Bourbon, Betting & Beatdowns

BY DAN ALBAN

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This weekly column is about deviant behavior — activities that are likely frowned upon by polite society for one reason or another. Everything from black market organ sales to kinky sex practices to online gambling to Chinatown buses is fair game. If something is seedy, sketchy, sleazy, tacky, tawdry, tasteless, or just plain weird, then this column calls dibs. If this column were a book, it would be authored by Mickey Spillane and Hunter S. Thompson. If this column were a song, it would be penned by Johnny (“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die”) Cash and sung by Johnny Thunders. If this column were a movie, it would be directed by David Lynch and John Waters. But since it’s a column in the Record, it is written by me, your humble resident social deviance enthusiast, and reflects my own bizarre interests (some quite deviant, such as cagefighting and anarchy, others less deviant, such as bourbon and poker) along with whatever else I come across that just seems bizarre and interesting.

Why write a weekly culture column about deviant behavior for the Record? Because social deviance is often exotic, edgy, and controversial — precisely the opposite of most students’ law school experience. That’s ironic since the study of law corresponds strongly with socially deviant behavior; law is a formal way in which societies define and impose sanctions on social deviance. If you thought torts and crim were more interesting than civ pro and property, it’s probably at least partly because the deviant behavior discussed in those classes was way more interesting than FRCP 56 and the rule against perpetuities.

But not all deviant behavior is illegal, or even necessarily bad. (Remember: it’s deviant behavior, not devious behavior.) Deviant behavior is simply behavior that violates recognized cultural norms; it can only be judged by whether those cultural norms are themselves good or bad. Deviance may be positive, such as civil disobedience in the civil rights movement, or negative, as in the case of serial killers. But most deviant behavior is at least interesting, if not always commendable. Without deviant behavior, the world would be a lot less interesting place and I wouldn’t have anything to write for this column …which brings me to this week’s theme: bourbon, betting & beatdowns.

Bourbon

*Jim Beam bourbon commercials began appearing on television in early September. Although not allowed on the major broadcast networks, the ads will run on cable networks such as Comedy Central and Fox Sports Network. The TV campaign is a first ever for the brand, and is a continuation of last year’s prominent print campaign, “The Stuff Inside Matters Most.” The theme is ironic to those in the know, who will pass over Beam’s under-aged white label flagship swill in favor of their far superior black label and small batch bourbons.

*Celebrate a birthday with Old Forester 2005 Birthday Bourbon, released on September 2, the 159th birthday of Brown-Forman distillery founder George Gavin Brown. Past Birthday Bourbon bottlings have been outstanding, with a strong rye kick. You can order yourself a bottle for about $40 at University Wine Shop, 1739 Mass. Ave. Call (617) 547-4258 and ask for Steve.

*Heaven Hill distillery, known for its Evan Williams and Elijah Craig bourbons, will soon be offering the first modern wheat whiskey for about $40/bottle. Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey has a mashbill that comprises 51% wheat, 39% corn, and 10% malted barley. The 5-year-old whiskey is reportedly not as sweet as bourbon, which must be made from at least 51% corn.

Betting

*HLS alum Andy Bloch ’99, a professional poker player and associate of the infamous MIT blackjack team, won the $10,000 buy-in Ultimate Poker Challenge championship in late July, taking home $167,500 and the gold championship bracelet. The tournament will be televised in January 2006. This is his second tournament win of the year, as he won a World Series of Poker circuit tournament at the Rio in March. Although he doesn’t practice law, in late 2004 he won a D.C. Circuit appeal of his conviction for crossing a police line during an anti-war protest near the White House.

*The underdogs won big at the Emmy’s on Sunday night, with upsets in many of the major categories. Prior to the ceremony, online sportsbooks were offering odds of roughly 4-1 on winners Tony Shalhoub, Patricia Arquette and Everybody Loves Raymond, and 7-1 on Felicity Huffman.

*24-year-old Brad Koncracki, a 2L at Penn, won $1.15 million by coming in eighth place at the World Series of Poker main event in July after winning a paid entry and trip by winning a $160 buy-in tournament at Pokerstars.com. He took a year off before law school to play online poker full time, but only had two years of poker-playing experience before his big win in the WSOP.

Beatdowns

*Sports fans interested in seeing live mixed martial arts should head over to Club Lido in Revere at 8pm this Friday, Sept. 23, for T.K. O’Reilly’s Fight Night, a semi-pro event with 15 scheduled fights. Tickets and more info at www.viktoryfightwear.com.*Boxing enthusiasts should enjoy the heavyweight fight on HBO at 10pm this Saturday, Sept. 24, between top ten contenders Wladimir Klitschko (44-3) and Samuel Peter (24-0). Also featured is a WBO light welterweight title fight between two undefeated fighters, Miguel Cotto (24-0) and Ricardo Torres (28-0).

*The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC 55 will be nearby at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino on October 7. Most tickets are already sold out for the event, but it will be shown live on PPV. Among those competing will be Boston police officer Sean Gannon, a heavyweight judo black belt and six-time Golden Gloves champion who ignited controversy by beating Miami street fighting legend Kimbo Slice in a brutal unsanctioned “sparring match” captured on video and distributed over the Internet last year.

*Just a few days earlier, on Monday, October 3, Spike TV will be airing a free live Ultimate Fight Night, featuring many fighters from season one of The Ultimate Fighter. Meanwhile, season two of The Ultimate Fighter, a reality show where competitors train and compete to become fighters in the UFC, continues on Spike TV at 11:05 on Monday nights.

Dan Alban is a straight-laced 3L with a completely normal interest in con artists, mercenaries, and death pools. Please contact him at dalban@law.harvard.edu if you have any tips or suggestions on deviant behavior he should consider writing about.

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