Be proud, Enthusiasts!


I don’t usually wax philosophical (preferring more often to wax off—bah dump chssht!), but I wanted to take a moment to question a few things about drinking, or rather attitudes towards it here in the good ol’ US of A.

I’m talking about all the raised eyebrows and whispers around the watercooler when you show up to work hungover, the hangdog looks and the “I’m sorrys” that accompany particularly great nights out with the boys, even the stern talks with yourself in the mirror Saturday morning when you find the 200 bucks you took out for the whole weekend is now $16.89.

It’s a deep-seated thing, a bad genetic memory even—this Puritanical notion that drinking is bad. Not bad for you, or bad for the earth or bad tasting, but just simply Bad. Morally reprehensible. Evil. Wrong. There’s a stigma surrounding drinking and it’s especially prevalent in the US, where a good many of us are descended from our European brethren who made a run for it way back in the day. It runs deep in many and it’s time we put things in perspective.

I would like to posit to our readers that drinking is not only not bad, but good—even healthy and beneficial to the bodies, minds and souls of those that decide to partake of the Enthusiast’s much-maligned drug of choice. Here’s why:
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Drunk of the Day

Let’s travel back a couple years, and to a place its locals occasionally refer to as “San Diego.”

It was somebody who may or may not also write for this blog’s birthday, and he may or may not have been turning a year that was one shy of a quarter century. What better way to celebrate, he might have mulled, than crashing for a weekend at a friend’s home in California’s most stereotypically sun-filled of cities? A perfect venue for copious daytime-beach into nighttime-bar-hop booze binging.

The birthday eve began as many had before, with a promise among several present to ingest a certain number of drinks that equaled the years that this possible-future blogger was aging towards. Sharpies were located and stuffed in jean pockets, for keeping semi-permanent tally.

Twenty-four increasingly wavy, lengthy, and/or jagged lines snaked around the forearms of the participants’ arms before the clock ticked past three hours prior to West Coast last call. And the night, she was young yet.
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The bap

In Russia, for some goddamn reason, they call a restaurant a “pektopah” and a bar a “bap.” But you could certainly argue that the bar in this particular St. Petersburg hotel deserves a word of its own. I might call it a “movie,” because that’s what it feels like when you’re here.

It’s a long movie, to be sure, what with us hanging most nights past 4 a.m. But putting in the hours means we get to see the whole story arc. How the hookers, who don’t look like hookers at all—in the US of A they’d be the most elegant broads in the room—periodically shift tables and then one after another stand to troll the crowd. How the smooth-as-silk manager signals to them with a silent nod that he needs their table and they temporarily move to the table in the hall. How each hooker (and this small bap is generally stocked with four, distributed among two or three tables) has a rose-colored drink, non-alcoholic, on her table with a straw in it. Some kind of red-light sign, but mostly, I think, to remind the staff what’s up.

But enough of my ogling the whores. What I wanted to tell you about was the gangster part of the movie from last night.
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From underage to overpriced

Am I seeing things, or is that tiger leering at that innocent vocalist?

Every Enthusiast knows that nothing—nothing—goes better with booze than music. Especially live music.

Sure, I might have made a similar statement about drinking and air travel in a previous post, and I meant that one, too. It’s just that I mean this one way, way more. And don’t you dare think this is the final, super-definitive statement about “nothing going better with alcohol than…” that you’ve heard out of this Enthusiast. After all, what goes better with enthusiasm than loudly proclaimed, sweeping generalizations and over-blown, oft-self-aggrandizing, defiantly definitive statements which are always forgotten entirely until sobriety returns, rearing its dehydrating, leg-muscle-spasm-causing, sinus-duct-pinching presence? (Hangover symptoms may vary.)

Many of us Enthusiasts have been on this rodeo circuit for many, many years, despite little restrictions like the “law” and, additionally and prior to that, our “parents” or “legal” “guardians” telling us that we had to be over 21 (or whatever your country of adolescence’s legal boozing age is) to ride this liquid freight train straight to Enthusiasmville.

Nothing could ever stop this Enthusiast, for one, from getting wasted before seeing all my favorite bands play live. We all liked a lot of what we now realize are hilariously bad bands as we trundled awkwardly through middle and high school, so I’ll spare myself the added shame and you the boring—the way that other people’s pictures of themselves in front of C-List tourist monuments are boring—deets. This blog is about alcohol enthusiasm, anyways.

Concerts meant long, sweaty lines of washed-out dyed green hair, and tattered, baggy black tee-shirts emblazoned with imposing logos and sharp, cracked white or raised silver lettering. And acne, and loosely-laced skate shoes. Then there were the shoulder-tap acquired plastic jugs of bottom-shelf, ice-clear liquid-panty-remover, poured gingerly into dumped-out and more discrete plastic water bottles that we could slyly swig from in line. All of this burning through our throats, and chased by M&Ms or crackers and the intense desire to get super wasted before it was our turn to get padded down by security on our way through the stadium and/or venue and/or pier gates. Enviously, we watched our elders lined up at beer-fueling stations, or aside long bars, ordering and receiving that which we’d only carried in with our bloodstreams. So cool with their big plastic branded cups and/or fancy little glasses with their fancy little twin straws. By the time your or my mom and/or dad arrived to collect the sweaty teenaged music lovers, splitting headaches and joy waltzed hand in hand into the blissful sunset of our fuzzy brains as we raced down highways, home.

Last night I got drunk at a fancier-then-I recall-from-being-a-tipsy-15-year-old venue in San Francisco. Pushing past crowds towards the wrist band line, where ID shares were exchanged for rights to buy pricey cocktails, I wondered—was this what I had lusted after, when secretly guzzling seared clear liquid from those plastic lips in preparation for lights up, ear-splitting, cheering, shoving, encore? These short, flimsy receptacles lousy with warming ice cubes, infused with the faintest splash of the essence of vodka or bourbon?

Maybe you just don’t know what you got, until it becomes wildly age inappropriate to participate in it.

And we flashed our IDs to have our wrists festooned with paper bracelets, and we pushed our way past heavily-perfumed, shot taking, bumpit-ponytailed women to swig that which we still and always, lust after.


Tiger lusting after rock star photo courtesy of Easystreet.


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