Exercising Civic Virtue: or, Why Dive Bars Are Best

Obviously, I’m in favor of anyone who defends drinking after work, but the latest from Front Porch Republic goes above and beyond the call of duty:

The news is dreadful: According to the Census, since 2006 we have been living in a republic where, for the first time in the history of the republic, Americans drink more bottled water than we drank beer.Why is this important?  It’s important because beer is a socially oriented beverage, and bottled water is a privately oriented one.

There’s a reason that beer commercials tend to include lots of people hanging out in a room together, and bottled water commercials tend to include lone individuals climbing things and running around by themselves, usually on a beach at sunrise – even though they are not being chased.

Drinking beer emanates, albeit clumsily and with all the familiar risks, from essentially social impulses.  Most people drink beer to lower social inhibitions, to make it easier to have conversations with other people, to assuage loneliness, to grease the wheels for engaging in what my students euphemistically call “relationships” – in other words, to give a form and excuse for social life.  You don’t drink beer to improve your private, individual health.

This is all true, and perhaps the best justification for finding a nice hole in the wall to go relax at is the social aspect. Of course, you want to avoid the cliquish, high school-like atmosphere of most meat markets, so your best bet is to identify a local dive to call home. If you’re in DC, the best option is definitely the Galaxy Hut, a place with the ambiance of ” . . . a grunt’s hooch in Khe Sanh circa 1968.”


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