There’s a pill that will literally kill your buzz.
Trip Report: I Went to Lit… Sober!
This is not a picture of me at Lit. There are no pictures of me at Lit. People don’t take pictures of you when you’re boring. Photo by Nick Gazin
The Lit Lounge, if you aren’t from New York, is a leering black hole from which few memories escape intact. If the standard, workaday memory is already 50 percent confabulation, the average Lit memory is about eight frames of reality cobbled together by stains, visible regret, and thick strands of ropey vomit. It is not a bar for the light of weight, or early of work hours. Or the sober.
Having come off a bit of an excessive weekend/week/several weeks, I’ve decided to take it easy for a little while and let my body rebuild. Please though, I’m no hero. There are literally millions of boring humans on this planet whose boring lives do not require them to stew their livers and sinus cavities in a caustic broth of various poisons on a semi-nightly basis. They simply come home from work, pop in a House DVD for a few hours, then take their clothes and shoes off before they go to bed.
I’ve been more than happy to play tourist in this quaint little lifestyle for the past few days, but before my jaunt through sobriety I’d promised a friend of mine I would DJ this week with him at Lit. Before I could bail he put my name on a flyer, so by law I had to go. Again, I appreciate the sympathy, but there are literally hundreds of people who had to call their “drinking days” to an early end and still somehow manage to enjoy the festive camaraderie of barlife without a single sip of alcohol. I would merely be walking a few hours’ length in their arrow-straight footsteps. And besides, how eye-opening would it be to observe such a familiar social setting in the exact opposite state of mind as its participants? I mean that’s the whole reason we take acid, isn’t it?
Also not me. Photo by Nick Gazin
Here is how my “evening” went:
10:00 - Got in and ordered a club soda. Ordering a club soda means one of two things to a bartender: You are fighting against God’s will to quell a tidal wave of rising barf, or you are a former alcoholic. I don’t know which category they think I fall into because when I said “thanks” a burp came up and it sounded like “thaaaUNGHx.”
10:12 - People are just starting to fill in here and are probably on only their second or third drink. Every conversation I can hear sounds pretty articulate. There’s one short guy at the end of the bar who looks sort of like Charlie Day, same build too. He’s talking to the bartender. This is all normal stuff.
10:15 - Talking to two guys about conventional business, shit that happened during our day, Smiths lyrics, recent movies. One of them has a slight slur going, but this doesn’t put him at any perceptible advantage or disadvantage in the trialogue. He’s holding his own just fine. More importantly, neither of the two has sussed me out as sober.
10:20 to 11:10 - Time to DJ. I’d mistakenly thought this would be easier to do sober than wasted, but it was actually kind of nerve-racking. A lot of people will try to tell you various things that DJing “is,” like an art or important, but all of what DJing IS is playing songs that don’t make people throw glasses at you. That said, some of what DJing is is fucking up the volume or starting a new song too quickly (or at least when I do it) and some other of what DJing is is not giving a shit when that happens. Booze helps with this. At least it does when you’re a nervous pygmy shrew of a man who wears his regrets and embarrassments like a tween girl’s charm bracelet. Sorry if the gain was up too high on the Singaporean version of “Funny Funny.”
11:12 - The next DJ told me she “Really liked my set.” This seems suspicious.
11:15 - Bummed a cigarette to a British girl who liked the pin on my coat. Then we talked about what part of Brooklyn we’re each from, then how shitty it would be to have to be in a war, then how much worse it would have been to be in a war 500 years ago. Then the conversation was done and we stopped talking until we each went in. There was literally no more to say. I think she knew I wasn’t drunk.
11:20 - I had no clue the bathrooms here smelled like this. Someone should say something.
The Death of the Rockstar - Everyone’s Sober Now
The old cliché of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” is dead. Ok, if not completely dead, it’s in the process of taking its last, sad breath. The mysticism that once surrounded the “rock star” has evaporated into pictures of them in their sweatpants at Starbucks and unwarranted crotch shots as they exit their limousine. Bottom line, it’s not cute. Despite the mainstream artists’ need to put their bling, bitches and Bentleys on blast in music videos, that’s not what’s really going on beneath the surface in the real world. It’s a lot darker and colder out there.
Addiction is running rampant among all types of people; young or old, married or single, famous or one of the Joneses, it’s affecting people in similar ways. So I wondered, do artists these days feel any sort of social responsibility when it comes to painting a picture that’s full of syringes, rolled up dollar bills, Lean and video hos? Surprisingly, what I found in the majority of my interviews is that most artists are sober, in the process of getting sober, straight edge or barely indulge. Why? Because being a musician is actually a job. It’s not just drinking and drugging all night as you move from prospect to prospect hoping to get laid.
In a 2010 interview with Bad Religion front man, Greg Graffin, he reveals something that is almost shocking, especially because his world is surround by punk rock debauchery and disastrous stories of drug overdoses (as in the cases of Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols and Billy Mercia of New York Dolls).
“I’m straight edge so I’ve never understood how people can function with drugs and alcohol,” Graffin admits. “But I also know that the drugs today are so potent that they are infinitely more dangerous.”
And he’s right. According to CNN.com, 40,000 kids died of drug overdoses in 2010. Ben Haggerty, more widely known as Macklemore these days, could have been one of them. The Seattle-based emcee’s struggle with substance abuse nearly ended him, but he made the brave decision to go to treatment before he was just another statistic.