And so Saturday night, following the GunBun screening of “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” I found myself at the Fig, worked up into such a lather that I insisted on having three-time Sunnys Award-winning bartender Mark O’Donnell spike my pintos of Anchor Steam with a splash of Worcestershire sauce (as a means of “keeping the tourists on edge should they cop my signature drink,” I explained to no one in particular). I awoke the next afternoon with two observations ringing through my aching head. A) A good barkeep indulges his customers, B) insomuch as they might be taught a lesson. Lesson learned – Worcestershire sauce is a volatile chemical compound good for Bloody Marys and bloodier steaks, but not steam beer. Also, no one cares if I think that “Vacation” star Beverly D’Angelo is sexier than supermodel cameo Christie Brinkley. Well, actually Mark seemed to care, but then he has a habit of staring blankly at me while absently nodding.
Needless to say, I’ve decided to forgo the Worcestershire and concentrate on passing my hard-earned wisdom to the next generation of would-be bon vivants. Permit me to introduce my forthcoming tome, “Daedalus Howell’s Guide for Lads and Cads,” a compendium of arcane knowledge about getting your merriment for nothing and your drinks for free. That is, except from Mark. Admittedly, this is a garrulous title, but such has been my habit since my first forays into publishing. Consider my first published volume of verse, “Ballad of the Saxon’s Daughter and the Book of Job,” that, at 16, would have poised me as a prodigy had it not be so bloody awful. This was followed by a collective authorship effort dubbed, “Treatise on the Unhappy Stick-Jesus, the Gospel According to Dude Fish.” Even worse. A distinctly arty phase followed with the anthology “Deluge Six” (not too long, but too vague), which gave way to the smart-alecky “Scam Magazine” (horrible for investor confidence), then I went legit and found myself in the newspaper trade (though I did later publish “The Late Projectionist, Or, From Angst to Zilch: The Portable Buntel Eriksson Filmography,” which is obviously three titles strung together wherein “more is less”). Sigh. From this 10-year period remain several unused titles every bit as remarkably unmarketable as the above. “How I Achieved World Domination Without Anyone Even Noticing,” offered self-help for the aspiring megalomaniac and was a particular favorite, as were the surfeit number of unprintable notions that would scandalize even Maurice Girodias – a personal hero of mine for the shear moxie with which he explored the freedom of the press.
Girodias was the publisher of the fabled Olympia Press, whose paperback “Traveller’s Companion Series” was published in Paris mid-last century and was essentially pseudonymous softcore. Girodias would make up a list of suggestive titles (“White Thighs,” for example), which he circulated in a catalog. When an order came in, Girodias would tap one of his stable of struggling writers to pen it. (The publisher later found literary redemption by publishing such breakthroughs as Nabokov’s “Lolita” and Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch.”) The press was recently reborn online and now apparently offers risqué reprints in digital form, but long gone are the days of grind-house pulp. At least, the reincarnation of Girodias has texts for its titles. Thus far “Daedalus Howell’s Guide for Lads and Cads” has only a single line, which I found scrawled in an ungainly hand deep in the tattered pages of my reporter’s notebook: “Lay off the sauce – literally.”