Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fire Water 

Recently I was walking home when I noticed a broken bottle on the sidewalk (I was near the liquor store in Parkdale after all). Holding a denture of jagged glass together was a label for Fireball Whisky (previously known as Dr. McGillicuddy's Canadian Cinnamon Whiskey).

Cinnamon Whisky? A fire breathing dragon-headed demon? Probably tastes like cough syrup, I surmised. Apparently it’s tasty. It is unlikely that I’ll ever find out. Still, I thought the label was fun with a fairly bad ass demon logo. Only a few metres away, locked to a nearby railing, I saw a great looking fixed gear bike with a sweet custom paint job and yes, weirdly, a Fireball Whisky label stuck where the frame maker’s mark would normally be (affixed in a decoupage style). It was probably this coincidence that made the label that much more memorable. File under “interesting ephemera” – continue walking, continue with my life.

Lately I’ve been listening to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast and been surprised by how much of the talk comes around to therapy and twelve steps programs. Mentioning this to someone else, I was pointed to a recent Harper’s article about “the cult” of AA. It’s a engrossing personal essay and I don’t mean to trivialize the topic but I was struck by the cover illustration accompanying the article. The illustration bore the recognizable fingerprints of the talented Tomer Hanuka (you can see some of his process on his twin brother’s blog; I don’t want to get into this now but c’mon, twin brothers who work in very similar styles in similar medium? That can’t be healthy, can it?)

image via Tropical Toxic

I think you can see what I’m getting at. Not only is the addiction to alcohol demonized, the addiction is actually anthropomorphized as a demon over the shoulder of the addicted. In one image, the Fireball Whisky label, the demon indicates a rollicking good time, in the other, the demon indicates a rollicking good time that will ruin your life. Six of one, a half of a dozen of another.

It did occur to me that they might sell less of this liquor if the demon were portrayed as one that robs you of your life.


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