By Chason Gordon
– The Capitol Hill Times -
As you may have noticed, Capitol Hill has a running of the drunks at the 2 a.m. last call. They stumble around the neighborhood as if they’re in a horizontal version of The Price is Right game Plinko. While it is certainly fun to watch, and even better to participate in, releasing all these bar patrons at the same time is not necessarily the best thing for the community.
The mayor has petitioned the Liquor Control Board to allow consideration for extending the service hours past 2 a.m. The petition asks the board just to consider the extension, which in layman’s terms would be like asking a woman if you could ask her to go out with you. Should the board decide to consider new rulemaking, it would not automatically extend drinking hours, but would allow individual bars to apply for later cut offs (“Write down 3:47; it sounds like we know what we’re talking about”).
On Monday, the Liquor Control Board held a hearing at City Hall to listen to supporters and opponents of the extension (there was no snack table!). Let me summarize each side’s position: Those against it were like, “Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph,” while those for it said, “Ahhh, come on.”
Perhaps I’m being a little unfair. The room (which had huge windows I looked out whenever I got bored with whoever was talking), seemed to be divided 60/40 in support of the extension, a measurement I based on clapping, though I clapped at everything (I love clapping!). There were bartenders, bar owners, servers, regular citizens, and about 7,000 journalists (try to guess which side the journalists supported).
The primary debate was whether extending the hours would lead to more public disturbances like fighting, drunk driving, and cases of “What are you lookin’ at?” Many of those in support of the petition suggested the 2 a.m. push was the problem, and that extending bar hours did not automatically mean everyone would stay out later and become horrible alcoholics. This was best emphasized by Guy Godefroy, the general manager of Trinity Nightclub, who pointed out that we don’t mandate closing times when we have parties at our homes, because “People leave when they want to.”
One of the interesting themes continually highlighted by opponents was the culture of Seattle’s nightlife. “Why does it all center around alcohol?” said Stephanie Tschida, the president of EastPAC, which caused the journalist sitting next to me to roll her eyes. Another opponent wondered why young people couldn’t get into other things, like “jazz jams.” But it was a sincere 91-year-old man who had the best line of the evening, reminding the crowd that in his day, they thought alcohol was like “putting snakes in your boots.”
Each side ultimately presented rational arguments on how to deal with the crowds, but I didn’t get a chance to tell them all my great ideas, so I guess I’ll do that now, as soon as someone brings me a podium.
To mitigate crowds of drunken people, we need to start with the environment inside the bar. I would ask women to reject men earlier in the evening so they lose hope and go home early. I would ask the bartenders to serve lighter drinks the later it gets, so by the end of the night everyone is drinking white Russians. And I would ask men to stop calling friends “pussies” if they want to leave early, and instead say, “That is very responsible of you. Godspeed.”
The next step is regulating and quickly sobering up the departing crowd. The first thing we do is install metering lights in front of every bar in Seattle, just like the I-5 ramps, so that one drunk is released from the bar every two or three minutes. Once they’re outside, we splash them with buckets of Fresca, feed them mandatory polish dumplings, and have them met by judgmental family members. A mother saying, “Why do you have to embarrass me all the time?” or a father yelling, “I don’t have a son!” is sure to instantly sober up the drunkest of patrons.
Now that they’re out of the bar, how do we get them home, especially with the shortage of taxis? Fire hoses. I believe a transit system of well aimed fire hoses could push a drunk all the way to their front door. If that doesn’t work, we give the drunks wheelbarrows and have them push each other in shifts.
I’m not saying I have all the answers, but putting some of these measures in place should make up for any risks associated with extending hours. Alcohol may be like putting snakes in your boots, but that doesn’t mean you have to put those boots on. You can always walk home barefoot.