Drunk Biking PSA

                                                WZBC

                             PSA: BIKES AND BOOZE—30 SECOND

Begin with testimony:  SO I SHOULDN’T EVEN HAVE BEEN WALKING BUT I NEVER HEARD OF A DUI FOR BIKES, PLUS I WASN’T EVEN GOING THAT FAST…..BUT YEAH I RAN RIGHT INTO A CURB AND LANDED ON MY FACE.

“Sound of bicycle skidding”

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TOLD HUNDREDS OF TIMES NOT TO DRINK AND DRIVE.  YOU’VE SEEN THE VIDEOS.  YOU’VE HEARD THE STATISTICS AND HOPEFULLY IF YOU ARE DRUNK YOU WON’T GET BEHIND THE WHEEL.  BUT HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE DANGERS OF DRUNKEN BICYCLE RIDING?  REMEMBER KIDS, BIKING DRUNK IS NOT A SAFE ALTERNATIVE TO DRIVING DRUNK.  SO THE NEXT TIME YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT PEDALING HOME DRUNK, JUST THINK ABOUT HOW MUCH HARDER IT IS TO BALANCE ON TWO WHEELS WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN BALANCE ON TWO FEET. 

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Boozin College

The most dangerous aspect of college drinking should be the focus of prevention strategies.  I think the foremost goal should be not necessarily a reduction in college drinking but a reduction in the number of these drinkers who endanger themselves or others by drinking in an irresponsible manner.[1]  This is particularly important in the long run because binge drinking and other alcohol abuse makes it more likely to become an alcoholic or addict later in life. 

Trying to prevent alcohol from possession by underage students is in practice a waste of time.  Punishments or legal measures for such offenses are important because they show that the establishment stands behind the law, but do not prevent the flow of alcohol.  In this particular case it should be recognized that attacking the supply is useless because of the legality and general acceptance of underage drinking.  In most cases, a reasonable person does not object to people over the age of eighteen drinking responsibly.  The most compelling argument for me is the fact that when an American citizen turns eighteen, we can vote, go to war, be tried as an adult, but are not allowed to participate in one of the most popular adult activities.  We should also think about the situation in this country in relation to the situation in other first world countries.[2]  Considering that alcoholism rates in Europe are much lower and so is the drinking age, as well as the idea that alcohol is less likely to be abused when its consumption is not a novelty, we can conclude that focusing on responsible drinking is the best general strategy to reduce the overall harm, regardless of age. 

            Education is important but taking a hard line approach when presenting the facts can undermine the intended statement.  Since many college students think they should be allowed to drink, they may disregard a message that prescribes prohibition for people under twenty-one.  Providing a course to educate freshmen seems like an excellent idea as long as the emphasis is on responsible and safe drinking.  It should be a given that freshmen have the choice to drink alcohol.  These courses should also be mandatory instead of a form of punishment for violating the rules regarding alcohol.  Classes that are required as part of punishment are also less likely to be effective because they do not generally cover a large amount of material and students generally just have to attend to fulfill the requirement.  A mandatory class with grades and credit, not unlike this one, would be a way to make sure that everyone is aware of the dangers, even if they choose to ignore them.

            Proper education about the nature of alcohol should also be provided before college and most people do have some drug and alcohol programs in high school and middle school.  Experimentation should also be encouraged to a certain point.  This is not to say that parents should give their kids alcohol and tell them to have a good time but if a teenager is curious about alcohol, they should be allowed to try it.  I think that knowing the effects of alcohol before entering a college drinking situation would be very beneficial.  Quite often alcohol poisoning is a result of someone who didn’t know what effect a certain amount of alcohol would have on them.  A very important aspect of any education program should include the warning signs of alcohol poisoning.[3]  Sanctioned, supervised alcohol consumption during high school and college would also normalize the drinking situation to a great extent.  For many people, drinking would become less of a thrilling pastime and more of a normal event.  For example, I have spent a good amount of time at Mcgill and at the parties there everyone is drinking but generally not overboard and is certainly nothing compared to American schools.  One possible reason for this is a tradition that professors have a dinner with groups of new students, wine is served and the students can have an example early on in their college career of how to drink in a responsible manner.

            Beyond education, there are several things that could be done with regards to student living arrangements and sanctions associated with underage and/or irresponsible drinking.  The first and most important thing is to make sure that if someone gets in trouble, they can be helped as quickly as possible.  In order for this to happen, people can not be afraid to ask for help.[4]  The possible sanctions one might face when calling the police or ambulance for a sick friend should not be such that someone might hesitate to react the way they should.  BC has done a good job concerning this risk because generally when an underage person is caught drunk, they are given the choice of a jail cell or the infirmary.   Another thing the school could do would be to encourage RAs to be more aware, if not involved, with the activities of the students.  Students shouldn’t be worried about being “busted” by the RA because then we have an US vs. THEM mentality which may stop some of the alcohol coming in but does not make for an effective prevention technique.  An RA should overlook moderate drinking in order to create an atmosphere of trust and so if a serious problem arises, it can be dealt with more effectively.  Sanctions should be given mainly as a way to recognize warning signs for an individual.  The college is certainly concerned with the health of their students and so with a certain number of alcohol related sanctions, someone should tell the student they may have a drinking problem and have recovery options should they need it.

