Whenever I visit the cardboard-box world headquarters to beg for the money I'm owed, I always bring two things: a pound of Habersett scrapple
and five 40s of malt liquor.
The scrapple's so they're happy to see me. The malt liquor's so they're still happy when I leave with every coin and paper clip I find in the pickle jar under the ammo crates the Chief Troll
uses for a stool.
That bad ol' malt liquor. We've all been there, drinking liquid crack. When I was in college, we used to get halves of Olde Englishe 800e because of the superior bang for the buck: Back in those days, we could get a big half-barrel drunk-bomb for 29 bucks plus tax. It works out to about 50 cents a hangover.
We didn't know we were flirting with disaster. Malt liquor has since been proven to cause poverty, rampant alcoholism, street litter, homelessness, lethal gingivitis, panhandling, religious fanaticism, racism, historical disrespect of native peoples and their culture, and Ice Cube.
Malt liquor gets a bad rap from everyone but the people who drink it. Beer geeks cry about how awful it is: "That's not even beer," they wail – incorrectly. Of course it's frickin' beer, ya dope.
Screw the beer geeks. They're just amusing; they're not dangerous. Malt liquor's most serious critics are found in the halls of government and in the pulpits of churches. In their usual scenario of blaming the substance being abused instead of the abuser, "community activists" and legislators blame malt liquor for society's problems.
Malt liquor is genocidal, the crazier ones will tell you, and the beer companies sell it in bigger containers to force people to drink enough to get drunk. It's a way of keeping people down so they have to keep buying malt liquor and can't climb out of poverty, despair, and the cycle of violence.
After all, where do you see malt liquor ads? Black and Hispanic neighborhoods. You never see them in suburbs. Where
is malt liquor sold? In the 'hood. If I want to buy malt liquor, I've got to drive almost 20 miles. They don't sell it in my lily-ass-white neighborhood. Malt liquor is targeted at the inner city; brewers don't even deny it.
Spare me. If I want to buy a dressed-out goat for a barbecue, I've got to drive over 20 miles into Philly to the Italian market. Are the goat farmers "targeting" the Italian market? Bet your ass they are: That's where people buy goat meat.
Malt liquor is advertised in black and Hispanic neighborhoods because that's where people buy it. It's kind of like why all the signs in Quebec are in French; it wouldn't make much sense to have a lot of French signs in Milwaukee. Folks buy malt liquor because that's what they like, that's what they want. They don't buy it because someone's dumping malt liquor in their neighborhood in hopes of keeping them impoverished. Don't you think the breweries would rather they were buying something pricier?
A new example of this kind of bullshit thinking is what originally got me writing this piece. Seattle has banned the sale of about 30 "cheap" beers and wines in two "alcohol-impact areas." See if you recognize some of these: Colt 45 (6.4 percent alcohol), Hurricane Ice (7.5 percent), King Cobra (5.9 percent), Mickey's Malt Liquor (5.6 percent), Olde English "800" (7.5 percent), St. Ide's (7.3 percent) and Steel Reserve (8.1 percent). Damn! That's some dangerous shit!
The "cheap wines" on the list are even scarier: Cisco (18 percent), Mad Dog 20/20 (13.5 percent), Night Train Express (17 percent) and the classic Thunderbird (18.0 percent). So if they couldn't get malt liquor before, they could get wine.
Hey, you know what? If they can't get malt liquor or wine, they'll get something else ... like frickin' Listerine. Big deal. Christ, if you listen to the hand-wringers, half the Midwest is in imminent danger of being blown up by suburban housewives cooking meth in their garages, and we're worried about a couple bottles of Mickey's?
This isn't about cleaning up the neighborhood. This is pure bluenosed Prohibitionism. You can tell, because the proposal is about banning cheap booze. You'll never see a proposal to ban Bordeaux or Scotch: That's what the people proposing the bans drink.
"Those people" drink that cheap booze; they just drink it to get drunk. Yeah, like they just buy cheap used cars to get on the road and speed. They buy cheap booze for the same reasons any of us buy anything: because we want it and can afford it. And why can't they have a drink, just like the better-off folks writing these preposterous laws?
It's like rich people never drink to get drunk. Hey, anybody ever been to a swanky country club? Giving people a place to get loaded is half the reason they exist.
The laws are preposterous, because Prohibition doesn't work, it never does. Ban malt liquor, and people will either find another option – dope, for instance – or they'll buy it illegally. You won't stop the human impulse toward better living through chemistry. George Carlin had an old bit about the discovery of drugs. "The goats eat that shit, stay up all night
and PLAY! You TELL me that what we're eatin' ain't wrong!"
Do some of them become alcoholic bums? Sure, here are some prime examples
. Some of them get drunk and get violent. Know what? Rich people get drunk and violent, too. So, too, do guys in the NFL, and what happens when they do? Rehabilitation programs and public outcry about how they're being made an example. Hypocrisy.
Malt liquor invites hypocrisy by being so honest. It's made cheap and it tastes sweet, because the people who drink it just want a cheap buzz. That really pisses some people off, but get off your high friggin' horse.
If you can ride with it and not fall off, who's to say you're a bad guy? Like Ice Cube said: "Get your girl in the mood quicker, get your jimmy thicker, with St. Ides malt liquor." Now, who can't be down with that?