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A holiday rock show survival primer 

For Smoke Up Johnny and beyond.

Man, is there anything better than one of your favorite local bands playing a rare show over the holidays, when a bunch of your friends are in town? Probably not, especially when it's Smoke Up Johnny. But you've got to be careful, because the good times can easily get on top of you and there are few things more wretched than a hangover. And they only get worse the older you get. Now, I know you all aren't a bunch of rank amateurs and this ain't your first rodeo and et cetera and so forth. Regardless, it never hurts to brush up on this stuff every once in a while, right?

There are several ways you can approach your Sunday or Sunday/Monday recovery from this show, depending on your individual circumstances, body chemistry, general temperament and financial/pharmaceutical situation. But we're just going to stick to the basics. First, let's assume you're reading this before Saturday night.

Rule No. 1: DO NOT MIX IT UP. One of the keys to coming out on the other side of this thing relatively intact is to stay the course and not switch hooches. If you started out on beer, stick with beer. If your first one was a vodka tonic, then your last one and all those betwixt should be vodka tonics. But let's get real here: you're gonna be doing shots, plural. Best case scenario? Jameson. Worst case scenario? Lukewarm Jäger. Either way it's going to hurt. So I guess just never mind Rule No.1. Which brings us to...

Rule No. 2: DRINK WATER. I really can't stress enough how much this one simple trick can save your hide. Quaff a cup of water at medium speed after every second drink until your sixth, after which you should alternate on a one-to-one basis for the duration of the evening, however long that lasts.

Rule No. 3: EAT AND EAT BIG. Eat before you get to White Water. Eat after you leave White Water. Eat at White Water should the opportunity arise. Starches, dairy and protein – and lots of them – will help. As long as the words "Waffle House" are able to tumble out of your booze-hole in a way that is intelligible to your cab driver or sober friend, you should be, well, maybe not good, but at least somewhat capable of verticality the next day.

Rule No. 4: NO SMOKING. This one applies to all you so-called "social smokers." If I've heard it once, I've heard it 500 billion times: "I only smoke when I go out." Yeah, but here's what that usually means after you translate it from BS to English: "I only smoke when I go out, which means I don't have any cigarettes of my own, so I'm constantly bumming them off of everyone, which kind of ticks them off after a while because they're like $8 a pack now or something ridiculous, plus I'm not accustomed to inhaling this much tar and nicotine and what-have-you and so my hangover the next day is always far, far worse." The solution is simple. Don't smoke. You won't irritate your friends who do buy cigarettes and you'll feel less like jumping in front of a train the next day.

Rule No. 5: ADVIL. Before collapsing in a heap in your bed or wherever, take three Ibuprofens with one last glass of water. Easy enough.

Alrighty, now for those of you who are bad at following directions or who are just now reading this in the cold, awful, hateful light of Sunday afternoon, here's what to do. For practicality's sake, we'll presume you don't have access to any Valium or Tylenol 4 or whatever.

So your head is pounding and your eyeballs are about to 'splode and your stomach feels like somebody flooded the Gravitron with rancid hotdog water and it's going full tilt. Here's where it gets counterintuitive. You need to go for a brisk walk, maybe even a light run. You should work up a sweat, and if you're doing it right, it'll feel like you are literally going to die.

When you're right at or just past the verge of yakking, head back to the house and draw a hot bath. While the tub's filling, get you a quart or two of Gatorade, some scented candles and a copy of Brian Eno's "Music for Airports." Now light up the candles and soak in that hot water for about a half-hour while drinking that 'rade and submitting to Eno's sonic genius. I personally guarantee that this will make you feel better. Now go eat something.

But, if you've been extra-extra-bad (which, presuming a good number of you folks at this show are north of 30, you really ought not to be doing anymore) well, you're basically beyond help. Just take a long, hot shower, and as the water washes over you, try not to stare into the drain for too long. Think about good, happy things, like a bunch of happy children singing in the sunlight while up in heaven, all the dead pets of your childhood are frolicking in a field of fragrant clover and looking down in loving approval. Try really hard not to think about sad, awful things, like an orphanage that's being forced to close because all of the doe-eyed little orphans were depending on you to come through for them, but you failed and let them down and now they're out in the rain, crying, because they know they have to go work in an adult-diaper factory on a prison boat off the coast of Despairistan.

Good luck!

SMOKE UP JOHNNY, THE SUBTEENS, HALF REPTAR
10 p.m. Saturday. White Water Tavern. $5.

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