Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Drunk Town

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  • DeepRed,

    Another pressing issue was the willful serving of booze to the underaged, which the boys in blue have been rightly cracking down upon.

    Some years ago, I was amused by a ChCh Libertarianz member, writing a letter to the Press, blaming 6pm bar closings for NZ’s binge drinking culture. Obviously he’d never heard of Gin Lane.

    Binge drinking is far more complex than just availability of liquor – it’s most likely a symptom of some wider malaise - and attacking the symptom is an exercise in futility. Still, studies have established a proportional relationship between a locality’s crime rates and the concentration of liquor stores in the same area.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4262 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DeepRed,

    Binge drinking is far more complex than just availability of liquor – it’s most likely a symptom of some wider malaise – and attacking the symptom is an exercise in futility.

    Our national tendency to binge was what wrecked the experiment with party pills – particularly when people used BZP as a means to help them drink even more. That was a shame – although I didn’t think BZP was actually the one you’d want to legalise and regulate anyway. It just happened to be the one that wasn’t presumptively banned under the analogue provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I think worrying about this (like the prominence that's given to road accidents and petty vandalism) is a bit of a "comfortable world problem".

    Like some cop saying of Ireland: 'if [getting shitfaced is] a representation of what they do in their own country they've got big problems over there'

    Well, they do have a few problems and maybe getting a bit pissed is a welcome relief.

    Most countries have similar laws to us about not serving drunks and so on, but NZ is one of the few that actually takes them at all seriously. I was in a pub in Derry a while ago, and the bar staff were probably more pissed than the punters. But happily drunk - after tipping red wine over us, the bartender bought us a round.

    If anything I think NZ doesn't have a drinking problem, it's got a violence problem, and the booze just brings it out.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If anything I think NZ doesn’t have a drinking problem, it’s got a violence problem, and the booze just brings it out.

    We're mid-table for alcohol consumption in the OECD. It's not the drinking, it's how we're drinking, etc.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just realised I left out the link to the Herald story I quoted.

    It's here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    surely the issue around bar staff serving the intoxicated could be well served by "I'd like a rum and coke" "certainly sir, blow here please" .... a little feedback on how drunk we are as the night progresses even if we're not totally shitfaced would be a great learning tool.

    One of the things I've tried to get over to my kids is "look that guy is having no fun" - especially as a beginner you don't really understand that alcohol takes a while to kick in - and you can easily go from having a happy time to being that guy without realising it - and then forget why - I think it's hard to learn how to reliably have fun with alcohol - so a little feedback during the process might not go amiss

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2131 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I was out one time with a group that included one guy who ended up getting himself arrested by being a total dick about pouring out his beer.

    Emptying a beer into the street is littering :-)

    And pouring a poison into a storm drain, rather than the sewerage system is similarly verboten ...

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3000 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Now you just sound like Sean Connery.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    The mayor has formed a taskforce to deal with it and, creditably, headed out with several members of the force to confront the task.

    Whilst Mayor Len Brown takes a high profile stance to micro-manage a non-problem with youths in the central city.

    Are increased rates bills arriving in letterboxes in the suburbs?

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    NZ is one of the few that actually takes them at all seriously

    Possibly at the blue-shirted coal-face, but very much less so further up the chain. There was an article in Granny two weeks ago about an Auckland karaoke bar that got snapped by the cops, hiding intoxicated-to-the-point-of-insensibility patrons in a back room. Third offence. Did they lose their licence? Nope. There were “mitigating factors”, it seems. What was worse is that they’re apparently one of the better-behaved of that type of establishment.

    Fuck the mitigating factors. There is a clear presumption of a right to sell alcohol as a way of making a living, as demonstrated by how incredibly hard licensees have to work in order to have their licences cancelled; or even suspended for any meaningful period of time. Last year saw the first-ever licence cancellation for sale to minors, of a liquor store in Te Awamutu. After a fourth offence!

