How much can I drink without slowly killing myself?

IMG_4467I’m not going to try to be funny or amusing. I haven’t posted anything on here in a while partly because every time I attempt to write something I try to be funny and amusing and those are two things I seem to do best inadvertently.
One thing in life I am good at is drinking beer. This just occurred to me today. I’m always wondering what am I doing with my life? Duh, I drink. I put a lot of effort and planning into it too.
However, there have been a few changes since my “drinking for life” post 4 years ago. A beer blog post that literally changed lives. (see this testimonial)

How to Survive the World Air Guitar Championships, aka The Hangover Cure that Changed My Life by Dan Crane

Don’t look at me that way! If you want to drink, believe in the B!!!

Sure I’m not a doctor but it’s funny how many people fight me on the effects of vitamin B or shrug it off as hocus. Its not some mind over matter “it works because you believe it” crap. Fuck the Internet and AM radio newsman with their mocking stories about how vitamins don’t do you any good. Yes, those are reports on legitimate studies, but heavy drinking is different. It puts your body through the ringer. Because drinking is voluntary doctors only advise people to cut back, they don’t give advice on how to increase the amount of alcohol you can drink. That’s what friends are for.
Then there are prenatal vitamins. If vitamins don’t work why does every single doctor prescribe prenatal vitamins to a pregnant woman? What do you think is more draining on a body, a tiny fetus that only takes what it needs to survive or 3 bombers of double IPA that enters your bloodstream and then ravages every cell in your body? Take the vitamin B if you are drinking heavily. If you are like my wife and usually stop after one drink or two and you feel fine then don’t worry about it, but heavy drinkers, especially older ones, should take vitamins, especially B.
Recently, Justin Crossley, the great host of The Brewing Network missed some shows because he was in the hospital for some complications related to vitamin B 12 deficiency. When he explained his job and told the doctor he would continue drinking the doctor said, “then you better take vitamin B12 everyday for the rest of your life” It’s not some mythical hangover cure, it’s about staying healthy enough so you can live to drink another day.

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A few years ago I went to a doctor because when I woke up one morning I was sore across my rib cage and abdomen. The feeling was similar to a time in high school when I tried to impress a girl in PE class by repeatedly doing belly flops onto the hardwood floor during volley ball because it had made her laugh (I never talked to her, in high school my method for attracting girls was based entirely on physical comedy). However, that morning I hadn’t done anything so heroic. The doctor asked me for a rundown on my food and beverage intake. I hesitantly explained to him that I normally don’t drink as much as I had that week, but there had been a double IPA fest on the weekend… I have a process for drinking, and I’m constantly making exceptions due to regular life happening, but most often I’m able to drink fairly heavily without any of the associated bad side effects like hangovers or energy crashes. It had been a good week and I had been drinking for several days (also sleeping and going to work, not drinking continuously) A day earlier I was starting to feel “ragged” which is a term I use when I still feel good, but I can tell I’m starting to wear down. My favorite way to deal with that is a night of gluttony. (I’ve decided to delete the details of what a night of gluttony consists of out of shame.) (Well, do I really have any shame? Basically it’s a regular night of drinking except at the beginning I add a big hunk of the forbidden red meat and two bottles of wine.)
Gluttony night always feels wonderful but the next day the body goes into restorative mode and doesn’t want a drink, that’s how I put the brakes on when I start sliding down the drunken rabbit hole.
So I had only gone to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t having a heart attack, but after hearing my story he told me he wasn’t worried about my heart but he thought I had probably given myself either pancreatitis or at least gastritis. He drew a diagram and explained to me how each of those organs reacts to excessive alcohol and the problems associated with each.
Thankfully it turned out to be false alarm, but his explanations did give me a window into how my drinking adventures could come to an end. I’m about to turn 50 and I’m starting to break down. I need glasses to read. I need subtitles to watch Netflix. This year, for the first time in my life I pissed my pants, and it almost happened twice! So I know my internal organs probably aren’t what they used to be either. Plus, only one of them has to break down before I have a serious problem.

