Every activity has its icons, yet as our booze-themed issue approached, we realized it was surprisingly hard to catalogue a solid list of standout drunkards. It figures that truly cathartic figures of intoxication tend to opt for illegal substances. Drugs are cool. Alcoholism is for the uncle who picks those raging fights over the most Irish way to cook potatoes, arms flailing and eyes ablaze.

Ah, Ireland: the drunken landscape of many a futile family dinner feud. The only imaginable place on Earth to birth a true-to-form hero of getting (and being) drunk as hell. While you might consider the university to be its own Olympic city of alcoholism, no one can champion the sport of drinking like Shane MacGowan of The Pogues.

Hardly ever seen—let alone photographed—without booze in hand, he functions as the drunken Irish uncle of the planet. With a mug more unsightly than the lowliest bum and a mouth full of jagged, misplaced teeth, he looks as if he has been drunk out of his mind since the day he was born.  But far from an alcoholic sideshow, MacGowan is kind of a genius.

The Pogues were front-runners of the punk movement, fusing traditional Irish shanties with the edgy thrashing of archetypal Punk sound. Unlike the aimless rebellion of the Sex Pistols or Ramones, The Pogues’ lyrics featured an endearing Irish voice with heartbreaking stories of love, travel, and (of course) drunken escapades. (Invariably, MacGowan took it upon himself to reenact some of those adventures on stage.)

MacGowan is the perfect icon for this issue of the boozepaper. Despite the hilarity of his relationship with alcohol, he has not frittered his life away. He recently recorded "I Put a Spell on You" with Nick Cave to benefit Haiti. With that, let us all raise a glass to Mr. MacGowan, as I leave you with this gem: “When the world is too dark, and I need the light inside of me, I'll go into a bar and drink fifteen pints of beer. I am going, I am going, where streams of whiskey are flowing.”

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