Authors@Google: Garrett Peck


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 30.11.2009

Transcript:
>> Hi, everybody. Thank you for coming to our Authors at talk
today. We have Garrett Peck. He's an analyst at a
large telecom company and freelance journalist for the alcoholic beverage industry.
He lives in Washington, D.C., where he leads temperance tours of Prohibition related sites
in our nation's capital. This Prohibition Hangover is his very first
book. It was six years in the making and is a compilation
of over one hundred interviews. So now, welcome Garrett Peck.
>> Garrett Peck: Hi, everyone. I'm Garrett Peck and like Tasha said here,
the book is The Prohibition Hangover, which came out September first.
So just almost two months ago. Like she said, it was about a six-year process
of getting the book to market. So I wanted to kind of talk about what it
was like being a first-time author and getting the book out, because it was sort of like
I learned the whole process completely backwards and yet somehow it didn't kill me.
And it's kind of a humorous process. And then, talked about where the idea for
the book actually came and I'll talk about some of the historic things that led to where
we are today with alcohol. So again, the book is The Prohibition Hangover:
Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet.
So it's kind of signifying that there's been a process, right?
From how we went to demonized alcohol to where we are today where most of us drink.
And we'll talk about that here throughout this afternoon.
I should say here the last book that covered Americans and alcohol -- like a really significant
social book about how Americans drink -- was written 30 years ago and that was by an
author named William Rorabaugh. He's a professor at the University of Washington.
And the book was called The Alcoholic Republic. And in that book, he laid out where the temperance
movement came from. You all remember we had Prohibition in this
country for nearly 14 years -- from 1920 to 1933.
Prohibition itself was a century-long movement beforehand that led up to Prohibition.
And this was a social reform movement. And just to kind of kick things off here,
I'd like to have a little interaction with the audience -- mostly pretty young people
here today, so. I wanted to ask how many of you here can define
what temperance was? One person, cool.
>> It was a movement that drinking was evil. That's all I know about it.
>> Garrett Peck: Exactly, yeah. They stigmatized alcohol drinking.
You kind of think the word 'temperance' means 'to be temperate' or 'to moderate', right?
But, they took it to another extreme. They took it to "Everyone needs to abstain
altogether from alcohol." This started off actually with a huge whiskey
binge that was going on in the early, early American republic.
And, as a result, the church had said, "You know what?
We've got a big social problem here. We've got to deal with this."
So initially, temperance meant to get people to moderate their drinking, but pretty quickly
more radical people took over the movement and they decided that people had to refrain
from drinking altogether. So, temperance therefore became synonymous
with abstinence from alcohol. And we still see that in some places here
in America. So in kind of building my platform for the
book itself, one of the things I did, like Tasha said, I became a freelance journalist.
I wrote the book first, and then I was like, "Okay, I want to go out there and sell it"
-- which is not generally how you write nonfiction. You generally write a proposal.
Then you get an agent. Then you sell it.
And then they give you an advance and then you go write the rest.
And so, I did the whole process kind of backwards. I wrote it first and then tried to go out
there and sell it. And the answer I kept getting back was, "Well,
dude. You don't have a platform.
You know, you work in telecom. So you haven't written in the industry at
all -- in the alcohol industry." So at that point then I started doing freelance
journalism. So I do about an article a month or so.
And I started doing this temperance tour, this walking tour of Prohibition-related sites
in Washington, D.C. So if you guys are ever out there, it's a
really fun tour. We see some really unusual sites.
The one I put up here on the screen is the Cogswell Temperance Fountain.
Anybody ever hear of Henry Cogswell? He was a San Francisco dentist, who made his
money during the Gold Rush and part of the temperance movement.
And he financed about 50 of these statues. There's only a handful of them left around
the country, one in Washington, D.C. -- this is the one here from D.C. -- and then one
in New York City, in Tompkins Square Park in Alphabet City, East Village.
There's only a handful that most of them have been torn down since then.
But they were put in very strategic spots around the country to basically signify to
the population, "Drink water, instead of whiskey." Like the one in New York City, it was put
in Little Germany -- little neighborhood full of Germans.
So the message was, "Drink water, instead of beer."
So really the point -- it was part of the abstinence only movement at that time.
So again, temperance was this faith-based initiative.
This was the evangelical -- other than abolitionism. You know, the fight to ban slavery in the
country? This was the other, big, social reform movement
of the 19th century. So the evangelical Protestant churches banded
together and decided they needed to do something about the heavy drinking that was going on
and ultimately decided people had to stop drinking altogether.
And that ultimately, of course, led up to Prohibition.
One of the things they questioned was, "What would Jesus drink?" And they went through
the Bible and reinterpreted the Bible. We call this revisionism.
But they decided that, because they were teetotalers, therefore Jesus had to be one as well.
And actually, I grew up hearing this in my own church whereby they would say, "Okay,
in Jesus' time, he drank unfermented wine." They had no scientific basis for that --
nor archaeological or biblical basis for it. But it was simply just taken on faith that
Jesus didn't drink, even though wine is written in every single chapter of the Bible other
than the book of Jonah. And certainly there was a lot of evidence
around Jesus that, in fact, he did drink. He turned water into wine at the party at
Cana and a few other cases, Last Supper and so on.
Those people who are Catholics scratch their heads and go, "What is up with you Protestants?"
But this was a Protestant movement. And they were the ones who gave us temperance,
abstinence, and therefore they had to have a theological or ideological basis really
behind it. And ultimately, of course, that's where they
gave us the phrase, "Demon Rum," which is part of the subtitle of my book.
They demonized drinking, not just to the point of saying, "Gee, we don't want you to drink,"
or "You should drink less or moderate." They heavily stigmatized anybody who did drink.
And you still see that across the country in a couple of places, especially in the Deep
South where they tend to have still conservative churches -- predominantly Southern Baptist
Convention. And they still preach against the evils of
alcohol. I put up this as well here.
Anybody hear of the Women's Christian Temperance Union -- or WCTU?
One person. The WCTU was once a super-powerful lobby in
this country. It once numbered 600,000 people in the country
-- all women. And they were headquartered in Illinois, and
they put these fountains around. The particular one here you see on the screen
was in Roseworth Beach, Delaware, but there was one in Santa Rosa.
There's one in Petaluma -- still exists -- and a few other places.
Again, kind of the message, "Drink water, instead of whiskey, beer, wine."
Whatever your alcoholic beverage choice is, don't drink it.
Drink water instead. This was a really powerful lobby.
Women didn't have the vote yet at the time. And so, one of the things they could do was
educate people. And hence, they got into the classrooms and
they educated people on the evils of alcohol drinking.
One of the interesting things that came up about -- in the 1870's the WCTU rose and they
ended up having alliance together with the suffragettes -- so, Elizabeth Cady Stanton
and Susan B Anthony. The suffragettes was actually a much smaller
organization, a much smaller movement. But the movement to get women the vote realized
that if they ever wanted to get the vote, they would need to ally together with the
temperance people. And so, those two forces then got together.
And therefore, it was not a coincidence at all that women got the vote and we banned
alcohol in the same year -- 1920. That's not a coincidence whatsoever, right?
And then, of course, once the 1920's came, that alliance then split apart.
Women decided that, in fact, they had a right in the speakeasy at the bar, and women started
drinking. Kind of unusual.
But we'll look into that in a few minutes. All right, so we got Prohibition -- 1920 to
1933. It lasted almost 14 years long, and it was
a horrible failure. 13 awful years as H.L. Mencken called it.
He was the Bard of Baltimore. So a vast amount of civil disobedience that
took place during this time. You know, how we got into Prohibition in the
first place? There was a group called the Anti-Saloon League,
and they used the occasion of World War I to change the Constitution.
We had declared war against who in 1917? Germany, exactly.
And who were most of the brewers in the country at the time?
German Americans, indeed. They were the biggest ethnic group at the
time in the country. So today's it's Latinos; but, back then, it
was the Germans. So once that whole lobby was basically pushed
aside, the ASL decided, "Okay. We're going to go for the gusto.
We're going to change the Constitution." I'm still kind of flabbergasted by that fact.
We changed the Constitution not once, but twice, to deal with alcohol -- once to ban
it, and then once to make it legal again. I mean, crazy.
And in just less than 14 years, the country realized what a huge unintended consequence
Prohibition had released, that there was just endemic law breaking around the country.
There was so much money being made, organized crime was making a fortune, and the violence
was really, really getting bad around the country.
So after less than 14 years, the country decided, "Okay, let's go back the way it was before
and let's regulate it now this time." So anybody here that has ever seen this.
This is one of the most famous photos here from Prohibition itself.
And if there's any beer drinkers in the room, you'd probably want to cry.
This is in 1921, and yes, they're pouring beer into the sewer.
So kind of a publicity stunt, but one of the more famous photos from Prohibition.
The Dry Cause itself had really thought -- I think, naively -- that the country would
simply just dry up. If we ban the manufacture, sale, and transportation
of alcohol, the country will simply just obey the law and people will stop drinking.
And I think they were really naive to believe that, because it's really been fundamentally
a part of American culture since the beginning. And for example, you saw -- I talked about
the movement of women splitting apart in the 1920's.
You got this younger generation of women who came up.
They now had the vote. They decided they had a right at the speakeasy;
they had a right to drink. You know, back then, drinking was a man sport.
And come the 1920's, "Okay, it's illegal for everybody to drink.
So therefore, we can all drink, right?" So women started going out to the speakeasies
as well. They start bootlegging.
They do some really unusual things in the 1920's.
Remember this is the era of Sigmund Freud, so people start doing psychoanalysis, see
your shrink, and so on. Women start to smoke in the 1920's.
They hadn't done that before. They start to drink in the 1920's.
And you see, for example, this woman right here.
She has her garter and her hip flask. You know, breaking the law suddenly looks
pretty glamorous, right? So this law-breaking became endemic to American
society. Okay.
We had the law of the land that says you can't manufacture, sell, or transport alcohol, and
yet everyone's doing it regardless. So really, the country became very cynical
towards Prohibition itself. But actually, changing the law back is pretty
difficult. Getting a Constitutional Amendment isn't easy
in this country, right? You got to get two-thirds of Congress to vote
for it, and then you got to get three-quarters of the states to vote for it.
But that said, of course, we changed the Constitution twice.
So first time, we used the occasion of World War I to change the Constitution -- the crisis.
And then, we had a second crisis. So what was that?
Anyone? Great Depression, exactly.
The economy fell off a cliff in October, 1929. And with that, came a huge political change
in the country, very similar to what happened in 2006 and 2008 actually.
The 1920's belonged to the Republican party -- all three presidencies and both houses
of Congress. And then 1930, 1932, the whole country just
shifted over completely. And the Democrats ran on a platform of repeal.
In other words, "Let's get this problem under control.
We'll have law and order again to control the endemic law breaking that's going on."
And so, Franklin Delano Roosevelt runs on a platform of repeal.
So not that we're happy about legalizing alcohol again, but rather, we can get the beast under
control, and now we can regulate it. So, the 21st Amendment gets passed through
Congress in January of 1933 -- so before FDR is even in office.
The first state votes for it in March of 1933. Anybody from Michigan?
Your state voted first. [Woohoo!] Congratulations, Tasha.
And then, the 36th state -- the one that pushed it over the top -- was nine months later,
which shows you how much the country wanted an end to the noble experiment.
And that was December 5th, 1933. What state was that?
What state in this country would you think people would least likely to drink in?
Utah. [laughter] Utah was the 36th state.
Yeah, it sort of became a badge of honor that they would be the ones here to push the measure
over the top. And so, yeah, that became then the end of
Prohibition itself. The 21st Amendment, of course, promised the
country regulation of alcohol and control of alcohol.
And so, we'll talk about that a little bit here this afternoon.
What I want to talk about here with my book -- This is kind of a precursor of how we
got into the mess and then out of Prohibition itself.
With my book here, if I can really quick here just give you a quick read.
Two paragraphs? If you'll let me indulge to really look at
what happened after Prohibition. And that's really my thesis of what happened
over these last 76 years since we changed the law back.
So just quick two paragraphs here. [reading] The United States has had a tense
relationship with alcohol since colonial times and, even after Prohibition failed, Americans
are still unsure how to deal with it. Our social attitudes and laws on alcohol are
disjointed. Is it a normal consumer product?
Is it a controlled substance? Is it a gift from God?
Or is it Demon Rum? Now, maybe it's all of these things.
As Americans drink more, there's a great strain between the many different points of view
about alcohol -- between freedom and reform, tipplers and teetotalers, evangelicals and
secularists. But at least, this is not a political issue
anymore. Republicans are just as likely to drink as
Democrats. [talking] Now, the other paragraph I'm going
to read here is kind of the epiphany moment when I had the eureka, "Oh, my gosh.
I got a book here I need to go write." Everybody asks the question, "Where did you
come up with this idea?" So here it is. [reading] This book came about from an insight
over Christmas dinner in 2003. My mom, grandmother, and I were gathered around
the table for roast beast, which is what we call it since the Grinch stole Christmas.
I opened up a nice 1977 Burgundy. Three generations sat at the table.
My grandmother -- who grew up during Prohibition and had an alcoholic husband -- and my mom
and me, both social drinkers. What explains the shift between abstinence
and social drinking within a single family? Why do people abstain in the first place?
And why weren't these generational values passed on?
That was sort of a eureka moment. I thought, "Wow, what happened here?
I need to go explore this question here." And once I got into my research, then I kind
of discovered, "Wow, no one's written a book at all about what happened to Americans after
Prohibition." You know, how did we get to a country again
where most of us drink? So in a single slide here -- this always gets
a couple of laughs here. I really wanted to lay out, you know, how
we went from a country that once heavily stigmatized alcohol -- and these are women here from the
Women's Christian Temperance Union -- to one where we are today where two-thirds of us
drink alcohol and alcohol is really kind of glamorized now.
I mean, people here, you can ask around the room here.
This is mostly a young audience, so most people probably do drink.
