Our First-Ever Drinking Diaries Playlist! By Anna March

This week, we are lucky to be featuring a playlist specially made for Drinking Diaries readers by Anna March. You can view Anna’s amazing collection of playlists over at The Rumpus.

Anna March: “The songs on this list are a mix of classics and new music that explore the fun of drinking and the destruction that comes from it, too.  Some of them express, for me, the exuberance and fearlessness and passion that drinking sometimes fuels. Some of them just feel like getting boozy feels to me.  Hope you enjoy them with your next round of cocktails.”

DRINKING  DIARIES PLAYLIST  (run time: c. 78 mins)

Direct Access to Playlist.   

Drinking Diaries from anna march on 8tracks.




Goody Two Shoes

Adam Ant

Friend or Foe



Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues

Bob Dylan

Highway 61 Revisited



Do You Want To Dance (LP Version)

Bette Midler

The Divine Miss M



Rock and Roll

The Velvet Underground




Sun Comes Up It’s Tuesday Morning (Live)

Cowboy Junkies

The Bridge School Collection, Vol. 1 (Live)



One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

George Thorogood & The Destroyers

George Thorogood and the Destroyers



Drinking In L.A.

Bran Van 3000




Into The Wild


Special Live Download from Artist Website



Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out With Me


Season 4 (Music from the Showtime Series Californication)



Cracklin’ Rosie

Neil Diamond

The Neil Diamond Collection




Jimmy Eat World

Invented (Deluxe Version)



One for My Baby (And One More for the Road) [Live]

Frank Sinatra with Count Basie & The Orchestra & Quincy Jones

Sinatra At the Sands (Live)



The Loneliness and the Scream

Frightened Rabbit

The Winter of Mixed Drinks




Melissa Ferrick

Enough About Me



The Picture

Son Volt

The Search (Deluxe Version)




Derek & The Dominos

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs



The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Tom Waits

Small Change




Amy Winehouse

Back to Black


**Please note that this mix will random generate after your first listen in order to accommodate copyright agreements.**


Interview with Kate Bolick, Author of the Forthcoming Book, “Among the Suitors: Single Women I Have Loved”

Each week, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Kate Bolick is a contributing editor at The Atlantic, and author of the forthcoming book, “Among the Suitors: Single Women I Have Loved,” an outgrowth of her recent Atlantic cover story.

Drinking Diaries: How do you approach alcohol in your every day life? 

Kate Bolick: Dinner doesn’t feel like dinner without two glasses of wine. But I don’t have dinner every night. Each week I forget to eat at least twice, and I always reserve one night for me, a book, and a bowl of cereal (shredded wheat, usually), which doesn’t really count as dinner, thank God, as wine and cereal sounds revolting.

Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less? 

Though my friends started drinking in high school, I held out (I was afraid of it, basically), but rather than simply not drink and just quietly do my own non-drinking thing, I was all flouncy about it, and convinced my friend Jana, a fellow non-drinker, to be Vice President of my Clean Liver Club (I was President, naturally). We made business cards with a line drawing of a clean liver—an amorphous blob with a slight resemblance to South America, which happens to be what a liver sort of looks like. We were the only members. My high-mindedness didn’t last through college, and then it completely evaporated after my mother died in my early 20s and I couldn’t cope with my grief.  I still wasn’t a very experienced drinker at that point, so my bingeing entailed a lot of going off the rails, though this is what I was seeking, obviously.

What’s your drink of choice? Why?

So I love wine with dinner. I love the taste, the ritual, the endless variety, the multiplicity of labels, how there’s no limit on what there is to learn, and that I have a lifetime to figure out what I like and don’t like. (These days Sancerre is my favorite white. Though I like all reds except Chianti, I particularly like the really expensive reds that I’m occasionally served by generous hosts and could never afford on my own. It’s as if red is divided into two categories: the fabulously evocative elixirs of the very rich, and the perfectly good stuff for the rest of us.)

