Madison’s MNA Board Should Not Promote Drunkenness

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board has hit a new low. With a neighborhood that is overwhelmed with drinking establishments, along with the knowledge that too many of our community have clearly observable drinking problems, the news from the MNA this week was truly stunning.

Here is how they promoted what they call the Drunk in Public Picking Up Litter.

DIPPUL (Drunk In Public Picking Up Litter) Event Saturday, June 26 
MNA will be co-sponsoring DIPPUL, a bar-crawl-meets-neighborhood-trash-pickup-party, in our neighborhood from 1:00-5:00pm this Saturday. Bags, picker-uppers and safety gear will be supplied. Just bring yourself and a “do good” attitude. Meet at (bar not named on this blog post) at 1 pm to pick up supplies and get started. Midway stop will be at (also not named here) and the event ends at (yet another bar). Discounted drinks on offer at each establishment. 

There is no way to take any comfort in the design of this pub crawl being about trash pickup. The fact is that once again Wisconsin culture proves that everything needs to revolve around drinking. What message does that send to our youth? Equally important what does this drinking afternoon say about our neighborhood? About the Board?

In 2020 a posting on the local neighborhood listserv painted the picture with data about the drinking problems we face locally.

Here then are the findings of this most progressive place in Madison.  As the compilator of the numbers alerted readers on the neighborhood listserv the data is 95% accurate.

Did you know that the Marquette neighborhood has 6,105 residents in 2010, (12.2 % of which were age 17 or younger)? Knocking off the under age 17 leaves 5,360 residents.

Did you know that there currently exists 4,431 seats where one can get a drink in the neighborhood (plus event places including Elks, Sylvee, Old Sugar’s event space)?   

Did you know that of those alcohol seats, there are 2,458 where one can be entertained (1,514 of those seats are on E Washington)?  That no Williamson Street entertainment establishment has a capacity greater than 99 (now that Prism is gone)?

4,735 capacity for drinking

2,302 capacity for primarily drinking/entertainment

1,822 capacity for licensed entertainment establishments

Before I venture further I should say that I am a Wisconsinite, having lived here all my life.  In many ways my life has mirrored that of other men my age who grew up here.  I came from a middle class family, attended public schools, and had dreams of being an astronaut when a kid. But somewhere in high school I realized I was different in one real black and white way.  I did not drink.  For me that meant I did not attend the drinking parties at the gravel pit in Hancock. 

From what I came to understand during Monday morning’s ‘show and tell’ time the best parties were located at the pit late at night only a few miles from my home. I still recall that at the time I never thought I was missing anything even though I was assured quite the opposite was true.

In simpler terms, unlike many of my peers back then I never grew up thinking that drinking was an activity all by itself.

I know I am not the only one who finds the drinking culture in Wisconsin troublesome, and yet at times I feel like an island on the issue.  To be frank and honest about it I think the drinking culture is embarrassing.  I would rather our state be touted for stem cell research and the home of Lynn Fontanne than endless drunken parties and Milwaukee beer.

To think that my views might be so different had I only been a participant at the gravel pit those many years ago.  I too might see drinking as an activity in and of itself.

Which is another way to say thanks to my mom and dad for keeping tabs on me as a teenager.

I am never sure what makes people want to waste a life in a bottle or glass.  I feel like I never have a day to waste or a time that I do not want to recall down the road. Good days or bad ones.  Being an adult requires being able to cope with life sober-minded. There are also professionals to talk with at points in life when issues need to be addressed.  When both of my parents died I reached out to talk with someone who allowed me to understand grief and work through it.  I never had a single drink at either of their passings.  In fact, that notion never even crossed my mind.

What I do know is the data shows what impact sitting for hours with a bent elbow does to society.  I wish my college-educated and progressive neighborhood would grasp that fact, too.

And so it goes.