Stumble and Fail

Posted in Predator State, Stumble and Fail at 2:13 pm by George Smith

DD figures 99 percent of the country is still in denial about what’s here, or most certainly coming, for the majority. And this is probably because no one can get their heads around what approximately half a million being fired a month for a year or two will mean for the country.

In the last few months, for example, DD has seen virtually EVERYONE he once knew well in the Lehigh Valley fifteen years ago lose their jobs.

And here in Pasadena, the signs of collapse are everywhere when you care to look: Abandoned car dealerships on Colorado, zombie banks at the intersection of Lake and Colorado, the destruction of the Pasadena Coffee Company — a business which had been a comfortable landmark on Sierra Bonita for sixteen years, at least; abandoned and blighted apartment buildings on the south side of the freeway, cordoned off with fencing and tarpaulins so passers-by are hindered from seeing how bad they really look (the block I have in mind appears irredeemable), a next door neighbor with two SUV’s, now quietly reduced to saying he ‘works from home,’ a continuous trudge of scavengers from the west side of the city to the east, climbing through dumpsters (you can hear them checking the bin fifty yards from where I’m typing this every five hours or so).

What’s the answer?

Old-timey America and the down ‘n’ out had it. They knew.


Most people think Pasadena is very upscale, a place where it’s hard to find bum wine.

Not true!

In at least one spot, made up of two small markets at the intersection of North Wilson and Villa, Thunderbird and Night Train Express are in stock.

These beverages served and serve a purpose. They’re for when you’ve really hit the skids. And because they are fortified with about 18 percent alcohol by volume, they’re bona fide painkillers.

Yes, it’s been a very bad year here in Pasadena and it looks to only get worse. So if it’s like that where you live, I’m giving you a consumer head’s up because at some point, maybe soon, you’re going to want a lot more for a lot less than that frou-frou bottle of chardonnay furnishes, no matter how bad the solution tastes. You’re going to want to take advantage of one of the more lasting things this country still makes. And that corporate America hasn’t, and presumably can’t, outsource to China for contamination and adulteration.

You are, in short, going to want to acquaint yourself with a knock-out shot for enduring disaster. You’ll need something after ‘national health care reform’ goes through and instead of achieving universal coverage, we’re all dunned by health insurance companies who’ve been given the power to empty the pockets of those they’ll deny coverage to, anyway. Almost like usual, only even worse. You’ll want these drinks after the tenth employer has turned you down for a minimum wage job because they insisted on running a credit check and your score is a hash because you’ve been unemployed and in areers for so long.

You bum! Someone should put you in jail soon!

But back to the consumer report.

Calling Thunderbird a wine is — well … wrong. It’s light yellow and has a medicinal taint, many acrid notes and a potentially headache-provoking (depending on the individual’s hardiness) sweetish primary taste/odor. Three quarters of the way through a bottle left DD’s eyes burning, my eyelids drooping. The next morning, there was dull lower back pain, right in the kidneys. There was no severe hangover, but two bottles would be more than enough to ensure an unpleasant and perhaps very dangerous misadventure.

You should call it a night after your first bottle of Thunderbird. If you’re establishing a habit, carve out that baseline and stick to it.

Night Train Express was, however, my favorite of the two. It is recommended to be served very cold.

Night Train actually looks like wine although it, too, immediately impresses one with its medicinal smell and off but very sweet flavor. DD put a bottle in the freezer and after about two hours it had turned almost completely to red ice. Since there is so much sugar in Night Train, it thaws quickly under a stream from the faucet. Don’t thaw it entirely. Leave it in a reddish slurry and then pour. The slurry will disappear in your glass leaving it very cold, indeed.

The colder the serving, the more the consumer is insulated from the poorer qualities in the flavor of Night Train.

When a bottle of Night Train is had in this manner, its taste is tolerable and you’ll probably be able (or be urged) to drink it much faster than you should. Fight that urge. Take an hour and a half for that bottle. Stay in your apartment or house, if you still have the latter. And go to bed.

The Night Train morning after is fairly eventless, except for a desire to drink a lot of water. The alcohol content in bottles of it and Thunderbird guarantee your metabolism gets dried out pretty good.

The experience did awaken some old engraved muscle memory. Back in the good ol’ Eighties, the early days of grad school, DD spent Friday nights in Pine Grove, listening to new records at a friend’s home on Wideawake Street. He always had something like Night Train, sometimes T. J. Swan, or combinations of these and Black Velvet or Seagram’s Seven. The morning’s after tended to be much worse, though.

Cisco was also on sale at the same corner of Pasadena. However, the colors and advertised flavors just weren’t appealing to DD.

If you’re near the intersection of Wilson and Villa in Pasadena, you can find the small 375 and and full 750 ml bottles of Night Train and T-Bird. Cisco is furnished in only the smaller volume. Personally, if cruising by, go to the market with no obvious name. You can recognize it by the LA Times newspaper vending machine on the sidewalk, Times’ employees being now among the most needy for the effect of strong bum wines. Even though they haven’t yet admitted this to themselves.

Although Bumwine.com sometimes advises starting with the smaller bottle, DD has done the testing and can tell readers — that’s pointless! Don’t buy the half tank of gas and wish you’d had a fill up half an hour later! The half measure is not what you want; always go for the standard serving as not only do you get much more, you also save at least a dollar and some change/volume with both brands.


  1. User_hostile said,

    June 18, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Is this in the neck of your old neighborhood?


  2. Major Variola (ret) said,

    June 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Steel Reserve, 8.1% ethanol, is the beer of choice for these times. Comes in convenient 24 oz cans too. It is no worse
    than any other american pretense for beer (albeit its legally
    an ale in calif.) Stronger than the classic urban negro
    beerz that come in 40 oz bottles, and if you drop it, no
    broken glass.

  3. George Smith said,

    June 23, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Is this in the neck of your old neighborhood?

    Yes. The jail is in Pottsville. The crime occured in Shenandoah, which is one of the poorest spots in a county that’s generally poor. No good times since the crash of the anthracite industry in that part of the state almost a century ago, now. Subsistence mining of coal scrap and piles is still going…

    “Schuykill County, Pennsylvania.

    Two Pennsylvania teens will serve time in a county jail for participating in a brawl that left a Mexican immigrant dead last July. Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak’s joint trial began in late April in

    Brandon Piekarsky, 17, was sentenced to 6 to 23 months, and Derrick Donchak, 19, received 7 to 23 months for their roles in the beating death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez.

    Judge William Baldwin ordered the two to report to Schuylkill County jail on July 19 to begin serving their sentences.”