And why so much? Just where the hell do we get off getting loaded all the time? Do we really need a reason? In case you do, we polled our staff, our readers, winos on the street and a lot of smart dead people and this is what we came up with—
I drink because I was abused by my parents when I was a kid. They did terrible things, like locking up the liquor cabinet and refusing to buy me wine.
—Renee Dormand, waitress
The euphoric sense of omnipotence. I can’t trust anybody who doesn’t drink. How can someone be so close to paradise and turn their back on it?
—C. Evans via the internet
Why on earth aren’t people continually drunk? I want ecstasy of the mind all the time.
—Jack Kerouac, beat writer
I drink because it makes me happy and you can’t put a price on happiness. Except for liquor store clerks, I see them doing it all the time.
—Raef Lewis, wino
I only drink during celebrations. And I’m the kind of optimist who likes to think every day is a celebration.
—Kate Rios-Hermann, wedding planner
I don’t drink to escape or to forget or because I can’t handle real life. I drink because whiskey is the key that sets the monkey free.
—Ron T., fortified-wine enthusiast
I drink for that larger than life feeling. The feeling you’re hogging all of the fun from the night. Alcohol can get you in touch with that primal beast and make you feel truly alive. That feeling somewhere around drink number three, where the pain and annoyance of life fades away, and you just want to laugh because you are right where you need to be, with your friends, on top of the world.
—Nick Smith, lead singer of Barstool Messiahs
Man being reasonable, must get drunk. The best of life is but intoxication.
—Lord Byron, English author, poet
Some go to church, some drive their RV’s to the Grand Canyon and hold their chunky middle-aged wives close as the sun sets majestically, but for us drinkers religion is just one glass away. You see all the things in the universe that could have occurred by chance rather than by creation. There is no way that by just sheer random luck humans and plants could conspire to produce such lovely and wonderful chemicals that when imbibed it effects our brains in just the right way to give us a damn fine religious experience.
—Ben Bornsztajne, writer
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
—Tom Waits, musician
With every drink I’m building a bridge between me and the people I like, and erecting a wall between me and all the vampires that would suck me dry. By my third drink I’m surrounded by friends, and no banker, lawyer or ex-lover can penetrate that fortress. It’s happened to you—life and all its television, newspapers, politicians, backstabbers, liars and murderers fill you mind with carnage, your muscles with acid, your blood with black bile. Things a sober mind cannot muster the courage or wisdom to face. Alcohol jars loose these demons and gives you the strength to face them, to embrace them, to erase them.
—Luke Schmaltz, lead singer of King Rat, MDM staff
If penicillin can cure those who are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life.
—Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin
A morbid fear of dehydration.
—Don Whillans, Scottish mountaineer
I’m for anything that gets you through the night, be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
—Frank Sinatra, entertainer
It’s suicide to think and think;
That is why I drink and drink;
That is all love has ever given me.
You’d cry too, if you knew,
Just how mean and lowdown a man can be.
—Blanche Calloway, blues singer
During these fits of absolute unconsciousness I drank, God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my enemies referred the insanity to the drink rather than the drink to the insanity.
—Edgar Allan Poe, U.S. author
In a world where there is a law against people ever showing their emotions, or ever releasing themselves from the grayness of their days, a drink is not a social tool. It is a thing you need in order to live.
—Jimmy Breslin, journalist, author
A man who doesn’t drink is not, in my opinion, fully a man.
—Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, Russian author
Hailing from the wild and rustic state of Wyoming, I often question myself as to why drinking is such a great pastime here. Is it because the entire state has that small town atmosphere that beacons a fellow to drink 20 cans of beer and roll his truck on a Saturday night? Or is it the so-called individualistic Western Spirit that seems ever present here? I believe that getting loaded is as natural here as shooting an antelope or hitting the local grocery with a fresh book of food stamps. There is an indescribable warm feeling that comes with the mixing of a twelve pack of Old Milwaukee with living at 7200 feet that makes me proclaim, “God Damnit, I’m an American!”
