What: "Meeting the Main Man of Maker's Mark", The Stranger
When: December 21, 2010
That's all I wanted: to drink my favorite bourbon with this Bill Samuels Jr. And what does Dominic do? He tells this known Republican (and known fan of horse racing and college basketball) that I'm a Marxist, and that I have been in the habit of calling my brand of Marxism "Maker's Marxism": a political program seeking to end capitalist exploitation, strengthen social safety nets, liberate knowledge, and make higher learning accessible to all—and yet a program that's not unaware of the humanness of humans, of the fact that the pursuit of truth sometimes gets boring and tiresome, and of the fact that a few strong drinks can do a world of good.
I did not expect Samuels to grasp these and other subtleties of my program. And besides, I didn't want to talk politics. I just wanted to drink and hear yarns about the tradition of distilling this excellent stuff up in them there hills of Kentucky (Kentucky has hills, right?). I have always had a cosmopolitan weakness for pastorals. I had watched The Dukes of Hazzard as a boy and loved it—the corrupt cops, the car chases on dusty roads, the good old boys, the General Lee, and so on. I was happy to have these fantasies entertained as I sipped Maker's Mark.
But right off the bat, Dominic makes sure the jig is up: Samuels knows I'm a Marxist. This is a man who grew up in the 1950s! The height of the red scare. Those dark "duck and cover" days. For him, the fall of the Berlin Wall probably meant the death of all that red stuff and a real victory of liberty and freedom. And after all that—after the Sputnik, the Bay of Pigs, the Tet Offensive—here he was sitting next to a fucking commie!
And why not open with an ode to bourbon?
And what more can I say?
Welcome to Digest Left. Pour yourself a round; 'tis a long search on which we are about to embark.