The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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The City Addicted to Crystal Meth

Smoking crystal meth

Of course, this city is Fresno, California, a farming center that has been in economic decline for decades. Also, of course, Fresno is an example of other cities in the United States where poverty, broken families, and lack of education have led to addiction, especially when a highly addictive substance like crystal meth is so inexpensive and readily available. Meth is not simply a problem in our ghettos, as many of us believe, but in mainstream America among caucasians. It has been estimated that over 50% of our crimes are related to it, but those who are addicted are largely forgotten, except by the police. Interestingly, the reason we know that Fresno is the meth capital of California is not because PBS produced a program about it or any other news service in the United States reported on it, but because Louis Theroux, an Englishman, created a documentary for the BBC.

The details are harrowing—mothers leaving their children for days at a time, women driven to prostitution, people cooking it in their kitchens, wild bouts of sex, staying awake for weeks, addictions lasting twenty or thirty years until death finally puts an end to it. Ask yourself why this is occurring in the United States, and you need look no farther than the conservative hypocrites who act as proxies for the drug and insurance companies, proclaiming that universal health insurance is socialism. Health care for all Americans is a moral imperative. It is ethically unconscionable to leave large segments of the population to rot and do nothing effective to stop it.

As much as we want to believe it, as much as society tells us it is true, we are not islands. We do not exist in isolation. The suffering of the least of us affects us all.

August 23, 2009   Comments Off

The Horse Boy

The Horse Boy

The Horse Boy is a documentary film about the journey a young couple took with their autistic son to Mongolia. It is worth seeing because it shows what autism is like and how incredibly trying it is to be the parents of an autistic child; because it is a kind of travelogue of Mongolia; and because it deals with shamanism—those who practice it, what they believe, and its effects. In the case of this child, the results were dramatic. Although he was not cured, many of his symptoms—like not using the toilet, having no social interaction with others, and making obsessive body movements were changed significantly for the better. The film is heart-rending, because it shows the lengths that parents of autistic children will go to “cure” their children, and uplifting, because there may be ways of integrating these individuals into society we don’t currently appreciate. It goes to show that the world is vastly more complex and interesting than we generally believe and that there is always hope.

August 23, 2009   Comments Off