Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Guide to Benders

In drinking, like all things, moderation is the key. What some people never tell you about that guide is that “all things” includes moderation, so one must moderate in moderation as well. And there sometimes—not too often—comes a time in someone’s life when it’s time to go a little off the deep end. A good bender can be a damn fine thing, but you really have to do it right. I’ve done it wrong in the past and learned from my mistakes. I just got back to work after a week and a half off and I quite explicitly decided to make it a bender. So I’d like to now share what I’ve learned about this noble and horrible experience.

First off, make sure you have ample time to be to yourself. You’re going to need anywhere from a weekend to two weeks (longer than that I really highly don’t recommend) where you are pretty much free from normal human responsibilities like family, work, and hygiene. (Just kidding.) (Kind of.) Point being if you need to check in on Granny every now and then or work with children or make spreadsheets to keep yourself employed, don’t go on a bender then. Self-destruct in moderation! I’ve often used spring break, but it’s very vital not to do it in the way low folks like Floridians would. A bender is not an excuse to yell lewd things at impressionable girls. A bender is a hedonistic self-exploration.

It often helps to have something of an impetus for the bender. It can be something as simple as “I have time off” to something rather more serious like, “Holy shit, my marriage just ended.” Sad-started benders need to be monitored more carefully than others, as the point is to come out a little better than you started, not way more depressed. I’d say stick to a good reason at least your first time. No bender is trickier than the barely-avoiding-depression bender.

I should add that you should let people know what you’re about to do; at least the ones that won’t give you hell about it. I, uh, in particular mean people that you share some sort of activity or some such with. Like, uh, a blog. I’d like to publicly apologize right here for not sending anything in last week. Sorry, theoretical adoring fans, arch enemies, and lovely crushes. Also, sorry Colonel Harmon. Really should have kept you of all people in the loop on that one.

Mostly go to bars where they know you. Now, don’t only go there, as they’ll get really tired of you. A bender’s a nice time to explore joints randomly. Remember, though, not everyone’s on a bender so don’t be an asshole, at least not more than you usually are. Respect the rules of trying out new bars, just do so within a week-long stint of drinking.

Remember to eat. Some nights you’re going to be stuck with the dregs: a friend’s leftover sandwich, microwave bar food. That’s unavoidable. But make sure you eat normal food too. Pasta keeps your stomach from completely revolting and just leaving by way of the first orifice it can find. At times when you’re just starting for the day or nicely buzzed, eat something really good and tasty. You’ll appreciate it whilst swimming in your debauchery.

Speaking of food and digestion, be prepared to not digest too well for the entire time. We’ve all had beer shits before, but understand that a real bender’s gonna involve beer shits pretty much every day. Stock up on TP and the stomach placebo of your choice and just roll with it. You get used to it, anyway.

You’re going to be tempted to bathe less. This is not a great idea. Everybody skips a day every now and then but if you skip more than one, you’d better have a major excuse, and it has to involve either an explosion or sleeping with someone ridiculously hot. Otherwise, for Christ’s sake, nobody needs to smell your drunk ass. If you must, buy some cheap beers to drink in the shower for motivation. That’s actually really fun.

Bender friends help. They’re not always available and do make sure they’re good bender friends. Bad ones quickly lead you down paths that not even you want. But someone who shares your break or purpose and can actually hang with your drinking style is pretty awesome. Nothing’s worse, though, than a lightweight bender friend. Can I call them frienders? When you’re out and ready for a multi-hour stretch and he or she is hiccupping after one beer, problems arise.

It also helps to have a non-bender friend, someone who’s generally staying sober, or at least normal. This has to be a close friend you trust and who is not judgmental. You need someone watching out if you’re about to step over a line, like drinking a fifth of whiskey near some cops or hitting on someone you really shouldn’t hit on. REALLY SHOULDN’T. But if you’ve got a judger, they’re just going to be on your case about everything so you never know what to take seriously. A cool non-bending friend can be a real ballast making sure you don’t go about this all wrong.

