Archive for March, 2010

High on Cocaine

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , on March 20, 2010 by corecompany

Cocaine has a very long history, all the way back to the Incas when Spanish conquistadors were impressed with the longevity of the natives who were chewing on the cocoa leaves. Freud was a cocaine addict and prescribed it for everything from depression to psychosis. He was nuts, nuts for coca.  Cocaine is a 92 billion dollar industry and we New Yorkers lead the world in Cocaine consumption, yes, the city that never sleeps. Cocaine has an almost mythical power. It has ebbed and flowed in and out of fashion. The 70’s saw a huge resurgence and it was regarded as the sophisticates high. One of the things that is consistent with all of the things we are told about Cocaine is the racists message that it makes black people go crazy. You can’t let them have cocaine, they will rape all the white women and they will create crack houses! The Crack house is a cultural icon of waste, poverty, violence, all the things that white people fear about black people. The truth is WAY; WAY more white people use cocaine than black people, yet almost no white people serve time on cocaine charges. The institutional racism and erroneous messages are yet another unfortunate by-product of the war on drugs. Cocaine psychosis is horrible, so are the seizures that can happen doing coke, cardiac arrest and all the other potential, but none of this is limited to black people. What is most insulting about the racial divide in the drug war is the white people posturing that goes on about the bad, bad drugs. People who wouldn’t dare laugh at a fried chicken joke will profess themselves human rights liberals while they snort coke at a suburban bar-b-q. So who pays the price for the cocaine trade? Black people. They are shot, killed, and incarcerated while white people have a grand old-time and dry out at a Malibu rehab.

The race issue in the drug war doesn’t really get talked about all that much. It is something I think about, but with a problem as complicated as the drug war we never seem to get to what a horrible thing it is that we incarcerate people for a health issue. It’s a human rights violation in my view. Someday, we may look at our prisons with as much remorse as Manzanar. What brought this to my attention was Texas Ranger’s manager, Ron Washington. He failed a drug test, admitted to using cocaine and Nolan Ryan, Texas Ranger general manager has stuck by him. Great work on Ryan’s part (Ok, I am a fan, so I am sure it helps color my opinion).  The Texas Ranger’s seem to have a realistic take on drug use and they seem to want to help. That’s pretty good in this world of “just say no” and shame. I am with Ron Washington all the way. He did say he did it “Only once”. Really? Just once? The ONE time you did one line of coke you were tested? What are the odds? In the words of George Jefferson “Oh, nigga, puuuahleassee!” This is up there with not inhaling but OK; it’s a move toward honesty.

The media is handling this as they do with drug issues; platitudes, shame, lessons to learn, weakness, should know better, what kind of example, the standard messages. Nobody is applauding his willingness to admit a problem and address it. Why is this racist?  Because, if he were white, it would be less of an issue. An issue that would blow over quickly. In 2007, Tony Larussa, manager of St. Louis was charged with a DWI. He was asleep and by asleep I mean passed out, behind the wheel of his car, in the middle of an intersection. It took police several attempts to wake him. It was in the news and when he returned home to St. Louis, he received a standing ovation. He could have killed someone. Could the line of coke that Ron Washington did kill someone? Not likely. Maybe himself but not a mini van full of kids the way Larussa’s incident could have. What would have happened if Larussa were black? What if Ron Washington were white? I don’t know the issues of each man but whatever they are, I hope they get a handle on their use. Waking up in the middle of an intersection? That doesn’t sound like recreational use to me. Snorting coke knowing you would risk your job and reputation? Sounds like a problem to me too.  Of all the things that bother me about the drug war, the overt racism is certainly up on my list. When do we get honest about that? The days to come will reveal more about Ron Washington’s case. I hope the Ranger’s stick with him and I hope he is honest about it in the media. More than anything, as a baseball fan, I hope they call me if he needs a sober companion because after all, it’s really about how it relates to me.

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Did Corey Haim Die of Natural Causes?

