Every year we enjoy blatantly siphoning the energy of March Madness into things we genuinely care about a lot, this year we present a truly important competition: the EDSBS Epic Drunkards Bracket.
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A few notes. First, narrowing down history's greatest drunks is not science. Our greatest drunks likely vanished from the annals of history without leaving a record: devoured after trying to make love to a sabertooth drunk on fermented apples, smash-drunk and falling off a cliff somewhere after hunting and gathering got too boring for them. Our forerunners did work that sadly cannot be included in a tally of even passing rigor. Respect and tributes to them all.
Second, a moment of honest. Everything after the first four seeds is just straight evil death. An evening spent with any of them at full-bore would be a phantasmagoria of blurred lights, menacing cackling, and vomiting across each point of your personal compass. If you survived, the hangover would be a barbed wire cobweb of pure pain laced over a fully exposed brain, unceasing for two, perhaps three days. John Belushi, bleeding from his nose and vomiting, once ran to Woody Creek police and begged them for help saying "I can't keep up with that guy." Hunter S. Thompson is a two seed here. This is not light company. Free climbers across the face of sobriety working without ropes are the only invites.
Third, it was really hard to find certain ethnicities of documented drunkards, since African-Americans and Indians tend to be less proud of their drunks than other ethnicities. We acknowledge this sad shortcoming here, surrender to that criticism, and solicit suggestions in the comments. White people really love bragging about drinking, a bias clearly on display here.
Finally, please accept that omissions are inevitable, especially in a flawed playoff system like this. It could be worse, though. If this were the BCS, this would be "Charlie Sheen versus ALLSTATE INSURANCE," and somehow Alabama would win it. Alabama did produce Tallulah Bankhead, so Tide voters, you know where to place your loyalties.
FINEST PEOPLE BRACKET
"Because the finest people i have ever met are sat in pubs." ---Oliver Reed
OLIVER REED (1) vs. AN ELEPHANT (16)
Nature's drunkard made a play-in game versus A TROOP OF MACAQUES. Reed's epic drunkenness is detailed in many, many places, but dying in a Maltese bar after drinking three bottles of rum, beating five sailors in arm-wrestling, and leaving a $700 bar tab? That's a one seed forever. The elephant goes down.
HANK WILLIAMS (8) vs. GRAHAM CHAPMAN (9)
Short but impressive resumes on both sides. Hank wins for finishing move, while Chapman's three bottles of gin a day during filming make him a strong but incomplete 9 seed.
SHANE MCGOWAN (5) vs. WILLIAM FAULKNER (12)
Still vomiting on audiences, McGowan's got a competitive bite here he lacks in real life. (Because his teeth have fallen from his head.) Faulkner is a low seed for being a dreary drinker, if a steady one. Truman Capote found him crying in a bathtub at a party once. 12 seed, you bring the party down.
TOWNES VAN ZANDT (4) vs. NOAH (13)
TVZ once shot up vodka, and on another occasion injected rum and coke into his veins. The first person to ever get Biblically drunk gets an obligatory invite, if only because of his important pioneer status.
ANTHONY HADEN-GUEST (6) vs. BILL WERBENIUK (11)
Spy Magazine's three-time "Ironman Nightlife Decathlete" takes on the only sportsman we know who had a doctor's note allowing him to drink during competition.
CHARLES BUKOWSKI (3) vs. ORSON WELLES (14)
If there's ever a spot for an upset, it's here. Bukowski was theatrical drinking, but Welles has a size advantage and the passion for the game.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS (7) vs. JOHN RIGGINS (10)
Hitch in a tough matchup here, but only one of them ever passed out during a Washington Press Corps dinner and slept under a table, and it wasn't Hitch.
HUNTER S. THOMPSON (2) vs. JOE NAMATH (15)
Hunter in a blowout, since no one's really sure whether he was ever truly capable of getting drunk.
100 BEERS BRACKET
ANDRE THE GIANT (1) vs. DAVID BOON (16)
Boon wins a specialist's bid for holding the Aussie cricket team's record for beers on a plane ride. It's a cameo in the tourney, and a brief one against one of history's truly great drinkers.
SAMUEL JOHNSON (8) vs. KENNY STABLER (9)
Our money's on the man from Fleet Street, but only from years of Port conditioning.
RIP TORN (5) vs. CHARLES BAUDELAIRE (12)
Torn hit Norman Mailer with a hammer and broke into a bank because he thought it was his house. Baudelaire's syphilis probably hurts him late in the game, just as it did in life.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY (4) vs. KIM JONG-IL (13)
Hemingway's productivity and and work ethic keeps him at a lowly four seed. KJI's resume is sketchy, but he was the world's largest single consumer of Hennessy Cognac for a stretch, and that's good enough for a 13 seed.
ERROL FLYNN (6) vs. TALLULAH BANKHEAD (11)
Robin Hood versus the woman who could finish a bottle of bourbon in thirty minutes. They also have sex, most likely while funneling backalley sloe gin distilled from pesticide.
