Friday, December 28, 2012

Not All Of It Sucked

One thing I do love is a solid tradition. One thing I hate is year end lists. The popular ones, like top movie lists, never seem to focus on anything that was released before October, anyway. They should really be called Top 10 Movies of the Year From October to December (subheading: Featuring Character Actors Doing Impressions of Defenseless Famous People.) Others seem perfunctory at best. (I mean, a Top list of spirits that only contains one kind of spirit and doesn't have anything new on it?)

But I digress...

Anyway, here's a little something I like to do each year, which I'm realizing is a great exercise in remembering to appreciate life. 2012 in particular was a doozy. I don't even have ten things about it to love (although I did eat, drink, see and hear some fabulous stuff, but that's not the point of this.) I'm not going to say it was bad. It just wasn't... whadya call it? Good. But some of the experiences I had I wouldn't trade for anything, and I'm thinking others will lend themselves to better times.

So it wasn't a total waste... Here we go!

9) The beverage and bartending community: I always knew you were my heroes. Then when communities were truly beaten down, you banded together all your contacts, assets and energy and used your super powers for the greater good. And you still made delicious drinks when we needed them. Not to mention the ladies of LUPEC and events like Speed Rack and Broad Appeal that continue to raise funds for important causes and help us all have a blast doing it. I am in awe of you people.

photo courtesy Gabi Porter

8) Tales of the Cocktail: Why did it take me three years to come back? It's about drinking cocktails, it's about making them. But take the heat and humidity of New Orleans in July, add colleagues and friends from all over the world, plus the character of the city itself and a dash of ancillary mischief, shake (or stir), and you have the greatest five-day bender cocktail of them all. I wouldn't have been able to go at all if it weren't for items 3 and 4 on this list.

7) Picking myself up, dusting off, moving on: Enough said.

6) Going to Jersey to see Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden: Seriously, some of the most fun I had all year.  Sometimes an idea sounds better in a bar at 2am than in reality (although I still think we should produce that Sanford and Son musical someday.) But in this case, reality didn't disappoint. We got the snake, the guillotine, Eddie and enough pyrotechnics to rival Number of The Beast himself. Plus the most I've laughed in a car since... I can't even remember when. What a great show.

5) Bruce didn't get one of those awful fast-acting killer cat diseases: It was a 24-hour nail-biter that scared the crap out of me. His doctors (that wonderful Veterinarian couple who live in the basement apartment and agree to make housecalls, and had to wear those gloves they use to handle birds of prey in order to take blood) prepared me for the worst. He was sick, weak and confused. Then next morning, he just woke up and carried on being the agile, willful, always-hungry, nudgy, sheddy bastard I've known and loved for the past nearly twelve years. However many lives you have left, Brucie. Make them count.

4) New friends: I made some great ones this year, who I think have some pretty serious sticking power. I'm so happy to have met you. You know who you are. (Especially the one who stalked me on Twitter till I tasted his delicious liqueur and wrote about it.)

3) Old friends: Never forgotten. You guys have been amazing. You drive me crazy-go-nuts sometimes, but I probably do that to you too and you're still here. For some reason.

2) My parents: They're on the list every year, and there's a reason for that. They're kind of awesome and put up with a lot. I'm very lucky. And it was their 50th wedding anniversary this year!

I'm still convinced sometimes that I was switched at the hospital. Probably with some other baby who is now a successful physician or lawyer or rocket scientist with three kids and a loving husband. But I like to think they'd rather have me anyway.

1) I met John Taylor!!!! Holy shit. I met John Taylor.

So now what? Surprise me, 2013! Happy New Year, everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I'm Fine With Ending Tomorrow

So December 21st, 2012 is almost here. Apparently the Mayans couldn't conceive of a world that lived past that expiration date, so according to their calendar (which, incidentally, could not possibly be synced to ours in any tangible capacity), the apocalypse is tomorrow. Who can blame them? When I was a kid, 12/21/12 was unfathomable. Forever. I never thought I'd get here.

Wow, so I've lived forever. Well, if the world ends tomorrow, I am so OK with it. I've traveled great parts of the world. I've met wonderful people. I've loved. I've lost. And loved again. And lost again. Even last week I ate and drank some pretty fabulous stuff. I've probably lived half of my life expectancy anyway. The rest is just hot flashes, wrinkles and sitting down at reunion concerts.

