My downfall came quicker than I expected, but it was going to happen. I don’t know if I lost confidence in myself because I lost my ability to drink or if I lost my ability to drink because I lost confidence in myself. Either way it was inevitible. Thankfully my run did not end with one big drunken disaster, but slowly stumbled to an end over the course of an entire year, it was a long bout of mild confusion and hard embarrassments, but I’m still here, still drinking beer.
When it comes to drinking you often have to make the same mistake about eleven or twelve or twenty or in my case about thirty times before you start to make changes. It’s not a steady downward trend, some good weeks can make you feel like you got over on it, only to fall further back the next week.
After a wedding in 2004 I drank a lot and I puked. I remember it because I had leaned my head far out of the passenger window but 70 MPH HWY winds caused blow-back that created a light speckled pattern across the interior fabric that covered the roof of our mini-van. I had hoped it was unnoticeable but the next morning my three year old daughter had questions. I didn’t puke again until 2019. Then I puked again two more times in 2019, violent, loud, explosive puking. 52 years old, puking from drinking too much, not sweet.
I’m not a doctor or even much of a reader so I don’t know the medical term to describe what happened to me, but I’m not the same. Anybody who knows me has heard me say “I can’t sit down when I start drinking.” It’s something I’ve said hundreds of times throughout my life. My back straightens, muscles I didn’t know were tense start to loosen, even muscles in my face. It’s a sensation that starts a full 15 minutes before the warm glow of alcohol even reaches my brain, but that part doesn’t happen anymore. I don’t get the building physical high – and when I really binge, I don’t rise to the occasion.
I don’t take back any of my prior enthusiasms. I ran into problems with drinking in my ‘30s. Hangovers would last two days, but I didn’t quit. Instead I came up with a drinking plan. Eventually I could skip dinner, take a few handfuls of vitamin B, drink double IPAs all night long, stay sharp, and in the morning I felt great, light, hungry, alert, eager for coffee and breakfast. That was true. I stand by all my previous beer drinking advice. I can say with confidence that I was living my best life. However, there may be an age limit.
5 years ago I wrote in Brewz-Newz that I was looking forward to looking old. I thought it would be nice to graduate from creepy old dude to kindly old man. I thought I would get grey and soften up a little, but that’s not what’s happening. The hair is still dark but the decay inside of me has bubbled to the surface. I can harsh a buzz just by walking into a room.
A few years back I stopped being impressed with myself. Last year I went through a long period of not liking myself. That was a new thing. I had minor issues. Normal stuff that many people have had to deal with their entire lives, like feeling ugly, getting drunk, but not kick ass drunk, involuntary naps, and how freaking frustrated I get when I can’t see things that are right in front of my face. However, as the wise Billy Ray Cyrus once told his daughter Miley, “life is a series of adjustments.”
“When all else fails lower your standards” was a t-shirt I wore all the time when I was in high school. It was a shirt my Dad bought for himself from a street vender in Berkeley. I thought it was hilarious and wore it all the time. Now I live it.
10pm used to be about the time I had energy. Now in 2020 when 10 pm rolls around I I’m not ramping up, I’m winding down. I sit-down in front of the TV. My consumption of Netflix DVDs has increased three fold this year. I get tired earlier. On the positive side I very rarely have those days where I go into work on two or three hours sleep, that used to happen at least twice a week. I think I’m sleeping more now than I have in my entire life. I also can spend a little extra for nice beers like New Glory or Modern Times because I don’t drink them all in one night.
I do nearly an hour of stretching and physical therapy every morning or my right side goes bad. It’s a physical breakdown and it won’t get better. My right shoulder isn’t hooked up right, back muscles have to compensate. If I don’t get blood coursing through those muscles they tighten up, it feels like a piece of solid wood is stuck behind my shoulder, they pull on my neck which locks up, the lower back gets unstable, the hip gets sore and I have a grinding sensation down in my heal. It’s a whole set of dominos that I’m always trying to keep from falling. I have to take it easy, sudden movements have consequences. On a positive note, thanks to the morning regimen my left side still feels like I’m 30 years old.
