"The joy of bourbon drinking is not the pharmacological effect of the C2H5OH on the cortex but rather the instant of the whiskey being knocked back and the little explosion of Kentucky U.S.A. sunshine in the cavity of the nasopharynx and the hot bosky bite of Tennessee summertime —aesthetic considerations to which the effect of the alcohol is, if not dispensable, at least secondary."
#david foster wallace
Walker Percy in “Bourbon, Neat,” quoted by Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Since I first read this essay, when I was perhaps fourteen or fifteen years old, I have remembered that invaluable phrase precisely and used it on occasion: “hot bosky bite.”
For some time, I supposed —stupidly— that Percy had simply invented the word “bosky” in an effort to capture the way bourbon tastes and feels: two syllables, because it is a matter-of-fact sort of flavor, concise even when complex. But of course “bosky” is a real word, with a definition: “Having abundant bushes, shrubs, or trees.”
Good God! If you’ve ever been in a hot Southern state in the summer, out away from the roads and houses, in fields or little glades surrounded by plain, unprepossessing woods, and if you’ve tasted bourbon, you must recognize that this is inspired, precise lyricism; it is the result of brilliant observation and masterful, unaffected diction. The flatness of bland blue skies which cling close to buzzing, sun-bleached, lush yet crackling lands, the simultaneity of heat and verdancy: this is the best metaphor I know for the flavor of bourbon, which, I regret, is irreplaceable if one gives up drinking.
Note also the two forms of prose: the specialized vocabulary of the scientist as a foil to the poetics of the the real point, the evocation of place and season and atmosphere. The sort of lexical pyrotechnics for which many esteem David Foster Wallace predates him, of course, although in “Oblivion” I believe he brought it to an apotheosis of sorts (an anti-apotheosis: the dull triumph of inhumanly technical language). But it is worth noting because Wallace’s real gifts, like Percy’s, have nothing to do with the niftiness of his interdisciplinary sentences; that is a matter of style, a style which either supports higher artistic aims or is lazy mannerism, as most writing in fact is.
Sunday Morning Recap:
- write an article on a new wine bar (Vintage 95) opening in downtown Chandler
- volunteer at the GrowOp: pull up grass, shovel dirt, lay down mulch
- drink water straight from the hose to stay hydrated
- come home smelling like a high school boys’ locker room
#Davy Crockett Elementary
#Billy Ray Cyrus
As of today, I am officially a published writer. Like in print, not just on the Internet. My third grade dreams have come true, and I have been made a believer in being able to do “anything you put your mind to.” Thank you, Mrs. Krebs, for planting that seed back in 1993.
If anyone knows of a Lisa Krebs who’s first year of teaching was at Davy Crockett Elementary school, please tell her that I would love to thank her in person. Here are some other helpful hints in making sure that the person you’re thinking of is indeed my third grade teacher.
- Her student were referred to as Krebs’ Koalas.
- She loved Dan Marjerle aka “Thunder Dan” and was willing to leave her husband for him had the opportunity ever presented itself.
- She gave three kids (Me, Peter and Carl) detention for listening to Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” during reading time, while we were supposed to be reading along to Stone Soup on audio cassette.
- She was/is bottom heavy.
"What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me … is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."