After a brief hiatus, things have whirred back to life over at ManArchy Magazine. My latest whiskey review is now live, comparing Redbreast’s 12 year (the 2010 Irish Whiskey of the Year which I’ve written about before) with their newer 15 year offering.
The first time I tried this whiskey was at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub in downtown Portland. Still finding my footing in the world of whiskey and scotch, I was more than happy when the waiter made some personal recommendations that turned out to be spot on, Redbreast 12 year among them. [...]
The nose is amazing and complex with undertones of citrus and fruit that serve to balance a wide range of tobacco, leather, vanilla and black tea.
The palette is even bigger, dominated by layers of spice and ginger, clover honey and anise. Ice will unlock more sweet notes, not quite vanilla, more like cream soda with the sugar under control, and hints of sherry.
Read on –>
The latest in my Whiskey 101 series, now live over at ManArchy Magazine:
In this corner: From Moray, Scotland. Weighing in at 750ml, in the light green bottle, with black lettering over a tan label. It’s the 12 year old single malt you’ve probably never heard of, here to defend its title as the best-selling whiskey in the world: The Glenlivet.
And the challenger: From Kilmarnok, Scotland. Also weighing in at 750ml, in the notorious clear bottle, with gold lettering over that distinguished diagonal Black Label for which it is named, this 12 year old blended whiskey is arguably the most well-known whiskey in the world: Johnnie Walker.
Read on –>
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The flies in my place don’t know how good they have it till they’re dead. 10 year single malt Irish whiskey, 9 year small batch bourbon. In the summer I tend to lose more booze that way, but what a way to go. Drowned in booze.
I try to keep the words flowing and ignore the thought of a mostly full glass of scotch gone to waste, and it works for a few minutes, but then my windows start to rattle. God damn it. Now my train of thought is flying off the tracks and there will be no survivors. It’s a blood bath. The sad remains of an idea for a short story lies strewn across the overcast countryside of my imagination.
There will be no writing (or drinking) in the near future, so I go for a walk. I walk past the kid with the magnum tailpipes on his four-door truck, just leaning there against the bed of the truck with the stereo thumping, rattling every window within forty yards or so.
What an asshole.
I’ve seen this kid driving around in that four door truck, alone, slowly canvassing the neighborhood like a Jehovah’s Witness without a partner, thumping out that ridiculous music house by house whether the folks inside want to hear it or not. Then he gets home and leaves the engine running and the stereo at full volume and he stands there, clutching a beer like he’s the center of the free world.
It took me a while to understand his purpose, but now I know he’s waiting for a fight. I’ve even seen it happen. One time the hippie neighbor, the one whose yard always smells like shit because he uses that organic fertilizer, he shouted over the fence to turn the music down. That sunglass wearing ape almost jumped over the fence and tore him apart. I wasn’t sure who to cheer for, I hated both of them so much at the time, but I found myself pulling for the hippie. I have a thing for underdogs.
Another time the kid backed out of the car port so fast he almost hit Salvador on his bicycle, but the old man was quick enough to dart out of the way. Plastic bags of bottles and cans spilled all over the place. First the kid jumped out and pretend to find scratches on his bumper, but when he saw how old the man was he jumped in the cab, smoked his tires and sped off like the world was about to end. I helped Salvador with the bags, made sure he was all intact, and then we smoked a couple cigarettes and laughed the whole stupid thing away.
In the mornings, the kid lugs out his duffle bag and throws into the backseat of his truck. I’ve never seen him haul a damn thing in the truck’s bed. I’ve never seen a speck of dirt on the body. I’ve never even seen anyone ride with him. A two ton, four door truck with the loudest pipes, the loudest stereo you can imagine; it’s all a status thing I suppose. He leaves every morning at six or six-thirty in his military uniform, the truck so loud it sets off car alarms and wakes the babies. So the mother’s console their children and curse the kid under their breath.
