“Bring Needle Beer Back!” (E61)

  • Originally printed:  The New Yorker, April 22, 1933
  • First reprinted in:  Never reprinted
  • Original Byline:  Robert Benchley



Famously an ardent Prohibitionist until the moment the law came into effect (at which point he took up drinking with the liver-curdling zeal of a Bizarro Blue Legislator), Benchley now doubles back upon his youthful track – arguing for a repeal of Repeal.  Noting the tepid qualities of the welcome back parties for 3.2% beer in April 1933, Benchley avers that the government sanctioned suds currently on tap haven’t a drop of creditable carousal in them. By restoring a veneer of respectability (or, at the very least, legality) to the imbiber’s art, those reverse-psychologizing killjoys down in Washington have robbed Depression weary drinkers of their last gulp of freedom. If we’re all going to have to suffer anyway, Benchley argues, is it too much to ask to be allowed to do it in subterranean speakeasies, where the acoustics are better for hiccoughs and harmonizing?

Favourite Moment:

Has beer brought back The Home? Has it restored American Womanhood to anything? Has it revived part-singing?

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