How many of you are like into single malt scotchs, or into pinot noirs that are grown
in these tiny, little vineyards, but like Miles and Sideways that are fanatics about
that. Where I call it the Cult Cabernet phenomenon.
[phone ringing] Or people are into 90 minute IPAs and so on.
People are really knowledgeable now about what they drink.
And we kind of glorify it now and people get kind of nerdy about, you know, you get in
a room of scratch beer drinkers together and people just have so much to discuss about
what their favorite beers are -- do they like it rather with hops or rather with malt and
so on. So yeah, we've really made a huge transition
over these last 76 years to we're at the point now where the stigma is largely gone in American
society. And I think we are in fact a drinking nation
once again. So this is one of the few academic slides
I'll put here in today's presentation. This is really interesting here.
This is the Gallup survey. They've done this survey almost every year
since 1939. There's a couple gaps during World War II
and so on. But yeah, it really shows the case of two-thirds
of American adults 18 and older drink alcohol. That's pretty significant.
In the survey they took here in 2009, it was 64 percent, versus the other 36 percent who
abstain. So clearly not every American drinks, nor
should every single American drink. There's lots of good reasons not to drink
alcohol. But most of us do, right?
And that's a significant shift right there as most of us, I think, recognize, "Yeah,
it's just a part of our lives and our lifestyles here now." That said, of course, the temperance
movement kind of lingered on, even in the 1950's or even later.
Like I said, you still see it in some parts of the country, especially in the Deep South
and a few other places where you still have dry towns.
Any of you heard of dry counties? Well, they still exist in a few places, especially
the Deep South and the Midwest. And a few places in Massachusetts still are
dry towns, amazingly. But yeah, there was this lingering social
stigma against alcohol, especially as the WCTU -- which still exists actually -- they've
really waned in power. The stigma here really existed at least into
the 1950's. And a lot of people were still concerned that
they might come back and try to have another round with Prohibition.
And I think simply the World War II generation that went out.
They fought the war. They all mostly became drinkers.
They drank beer, that generation. And they moved on at that point.
They grew up during Prohibition. They were like, "You know, let's not fight
this issue again. It's a losing issue."
And so, by the 1960's, you all see Madmen, right?
Most people watch Madmen? So, get on Netflix if you have it.
So wow, heavy amount of drinking in the office -- especially Scotch, and smoking.
Yeah, so that generation just became a generation of drinkers.
And just decided, "Okay, we're going to drink." And there's really no more stigma around alcohol
anymore for them. There's still, of course, a legacy within
the country of alcohol. Part of the promise of the 21st Amendment
was that it was going to give states control over alcohol -- the ability to regulate alcohol.
Now, are all of you here Californians? Or you come from different places?
You're from Oregon? New York, Massachusetts.
So yeah. So you've seen dry counties and dry laws?
>> Yeah, I was living there in the 70's, 80's, where they still had -- you couldn't sell
alcohol on Sundays.
>> Garrett Peck: Yeah. And you still see them in some weird places
around the country. Still bull laws.
Still a few Sunday closing laws and so on. So it's kind of, again, a legacy of Prohibition
itself. The slide you see here is My Liquor Store,
right down the street from me. ABC is Alcoholic Beverage Control.
I live in Virginia -- so right across the border from Washington, D.C.
In Arlington county, we have six liquor stores for the entire county of 200,000 people, whereas
you go across the border into Washington, D.C. and 500,000 people and they have over
500 liquor stores. So one for every thousand people.
Just this huge discrepancy. The whole state of Virginia is ____ liquor
stores for the entire state. So but it's what's called a control state.
California is one of the more liberalized states, because you can actually go to a grocery
store and buy distilled spirits, but most states you can't, you know.
Louisiana is another key one. So New Orleans you can get a to go cup with
the order. Go to a drive-thru liquor stores, you know?
Which was always kind of funny. So and yeah like you mention here blue laws
still exist in some places. They're kind of fading out of the way.
There's still dry counties around this country, but with every recession, they start to kind
of get knocked off one by one. It's harder and harder to justify having a
dry county. Dry counties, by the way, came from the run
up to Prohibition back when the Anti-Saloon League was trying to force the country to
go dry. They established Local Option Laws allowing
counties to go dry. And therefore, they could pressure -- and
this is where their evangelical allies were, especially out of rural areas -- they could
then push the state to go dry. For example, Davis -- little Davis up the
road here, an hour and a half -- was once a dry town.
And now, it's got the Department of Viticulture and Enology, but that was once a dry town.
There's micro-breweries there now and stuff, but 30 years ago, it was dry, you know?
I think the University there really changed the culture of the city itself.
You've got people who are in the Cult Cabernet phenomenon.
But yeah, right there, you see how even one little town here shifted over time to become
a drinking town again which when it once had a culture of, "uh-uh, alcohol's wrong and
don't do it," right? So gradually here, especially like you see
this here during recessions, such as now, dry counties really have a hard time justifying
themselves anymore. For example, if you look at how restaurants
make their money. No restaurant in this world practically can
exist, other than McDonalds, without selling alcohol.
It's just a fundamental part of how they stay open is they have to be able to sell beer
or wine. And if they don't do it, then you won't have
a restaurant in the town. And if you don't have restaurants, well then,
you're not going to get the tourists, right? Because tourists are going to go places where
they can eat. And if you don't get the tourists, then you
don't get the hotels. So there's this whole spillover effect from
allowing alcohol that generates tourist dollars, and that's a huge issue for a lot of places
now. For example, we talked about Utah here a couple
of minutes ago. Utah, just this last year.
Anybody hear of the Zion's Curtain Law? Yeah.
Zion's Curtain was established in 1933 or 1934, right after Prohibition ended, and they
literally put up a curtain -- a barrier -- between the bar and the customer.
So you couldn't actually interact with the bartender and you couldn't watch them make
your drink, right? And that existed all the way until last year.
And you know, most people in Utah are Mormon. But even the Utah legislature finally realized
they get a huge proportion of the revenue from tourism.
They finally realized, "Okay, this makes us a little backwards putting up a curtain around
the bar like 'Ooh', it's so wrong to see the bartender make your drink, you know?" So they
actually repealed the Zion's Curtain Law last year and just to kind of catch up with where
the times are. Kind of recognizing, "Okay, let's get to where
people actually are on alcohol now." This is really interesting.
This is the American drinking pattern on alcohol. I don't think this is necessarily a healthy
model, but this is how we drink. The average age most kids had their first
drink in America -- between 12 and 13. And a few people here nodding their heads
saying, "Oh, yeah." Sixteen for me, but maybe I had a sip of beer
at some point when I was really young, but I don't remember it.
But then, there's this huge spike. By the time kids leave high school, they're
already binge drinking. So in a matter of a couple short years, they
adopt alcohol, and then they overuse it. And then, they go off to college, it gets
even worse. And so, we have this huge binge drinking culture,
especially in colleges and universities and college campuses.
And colleges are really trying to drive the problem off the campus through heavy enforcement,
so -- similar to Prohibition. And largely what they're doing is just pushing
the drinking off campus where it becomes an even bigger problem, because it's now not
monitored anymore, right? So the problem just gets worse and worse and
more students are dying because of binge drinking. And then, gradually over the years, then Americans
learn, "Okay, you can't live your life binge drinking.
This is crazy, you know." And so, we all learn kind of how to moderate our drinking over
time. You learn, when you're young -- when you're
in college -- getting drunk might be the thing that you want to do, and then you get to
-- I don't know some point in your mid to late 20's or something -- you realize, you
know, Okay, I'm 41 years old. You know, I don't drink anymore to get drunk.
It's not, you know, that's not why I drink. I drink more for the experience of how it
goes with food, for the conviviality of being with your friends and socializing, and how
it sort of gets people to talk a little bit better, but you can do that with one or two
drinks, right? You don't necessarily have to like, get smashed,
you know. So it becomes much more about the experience
and about the taste. Kind of what we drink, kind of changes over
time here based on what your personal preferences are or how you use alcohol in your own personal
life over time. So again, we kind of moderate our habits over
our lifetimes. This is a vastly different model from how
most European countries raise their kids or how -- within this country -- how Jewish families
raise their kids, whereby it's just -- they learn how to drink at the dinner table, right?
As a little kids, if you come from a Jewish family, every Friday night, you have the Shabbat
dinner and even little kids get a small glass of wine.
And it's just part of the experience, so it's normalized.
And as a result, you don't see the same binge drinking behavior in most European countries
or most Jewish families within the United States.
So there are a couple exceptions to that. In Europe, U.K. has a big binge drinking problem.
It's worse than the United States itself. But you know, other than that, it's Germany,
France, Italy, Spain. You have the big countries, where they all
have big alcohol cultures, and yet, they drink more than we do, and yet, vastly lower rates
of binge drinking. It's much more to do with socializing and
with food, right? That's why in Italy, everybody has a glass
of wine with every meal. That's how they drink.
So it's a vastly different culture altogether than Americans are.
And we sort of had to learn moderation after we made all of our mistakes.
And then, gradually, we learn how to control our drinking and how to enjoy the drink for
more the experience. And then, talking here as well about the always
contentious issue of the drinking age itself. Remember 25 years ago we shifted up the drinking
age from 18 up to 21, and that was largely thanks to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
They did that, of course, to save lives of young adults who were being killed on car
accidents through drinking and driving. And, in some ways, I think we simply just
kicked the can down the road. We see the biggest group that both binge drinks
and also has the most prevalence of drunk driving accidents are the 21 to 25-year-olds.
And then gradually then that significantly comes down over time.
But yeah, we've kind of created this forbidden fruit thing with our young adults by telling
them that they can't drink until they're 21. And of course, they do, right?
I mean, anything that you've kind of created a social taboo around -- just like during
Prohibition -- well, they're going to say, "We want to go do it anyways, because it's
kind of glamorous now to break the law." And so on.
So I think our attitude that young people shouldn't drink at all in this country until
they're of age -- until they're 21 -- has helped create this binge-drinking problem.
And, by the way, this kind of shocked me when I learned of this fact.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving claims that they've saved about 1,000 lives a year by
raising the drinking age up to 21. The federal government came back and said,
"Nah, it's more like about 900 lives a year." Kind of the unintended consequence though
of raising the drinking age up to 21 is, the last number that we have is from 2005 was
that 1,825 students died of binge-drinking-related causes on campuses and universities.
That floored me when I saw that. That's double the number of lives we're actually
saving from raising the drinking age. And it's largely because of the unintended
consequence of creating the social taboo around alcohol.
When I grew up -- when I was in high school -- we drank wine coolers.
Shouldn't admit that, but we did. And beer.
Yeah, I think we're the same generation, 80's? But it's what we drank and, of course.
But you shift over to today's young generation -- where the drinking is so heavily pushed
underground -- and the students are really shifted over towards distilled spirits, which
are much more concentrated. And especially since they can't go to any
events where they can drink alcohol, so one of the things they do, for example, anybody
hear of the term 'pregaming'? Yeah 'pre-partying'?
You basically take your hip flask with you in your stomach.
You take a bunch of shots of vodka, and then you head out for the night and the buzz sets
in while you're out, right? So it's very dangerous.
You can really harm yourself with a small amount of alcohol.
And really realize how powerful this stuff is.
We've also created this rite of passage at 21.
And anybody hear this or experience this with, you reach 21, you take 21 shots?
That's almost an entire fifth. That can kill you, depending on your size
and your tolerance for alcohol. But, I mean, that can definitely send you
to the hospital. 21 shots of beer okay, but 21 shots of vodka
is something else, right? And that's a rite of passage when you hit
21, you got to go do this and, you know, that's crazy like, "You know, why would you go kill
yourself like that or potentially harm yourself?" But again, that's part of the whole taboo
we've created around alcohol, especially among young adults.
Other key contentious issues -- I think the drinking age is probably the most contentious
issue right now and it's been going on kind of for 25 years.
There's a big discussion around, Should we drop it down to 18?
And I argue that in the book actually. We should take another look at it.
21 has created this unintended consequence and you know maybe 18 should be the right
age. And really push the emphasis back on parents.
Have them raise their kids with, you know, how to drink at the dinner table and learn
how to drink responsibly. Because once the kids are 18, go off to college,
personally I think it's too late. Because the alcohol is everywhere.
I mean, the colleges can try to enforce the drinking age and try to keep the kids from
drinking, but it's just too easy for them to get.
It's everywhere. They all have friends with fake ID's or friends
who want to buy it for them. And it's just endemic now.
So the problems get worse. Another key issue -- I think this one here
goes all the way back really to 1933, 1934. It's the question of advertising.
There are those people who want to stop alcohol advertising altogether just like they've managed
largely to stop tobacco advertising -- especially on TV and billboards, that kind of stuff.
We'll see where this goes. I think this is largely -- especially as a
journalist -- this is for me, a First Amendment issue, right?
Companies need to advertise. And I think, ultimately, they do have a right
to. And certainly, pornography is considered to
be protected free speech. So why wouldn't alcohol advertising also be
considered to be protected free speech, right? You know, it's commercial.
You may have noticed here if you ever go to Candlestick Park.
Sorry, I guess people don't go to baseball games anymore to Candlestick Park.
I'm showing my age, since I used to go there. You know.
It's PacBell Park now or AT&T Park now. Is that what they renamed it?
AT&T Park.
>> Candlestick is still the one where the 49ers live.
>> Garrett Peck: Okay. You might have noticed how much beer advertising
is there. Like any stadium you go around the country
there's so much beer advertising, right? There's a key reason for that.
Eighty percent of the beer drunk in this country is drunk by men, and men like sports.
It's a really simple formula and that's why they advertise in these venues and that's
why there's such a heavy predominance of beer advertising.
And also why you see it -- if you watch football at home -- since the World Series is going
on right now, but you always see beer commercials going on on TV during that time, right?
It's simple fact. It's what men drink.
At least what men of a certain age. But yeah, it goes together with kind of with
the sports. And they know what their niche market is.
They have a fairly large niche market. So yeah, it kind of goes hand in hand together.
We all kind of think when we go to a ballgame or hockey game, or whatever, "Let me get a
hot dog and have a beer with it." I think we're almost all socially programmed
towards that now in American society. There's also this key question here.
