A few months ago a friend of mine bought some beer.
The interesting thing about this particular beer was that it had been made to appear as tho’ it had been brewed by squatters or some shit. From like, (OMGOMGOMG) New York. The beer was called ‘Doss Blockos’, and it came armed in a brown paper bag (adorned with a squatting symbol) and accompanied by a rather dubious back-story…
I filed it for later reference, and then promptly forgot all about it. Then Last Thursday I saw the same beer for sale at hip underground venue Dan Murphy’s.
So I thought I’d do a little more digging.
Once Upon A Time, ‘Dos Blockos’ was the name of a squat in New York City. Located at 713 East 9th Street, Dos Blockos was squatted for many years before being evicted on April 27, 1999 (Steve Wishnia, ‘Pigs Evict Dos Blockos Squat on Lower East Side’, The Shadow). Among its former residents was Brad Will, an independent journalist murdered by police in Oaxaca in 2006.
So far, so good marketing gimmick.
Fast forward to February 2011 and ‘Dos Blockos’ has undergone a transmogrification, from evicted squat to ‘Doss Blockos’, a brand name for a beer.
According to Springwise (“required brain food for entrepreneurial minds!”):
Compelling product stories have long been a selling point for alcohol brands, who often conjure nostalgic imagery in an effort to capitalize on their heritage. Now, hoping to draw upon a more unconventional story, we recently came across Doss Blockos and their paper bag-wrapped beers inspired by the New York squat scene.
The story in this case is like, completely unconventional and totally cool. According to the manufacturer, Doss Blockos was:
… born from the underground squatting fraternity that came about in New York in the [1990s]. It was a time when squatters in the infamous Dos Blockos building were renovating with every tooth and nail they could find to make vacant buildings habitable [...] whilst shark-like developers were throwing around their fat-corporate weight to force the squatters further down into the discarded underground.
Tough living wasn’t tough when it was what people believed in. It was art and music and party and the beer that developed was bare of anything but the essential taste. The speciality pale malt and cascade hops were used because that’s what was available.
The Doss Blockos that is getting drunk now still comes in the brown paper bag that everyone knows beer had to be drunk from when people needed to be able to keep the law out [of] their face. Each one of these has been wrapped in brown paper bags by hand, then pushed into the distinctive hand-constructed six-pack basket.
That’s quite some handiwork eh.
The bRanes behind both Doss Blockos and its brewer are Stephen Wools and Josh Lefers (aka the Free Sh!t Men) of local company ‘Big Dog’ (2006–). The deep affinity between the housing struggles of the 1980s and 1990s on New York’s Lower East Side and their Prahran-based advertising and marketing agency is further commemorated in the name given the ostensible brewer: ‘East 9th Brewing Company’. Both Big Dog and East 9th are located at 20–28 Chatham Street, tho’ how on Earth a brewery manages to squeeze into a building already bursting with a legion of fabulously creative people beats me.
In any case, the precise composition of the “fat-corporate weight” that Stephen and Josh imagine forced New York squatters (literally) underground is unknown, but it’s certainly the case that Big Dog does its best to lift other fat-corporate weights, their client list including such obese companies as “Unilever, AMP, Red Bull, Ministry of Sound, Domaine Chandon, McDonald’s, AEG, Keep Australia Beautiful, Top Gear, Channel V and beyond”. According to Big Dog, these companies and projects “approached us because we are experts in communicating to youth and young adult markets”.
As noted, Doss Blockos is ostensibly produced by the ‘East 9th Brewing Company’, which would appear to be one of many legs belonging to Big Dog, along with ‘Killrockstar Big Dog Entertainment’. In 2011, KrBde organised something called ‘The Boroughs Festival’, *ing (surviving members of) The New York Dolls. Their tour caused some minor controversy when it was revealed that the Dolls were also gonna play some shows sponsored by Big Tobacco, shows which were not arranged by Big Dog (and which would appear to have been subsequently cancelled). Whatever the degree of success experienced by the Dolls and the other groups (including Aqua and The Dead Kennedys) KrBde have brung out, the campaign to promote Doss Blockos won Big Dog the Silver Pentaward 2011 in the ‘Beverages: Beer, cider and low alcohol’ category.
A fitting tribute to Brad Will and all the other New York squatters amirite?
See also : Free the Crass Symbol!!! By the designer of the Crass Symbol, Dave King, David King, bOING bOING, January 31, 2012 | destroy 2000 years of jinglepost! (April 17, 2011).