By Dennis Holt
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BROOKLYN — I gave the clerk the code, and he waved me to the store’s bathroom. After entering, I knocked on the hidden door, and again gave the code. — “Joey sent me.”
The door opened, and I entered the combination speakeasy and bottle store for a snort with Calvin and to get a bottle of hootch. I left the same way and bought a bag of glazed donuts.
This kind of flummery may be needed if reports of booze rationing become true in this city. The New York Post has reported that the City Health Department’s general plan called Partnership for a Healthier New York City, wants to “slash” the number of establishments that sell alcohol. This means both bars and package stores.
This wild-eyed scheme is not prohibition, but is geographical rationing. Here, according to the Post, is the reasoning:
“Reduce the exposure to alcohol products and bar advertising and promotion in retail and general [trains, buses, etc.] settings [stores, restaurants, etc.]”
Carrie Nation has moved from her grave in Kansas to the sidewalks of New York. I hope she doesn’t still have her hatchet, which terrorized saloon owners for so long in that state.
There are some numbers that are relevant. According to the city, alcohol-related hospital emergency room visits doubled for underage New Yorkers from 2003 to 2009 (remember George Bush was president then), and one in 10 hospitalizations are booze-related. Also, one in six adult New Yorkers reportedly indulge in heavy drinking.
Booze is involved in nearly half of homicides and 28 percent of vehicle-crash fatalities.
A lot of people sloughed off the threat of prohibition early in the last century. We should be prepared this time. Think of tourism, the gleam in Bloomberg’s eye. Will folks want to visit a city that rations firewater? Imagine what New Jersey would do with that issue.
If this Mad Hatter idea comes along, there should be new residency laws. Abstainers should not be allowed to live 500 yards from any packaged store or establishment that sells booze.
Should ration cards be put into use specifically tailored for each person? Should the number of drinks served in bars be severely restricted? All kinds of other issues will have to addressed.
I’m glad Winston Churchill is no longer around. Remember what he once said: “I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.”