It's really popped up -- at least since the early 1990's -- which is, Can alcohol actually
be healthy? And anybody remember here the 60 Minutes broadcast
about the French Paradox? It was in 1991.
A few people remember that. And they really lay out the case that, in
fact, you know, the French have a high fat diet and yet they drink and they have an astonishingly
low rate of heart disease even though a lot of them smoke.
And so, that was the French Paradox. They realized, "Okay.
It must be the wine." Because they drink so much red wine that it
gives them cardiovascular protection. And, as a result then, especially the baby
boom generation just wholesale jumped over to drinking red wine.
And you still see that today. People who are 50 and older, drink wine.
Because they view it as being healthy, and they can also afford it.
It tends to be the most expensive of the three types of alcohol -- so, beer and distilled
spirits being the other two. Yeah, so there's been this whole debate over,
"Gosh. Can we drink?
Is it healthy for us?" And yes, it's a kind of a two-sided question really, or maybe multi-faceted
question. Certainly alcohol can cause harm.
Absolutely. If any of you drink too much, there is alcoholism.
Most people don't become alcoholics, that's the thing.
Most people learn how to moderate their drinking. But yeah, you can have liver damage from drinking
too much alcohol. Women are at heightened risk for breast cancer.
And there's a bunch of other things that go along with it.
There's also, of course, on the flip side, health benefits from alcohol predominantly
to the cardiovascular system. Alcohol raises your HDL cholesterol, that's
good cholesterol, by five to ten percent. This is, by the way, for moderate amount of
alcohol. If you drink a lot of alcohol, it can actually
damage your heart. But a moderate amount actually can give you
significant heart protection. It also thins your blood, which gives you
big protection against strokes. And they're also noticing that for elderly
people who drink regularly and moderately, it gives them protection against Alzheimer's,
like somehow it prevents the plaque buildup in old people's brains.
So yeah, there are some benefits from a moderate amount of drinking every single day.
The public health community is generally against any kind of mention at all of any kind of
health benefit whatsoever, because they're really heavily cautioning against that, particularly
like the American Medical Association. I've gotten some interesting e-mails and some
interesting exchanges here over the last couple of months since the book came out.
One -- I think this kind of ties so much together with the stigma of alcohol and so on together
with the health issue. I got an e-mail last month from an Assemblies
of God minister in Georgetown, Texas -- so a small, evangelical, Protestant town in Texas.
And this guy here said -- and he had preached his whole life long, the evils of alcohol
-- Demon Rum, all the way, right? Don't drink it; it's bad for you, and so on.
However, he had the talk with his doctor, who said, "Your cholesterol is way too high.
Your numbers are off the chart. So you need to start drinking a glass of wine
every single day." So he started doing that.
Every night with his wife, he would sort of have a glass of wine, and they discovered
they enjoyed it. So they had one glass a day.
That's all they allowed themselves. And they found like, "Wow, this is really
-- we kind of catch the day much nicer now. We have a nice little discussion at the end
of the day. We're having fun testing these different wines
and so on." And then, he went and told his congregation,
and which was just like, Wow. He was heavily stigmatized within his own
church for telling them -- after preaching for years the evils of alcohol -- and now,
he was saying, "Okay. You could have a little bit and actually it's
a God-given benefit" right? So among his friends and his congregation,
he found there was really a backlash against him for doing that.
I also -- last week, I gave a talk up at Davis and there was a Methodist minister.
I'm a Methodist today. And I think he kind of mis-approached my book.
I think he thought my book was going to be about kind of how evil alcohol is.
And he talked my ear off for about ten minutes before my talk began.
I was like, "Ooh boy." We're reading the same data, and yet, we're
interpreting it completely different. So I'm looking at it realizing, "Most of us
drink. Here's kind of a synthesis of where we are
in America." He's reading the same data and seeing, "Oh, no.
Harm, damage, wrecked lives, destruction, cancer.
People shouldn't drink, right? Raise the drinking age to 25 for all I care,
right?" And at one point during the talk, he kind of sat in the back row and he kept
quiet most of the time. He asked a couple of questions, but it was
largely -- it was a litany of angry faces he made at me just sort of like, you know
when I was talking about the benefits for alcohol.
And I got to the one point where I talked about this minister in Georgetown, Texas,
and talked about how many of my friends who are in their 50's to 70's who have had the
talk with their doctor and the doctors told them, "Have a glass of wine every single day.
It'll be good for you." Right?
And at that point, the guy in the back shouted out, "Oh, no, they don't."
And I said, "Yes, they do." Yeah, I think the guy's kind of out of touch
with really where Americans are. Or maybe he only has friends who know that,
in fact, that he's so staunchly anti-alcohol that none of them really confess to him that,
in fact, their doctor told them it's okay to have a glass of wine once in awhile.
It's actually good for you to have a moderate amount, you know?
So again, that's kind of the whole public debate that's going on right now about the
health benefits of alcohol itself. You know, when we look at this cycle of drinking,
this is really an interesting thing that's happened since Prohibition over these last
76 years is to kind of realize there's all these big cycles of drinking itself of times
of when we drink more, then there's always reform.
So Mothers Against Drunk Driving formed in 1980 kind of as an outcome of probably --
the peak of binge drinking was in the 1970's and that was largely the last, big, distilled
spirits culture in this country. That's back when the men were drinking rye
or bourbon with the names like, you know, Old Grand Dad, Old Forester.
The baby boom generation came along and said, "Uh-uh, we're not going to drink anything
with the word 'Old' in it, right?" So bourbon like collapsed at that point.
And it has resurrected over the last decade or so.
And they dropped all the words old. Now, you got new products like Liquor Reserve
and Tipping Blackby, and so on. Yeah so, there's always been a cycle.
Each generation picks a drink that they like to drink.
And even within a generation, it changes over time.
You know, for example, you see the Baby Boom Generation.
They started off as being beer drinkers. They looked at their parents who were bourbon
drinkers and they said, "Uh-uh, we're not doing that."
They drank beer throughout the 80's and then of course, the French Paradox hit on 60 Minutes,
1991, and they shifted right over to wine. And that's where they're at.
You get to our generation. We're Generation Xers, and there's probably
a few other Gen-Xers and probably a few millennials here in the room as well.
We kind of drink everything. I think beer is our predominant beverage throughout
our generation. There's always difference by each person.
And yeah, we also largely drink wine. We like cocktails.
So we're kind of like a blended generation. And you get to the millennials, and they're
drinking cocktails. That's what they like.
They like vodka. They like tequila.
The big drink is Red Bull vodka. That way they can go out after the club and
drink a lot and still stay awake, you know? It's the fruit cocktail.
You have the benefits of caffeine even with alcohol -- great, right?
So yeah, our preferences for alcohol change over time.
Like I said, we kind of learn how to moderate our drinking.
No one really sticks with the same beverage all of their entire lives.
And most of you, if you look at your own history, you've probably already kind of seen a shift
in your own lives, haven't you? -- if you're a drinker.
That you kind of shift. And a lot of times, it's even seasonal, based
on -- there's probably some people in the room who are foodies.
