“The author’s commitment to carbonating even the most esoteric subjects”

Mr. Regan grew up working in his family’s pubs in Lancashire, England, before coming to the United States in the early 1970s. While tending bar in New York City, he cultivated a reputation as both a clever raconteur and a skilled master of the cocktail.

“Drinks are not the main reason to tend bar,” he told Drink magazine in 2018. “The most important thing a bartender can do is make people smile.”

Washington also had a bartender, Steve Daley, who could make people smile, and he went on to use his behind-the-bar skills at making people laugh into a good career in journalism. From a 2016 post titled “What a Wonderful Way to Describe a Writer”:


Steve Daley had the gift of carbonation.

Caitlin Flanagan’s review of Tom Wolfe’s book, The Kingdom of Speech, in the New York Times Book Review said:

We are dealing with a short book by a big writer on a dull topic. . . .The scope is far too vast for such brief treatment, and the author’s lifelong commitment to carbonating even the most esoteric subjects leads him to get caught up in so many gossipy side notes . . .that the reader is left to wonder what, exactly, is Wolfe’s point.

Carbonating means to make effervescent, sparkling, fizzy, bubbling. What a great way to describe a writer.

The ability to carbonate words is a gift and the writer best at it who I worked with was Steve Daley, a bartender turned writer who died too young five years ago. Steve wrote mostly for the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers but did some Washingtonian pieces that sparkled. Having lunch with Steve was the most fun an editor could have.

Steve was a protege of another wonderful character, Dave Burgin, an editor who tried to save the Dallas Times Herald, San Francisco Examiner, and other newspapers. Burgin, like Steve Daley and Tom Wolfe, could carbonate any kind of journalism.

So thank you Caitlin Flanagan for adding carbonation to the vocabulary of journalism.

Speak Your Mind