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Podcast Summary:

“Anyway, I’ll Drink to That” is a Boozn Sam’s production, exploring the fun, quirky, and fascinating tales of drinks (Negroni in this episode) that define culture, history and the world. Every drink has a story to tell, and I’m going to tell it…as true as I can. Hosted by Sam, from Boozn Sam’s. Saddle up with a good cocktail and give me a few minutes of your time for a mystery surrounding a drink that changed the world.

Episode 17 Details:

A famous media mogul, after fame and success in the US, finally met his match battling the fiesty Italians. He walked away a brusied and beaten, but with a drink to ease his pain. 

Transcript of Podcast:

*This is the entire podcast episode in written form. Do not read if you want the audio version to be spoiled.

It was Black Magic that brought Charles to Italy but not the reason he stayed. The sort of magic practiced by witches, capable of hexing and jinxing. And it was the hexes that Charles fell victim to during his six years here. And while he came for the magic, he stayed for that age old reason, that noblest and most frustrating of reasons. Love.

Charles had made a name for himself in the United States as a media magnate years prior. But, for all of his success and his influence in media, which at this time of the world, around the 1920’s, print was still a dominant form, Charles was an unhappy man. Some even ventured to say that he hadn’t had a happy moment in his life since childhood.

Too much struggle for wealth had become such a centralizing focus that it also made him miserable. It seemed to be a price Charles traded willingly. This was understandable, considering his upbringing. While he had come from money, it didn’t mean life had been devoid of hardship.  

Because, money alone doesn’t mean an easy life, and Charles can attest to this. His dad, a very wealthy man, having achieved great success, lost purpose and turned to drinking as an escape. 

With his dad’s face, and liver, buried deep in the bottle, Charles’ mother cared for him…teaching him the joys of music and the arts. Charles was forced to split his time, from the age of 4 on, between his father and his mother. Until the age of 9 anyway, which was when his mother passed away. 

After that point he lived exclusively with his father, who pulled him out of school and took him on great adventures to the Indies and other places. Upon returning stateside again they settled down once more. But, the stability was not to last, as Charles’ dad drank himself to death. And, at the age of 15, Charles found himself alone and the ward of a family friend. 

He’d given up music, even though he was a prodigy, and took to other ambitions. These ambitions brought him great fame and influence early on and by the age of 25 one of his most famous creations was born. 

This was in part due to his sensational storytelling, a gift that allowed Charles to excel in his media profession. So it was this media which grew in popularity and, despite a lackluster start, received global recognition and study over the years. 

Charles was an innovator, capable of crafting unique narratives that conveyed information and stories in a way never done before. 

He also created a technique for telling stories, one still used by media companies today. It seems commonplace now because it’s used all the time, just as I’m using it now, but, back when he rolled it out in 1925, it was unheard of. 

Non-linear narrative. It’s the idea that the narrative of a story in media does not progress from point A to Point B and then Point C in a linear manor, but that the final plot point could start the story, as I’ve started this story with talking about Charles in Italy and then backtracked to discuss his career before Italy, and his childhood. Eventually I’ll make my way forward again to Italy. This narrative is non-linear. Common place now. But, novel and unheard of at the time. 

So, Charles was a master at his craft. But, that didn’t necessarily help him with the Italians…who can be a… prickly bunch at times. Maybe it’s a point of national pride, an unwillingness to recognize the talents and skills of someone who isn’t Italian. 

And Charles was not Italian, although he tried. Especially when he escaped there to run away from his failing relationship in the United States, a relationship that was on its last leg. Plus there was opportunity for Charles in Italy to practice and expand his media empire. It was a worthy challenge.

So, he hopped on a plane and found his way to Italy, and he pursued media with the same passion he had pursued everything else in life. And, along the way, he stumbled across a drink, that he would, coincidentally, make famous in the United States when his adoring followers latched on to it.

This drink originated in Florence, Italy when Count Camillo was feeling just a bit feisty and ordered a well known drink, with liquor instead of soda water. 

That was 30 years prior and the drink had not yet spread to the US by 1947 when Charles arrived.

