Today's victim of the SFist interview has only been in our fair city for a couple of weeks, but that doesn'r mean we're going to take it easy on him! His new book, , is a easily-digestible and very, very funny history of booze and drinking, and it comes out tomorrow!
We here at SFist welcome Ian to San Francisco and eagerly anticipate the day he ventures out of his living room and into the rest of our fair city.
What initially attracted you to this subject matter? Sure, lots of folks like to drink, but how did that translate to your writing this book?
Well, I know this is the pat answer, but I seriously spent more time in college "researching" alcohol than I did in classes. I figured it was time to put to my knowledge to good use. I mean, it actually did strike me that when you first start hanging out in bars, there’s a whole world of knowledge that you start learning (Why’s there a 33 on a rolling rock bottle? Why’s there a bat on bacardi rum bottles? Why does Budweiser suck?). And every time I went into bookstores, the books on alcohol were always written by these really wanky wine people that bore no relation to the sort of people that make it fun to hang out in a bar.
What was your process in researching and writing this book? You allude to using friends to help you, then to double and triple checking your facts -- walk us through this.
Plagiarism. Forgery. Deceit.
As I said above, there’s a lot of oral history (wink wink nudge nudge) running around any bar. So I started with all the stuff I’d picked up and actually looked to see if it was true or not. Then I just started reading lots of history books. You know how they spend all of the 6th grade teaching you about the fertile crescent in Egpyt and you’re not sure why you should give a crap? Well, it was a lot more interesting to read about once I found out that civilization quite literally started there because that’s where grapes for wine and grain for beer grew the best. History’s much more intersting to read about when you realize that the 20th century was by far the most sober one in history. By a country mile.
When working on this book, did you fall in love with
any new drinks?
Sadly, the one I really, really, really wanted to try is no longer around-– Vin Mariani, from the late 1800’s. It was bordeaux wine with cocaine leaves soaked in it. It was so good the Pope gave the inventor a Vatican medal of honor and officially endorsed the drink in an ad. I’ll type that again because it’s so awesome: The Pope! Did an ad! For cocaine wine! Because he drank it so much!
Fall out of love with any others?
There are no bad drinks, just bad drunks.
Do you really think TiVo is just a "fad"?
I don’t know, but if mine doesn’t stop taping friggin’ bass fishing shows, I’m gonna fad its ass out onto the street. [shouting across the room to tv] You hear me, TiVO?! Huh?! I’m not playing!!
What are you working on now?
Another children’s book. My first one just came out this month as well– An Undone Fairy Tale. And I know that’s a shameless plug, but it’s true. It was just weird timing. I wrote a children’s picture book and a non-fiction book on alcohol a year apart, and they both end up coming out in the same month.