Next stop, Fresno.

Feb. 5th 2010

Despite its reputation as a city full of cursing, blue-collar drunks with shitty accents, Boston is the least intoxicated city in the nation, according to Men’s Health magazine’s list of the “drunkest” cities in the United States.

The magazine, which advertises the latest and greatest way to get laid but also puts half-naked men on its cover, compiled a list of 100 cities, graded and ranked them most to least drunk, considering factors such as “death rates from alcoholic liver disease, booze-fueled car crashes, frequency of binge-drinking in the past month, number of DUI arrests, and severity of DUI penalties,” according to a USA Today summary.

The most drunk city: Fresno, Calif., followed by No. 2 Reno, No. 3 Billings, Mont., No. 4 Riverside, Calif. and, rounding out the top five, Austin. Three Texas cities made it into the top 10, the other two being San Antonio and Lubbock, which was dry up until about a year ago. My home base of operations, Fort Worth, ranked No. 55, earning a C grade, whatever that means.

I don’t put much stock into this whole list – there are a lot of factors I suspect they didn’t consider, such as public transportation use, which would affect number of drunk driving accidents, number and proximity of bars, and the business those bars pull in. Oh well. It’s fodder for pissing contests about whose city can out-drink another person’s place of birth.

Now drinking: Banquet

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Less than average.

Dec. 29th 2009

Not long ago I was standing in the kitchen with my roommates, chugging beers and talking about the differences between the United States drinking culture and domestic alcohol consumption versus consumption abroad. One roommate remarked that as soon as we turned 15, there was a click – and suddenly, we all wanted to score booze and drink it in our parents’ garages while they were out and about. He wondered, what caused this sudden desire? I said it was probably cultural, in the sense that we knew the students in the grade above us drank beer when they were in the ninth grade, and it was expected not by other people, but by ourselves, that drinking was something you did at that point in your life – no question about it. From then on, the frequency and prevalence of drinking grew, in addition to the amount consumed. Many people in the United States, especially Texas, and especially Fort Worth, drink a lot on the weekends, what many people call binge drinking (five or more drinks in two hours for men). Therefore, we thought, people in the U.S. drink a lot more than residents of other countries, perhaps because alcohol isn’t as taboo in other societies as it is here in the states.

That was our assumption: people in the U.S. drink more than the world average, maybe even more than some of the European countries traditionally thought of as having big drinkers.

It turns out we were fucking wrong, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which tracks health data worldwide in addition to a range of other statistics.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Calling it a Blockbuster night.

Nov. 10th 2009

The recession is prompting increasingly more people to stay at home and drink rather than head to the local watering hole to converse with other patrons, according to an Oct. 29 ABC News article, and retailers are changing to accommodate this trend.

According to market research firm Neilsen’s beverage alcohol team, between September 2008 and September 2009, the number of U.S. stores engaged in off-premises beer sales increased by almost 2,600 while wine sellers increased by more than 3,000, despite the fact that the total number of U.S. grocery stores, convenience stores, drug stores and others declined by more than 3,000.

“A big night in is replacing a big night out these days more and more, so retailers are recognizing that consumers are looking to stores to buy products more so than going out and enjoying an alcoholic beverage while they’re out,” said the Neilsen beverage alcohol team director.

More grocery stores and retailers – Walgreens and Family Dollar, for example – are returning to alcohol sales. A Piggly Wiggly store in South Carolina also is trying something new: draught beer. According to the article, a Piggly Wiggly store in Myrtle Beach introduced taps dispensing craft beers into growlers - half-gallon, glass containers also sold at the store - for between $9.99 to $12.99.

The recession’s got many people down, but not out. People still have to drink. As a Walgreens spokesman put it, “When times are good, people drink. When times are bad, people also drink.” Don’t I know it, friend.

Now drinking: nothing

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Surprisingly, alcohol not that good for you.

Jun. 26th 2009

One in 25

Shocking as it sounds, one in 25 deaths worldwide is alcohol related, according to a new study by Canadian researchers. The study reports that alcohol use is increasing and that fact is leading to more cases of liver disorders, many cancers, stroke and depression.

