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the entirety of the new england cider maker’s association hates me. this is why.

Posted

“WATCH YOUR FUCKING MOUTH WHEN YOU TALK TO MY WIFE!”, the 60 year old cider legend growled, eyes narrowed, veins popping, spittle flying from his mouth.

*freeze frame, record scratches to a halt*

i bet you’re wondering how i ended up in this situation….let’s go back to the start.

it’s important to note as i now reflect, i was awful. while my intention was okay – i wanted to be honest and direct – my execution was beyond terrible. i made an ass out of myself and downeast. it’ll be a long time before we dig ourselves out of this hole with these folks. the good news is that i’m just a small part of the company and everyone else is much more reasonable and hopefully these guys will meet the other people and think, “i like downeast, but ross sucks.” so without further ado:

[this is a true story. the events depicted took place in somerville in 2017. at the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred]

earlier this afternoon was the first meeting of the new england cider maker’s association (hereby referred to as the NECMA). actually, technically, there is no NECMA. this was the meeting to establish NECMA. cider makers came from near and far, including dillon, the organizer, who would spend 8 hours in his car today to come down from vermont.

about an hour goes by. there’s a lot of what you’d expect: intros, shop-talk, history…ya know, light-hearted jibber jabber.

so i raise my hand, “this is going to be awkward,” i start, “but i feel like i have to toss this out…”

i first touched upon the festival talk. a lot of people were talking about having a new england cider festival. it seemed to me to be one of the few actionable things that would come from this NECMA. and in my opinion, which could very well be wrong, i thought it was a terrible idea.

a. there’s already cider festivals, both those that are pure cider like franklin county cider days, and those that piggyback on beer, like drink craft beer’s cider festival.
b. if the point of the festival is to fundraise, there are a million more effective fundraisers. brew fests take a lot of time and energy and in the end, aren’t extremely profitable.
c. if the point of the festival is to market cider (a la ‘got milk?’) and raise awareness, i think having a cider festival would hit maybe 1,000 of the least useful people people in new england (pop. 15MM): those who are already aware of cider and so much in favor of it that they’re willing to attend a festival.

a comment, “it could be like restaurant week.” i’m aware i can be a half-glass-empty kinda guy, but there’s optimism and there’s living on fucking jupiter. massachusetts restaurants will generate $17 billion in revenue this year. they employ almost 1 in every 10 people in the state. i don’t know if we’re even 1/1,000th of that. we can’t compare ourselves with the restaurant association.

so…i’m sour on the festival thing. that’s my soft open. i also question what exactly we’re trying to do. maybe scrape together some pennies by throwing a cider festival? maybe educate 1,000 people who already know and like cider? maybe do some lobbying?*

*side note. i know nothing about lobbying, but it doesn’t seem like a fight you go in with some part-time kid funded by a cider festival. we’re also all from different states, which have different laws, and thus different priorities. conflicting interests.

it seems to me that we’re building a ship, everyone’s focused on the sail and nobody has even considered the rudder. i hate that. happens all the time at downeast and i’m sure elsewhere. everyone’s trying to solve the problem but nobody’s considered why, or to what end.

so anyway, my soft open is to take a steaming dump in the corner of the room. not a good way to start. now that the appetizer was out of the way, it was time to hit ’em with the entree.

side story: i’ve got beef with two of these companies (i guess now i technically have beef with most of them…or at least them with me)

company 1 we’ll call mike and dan’s big cider company, or MADHCC for short. we caught them redhanded creating google accounts to leave negative reviews on our taproom. when i confronted mike and dan, they denied. weasels.

company 2 we’ll call national cider company, NCC. on multiple occasions i’ve had people tell me that they’ve overheard representatives, and in one instance the owner, of NCC publicly speaking ill of us.

ok, back to it. there’s a turd in the corner, the appetizer, and now’s the time to piss in the punchbowl. i raise my hand, “this is going to be awkward,” i start, “but i feel like i have to toss this out. from my previous comments, you’re aware that i’m a little weary of this organization’s intentions and capabilities. on top of that, i have a problem with some of the people in this room. mike and dan piss me off [point at mike and dan] because [above] and christian pissed me off [point at christian] because [above].”

at this point, people are yelling at me….”c’mon!” “are you kidding me!”…dillon is trying to make peace at his meeting….it’s a mess…i continue through the jeers…

