Monday, July 22, 1996
Hey you, can the criticism of Oktoberfest

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be careful when you open your voice mail. Somebody may be crying in his beer.

''Your article was a slap in the face to Miller beer,'' fumed Ed Menkhaus of West Chester. Defending his employer, he called Miller ''a good company. They help out the community a lot.''

Mr. Menkhaus was steamed because I wished the beer commemorating Oktoberfest Zinzinnati could be, like in the old days, brewed in the Queen City. Intending no offense to Miller, I just like tradition with my beer.

Ed Layman of White Oak savors tradition, too. ''Mom and dad drank Hudepohl. He had one after working in a hot factory. She enjoyed a cold quart after tending to 10 children all day. We never drank Miller or any other out-of-town beer.''

Miller drops serious cash into the Cincinnati economy. The brewer contributes money in six figures to sponsor Oktoberfest, Taste of Cincinnati, the Gold Star ChiliFest and two series of free concerts. That's how its Trenton plant got the honor of filling the Oktoberfest commemorative beer cans.

''It doesn't make any sense to go outside of Cincinnati for this beer,'' said Joe Gorman of College Hill. ''This is a pathetic money-making scam that's leaving our little breweries in the dust.''

Two men who live in Hamilton and work at the Trenton brewery don't see it that way.

''I'm disappointed,'' said Keith Jones of Hamilton. The brewer at Miller's Trenton plant noted: ''You didn't mention Budweiser. They've had their name on Oktoberfest for years. They're nowhere near a local brewery.''

Art Fiehrer knows the Trenton plant is ''not in the city limits. But we're just 20 miles or whatever north of Cincinnati. We're as local as Oldenberg brewery which is across the river.

''You shouldn't knock the support we're giving the community just because we are bigger. We support the event. Miller Brewing is a local brewery.''

Listen up

The cops had a simple idea: set up a committee to talk with kids about life in Cincinnati.

To the lawmen's surprise, city leaders told them to forget it. Councilman Phil Heimlich called it ''a feel-good solution.'' Vice Mayor Tyrone Yates considered it another instance where kids ''suffer from too much democracy.''

I think the idea deserves to be heard. Not shouted down. So does David Black of Mariemont. He's ''shocked that those two would stiff the police. The police are trying to be accommodating and trying to listen. Maybe those two councilmen need to learn how to listen.''

Roger Langford of Anderson Township sees the reaction as ''just another example of city council shortsightedness and, shall I use the word, stupidity.''

''This - the bureaucracy, the inconvenience, the council - is why people are moving out the city,'' observed Pat Berding, a real estate appraiser from Delhi Township.

Golf Manor's Ida Minson, a Cincinnatian ''for almost 90 years,'' was dumbfounded by the opposition to the committee. ''What's wrong with these people?'' she asked. ''This would help the children by letting them know someone cares.''

High fives for the Fourth

On the Fourth of July, I always read the Declaration of Independence. When I wrote about my tradition, I figured to catch a few raspberries for being, well, corny. I figured right and, happily, wrong.

''Thank you for bringing to mind how free we are. We're free to laugh. We're free to love. We're free to enjoy the Fourth,'' said Debbie Lee of Fairfield.

''Next time, write an article on the Bill of Rights, especially the Fourth Amendment,'' suggested Eugene Von Riestenberg of Boone County. ''The next time a policeman stops 20 drivers at random without any reasonable cause, think about how they're trashing the Constitution.''

''There's nothing corny about being patriotic or reading the Declaration,'' noted David Waller of Middletown. ''Everyone is too busy - keeping up with their middle-class status. We should pay attention to our freedoms.''

From the opposite side - free to say this because of the Declaration:

''Independence Day is a joke,'' declared an anonymous caller. ''Just ask Marge Schott. She can't open her mouth without being condemned.''

Cliff Radel's column appears in The Enquirer Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Available to speak to groups. Tips and comments most welcome. Call 768-8379 or fax at 768-8340.