            I think we should lower the drinking age despite the fact that the earlier a person starts drinking, the more likely they are to become alcoholics.  The benefits of a more responsible drinking population would outweigh the potential downsides.  Destroying the novelty of alcohol consumption would greatly reduce the amount of abusive drinking.  With the drinking age at twenty-one, it is important to focus to moderation and treatment rather than prohibition and punishment

 


Boozehound

I’m not a bum, or a hobo, or a drunk, or any of the archaic and condescending terms I am pointed out to be. Nor am I homeless; I live in Copley Square, and I am an educated man. Now, the word drunk could aptly be applied to me most of the time, but I prefer the word boozehound because it shows me an ironic picture of dogs barking to a bell. Not that I am in a state of denial about alcoholism or the degree to which I am addicted to various substances. But as you can see I can still be apparently intelligent and genuinely eloquent. I live in the square with other tribes of miscreants and exiles, with most of whom I have a good rapport. I am of course most comfortable with the other boozehounds but I still slide into other circles when a change in monotony is needed.
I have said that I am an educated man and while I am not a braggart, it would seem confusing if I did not elaborate. I am educated because I keep a respectable pair of clothes for the purpose of going indoors. Given this freedom to go inside without coming out quickly, I have taken to living in the Boston Public Library and on days like this it is a sanctuary without equal. While others are relegated to sitting on subway vents, I look with a grand view of Trinity church, my favorite place to sleep and stare at through the window on cold days. It never fails to amaze me that such a place exists, that it is free and that it contains the lives of so many.
I like ravers the best because they have hope, which is both refreshing to see and provides for a type of conversation that can include things unrelated to destruction. This is because they have an idealistic view of drugs in general, a ridiculous notion to begin with, but I have mentioned before that they have hope. Almost universally the speaking among the hoodrats concerns hot cars or shiny acquisitions, but sometime the talk turns to music and more importantly the specifics that are worthy of sophisticated critics. The punks appear to have a deep consciousness but they are really lost exiles from a land of which they still wish to be a part. The skaters are monks perfecting massive skill in minute movements. They tend to their worship in a grand display of ceremonial recklessness. These are the major groups today and we all huddle under the trees looking for a way to be warm.
It is now the worst time of the year in the square with the jet stream descending, freezing the dripping noses of the daywalkers. The jet stream as I should explain is the wind blowing from the east off the ocean and tunneling through the lines of streets stretching from the waterfront to the back bay, where the wind is diffused by the drop in building height. The daywalkers as I should also explain are what commuters might call commuters. But they only exist in the day and they only walk while they are here.
One must eat and live with tolerable pain, so I hustle. Don’t really have a better word for that activity, but it’s pretty goddamn universally-understood, so I didn’t bother. I steal if the opportunity presents itself, I beg, I gamble, and above all I sell drugs. The circles in the square are the market and as I have mentioned, I float around fairly easily. I also buy alcohol for kids, mostly from high schools in the area but anyone with half a brain and the need can come to the city and send a boozehound on a run to the package store. They pay well and we have no compulsions sending others on the path to our reality.
I should examine my feelings concerning bravery because it is a concept central to the life of a boozehounds and myself in particular, being one of the more respected among my peers. Boozehounds are brave by nature, though some are forced into it at first. A conscious rejection of all social stature is not what a logical person decides to do simply because they see themselves as part of that structure. I am on the peripheries of the structure and as such am not concerned by much other than dependence on certain substances. Many will argue that we are most of us victims in some way, the two most common accusations being alcoholism and mental illness. I say to them that the will to live is very different than the will to live on the street. I will give an illustration of this idea because I feel my description can go no further. I will only preface by saying Jack is the embodiment of bravery.
Jack is one of the nicest people I know, homeless or otherwise. Because of his extraordinarily good natured personality, he is allowed to reside in affluent suburbs such as Brookline, where other boozehounds would normally be run out within the hour. I had a sublime picture of what Jack looks like from the face of a boy playing basketball in his large well kept driveway as we were walking by. A large black man is shuffling down the side of the manicured street pushing a can-laden Stop&Shop cart, occasionally yelling curses and hitting himself on the backside with jarring violence. I happen to know that Jack has an open invitation to one of several hospitals in the area where he could live in the comfort afforded by modern times. He feels the freedom as I do; the wanderlust and peace of being that can only be shown on the peripheries of structure.
I think I will elaborate on the condition in which I live, as I think this would be of considerable interest to the uninformed. Certainly I do not relegate myself to the Boston Public Library, and Boston has many squares like Harvard and Sullivan and Porter and so forth. Then there is also downtown and the tunnels, places I hesitate to commit the details to paper, lest the city evict the stowaways. Some may be familiar with the extensive and densely populated underground tunnels in New York because there was a quality documentary by the name of Dark Days made about the homeless community down there. Boston, however, has the oldest subway tunnel system in America and as a result there are many tunnels whose whereabouts are not even known by the city planners. Some of these tunnels have dangerous people in them and some have very amiable people living in them and it is not hard to tell the difference even at a glance because of the difference in appearance; often one can simply tell by the odor. Though perpetually damp, the old subway is the warmest place to sleep when the wind is sharp.
Looking back upon what I’ve written, I realize that I have not mentioned booze, normally the first thing that comes to a man’s mind when encountered a person such as myself. Denial is a long large river in Africa. I have said I am not in denial about drugs and the influence I feel but it is quite another thing to articulate, particularly when it might be revisited in a brief state of sobriety. I drink and abuse drugs because I like the world in altered states. I like the various pairs of eyes I have access to when I’ve had an intake. I had a place in society but I abandoned my post and I don’t miss it in the least. I don’t worry about health or death because quite simply, a man in my position doesn’t concern himself with those kinds of things. I keep myself in a state where the world is wonderful and as Hunter S. once said “I need my medicine to keep me totally twisted, otherwise I couldn’t stand this bullshit”, great writer, that Mr. Thompson. To come to my point I am content with my life as a boozehound and neither mourn nor anticipate the end of it.