Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Mifflin Street Beer Blast

It’s time for the annual spring beer blast on Mifflin Street to go away.  My prediction: it will die a very violent death this year.

It began in May of ’69, and it was more of a VietNam war protest than anything else.  But it’s gotten so far from its roots that it’s not recognizable.  It’s become a noisy, violent, drunken puke-fest.  Not that long ago it bordered on riot status.  The drunks were uncontrollable, started burning things, and had to be put to bed forcibly.  In one recent year, Badger football players – a few of them – roamed the crowd and beat down random people.  Last year there were stabbings and cops got hurt.

A word about the cops: you will not find a more patient group of law enforcement professionals anywhere on the planet.  They give a remarkable amount of leeway to the drunks.  You’ve got to be a real asshole to get arrested at the beer blast.  The cops are good-humored enough to allow the revelers to have their pictures taken with them.  Here’s a shot from the 2005 beer blast, with the cops putting up with my kids (Dru between the two cops and Mal to the right of the cop).

The beer blast usually starts in a benign fashion, like the shot above, which was taken at around 10:30 AM on April 30th, 2005.  But by early afternoon, most of the crowd is drunk, peeing and puking in the street, and getting surly.  After about 8 beers, those college kids suddenly become constitutional scholars on their “rights”, and that’s when the real trouble starts.

There were rumblings after last year’s beer blast that it was time for it to go away.  Even Mayor Paul Soglin, who was one of the architects of the original street party back in ’69, said it no longer served a purpose.  The bill for the cops was well over a hundred grand, and when it gets to that level in this kind of economy, the taxpayers are less forbearing about footing a six-figure-plus bill so a bunch of college kids can get drunk and trash the neighborhood.

With the dictum this year about no alcohol consumption on public property, with no sponsor (again this year), and no structure, things are going to get ugly in a hurry.  The rules will be defied, the cops will have no choice but to enforce the wishes (and commands) of their superior officers, and will be ordered to arrest violators.   There will be a lot of them (violators), it won’t be mellow, and even the most broad-minded of the citizenry will be saying Sunday morning “enough”.

And then, the beer blast will go away, as it should have a couple decades ago.

(Photo at top of post Copyright Isthmus.Read their article here.)

1 comment: