Posts Tagged ‘drunk’

I was going to do this week’s post on kittens and bunnies and rainbow dragons. Then I discovered the following image and now I am struck with this empty feeling of melancholy that I cannot shift. And I’ve just eaten my last Oreo. So it’s not going so well…

"Also we were going to buy you a puppy for your birthday, but then we realised it was inevitably going to die anyway..."

“Also we were going to buy you a puppy for your birthday, but then we realised it was inevitably going to die anyway…”

It’s not a depressing image as such, but the original caption imparted a home truth about how we eventually become bored of celebrating birthdays. I would probably stretch that further and say that the whole idea of partying loses it’s appeal later on in life. Hey hey, whoa now. Calm your dangly bits for a second there Mayor Overreact. I didn’t say anything about not drinking or having a good time. While I have halved my intake over the past year (to that of a roadie for Motorhead) I still love to drink.

No, what I’m talking about is the point in life where you either stop drinking or cut back to some extent because “hey, vomiting on walls and loss of limb muscles are perhaps the only things less appealing than a Hitler mustache.” Let me put it another way: Have you ever been out somewhere and either been completely sober or you’ve only had a few drinks throughout the night? Just enough to keep adult responsibilities at bay, but not enough to attract the attention of authority figures and/or the clergy.

See that drunk dude over by the bar? See him holding onto a support beam that isn’t there? See how he sways with the panache of a not very graceful swaying thing? Don’t you feel superior to him? I know I do. And yes, that is how we all look when we’re that wasted. And it’s precisely that image that makes me glad I don’t allow myself to get to that stage. Not anymore, at least.

To summarise: Drink? Yes. Drunk? Sure, why not. So wasted you set evolutionary leaps back three centuries? Pass.

It’s not just weekend’s in the pub either. Last year my housemate and I would host parties at our place, usually once a month or so. Ignoring costs and clean ups, they were pretty stonking shindigs. People drank until the wee hours of the morning, some hooked up with others, punches were thrown and people converted beliefs. Good times. But now, for whatever reason, the thought of hosting another party, or even just attending one, tires me. Tires me like a trophy wife when she’s presented with a slightly inferior diamond ring.

"[YAWN] How tedious..."

“How tedious…”

This isn’t a snobbish thing. I’m not saying I’m better than people who do drink like ‘there’s a party in your face and everyone’s a chihuahua’. I genuinely just think I’m done with it. Hangovers physically hurt now. And I’m in a comfortable, stable relationship where I don’t feel the need to impress someone with how much booze I can hold in my stomach.

But back to the topic of birthdays. People get drunk on their birthdays. Christ, some people just untie their inhibitions from the sacrificial altar and downright liquify themselves. It’s a bit more acceptable on this occasion but I wonder if it’s just an automatic reaction. It happens across all ages but for different reasons. For teens it’s about staggering over the threshold into adulthood and doing the things adults do when they’re not folding sheets and filling out forms (or whatever it is they do). For people a wee bit older it might have more morbid connotations…”Holy shit, I’m getting so old,” says every person in their twenties ever, for some reason. And so drinking almost becomes a race. Like time is running out and the window of opportunity is being closed, and the pie that’s cooling on the windowsill is slowly being eaten.

So is that a celebration? Is the morbid realisation that age is creeping up and our inevitable demise is kept temporarily at bay when we down enough alcohol to freak out the Merchant Navy – is that what drives us to party so hard? Who knows…

Good lord is that a depressing thought! What the hell is wrong with me? I’m going to go play in the snow with the neighbours cats while you all click the ‘unsubscribe’ button…

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If, during the course of a particularly lonely evening in which varying levels of alcohol have been consumed…IF during said period your laptop – your one and only communication tool that links you to the rest of the world – decides to freeze up on you and spew error after error out of its arse, DO NOT punch said laptop square in the monitor in a nonosecond fit of rage.

Just…don’t…

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Writing is a doddle. Just look at this. Look at what I’m doing right now! I could literally tap the ever-loving shit out of these keys all day and never break a sweat. But that’s the difference between writing for fun in a squalid crack den using a nearby heated spoon as a WiFi access point, and writing to feed a family and pay the heating bill.

Carving a career as a writer is hard (as opposed to the actual act of writing itself). It’s not always book signings and movie adaptations. And even if it is (as is the case with these examples) the stress and the piled up years of torment and rejection after rejection is bound to play an evil role in it all. Call it their muse. Call it medicinal or therapeutic or a deep-routed desire to kill onself slowly. However you choose to disguise it some writers just need that morning whiskey like you need those Corn Flakes.

