Grossman's Guide

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Nov 2000:Grossman's Guide
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Archive through November 19, 2000  7   11/19 03:20pm

By Admin on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 11:59 am: Edit

the recent post editing is still active, but it *is* set to 30 minutes. I up'd it to 2 hours.

If the time constraint was not the problem, I dunno ...

By _blackjack_ on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 11:50 am: Edit

DC's not all that boring; you just have to know where to look. What kind of fun are you looking for? I have many friends in the fun industry.

(San Fransico? I have several friends who have moved there from DC in the last few years, and tho there is more to do, per se, they all report actually DOING less.)

By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 10:42 am: Edit

Hey! What happened to the feature where you can edit your recent posts? All I wanted was to add one lousy 's'...

By Anatomist1 on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 09:08 am: Edit

Ahh. People often seem to hate their neighbors more than distant strangers. I've heard it called "the pathology of minor differences". I think one of the reasons we don't have more intra-state and intra-city skirmishes in the US is that much of that bottled up hatred and anger gets channelled into sports fanatacism, where you can really see the pattern. The local high school has a fierce rivalry with the adjacent high school, but doesn't give a damn about the one across town. I see it up here with rabid Green Bay fans, who view a victory over Minnesota as unparalleled vengeful bliss.

Although I didn't learn all the details, the most extreme example in my memory was that Kiryas Joel incident in upstate New York a few years ago. A man from a small Hasidic community had been threatened, stoned, his house vandalized for disagreeing with others in the community on some minor point of theology and/or educational policy in their local school. They were also embroiled in a lawsuit that had been taken to a high court. I remember seeing him standing in front of some huge cement government building, arguing his case into a boquet of microphone. He looked pretty strange in the crowd of multicolored coats and haircuts, sporting an Abe Lincoln beard, ringlets, black hat and coat. Then I saw the opposition -- his enemies -- looking exactly the same as him, and just as strange in contrast to the crowd. I had to laugh. Then, I thought to myself "we aren't going to make it. The human race is doomed."


By Germanandy on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 06:01 am: Edit

@ sir winston,

if you think that dc is boring, you have never been in darmstadt/germany.



By Don_walsh on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 05:49 am: Edit

I on the other hand only go to New Orleans (my home, and where I lived till I was 31) under family duress for about 10 days-2 weeks once every 4 years or so.

New Orleans today is rapidly turning into a dangerous ghost town, the process has been under way since the 70s when the demographics turned. If you think N.O. is fun today you ought to have been there when it was run by the 'ancien regime'.

Apres moi, le deluge.

Go to Bangkok
Go to Bangkok
Go to Bangkok!

By Midas on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 05:04 am: Edit

Sir Wiston, i'm sur that a few people here will agree with me when I say:
Go to New Orleans
Go to New Orleans
Go to New Orleans
I was there a couple of years ago, and didn't want to leave. I had to drag myself to the airport to come home.

By Don_walsh on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 04:24 am: Edit

Cambodia is FAR more dangerous than anyplace in Thailand.

And the prostitutes in Cambodia are almost exclusively Vietnamese not Khmer. The Viets dump their syphilitic and HIV-positive sex workers into Cambodia.

Yes the Viets hate the Thais and vice versa. They are ethnic rivals for dominance of the south east asian mainland. (Laos and Cambodia are thinly populated former buffer states between the two -- but for the last two decades the Viets have had the upper hand in both places.) The story of kidnapping boat people for sex slavery is probably apocryphal. But not impossible. Anyway the boat people were almost all ethnically Chinese not Viets. The Viets were 'ethnically cleansing' after the Fall of Saigon. The Viets hate the Chinese a LOT more than they hate the Thais. They fought off the Chinese for a thousand years. In contemporary times the Chinese paid them back by invading again in late 70s; when they got the worse of the fracas, they withdrew and launched a campaign of covert support for the (anti-Vietnamese) Khmer Rouge, something most world capitols would like to forget about.

