I just watched the second seasons of the Showtime series Weeds on DVD. For those not familiar, the show revolves around the fetching Mary-Louise Parker (whom I affectionately refer to as "MLP") playing a mother who, following her husband's death, resorts to marijuana sales in order to maintain her upper-middle class lifestyle for herself and her children.
The second season features MLP's character moving beyond sales into production. As part of this process, she attends the "Mohasky Cup" to select a strain of marijuana to grow.
The "Mohasky Cup" is a fictitious trade show for the marijuana industry, or at least I suspect it's fictitious and not based on some real event. If this "Mohasky Cup "is based on a real event, I am hereby, on behalf of Intrepid Media, requesting a press pass.
Anyway, the "Mohasky Cup," similar to other industry trade shows, takes place in a large room with partitioned booths, wherein marijuana production representatives attempt to persuade others within the industry that their product is the greatest since sliced bread, Or in this case, since the Chronic, in order to expand their client base.
Since MLP's character isn't exactly a connoisseur, she enlists others to sample the products, whom thereafter, within the context of a montage, inhale an array of pot strains, claiming each time that the most recent is "the one."
Watching this scene, my wife says to me that she believes that, after the first couple of samples, a person would probably be impaired such that they could not discriminate between the products they were trying.
I pondered this question over my aching headache, an aftereffect of the day before. The first annual Ithaca Brewfest took place on September 8, 2007. Thirty "craft breweries" (because, Sam Adams and the like can't legitimately call themselves a "microbrewery") hauled samples of their drafts out and pitched shop under one of three tents set up for the occasion, waiting for hordes of people to sample their wares, doled out in 2 ounce samples. In this way, the Ithaca Brewfest is similar to the allegedly fictitious "Mohasky Cup", in that each brewery in attendance hoped that their product would be considered the greatest since sliced bread in order to expand their client base.
I was one of the horde, fighting through the other horde-members to get my pre-alloted number of 2 ounce samples; pre-alloted in that the organizers gave out (to the best I can recall) 30 tickets per attendee who paid the entrance price. That works out to roughly 60 ounces of beer, not including extra tickets I got from friends, or the occasional vendor who wasn't strictly enforcing the ticket rule. And from the outset, I was going to fully consume as much as I could given the $25 entrance fee. I mean, if I really only wanted one or two, I could have gotten pints at the bar.
And though, in brewfest fashion, I worked hard to carefully compare each brew, attempting to note which of the raspberry ales tasted most like raspberries, picking which hefeweizen least required a piece of citrus to be palatable, after the first dozen samples were down, I was no longer comparing and had moved on to simply getting hammered.
So, too, have I taken a spin around a few of the Finger Lake wine tours, sampling the products from the local wineries and vineyards that grace Upstate New York. Though initially, I try to pick the ones that have the best flavor, the most body, the cleanest finish -- after the second or third stop on a wine tour, I'm basically ripped. The proof is evidenced by the bottles I've brought home that were purchased towards the end of one of these tours, wines I was convinced were great at the time, but all too often were just overly-sweet crap that I won't even use for cooking.
So, given that after a few tokes, or a few ounces of alcohol, your judgment is likely impaired, I asked myself exactly what these beerfests, tastings, or alleged smoke conferences for?
The answer came to me in reviewing what happened later the evening of the Beerfest, when I ended up at bars in Ithaca's Collegetown section, carousing with some people who were only nine years old when I was first able to drink legally. Kids that age drink like there is no tomorrow, or at least like they aren't going to feel it tomorrow. They are surrounded by similarly-aged people who, too, share in the goal of getting s-faced loaded, just for the sake of doing it.
This camaraderie around drinking for the sake of just drinking, in my experience, fades with age. Jobs, families, kids, etc., tend to decrease the opportunities, and even sometimes the will, to go and simply get smashed.
