Whatever I Want Wednesdays: Getting My Rant On Again

That moment…

That moment when you’re at a loss for words, and then everything gets thrown into the sharpest focus all at once. Then, the words start spilling out like too much alphabet soup from your commemorative Sesame Street bowl with Oscar the Grouch at the bottom.

…anybody else?

…just me?


I honestly don’t mean to pick Wednesday as my designated snark time, it just happens to work out that way. This week, I was planning on posting something in the vein of successfully making my own ice cream. But, well honestly, I don’t have enough pictures yet. Secondly…

As I get older, I can feel myself growing more curmudgeonly. I catch myself yelling at the news whether it be from the radio or on television. I hear myself muttering, “kids these days…” under my breath every time I see some Tweener walk around with sandals and black socks. I fear I’m just one more gray hair away from yelling, “Get off my lawn!” while shaking my fist to no one in particular. But then again, all I’m doing is cultivating an opinion. Nothing more. It’s something that I’m not used to doing, because I live in a world where nobody cares, and given that situation, I feel totally in the right to unload on people who just don’t get it.

Like this guy’s post I read the other day…

From the “I Want My 3 Minutes Back” File:

I made the mistake of reading a post that dealt with the old “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” chestnut. The blog author’s issue was less with the quote being misattributed to Ernest Hemingway, but it was more of the mindset that somehow this quote was responsible for glorifying addiction.

Glorifying addiction…

Right. I know whenever I’m lying in a pool of my own vomit because I might have “overdone it”, Hemingway is the first person I curse. “Damn you for being so eloquent! HUUURRRL!

His parading peccadilloes left my head all scratchy. While I can understand someone still yearning for the Nancy Regan years and having an overwhelming urge to start screaming “JUST SAY NO!” ad nausem as if it changed anything, blaming Hemingway for one’s own addiction is just ridiculous. It’s like saying “Listening to Elton John made me gay,” or “Daddy never took me fishing so that’s why I’m into cockfighting,” or “I had to shoot that kid because he was wearing a hoodie.

…where was I going with this?

Oh, right… While I agree (and can attest to) being under the delusion that being under the influence will somehow make you a better artist, I don’t agree that a quote, misattributed or otherwise, can drive someone to become an addict. I don’t need anybody’s approval, I can do drunk on my own.

Quick impression: Here’s me writing drunk…

so tghen ios like, “”‘hjesday mrhjco chffffuuuk ffhsosllsmnfgolijhsoliLOLLIJKBNJBKL skdju hhislls llitte bastard;;s oekthjs  josojMMMNAAAA OH LOOK A KITTY!!! ndbbddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd,

And, here’s me writing stoned…

so then i was like and then is I was allI here right I’m like here so then I’m like with and then I was  so then i was OH LOOK, NACHOS!!!

Yep, that settles it. I’m a frickin’ genius. Give me my damn Pulitzer.

“Glorifying addiction?” Hemingway? Why pick on that guy when there’s an entire rogue’s gallery of authors who pushed the envelope and can be equally blamed as enablers. There’s…

James Joyce: His drinking was legendary in Dublin. How do you know he loved his drink? Open up to any page in Finnegan’s Wake and successfully read a sentence from beginning to end.

Tennessee Williams: Every time I read any of his plays, I always catch a whiff of Mint Juleps and Kentucky Bourbon…I do declare

Dylan Thomas: He did not go gentle into that good night, he drank himself into a coma.

I could go on and on, but these artists were geniuses while under the influence. The other thing they have in common, other than coming from a world that was torn apart by war, famine and the rest of the horsemen…they’re all dead. The last of them clocking out in 2005. Dead. And with them, I think, the days that existed before modern therapy. Gone are the days of manly men who appreciated fine spirits and could operate heavy machinery while doing so. I mean, did they drink because they felt it made them better writers, or were they brilliant in the first place and they medicated to drown out something else in their lives?

Honestly, other than the occasional blogger who downs a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and spews out run-on sentences, who amongst us still think that drugs and alcohol are the magic potion to super stardom? Are there still people who sit in front of their keyboard with an ashtray full of roaches and are convinced their screenplay is going to burn up Hollywood? Are there still the disciples of Charles Bukowski who soak in cheap whiskey before they can start their first line of poetry? Are there still lead singers for bands that need to “medicate my vocal chords” with a shot of Jaeger and a Molson before they got on stage?

…sorry, I was miles away for a moment…

I am willing to bet that all the people that were born after the Gen X crowd are smarter and more self aware than anyone else that came before them. I am willing to bet that even the creatives in my generation and older who are still doing what they love do not owe any measure of success to chemicals. I am willing to bet that the majority of the writers, actors, musicians and artists save their drinking (if they drink at all) until after the work is done. And I am also willing to bet that some people just take things a little too literally.

It is our duty, as Creatives, to not take things too literally. Everything can be open to interpretation. It is our job to bend universes to our will. Regardless of exploits of Hemingway, Poe, Thompson, Capote, Chandler, Kerouac, I think the true meaning of “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” has a less evil intention. I think it’s just an easier way of saying, “Get it all out on the page. All of it. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not, if it’s factual or not, if it’s grammatically correct or not. Get it all out on the page. Then, walk away, go make a sandwich, go take a walk, spend time with children, and when you are ready, go ahead and edit.” I think Hemingway would agree with that.

Personally, I already went through that faze of writing in a haze. There were moments, brief moments of brilliance, but nothing to sustain any sort of longevity. After all these years, my biggest hero wasn’t from the Beat Generation. My hero is Tom Robbins. You want to talk about addiction? As soon as I read “Still Life With Woodpecker”, I was hooked. I needed every book this man wrote so I could shove every one of them into my brain. If there’s an influence at work with me, then it is to try and emulate his style, the way he gets surgical with metaphor, the way he breaks every rule of contemporary writing and still manages to shine like a newly minted quarter, the way he can take the most ridiculous of premises and make them symphonic in nature, those are the things that influence me. Those are the reasons that I keep writing. It’s been over a year since I had my last cigarette. My last bong hit is ancient history. I still drink. Rarely. My body isn’t able to tolerate the levels that it used to endure anymore, but I still indulge in a whiskey here and there. And through it all, what I’ve learned in reading “Still Life…” and “Jitterbug Perfume” lasted long after the smoke has cleared. Imagination is more powerful than anything in a bottle.

That’s my 2 Cents. Now, if you’ll excuse me…there’s a PBR in the fridge that’s calling my name.



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