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Posts Tagged ‘drinking’

They Put Him in the Freezer

August 11, 2014 | by

Last call at the Blarney Cove.

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Photo: Gabriel Herrera

For a long time, when I came to the end of something—a walk across the bridge, an absence from the city—I would find myself inside the Blarney Cove, a hallway-sized Irish bar on Fourteenth Street between Avenues A and B. The place’s gravity came from its total disregard for the passage of time. Its drywall ceiling was never finished. Its walls, wood paneled with patches of green-and-white striped wallpaper, likely hadn’t been redone since the seventies. Outside, four or five customers perpetually gathered for a cigarette, tending to the drunken chain-smoker’s belief that tomorrow will never arrive. Among this crowd, you could always spot a straggler with a folded dollar between his fingers. “Can I buy a cigarette?” he’d ask the group, waving the bill he couldn’t afford to give away. “You can just have one,” someone would say. (As the straggler knew, at the Blarney Cove, no one ever took the dollar.) Once, I asked a regular from Harlem what it was about this odd and dreary bar that made him take the trip more than one hundred blocks downtown just for a drink. He paused, as if it had never before occurred to him to consider his commute, and then said, “It feels like home.”

There was no more lonesome jukebox in the five boroughs than that of the Blarney Cove. Over the years, I watched all sorts of people haunt the bar’s four square feet of danceable floor—a grizzly man in a cowboy hat, a college girl with big hoop earrings—each gyrating in solitary defiance of the sleepy night. Some nights, after the loafers took their positions along the bar, an older woman named Kiko would walk in and ask each of the men to dance with her, one by one; slumped over in thought and beer, they’d always decline. I watched her once as she swayed her hips to Lucinda Williams’s “Drunken Angel,” alone. Read More »

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A Screaming Comes Across the Tongue, and Other News

June 26, 2014 | by

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Paul Klee, Mumon sinkt trunken in den Sessel, 1940.

  • For seven years in the sixties, Dennis Hopper disappeared from Hollywood. What was he doing? Attending the Fonda-Vadim nuptials, hanging around LA’s Love-In, watching Martin Luther King Jr. speak, and photographing all of it.
  • Today in brave souls and/or fool’s errands: “I’m drinking everything mentioned however peripherally in every Pynchon book and jabbering a bit about what it’s like … So what is Chivas Regal like? I’m tempted to say that a screaming comes across the tongue.”
  • Amazon is demanding concessions from publishers that are tantamount to “assisted suicide for the book business” …
  • … And a new, “fiercely independent-minded” book, The Everything Store, reminds of Amazon’s considerably less-incendiary early days: “Bezos hired writers and editors who supplied critical advice about books and tried to emulate on Amazon’s website ‘the trustworthy atmosphere of a quirky independent bookstore with refined literary tastes.’” Years later, these people were replaced by an algorithm called AMABOT, which, given the meaning of amatory, sounds sort of like an animatronic sex doll.
  • But it must be said: “When Anne Campbell of the Open University in Scotland looked at how students used Kindle readers and paper books, she found that the electronic devices promoted more deep reading.”
  • Soon before her seventieth birthday, a woman named Sandy Bem found that her mental faculties had deteriorated enough that she wanted to take her own life—so she planned her suicide with her family. “We looked at the calendar and said, ‘OK, if it’s going to be next week, what day is it going to be?’” her husband said. “I wouldn't have had it any other way,” her daughter said.

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Comedies Are Too Depressing, and Other News

January 10, 2014 | by

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Chuchin the Clown, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Are today’s most prestigious “comedies” too depressing?
  • The Los Angeles Public Library is soon to offer high school diplomas. (You can’t just check them out for a few weeks; you have to work for them.)
  • More on the curious connection between prose and booze: “Writers in this office used to drink,” said an unnamed New Yorker fixture.
  • For the discriminating digital reader on a budget, a treasure trove of public domain e-books.
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    The Mysterious Book Sculptor of Edinburgh Strikes Again, and Other News

