November 16, 2008

Is Wisconsin drunk?

The NYT shocks the world with a devasting exposé of our dissolute Wisconsin culture:
[P]lenty of Wisconsin people say they need to make no apologies for their fondness for drinking.

“I work 70, 80 hours a week, and sometimes I just want to relax,” said Luke Gersich, 31, an engineering technician, who drank a Miller as he watched the Monday Night Football game at Wile-e’s tavern. On a weeknight, he said he might drink seven or eight beers. On a weekend, it might be closer to 12.

In Wisconsin, people often say, there is always a bar around the next corner. But drinking is scarcely limited to taverns. A Friday fish fry at a Wisconsin church will almost surely include beer. The state counts some 5,000 holders of liquor licenses, the most per capita of any state, said Peter Madland, the executive director of the Tavern League of Wisconsin.
Don't forget the Rathskeller!
“We’re not ashamed of it,” Mr. Madland said. He said anti-alcohol campaigns were efforts to “demonize” people who simply liked to kick back and relax with some drinks.

“It’s gotten to the point where people are afraid to have a couple of beers after work and drive home, for fear they’ll be labeled a criminal,” he said. “At lunch, people are afraid if they order a beer someone will think they have a drinking problem.”...

As for allowing minors to drink in bars with their parents, Mr. Schneider said the law simply allowed for parents to educate and supervise the youthful drinking. “If they’re going to drink anyhow,” said [State Representative Marlin] Schneider, Democrat of Wisconsin Rapids, “it’s better to do it with the parents than to sneak around.”...

In [bar-owner Mike] Whaley’s view, the bar can be a suitable place for families to gather, especially when the beloved Green Bay Packers are on the television. “On game days, a buddy of mine will come to the bar with his 2-year-old, his 8-year-old and his 10-year-old,” Mr. Whaley said. “He might get a little drunk. But his wife just has a few cocktails. It’s no big deal. Everybody has a good time.”
You can always collect hilarious quotes about drinking. People who drink lose track of how much and of how much looks like way too much to people who don't drink.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ron said:
Without naming posts, mind....has Althouse ever blogged drunk?
No, name the posts! That's the interesting question. While I deny ever blogging -- or vlogging -- drunk (though I almost always have a glass of wine in the evening), I'd like to know, which posts seem most explicable on theory that I was drunk.

AND: The comments discussion leads to "Let's mix up that cocktail we call a Sarah Palin."

ALSO: Instapundit links to this post with the line "STANDING UP AGAINST THE BLUENOSES in Wisconsin," and that makes me want to add something serious. In the comments, there's some talk about why the New York Times is targeting Wisconsin. Palladian says:
Lol. Yeah, nobody in New York drinks.

Hell, maybe nobody at the Times drinks. Maybe if they did, they'd be better writers.
Thomas says:
All the Times had to do was send someone into any of the bars near its HQ to write the same story -- I work nearby -- but someone managed to convince their boss that they had to get on a plane to write this story. It is no wonder the Times is on the verge of bankruptcy: they have refused to adapt to the times, no pun intended.
But I think this part of the article is the real hint about why the NYT has focused on Wisconsin:
A coalition called All-Wisconsin Alcohol Risk Education started a campaign last week to push for tougher drunken driving laws, an increase in screening for alcohol abuse at health clinics and a greater awareness of drinking problems generally.

The group, led by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, criticized the state as having lenient alcohol laws and assailed a mindset that accepts, even celebrates, getting drunk.

“Our goal is to dramatically change the laws, culture and behaviors in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Robert N. Golden, the dean of the medical school, calling the state “an island of excessive consumption.” He said state agencies would use a $12.6 million federal grant to step up screening, intervention and referral services at 20 locations around Wisconsin.
The Times is responding to a movement to change our laws here in Wisconsin. And isn't it interesting that a huge federal grant -- aimed at "screening, intervention and referral services" and alcohol abuse -- is connected to a political movement to change the laws that apply to all of us?

