Friday, March 08, 2013

Writers, Booze, and Drugs

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

If you could have a imbibe with your favorite author, who would it be and what would you do?

I wrote a bit about the potential to get wasted with 16 of my favorite authors: Hemingway, Pynchon, Kerouac, Dostovesky, Kesey, Hitchens, Thompson, Wallace, Hughes, Atwood, Gray, Pargin, Hancock, Pynchon, Bukowski, and Dick.

* * *

Ernest Hemingway - Rum

You achieve immortality by getting a drink named after you. That's what happened to Papa Hemingway when he lived in Key West in the 1930s. He spent his mornings writing at his house (he penned a few novels in Key West including For Whom the Bell Tolls) and then walked around the corner to hang out with the locals in the late afternoons and evening. He drank at a couple of places including Sloppy Joe's. His unusual order got named the "Papa Dobles" by the bartender. What is in a Papa Dobles?  Lots of (light) rum, grapefruit juice, and one lime (squeezed) with a splash of grenadine, a wee bit sweet and sour, and club soda. Hemingway drank dozens of these a night. I'd love to sit down and chat for a few hours, but I imagine it would be a bunch of wild sotires that trail off into jibberish, much like a 2am phone call from Snailtrax.

Aldous Huxley - Mescaline and Mushrooms

Huxley's experiments with mescaline, detailed in the book Doors of Perception inspired the psychedelic warriors of the 1960s (and also the name of the band The Doors). Huxley was one of the first ones to break on through to the other side, and he did during one of the squarest times in the middle of the 20th century. Huxley had terrible eyesight most of his life until he moved to the desert in the American South West. Huxley did his fair share of peyote in New Mexico and dabbled in other psychedelics. Huxley once tried to write for Walt Disney, but Disney rejected his stuff because he couldn't understand what the fuck Huxley was talking about. I'd love to discuss why Huxley thought no one would want to buy books in the future because they will be amused to death by other means.

Jack Kerouac - Adderall

I'm not one to do speed. Jack can do the speed. I'll just eat a couple of 20 mg pills of Adderall in order to keep up with Kerouac who loved to eat Bennies. A lot of G.I.s returned from WWII with a speed addiction. They did whatever the could to stay high including Benzadrine inhalers. When Jack couldn't score speed, he drank and smoked cigarettes and drank and toke some reefer and drank and smoked cigarettes and drank some more. Kerouac drank himself to death. He never recovered from the jolt of fame he received with On the Road, and spent the rest of his life shadowboxing with his own demons. Anyway, I'd have to get jacked up to be on Kerouac's wavelength. I'd ask him to tell me stories about being on the road hitching to Colorado, or what was it like being in Mexico, or some of the different jazz musicians he got to see live in NYC, or how lonely it got sitting up in the middle of nowhere being a fire watcher at Desolation Peak. By the way... why all the critics fawn over On the Road, it's not even Keroauc's best work. Check out his novel Dharma Bums.

Fyodor Dostoevsky - Vodka

When in Rome... drink vodka. Heavily. Although Dostoevsky was more of a degenerate gambler (roulette was his poison) than a hardened alkie. Regardless, he cranked out pages and pages of content just so he could get some gambling money. He's rush his stories to a publisher, who'd give him rubles, and he blow it at the local casino at the roulette tables. Dostoevsky had a bleak outlook on life and was stricken by the "sickness" of being held captive by a wretched addiction, which he detailed in The Gambler.

Ken Kesey - LSD

Kesey? He owned the bus. That's all you need to know. If there's a place to lose your mind, it's at one of Kesey's acid parties. I'd give my left nut to have been on the bus during its journey from Oregon to NYC with his band of Merry Pranksters. You want to blastoff from the center of the psychedelic universe when any moment you could just lose your mind and start seeing the colors swirling around everywhere. And you get the added bonus of meeting Neal Cassady because he drove the fucking bus while cooking on speed and LSD! I'd really like to sit down and pick Kesey's brain about Sometimes a Great Notion, which is probably the best novel you've never read.

Christopher Hitchens - Whiskey 

I don't have to drink. I'll let Hitch empty the entire bottle and listen to stories about... anything and everything. Hitchens is the guy you want to get stuck with in a random airport bar, or snooty hotel bar in the middle of nowhere. Raconteur. Philosopher. Atheist. I'd pay good money on a pricey bottle of whiskey for the honor to sit and swap stories with Hitch. If you haven't read Hitch's God Is Not Great: How Religion Ruins Everything, then you're missing out.

Hunter S. Thompson - Cocaine

There's a laundry list of drugs I could do with Hunter, but he's so fucking crazy that I'd be afraid to eat acid or shrooms with him without getting freaked out when he pulled guns or knives on me. Cocaine seems the natural choice to do while holed up in Hunter's compound on the owl farm outside Apsen, Colorado. I could only image how snow Hunter shoveled up his nose when he lived in Key West for a brief stint in the 1980s. Holy shiiiiiiiiit.  Cocaine crippled Thompson's ability to write. Writers are a paranoid breed without drugs, and something like cocaine only makes your paranoia increase a million fold. One of the reasons I never became a full-blown cokehead is that... 1) I'm too poor to afford a cocaine addiction, and 2) I'm afraid of what the drug did to HST... and I do not want stunt my growth as a writer with a kilo-snorting monkey on my back. If there's one book that has the best of the best of Hunter (a mixture of his long-form journalism articles and letters he sent to friends and enemies), check out The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time.

David Foster Wallace - Percocet

One critic suggested reading David Foster Wallace was like scoring really good cocaine. I have the feeling that sitting around with DFW would include a lot of him rambling on about really smart things while we watch really low brow TV shows. If that's the case, then I want to be pretty faded and stoned out of my gourd. A couple of Percs would put me in a warm and fuzzy place and I can sink into the couch and listen to DFW pontificate about the weirdest little things. DFW's The Broom of the System is one of my favorite "first novels by an author." I kind of wish he stuck with that initial style of writing rather than opting for a verbose monument with Infinite Jest. I'm pretty sure I'd try to ask him what gets through his mind while he writes a 1,000+ page novel? How can he remember everything? I struggle to recall storylines in a 250 word novel.

Langston Hughes - Marijuana

I always wanted to hear Langston Hughes recite "jazz poetry" while stoned to the gourd on some of California's finest. I'd listen attentively to Hughes tell what it was like being forced to appear in front of Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Red Scare in the 1950s when he was rounded up as a potential communist.

Margaret Atwood - Opium

Atwood might be a witch. One of her distant relatives was accused of witchcraft and hung from a tree in Massachusetts in the late 1600s. This one of the many things I'd like to discuss with the Canadian writer, along with her radical political leanings and her sci-fi writing. I've always wanted to kick back with a pipe full of opium and sit down to have an in-depth chat with Atwood.

Splading Gray - Oxycontin

Spalding Gray is high-strung and he'd probably want a Xanax while he told me about the tiniest details about his day from the moment he woke up to the moment I offered him Xanax. I also thought it was funny how Gray would find a good looking woman on the subway, then follow her home or to where ever she went. Then he'd find another attractive woman, usually someone with a good ass, and follow her around... at a safe distance, but close enough he could ogle her backside. I could easily do that... wander around the city crocked to the tits on Oxy while stalking hot chicks and checking out their asses, while Gray told me detailed stories about his mother and his peculiar childhood in Rhode Island. Swimming to Cambodia is one of my favorites. Gray details the shooting of a film in Cambodia (he had a small role in The Killing Fields) while he is smack in the middle of a personal existential crisis.

Jason Pargin - Ketamine

Have you read John Dies at the End by David Wong (the pseudonym for Pargin)? Talk about a tripped-out book. This is one guy I want to eat horse tranquilizers with.

Graham Hancock - DMT

Blastoff. Say hello to the aliens. Let's get digital with one of the most intelligent psychanauts around. Hancock wrote several books about ancient civilizations including Fingerprints of the Gods. I could sit around for several days straight listening to Hancock share tales of the spiritual places he visited like the Pyramids. With the exception of McKenna, I cannot think of someone else better to go on a DMT trip than Hancock. He's been on the other side enough that he knows where to look around.

Thomas Pynchon - Tequila and Vicodin

The elusive Pynchon. No one knows what he looks like. I mean, he wrote a new book (about Silicon Valley in the day leading up to 9/11), but how do we really know if he wrote it? I once heard a theory that Pynchon and J.D. Salinger were the same guy. Supposedly Pynchon lived down in the South Bay area or Manhattan Beach or Redondo Beach. No one knows for sure. Heck, I wouldn't even know if I was really hanging out with Pynchon or an imposter. Regardless, grab a bottle of tequila and pop a couple of Vikes. I heard Pynchon's last novel Inherent Vice (pulpy tale set in the 1960s Los Angeles) was supposed to get made into a movie with Robert Downey, Jr., but it got killed in the development phase. I hope they don't make it. Hate to see Pynchon's work ruined by a bunch of Hollyweird shysters.

Charles Bukowski - Beer

A six-pack of old swill and a pissed-off Bukowski. What could be better than sitting on the porch of Bukowski's joint in Venice while he rants and raves about the Man, dead end jobs, and loose women he met in bars? Probably have to bring a 12-pack. At least. And a jug of whine to keep the whores a bay, because a day in the life of Bukowski is just like a couple of pages from his epic novel Women.

Philip K. Dick - Mushrooms, LSD, DMT, and Speed

Might as well go for the "everything bagel" in the drug cabinet for an evening of mind-bending with Phillip K. Dick. PKD was jacked up on speed for a portion of his writing career, which was the fuel he used to crank out a shit-ton of content including short stories and novels. With the exception of Shakespeare, no other writer has inspired an eclectic collection of Hollywood films. The mind of PKD is a twisted reality that even he did not know if he was really living in real time, or if he was a hologram. Jonathan Lethem edited a new book -- Selected Stories of Phillip K. Dick -- which will be released next month sometime.

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