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Andre the Giant, Greatest Drunkard of all Time
January 23, 2007 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Andre the Giant, Greatest Drunkard of all Time The key to Andre the Giant is this — even as a youth he knew that his disease would dramatically shorten his life. He knew there was no cure, and lived every day with the understanding that death could shamble around the very next corner. Knowledge of this sort can darken a life. It did not darken Andre’s. He chose instead to pack his days with as much insane, drunken fun as they could hold. Instead of languishing in the darkness, he chose to walk in the sun.
posted by ColdChef (96 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
Watching Andre get teary in on-set documentary footage of The Princess Bride is pretty much the most human goddam thing I have ever seen. Must have been incredibly weird to be him.
posted by cortex at 12:41 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I recall reading (maybe here on Metafilter?) that Samuel Beckett, another guy who liked drinking, used to give Andre the Giant a ride to school when he was little. I thought that was interesting.

(Or did I dream that?)
posted by jayder at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2007


Modern Drunkard Magazine

What a wonderful time to be alive!
posted by milarepa at 12:48 PM on January 23, 2007


I've written for Modern Drunakrd.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:50 PM on January 23, 2007


No more rhymes now, I mean it.

Anybody want a peanut?
posted by miss lynnster at 12:51 PM on January 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Wow.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:52 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn. That's a lot of booze. Hats off for Andre.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:53 PM on January 23, 2007


During trips Andre consumed beer at the incredible rate of a case every ninety minutes!!!
posted by OmieWise at 12:54 PM on January 23, 2007


This is beautiful. It brings a tear my eye.

And thank you for introducing me to Modern Drunkard. I now have the go-to birthday gift for some of my friends. Their wives thank you, as well.
posted by dios at 12:56 PM on January 23, 2007


Great Article.
Thanks, ColdChef.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:57 PM on January 23, 2007


... sleep well and dream of large women....
posted by X4ster at 12:59 PM on January 23, 2007


Thank you, ColdChef. What a beautiful article. Two of my favorite things in all this big, stupid world are drinking and Andre the Giant. Thank you again.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great read, thanks! I had no idea, so that was quite enlightening.
posted by poppo at 1:04 PM on January 23, 2007


I've written for Modern Drunakrd.


I do not think this word means what you think it means.

(Had to be done.)
posted by spicynuts at 1:09 PM on January 23, 2007


jayder writes "I recall reading (maybe here on Metafilter?) that Samuel Beckett, another guy who liked drinking, used to give Andre the Giant a ride to school when he was little. I thought that was interesting."

This is from stories that Andre told during the filming of The Princess Bride, as repeated in the making-of documentary, I think. I have no idea if there's any independent confirmation, but it would be a pretty weird thing to make up.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:09 PM on January 23, 2007


a beer every three minutes for six hours straight? there should be a special Nobel Prize available to reward such a man
posted by matteo at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2007


I've just added "get drunk with Andre" to the list of things I regret never being able to do. In my dreams, he'd let me ride on his shoulder.
posted by milarepa at 1:10 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This made my day. Thank you.
posted by parmanparman at 1:11 PM on January 23, 2007


.
posted by chillmost at 1:13 PM on January 23, 2007


Great story. The tone it was related in made me a little ill. But then I'm hardly a modern drunkard by anyone's standards.
posted by hermitosis at 1:18 PM on January 23, 2007


Cheers, Andre.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:18 PM on January 23, 2007


I can't believe 33 million people tuned in to watch a live wrestling match.
posted by b_thinky at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2007


Andre has a pozzie.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:28 PM on January 23, 2007


I didn't think it was possible to like Andre the Giant more than I already did. But there you have it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:29 PM on January 23, 2007


b_thinky writes "I can't believe 33 million people tuned in to watch a live wrestling match."

