“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.”
So said Al Capone, whose story and likeness grace a wall in Stari Grad. Of course, prohibition made nothing but money for Al Capone. His suggling, bootleg liquor and prostitution rings made an estimated $62 million by 1929. That kind of money buys a lot of hats.
Today, Belgrade is facing its own version of prohibition. Belgraded.com notes that local government will ban the sale of alcohol from 10pm to 6am. Restaurants, cafes and clubs are exempted.
Ok, so it’s not exactly prohibition. But it does seem excessive. People here (and not just young ‘uns) routinely start their evenings at 9 or 10pm. Why preclude people from buying alcohol then? Of course, restaurants and cafes will still be able to serve alcohol-at a 50% markup. But if you want to pick up some alcohol before that slava you’re going to…good luck.
Many people think that this law will kickstart a black market for late-night liquor, and I agree. Capone said, “I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” Belgrade already has an infrastructure for illegal DVDs, cigarettes, and who knows what else. I’m sure some enterprising people will be happy to expand to Jelen and Ballentines. Though really, what is UP with the love for Ballentines here?
Perhaps Belgrade’s “enterprising class” will be deterred by strict enforcement. (hmmm.) Or maybe they’ll realize that crime doesn’t always pay. The people who died in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, said to be the work of Mr. Capone, were lured by the idea of buying cheap bootleg liquor. Al Capone was eventually jailed for tax evasion, and his complications from syphilis (NOT the way to go, folks) became so bad that he was released from jail and died in his Palm Beach mansion.
So maybe bootlegging won’t pay. But someone will try to find out.