The universe doesn't eat your soul in one gulp. It savors every morsel. I know exactly where I was when it last took a bite out of me. It was last September, in the cookware section of the Bed, Bath & Beyond in Culver City, California.
At first I didn't even know I was wounded. My girlfriend and I needed frying pans. In the past, this particular task had required a bare minimum amount of thought and effort on my part. Indeed, up until that day, I’d spent roughly the same amount of time pondering frying pan design as I had writing out thank you cards to aggressive student loan officers.
My girlfriend, on the other hand, appears to have minored in Skillet Science in college.
“Are you crazy?” she shouted, practically swatting me over the head with a Teflon pan I’d indiscriminately plucked from a shelf. “We’re not buying that!”
She then offered up an impassioned indictment of the non-stick coating used in Teflon pans, claiming it releases toxic gases and has been linked to cancer and all sorts of other gross health problems. Oh, and it also inexplicably kills cute little birds… and not just when frying them.
I countered weakly with, “Yeah, but Teflon’s, like, easy to clean and stuff.” She looked at me with a mix of disgust and pity that has become strangely comforting to me, especially after sex.
I received an email about a week or so ago from a publicist touting a drink named after Jay Z and Beyonce’s new baby. Fittingly, I happened to be taking a dump when it came through on my iPhone.
Look, there’s no shortage of cheechako flaks that wade in the shallow end of the spirits industry pool. And as any spirits writer who lived through the interminable Sex in the City heyday can tell you, it’s best to just ignore their incessant efforts to spatchcock the insipid preoccupations of US Weekly devotees into cocktails.
But when they start exploiting babies to sell booze, well, that’s when the adults in the room need to stand up and call bullshit.
According to this particular taste offender, the Blue Ivy Cocktail was created by a bartender named Nathan DeWitt from Tampa and is intended to appeal to those under-appreciated souls who “want to feel like an exclusive celebrity too.” (Paging Andy Dick! Andy Dick, your cocktail is ready!)
Look, I’m not going to lie to you — the holiday season is any sorry excuse for a journalist’s most favorite time of year. You see, the holidays are when lazy navel-gazing hacks like me take a break from doing anything that might pass as actual work and instead compile LISTS! Lots and lots of lists. Ridiculous lists about nonsense such as the movies we saw, and famous people we wished we dressed like, and obscure indie bands we pathetically pretend to like to come off sounding cooler than we could ever hope to be (by the way, check out the new Zee Avi record… it’s dope!)
And, of course, there’s that most ubiquitous and cynical of all species of holiday list — the ones wherein scruples-deficient media types suggest you go out and buy shit that companies gave them for free. We call those “Publicist Payback” lists. At worst, they’re a complete sham, and at the very least a violation of everything ever taught in a journalists ethics class.
Okay, then, here’s mine:
Tall Boy Cruzers
When I first got wind of this joint venture between the iconic skateboard manufacturer Santa Cruz and the Pabst Brewing Company, I wrote it off as yet another lame corporate venture aimed at separating dipshit hipsters from their cash. After all, the brands emblazoned on the boards — Pabst Blue Ribbon, Colt 45, and Schlitz among them — are the officially sanctioned “bronsons” of self-styled bohemians.
In our previous installment of Booze Behaving Badly, we took a fledgling spirits company to task for one of the most ill advised marketing campaigns in spirits industry history. This week we’ll assay yet another suspect new release, from one of the country’s more venerable brands.
Southern Comfort recently rolled out a concoction called Fiery Pepper – a combination of their patented peach and whiskey-flavored liqueur and Tabasco sauce that SoCo VP Mark Bacon believes “will challenge (consumers) senses and fire up the night.” He neglected to add, “and possibly induce a nasty case of morning-after fire ass.”
Now, mass-produced infusions are nothing new, and while I myself am not a fan by any stretch, I understand their utility in the marketplace, as well as the consumer appeal, particularly among entry-level drinkers who don’t know any better.
Still, the Southern Comfort brand has always maintained at least a modicum of street cred among serious drinkers, and so my first thought upon tasting Fiery Pepper was “why did they do this?” (My next thought, incidentally, was “when the hell did I become the Andy Rooney of booze reportage?”)
With the launch of their first liquor brand, an upstart company called Fabulous American Beverages (or FAB, if you’re feeling suicidal) is going where no other whiskey-maker I know of has purposefully gone before: Ladies Night at the Jersey Shore.
Kansas Spirit Whiskey is intended "to appeal equally to men and women who typically enjoy vodka," according to Paul Goldman, who was inspired to create the brand while on vacation with his wife, who complained that whiskey "was for old men" and "wasn't cool." All due respect Paul, but I sure hope she's either rich or gorgeous because she ain't much in the intelligence department. For the moment I'll set aside the catastrophic decision-making involved in basing the marketing of a major liquor launch on the offhand opinions of someone who apparently has no real experience in a basic bar, let alone the liquor game. I’ll even set aside the fact that you let your wife tell you what to drink (for now). I’ll just say the obvious: Basing your marketing campaign on the premise that whiskey “isn't cool” is the single most moronic statement I have ever heard in this industry (and trust me I’ve heard some doozies).
