Noah Got Drunk

December 23, 2013


by Crane-Station for Frog Gravy

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

Inmate names are changed.

Cell 107, McCracken County Jail, Winter, 2008

Breakfast this morning was strange, because to me, just listening, it sounded like locusts devouring a biblical country. Jail eating is not normal. Inmates gobble, hoard, smack, belch and fart. We yank and choke down food, slurp, slobber and grunt. We eat with a single hard plastic utensil called a spork, a hybrid between a spoon and a fork that is engineered to bend on impact, making it useless as a shank. There is much trading, spooning, shoveling, hoarding and handing back and forth sporkfulls of food. The binge symphony is punctuated with the words, “Are you gonna eat that?” The meal lasts for ten minutes until guards and working Class D males pick up the trays.

Binge and sleep, binge and sleep, occurs three times a day, not including commissary days. On those days, some inmates binge before the binge.

For the women of this jail, there is absolutely nothing to do except eat, watch TV and sleep. Only five Class D (ie, non-violent, mostly petty drug crimes) female final-sentenced state inmates are allowed to work a job, and none of the female jobs involve outdoor or even hallway work. The remaining Class D final-sentenced female inmates are nothing more than revenue units for the jail. The state of Kentucky pays money to the county for each state inmate because this facility is really good at providing the appearance on paper of being a ‘Class D’ facility for women. That means jobs and activities for women. In reality it’s nothing more a cement cage for women.

For these women, the days turn to months and then to years, and then they are released from the cement cage into the community and the street, with nothing to show for the time spent but massive weight gain and the thousand-yard stare.

Many of them will return.

I am seated at a steel table wearing a terry cloth towel equivalent of a tin foil hat on my head, looking at some papers. The first one is a Kentucky Jail Ministries (US 42 Florence KY 41042) church handout. It says:

I once read: God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. The world might say there are many reasons why God wouldn’t want to use you or me, but don’t worry:

Moses stuttered
Mark was rejected by Paul
Hosea’s wife was a prostitute
Amos’ only training was in the school of fig tree pruning
Solomon was too rich
Abraham was too old
David was to young
Timothy had ulcers
Peter was afraid of death
John was self-righteous
Naomi was a widow
Paul was a murderer
So was Moses
Jonah ran from God
Miriam was a gossip
Gideon and Thomas both doubted
Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal
Elijah was burned out
John the Baptist was a loudmouth
Martha was a worry-wart
Samson had long hair
Noah got drunk

Things go from bad to worse in the cell. We are already on ‘double secret probation,’ and are without phone and TV. We lost these things because Ruthie was on Sirkka’s bunk getting her hair curled for her mother’s funeral the next day. We lost these privileges for longer than we did that time when the whole cell got busted smoking cigarettes.

Sirkka becomes progressively more infantile, manipulative, sexual and annoying, until finally she and Joyce get into hurling verbal insults at each other. Sirkka writes a note to the guards asking to be moved out to a suicide cell. They move her. We do not know if she will return or not; she is running out of options and will soon have on her list of past addresses, every female cell in the jail.

I am relieved for the temporary quiet. While I do not want to attack her personally, because I like her and think she has a good heart, some of the things she did enraged me. Her food binges, for example. She would start grabbing at, asking for, and hoarding food until she had a sick amount of food in front of her. Meat patties; four, five or six slices of bread; two, three or four helpings of mashed potatoes; mounds of cake and pudding. I had not thought of my own struggle with bulimia in years, but having someone binge-eat in front of me several times a day, bothers me.

She also ate and drank everyone else’s commissary, and weaseled people out of phone time, stamps, envelopes, paper, and anything else she could get. If you were away from your bunk, she took your blankets, or worse, demanded that you take your blankets and cover her up”like a baby,” and rub her back until she falls asleep “like a baby.”

Sirkks’a latest love interest on the outside is a crack-smoking married guy with four or five kids, whom she had been sleeping with for drugs. Inside she he walks around the cell half naked, screaming, yelling, giggling, and showing tits, ass and crotch to the Class D men working the hallway.

We suspect that she came to our cell during a manic phase of a bipolar cycle. She was unmedicated. We dealt with her situation the best we could, and tried to remain kind while she was here, but we couldn’t handle her and welcomed the quiet after she left.

All psychiatric medication is prescribed by a social worker, if it is prescribed at all. Perhaps an MD or ARNP is signing off on the prescriptions, but these people never lay eyes on the inmates, nor do they perform a single assessment. Given this deficiency in medical care, I have little hope that Sirkka will ever receive proper medical intervention during her stay in this jail.

I adjust the towel on my head and make my selection from the church handout before me:

Noah got drunk.


What are our nation’s five biggest problems?

December 22, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Good evening:

I believe our nation’s five biggest problems are:

1. Racism;
2. Addictions (power, money, stuff and control)
3. Wars for profit;
4. Exploitation of other people, natural resources and the environment
5. Refusal to accept responsibility for what we do and to whom we do it.