This is the book where got most of my ideas, the guy that wrote it in 1999 was a nutritionist. The book says nothing about a gluttony day. Before writing the book he drank 8 glasses of wine a night for three months and lost 30 pounds or something like that. My objective reading it was not to lose weight or live longer but learn how I could drink as much as possible without getting hangovers. He never wrote a follow up and doesn’t have a web site so I’m not sure how everything worked out for him when he got older

This is the book where got most of my ideas, the guy that wrote it in 1999 was a nutritionist. The book says nothing about a gluttony day. Before writing the book he drank 8 glasses of wine a night for three months and lost 30 pounds or something like that. My objective reading it was not to lose weight or live longer but learn how I could drink as much as possible without getting hangovers. He never wrote a follow up and doesn’t have a web site so I’m not sure how everything worked out for him when he got older

I’m comforted by the fact that Duff Mckagen was drinking 11 bottles of wine a day at the time his pancreas exploded because I’m nowhere near that.

I had a similar reaction several years ago when I was emailing with my old friend Jeanette from the city. She was writing about how happy she was with a guy named Heiko that she was with. “The only downside is that he’s an alcoholic.” Normally the difference between an alcoholic and a drinker is that the former is an asshole. So I asked what made him an alcoholic. She said that weekend, even though he knew they had plans on a Sunday, he still went out drinking the entire night Saturday. Then, still wreaking of alcohol, to get himself right to go out Sunday he didn’t eat anything but lined up several vodka shots along the kitchen counter and then quickly downed a couple of beer chasers to start his day.
Aha! I thought, I’m perfectly fine. I don’t do Hair of the Dog. The whole point of my drinking regimen is so I look forward to drinking each day. If he can drink like that then I have no problem. However, it turned out that Heiko wasn’t the best benchmark to measure my health as he literally drank himself to death at the age of 39.
A doctor told him that he would die if he continued to drink. At first it seemed that he would accept his plight. He stayed every day with Jeanette and helped her with a dog kennel she was running at the time. He was sober for a few months. Then he fell off the wagon and very shortly after that passed away. Jeanette was there and of course was devastated for quite a while as he had been the first guy she had fallen in love with for many years.
I’m explaining this because Jeanette isn’t on any social media. She wrote this wonderfully sad little one page dedication (poem?) to Heiko and almost nobody saw it. How do people share their grief when they aren’t on Facebook? Well, she told me that there is a place on Valencia Street near her apartment called “The Pirate Store” and “when nobody is looking I’m going to hang this up next to the fish tank” (I just have her phone photo of it so hopefully it’s legible.)

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Why I did 30 days without drinking, it’s nothing exciting

It would be fun to say that I had been Inspired by Miley Cyrus and her sobriety break, but several factors had to come together at once to make me do this. First I saw Jay (Loudmouth) document a 30 days sober on his instagram page and thought, “yeah, I should do that sometime just to give the liver time to regenerate” and also this year I started getting a little raw feeling in my stomach after drinking all day. Gluttony night also stopped working for me. It used to be if I was invited to a brewery the day after a gluttony night I would still go but take it easy. The last time it happened I even said to the wife, “I need to take it easy this time” instead I had three heavy beers there and then when we got home she saw me pouring and feeling inspired in the kitchen, she held me by the shoulders and said, “remember you said you should take it easy” so I thought yeah, after this one I had been looking forward to that bomber of Bear Republic Fastback Racer Double IPA, but I’ll just have the regular Racer 5 instead. Then of course I had both of them. It was fantastic too! I didn’t regret it. However, I decided I needed to work on being more physically active to make up for my increase in drinking. Of course, I proceeded to wrench my left leg/hip pretty bad while trying to do just that, so instead I started sitting on my ass whenever possible and after a few weeks I felt soft and pickled. Finally I tried to compensate by drinking lighter beers but that wasn’t fun. However, the #1 final decider was that my beer fridge was almost empty anyway. If I had beer in the fridge like I normally do, if Raleys had a buy 3 get one free six-pack sale that week, then I would have thought, “I can’t quit now. I have all this beer!”
It didn’t matter that it was the middle of summer and there were several prime drinking days on the calendar. There was also never any doubt that I would go the distance once I started, ultimately I am much more obsessive than I am compulsive. I think I’ll get this posted a day before the 30 days ends. I forgot to weigh myself so I don’t know if I lost any weight, but my waist is about an inch smaller, most likely because the swelling of my internal organs has temporarily subsided. The wife thinks that I’ve been “more calm” which to me feels like “just a little more dead inside.” I started going to bed at 11pm instead of my usual 1 or 2am, but I didn’t feel any more rested, just got tired earlier, probably more akin to death row inmates who sleep 20 hours a day because they have nothing to live for. Other than that I’m the same person.