And kind of -- you like going to the farmer's market and you wait for whatever's fresh.
Then you kind of pair whatever wine or beer goes with it.
Then that's different in the summertime than wintertime, right?
Where you might open up big hearty reds to got with you're meat loaf or vegan meatloaf
or whatever you like to eat. [laughter] So there's always kind of a seasonality,
I think, largely where Americans are -- of kind of pairing our food together with whatever
we like to drink. And I think that's actually fairly healthy
-- the fact we've learned how to make that part of the dining experience.
Because ultimately then, people tend to drink more moderately when it's actually part of
our meal versus "Let's go out to the bar and get drunk together."
You know? That's a different experience altogether.
So talking a little bit about the history, especially since we're here in California.
California, by the way, makes 90 percent of the wine in this country.
All 50 states have wineries, including Alaska and Hawaii.
California, though, makes 90 percent of the wine in this country.
So it's the 800-pound gorilla on the block, right?
So most is made right here. California, of course, became -- the wine
industry was really decimated by Prohibition itself and it didn't start to recover into
the 1960s. And I kind of chart that's really where the
craft movement really began, which coincided together with Julia Child.
Remember -- if you ever watch any of her shows -- she would always hold up a glass of wine
at the end and say, "Bon appetit." You know, really showed Americans how you
can -- not only make good food, but you can pair it with good wine.
So people started doing that, you know. People started flying transAtlantic flights
over to Europe and realizing, "Wow, look at the Europeans.
They have wine with every meal. Let's do the same, you know?" So there was
a rising interest in wine in the 1960s, and that's when Napa really started to flourish.
And you know, here we are today with the whole baby boom generation that's really embraced
wine itself. So that was the 1960's.
We kind of fast forward to the end of the 1970's, and Jimmy Carter signed a law allowing
home brewing to become legal in 1979. And that really charts the beginning of the
craft beer phenomenon. And one of the big leaders, a lot of the phenomenon
really started here in California itself with like, New Albion Brewing Company which has
long since gone defunct. But you've had Anchor Steam up in San Francisco.
And, of course, Sierra Nevada -- it's been a huge leader here in the craft beer movement.
The biggest single craft brewer though, in the country is Jim Cook who is the brewer
behind the Boston Beer Company, Sam Adams. He's actually the single, largest American
brewer now, since the big three are all foreign owned.
So Coors, Anheuser Busch, and Miller are all owned by foreign companies now.
And he has less than one percent market share of the entire brewing market.
Jim actually, by the way, was the last person I interviewed for the book.
The manuscript was due in one week. So September 29th of last year 2008, I interviewed
him -- got that last interview in. My editor said, "Let's beef up the beer chapter
just a little bit." So I got him, got his whole story about where
he came from, and how he became so big. Then, a week later, the manuscript was due.
So, I was very thrilled to be able to introduce him.
It was actually -- he was just about to jump on an airplane to fly to Germany to go pick
up the hops for that year. So that was the very end of September of last
year. One of the other things here -- if anybody
here is from the mid-Atlantic -- Rolling Rock. I'm sure that you've seen it here on the West
Coast as well. But I look at that as sort of a impact --
within the book -- of globalization upon a small brewer.
And sort of what happens when you can't compete anymore when the market disappears, or you
just can't stomach nationwide advertising. In this case here, with Rolling Rock -- the
brand itself got butt out by Anheuser Busch who didn't want the brewery.
So it actually isn't made anymore in La Trove, Pennsylvania but now in Newark, right by the
airport. Yeah, it's kind of interesting to look at
small brewers -- if they can't compete and particularly either have a local niche market
for like microbrewers, or they can't go national they get bought out sometimes and you have
unintended consequences that come about from that -- from globalization itself.
And then, finally, we get to the liquor market. Distilled spirits, of course, like I said,
they hit the wall back in the 1970s. And just in the last decade, they've been
resurrected, and I kind of chart the beginning of distilled spirits -- of the phenomenon
-- to Sex in the City. So any fans here of the show?
The girls on the show really made the cosmopolitan popular, like really glamorous.
They always used to change their outfits all the time and they always have this little
pink fruity martini that they drink when they would go out.
And Americans kind of caught on to that like, "Wow, spirits -- like really cool, right?"
So I kind of chart that as the beginning of the resurrection here for distilled spirits.
And you get to today, there's this huge craft cocktail phenomenon going on.
So if you go into San Francisco, or local bars, where you have these -- I call them
'culinary bartenders' who take their inspiration from the kitchen, right?
So they're not just mixing drinks anymore, but now, they have to use kitchen skills to
separate eggs and to use, you know, fresh juices and so on; they start putting herbs
and spices and stuff like that into cocktails. So there's been this really huge shift.
And cocktails, of course, you can do an infinite variety of types of drinks here that you can
make. So really a significant shift here that's
happened just within the last decade. So it's kind of interesting here to look.
You also, of course, have the craft phenomenon going on within distilled spirits itself.
They're kind of the last ones that have got there.
And it's just happened just in the last couple of years.
This particular photo right here is Winford Reserve.
I was just out there just last month here giving a talk.
But yeah, you think the word Winford Reserve. It sounds like a wine, doesn't it?
It's a brand that was great in 1996, and yet they used this old distillery from the early
1800s and they restored it Brown Foreman alcohol companies out there.
And then, just in the last couple of years, you start to see kind of small craft distillers
that have kind of popped up. There's one for example in Alameda that makes
acid. By and large most of the companies are making
gin or vodka, because you don't need to age those.
You can make it in a bottle on the same day and off to market you go, whereas like whiskey,
you got to age it. That takes years; that's a lot of capital
and places to store it and so on. Yeah, liquor has been kind of the latecomer
here to the craft movement, but yeah here it is.
It's kind of just popping up. So kind of wrapping up my talk here today.
We've looked at a lot of different things here.
A lot of the key issues that have gone on here in American society, kind of tracing
how Americans have shifted over these last 76 years from a country where alcohol was
once heavily stigmatized to one where we are today where yeah, most of us drink and a lot
of people are kind of fanatics about what they drink.
And so, especially people who pair food together with whatever they like to drink.
So it's a pretty significant social shift in American society.
And I think in a lot of ways, alcohol is in fact fundamental to American society.
It was really naive of the temperance movement, especially in hindsight, to think that, "Wow,
they actually wanted to ban alcohol?" And would Americans actually not drink?
I mean, alcohol's been there from the beginning. I mean, literally, from Jamestown -- the first
settlers that came to Jamestown, they didn't want to grow tobacco.
They ended up with tobacco. They went there to grow grapes so they could
challenge the French in Bordeaux. So they were trying to basically break the
French monopoly on red wine. And it didn't work out that way and Williamsburg
and that area is a terrible climate to grow grapes; it's very humid.
So they ended up with tobacco instead. Or in 1620, when the pilgrims came here, they
ended up in Plymouth. But the first place they actually landed was
what's now Provincetown, up at the very tip of Cape Cod.
And when they came ashore, the very first thing that they did?
They dug a well so they could get water so they could brew beer.