For just sitting around with a friend at a bar, or at cocktail parties, nothing beats vodka—vodka and soda water with lime, or on very rare occasions a vodka gimlet, or vodka in some fancy old-timey new-Brooklyn concoction with those artisanal ice cubes that look like mini-icebergs. I swear that vodka makes me the happiest, and doesn’t give me a hangover. But nothing transports me like the smell of sherry. I loved my grandmother, and I loved her habit of quietly relishing a little glass of sherry in the evening. It was so delicate and civilized, and sometimes she’d let me have a sip, so the taste took on this wonderfully nostalgic resonance. The day I turned 21, I drove to a liquor store and bought my own bottle.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?

So many! I am such a happy drunk. But once a dashing Italian served me a tiny chilled glass of laurel liquor made from his garden, and I felt very charmed and sophisticated.

What about the worst time?

Oh, dear—too many to recount. I just started typing out a real ringer, about the time in my early 20s that I went to a Halloween party dressed as a movie star from outer space and hit a very bad end by 9:30pm, but it was too painful to see it committed to print. Even more embarrassing is my Christmas party two years back, both for being so recent and so stupid. All day I madly baked piles of sugar cookies, completely forgot to eat, and at 9:30pm (my witching hour, it seems), looked down to see a glass of eggnog in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other, and knew it was all downhill from there.

Has drinking ever affected—either negatively or positively—a relationship of yours?

Not particularly. But I do find it interesting that there are those friends I love drinking with, and those friends I simply don’t drink with, for no reason other than, well, we just don’t. Once I was involved with a non-drinking pot-smoker, and I admit it bummed me out that we couldn’t drink together.

What do you like most about drinking?

That there are so many ways to drink: Sitting on the sofa with a dear old friend catching up over a lovely bottle (this was my last night, actually); getting soused and heedless at a party; bringing a six pack to the beach. I don’t get drunk too often these days, but when it does happen I love that hinge moment of going from perfectly relaxed to this other, more loose, sort of endless space.

How has alcoholism affected your life?

Mostly, I feel very fortunate to not struggle with alcoholism myself.

If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?

Okay, what I probably am is a clean and bubbly vodka and soda water. But I wish I were something mysterious, like absinthe, or a snifter of Old Pogue being savored by a bourbon enthusiast.


Bracing for the Tour de Franzia

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from the dean at my daughter’s university. It wasn’t an update on the blooming cherry blossoms or the latest award-winning professors, but rather a serious warning.

In an effort to prevent any alcohol-related disasters, the dean’s letter asked parents to discuss the dangers of an event that takes place on campus each spring called the “Tour de Franzia.” I read on.

Apparently, the event involves teams of students drinking a box of Franzia—a 5-liter box holds the equivalent of 42 drinks—while going to various campus locations. Sounds like an intense, drunken scavenger hunt to me.

The dean urged parents to discourage students’ participation in this Springtime tradition, only three years old. Needless to say, the worries are many—from intoxicated students crossing busy streets to alcohol poisoning.

And the consequences go beyond the college campus and into the surrounding community. He writes: “A dramatic number of students required hospitalization for acute intoxication or injuries, flooding the emergency room at [the local] hospital and disrupting its normal operation.  Many of these students had potentially lethal blood alcohol levels.  Although our principal concern is the safety and well-being of students, we were also dismayed by significant damage and vandalism, numerous complaints from neighbors living adjacent to campus, and disrespectful treatment of the Public Safety officers and other staff who attempted to monitor and address concerns that arose during the event.”

Does the dean really believe that parents have that kind of influence with their college age children?

When my daughter returned home for Spring Break, I mentioned the letter—a warning e-mail was also sent to students—and asked her what she thought about it. Let’s just say that her reply made it clear she is indeed looking forward to the upcoming Tour.

But what so many college kids don’t realize is not only how dangerous these extreme drinking events can be, but also that binge drinking costs the health care system half a million dollars in blackout-related emergency room visits each year at the average large university, according to newly published research reported in U.S. News on msnbc.com.

In a report published in the  journal Health Affairs, Marlon P. Mundt and Larissa I. Zakletskaia surveyed nearly a thousand students at five universities. During a two-year study, 30 percent of the men and 27 percent of the women visited the emergency department at least once, some with major injuries like broken bones and head or brain trauma. Of the 404 emergency visits reported by 954 participants in the study, about one in eight were associated with blackout drinking, the researchers found.

Mundt and Zakletskaia called binge drinking that can lead to a blackout–usually defined as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks by men or four by women during one occasion–“a pervasive public health problem” among college students.

