Tuesday, February 12, 2013

absinthe from an undisclosed location

Many years ago I saw the movie Madam X, staring Lana Turner.  The plot line was she married an upper crust guy and her mother in law forced her to change her identity and disappear, where she roamed the world in a drunken haze of despair.  Her drink of choice was absinthe and toward the end of the movie she confessed to being an absinthe addict.  She spent a lot of time guzzling the stuff in Mexico, implying absinthe was still legal there.

Considering Lana Turner was a long time absinthe addict, she seemed ok without it.  A few bags under the eyes and an obvious tired look about her but she still had a memory and looked pretty hot for an old lady.  I asked my father if he could get some of this stuff so I could try it and he said it's against the law and can't be had.  Bummer.  What was it about this absinthe that separated it from regular alcohol?  Where are the beer addicts, gin addicts, or rum addicts? What would possess the world's governments to get together and ban one specific type of alcohol?
Madam X had the worlds best alcohol at her fingertips, from Dom Perignon to Viennese rum and money was no object.  She could globe trot anywhere she wanted, in relative luxury, but ended up in Mexico, presumably because absinthe was available.  Why would she prefer absinthe as her drink of choice, knowing it was addictive and almost impossible to get?    

This was the first time I heard of absinthe and before the movie was over I wondered how a young boy, such as myself, could manage a trip to Mexico for a taste of this apparently, awesome stuff.

This was the beginning of my mild obsession with absinthe and one way or another, no matter how long it takes, I'm getting some.  Since absinthe was illegal, I was left with either getting it through underground sources or making it myself.  Not being very motivated to do either of these options, I settled on learning what I could and bide my time until the opportunity to try this stuff presented itself.

In the mid 1800's absinthe was THE drink and took over the whole industry.  Gin and vodka sales plummeted while absinthe distilleries went into overtime to keep up with demand.  So, why was it suddenly made illegal?  Rumors of Van Gogh slicing his ear off with a razor, after one of many absinthe toots, suggested it made you crazy.  Vince was crazy long before absinthe but what about the rest of the artists of that period, that changed the world for the better, without cutting off body parts?  Art, music, and literature were all stretching the limits of innovation and creativity and absinthe was right there fueling the inspirational fire.  If not for the absinthe swilling, literary giants, extolling the virtues of the green fairy and keeping the mystique alive, this amazing fluid would have vanished through the mists of time.

Thujone is the substance in wormwood that gives absinthe that distinctive character and credited as the creative trigger.  Pernod is absinthe without wormwood and that stuff might put you on the floor but it'll never make you fly.  Ouzo emerged as an absinthe substitute, replacing wormwood with opium to make it legal.  Never mind that ordinary garden sage contains more thujone than wormwood or that opium is a narcotic.  Absinthe was the root of all evil and had to go.     

By all accounts, absinthe seems to reduce inhibitions while increasing individual awareness.  It's becoming clear why the powers that be had to make this stuff illegal.  An open and aware population won't make good slaves and, one by one, the nations of the world banned absinthe.  By 1915 the US, and most of Europe, made absinthe unobtainable, just in time for the first world war, followed by a constant and continual, world-wide, never ending flow of suffering and mass slaughter lasting a hundred years with no end in sight.  Coincidence?  All the more reason to get my hands on this stuff.

The 1990's saw a revival of absinthe and by the early 21st century there were more than 200 distilleries producing absinthe.  Of course, the US just had to screw things up by regulating food and beverages that contained wormwood must be thujone free and the importation, distribution, and sale of absinthe with a thujone count higher than 10 parts per million was strictly prohibited and subject to seizure at the discretion of customs.  

Pardon my French but that really fuckin sucks!  Land of the free, my ass.  Sixty bucks a bottle for some over-priced Sambuca knock-off with a fancy label and artificial green tint makes me want to take a baseball bat and go Carrie Nation on their bureaucratic asses. The only way an American can get a taste of the real thing is to go to Europe and drink it there or know someone in US Customs.  Thanks to the EU, you can go to any country in Europe and buy real absinthe but the land of the free, home of the brave, U.S. of fuckin A bureaucrats regulate the shit out of anything and everything that comes close to quality or simply ban it for less than bullshit reasons, while China floods us with lead paint toys and anti-freeze dog food.  Decades of patiently waiting for the green fairy, only to have Uncle Sam offer me a bottle of thujone-free absinthe with a sixty dollar price tag, left me with a bad taste in my mouth and disdain for my nanny state government keepers.   Yeah, I'll take that bottle and shove the broken end up your red, white, and blue ass, motha fucka.  Thanks for nuthin.

“I was not designed to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest.”
Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience 

If you want something done right, do it yourself.  Without going into too much detail, I collected the equipment, procured the herbs, made some mistakes, did some corrections, got my ducks in a row, and created, what I consider to be, a duplicate of the absinthe Henri-Louis Pernod produced in the late 1700's, with an estimated thujone count of 40ppm.

The traditional method to prepare absinthe consists of dripping ice water over a sugar cube suspended over the absinthe, in a 1:3 ratio, developing an opalescent louche of somewhat milky fluid with hints of mother of pearl green.  This final step alters the chemical structure to release the green fairy, a muse believed to inspire creativity and heighten awareness.  Absinthe is a relatively unpalatable, high proof, bitter concoction that requires dilution to transform this noxious fluid to an oral symphony in a class of it's own.          
The complex herbal layers leaves a delicious, lasting impression on the taste buds and I could see how seductive the green fairy was to anyone who drank it.  No hallucinations, madness, or drunken insanity but it triggered a wave of creativity that resulted in a bottle and label design and an abandonment of my company's dress code, wearing jeans to work instead of slacks.  Along with the jeans came an emotion frowned upon by the corporate world but relished by me... Defiance.

The effects from absinthe are somewhat interesting.  The complex herbal extracts in combination with alcohol seem to alter brain waves toward alpha, 9 to 14 cycles per second.  The same alpha brain waves we experience in a state of meditation, sitting in a garden, or standing too close to my orgone field generator.  Alpha is also the primary brain wave operating in six year old humans when learning languages, social skills, tying their shoes, learning to share, mathematics, and everything else rapidly learned at that age that serves as the foundation of what they become as adults.

More study needs to be done on this stuff but I suspect drinking absinthe chemically amplifies alpha brain waves, allowing manifestation of personal intent by a temporary elimination of inhibitions and dropping the walls of social conditioning.

Absinthe seems to be a remnant from the alchemical days before man-made chemicals replaced natural sources as medicine.  Although the natural method is gaining popularity, the US is still heavily controlled by allopathic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry that drives it.  It's a minor miracle absinthe made a come back after being banned for a hundred years and it's reemergence only came about from the coalescing of individual nations into a one world government with one-size-fits-all laws.  Thujone is still heavily regulated in absinthe but those laws will change as the door opens wider. 

We can't have a one world order full of creative, highly aware people and still maintain a police state.  Perhaps absinthe is one of many corrective actions by the universe to counter tyranny and help steer us toward enlightenment.

At least my mild, decades long obsession has been satisfied and I can see why Madam X was so fond of Mexico.