ALEX JAMES EDIT: I was going to post this article yesterday, but thanks to a WordPress cock-up, I wasn’t able to. So here it is, one day behind. Thanks for your patience.
Valued readers of State of Affairs, today is a big day.
Here at the Compound, as regular visitors well know, we will take any excuse presented to us to celebrate – well, anything. Apart from our plethora of holidays, the majority of which people don’t recognize for what they are (as I’ve said before, Canadians don’t typically give a fiddler’s damn about Queen Victoria’s birthday except for the fact that it gives us a long weekend during which we tend to get pummel-fuck drunk), we will find any conceivable reason to shed the trivialities of our day-to-day lives and unite under our common flag.
It’s no secret that our band of merry compatriots have many specializations. Jeff Oh is downright deadly in hand-to-hand combat and has, at times, overpowered adversaries by the sheer force of the rage that emanates from him every waking hour (and also, I’d wager, while he’s asleep).
Ryan, our resident cutpurse and crime correspondent, is capable of moving at speeds so great, he actually gets a tan from the friction of the air moving over his skin as he darts hither and yon, pilfering “items of interest” (his words) from the world’s most secure locations. I’m not kidding – shortly after our first meeting he managed to steal my cell phone, my keys, my transit pass and my capacity to tolerate the stupid and mundane. To date he’s only given three of those items back. Guess which ones.
Of course there’s yours truly, the Doctor of Debauchery himself. I’ve gotten myself into and out of more ridiculous situations than I can shake a ten-foot stick at thanks to that beautiful, damning liquid creativity. In fact, several of the articles on this blog were written under the influence of my favourite men (Jim, Johnny, Jack, Gordon and Prince Igor). Here’s a fun game: figure out what articles were written sober and which were written while the warm gladness of bottled inspiration controlled my limbs.
And then there’s this guy. You don’t want to know anything about him, trust me.
But enough ass-slapping. Like I said, today is a momentous occasion. Yes, we finally have a legitimate reason to celebrate.
Jim Fairthorne, our long-suffering international correspondent and founder of State of Affairs, turns a lofty 29 years old today.
Frankly I’m shocked he’s made it this far. The Fixer has sent Jim on missions ranging from the hazardous to the impossible (har har) to the truly bizarre, and somehow our man Fairthorne has managed to come out on top. If he makes it to thirty, I’ll be extremely impressed, especially given this ominous text I received from The Fixer earlier today:
“Tll Frthrn hv fn @ hs brthdy – nw msn 2 fllw 2mrw. Dnt drnk teh whl stsh lol.”
For those of us (myself included) who would require a fifteen year-old translator to make heads or tails of that message, I believe it reads:
“Tell Fairthorne to have fun at his birthday – new mission to follow tomorrow. Don’t drink the whole stash. Laugh out loud.”
I’m going to have to have a chat with that fat bastard first chance I get. Internet speak is not okay.
But that is for tomorrow, and as Frank Kelly Rich (a hero of mine and the editor-in-chief of one of the best online magazines ever published) has often said, “Tomorrow is the enemy if it steals one moment from today.”
Tonight, as I said, our friends and compatriots will come together in joyous bedlam, and by evening’s end we shall all be thoroughly in our cups.
Much has been made of alcohol since the first ear of corn went bad and some inventive pre-agriculturalist decided to sample the runny pus oozing out of it.
And, as has been said by many writers far more talented than me, there’s good and bad that comes from the juice of the barley. My forefathers were German and South Irish so I’m no stranger to libation, and I’ve been privy to both ends of the spectrum. Everybody has had a good time – as far as they remember – while consuming inhuman amounts of their drink of choice, but for every golden, shining evening there are evenings best left to the annals of history.
It’s always interested me, our fascination with alcohol. Personally I don’t see what the big deal is. I like my liquor – always have – but it’s never gotten to the point where it causes a significant, recurring problem in my life, and I’ve always had a hard time understanding people for whom it does. If you get violent or bitter drinking whiskey, don’t drink whiskey. My father always said that whiskey brings out the worst in people, and I tend to agree, but on the same token you need to know your own limits.
I’m one of those guys for whom my body works as a great barometer: when I’ve had too much I start to shut down, and I’ve taken power naps in many a bar in my life as a result. So I stop when my body tells me to. Some people just don’t have that barrier, I guess. I’ve seen some pretty terrible things go down as a result of too much booze, and usually people like to blame it on the alcohol. I blame it on the drinker. Ernest Hemingway once said “always do sober what you said you’d do drunk – that’ll teach you to keep your mouth shut” and truer words have never been spoken in my opinion. You’re just as responsible for your drunken antics as you would be for a sober statement or action – being drunk doesn’t excuse you from that responsibility.
And typically, people tend to subscribe to that mentality. Hell, I even have a friend who voluntarily abstains from drinking altogether because she doesn’t like the emotional effect it has on her – and my mother doesn’t drink because she hates the feeling of not being in control of herself. All of this is fair.
The point is you can’t blame booze for your ails. Humans have been drinking alcohol for thousands of years, and at this point in history it’s a part of our culture. I understand and respect where organizations like MADD are coming from, but to me they have too much of a “love the sinner, hate the sin” mentality. There’s no reason to ban alcohol – it’s an enjoyable substance, a delicacy, and has the capacity to be a hell of a good time. We just need to grow up as a culture and treat it with the respect it deserves.
I guess what I’m saying is for all alcohol is romanticized (and I’m guilty of this myself, as anyone who’s heard my music can attest to) it’s just another adult responsibility. Enjoy yourself, but make damn sure you know who you are when you look in the mirror, because there are some pretty nasty things that get unleashed in all of us if we aren’t careful.
I don’t know whether I’m writing this for you readers or for myself as I embark on my debaucherous evening with Jim. I guess I just felt like I should ruminate a little before I banish my consciousness on what will doubtless be a long ride home on the subway because I’ll probably fall asleep and miss my stop. At least I didn’t drive, and at least I’m getting home safe.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Igor awaits.
ALEX JAMES EDIT: Jim’s birthday was a resounding success. Fun was had, drinks were drank, I may or may not have assaulted the bar with a very poor karaoke rendition of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Some Kind of Wonderful” (though I’d never admit to it, even in the face of video evidence), and today, hangovers have been successfully nursed. Nobody got hurt, everybody had fun, and we all got home in one piece. Turns out even writers can be responsible when the mood strikes them. Here’s a picture of Alex James Karaoke for your amusement.