State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.


by Damian

I thought that after the initial shock related to gigantic portions and mysterious lists of salad dressing nothing related to American gastronomy will surprise us. But strange customs related to serving (or, more often than one would like, not serving) alcohol will get you every time.

We have to remember this is the nation that experimented with prohibition. An idea that briefly became a common cause of Ku Klux Klan and women’s suffrage movement. And also one of the few cases where Constitution limited rights of the individual. In nearly all other cases American constitution is a wonderful document that limits the rights of the state and guarantees the freedom of the individual. But I digress.

We did have a couple of mishaps. One trip to Martha’s Vinyard served to educate us what a dry town is. On the way, we passed my favorite dry town: Neversink, NY - which ironically was drowned by Neversink reservoir. But alcohol-wise it is still dry.

One Sunday morning after a night of moderate partying we ordered mimosas with our brunch only to find out that the restaurants in Boston cannot server alcohol before noon. Which caused an onset of giggles totally lost on the waitstaff. At one point the government of communist Poland decided that the only thing that kept the nation from achieving the utopian paradise was morning alcohol consumption. People were apparently drinking instead of applying their many a talent to the greater goal of the common happiness. It became against the law to serve alcohol before 1pm and it was all we could think about when denied our Sunday champagne. The naiveté of blunt coercion would be funny if it wasn’t tragic.

Living close to Boston Chinatown we nearly mastered an art of ordering cold tea with a straight face.Across the river from Boston, Cambridge has a one alcoholic drink at a time policy, which means no desert wine if you have an Irish coffee. Choose your addiction wisely and preferably one at a time.

All these restrictions quickly turn a normal person into a determined addict.

And now Pennsylvania tops it all. We asked for a beer in one place only to be informed that they have no liquor license so they cannot sell it. But they do offer complimentary beer.The waitress had to repeat it, since for a moment I thought that Complimentary is actually a kind of a local micro brew. But - no - it’s actually free beer. Unfortunately only light one (I am firmly in the light beer is a tangible evidence of evil club), but hey - it’s better than nothing. And it’s free.Of course we ended up overordering food trying to justify our beer consumption. And pondered the question: is it legal to tip for complimentary beer or is one expected to pitch in with some kitchen chores?

architect wanted

You become what you live in. This simple fact means that architects actually have a power of transforming more than just physical structures.But you have to give them a chance. Like asking them to design something. When I was in high school nearly all my friends lived in blocks of flats. This was normal. Political system did not really care for diversity. Everyone living in virtually the same apartments was not only the result of shortages of everything. It also reinforced the notion that we are all the same and have the same needs. Which of course is never true. After 1989 there was an explosion of design. They may be good or bad but they do not try to squeeze people in the same boxes.

toll rates

If only we had a carriage of pleasure…