Recently, a friend dragged me to a party at an art gallery in Silverlake, an area that in recent years has become the preferred stomping ground of the most insufferable hipster fucktards Los Angeles has to offer. (That’s right, all you skinny-jean wearing latte sippers in Los Feliz, you’re last year’s fucktards. Deal with it!)
My first instinct was to trap everyone inside and set the place ablaze. Future generations would have thanked me. But alas, I still cling to one or two vestiges of politesse, so I tried to mingle, drifting into a conversation with a diminutive Asian dude named Tae-Song and a chick who looked like Marcie from the Peanuts comic strip if she grew up, dyed her hair purple, and developed an eating disorder. I never got her name. I just called her Marcie. In my head, that is, not to her face. To her face, I called her “babe” and “sweetheart.” And I’m pretty sure she didn’t like that one bit.
Tae-Song said he worked in banking. Or maybe it was Bangkok. Fuck if I remember. What I do recall is that he wore a Jens Lekman t-shirt and spoke with a severe lisp, which made his incessant uttering of the meaningless phrase “it is what it is” even more hapless. The fourth time he did it I nearly snarfed scotch out my nose. I’ve done it before. Not all that fun.
I’ve long been fascinated by inventors who were able to enhance a very cool and useful thing that already existed simply by adding another existing thing to it.
Visionaries like Hymen Lipman, who received the first patent for attaching an eraser to the end of a pencil. And Dr. Spencer Silver, who took an ordinary piece of paper, slapped a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back and called it a Post-it.
Men the world over owe a huge debt of gratitude to reproductive physiologist Gregory Pincus for figuring out that women are a whole lot more fun to be around when combined with a pill that inhibits fertility.
And, of course, big ups to whoever the genius was who saw laser lights and thought, “you know what would make the emission of electromagnetic radiation through a process of optical amplification even cooler? A Led Zeppelin concert and some blotter acid!”
There’s a fierce battle being waged over a patch of land in the heart of Northern California wine country, and it has the region’s normally laid-back denizens all kinds of fired up.
On one side is the Spain-based Codorniu, one of the world’s largest wine companies (they own Artesa in Napa, among other prestige labels). They want to clear 2,000 acres of redwoods and fir trees near the Gualala River to make room for vineyards, which will eventually be surrounded by 60 high-end estates.
On the other side are local environmentalists, a.k.a. the job-destroying devils of Michele Bachmann’s worst nightmares. These folks believe the proposed deforestation would be devastating to the area’s ecosystem, along the banks of one of the nation’s cleanest waterways.
Here now, some doofus-proof tips for taking home the prize in a variety of scoring situations:
She’s dancing alone in a dive bar:
Like my dear old grandma always used to say, nothing takes the shine off a one-night stand faster than a baby. Or an STD. Or a baby with an STD. Luckily you can avoid such things just by tossing a bag over Mister Happy at the right moment. Why are we jumping to how to protect your penis during sex? Because a woman dancing alone in a dive bar is like that jar of mayonaise in your fridge. If you want to have sex with it, it’s pretty much up to you, you just have to deal with the mess.
She’s laughing alone in a dive bar:
There’s a common term used to describe a woman sitting all alone cackling to herself in a dive bar: Homeless. So what you need to do is move in quickly before she gets tossed. Tell her you’ve got cans of tuna back at your place. Or, just that you have a place.
She’s laughing alone in a lounge:
Clearly she’s got a sense of humor, so walk over to her and kiss her. If she freaks out say, “Sorry, I thought you were my wife. You look exactly like her.” Then she’ll probably cuss you out a blue streak, and that’s when you say, “Damn, you even sound exactly like her.” Even if you don’t get the girl, that’s some funny stuff there.
As a professional Imbiber, it is my sworn and sacred duty to spend the bulk of my waking life in drinking establishments the world over, learning everything there is to know about boozing, socializing and, above all, enjoying the company of women. And, fortunately, having a forum such as this one affords me the opportunity to share those hard-won lessons with you, my invisible reader-BFFs.
So over the next however many weeks I feel motivated to do so, I’ll be offering up tips for how to score women in all sorts of scenarios in a variety of different types of bars. I’m calling it “The Ultimate Bar Scene Pickup Guide,” mostly because all the clever titles related to this subject have already been used. This incredibly well-punctuated and wildly entertaining series of posts represents the sum total of my exhaustive research. It is, quite simply, the most useful pickup tool ever created. You're welcome. Good luck.
The setting for our first installment is The Sports Bar, which in addition to being responsible for countless divorces, is also a factor in a large number of DUI arrests, full-scale brawls, illegal gambling rings and chicken wing choking incidents. As a result, men can't seem to get enough of them. Okay, ready? Good. Here are our scenarios and strategies…
She’s sitting alone at the bar:
If she’s wearing team gear, pretend to be a huge fan of that organization no matter how terrible it may be. That means keeping a straight face, for instance, while saying something along the lines of “I love the Chicago Cubs, too!” Then buy her a drink. If she’s a Cubs fan, she’ll need it.