Here we are, the final month of winter.
After that lovely sunny start which was so quintessentially Sydney, winter had briefly turned on us with a cold, wet, and windy spell.
Thankfully, it will be all over in a few weeks and we still managed to have lots of spring-like days in the mix along the way. Because right now it’s still quite cold and wintry, cocktail-wise I am going spicy this month: a Tabasco Martini. That should warm everyone up!
10ml dry vermouth**
3-5 dashes of Tabasco, to taste
Method: pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice, stir, or shake depending on your preference, and pour into a chilled martini glass.
* For my vodka I still prefer Absolut.
** Extra Dry Cinzano works nicely in this cocktail.
While you are enjoying your Tabasco Martini, here are a few of my favourite spicy tunes I am currently listening to …
‘WILD’ ft. Alessia Cara by Troye Sivan
Troye Sivan the musical and YouTube WunderKid of Western Australia is back with a fabulous new music video.
This out and proud gay artist makes music and videos for a new generation, and represents the bright and hope-filled future of Australia’s youth.
And of course there is his amazing mum, Laurelle, who decided to start a public campaign in support of the Safe Schools program, designed to eliminate the bullying of LGBTI youth in schools, currently under attack by all kinds of social and religious conservatives.
‘Piece of Me’ by Britney Spears
‘Piece of Me’ was a surprising re-discovery while watching ‘Looking’ the movie, the excellent conclusion to the amazing TV series. Looking, sadly cancelled after two seasons, perfectly captured the lives of modern, urban gay men ….
Like Patrick Murray, one of the lead characters of ‘Looking,’ I remember dancing ‘enthusiastically’ to this song back in the day, and I loved how the song became a pivotal story-telling tool in the engaging conclusion to the Looking storyline …
‘No More Tangles’ by John Grant
John Grant is an outstanding American singer-songwriter. ‘No More Tangles’ is a song from his third solo studio album, ‘Grey Tickles, Black Pressure,’ released to critical acclaim in 2015.
No more tangles
No more tears
No more reindeer games with narcissistic queers
Or any other such type of human being
No more angles, no more dumbing it down
Gee your hair smells perfect but I cannot stand to have you around
Or any other time
‘No More Tangles’ is moody, haunting, and a treat for the soul.
‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger
If you prefer a literary journey with your Tabasco Martini, this month my choice is ‘The Catcher in the Rye‘, by J.D. Salinger. A spicy read for a spicy cocktail.
This classic 1951 novel caused quite a stir in its time. The hero, 16-year-old New York teen Holden Caulfield, is the raunchy Huckleberry Finn of the 20th century.
The novel is the story of three tumultuous days in the life of the ‘foul-mouthed’, rebellious teenager as told by him in the first person, while recuperating in a mental sanatorium a year after the events described in the story took place.
The story begins with a young Holden falling out with his fellow students and flunking out of his latest boarding school due to a lack of academic effort. He subsequently leaves school early and returns to Manhattan without telling his parents, staying at a cheap hotel filled with colourful New Yorkers, including a ‘cross-dresser’.
Young Holden is sexually frustrated, and repeatedly offended by the varied sexual adventures of others around him. He is teenage angst personified in the socially and emotionally oppressive era of the 40s and 50s.
Throughout the story Holden displays a negative attitude towards homosexuality, which makes a 21st century mind wonder whether his sexual misadventures are rooted in him seeking sexual companionship not suited to his … orientation, although the issue is never resolved or addressed directly.
Many in the literary world take issue with the insinuation that Holden is a young gay man who has not yet come to terms with his homosexuality, or is in the closet, although arguably many of his behaviours are consistent with that possibility.
In a conversations with his sister Phoebe, the title of the book comes into the spotlight, when Holden explains to her that he wants to be ‘the catcher in the rye,’ a person who catches children from falling off a cliff as they play in a rye field.
Falling off the cliff symbolises reaching adulthood for Holden, and he sees adulthood as a trap, and something phoney, to avoid.
However, his sister points out to him that he’s misquoting Robert Burns’s poem ‘Comin’ Thro’ the Rye‘ which says ‘if a body meet a body, coming through the rye,’ not ‘if a body catch a body, coming through the rye.’ In fact, the poem is filled with sexual imagery, which makes it highly contextual given the subject matter of the book.
Holden eventually makes plans to run away, but in a beautiful encounter with his sister, as he is watching her ride a carousel, his eyes are filled with tears, and he appears to change his mind.
Holden’s narrative ends here, and we don’t find out how and when he went home, and how he got ‘sick.’ We part with Holden as he plans to go to a new school, and expresses a cautious optimism about his future, while he is clearly still lost a little.
A lot of people, especially this one psychoanalyst guy they have here, keeps asking me if I’m going to apply myself when I go back to school next September. It’s such a stupid question, in my opinion. I mean how do you know what you’re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it’s a stupid question.
‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is listed as one of the best novels of the 20th century, and it is a truly riveting read. This is a novel that should be on every bookshelf.