The NYT forefronts the law that lets parents supervise their own children. (When my sons were 19 or 18 or even 17 or 16, I could dine with them in a restaurant and we could all share a bottle of wine. Outrageous or civilized?)

Less conspicuous is this revelation: "Wisconsin law prohibits sobriety checks by the police, a common practice in other states." (The Times deserves some credit for noting that opposition to random checkpoints is considered by some people to be "an intrusion on Constitutional rights of due process.")

MORE COMMENTS: An emailer writes:
Family bars are a mid-western tradition. I noticed this when I lived in Rantoul, Illinois many years ago. On a Friday night, the entire town would gather at one or two bars. The men would drink beer and watch TV. The women would dance with each other to the jukebox, and the kids ran around being kids. People there did not realize that this is not common in other parts of the country. Being raised as a Southerner, I was shocked to see this custom, but frankly now I don’t see the harm in it.
Miles from Kansas said:
Living in rural (Catholic) St. Charles County, MO in the 60s and 70s, the country tavern was the social hub of the community, and kids were always a part of that. There were games to play, as well has cheeseburgers and french fries, but kids were never allowed to drink beer. Nearly all those taverns, which had been around since the 1800s are closed now, and the area is no longer rural, or Catholic. It's a piece of history that should be recorded.
MadisonMan said:
One of my favorite places to take my kids for Cheeseburgers is the bar closest to my house, the Village Bar. Their fries are great too! If they see someone drinking in the bar, so what?

Puritans, be gone!

58 comments:

Brad V said...

The Gray Lady doth protest too much.

And the article reaches its conclusions without even mentioning Wisconsin's rank as lead consumer of brandy.

Lawgiver said...

I used to drink a case a week but now that my doctor has introduced me to prescription drugs I don't drink anymore. If I do drink then I'll sleep for 14 hours. Frankly, I'd rather be back on the beer and off the drugs.

Meade said...

Ann Althouse said...
"You can't take a vacation from yourself."

Drugs.

Not recommending it. Just saying.


Alcohol.

Not recommending it...

Palladian said...

Lol. Yeah, nobody in New York drinks.

Hell, maybe nobody at the Times drinks. Maybe if they did, they'd be better writers.

Skyler said...

one of the great benefits of being a law student and not having a job is that you can have beer for lunch!

Ann Althouse said...

Meade, you have to put the letter c into the URL to make it work, like this:

http://althouse.blogspot.com/2008/11/intranational-tourism-is-radically.html#c1472358782876641389

rcocean said...

This explains the vote for Obama.

Meade said...

Thanks, teacher!

Thomas said...

All the Times had to do was send someone into any of the bars near its HQ to write the same story--I work nearby--but someone managed to convince their boss that they had to get on a plane to write this story. It is no wonder the Times is on the verge of bankruptcy: they have refused to adapt to the times, no pun intended.

Freeman Hunt said...

“On game days, a buddy of mine will come to the bar with his 2-year-old, his 8-year-old and his 10-year-old,” Mr. Whaley said. “He might get a little drunk. But his wife just has a few cocktails. It’s no big deal. Everybody has a good time.”

This is a great example of something a parent can do to make his kids feel weird.

Ann Althouse said...

I think this is the part that explains why the Times is writing about Wisconsin:

"The group, led by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, criticized the state as having lenient alcohol laws and assailed a mindset that accepts, even celebrates, getting drunk. “Our goal is to dramatically change the laws, culture and behaviors in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Robert N. Golden, the dean of the medical school, calling the state “an island of excessive consumption.” He said state agencies would use a $12.6 million federal grant to step up screening, intervention and referral services at 20 locations around Wisconsin."

There's a huge federal grant there and a push to change our laws. I love the way a grant about screening, intervention and referral services becomes a basis for trying to change laws that currently protect us from random sobriety checks and that sort of thing.

Darcy said...

They're drunk! Drunk, I tell ya! It's the only explanation...

On a serious note, I hate seeing kids in the bar. Just creepy parenting, I think. And I mean bars, not bar/restaurant type establishments.

Ron said...

Without naming posts, mind....has Althouse ever blogged drunk?

Chip Ahoy said...

