Monthly Archives: July 2003

7/31/03 Columbia County, NY (9

7/31/03 Columbia County, NY (9 days until wedding)

What’s that you say? You want large squash and zucchini? Hells, I got zucchini so big it put a gourd to shame, yo. Don’t bring your pussy fruits into my pantry, muthascratcher, cuz me ‘n’ my baby gonna hit you on the head with one of our yellow beasts. Shit, I DARE one of y’all to bring your flowering pumpkin-family (Cucurbitaceae) self-pollinating seed plants around here – we’re gonna open up a can of SAUTEED SQUASH on your ass.

7/30/03 Columbia County, NY (10

7/30/03 Columbia County, NY (10 days until wedding)

While in New Orleans I probably consumed 20 drinks over the course of two and a half days, something I hadn’t done since the New Year’s Eve Y2K party we had at my dad’s place in Napa. I had stopped drinking almost entirely over the last few years, partly because Tessa doesn’t drink at all, and mostly because the physical part of a drunken aftermath just isn’t worth it. My buzz in New Orleans, however, was brilliantly attended and lasted two days, but only because I was meticulous during my bliss: each drink/shot was followed by two glasses of water, the occasional Zantac, and a bi-daily dose of aspirin. It sounds terribly high maintenance, but I’ll bet if you ask anybody who was there, they won’t remember me doing any of that.

I’m also pretty good at slipping the clandestine Lactaid pill during a dairy meal, but that’s another tremendously boring story altogether.

Being in such an altered state provided the perfect prelude to Larry Smith’s excellent Salon column on Ecstasy that ran today, a well-cobbled-together piece that was one part science, one part anecdotal, just like the drug itself. For the record, my email address (at left) and this site’s name has nothing to do with the drug, just my affinity for the word “ecstasy” and the love of my favorite band XTC.

As I’ve written here before, my first ecstasy trip was actually in New Orleans as well, back in 1995 during a performance art show. Being something of a pussy, I held the ecstasy liquid under my tongue for a long time, so as not to swallow the drug whole. Of course, as any heart patient with nitroglycerine can tell you, this is the fastest way to blitz your brain. After ten minutes of genuine, freakish fear, the waves of happiness began to move into high tide, lapping over my body until I was completely submerged. It remains one of the best nights of my life.

Matthew Klam wrote a wonderful article about E back in 2001, and part of his thesis struck me as thus: everyone needs one ecstasy experience. There is a possibility of an epiphany, a life-altering burst of self-knowledge that can be revealed if you are allowed five or six hours’ freedom from the usual self-loathing all of us carry around. My own experience did not give me insight into myself, rather, it allowed me to think of the world as a brotherhood of which I was part. I think it provided the impetus for the Pink House screenplay and allowed me to let myself off the hook for letting everyone down as a Fallen Generational Spokesman. It may just have provided such intense happiness that it lasted for years afterward.

I know that sounds like the usual 1967 treacle that Baby Boomers trotted out about LSD, but ecstasy is, logistically, way less of a roulette wheel than acid and generally points your compass in a magnetically-happy direction. I am way too much of a control freak to recommend doing it more than twice a year (if that) but this last weekend has proved to me one thing: you are never too old to leave your body behind. Despite being chained to my dopt kit full of pharmaceutical crap, it is still possible – and perhaps important – to find a place where you can’t feel your eyes. Some people have Jesus, some people have the internet, some people have AA, and some people have ecstasy, but even the best of us need an hour here and there when we can see through a glass, brilliantly, and stop hating ourselves.

7/29/03 Brooklyn, NY (11 days

7/29/03 Brooklyn, NY (11 days before wedding)

I would like to take this little moment of detoxification to thank my buddy Salem for putting together one of the best weekends we’ve had since filling the Super Soaker guns full of vodka our senior year. Everyone pitched in, of course, and my brother Sean was also heroic in corralling the herd of cats I call my best friends. But nobody enables conversations, paves the streets with fun, paints the hands of waiters with $20 bills and contains the solar-powered fission of energy like Salem.