There's a lot of stuff I'd be happy to have erased from the planet if we really do sink into the primordial ooze tomorrow. Here's a list:

10) David Bowie covers. Hey, I'm actually a huge fan of a cover song when done correctly. The Violent Femmes version of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" is genius in its change of tempo and slight lyrical diversion from Culture Club's (plus Boy George himself has praised its originality.) The English Beat's "Tears of a Clown" takes the Smokey Robinson original, speeds it up, and somehow makes it more melancholy and joyful at the same time while staying completely respectful of the source material. And who doesn't love a heavy metal version of a Bee Gees disco song? But seriously. No one who can improve on David Bowie. There is no way you can capture the bleak desperation of a mid-1970s Berlin studio in the midst of a horrendous coke addiction and make it sound as haunting and poignant as he did. Nothing will sound as spectacular as that guitar crunch of the Ziggy days, or the strangely forgivable Teutonic pop style of a 1980s hit like "China Girl." You can't pull it off. So stop. Stop it right now. Except Bauhaus. You did OK with"Ziggy Stardust." But that's only because Peter Murphy was even skinnier than David Bowie when it was recorded and that lack of nourishment rings true. Bowie is still better though.

9) Hair removal. I have no idea how I grow hair as quickly as I do. I've made the joke that I was switched at birth with an Irish Catholic family. But now I'm realizing it was wookies. Shaving, waxing, depilatories, lasers - hell, I don't even think NASA has the technology to make my lower back hair disappear for more than 48 hours. Too much information? I don't care anymore. We're all going to die tomorrow anyway.

8) Bar and restaurant narcissism. Oh, good for you! You have a table at that place that doesn't take reservations and costs more for dinner than I make in a week! Fuck you. I'm going to eat at the place I know for a fact will be delicious, at a time when grown New York City adults, not octogenarian Floridians, eat the last meal of the day. Plus I am pretty sure I can return for something I truly crave. If I want bacon, I'll eat bacon. Not an icy gas that approximates the flavors of bacon. That goes for cocktails too. I'm broke. I just want to drink somewhere fun and dependable where I know I will have a good drink and enjoy it. If I am smooshed in with fifty other people, can't hang my coat anywhere, and paying $16 for the privilege of drinking yet another Manhattan riff? Trust me. I am not having fun.

7) Second round job interviews when the employer has no intention of hiring me. You made the decision the moment I walked in your door. Probably had someone younger and more affordable in mind in the first place. Stop wasting my time.

6) Debt. I pretty much don't have a dime to my name anymore and honestly, no intention or ability to pay this all back. Go on. Take me. It's all Monopoly money at this point. OK, maybe leave some of the booze in case I'm only mortally wounded first.

5) Brooklyn neighborhoods on their own axis, with no direct subway lines from anywhere useful. Since the earth is shifting, can't we just line everything up so transportation works all over the city? D train, I'm talking to you.

4) At least that ten minute trailer for Les Miserables will go away now. Whether or not we all die. I dreamed a dream actors like you would stop singing. While we're at it. Hey, Hugh? We're not buying it. Any of it. Notable mention: Gwyneth Paltrow, who must not only stop singing, but pretending she can cook too.

3) emails. You're right, and I appreciate what you do and stand for. Congress is a mess. No one is listening to each other. No one is getting anything accomplished. Health care is ridiculously expensive. People who thrive on negative attention will continue to say terrible things about women, homosexuals and immigrants. We all know our system is broken. You don't have to keep pointing that out. Every. Other. Hour.

2) Using your child's image for your Facebook profile picture. If my father had done that when I was three I would have been mortified. I know you think it's cute. Some of your kids are actually, kind of adorable. But I'm friends with YOU, not your infant son or daughter. That's just creepy. Especially when you post stuff about drinking or politics. Your dog? Even a decades younger version of yourself? Well, if you must.

1) Speaking of... doing terrible things to and in front of children. I know I haven't said much about what happened last week. But if the world ends and people don't shoot children in front of other children anymore that would be great. Because this can't continue. Those horrific images will never wash away. I mean, I am forever damaged merely from being accosted by a mime in Paris when I was 15. I can't begin to comprehend what it would have been like to see my best friend and teacher murdered in front of me before I turn 8, and have to trust someone to convince me to enter a class room again. Make new friends. Swing on a tire in a playground. Have conversations. I can't. I just can't. That would be a great thing to stop happening. Yes, please.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I'm pretty serious when it comes to New Year's resolutions. 