Rathskeller. That is so odd. When we lived overseas my mum was beginning to go insane from living on base. To prevent her insanity from taking hold, and looking back, I think she needed to get away from us, she took a job on the Ginza at a place called the Rathskeller, a place were expatriates hung out and drank beer from glass mugs in the shape of a boot of various sizes, including really big ones. They were souvenirs. This, of course, drove my dear ol' dad insane, who vastly preferred her to stay at home rather than head off to one of the most hyperactive streets in the world. He saw nothing but trouble come of it. So they developed something of a competition of insanities. He used to take my brother and myself there to that noisy and busy subterranean lounge to check up on her.

Ron said...

Chip, that sounds like a blast to me!
Off! To the Ginza!

Palladian said...

"While I deny ever blogging -- or vlogging -- drunk (though I almost always have a glass of wine in the evening), I'd like to know, which posts seem most explicable on theory that I was drunk."

How about any of the ones where you explain your decision to vote for Obama?

Zing! Thank you!

Chris Wren said...

If you ask me there's something fundamentally wrong with people who can't distinguish between a culture that enjoys drink and chronic drunkenness as an endemic "social problem".

Ron said...

While I hat tip the tag, Doc, I would not name such posts myself! If I'm going to say "Althouse, you're drunk/high/Voting for Obama/obsessed with squirrels!" I'd have to have more direct evidence than blog posts! Maybe a vlog...

I get philosophic and morose when drunk, so I'm no fun there...

But if you announce getting drunk first and then say at time X, you'll be blogging, I bet you get Sarah Palin-like Sitemeter push!

Let's make a cocktail for you to drink first...a "Sarah Palin." On the rocks! (ice, don't ya know!)

john said...

Ann said this -

While I deny ever blogging -- or vlogging -- drunk (though I almost always have a glass of wine in the evening) which made me think of this. Cheers!

Bissage said...

I am sitting at my desk. The cats should be dozing but one of them jumps up and sticks her rump in my face. I know what that means, so I call Mrs. Bissage. I hold the cat and Mrs. Bissage stands ready with the tweezers.

With one deft pluck, out comes the plug and the cat let’s fly with a blast of brown juice from one of her anal sacs. It forms an impressive, high-power arc two feet long as if shot from a water cannon and I find myself amazed to be able to see each and every little droplet of the foul-smelling stuff as if in slow motion.

Mrs. Bissage takes most of it across her face and glasses.

I laugh out loud and the cat dashes out of the room to find a quiet hiding place to lick her anus.

Mrs. Bissage is not amused.

That makes me laugh even more.

Mrs. Bissage gets very angry at me.

I stop laughing . . . immediately.

So, fellow Althousians, you may well ask, what does this little story have to do with our hostess’s post about Wisconsin drinking customs and the balance of state and federal power?

As penance for my transgression . . . I am now drinking.

I blame Mrs. Bissage.

[ hic ]

Palladian said...

"Let's make a cocktail for you to drink first...a "Sarah Palin." On the rocks! (ice, don't ya know!)"

What would a Sarah Palin cocktail be?

1 oz Stolichnaya (because you can see Russia from her house)

1 oz Southern Comfort (to assuage the "base")

1/2 oz Jägermeister (for both the elk's blood rumor and the label)

1/2 oz Bénédictine (for that religious flavor)

dash of Vietnamese fish sauce (a nod to Alaska's fishing industry)

pour over a large quantity of ice and shake until very cold. Empty contents into a very, very expensive Baccarat crystal glass purchased with funds from the RNC. Run a MAC-brand lipstick, color "Verve", around the rim of the glass. Sling contents into the face of the first reporter you can find. Sell glass and donate proceeds to charity.

chickenlittle said...

@Palladian: That recipe sounds more like a high-end wapatuli.

Ron said...

Palladian, I'd sooner drink malted battery acid than do Jager and fish sauce! (though a "grenade fishing" cocktail, could be composed...)

Instead of fish sauce, let's float some salmon roe on a paper thin slice of sushi-grade tuna on top!

