22 May 2010

THE MALT LIQUOR DRINKERS

You see them gathered in front of the old Protestantekirche at West 12th and Elm Street. This ragged little group is not the congregation. The old church has been vacant and neglected for years. The people getting face time out front are the malt liquor multitude, and they are waiting for a delivery. 

They have entrusted one of their group to carry their combined funds --- loose change, ripped and crumpled dollar bills --- to the carry-out.  She will soon return with two 40 ounce bottles of malt liquor, whatever brand is cheapest or on sale that day.  

Later, after passing the bottles around, several of the group urinate onto the front facade of the derelict church.   After three or four people urinate in exactly the same spot, out in front of God and everybody, a river begins to flow toward the gutter.  The odor on a hot day is foul and fecund, and pedestrians had best watch their step.  At least it's only urine.

The curious fact is that this convocation apparently occupies this spot on a rotating basis.  You will see them drinking and pissing there for a day or two, then you find a different, non-drinking group of homeless people have taken over.  The non-drinkers hang out for a couple of days, only to be replaced by the malt liquor crew.  Do they keep a formally agreed upon schedule?  
Possibly members of the malt liquor crew are arrested for public intox now and then, and the group is temporarily disbanded.  But most public intox citations are simply handed to the drunk in question, with a date for him or her to appear before a judge.  If you arrested every publicly intoxicated person in Cincinnati, you would not come close to having jail space for all of them. 

People want drunks and drug addicts off the streets, but most citizens do not want their taxes  used to either house or jail drunks and drug addicts.  As the neighborhood around 12th and Elm, which now includes the new CSPA, is rehabbed, remodeled and gentrified, alcohol and chemical dependent homeless people will gradually find their way to other neighborhoods.  

Other neighborhoods like Lower Price Hill, or Walnut Hills, or West End, neighborhoods that already have enough problems. 

  

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All original text (C) 2007, 2008 David J. Carney. All rights reserved.

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