How did Hunter S Thompson do it? How did he get so royally fucked up on so many chemicals and still turn in vaguely journalistic pieces? Did he just make a lot of it up?
Thompson’s not really a favorite of mine when it comes to his work, but I do like his legend. The first time I ever tried to get a little “gonzo” was at the 2000 WTO protests in Washington DC. I ended up down there on a lark, not being terribly interested in the wonky-seeming issue, and while getting boozed up with a friend the night before the protests I hatched the idea of experiencing the city-wide demonstrations – which everyone assumed would be total chaos after the Battle of Seattle – and writing it up for Spin or something (I was aiming high). We stayed up all night getting blitzed out of our brains and the next day I ended up being almost trampled by police horses, getting beaten with batons, tear gassed and pepper sprayed. I never did write the article.
Thankfully nothing quite so violent happened at the Beerfest pub crawl a couple of weekends back. I did, however, reach a level of intoxication that is scientifically known as “shit faced.” And I had my hangover the next day to blame on Broken Lizard.
Beerfest is the new Broken Lizard film – they’re the guys who made Super Troopers and Club Dread. Beerfest’s basic conceit is simple – in Germany, during Oktoberfest, there is an underground series of drinking games in which only the world’s best drinkers participate. Quarters, chugs, upside down chugs, beer pong, the distance pour – you name it or make it up, and they’ll have it at Beerfest. The Broken Lizards are a group of Americans who accidentally become aware of the contest (the US is left out of Beerfest because of our weak brews) and spend a year training to take the whole prize.
What better way to promote a movie about copious drinking than by engaging journalists in copious drinking? I like how the Warner Bros publicity department thinks (and by the way, this is not my first experience of being fucked up in a Beerfest setting – while visiting the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of the film I also got quite gloriously sloshed, along with some other journalists, including Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons, who can be seen here riding me like a downed pony. You can read my coverage of that visit here and here. The rest was lost in a massive PC failure. Sad face.), I just wish I could like the way my fellow internet journalist brethren drank. I am not going to name any names (although if Scooby Doo did, one of them would be Red Rouglas, from Roming Room), but I expect better drinking ability from journalists.
The pub crawl involved three bars, and I only remember the name of one of them. And the only reason I remember that bar’s name was because I spent half the night making retarded jokes about it – the place is called Jake’s Dilemma, and I would ask any unfortunate soul who got near my beer soaked person, “Is this a bi-curious bar? Bwahahahahahaha!” (And yes, I do laugh like Giffen/DeMatteis era Blue Beetle when loaded). That was the final bar, by the way. We actually started on the other side of Central Park (Jake’s Dilemma is on the Upper West Side, aka a place you would never find me unless Warner Bros was paying for my booze) at a laid back place where the Beerfest trailer played over and over and over and over and over and over and over again on a couple of TVs. Someone finally had mercy on us and shut the sound off.
I drank 6 pints of Sam Adams there. I was a little bummed they didn’t have the Beerfest brew – apparently the Broken Lizards got together and brewed their own beer, and they had served it up at the screening the night before. I wasn’t taken with their brew, but I really wanted one of the bottles (I ended up getting a six pack mailed to me anyway). We hung around the first bar for way too long because we were waiting on Broken Lizard. They finally showed up and had a couple of drinks; I ended up bullshitting with Paul Soter for a while. He apparently lives somewhat near me, and we discussed how horrible it is to see movies at the Court Street movie theater. The crowds are just the worst people imaginable, with every sort of bad movie theater behavior being present at every goddamn screening. Soter and his very pregnant wife had gone to see You, Me & Dupree because he heard the Beerfest trailer was in front of it, and he wanted to see how it played. The trailer wasn’t there. As for his take on Dupree – well, let’s just say he politely ended that aspect of the conversation.
