Thursday, February 26, 2009

Drink your Wheaties: Music for the Alcohol Lover

Looks like my boss at the newspaper wants me to cough up a list of my favorite drug songs for next month's addition. Apparently my music knowledge trumps the fact that I don't actually do any drugs. Well, not very often at least.
We'll get to the aforementioned Narcotic LP and I will be glad to solicit your help with that one too, but first I thought I would start with a softer drug (sort of a gateway mix) we are all probably more familiar with, unless you are part of my recovering meth addicts fan club, whose membership is said to be burgeoning. Apparently it takes that kind of self-abuse to understand what the hell I am blathering about most of the time.
Anyway, I will be slapping up a list of some of my favorite drinking songs and I would love any feedback. Remember: there are no dumb answers, just dumb people giving answers. Since you are giving the answer to a dumb person we can just keep it all in the family. Your song can be pro- or anti-drinking, we do all need a reminder from time to time that drinking and driving is kind of stupid. You don't want to wake up next week on a moped, the ultimate DUI scarlet letter, at least in the state of South Carolina.
Thanks in advance for your contributions and if you want to link me up to YouTube so I can hear your phat track, rock it out (comments may be made on any post as this post is currently being a bitch for some reason). I will be adding a bit at a time, so here we go, in no particular order:

1. "Sex and Beer" by Pat McCurdy
A great live version here of a song that brings us the two greatest things in life. Apparently this guy wrote this particular tune and then died, having created perfection. I have a slightly different version, but you can follow the link for a killer live rendition.

2. "Wasted and Ready" by Ben Kweller
Same sort of idea as the previous tune, but with a greater focus on the copulation aspect. "Sex reminds her of eating spaghetti." Just call me a lover of the pasta. Jimmy Buffett gains an honorable mention here for his "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw."

3. "You Drink, You Drive, You Spill" by NOFX
Frankly, this whole list could consist of just Dropkick Murphy and NOFX songs since they do have a bit of an obsession with the booze to go along with impressive music catalogs. NOFX uses the requisite two minute punk song to advise us to be careful when we drink in drive because we could lose some of our precious alcohol. Thanks for lookin out guys! (Note: not a great version here as far as sound quality, but this was all YouTube had)

4. "Slow Descent into Alcoholism" by The New Pornographers
Never have I been happier to creep into the depths of depravity than when listening to the siren's song of Neko Case and Carl Newman, whose duet lovingly carries us into the embrace of the bottle in this sugary sweet pop classic. The video reminds me of my college daze (not a typo). Keg bowling, shotgunning beers, funneling beers - a wave of nostalgia is washing over me like a tsunami of love.

5. "Alcohol" by Gogol Bordello
A succinct title that gets right to the point. These guys combine the gypsy music of their Ukrainian homeland with the punk vibe they discovered growing up in the United States. The combination works, creating a unique and raucous sound. Great success!

6. "Drunken Lullabies" by Flogging Molly
No mix of this sort would be complete without including an Irish influence. Although the Mollies only have one member from the isle, singer Dave King, their music is as authentically Irish as a shillelagh toting leprechaun drunk on whiskey. If you have never seen them live, get off your sorry ass and book a date, they have a stage presence unmatched by their peers and the fun you will have is guaranteed to greatly exceed the monetary output.

7. "Kiss Me, I'm Shitfaced" by The Dropkick Murphys
The Murphys are also a no-brainer for a list of boozing tunes. Boston might as well be located in Ireland, with most of its citizenry having Emerald ancestry and a serious alcohol problem (as anyone who has attended a sporting event in the area can tell you). Since most of their songs deal with this particular genre, all they had to do was write one good ditty. With classic lines like "I've had far better sex while in jail" and "It was tiny" this ditty hit the necessary home run. Other Dropkick songs worthy of a mention here are "Alcohol," "Barroom Heroes," and "The Dirty Glass."

8. "Heavy Fuel" by Dire Straits
"Money for Nothing" and "Sultans of Swing" nonwithstanding, the majority of Dire Straits material is slow and plodding at times, with adjectives like mellow and somber coming immediately to mind. Not so with "Heavy Fuel" a hard rocker from the album On Every Street explaining just how much hard-living the rock and roll life style requires. Money shot: "The last time I was sober, man it felt bad, worst hangover I ever had...."
Ignore the psychotic roadie infiltrating an otherwise perfectly normal video.

9. "Surf Wax America" by Weezer
I include this mainly for nostalgic reasons. We played this album in college until the stereo exploded, refusing to accept our Blue offering even once more. Most of you may know the tracks "Buddy Holly" and "The Sweater Song," but my favorite was always "Surf Wax America" for the singer's blatant disregard for the straight working stiff and for the line that makes the song worthy of inclusion here - "The sea is foaming like a thousand pound keg (or bottle of beer depending on the stanza.

10. "Drink It Up Men" by The Dubliners
My list would be as empty and cold as the Gobi Desert if I failed to include this ode to Guinness by the masters of modern Irish folk music. "Drink it up men, its well after ten" is like a calm to arms for the lover of hops and barley. Forgive the lack of a video, as these gentlemen slightly predate the heyday of MTV.

11. "Two Step" by Dave Matthews Band
Although, not specifically about alcohol, this tune provides the carpe diem mentality necessary for any boisterous bout of bacchanalia. "Celebrate we will, for life is short but sweet for certain" makes me want to take the opportunity to raise a pint today, for I know not what mishaps and misfortune tomorrow may bring.

12. "One Last Drink" by Enter the Haggis
Turn up the sound on this one, the version I link to is very quiet for some reason, but is the only one of the four posted that has anything resembling sound quality.
These Toronto natives of Scottish heritage prove that the kilt-loving, tartan wearers can pound a wee bit of whiskey as well. FYI: if you enjoy this tune and live anywhere near Greenville, South Carolina, they are playing at the Handlebar the last night of April. I have seen them twice and they put on a hell of a show. Their music turns me into a jig-dancing automaton (that is a good thing if you were wondering). Oh, and the fiddle player is smoking hot, although he was a ten with the red hair (dyed it blonde for some unknown reason).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two Rights Don't Make a Bong

Quick rant for you today, my dedicated reader about a subject that has me boiling with rage like a geyser moments before the inevitable explosive climax. A bit of national news has me so irked and being that the event took place in Columbia, a more localized anger has been induced as well. I speak of the Phelps bong case, which has taken up much of the valuable minutes ESPN could have spent talking about Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Terrell Owens or any of the other "role models" they choose to focus most of their airtime upon not to mention scintillating hours the "news channels" could have used to show us the interior design plans Michelle Obama has regarding the White House. If any of you have managed to avoid seeing anything about this debacle please let me know the directions to the planet you currently occupy so I can come join you.
The whole event for me has shown how dysfunctional we are as a society. There is no discussion in any of these reports about whether marijuana should even be illegal. I could get wrapped up in talking about the foolhardiness of our drug laws for several pages, but I recommend you read the case Eric Schlosser makes in "Reefer Madness" or any of many well-argued, lucid attacks on our current policy available on-line or in your local bookstore. I did a speech on the subject in my rhetoric class a few years back and finding information on the subject was not at all difficult. I am not even much of a fan of the green, having tried the stuff on a few occasions and never growing enamored of the buzz or taste. I am still a beer man through and through.
Back to my main point we go! The mainstream media reported the story as if one should just assume that what Michael Phelps did was wrong. He made his apologies and moved on - but we as Americans missed a teachable moment. Why is what he did such a big deal? No one mentioned a single reason - the media just took for granted that since what he did is illegal than it is necessarily wrong. The media's defenders will say their job is just to report the facts, not to editorialize - but you can report things in a fashion that makes people more likely to question the facts. I don't believe that was done in any of the pieces I saw dealing with the illicit Billy Bong Thorton and its terrible cargo.
Clearly the sheriff wanted to have a high-profile case, to make an example of someone famous. Since Snoop Dogg and Seth Rogan were too smart to ever consider entering the state of South Carolina, a poor swimmer with some judgment issues would have to take their place as the celebrity blazer. The motives of the police were not questioned, however, in any of the articles I read about the case. See the Duke Lacrosse case if you are somehow naive about the motivations of some of our nation's men in blue. I have good and honest friends who are involved in law enforcement and they freely admit that marijuana is not considered a high priority most of the time.
On the other hand, I know from my own experiences that newspaper reporters are usually hamstrung by their superiors and law enforcement is bound to uphold the laws of our nation, even if their approach is questionable at times. No these are just members of society responding to the status quo, playing their part in a script that has already been written.
A similar circumstance played a part in my decision to give up the idea of becoming a teacher. A student in my psychology class asked me point blank why smoking marijuana is wrong. I realized that I had no answer for him. At least one that wouldn't lead to my dismissal by the end of the school day. There was no way I could sleep at night leaving my opinion of the truth unsaid.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ireland: How To Eat Guinness on a Shoestring Budget