When I first met him in 1989, my friend Carwile said he might annoy me as soon as we all moved in together. What I soon realized was that I was having the time of my life, and we were both annoying Carwile. Coming from a background of moneyed Charlotte prep school football and more than a few indiscretions of youth, Salem should have been the kind of person to which I was genetically repelled, but instead we found common ground in almost everything. He had suffered at the hands of a social circle (and old friends) at Carolina, and humiliation was an emotion I’d known all too well. Salem talks a mile a minute, he could sell salt water to the Old Man of the Sea, and doesn’t mind starting a long story, but if you drift off even for a second you might miss something fabulous.

We lived together twice; the first house became Chapel Hill’s greatest party gathering spot due to his massive Klipsch speakers and healthy dose of “Cosmic Thing”; the second house was made famous by the first 80s party ever documented in history (1991) and the fact that he put his head through all the windows in time with the songs.

Salem (with ice cream) and I (with bowling shoes) dance in the afternoon sometime in 1990

After brief stints in restaurants and food-related jobs all over the South, he wound up in Jasper, GA, owning the Jasper Family Steakhouse, arguably the best family dining experience in the Appalachians. He married Elizabeth, a beautiful, strong-willed woman with two awesome kids of her own – and Salem adopted them in a heartbeat. Last year, they gave birth to another daughter, Lillie-Anne, who is the cutest child this side of Parenting Magazine.

And throughout this, he – like me – has tried to create a world that would have satisfied his 9-year-old self. He has an air hockey table, an 8-foot basketball goal for dunking, and the kind of stereo we used to lust after. On the adult end, he has aged scotch and humidors for the occasional puff of the world’s best cigars. And we can still go down to New Orleans and have a great time, regardless of age. I think Salem and I just always wanted to have fun and have a big project, unapologetically with both hands outstretched, which is why we’ll always get along.

Lillie-Anne befriending the animal kingdom

7/28/03 Jasper, GA (12 days

7/28/03 Jasper, GA (12 days before wedding)

Finally I am able to make coherent thoughts and actually write them down, here in the gorgeous hollows of northwestern Georgia. Bachelor parties, in general, have always confused me. I didn’t know if the bachelor was supposed to have sex with somebody, or if strippers were an ironclad requirement, and if your best women friends were allowed to come, etc.

My worst bachelor party experience was probably Sean’s first marriage, when his horny ex-brother-in-law hired some Orange County white meat to shake her fake thingies in his face while he became more and more embarrassed. Being the best man at that wedding, I suppose I should have put a stop to all that and done something cooler, but clearly, I was not in charge.

The idea of a bachelor “getting one last one in before being shackled by the ball and chain” has to be one of the more utterly pathetic and depressing traditions of the American psyche. I hardly believe it is possible to have any meaningful sexual contact with someone other than your bride within a few weeks (or hours) of your wedding, and expect it to be a satisfying send-off from the world of crazy singles. Yes, I saw some boobs this weekend, but THANK GOD that has long become more of a National Geographic special for me, rather than the 4 Jack-and-Coke purpose of every evening. Plus, for me, strippers are just about the least sexy creatures in the animal kingdom; I have never been attracted to things I can’t have.

The bachelor party has been redefined in this day and age to be an excuse for your best friends to gather somewhere they don’t currently live and roll back the atomic clock about ten years. I’m pleased to say that we did so quite effortlessly. While we were at Coop’s Place at the bottom of the Quarter in New Orleans, I had a private moment while watching the various seminal attendants interacting with one another, playing pool, doing shots of Jaegermeister, talking shit at 30 words per second – and I was struck by how young we all still were. At a time when I have to deal with so many stupid physical ailments and career stuff and health insurance and the impending possibility of children, we have not substantially changed our social behavior since 1987. All we have now is a little more money.

Both Sean and Michelle have weighed in on the weekend, but I just have to state this here in a semi-public place: along with those two, my friends are truly incredible. When I met these people, all I brought to the table was social rage, paralyzing self-awareness, acne, diamond-edged cynicism and a middling jump shot. They took what I had and melded me into the kind of character that deserves somebody as amazing as Tessa, which is all you could possibly want from a party of people surrounding a bachelor.

