From The New York Shitty Inbox: Reader Op Ed

December 13, 2009 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Manhattan Avenue at Norman Avenue, 11222

Manhattan & Norman

Nassau Avenue at McGuinness Boulevard, 11222

Nassau & McGuinness

Driggs Avenue at Russell Street, 11222

Driggs & Russell

Tony (who took the above photographs) writes:


If there’s ever been a moment in my time in Greenpoint, where I have said to myself, “This is not good” it would be the recent home-made advertisements going up in the windows of several (too many!!) liquors stores for a vodka that is sure to do bad things to the already very  alcoholic masses in Little Poland. Attached are three (of many more) adverts for “Spirytus Vodka”, which is an alcohol equivalent to Ethanol. My girlfriend & I bought a bottle of it as a gag gift last week because it was very cheap and the bottle itself looks less like a beverage and more like something found in someone’s garage or basement next to the paint strippers and gas can.

If you go to an alcohol distributor website they say this: “At a full 95% alcohol by volume, this is the strongest spirit on the commercial market. Alcohol at this strength can be very dangerous if consumed to excess – this should never be drunk neat, but rather used very sparingly as a ‘float’ to give cocktails an extra kick.”  I’m going to guess that our fellow alcohol-addicted neighbors will not be using this as an “extra kick” and a product like this will only increase alcohol-related sickness and death in Greenpoint, not to mention increased compromises to our emergency care services.

I realize there’s a million other vodkas to choose from and yes, it is totally legal, but I am kind of disgusted with the obvious attempt by local liquor stores to shamelessly promote using ethanol as the best way to get from standing to half-dead on the sidewalk with this nasty stuff. All the soup kitchens and outreach have nothing on cheap deadly spirits available and advertised on every other block in our hood.

Tony makes a very salient point: while perfectly legal, is it ethical to sell such products in a neighborhood with one of the highest rates of alcoholism in the city? I also agree with Tony that while this product is intended to give cocktails an added “kick” it is all too likely some will see fit to drink this product “straight” with potentially fatal results.

While I do not want to sound like I am placing the responsibility for the alcoholism problem in this community squarely on the the providers of this product and others like it— there is without argument a measure of personal responsibility at play. However, when dealing with individuals who have a bona fide problem and as such cannot act in their own best interests at what point (if ever) does it become the responsibility of the community to do so (in this case, by not selling such products)? I do not profess to know the answer to this question— but I want each and every one of you to give it some thought nonetheless.

This is not simply the matter of a handful of afflicted individuals; it is a community problem.

Miss Heather

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