Keep some sort of record of what you’re doing. I don’t mean some weird OCD list of every drink you have. But a journal or something. Personally, I like to keep my camera around. Benders often lead to amazing, unexpected times. It’d be a shame if you couldn’t remember them. So make sure there’s something that will keep these good times around even after you clean up.

Lastly, when it’s time to rein it in, do so. When you’ve set yourself a time limit, never extend it, not even for a day. You’ll feel terrible for a day or so but, man, you will feel great once you’ve worked it through. Elongating a bender is the surest way to wreck it. There’ll be another time. Besides, it’s time for moderation in your excess.

Photos by the Masked Drinker

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Morning After, A Syrcls Brunch Review: Easter Sunday Brunch!

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a long (and possibly regrettable) night out is to get out of bed and cook yourself something awesome to make yourself feel more human again. At least for people like me, who pretty much don’t cook at all, going out to brunch is pretty much your best friend. So that’s why I’m here: to share my tales of urban brunching— tales of caution, and/or tales of awesome.

The ressurection of Jesus Christ can only be celebrated in one way-- and that is by going to a giant loft party in Bushwick the night before, dancing with the fabulous Nomi Ruiz from Hercules and Love Affair, eating part pot brownies, and drunk dialing everyone you've ever known in life until you are, like Jesus, a total zombie the next day.

This past Sunday morning, I opted out of a cold, windy rooftop yoga session, and instead found myself at Fiore, on Grand St., with all expenses paid courtesy of my roomate's Jesus-lovin' mother. It could not be a more convenient and beneficial time for me to indirectly participate in zombie worship, as I am dead broke. No pun intended.

Aside from crazily stealing a complimentary donut off a nearby unnattended table (whatever dude, they were just gonna throw them away after those people left! But it was still the most hobo thing I've ever done), I decided to be non-traditional and get pasta. Specifically, the Rigatoni con Melanzane E Pecorino-- i.e. Rigatoni with eggplant, tomato sauce and pecorino cheese.My roommate got the beff hash with fried egg:

And my roommate's brother got the eggs benedict:

Overall, I would say we were all satisfied...partly because it's free. Though, I could've used more pasta to revive me back to life. Oh, and their coffee was good.
We got more free donuts at the end. And this time, they were warm and not secondhand. Though the ones at Dumont are better (as is the orange juice...though NOBODY beats Motorino's), Fiore's are bigger.
Random observation: Why would you line a wicker trashcan with an ugly, cheapo blue 99-cent-a-pack trashbag? I demand an explanation, Fiore.

Anyway, thanks to my roommate's mom as well for the crazy amount of easter candy she sent us. That and brunch will certainly be able to get me through till my next paycheck.

Photos by: misoserious.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Masked Drinker Gets Poetical

“She turns and looks a moment in the glass,
Hardly aware of her departed lover;
Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:
'Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.'
When lovely woman stoops to folly and
Paces about her room again, alone,
She smoothes her hair with automatic hand,
And puts a record on the gramophone.

'This music crept by me upon the waters'
And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street.
O City city, I can sometimes hear
Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street,
The pleasant whining of a mandoline
And a clatter and a chatter from within
Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls
Of Magnus Martyr hold
Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold.”

Thus sayeth T.S. Eliot in “The Waste Land.” Why bring it up, especially since I am clearly an idiot in a mask that drinks too much? The answer is threefold. I’ve been teaching “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to 10 year olds this past couple of weeks and it’s been kind of awesome. Also, as you might know, the poem quoted above begins with the famous line, “April is the cruelest month.”

Thirdly April is National Poetry month, which may or may not have something to do with the previous two reasons. Poetry and drinking have a long, weird history, really. I mean, pretty much any poet worth his or her salt (from Shakespeare to Hank Williams Sr.) was a giant drunk, or would have been if they weren’t so goddam nuts they weren’t ever around booze. I’m looking at you, Dickenson.

