Doctor Vodka: Time Traveler?!
The emergence of antique photos has many questioning the murky past- or is it future- of our very own Nate “Doctor Vodka” Gifford.
Tucked away in the cobwebbed recesses of Google, intrepid explorers have discovered unmistakable photographic evidence of time travel. The following is a portrait dating from 1863 of a man going by the name Sanford Robinson Gifford, posing with his friend and sidekick Chauncey before one of their many forays into civil warfare:
Closer examination with the aid of sophisticated restorative methods reveals something remarkable:
The resemblance to Nate, the Head Distiller here at Blackfish Spirits Distillery, is simply uncanny. Compare the above figure to Doctor Vodka himself:
The resemblance is undeniable. Moreover, based on archival evidence and eyewitness testimony of close friends and colleagues of Sanford Robinson Gifford, it has become overwhelmingly clear that Nathan Gifford and Sanford Robinson Gifford are, in fact, the same Gifford.
Impossible, you might think. Time travel is an urban legend, you might say. But even urban legends have basis in fact. Compare the following image to that of Nathan above, his pose of thoughtful recline mirrored by the man calling himself Sanford Robinson Gifford:
Truly remarkable. Still, some argue that this resemblance is coincidence, the result of random genetic chance. They suggest that Nathan looks identical to Sanford Robinson due simply to the fact that the former is a descendant of the latter. This would seem a fair assumption to make and, at first blush, would appear to neatly answer the pressing questions raised by these mesmerizing images. But is it possible for an explanation to be too neat?
Yes, it is. In fact, it is so neat, it is as though somebody has actively gone about covering their tracks so as to preserve the delicate space/time continuum from the potentially apocalyptic effects of Chaos Theory. Moreover, the odds of two people being identical despite not being identical twins are astronomical. The probability of two people bearing such an exacting likeness are so infinitesimally small as to be reasonably considered impossible. No, this is no mere result of chance.
Alternatively, it has been argued that, while Nathan and Sanford Robinson might be the same person, there need not be any time travel involved. Rather, Nathan has gone by many names, including Sanford Robinson and countless others, for he is an immortal being, spoken of largely in disavowed folklore and pagan murmurings, referred to by various names that often translate roughly as “Spirit Collector.” He is said to wander the world for eternity, reducing all that he touches to a fundamental essence beyond the ken of mortal beings that, when consumed, temporarily reduces the consumer to a likewise fundamental state of being.
Such fanciful theories, while highly appealing, are unfortunately untrue. As Nathan’s brother, I can confidently attest that he grew from a child like a normal human being. He did not, as this “Spirit Collector” theory would suggest, appear one day with an adopted first name and magical abilities. He has worked hard to attain his magical abilities, and it is clear he is just beginning.
Let’s compare two more pictures:
Uncanny. The beard is trimmed and some aging has occurred, but this is to be expected when a man travels into the past.
A friend once described one of the above personages as having character that, “…as manifested in his outward bearing, was serene and placid, resting on resources within himself.” You would be forgiven for not knowing of whom this description was written, for it describes both equally well. This, too, is to be expected when a man travels into the past.
Based on the complete lack of photographic evidence of Sanford Robinson Gifford’s early life and his apparent age in the available photographs, it can be safely surmised that, in the near future, Nathan Gifford, our head distiller and esteemed hermano, will harness his degree in astrophysics to break the temporal flow and relocate, bodily, to a Union Army encampment in the early 1860s. There, he will use the confusion of internecine combat to adopt the nom du guerre of Sanford Robinson Gifford. The profusion of distilled spirits in pre-prohibition America will allow him to switch careers and take up the brush as a landscape painter.
John F. Weir, a close contemporary of Sanford Robinson (or Nathan as I like to imagine he was known among a select few) Gifford, had some choice words to describe his friend’s handiwork: “Gifford’s art was poetic and reminiscent. It was not realistic in the normal sense. It was nature passed through the alembic of a finely-organized sensibility.” Similarly, Nate’s finely crafted spirits have been known to give tasters synesthetic visions of diffuse sunsets over enchanted lands. His is a unique power than transcends disciplines just as he is a figure that transcends time.
Unfortunately, it remains unclear whether or not Nate/Sanford Robinson finds a way to return to the present. After spending several decades producing over 700 works of art, Sanford Robinson emerged and rambled incoherently about “jigga whats and flux kabobs,” affording the public one last photo before retreating into his New York City home:
It was reported that Sanford Robinson Gifford then succumbed to malarial fever, but this, too, is not without doubt. As ever, he remained a mystery after his alleged passing. As Weir put it, his placid nature was but “…an indication of the depth of the stream that flowed within, whose floods, and swirls, and eddies often caught him from the light and carried him into cavernous depths of shade….”
Whatever the case may be, Nate/Sanford Robinson Gifford does return home, even if his timing is off. While working as a painter, he is sent west to create enticing images that encourage relocation and settlement in the untamed wilds of the Pacific frontier.
He made sure to attract just the right sort of people. After all, he had his future to think about.
Happy Birthday, Nate, and a very merry Cinco de Nato to all!