Did you ever see Andre wrestle?
posted by mr_roboto at 1:30 PM on January 23, 2007


Glorious.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2007


Wow. Thats a whole mess of booze. He may well be my new Messiah. I'm a Reverend.. perhaps I should finally buckle down and start a church...
posted by elendil71 at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2007


By the end of the evening, Andre had sweated off the wine and found himself growing cranky. He dispatched Hogan for a few cases of beer. Hogan hurried to do as Andre asked, knowing from painful experience that a drunken Giant was a happy Giant, and a happy Giant was less likely to fracture some vital part of an opponent’s anatomy in a fit of grumpiness.


posted by craniac at 1:38 PM on January 23, 2007


Terribly written article, I must say. Waaaay too cutesy and "cool." Also, there's no substantiation for a single claim, no attribution, no nothing. Just a collection of legends and hearsay, so far as I can tell.
posted by Dr. Wu at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2007


I got to meet Andre the Giant backstage at the wrestling matches in the early 70s when I was a little kid. He was sweet and charming and all the kids loved him. If he was drunk, he wasn't any different than everybody else at the match.
posted by kenlayne at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2007


Andre wrestling montage: http://youtube.com/watch?v=JfPaL-YWZPM
posted by craniac at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2007


This is so excellent. On many many levels.

It makes me want to take up drinking again.

In which case my wife, no longer amused at posting bail or herding me away from serenading the neighbors at 4am, would stalk Coldchef down and hurt him bad.

So I won't.

Ah. Dionysus and Andre how I miss you both.
posted by tkchrist at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2007


> I've written for Modern Drunakrd.

I'm the August centerfold.
posted by jfuller at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Too bad he squeezed the love out of his daughter's heart... sniffle.
Good ol' A Current Affair...
posted by miss lynnster at 1:59 PM on January 23, 2007


jfuller: Oddly enough they don't have a full page centerfold, just a gutter...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 2:00 PM on January 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also, there's no substantiation for a single claim, no attribution, no nothing.

Dr. Wu, look at the bottom of the article:

(Note: The Author is indebted to the works of Brian Solomon, Ric Flair, Terry Funk, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Dave Meltzer, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and Hulk Hogan.)
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:01 PM on January 23, 2007


(Looks like his daughter isn't bitter now though... so that's good.)
posted by miss lynnster at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2007


Pretty interesting. Drunks are possibly the most foul and hideous sorts of people to care for in hospital settings, though, unfortunately. The mixture of liver disease, loss of bowel control, hallucinations and general idiocy of the typical alcoholic makes for pretty awful times for staff. The tone of the article is so gushing I almost forgot what assholes alcoholics tend to be.
posted by docpops at 2:12 PM on January 23, 2007


Also, there's no substantiation for a single claim, no attribution, no nothing. Just a collection of legends and hearsay, so far as I can tell.

It's not plublished by the International Journal of Neuroscience.

It's a freaking story about gettting drunk. With a giant.

What more could you possibly want?! Footnotes?
posted by milarepa at 2:17 PM on January 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


I love the bit about the anesthesiologist. Also, I'm with The Card Cheat. I can't believe I like Andre even more now.
posted by brundlefly at 2:21 PM on January 23, 2007


But he wasn't 7' 4'. That much is obvious from seeing him fight Hulk Hogan.
posted by jouke at 2:25 PM on January 23, 2007


Oh... hrm. Am I in the right place? I heard this was where you signed up for the posse.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 PM on January 23, 2007


The Princess Bride's been mentioned already, but it should be noted as well that William Goldman adds some kind words and relates a few excellent anecdotes (first- and secondhand) on his commentary track.
posted by carsonb at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2007


I'm very into the idea of Hulk Hogan as Andre's errand boy.
posted by kosem at 2:28 PM on January 23, 2007


I should mention that this article was sent to me by my friend Daniel, the greatest drunkard I know, and the future governor of Louisiana (and the future impeached and imprisoned governor of Louisiana, quickly followed by a lifetime of eccentricity as the Greatest Drunkard and Former Governor of Louisiana of All Time).
posted by ColdChef at 2:29 PM on January 23, 2007


I hope we win.
posted by hal9k at 2:33 PM on January 23, 2007


Great article, great post. Thanks, ColdChef (and Daniel).

I've written for Modern Drunakrd.

Astro Zombie 2 told me he had to write the whole thing, because you were passed out as deadline approached.

Which, of course, makes you the perfect Modern Drunkard contributer.
posted by languagehat at 2:37 PM on January 23, 2007


Modern Drunkard has written for me.
posted by mwhybark at 2:41 PM on January 23, 2007


This is like the phenomenon where you hear a word for the first time one day and then it pops up like 16 times in the next 24 hours.

I just emailed this article to some friends yesterday.

119!
posted by tallthinone at 2:41 PM on January 23, 2007


At the risk of incurring the wrath of everyone here, I will say that I think that it is not so brilliant a way to lead his life if he knows he is going to die soon. I would think that the shorter my life is going to be, the more likely I would want to be able to savor and remember each moment of my life. It seems like an enormous waste of the time he has. Go out and have fun? Sure. Go out and do something that will limit your ability to remember the fun you are having? Not so much.

