Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Whiskey Trail

The news this week that Tennessee is creating a Whiskey Trail to encourage more Tourists to visit and in turn promote the growing booze business in the area, an irony considering that we cannot buy booze easily here.   Coming from Seattle and having lived in California where I could pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of vodka in which to get double carbo loaded on the walk home the laws and regulations (hilarious given the red state views on laws and regulations) are complex and well stupid.  Remember kids, Don't drink and drive!

When I relocated here Tennessee had just permitted Grocery Stores the ability to sell Wine but not on Sundays as that is the Lord's day.  They are now considering allowing the stores to sell on Sunday once they have ensured that small businesses are not affected by the Publix down the street, pike, road in the adjoining County which everyone shops at after Church anyway for Sunday dinner, to add wine sales to their cart.

Go to a liquor store on a Saturday afternoon here and to say packed and loaded is the same as the guns they tote in their cars on the way there. Nothing says welcome more than drunk and guns in the same sentence.

And I want to point out that Nashville has of course the highest Homicide rate in the Country and I am hoping they want to remake that show and place it here instead of Baltimore as the current show about Nashville is so not Nashville that no wonder Rayna died.   The best part is she died of a car crash, the second major cause of death an injury here.   Which explains the massive industry of personal injury Lawyers and that Opioid addiction problem.

I have never lived anywhere that feels so competitive that Tennessee wants to be Number One in that problem over Alabama which is number one with opioid prescriptions  or say West Virginia which is number one in deaths over opioids.   Take that Ohio that is only number four but that  has led J.D. Vance of Hillbilly Elegy to return and work with those who are struggling to stay clean.

What now has the Congress' knickers in a twist is that Medicaid issue that has led States to treat and help those who are struggling with addiction and other health related problems that are largely due to lack of employment that enabled them to have health care and lifestyle choices that have led Nashville to have one of the sickest populations in the region. And why?  Well if you want to experience first hand what life would be like under the GOP plan, come to Nashville, Tennessee we are in a state alright. And as everything in the State is divided by county that is how the area is measured.  But irony that there is only one major City in Davidson County that matters and that is the State Capital City of the State of Tennessee.  And Davidson is a larger reflection of both the good and the bad in the state.   A state that would be called Hot Mess when it comes to violent crime, health care, education, poverty and other ailments common to much larger Cities and States.  So much for all that prayer as clearly it is not working or God is really busy here in the South.

Tennessee did not expand Medicaid and this is deep dark red state that runs the two largest Cities in the State - Memphis and Nashville - as their own fiefdoms and experiments in legislating.  So when a city as Nashville and Memphis passed ordinances to decriminalize low levels of Marijuana and are looking into medical Marijuana  the legislation quickly gathers and of course overrides the municipalities and Haslam the Governor of the Idiot Brigade who has never vetoed a bill in his life, quickly signs it.  His explanation is that the Legislature approved it and who is he to question it.  There you go.  And this is the same man who wants to expand the education level of the residents here.  Sure.

And all of this is due to the religious dogma that dominates the thinking and believing here.  Where Face the Nation is cut short to ensure hours and hours of religious programming.  Where Church's have Police direct traffic into mall equivalent sized parking lots to the Churches that are next door to each other, down the street from one another and are the equivalent of a Starbucks where you cannot walk a block without encountering some type of religious facility serving the good on Sunday.  And in turn few facilities or businesses are open until after 12 when most services are over.  This works as tourism is the number one business here and most people check out on Sunday as they can't wait to leave as the hangover is probably higher than than a former Kentucky Coal Miner.

We have booze bikes, booze trains, trucks, pedal cars, floating boats.  Pick a form of transport and we have drunk people being driven across town from one bar to another toting a drink and screaming at the top of their lungs often screaming vulgarities and looking utterly like slut bags on a summer day.  It is a look I cannot wait to see during Fashion Week or on Project Runway in the future. 

But have massive transit overhauls, encourage business to move into the downtown core, well if we have a downtown but it is on the plan sheet you need more than booze to bring them here. But to the ignorant and uninformed populace here that means taxes and when wages are substandard to the national average that is more from an already extended check thanks to the rising costs of housing thanks to the growing population and in turn the growing cost of housing.  Growth means new and new costs money.  The cycle here of ignorance with regards to what defines urban is amazing.   Again we have less than 1/3 of the population here educated. 

I mapped my center here for a writers project and the center of my map was Music City Central where I catch all my buses and the markings on my map were the Library and Vanderbilt Medical where are my only other major points of interest and in turn the map was littered with the coffee shops I wrote about in my blog on Will Robinson and where I go daily to get my 12 oz Latte, double for here and the laughs I have with the Baristas who know my name and I theirs.  That is my ritual as I don't practice any other kind of worship.

I have also written before that the two rudest questions I am asked are:  What made you come here or why are you here?  And What Church do you go to.  Usually when I answer to the first: To Fuck you over they rarely get to the second. If I answer politely I get the second and then comes the whole join my Church you will find a Husband and then we go back to me getting angry and the Cops come.  Okay they came once as I have now figured out that go with rude immediately and that ends it as Southerners hate rudeness but then again they have mastered the art of lying while talking and utter hypocrisy that it brings so it is a win-win for everybody when I end the encounter sooner vs. later.

