Drugs ‘R’ US?

Might the Opioid addiction crisis, in part, be due to the unhealthy attitudes, which too often get programmed into our subconscious minds? While I’ve managed to steer clear of this prob, there have been too damned many opportunists, who’ve been doing their damnedest to make a druggie out of me… make druggies of us all.

• My age was still in single digits when I first became aware of the tobacco industry’s slick, spurious, multimedia, advertising campaigns crafted to BURY the truth about their addictive, deadly products and BURY their customers, too. They even used to sponsor the ABC network’s prime time kiddie cartoon TV series, The Flintstones. How an exec could’ve ever deemed it appropriate to huckster cigarettes to children had to have been that mercenary’s ‘tude… on steroids.

Of course, such crassness didn’t stop there. The nicotine pushers even colluded with confectioners… persuaded them to manufacture candy cigarettes… i.e., to corrupt kiddies long before they could legally buy the real deal. Back in the early Sixties, I had actually pestered my own father to buy me packs of those faux smokes. Dad had been conditioned so completely by that “smoking is harmless” nonsense that he was neither concerned about his own one+ pack-a-day cigarette habit nor his own son mimicking him / pretending to take drags off these candy coffin nails. Fortunately for me… but not for dad… my listening to him coughing up his lungs (for at least thirty minutes every morning) had completely negated the Madison Avenue ad-men’s “cigarettes are glamorous” fantasy. Of course, I didn’t wind up completely unscathed. The candy version’s sugar content did manage to decay my baby teeth. But far worse, since my father, eventually, smoked himself into an at least two decades too early grave, that prematurely deprived me of his company and counsel.

• Back in the here and now, I find it impossible to watch TV and read periodicals without being inundated by Big Pharma’s, direct to the consumer advertising blitzes. These freaks bombard us with their relentless sales pitches to extol the dubious virtues of their their, by and large, shoddy wares… namely, their barely FDA approved pills, potions and patches. They’re so adept at mind control that their captive, gullible (mostly layperson) targeted victims go rushing off, en masse, to the nearest medical complex to pester the crap out of their doctors… to beg for prescriptions for the latest rage “in-drug”.

It defies credulity that anyone would even consider any drug safe for human consumption upon discovering the typical kilometer / mile long list of (in fine print) side effects… inclusive of depression, diarrhea, loss of libido, cancer and even DEATH! Hmm… just for a moment, let us consider the slippery slope of such side effects… how they might affect patients who are, e.g., popping antidepressants. I mean, what could be more depressing than diarrhea, loss of libido and cancer? Will even more drugs be needed to cure the secondary ailments? Maybe even additional antidepressants to chase away the exacerbated depression? And what about the side effects that the new meds may cause… and on and on and on…

• Two summers ago, I suffered a minor injury, which necessitated a visit to my local Urgent Care Facility. My slashed thumb needed three stitches. End of story? NOPE! To facilitate my recovery, my doctor handed me a multiple paged, computer print-out of instructions… inclusive of a few paragraphs to inform me that, if needed, Hydrocodone… a.k.a. Vicodin… was readily available. Say what? A notoriously addictive, Opioid drug for such a minor injury? I wasn’t even in that much pain. I sure as hell did not want to mess around with THAT! Sure, I realize that toughing out pain is not always an option for everyone. Still, we must worry about anyone who’s so hellbent on getting high that they’ll jump at any chance to cop some legally prescribed, pharmaceutically pure drugs. To be sure, pain is no fun. But, neither is becoming a junkie.

I’m certain there are plenty of similar stories to tell. If you’d like to contribute your own observations to this blog, you are welcome to leave a comment.




TV Or Not TV?

In the 1950s, TV was in its childhood while I was in mine. We grew up together. Being overly impressionable, I had become so enthralled that before my parents and sister would wake up each new day… even prior to our local TV stations, themselves, “waking up”, there I’d be (“glued” to the B&W screen) “watching” test patterns… similar to the one above.

