Brent Beamer is an indie rocker from Missouri with a sharp, disturbing drone in his music that pulls you in with its intensity, complemented by his harrowing vocals and his edgy, uninhibited lyrics. In another time, when popular tastes were kinder to guitar rock, he’d be a major star and an important voice in rock and roll. So it makes sense that Beamer’s talent for writing songs would lend itself to a memoir that’s just as edgy and intense. BEAUTIFUL BELLIGERENCE, a short narrative that Beamer’s Web site calls “a wild tale of experience, exuberance, excess, fate and friendship,” is a chronicle of a wild weekend in which Beamer and three friends live it up and live to tell about it.
Beamer prefaces his memoir of his road trip with three friends to Kansas City to see a Chiefs game during the 2013 Thanksgiving weekend with a vividly honest assessment of the diminished expectations his generation has been dealt. In 2013, Beamer had a low-wage job and was saddled with student debt, and he voices his smoldering anger with genuine passion and righteous disgust. The frustration toward the ruling elites leaving Beamer’s generation high and dry is palpable, with unavoidable parallels with the discontent that Generation X had felt two decades earlier. “We were on our ride,” he writes of himself and his friends. “Carving our way through the bullshit we saw on T.V. and read on the Internet. By this point booze wasn’t a question, it was the answer.” The wild ride, Beamer says, led to a weekend in which they lived life to the limits – leaving, as Beamer says, “a devastating party wake behind us.”
The bulk of BEAUTIFUL BELLIGERENCE involves Beamer and his friends Twain, Poe, and Thompson, who secure tickets to the December 1, 2013 NFL game between the visiting Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. Arriving in Kansas City the day before, they go bar-hopping, try to pick up girls, and drink to their hearts’ content, getting excessively drunk and, thanks to Adderall pills, excessively stoned. They do everything together, partying like there is no tomorrow, because they know there isn’t a tomorrow to look forward to. They go to the abyss and seem prepared to fall in. Beamer describes a hotel-room encounter with a Latina stranger in which he smokes heavy dope with her but can’t convince her to sleep with him; she says she has a “famous” boyfriend. (“I left,” Beamer writes, “having known she didn’t find me attractive enough to tell me the truth.”) In another situation, a drunken Twain almost gets arrested for public indecency (urinating on the street) and then sees a man get shot before his eyes. You wonder when the excess is going to spin out of control, even after they make it to the football game, because there’s more partying ahead later that night. The game is an afterthought; the partying excites them more than the thrill of attending a live sporting event.
BEAUTIFUL BELLIGERENCE won’t appeal to everyone; it’s full of expletives, and the dialogue between Beamer and his friends is an ongoing stream of consciousness, with multiple voices of dialogue in a single paragraph. The non-stop descriptions of excess can be exhausting. But it is an ironically sobering account of a doomed generation of Americans looking – and, temporarily finding – an escape hatch from their directionless lives.
~Steven Maginnis for IndieReader