I gave this post a positive title because I had a lot of bitching to do, but in the end I know my life is wonderful. That’s the really fantastic and positive thing about drinking, it helps you feel how lucky you are and the feeling doesn’t end when the drunk ends, it resonates.
In one weekend Murray Bowles had three different celebration of life events in his honor, in San Jose, Berkely, and Oakland. Afterwards I was little Murrayed out, but the nice thing about it was that I felt a connection to a scene that I thought had little to do with me anymore. However, at the Oakland show I loosened my right ear plug to talk to people so many times that later when I woke up in the middle of the night, it sounded like a steam engine was barreling into my ear. Thankfully by morning a closer to normal level of ringing had returned.
I wrote this during the Corona Virus shutdown. We are lucky, so far both the wife and I are still working, she at home, me in an office space where even during normal times I only speak a few sentences to people each day. The shutdown has been easier on me than anyone I know. Except for our three day family trip to L.A. last year I spent every one of my vacation days at home. Walking the dogs is more getting out than I need these days. Sometimes I feel cooped up in the house, but when I go out to pee in our side-yard I stare at the moon and the clouds for a few minutes and I come back in feeling fresh and renewed. Not that this shutdown situation hasn’t caused stress. My only concern when it started was my son’s musical. So many kids put in so much work, not just learning the songs and the dance routines, but the musicians, the lighting, the stage work. It all comes together in this amazing communal event. After getting the go ahead the day before, all six shows were cancelled on opening night. My son is positive and resilient so he handled it well but I stress ate and gave myself my first ever case of heartburn. Then the full shutdown hit. My wife and daughter were going to to take their very first trip to Europe. It was going to be a high school graduation present for my daughter. I would have felt fantastic for both of them while simultaneously not having to go anywhere myself. Hopefully it is only postponed.
The only change I’ve had to make is bringing a leash for my dogs. Now that everybody in our town has been forced to adopt my lifestyle the formally seldom used parks and trails are teaming with people.
My wife is dealing with more and is tougher than I am in many ways, my kids are calm and good natured. There have been no tears or breakdowns. I have concerns about the future but right now we are fine.
(Last minute addition – I wasn’t going to say anything but when I say my wife “is dealing with more”…
The other night I woke up on our couch about three in the morning and went out to the side-yard to pee, I noticed the bathroom light was on, meaning my wife was up. After I came back in the house I heard a loud “THUNK” and I immediatley thought “that sounds like my wife just fainted” and she had, she’s never done anything like that before. Coincidentally the last thing I watched before falling asleep was a short video from Sean Evans, he’s the guy who interviews celebrities while they eat hot wings on youtube, it’s my favorite show. For Christmas my wife got me a “Hot Ones” hot sauce package. Anyway, in his video he did a short Covid update for the show. He also explained that he had a cut on his face because he had woke up at 3am to pee and fainted. Then he came to and while walking back to bed he fainted a second time and cut his face on a table. But he had gone to a doctor and he’s %100 okay, no problem at all. I was thinking about it. So I’m helping my wife get back to bed and she fainted a second time! It should have really freaked me out, but I was thinking “This is the exact same thing that just happened to Sean Evans, and he’s a %100 fine.” So I get her into bed and once she was lying down she did seem to be okay. In the morning she was even better than her usual self, she had been in a lot of pain for a while, she finally went to a doctor and has started injecting blood thinners because of a blood clot in her leg. Before that she had other ailments, in December she had a long running chest cold that was so bad she thought she must have had pnmonia. The first time we heard about Covid I said “People at work are going to think you have it, you cough all the time.” The other morning the news mentioned that a common side effect after a Covid recovery is blood clots, but I don’t want to speculate too wildly.)
Important and timely for this post are two bands, 50 Million and Shellshag.
I always thought 50 Millions “Sleepover” was one of the best songs I put out on Probe Records. However, as great as that song is the record was so strong that most people seemed to prefer “Whiskey Eyes” on the other side. Whiskey Eyes was “side burly” a hard nosed noisey rocker. “Sleepover” was “side gurly” a very sweet and fun love song – it was sweet and nice but hard around the edges.
