Friday, July 22, 2016

Cocktails and Consequences

"We're mostly drunk or drinking, and life outside of where we do what we do is sad and bland and muted and stupid."

Friday, July 8, 2016


In two weeks time, my chapbook Cocktails and Consequences launches right here at Sophia Ballou. This last installment marks the end of a project that has been absolutely wonderful for me. The sum of this project is 13 essays and 13 chapbooks. I am, I always have been, and I suspect I always will be grateful to Corrie Vela at Sophia Ballou for encouragement, support and the hosting of my work. I just cannot express my gratitude enough for this run of work in 2012. And for any readers of either the essays or the chapbooks, I'm grateful for you too. I hope you enjoyed what your read.

As far as Cocktails and Consequences goes, it probably doesn't need much of a preamble. The chapbook, for me, was an experiment in the memoir. As many of you may know, I don't particularly care for memoir. I don't read memoir. And when forced to read memoir because of my work at Umbrella Factory Magazine, I'm often disappointed in it. So, one may ask, “Anthony, if you loath memoir so much, why write it?” Good question.

When Janice and I left sunny Denver, Colorado in late 2010 in search of new memories in the Pacific Northwest, there were many things plaguing me. I think that this is no uncommon thing. After all, we moved away from home and we were unemployed. When this combination happens, a person generally has plenty of time on their hands. With time comes reflection. And the nature of being without a job made me come to terms with the last time I was unemployed.

It was on a particularly rainy day that I found myself exploring the swamps of Fairview, Oregon that I thought about The Thin Man Tavern in Denver, Colorado. I had worked there from January 2001 through December of 2004. It was not a particularly happy time of life for me. I am an introverted, private person and being a bartender in a popular neighborhood bar was very difficult for me. And for four years, I did my best.

There are elements to being a bartender that I really liked. For instance, I liked the money. I also enjoyed washing dishes. When it comes down to it, a bartender really is nothing more than a dishwasher who gets to make drinks. And, I would be a lair if I didn't say that constant attention from women young and old didn't feel good.

As with anything, there was a down side to it. The down side has a name. And it is said that people do not leave jobs, people leave people. That's what I did. But that was way back in 2004, and I was a very different person then.

But in the swamps of Fairview on a rainy day, I thought about writing it all down. In my mind I had a huge construction project of what my bartender's memoir was going to be. I was going to call it My Thin Man Days. But the more I thought it, the dumber it became. After all, who cares? Who gives a fuck about a small bar on Denver's east side? In fact, the more I thought it, the worse it became. If only more memoir writers thought this way, there would be fewer and better memoir out there.

Just couldn't leave it alone.

When I began to write chapbooks (odd 50 page affairs) I came back to the bartender's memoir. I just had to keep it reasonable. First, a straight memoir would be boring for readers, and too self-indulgent for me. Then, I thought about all those bartender's guides I used to read when I worked the Thin Man. This seemed like it would be okay. If only I had something to add to the world of bartender's guides. Then I thought about all the tosspot logic that I gained during this time. Actually it wasn't all that vast. Odd thing, I was not a heavy drinker during my tenure behind the bar. The last thought on the book's construction came from all the vignettes, short stories and anecdotes I've written over the years that involved the bar or booze.

Then, one day, as I walked around the parking lot of the defunct greyhound park of Wood Village, Oregon, it came to me. I would work on a small book that was everything: bartender's wisdom, tosspot logic, manual and memoir all in one. I figured this would be the greatest catharsis of them all. As I begun this piece, I still harbored a little anger for some people I was involved with at that time of my life.

As far as people go. I didn't change any names. There is no one innocent, or guilty, who needs protection. I avoided the libel, I am not a slanderous person by nature. I did my best to paint everyone I mention in the best light. This is because, many of the people I knew at that time were good people, as I'm sure they still are. There is no sense in writing ill of people. The written word exists long after situations die, settle or are otherwise resolved. I am immensely grateful for the time I had at the Thin Man. I'm grateful for the pain the whole situation may have caused me. I'm grateful for it all.

So, in two weeks time, reflections of a bartender in Cocktails and Consequences. And today, reflections on the last year. Thanks again Corrie for all you've given me.

Friday, July 1, 2016

13 Miles

"Ravel has vanished. Bartok takes its place. But not one particular Bartok mental soundtrack record, but fifty of them and they're all playing at once."