Modern Drunkard Magazine: Richard Owen said the relationship between a Russian and a bottle of vodka is almost mystical.

Gary Shteyngart: Richard Owen?

MDM: He was an English zoologist who spent some time in Russia during the mid-1870s.

GS: Zoologist? Did he think Russians were zoo primates?

MDM: Maybe.

GS: Well. Do you know what vodka means in Russian?

MDM: Little water?

GS: Right. All Russian rites are suffused with the idea that you will get drunk after you’re finished. I think there is vodka at the end of everything that happens in Russia. My favorite ceremony to do is to go to gravesites of famous artists in Russia. You bring a bottle of vodka and zakuski.

MDM: Zakuski?

GS: If you go to a Russian restaurant, the first thing you see on every menu is zakuski. Which literally means “the thing you follow it with.” “It” being vodka. Appetizers are built around vodka. The mystery of Russia centers on what will happen at the end of the day, or the middle of the day. That being the drinking of the 150 grams (5.29 ounces) of vodka. When I go back there, and I go back every year, I have to acclimate like you would in Denver. Everyone, especially the men, brings their own bottle of vodka. Each finishes their bottle and they enter that land of no return. I’m not a religious person by any means, but you feel this kind of strange communion. With people who, if you had met them on the street, you’d think, “My goodness, look at this strange specimen.”

MDM: Your compatriot Anton Chekov described the perfect eight-course meal for a journalist: “Glass of vodka, daily shchi with yesterday’s kasha; two glasses of vodka, suckling pig with horseradish; three glasses of vodka, horseradish, cayenne pepper and soy sauce; four glasses of vodka; seven bottles of beer.”

GS: That’s a nice meal. Marinated mushrooms are great with vodka, duck is good, too. Nice fatty duck. It’s a marvelous drinking culture. Now a lot of the middle-class Russians are switching to beer. A Western influence.

MDM: I understand the government is pushing it. To get them off the vodka.

GS: Right. It used to be you could drink beer on the streets in St. Petersburg. You’d see women pushing strollers, swigging their beer, it was everywhere. But now there’s this new ordinance so you have to hide behind a bush when a cop comes.

MDM: It’s happening everywhere. How is the Russian beer?

GS: It’s not bad. There’s Baltika, which is great. There are different versions, rated one through nine by strength. One is semi-alcoholic, three is what most people drink, and nine—you might as well be drinking vodka. It’s like the armpit of some kind of bear.

MDM: That’s what I thought strange about London. The winos here drink fortified wine if they want a kick, over there they drink fortified beer. Tennants Super and Carlsberg Special Brew. I believe they’re around 20 proof. But it’s hard to imagine Russians drinking anything but vodka.

GS: It is weird to see Russians drinking beer. My ancestors drank shoe polish, they drank shampoo, anything that moved. It was utterly, utterly insane.

MDM: What sort of bars do you go to in NYC?

GS: All kinds. My favorite bar, where I spent so much of my life I should be embalmed there like Lenin in his tomb, is O’Connors. It’s in Park Slope unfortunately, which is becoming a ridiculous place, another yuppie hangout. But when I lived there it was just starting to change, and in its heyday, O’Connors stank like an Eastern European dive, what in Russian is called a riumotchnaya, which means a “shotglassery.” One or two women could be baited into it, but that was it. Two dollar beers, in New York, mind you. Two fifty vodka tonics. Some beef jerky to follow the vodka shots. It was a drunk’s paradise. Every night some guy would fall off a barstool, not slip off, but fall completely over. So rare in New York that a bar called O’Connors would be run by someone named O’Connor. He was Irish. As Irish as Irish gets. In that place I never had so much happiness in my life. We’d always stay until closing, until three in the morning.

MDM: It’s great when you find that bar. A place where you’d rather go, at any hour, than any other place in the world. When I was passing through Denver I found a bar like that, which is why I moved to Denver.

GS: Because of that bar?

MDM: Yes. After getting drunk there I woke up in my car. I walked in concentric circles until I found a place for rent. It’s still a good bar, but not the same. They started having live music, which drove out a lot of the old drunks.

GS: Similar thing happened to O’Connors. They put a jukebox in, they hired a guy named Spike who looked like Elvis Costello.

MDM: That’s the death knell.

GS: That is the death knell.

