-Kanye West, “Dark Fantasy,” Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Empty Dubra Vodka bottles litter the landscape of Hartford, like corpses from a silent war, the detritus of the damned. While this particular litter may not seem as portentous as the previous overwrought sentence claims, I think they’re worth noticing and thinking about. When I was a freshmen at Trinity College – in my younger and dumb(er) days – I used to drink Dubra heavily, to the point where my friends and I created a weekly mock celebration, Dubra Wednesdays. It was cheap (around $13 dollars for a handle, 1.75 liters), it was so-bad-it’s-good, and it wrecked our better judgment, as well as our insides.
Due in part to that nostalgic obsession, I started to notice them a lot while walking through Hartford near the end of my undergraduate career. I got into the habit of taking out my cell phone and snapping a picture every time I saw one. After only a couple months of walking through Hartford, I had over 20 images of separate bottles. These were just the ones that caught my eye; it wasn’t as if I went out looking for them.
They’re everywhere, from the Riverfront;
...to the middle of Downtown;
…on the side streets of Frog-Hollow;
...right up to the West end;
Pint and Half-Pint bottles were the most frequent (being the cheapest), but I’ve also seen handles;
For the past two years, I’ve worked for a non-profit that focuses on community indicators. Indicators are quantitative and qualitative measures, tailor made to the needs of a given community, which reveal the over-all quality of life. Using an established benchmark, they show the direction a community is heading, for better or worse. The number of empty Dubra bottles littered throughout Hartford can be seen as an unconventional indicator. What does it suggest?
Rampant litter in itself reveals a disregard for ones surroundings, a disregard that is extenuated by intoxication. Can whoever tossed these bottles be solely blamed? Those that left them behind may have been consciously running from something, or unconsciously reacting to circumstances outside of their control.
While not the whole story, these bottles reveal a larger web of poverty, health issues, and an overall lack of confidence within Hartford. So if there’s the feeling that governmental officials aren't being stewards of the city, why should those that feel disenfranchised care?
There are other liquors of comparable price, but Dubra – which from my experience is the most vile – seems to be the discarded drink of choice; implying a masochistic impulse. Maybe I’m just over-intellectualizing from a point of privilege. It may simply be the stark design of the label that attracts customers. To stretch one last interpretation, let’s look at the design. If the star in the center is equated with New England’s Rising one, would you see the curtain surrounding it as one that just opened, or one that’s about to close?
Thinking about my reckless college days, and how Dubra became an ironically cherished drink amongst students from affluent backgrounds; while many in the surrounding community most likely drank it because of economic limitations and learned helplessness; makes me feel as guilty and nauseous as I did during those incoherent Thursday mornings, years ago.
-Written by William Moffett Jr.