(Credentials: I have resided here since '89 and from that time till September 2000 I was accredited as Bureau Chief for ASEAN, The International Estimate Inc. (Publishers and Consultants) of Washington DC. We cover political, security, defense and economic intelligence analysis. I resigned that post to assume my responsibilities with Jade Liqueurs Co.Ltd.)

By Don_walsh on Wednesday, November 22, 2000 - 04:04 am: Edit


And I never saud YOU said there was HCN in absinthe. Don't personalize. I was responding to the quote you dug up. As you failed to qualify it with a demurrer about the presence of HCN in absinthe, I thought it was appropriate to do so.

Unfortunately one cannot take Scientific American as gospel, Just ask Arnold about that. 1862, 1989, it doesn't matter!

By Sir_winston on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 11:54 pm: Edit


I just recently read an article in Maxim Magazine about Pattaya, too. It called Pattaya "one of the most dangerous cities in the world," and mentions the large per-capita murder rate. I personally wouldn't feel to comfortable going there, but it's amazing where some people will go to "get friendly with the natives." I've even heard of people, mainly Japanese, going to Cambodia to get with local girls, though I don't know of anyone personally who has.

Now, if I were looking for a wild vacation in a place with available young women, I've heard one of the hot spots is Costa Rica. Back when I was in college a few years ago, a classmate went down there and had an amazing time. He came back a few thousand dollars poorer, but with numerous notches on his proverbial belt. Of course, he also came back to college a week late--missed his plane the first time around. I wonder why... ;-)

Actually, now that I think about it, I have a friend who's Vietnamese and she absolutely *hates* the Thais. She claims that they kidnap boatloads of Vietnamese refugee girls for use in the sex trade. I wouldn't put stock in her prejudices, but I must say that it's amazing how so many different ethnicities in Asia just hate one another. You'd think that they have more in common than they have differences, but there can be such bitter ethnic differences that you'd think you were in the Balkans...

By Grimbergen on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 09:11 pm: Edit

I believe bitter almond is used in some gins.

By Grimbergen on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 08:55 pm: Edit


I never suggested there was prussic acid in absinthe. I just found the article in an edition of The Scientific American from 1862. It was relevant to the conversation about whether there were military motivations for banning absithe. Please note that pointing out the motivations for banning absinthe in no way commits me to saying that they were correct; two differt issues here Don.


By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 08:21 pm: Edit

Dear Grimster

Ain't no HCN (that's prussic acid) in absinthe. 'Prussic acid' is hydrogen cyanide. Whoever wrote that was out to scare the gullible.

As far as I know bitter almond (which does contain low levels of cyanide) was never used in absinthe.

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 08:17 pm: Edit

Sir Winston,

I lived in those boring DC suburbs for most of the 80s, then moved to Bangkok in '89. So I have been here going on 12 years which is a longish 'moment'. And am well established and entrenched here.

As to Pattaya, it sucks. Bangkok is much better. Pattaya is dirty, full of tourists, locals in Pattaya have a bad attitude toward foreigners, etc. If you want a beach resort, Phuket, Koh Samui, Cha-am, Hua Hin, Prachuap Kiri Khan, etc are much nicer, cleaner, friendlier. If you just want a bar district full of affable girls (and others) Bangkok is IMHO preferable. You can choose between Patpong, Nana Plaza, and Soi Cowboy.

By Grimbergen on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 04:28 pm: Edit

" The Council General of the Department of War has agreed to an address to the French Government calling for a heavy tax on absinthe, the basis of which (to use the chemical term) is prussic acid, and which is indulged in to such an excess by Frenchmen of every class, but particularly by military men, as to seriously affect their health. The prevalence of insanity among the officers of the French army quartered in Africa, is described to this deleterious drink."