That's how you preserved your water back then. I mean, it was low alcohol beer, three to
four percent alcohol. But you know, these people by the way, were
Puritans. People blame Prohibition on the Puritans.
In fact, the Puritans drink. It wasn't their fault that Prohibition came
about, but rather from a movement that came out centuries later. So yeah.
I mean, alcohol in fact really is a fundamental part of American society, and I think the
sooner we can recognize that and the fact that we can sooner recognize that there are
in fact benefits from moderate drinking and from socialization that ultimately leads to
a better outcome for Americans overall. I always like to end here with my favorite
quote here from Homer Simpson, which is, "To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all
of life's problems." All righty. I'll be glad to hear -- to take
any questions and to answer any questions you guys have.
>> [Clapping]
Q I grew up in Oklahoma and they still have like the 3.2 beer I think it is.
I've heard at the time that 3.2 during Prohibition was actually nonalcoholic.
Tell me if this is a big crack but I was told that when Prohibition kicked in, a lot of
burglars just walked away said they're out of business, but Oklahoma lowered it to 3.2
which is technically nonbeer. Maintained it through Prohibition and then
when Prohibition was lifted, Oklahoma just maintained 3.2, and now it's more than just
a couple of states that have that low percent.
Garrett Peck: Repeat the question, just so they can all hear in case they didn't record
it. He asked about Oklahoma and also 3.2 percent
beer. The Oklahoma question is actually interesting.
Not that it actually ever was dry, but constitutionally, it was a dry state.
And by the way, it went wet in 1959. That wasn't the last state to go wet though.
That was Mississippi in 1966. So just a generation ago, really, the last
state went wet. The 3.2 question is actually interesting.
This was the waning days of how this came about was in the waning days of Prohibition
Franklin Delano Roosevelt who was sworn in only two weeks and a law got passed called
the Cullen Act. And that passed Congress and Roosevelt signed
it on April 6th, 1933. He was in office two weeks at that point,
because presidents are sworn in March. That law declared that 3.2 percent beer was
non-intoxicating. Roosevelt signed that law and it went into
effect at midnight. And I think that's really when Americans realized,
"Okay, Prohibition's over." The first states, including Michigan, have
already voted for repeal. At that night at midnight, the country took
to the streets and everybody went out and got a beer.
Because it was 3.2 percent alcohol beer supposedly non-intoxicating, therefore, it didn't violate
the Holstead act which was the Prohibition enforcement act.
So simply Congress declared 3.2 percent beer is non-intoxicating.
So. Yeah, so largely we look at April 7th as being sort of the beginning of the end
of Prohibition. People went out to the streets that night
and celebrated at midnight when you could actually go get a beer.
It cost a nickel by then, by the way, and nowadays, you go out to a bar, get a pint
of beer; it's five bucks. Other questions?
Q I was always curious about _________ and how U.S. beverage rules against ________for
a lot longer than any other type of alcohol. Why the special treatment for __________
? Is there anything you learned about that?
Garrett Peck: Yeah _______ actually was made illegal I think in 1912.
Q Okay.
Garrett Peck: And then one of the first types of alcohol that was outlawed altogether.
People used to believe. Everybody here seen Rulan Rouge?
Everybody's nodding so you know about the green fairy.
It was once a belief that ______ was hallucinogenic. And ultimately, they finally proved that it
is not. And now, ________ became illegal again about
two years ago -- 2007 -- and so, you see it pop up in a lot more places now.
In fact, it's actually just very, very high in alcohol.
Frequently it's 55 to 60 percent alcohol. So it's very, very high.
So yeah, that's if you want to get drunk it's an interesting way to get drunk, because it's
so strong. Yeah, people once thought it would cause brain
damage or cause all kinds of bad effects and be hallucinogenic.
So therefore, they outlawed it. France actually outlawed it as well during
World War I, 1915. That was more because so many people were
shifting over to ________ and the wine merchants were getting upset because they were losing
a lot of market share. So they made it illegal there as well.
And since then, the European Union, just like the United States has also said, Okay, it's
now illegal again. So you can get ________ imported again into
this country and you have a lot of actually micro-distillers who are making it again now.
So yeah.
Q Didn't they just only recently allow distilled spirits advertising back on TV?
I was trying to figure out where that coincided. Like five or six years ago?
Garrett Peck: Sorry. Repeat the last question. This question here was, "Didn't they just
re-allow distilled spirits advertising on TV?" Distilled spirits advertising has actually
always been allowed for TV. The debate over advertising has gone on since
the 1930's when the WCTU and other organizations that were heavily involved in temperance wanted
to stop all advertising altogether. Back in the 30's, it was all about radio advertising.
And during Prohibition itself, the distillers really got in trouble because they were the
ones -- that's when the bootleggers were breaking in, right?
You got so much more profit margin by bringing in a barrel of distilled spirits vs. wine
or beer. You make a lot more cocktails with it, right?
So the biggest stigma against alcohol was largely against spirits.
And hence, the distillers -- once it became legal again to distill -- they had kind of
the toughest row to hoe. So they agreed in the 1930's that they wouldn't
advertise on television or radio. And that held all the way until 1996, and
that's when the spirits really hit a low point. And at that point, the first company that
was Seagrams said, "Okay, we have to advertise. We're losing too much market share to wine
and craft beer." And so, they broke the code and decided, "We're
going to start advertising on TV." Largely you'll only see it on cable stations.
It was actually, I think, on the Grammies this year.
There were a couple stations that were willing to host commercials with the recession going
on right now, right? A lot of stations are starving for advertising.
And so, more and more stations are willing to take distilled spirits on advertising.
But yeah, it was always just a gentleman's agreement.
It was never illegal. And that certainly would never pass Constitutional
muster ever to actually put a ban on alcohol advertising altogether.
Q There are some ______ since the 70's, 80's you're not allowed to show people drinking
alcohol in the commercials.
Garrett Peck: There was actually more -- the question was, Could they actually ban
alcohol drinking or should not show? That was more of a code of practice.
Over the years, the different brewers -- it was largely brewers who advertised on TV
until the last decade or so. That was their code of conduct that they couldn't
show people drinking. So it was just a standard of practice.
Now they show it all the time certainly, right? And certainly also shows like Madmen show
lots of drinking going on. So there's been kind of a cultural shift over
time. And again, I think partly, they held on to
the, "Okay, let's not show beer drinking. Because that would be irresponsible to show
drinking." And once, I think, the distillers got into
the game of showing advertising on TV, then the brewers decided, "Okay, we're going to
one-up them. We're going to start showing people drinking and enjoying it." Right?
So the economy goes along with it. Yeah, a lot of people think there's laws against
showing different things, or can't show different things on TV.
But in fact, it was always just best practices. So they were kind of a code of conduct that
different industries organizations had and they changed them over the last couple of
years. They've really shored up quite a bit over
just in the last three or four years starting with the distillers.
They started putting some very heavy regulations in place -- self-regulations in place --
really to prevent any kind of advertising that kids might like.
So, you know, no Budweiser frogs. Any cartoon-based, you can't do it.
No Santa Claus. No partial nudity. No mud wrestling, anything like that.