“as we all know with our companies, it’s hard enough to get stuff done with a group of like-minded individuals who get along.”…”fuck you, ross!*”…“how are we going to get a group of people that don’t get along” “you can get along with my asshole, you insufferable cunt!”* “and each with different goals, to band together and get something done…of which the ‘something’ is totally unclear” “suck a dick!*”

*okay, i took some creative liberty on the insults because i don’t feel they were harsh enough.

an argument erupts. we’ve all been in large arguments with groups of people, so i don’t need to explain what that looks like. it’s messy. loud. personal. emotional. but what’s important to note is that it’s clear i’m flying solo. well, technically, it was the room vs ross, with tyler waiting on the sideline to hopefully untangle the mess i was making for downeast.

at one point in the argument, this older woman was screaming at me to meditate. i responded with something along the lines of, “lady, i have no idea what you’re talking about, but you need to calm down.” and to clarify, this was not the mature use of “let’s all calm down”, but rather the much more popular and douchey, “i’m gonna tell you to calm down to rile you up further.”

that’s when the elder statesman in the group, a man who’s been doing this longer than i’ve been alive, locked eyed with me and gave me a strong “WATCH YOUR FUCKING MOUTH WHEN YOU TALK TO MY WIFE!” we just stared at one another, eyes locked in streams of hatred like voldermort and dumbledore facing off with one of those adava kedavra laser battles.

imagine the most awkward way a meeting could possibly end…whatever you’re picturing, that’s how the meeting ended.

good first day for NECMA.

-ross

fuckboi brands

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if there’s a word of the month here at downeast, it’s gotta be fuckboi.

what is a fuckboi, you may ask? why is fuckboi being hurled around with no regard for human life? well, it all started about a month ago in philly. we were tailgating a phillies game with our wholesale partners when joe timm decided to absolutely blast me with the fuckboi bombs. one second i’m enjoying a pleasant conversation with some esteemed colleagues, and BOOM! joe’s raining fuckbois on me like there’s no tomorrow.

webster’s dictionary defines fuckboi as a weak ass pussy that ain’t ’bout shit….pretty harsh, right?

the other morning we were having a discussion about ‘brand’ when we stumbled upon the realization that the term was as relevant for brands as it is for people…weak ass brands that ain’t ’bout shit.

blue moon…fuckboi beer
nickelback….fuckboi band
ruby tuesday….fuckboi chain

-ross

 

“we’re not scientists, we’re farmers” – business people

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i was forwarded this commercial this morning:

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/wVn2/angry-orchard-yelling-at-apples#

i’m going to preface my comments by noting that we’ve done plenty of things i’ve looked back on with cringe…”why did we say that? how stupid…..”

but this ad for angry orchard is embarrassing.

“we care for and pick every cider apple in a 100 year old orchard at peak freshness”

c’mon….now, i don’t know exactly where these guys get their apples. i’ve always been under the impression that they purchase most of their juice as concentrate from europe. so sure, maybe those orchards are 100 years old. but they don’t care for and pick those apples. have you ever seen cider house rules? that’s who picks most apples (without…ya know….the sexual abuse). boston beer company doesn’t employ that frumpy old guy to pick all their apples. that’s an embarrassingly liberal “we” they’re using. it’s also super deceptive. boston beer company did indeed purchase an orchard in upstate NY for the angry orchard brand, but i doubt they get any significant amount of their total apples from that orchard. this quote is clearly trying to intentionally deceive by blurring the lines of their orchard and where they actually get most of their juice.

“we heard a rumor that yelling at apples makes them grow faster….we’re not scientists, we’re farmers”

what the fuck, boston beer company, what the fuck. first of all, i don’t understand the sentiment here. wouldn’t farmers be the best source of knowledge on how to make apples grow? why would farmers yell at apples? are farmers supposed to be morons? like, “i heard rocket ships use helium to rise into orbit…..but i’m a software engineer, not a rocket scientist”…..that would be the appropriate structure. but the bigger issue with that line:

WE’RE NOT SCIENTISTS, WE’RE FARMERS

fuck that. farmers? really? how many fucking people at boston beer company identify themselves as farmers? get the fuck out of here…farmers. boston beer company is a publicly traded company on the new york stock exchange with a market cap of $1.73 BILLION dollars. playing this frumpy old farmer card is really fucking lame.

like i said, we’ve done a ton of lame shit too, so i empathize.

