I grew up in a sheltered life not thinking any of my friends did drugs. Then in 11th grade one of my buddies, one of the smartest guys I knew, started acting really strangely in a physics class, stood up, gave a weird smile to the room, said “later,” and walked out of the school. He never came back. It turned out he had been dropping acid, and had an intense flashback that led to a spiral down, a hospitalization, some mild brain damage, and he was never the same again.
Flash forward. Post-law school, I was a front line prosecutor in the Middlesex County DA’s office in Massachusetts. I covered Lowell, which is a good-sized city with lots of immigrants, no jobs, and a ton of drugs, particularly heroin. It was actually a major heroin distribution center for all of New England. It came in from boats on the coast and up Interstate 95 from Florida to major gangs in Lowell and Lawrence, and was distributed from there. I also covered a court in Ayer, central Massachusetts along the New Hampshire border, that covered 10 rural towns with large georgraphic areas and populations under 5,000 to 7,000 each. These towns were awash with kids whose parents had NO clue what drugs were, let alone that their kids were using them.
In the course of the two years I worked these courts, about 6 months of which I focused exclusively on juveniles, I met hundreds and hundreds of kids and young adults who were addicted to heroin. Only about 1 in 20 was someone I would say is a “bad seed.” The rest were all good kids who went down a bad path (by contrast, I’d say 19 out of 20 of the kids who abused cocaine were bad guys—each drug has its own audience). What I learned was how pernicious the drug is. How kids and adults, if they are controlled and smart about it, can use it for a year, two years, even as much as 3 years slowly increasing their usage all along, and convincing themselves they could stop if they wanted to but don’t need to because they are in control – unlike the other “junkies” who “slam it.” What’s horrible is not just that eventually, depending on their bodily genetics and how much self control they have – it could be 6 months, it could be 3 years – 100% of them lose themselves and do become total junkies. What’s really bad is that other kids who find out they are on it see them acting normal and living normal lives, and don’t understand the danger. Indeed, when confronted, the users will talk about how great their life is and how it’s no different than being on prozac because they use it the “right way.” And so others come along. And they are all wrong, and become, for want of a better word, faint shadows of their former selves.
It is with this as background that I want to tell you how moving and important Colin Wolf’s front page story “Can We Talk About Heroin” was in the May 7 issue of The Sheet. This was quite literally a brilliant piece of journalism, and not just because it’s timely and important for Mammoth (and the rest of the country). It’s because of the thoughtful and well-researched way in which it was written, starting off with an explanation of the current events context for why your paper is addressing it as a front page item, and moving into an incredibly conducted and edited interview with two former abusers. In a few column inches, it communicates with great pathos and inherently obvious truth all of the core attractions — and pernicious effects — of heroin use. In particular, people need to hear the answer to the all important initial questions of what is the gateway drug: NOT marijuana, but alcohol, a drug so many children and their parents view as harmless and the abuse of which is routinely considered a non-event by all of us. Your article should be required reading for every parent, teacher, police officer, and judge in America.
Tarrytown, New York
Moon Shot misses
Regarding last week’s “Moon Shot” article, I would like to respectfully request that Coach Gault’s band be included in this lineup. He is one of the humblest, most honorable men and musicians, and if you recall, was listed as one of the “most influential people” of the Eastern Sierra in 2010.
He is in two VERY local bands, and gives tirelessly of his time and energy to many MANY charities and nonprofits, giving endless hours of music to benefits and shows.
He is so very deserving of being included in this list of LOCAL ARTISTS. I am not sure how Jonathan [Siebrandt] forgot him, but nevertheless, I am reminding you all of his talent.
Good Livin’ (Guitar Duo) and Flashback (Retro Rock and Roll)!
A local music fan forever …
Rose “Rose 400” Murray
It is not surprising to me that Mono Lake State Park was number one on the list of State Parks to be closed. Mono Lake is not a State Park. It was never intended to be. All the facilities State Parks claims duplicate everything that the U.S. Forest Service owns and runs.
All the State Parks “facilities” are on Forest Service land. Even the State Parks office is rented from the Forest Service facility. State Parks has no campgrounds in the Mono Basin.
There are no State Park facilities around Mono Lake. There are only two State Park concessions at Mono Lake. And the Mono Lake Committee has one of them. God help us if the public was to be given access and “started walking all over the place” without the Mono Lake Committee’s permission.
State Parks has already discouraged access to research, commerce and non threatening commercial activity. And talk about “Scaring people away!” I have seen visitors in tears after being harassed by State Park Rangers.
Permits are denied to researchers, photographers and movie interests. Historic uses have been ignored. Danger to the environment by visitors is extremely exaggerated to the advantage of special interest groups and State Parks employees.
If Mono Lake State Park were to be abolished, the only people that would know the difference would be the Mono Lake Committee. The public would have greater controlled access and be more welcome to the area.
Control by the public and authority should be handed back to the Forest Service and Mono County, where it originally belonged. Any monetary benefit should be given back to the county. After all, the Sheriff’s Department still has the monumental task of search and rescue on Mono Lake.
What’s the use?
I wrote one of my usually well crafted and pithy rants about the Town’s considering to pay Britannia Pacific to build yet more condos.
Then I thought to myself, what’s the use?
Mammoth Lakes (R.I.P)