The art on our wall segment: This relief was painted by my Uncle Art. “Uncle Art the artist!” I was fond of saying as a kid. Then “He’s an alcoholic” was always the next term people used to describe him. He lived alone in a tiny shack in the mountains of Felton California, one room of living space and one room for art with a big pottery wheel in the middle of it. He was the brother of my grandma on my dad’s side. She found him wedged behind his art room door. He died with his arms rigid in the air holding up a broom-stick in self defense. He also had a large gash in his forehead but fowl play was not suspected. He used to talk often of literally fighting off demons, they think that’s what he was doing as he died. Art Tober, he was 65.

The art on our wall segment: This relief was painted by my Uncle Art. “Uncle Art the artist!” I was fond of saying as a kid. Then “He’s an alcoholic” was always the next term people used to describe him. He lived alone in a tiny shack in the mountains of Felton California, one room of living space and one room for art with a big pottery wheel in the middle of it. He was the brother of my grandma on my dad’s side. She found him wedged behind his art room door. He died with his arms rigid in the air holding up a broom-stick in self defense. He also had a large gash in his forehead but foul play was not suspected. He used to talk often of literally fighting off demons, they think that’s what he was doing as he died. Art Tober, he was 65.

Update to Drinking for Life
Some recently completed long-term studies determined that high sugar intake may be just as strong a predictor of future liver disease as excessive alcohol. Previously on nights I didn’t drink I’d eat a ton of ice cream then complain to the wife that I always felt my worst on mornings after not drinking. I wasn’t joking! When I stopped drinking for 30 days I also cut sugar out of my diet. When I start drinking again tomorrow I’m going to continue to avoid sugar, as well as heroin and speed and smoking.
There’s also a strong correlation between drinking and hard work or exercise. People who drink tend to be more physically active than people who don’t. So far science hasn’t determined the chicken or the egg theory behind this. Also, the more active your lifestyle the less likely you are to suffer the maladies normally associated with drinking.

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Miley News!
A few years ago I constantly told people, “In 20 years we’ll remember her twerking the same as we do cross-dressing and David Bowie, ultimately just one footnote in a long career.” Dead Pets featured the exploding brain of a 22-year-old teamed up with the “been there, tried that” Flaming Lips, seasoned dudes in their 50s, an overall tone that has served as my sad little musical comfort zone. At this point I’ve listened to Miley Cyrus and her Dead Pets hundreds of times. So you’d think I’d be over the moon that she has some new songs out. However these first two songs released so far have a super youthful emotional positivity to them. Don’t get me wrong, its terrific and I did expect her to go back to the roots, actually when I first heard Lady Gaga’s change-up “Joanne” I was surprised because that was exactly the style of classic soul burner that I had been anticipating from Miley, similar to a style she employed years ago for Lilac Wine. For me personally there are over 20 different songs on Dead Pets that I like better than her new hit but this time RCA is promoting it and she’s doing the media tour so… that’s just how things work. The new songs she wrote with her and just one guy named Oren playing all the instruments in a mobile studio. Once again deciding against using the RCA industrial songwriting complex to deliver a thumper. I’m really looking forward to the rest of it.

Seth and Devon mid-jump, from Probe #5

Seth and Devon mid-jump, from Probe #5

The Love Songs
The featured youtube for this post is an easy one because both of my kids appear in it 43 seconds in. Also, it’s the first “official video” (had a budget) these guys have ever done. 2/4 the members are descendents of Your Mother, the band that compelled me to start a record label over 20 years ago – and they are still going, recently touring the country and everything. God only knows what keeps them going or why their spirit hasn’t already been crushed. That’s a joke. I can poke fun at myself but Craigums, Bradley and crew are truly inspiring (to those who are prone to have such emotions). (Sorry, this is my the first ever sober Brewz Newz , you see what happens!) Also, starring in this video is the daughter of Seth, high-flying former drummer of All You Can Eat and today a guy who can build stuff and also works for the opera. A little skater kid named Max, son of Mellos makes an appearance, also Seth’s son, among some other spawn of Punks of Yore. Enjoy!

One thought on “How much can I drink without slowly killing myself?

  1. Great article Aaron! Really enjoyed it, hope to see you guys soon and have a drink together :)

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