Drinking was a refusal to play the conformist game, a denial of the stupid rules of a bloodless national ethos.
I expressed that revolt at huge weekend parties, crowded with students, where cases of beer were jammed into ice-packed bathtubs, and big strapping young women from the Midwest slipped into dark back rooms with various guys, including me. The music pounded, Little Richard meeting Miles Davis, Elvis contending with Coltrane, while the half-digested words of painter-guru Hans Hoffman collided with the lyrics of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. There were wild nights in Manhattan too, with complete strangers saying, Let’s go man, big party up the street. And they were right: hard whiskey-drinking beer-swilling parties were part of every New York weekend.
This was what the first 2/3 of college felt like — escaping into side alleys & dark basements, leaving nothing behind for The Man but faint traces of middle fingers in the air. By the final 1/3 or so it had really started to lose its appeal, its meaning; it was just another thing to do.
I also remember being 18, 19, 20 and partying with guys who were 28, 29, 30, and thinking how good they were at it. Was it cool? That young, it sure felt like a life I wanted to live. A few years beyond and I know there are many, many other ways to find fulfillment (true fulfillment).