Scientific American, vol 7, Issue 20:pp.310 (1862)

By Chrysippvs on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 11:56 am: Edit

I agree with wormwood...alcoholism was becoming a problem in France in the early 1900-1910's and Absinthe was the cheapest of the cheap and the easy target. I have hear that some of the larger absinthe distillers almost survived the ban, although the tax proposed would have made them quite costly. Even some of absinthes foes felt that only the inferior spirits were the problem...but history is all the same..


By Wormwood on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 11:23 am: Edit

"Likewise, there were probably no more bums
drinking absinthe and littering the streets of
Paris than there were bums drinking gin and
littering the streets of London. "

Thats true ever see the drawing "Gin Street" it
proves there was not shortage of rabid
anti-alcohol sentiment there either.

It proves if you make cheap distilled alcohol
available it can become a problem no mater if it
contains wormwood or juniper berries.

I'm not a prohibitionist, but if you look at the
percaptia rate of alcohol comsuption in the 1890's
there was a staggering amount being comsumed.
Something had to change. In the US men and women
combined didn't drink as much after prohibition
was repealed as was consumed by men alone before
prohibition. I'm sure France has seen a similar
drop in alcohol consumption since the Belle Epoch.

By Sir_winston on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 09:25 am: Edit

Hey Don,

You're of course right that absinthe had been under attack for some time, thanks to post-phylloxera winegrowers wishing to reclaim their sales, fears by prohibitionist types over cheap absinthe being more readily available than lower-alcohol wine, etc. In fact, people had been complaining for *decades*, and it was building momentum.

However, those were the underlying causes for absinthe's banishment; the immediate cause, though, was certainly the notion of military fitness. With WWI looming, people saw the drunkards in the gutters with their cheap absinthe and mistakenly feared that they represented more of the populace than they actually did. France had also anxiously noticed its continual decline in birthrates, and likewise unfairly blamed this on absinthe and "absinthism." Like I said, the *reality* of the situation, which we can see clearly in the light of history, is that neither of these were absinthe's fault. All industrialized societies eventually have a plummeting birthrate, as they attempt to reach a population equilibrium based on several different factors--and France had merely reached this decline before Germany, not because of absinthe, but because France was more economically advaced. Likewise, there were probably no more bums drinking absinthe and littering the streets of Paris than there were bums drinking gin and littering the streets of London.

We can see this clearly now; however, at the time, France was extremely scared about its declining population and its supposedly high level of drunkenness. It's issues like these which finally brought about absinthe's demise--decades of complaints by vintners and temperance types had already made absinthe the likely choice for scapegoat, but without the military concerns I don't think it would have boiled over into the outright ban which was imposed.

So, while the underlying causes for the ban include all the usual factors mentioned here, the immediate cause was one of a lack of military fitness due to two or more problems--drunkenness and low birth rates--falsely blamed on absinthe. So, I don't think the importance of this mistake can be stressed enough--without absinthe being blamed for the issues of military fitness, a ban may well never have been imposed despite the opposition growing against absinthe.

BTW, have you heard about France's latest follies? A judge in France is holding auction sites based in the U.S. responsible for the fact that people in France can view auctions for items of Nazi paraphernalia. The judge has ruled that auction sites must find some way to block access to nazi-related auction pages by anyone in France. Of course, auction sites are saying that a) it's impossible to do so, b) French people could still view the sites by going through a proxy, even if accesses by French IP addresses were blocked, c) french courts have zero jurisdiction over auction sites based in the U.S., so they have no obligation to comply. It amazes me that a French judge could be so bold as to try to make U.S. companies censor themselves to French users, especially for merely selling historical memorabilia. I can understand how sensitive the French can be about Nazism, but still, this is too much. I mean, I have a Hitler Youth knife that my great-uncle brought back from WWII, that doesn't make me a Nazi. If I put it for sale on eBay or Yahoo, it should have to be hidden from all of France? I see no sense in that.