MDM: I was in NYC five months ago. Bit of a blur. You start drinking in the morning and everything fades from there. I remember being at the White Horse Tavern, where Dylan Thomas took his famous dive.

GS: When I first moved to New York, I thought I would spend every night there.

MDM: Bukowski went there and they refused to serve him because he looked drunk. The irony being, he hadn’t had a drink since the night before. He just had that look about him.

GS: When my first book came out, my first interview ever was at the White Horse. The guy interviewing me was sloshed, and I thought, “I’m really going to enjoy the writing life.”

MDM: Back in the old days, that’s how it was. All the writers and journalists were drunks.

GS: Don’t get me started. It’s so hard to be a writer these days. It’s so antiseptic. We’re this sterilized profession, we all know our rankings to the nearest digit. There’s a few people that still keep the tradition going in Brooklyn. It’s a big problem these days. Journalists might drink more than writers.

MDM: They have a hard time admitting it though. At least in print.

GS: True. There are so few people to drink with. The literary community is not backing me up here. I’m all alone. There’s a couple of guys who are strong, but that’s it. It’s so pathetic when I think about my ancestors. Give them a bottle of shampoo and they have a party. And here I am with the best booze available.

MDM: I’m not much into modern writers. I tend to fall back on the writers of Lost Generation.

Click to OrderGS: As do I, in many ways. I tend to chronicle a way of life that doesn’t really exist anymore. We live in this antiseptic world. One of the few modern writers I like very much is George Saunders, because he tackles the antiseptic nature of the way we live. But the world I live in, in my mind, is still the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway. And Dostoyevsky. Drink it all away or gamble it all away at the drop of a hat. That doesn’t exist anymore.

MDM: That grand era seems to have passed us by.

GS: Because we’re all corporatized. We all know who pays us. The stuff I do, I doubt if it will sell ten years from now. It’s a shrinking alliance of those who still go out on a limb. People want entertainment that is safer. People don’t want to read a book or see a movie anymore, they want to play a video game where they’re the hero.

MDM: Right.

GS: No one’s reading anymore, but everyone’s writing.

MDM: Everyone has a blog.

GS: They have a blog, we all gotta self express. Writers now are more media conscious, they’re so worried about their image.

MDM: In the day of Gleason, Hemingway, Bogart and the Rat Pack, they were very upfront about their drinking and carousing. These days artists, especially actors, won’t admit to anything. Except for maybe Colin Farrell.

GS: Yeah, he’s good. I had my book party, it was sponsored by a rich Russian oligarch and Imperial Vodka. Everyone was smashed. The woman who threw the party got up and said, “I’m sick of this shit where we’re all kissing each others asses all the time. I want to start a literary brawl, Norman Mailer style. Steyngart is my friend, but he writes immigrant porn. Let’s just kick his ass.”

MDM: Bravo. There used to be fantastic rivalries between writers in the old days. Hemingway and Sherwood Anderson. Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. Hemingway and Faulkner. Capote and everyone.

GS: Yes! But now, nothing.

MDM: It’s because they’re not drinking enough. Booze encourages people to say what they really feel. It seems to me that everyone is waiting for that next great literary generation to surface, but where is it? All the greats used to know each other — the Lost Generation, the Algonquin Round Table and the Beat Generation. They would form packs and drink together.

GS: Nowadays the writers know each other, but we’re not in it together.

MDM: So you don’t sit around drinking brandy in bars and cafes exchanging whipcrack repartee and bon mots?

GS: There are so few bon mots. I can’t even begin to tell you. And we’re not expatriates anymore. Everyone stays home. It’s very different.

MDM: My Russian brother-in-law tells me some Russians like to spike their vodka with a good jolt of hair spray. Is this true?

GS: Ah, yes, the old hairspray maneuver. You know who drinks like crazy? My favorite people, the Georgians. They drink from these big ram horns and each person has to toast every other person at the table. There’s the tamada, the toastmaker, he’s like the air traffic controller. A toast comes in, and he stops it and makes sure everyone is okay with it, then another comes in — it’s a fascinating job. A good tamada is like an MC, he gets hired to work parties and weddings. Their wine is like Thunderbird, really strong. It’s not for a connoisseur, it wouldn’t pass muster. When I was in the nation of Georgia, I met some guys in the government. Some mid-level ministers. We went to their dacha, this gigantic compound. They wanted me to get involved in a scheme to steal $600 million dollars from American charities.