Ron said...

oh, and a pork rind with some lipstick on the glass!

Simon said...

I've commented drunk before. And right now I'm commenting while eating cheese. So I'm a natural wisconsinite, I suppose!

Simon said...

Palladian said...
"What would a Sarah Palin cocktail be?"

Vodka on the rocks. Simple, classy, and ice cold yet surprisingly warming.

Meade said...

It's an indisputable fact that alcohol, in any amount, shrinks one's brain.

Now, some of us were not endowed by our Creator with substantially large brains to begin with. Being, lets's say, "brain challenged" myself, I limit my alcohol consumption to 1 Guinness per week. More than that and, I figure, I would pass from the functionally retarded range into full on certifiable idiocy.

But I can't help looking with awe and envy upon Wisconsinites, most Althouse commenters (e.g., Ron, Bissage, Palladian...), and Althouse herself for what appears to me to be the need for a medicine (alcohol) to relieve some of the pressure that apparently builds up in their skulls from being cursed with having been endowed with so many excess bothersome brain cells.

It literally boggles my puny undersized brain.

jdeeripper said...

Palladian said...What would a Sarah Palin cocktail be?

I don't know but this is what it looks like .

Simon said...

JD, I'm pretty sure that's not her, but if it is, kudos. A little thin, but in good shape.

Trooper York said...

It is typical of the worthless pussies in the New York Times to write such complete and utter bullshit. Having a drink at lunch is normal and has been normal since fucking Beowulf hit the fucking haggis stand before monster hunting.

Like everything else you would find in the Times it is totally worthless.

The only thing worse than a sober journalist is a drunken lawyer.

TMink said...

"the law simply allowed for parents to educate and supervise the youthful drinking.

That is the way my wife and I are teaching our 14 year old daughter how to drink, we are slowly offering her some alcohol. So far, it has been beer and red wine. The current strategy is to show her that she does not like the taste of alcoholic drinks! 8)

Soon, we will need to switch over to things she can actually swallow. Then allow her to feel the effects and stop to see how long it takes to get over that dose.

The alternative is to let her learn from binge drinking idiots, i.e. her peers.

Trey

TMink said...

Skyler, I recall being in psychology grad school! I was in Denver which has a good local beer or two. I think I had beer with every lunch I could during those days. Now I have to wait for some conference to have a beer with lunch.

Enjoy it pal!

Trey

jdeeripper said...

Wisconsin's full of Krauts, Beer and Brats.

Simon said...JD, I'm pretty sure that's not her, but if it is, kudos. A little thin, but in good shape.

I guarantee you that's her.

I have a degree in Palintology.

No, not a master's degree. Freaks.

Ann Althouse said...

Some people when drunk are said to get "tight." Bissage, I'd say, gets Titus-y.

AlphaLiberal said...

Heavy drinking can explain Wisconsin's continued votes for that crook Tommy Thompson.

Now Tommy has taken to ripping off injured first responders from 9/11!

blake said...

I can't recall thinking "She's drunk" on reading a post.

Now, tweaked on caffeine? Oh, yeah, that excited attachment of significance to something random or trivial? The ear piece, the NIG, carrot sticks and onion rings....

Althouse isn't an alcoholic, she's a speed freek.

AlphaLiberal said...

Visitors to the Rathskeller should know that the arches are perfect parabolas (?), so you can stand/sit on one side and whisper to someone on the other and they can hear you, even in a large room.

I've not yet found one arch there where this does not work.

Mathematics is often beautiful.

MadisonMan said...

More than 40 percent of Wisconsin residents can trace their ancestry to Germany. Some experts, though, are skeptical of the ethnic explanation. It has been a very long time, after all, since German was spoken in the beer halls of Wisconsin.

The old some experts ploy. Unnamed, of course. Just something used to make the argument sound good.

How many beer halls has the author been in, I wonder, to know if German is or is not spoken. And the lack of spoken german means what, exactly? We open Christmas presents Christmas Eve. What could be more German?

Beth said...

We open Christmas presents Christmas Eve. What could be more German?

