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We’ve got wars. Imagine having more money, you could buy more beer. Have you been to Dublin in its heyday like in the boom heyday at like 4:00 in the morning on a Sunday or Saturday? It’s like beyond New Orleans. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day every day. It’s not good. I don’t even like pubs anymore. I like going for a meal and having a bottle of wine. Be more gentle.
I wish it were possible, from this instance, to invent a method of embalming drowned persons in such a manner that they may be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to any ordinary death the being immersed in a cask of Madeira wine with a few friends till that time, to be then recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country!
Genuine recollections almost invariably explain oneself to oneself. Suppose, for example, that you feel an instinctive aversion to some particular kind of wine. Try as you will, you can find no reason for it. Suppose when you explore a previous incarnation, you remember you died by a poisoned administered in a wine of that kind, your aversion is explained by the proverb: ‘A burnt child dreads the fire.’
…stories about [the German composer Johannes] Brahms’s rudeness and wit amused me in particular. For instance, I loved the one about how a great wine connoisseur invited the composer to dinner. ‘This is the Brahms of my cellar,’ he said to his guests, producing a dust-covered bottle and pouring some into the master’s glass. Brahms looked first at the color of the wine, then sniffed its bouquet, finally took a sip, and put the glass down without saying a word. ‘Don’t you like it?’ asked the host. ‘Hmm,’ Brahms muttered. ‘Better bring your Beethoven!’
There were a hundred booksellers in the old round city founded by the eighth-century caliph al-Mansur. The café and wine-drinking culture of Baghdad has been famous for centuries; there was a whole school of Iraqi poets who wrote poems about the wine bars of medieval Baghdad – the khamriyaat, or wine songs, that I quote in the book.