MDM: Did they now?

GS: Yes. We drank about ten wine horns, in between vodka shots. And vodka and wine—not such a great combination.

MDM: Odd you would say that. Vodka and red wine, what we call a Brutal Hammer, is our staff cocktail.

GS: That doesn’t surprise me. Their toasts were so heartfelt. But in the back of my mind I kept thinking, they may be doing this because they think I can help them rip off $600 million from American charities. They were drinking to everything. They were drinking to my family. They asked for the names of everyone in my family and they would create these elaborate toasts to people they’d never met. They knew I was flying back through Austria, so they raised a toast to the Austrian pilot who would fly the plane. Such sweet people. And as the evening progressed I started thinking, maybe I can help them steal $600 million.

MDM: It started making sense?

GS: It started making great sense.

MDM: They’re quite ambitious.

GS: They don’t think small in Georgia.

MDM: Your protagonist of your latest book Absurdistan, Misha Vainberg, drinks one helluva lot of vodka.

GS: And whiskey. Single malts with Ativan. Which is an amazing combo. It’s perfect if you’ve had a rough week and you want to pass out with gusto. They really reinforce each other. The Ativan makes the whiskey a lot more potent, so when you go out, you go out in a blaze of glory.

MDM: How would you compare drinking in Russia to New York?

GS: Oh, come on.

MDM: Night and day?

GS: Night and day. You sit down with a bunch of guys, the women aren’t around. That’s the first difference you notice. The women drink, but it’s a different situation. They drink during dinner. The guys get together and everyone brings their own bottle of vodka.

MDM: To the bars?

GS: No, to somebody’s house. Bars are relatively new to Russia. There were always the shotglasseries, but they’re different. Usually the men gather around someone’s kitchen table and start going at it. Everyone brings bottles of vodka and some will bring pickles or a piece of salmon.

MDM: To pace the shots.

GS: Right. And the vodka has got a lot better. So clean. It’s like drinking nothing at all. In a good way. My favorite is Russky Standart, Russian Standard. I swear by it. When I come back, I import a case of it.

MDM: You wrote Absurdistan in Rome. How do you find the drinking in Italy?

GS: I’m not much of a wine drunk. It’s too complicated.

MDM: Too many choices with wine.

GS: Too many choices. And it’s a complicated kind of drunk, which I’m not used to.

MDM: Wine makes for a more dramatic drunk, I’ve found.

GS: Italy is a dramatic country. I was living in this square, where all these orgies were going on.

MDM: Actual orgies?

GS: Yeah. It was the rich children of the Italian intelligentsia, famous Marxists, people like that. And they all had these huge apartments. It was just these wild parties. And all based on wine. People would bring their own wine, from whatever region they were from. There were a lot of arrivistes from southern Italy, so there was a lot wines from Abruzzo, Campana, and Calabria, the really violent province. The only time I got semi-violent in a bar, someone came up and said, “You must be Calabrian.”

MDM: It’s considered an insult?

GS: It is, but I thought it was quite a compliment. The whole scene was wild youth, women, wine and a dearth of clothing. There was this one Italian. An incredible Russophile.

MDM: A communist?

GS: Of course. Everybody was a communist.

MDM: That’s one of the interesting things about Europe. You can sit down for a drink in a café and find out ten minutes later that you’re sitting in a communist café. Or fascist, for that matter. In our cafés and bars we are taught to avoid the subject of politics, and there they have bars defined entirely by politics.

GS: There was great communist bar in Rome, run by this crazy communist woman. I really wanted to love her. I drank a lot of vodka with her. But she was so annoying and belligerent.

MDM: Filling your ears with Marxist-Leninism?

GS: Talking about Marx and Lenin is fine after a few shots, but she was always jumping on patrons and tearing their hair out.

MDM: How very Italian of her.

GS: It was. I love the Italians. They’re full of life.

MDM: Speaking of orgies, I know you’ve spent some time drinking in Brazil as well.

GS: It was amazing.

MDM: You’d like to move there, wouldn’t you?

GS: I would love to move there. If it wasn’t for the constant violence everywhere you go, I would move there without question. The local drink, cachaca, is amazing.

MDM: How are the bars?

