The Stones.

The Rolling Stones are turning 50.  That’s entirely too long for a rock band to be together.  It provides far too many chances to disgrace oneself, as we have seen.  Of course they are one of the greatest bands in the world, but maybe, they just needed to hang it up after Emotional Rescue and call it a quarter century.

As with all anniversaries these days, the occasion is marked with a commemorative release and some shows.  Didn’t they just do this for Exile last year?  There’s a new single out, its OK, I’m not going to talk about it.  What we will discuss, is the shows.  There were rumors the commemorative events would take place at the newly minted Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  This would make sense, its a brand new arena, they’ve been booking lots of high profile events, who better than The Stones to say “This is the new Madison Square Garden, and like everything else, its in Brooklyn, now start gentrifying Staten Island already”  And yes dear reader, I had a plan.

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This would be my one last shot to experience The Stones.  I have never seen them live.  I worked on a session with Charlie Watts (as an assistant…) and it was a fantastic experience.  Full of great stories, great jazz musicians, he smelled incredibly expensive, everything you would want in the experience of meeting someone of that stature.  But it was no Rolling Stones show.  We must face the facts, the members themselves are also a bit past their prime.  It’s just facts.  A Stones show in 2012 will be very different than 1972 for a plethora of reasons.  So If I could not bring the Stones to 72, I would bring myself as close as possible.

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What I’m saying is, I would get as intoxicated as possible.  If you know me, you may be aware of the fact that I like to experience music fairly sober.  I really don’t want to be “that guy” screaming shit the entire show, passing out before the encore, then calling everyone the next day and saying “DUDE THAT SHOW WAS FUCKING AWESOME.”  It’s just not who I am.  But I would make the exception for this show, because at their ticket prices, I cannot afford to have a bad time.

I would purchase the least expensive ticket possible, walk to the Barclays center, get as drunk as possible at the nearest bar, and Wooo Hoooo my way through the entire show.  I would hopefully have convinced a friend to join and help document the experience…but if not, that’s ok too.  Afterwards, I would hope to find a cab back, and not die in the process.

But no, it was not to be.  The shows were in fact announced, but in Newark.  Yes, Newark.  I guess Cory Booker had a hand in that, he’s probably helping the road crew lift cases and scanning tickets at the entrance.  I’m just not going to go to Newark for this.  That’s one hell of a commute for a plan such as this.  Also, I have never thrown up on the PATH train, and that’s not a streak I want to break.  One final thing…..The tickets range from $95-750.  Are you fucking kidding me?

Who would have thought these guys wouldn't age well???
Who would have thought these guys wouldn't age well???

With fees, that makes the cheapest nosebleed seat well over $100, and that’s just not OK.   Is this tour sponsored by fucking Bain Capital?  At this point, only the 1% can afford to see the Rolling Stones.  Yes, their production is going to be hideously large and expensive.  Yes, they have 15 extra musicians on stage to play the parts Keith is too fried to remember.  Yes, they’re greedy and British.  But this is ridiculous.  It’s also not worth it. I’ll just stay home and watch Shine A Light if I want to see a band sounding mediocre in a nostalgic setting.  The sound will also be better.

Stones1

I think it’s time to give up the dream.  The Stones are kind of like Bach or Mozart at this point.  They’re an ancient form of music, still relevant and influential to millions, but they themselves no longer exist.  We must not pay attention to their new work, not acknowledge any performances.  I think we’re all better off for it.

Prohibition.

New York is a wonderful city.  All the rumors, good and bad, are true.  You can find anything at any time.  The cost of living is completely insane.  The worlds best music and food are readily available.  Along with this, comes alcohol.  There are fantastic bars.  Known both for atmosphere and unique and/or delicious drinks.  Sure, you can drink Miller Light if you want, but even the fratty bros have caught on.  The sports bars probably have more taps than those guys have roofies in their pockets.

By far, my favorite New York beverage is the Old Fashioned at Fedora in the West Village.  They make their bitters in house, and use some type of maple syrup/pecan concoction along with the citrus.  I would place it up against any beverage in history.  Much like the city itself, it is ridiculously expensive, but completely worth it. There are many establishments that have their own version of a signature cocktail, many of them incredible.  Its not just mixing some ingredients together, its the care put into the preparation, the quality of those ingredients, and the setting, it all plays into it.

But in the last month, I have been put on the bench for the game of drinking.  Once in a while, I experience cluster headaches, which can be triggered by alcohol.  Any amount of alcohol…even 1 drink can cause hours of pain.  As good as the Fedora Old Fashioned is….its not THAT good.  So for a month or two, I must remain stone cold sober.  And that is in fact quite a cold stone to remain on.  I experienced great relief when watching an old episode of Parks and Recreation, April says she’s getting a cluster headache because of Ron Swanson’s antique typewriter.  Pawnee knows my troubles!

Drinking in New York is such a big part of everyone’s lives.  We don’t have to drive anywhere, and most people don’t have a home big enough to entertain in, so we meet up in bars by default.  After work happy hours, birthday parties, Wednesdays, all good occasions to visit a drinking establishment.  Got to the restaurant first?  Have a drink.  Being the dude that just asks for water and hangs out for a bit, not so cool.

But while I’m waiting to return to the game, here are a few observations from the land of sobriety:

1.  You save a TON of money.

Lets just do some simple math.  Your average beer is about $7 at a bar.  A fancy cocktail will be around $13.  On Friday you go to dinner and have 2 cocktails, on Saturday you go out to a friends party and have 3 beers.  That’s around $50 with tip.  Those also may be conservative estimates for many…not counting weeknights.  That’s a few hundred dollars we spend on booze every month.  In most cases, completely worth it (something needs to numb the pain over how much you spend to live in such a tiny space) but expensive nonetheless.

2.  You look ridiculous and smell terrible when drunk.

I have decided not to function as a hermit, but actually venture out into the public completely sober.  While this may be a mistake, it has also lead to some observations on human behavior.   Man, people look fucking ridiculous when drunk.  I apologize to all of my friends who do not drink for any past events.  When you’re taking part, it makes no difference.  But if you’re not…all the drunk stereotypes are true.  People slur words, talk super loud, yell the dumbest shit possible…oh how I miss it.  Also, dude, you better hope that girl you’re talking to is fucking hammered, because you smell like death.

3. Not drinking is probably great for your health.

Yes, doctors have said this for a while, but it really has to be true.  I’ve lost a bunch of weight, and my physical activity has remained just about the same.  The liquid calories do make a difference.  I also sleep amazingly on weekends.  Not that I was constantly hung over, but if you go out late and have a few, you don’t wake up feeling like a spring flower.  I don’t feel like a spring flower, but maybe like a dandelion – still a weed, but looks kind of nice in the right lighting.

4.  There is nothing to do and you have no fun.

Those 3 positives?  Pretty much forget them.  Being the sober guy is zero fun.  I have 2 rules in life.  1, never be the most sober person at any gathering.  And 2, never wait more than 5 minutes at a restaurant serving breakfast.  This period has put me in stark opposition to rule #1, and I don’t like it at all.  People don’t need to go out and get hammered all the time, but we do need some form of intoxication now and then.  The lowering of inhibitions is very important to life in such close proximity to others.  Just imagine being in a small dimly lit room with 100 other people talking loudly.  No one wants to be in that situation.  This is every bar or restaurant.  Why do we do such things?? I really have no idea.

And there you have it, just some non musical thoughts for mid October.  Yes, Sober October is a phrase some use.  And when in doubt, rely on the rhyme.