The Vermont Cynic

Dear Dana,

Just this past Saturday small, tranquil Burlington turned into a raging party full of mid-afternoon drunks, small children weighed down by plastic beads, and their parents whose eyes were clouded by a penetrating fear of the rambunctious college drunkards. For those of you who were left uninformed about this enchanting day, all the brouhaha was a result of everyone’s favorite non-secular holiday- Mardi Gras. For the most part there are a few basic elements that all Fat Tuesday celebrations must entail; unnecessary quantities of cheap, colorful beads, lots of people drinking copious amounts of alcohol which results in plenty of nudity, and finally a parade which serves as motivation for all the naked intoxicated people to run around outside. This nudity could be a result of Mardi Gras’ history which some say is rooted to orgies that were held in the Roman Empire. The wild outfits that some people sport are potentially traceable all the way back to the 1700’s. The French population in New Orleans held elaborate balls and encouraged their guests to wear masks of some sort. When the Spanish government came into power this wild carousing and all it encompassed was banned. In 1827 Americans took over and the outdoor dancing and mask wearing was again permitted. To insure that this tradition would remain, a group of seven men who named themselves The Mystick Drewe of Cosmos organized to support the Mardi Gras parade. The name Mardi Gras translates in French to ‘Fat Tuesday’ or ‘Shrove Tuesday’. This is supposed to be the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the arrival of Lent and its days of fasting. Whatever the full story is behind the big celebration, we should all be thankful that there is a specified day set out in the year for us all to consume infinite cocktails while barely getting out of bed. Happy holiday to you all, and I hope you celebrated thoroughly.

Dear Dana

Why did the drinking age in Vermont change from eighteen to twenty-one? The “legal drinking age” was an active issue in the Northeast during the 1980s. It was officially in 1986 that Vermont raised its’ drinking age from eighteen to twenty-one. Other states in the region took action a bit quicker however. Massachusetts for instance, changed from eighteen to twenty in 1979, and eventually to twenty-one in 1985. Connecticut also took multiple steps to raise the drinking age; in 1982 it changed from eighteen to nineteen, followed in 1983 from nineteen to twenty, and finally in 1985 did it reach its’ current age of twenty-one. One reason the drinking age was raised was in hopes of decreasing the number of alcohol related automobile accidents. Also, while the drinking age was eighteen the United States was spending more money on health care, social services, and property damage in comparison to the expenses for these issues currently. However, there are obvious critics of the new legal drinking age. One argument being, if eighteen is considered an appropriate age to fight for our country, then eighteen year olds should be allowed to consume alcohol. On top of that, some say that if the drinking age was lowered, minors would learn sensible consumption behavior instead of binging irresponsibly. Finally, critics say that because alcohol is illegal it becomes all the more enticing to abuse. Therefore, if legalized minors they would be less inclined to abuse it as a source of rebellion. So that’s a quick summary of the recent history of alcohol in Vermont. Unfortunately for those of you under twenty-one, there doesn’t seem to be any real movement to lowering the drinking age. In the meantime, good luck with those fake ID’s.

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Dear Dana,