GS: It’s not the bars, it’s hanging on the beach. The people are so beautiful. They drink, then the dancing starts. I don’t have an ass. I don’t own one. But they do. It’s so sad to leave it. You think, where the hell am I going? It’s not an intellectualized drinking culture. No one gives a damn about that stuff. You can’t bring up Schopenhauer after a couple drinks. I had the most expensive sake I ever had in Rio. A hundred dollars for a little flask.

MDM: Was it worth it?

GS: No, but I was charging it to someone else’s account.

MDM: Do you partake in a lot of different liquors?

GS: Of course. In Italy I swilled wine with the best of them. I like a good single malt. I like Laphroaig. I often go up to a friend’s cabin in upstate New York. A town called Granville. It has a chicken coop next door and a swamp. I covet that swamp. I really want to buy a piece of the swamp. You sit on the porch, drink Laphroaig, and read the crime section of the Granville Gazette, which is hysterical. You know: “Mr. Billy Holden broke into the Amway and stole a giant cheddar, which he then used to assault the arresting officer.” Then the last line is always, “Mr. Holden was extremely inebriated.”

MDM: How do you feel about beer?

GS: I like beer. I went to college in Ohio. It was in a dry county. The local beer wasn’t even Schlitz, it was Schlopps or something. It was the beginning of the Ice Cube era, or the end of NWA era, everything was about malt liquor. When you have a population of 96% white kids, you’re going to have a lot of malt liquor. Before I went there, I thought it was going be a real party kind of place. But hell no.

MDM: And there you were, in a dry county.

GS: I would drink more than anyone. Those kids weren’t up to par. My body was really up to handling it.

MDM: Well, you’re Russian.

GS: Russians are prime drinkers. My great grandfather was a deacon in a Russian Orthodox church, and that means he was a fantastic drinker. And he was from Siberia where they also can drink like crazy. It’s minus 40 all the time.

MDM: You have to drink under those conditions.

GS: Right. Russia is such a non-jovial place. You can’t walk around with a smile or people will mug you right away.

MDM: Because they’d think you’re a tourist.

GS: Yeah. But if you have a few drinks with them, it’s all over. They’re laughing and happy. Or getting very violent.

MDM: It’s the beauty of alcohol. You put 20 sober strangers in a room and you’ll get a little small talk if you’re lucky. Introduce alcohol and people start laughing and becoming friends and perhaps even hooking up. Booze exercises the full range of emotions, and it’s emotion that allows people to hook onto each other.

GS: Exactly. I think that’s true especially in Eastern Europe. If you live in a repressive society, your public face tends to be very repressed, but once they have a few drinks, they open up.

MDM: Looks like they’re shutting down here. Up for another bar?

GS: Maybe we’ll have a little bit more. Because I do feel the difference with the altitude.

MDM: Have you been to Denver before?

GS: Yes. The last time I was here I got sloshed. I was going to ask you about that. The altitude difference. After a couple drinks I felt like I had five.

MDM: It’s true. Your body needs oxygen to process alcohol. If there is less oxygen available, such as at higher altitudes, the booze makes another lap around your bloodstream. It’s a good system.

GS: You get used to it, right?

MDM: Right. If you live up here you have a natural advantage when you go downhill.

GS: And everywhere is downhill from here.

MDM: Most places.

GS: Yeah. Because I’ve had three drinks and—

MDM: Yeah, we’ll have three more drinks and call it a night.

GS: Well, maybe a shot of something, how about that?

MDM: Sure. I know place about four blocks away. We’ll get drunk.

GS: I can already feel it.

MDM: Don’t start with that altitude nonsense.

GS: No, I really do feel the difference.

MDM: Isn’t it great?

* * *

GS: Chicago is a great drinking town.

MDM: It is. I went to a Polish bar where they infused the vodka and Polish spirits with sausages. The shots had a layer of fat on them. They tasted like sausage. It’s a meal in a glass.

GS: Have you ever had Zubrowka?

MDM: A friend of mine in Boulder wrote us an article about the perfect martini, which demands Zubrowka vodka.

GS: Zubrowka is perfect for a martini.

MDM: He never washes his martini glasses. He reckons cleaning chemicals destroy the natural build up of salts.

GS: It makes sense. The next time you’re in New York give me a holler and I’ll take you to the Russian Samovar Bar.

MDM: A Russian samba bar? What must that be like?

