The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Save the Scene! (and Valentine's Day Sucks)

If you live in Springfield, hopefully you've heard of the proposed ban that would exile all minors (we're talking under 21 here, not under 18) from any establishment that makes 60% or more of it's totally revenue from the sale of alcohol. This means bars, pool halls, dance clubs, etc. etc. etc. aka ANYWHERE LIVE MUSIC CAN PLAY.

Obviously, this sucks.

If you're older or uber-religious, you might be thinking, "Well, of course kids will be mad about it, but they shouldn't be drinking anyway, so I vote yes. Minors don't need to be in bars."

Well, here's why you're sadly mistaken:

1) The Music scene depends on the patronage of minors

A huge portion of those who go listen to live local music, especially downtown, are under 21. The music scene and culture of downtown Springfield is just starting to blossom, and this ban would bring that growth to a halt, if not squash it completely. Minors often pay up to twice as much as those over 21 just to gain entrance to a dark, smoky bar and stand around listening to their favorite band. I should know, I'm one of them. With all the venues closing downtown lately, it would seem that bars can use all the help they can get. More importantly though is the music itself. If half (or more) of the audience for some of these bands disappears, where will they go? Then there's the issue of bands with under 21 members, and let me tell you, there are a LOT of those. Bottom line: Ban=Music scene deterioration and/or death

2) Downtown Springfield depends on the patronage of minors, and so does this town's desirability.

As stated above, the ban will reduce patronage and interest in downtown Springfield and its growing cultural scene. However, the implications are much farther reaching than your local moping dormitory. Downtown Springfield's growth has improved the economy of Springfield as a whole by attracting new residents (yes, believe it or not people are moving *to* *Springfield* for the scene) and the city has taken notice. Plans are in the works for the new College Station, a shopping center and first-run movie theater. The city has been spending there as well, constructing new sidewalks, parking spaces, street lamps, and even beautiful, old-fashioned cobblestone streets. Check out Patton Alley.

3) Minors are often designated drivers for their over 21 friends (and sometimes parents)

It's true. It is *so* true. Just ask my mom.

4) The ban is ageist, and some of the justifications have been sexist.

This ban is focused on taking rights away from a group of independent, voting, army-enlisting, Iraq-dying, tax-paying adults. We won't get into the issue of being old enough to die for your country but not buy whisky to dull the pain of your war wound, because that's another fight. Our agenda is in no way focused on lowering the drinking age, and no one is saying that anyone under 21, even if they're 18, should break the law as it is by drinking. However, telling grown adults that they aren't even allowed *in* certain spaces, because they *might* break a law, is tyranny. They might think it's easy to push around a (relatively) small group like the 18-20 year olds, but if they start taking away rights from autonomous American citizens using this kind of logic, where will it end? No more guns because you *might* shoot someone with it? No more cars because you *might* speed (or even closer to reality: because you might drive drunk).

Oh yeah, and the sexism. Bet you're wondering how that comes in. Some of the justifications I've heard from those supporting the ban run along the lines of "18 year old girls don't need to be mixing with drunk men twice their age." For one thing, an 18 year old woman is an 18 year old citizen, why do we have to bring gender into it? She's an adult and can legally make her own decisions. Hopefully, she's smart enough to make the right ones in the first place. If not, that's still not the government's business. I don't need Uncle Sam trying to "protect" me like I'm some kind of helpless, stupid little ditz. Hopefully, if I'm acting helpless and stupid, my friends and family will let me know, but it's still my business. Most women (myself included), have become accustomed to offensive and unwanted sexual advances, and can take care of themselves. Furthermore, this is just scratching the surface, but if we don't want creepy drunk old guys sexually harassing women, why aren't we banning the creepy drunk old guys? It all goes back to the idea that society should "protect" (i.e. imprison, regulate, blame) women for crimes against them when society *should* be fixing the problem of men who are out of line and a culture that glorifies this kind of behavior. But I digress.

5) It will hurt enrollment at local colleges, further harming the Springfield economy and cultural appeal.

This one needs very little explanation. Who wants to go to school in a town where you can't even go see a band play? Worse, what musician would go to college where she can't practice her craft?

6) It's mean.

And narrow-minded. And unreasonable. And unfair. And stupid. And it smells bad. And your face.

7) And best of all: Minors don't drink in bars!!!!!

That's right folks, you heard it here first: Minors don't drink in bars! They don't! It's overpriced and watered-down, and they run the risk of getting caught. If kids want to drink, they drink at house parties (where, by the way, it's easier to binge drink). Minors who go to bars aren't there to drink (which they can do at someone's house), they're there to see or play live music. Their $10 door charge keeps *your* favorite bar open, so you can enjoy the sweet, legal, overpriced, watered-down, 3-ounce "martini" in a bar glass. Yay.

Also: if you kick minors out of bars, where are they going to go on a Friday or Saturday night? The answer is either a) Bible study b) Mini-golf or c) Binge-drinking, drug-using, unprotected-sex-having house parties. Your guess is as good as mine.

SO, loyal readers, if I have convinced you that this ban is a BAD THING (which, er, if I haven't, please check and make sure your Common Sense, Empathy, and Sense of Fun are still firmly attached to your psyche) please take some sort of mundane action. Here's what I got so far:

(I'm listing again.....)

1) Write about this in your own blog. Hell, copy-paste my stuff and don't even give me credit if you want, just get the word out.

2) Visit the site our campaign has so far here. Improvements will be coming, with regularly updated information on how you can help.

3) Come to our next meeting at The Radish, 417 N. Boonville (about 3 blocks north of the square) at 2:00 pm on Sunday, February 19. We're just getting started, so we'll be kicking around ideas and starting to get organized. Jump in.

4) Add Springfield Youth Task Force as a friend on MySpace

5) And MOST IMPORTANTLY, vote! The issue will most likely be on the August 6th ballot (when all the college kids are out of town.... sneaky snarky snakes). VOTE. VOTE NO. If you aren't already registered, do so now. If you'll be out of town, get an absentee ballot, whatever. Just vote already.

Well. That is a hefty enough post on it's own, but I found this and had to post it as well. I found it among a collection of inappropriate online valentines, and well, this one just seemed to fit:


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