If I knew I was going to live forever, then I would drink like a madman. It would make more sense.
posted by flarbuse at 2:43 PM on January 23, 2007


I'm a Postmodern Drunkard. I go where nobody knows my name.
posted by hal9k at 2:48 PM on January 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


the more likely I would want to be able to savor and remember each moment of my life.

You can't take it with you, man.
posted by carsonb at 2:50 PM on January 23, 2007


Astro Zombie 2 is a dead man.

I don't mean I'm going to kill him. I mean he's a revitalized corpse.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I recall reading (maybe here on Metafilter?) that Samuel Beckett, another guy who liked drinking, used to give Andre the Giant a ride to school when he was little. I thought that was interesting.

I think I first read that here. It's also mentioned in Beckett's Wikipedia entry.
posted by mattbucher at 2:58 PM on January 23, 2007


I've been reading modern drunkard for a while, but this may well be the best article I've read there. Santé, Andre!
posted by ob at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2007


If I knew I was going to live forever, then I would kill myself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


He chose instead to pack his days with as much insane, drunken fun as they could hold. Instead of languishing in the darkness, he chose to walk in the sun.

Nope, don't buy it. I've met a lot of active alcoholics, and I wouldn't say any of them are "walking in the sun." I would say many of them are "languishing in the darkness," though. I imagine Andre was no different, really.
posted by MarshallPoe at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2007


Tremendous
posted by Frasermoo at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2007


I wonder what zapatosunidos has to say about this.
posted by oncogenesis at 3:20 PM on January 23, 2007


Around 1981, at age 15, I saw Andre the Giant wrestle Harley Race at the Decatur, Illinois Civic Center. Andre won. As he walked up the aisle after the match I slapped him on his enormous back. He is probably the most famous person I have ever touched.

We hung around after the event was over and Ox Baker growled at us. Ox is probably the most famous person that has ever growled at me.
posted by trigfunctions at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2007


If I knew I was going to live forever, then I would kill myself.

Ok, but when?
posted by furiousthought at 3:22 PM on January 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Holy Moses. Thanks ColdChef!
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:23 PM on January 23, 2007


I am drunk of borg
Resistance is floor tile
posted by hal9k at 3:23 PM on January 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


"If I knew I was going to live forever, then I would kill myself.

Ok, but when?"


Probably on a Monday. Around 2:30.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:27 PM on January 23, 2007


Drunk is pretty boring. Meh.
posted by maxwelton at 3:42 PM on January 23, 2007


The mixture of liver disease, loss of bowel control, hallucinations and general idiocy of the typical alcoholic

Ah, how fondly I recall the days of my youth...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2007


Andre, or Andrink, as you were known by your friends, our heart is with you.
posted by huworks at 4:01 PM on January 23, 2007


Drunk is pretty boring. Meh.
So you're a coke man are ya?
posted by Liquidwolf at 4:05 PM on January 23, 2007


I freaking heart Andre. Thanks for this.
posted by gummi at 4:34 PM on January 23, 2007


I really enjoyed reading this. It's one of those few stories about the glory of the human spirit that isn't so cutesy that it makes me nauseous. Andre the Giant was a drunk, he liked it, and he managed to be a wonderful person despite (or perhaps because) of it.

At my best, I managed to polish off 1 1/2 cases of beer in five hours. I was 20 years old. I thought I was a champion, despite the two days of hangover recovery. I know now that I never came close.

Say what you will, but in his short 47 years, I'm sure he managed to live more, and have a heck of a lot more fun then most of us will have in our lives.
posted by pathighgate at 4:50 PM on January 23, 2007


As a bartender...and a drunk, I found this article more than a little intimidating!
posted by wavespy at 5:06 PM on January 23, 2007


Who else feels like getting wasted now?
posted by autodidact at 5:11 PM on January 23, 2007


Im going to get drunk tonight with some friends and toast the Giant. Thanks for posting this one.
posted by cell divide at 5:21 PM on January 23, 2007


cortex:
Watching Andre get teary in on-set documentary footage of The Princess Bride is pretty much the most human goddam thing I have ever seen.
What did he get teary about?
posted by Flunkie at 5:24 PM on January 23, 2007


Being treated like one of the guys, instead of That Great Big Giant Weird Person.
posted by cortex at 5:29 PM on January 23, 2007


I've met a lot of active alcoholics, and I wouldn't say any of them are "walking in the sun." I would say many of them are "languishing in the darkness," though.