Which is why I'm sorry to announce that this year, I didn't entirely stick to mine. 

Sort of. 

For those of you who've known me for a while, you might remember that 2011 was a huge year for me, wherein I stuck to everything I set out to do: I lost nearly forty pounds. I revived my writing career. I completed a graduate marketing certification I never really wanted to start in the first place. 

I had spent so much time and energy pushing myself in those twelve months that by the time the year was over and I didn't have to write a stupid marketing paper every week,  my newly skinny-er ass self needed a project. 

So with a little prompting from my brother-once-removed, my resolution for 2012 was to write an entire book in a year. At least get it all written out with room for revisions.  

It's about resolutions. 

The goal was to write a collection of twelve short stories about people with, well, a goal. Some of them are your garden variety resolutions, but others are more complex and figurative. After a few of the stories came out, the book began to fall into a structure where I realized I could connect the characters with one larger narrative. By March I knew I was writing a novel. I wanted to write a little of it everyday, even for just a few minutes. 

However, by June, I was starting to worry. I was making the time to write, but the stories weren't coming to me as quickly as they had been. I found myself getting stuck, or re-writing the same story several times before I could make peace with its voice, plot and style. I became severely self-critical. I was falling behind on the schedule I'd set for myself.  

Then after a few strings of bad luck this year on several fronts (no need to go into what happened, but it's been a whole lotta no fun, with plenty of anxiety to fill the voids left by Good Times and Prosperity), I was feeling less motivated to write. And I was beating myself up over it. 

Many of you know I'm not a religious person. An astrologer told me years ago that my biggest problem in life is lack of faith, but she didn't mean that in a religious sense. She meant myself. I give up too easily. Or conversely, I hold on to things because I want them to work so badly, I refuse to give in to them when they don't. And you thought Tom and Jerry liked to have at each other? 

Crap. I guess I really am a Gemini

Well, here we are with less than two weeks left in the year. I didn't finish writing the book. 

And that's... OK. I completed enough of it that I'd be forever tormented if I didn't finish the whole thing. Which is why I'm finally telling you. I'm going to finish the book, just not the way and when I thought I would. That's the trouble with resolutions sometimes, after all. 

Give me till Easter. 

2013 has some pretty rockin' resolutions too. But I can't tell you about them yet. Better I just do them. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Fetal Position: In a Glass!

Last month, when the outcome of the election was still looking quite precarious, a friend of mine tweeted: "The fetal position is very underrated."

Luckily, for whatever reason, may that be the reality of climate change, Governor Chris Christie, or hey, overall common sense prevailing (for once), the election turned out OK.

December is now in full swing. We're decking the halls, we're donning our gay apparel, in the age of bespoke everything, I'm willing to bet some hipster crafter somewhere is attempting to make little dreidels out of clay and selling them for $19.99 a pop once they're dry and ready. Thanksgiving came early this year, and I've already attended three holiday themed parties. Wasn't it just a few days ago we were in the pointy hats shooting streamers and hoping for better times?

I'm so over it already. Yeah, Mayan Calendar, do your thing. Screw it. I met John Taylor. The rest is just gravy, as far as I'm concerned. Come. And. Get. Me.

It's been quite a while since I've made up a new cocktail. Today, I was thinking about that fetal position comment, and about how nice it would be to just curl up into one for the rest of the day.

Instead, I decided it would be far more useful to create (a metaphorical) one you can drink! My idea was to combine all the most comforting ingredients I could think of in one glass. The boozy equivalent of a hug. So, ladies and germs, for you, a wee gifty:

The Fetal Position

1 1/2 oz straight rye
1/2 oz Sorel hibiscus liqueur
1/2 oz Calvados or other apple brandy
1/2 oz lemon juice
bar spoon good maple syrup
1 egg white
Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters Black Mission Fig
brandied cherries (optional, but you know you want them)

Combine first six ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well to combine. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Add a few drops of the bitters and swirl with a toothpick. Add the cherries. Yeah. Just let 'em sink to the bottom along with your hopes and dreams.

You'll feel better in a minute. Ready to conquer the world again.