The connectivity of the internet amazes me. Billions of seemingly unconnected pieces of data floating around in stacks of servers housed in warehouses and basements that contain the sum knowledge of the interwebs. Whirling and buzzing as they share and distribute everything from NSA classified material, to memes of Miley Cirus twerking, to the post you’re reading now.
There’s just a ton of stuff out there. So much, that a lot of it seems to get lost, or if not lost, maybe disconnected. Things get shared, moved, and posted in other locations so frequently that it’s very rare that you know the origin of any piece of information or photo that you find and share on the internet. But with all that connectivity, on occasion an internet artifact and its story gets reconnected. Here is a prime example.
In June of 2012 I wrote a some what tongue-in-check post about my “process” of writing blog posts. It was one of those comical posts bloggers sometimes do, the kind that has more truth than you’d like to admit. I was looking for pictures to convey certain aspects of the post when, on a twenty something-th google search, I managed to find a picture of a dog with a very expressive face, resting his head on a bar. The picture resonated with me, and I absolutely had to use it.
After a while, as I continued to solidify my internet “brand”, I one day realized that this picture was a lot better than the current one I was using for my sites’ profile pictures. In the span of a day, the picture became my banner photo for my blog, and the profile pictures for my twitter, Untappd and blog page’s Facebook accounts.
Over time I’ve seen that picture a thousand times, and often wondered about it. Who took it? Why? Was it a candid shot, or part of a professionally staged photo shoot? And just what is that dog thinking about? Then, on February 12th, I received a surprise email from a man named Bill Coleman who was finally able to give me some answers, “I was very touched by the picture of the dog with his head on the bar. Reason is, that was my dog, Ludwig, who passed away just shy of five years ago.”
While taking your dog to a bar may seem weird to some, it seems to fit right in place with the person Bill appears to be. An avid beer lover, and homebrewer, Bill is a member of the Malted Barley Appreciation Society, where Bill’s comic strip/panel, The Salty Dog, has been appearing since 1996.
The story unfolds from a place named Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The bar (as the name suggests) is a combination craft beer bar, and classic video game arcade, which by their current website sits at about 25 taps and 43 arcade games. The establishment was opened in October of 2004 and is currently one of three locations (the other two being in Philly and Jersey City). “The picture was taken in Barcade”, Bill continued, “and the bottom of my head is visible, though fairly blurry, on the upper left of the photo. It was taken by another Barcade patron and I found it on the Flickr site a while ago.”
The Barcade’s website has a nice photo tour of the establishments remodeling and opening, and you can see in the pictures that the bar was dog friendly right from the very start. A fact that Aaron, the current general manager of the bar was quick to point out. “The dogs (Ludwig and Sophie) were some of our first regulars,” he wrote in response to an email I sent asking if anyone currently at the location remembered Ludwig. “They even sat in seats and ate beef jerky and little pours of beer.” Sadly however, not everyone turned out to be a dog lover according to Bill, “I still have dogs that I take to bars, unfortunately Barcade no longer allows dogs, they got fined to many times by the city for allowing dogs there.”
As for Ludwig? “Ludwig was a very popular dog in his day. I have 2 dogs that I continue to take in bars, though it has been a little harder in recent years, probably because the increased gentrification of Brooklyn has caused the health department to hit bars with dogs more often than in the past, though admittedly it has also increased the number of craft beers bars here quite a bit.”
But I thought the funniest part of the story came from Aaron. According to him, Ludwig played a very important part in Bill’s life. “Ludwig even had the ability to get Bill home when he had imbibed a little too much,” he wrote. “They knew the walk home from Barcade like the back of their paws. Ludwig could always get them all home safely.”
If the story isn’t awesome enough, Bill shared with me a Flickr search feed which had pictures of Ludwig, Bill and his other dogs, taken by many different photographers, relaxing at the Barcade and other beer bars around New York. It was obvious pretty quickly, that this was the dog in the photo and as you can see by these examples Ludwig was quite welcome, and quite at home at Barcade.
I have to admit, Bill’s email really brought a smile to my face, as this was obviously a man who loved his dogs and was glad to see that Ludwig was still out there, “I did a backwards Google image search (like in that show Catfish) and I see that picture has turned up on a few beer websites. I was not aware of it until today. I’m happy to see Ludwig is still making an impression, though.”
I’d like to thank Bill for sharing Ludwig’s history, and giving me an awesome back story for the picture that many of my readers/friends have known to become synonymous with my blog. And I’d like to thank Aaron for taking the time to share a few things that he remembered about Ludwig. This is the kind of interaction and story that makes me really happy to be a blogger.
Cheers, Ludwig. I’m glad to find out that the photo I chose to represent this blog contains a true “Dog of Beer”. Especially considering what Aaron wrote on the type of beer Ludwig favored, “Generally malt forward beers.” Good dog.