That's German? I didn't know that. We've always done that, and yes, while we're mutts, German is the dominant part of the mix. Well, who knew?

And just because this is about drinking, I will share that I made a wonderful margarita tonight, with satsuma juice; satsumas might be called Clementines in other places. They're my favorite citrus and they're local and in season right now. I think I might juice up a bunch of them and freeze it, so I can have Satsuma margaritas all winter.

LoafingOaf said...

Swedes open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, too, and a lot of them immigrated to Wisconsin as well.

LoafingOaf said...

I pretty much drink 7 nights a week, though I only get a big buzz on about 3 nights a week. Why the hell shouldn't I? My test has always been: As long as it doesn't screw up your responsibilities in life, enjoy.

As for drinking while online, it can be fun to get drunk and go into a Yahoo voice chat political rooms, pick an ideological position contrary to the majority of the room, and go off on 'em. Except nowadays they usually end up booting you.

Miles from Kansas said...

Living in rural (Catholic) St. Charles County, MO in the 60s and 70s, the country tavern was the social hub of the community, and kids were always a part of that. There were games to play, as well has cheeseburgers and french fries, but kids were never allowed to drink beer. Nearly all those taverns, which had been around since the 1800s are closed now, and the area is no longer rural, or Catholic. It's a piece of history that should be recorded.

Keith said...

$12 million in tax money to tell people in another state what they should be doing? It's enough to make me want to move to Wisconsin and take up drinking.

MadisonMan said...

One of my favorite places to take my kids for Cheeseburgers is the bar closest to my house, the Village Bar. Their fries are great too! If they see someone drinking in the bar, so what?

Puritans, be gone!

Richard Fagin said...

Couldn't everyone see the new prohibition coming when TV commercials started warning parents about the dangers of "alcohol and drugs", or counting "alcohol related" traffic accidents, rather than ones where an impaired driver really was the cause?

The bluenoses weren't going to stop with changing states' DWI laws to set the presumptive limit at 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, notwithstanding that doing that isn't likely. They already compelled states that didn't have open container laws to pass them, as if passengers drinking beer in the car were a risk to life and limb.

Next target on the list for the bluenoses is tmink's entirely reasonable, responsible parenting. A minor in Texas who gets a citation for possession of alcohol gets sentenced to an "alcohol awareness" program, as if all those beer commercials on TV weren't enough awareness.

These people are enough to make legalizing heroin seem entirely reasonable.

Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Ann Althouse, et al.
RE: Heh

I attended a FileMaker Developer's conference in the 90s.

One of the highly regarded developers was a guest speaker in one of the seminar sessions.

In it he said he did his best work at 2 am after seven scotches.

Regards,

Chuck(le)
P.S. I'm not sure he remembered HOW he did it the next day, but it's the results that count in computer programming.

Chuck Pelto said...

Additional thought....

He who hates vice, hates mankind.

Brian Hancock said...

I think this law came into being with abortion - something that a 14 year old girl could get an abortion without parental approval or oversight, yet a parent couldn't take their child and buy them one beer at 17.


I could be remembering wrong, but I think it was an argument that was presented.

I don't follow the logic myself, but adults supervising their kids when it comes to alcohol is okay with me.

With that said, I wouldn't take my 3 year old and 7 year old to a bar to watch a Packer game and get drunk in the process and have someone else drive me home. That's not responsibility or setting a good example, but to each their own I guess.

A anecdote from a former UW student that I work with and I asked him the length of a beer bong he ever drank from. I was expecting the measurement be in feet or yards, but he simply said 3 stories. In Wisconsin, our beer bongs are measured in stories.

Charlie said...

Scariest book I ever read was Wisconsin Death Trip (U of Wisc Press) back in the mid-70s. Nothing more than a collection of grim clippings from a rural Wisc newspaper a hundred years earlier.

Given the macabre portrait of life in the cheese state back then, I'd say the taverns and rathskellers have definitely helped!

gophermomeh said...

MM - we've probably crossed paths at the Village. It was our default neighborhood burger stop, with our daughter, for years. During the golfing months, she and her dad would friendly wager on left/right-closest to the hole putts on 9th green. Don't get there as much lately on account of she's away at school.