It was only last week when I was about to enter Shades of Green in Manhattan in order to a) play a nerdy board game with my friends and b) try to flirt with a cute waitress (the two go together like peanut butter and chocolate IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO PEANUT BUTTER). I was finishing up a cigarette when a fellow came from inside and asked me for a light. He then began to expound upon all sorts of topics, like the original location of Tammany Hall, how kids only study things like business today, and the genius of song and poetry. He then recited “The Harlot’s House” by Oscar Wilde from beginning to end. It was impressive on the other hand, and long and weird and creepy on the other. So maybe if you want to memorize a cool poem suitable for bars, perhaps a multi-stanza epic isn’t quite the way to go. (Although that may have been super impressive to some Ren Fair girl, but if you want to impress a Ren Fair girl I don’t want you reading my goddam blog in the first place and getting your greasy little fingers on it.)

(I was going to post a photo of Ren Fair people here but realized I hated neither you nor myself enough to do so. But now the image is stuck in my head so I have to look at something awesome.

Whew, much better.)

So, with that in mind, I have decided to supply you, my reader, with your own easily-memorizable poetry to use and enjoy this month or whenever the fancy strikes you. For convenience sake, I’ll keep it in “fun size” haiku poems. Enjoy!

Home with cold beer
Oh no where is opener
My life is pointless

You are beautiful
I think that you should make out
With the Masked Drinker

Oh man gotta pee
I should have stayed with liquor
Beer goes right through me

This is like magic
I’m pretty sure that whiskey
Just made me charming

Dear God I’m hungry
Oh, look, it’s a White Castle
This is a mistake

I have bought four drinks
I hope next comes a buy back
Yay life has meaning

This party is lame
So I will play this guitar
Wait, I don’t know how

You’re familiar
How is it that I know you?
Oh, yeah. We had sex.

Holy shit this beer
Tastes like homeless dude asshole
It’s free? Glug glug glug

What is the best blog?
It’s “Here Comes a Regular”
It’s because of me

Eh? Eh? Whattaya think? Should I start sending to publishers?

Feel free to add your own!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Morning After, A Syrcls Brunch Review: Beast

Let’s face it, the last thing you want to do when you wake up from a long (and possibly regrettable) night out is to get out of bed and cook yourself something awesome to make yourself feel more human again. At least for people like me, who pretty much don’t cook at all, going out to brunch is pretty much your best friend. So that’s why I’m here: to share my tales of urban brunching— tales of caution, and/or tales of awesome.

Sunday morning, I found myself in Prospect Heights and in the middle of the most gorgeous, most perfect Spring day of the year. I danced with a few of my good friends at the Rub, a hip hop party at Southpaw, until the sun came up. Though I could've looked at this weekend as a raging bummer disappointment due to an unfortunate rude awakening the previous morning, this weekend unexpectedly turned out to be just what I needed after all.

Some of the other much-needed things included but were not limited to: Schooling some offensive asshole on nature vs nurture(I had him at "nature vs nurture"), getting a set of amazing massages and genuine affection, spending some QT with my girl friends, going to a new yoga studio with a friend who was originally against it, semi-surpassing my expectations at my first attempt at making baja-style fish tacos, and "pimping" out my bed (new down pillows and jersey sheets!).

But back to Sunday, me, my friend Alexi, her boyfriend, and their roommate (who I used my magical powers of persuasion and shoulder-riding...what? I wanted a ride to brunch!) decided to have brunch at Beast, a bar/restaurant down Vanderbilt. Because we all stayed up dancing, etc., we got a little bit of a late start, waking up around 1:30pm. Had I been in Williamsburg, it would've been such a shitshow trying to go to brunch on such a coat-less day, so that made me even more happy than waking up next to an open window with the sun and spring weather coming in.

Admittedly, we were all pretty hungover and a bit out of it. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, they were out of my top 2 choices for brunch: French Toast and the Sauteed Polenta (the latter especially sounded amazing). I'm also fairly sure that the Australian waitress wanted to kill us. Not entirely sure why, but, I guess it must have sucked to have to be working on such a gorgeous day. Also, I'm pretty sure I was laughing about me mistaking something Alexi said for "a dingo ate my baby" fairly loudly.

