Gin & Juice: Times, Bloomberg Okay Open Container


Having frequently been told to “dump it out” by members of New York’s Finest, we were surprised by the cheerful take on outdoor drinking in today’s New York Times: “Ah, The Heat, The Crowd, The Park, The Booze.”

“Be they surreptitiously sipped from brown paper bags or openly downed from plastic tumblers at movie nights or concerts in an array of parks,” writes the Times, “drinks of all stripes and potencies surface in force, rather brazenly.”

They’re talking about polite citizens at officially-sanctioned events, of course, not rowdy teenagers on a stoop. Still, remembering the Giuliani days — when the Mayor bragged of using open-container laws to keep citizens in line, and even pushed to ban drinking at street fairs, the Grey Lady’s laissez-faire took us aback — as did the paper’s implication that Mayor Bloomberg shared it:

(The official line from the city’s parks department is that alcohol cannot be brought into city parks, though in the summer of 2003, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg suggested that drinking wine at concerts in Central Park was O.K. At Bryant Park on July 7, a security guard said he turned a blind eye to booze on movie nights, “so long as it is covered, like in a bag.”)

We had of course noticed Bloomberg enjoying his own uncovered glass of wine at Brooklyn Bridge Park in May. Though his spokesman later told the New York Post this was “an inadvertent mistake,” Bloomberg seemed unabashed.

At the time, we put this down to Bloomberg’s usual self-satisfied, I’m-rich-and-can-do-whatever-I-want attitude. But we may have misjudged him, at least a little. This week the New York Daily News announced that Bloomberg is looking to reform the insane cabaret law that bans dancing in many local bars — an ordinance that Giuliani pointedly enforced.

If Bloomberg is indeed loosening the reins on his citizens, it might prove a competitive advantage for New York. Philly blog Philebrity reported yesterday, “We have heard various reports of local cops conducting quaint Guiliani-esque raids on open container offenders — including one hilarious tale of the same cop who popped Sweeney for handing out Echo & The Bunnymen afterparty fliers being up to his old tricks — that center around South Street but are in no way limited to that area. (A bunch of people got arrested for drinking outside the First Unitarian Church last week.)”

If all this is true, then we may soon be able to say — as has been unimaginable of late — suck it, Philly squares! New York is Fun City!