And then the brewers then followed that and said, "Okay, we're going to raise the bar
as well." Otherwise, it was sort of a not-so-innocuous
advertising they were using, especially the brewers for the longest time.
Q What about, How did you become interested in the history of alcohol?
Garrett Peck: Again, it was kind of that lightbulb moment at my grandmother's place when she
-- how she responded so negatively. Kind of she got a little bit snooty about
the fact that I had brought that bottle of wine to Christmas dinner.
Like, "What are you thinking bringing a bottle of wine to Christmas dinner? You know I don't
drink." kind of thing. And that's kind of when the lightbulb went
on. "Oh, what happened here? Why didn't this value
get passed on to my mom or to me?" And that's when I started doing my research into this
and discovered, "Wow, this is really uncharted water.
Nobody's discovered this question. No one has explained the question or written
a book about this." You know how we went from this country that
stigmatized alcohol to where we are now. So, in a nutshell, that's kind of it.
Six years ago. Next book won't take as long.
But first time author, you got to figure out what the process is and there's no one to
coach you. You got to kind of make your own mistakes.
So I'm thinking about calling the next book, "Throwing spaghetti at a wall."
That's what it feels like. You just trial and error.
Some things work and some things don't. You just get up and try something else different.
So I know, within Google, I've heard a lot of people say that there's a big culture of,
you know, "if you're not failing, well you're not trying hard enough."
And I think the same thing is true for being an author, especially a first time author.
You've got to be willing to fail. It's okay. You know, you'll pick yourself back up and
you'll try something else. You know, like they're trying to find --
to sell -- a book to an agent or to a publisher or even doing auto commercial events like
I'm doing right now. Some events are blockbuster.
Sometimes you get four people show up. And a lot of events are kind of in between.
So I think every event has a little bit of a sacrifice or RBI element to it.
As long as you're selling books, it's okay, you know?
It's okay to not have a huge audience or anything. You had a question.
Q Yeah, I was going to ask what your thoughts are on the parallel between alcohol prohibition
and marijuana prohibition currently?
Garrett Peck: Good question. Everyone asks this question here.
He had asked here about the prohibition against alcohol vs. the drug wars.
And I do actually cut that at all in the book itself, but it's a very timely question.
I think it's fascinating to point out the parallel or nonparallel between Prohibition
and the drug wars of today. Even during Prohibition, and by the way I
think largely Prohibition and the drug wars are largely about enforcement, right?
It's about trying to keep people from getting a hold of products.
But never deals with the ultimate question of market size -- the demand side of the equation,
"Why do people want to drink? Why do people want to get high?"
And ultimately I think, if people want to do it, they're going to do it.
That's my fundamental conclusion. Even during Prohibition itself -- this is
really kind of shocking -- personal possession of alcohol was never illegal.
You could always have it in your home. You can make your own wine back during Prohibition,
and many people did. All the 18th Amendment did was outlaw the
manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol, but the temperance movement -- at least give
them some credit -- they realized, "Okay, people still want a certain amount of freedom
still to drink in their own homes. Therefore it's not illegal to actually possess
this stuff." You look at kind of the non-parallels to the
drug wars today where we've criminalized even the possession.
So hence, we've filled our prisons full of people who are largely low-level drug offenders.
You know? Most of these people are not druglords and
stuff. They're simply people who got caught a couple
of times smoking marijuana or whatever. And is that the best policy, because incarcerating
people is horribly expensive? And does it ever actually deal with the demand
side of the equation? When you can deal with it through education,
with treatment, or ultimately with licensing it, you know?
A lot of people I know are getting more and more towards that point, especially, I think
my generation. Generation X -- we're kind of libertarians.
And people are sort of like, "Hmm. Shouldn't gay marriage be legal?
Shouldn't alcohol be legal? Shouldn't marijuana be legal?"
People have really changed their mindsets significantly.
A lot of these social questions now in American society.
So. Yeah, it's definitely a relevant question here.
And I think we'll see where that goes over the next few years.
Especially as more and more states adopt medical marijuana for use and more and more people
are finding -- kind of coming out as occasional tokers, you know?
Q Just one more quick question. Have you ever -- going off that -- maybe drawn
the parallel to the movement of staying a little more strong to restrict soda and other
sugary beverages? If you think about that new advertising campaign
in university where it shows them pouring soda and just how much fat and to not drink
soda? Do you kind of have the same opinion about
the demand side of something like that?
Garrett Peck: I don't really examine that question myself.
I think certainly soda is probably one of the reasons -- among other reasons -- why
Americans are facing the obesity epidemic in the country.
And I think obesity is in fact our biggest by far -- no pun intended -- public health
issue now. You know Americans -- our portion sizes are
out of control. Americans drive everywhere now.
We don't exercise when we go to and from work. And we also have desks now.
So just it's a huge lifestyle question I think ultimately, but soda is certainly a part of
it. I haven't really myself examined the question
of whether or not we should ban sodas in school or not.
Actually, I personally stopped drinking sodas over a decade ago.
But just more because I would get a big sugar rush and then I would just collapse.
So I decided, "Okay, I'm not going to drink that anymore. I'll just drink good whiskey."
>> [laughter]
Q I have one more question. You mentioned that women didn't really start
drinking until the 20's. I guess if you look back at the century preceeding
that -- the 1800s -- was it still predominantly men that drank?
I mean the rank and file -- did women really not drink first couple hundred years of this
country, or?
Garrett Peck: Yeah, the question was about women and drinking and women didn't really
start drinking until the 1920's in American society.
But what was the role of women before then. Did women in fact drink?
I think some women certainly did drink. But largely, drinking was the purview of men,
because men, at that point, went to the saloon or the tavern.
So they'd go outside of the house. And you know, where the temperance movement
came from was this church-based response to the binge drinking that was going on.
And if you look at it per capita, at the peak of the binge -- which was about 1820, 1830
-- when there was no tax on whiskey at all and it was everywhere, the actual per capita
amount of alcohol -- if you looked at just the men who were drinking at the time --
it was about eight times what we are drinking per capita today.
I mean, a huge social issue; men were drinking themselves to death.
And yes, it was largely men, because they were the ones who would go out to the saloons
and taverns and women weren't welcome in taverns. You might have even seen at some places like,
if you ever go to San Francisco, go to Elixir; it's in the Mission District.
I gave a talk there last week. And they had a separate entrance for women
only. I think it's the second oldest saloon in the
city, 1850's sometime. Because wives were allowed to go in there
with a growler. Today there's a bottle called the growler.
It's a big four pints. But back then a growler was a bucket.
And the wives or kids would be sent to basically the service entrance of the bar and if you
go use this one entrance -- because women weren't allowed inside the bar -- they would
fill up the growler and that was for home consumption.
They would take it home for their husbands. So that was the only way women could in fact
go inside of a bar, you know? Including at that bar Elixir.
New York City there was a very famous bar out there called McSorley's, in the 1850's
Irish bar. And women weren't allowed in there until around
1970 or so. So yeah. Need to cut off?
So thanks so much for your time here today. I really appreciate your time here everybody,
and hope that that talk was worthwhile and hopefully it was fun.
>> [clapping]