Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Modern Drunkard

I just love the name of this website.

They have a rollicking interview up with Gary Shteyngart, fueled by apparently massive amounts of vodka:

MDM: In the day of Gleason, Hemingway, Bogart and the Rat Pack, they were very upfront about their drinking and carousing. These days artists, especially actors, won’t admit to anything. Except for maybe Colin Farrell.

GS: Yeah, he’s good. I had my book party, it was sponsored by a rich Russian oligarch and Imperial Vodka. Everyone was smashed. The woman who threw the party got up and said, “I’m sick of this shit where we’re all kissing each others asses all the time. I want to start a literary brawl, Norman Mailer style. Steyngart is my
friend, but he writes immigrant porn. Let’s just kick his ass.”

MDM: Bravo. There used to be fantastic rivalries between writers in the old days. Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson. Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Hemingway and Faulkner. Capote and everyone.

GS: Yes! But now, nothing.

MDM: My Russian brother-in-law tells me some Russians like to spike their vodka ith a good jolt of hair spray. Is this true?

GS: Ah, yes, the old hairspray maneuver. You know who drinks like crazy? My favorite people, the Georgians. They drink from these big ram horns and each person has to toast every other person at the table. There’s the tamada, the toastmaker, he’s like the air traffic controller. A toast comes in, and he stops it and makes sure everyone is okay with it, then another comes in — it’s a fascinating job. A good tamada is like an MC, he gets hired to work parties and weddings. Their wine is like Thunderbird, really strong. It’s not for a connoisseur, it wouldn’t pass muster. When I was in the nation of Georgia, I met some guys in the government. Some mid-level ministers. We went to their dacha, this gigantic compound. They wanted me to get involved in a scheme to steal $600 million dollars from American charities.

MDM: Did they now?

GS: Yes. We drank about ten wine horns, in between vodka shots. And vodka and wine—not such a great combination.

MDM: Odd you would say that. Vodka and red wine, what we call a Brutal Hammer, is our staff cocktail.

GS: That doesn’t surprise me. Their toasts were so heartfelt. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking, they may be doing this because they think I can help them rip off $600 million from American charities. They were drinking to everything. They were drinking to my family. They asked for the names of everyone in my family and they would create these elaborate toasts to people they’d never met. They knew I was flying back through Austria, so they raised a toast to the Austrian pilot who would fly the plane. Such sweet people. And as the evening progressed I started thinking, maybe I can help them steal $600 million.

MDM: It started making sense?

GS: It started making great sense.

MDM: They’re quite ambitious.

GS: They don’t think small in Georgia.

Also, a perspectives on the value of prosthetics vis a vis peglegs, shampoo vs. hairspray as a drink additive, and the government program to encourage Russians to drink more beer. One of the most cheerful interviews I've read this year.
(via 3quarks)

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