Sometimes, people just need an excuse; a guise under which to get inebriated. I'm not going to parties at my friends' places because their folks are out of town or fraternity parties or campus parties. And though I could go to a pub anytime because I'm "going to get drunk," it's not my favorite thing to admit and, moreover, it's a little depressing (though, not altogether out of the question by any means). Sometimes we need a cover story for the fact that we simply intend to go get plastered.
Enter the " winetasting." The "brewfest." A perfect excuse to drink, without feeling like an ass.
I'm not criticizing. I'm just hoping people realize what they're doing. Because, when you don't realize that you're simply out getting hammered for fun every now and again, that is exactly when you stand the risk of mistaking what you're doing as a "problem" and join AA. And then who else will I wade through at brewfest next year?
I'm advocating the occasional bender as perfectly acceptable. I only offer three statements of advice:
(1) Be sure an admit that you're only out to get drunk;
(2) Have one or two drinks in the prior two evenings before the bender because, like training for a marathon, you'll never really succeed going in cold; and
(3) Be sure to get a driver if you're traveling. Trust me on this: cab fare is cheaper than what a DWI arrest will cost you.
A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.
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9.19.07 @ 9:15p
I barely ever need a justification for having drinks. I've never been to a wine tasting, but that's because a $10 bottle of wine does exactly what 40 - 2oz shots of wine do and cheaper. I'm willing to give it a shot, though.
9.20.07 @ 9:50a
I think there are a lot of people who go to wine tastings and brewfests intending to taste and compare the wares, not just to guzzle the entrance fee. I've done wine tasting at a vineyard and really enjoyed trying the different flavors. Did I get a little buzz on? Sure. But that wasn't the point.
9.20.07 @ 2:37p
I just went to my first wine tasting a couple months ago. As a non-drinker, it was definitely an interesting experience. I enjoyed sampling the different wines. And then later, while in the gift store, for no apparent reason, I started doing the cabbage patch.
For those who wondered why I don't drink.
9.20.07 @ 4:04p
I second Jael. I like beerfests because it gives me a chance to try a lot of new stuff and compare them. I don't see getting drunk and learning something as mutually exclusive experiences.
9.20.07 @ 6:38p
KR and I did the rounds in the Finger Lakes a few weeks ago. My first multi-tastings-in-a-day experience.
First winery was too fussy. Second was nice enough, but not quite to my taste. Third was a microbrewery with some very nice beers and some very fruity crap beers. Fourth was a little winery that our hosts were happy and surprised to see open. My head was pounding at this point, but I endured and we bought a case. Last was a hard-cider place. I stayed away from the tasting counter. I felt a little drunkish, but the headache overshadowed that, and lasted two days.
9.21.07 @ 9:24a
I understand in the Finger Lakes that the Dr. Konstantin Frank winery is Very Serious about their wine, and Bully Hill is based more on the idea of "Who wants to drink some more?"
Most of the beer festivals I've seen tend to be somewhere in between. You certainly get a lot of people there just for the drinkin', but (especially at the more brewer-oriented ones) there's much experimentation and tasting to be done.
9.26.07 @ 2:03a
Come on, Walker. Youth, the young, have an ego-maniacal need to be publicly visible while getting hammered, and that's all they need. It's part of our whole messianic complex, but we get over it.
You're married now, and you will soon realize that you need no excuse to get full-blown and king-hell schlacquered all by yourself, with no audience at all, in the comfort of your home, with no need for exterior accreditation, except for maybe blathering on a public website once in awhile when the mood strikes you, which is usually after you broke a guitar string and can't play anymore, and your goddamn drums are too loud because your roommates, or your children as the case may be, are dicks and you can't face another mundane, insane day wiping their asses, slopping oatmeal in their mouths, and shipping them to the bus stop without a decent fucking buzz, something good, anything good, of some kind of that light you saw and the security you felt when you were young and grown men didn't comb bus-stops looking for their next piece of ass...
...Shit. Where was I goin' with that? Oh yeah. Your excuses for getting fucked up geometrically increase with age, but your ability to recover geometrically decreases. Good luck.