Then he gets home and stands there, waiting. He’s a coward, through and through, but I don’t talk to him. I don’t even look in his direction. Maybe I’m a coward, too. I’ve been called worse. All I know is behind those little mirrored sunglasses, he’s just looking for an awkward eye.
So tonight I walk far enough to get out of earshot, two blocks, and then I find a bar. I think about ordering a whiskey, but the bar is too loud, too packed. Too many flies. No way a man can have any of his own thoughts in a place like that. That’s why I drink at home. That and bar fights. I hate bar fights.
I take the long way home. There are people walking their dogs, children on bicycles, day laborers waiting for the bus, even flowers and bushes with birds flitting around. No matter how long the long way gets, though, someone’s music is still audible. When I round the corner for the apartment the kid is still drinking and leaning on his truck, and when I get inside my windows are still rattling. Nothing ever changes.
I start writing something else and I start drinking from the bottle. The words don’t come. When I’m not drinking I put the cap back on the bottle hoping to outsmart the flies. Or maybe the flies are the smart ones. They only have about twenty-four hours to live anyway. What a way to go. I leave out the glass with the dead flies hoping their buddies will join the party. Thin the herd. Yeah, maybe we’ll all drown in booze tonight.
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© Anthony David Jacques MMX
I did something terrible the other day. I needed to remember who I am, what I do. Why I do anything at all.
So I turned on my computer, cranked those little white speakers up and played Debussy. No low end, no soul, just plinking keys and soluble moods shattering like paint-filled water balloons. As that began to move through the room I turned on the surround system, connected my iPod. Found some experimental electronic music; Autechre. The first song sounded like the construction of an apartment complex in space, all cold austerity and mechanical articulation. The next track could have been brain surgery, maybe car repair in the rain, even less rhythmic but somehow organic. And oddly wet.
Then I turned on the TV, and hit 100 on the remote, a channel we don’t get.
All of it was building in the room. Tension. I lit a cigar just for effect. To fill the space with vapors. Not to smoke so much as to see the invisible currents of air colliding around the space. I turned off the lights so the smoke would be illuminated by the meaningless snow.
Bluish waves of French Impressionism undulated sensually but were severed by the relentless electronic pulsing of soulless, computer generated noise. The snowy static underscoring the meaninglessness of it all. White noise on white noise on white noise, embodied in smoke.
I poured a scotch, mainly to burn my throat, remind me that I’m alive. I threw my head back, emptied the glass and reached for the bottle. I threw my head back when I drank from the bottle, too. Once my head lightened up I walked around the room and reveled in the chaotic nonsense of it all. I was the only thing that made sense in the entire place,
It was all stupid. It was shit. It was modern art in all its nonsensical worthlessness. That’s what I think of modern art. The subversive for the shock value type of tripe that supposedly wows art critics these days.
Modern art is shit. It’s smoke filling a ridiculous vacuum. It’s noise pretending it has something to say about music. It’s pissing into the wind and smiling like you’re doing something original. It’s vomiting on history then putting it under glass so everyone can see how novel you think you are. There are those who would pay good money for something like that, to make them feel superior when they tell others how much their newly acquired puddle of vomit cost. They’ll adjust their track lighting to get the angle just right, with a dramatic little play of shadow. It’s the first thing you’ll see upon entering the atrium, across from their Monet copy, because they think it creates a really original sort of irony.
But you know what? I’d pay five million dollars for a good steak. I’d eat the entire thing alongside a loaded baked potato, then smoke a cigar and drink a bottle of whiskey. I’d listen to Debussy and Autechre and I’d even put that TV on static. I’d do anything that doesn’t make sense, make any difference at all, and I would do this because I know I could sell it to someone else in less than a week by calling it art. It doesn’t matter what end it would come out. One way or another, it’d be one of a kind. And after that initial five million dollar investment, Hell, I’d probably make money on the deal.
Anthony David Jacques – Excretions – Series I – Summer 2010 – Signed and numbered.
Of course I’d never do anything of the sort.