We started with some mimosas & bloodys (included in the $13.95 brunch special), and a bread basket that was pretty damn amazing. Alexi and her bf got the bloodys, which are according to them, the best in the United States. For the main thing, I ended up picking the veggie wrap with chipotle aoli. Alexi had the pan-seared scallops, Alexi's bf had something egg or meat-related that I forgot, and Alexi's roommate had an egg and spinach special with a side of fruit.

As Foxy loves to tease me, I'm obsessed with portions. Although overall, I liked the fact that the veggie wrap claimed to come with a salad and potatoes, I in fact found a total of TWO (yes, as in one-TWO) little potatoes on my plate. Had the wrap not been so tasty, I probably would've minded way more. I have to say, though, I would've really like to try the sauteed polenta.

I would definitely go back...but perhaps when I'm less loud and hungover.

Pictures from the interwebz

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Masked Drinker's Bourbon Pairing: Shotgun Willie

Let’s talk music. Now I might be a man of strong opinions when it comes to music, but I make no attempt at seeming like I’m an expert. I’m basically one of those annoying guys who “knows what he likes.” But I can freely admit when I like some terrible fucking things, and when I hate some amazing stuff. It’s nice when what I like coincides with What Is Good, but not necessary.

Today I want to talk about an album that is not only Good but Perfect Drinking Music. And that’s Shotgun Willie by Willie Nelson. I don’t understand how this came out as a country album in 1973. It’s funky, jazzy, funny, and completely awesome the entire way through. The title track starts off with this crazy bass line and simple guitar work. The lyrics are silly, metatextual, and make fun of the Klan on top of it. When the horns kick in you know you’re in for something special. Willie’s classic, often underrated guitar work doesn’t hurt too bad, either. Listen to it.

Then, of course, you get that second track, “Whiskey River.” Now, I’m a man of certain traditions and rituals. When I see a “L’occatan en provence” shop, for instance, I say the name out loud in a terrible French accent. This was designed to drive an ex of mine nuts, but I still do it, even when alone. I dunno, I like this stuff. Anyway, whenever this song comes on, no matter my state or the time of day, I take a glass of bourbon. The lyrics are simple, but exactly what you need them to be.

Whiskey River, take my mind
Don't let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don't run dry
You're all I got to carry me

I'm drowning in a Whiskey River
Bathing my memory's mind in
the wetness of its soul
Feeling the amber current flowing from my mind
To warm an empty heart you left so cold

Damn, I couldn't find the album version, but here's a good live one.

Those two stanzas are just repeated in between some great music and solos. Everybody gets a turn, classic jazz/bluegrass style. That funkyass bass is still there, and the vocal harmonies are churchly beautiful.

Incidentally, Willie released his own bourbon called Old Whiskey River and it’s pretty damn good, actually. I remember being offered it by a waitress friend whilst in a heartbroken state. I took it because it was nice of her and, hey, free bourbon, but I really didn’t expect much. Blew my mind that a celebrity bourbon could be so damn tasty. Pretty hard to find these days, and it’s not my absolute favorite, but it’s always a welcome sight.

Next up is “Sad Songs and Waltzes,” a sad and funny little tune where Willie tells some woman that broke his heart that she doesn’t need to worry about anyone finding out, because no one will listen to this song. Cake (remember them? Faux Bee June does.) did a good job covering it, I recall. It’s kind of hard to find a good waltz these days. OK, let’s start a movement, Waltzcore. Who’s in? Cotillion INSANITY all the way. Man, we will make some parties that will be THE THING.

The whole album’s great. There’s classic great country like “Local Memory,” more crazy 70s countryfunk like “Devil in a Sleeping Bag” . . .it’s all over the place in all the right ways. “She’s Not for You” is a minor key masterpiece. The Bob Wills cover “Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer)” is what we all want to say after that fourth drink and that cutie next to you just cracked the perfect joke and smiled that smile.

Anyway, I can’t recommend this album highly enough. Don’t be afraid if you don’t like country; it’s barely recognizable as such. Just get a tall glass of straight bourbon, nothing too fancy. Sit back, relax, and have a damn fine time with an American genius. (Not me, Willie. Although you’re welcome to try me sometime, too.)