Having survived my puketacular flight and mind-numbing trip through customs (see last month's episode) I arrived in Ireland: a land of captivating castles, amazing abbeys, majestic monasteries, terrific towers, and fantastic forts. The island nation , which is similar in size to South Carolina, is known for more than its crumbling bits of rock formerly owned by famous dead people (whose homes were shown by a direct antecedent of Robin Leach in the medieval version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous , known as Step On the Groveling Serf On the Way Into The Castle If Need Be, Sire). Kind of a long title, but at least the peasants were made acutely aware of their social standing.
I just recently completed a week-long journey to the Emerald Island, as the nation is called, in part because of the rolling verdant hills and also because the citizenry were all born in May (obscure birthstone joke no one will get). Don't interrupt or stare at the copulating locals during the July breeding season.
Much of my week was spent amongst the ruins of places like Trim Castle, Aughnanure Castle, and Corcomroe Abbey. We also saw Dun Aengus, an ancient rock fort perched on the cliffs of the island of Inishm0re. My cousin threw her father over the precipice and into the water below during our visit. Well, his ashes anyway. The toss was carefully planned to avoid any "Big Lebowski"-like entanglements.
There were also natural wonders like the Cliffs of Mohr, a stunning scene where the land meets the ocean, with an eight hundred foot drop in between. We viewed the landscape of Connemara as well, a stretch of Western Ireland where melting glaciers created a picturesque combination of lakes and mountains that would have given even Ansel Adams a bit of a stiffy. The beauty of the barren was in evidence when our route took us through The Burren, an area which British conqueror of Ireland #75, an underling of famed Ireland raper and pillager Oliver Cromwell named Ludlow, complained, "It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him." There was just no pleasing that fellow.
I won't bore you too much with this portion of my trip, which as a former history major as well as a nature addict, I found fascinating. In a nutshell, Irish history is pretty similar to the plight of the Chicago Cubs in North American baseball. Eight hundred years spent trying to free themselves of the British yoke in a series of failed rebellions finally resulting in victory and independence. As a result, most traditional Irish music involves losing battles, family members dying, and getting drunk as a coping mechanism for the sad reality that everything seriously sucks.
Then, if you are lucky, a famine strikes, killing half your family and forcing you to move to America (Fun fact: Today there are more people of Irish decent in New York, Chicago, and Boston than in Dublin). Makes being a Cubs fan sound much less depressing. The lovable losers couldn't possible continue to fail for seven hundred more years, could they?
Anyhow I imagine the interest factor amongst the readers here at The Industry would probably run a little higher if I moved on to a more thirst-quenching topic. The aspect of Irish culture we are glad to celebrate each and every time March 17 comes around. No, I have to admit, I did not go to Ireland solely for the beer, but the black liquidation with the froth on the top certainly was a nice perk. Delicious Irish beverages of this sort include Beamish, Murphy's, Smithwick's, and Harp.
Then there is Guinness, which is seemingly everywhere - a pub without a tap of the stuff is harder to find than a bar without Budweiser or Miller Light in the States. I believe my big word dictionary says that makes it ubiquitous, but I'll have to ask a professional journalist for confirmation.
Anyhow the Guinness in Ireland must be consumed by all who have only had the North American version. After cavorting with leprechauns on two separate occasions as an adult, I have come to the realization that Guinness brewed in Ireland just tastes better. Whereas those birthed in Canada (home of the North American Guinness brewery) affect the stomach in a way not dissimilar from eating a loaf of bread, the ones originating within the St. James Gate in Dublin are easy drinking and quite poundable. I can't tell you why, maybe something to do with the water, but argue all you want, I have seen the mountain and all I can say is that it was well worth the hike.
Finally, a couple of quick tips for anyone planning on imbibing in Ireland in the near future. First, one for those who do not enjoy the local beer and would prefer another. I learned from the locals that Stella Artois is considered the beer of choice for the lower classes of Europe, the kind of folks we would consider "rednecks"/most of the people we know in our part of the world. Since I enjoy a Stella from time to time, this discovery made me feel a lot less classy, but I can't say I aimed all that high on the social strata anyhow.
Secondly, Budweiser and Coors products are imports over there and as a result, more expensive. At last some justice in the world! Despite that fact I saw some patrons at the pub on New Year's Eve choosing to have that dross instead of a pint of Irish stout. There truly is no accounting for taste.
If your personal flavor sensors vary so much that you would prefer another type of alcoholic beverage, you are still in luck. Ireland is the home of a vast array of wickedly wonderful whiskeys, including Jameson's and Bushmill's. If you fancy a trip to drink directly from the spigot, Jameson's is distilled in downtown Dublin, while Bushmill's is made just north of Belfast on the scenic Antrim coast.
Last of all, why does Guinness have such a dark tint? Rumors that the adult beverage had been engaging in adult acts with Sally Hemmings turned out to be false, beer color is actually a function of malt. The malt is roasted in a kiln, and the darker you roast the malt, the darker the beer. Clearly the brew masters in Dublin were under the impression that black is beautiful and chose to go with the soul glow.
I will part from you all for another month now, but before I depart, let's have a little Irish language lesson. Most inhabitants of the isle speak English, but the Irish language (or Gaelic to the locals) has made a huge comeback over the last century and is a point of national pride. Although for the most part 'tis an indecipherable bit of gobbledygook to me, I did manage to learn one phrase, which I will share with you now. Slainte (pronounced slan che, it means cheers). Have a great St. Patrick's Day and save a frothy pint or two at the bar for me, I'll be there as soon as I escape the filthy clutches of work!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Death Match

