At the time of the writing of this column, Dear Leader had just pulled out of Syria, leaving the Kurds to the tender mercies of the Turks. No telling what fresh horrors have occurred in the 10 days after this column escaped from the word processor. Pondering the abandonment of our former allies — the Kurds — I am reminded of a scene from “Animal House.” Remember when Flounder lent his brother’s car to the frat boys of Delta House for their road trip? After the trip, the car is pretty banged up. Flounder is distraught. Otter puts his arm around Flounder and tells him: “You screwed up. You trusted us. Hey, make the best of it.” The Kurds screwed up. They trusted us. They need to make the best of it. The occupants of the evil Middle East Omega House; Russia, Syria, Iran and ISIS are happy as Dean Wormer was when he revoked Delta’s double secret probation. Turns out Dear Leader revoked the Kurds’ double secret probation and welcomed the hungry Turks in.
Way up north on I-95, Congress is having impeachment fits. There is not a version of Kum Ba Yah to be heard in Washington, D.C. Crankiness abounds. If you watch the impeachment news on TV, after each depressing story you are treated to a series of depressing prescription drug ads for dreaded diseases. The diseases range from the usual suspects of old reliable diseases to brand new exotic diseases that have just been discovered by Big Pharma. The new diseases coincidentally come in tandem with new expensive drugs recently approved by the FDA.
The ads all have the same format. First, you see happy, peppy people doing all sorts of athletic and fun things despite their crippling diseases. A soothing voice comes on to tell you that this medication will make your symptoms and cares go away. You may even find true love if you take our pills. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis swing happily on trapezes, doing back flips with perfect dismounts due to a new wonder drug. Everyone is a vitamin duck in the ads. No one is sick. No one has any side effects. Then the soothing voice speeds up a little and begins to recite the ugly side effects of the drug. If you take our drug, you may get tuberculosis, cancer, toenail fungus, bad breath, be last picked for the basketball team or possibly suffer a fatal event. You pays your money. You takes your chances.
I have a modest suggestion. In the interest of fairness, while the soothing voice is telling you all the possible nasty or fatal side effects from the medication being pushed, the ad should show people actually suffering from said possible hideous side effects. Instead of showing people enjoying near Olympic athletes’ levels of fitness, having fun, going on vacation and riding bikes, show people who got actually developed bad side effects from the medication. Make the Sackler’s company Purdue Pharma show the side effects of Oxycontin by running ads with opioid addicted patients dying in back alleys from overdoses of Oxycontin or its street replacement drug heroin. Side effect ads might result in the sale of smaller amounts of brand name opioids. Realistically, the strength of the drug industry lobby will make such ads showing side effects yet another impossible dream. So, what is a mother to do?
Like the two main characters in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” we are all waiting for something that will never happen. Godot will actually arrive before Big Pharma has to show ads complete with side effects. Shall we just curse the darkness instead of lighting a candle? Perhaps not. There is hope. The answer to televised depression comes from John Prine’s great song, “Spanish Pipe Dream” in which John wrote: “Blow up your TV, throw away your paper/ Go to the country, build you a home/ Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches/ Try and find Jesus on your own.” Not everybody is going to move to the country. But even if you are not willing to blow up your TV, you could watch it less often. You don’t have to worry so much about The Fayetteville Observer as it continues to be the incredible shrinking newspaper. You could plant some tomatoes. You could try to find Jesus.
Gentle reader, allow me to leave you on a positive note by quoting the late, great singer Warren Zevon who wrote these lines: “Don’t let us get sick/ Don’t let us get old/ Don’t let us get stupid alright/ Just make us be brave/ And make us play nice/ And let us be together tonight.”
You are now free to turn off your TV. Dare to eat a peach.