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    There was an article in Granny

    I saw that article, and thought it was one of the more egregious thousand words of casual racism I'd seen, even in a media that prides itself on that sort of thing. Evil foreign swine getting drunk in darkened rooms! With hookers and blow and knives and guns! They even tripped out the old opium den cliche - it could be 1881 all over again.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    umm, I'm not entirely sure which article you read, but there's no "opium den cliche" in the one I linked and only a single reference to ethnicity.
    Maybe your outrage at journalists daring to report on something that appears to be a real problem caused you to be blinded to the bigger issues highlighted?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

  • andrew r,

    Two questions (so Niki Kaye - yikes)
    Given everyone throws up in the Queen St hood -
    did RB throw up on LB first, or was it the other way around ?
    How were Disaster Radio ?

    auckland • Since May 2007 • 78 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Angus Robertson,

    Whilst Mayor Len Brown takes a high profile stance to micro-manage a non-problem with youths in the central city.

    Really? His comments are hardly incendiary -- remember when John Banks was declaring to all and sundry that he was going to close off Queen Street to traffic at nights? I think it's reasonable that he took a reporter from the Herald -- which has been making most of the noise -- and some of the people he wants to help and actually had a look. He now says he'll go back and have a look without the media entourage.

    The Herald's stance has a whiff of moral panic, but it's also true that Herald staff come and go from work in the deep of the night and are exposed to what goes on. I hope that they don't try and get too clever with mandating door policies -- they'll get the power to enforce a local liquor ban when the Alcohol Reform bill passes later in the year.

    Forcing clubs to close earlier or mandating one-way doors won't stop people binge drinking and it won't do much to stop them coming into the CBD late at night.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I was talking to a couple of 22 year old backpacker girls from the UK (yes, they WERE that fabled beast – Essex girls) in a Queenstown bar the other week and they reckon New Zealand is a bit of a promised land as far as being a young backpacker looking for fun. Safe, relaxed dress standards (important when eveything you posess has to fit in a pack), liberal drinking hours, cheap alcohol and lots of healthy young men who are *ahem* willing to to do their bit for international relations meant they were loving N.Z. That is a pretty enlightening perspective on our liquor laws, which seem to make having a good time almost to easy for young and inexperienced drinkers.

    To Len Brown’s credit, he clearly wasn’t prepared to get railroaded by the media into a kneejerk moral panic response. The idea that you punish bars with early closing because people pre-load in the car and (as one bar owner pointed out in K road) we have 24x7 off licenses right next to bars is a bit stupid.

    If we want to curb liquor consumption, get the stuff out of supermarkets, stop all off-licence sales after 9pm on Friday to midday on Monday and set a minimum price for alcohol. Then see where we go from there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1805 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    I thought you meant this longer article. Opium den reference at para 4.

    And I don't really see the difference between getting drunk in someone's garage (legal), getting drunk in a hotel room (legal I think) and getting drunk in a private room in a karaoke club (illegal).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4449 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andrew r,

    Given everyone throws up in the Queen St hood -
    did RB throw up on LB first, or was it the other way around ?

    I nearly threw up in that public toilet, I tell you.

    How were Disaster Radio ?

    The whole thing was a bit of a shambles, but I quite enjoyed that aspect of it. Andy and I might have been the only people in the room not tripping balls.

    Luke got on and played it loud and messy, which was just the ticket. I'd never realised that 'Gravy Rainbow' has such a hard-ass house bassline.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    If the youth had more optimism in their lives (refer to lack of jobs) I doubt there would be such a violent attitude displayed by some on the streets (good gear would help too) - with that in mind there does seem to be more groups of youths looking for fights than even 18 months ago... and I put that down to anger at their lot in life (refer jobs et al), not drinking in itself - and it seems to be very locale driven, I rarely feel threatened on K Rd, Queen st however...

    from my experiences its those of my generation and a little younger (40ish) that are really scary out on the streets - violence seems to be a common reaction for (some of) them out on the piss, a almost default setting - and a male thing at that

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 335 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I thought you meant this longer article. Opium den reference at para 4.

    And I don’t really see the difference between getting drunk in someone’s garage (legal), getting drunk in a hotel room (legal I think) and getting drunk in a private room in a karaoke club (illegal).

    The law does, though. They're licensed premises, and subject to the same rules around responsibility as other licensed premises. Racist? I could have done without the opium den comparison, but Hilary Chung and Raymond Huo are quoted saying it's a problem.