“Fifty percent of college students who drink report alcohol-induced blackouts, and alcohol abusers in general put a heavy burden on the medical care system,” they wrote.

So while I imagine the Tour de Franzia will carry on as it has in recent years–despite the warnings and urging of the college administration–I imagine that every parent will pray it goes without the serious incident that these statistics suggest.

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Our Blasé Attitude Toward Pills

Are pills the new alcohol–a socially acceptable way to relax?

According to the latest New York Magazine cover story, Lisa Miller’s “Xanax: A Love Story,” the answer is yes. Writes Miller:

“So reliably relaxing are the effects of benzodiazepines that SAMHSA’s director of substance-abuse treatment, H. Wesley Clark, says they’ve gained a reputation as ‘alcohol in a pill.’ And their consumption can be equally informal. Just as friends pour wine for friends in times of crisis, so too do doctors, moved by the angst of their patients, ‘have sympathy and prescribe more,’ says Clark. There are a lot more benzos circulating these days, and a lot more sharing.”

The article is accompanied by an illustration called “Chill-Pill Matchmaking,” which shows “four anxious archetypes and the drugs that might suit them.” The recommended pills are Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin and Valium.

Last I checked, these were some heavy-duty drugs, and yes, some people cannot function without them. But those who can function without them would be better off trying to deal with the anxiety another way.

The thing is, pills and alcohol are not equal. Consider this: According to the CDC, nationwide, one person dies every 19 minutes of prescription drug overdoses. Mixing drugs and alcohol can be deadly, but many people don’t think twice about popping a Xanax and still having their alcohol of choice.

I remember being in my 20s, living in Manhattan, going out every night with my friends. Drinking was the center of my social life, and I didn’t want to give it up, even for one night. If I was on antibiotics, and the doctor said drinking was not recommended, I drank anyway. I’d rationalize it, telling my friends, “It’s not like the doctor said definitely don’t drink. He just said he didn’t recommend it.”  Many people who already drink alcohol as a regular part of their routine are simply adding the pills on top of it, instead of substituting one for the other.

In an article in the Miami Herald on the dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, explains that part of the problem is the perception that legal drugs are safe. If a doctor prescribes it, it must be okay.

In the interview, Dr. Gupta says that doctors need to give stronger warnings. According to Gupta, when doctors say, “Don’t drink if you are taking this medication,” it seems like a courtesy warning. Gupta believes that “a warning that a person dies every 19 minutes would be a stronger warning.”

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An Interview with Anna March, Author of the Forthcoming Novel, “The Diary of Suzanne Frank.”

Each week, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Anna March has recently completed her first novel, The Diary of Suzanne Frank.  Her fiction, essays, reviews and playlists have appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, PANK, Connotation Press, Style, Substance Soul and numerous other publications and anthologies.   You can also keep up with her on Facebook.

Drinking Diaries: What’s your drink of choice? Why?

Anna March: In my fantasy life, I drink expensive single malt scotch, neat. Or fabulous martinis. In my fantasy life, I carry an antique silver flask of gin.

In real life, I like a perfectly made Absolut Collins. I have recently fallen in love with the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. I’m still in love with Dom Perignon and Moet’s White Star, which I think they call Imperial now, which I think is a shame. White Star was such a lovely name, evocative of grace and majesty.

On the other hand, I never gave up drinking shots of Jägermeister after college, and bartenders who don’t know me usually look surprised when I order a hot tea (for the caffeine) and a Jäger shot on the side.  I don’t fit the demographic, I guess. Either that or the tea throws ‘em.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?

The first jazz fest after Katrina, my friend Kent and I arrived in New Orleans at 3 a.m. Friday morning. It seemed like a miracle to be in New Orleans, to be celebrating some sense of survival and resurrection with the people there. We were there to signify, as much as anything. We pulled into the Quarter and went over to Johnny White’s, a dive bar full of locals—the only bar that didn’t close during Katrina, or during the looting and curfews that followed.

Kent and I got to drinking there, and drinking HARD, with the locals until after sunrise. At one point a guy came in with a tuba. A guy came in with a parrot on his shoulder. Nobody blinked. A minister came by and said a prayer over all of us, but in a nice way.  A guy came in a suit on his way to work and without saying a word, was served a shot of bourbon that he slammed. Then he left, leaving a ten spot on the bar. When the peep show girls came in before they started the day shift, we stumbled out and then went and had beignets and coffee from Café Du Monde.