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , , , on March 18, 2010 by corecompany

For the past few days I’ve been watching all the media attention paid to Corey Haim. Yes, another tragic Hollywood tale of a young person swept up and consumed by excess, too much too soon, blah, blah, blah. We have heard it all before and the media is giving us the same “drugs are bad, fame kills” melodrama we have heard time and time again.  It’s sad for sure. He seemed like a decent enough guy, based only on his presentation in the 80’s (let’s be honest, there were some very unfortunate hair choices, an indication? Foreshadowing of the tragedy to come?) And in a recent reality show, by his own admission, Haim admitted to battling addiction since adolescence – sooner or later, addicts die. There is nothing shocking here, it’s fairly common. NYC alone has roughly 800 deaths caused by overdose per year. Based on simple math, there were two other deaths in one city that were not newsworthy. Has overdose become so commonplace that we only care if the death is connected to celebrity and gossip? If Haim  sold copiers for example, would anyone care about his drug problem? Does anyone care now? Or is it just tabloid fodder?

One quote on a blog asked “How many of them have to die before they wake up?” Interesting perspective. Who would “they” be exactly? Child stars? Those never-do well Hollywood brats? The hair cutter who gave him that terrible mullet? I think my issue with the media coverage is in that statement. First off that  US (God-fearing law-abiding citizens) vs. THEM (filthy drug addicts) supports the position that we are at war against them. When the truth is the question is not THEY but WE. We are all impacted by addiction and the collateral damage of the drug war. Additionally, that idea of “waking up” is so insulting to anyone suffering from or in remission from addiction. Why don’t we just wake up? Crack is whack! Haven’t you heard?  It’s insulting, patronizing and as long as that is the prevailing attitude, we are stuck in this mess of a drug war.

As I have said many times, I don’t think we know very much about addiction. I don’t think we know how to intervene on it, treat it – I don’t think we know how long reaching and damaging its tentacles truly are. However there are a few things we do know for certain. It’s chronic and can be arrested but not cured. Cory Haim had periods of remission but ultimately; it killed him at a young age. If there is any waking up to do it, we need to wake up and rethink how we address this health crisis. Even his buddy, the other Corey with issues of his own and equally unfortunate hair, seems to be in denial, telling Larry King that we shouldn’t “jump to any conclusions.” Maybe they will say “natural causes”, in a way I agree with that. Addiction is a disease and diseases are natural.

How About Taxing Alcoholic Beverages!

Posted in Current Events with tags , , , on March 2, 2010 by corecompany

Just how deep does our love affair with alcohol go? How in denial are we as a culture about what it does to us?  The denial runs very deep.  A short while ago, Michelle Obama launched a war against obesity.  She laid the groundwork with her garden on the Whitehouse grounds. She upped the ante with a program encouraging people to move, turn off the TV and spend time being more active. She even self disclosed that her own child was pushing maximum density.  A condition many parents are facing. The first lady is doing a good thing, make no mistake, this is not a criticism of the First Lady or her concern with our weight and health.

It seems that the concern with obesity has caused a stir in the media about taxing sugary beverages as a way to encourage us to drink more water and to cover the additional health care costs of obesity. Needless to say, beverage companies are opposed to this, saying there is little evidence to support that their product is to blame for the obesity problem in America. What does all of this have to do with our love affair with alcohol? Everyday, people die due to alcohol. It destroys families, ruins academic and athletic careers.; leaves a wake of destruction in it’s path, anywhere it is abused. The ripple effect and destruction is unknown.  With all of the destruction caused by alcohol, why is it that there is nothing in the media about taxing it to cover the cost of the damage it does? It varies from state to state but the taxes on alcohol are remarkably low. Who pays for the damage that it causes? The additional health care costs, the car accidents, the mentally ill families? In short, who has to clean up the puke from the party?

If we can debate taxing sugary drinks, we should be debating taxing alcohol as well. What is it about alcohol that keeps it out of the media? How does it sneak around, virtually unnoticed?  It must also have an impact on the obesity problem as well, most people impaired by alcohol are not busy training for any marathons. “Beer Belly” is a term for a reason, so if we are going to tax soda to cover the cost of obesity, does that include beer? Is the alcohol THAT powerful that the alcohol industry does not even have to answer any of these questions? Wow, how fucked up are we?