Hmm – seems I’m getting raggedy here. First I misnamed Monday’s entry; then I forgot to put up Tuesday’s entry. (It's here.) Last night I was in bed before I realized I’d forgotten to upload the page; usually I finish around one and put it up, but yesterday I assembled the page & photos in the afternoon, then spent the night on the *&$#(%# book. Quit around 12:30, then watched HBO’s “Dope Sick Love,” which was more or less a non-fiction “Panic in Needle Park 2005” without the uplift and cheer. (Done by two French brothers, and I assume they’re the same fellows who did the 9/11 doc.) From this I learned several things:

Crack, when smoked, is loud; it sounds like someone sucking a bushel of burning leaves through a colander.
Drug users are frequently consumed by the need for additional drugs.

The introductory niceties of prostitution are usually insincere, and meant as a way to break the ice and draw attention away the different motivations of the people involved – one sexual, the other economic. No, it’s true.

You can jimmy nearly any door in the residential apartments of lower Manhattan. If not, you can gain access by hitting all the buzzers until someone lets you in, so you can shoot up in the stairwell.

Toilets are an excellent place to clean your works.

And so on. Grimly compelling, as I’m sure all the reviews said. What amazed me was that for all the drugs the documentary’s subjects consumed, no one ever seemed to get high. I mean, they’re pouring about a pound of heroin in their veins every hour, and then they get up and walk from Canal to 167th street for another hit. Even the crack has no seeming effect; it just makes people look thin and sick. In any case, you wouldn’t know that the drugs are illegal; everyone can find them if they want them. The only barrier is money, and since they’re drug addicts they cannot hold a job. Hence the thefts and scams and pathetic assignations in filthy apartments. This wouldn’t change under legalization, unless we hand out vouchers for crack.

One character goes in for detox – she gets in right away (in New York, where one expects the demand to be rather heavy) and spends a few days off the pipe, which gives her the strength and courage to really hoover up the stuff down to the basement of her lungs when she gets out. Of the four people in the piece, you can expect that three, at the least, will end up dead, and it has nothing to do with legal vs illegal or the amount of treatment options they have. (One of the heroin & crack addicts has a wealthy father who sends her money, sets her up in an apartment, etc.; she could have Hazelden if she wanted it, but you suspect that she is peculiarly incapable of really wanting it. At least until she uses up her store of body fat and self-respect, anyway.) They’re going to die because they took the drugs, and they can hardly say they didn’t know what they had in store. What, heroin and crack are addictive? G’wan.

I remember all the arguments about marijuana’s lack of physically addictive properties – true enough, but it’s not the weed that hooks you, it’s the fact that it’s fun. At least until you sort of kinda dimly realize that you’re 27 and living at home in the basement and really, really, intending to tget around to finding a stamp for that application to the community college tomorrow. But first, let’s do a bowl.

Anyway, I watched all that, had the argument above in my head as I tried to sleep, remembered I hadn’t posted, went back downstairs and put it up. I could tell it was successful because I got mail today telling me it was a thermostat, not a thermometer. Noted.

Hmm. Mr. Hitchens weighs in on the Schiavo case in his usual energetic fashion. (He’s one of my favorite reads, regardless of whether I agree with him; one of the finest practitioners of the hot-knife-through-cant school.) He is welcome to his opinion, but I believe it is not wise to call people dead before they are actually, well, dead. You can be “as good as dead” or “brain dead” or “close to death,” but if the heart beats and the chest rises, I think we should balk at saying this constitutes dead, period. What does he call the person who’s taking so damnably long to die?

“A non-human entity.”

Not a term I’d ascribe to someone who is, well, human, but I lack his brusque and exasperated certainties.

A non-human entity.

Well, what’s the harm. It’s not as though the term will ever be applied to anyone who doesn’t fit the exact dimensions of the Schiavo case. Right?

The debate about Schiavo argument is, as Hitchens says, “stupid and degrading” - and I suppose it would seem so if you confine your exposure to people pulling long faces on cable TV. In the last few weeks I’ve listened to Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt discuss the issue from different perspectives – moral, legal, and religious (the last point alone offered an education on the differences between various faiths and splits of opinion within the faiths.) People have called the shows to castigate the hosts for not supporting the armed intervention by Jeb Bush and his super-powerful Transformer state troopers who will turn into a helicopter and take Mrs. Schiavo away; in every instance the hosts of the shows have spurned, repudiated and castigated the extremists. I hear Michael Savage is encouraging something different, but I would rather listen to someone play a large flatulent bullfrog like a bagpipe than listen to him rant on the matter. In any case, what I’ve heard hasn’t been stupid or degrading, and has been fairly thoughtful.

Noted for what it’s worth. And now I will upload this before I forget. Unless I do.

JOE returns in April
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