Well, I’m an atheist, but it was a spiritual experience, I tell you. New Orleans is like that. Everything is crazy and beautiful, even when it’s not.

What about the worst time?

I was 18, at the beach. There were ½ gallons of cheap, rotten tequila.  A bunch of guys I was friends with were working as lifeguards and were having a shot-drinking contest on the beach.  I lost.  I didn’t drink tequila again for a dozen years.

Has drinking ever affected—either negatively or positively—a relationship of yours?

I briefly dated a guy who was beautiful and brilliant and trilingual and charming, as well as a raging, active alcoholic. I didn’t know it when we met—but it soon became apparent. However, before I realized that he was a drinker, he had an alcohol withdrawal seizure while driving his car with me in the passenger seat. We ran off the road (into an embankment).  I was terrified, both by the accident and the seizure.  It was horrible.

I tried to reach his mother (who had been a cabinet level diplomat) from the emergency room and instead got her live-in housekeeper, Margarita, who only spoke Spanish. My Spanish is lousy so I asked in the waiting room if someone could translate the phone call for me.  This very nice guy got on the phone with Margarita and asked where my boyfriend’s mother was. He turned to me and said quizzically, “She says:  the Ambassador is dancing with the Archbishop of Havana?” He thought he had mis-translated.  He had not.  My boyfriend’s mother was at a dinner-dance with a bunch of her Reagan-era anticommunist pals, feting the Archbishop of Havana.

We broke up shortly thereafter…and he ended up killing himself a few years after that. His mother died from heart failure a few months later—some say she died of a broken heart because of his suicide.  Tragic. All of it.

It’s become a phrase that I repeat to myself now whenever any situation is CRAZY. Instead of saying “this is nuts,” I say,  “The ambassador is dancing with the Archbishop of Havana.”

What do you like most about drinking?

I’m a big fan of kissing when I’m just the tiniest bit tipsy.  I’m a big fan of kissing in general, but after a couple of drinks–and I mean a couple, not six–kissing can be even more wonderful.

I also like walking around while it’s snowing after having a couple of drinks–Baileys and hot cocoa, perhaps.  The world seems perfect when it’s blanketed in fresh snow and the flakes are still gently falling, and when you add a slight liquored lace to it–it can be sublime.

I’m a big fan of drinking in dive bars with sticky floors and maybe strands of colored lights strewn around and a jukebox with either vinyl or, at a minimum, CD’s. I consider digital jukeboxes to be imposters.

I’d like to be able to drink sometimes when I write, but drinking tends to make me a little sleepy, so I almost never do.

I live in a small town and do the bulk of my drinking at one of two spots–Fins or Arenas. The bartenders there all know me and take excellent care of me.  It’s a cliché, for sure, but that feeling of being a regular is an incredibly fine feeling.  That Cheers-ian feeling of “everybody knows your name” is a good feeling.

Favorite literary drinking experience?

In 1997, I had occasion to go out with George Plimpton late one night in San Diego.  It was midnight; he wanted a steak.  We went to this old-school place, The Red Fox Lounge, and he told charming stories–about introducing Hemingway to Tennessee Williams, for instance–while he ate his steak and drank quite a bit.  Talk turned to Paris and he asked me, in that voice of his, “Where’s your favorite spot to have a drink in Paris?”  I, of course, didn’t have a favorite spot to have a drink in Paris, as I had never been to Paris.  I said, cheekily, “Why, the bar at the Ritz, of course, George.”  He said, “Oh yes, of course, that’s the right spot, don’t you just love the bar there? The next time you are there, please tell them you are my guest.”  He was a gracious man, George Plimpton was.

If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?

An old-fashioned.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking? 

Movie:  “Days of Wine and Roses”

Book: Drinking:  A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. My friend, the writer Ben Tanzer, writes very realistically in his novels about how we drink now.  Elissa Schappell never misses a beat when she weaves alcohol into her stories.

Song: *(Note from Drinking Diaries Editors: Stay Tuned For Anna’s Drinking Diaries Playlist, coming up next week.)