For the record I actually belong to the Y and only one instructor there goes Hail Jesus in every sentence and I quit taking her class, she is not even a good instructor so no loss.  Jesus is a winner there.

The South is awash of contradictions and in turn the hypocrisy and idiocy that accompany it.  I cannot regret or wish I had not moved here I just know that I cannot wait to leave and my sell by date will come and I will be like all Southerners conflicted about it.  Oh who the fuck are we kidding, no I won't.  I just will be better for it for if I had no come here I would never had my teeth properly fixed and I would still be living in my past in Seattle and since I came here and see what that does, it was just what I needed to quit doing so.

So come to the South, get drunk, get fat but just don't get sick here.  We only got drugs and not even the good safe kind as that we cannot have but opioids or booze - HELL YEAH!

Inequality and Opportunity in America
'We’re changing something': can alcohol boost the Bible belt's economy?

In America’s south, alcohol has been steeped in stigma. But attitudes are changing, and lawmakers have been exploring ways to boost their economic potential

Daniel Jackson in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Guardian UK
Tuesday 27 June 2017

When some residents in the area around Chickamauga, Georgia wish to imbibe, they will drive 15 minutes into nearby Chattanooga, thinking that distance will give them anonymity to drink in public. Grown adults, 40 years old or so, will not drink in front of their parents.

Customers ask Skip Welsh, the co-founder of Phantom Horse Brewing Co in Rock Spring, to put their beer into a Styrofoam or red solo cup. They don’t want anyone to know what they are drinking.

In the heart of the Bible belt, alcohol is still steeped in stigma.

For years, blue laws and a cultural condemnation of alcohol has kept much of the rural south dry, or at least sipping light beer. Yet there is a growing embrace of alcohol in this corner of the country.

In 2010, Welsh had planned to sell domestic beers on tap like Bud Light, Coors Light and Shock Top at Pie Slinger, his pizzeria. A year and a half later, he abandoned the taps. Beer wasn’t selling the way he expected, and he lost customers because he offered it.

That’s why Welsh expected pushback last year when, after discovering craft beer in 2014, he decided to take his homebrewing operation pro. Phantom Horse was the first brewery to open south of the state line in north-west Georgia.

He was surprised there was no public outcry. At first, there were looks when patrons entered to see Welsh and Randles mixing brews. But those changed, Welsh said, when they realized they were creating and building flavor profiles.

The switch began, Welsh said, when local kids went to college in the cities, and came back around 2011 with a taste for craft beer. They drank in front of their parents, and they approached drinking differently – to enjoy the taste of it, not to get drunk.

Growing up in Alabama, Welsh said beer was viewed as sin. His father would buy a six-pack when he was angry and fighting with Welsh’s mother. “I’m a God-fearing man, and I’m quite proud of what we do,” said Welsh. He sees little support in the Bible for a prohibition on alcohol. Jesus turned water into wine and the original Greek made it clear it contained alcohol, he said. The key, Welsh said, is responsibility.

Over the last few years, the beer industry has been a bright spot in US job growth. “Beer has never been more dynamic, which is reflected in economic numbers,” said Michael Uhrich, chief economist for the Beer Institute, an industry organization headquartered in Washington, DC. “Employment among brewers is growing at nine times the rate of total US employment.”

“Georgia has 78 permitted breweries today, compared to 48 in 2014,” Uhrich continued. “Today in Georgia, 1,721 people have a job in a brewery, up from 1,473 in 2014.” A similar story is occurring in Tennessee, where the 69 permitted breweries in 2014 grew to 108 two years later.

Towns across the area are taking notes: loosening their local ordinances could boost their economic potential.

In March, voters in Rossville, Georgia passed ordinances that legalized liquor by the drink and Sunday packaged beer and wine sales. Adjacent Fort Oglethorpe has had liquor by the drink for several years, allowing restaurants like O’Charley’s, Applebee’s and Buffalo Wild Wings to spring up along its main strip.

Employment among brewers is growing at nine times the rate of total US employment
Michael Uhrich

But alcohol isn’t just a local issue. It’s a state one too, and whiskey startup Chattanooga Whiskey Co had to find out the hard way: to get up and running, they first had to change Tennessee law.

About 100 years ago, before Tennessee passed prohibition, Chattanooga’s Market Street was home to 20 distilleries. In 2009, the Tennessee legislature finally passed a law that re-opened the state up to distilling. However, lawmakers were able to opt their regions out of the bills, and so Chattanooga was passed over.

Doing what most startup whiskey companies do to quickly have a product, Chattanooga Whiskey purchased a whiskey made in Indiana, and sold it under its brand. It also launched a “vote whiskey” campaign to lobby, first at the county level, for a change in the law. It got it in April 2013 when the state bill went through.

