Tag Archives: Journalism

Biz Markie — RIP

I listened to Vanilla Ice’s third single tonight, at the risk of gangrene. “I Love You” courted bathos. That’s the only mode he knew. In the same year Marcel Theo Hall showed contemporaries how to take a worn scenario — a crush insisting on a platonic relationship — into a terribly sung, beautifully wrapped scenario. Biz Markie’s thick mucous-y tunes bespoke his commitment to the shaggy dog story; not once did he suggest danger. “What Comes Around Goes Around” should’ve followed it into the top ten but didn’t.

Calling him the Crown Prince of Hip-hop condescended to him, as if rock ‘n’ roll, much less hip-hop, required discrete categories. As if rap and rock ‘n’ roll required us to separate the serious from the trivial!

What’s cool about Florida?

“Between the humidity, the sinkholes, the right-wing Latin Americans, the climate change, Ron DeSantis and the people who vote for him, what exactly is the appeal of Florida?” Eric Loomis asks at Lawyers, Guns & Money about the state with the prettiest name. “I guess it is that old people don’t care about the future and just want to be warm.” Continue reading

‘Gin — the very word was plain and unexciting’

Don’t believe what is whispered in the corridors of power: ten months after turning twenty-one I knew as much about alcohol as I did about college basketball. This vulnerability to suggestion led to a rainy evening at Rainforest Cafe, familiar to parents of children who want to grow up to be lemurs and brontosauri. You can, I suppose, eat at Rainforest Cafe, but I’ve never seen the consumption of food; instead, parents thumb French fry paste and the remains of hamburgers into the faces of their children, who respond to the din and the color and the overwhelming sense of movement like François Truffaut did greeting the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Continue reading

Americans drank more during the pandemic

“Thanks to the pandemic, Americans are drinking more and they’re drinking worse,” warns Axios in “America’s Deepening Drinking Habit.” Some of the discoveries:

    • After more than a decade of declining alcohol consumption, per-capita alcohol consumption increased by 8% between 1999 and 2017 and the number of alcohol-related deaths per year doubled to nearly 70,000
    • Over the same years, alcohol seeped its way out of bars, restaurants and homes and into once-dry areas of daily life, with movie theaters, coffee shops and supermarkets selling alcohol and/or allowing consumption on site, while the rise of products like spiked seltzers and alcopops widened the market for booze.
    • Sales of liquor rose during the pandemic as well, which is especially worrying as distilled spirits are much easier to abuse than lower-alcohol beer or wine.
    • The unusually solitary nature of pandemic drinking was especially risky, as the writer Kate Julian described in a piece for the Atlantic last month, noting that “solo drinkers get more depressed as they drink.”

Given my appreciation of tippling and my bachelor habits, I’m surprised I didn’t feel the temptation to attack the Hendricks before The Price is Right during lockdown. I credit my much more robust obsession with routine and my doling out of pleasure. To mix a gin and tonic and smoke a cig at 11 a.m. is to end the day — what else is there to look forward to? Better to forego the stimulants (yes, yes, depressants) until the late afternoon. Starting a walking regimen that often took me past six miles a day helped too: after the first cocktail and glass of wine and dinner, I’d fight like hell to keep from nodding off.

Still, as the article reminds us, we’re a long way from the Jacksonian Era when everyone from the doddering to children was awash in spirits. Because we lost at least two presidents thanks to contaminated DC water, I don’t blame citizens for guzzling Kentucky’s finest.

June reading

Graham Greene never loitered, intentionally or otherwise. The writer who emerges from Richard Greene’s (no relation) new biography let wanderlust transform him into a polymath, comfortable with writing screenplays and film reviews, amiably distant from his children while committed to a Catholicism he on occasion interrogated. Crisply written if often miserly about analysis, The Unquiet Englishman works best as a travelogue: other cultures interested Greene, and the interactions didn’t result in slobbering encomia to empire.

Continue reading