What do you think?


Peace on Earth, and Good Will to Men (short films)

December 21, 2013

Peace on Earth is a “one-reel 1939 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon short directed by Hugh Harman, about a post-apocalyptic world populated only by animals.” It is an anti-WWI protest film, that was nominated for an Oscar, and may have been considered for a Nobel Peace prize nomination.

Mel Blanc does the voice of the grandfather squirrel. On Christmas he greets his grand-squirrels with a cheery “Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men!,” and the curious children ask him, “What are men?” The grandfather explains:

Grandpa Squirrel: Good will to men, yes, good will to men.

Baby Squirrel 1: What are men, Grandpa?

Baby Squirrel 2: Yeah, Grandpa, what are men?

Grandpa Squirrel: Huh? What’s that?… Well there ain’t no men in the world no more, sonnys… nope, no more men. But as I remember the critters, well they was like monsters. They wore these big metal pots on their heads. They walked on their hind legs, and they carried terrible-looking shootin’ irons with knives in the end of them. Their eyes gleamed, and they had these tremendous big snoots, like this, that curled down and fastened down to their stomachs.

Baby Squirrel 1: Gee! I’m glad there ain’t no more men around.

Baby Squirrel 2: Me too.

Grandpa Squirrel: It was awful. It was terrible. Why, they fought and they fought and they fought, until… until there was only two of them left.
[each soldier shoots the other and goes down]

Grandpa Squirrel: And that was the end of the last man on Earth.

Peace on Earth was remade into Good Will to Men in 1955. Good Will to Men features a group of young mice attending a service led by an old and wise mouse, in the ruins of a church. This time, when the children ask about ‘men,’ the old mouse bluntly replies, “Well, they didn’t practice what they preached.” He explains that men killed each other off by using ever and ever more sophisticated war technology.

Related:

Historian Adam Hochschild: Lessons for the Antiwar Movement from the Pacifists of World War I

posted by Crane-Station


Mr. Christmas – a short documentary

December 19, 2013

A Small Price to Pay for The Molecule

December 19, 2013

by Crane-Station

Cartoon Zyprexa bottle with a baby whistleblower

How Big Pharm profited by mismarketing a drug.

In January of 2009, Eli Lilly settled a case with the Department of Justice (DOJ) for 1.415 billion dollars, for improper off-label promotion of Zyprexa, a drug approved for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This is the fourth largest pharmaceutical company settlement with the DOJ in US history. The criminal charge notes, in part:

In September 1999, Eli Lilly began encouraging doctors to prescribe the drug for the treatment of dementia, Alzheimer’s, agitation, aggression, hostility, depression, and generalized sleep disorder. Zyprexa was not approved for use for any of these disorders, which, unlike schizophrenia, are prevalent in the elderly population. Nevertheless, Eli Lilly’s long-term care sales force promoted the use of Zyprexa in elderly populations for these symptoms.

While Eli Lilly had little choice but to pay up for its fraudulent marketing practices, lest it lose its Medicare/Medicaid business, Forbes reports just last month that nursing home patients are still receiving “dangerous antipsychotic drugs.” The manufacturer’s package insert for Zyprexa contains a black box warning that states, “Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.”

Lilly was aware from the beginning that its schizophrenia ‘molecule’ was not going to generate the revenue of Prozac, which would soon come off-patent. Rather than marketing Zyprexa honestly, it played to the drug’s side effect of chemical restraint. When chemical restraint meets the free market, the result is an Eighth Amendment violation that, although rationalized or otherwise couched in other terms is no different than chaining a person.

At the same time the company improperly encouraged off-label uses, it willfully downplayed voiced physician concern and study findings indicating side effects of weight gain and diabetes in patients receiving olanzapine (Zyprexa) therapy for approved use. As a whistleblower summed, “If you torture the data long enough, it’ll tell you anything you want to hear.” This practice is, to use Eli Lilly’s own internal email communication-come-court-document, “a small price to pay for the molecule.”

Ben Wallace-Wells, writing for Rolling Stone, penned an exceptional investigative journalistic article on the history and development of Zyprexa, in a piece titled Bitter Pill. He writes:

On January 15th, Lilly agreed to pay an additional $1.4 billion to settle federal charges of illegal marketing — a record settlement in a corporate whistle-blower case.

But the penalties pale in comparison to the money that Zyprexa makes for the company. In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, the drug generated $4.78 billion in sales, accounting for 25 percent of Lilly’s total revenues. As Rosenheck reviewed the marketing history of the atypicals, he concluded that misleading data told only part of the story. ‘How did this happen?’ he wondered. ‘How did this product that’s not very advantageous wind up being marketed as a great advance?’ Part of the underlying cause, he concluded, lay in the privatization that began with the Reagan revolution. ‘Ultimately, the conservative turn — with its faith in deregulation and the virtual infallibility of markets — are at the root of what allowed this to happen,’ he says.

