Dan Dunn is Food Republic's sometime booze columnist, the author of such stories as Introducing The Liam Neeson Drinking Game and Friday Is National Vodka Day. Who The F*&K Cares About National Vodka Day? This man does not hold back.
People often write to me suggesting topics they’d like to see addressed in this column. And more often than not I completely ignore them. It’s nothing personal. After all, without the support of the readers, I’m out of a job. But the truth is, I’ve always been genuinely disinterested in what other people have to say. It’s a personal shortcoming I’ve tried working out in therapy, but it’s difficult to address when you don’t give a rat’s ass what your shrink thinks. But you know what? I feel like our relationship is strong enough that I can admit this to you without fear of, you know, giving a shit about your reaction.
There is one occasion, however, when I do find it extremely important to listen to what readers have to say. When I’m fresh out of column ideas. It’s a little sumpin’-sumpin’ we in the business call “doing it Monkees style.” You know, cuz it’s a little bit you, and it’s a little bit me.
So, uh… what do you guys want to talk about?
“You should do a primer on Ethiopian honey wine. All the club kids in the Meatpacking District are clamouring to learn more about it.” — Philip Duff, New York City
First off, my years of experience as an investigative journalist tell me that this Duff guy isn’t a native New Yourker. And no, it’s not his cheeky sense of humour that gives him away. It’s something a little moure oubvious. Having exhausted my journalism muscles, I put my highly developed ability to type into the Google search bar to use. And yes. It turns out that Ethiopia is a real country. In addition, the honey wine made there is called Tej, and according to sources I spoke with on background (cough, Wikipedia), it’s flavored with the powdered leaves and twigs of gesho, a species of buckthorn and a hops-like bittering agent. My sources also tell me that nobody who hangs out in the Meatpacking District has ever heard of gesho. And that if you tried to serve them Ethiopian honey wine, they’d make a Kardashian face and wordlessly go back to staring at their phones and complaining about how Sal is always late. Stupid Sal!
“Write a story about fledging sites about booze. And it's just Boozist listed 10 times.” —Colin Joliat, Chicago
I’m not your puppet, Colin Joliat! I don’t dance to your tune like some organ grinder’s forbidden love! You know what? Just to spite you I’m only going to list Boozist four times. Boozist Boozist Boozist Boozist. Boom! Joliat’s gonna feel that one in the morning.
“So basically, we write the column and you get paid?” —Dan Stadler, Los Angeles
Um, yes. What part of “I don’t give a shit what you think” did you not understand, Dan?
“I always find it fascinating that those (enormously offensive in their pillaging of the seas) fishing trawlers are laden with some of the heaviest drinkers. Apparently fall down drunk while "fishing" in 12 foot seas. Sure, what they do sucks, but mad kudos on so many levels to be that shithammered in those conditions, and all whilst on the clock at one of the world's deadliest jobs sober (although who would know that stat, they're all boozehounds).” —Danny Fischer, Philadelphia
The sea is a cruel mistress, Danny. Who are we to judge the drinking habits of the people who have sex with our fish before we eat it? Talk to me after you’ve pleasured a hundred salmon in an afternoon and see if you don’t want a little something to take the edge off.
“Write about prison wine.” —Y Evans, New Orleans
NOW we’re talking! Thanks for the suggestion, Y. And thank you for being a woman, too; we need more people like you in the world. In fact, your feminine inquisitiveness has reminded me of my all-time favorite television program about hard ladies doing hard time. I give you, Prisoner: Cell Block H…
Prison wine, of course, is also known by what might be my favorite alcohol term ever coined: toilet wine (runners up: shoe vermouth and condom port). And I’ve covered that before in “The Case for Allowing Drinking at the Office.” Can you at least pretend to keep up, Yolanda?
“I’d like to read about the demise of Zima.” —Bob Higgins, Portland, Maine
My man Brendan Koerner wrote the definitive piece on this subject for Slate back in 2008: “The Long, Slow, Torturous Death of Zima.” Still, I have a feeling I may need to do a companion piece about Bartles & Jaymes, who, it bears noting, were not above a little crowdsourcing themselves.
“But seriously, you’re ok with exploiting us and getting paid for it?” —Dan Stadler, Los Angeles
Dude, chill. It’s not like I hacked into your computer and filched your collection of rare animal gifs. OR DID I?
Truth is, Dan, due to the decline of print media combined with the proliferation of Arianna Huffington (who is another great animal .gif, just not that rare), most writers stopped getting paid in actual currency sometime around 2008. What I do get for my efforts (and yours) is a case of past-date Hostess Fruit Pies delivered to the house every sixth months. I have found that if I scratch off the sell-by labels I can barter these to the skateboard kids outside my house in exchange for them not robbing me when I go to my car. I also get EXPOSURE. Which of course helps build my BRAND. Which leads to even more EXPOSURE. Which increases my SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE and ultimately means I have to BORROW MONEY to PAY THE RENT in THIS SHITHOLE.
But really, thanks for bringing it up.
“I need a fun signature cocktail for my upcoming birthday party…ideas please!!!!!!” —Jam Bagwanedee Stewart, Chicago
First off, Jam, easy on the exclamation points. I get it, you’re not a Stone-Hearted Ice Witch, but this makes me wonder if you’re, like, a 13 year-old texting at the mall lol omg pkmn!!!!
Rather than provide with you a signature cocktail recipe for your sweet 14th (whatever BORING!!!!!!), which is probably somehow illegal (stby vbg) I’ll do you one better — a singing cockatiel…
“Here’s an idea: stuff to put in a flask besides alcohol? For instance, I keep my favorite hot sauce.” —Gita McCutcheon, New York City
It’s true, flasks are quite versatile. I, for one, often keep a flask of 2 percent milk in my pocket in the event I get a sudden hankering for white-flavored water. Also, I carry around an attaché case full of Fruit Loops, in case I want to make my white water taste like an explosion at a chemical factory. And I never leave home without a racquetball can filled with extra spoons.
“Do something for Valentine’s Day.” —Lisa Hennessy, Santa Monica
You do something for Valentine’s Day! God! Shut up.
Oh, and Lisa? You doing anything for Valentine’s Day?
“Write about wood. Who's got the best wood for aging (white oak from the Ozarks, I'd say, or at least southern Missouri). How the craft/art of being a coopersmith has had a rebirth thanks to all the craft distilleries. And how good, used barrels that used to be tossed or sold for pennies on the dollar now fetch top dollar from breweries wanting to age their high gravity beers in them.” —James Burrus, Boulder
You had me at “write about wood,” James.
That’s it for now, folks. I think we’ve all learned something today. You’ve learned that I’m kind of a surly dick. I’ve learned that the best way to get a column in under deadline is to wear out the goodwill of the people who love me most.
And keep those cards and letters coming. Please know that even I don’t reply right away. I disregard every single piece of correspondence personally.
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