I was thinking the other day about the old MTV show from about ten years or so ago called "Celebrity Death Match." If you don't remember, or chose to avoid the graphic animated violence presented on the show, CDM brought together various claymation celebrities and sent them into the ring in a Thunderdome, two men enter, one man leaves format. Oftentimes neither side left a significant portion of their body parts intact. After running out of various ways in which to decapitate Michael Jackson, Madonna and other famous douchebags, the show went left the airwaves like a fart in the wind, never to be seen again.
The time has come to bring the show back for one final episode. A climax that would eclipse even the one you had back in 1992 with those Thai hookers. If you don't remember that particular experience don't worry, you were pretty wasted at the time.
Anyway back to my main point, which had something to do with MTV and a final cage match. What could be a more appropriate finale than to pit the guiding forces of our world against one another in an Armaggedon-like (well not really like, I guess it would be Armageddon) battle. Who should represent the forces of our lord and savior against the dedicated minions of the evil one? Clearly the Fairfield Four are the only possible choice. They have touted the power of God in their songs for years, most notable in "The Lonesome Valley," which was featured in the movie "O Brother Where Art Thou" and happens to be the only song by them I have ever heard. The time has come for them to put their money where their mouths are.
Clearly our contest would only be fair if the powers of darkness were represented by an equally talented musician. After much thought (maybe five minutes or so) I came up with two possible candidates, Peter Steele and Glenn Danzig. Danzig triumphed in the end over Type O Negative's Steele due to his impressive longevity, including stints in Samhain, the Misfits and, of course, Danzig.
The baddies' champion would face some long odds. Any gospel ensemble like the Fairfield Four is likely to possess many different members. Although common sense would indicate there are only four of them, my experience has led me never to trust these Christians. Check out the team picture above if you question my doubt. Even though Glenn is totally ripped, he is a pretty small guy, standing all of five foot one (he claims five three, but you know how that goes) and he wears fishnet shirts for goodness sake. Who would be intimidated by anyone with that kind of fashion sense?
The General Manager of Team Evil could get the rest of his current band to help out, but how much faith can you have in someone named Eerie Von or Chuck Biscuits? On the other hand, the singer's near encyclopedic knowledge of "The Necronomicon" may help him fight back against the horde. Plus, they appear to be extremely old, which may result in the Fantastic Four having trouble finding the arena or forgetting to show up at all. Does Glenn know enough spells to crush the waves of bible-thumping zealots headed his way? Only time will tell. Or maybe we could just have a good old-fashioned fiddle contest.