Myeah. Hero worship thread. If it were anybody else, responding to finding out that your life is to be shortened by spending the rest of it drunk would seem pathetic in the extreme. Any fanboy can call it a “celebration of life” but it sounds more like an attempt to forget about life, and its injustices, to me.

No mistake, a fascinating guy, but this retelling of alcoholism is just so skewed.
posted by dreamsign at 5:30 PM on January 23, 2007


this retelling of alcoholism is just so skewed

Perhaps. It is interesting (and not without justification, certainly, given the problems that alcohol abuse causes) how the default response to the drink seems in recent decades to have swung from an appreciation of the wild, mystic revelry of bacchanalia to a primly moralizing disapproval. I think of it as a very American sort of attitude -- in opposition to the more European or NE Asian attitudes toward booze -- and find it fascinating.

A lot of it seems to come from the generation(s) -- from kids up to some people in, say, their early 30's, who often seem to think of alcohol as their parents' or grandparents' drug of choice, and therefore kind of lame -- who have grown up in some senses Postbooze, in the decades during which the central cultural focus in attitude seems to have shifted from the celebratory and sacramental aspects of (alcohol) intoxification to the damage and the carnage, to the idea that a one who drinks is an alcoholic, that to be an alcoholic is to have a disease, and that those who drink without destroying their lives are condescended towards and granted the qualifier 'functioning', but are still 'diseased'.

I don't mean to judge either way -- there is much to be said for the power of intoxicants, and alcohol may be the oldest one humans have used. There is also much to be said about the destruction that excessive alcohol use has wrought, and continues to wreak on individuals and families and societies.

Neither extreme tells the whole story. Each individual is different, and the balance between the exalted and the debased, between the bacchanalian reveller and the destructive and damaged addict is always fluid.

For my part, I've had more friends whose lives have been ripped to shit by cocaine (for example) than ones whose lives have been ruined by booze (though I've seen both), and I've some had friends who have bounced back from both.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:52 PM on January 23, 2007 [11 favorites]


Judging from the anesthegiologist's anecdote, the pain he suffered from his condition would have required a wheelbarrow full of pills to control. Andre found something that eased it enough to let him live a productive life.

Say what you will, I have nothing but admiration for him.
posted by figment of my conation at 6:44 PM on January 23, 2007


Sometimes I think of how little tolerance I have for the alcoholics in my life and I'm sad that I've seen so many promising people ruin themselves with drink.

And then I pop in a Thin Man movie and make myself a martini. Ahhhhh, good times.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:01 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


For myself, having mainly had an image of Andre as a media figure and goofy comic actor, it was a bit surprising to overhear the kudos for him at the WWE Hall of Fame as my nephew and friend played the DVD in the next room. There was endless droning fellatio given to Vince McMahon, of course, which was so excessive and frequent that it became self-satire. Did you all know that he's a prince among men, that he'll give you the shirt off his back (if he thinks he can make a million off you as you break yours)? I did not.

Anyway, amid an event that was as carefully scripted as a Bush photo-op, there were two points of what I would call genuine emotion. One was when this guy thanked the girl who died and gave him a new kidney. Oddly, the audience cheered. Yeah! Little girl died in a horrible car accident! Whoo hoo! But he reminded people to sign their organ donor cards.

The second was when they reviewed Andre the Giant's career.
posted by dhartung at 7:41 PM on January 23, 2007


More stories about him here.
posted by motty at 7:42 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Read this like two weeks ago, was almost certain it was completely fabricated, but tucked it away nonetheless.

Of course, it doesn't really matter if it's true at all. It's fuckin' perfect.
posted by adoarns at 8:19 PM on January 23, 2007


Really enjoyed the article, and I'm loving the comments.
Thanks!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:23 PM on January 23, 2007


Also, there's no substantiation for a single claim, no attribution, no nothing. Just a collection of legends and hearsay, so far as I can tell.

yep ... after all, a writer's best move, when writing about a person whose friends are all 250-350 pounds, act like maniacs in public, look like they've been taking steroids daily for 20 years, and could squeeze said writer to death with one hand, is to make up a bunch of libelous shit about him being a drunkard

"HEY!! did you know that an average person has 206 BONES in his body? ... i'm going to BREAK every one of yours and COUNT them to see how many YOU have"

oh, yeah, GREAT career move for a writer
posted by pyramid termite at 8:38 PM on January 23, 2007


Wow. I never thought I'd hear tell of Ox Baker again. Pretty much the only thing I have signed by a "famous person" is a picture of Ox Baker.

