How embarrassing and depressing is “Proof,” the New York Times’ new blog devoted to drinking? Nearly all of its posts have taken a killjoy approach to alcohol. Focusing on katzenjammers and addiction, the writers sound like a bunch of Puritans—except without even their virtues. Whatever happened to continence, the ability to enjoy drink temperately, or at least without complaint? The Times’ blog might as well be called “Mondo Whine-o.”
Still worse, the writing itself is atrocious. It includes such ungrammatical stream-of-consciousness droppings as:
We’d just attended the New York City premier of our pal’s movie, “The Alphabet Killer” in lower Manhattan and hopped my girlfriend’s car to meet at a Mexican restaurant near my old Soho digs for grub and nostalgia. A perfect gang of geeks and nerds cum zeitgeist progenitors of N.Y.C. pop culture . . . .
Hunter S. Thompson the author is not.
But that’s nothing compared to the blog’s most recent post, courtesy of Iain Gately:
A few years ago, I was bringing a racing boat back to England after Antigua Sailing week and we made a pit stop in Horta, in the Azores Islands, after 12 dry days at sea. There was a gale building behind, a full moon overhead, the deck and rigging were streaked with phosphorescence, and I turned off the instrument lights and drove by feel, with dolphins as outriders making luminous trails through the swells. You can smell land long before you see it. It smells like newly-mown hay, makes you think of all the things you’ve missed at sea — high on that list, for me, was sex and hooch — and Horta has one of the best bars in the world, Peter’s Cafe Sport.
Reading that purple prose makes me feel like I just chugged six purple Jesuses—while seasick.
As an antidote to that acidulous taste, here is some sound and elegant advice on drink from G. K. Chesterton:
The sound rule in the matter would appear to be like many other sound rules—a paradox. Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.