After Broken Lizard had a few beers our beer wenches corralled us onto the double decker bus that would take us to the next bar, on the other side of the park. Did I forget to mention that we had beer wenches? We did, these two scrumptious young ladies in traditional Bavarian Beer Whore outfits. I loved the redhead the best, and she had a wonderful habit of sitting on this railing on the double decker bus in such a way that the topography of her tiny skirt was unable to cover her skimpy purple panties. Yes, I am a lech and a creep and all of those things. I’m just counting on most people not making it this far into the article.
The double-decker bus ride took a long time, actually, but the beer wenches kept us amused with beer trivia. It was a dry ride for me; while beer was available downstairs you couldn’t bring it on the roof, and I had to sit on the roof because, a) the redhead was there, and b) I had never been on one of those touristy double-decker buses and I damned well wasn’t going to ever pay to be on one in the future.
We finally got to the second bar, but we were running late. Very late. We only had ten minutes there, which meant we had to scarf down the waiting food (White Castle-esque mini-cheeseburgers, French fries and some other shit I didn’t bother with), take our big group shot (the shots were lined up on the bar when we got there. They were shots of SoCo, and there were enough for everyone to have two. Most of the journalists, I am ashamed to say, didn’t have any. I had five. Three of which were with Kevin Heffernan, who seemed unstoppable. Jay Chandrasekhar had one with me, but he winced), and then play beer pong.*
Sadly, we didn’t all get to play. It was Jay and Steve Lemme versus a couple of journalists (dunno who). I downed a couple of bottles of Bud while watching the action – Jay and Steve had a pretty astonishing game. They aren’t just faking it for the movie. They handily beat the journalists, although the game did last much longer than our allotted ten minutes at this bar. The poor publicist kept saying, “OK, this is the last round!” and Jay would just look at her and say, “We have to finish this game.” The talent always wins!
Jake’s Dilemma was just a few doors down from that bar, and that was where we spent the rest of the evening. It was also where the interviews were held, and I have to tell you what a waste of time that was – the audio is useless. I spent some time trying to transcribe the interview, but gave up, which is why you have this ridiculous travelogue instead of any actual information about Beerfest.
Here’s a quick aside for the nobody who cared – I have lately been having problems with my deodorant. It just fails on me during the course of the day. The shameful thing I have to admit now is that I use Axe Body Spray (seriously, women love how I smell. They also love the smell of my detergent, but I don’t know what that is – I drop my clothes off at the corner laundry. Ten cents a pound. Not bad!), which probably isn’t really strong enough for a big, swarthy, sweaty guinea like myself. So in the middle of the drinking at Jake’s (total damage for me at Jake’s – four pints of something and a pitcher of Blue Moon that I drank like a pint) I had to run down the block to Duane Reade, where I covertly took Axe off the shelf and applied it to myself in the store. I think that’s technically theft of services. Breaking the law!
A lot of what happened at Jake’s Dilemma is hazy. People played pool. I watched this tall, handsome Australian dude totally pick up the redheaded beer wench. I lectured producer Bill Gerber about how America wants to see Army comedies today. “They want to see an Army comedy where the enlisted man is smarter than the generals!” I slurred. “America hates the war but loves the soldiers!” I still agree with this when sober, although perhaps less stridently.
Suddenly the fun was over. The official drinking on Warner Bros’ dime was done, and so I wandered off. There’s a funny story here about how I dragged Wilson from blackfilm.com into some bar on the way to 72nd Street and he waited around for a half hour while I took the biggest and most satisfying shit of my life, but it’s too gross to tell. Well, except that I just told it. I finally made it home and the next day I had a pretty nice hangover. Apparently so did the Broken Lizard boys – the next day was the pub crawl for TV, and my friends who covered that tell me the quintet showed up looking like they were hurting.
Beerfest opens this Friday.
*Please note that I may have the name of this game wrong. I don’t play drinking games. I don’t play Asshole, Quarters, any chugging games, anything. I don’t need silly reasons to drink to excess. I just need a general disregard for my health and finances, which I have in spades. Of course I would have played with Broken Lizard. You know, out of respect.