Instead, I write. Not because I want to make shit and dupe the masses into calling it gold. But because art matters. Words matter. Sunsets and insects and bench seats and ocean breezes matter. I write because so many people just string words together. They vomit trite sentences and vapid platitudes into their word processors, let spell checker catch whatever mistakes it’s programmed to notice and let everything else slide because they don’t even care enough about their words, their medium, to get it right. They don’t even know.
That’s why I write. Maybe it’s still shit in the end, in the long run, but at least I’m trying to make it something better. Maybe it won’t be worth a damn in twenty years, but at least I’m trying to separate myself from the minions of dullards out there who think that just because their dog died or their wife got breast cancer, that means they have a story to tell.
I don’t know. Maybe it doesn’t make a difference. Maybe nothing I say matters. But I don’t get paid for this. I’m just trying to do something pure.
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© Anthony David Jacques MMX
Henry Miller died a year before I was born. I read his words and I feel like giving up altogether. Here’s a man with a voice. Here’s a writer who was ahead of his time. I feel like I write in the past. Do I even have a voice? Or is it just a jumble of words and thoughts that only work once in a while, purely by chance?
This empty page stares emotionless back at me. My scotch glass is empty but I can still smell it in the air. Can I craft an image without just stating it plainly? Do I even have style, will I ever?
Am I a writer or do I just want to be?
We’ll drive to the beach and I’ll pretend not to be cold in the ocean breeze. Miller talks about the cancer of time, but I can tell you about the cancer in my bones. It makes your blood thinner. It makes you cold no matter where you go, and no matter how beautiful the sun shines down upon your face the hairs still stand along your arms and neck and you feel a chill.
My cancer is a slander against the midday sun.
So now to craft an image? Alright.
The salt in the air mixes with the odor of sun-baked seaweed. All around the surf is a chorus of ghosts waiting for the dark. People talking and seagulls looking to steal your unwatched picnic. Children laughing, building sandcastles, happier than I can remember being in years.
The sun distorts on the horizon. Someone peels an orange upwind and the mist hangs in the air for just a moment.
It makes me wonder, is it all fleeting?
I sit at the beach with people who love me, whether I deserve it or not. Later, I sift the sand out of my socks and shoes and look for my pen but after half an hour the page is still blank. None of this makes sense. We step over the orange rind as we leave and it has lost its scent.
The ideas flare up in my brain like fireworks, they shoot down toward my fingertips but fizzle, choke, die before I can move my pen. They suffocate and turn blue, then black. I write something down anyway. It’s an odd experiment I’ll likely not repeat.
I drink some scotch just to feel it burn in my chest.
I set to writing a story but they all begin to feel the same. It’s as if I’m stuck on infinite repeat, recasting the same conflicts like a mad lib, swapping out nouns and verbs.
I pour some chardonnay and wonder if anyone will remember me thirty years after I’m gone. Will anyone talk about anything I accomplished? Not that I want to be famous, I just want to do something, to be meaningful to someone.
Later, she asks me if we just had an earthquake. I say that I don’t know and try to keep writing but I lose my train of thought.
It’s okay, though. It was nothing. It’s all meaningless, but I’ve known that for years, whether or not I could admit it.
I swirl the chardonnay and it tastes awful after scotch. It was much better when we opened it, with the lemon-peppered fish. The scent of lemon zest floating out from the kitchen. The wine doesn’t taste good now but I hate to let it go to waste.
I read some more Miller, I read aloud to her and she doesn’t like it because it makes her feel something she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get the words, but she feels the imagery, she gets an emotional response and that’s confusing.
And she’s right. It is confusing. It’s just like life, feeling all the nonsensical emotions and being scarcely able to put them into words.
I read some more Miller, then I pour the rest of the chardonnay down the sink. It tastes awful and I just can’t do it. I’m cold and I need to sleep.
I just want to live but I all I ever do is die. I pour another scotch and swallow it down but it doesn’t burn like I remember.
The wicker chair pushes its pattern into my back. My paper is blank and my scotch glass is empty. The world leaves an impression upon me and I cannot seem to return the favor.
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© Anthony David Jacques MMX