A Professional Drunk and Philly Native Makes It Big

By Sharon Margolis
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 23, 2011

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Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation, and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour is the funny, compulsively readable memoir/survival guide from Playboy booze scribe and Philly native Dan Dunn. He stopped by Baby Blues BBQ in West Philly for a book signing last Thursday.

As he mentions throughout the tome, Dunn’s mentor was none other than Hunter S. Thompson, the great God of Gonzo. Though the closest he comes to approximating Thompson’s psychedelic prose is a scene echoing the opening of Fear and Loathing where Dunn’s cruising down a warbling Pacific Coast Highway high on E, you couldn’t say he doesn’t launch himself, body and soul, into the scene he gets paid to observe.

“If your job is to be constantly surrounded by drunk, rowdy people, then hey, you’re going to be one of them yourself from time to time,” Dunn writes, justifying his more-than-occasional hedonistic overindulgence.

His account of the Life Gigantic weaves in and out of scenes from Dunn’s childhood (father was an alcoholic, mother, a terminal head case) and grown-up reality, carousing with porn stars and C-list celebrities, boning a crazy broad in the ass behind a dumpster, almost getting hooked on “spiritual heroin” at a Christian rock concert, and unsuccessfully keeping his composure at industry events (isn’t that the point?). Fortunately, he’s documented it all.

Somewhat cringingly, the author paints himself as a sort of thinking man’s frat boy. His intricate deconstruction of the phrase “bros before hos” illustrates this point. The good thing is, he’s got enough Bukowski and pop culture/music references up his sleeve, plus an undeniable God-given wit, to save this pseudo-memoir from suffering the literary fate of a go-to “Bro Bible.” In a section titled “How to Master the Barroom Conversation,” for example, Dunn suggests insinuating yourself into a stranger’s conversation by dropping a concise one-liner like, “Hey, David Bowie wore tights.”

Loaded ’s other saving grace: Dunn’s writing is self-conscious; he engages the reader’s skepticism about his contradictory theories on women and the sometimes lonely life of a career drunk with self-deprecating humor, beating us all to the judgmental punch by saying it first.

His best defense is also his simplest: “Life is too short not to find out what’s out there in left field.” If that means exploring the murky recesses of an escapist, pleasure-seeking conscience, mix yourself a stiff gin-and- something, pop a pill or two, and go along for the ride.

Soon, it might be tunneling straight into your living room.

At Baby Blues, Dunn announced that Living Loaded is in the works to be made into a TV series produced by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator Rob McElhenney. Look out for the real-life adaptation of real-life drinking tales from one of the best onscreen drunks in the business.

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