—Chris Stange, American
The use of intoxicants is one of the distinguishing marks of the higher types and races of humanity.
—Winston Churchill, statesman
After the muscle-shocking sessions we drank wine and beer and got drunk and carried on like the old-time weight lifters back in the 1800s or early 1900s. We got into this trip that we were gladiators, male animals. We swam naked out in nature, had all this food, wine and women; we ate like animals and acted like animals. Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.
—Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor
Alcohol is one of the most heavily taxed products you can buy. I love my country and buying liquor is the most cost-efficient way to give it money.
—John Beebe, patriot
It isn’t because I want to forget, I don’t want to forget anything. Although on a good night I might forget everything. And I don’t drink because I had a rough day, either. I don’t drink for alcohol’s anesthetic properties. I drink because it’s damn good fun. If the Future doesn’t exist (and it can’t, by the way), and the Past serves only as biased, inaccurate fuel for memory, then there can only be the Present—and drinking keeps me feeling rooted in this moment. Boozing reminds me that there’s more to life than pointless careerism. I do it as often as responsibility allows and would encourage all the tight, bottom-line oriented, quota-meeting fucks I’ve had the misfortune of meeting to do the same. In a perfect world, drinking would be embraced as the beautiful, centering experience it is.
—Jef Kopp, tattoo artist
Most Americans are born drunk, and really require a little wine or beer to sober them. They have a sort of permanent intoxication from within, a sort of invisible champagne. Americans do not need to drink to inspire them to do anything, though they do sometimes, I think, need a little for the deeper and more delicate purpose of teaching them how to do nothing.
—Gilbert Keith Chesterton, British author
I drink because it gives me something to do while I’m waiting for my next drink.
—Wiggy Delicious, drag queen
Because I’m a baseball fan. Try watching baseball sober sometime. You’ll see what I mean.
—Sol Hernandez, carpenter
I drink because I have no TV. I figured that I was doing myself a favor, and the time I didn’t spend in front of the idiot box would be spent reading, or in scintillating conversation in the modern equivalent of a salon, one of a crowd of admirers at the elbow of some modern Mme de Stahl. Well, the salon has PBR on tap, and Mme de Stahl has no teeth, sits outside, pretending to wait for a bus, and will lift her shirt for you for 87 cents, other services open to negotiation. I drink because I’m bored, and I’m not sophisticated enough to be both drunk and bored at the same time. Not having a TV, or religion, or a piano, or a family to stand around that piano, passing our finest hours singing His praises, what remains but to drink?
—Russ Dusseault, man of leisure
After the White House, what is there to do but drink?
—Franklin Pierce, American President
Sometimes too much drink is barely enough.
— Mark Twain, American novelist
Drinking provides that delightful, numbing effect while easing my misery, worries and regrets, even if it’s just for a night or three. Alcohol is a therapeutic device. With booze as a hammer I am able to pound the unbearable weight on my shoulders deep into the pit of my liver.
—Mike Mayhem, bass player for Buck Wild
Be always drunken. Nothing else matters. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.
—Charles Baudelaire, French poet
Not for a love that has died, or some such passionate nonsense, but simply because, night after night, it’s the fastest way to get to temporary oblivion, and the space it brings. It’s not a one-way trip after all. It’s just a trip. —Carlo Cordova, reporter
I drink because people keep hassling me about my drinking.
—Brandi Belinski, bartender
People tell me, ‘Oh, you just drink to escape your problems.’ Well, no shit. I’d eat rat heads if it took away my problems.
—Fred R., panhandler
We drink because we can die a little bit, be a little bit dead, dull the senses and let the spirit take us. And frankly I think hangovers are great, too. Good time for decision making.
—John Lewis, website designer
When I’m really amped up I drink to calm me down and when I’m really down I drink to amp me up and I drink during the in between times because everyone knows the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to be.
—Jake Gold, DUI attorney
A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world. —Louis Pasteur, French scientist
Here, drinking, I deliberate, I reason, I resolve and conclude. After the epilogue I laugh, I write, I compose, I drink. If drinking could write, writing would drink.
