Monday, February 28, 2011

[FIND] Vice - Travis McGee

Our P.I. hero this month isn't even a real P.I. But go ahead; try and turn him away. Standing 6'4" with a 205 lb frame, 33" waist, and size 46L sport coat, he sees no need to suffer fools or take "no" for an answer.

Travis McGee, "salvage consultant," is one of the best-loved characters in the detective genre. Sure, he's not actually a licensed shamus, but no matter. He is The Man.

McGee's creator John D. MacDonald crafted color-coded time capsules of a bygone era--a swampy, 1960s Florida landscape that's been drained and paved by the kind of venal lowlifes McGee loves to punish. McGee's paternal, almost condescending eye for the fairer sex reflects a "Mad Men" ethos that borders on predatory but reflects the Man's Man attitudes of the day. Although McGee, in his words, "cut a wide swath through a wall of female flesh," don't judge him by our more "enlightened" present. MacDonald was writing about his own era and, thus, carries the authenticity of Spillane's 1950s, with its attendant paranoia, racism, and homophobia, swept neatly under a carpet of illusory innocence.

Detective novelist George Pelecanos calls Travis McGee "the embodiment of early 60s male wish-fulfillment." And when you think about it, what man wouldn't want his build, and his life: no real job, no cubicle, no nine-to-five. He's capable with his fists but no bully. He's tall and handsome, but a thinking man's action hero, despite his physicality. McGee's best pal Meyer, summed it up: "Add all those ingredients together and stir well, and you can come up with a lasting case of psychological impotence."

"The only suitable attitude towards oneself and the world is the awareness of pathetic, slapstick comedy."  -Travis McGee, from Free Fall in Crimson

The Cocktail
courtesy of our own Patterson House mixologist, James Hensley, who writes The Spirit Monkey blog.

The Busted Flush, a manly swizzle

2 oz.     Flor de Cana 7-year rum
1/2 oz.  Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz.  Orange Reduction
1/4 oz.  Demerara Syrup
3           large lime cut into 1/8ths

Muddle the lime eighth in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill glass 3/4 full with crushed ice, then add all the liquid ingredients. Swizzle until a fine layer of frost forms on the exterior of the glass, making sure to keep the lime rinds at the bottom of the glass. Fill rest of glass to heaping with more crushed ice, and garnish with a standing lime wheel on the rim of the glass. Stir well...and forget the consequences.

The Cigar

Joe Zike, UPtowns cigar expert and wordsmith extraordinaire, pairs McGee with a Montecristo No. 2.

Joe: "The protagonist of arguably the best detective series ever written will smoke one of the best Cuban cigars in production, the Montecristo No. 2. This cigar offers the tan, ruminating Floridian the perfect opportunity to extemporize his philosophies. Just over six inches long with a 52 ring gauge, the cigar offers an hour-long indulgence in cocoa and leather flavors. While it could serve as a welcome hiatus, for McGee it has more of a fourth wall effect, as he places the absurdities and violent images of his work in and out of context, resulting in a pithy perspective."

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