As for New Orleans, I'm dying to visit. I never have gone yet, even though one of my best friends from college had lived just outside the city all his life and told me to come visit sometime. His stories made New Orleans sound positively like the most exciting city in the U.S.

So, if I recall correctly, you live in Thailand at the moment? A most interesting place, I'm sure. I had a friend who actually went to Pattaya for spring break--I hear Pattaya is a very rough, though altogether entertaining, place. Aargh, makes me wish I were in New Orleans, Bangkok, Pattaya, San Francisco, or anywhere more exciting than the boring suburbs of D.C. :-) For a major city, I must say that D.C. must be one of the most boring.

By Don_walsh on Tuesday, November 21, 2000 - 06:44 am: Edit

Sir Winston, I have heard the defense-preparedness argument about the French absinthe ban before, and while the timing was right, I think this was merely icing on the cake as the propaganda campaign against absinthe (by the Blue Cross mob and the vintners) had been well under way for a decade or two prior to the windup to the Great War. The birth rate was never in danger from absinthe; it caused neither infertility nor increased infant mortality, nor did it cause birth defects. (The possible contributions of adulterants in cheap absinthes to such things notwithstanding. My point is that IF these things were observed (and I don't accept this uncritically) then it certainly wasn't the absinthe, absinthium or thujone causing them.)

Thank you for mentioning my home town of New Orleans and its absinthe heritage. Three brands of absinthe were made there (Milky Way, Green Dot (Spot?) and Herbsaint; Herbsaint of course is still made as a pastis, and a very nice pastis indeed. Those who seek to lay claim to exclusive right to the name absinthe pls take note!

The post about the French grandmother who fled in tears when her grandkids tried to take her to the Absinthe Museum: well that's the power of propaganda.

MY grandmother, rest her soul, told my mother that she LOVED absinthe and was sorry it was banned. That was in New Orleans, and she was pure Sicilian not French. And "Morte alia Francia Italia anella!" used to be a popular rallying cry on that island. "Death to the French is Italy's cry!" Note what the Sicilian phrase spells out.

Anyway I'm sorry she didn't live to see 'my' absinthe (I mean Ted's). Maybe her taste for the Green Fairy contributed to her untimely death? She was only 89!

By Grimbergen on Monday, November 20, 2000 - 10:46 pm: Edit

Sir Winnie,

Thanks. That was the type of answer that I figured was out there. I suspected that there was more to be said on the topic.


By Sir_winston on Monday, November 20, 2000 - 02:24 pm: Edit

Don't forget that Absinthe was also very popular in New Orleans, so that brings the count up to a country and TWO territories. Reminds me of the time I was reading *Absinthe: The Cocaine of the 19th Century* back at college, and my neighbor from New Orleans saw me. He started talking about how his father, who lived in a small town outside New Orleans, had a large collection of absinthe antiques and made his own homebrew with a still. But, I digress...

As for the birthrate thing, at least according to the book I mentioned, it was a paramount concern. You see, Germany's birth rate was extremely strong, and France's was on the decline, which had huge implications for France's military capabilities. The more young men, the stronger your military, it was that simple. Of course, in hindsight we can see that birthrates decline in *every* industrialized society once it becomes sufficiently advanced, and France merely hit this point before Germany did. However, the French were looking for scapegoats, and Absinthe had come under fire from other quarters already--notably, as is mentioned here all the time, by winegrowers. Bearing in mind that Absinthe was ultimately called into question and banned due to military fitness concerns, the argument about the birthrate was a very important one at the time. The fact that it is forgotten now, while the winegrowers' complaints are not, is merely a case of inadvertant historical revisionism. To be fair, it must be noted that there were several arguments for banning absinthe, and Grossman's is as correct as any of them taken singly. To be accurate, however, we must acknowledge all of the reasons. Just 2 pence from an historian's perspective. Since I used to work as an archaeologist, I tend to look at history more critically than most.

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