It was no hallucination, but it was hilariously funny.
A little part of me is jealous of Lauren Viera. It's been a long while since I've written anything that inflamed as much passion as her freelance piece this week on Chicago's alleged deficiencies in the world of spirit-exclusive craft cocktailing. On the other hand, it's the kind of passion that sounds like hundreds of pitchforks sharpening on the grindstone. The essay makes its argument in 14 paragraphs, but I can sum it up in one:
New York has a bar and a restaurant that serves nothing but gin cocktails. It also has a bar that serves nothing but tequila drinks, where if you're crass enough to order an old-fashioned you're SOL. Chicago has a new, gin-focused cocktail bar also, which could have catapulted our provincial burgh into the front row. But, in fact, Scofflaw serves some cocktails made from spirits other than gin. Therefore, Chicago has for the umpteenth time failed to surpass its genetically programmed Second City status. And that just sucks.
A few years ago I noticed a hot dog stand was moving into a long-abandoned Chinese take-out joint on Kedzie in Irving Park. Normally this would be a happy development, but I was worried for the sign that hung over the street: a bright yellow marquee touting the "Good Stuff House, Chinese Food, Chop Suey." Not only was that a fabulous name for a restaurant but it was done in that retro Charlie Chan font which appears to actually be called Chinese Takeaway. I don't know if the Souled American side project Good Stuff House took its name from the sign, but I like to think others found it as inspiring as I did, a preservation-worthy piece of neighborhood color.
As is the case with many theories, the Theory of Hangover-Induced Neurosuperiority [THIN] has its detractors. Yet years of experimenting have yielded facts that strongly support my central hypothesis: namely that the hungover brain is able to make creative leaps that the nonhungover brain is incapable of making.
The sheer number of THIN naysayers was initially discouraging. My theory gained traction, however, when Reader art director Paul John Higgins (who is acutely aware of my THIN obsession) brought to my attention a post on Wired’s Frontal Cortex science blog titled “Why Being Sleepy and Drunk Are Great for Creativity.” The post describes two studies that link sleepiness, drunkenness—and even brain damage—to higher-level thinking.
Wiener's Circle's lore was given national attention when Ira Glass featured it on This American Life, compounded by its reappearance on the television format of that radio program. Here's the video of that episode (with a scrolling, low-tech, rhetorical question typical of YouTube uploads at the end of the video).
On New Year's Day 1979 the Chicago Tribune ran a piece by my colleague Steve Bogira titled "Lots of nice ways to say you were stinking drunk."
Among the "nice ways": tipsy, stewed, stiff, polluted, reeking, stinko, blitzed, bombed. My favorite is "featured," as in "inspired to believe strongly in his ability to sing a song, to tell a funny story, or to execute a dance."
I've never been able to execute a dance, featured or otherwise. But I have some experience with hangovers. (Never again, I'll say. Then . . . again.)
My hangover remedy in the past had been a can of Dr. Pepper and a dill pickle. It works, but perhaps you'd be better off taking the advice of current professionals.
Hangover Week is brought to you by the Reader's Neighborhood Bar Guide. Look out all this week on the Bleader for alcohol-related writing from Reader writers.
And in case you missed it, here's Disparity Week, last week's "Variations on a Theme."