Saturday, December 22, 2007

La Putain Verte

Absinthe is legal again. While the legalization of substances that inflame prudery gives me reflexive joy, I'm shocked now to learn all that magical Green Fairy shit is a hoax.

Amiri Barakaism long predates the Internet: for years I and countless others uncritically retransmitted folk wisdom about the Absinthe Shuffle and the supposedly hallucinogenic properties of wormwood. While I was in Prague in 2001, just days before 9/11, I burrowed into a bar and conspiratorially ordered a shot of it. That and two follow-ups did little more than usual. The thing is, even if wormwood did what Poe, Rimbaud and Van Gogh thought it did, in absinthe it's steeped in such a sulfurous bath of alcohol -- 120 proof -- that unless you were part of the Bum Fights stable of regulars, you couldn't possibly drink enough to get anywhere near la putain verte. You'd puke your liver out.

Andrew Sullivan naively wonders, "Hippies like absinthe?" Who more than hippies and Aleister Crowley impersonators with unkempt fingernails likes absinthe?

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