GEORGE BEST (3) vs. AMY WINEHOUSE (14)
A couple separated by time. Best wins, but dying from stopping drinking is probably worth more than a 14 seed.
JOHN BARRYMORE (7) vs. HUMPHREY BOGART (10)
Barrymore stayed smash drunk during the San Francisco earthquake in 1906, which is NEXT LEVEL BUSINESS. Bogart was steady, but once regretted switching to martinis, and that's a demerit in the seeding here.
RICHARD HARRIS (2) vs. TED KENNEDY (15)
Richard Harris only gets a two seed because O'Toole outlived him. Teddy gets here just ahead of bubble politico Franklin Pierce, who never did anything as documented as showing up pantsless on the lawn of his family's compound wearing only a t-shirt.
LUCKY JIM BRACKET
PETER THE GREAT (1) vs. NICK NOLTE (16)
PTG was a seven-foot-tall drainpipe for alcohol whose Great Tour singlehandedly did much to paint the modern image of Russia as a frigid, bear-strewn theme park for alcoholics.
BORIS YELTSIN (8) vs. DEAN MARTIN (9)
Truly brutal matchup here. Yeltsin ran a country blind drunk and still managed to avoid launching nukes on a tipsy whim. Martin was "Dean Martin."
BABE RUTH (5) vs. ZELDA FITZGERALD (12)
Babe suffers a low seeding since, like Trent Richardson on the squat, we're not really sure what his real max was thanks to constant ingestion. Zelda Fitzgerald is overseeded from the Modernist-10, and will fall in the first.
HARRY CARAY (4) vs. MARTIN VAN BUREN (13)
Caray "stopped drinking" after his stroke. This meant switching to beer only, and only then 10 or 15 at a sitting. The dark horse Presidential drunk, Van Buren's nickname was "The Blue Whiskey Van." He may be the first President to simply get the job for drinking every other nominee under the table.
KINGSLEY AMIS (6) vs. LARRY HAGMAN (11)
Kingsley is a six seed to a man who put down three champagne bottles a day for 20 years without blinking before losing his liver to cirrhosis.
JUDY GARLAND (3) vs. W.C. FIELDS (14)
One of history's great underrated lushes versus a steady and deeply underseeded icon. Fields pulls the upset.
ULYSSES S. GRANT (7) vs. JOHN BONHAM (10)
Fought a war completely drunk, and then drank himself into bankruptcy in the 19th century, a feat not unlike eating yourself to death in a warehouse full of rice crackers. Bonham had something equivalent to thirty or forty shots of vodka on the day he died. Only the ending of that sentence is a weakness on his resume.
RICHARD BURTON (2) vs. JOHN DALY (15)
Burton's spine was coated with crystallized alcohol, likely the result of putting down three bottles of gin a day or having 17 straight martinis with Lee Marvin. John Daly is John Daly, but loses badly in the opening round.
TRAIN THEFT BRACKET
PETER O'TOOLE (1) vs. JACKIE GLEASON (16)
O'Toole: woke up in Corsica once after starting his bender in Paris with no memory of how he got there. Had a length of his intestines removed due to overconsumption. Is still alive, and drinking. Gleason did "vaudeville drinking," but can't pass the master here.
LI PO (8) vs. PAUL GASCOIGNE (9)
Chinese poet so drunk he died trying to hug the reflection of the moon in a river in a toss-up with four-bottles-a-day Gazza.
GEORGE JONES (5) vs. SAM PECKINPAH (12)
Jones once came to after a night on the town in a river, sitting in a car in chest-deep water with his musical partner asleep at the wheel. Peckinpah once took out this ad in the Hollywood Reporter after rumors of his on-set drinking surfaced:
"Dear sirs: With reference to the rumors that seem to be spreading around Hollywood that on numerous occasions Sam Peckinpah has been carried off the set, taken with drink. This is to inform you that those rumors are totally unfounded. However, there have been mornings…"
KEITH RICHARDS (4) vs. BILLY MARTIN (13)
A stiff challenge from baseball's most vocal drinker cannot best the unkillable liver of Keith Richards, which is also a Conservative MP with a terrible track record of missing votes and sexually harassing its assistants.
DOROTHY PARKER (6) vs. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (11)
A great potential couple for a tryst. Neither would remember it.
RUBE WADDELL (3) vs. JANIS JOPLIN (14)
The pitcher who once tried to rescue a passing log from a river versus the woman who drank an entire bottle of Southern Comfort before each performance. Waddell wins, but not without a tussle.
WINSTON CHURCHILL (7) vs. DYLAN THOMAS (10)
Churchill's discipline gets him underseeded, while Thomas slips to a ten seed for being good at drinking except for that "drinking self to death too early" thing.
KEITH MOON (2) vs. WADE BOGGS (15)
Boggs is more of a speculator's pick, since he might have some kind of abnormality that turns beer to water in his system, and is thus possibly cheating. Keith Moon. <-----This is the only argument we need.