-ross

only comcast….

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post-29676-Comcast-because-fuck-you-meme-dakt

only these comcast clowns can piss you off while giving you money.

i just had to call comcast because there was an outage. the tech guy reading the script was terribly awkward walking me through the troubleshooting so i told him he could go off-script because i’d rather he spoke more easily…that threw him off further, as instead of dropping the script (“i know this is a terrible inconvenience for you and we will ensure to fix the issue immediately”) he would alter the words (“i know this is a terrible…uhh…trouble for you and we will ensure to fix the…uhh…problem uhhh…soon”), which was tough.

anyway, he told me that if this issue was outside, it was free, if the issue was our equipment, i had to pay. well, about a month ago we had the same issue. the issue was outside, we paid. fudge. now i had to be on the phone longer to get the charge reversed by the billing department.

on with the billing person, she said it was a mistake and she’d reverse the charge. while she was reversing the charge, she tried to sell me two different services (insurance and tv/phone). i was kinda pissed. no apology, only more sales. i told her this irked me. this is where we hit the most offensive thing of all. she immediately offered me an additional $20 credit that is reserved for when they have an issue, fix it, and the issue persists. an “inconvenience” credit she called it. but apparently it’s only given if you complain? if i didn’t complain i wouldn’t have gotten it. that’s bullshit. and so dumb. they’re treating their customers like a pack of stupid beasts….and maybe we are for continuing to tuck tail and bow to master.

fuck you, comcast…sir.

ross

comcast

reflections on a winter away

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as we pack up on our last day in park city, i think it’s appropriate to reflect on my time here:

1. i’ve yet to find much in life that beats a powder day.
•   i don’t know what it is, i wish i could explain it to those that don’t ski, or don’t ski well. i guess it’s kind of like flying? but so is skiing a groomed trail…but it just ain’t the same. you’re gonna have to take my word, nothing beats a powder day.

2. not all powder days are made equal, but they all kick ass
•  sure, 30 inches of “right side up*” blower on a bluebird day is pretty sweet, but it’s also no secret to everyone with wood planks within 2 hours of the mountains. how about the day that was supposed to be rain, but it was actually snowing up top and the mountain is empty? or the “afternoon snow showers” that ended up dropping a foot and it’s “free refills” every run better than the last? or the dense snow and wind that created a smooth-as-butter creamy surface that you can just smear around on? all good options.

3. i only wore 1 pair of pants, never washed (excluding ski gear)
•  i’m not 100% sure why, and what i was trying to prove, but i did it and you can’t take it away from me.

4. i didn’t cut a head hair or trim beard hair
•  i went from this guy
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•  to this guy
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5.  i miss boston food
•  park city’s a cool town, but a spectacular meal for 2 costs like $200…boston’s not cheap, but there’s so much competition, you can blow your mind for under a hundred bucks, and often way less. the second we get back, i’m going to buy an anna’s burrito, blend it into liquid, and mainline that thing like i’m jared leto in requiem for a dream.

6. do that thing you’ve always wanted to do
•  i bet you can come up with some pretty good excuses not to do it, but you’ll end up too old or too dead before you do.

-ross

*if the temperature drops throughout a storm, the snow’s density is heaviest at the bottom, which creates a nice pad to any crust underneath, and lightest at the top, making it easier to control your skis. the reverse creates an awkward skiing surface

too harsh?

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nothing like a good old-fashioned twitter beef. especially when it’s all in good fun….which begs the question, was this too harsh? did i cross a line? my 18-1 wound still stings from time to time, so i get it. but they did take a shot at boston and there’s not much we like better than getting overly defensive about our city…you be the judge:

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(for the non basketball folks, seattle’s nba team was moved to OKC)

-ross

david price story

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given the good news about david price today, i figured i’d share my golf story. a few years ago i was playing a round at granite links in quincy. i was walking the course on a saturday and as is prone to happen, it got a little jammed up. being alone, i was butting up to the twosome in front of me around the 6th hole. they asked if i wanted to jump in, i said sure.

i immediately noticed that they had a “legit” golf feel. now, i’m a decent golfer, 3 handicap at my best, but i didn’t start playing until i was 19, so i’m not super knowledgable. but i could tell something was legit. they both looked athletic and had really nice looking nike equipment…shoes, clothes, gloves, hats, clubs…everything was brand new.