7/27/03 New Orleans, LA (13

7/27/03 New Orleans, LA (13 days before wedding)

We will return you to your normally-scheduled blog after I detox a few more hours from my debauch-filled bachelor party. Until then, one more picture for the ladies and lads at home so they know we are still surviving.

amongst the Proteus Krewe artifacts at Antoine’s Restaurant

7/25/03 New Orleans, LA (15

7/25/03 New Orleans, LA (15 days until wedding)

I have had twelve drinks tonight, so let’s stick to the basics of my bachelor party, shall we? We’re in my favorite town in the world, we all had Po-Boys at the Verti Marte, played pool at Coop’s Place, gambled at the Harrah’s, and went dancing at the gay, gay Oz. Let me sum up in picture what I cannot with language.

thump! thump! thump! thump!

7/24/03 Jasper, GA (16 days

7/24/03 Jasper, GA (16 days until wedding)

We drove through the gorgeous stretch of the Bleu Ridge Montagnes today, but I was in the back seat drooling in the weird REM-free half-sleep of the frequently jolted. Much to Tessa’s chagrin, I have a strong affinity for truck stops of the “Flying J” variety, so we stopped a few times at places where they probably thought we were faggots.

The bachelor party road trip kicked into high dander when we pulled into the Jasper Family Steakhouse and tore into some chicken-fried steak, creamed corn, and the biggest T-bone steaks I’ve ever seen, all courtesy of Salem. Back at his place, we played air hockey and then spent two hours dunking on his 8-foot basketball goal. ROAD TRIP!!!

at Arby’s, the food is so goddamn hot that even their Oven Mitt Mascot is sweating!

Beware these Corn Nuts – that’s some Corn Gone Wrong!

I want some feng shui… but I’m a dummy! What do I do?!?

7/23/03 Harrisonburg, VA (17 days

7/23/03 Harrisonburg, VA (17 days until wedding)

Jesus. I started the day at Ralph Lauren trying on an excellent tux for my wedding day, but any attempts to get out of town for my bachelor party were flummoxed by an assassination at City Hall that brought traffic in Manhattan to a standstill and closed the bridges.

Sean, Scott and I managed to limp out of New Jersey only to be met by the sput-sput-sputtering of Bessie the Land Rover as she ran out of gas and stopped in a mosquito-infested feeder road outside White Marsh, Maryland. After an hour or so of waiting for AAA, I busted out the basketball and started working on my dribble, while Scott and Sean had a farting contest. ROAD TRIP!!!

The waylay cost us our trip to Chapel Hill, so we redirected the caravan west and now we sit in the Jameson Inn in Harrisonburg, a small hamlet in the mountains of Virginia. The sign said “FREE ENTERNET ACCESS” and they weren’t lyin’! The world is getting better every day!

7/22/03 Brooklyn, NY (18 days

7/22/03 Brooklyn, NY (18 days until wedding)

Tessa and I took separate cars from the farm down to Brooklyn today, except that I’m a poop-stepping moron and left my medications upstate. I realized this about halfway down the Hudson, so I had to return back, spending an hour in the car for absolutely no reason. There was a day when this would have been no problem, but since I have kidney stones (300mg allopurinol) and I’m nuttier than a brick shithouse (30mg Celexa), I’m forced to marry myself to my toiletry bag. I often have daydreams where I’m in the Peace Corps, and I’m only allowed to carry a certain amount of personal affects, and I have to decide which ailment I’m going to endure.

This fuckup meant that I couldn’t meet Rick Gradone in the city to look at suits for the wedding, meaning that I still don’t have one. Tessa had her dress by May of 2002.

Tomorrow afternoon, Sean, Scott and I are beginning our southern trek to my bachelor party in New Orleans, and I couldn’t be more psyched. My favorite place in the world combined with my favorite people in the world. Well, except for my absolute favorite person in the world, who will be up here in the city for her own bachelorette shindig. I doubt they’ll have crawfish, beignets and Cajun prostitutes where she’s going, so HA HA HA!