The Drunks in Boston, the Bingers in Massachusetts …
Coming close on the heels of the Daily Beast’s proclaiming Boston the Drunkest City in America, the Centers for Disease Control on Tuesday announced that Massachusetts is one of the binge-happiest states in the U.S. In a press release titled, “Binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought,” the nation’s nannies-in-chief admonish us for behavior leading to “car crashes, other unintentional injuries, violence, liver disease, certain cancers, heart disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and both unintended and alcohol-exposed pregnancies,” not to mention waking up stark raving naked at 5 a.m. with cottonmouth, a shattering headache, a half-eaten box of crab rangoon next to you, and absolutely no memory of leaving the bar the night before.
Binge drinking is a bigger problem than recently thought? By whom, and compared to when? Alcohol consumption in the U.S. has followed a largely downward trajectory over the past few decades, while anecdotal experience suggests a sea change in attitudes. Mad Men’s depiction of noontime drinking, afternoon drinking, late-morning drinking, and any-other-time drinking is compelling precisely because it depicts an acceptance of nearly nonstop boozing that would today get almost anyone labeled an alcoholic.
Meanwhile, deaths due to DWI are at historic lows, as are many of the other social and personal ills the CDC causally correlates with binge drinking, which, for those who don’t know, consists of five or more drinks in one sitting for men, or four for women, and by “sitting” they do not mean “inning” at Fenway. If there is a crisis here, it is a manufactured one. Fish gotta swim, and advocates gotta advocate; if the problem is solved, the funding dries up, so whatever progress is made, those ‘hard-won victories in the fight against ____’ will inevitably be overshadowed by the ‘serious challenges that remain.’
Right on cue, the New York Post reported yesterday that NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg wanted to pick up Carrie Nation’s hatchet and reduce the number of bars and retail stores selling alcohol in the Big Apple. Hizzoner, who acquired the sobriquet “Nurse Bloomberg” after snuffing out smoking with a citywide ban in 2003, is the archetypal modern-day prohibitionist do-gooder. Like a thoughtless CEO who wrings ever more profit by unsustainable cost-cutting, Bloomberg proceeded from smoking to trans fats, salt, and now booze. By the same logic, it shouldn’t be long before the sales of anything fattier than 93 percent lean ground beef or 1 percent milk are banned, or at least require a note from your doctor showing your triglyceride levels. As one commenter on the story noted, “It’s what happens when you elect a mayor here who’s really from Boston.” It hurts because it’s true.
I already knew that Massachusetts is a nanny state, but this is enough to make a libertine voluptuary want to move to Dallas, where near-compulsory rates of handgun ownership ensure that the authorities will have to pry your chicken-fried steak, Marlboros, and Lone Star beer from your clogged, dead arteries.