The 1.4 billion figure was the largest settlement at that time. Now, it is in fourth position. To be clear, no Big Pharma executives, who slither around making decisions that harm and even kill people are ever being prosecuted. These fines are occasional, set aside, and a cost of doing business and nothing more. There are no criminal consequences when laws don’t apply to certain people who are corrupt racketeering diabolical ‘just making business decisions.’ Anything goes for the One Percent.

Read the rest of this entry »


Kitchen Job In Ricky’s World

December 13, 2013

by Crane-Station for Frog Gravy
sunset

Sunset, jail art: magazine ink, colored pencil, ink. cranestation on flickr.

Author’s note: Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky jails and in prison in 2008 and 2009.

The name Ricky is real. Others have been changed.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

Ricky’s World, Fulton County Detention Center, Hickman, KY, August, 2008.

Tonight I dress strategically for my job in the kitchen. I have arthritis. This privately owned jail charges one dollar per tablet for canteen Advil. So I put on a sports bra. A sports bra will accommodate packets of sweetener that I plan to smuggle from the kitchen. This will right a tiny wrong, at least in my mind.

So, I have the right clothes on.

Penny, Jesse, Linda and I head to the kitchen for work. We are the jail’s designated prep crew, evening shift. We cut vegetables, fill butter and jelly cups and make KoolAid.

Turns out I am really, really good with knives. I cut vegetables like a manic Cuisinart. This makes Penny crazy. She absolutely hates, and I mean she cannot stand that I am really, really good at cutting. And I’m fast. And so, Penny spends a good deal of the evening trying to slow me down.

It goes like this:

We get to the kitchen and I check out two knives, both pieces of shit but, between the two I usually get the job done. I grab a cutting board and say to the others, “I use two knives. You guys need to check out your own knives.”

Two more knives are checked out. (Not enough for my vegetable-cutting World Cup, I might add.)

“I’m cutting,” I say.

Linda peels off from the pack to make fifty gallons of KoolAid.

Penny with the first shot across the bow: “I’m going to have you rinse all the cucumbers, and I’ll get started cutting.” Like she runs the place.

She wants a head start.

But that does nothing to my work product, so then she predictably wants one of my knives. I have prepared for this. I give up my piece of crap yellow-handle filet knife, and keep the Farberware semi-serated, plastic handle, butcher-knife sized, made-in-China yard sale knife. Penny wants this also, but I refuse to give it up.

Then Jesse wants my knife, to cut butter, of all things, a job I could have completed from start to finish with time to spare, in less than ten minutes. I refuse. She wants my cutting board. I give it to her. Penny gives Jesse the knife that I just gave Penny, the filet knife with the yellow handle. Penny gives me a piece of crap slab of wood cutting board that inmates have used for so long that there is a trench the middle, so the board looks like a boat.

I turn the board over.

My productivity is yet unhindered even though my handicap includes an instrument that somehow passes for a knife, although I doubt it would kill anyone (I’ve pondered it); to cut butter you have to run the knife under hot water first.

Penny goes nuts. She says, “You can’t use the back of the board!”

“Why not?”

“It’s…It’s…got…mold.”

There is no mold on this board. I say, “Where?”

“Right there!” She points to wood.

“On the back side?”

“Yeah, you can’t do that!”

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Penny by now, without knife and board, is not cutting. Actually she is eating. And annoying me.

I turn the board back over.

Penny is a nut farmer, of course, but I say nothing because it’s not worth it. This is not, as they say, the mountain I want to die on. Besides, my productivity remains unhindered.

After cutting something like a billion cucumbers and a whole bunch of okra, I have a good case of arthritis in my shoulder and wrist. My hand will be swollen.

The guard comes in and takes her share of vegetables for home and remarks that she should bring her entire garden in for us (me) to process. The guard is sincere, and this is meant to be a compliment, and that is how I take it.

We are supposed to make sixty-three cents a day for labor, full time (about twenty dollars per month). I have worked like an animal since May, and saw my precious twenty dollar check for the first time, in August.

I return to the cell, to the hate. I make a note to get new earplugs because the old ones have worn out.

There is much excitement in one corner of the cell, screams, yelps. A mob of inmates have found a spider and they are torturing it. Tearing off its legs, spraying it with bleach, beating it. There was a time in my life when I questioned the presence or absence of evil, but I no longer do.

I say a prayer for the spider.

Author’s end note: I saw a lot of these sorts of incidents. They broke my heart.


Please help with a donation, no matter how small

December 12, 2013

by Crane-Station

Due to three unexpected major repairs to our motorcycle these past two weeks and a health emergency, our financial situation is dire and we desperately need help, no matter how small. We anticipate, eviction by January. We have nowhere to go. Our main concern is Nikko; we fear we may lose him.

In the meantime, we will try to keep writing articles.

I don’t often say much, but we are really in an unfortunate situation…and I and still do have high hopes for this site’s continued success.

We only need five hundred dollars.

Even if each person were to contribute one, two or five dollars, we would be grateful, and this would help us more than you know.

Thank you so much.


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