However, once the programming finally began, the kiddie shows, cartoons and adventures would abound. Check out this small sampling…

Day in / day out the wild times in TV-Land would virtually pour out from the screen into our real life living room… with emphasis on “wild”. I recall an incident where my sister and I, overly under the influence of TV and/or a sugar buzz and/or simply being giddy with regular childhood exuberance were joyously raising such a ruckus that our mother had to practically don a vertically striped referee shirt, tweet a whistle and drop a penalty flag to restore household order.

But… somehow… I did manage to “time out”… long enough for the following verbal exchange to ensue…

Mom: “What in the world’s going on?”

Tom: “If you read the news you’ll know.”

Now, to clarify matters, here’s the backstory to that Mom/Tom repartee. You see… I had been totally programmed by a TV commercial, which told viewers to subscribe to one of our local newspapers. The adman’s catchy little tune featured the merrily sung lyrics… you guessed it…

“What in the world’s going on? If you read the news you’ll know.”

Well, TV, just like its viewers, had little choice but to “time out” / grow up over the decades to follow.

Those who’ve been around in our troubled world long enough have been eyewitness to the somber, sobering images of the Kennedy and King assassinations… the racist, blood splattered Deep South… war torn Vietnam and countless other battlefields… antiwar street demonstrations… chronic economic upheaval… Watergate… 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks… war criminal W “murdering” Lady Liberty and torturing the enemy… mass shootings inclusive of elementary school children… rightwing legislators mollycoddling the too big to fail, unrepentant, CEO screw-ups… and the wretched discrimination against women, racial / ethnic minorities and the LGBT community.

True, there have been rare moments where TV’s cameras have focused on more positive events, e.g. when We proudly whipped our center digits at our nation’s racist past by electing/reelecting President Barack Obama.

As for other fleeting glimpses of success stories… we’ve borne witness to astronauts walking on the Moon and countless other technological advancements… inclusive of TV technology, itself… the conversion to digital.

It was after U.S. analog transmitters had signed off for the very last time in 2009, that TV and I had begun to part company. Fortunately, my living along the northern U.S. border, Canada’s analog broadcasts were still available up till the fall of 2011… but once they, too, went digital, from that moment forward, and for the next five years, this was all my TV could receive…

Well… all that changed about three weeks ago. Due to recent upgrades in my sibling’s life, she opted to recycle her no longer needed digital TV converter and rabbit ears… by shipping these devices to me.

The easy part was connecting to my 20 year old, 13-inch Sony Trinitron. The hard part was finding signals from the 40-mile distant broadcast towers. The disappointing part was discovering that the two stations I did manage to snag were airing programs that I wouldn’t normally watch… the Jerry Springer Show and a PBS kiddie program.

In spite of my finding out that Public Broadcasting is still programming towards the betterment of society, my first day back in TV-Land had left me feeling underwhelmed / turned off. So, I turned off my TV… but not for long.

Two Fridays ago, I purchased a relatively inexpensive, indoor/outdoor antenna equipped with a signal amplifier. By midmorning, the next day, I had assembled everything to transform my metal microphone stand into a makeshift, five-foot tall, indoor antenna mast (actually, eight feet in height once set atop a sturdy end table… true… not the best décor-wise… but… after all… I was primarily going for functionality).

After locating the optimal antenna position in my living room, the converter’s automatic station scan managed to find 7 multicasting stations (PBS, CBS, NBC and ABC plus a few lesser networks) and since there are 2 to 3 subchannels per station, I now have a grand total of 19 separate program streams to wade through.

So, after my five-year absence from TV, what’s my reaction? Well, I find myself gravitating towards reruns of programs from my much younger days… e.g., I spent the better part of my first weekend back binge watching countless half-hour long episodes of “The Adventures of Superman”.

Then, several nights ago, I stayed up a bit past my usual bedtime to watch Stephen Colbert’s incarnation of the CBS Late Show… for the very first time. How odd it felt not to see David Letterman seated at his familiar, Ed Sullivan Theater, talk show desk.

As for new TV programs? It’s going to take awhile for me to get acclimated but, so far, I’ve not had much desire to explore what’s “out there”. I’m beginning to think this quotation, i.e., dialogue written by author Thomas Wolfe, aptly describes my, at present, state of mind.

“You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”