The following are great American writers who may have screwed up some vital organs in pursuit of alcohol and artistc outlet but managed to achieve a hell of a lot more by doing so than if they’d have been quaffing carrot juice and doing yoga farts.

Hunter S. Thompson (1937 – 2005)

Cigarettes were his cup of tea.

Who is he?

Pretty much the sole driving force behind the ‘Gonzo’ style of journalism which recounts an event from a subjective, rather than objective, stance with the writer’s own personality at the forefront of the article. Hunter S. was an outspoken writer working largely throughout the backlash of the 1960’s counter-culture movement (i.e. hippies and bongo drums). Politically he was considered very left with a supposed hatred for U.S. president Richard Nixon. He also did drugs. A lot.

What did he achieve?

If you’re not familair with his name you are more than likely familair with his most critically acclaimed work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. This was novel about a drug-fuelled trip to Las Vegas with the main character’s “300-pound Samoan attorney”. It was also a true account. About the author himself.

For an idea of just un-sober Hunter S. was during this period check out this passage from the book which details the sheer volume of narcotics hidden in their boot: ‘…two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers […] and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls.’ Makes your weekend booze benders look like a celery eating contest.

Not only that but a few years prior to this he spent some time hanging out with the Hell’s Angels after being commissioned to write a book about them. After an argument between the Angels and Thompson he was savagely beaten by the gang (also known as ‘stomping’ which conjures up some nice thoughts doesn’t it kiddies?) and lived to tell his tale.

What happened to him in end?

Unless an empty bottle of rum can pull the trigger on a shotgun it probably wasn’t the drugs/booze that killed him in the end. Suicide is the official verdict. ‘Hole in the face’ would have been my conclusion.

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967)

Who would have thought an alcoholic writer could be depressed?

Who is she?

Satirist, critic, screenwriter and poet. She was renowned for her great sense of wit and keen mind which, when you look at it from afar, totally contrasts her depressive nature (with a number of suicide attempts under her belt. Or garment. Or…whatever) and her increasing dependency on alcohol. Not to mention her string of marriages and divorces as well as a supposed affair with a playwright and…oh god, just typing this up is making me miserable…let’s just move on…

What did she achieve?

Much like Winston Churchill, W.C. Fields and Oscar Wilde it’s hard not to come across a Dorothy Parker pearl of wisdom. Most quotation web sites available will list at least a handful attested to her. Thinkexist.com lists 153 quotes of hers. That may be only a quarter of what they attribute to Churchill but that’s still pretty good going. Some of her most noteable ones include:

“I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal labotomy.”
“I wish I could drink like a lady / I can take one or two at the most / Three and I’m under the table / Four and I’m under the host.”
“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

What happened to her in the end?

She spiralled ever further into a depressive, alcoholic state but managed to live to a ripe old age of seventy-three. Where she died of a heart attack. On her own. In a hotel room. Most likely brought on by her alcoholism. Start as you mean to you on, eh?

Stephen King (1947 – )

Yes, I intend all these photos to be black & white. It's so noir...

Who is he?

Probably one of the most famous authors currently writing today. If you were to lay all his published short stories, novels, novellas and film adaptations end to end…you would be ousted as a weirdo. At the height of his success he took the rockstar approach to writing and began indulging in a variety of substances. To the point where he has even been quoted as saying that he had no recollection of writing the novel Cujo.

So what has he achieved?

Just about everybody on the planet has read at least one of his books (or seen his films for those of you with no imagination). His work is so widely accessible and popular entire sections of high street bookshops are set aside just to house his work and several of his adaptations have gone on to win awards . In short: what has he achieved? FUCKING EVERYTHING!

Oh, and he slated Twilight author Stephanie Meyer.

What happened to him in the end?

He cleaned up (boo hiss!). After the publication of The Tommyknockers in the late 80’s his family held an intervention. Emptying a bin bag in front him they saw – amongst beer cans and cigarette ends – cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, dope and…er…cough medicine (hey, drugs are drugs). It was basically a Wurzel Gummidge version of the above Fear and Loathing passage. He stated in his memoirs that he quit drink and drugs after that. And his subsequent novels have not been as well received since. Just saying…

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940)

Finding a picture of a drunk writer who is holding a drink is harder than it looks...

Who is he?

Novelist and member of the ‘Lost Generation’, who were a contemporary group of artists and people growing up during World War I. Fitzgerald penned several classic ‘Jazz Age’ novels and was a notoriously heavy drinker since his college days, which probably accounted for his poor health. It has also been said that his alcoholism sent him temporarily mad. An account related by Ernest Hemingway. A man he knew personally and with whom he hung around with. ’nuff said.

