Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Book: The Tender Bar, by J.R. Moehringer (2005)

Bars didn’t hold much allure for me when I finally hit the legal drinking age. For that matter, neither did drinking. Blame – or credit – an Irish Catholic upbringing in which both parents had taken the Pioneer’s Pledge. They never said a word on the evils of alcohol; in fact, the subject never came up. To mark my 21st birthday I went to the movies. By then, I’d discovered my own intoxicants.

That early restraint allows me to savor a fine public house now. It’s also led to a fascination with memoirs about drinking life. Like, well, Pete Hamill’s A DRINKING LIFE. And this book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Moehringer.

He grew up fatherless in an extended Long Island family, but found an entire company of surrogates in what the Irish would call his local. As he grows up the bar stays the one constant in his life, becoming his sanctuary and perhaps his prison. The book is about manhood, storytelling, community, and how a youth spent in a saloon can be a sobering experience. It’s a keeper, with an epilogue that broke my heart.

Miscellaneous: Spirits Of Another Kind

Proof that I am not attuned to the otherworldly: I went on a tour of haunted Seattle, and our first stop turned out to be my old apartment building. The place is apparently hopping with poltergeists, but I lived an entirely ghost-free existence there for ten years.

Miscellaneous: Links

Via GreenCine Daily, a look at the year’s best in TV that focuses on individual episodes instead of series. And my friend Tony Kay remembers the late genre filmmaker Herbert L. Strock.