Saturday, July 1, 2017

The bad p.r. for Milwaukee is around 12 proof, and up

Milwaukee is getting some bad publicity about rotten fan behavior at public events.

There was a streaker who interrupted a Milwaukee Brewers game, then a fan-cum-assaulter threw a baseball from the stands during another game which struck an umpire on the field in the back of the head.

And there were inattentive fans so noisy and rude during his Summeriest show last night that musician Paul Simon stopped performing to confront one particularly obnoxious attendee.

"Is this your show or my show," Simon was quoted asking the fool. And Simon halted his performance for what the The Journal Sentinel reviewer said was a solid 30 seconds to drive home his point.

Take a half-minute and count to 30 to imagine what that show must have felt like, and also try and to feel that so-called fan's deserved humiliation.

I wasn't at the show, or at either of the ball games where people in the stands decided to make themselves the spectacle and the story, and I probably wouldn't have decided to write anything about any of this if the headline on the Simon review hadn't described some of the inconsiderate in their seats as "antsy."


Right there is the denial that's part of the problem.

Instead of "antsy," about "f***ing rude," or "childishly self-absorbed" or "smashed," or "under the influence" to the point of forgetting there were other people there who'd paid good money to hear and watch a world-class talent?

And if evidence proves my assumptions wrong, comment and complain directly and I'll retract the specific words, and just settle for "those jerks."

This might be a useful moment for the community to have one of those conversations it likes to duck about personal and crowd behavior in Wisconsin, and whether it's different here than in other places.

I've been to concerts and baseball games in other cities and I usually feel that people around me are there for the event they paid to watch - - but too often in Wisconsin, the event is the drinking, while the music or the base running is secondary.

The last two concerts I've attended in Milwaukee were by world-famous, highly-proficient technicians - - guitar players, singers and front men to be precise whose every note and word I wanted to see and hear, not a hit and miss few as if their microphones cut in and out.

These were pricey shows, and yet a substantial part of the experience was ruined by several thoughtless, self-absorbed and mannerless people sitting in front of us who kept getting up and down and making runs for drinks and more drinks.

There was a man who twice stood up during the show and audibly asked people down the row 'who wants one, what do want, one or two?, etc.,' then returned, stood rather that get seated and passed people's orders down the row like a beer vendor at a ball game sending drinks down the row.

He might as well have been in his own basement, watching TV with his friends. 

After one of these shows I wrote management a long letter or email of complaint. I got a response about all the efforts that were made to tamp down obviously bad behavior, but in the end my observation is that concert venues these days make on-site drinking easier because there's big money in it for the house, and many fans have come expect access to alcohol during the show.

As to baseball - - yes, I know of the long association between the game and beer, even in cities which do not have our brewing legacy, or have named the home team the Brewers.

But surely we can all agree that no sober baseball fan takes off his shoes and pants to run out onto the field, so I imagine that the criminal who fired a baseball at and hit Major League umpire Joe West when he was on the field doing his job was under the influence of an excess of alcohol or the influence of the offending patron's equally impaired pals, or both.

And were you really surprised when you heard about the streaking fan and the umpire attack at the stadium?

I went to a Washington Nationals game a couple of years ago where people seemed to manage their beer and their behavior. They weren't any louder or distracted than anyone else at the ball park, drinking or not. 

I kept wondering why fans at Miller Park I've seen over the years can't comport themselves the same way. Seriously - - I took a careful look around and did not see or hear a single drunken fan.

Maybe it was because there's no tailgating at Nationals Park.

Maybe the drinking or public behavior culture there is different, or maybe it was just a fluke in my favor that day. 

But I asked another person with whom I was with - - and who had spent decades in Wisconsin and has often been to Miller Park if he'd generally noticed the differences - - and he agreed they were absolutely real.

Worth noting that I have a friend who is a baseball fan and used to go many Brewers' games, and now never goes because, as he puts, "the drunks have ruined it for me."

I know where he's coming from. 

Since childhood I've gotten completely taken in at a baseball game by all the sudden on-field action and rising tension and strategy that comes with each pitch, move on the bases or decision by a manager, and it's a bummer if you're trying to absorb and appreciate it while seated next to or behind people like the guy from Madison with whom I attended a game years ago on an office outing to the old County Stadium who lived up to his declared identity as "a beer-an-inning man." 

And who became the now-retired "Two-Fisted Slopper," and would have fallen out of our group of seats in the first row of the left field grandstands to the lower seats or field below had I not grabbed him by the shirt when he stood up late in the game and lost his balance.

Maybe for starters the Brewers should bring back the Slopper public service ad.

OK: I'm done. 