as we’re teeing off, i’m expecting a couple of scratch golfers. both were athletic and long, but neither striped it down the middle. odd. they were riding a cart and asked if i wanted to hop on the back of the cart. sure, i said.

as we’re driving, i noticed one of them had a baseball head cover. the other had a vanderbilt head cover and a bunch of other vandy stuff in the bag (and some sweet jordan’s). i started putting 2 and 2 together. they introduced themselves as cesar and david. david was really tall and skinny. nice nike gear. baseball head cover…was this guy cy young winner david price? i thought he went to vandy, but this guy was a twig…he’s a professional athlete?

when i got off the cart, i had to ask. “so…are you guys baseball players?”

“yup”

davidprice

the second guy was cesar chavez, another pitcher on the rays. i asked them a few questions after that, but i didn’t want to bug them while they were golfing, so i eventually dropped it. i’m sure they get enough of that as is. the 2 interesting things that came up were 1. they wanted to play the country club in brookline, but were denied. and 2. they have a golf concierge on the team. when they travel, they tell the concierge where and when they want to play and everything gets set up, clubs delivered, all they have to do is show up. as a starting pitcher, you’re pitching or throwing a bullpen sessions about 20% of days…the other 80% they’re free to golf. not a bad way perk of the job, aside from the 9 figure contracts of course.

a note about david’s golf game, it was clear that if he played a lot, he would have been really, really good. i’ve never played with a longer hitter…he was like, dali lama long. we were playing from the tips, and on a long par 3 – about 205 yards to the pin – david was on the tee. if you’ve ever played granite links, you know how windy it gets. it was blowing hard directly in our face. i was holding my 3 wood. cesar leaned in and was like, “check this out, david can fucking crush it.” david took a smooth swing and i watched as the ball flew the green and landed in a bunker about 10 yards off the back. i asked david what stick he was using and he showed me his 6. he flew a 6 iron 230 yards into a stiff wind! that’s insane. for those that don’t golf, an average pro hits a 6 185, i hit it like 165. (fwiw, i hit my 3 wood pure and came up short)

anyway, i’m glad everything’s okay with david’s arm. he and cesar were really nice guys, you would never have known they were “big shot” athletes or anything like that. sox are looking good this year…it’s great to live in the city of champions.

-ross

pissing people off and snow pukes

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so my last post angered a lot of people. i get it. “if you had just taken a little more time, don’t you think you could have smoothed out the edges?”…was the most common constructive feedback.

*”fuck you, ya asshole” – or some similar sentiment – would probably be the most common general feedback*

yes. i could have. but i’m not a blogger. i help operate a hard cider company and somewhere wayyyy down on the list of things i’d call my “day to day responsibilities” is offer my thoughts on the blog as a transparent peek inside the company. the more time i spend perfecting the blog, the less people will have heard of downeast and get pissed at me. damned if i do, damned if i don’t.

the thing about transparency is that people love it until they don’t. you don’t pick and choose transparency. in my opinion, the beauty of it lies in the ugly of it…the stuff that you wanted to see but shouldn’t have or the stuff you didn’t want to see that you did.

my one regret was disagreeing with some guy who claimed i was an asshole because i turned him down for a sales gig a couple years ago. i didn’t need to publicly call him on that. other than that, i stand behind the whole thing. we’re just some guys and gals that make cider and like to have fun with the whole thing. people have always disagreed with every aspect of what we do, whether it’s the unfiltered cider (“that’s F’N stupid! our customers won’t buy it”), our business strategy (“that’s F’N stupid! you need industry vets”), or our attitude (“that’s F’N stupid! you can’t say that”). oh well, we’ll keep doing us, they can do them. i’ve always said that i’d prefer 1 in 10 people loved us than all 10 thinking we were decent. it seems that the other 9 now loath us – or me? – but that’s fine…we’re all about that 1…and we love you too.

on a completely unrelated note – and perhaps turning you few lovers against me – the last 5 days of skiing have been deep utah blower you dream about. it was so deep yesterday that on two separate occasions, i found myself retching and dry heaving at the bottom of the run because i’d been eating so much snow from face shots. it was a legitimate issue.

deep

that’s not me, but that’s what was going on. first chair to last. indescribable.