A year or two after that record, not knowing my label was about to go belly up I asked 50 Million if I could put out another record. They gave me cassette tape. There were some really awesome pop songs on there. They also had a lot of good noise and rock stuff. I asked, Hey can I just take the pop songs and make a fantastic pop record? They said “But then it wouldn’t be 50 Million record.” Most of the stuff on that cassette was later on the “Bust the Action” LP on Broken Records which I insist you should check out if you are inclined at all because here is the thing. 50 Million and Shellshag have already removed themselves from all streaming services, they barely even exist on youtube, the 50 Million records are sold out and now they are removing themselves from band-camp also. However, up until May 20th 2020 you can buy their entire digital discography for $30. Over 300 songs. There will be another 50 Million record upcoming. Wade has had a stroke so I guess he can’t play drums, but he’ll be playing guitar.
I tried to find a youtube link for “Sleepover” but there isn’t one so here is “Amy Jahn” from “Bust the Action” listen to it if you haven’t heard it yet! I have a very short clip of 50 Million playing Sleepover from a October 2017. I’ll put it on my youtube channel right now so I can post it here.
I saw on Instagram that 50 Million would be playing at NOON in Clarion Alley in SF. My wife and daughter dropped me off at the Pleasanton BART station around 7am. I wanted to get there early so I could pregame the show by drinking at the the Double Play sports bar which opened at 8:30am. I was worried they wouldn’t allow drinking in the alley. When I got there I saw Jason Bean and he told me drinking in the alley wouldn’t be a problem. There was a table to donate money and they had cups, so it turned out my pre-game plan was a little over the top. When 50 Million started playing “Sleepover” I took out my phone and recorded that clip, more than 20 years after they first recorded the song.
CODA, This is over. Good post. End It
That was the post. If I wanted this to be art I would end these sooner. Unfortunately I’m inflicted with that sometimes annoying human need to share my life. I’m not autistic or on any spectrum but unlike many people, socializing does not activate my dopamine receptors. Since I have no motivation to talk to people I go on too long when I write. I also can’t see the social cues telling me to wrap it up.
Food is one of the cornerstones to living a good BEER CENTERED LIFESTYLE. I deleted that entire section because it was just too much to get into, too particular about me and I already did an entire post about the moral perils associated with the munching on of animals http://www.brewznewz.com/2015/10/ One thing that changed since that post is that Buffalo Cauliflower has become a thing. It’s a nice midday food if you are going to be drinking all day and plan to be up all night, and if you aren’t into amphetamines it’s the way to go.
I already know what my next step down is going to be. Beer drinking has motivated me for years to be careful with food. I was always anticipating my next beer high and didn’t want to cut it short by eating food that was dumb. I’ve weighed roughly 195 lbs for over 15 years. Early last year It went up. I brought it back down but I think in the future I’ll be moving up a weight class on a more permanent basis. I can feel it. I’ve already ended my strict no sugar rule to mostly no sugar. I also started drinking red wine more often. It’s a lazy alcohol. Hopefully I’ll just put on one layer of weight, if I start to blow up I’ll have to do something about it. It won’t really become a problem until I have trouble putting on shoes. That’s when the slippery slope begins.
I had a Guns n’ Roses phase. I don’t regret it but that only lasted a year, I was young, my Miley Cyrus phase is going on 7 years now. That’s how much better Miley Cyrus is than Guns n Roses. 7 times better! Tell my 20 year old self that Miley (who was still four years from being born then) kicks ass on them! She effortlessly breaks out in powerful vocals, people still try to turn her into a punchline but she is too strong, too legitimate, just a full time all around bad ass, never backs down, and continues to see the best in people. She’s past the age now that Axl and a lot of singers had to start working hard to keep their voices strong. She was amazing as usual, but her first two appearances after vocal surgery she’s changed her approach so I’m nervous and possibly even a little sad. Her EP “She is Coming!” was the best music that came out in 2019.
Will this post never end? One more thing.
Just to be clear, this isn’t an old man thing. Daytime shows are just better than nighttime shows. They always have been. They are raw and personal. Don’t be fooled by the lights stoner.
And this fucking outdoor classic all-time fucking greatest. 1970 Detroit