BEER MYSTIC Burp #7: Beer = Liquid Cartoonist

BEER MYSTIC Burp #7

X-Large I see is the new large in clothing sizes. Size matters, so now a medium cup is like a trough of soda at McSubWenNuggests. They even try to super-size you when you rent a car, from an obese sedan to a 4WD monster at no extra charge so that we, the disinherited, can feel like royalty for an hour. So that the buyer can yell “Beware, this purchase represents power.”

Shifts occur not only in quantity and magnitude but also in quality. Many serious [acoustic/classical] musicians hate the idea of popular icons being treated as serious composers. This happened to soundtrack composers: in the 1980s, people like Bernard Hermann, Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone were accorded serious composer status.

The same happened to cartoonists-illustrators. Some of my favorites are: Joost Swarte, Kaz, Jonathon Rosen, Ned Sonntag, Yossarian, Ken Avidor, JD King, David Sandlin, and some others. They combine a certain dark bemusement, befuddlement, indignation and humor to portray the horrible events of everyday life in their own unique ways, simultaneously mirroring and egging the zeitgeist on so that it emerges as an enlightened mediocrity and then entering these stories to become the very personas they so ferociously render or they alter historical inconveniences so that they can get the babe or the last laugh. You can almost feel the bug-eyes popping, the sweat dripping from their neuro-squiggly lines gone post-Cubist or post-Boschian, Kafka-with-a-smilie-sticker-on-his-lapel surveying both inner and outer cores, the lust, adrenaline and angst gurgling around in their 2-D herky-jerky bodies of misbehaving body parts. So don’t call them genius because this just cramps their styles like R. Crumb-types crumbling into mounds of undulating, bodily-fluid oozing, ganglia when a woman offers a compliment or quick gander of top shelf cleavage.

Beer is a liquid version of cartoonist; after all, it wasn’t until the later 1990s that beer began to go micro and then craft, enhancing not only conversation and life but also the style of your lifestyle. Exquisite, rare, weird, unpronounceable brews became the early 21st-century porn stars. Wine has always lent itself to a culture of leisure, luxury, tasting, it was meant as accompanist, as partner in crime, as facilitator into that state of graceful satori known as the buzz. And beer wanted in on that.

But cartoonists continued to opt for the shock value of the bad and the “bad is good” strategy, opting for stylishly bad beer [not Coors] during some wild East Village parties of beer-guzzling intemperance, gangly bodies in stoopidly smart tee-shirts reeling near rooftop edges without railings. Wasn’t the beer purposely “bad” – Iron City, Milwaukee’s Best, Olde English 800, Keystone – to deconstruct status, snobbery, make of disaster something glorious, to make of piss a nectar so exquisite that alchemists will be knocking on doors.  I mean, wasn’t there a party at a cartoonist’s Village pad where guzzlers crushed cheap beer cans into their foreheads? Crush-yukyuk-crush…

From BEER MYSTIC: There must have been more than 100 from all crawls of life at this party of the underground graphic-novel-comic-book-post-punk-grumpy-ocracy. You didn’t even notice that the more ditzed you got – wipe your chin with someone else’s chin – the more you ended up dressed in beer and other proofs. Beer heals and binds all alienated souls. Yea, OK, until things go too far. But you drink too much water, you die too….

We insist we know we are all funnier than Don Rickles or the “Wild and Crazy Guys” or Foster Brooks or Sam Kinison [funny or not? the debate goes on], Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin [are women funny? Hmmm.].

I ran into Jess JezaBelle, a tough baby-faced beauty with dynamic definition in her limbs, attractive muscles in her cheeks and neck – you can’t take your eyes off her features – who had become a surprise treat at the Gas Station with her act that combined cooking and stripping, in the show “Gastronomical Burlesque: From Apron Strings to G-Strings.”

“SShh, somebody brought English beer. The beers are flat but the women are not. We English are always drinking whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

“Maybe it has to do with loss of Empire.”

“More likely loss of hormones. I can tell you on reasonable authority that this practice is very much the English Way. The English Way is akin to the Way of the Samurai, for example, in every way except one: the rigorous code of discipline is not something that must be painstakingly learned, but something that must be painstakingly unlearned.”

