Next Episode: The Art of Intoxication

Event Date: Tuesday, December 18 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at

A history of the conversations is available at

The Summary

A perfumer, a chocolatier, a whiskey maker, and a poet/wine merchant walk into a bar…. See below for more.

The Guests

Chocolatier Joanna Lepore

Perfumer Christi Meshell

Poet and Wine Merchant Doug Nufer

And a whiskey maker, still to come

The Story

We’re full on into the holiday season, with all the lights and the parties, and the feasts, and of course, huge amounts of crass mass merchandising. But generosity abounds, and this year, I’m seeing an exceptional degree of optimism, along with more thankfulness than there’s been in a long time.

As I write this, people in Washington state have begun taking their first legal tokes, legal sort of. More important, lesbians and gay men have begun joyously getting marriage licenses. Family relationships that have endured for decades have finally become legal. And this coming Sunday, hundreds or thousands of people will kiss the bride or the groom, each in a heady, rapturous moment of excitement and exhilaration.

It’s time to talk about intoxication, and the art thereof.

No, this is not a conversation about the art of getting drunk. We can leave that to the packs of restless twenty-somethings who roam the streets of Pike-Pine or Belltown at 2 am on a Saturday night, desperately seeking something.

Instead, I want to talk about moments of exhilaration, a rush of often-complex pleasure or meaning, of deep sensation. I want to look at those precious moments of experience, stimulation, even delirium, when the head is spinning with too much: too much pleasure, too much insight, too much input, life showing its overdetermined side, in the language of Freud and Marxist critique.

We all constantly have such moments, maybe more than we realize. Everything becomes so intense, if only for a few seconds, that everyday life is displaced; we step outside of ourselves. A moment of intoxication can come with an epiphany so deep that one runs naked down the street shouting “Eureka!” It can come in that split-second when, exhausted and in a zone, one feels the finish-line tape breaking. It can come with a first step into a pine forest, with everything rushing in at once: the scent, the prickly softness of the forest floor, the cool feel of the air, the majesty of the space. Or when we find ourselves doubled up helpless with laughter. Or it can be that moment when one meets someone who, through force of intellect, an extraordinary smile, or simple power of personality or spirit, leaves one completely breathless.

A conversation about intoxication might be approached from many angles, with maybe a theologian, a psychologist, a daredevil, and a great comedian as guests. But instead, this time I want to bring together people whose art and livelihood provide moments of sensory exhilaration: the first taste of a complex wine, the feel of a piece of chocolate as it coats the tongue with a rush of sensations, a jolting and delightfully flavorful sip of whiskey, or the scent of a perfume that evokes love, or a time far gone.

Come. Talk about the art of intoxication.


Conversation series alum and Seattle Met style editor Laura Cassidy is curating a film series “Screen Style” at NWFF this weekend. Each film was chosen by a local style expert, including two other series alums, Robin Held and Anna Telcs. All will be at a panel discussion at NWFF this Saturday, December 8. Laura writes, “The panelists will join me in talking about these movies and others, and the way they inspire us to better understand and adorn our world.” For information on the films and the whole project, see


I am truly impressed at the work that series alum, fellow Canoeist and scenic designer Jennifer Zeyl is doing to put together the wedding chapels for this Sunday’s huge wedding extravaganza at City Hall. Wonderful.

The Guests in Detail (actually, this time there’s not much detail; I’m expecting more bio information soon)

Joanna Lepore is Confection Production Manager at Theo Chocolates.

Christi Meshell is the proprietor of House of Matriarch, an award-winning natural perfumerie in Seattle.

Doug Nufer is the author of seven or eight books, including the poetry collection We Were Werewolves and the novels Never Again and By Kelman Out of Pessoa.  He has been in the wine business for nearly a quarter century, in a wine shop on Capitol Hill.


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