When I was about six or seven years-old, I was way into wrestling. On the plane home from a business trip, my father, who was decidedly not into wrestling, sat next to a very down-and-out Big Ox Baker (who was not much of a wrestling personality to begin with). Excited to have met a real live wrestler, my Dad asked the Ox if he'd sign something for me. Big Ox signed a black and white portrait of himself in tights in front of what looks like a high school stage. After presenting my Dad with this invaluable treasure (which I just dug up), Big Ox said "That'll be ten bucks." I'm not sure they talked much for the rest of the flight.

/derail
posted by kosem at 8:39 PM on January 23, 2007


Neither before, nor since, have I thrilled to witness a bigger-than-life, heroic, always-beats-the-bad-guys guy who was -- in fact -- bigger than life. That Andre was a professional in and out of the ring who adored his fans as much as they adored him only makes my memories richer (something todays athletes of all stripes might consider.)

And that he did it all while pickled? Cherry on top. :)
posted by deCadmus at 9:11 PM on January 23, 2007


I can't believe I didn't root for this guy when I used to watch his bouts on Wrestlemania as a kid.

deCadmus, wasn't Andre the Giant pitted as the bad guy against Hogan's good??
posted by hadjiboy at 9:19 PM on January 23, 2007


deCadmus, wasn't Andre the Giant pitted as the bad guy against Hogan's good??

Andre is known best as a heel, but he went back and forth a couple times.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:12 PM on January 23, 2007


hadjiboy - wasn't Andre the Giant pitted as the bad guy against Hogan's good?

I could never believe Hogan as a Good Guy. Too narcissistic, by far.
posted by deCadmus at 10:31 PM on January 23, 2007


Oh let's whine about famous heroic beloved dead people who enjoyed drinking! And then we will make impeachment puppets from organic ingredients. Jesus christ, people used to fucking drink with some dignity. What's wrong with you all? George W. Bush will be president forever, because you people are pansies.
posted by kenlayne at 10:36 PM on January 23, 2007


Is there a magazine for classic drunkards?
posted by mazola at 10:51 PM on January 23, 2007


Other symptoms of acromegaly include thick, coarse, oily skin; skin tags; enlarged lips, nose and tongue; deepening of the voice due to enlarged sinuses and vocal cords; snoring due to upper airway obstruction; excessive sweating and skin odor; fatigue and weakness; headaches; impaired vision; abnormalities of the menstrual cycle and sometimes breast discharge in women; and impotence in men. There may be enlargement of body organs, including the liver, spleen, kidneys and heart.

Dear Sweet Dog on High. I'd drink too, to say the least.

Wherever he is, I hope André has plenty of vodka.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:59 PM on January 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is there a magazine for classic drunkards?

There's Custom Drunkard. I have an unfinished project of my own locked in the garage.
posted by vbfg at 2:49 AM on January 24, 2007


My wife met Andre when she was in elementary school. Her parents said that she came about up to his knee. She said it was like meeting a tree.

My oldest friend and I love Princess Bride, and held joking debates about whether Andre was robbed of a Best Supporting Actor award for his role. My oldest friend also happened to drink his way out of college and spent the last 10 years or so as a bartender. (He eventually graduated, just took him 10 years to get back on track). I just sent him this link - I know he'll appreciate it.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:55 AM on January 24, 2007


Stavros, that's a really interesting comment. It's something that I've been thinking about for quite a while, and I think you pretty much nailed it.
posted by ob at 9:30 AM on January 24, 2007


Is there a magazine for classic drunkards?

Oh, you're after Kratur and Bacchus. I'm sure L-hat will be along shortly with more accurate title recall, in the original Greek. Handy tips on drinking in symposium, transporting wine in large earthen vessels, how much wine to lay in if one expects either demigod or cyclops at table, how much should one tip another's household slave, is it appropriate to drink with Trojans, how drinking helps stave off plague, you know, the usual.
posted by mwhybark at 12:47 AM on January 25, 2007


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