Steven Schmitt said...

FWIW - the Milwaukee paper (Journal Sentinel) has been running a long series titled "Drunk In Wisconsin" telling all the horror stories they can find about drunk driving in our beautiful state. I suspect it's part of the UW Med school's efforts as well.

My local municipality (DeForest) has been doing "Nightcap" checks, which are supposedly not drunk driving checkpoints. What they do is pull over EVERYONE with the slightest infraction: missing tail light, no front license plate, tinted windows - and some infractions which are made up. An officer then puts the driver through roadside drunk driving screening if they can even though the pull-over was due to some other infraction. In the interviews I've seen, the police don't hide that the purpose of "Nightcap" enforcement is to snag drunk drivers. They just don't call it a "drunk driving checkpoint" so they are not afoul of the law. The chief says they are also doing these enforcements "to raise awareness" and push for drunk driving checkpoints to be made legal.

Triangle Man said...

I doubt there would be so much concern about drinking in Wisconsin if people could manage to stay off the road after drinking. There was a report that stated that more than a quarter of adults in Wisconsin had said they had driven under the influence of alcohol in the prior year. On the other hand, things seem better than they were thirty years ago.

Ann Althouse said...

Interesting map, triangle man. I like knowing where liars are geographically located.

former law student said...

Some thoughts in no particular order:

The reviews of the Rathskeller neglect to mention the beautiful mural of the war between beer and wine. No one painted it over, I hope.

Along with lager beer, German immigrants brought Socialism to Wisconsin and thus America; Milwaukee flourished under a succession of fine Socialist mayors.

Germans also brought a tradition of drinking in moderation to America. Yankees would drink whiskey until they got blind drunk, generally spending their week's pay in the process. Hard-working Germans would take the entire family to a beer garden on Sunday, relaxing with the help of beer, and enjoying band music. Yankees viewed this as desecrating the Sabbath, which created a lot of tension in places like Chicago.

Anti-alcohol zealots could not understand how Germans could drink without getting blind drunk, spending their pay, and beating up their wives and children, as did the Yankees who partook of ethanol. One thing they noticed was that Germans sat down to drink, while Yankees stood at the bar, while they knocked back shots of whiskey, one after the other. Thus was born the bar stool, as an attempt to promote drinking in moderation, because the drinker could sit and relax while still being at the height of the bar.

For decades, the drinking age in Wisconsin was 21. This encouraged underage FIBs living near the border to drive to Wisconsin to drink. Inexperienced at both driving and drinking, many cracked up their cars on the way back home. This lack of judgment added fuel to the movement to raise the drinking age nationwide.

The Chicago of the 60s and 70s was home to innumerable neighborhood taverns, in which whole families would gather. As a result, a friend of mine could buy a beer from 15 on, because the owner knew it was OK with his parents. Similarly, the bartender could be of any age as long as s/he was the owner's child.

former law student said...

Arrgh! For decades, the drinking age in Wisconsin was 18.

chickenlittle said...

FLS: Those murals are still there. I found some photos here. The murals were even lovingly "restored" once in the late 1990's, after smoking was banned.

M. Simon said...

I hate culture wars.

I know Democrats are into Economic Socialism. Since when did they get into Cultural Socialism? I was under the impression that Cultural Socialism was the Republican's job.

Jeeze guys. Do I have to go back to the Libertarian Party? They are worse than Trots when it comes to arcane arguments about the party line. Although I must say the Parties after the discussions were rather fun.

Mitch said...

Wisconsin has German beers on tap that have not yet even appeared in bottles in the east. Mader's (Milwaukee) alone could keep a dedicated beer lover interested for a long time. Don't interfere with Wisconsin beer drinkers – they know what they're doing. I'm from New England, but I hold Wisconsin beer drinkers in the highest regard.

Besides, once the reformers have finished with beer, they'll move on to banning cheese curds and fried pike as too fattening. Then they'll make everyone show up to work in deer season. Stop them now!