Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nurse the Hate: Hate Spirits

This morning I saw George Martin died.  Yet a much smaller story, the death of Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis is the one that caught my eye.  George Martin, the Beatles producer, was an old guy when I stumbled onto Revolver as a high school student.  Andrew Loomis is a guy I played gigs with in unlikely locations across the planet.  Now that’s eye opening.  I believe Andrew had been cursed with cancer, and it eventually brought him down.  That guy was hardcore.  I remember helping him with his drum kit at Garage Shock in 1994 marveling at the melted wax all over the kit from his penchant of lighting a candle in a Jack Daniels bottle attached to the kit at the beginning of each set.  A great player in a criminally underrated band.  He went out and did some things.  I salute anyone with the courage to put themselves out there and do it.

There is no promise of tomorrow, that’s for sure.  If you want to do something, you’d better get started right fucking now.  I am still chasing this crazy WSET Level 4 wine diploma.  This month I am tackling spirits.  Here’s my weekend.  I am working a full day, hopping on a plane for two flights to San Francisco and getting ensconced in my hotel at a ridiculously late hour.  I then need to wake up early to spend two nine hour days drinking scotch, rum, and gin in a hotel conference room with a couple of experts.  Immediately after the second session I will dash to the airport, wolf down a meal, and then hop a red eye to land back in CLE at 810am Monday morning.  I will then drive downtown where I will walk into a health club to shower, change, and resume working as if nothing has happened.  That’s very “rock and roll” though it’s hard to say if it qualifies as I am not actually playing a show.

It should be noted that I do not care for spirits.  The only good scotch I can remember is the one my new pal Oliver shared with me last Halloween night in Stuttgart.  My previous forays into scotch ended with my gritting my teeth forcing down some fire water poured from a bartender named “Spider” at a place where George Thorogood was always on the jukebox.  Whiskey is no different.  I thought it would be cool to drink Jack Daniels until I actually tasted the stuff.  Former Daredevil Bobby Lanphier spent the better part of a year drinking Jack Daniels after a well-timed promotional event at the Beachland got him hooked on the brand.  He eventually had to rid himself of Jack after a wake-up call when he waltzed into the Kings of Leon’s dressing room post-concert to provide them with a timely criticism of “what they did wrong up there”.  When Jack comes to visit, it appears to provide the recipient with the overall feeling of wanting confrontation and need to “straighten shit out”.  I do not believe that warning is on the label.

I drank rum briefly in high school when the concept of “rum and coke” sounded like refreshing delight.  I think expecting my friend Joe to have mixologist skill at age 16 while mixing in the back of his Oldsmobile to Judas Priest’s “Screaming For Vengeance” album might have been a tall order.  In retrospect, he may have poured with a heavy hand.  I did not take to rum.  Not even when I demanded increasingly stronger “Bahama Mamas” at the shoddy Princess Resort where I routinely took wads of cash from the blackjack tables and broke up with a string of well-meaning but ultimately doomed girlfriends.  Rum and I have been relative strangers.

The WSET is an English based organization, so there is a heavy emphasis on gin.  The Brits like their gin.  It all has to do with when they were crushing the souls of the people of India and drank gallons of gin & tonics hoping the quinine would spare them from malaria.  I could see myself in one of those turn of the century safari helmets sipping a G&T while engaged in civilized conversation seated in a wicker chair.  “Oh, Charlotte?  She has taken the steamer home I’m afraid.  The typhoon had driven her mad, quite mad…”.    However the primary memory I have of gin is not that gentile setting.  Instead I recall a frosted bottle of Gilbey’s Gin leading to what was my most impressive hangover ever.  I had been browbeaten by my roommate into drinking gin and cranberry juice across an evening as if we were crushing light beers.  I remember the last drink, a well gin and cranberry from The Loft that put me up and over the edge.  This led to my barfing all over my treasured cassette case that evening and trying to figure out how I had bloodied my head on walking up my apartment stairs at the end of that disastrous evening.  I was sick for two days and haven’t had gin since, with the exception of some “Monkey Gin” in Frankfurt served by Marcus Littler at Dreikonigskeller which was quite good.  Gin is not something I have been trying to add into my life.

Tequila and mescal have played major roles in my twenties.  Like most people that get too involved with tequila, I had to leave it behind when I realized that driving a bulldozer across a city street was not a good idea for avoiding long term incarceration.  Tequila is the rocket fuel of spirits.  I like it.  I respect it.  Much like one respects a rattlesnake.  It’s best to leave that alone and walk away.  I have seen what happens to feckless American tourists in Mexican resorts.  It’s all fun and games until you have your bikini top off and are being carried away from the pool area by security.
So I am going to push through this.  It’s not the area of my general interest, but at least I know that in a few days I can be the guy that pipes in with minutiae on the distilling process of upper Scotland and the aggressive head cut of certain Kentucky bourbons.  “Well the difference between the Kentucky bourbon and the Tennessee whiskey is the coal filter done with the Tennessee distilling method and blah blah blah blah blah….”.  I’d like to apologize to all of you now.  However, I’m doing it.  Who wants a single malt?  I’m buying…


At March 14, 2016 at 7:42:00 PM EDT , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

I remember that JD promo. The Beachland was transformed into a magical shangri-la of sheer joy and it seemed, even if for just one night, that every hope and dream really could come true. Then, starting the next day, I argued with random people for about a year.

At March 14, 2016 at 7:47:00 PM EDT , Blogger Bobdontgiveaf#ck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At March 16, 2016 at 9:38:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

You can tell when someone is drinking Jack by the dangerous sneer on their face.


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