Monday, July 12, 2010

"If I had all the money I'd spent on drink, I'd spend it on drink."

Alcool man, cool.

My last entry reminded me of my ongoing passion with distilled spirits. As a Pagan Scientist ©, I have long worshiped at the temple of Dionysus rather than the Benny Hinn school of white wardrobe. The early shows of Space Pirate Radio were weekly fueled by a quantity of German white wine. The weekly ritual always included one beveled glass, one automatic corkscrew and a singular bottle of a German variety, usually a Moselle or Rheinhessen. Music included, many import albums, the orange glass candle holder, a pack of long sticked incense, one blue light bulb...and the mood was set.

But back to the wine. Between midnight and 6am, the bottle was regularly poured into the glass, often on air for that delightful sound effect. The effect was mainly used to plug the sponsorship of the program by the fabulous Nippon Gin Company of Tokyo. They were the "supposed" sponsors of Space Pirate Radio, manufacturers of the famous Godzilla Stout Malt Liquor, the Rodan Light White Wine and the Mothra Party Mixes. It seemed funny to me at the time that an alcohol manufacturer would somehow be connected with my love of all Toho giant monster films of the '50s. It made sense to me. The tag line for Godzilla Stout Malt Liquor was "Drink one and you'll have breath that will melt Tokyo," or something to that effect. I don't know. It's all a blur to me now. All I do know is this: I liked the wine more than the Stout Malt Liquor, so Rodan Light White Wine got more airplay. Its tag line was "One sip, and you too will say...BANZAAAIII!!!!!" The final word was a sound effect of me saying "banzai" while throwing a metal container of empty tape reels into the studio. It was a combination of frantic noise, chaos and Japanese gibberish that became the outro of every advertisement. The Mothra Party Mixes were never big sellers, although I do recall the tiny, cute, little Japanese girls from Mothra Island singing "Moz...uh...rah...party mix." I'm not quite sure about this, but I think all of it had something to do with my reaction to those little canned mixed drinks that were in the store.

Oh, yeah, the stores. We're in the mid-70s now and I'm still drinking German white wine for the programs. The ritual continues, but I am now driving my white Datsun B210 to the liquor store located below the decrepit Santa Barbara Hotel. I will rush in, hope for the best, quickly buy a Piesporter or Liebfraumilch or a Zeller Schwartz Katz, and then head to the studios in the Granada Theatre.

So the German wines flowed frequently on those early Space Pirate Radio shows. It seemed appropriate. I was playing all that German electronic music, and what was more fitting than a fine German white wine while listening to the Cosmic Couriers, Ash Ra Tempel, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream and Amon Duul II. I noticed in re-reading my article that I put California wines last, with German and French preceding. I guess this was the time of "Bottle Shock," when California wines were still considered inferior to European wines. It was in the '80s when I started to really appreciate California wines and left German wines behind. A side effect, I guess, of living in the Central Coast wine country. I still love European wines. Cannot recall making any jokes about Spanish wines or Italian wines, for that matter. Australia and South America. These would be jokes 30 years ago. Of course, the Nippon Gin Company did import Nun of the Abode, formerly known as Nun of the Above. And they also got into the hard liquor business. There was a rather large consumption of Rasputin, the Mad Vodka. Now, there was a drink. You could mix it with anything and you still couldn't kill it off.