“We’ve lived [the startup phase] for five years,” Tim Piersant, co-founder of the distillery, said. “We’ve had to change laws, raise capital, build a distillery, learn how to distil. We’ve almost come out with our product. Now, we’ve built a second distillery, learned a second operation on a larger scale.” Whiskey barrels take at least two years to age and the first of Chattanooga Whiskey’s genuine, locally-distilled product will be ready in July.

Recently, Chattanooga Whiskey expanded past its 5,000 sq ft experimental distillery in the heart of Chattanooga, and opened a second location in a former car dealership where they have begun to scale up operations.

Meanwhile, there are reasons why people in this area do not participate in the changing alcohol culture. Jordan Metzger, 33, doesn’t drink because it would undermine his ability to be a role model and minister as a youth pastor to sixth- to 12th-graders at Oakwood baptist church, located in Chickamauga, Georgia.

“If I was seen drinking in public, having a beer, a glass of wine, it would affect my ministry, the kids, the parents, the whole nine yards,” Metzger said.

Growing up near Baltimore, it was a non-issue if a church leader at a nondenominational church had a glass of wine while eating out with the rest of the staff.

At Oakwood, the question of alcohol is “a debate that’s alive and well,” Metzger said. The conflict, he sees, is split between the older generation’scultural values versus a new generation’s view. It’s part of a larger discussion about how to balance cultural expectations and reaching out to a new generation while staying true to the doctrines of Christian faith.

When Oakwood’s leadership discussed candidates for lay positions, the question of alcohol consumption came up as a criterion. Metzger believes the Bible does not forbid alcohol; that Paul wrote in the New Testament it is permissible, if perhaps not beneficial, although definitely not beneficial if it passes into drunkenness.

Metzger understands the old Baptist ethic that avoids activities and situations (such as dancing) because it might lead to sin. “The problem, the rub, comes in when you start judging others with the standards you set for yourself,” he said.

Like several Christian colleges in the area, Covenant College forbids its students from consuming alcohol. It’s a policy that has been on the student handbook since 1955 and has remained “remarkably consistent,” said Brad Voyles, vice president of student life at the college associated with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).

Through the years, the college has clarified exemptions. Outside the academic school year, students, if they are of age, can drink. “You should feel free to consume responsibly,” Voyles said. Other exemptions include wine while taking communion and married students who live off campus.

A prohibition on alcohol isn’t something that’s found in the Bible, the college believes. “This policy is an extra-biblical requirement,” Voyles said. “We’re saying in this season of life as a student of Covenant College, set that freedom aside.”

The reason for the alcohol-free campus is more pragmatic. Voyles cited American Psychosocial Association statistics that say alcohol is often a contributor to sexual assault, rape, violence, fights, property damage. Academically, the abuse of it can pull down grades and cause students to miss class. “It makes sense from an academic standpoint and a life-together standpoint,” he said.

Still, views against alcohol have remained entrenched in this area for generations.

An hour drive north from, Bryan College sits on a hill overlooking Dayton, Tennessee. The college was founded in honor of William Jennings Bryan, a three-time presidential candidate and populist politician of his time. Before he died in the town, Bryan, an advocate for federal prohibition of alcohol, said Dayton would be an ideal place to start a Christian college.

The current Bryan College student handbook says: “The use of or possession of narcotics, illegal drugs, or alcoholic beverages is grounds for immediate suspension.”

Dayton sits in Rhea County, which is technically dry, according to Tom Davis, the county’s administrator of elections. But that hasn’t stopped local cities from dipping their toes in. Dayton legalized liquor by the drink in 2010 and voted in April to allow package store sales of alcohol inside city limits.

“I like to call the south the last frontier of craft brewing,” said Kirby Garrison, 27, co-owner of Monkey Town Brewing Company, which sits on a side street in Dayton’s downtown. The company, which Garrison started with his father, offers food, spirits and the craft beer brewed in the steel 270-gallon tanks in a room off the dining area. Residents from neighboring towns regularly visit.

Growing up in Dayton, Garrison and his family left when he was 14 to live on eastern Long Island. They wanted to start a brewery but thought Long Island or Chattanooga would be too crowded. So they went back to Dayton. “This area we chose because we know [people] would appreciate it the most,” Garrison said.

When Garrison returned, there were more empty shops and for-rent signs in Dayton’s downtown than he remembered. Unlike New York City, a small town like Dayton derives its identity from its history, Garrison said. If you’re local, people will spend minutes trying to figure out where you hang on one predominant family tree or another. “A name means something here,” he said.

When Garrison first started building out the space, he would see people slowly driving their cars past. Other times, people would go right up to the windows to peer in. They were curious, watching from a distance. The community warmed when they learned Monkey Town offered more than just alcohol.

Part of Garrison’s job is education. About a dozen times a week, if a patron expresses interest in craft beer, then Garrison pulls 2oz samples. Most people assume India Pale Ales are bitter hop-bombs. Garrison brewed his cloudy IPA to capitalize on the hops’ diverse flavor, to make something that tastes as if fruit was brewed into it.

“We’re changing something,” Garrison said. “I don’t like teaching anything other than beer. Anything else, I’m impatient. But with beer, I have no problem starting from scratch with somebody.”

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