PS – soooooo many: “you’re stupid and wrong, you should do X and Y and Z to build a successfull business, trust me” signed some guy from UMASS class of 2021 slash part-time barista at starbucks slash still lives in mom’s basement…thanks for the sage advice, man 😉

-ross

i need to bitch for a moment…we’re hiring

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first, i’d like to say i’m probably not a great “hiring manager”. i haven’t (personally) hired that many people…maybe 10-20. so i guess as a bit of insurance for someone saying “you’re not doing it right!!”…yeah, probably not.

now that that’s out of the way, i posted a job (brand manager) a few days ago and it is making me more miserable than anything in recent memory. the following – in no particular order – is driving me insane…if you’re currently applying for a job somewhere, maybe some of this is relevant…but i really hope not:

  • meaningless job description buzzwords
    •           “achieved synergies within core competency of day-to-day disruptive leverage utilization”
    •           that doesn’t make you look smart, it makes you look insecure.
  • meaningless accomplishments without context
    •           “increased sales of X by 140%”
    •           that means fucking nothing!!! relative to what expectation?….maybe the goal was 200%. relative to what market context?…maybe your competitors all increased 300%. relative to what production growth or restraints?…maybe ops overcame a production hurdle. it’s an insult to my intelligence that the assumption is X growth is 100% correlated to your effort.
  • horrible formatting on resume
    •           i don’t mean “not my preference font”. i mean extra blank pages, gross grammatical mistakes, foreign characters and shapes and shit…how can you graduate magna cum laude and misspell magna cum laude…madness!!
  • no cover letter
    •           even a “i’d love to discuss the opportunity” would be better than nothing…it’s like sending a dick pic in your first text to a blind date…for the love of god, ease into it a little.
    •           although, i’m not sure which is worse, no cover letter or the horribly formatted copy and paste cover letter where everything is the same font except the words “downeast cider house” and “brand manager”…at least your incompetence shines through so i don’t have to waste my time to see your resume is 4 pages of double-spaced buzzword garbage with 3 blank pages tossed in at the end.
  • the in-person resume drop-off
    •           get the fuck out of here you selfish asshole! that doesn’t show you want the job more than everyone else, it shows an extreme lack of awareness and respect for people’s time.
  • number 1 reason to hire me: i love your cider!
    •           that’s awesome, but insane rationale. i love myers and chang but i have no business in their kitchen.
  • similarly…”i’m a borderline alcoholic” for your cider
    •           not joking, gotten this more than once and uhhhh…seek help? i think i’d actually have a bigger problem hiring someone who doesn’t see sliiiiiigghhht imperfection of that joke than a raging alcoholic.
  • “i’m a marketing guru/virtuoso/genius/etc…”
    •           you’re a fucking clown. calling oneself a genius with a straight face is an assurance that one is not a genius.
  • “STOP YOUR SEARCH! I’M YOUR GUY/GAL.”
    •           oh thank god, i was getting tired of looking and with such a witty, brave, and ABSOLUTELY FUCKING ORIGINAL subject line, how could i possibly continue to look.
  • “forget about a resume, let me tell you…”
    •           i actually like this one. it’s not clever or bold. it’s an easy identifier for “not qualified”. appreciate the time-saver.
  • “i know i don’t have what you asked for, but…”
    •           now that i think of it, who needs a “good education” and “relevant experience” when i could have someone that can recite the alphabet backwards in less than 30 seconds…
  • “what, exactly, did you mean by ‘not the experience we are looking for’?”
    •           you’re a junior in college and your only work experience is camp counselor when you were 13…how the fuck is that unclear?
  • “and did i mention i went to harvard?”
    •           fuck you…but fine, we’ll talk…but still fuck you.

ugh.

edit: oh yeah. if you’re interested in making me more miserable: see brand manager

-ross

cupid 40 hands, joey dog nuts, and shenanigans on the slinger’s thread

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slinging cider can be a lonely gig at times which is why we have the cider slinger’s text thread. enjoy some selections from the past week or so.

joe and carolyn doing something, i won’t ask questions:

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taking the growler for a legal test-drive, also won’t ask questions…also don’t need to:

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perhaps our first serious HR situation….max bullying joe relentlessly:

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hmmm….max bullying another joe…note to self, be nice to max:

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the valentine we all dream about…cupid 40 hands:

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