“I always suspected that.” I said with a smirk. A scrum of very American guys in fashionably threadbare and obscure tee-shirts overheard and began howling with approval because this meant, in effect, that because English guys were wusses, there were basically some 30 million men less to compete with.

“And for my part, I am, as you all know, a perfect fuckin’ Englishwoman – nay! Lady! – and hence, you see, never, EVER to be found drinking unless thoroughly under the influence of alcohol. But the mystery is why Northern Europeans like their Anglo Sexin’ poached and pickled in a urinary brine of too much booze?”

“To better spot god?”

“I doubt it. More likely to give’m an excuse for non-performance. Alcohol in extreme is the ultimate escape clause. No, it’s not a joke, fellas. Present company definitely included. I see the same bad reviews here I can tell you! I’m going to have to issue some of my own very soon, I’m afraid. That’s the fuckin’ punch line, isn’t it?”

“The Brits have a more obvious problem with alcohol than others because they seem to be in direct competition with drink – conflict over dialogue.” …

Heated arguments abounded: Was this a national, human or gender-related trait? Was Debby Harry, in fact, better-looking than Madonna? Phyllis Diller funnier than Moms Mabley? What’s wrong with the Yankees? Somebody wondered whether the Beastie Boys were still really punk. Fuck, yes! I had Licensed to Ill with me and threw off the Butthole Surfers and flopped it on, cued it to “Posse in Effect,” turned up the vol., sang along “I got a girl in the Castle and one in the pagoda / You know I got rhymes like Abe Vigoda / I’m a Def Manhattan killer, a rhyme driller / A mike in my hand and a mouth full of Miller / I got a hat not a visor, I drink Budweiser…”

Some saw this as evidence of pure punk, while others saw it as total wankerdom. So I put on “Slow Ride,” get half the party given up for dead shaking limbs and singing along: “Because being bad news is what we’re all about / We went to White Castle and we got thrown out… duhduhduuuh… I shot homeboy but the bullet was a dud / So I reached in the Miller cooler, grabbed a cool Bud…”

Does intelligence lead to suicide? And what about the mystery of the “33” on the Rolling Rock label?… illuminating the wall was a magic lantern projection of a pussy shaved to resemble a smiling face and emerging out of the pubis [by artist René Monsveneris], the haircut if you will, was a mysterious spiral that seemed to be spinning. The music was now obscure 60s garage rock, the Claxons, the Corporation Headz, psychobilly, the Cramps, the Psycho-Semantix, Hasil Adkins, Wanda Jackson, Jesus and the Mary Chain, Alien Sex Fiend, Johnny Thunders.

“‘On tenement roof illuminated.’ Kerouac.” I heard Nice say on tar beach rooftop.

“Kerouac’s a fuggin’ hack. Kerouac’s a hack!” Someone – it may have been J.D. King – chanted, as Nice, glared back, ready to slam dance him into the brick and tin chimney.

[J.D. King is a cartoonist built like a stork. His only tools are drawing and a profound knowledge of obscure freeform jazz. Wrote for OM, an obscure Jazz zine. A quote: “Discordant music hints at a far-off cataclysm.”

“I was at that party. I’m confused by this Furman thing, call it a spin, call it a hype. What pisses me off most is getting confused for him. Fuck him. Especially by people who oughta know better. Furman is this: Spit at a mannequin and whatever bounces off is him. I don’t have much to do with that type o’ character. Wake up the morning after a party and there he’ll be, seemingly right where you left him, like a gargoyle guarding the fridge. He’s always in close proximity to all beer. That gives him cachet, I guess. Did he sleep? Standing up? Meditate? Levitate? Yuh just never knew. And those who thought they knew don’t. This describes his so-called nocturnal habits. Don’t ask me any more. I hear his favorite artist is Albert Bierstadt. Why’s it matter. If it’s rumor or truth we don’t care as long as it fits in somehow to the grid. Like the Cloud of Turin or Kennedy’s exit wounds. Truth is like ice. Is it water or solid or… Hey, anyhow, I’m busy doin’ damage control. Plausible denial. New haircut on the way. I’m not him and don’t know him. But maybe that won’t stop you askin’ questions anyway.” King was heard to spit from the gash between his teeth. “Any case, the guy’s certified, a case, a kook, man.”]