Friday, February 6, 2009

More Irish Photos

I just put up another fifty of my photos at the website listed below. They only let you put up that many at a time, so I plan to trade them out every couple of weeks. Let me know if you have any trouble accessing the site. Thanks - Alastair!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


They say in vino veritas, in wine there is truth. Well that clearly is a dirty lie.

It's true that I don't write much in this space about my "real" job (the one that pays me actual money) - and for good reason. I would rather leave work at work and be done with the subject until my next shift. I don't live for my job, but rather the spaces in between. I imagine you have already gathered that something must have really pissed me off to cause me to break my long-held silence.
That being said, I work at a upscale steak joint by the name of Rick Erwin's, located in downtown Greenville. A large portion of our sales comes from the selling of wine. To me there is no bigger fraud in the restaurant industry than the idea that certain bottles are significantly better in quality than others. Sure, stuff like Franzia, Boone's Farm, Thunderbird, and Mad Dog 20/20 all taste like piss that has run off the side of some hobo's leg, but these are not the products to which I am referring.
Although it seems unfair to those few who want to dress up in a tuxedo and drink out of a brown bag, we don't even carry the aforementioned items. RE's does have an impressive wine list, boasting hundreds, perhaps even thousands of labels (okay so I haven't counted, but trust me there are quite a few). Accuse me of a barbarous palate if you will, but I can taste very little difference between the ones that I have tried, whether the bottle costs a mere thirty dollars or its attributed value lands in multiple Franklin territory. Obviously whites and reds (and certain varietals within these categories) cause different taste bud explosions, but other than that I would be purely guessing if presented a glass blindfolded, regardless of how many times I had tasted each of the samples.
Therein lies your scam. Why would anyone purchase the more expensive bottle if there is little difference in flavor? IMHO, part of your answer is prestige. A large portion of our diners want to imbibe and, more importantly, be seen imbibing, whatever is considered by the gurus that decide these things to be the absolute best.
Why else would our affluent customers care to partake of such an overpriced beverage? The process of tasting all these different varieties gives them a reason within the realm of social acceptability to get absolutely shit-hammered. Public drunkenness is considered a faux pas amidst many sectors of our society and the upper crust is not immune from this prejudice. Taking part in a wine-tasting, however, is considered acceptable behavior and is, in fact, 0penly encouraged as a manner of broadening one's cultural horizons. The same is true of regular diners in a large group - there will be no one to notice you slurred speech and palsyesque movements amongst the eight folks who just polished off six bottles of vino.

So let the counterattacks begin. I know the stuff has its defenders and I freely admit I am a beer man whose stomach aches from acid reflux after only a couple of glasses of red. I am certainly not likely to approach the exalted heights of the sommelier in my knowledge of the subject either. I will stick to my guns, though, so bring on your vicious smears you smarmy, wine-loving bastards. Think of the poor children pictured up above before you decide to support this vicious grift. What kind of future would they be living in if these whinos are not stopped?

Note: Apparently the blog is not allowing people to post comments on this article - if you have the same problem, just use the Ireland pics post to make any rash statements.