Yes, I've seen a lot of embarrassing and anti-social alcohol-fueled behavior at Packer and UW Badger football games, and, if anything, it strengthens my argument that Wisconsin has a problem but prefers the denial stage.

I'm not picking on Brewers backers or Paul Simon concert-goers, or the ball club or Summeriest. It's just that the bad behavior seems to be coming fast and furious.

And if this makes me out the scold - - at my age, I care not. 

And while you're at it, take a look at recent data that shows Wisconsin has seven of the top ten drunkest US  cities on one list, along with other statistics about binge drinking and drunk driving here that should give everyone some sober reflection.

Feel free to join the discussion.


xoff said...

I've noticed in recent years how people at concerts feel free to shout things at the artist and even try to start a conversation. When did that get to be OK?

One guy who tried it at a solo Springsteen show at the Riverside awhile back got shut down and embarrassed by The Boss himself in front of 2000 fans. Good for Paul z Simon too.
The Brewers at least have a family section with pretty good seats where there is no alcohol. But everyone can't sit there.

One obnoxious drunk in your vicinity can ruin the whole experience, whether it's music or a sporting event.

Anonymous said...

Just give beer vendors authority to cut people off earlier. Have ushers move around more to assist in this area and/or have "secret" police around and available. Or is there too much money in beer sales for management to care. Money rules.

Peter Felknor said...

I am a graduate of UW-Madison. I have been to one Badger football game (and I like football). Between the grown adults who were falling-down drunk at 10 a.m., the wealthy Bucky backers who insisted on denigrating every play that was called at earsplitting volume, and most especially the inebriated fans that made a busload of supporters of the opposing team literally run a gauntlet while screaming "EAT SH*T, F*CK YOU!", I was so ashamed that I took off my Badger sweater and swore to never attend another Badger game. That was 15 years ago, and I've kept my word. Friends tell me that things are far worse now, if that can be imagined.

Katrina said...

I am with you on this James. If am at my mother's house after 10:30 on a Friday or Saturday night, I stay over to avoid the drunk drivers. I live 3 miles from her house through a gauntlet of taverns. I cannot wait to leave this awful place.

Golden Eagles said...

It all starts with Walker tweeting pictures of him drinking a beer.

Anonymous said...

I quit going to Drunkfest 5 years ago after taking my then high schooled age daughter and a friend to the main stage show. It was a great life lesson for both young women. What a pathetic shameless culture we're becoming.

Gail said...

I agree with Anonymous that vendors should be be able to cut people off early if they are drunk. I haven't been to a Brewers game in a while - do they sell beer through the end of the game? At Packer games, no alcohol is served after the 3rd quarter and there are plenty of police and security watching the crowd and removing unruly drunks. It is a shame that a few people can ruin the whole event for everybody.

Katrina said...

I few people? Do you mean the smaller number of drunks? the vendors? the venues? or the sober crowd complicit by not demanding alcohol not be served? I don't mean to be rude Gail but this isn't a case of a few ruining it for the many. As long as we look the other way, don't take it seriously and continue to buy tickets and attend events we are also part of the problem.

Mortified West Allis Resident said...

I am not a prude nor a teetotaler but I agree with Anonymous at 11:34 pm. I have not gone to "Not Sober Fest" in 20 years for much of the same reasons. Watching drunks misbehave (to say the least), vomit, urinate and ruin the experience for other paying customers is not worth the money.

I'm sorry to hear that sports venues are having the same problems. Many church festivals are also deteriorating; but fortunately NOT St. Augustine (67th and Rogers in West Allis) Festival. Next weekend, July 7-9th with Friday Fish Fry, Home made bakery, chicken/lamb dinners, Polka music/Tamburitza, raffles, games, and family-friendly rides. St. Augustine's is a small family-oriented parish, EVERYONE WElCOME

Raven said...

Echoing Golden Eagles about Scott Walker setting an example...

... but in other cases, no doubt, he’s been driving them to drink, as a way to endure.

Alcoholism among men tends to increase in times of economic hardship, and unfortunately also contributes to it; a vicious cycle.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

As a 2-time UW grad with football season tix, it's actually better than 15 years ago, mostly because the team is better and many students don't show up for much of the game.

I'm a guy who doesn't mind getting a drink on, but even I think this state's dopeyness on booze is a problem. The pile of trash who hit the ump last week at Miller Park brings me back to the bad old days of County Stadium, and the inevitable "multiple DUI" stories from the holiday weekend will make it worse.

This state in general seems less fun and less thoughtful these days, especially outside of Madison.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin is full of pigs. Want proof? Look who controls the state.

Terry P. said...

Remember when you couldn't take drinks to your seat at the Pabst, Riverside, PAC, etc? Wasn't that long ago.