crucial details as the identity of the gunman and the number of victims. People with a history of using Twitter as an effective tool for disseminating information, like NPR’s Andy Carvin, introduced such details like mysterious purple van being spotted near the school, multiple bodies found at the home of the shooter’s mother and even that the shooter’s brother had been found dead. All of which could be viewed by his over 81,000 followers. All of which, were patently false.

The problem was that Carvin was in Washington D.C. at the time of the shooting, 300 miles away from what he was “reporting” on. This could have fooled CNN, who Carvin claims tried to get him on the air after reading his tweets, thinking he was on the scene. Several other major outlets would learn the same lesson after they mistakenly reported the shooter’s name as “Ryan Lanza.” This would be proven false, as the gunman was eventually identified Ryan’s brother, Adam.

This of course didn’t stop those very same websites, and eventually CNN, from running screenshots of Ryan’s Facebook account. Some speculated, “Is this the killer?” Others condemned, “This is the killer.”

Why was there no restraint? Why were so many outlets like Buzzfeed and Gawker – websites not primarily known for their ability to break news in real time – so quick to jump on board with whatever information was being pushed to them? Why is it more important to get it first, rather than to get it right?

For example, following Hurricane Sandy’s arrival on the New York-New Jersey metro area, an account began maliciously spreading rumors of people trapped in elevators, that the floor of the New York Stock Exchange had flooded and that ConEd had cut power to all of Manhattan. These tweets were reported by credible news outlets who simply regurgitated someone’s report at face value rather than attempting to verify it independently.

We should be thankful no one was sick enough to wantonly spread lies during the Sandy Hook tragedy; however, I am not naïve enough to think it couldn’t happen in the future.

The world of reporting the news is a garbage industry insomuch that someone usually has to be willing to get their hands dirty to find out what is really going on. No one reporting much of what was going on was doing that. They likely sat in an office chair looking for whatever emotionally-jarring picture or factoid they could excavate from the panic. This kind of “off-the-ground” reporting exacerbated an already horrible situation, and scared many more people in the process.

One thing we should not lose sight of following the events of December 14 was that it wasn’t even the first mass shooting in this country that week. Just two days earlier, a man opened fire in an Oregon shopping mall, killing three people, including himself. That story was on full rotation with the constantly-running news organizations until unspeakable evil reared its ugly head in Connecticut.

Suddenly, the loss of life in a shooting on the West Coast became an afterthought to FOX, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and the litany of other outlets so desperate to “get an exclusive” that they actually had children from the school being interviewed for a global audience. This was presumably done by reporters who should have known better than to put a grade-schooler on national television and hope for any kind of insight.

As we move forward towards even more radical changes for the way tragedies are covered in the media, we must take note that there are no dress rehearsals. There are no “practice tragedies.” We in the media must take full responsibility for things we report in times of crisis. Because I know that as I sat here last week in horrified disbelief, I hung on every word.

Hi, I’m Andrew (Andee) Marshall. This is my new website.

Eventually, this will be an aggregate for my writing, whether newspaper, magazine, blog or otherwise. For now, it’s just a place for me to scream into the Internet’s black abyss. Kind of like my Twitter account, but without a strict character limit.

I’m going to start re-publishing older pieces from other blogs I used to write for, as well as previously published professional pieces.

I work for Saratoga Publishing, and operate as the managing editor for Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Simply Saratoga Magazine and a host of other yearly publications such as our community guide and A Saratoga Christmas.

I am kind of a jerk, but I tend to be really polite in conversation. I write about beer, sports, politics (poorly) and other happenings in the Richard Scarry-like world of Saratoga Springs. I like music and enjoy food with poor nutritional value.


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