Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Free Booze in West Rogers Park

One of the little known benefits to living in the "Golden Ghetto" section of West Rogers Park is the free booze often found in the alleys there.

I am reticent about making public this secret of mine for fear that armies of lushes will now begin scouring the alleyways there and scooping up the vinous booty before I can get to it.

But my duty in publishing this blog is to provide useful public services, so I must spill the beans on this very strange phenomena. Besides, Obama the Magnificent said that we must all become more public spirited, so here I am doing my bit.

I first discovered that there was free booze in the alleys of West Rogers Park almost a decade ago. As an inveterate dog walker, I would often take my dog thru the alleys to avoid the complaints of pecksniff homeowners who would wildly object to a little yellow water being squirted on their precious Japanese maple.

While walking in an alleyway near the Rogers Park School one autumnal day, next to the black garbage cans, I spotted a discarded vinyl Cubs tote bag and a cardboard box containing 7 or 8 wine bottles.

I thought nothing of it until I glanced again and said to my dog, "Holy shit, Mac -- those bottles are unopened."

Sure enough, there were unopened bottles of red Kosher table wine and at least three bottles of a cloyingly sweet white wine. The white wine label revealed that it was a product of Israel and contained something like 17% alcohol by volume.

My obedient pup sat and looked on as I stuffed the miraculous find into the discarded Cubs tote bag. And off we went. I discovered that night that the Israelis make some hootch that could probably double as fuel for the fleet of F-18 fighter-bombers that we supply them.

This was just the first in what turned out to be at least a twice yearly occurence of this sort.

At least 12 times since then, my dog and I have found and transported home supplies of discarded, perfectly good kosher wine. Once an entire dusty gallon bottle of Mogan David white wine. Another time, a half case of Kedem table wine. And the biggest haul of all -- last Spring 5, count them -- 5 -- unopened cases of light kosher table wine.

Using my formidable powers of deduction, I have come to the conclusion that there is method to this madness.

The finds usually occur in the Fall or Spring, roughly corresponding to the periods just before or just after Sukkoth and Yom Kippur in the fall and Passover in the Spring.

But why toss out perfectly good wine?

One guess is that the discarding parties discover the wine that they have left over from the last holiday and decide that it is too old. Another guess is that the wine is leftover after the event and the housewife doesn't want it lying around the house, lest Moishe be tempted to tipple and neglect his fatherly and husbandly obligations and/or stop minding the store.

Further, the sociologist Vance Packard, once conjectured that drunkeness and alcohol abuse are statistically lower in Jewish subpopulations because of a historical reaction to persecution. It's not a good idea to be sloshed when the Czar's Cossacks start rampaging in your village.

I will leave these weighty matters to the academics. I will be too busy working on my forthcoming book, "The Alley Dog Walking Connoisseuer's Guide to Kosher and Israeli Wines."

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Comments invited, however anonymous commentors had better deal directly with the issues raised and avoid ad hominem drivel. As for Teachers' Union seminar writers -- forget about it.