    I wouldn't know, being allergic to karaoke.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to bob daktari,

    If the youth had more optimism in their lives (refer to lack of jobs) I doubt there would be such a violent attitude displayed by some on the streets (good gear would help too) – with that in mind there does seem to be more groups of youths looking for fights than even 18 months ago…

    Yeah, that's my impression: there's just a slightly nastier vibe at the moment.

    and I put that down to anger at their lot in life (refer jobs et al), not drinking in itself – and it seems to be very locale driven, I rarely feel threatened on K Rd, Queen st however…

    Totes. You know what you're dealing with on K Road. Some of the darker lanes off Queen Street are a bit iffier.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18839 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    There is no silver bullet to the problem that has been created across several generations. The six o'clock closing, through to the lowering of the drinking age have contributed to the problem. Add to this ability to create booze out of the biproduct of our primary industry there is going to be an over supply of cheap booze and bad attitudes in dealing with it.

    I disagree with Russell that being drunk in public should not be an offense; however I think that there should be some very clear guidelines, and the resulting penalty for offending should be something that benefits those who are caught. i.e. if you can't get yourself home because you are too drunk it would mean that you would be detained and if you found yourself there too many times then some sort of mandatory counselling could be prescribed.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Wilton,

    There needs to be social responsibility balanced with personal accountability in terms handling this problem.
    Some other easy wins would be
    Minimum standard drink pricing (part of this would be a levy that goes towards alcohol counselling)
    Split age for the sale
    Closing time for off licenses of a reasonable time
    Mandatory recycling of glass and cans used for containerising alcohol. (thie would potentially reduced the number of broken bottles in the street)
    Advertising standards for Alcohol.

    There is essentially no band aid solution for this and we need a solution that is fair to the smaller operators and see those who take large profits from the sale of alcohol contributing to fixing some of the problems that they have created.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • bob daktari,

    we only need a solution if the problem is attitudes to drinking and not a byproduct of other social problems

    generally I have been amazed at how mature most young I come across are with regards to alcohol - these kids are not out of control (yes some are and some always will be)

    this seems to be yet another 'pick on the young' issue of which we've seen all too many of these past 4 years - stop picking on them and pick them up, give them jobs, a sense of optimism and be sobered at how stunning so many of them are as people

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 335 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Really? His comments are hardly incendiary

    I’m not Brown’s biggest fan – and honestly not sure what the photo op walkabout in today’s Herald was supposed to achieve – but yeah… I’m not sure he’s guilty of vote-grabbing dick-waving here.

    That said I’m also not sure The Herald isn’t living proof of Bernard Shaw’s snerk that your average newspaper can’t distinguish between an old lady falling off a bicycle and the end of the world. There is a legitimate and real issue here, but I fail to see how you make sensible decisions when the only newspaper in town keeps screeching "marauding drunken wolf cub!"

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11933 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I don’t really see the difference between getting drunk in someone’s garage (legal), getting drunk in a hotel room (legal I think) and getting drunk in a private room in a karaoke club (illegal).

    The third is subject to conditions of liquor licensing law. The first isn't. The second isn't as long as the alcohol is self-provided or out of the mini bar, but the hotel could get in a lot of trouble if room service restocked your mini bar while you were present and clearly intoxicated.
    If you want to sell alcohol, society lays down conditions on your doing so. If you don't like it, you don't have to sell alcohol.

    As for the long article, the opium den comparison aside it's pretty hard to report on something that's largely confined to karaoke bars without having to discuss the cultural associations that they bring from their originating societies. Ordinary bars and restaurants tend not to have multiple private rooms where patrons get left alone for periods of time with large quantities of booze, for example; that's something that appears to be much more common in karaoke bars. Even without the discussions of outright criminal activity - which, as Russell says, is a concern to MPs of Asian descent - there's still the flouting of liquor licensing rules in a number of ways, including hiding patrons and thus keeping them in a dangerous situation where they are beyond being capable of taking care of themselves.
    Do you get outraged by reports that Sky City is used by Asian gangsters for running their criminal enterprises?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3908 posts Report Reply

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