Category Archives: by its cover

just eyeball it

You’re gonna love this new teen trend: pouring vodka directly onto your eyeball. The Daily Mail reported on the phenomenon a couple of weeks ago, and now it’s catching on in America, according to a scary report on CBS2. But why? CBS2 doesn’t actually have any attributable quotes in their segment, but they watched a lot of the YouTube videos and report that “the pain gives way to an instant high and then a deeper state of drunkenness.” [via gothamist]

Vodka Eyeballing (I stole this photo, but so did Gothamist)SERIOUSLY? Where did this come from? Well, Britain…but more specifically – what inspired someone to put vodka IN HIS EYE? Possible answers:

  1. A man promises his wife: “I will go to the pub, but I won’t drink.”
  2. A woman asks, “how much Vodka should I put in my tea?” Her friend replies, “I don’t bloody know, just eyeball it.”

Once in a while the headlines are dominated by concerns about binge drinking – new studies will come out that conveniently support the sponsoring organization’s message and we’ll search high and low for someone other than Johnny to blame for his [insert negative experience here]. Here we go again.

I should point out that “binge drinking” in the US refers to underage drinking (adults don’t binge, we network). American culture celebrates the pastime as if it were the new millennium’s answer to roller disco. Wait…it’s not new? The movie Animal House came out in 1978 (which happens to be six years before the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984).

Don’t waste your time reading scientific research on the matter, grab a cold one and turn on the TV. Channel surf until you land on a picture of Snooki getting punched in the face, but keep flipping past Intervention. Open a magazine to pictures of hot mess Lindsay Lohan or jam out to LMFAO’s song “Shots”on your iPod.

If you ain’t getting drunk get the $%&@ out the club / If you ain’t taking shots get the $%&@ out the club / If you ain’t come to party get the $%&@ out the club / Now where my alcoholics let me see yo hands up / What you drinkin on? / Jaeger bombs, lemon drops / Buttery nipples, jello shots / Kamikaze, three wise men / $%&@ed on that $%&@, get me some gin Shots

Side note – I hate Lil’ Wayne. YEEEEE-AH.

Yes, underage/binge drinking is a problem. Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell whether pop culture is the chicken or the egg.

Americans (especially the under-21 set) love to proclaim, “If you’re old enough to vote and to die for your country you are old enough to enjoy a beer.” So is lowering the age from 21 to 18 going to reduce the ratio of keg stands to football parties? The logic never quite made sense. But in case you were on the bandwagon, consider this: in the UK children age 5 and over may legally consume alcohol in their own or someone else’s home as long as they have permission from an adult.

And then they put Vodka in their eyeballs.

I’ve been an underage drinker, a fake ID carrier, a hide-in-the-bathroom-until-the-cops-leave-the-bar aficionado, and an expert at flirting with bouncers who questioned whether I was a 30 year old 5’2″ blond named Crystal (I’m not).  I’ve complained about the drinking age over many an illegally purchased beverage and begrudgingly paid a fine when I got caught. I’ve binged on more than one occasion and made some bad decisions.  I take responsibility for all of them and I can say with absolute certainty that a change in the law would not have meant a change in my behaviour (for the better, at least).  But hey, at least I never put Vodka in my eyeball.

On a serious note: everyone has been negatively affected by alcohol in some way, be it us personally or our loved ones- be it alcoholism, drunk driving, or just plain bad decisions.  I don’t mean to minimize the issue.

I highly recommend the memoir, “Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood” by Koren Zailckas.  Most everyone will relate to some aspect of her story.  I admire the courage and honesty with which she tells her story of becoming addicted to alcohol as a young girl and her struggles thereafter.


Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is by far the best book I’ve ever read.  With over 900 pages it’s heavier than most books I travel with but because I was so mesmerized by the first few chapters it accompanied me on a 10 day trip to Spain.  In Madrid I skipped the Plaza de Oriente and Teatro Real in favour of an afternoon in Retiro Park with Roberts’s melodic voice and fascinating characters.  I pored over his words like a university student cramming for a test.  I underlined passages and folded corners, scribbled notes in the margins.
shantaramHis website offers a seemingly feigned caveat that Shantaram is a novel.  I don’t buy it.  His accounts of the events are too lyrical, too vivid to be fiction.  Suppose I’m wrong…the artist who inspires me most is even more a hero.  Roberts has flaws, a past and a sense of adventure.  He’s not an academically trained writer or philosopher.  He is a man with a story.  I wonder how many will share their stories for having read his – I know of at least one.

The reader grows to love all aspects of his characters’ humanity.  We come to understand Lin through his relationships and adventures – quickly realizing his modesty and humility.  To hear Roberts speak is to confirm the impression that he is a man of true character and pure heart.

In daydreams I plan a trip to Mumbai and an afternoon at Leopold’s before meeting Prabu for a ride around the city, perhaps a stroll through the slums.  These people are real and I want to know them.  I cried (sobbed actually) as I read and again in November of 2008 when terrorists attacked the café, killing at least 10 people.

Someone from my past, perhaps the only person I’d spared from excited and prolonged raving about the book gave me a copy for my birthday.  I was so touched by his thoughtfulness that I began to fantasize about the possibility of soulmates.  Soulmates we most definitely were not.  But in this lifetime the book again strengthened a connection when Mr. bought and read it just so we could talk about it together.

Shantaram has touched me, ignited passion.  Roberts has inspired me as a writer and a traveler and a person.  Please, please read this book.