Not to be dramatic, but this has been the sort of winter that made much of America want to unzip its Old Navy performance fleece vest, gently place it neatly folded in a snowbank, and curl up in a ball in the subzero night, waiting for death's sweet release to lead us like lambs out of pain and into oblivion. As such, there's never been a better time for Jezebel's March Madness — our annual celebration of competition and absurdity where we completely ignore the NCAA tournament in favor of things that actually matter in our lives. In honor of this year's shittiness, this year's tournament is a celebration of the unhealthy means by which we escape the doldrums: drugs vs. alcohol.
This year's selection committee hearings were so heated that they nearly caused a rift between this site's editorial staff, but as the dust clears from the shitstorm of loud opinions and hurt feelings, four regions containing 64 intoxicants, narcotics, pills, powders, shots, vintages, and, uh, wine boxes will now compete for your votes.
A downloadable/printable pdf of this bracket lives right here.
The Illegal Drugs region, as expected, has some hard-to-ignore competitors. Weed tops the seeds, followed by other such "fun" drugs as cocaine, molly, and magic mushrooms. But don't discount the lower ranked entries in this league — heroin will be difficult to shake, and meth, despite the end of Breaking Bad, still talks pretty big game. Will marijuana be the gateway drug to ultimate victory? Not if the other divisions have anything to say about it.
The Legal Drugs region is stacked with competitors who perfected their technique in the lab, not in the streets, which might cause some purists to cry foul. But there's no shame in their game, led by the indispensable and reliable Caffeine. While it might seem like America's favorite brown beverage stimulant has the region on lock, other strong entries like Addreall, Advil, and nicotine could easily mount challenges. And anyone who has had their wisdom teeth removed or knee cartilage shaved knows that Vicodin can really come through in the clutch.
Onto the fierce Hard Alcohol region. True fans of drugs and alcohol love them because unlike the drugs, every single competitor in this region will make you barf after a single digit number of servings and unlike drugs, you don't have to hastily hide it when your landlord comes over to look at your pipes. That kind of hard-nosed play means such competitors as vodka, Jack Daniels, gin, and the criminally underseeded rum will be a nail biter to watch play out.
Don't let the name of our final "Soft Stuff" region fool you; a long history of reliable intoxicating achievement and social acceptability means that these are the teams to beat. It's got something for every palate and every level of sophistication: champagne sitting on top, followed by the significantly more blue collar but no less worthy PBR. In a surprising and controversial move, Franzia is seeded above both red and white wine, and the highest ranked beer that people drink when they're not pretending to be Irish doesn't show up until the 10th seed.
Are these rankings definitive? Absolutely not. But part of the beauty of March Madness is watching unpredictable chaos overtake humanity's futile attempts to assign order to that which cannot be tamed. Don't like the rankings? Don't like the regions? Tough jerky. Those decisions were never yours to make. But by that same token, you decide who wins — it's completely out of our hands.
So get ready for the competition to end all competitions. Voting starts on Monday. In the meantime, feel free to make your favored competitor's case to the public, and prepare for a bloodbath.
Images by the incomparable Jim Cooke.