Gently Stewed

“I’ve discovered the fountain of youth…turns out it tastes a lot like vodka” –

“…The harsh, useful things of the world, from pulling teeth to digging potatoes, are best done by men who are as starkly sober as so many convicts in the death-house, but the lovely and useless things, the charming and exhilarating things, are best done by men with, as the phrase is, a few sheets to the wind.  Pithecanthropus erectus  (ape-human that stands upright) was a teetotaler, but the angels, you may be sure, know what is proper at 5 p.m.

H. L. MenckenAll this is so obvious that I marvel that no utopian has ever proposed to abolish all the sorrows of the world by the simple device of getting and keeping the whole human race gently stewed. I do not say drunk, remember; I say simply gently stewed – and apologize, as in duty bound, for not knowing how to describe the state in a more seemly phrase. The man who is in it is a man who has put all of his best qualities into his showcase. He is not only immensely more amiable than the cold sober man; he is immeasurably more decent. He reacts to all situations in an expansive, generous and humane manner. He has become more liberal, more tolerant, more kind. He is a better citizen, husband, father, friend. The enterprises that make human life on this earth uncomfortable and unsafe are never launched by such men. They are not makers of wars; they do not rob and oppress anyone. All the great villainies of history have been perpetrated by sober men, and chiefly by teetotalers. But all the charming and beautiful things, from the Song of Songs to terrapin a’ la Maryland, and from the nine Beethoven symphonies to the Martini cocktail, have been given to humanity by men who, when the hour came, turned from well water to something with color to it, and more in it than mere oxygen and hydrogen.” ~ H.L. Mencken – from “A Mencken Chrestomathy”




I can’t provide you the vodka, gin or something with color in it that might produce that gently stewed feeling but can send along what might possibly be the most beautiful piece of music ever written – the 3rd movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony.

By most accounts, Beethoven was completely deaf by the year 1816.  Beethoven composed the Ninth between 1822 and 1824. It was first performed in Vienna on May 7th, 1824.


Beethoven Symphony No. 9 – Movement 3 – Barenboim/West-Eastern Divan Orchestra


Photo credit (front page):

Photo credit (Mr. Mencken):

Photo credit (Beethoven):  Joseph Willibrord Mähler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Love Mencken’s quote here!

    And I have always been in awe of the bringer of the Romantic, especially his nine symphonies. Beethoven was not only deaf at this time, he had to have been in great physical pain: the disease that caused his deafness and death, the name of which I have forgotten, caused his skull to increase in size inward, thus slowly crushing his brain, which makes his brilliant compositions, at the end of his life, all the more miraculous!

    Liked by 1 person

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