John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Texas takes aim at drinking beer while tubing and the less said about Kenya's underwear-based moonshine, the better.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
DRINKING MILLER LIGHT WHILE TUBING, IN TEXAS
Everybody knows that river tubing, like poker, is basically an excuse to take off your pants and down a sixer. (Or am I the only one who plays five-card draw that way?) That's why thousands of tubers who flock each summer to New Braunfels, just outside San Antonio, are outraged over a new prohibition against alcoholic containers on the scenic Guadalupe River. The problem is that tipsy tube-fans have been filling the river with crushed cans, empty bottles and space bags, destroying the natural beauty of backwater sights like the Stinky Falls. The ban has forced practitioners of this laziest of sports to switch to reusable glasses and "Chug-a-Mugs," which hold three beers. (Shouldn't they give thanks for that forced adaptation?) Complained one tube-rental business owner: "People are calling saying, 'You can't drink in New Braunfels, so why am I coming?'"
CHANG'AA, IN KENYA
Officials in the town of Njoro continue to uphold an embargo on chang'aa, a local moonshine often made from contaminated river water, molasses and jet fuel. Police recently seized 590 liters of the rotgut, whose name translates to "Kill me quick," and plan to make a sweep of houses to roost out illegal brewers. Want to know more about this magical substance? Here's an excerpt from its Wikipedia entry:
The alcoholic content is sometimes increased by adding substances like jet fuel, embalming fluid or battery acid, which has the effect of giving the beverage more 'kick'. Drinkers have suffered blindness or death due to methanol poisoning. In Nairobi slums like Korogocho, the water used to make the drink is often contaminated with feces, and women's underwear along with decomposing dead rats have been found in the drink during police raids. [Emphasis mine.]
Needless to say, chang'aa is best enjoyed with a mixer.
WOLF-DOGS, IN CALIFORNIA
Who would want to own a pet known as a "wolf-dog"? Lots of people: Kristen Stewart's mom has a couple, for instance. There are an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 of the hybrid creatures in the United States, and they even have a lobby to protect them, the National Wolfdog Alliance. But when it comes to dogs that might kill your sheep but raise your infant twins, cities have not been very tolerant. The latest blow to wolf-dog understanding emanated from Calaveras County, home of San Andreas, where officials recently supported a standing boycott on the possible descendents of the hugely muscled, throat-tearing Beasts of Gévaudan. Despite being reputably as or more even-tempered than many dogs, county supervisors decided that "rabid wolf hybrids may pose a public health risk," according to the Calaveras Enterprise. (There is no USDA-approved rabies vaccine for wolves.) One official who voted to discard the ban claimed that mean wolf-dogs were the product of bad owners, saying the "ones I’ve run into have, to an animal, been quite spectacular as pets.”
Top illustration of an infamous Beast of Gévaudan by an unknown 18th-century French engraver.