What did he achieve?

Credited with writing the great American novel, The Great Gatsby, it has since become one of the cornerstone pieces of literature from the 1920’s Jazz Age (a phrase Fitzgerald himself supposedly coined).

Somewhat posthumously his short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was adapted into a full-length feature film directed by David Dincher in 2008. It starred Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett in the lead roles. Whether you consider that a good thing or not is probably dependent on how many Tequila slammers you’ve currently done.

What happened to him in the end?

Fitzgerald claimed to be suffering from Tuberculosis which accounted for his ill health, but this has since been denounced. Suffering two heart attacks in the late 40’s he sank into poor health. Not to be called a bitch by simple bloody-mindedness a third massive heart attack hit home run and claimed another writer’s life. That thing’s a bastard isn’t it?

Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961)

"Dear diary, today my beard itches more so than ever..."

Quite possibly the quintessential American author and owner of a beard that houses its own helipad. Ernest ‘Papa’ Hemingway was another member of the Lost Generation along with Fitzgerald. He served in wars, fished, hunted, wrote and drank heavily. He also has a cocktail named after him. Aptly (if somewhat unimaginitively) named ‘The Hemingway’.

What did he achieve?

His novels and stories are noted classics in American literature. Such examples include A Moveable Feast, For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms. His short story The Old Man and the Sea won him the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. Which he promptly ground up and mixed into a Mai Tai. (Citation needed)

Additionally he also had a rather perculier method for writing. He would rise at 6am, write at his typewriter for six hours (while stood up), enter his favourite bar by lunchtime and be drunk before tea time. Everyday.

What happened to him in the end?

His heavy drinking became almost obscene, bordering on dangerous. He developed clear signs of cirrhosis of the liver but ignored the pitfalls and continued to drink. Eventually (whether through alcohol abuse or otherwise) he was treated for depression until in 1961 he was found dead with his favourite shotgun by his side. The puzzle was solved within five picoseconds. Not far away Hunter S. Thompson felt a shudder go down his spine.

Charles Bukowski (1920 -1994)

In this instance, however, it's hard finding a picture of Bukowski NOT drinking...

Who is he?

Not to put a too finer point on it but Bukowski was a drunk first and a writer second. He spent the vast majority of his adulthood from age twenty until his death in 1994 writing poems in seedy apartment rooms listening to classical music and downing hooch like there was a party in his liver and no one had yet thrown a punch. He is noted as being at starting line of the Beat generation in the 1950’s, though he has allegedly denied any connections to the likes of Ginsberg or Kerouac.

What did he achieve?

Despite nearly a decade of absence from the writing community in which Bukowski did nothing (literally nothing) but drink, smoke, fuck floozies, gamble, get into fist fights and work jobs he hated, he actually has an impressive body of work under his built having published seven novels, over forty volumes of poetry and one adapted-for-film screenplay.

His first novel Postoffice was published in the 1970’s and marked Bukowski as a full time author giving him a new outlet for his drunken, chauvinistic habits using his alter ego protagonist Henry Chinaski.

His screenplay Barfly was filmed in the 1980’s and was an autobiographical piece (as was much of his work)  about his life during his decade of not-writing. He was played by Mickey Rourke. He later chronicled his experience of working in Hollywood via the semi-autobiographical book called…er…Hollywood. Oh, did I mention the endless string of floozies? I’m pretty sure I mentioned the endless string of floozies…

What happened to him in the end?

Despite nearly dying of blood pooling in his brain he carried on drinking but the incident left him with a speech impediment that made him talk in his trademark slow and calming voice. Eventually he contracted Lieukemia in 1993 and it was this (this of all things!) that made him quit drinking. In spite of his reputation as the granddaddy of alcoholics he turned to a semi-healthy lifestyle and died sober at age seventy-three.

Same age as Dorothy Parker. Who in turn died the same way as Fitzgerald. Who in turn knew Hemingway. Who in turn killed himself in a similar vain to Hunter S. Thompson. Everybody’s looking in your direction Mr. King…

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With brain-exploding tenacity I have made an effort to not use this blog as an online diary/journal (I have one of those fancy-schmancy paper ones for that purpose). The posts are my own thoughts obviously but I’m trying not to use this as a dumping ground for inane things that I do during the day.

But after going through the archives of this guy’s site (a place that is sadly no longer updated but has been filed in my mental vault as part of my Internet blossoming) I’m making an exception to my rule which I have totally just made up on the spot…

To paraphrase Eddie Izzard slightly: this is all true. Except for the lies…

This was an event that took place in August 2010 and would – under normal moral codes – be labelled as something of an embarrassing incident. However, seeing as at the time I was nostril-rapingly drunk I was unable to see it from that perspective. The summer was coming to a gracefully shit close after several disappointing months of monsoon rain and fully clothed women and the festival scene was withering away to leave but a few esoteric ones.

Welcome to Bloodstock Open Air; a festival that makes Download look like a nerdy teenager who rebels against bullies by purchasing KoRn merchandise and not being social (or attractive). It pertains to many variations of the metal genre that make god fearing folk wet themselves dry and shrivelled. Also, take note of the bottom passage of that web site. You see the bit that boasts a ‘metal karaoke’ event? Keep your focus on that aspect. Yes, I know it’s difficult with that third helping of morning vodka swirling around in your bloodstream but just try and keep a one-track mind for the moment…I’ll make it up to you. (I won’t)

Traditionally the festival ends each night with a heavy metal karaoke which takes place in one of the smaller tents. After failing a number of times to be chosen to grace the stage in 2009 my friend Mike and I made a valiant effort this time round. I don’t quite know how you make an effort to get selected out of hundreds of equally inebriated metalheads eager to test the decibel restrictions of a microphone machine, but there you go.

On the final evening of 2010’s event our names were drawn and numerous stage hands and volunteers (their signature giveaway being that glazed, thwarted look in their eyes that tells a thousand tales of sadness and loss) ushered us to an area behind the stage to get ready to go up.

By this period of the night I was gargling through my 809th beer of the day and surpassed the rational part of my brain. Or rather, it had been flooded down Frontal Lobe Avenue like a pickup in a rushing deluge. (see Australian news for citation) It was that comfortable (if wibbly) stage of drunk where one is no longer capable of hypothesis or sense of foreboding. I was cool with the fact I was about to crawl onto a stage in front of a festival crowd and butcher a song I liked.

This, for reference, is the song we chose:

I professionally sipped a nearby bottle of water that had been left for karaoke contestants (like GODS we were!) while we waited for our names to be announced. I felt something was amiss when we were called up and there appeared to be only one microphone. For two of us. This was error number two. Error number one occurred about eight milliseconds before we went on stage where I suddenly turned to Mike and – through a forcefully expressed grasp of the English language which was currently hanging onto a low branch as it was being swept down Frontal Lobe Avenue – dribbled the approximation of the following sentence:

“Dude…I just remembered…I don’t actually know the lyrics to the song.”

Mike being the sober citizen he was (pfft! Amateur!) advised that I could simply look at the words scrolling by on the monitor purposefully situated on the stage for just such a scenario. I looked across at the monitor. All twelve of them. This is what alcohol does to me. Though I’m utterly convinced that had there actually been twelve there my drunken equilibrium would have balanced out nicely and I’d have had perfect vision and focus. (Your challenge, Science, should you choose to accept it…) What with having  only the one microphone we decided the best method was for Mike to do the verse while I did the chorus. Nothing could go wrong!

Too late to turn back we walked into our fifteen minutes. The crowd clapped with hands and cheered with mouths. The song kicked in and away we went. Error number three kicked in. For much of the day I had been subjected to varying degrees of death metal; a genre of music that requires vocalists to have diaphragms and voice boxed to be constructed of Bond villain-esque mill saws. This was a problem because the song did not call for death metal style vocals but the leaking remnants of my brain felt otherwise.

I growled and screeched the entire chorus when it came to my turn, with no care in the slightest for any evaluation of my artistic interpretation. The noise was over powering and the vibe was pumped and the air was sweaty. I was executing perfect head banging and wind milling techniques liked I’d been doing it for years when suddenly I felt a slight thud on my head. This was followed – in a classic case of cause and effort – by slightly cool liquid to come emanating down my hair and onto my t-shirt. I looked down for a second to see an empty beer cup roll about on the stage like a dying bee that had done its duty. A quick glance at the audience revealed no immediate culprit. My brain fought tooth and nail to tell me that I had just been physically heckled and that I should feel very very bad.

I didn’t. I continued to do exactly what I had been doing for the remainder of the song.

Suddenly, booing...

It’s funny how the mind works during intoxication. My first real go at karaoke was thwart with peril and audience unpleasantness but I don’t really see it like that. For the specific clientèle at the festival our chosen track is one that is generally revered and well liked by the listeners. And I like to think that somewhere, in someone’s home, months after the festival has ended, several people will turn this song on (either by accident or design) and think of the dribbling drunk who closed the festival by performing the audio equivalent of a coat hanger abortion on something that should have been a pleasant and fun experience. And I like to think that I had an affect on someone’s life. For the worse.

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