Booze, The Launchpad and Cadigan's Lament

Last Sunday's “Battle of the Booze” humdinger-of-a-story on the frontpage of the Albuquerque Journal [link] featured a shamelessly sensationalized cover photo of a poor, misguided adolescent sporting an unseemly hairstyle that every geriatric Journal reader could only have glanced at before turning away, repelled by the insanity of today's youth. I can only imagine poor Herb and Midge up there in the Heights shaking their heads in disbelief over the morning coffee at Cracker Barrel and stateing matter-of-factly, “He must be on drugs.”

The story reads like ... well, judge for yourself. Here's an excerpt:

It could be a high school dance, except it's at a bar.

Yes, these are minors.

In a bar.

They can't get into the walled-off bar area at the Launchpad, where only a couple dozen “olders,” or over-21 people, are drinking while trumpets blare.

Olders? That is one whacky newspaper.

My favorite moment is in a sidebar entitled “Fewer Citations at Smaller Venues.” The Launchpad is listed as receiving six citations for underage drinking from the special investigations division of the NM Dept. of Public Safety between Jan. 2003 and May 2005. Except the Launchpad has never once been cited, nor violated liquor laws by serving minors, in this time. Launchpad's owner Joe Anderson, for the past two days has been trying to find out why this misinformation keeps transgressing through the media and he still can't get an answer. The point is, the Launchpad is one of the least likely places in town where a minor can get a drink. If a kid gets caught even attempting to obtain booze, he (or she) is banned from the Launchpad for life, Anderson told me. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Aramark, the company that runs Journal Pavillion concessions, is quoted in the story, saying “we've really taken the bull by the horns,” in an effort to peel back the number of citations the venue has received (281!, allegedly) in the past two years and five months. Just how are they doing this? “This year, people can't buy alcohol without an arm band, and they have to have proof of age to get a band. Anybody drinking a beer has to have an armband on, and, if they don't, their drink is confiscated.”

They really grabbed the bull by the horns, didn't they? Actually that's always been the policy. So that way, the 22-year old with the armband can go in to the beer garden, buy two $6, over-foamed drafts, and walk back to the lawn, swill one back and give the other to his 19-year old buddy. That's the way it works at every show. Or the 22-year old can give his draft to his buddy and turn around and go get another one for himself, if there is a one-per-customer limit. (Myself, I've never been denied two at a time.) Works the same way at Isotopes Park. Try that at the Launchpad and you would never get away with it. The enforcement is too strict.

On to other items of business ... It'll be interesting to see how City Councilor Michael Cadigan handles the mayor's recent line-item vetoes of the city capital budget when the Council meets on Aug. 1. Cadigan was trying to broker an agreement on Monday between councilors and the mayor that would have avoided a possible veto override. There was a last-minute council meeting scheduled that night, but when I got there it was cancelled. The mayor vetoed funding for a community center in Brad Winter's district clearly out of spite for his rival in this year's mayoral election. Cadigan, an ally of the mayor's on most everything, will now have to decide if he is going to do the principled thing and vote to reinstate the $7.2 million for the center. He owes it to Winter, some might say, since Winter backed him on the Paseo extension. But, of course, Cadigan has seemed unwilling to sway too far from the mayor's influence.

As the saying goes: developing ...