Charles had arrived Post WWII, at a time when Italy, if you remember, was not on the winning side. So, the arrival of a famous American – successful, colorful, boisterous – the embodiment of all the postured victory lap sort of thing that America would do to hammer the point home, did not go well. 

Of course, Charles wasn’t there for that, but an individual in his position couldn’t help but end up that way. He was too big a figure. Too large a target. So the Italian press attacked him, and his mounting Italian failures in his media pursuits. Some were due to bad luck and poor timing, others to miscalculations. And, if there is one thing that always holds true, it’s that to those who have found success, they are judged all the harder for their failures. 

We love to see big folks fall. It makes the little folks feel vindicated. That it was nothing more than luck. That if he or she was truly good and skilled and better, he or she would succeed every time.

This is probably why these Italian years are the lost years for Charles, the years that are often glossed over in the biographies and histories of Charles. 

He fell in love, only to have the relationship end dramatically a year and a half later. 

He unveiled multiple media projects, that he thought for sure would be successful, but ended up being met with muted appreciation and harsh Italian criticism. 

Charles couldn’t catch a break…aside from that drink, of course, which he drank with great pleasure…the balance of healthful tonics and harmful booze that balanced itself out perfect. 

But, it was the early successes that Charles was chasing during this time, trying to find new and novel ways to reinvent his craft and profession after having already achieved so much. He wanted to push the boundaries. Maybe he pushed himself too hard and stunted his creative juices, the same ones that had unlocked such masterful, new techniques that changed the art of storytelling. 

Whatever it was, the truth is, that during the six years Charles spent in Italy, he worked on many projects that were never finished. Some ran out of money. Some had production issues. Some just…dried up and became no more. Of course, some he finished. But those, too, were not as successful as his media work in the United States.

Perhaps they were as good and the reception of an ice cold Italian audience was the differentiating factor.

Either way, this time in his life, would not be fruitful for Charles in terms of success but it would be a period of great trials and learning. And if there is anything that DOES hold true, it’s that great trials and struggle eventually reap reward, given enough time and persistence. 

So, Charles, became Charles, the character that this real individual played in his most popular movie so far. Because, you see, Charles, as portrayed on the big media screen, not the primary form of media at the time, which was print, was an unhappy, but very successful business man. 

Charles, the true story depicting the real life man by the name of William Randolf Hearst, a wealthy newspaper tycoon who was once friends with this director and actor, 

until they had a falling out,

Which caused this director to produce the movie he did,

That received no recognition at the box office,

In part because Hearst used his media control to blackball the movie from all of his newspapers. 

But, the cream always rises to the top and the brilliance and innovation of this movie would eventually receive recognition 

And many awards and critical acclaim,

So much so that this movie is still studied in film classes today…

And considered by many critics to be the best movie of all time.

Citizen Kane 

Is the name of the movie.

Featuring the protagonist Charles Kane, a wealthy media businessman,

Which Orson Welles directed and acted in

And released at the age of 25

It was six years later that Welles found his way to Italy after his marriage was falling apart with Rita Hayworth

and his career had reached a sort of… temporary plateau

Which is part of the reason he ended up in Italy acting in a movie by the name of Black Magic,

A romance based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas Joseph Balsamo

While there he was introduced to a drink,

The Negroni

  • Made with 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • And garnished with an orange peel

He fell in love with this bitter, but delicious, Negroni drink and drank many of them during the trying years he spent in Italy,

Battered by the media, 

Loving and losing,

Trying his hand directing several different films that were poorly received, 

Such as a rendition of Macbeth.

And after 6 years he left Italy and moved on, but he took his love for the Negroni with him.

The Negroni had risen in popularity in the United States at this time thanks to Welles

And Welles would go on to produce several more sensational movies, which would also garner critical acclaim and success

The lost years of Italy were a stepping stone,

A necessary part of his career develop,

The fall after a great rise

Before another greater rise

And this greater rise would also be accompanied by the drink of his choice,

The Negroni

Anyway…I’ll drink to that.