Drunks & Drinkers

I admire people who drink without, (apparently,) getting drunk.

As a skinny, lightweight, drinker, the edge of drunk and too-drunk has always been a knife’s edge for me.

Not only that, but there are just some people who approach drinking differently than others.

A lot of people drink as part of a social interaction: go out to the bar, hang out with friends, drink some pints, chat, play darts, etc.

Have several drinks over the course of hours, pacing themselves, without apparent danger of disturbing the rules of the social contract or becoming out of sorts.

On the other hand, some people like to be drunk.

I’m one of those people, the ones who sometimes like to get a little too drunk.

Different people go different ways, when a little too drunk.

Most of the time, I am OK. Pleasant enough, smiling, if quiet, and somewhat mischievous. Fine.

On the other hand, sometimes drinking a little too much, is a descent into the yawning chasm of self-pity, insecurity, and anger which sits at the center of my being.

Again, as a skinny person, it is a knife’s edge, one drink this way or that, between pleasantly too-drunk, and unpleasantly too drunk.

And sometimes, it just seems to be mood, or my perception of the situation in which I find myself.

“Evil Erik,” my wife calls these bad trips. Mostly I just tend to leave, walk away from the situation in which I can clearly, drunkenly, see I am not wanted, or interested in participating with.

Some people believe that drinking, or other drugs, can make you a different person.

For the most part, I disagree.

I believe that whatever aspects you show when altered, are there with you, to a larger or smaller degree, all the time, perhaps sublimated under your restraint and respect for the rules of the social situations in which you are participating.

As a sober participant in social interactions, I can usually perceive that walking away from the people I am talking to, or ignoring their words, (words, so many words,) is something I should not do. I sublimate my fear, anger, and insecurity beneath my respect for the social contract.

However, this is something I had to teach myself to do, and have to sometimes consciously make an effort at. Let’s just say I have my Asberger tendencies.

When I was younger and I was bored with my friends, or felt like they weren’t interested me, I would simply walk away. Go inside the house and read, even if it was in the middle of a game or conversation.

I guess drinking too much turns me back into an 8 year old brat.

Ease of Use

When I was younger, I used to make Cassette mixes to impress girls I thought were cool.

This meant sitting next to my stereo, picking individual songs off of vinyl albums, playing them, and recording them to cassette in real time.

A cassette was/is 60 or 90 minutes long.

Aside from the planning effort, written longhand, this meant an effort of, say, a minimum of a couple three hours just to make a single mix tape.

Now, I feel like I am lucky to find the time to rip a few CDs to MP3.

Where did the time go?

Wake Up in the Morning

“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.”

Attributed to Frank Sinatra.

On the other hand, lately, I’ve been feeling the complete opposite.

I feel sorry for people who do drink, knowing how bad they will feel the next morning.

One of the problems I’ve been hitting lately, is, as I’ve gotten older, recovering from just about anything takes longer. Being sick, physical activity, drinking too much…

Where when I was young, a little sleep and a lot of water would cure a slightly excessive night of drinking. As I’ve grown older, it takes longer and longer to recover back to normal.

It seems like people either choose to skip normal, and keep drinking, or choose to skip imbibing.

If I want to continue to get back to being a base-line normal human being, somewhere there has to be a point of diminishing return, and I do like feeling alert and “normal”.

Drink as Little as Possible

Around my birthday, last year, I realized I had been drinking for 30 years. Since I was 18. Whew.

The broken bottle and the damage done, eh?

Since this realization, off and on, I’ve been trying to drink as little as possible.

Generally, this hasn’t worked well.

Started the less drinking project October-ish, then there was my birthday and Portland Cocktail Week. I was cut a break when Heaven’s Dog closed in Oct/Nov, and peer pressure was reduced to drink on a semi-weekly basis. Re-started the project, and then there were the holidays. In January, I finally got around to drying out for a few weeks, then I got invited to England to visit the Savoy Hotel. In February, to Boston for a cocktail event.

Then started working behind the bar regularly at South in the SF Jazz center.

Even leaving aside peer pressure from fellow bar staff, there is always an excuse to drink.

I was reading Roger Ebert’s memoir, not to put any spoilers out there, but in his 20s and 30s he drank to excess with the rest of the Chicago newspaper scene at The Goat and O’Rourke’s. Eventually, he decided he was an alcoholic and joined AA. When he joined AA, his sponsor gave him a drug that would make drinking very unpleasant, “If you are able to drink, it is only your will, and will always fails,” or words to that effect.

Without drink, he went on to live a fairly productive late life, with adopted children and a wonderful, supportive wife. Film festivals, TV show, etc.

For most of my life, I feel like, and this is my perception, that I’ve managed to keep drinking in its box. It has never cost me a job or a relationship. I’ve never lost a weekend, or a week, to a bender.

On the other hand, I’ve always been lucky to have friends or loved ones to bail me out from periodic lost nights. Shove me in a cab with some money, or help me get into my pajamas.

When you’re young, binge drinking seems fun. However, at some point, you just become a drunk old guy, instead of an enthusiastic, youthful, partier.

I was looking at a photos of older men, who still try to sport the stubble look. It’s like that. At some point, you just look like a rumpled old man who didn’t have time to shave, instead of a youthful bon vivant.

I feel like that now, I’m old enough I should have learned to drink well, like the quintessential Italian man. To drink enough to enjoy life, but not enough to be drunk in public.

But, I haven’t, and I still manage to occasionally get embarrassingly drunk.

Maybe 30 years of drinking is enough.

Sunday, Savoy Sunday

Once again it is almost time for a Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar in San Francisco!

Sunday, May 26 myself and the wonderful staff at Alembic Bar will be making any and all cocktails from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

The special twist this month, is that North Shore Distilling is sponsoring the event.

Sonja Kassenbaum will be in the house as will both of their gins and their Absinthe.

We will have a list of cocktail specials featuring their gins and hopefully some time for Q&A.

Stop by after 6PM on Sunday for some Gin Soaked Savoy Fun!

Sleep Dirt

The debris left over from night, which I encounter on my morning dog walks.

Candy wrappers, drug baggies, liquor mini bottles, half pints, chip bags, cigarette butts, used condoms, hypodermics, dog shit.

The Sleep Dirt of an insomniac San Francisco.

Rustling, wrestling, and night sweating.

Day dreaming away the night.

Analog Blues

It’s not the sharpness of digital images and movie projection that bothers me, it’s the way the technology handles the out of focus areas of the screen.

For me, the artifacting, ugly squares, and other pukey patterns formed in the indistinct areas of the projected image distracts me from what is being projected.

Like the compact disc, there is an arbitrary level, after which detail is discarded, and that sudden dropoff can be disconcerting.