For 2004, the latest year for which comparable data are available on a global level, 3.8 percent of all global deaths (around 1 in 25) were attributable to alcohol. Overall, alcohol-attributable deaths have increased since 2000 mainly because of increases in the number of women drinking. Europe had the highest proportion of deaths related to alcohol, with 1 in 10 deaths directly attributable.

Pretty much you’re fucked if you drink a lot of booze, the researchers said. Another UK official agrees and wants to do to alcohol what has been done to tobacco – high taxes, a ban on advertising and reduction in availability.

It’s rare that I buy cigarettes, so none of that impacts me. But a large chunk of my paycheck goes to Andy Pham at ABC Liquor and MacCool’s. I’m not looking forward to paying more for the same thing, nor am I looking forward to a new round of truth commercials against beer. 

Now drinking: nothing

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April recognizes alcohol, child abuse, stress and more.

Apr. 28th 2009

Who knew? Alcohol has its own month to be recognized, albeit not in a celebratory way.

In this month’s final days, I’d like to inform you that April is “Alcohol Awareness Month,” as designated by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, a 17-year old government agency with an annual budget of about $3.2 billion.

Alcohol Awareness Month is an annual observance that encourages communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues, and inform the public that alcoholism is a treatable disease, not a moral weakness, and those addicted can and do recover, according to the SAMHSA Web site.

Texas ranks near the top of the United States in terms of percentage of persons who reported having engaged in binge alcohol use in the past month. According to 2005 and 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, between 23.84 percent and 25.46 percent of respondents (aged 12 or older) in a survey reported having engaged in binge alcohol use within the past month. That puts Texas at the second-to-highest level, on par with Michigan, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas and others. Oddly enough, the highest category – 25.47 percent to 30.32 percent of respondents – was concentrated primarily in the north-central United States: Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, the Dakotas and others. I’d probably drink a lot more if I lived there, too.

A separate study in which the top 15 largest metropolitan areas were studied, the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area included 22.2 percent of respondents who claimed to have engaged in binge alcohol use within the past month, just below the national average of 22.7 percent. Chicago reported the highest percentage: 25.7 percent, according to the study between 2002 and 2005.

In addition to being Alcohol Awareness Month, April also is designated Stress Awareness Month, Child Abuse Prevention Month, STDs Education and Awareness Month, Work Life Enrichment Month, Poetry Month and more.

On a separate note, April is the month of naissance for Christopher Hitchens, a fantastic writer and noted atheist who drinks “enough every day to kill or stun the average mule.”

“Many great writers did some of their finest work when blotto, smashed, polluted, shitfaced, squiffy, whiffled and three sheets to the wind.” -Christopher Hitchens, in a May 2007 interview with The Times.

Now drinking: nothing

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Born Under a Bad Sign

Apr. 25th 2009

A few days ago my neighbors welcomed their first child – a son – into this wild world, and I’ve been wondering if time of birth has anything to do with your propensity to drink.

For example, I was born just after 5 p.m.: cocktail hour. I credit this insignificant fact for my daily desire to have a beverage in hand by 6 p.m. My grandmother has done this for more than six decades. Every day at 5 p.m. (sometimes 4:30 p.m.) she will have a glass of Ballantine’s on the rocks with a splash of water in her right hand and a Merit cigarette in her left.

She was born at 2 p.m., she thinks.

I searched on for a study that would compare an inclination to drink and time of birth, but came up empty handed. (Most results addressed alcohol’s effects on fertility.) So I sent a text message to a few of my hardest-drinking friends to get their responses to “What time were you born?”

The replies were varied, from “maybe 2pm, why” to “7:56 am bitch.” Consult the following chart:

So, maybe time of birth has nothing to do with your desire to drink. Your likelihood to drink more than the average person is equal regardless of whether you were born at mimosa hour or scotch-and-soda hour. Maybe drinking has more to do with genetics, emotional stability, socioeconomics status or proximity to a bar. But I’m not disregarding time of birth just yet – more research is needed.

As for that newborn baby, his father is a beer fanatic who routinely has no fewer than three pony kegs in his house at all times. When the father drinks, it’s damn sure going to result in slurred speech at a higher volume. He was born at 4:19 p.m.

The baby was born at 8:50 a.m. Only time will tell.

Now drinking: gin and soda

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