Friday, January 22, 2010


My eighth grade history teacher said it straight-out: if you make something against the law, people will crave whatever that thing is. My thirteen-year-old self didn't quite agree; at that point in my life, I was terrified to break rules. I did all my homework, and although I often argued with my parents, I never would have actually DONE anything they told me not to. It was too scary. But I wrote it down in my blue, three-ring binder anyway: Prohibition failed because of the Forbidden Fruit craving that is a basic part of human nature.

And although I have gone through some periods of mildly rebellious activity, I'd make a pathetically timid criminal. Even in my forties, when I was first moving in with my now-husband before we were married, it felt like a big deal to give our new, shared phone number to the English Department Phone Tree for snow days. It was the 1990's! I was LIVING IN SIN!

So let me say that I don't think I would have been drawn to bathtub gin back in the day. But I'm not everybody, and obviously plenty of people were. I do believe that we're not doing college students any favors by prohibiting them from legally drinking until they are 21, and many university presidents agree with me. By forcing alcohol consumption underground, we are encouraging culture of binge-drinking among young adults. When I went to college in the early 70's, my friends and I went to cocktail parties along with our professors--and got so see some of them setting a less-than-sterling example of How To Handle One's Drinks. We rolled our eyes. Seeing someone who could be brilliant and devastating in the classroom get sloppy was actually a pretty stern lesson in What Not To Do.

Were there Animal House-style frat parties? Yeah, but nobody cool went to them. You could get drunk if you wanted to. There simply wasn't any urgency about it, and that was the difference. The tragic stories of kids who die after chugging vodka or Jack Daniels just weren't as common in my generation.

Samey-same with grass, I think. Make it as corporate as Coca-cola, and it'll soon enough lose its patchouli and headshop appeal. Plus a lot of states will fix their budgets in a hurry, as it seems to be the biggest cash crop in more than a few of them.

I've been experimenting with writing some young adult fiction lately, and it's gotten me thinking a lot about the differences between my (boomer) generation and the generation of teens and young adults coming up now. This group of kids seems so much older, and so much harder than we were. I've decided that's a result of the hovering kind of hyper-parenting that much of our generation has ended up doing. We've forced our kids to grow old fast in order to defeat it. The Woodstock Generation did not bring about World Peace. We tended to elect centrist to right-wing Presidents while biting our fingernails to the quick about letting our children walk to the bus stop solo, or about food additives and allergies and play dates and bicycle helmets. No wonder some of them are doing the Janis-Joplin-with-the-Southern-Comfort thing--they can't even go down to the campus pub and order a beer.

Yeah, it's fine for me to say. I didn't have kids. But I sure taught a lot of them.

Well, this certainly HAS turned into a rant. And so I think I'll propose a toast for the week:

The Twelve Mile Limit

This is another Ted Haigh resurrection, although I believe it's also in the Savoy Cocktail book. It's named for the distance out to sea a Prohibition-era cruise ship had to be before the bar could open. Make sure you use decent grenadine--not the supermarket kind. It's easy enough to grab some POM and simple-syrup-ize it by simmering it with slightly less than an equal amount of sugar stirred in for a minute or two, just until it turns clear. That works fine, and it keeps for weeks in the fridge.

1 oz white rum (or you can use silver if that's all you have)
1/2 oz each:
rye, brandy, lemon juice, and grenadine (you may not want to add the full amount of grenadine at first, depending upon how sweet what you're working with is)

Shake good and hard with plenty of ice, and serve up in a cocktail glass. Some sort of lemon-y garnish works well.

See you on the air at 4 PM at

for a sip and some musical surprises!! I promise some Fugs and Holy Modals, too, in honor of Tuli Kupferberg, for whom a benefit is being thrown in Brooklyn tonight--which I sadly cannot attend due to church mouse activities in My Other Life.

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