—François Rabelais, French author, evangelist
Drink heightens feeling. When I drink, it heightens my emotions and I put it in a story.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald, American author
The human intellect owes its superiority over that of the lower animals in great measure to the stimulus which alcohol has given to imagination—imagination being little else than another name for illusion.
—Samuel Butler, English novelist
I know the truth is in between the 1st and 40th drink.
—Tori Amos, singer
For art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable— intoxication.
—Friedrich Nietzsche, existentialist
I enjoy the craft of it, the art of it. I treat cocktails like a cuisine.
—Robert Hess, writer
Drinking blows my brains out. It blows out all the crap in my head and allows new and better ideas to seep in.
—Michael Chan, artist
It’s a bravemaker. All men know it. If you want to know a man, get him drunk and he’ll tip his hand. If I like a man when I’m sober, I can hardly keep from kissing him when I’m drunk. This goes both ways. If I don’t like a man when I’m sober, I don’t want him in the same town when I’m drunk.
—Charles Russell, cowboy artist
The troubles of our proud and angry dust
Are from eternity, and shall not fail.
Bear them we can, and if we can we must.
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your ale.
—A.E. Housman, British poet
I drink to conquer the nervousness I feel when it’s my turn to do the beer bong.
—Sheila Ricci, law student
I’m a naturally high-strung person and am normally terrified of meeting women. A little booze greases the rails for that uncomfortable first meeting. I don’t care about rejection, I’m at ease. Later it will carry me through the nasty break-up. To twist a phrase from a pothead friend of mine, “Booze will get you through times with no money better than money will get you through times with no booze.” And when times aren’t tough, it’s damn good, no—wonderful—to have around.
—Frank Bell, journalist
When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have the second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there’s no holding me.
—William Faulkner, novelist
I drink because I want to make the world like when I’m writing. When I’m hepped up and typing, I’m in control, I can do whatever the fuck I like to these people on my page. Drink makes the world seem like that all the time.
—Dirk Allen, novelist
When I’m sober I’m shy, self-conscious and miserable. When I’m drunk everyone loves me. I’m happy, confident and a damn good sport. Does that make me shallow or weak? Who cares, people love me!
—Dottie Mitchell, via the internet
I drink because I prefer the company of drunks, and they don’t like sober people hanging around, making faces.
—Tim Martin, day-laborer
What compares to the instant camaraderie you feel while getting loaded with your drunkard brothers and sisters? For a couple of privileged hours every week, you get to sit down, hang out, and not give a fuck about your personal behavior. Try not to take it for granted. Your time together (or by yourself) is golden and should be treated with the same respect as attending church.
—Chad Groves, engineer, MDM staff member
The culture of drink endures because it offers so many rewards—confidence for the shy, clarity for the uncertain, solace to the wounded and lonely, and above all, the elusive promises of friendship and love.
—Pete Hamill, writer
The greatest joys I have experienced while drinking come from the friendships I have made during a stint at a bar. Consider asking a co-worker, new acquaintance or old friend if they would like to sit at a small table in a dank smoky room and talk for six hours straight. The answer will probably come with a strained look and a snarl. But change the question to “Wanna go to a bar?” and the answer will be a resounding “Yes, what a great idea!” When else does one take the opportunity to sit down and really explore the thoughts of a cohort? By the end of round five an acquaintance can transform into a friend. It heightens my emotions, it makes an awkward situation tolerable, the dull seem interesting, the ugly beautiful and it makes me more pleased with myself. It doesn’t necessarily make me more pleasurable to others, but that is why I’ll buy my friend a drink.
—Blake Harrison, Coloradans For Alcohol Choice
The secret of drunkenness is that it insulates us in thought, whilst it unites us in feeling.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet, philosopher
I like the trappings of imbibing, the company it keeps—the restaurants and cafes and bars and the people who gather in them. And I drink, frankly, because I like the glow, the softening of hard edges, the faint anesthesia. I like the way my mind races, one zigzag step ahead of logic. I like the flash flood of unexpected utter joy that courses quickly through me between this glass and that one.
