“Haunted Hollywood”: I watch “Maps to the Stars”

for AmSpec: Part of the reason David Cronenberg’s new Maps to the Stars is so engrossing is that it’s two kinds of movie at once. The surface is all brutal Hollywood satire, the child star who only eats red Skittles and the washed-up actress demanding that her assistant fetch her Xanax and Kozy Shack pudding. This stuff is breathtaking: the massage therapist who helps his scantily-clad clients work through child abuse (“I’m going to press on a personal history point now”), the hateful cheek-kis … [Read more...]

David Carr, RIP

I now inhabit a life I don't deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. The trick is to be grateful and hope the caper doesn't end anytime soon.--The Night of the Gun I've noticed in reading the tributes to David Carr that he used the word "caper" a lot. He talked about life--sobriety, work, marriage, parenting--like it was a carnival, like it was something he was getting away with. His book, which obviously you should read, is one of the few "addiction memoirs" which make … [Read more...]

Hi, I’m Stercorius and I’m an Addict

HI STERCORIUS.I was in Russian class, trying to describe a character from a movie I watched recently. "Он наркоман," I said--he's a drug addict."Он страдает от наркомании," my teacher corrected me. He suffers from addiction.I was reminded of being at last year's Harm Reduction Conference, where you'd sometimes hear about the need to stop saying "addict" and start saying "person struggling with drugs," or similar variations. At first I was all, Oh come on, please let me speak English a … [Read more...]

“Humiliating People With Addiction Is Not Treatment”: Molly Fogel

at Substance.com:I could fill volumes with all that I saw. There were other situations where patients walked around with signs around their necks, saying, “I’m a loser,” “I’m nothing,” or “I’m not worth caring about.” The “transgressions” that earned these sanctions included getting in an argument with a more favored client, yelling at a case manager and getting high. There was little compassion in this place, and little-to-no therapy. Individual therapy was not permitted, although I’m still … [Read more...]

Doctors and Policemen

From now on whenever I do or say something awful to somebody I'm gonna tell them, "But it's a form of therapy!"Story #1, from last year: "To Stay Out of Jail, Must Nonviolent Offenders Submit to Medical Diagnoses?" Last week, those favoring reductions in prison populations and their associated costs applauded Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that he's seeking an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders. For administration critics who feel drug war reforms … [Read more...]

The Killing Joke: I read “Infinite Jest”

Finished it and flipped back to the very first page. Hugely tempted to just go in for an immediate re-read. It's an engrossing, brutal book.I found the first 100 pages or so a really mixed bag--my one real criticism is that the book itself sometimes seems... bewildered and amused?... by the existence of people who aren't white. There are definitely exceptions. The Hugs Not Drugs/"shit down your neck" scene is fantastic, and feels real, or rather feels exaggerated in the way both life and the … [Read more...]

“Sublime Recovery and Banal Recovery”: I’m in AmCon

sketching: This week I’m preparing to go to the 10th National Harm Reduction Conference (which I’ll be reporting on for TAC), and also reading for the first time David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. The conference and the novel offer strikingly different narratives of addiction and recovery–both of which are gaining cultural ground in different ways. more … [Read more...]


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