The Blog

Odds and Ends

About that missing Lexus; the "blindingly obvious" conclusion that wines by the glass are a scam.

3:10 PM, Sep 23, 2010 • By VICTORINO MATUS
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Two item-addenda: First, regarding Martena Clinton, whose car was towed during a gala for security reasons and was told by D.C. police they could not relocate it. (Clinton's friend eventually found it the next day—around the corner.) As one reader points out, a detail that was reported by Shankar Vedantam in the Washington Post without comment: Clinton had parked her Lexus in a handicapped spot and "displayed a handicapped tag prominently." It was her husband who suffered a stroke, thereby earning him the tag. Clinton, herself, is not handicapped.

Which means that what Clinton did was in itself illegal. And judging by the hundreds of comments that came pouring in to the Post, this abuse of privilege is equally inexcusable. (The comments section has since been closed.)

No doubt the incompetence Clinton witnessed is something that needs to be addressed. (After all, this could easily happen to any one of us.) But that Clinton took advantage of her husband's handicapped tag only to have her car towed has karma written all over it.

Second, my mention of Lettie Teague's column in the Wall Street Journal about the costliness of wines by the glass (not to mention the harm to quality) has been greeted with "Well, duh." Reader Mark Shepler of Jupiter, Fla., calls it "blindingly obvious" and speaks from experience. During a Miami bartending gig in 1979,

I found out that a bottle of premium liquor, say, Johnnie Walker Black, cost the house maybe $10-$12 at the time. But a fifth of JWB contains a little under 32 shots, if guys like me pour them honestly, which we don't. So figure 28-29 shots in as many mixed or straight drinks at the bar at ... $5.50 or so per drink. The soda or water mixers cost pennies. Charge off the lost shots to promoting tips and employee happiness ... then do the math. Pretty profitable, no?

The same goes for wine, says Shepler. And in some instances worse: At a gentlemen's club, "we poured 'house wine' (cheap stuff by the gallon) no matter what the order from the service bar where the table waiters go to fill their orders. Never got any complaints." Ultimately, "there are only two ways to be sure you're getting what you're paying for: (1) always buy a full, unopened bottle, (2) never, ever order wine by the glass if you cannot see it being poured and assume it's older than stated and resign yourself to live with that."

And still he adds this caveat:

Even seeing your glass poured, if from an already opened bottle, is no assurance of what is actually inside. It is universal, standard practice to "marry" up bottles to reduce the number of opened ones laying about and firm up inventory numbers for the coming day, especially in hotels where the liquor for each outlet is requisitioned from a central storeroom and empties must be returned when ordering replacements.

Shepler may be speaking from experience, but this also seems to have the ring of paranoia to it. Next thing you know, he'll be telling me the bedspreads in hotel rooms aren't regularly washed and that I'd be in for a big surprise if I shined a blacklight on it!

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers