Tuesday, November 15, 2005

PKSD and you (and me)

I went to see Theresa Andersson at the Maple Leaf this past weekend. She has a fantastic voice (some Bonnie Raitt and early Rickie Lee Jones in there, plus some wild trills of her own that probably have a Scandanavian origin I'm too ignorant to recognize), but I wouldn't really call myself a fan. I went to meet some friends there.

What struck me most about that evening, something that hadn't really occurred to me before, was what a hard-drinking town New Orleans seems to have become. Now, it may seem ludicrous to say that hard-drinking is an indication of something different here. After all, public intoxication has always been about as common as cheap beads in the street after Endymion; yes, I'm aware that this is the site of the cocktail's invention, land of the go-cup and home of the hurricane. But I'm not talking about heavy drinking or freqent drinking or even outrageous levels of intoxication. I mean hard drinking. I mean Nick from "It's a Wonderful Life" leaning in to Clarence and sneering: "Hey look, mister - we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don't need any characters around to give the joint 'atmosphere'. Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer?"

Oh, Nick, that's not the way it used to be.

Now maybe it has something to do with Theresa Andersson. Maybe her distinctive brand of flirty, swirly performance, her country-pop melodies infused with virtuoso vocals combine to conjur a particularly bitter following. Seems unlikely to me, though. She's so sunny and, well, damned good looking.

I think it's more likely a symptom of a more general syndrome, something like Post-Katrina Stress and Disorder. Which is what we're generally feeling. I've heard it from so many friends now: the mental treadmill effect that consumes half an hour of wandering thought to bring you back to "now why was I in the kitchen again?"; the inability to complete the most mundane tasks (and particularly the most mundane ones--been shopping lately? keeping up with email? Suddenly writing a business letter is one of the labors of Hercules); the constant urge to self-medicate (just give me gin and cigarettes; I'll be fine).

Chris Rose describes it perfectly. We're all nuts, and we're all at least somewhat aware of our insanity.

Still, it was more than a little disconcerting to see my fellow drinkers pouring down the booze as though something in their stomaches needed dousing. Strange to get elbowed aside repeatedly at the bar, like I was trying to order shots of Jager at the Boot.

Oh,well. Guess I'll go give out a couple pairs of wings.


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