Column | Buskirk-Chumley, Function Brewing: Two signs of life in downtown Bloomington

For the last week or so, the marquee of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Kirkwood Avenue in downtown Bloomington has featured a quote from Mr. Rogers—some advice to young children about looking for the helpers.

Helpers are now in demand, of course, because of the impact everywhere of the COVID-19 viral pandemic. To reduce the chance for spread of the disease, and pursuant to a couple of different orders from the governor, the Buskirk-Chumley is closed through May 5. That leaves space on the marquee for messages that promote something other than performances.

Yesterday late afternoon, as I walked south on Walnut Street, I noticed that the marquee was getting an update. Letter by letter, the message from Fred Rogers was disappearing. I wondered what new words of encouragement might take its place.

I briefly considered what words I would choose for the Buskirk-Chumley’s marquee if it were up to me.

As it turns out, it could be up to me!

Or you. Or whoever bids highest in several different online auctions for the right to decide the marquee’s message.

The new marquee that was lettered yesterday includes a description of some upcoming online auctions, under the banner of “Marquee Your Message,” which run April 9 to April 11.

I doubt I will manage to make the winning bid, but I’ll sure give it a shot. Here’s the message I would choose if I were to win one of the auctions:

I have written a truly remarkable review of a beer, crafted by Function Brewing, which this marquee is too small to contain.

It’s fine if that just seems weird to you. Trust me, when I say that it is hilarious for a certain crowd. The quick background to the humor includes a quote from a famous mathematician, Pierre de Fermat. It goes like this:

I have discovered a truly remarkable proof of this theorem which this margin is too small to contain.

The other useful bit to know is that Function Brewing gives all of its beers mathematically-themed names. Like Theorem.

Theorem is a milk stout, according to Steve Llewellyn, brewer and co-owner of Function. I wouldn’t know. But every time I go down the stairs from my apartment above Function Brewing to sit at at two-top in the middle behind the bar, I order a Theorem based on the name alone. Why? I always want to have something to prove.

It’s a joke that never gets old. Because it is hilarious. Just like the Buskirk-Chumley marquee would be if I were to win the auction.

The point of the Buskirk-Chumley’s “Marquee Your Message” promotion is not just fun and games. It’s a fundraiser for the theater, and for the United Way’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. One of the suggested uses of a marquee message is to support your favorite local business. For me, that’s Function Brewing.

I’m glad that it’s still possible to buy beer from Function Brewing, even during the COVID-19 shut-down. Restaurants are still allowed to offer carry-out service and Function is taking advantage of the opportunity for its beer menu.

But I miss the servers at Function. They belong to two disjoint sets. There are those who’ve heard the joke about why I always order a pint of Theorem, and those who have not.

A server from either set is always a delight. If they know the joke they will stop me when I try to tell them again. Or they don’t know it, and will laugh even if they don’t think it’s funny. It’s fine either way.

I’m too old to learn many new jokes. That’s why I want Function Brewing to stay in business—so that when restaurants get the all-clear to open back up for dine-in service, there’s still a place I can go to tell that one old joke.

If you want to help Function Brewing stay in business, too, then order some beer.

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