As beers go by


Coming from Japan back to the United States, one of the oddest adjustments has been the liquor laws. Thinking a beer might go nicely with baked yams and boiled asparagus, I asked the helpful Kowalski's clerk where I might find the beer. He pleasantly showed me around to the O'Doul's.

Yeah yeah, says I, but where's the, you know, beer? The answer of course was "it's at the beer store, and you're out of luck, because it's Sunday." This is a far cry from the land of the rising sun, where your friendly neighborhood grocer has not just Kirin Ichiban, but wine, sake, and liquor that could thin off paint. Not that I'm often awash in liquid enjoyment, but this particular Puritanism put me on a bit of tilt.

Now, there's the Strib's new editorial touting efforts by State Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Footloose) to combat drink specials in bars. Get me my pitchfork.

Common sense restrictions are fine. To combat binge drinking requires broader social change than legislation can provide, but whatever. If you think you can undermine unhealthy binge drinking through minimal regulations -- and that's the stated intent of Lanning's bills, to hamper college age overconsumption -- then go for it.

The trouble is, it isn't just overconsumptive college students that get the nanny state treatment. Do yuppies treating themselves to D'Amico's limitless house wine really need to be protected from the saucy embrace of the wild Cabernet? Don't we all deserve a free drink special now and then? Haven't Japanese businessmen proven that adults can handle an all-you-can drink deal?

OK, forget that last one. Instead, sing with me these maxims:

* First, they came for your liquor on Sundays, and I did not speak up. * Then, they came for beer in grocery stores, and I did not speak up. * Finally, they came for my booze, and I was too drunk to speak up.

The moral of the story is ... fool me once, shame on ... someone? Shit, I forget. Pass the peanuts. And the house wine, while you still can.

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