I saw Jude being propped up like a doll against stacked crates of empties by one of the hosts. Suddenly she laughed menacingly, as if the cool wit and promise she’d once offered us in her writing were now just quaint doilies upon which she placed her heavy goblet of very Bloody Mary. The host struggled to remove the glass from her stiff grip before the Mary spilled.

The rapper-actor L-Dopa offered to take Jude home. In a dignified way, like you could trust his honor. The reviews had already compared him to Run-DMC, James Earl Jones, and Amiri Baraka. His single meltdown of LL Cool J and Richard Wagner, “Reingold Beer Ring” goes like this: “I seek de ring, ding-a-ding ding. / I seek the thing, ‘at make my heart sing. / I seek the wrong, that make my ding dang dong.” He’d just completed an Off-Off-Off Broadway run in the punk-rapper version of The Wiz stood before her solemnly and observed: “Shakespeare in Macbeth writes: ‘What three things does drink especially promote? …nose-painting, sleep, and urine.’ Jude, you live uptown, I live uptown, I’ll take you home in the friendly sense.”

A more opportunistic sort, the man dressed as a tattooed model [or had he just come as himself?] or Brat Pack hanger-on, what’s-his-name, peeled Jude off the host’s forearm. He tried to steady her head, that aquarium of murky concoctions. He was not distracted by her string of invective aimed at “Furman the Louse” as Brat Packer schemed to release the cups that ranneth over and liberate her ample, but gravity-victimized breasts.

“Furman the Louse!” He tried to sooth and seduce her with some small talk about his nearly miss in getting a major part in “Snow Black”.

“Hair of 6 dogs for her tomorrow morning.” Brat Packer cleverly observed to the thinning, departing crowd. He was the ideal human subject for research on the emerging subject of date rape.

And when it was time to leave, none of us wanted to make that move to say adios [from inside our drab, smoke-brew-reek-rank rags, like survival camouflage that successfully imitates NYC’s gloomy architectonics] because you were afraid what the rest were definitely going to say about you after the front door was shut and you could be heard stumbling down the cruel spiral staircase. But I made a daring move because beer had sufficiently bludgeoned me with the regret of squandered idealism. I’d had 8 or maybe 12 beers and suddenly had no home. Or rather, EVERYwhere was now considered home.

I could hear Luc Sante talking to Runkle Köln about living in NY: “All of us are still in that stage of youth when your star hasn’t yet risen, but your moment’s the only one on the clock.”

“Clock! Holy shit, reminds me, I gotta get down to the Lost Manuscripts Show. They got open bar from 11 to 12. They got Belgian Palm in bottles.”

“Smooth to tipple, not heavy, full of flavor, opulent aroma.”

“Precisely!”

“But it’s 5 of 2.”

“I’ll make it. These openings stretch out to sunrise. Got to go. Duke & Jill are playin’ live and Furman’s ex is doin’ a limbo strip to reprocessed Les Baxter tapes. Illuminated backdrops by Lady Pink and Lady Bug. Life is short but my dick is long. I gotta run.” And he was gone. And the cartoonists, true to their stylish and practiced misanthropy, spared him no invective.

“R.K. what a fuckin’ wanker!”

“Can’t write his way out of a shopping bag.”

“And one sloppy fuckin’ drunk! The drool, the drivel!”

I somehow lost Nice and she lost me. This would not be good for my bearings. And from the death of the party I bade Jude a last fruitless good night, licked her arm up into her armpits – “Ewh!” – and around and around spiraling in ever closer to her nipple. A squeal concealed inside a groan for fear that anyone this side of cool should ever show signs of coming undone by passion. Messy passion was out – lush = asshole. I gave L-Dopa my last crumpled fiver toward cab fare and watched him stare down Brat Packer. I saw Jude’s eyes become black fish doing the dead man’s float across my dreams. I could hear the uncharitable, muffled, stabbing guffaws from behind the closed door as I headed down the cruel spiral staircase. The joke being it wasn’t even a spiral staircase. [BEER MYSTIC excerpt at Unbearables]

• Sensitive Skin BEER MYSTIC excerpts 13-14 , 35-36 illo by Kaz, 44  illo by Ken Avidor
Ken Avidor hosts BEER MYSTIC [illustration “Serious Beer Drinker”]
David Sandlin hosts BEER MySTIC