—Coleman Andrews, author
It is, I believe, the greatest of human inventions, and by far much greater than Hell, the radio or the antacid tablet.
—H.L. Mencken, columnist, biographer
It is an existential imperative, for alas my veins—they thirst!
—Little Fyodor, eccentric musician
I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does? Modern life is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.
—Ernest Hemingway, American novelist
Drink! for you know not whence you came nor why:
Drink! for you know not why you go, nor where.
—Omar Khayyám, Persian astronomer, poet
If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink:
Good wine, a friend, or being dry,
Or lest we should be by and by,
Or any other reason why.
—Henry Aldrich, British cleric
The Great Spirit, who made all things, made everything for some use, and whatever use he designed anything for, that use it should always be put to. Now, when he made rum, he said “Let this be for the Indians to get drunk with,” and it must be so.
—Native American Chief Red Elk
There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.
—Benjamin Franklin, writer, inventor
The question “Why I Drink” often elicits a defensive response from drinkers, especially if you are shit-faced and the question sounded like “Look out, Mink!” I say stop it! Don’t be defensive! Be proud, we all drink for one reason or another: love (lost or found), injustice (that fucking pissbag Peterson got the promotion), saw Rosie O’Donnel nude (shiver chug). Drinking is a celebration and an escape, an unseen giant in your corner. Here are the reasons why I drink: Drinking helped me withstand senseless attacks from a live-in witch (sip sip). Drinking sharpened my wits. It takes a wise boozer to get top-shelf drunk on fifteen dollars without pissing off a bartender. Drinking has kept me in total check of people, especially bull-shitters. When someone is bragging or lying, my buzz will quietly growl at them like a trusty hound dog. Good dog (sip chug). Bite him! On the other hand drinking gives me the sheer will to listen to a good hearted chatter box:
“My name is Tina, hee hee hee.”
“Hi Tina.” (sip)
“I am a cat photographer.”
“I’m from San Diego.”
“San Diego! Wow! Talk to me, Tina!”
Drinking has allowed me to say things that need to be said. Good or bad, when I drink things come out; they are not building up inside of me until I’m a friendless pussy gnawing on my bottom lip. I’ve crossed the line on some comments, but that’s what friends are for (chug). Without drink I wouldn’t have the friends I have, and that would be unacceptable (chug sniff tears sip). I love you fuckers (sniff). Okay, I’m better now (sip chug). I am fine, leave me alone (chug). And now I’m drunk enough to confess the main reason I drink is that my subconscious has convinced me that if I drink at the bar one more time I might get laid. Have you met Tina? She’s a cat pornographer. “Oh God, Tina, Look out, Mink!”
—Troy Baxley, stand-up comic, MDM Staff member
Trivial conversations become compelling. Whatever music playing seems really good. There’s no quicker way to get rid of stress and forget problems. And I can’t deny that for all the foolish the absurd things I do, later it can all be completely and satisfactorily justified in everyone’s mind with these four words: “Hey, I was drunk.” That works especially well if I can’t remember what it was I did.
—Andy Meyer, academic
Show me a man who doesn’t drink and I’ll show you a man who knows exactly where he’s going in life—right down to the moment they stuff him in that ugly little hole in the ground. If you know exactly where you’re going and know exactly how you’re getting there then you are already there—in the hole. The shortest line between two points is a straight one, and I intend to put as many kinks in that line as humanly possible. And what better than alcohol to expose the grander map and lend the confidence to take those strange trips down side alleys sober eyes would never see. When we’re drunk we are no longer in the gray lockstep toward the prison of death—we are brilliant, resilient men who will assuredly find our fortunes, we will pluck them out of thin air because we are pure-hearted and willing to take chances. See, that’s the true beauty of alcohol. It feeds you the beautiful and shimmering dream, then has the grace to hammer you unconscious before you can realize it is all a monstrous and terrible lie.
Also, I like the taste.
—Frank Rich, MDM staff