baileyWhat made you want to write a book about the drinking habits of classic Hollywood stars?

We had published an earlier book about the drinking habits of famous American writers. This was in part because I was a writer who drank and because my creative partner—the wonderful illustrator Ed Hemingway—is the grandson of a very famous writer who drank. You can guess who that is.

The book was called Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers. Everyone seemed pleased with it, so we decided to do a follow-up book. Since I am also a screenwriter and had by then moved from NY to LA, we landed on Hollywood and its movie stars as the next area of exploration. It turned out to be a much bigger subject than we had anticipated—a lot of boozing has gone down in this town.

you know when you’re washing the dishes

and you find a tall glass

and it’s got a milk spot encrusted right down in the very bottom of it

and in the very center of it

and it’s there and it’s impossibly stubborn

because you’ve neglected your dish washing duties for the last four days

even though you generally don’t mind doing the dishes

it being a meditative task with the water running and all

usually while listening to My Bloody Valentine

or something equally as transcendent as Mingus

and smoking a nice bowl of Purple Nurple

and drinking a tallboy of cheap cold domestic beer while you’re doing the dishes

just to give an extra semblance of significance

and something perhaps bordering on semi-fun

to the utter banality of things

to the existential banality of repetitive patternistic things

not giving it any more significance than God would give it

for God’s sake

but still, an extra semblance of significance

to consider this mundane practice worthy in this very moment in time

this exact moment in time never to be again in the history of the planet


and you can’t quite reach this awkward spot of dry rotten milk

because your hand is too large and it’s a very tall slender glass

and you know, it’s like you know, it’s like a highball glass, you know

like something that Ava Gardner would have drunk a Sea Breeze out of


and so you’re forced to become ingenious about it all

and you, being a tool-using human and all of that

thusly pull a dirty knife up to the fore

and push the sponge down into the glass

and stab at it with the butter knife

and push the tip of the knife down

into the bubbly center of this murky universe


and you scrape it around down in there

round and round in jerky little circles

with the Brillo side of the sponge doing a lot of the work

you being temporarily happy that the Brillo texture was created

for a job just such as this one

for the abrasiveness needed in a situation just like this one


and you pull the sponge out, figuring you got it all out

with your forced agitation and your fading punk rock ethics

and you rinse the glass to still find

to your giant dismay

a miniature Antarctica

still down in the center of this glass


and so you take a hit of your tall boy and you really hunker down

to get this very insignificant yet crucially important task accomplished


and you fuck the sponge this time and just go right at it

with the sharp point of the knife in the bottom of this tall glass


and you have a go at tipping the glass up

and you look at it in the light

and scrape scrape scrape in mappy little lines

where strange formations continue to hold down in the bottom of this unusually tall glass

formations of an almost human nature


and you feel like you’re holding an upside-down bell

and you’re ringing with the ringer like a monk or a priest


and you mumble under your breath of quickly dying breaths

the consciousness of the Never-again, the consciousness of the Ever-again


and the snow star palm tree perspires with the impassioned tears of California Jesus

and the workers are going home, the workers are going home


and  you feel like you’re almost hip to the salt and pepper of things

and to the lion and the gazelle of things

and you can actually hear stars falling gently into a glass ballerina box


and it reminds you of getting the last bit of mayonnaise

down in the very bottom part of the jar when making a sandwich late at night


and it’s that sound, that sound, I tell you old sock

that fucking distinctive tinkling sound of stainless steel on glass sound


and so you’re very thorough and thoughtful with the ringing of this bell

because you wouldn’t want to crack it


like that bell in Philadelphia

or God forbid, have to rinse the soap off of it once again


like if there was a spot being missed, like missing a spot, like an errant spot

that wasn’t being tended to properly

like all of your other neglected personal duties

like all of the dust bunnies underneath your bed

and your unpaid student loan tickets

and the remiss phone calls to your schizophrenic mother

and the forgotten spiritual obligations in your terribly non-obstructive life


however you feel confident that something positive could now be happening

something positive, something illuminating, something absolutely worthy of living


but the joy, the joy, the Non-Ultra Joy

creates the perilous threat of a slippery glass

and one careless move

would make this whole mission completely moot and senseless


and so you pump up the H knob with the scalding water of Los Angeles

jettisoned with an added force straight down into the center

the center of a blown glass bottom being laced and concentrated

with the power and the diligence of clear hot hydrogen bubbles


and you raise the chalice up, up, up toward the light

and you finally gaze upon only clarity and purity

and the right side of cleanliness and godliness

and you finally give the glass its rightful dripping rest

onto the Swedish wooden dish rack


and you take a hit of your tallboy

and you feel good for following through on the small stuff


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 8:36 pm and is filed under Nihilism, Poetry, Transcendence. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your