What came first, the music or the misery?
– Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
About the Mixtape project
Mixtape #1: Interpol, “NYC”
Mixtape #2: Violent Femmes, “Kiss Off”
Mixtape #3: Cyndi Lauper, “All Through the Night”
Mixtape #4: Towa Tei, “Technova
Mixtape #5: Teresa Teng, “The Moon Represents My Heart”
Mixtape #6: David Bowie, “Soul Love”
Mixtape #7: Modest Mouse, “Styrofoam Boots/It’s All Nice on Ice, Alright”
She is good at drinking; drinking becomes her. Maybe this has been decided for her; maybe it was written in her DNA, a legacy of drinkers and addicts. Or maybe it was just a choice, one that for years, makes her feel proud. In New York she drinks at bars with old-fashioned women’s’ names – Enid’s, Alice’s, Mona’s, Marie’s – followed by a plate of cheese fries at a diner in the East Village at three in the morning. She smokes cigarettes on her rooftop, dreamy and muddled, watching the water towers perched atop distant buildings and imagining alternate endings. Whiskey neat, Maker’s Mark Manhattans, gin martinis, extra dirty. No girly drinks, she says; she wants to upend expectations. Gin and tonics are classic. Jack and Cokes sweet and easy. In the summer, the occasional beer or gimlet. Sazeracs, a twist of citrus. There are drinks she’ll never touch again, college PTSD: Southern Comfort, Long Island Iced Teas, Jagermeister, Goldschlager, Carlos Rossi wine in a box, Bacardi 151, Bacardi Limon. In New York there are twenty bars within a block of her apartment; in San Francisco, fewer choices, more regulars. Lucky 13, day drinking at Zeitgeist, beers at the Toronado, fancy cocktails at the Orbit Room. Telephone Bar, Lone Palm, the Uptown. Pitchers of margaritas on a Sunday afternoon, a pint of Jack Daniel’s bought and poured into a flask before a show, half-emptied by the end of the night. There’s the initial warmth, the soak and burn of the alcohol, then the slow side from buzz to sloppy – her favorite – the blurred edges of streetlights and pavement. The arrival of invincibility. Where to? With whom? The cab comes, or the car with a friend of a friend, four people already crammed in the back saying come in, there’s room, and the city is soft and weeping. I don’t trust people who don’t drink. They make me suspicious. She loves feeling like she’s living in a movie, that she’s just an actor in her life, everyone around her characters, the city a set. Nothing she can do can touch her or anyone else, and there is nothing except beauty and stars. It’s a perpetual present. Years later she will take meditation classes to achieve this sense of being present, but by then she’ll no longer drink; she’ll have to experience everything, every feeling, completely sober, she will have to rewrite herself completely. Sometime she will miss it but it’s okay, the city’s a relic and the bars are set pieces for a show she no longer wants to watch.