GS: Samovar. Who knows what the hell it is at this point. It’s hysterical. You go on the wrong night and it’s a tourist disaster. It’s five blocks from Times Square. But if you go on the right night, it’s filled with Russian guys with necks the size of my head having drinks, and the piano player is singing Russian songs, which are all about wasted opportunity. You get these carafes of vodka. It’s perfect. I was just in a happening Irish bar in Bloomington, Indiana, run by Koreans.

MDM: Naturally.

GS: Rome has the worst Irish bars in the world.

MDM: Are there many Irish bars in Russia?

GS: Many, many. Moscow has completely caught Irish bar fever.

MDM: So has Denver. It always comes in waves, where nearly every new bar is of the same genre. We went through a microbrewery wave, then a sports bar wave, then a techno dance bar wave, then a martini bar wave, now the Irish bar wave. Hopefully soon, the Tiki bar wave.

GS: Love Tiki bars.

MDM: Always loved that Polynesian escape. You walk out of the concrete jungle and into a low-tech tropical fantasy world with tropical drinks, and the stress just melts away.

GS: The tropics and tropical drinks, that’s my thing now. After this trip to Brazil, I am on the market for a very cheap tropical bungalow.

MDM: In Brazil?

GS: No, in Brazil I can’t do it. I got sick of walking around and thinking, “Shit, I’m about to get killed.” That country’s out of control. I’m thinking Thailand or Cambodia. One of my best buddies just got a place in Bangkok. He’s says it’s amazing.

MDM: Bangkok? Is he a sex pervert of some sort?

GS: No! Okay, a little bit. Medium. No, he’s all right. He likes the women there. I have an Asian girlfriend. I just want to chill out someplace that’s cool. A place with good drinks. But Thailand’s getting expensive, so I’m thinking Cambodia. It’s not about the Killing Fields anymore, you know. I want a place far enough from the Killing Fields and Angelina Jolie’s new bungalow.

MDM: A place with not too many skulls buried on the property.

GS: Exactly.

MDM: Isn’t St. Petersburg known as a city built on the bones of dead workers? It was built on a swamp.

GS: Everyone died on that project, because the Czar wanted a new capitol. Will we get beef jerky at this bar?

MDM: Oh, sure. This is Colorado. All bars carry beef jerky.

GS: Really?

MDM: No. You know, John Wayne drank here. Also, Elvis Presley and Teddy Roosevelt. And Chuck Connors. They used to call it the Punch Bowl because there used to be a boxing ring in the back.

GS: Chuck Connors?

MDM: Damn straight. How old is this bar?

Bartender: A hundred and two years.

MDM: You see? And they say we have no history here.

GS: Do they have beef jerky here?

MDM: Of course not. Why? To chase the shots of vodka?

GS: Yeah. Do they have anything?

MDM: They might have pickles. Do you have pickles here? Or sausages?

Bartender: Pickles? We have chips and salsa. You want pickles?

GS: Yeah. Any pickle type thing.

Bartender: I have pickles.

GS: That would be great. You know, this doesn’t happen in New York. You ask them for a pickle and, you know, you might get something else.

MDM: I’ll bet. Now I feel funny about asking for sausages.

GS: We New York writers are always saying, “How long is this going to last? When are we going to move to Portland or some place like this? How many $13 martinis are we going to buy in a lifetime?”

MDM: Who can afford to drink  there?

GS: I was just in Austin. I could live there. It seemed pretty cheap.

MDM: When I was there 12 years ago there would be hawkers on 6th Street calling out drink specials: “Dollar shots, fifty cent beers, come on in!” A drunkard’s paradise.

GS: Hawkers?

MDM: Yeah. Malcolm McLaren used to be a hawker. For a porno club in London.

GS: Is that right? You know, for my first job in America I had to dress up like a piano.

MDM: We should celebrate that with a shot of vodka.

GS: You’re right.

Doc (MDM’s Staff Photographer): I’m thinking about getting a prosthetic leg.

MDM: No, keep the pegleg. It looks much better.

Doc: But it wears out. It’s like shoes.

MDM: Did you have a platform pegleg in the 70s?

Doc: No. Why are those people yelling?

MDM: God knows. I knew some Poles whose hangover cure was to sip vodka around a slice of sausage. They swore by it. Of course if there wasn’t any sausage around they’d just drink the vodka. They swore by that too.

GS: When Russians can’t afford a snack, the old adage is, “Smell your own coat.”

