The only times I’ve experienced the “Spring Break Experience”, the full “this is the vein of the USA and whatcha gonna do about it?” deal, I’ve prowled the margins, unable to interact, to get drunk, even. Experience too horrible.
At least it’s comforting to know that Keith Strasbaugh (or, more accurately, his narrator), an alcoholic bro type (but in the “21-year-old Hulk Hogan hairline” way) and author of “Beer and Loathing in Panama City” feels the same. What’s not so comforting is reading BaLIPC, a Hunter S. Thompson (without the drugs — Strasbaugh’s narrator sneers at drug users and craves coffee) wannabe journey to the “Redneck Riviera”, Panama City (Florida, that is).
Our narrator is a UVA student who sets off to drink and have sex on his spring break, with a company of stoners, alcoholics and vicious losers who, at times, inject an itty bit of drama into the story. But he doesn’t get laid — he just drinks and smokes … and doesn’t give a shit.
When you see past the fun tricks and gimmicks of his language (and there are a good few — just see “Antidiluvian ass lamps”) and the semi-wry snippets of commentary (“What happens in Panama City, stays on Panasonic SD cards … and is later posted on Facebook”), Strasbaugh’s narrator is really a depressing person.
He’s on the periphery of the group, always trying to get involved, never succeeding; misogynistic yet worried about what’s happening to the debauched “sorority sluts” around him. Despite the tiny social commentary (modern life is shit so we should party / partying as subversion) at the end, the narrator is obsessed only with himself, and himself drinking (and smoking, in a cringingly bad section where cigarettes = good to pick up chixxx). That’s not interesting, even in such a short work.