    July 22, 2013 | by

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  • The mysterious book sculptor of Edinburgh has struck again. Reads the card (perhaps intended to clarify things for those who wondered if the work was antibook), “In support of libraries, books, words & ideas.”
  • Why do writers drink? Why does anyone drink? From boredom, loneliness, habit, hedonism, lack of self-confidence; as stress relief or a shortcut to euphoria; to bury the past, obliterate the present or escape the future.”
  • “Instagram for writers”? Meet Hi.
  • If the case of J. K. Rowling has whetted your appetite for pseuonymous lore, are you in luck! Read more on CNN, The National, and Time. (Although this book remains our favorite on the subject.)
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    Drinking with Carp

    April 6, 2012 | by

    My dear Editors,
    This weekend is slated for sun. I would like to celebrate out on my fire escape, with a cocktail and a mean read. For the optimistic lush, what combination is best?

    Sincerely,
    Sauced

    I mean, if you want drinking without considering consequences—which is to say, not The Lost Weekend or Under the Volcano—I guess you can't top the beats: Big Sur, On the Road, any Bukowski. If you want your whiskey straight up, try The Long Goodbye. How can you go wrong with a novel that begins, “The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox, he was drunk.” That said, the only story I can think of that deals specifically with a warm-weather drink is Roald Dahl's Pimm's-featuring “Georgy Porgy,” which no one could call soothing.

    How is one to live in a post-Revel world?

    Why, with the stacks of past Paris Review and New York Review of Books issues the event celebrated, of course! (A few vitamin C tablets and gallons of water never hurt, either.)

    What should I give my seven-year-old daughter to read for Passover?

    The Carp in the Bathtub. But NB: she will never eat gefilte fish again.

    Have a question for the editors of The Paris Review? E-mail us.

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    Drinking Away Writer’s Block; Favors for Friends

    November 12, 2010 | by

    This week “Ask The Paris Review” received a number of doozies, including a question about writer’s block. It occurred to us we should kick that one over to a real writer—ideally, a voluble one. Joshua Cohen, author of Witz and Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto, was kind enough to share his good counsel. —Lorin Stein

    I have been unable to write for the past three weeks, bordering on a month, and it hurts. More than the act of writing ever did. It hurts. More than the pain I no doubt cause others with poor literary attempts, but I’ll have to go selfish on this one, even if it is poor writing, I’d rather that than just blinking. So, do you have any tips or a potent elixir to kick writer's block? Thank you. —Ayat Ghanem

    Dear Ayat,

    Glengoyne is a superior single-malt whisky distilled from barley that’s dried by air and not by peat smoke. This unique process results in a spirit whose oaken, sherry, banana, apricot, peach, and marzipan nose contrasts pleasingly with—who cares? You don’t want to read bad tasting notes; you want to make better notes of your own—n’est-ce pas? Thing is, there’s no single cure for the Block (this is what serious writers call it; cf. the Clap, the Syph, the Herp). And the reason there’s no single cure is that there’s no single type of Block. The Block can be daylong, or weeklong; it can last for years (Truman Capote) or decades (Ralph Ellison, Henry Roth). I can’t think of any other writers just now.

    Hold on—let me top myself off.

    You might take comfort from the fact that while writing can’t be forced, time spent not writing can be put to good use. Try acquiring other skills, like rolling cigarettes or reading. Learn to differentiate between scotch and bourbon. Learn the differences among corn whiskey, rye whiskey, and wheat whiskey. Learn what, if anything, separates whisky from whiskey. Ayat, take comfort from the fact that a writer does not always have to write—and not all scotch comes from Scotland.

    Of course alcohol is only effective if it’s mixed—not with juices or sodas, you understand, but with narcotics. Speed weekly and hallucinogens monthly. Though the existence of ADD/ADHD has never been scientifically proven, the drugs developed to address these disorders very much exist and are excellent: Ritalin, Adderall. Dextroamphetamines and regular amphetamines go together like love and marriage, like a horse and carriage … what was I saying? Let me just swallow these. OK. One second.

    Swall … owed.

    Finally, Ayat, don’t discount the two greatest cures for the Block: plagiarism and suicide. Good luck!

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