MDM: That’s a fine system.

GS: They’re not exactly overarching on the British theme here. There should be meat pies.

MDM: Yeah. Meat pies.

GS: And more violence.

Doc: Yes, where are the soccer hooligans?

MDM: I imagine we should have another shot of vodka.

GS: You’re right.

Bartender: Do you want more pickles?

GS: Yes. Pickles are essential.

Bartender: We don’t have any more pickles.

MDM: This is an outrage. How can we drink vodka without pickles?

GS: Pickles are essential.

Bartender: We have more pickles.

GS: Great! Bring us a bunch.

MDM: Didn’t they pickle Lord Nelson in a barrel of rum? Because he died on a ship in the Mediterranean and they wanted to preserve his body for the funeral?

GS: Really?

MDM: Sure. And by the time they got home half the barrel had been drank by the crewmen.

GS: That sounds about right. Here’s an old socialist toast. Za druzhbu narodov! It means “To the friendship of the peoples!”

MDM: Hell, yes! Have you had Házi-pálinka, the Hungarian Moonshine?

GS: Yes. Good stuff.

MDM: I found it not as smooth as American moonshine. The bottle a Scottish friend gave me survived in my freezer for an embarrassingly long amount of time.

Doc: You can’t compare the two.

GS: In Russia, the moonshine is called samogon. It means, “the thing that runs itself.” You know the Hungarian drink — it features prominently in my first book — Unicum?

MDM: We are acquainted.

GS: Worst hangover on the planet. I was drinking with these Hungarians and they were chasing the shots of Unicum with toothpaste. And I ain’t talking about Crest, I’m talking about Hungarian toothpaste.

MDM: How undignified. Have they no pickles over there?

GS: These guys didn’t. They were lucky to have Unicum and toothpaste.

MDM: That’s what’s great about traveling. You get to experience the local liquors.

GS: They’re fascinating. You know, on this book tour, whenever I land, I just want to go to a nice bar and meet some local weirdos.

MDM: So this must be déjà vu.

GS: Right. When I heard Modern Drunkard was based in Denver I was surprised, but really, it makes sense.

MDM: Denver is a great drinking town. It has a rich history of drunkardry. The miners would come down from the hills with their gold dust and spend it on hookers and hooch.

GS: When you go out for drinks in Russia, there are hookers everywhere you go. You turn around and they poke your eye out with a nipple.

MDM: Let’s celebrate that with a shot.

GS: I haven’t slept for a while.

MDM: Sleep is for suckers.

GS: I love sleep. I’ve slept for 40 hours in a row.

MDM: Good God! Let’s celebrate that with a shot of vodka.

GS: Right.

Doc: What’s the major sport in Russia?

GS: Football, or soccer as you say.

MDM: I thought it was kidnapping.

GS: That too. I met this guy over there, he was a good guy. His family lost all their money and he wanted to make some quick cash. So every morning he’d tell me, “Gary, I really want to kidnap you.” I said, “What do think you’re going to get out this?” He said, “Your rich book company, Random House, they will pay.” I told him, “Have you seen my sales figures lately?”

MDM: One more vodka, I should think.

GS: All right. Why not?

MDM: It’s like that old Russian saying: “The church is near, but the road is icy. The bar is far away, but I will walk carefully.”

GS: I’ve never heard that. Listen, I visited my best friend in St. Petersburg. He’s marrying this girl from Yakutsk, the coldest place on Earth. It makes Alaska look like Florida. We went drinking with her family and they are hardcore. Her mother is a shaman. I went in with the most terrible bronchial cold ever. Now, I don’t believe in anything, believe me, but she beat me with a white horse’s tail and a black horse’s tail to drive out the evil spirits. We had a bottle of vodka and I was cured.

MDM: Of course.

GS: Then we went to my favorite strip club in all of Eastern Europe. Its Russian name means, the Colorado Father.

MDM: Colorado? In your book you call it the Alabama Father, don’t you?

GS: Yes, but I didn’t want them to kill me. It’s the saddest strip club in St. Petersburg. The whole theme is Colorado, or what Russians think Colorado would look like. There are picture of Colorado fathers and mesas and buttes. A lot of mobsters go there. And Finns. If you go, tell them you’re from Colorado.

MDM: And they’ll shoot me for free, right?

GS: Right. You’ll love it.

Interview by Frank Kelly Rich