By Eileen Fleming
Professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center, Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy wrote for The Wall Street Journal regarding America’s growing epidemic of Psychiatric drug prescriptions for infants and toddlers:
“The causes are debatable but our culture of ‘a pill for every temper tantrum’ is one culprit….We also need to invest more in building resilience.”
Last year in America more than 600,000 toddlers through adolescents were prescribed antidepressants [Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft] according to IMS America, a New York City-based research group that monitors the pharmaceutical industry.
A 2013 study identified over 274,000 infants (0-1 year olds) and 370,000 toddlers (1-3 years age) in the U.S. on antianxiety (e.g. Xanax) and antidepressant (e.g. Prozac) drugs.
“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”– Frederick Douglass
In the United States, corporate tax rates can be as high as 35 percent while other countries such as Ireland have a rate of about 12.5 percent.
Thus USA corporations “move drug patents to a foreign entity at a fraction of what the patent will actually be worth once the drug is approved for marketing in the States. The company then records those profits with the foreign entity and pays the foreign tax rates, so long as the funds are not repatriated. And these companies know how to keep their funds from being repatriated.”
“This is partly the result of successful lobbying on behalf of Big Pharma and Big Business in congress to shift the tax burden onto the working class. Fifty years ago, for every $1 in tax revenue paid by corporations, the working class paid $2. Today, the ratio is $1 for businesses equals $4.50 paid by individuals.”
John Oliver addresses Big Pharma’s Marketing to Doctors
On Sunday in California at the Ventura Improv Company, over a hundred friends of my baby brother celebrated his 53 years of life.
James Alexander Kasmir moved from Florida to California thirty years ago and was known as a “good guy, an accomplished musician AND magician, a fine teacher, improviser and friend. The kids and teens who learned theatre from Jim will never forget his style and his generous spirit.”
Not until after my brother died by self-inflicted strangulation on Feb. 11, did I learn he had been diagnosed with debilitating OCD/Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, recurrent clinical depressions and had multiple addictions.
My brother was also a gifted writer and he wrote his ‘suicide notes’ in a Straight Up computer in the form of poems, short stories, plays and autobiographical pieces with titles such as “My Struggle with OCD and other things”.
Because Jim had worked “with Straight Up since its start in 2005 and had “guided countless young people, showing them the joys of improvisation, theatre, video production and so much more” the following excerpt from my soon to be published 6th book and 2nd FREE Download at Smashwords titled “Fatal OCD and Family Matters” is dedicated to the children of Ventura.
May this also serve as permission to the Ventura Improv Company to hold the first performance of:
PUNKIN PATCH by James A. Kasmir
Nobody knows where they came from for sure.
Some say a comet brought them crashing to earth.
Some swear they came from the inner heart of the primordial swamp which surrounded the town, disturbed by increasing over-development.
They came, that’s all that really matters.
Small, hairy, spidery little critters, mouse-like you might say, but with teeth like a tiny shark’s: two serrated rows with replacement teeth lying in wait behind the front rows of razor-sharp pointy teeth.
Teeth, attitude and an insatiable appetite for – well – fruit. At first.
First they assailed Joseph Hardy’s citrus crop. Laid it to waste in a matter of days.
Joseph hadn’t noticed until a week or so later when he began to harvest his trees for shipment of the seedless ripe oranges he was well-known for growing in the small town.
You see, the critters didn’t just devour the whole orange. One of them would bore a tiny hole through the outer peel and enter inside to eat the fruit from the inside. And once the fruit was eaten, the critter would exit through the tiny hole it had previously made, leaving the fruit hanging on the tree as if nothing at all had happened.
After devouring the citrus farm, they moved on, crawling swiftly across the ground in a mass like a giant black moving carpet.
Until they came across another farm –
–Odem Jacob’s Punkin Patch.
Odem was equally well known as Joseph Hardy for growing large, luscious fruit, but not oranges.
Odem, of course, grew pumpkins.
Or, as he preferred to call them – punkins.
The critters continued their preferred method of operation: entering the pumpkins through a small hole and then eating all the goo and even the plump white seeds within.
It took them a little longer to eat the pumpkins than it did the oranges. They enjoyed this new delicacy.
Little did the critters know that a special day was soon approaching.
Odem Jacobs was a huge bear of a man in overalls with a proverbial wad of chewing tobacco in the side of his mouth. He was continually spitting and swearing, but he took great pride in his punkin patch. It also made him a fortune every year at this time.
Tomorrow is the big day, thought Odem, as he walked amongst his crop, the punkins glowing bright orange beneath the large pale moon.
“My beautiful babies,” he said to the punkins.
He spit a wad of tobacco juice on the ground around his big brown boots.
Something within the vines around his feet scuttled.
What the –? Mice? he wondered. Mice were not good for business.
Aiming for the spot where he heard the tiny scuttling emanating, he brought one of his boots down hard, crushing the little critter beneath the heel.
“That’ll teach ya’.”
Examining the critter closely in his hands, a shiver percolated up and down his spine. He’d never seen a critter like this before. And those teeth! Egad!
There was more scuttling nearby. To his left.
Then more to his right.
Soon there were scuttlings all around him as a small army advanced in defense of their murdered comrade.
Stepping back, Odem’s boot snagged on a vine. He fell backwards, his huge body landing atop a half dozen of his prized orange beauties.
As he struggled to get back on his feet, he noticed something very peculiar about the punkins he had shattered in his fall. They lay across the ground in pieces, but that’s all there was: no stringy goo, no seeds.
Then he noticed the dark shapes beginning to cover his overalls. It moved up his legs and across his torso. Finally they reached his neck as he thrashed and tried to bat the nasty little critters away with his hands.
He began choking on his own spit, but he didn’t cough for long.
The first critter to reach the back of his head began to bore through his skull with its tiny razor-sharp teeth.
Once the hole was made, the critters began to enter his head, delighted.
They had discovered yet another wonderful new delicacy.
Their species would not only thrive, it seemed, it would blossom.
The next day around noon there were a dozen or so cars and pick-ups parked in the dirt at the entrance gate to Odem’s farm.
The people – mostly parents with little children jumping up and down excitedly in anticipation – were waiting for Odem to emerge from the small shack where he lived next to the parking lot.
“Well, where is he?” asked one man with a small boy tugging excitedly at his hand. “It’s twenty minutes past opening time.”
“Let’s just go on in,” said another tired parent. “Odem won’t mind. He’ll show up soon, I’m sure. It’s a big day for the old coot!”
The grown-ups chuckled as somebody undid the latch on the gate and the party of parents and children stepped through and into the farm proper.
The parents, letting go of their children, watched with smiles as their sons and daughters raced as fast as they could go up and down the long rows of glorious fat-bodied pumpkins.
The sun blazed hot and high overhead, as bright as the scream that eventually was heard coming from a little girl with pigtails who had inadvertently stumbled across the body of the fat old farmer, lying on his back in the middle of the patch, his eyes wide and staring upward and now as dry and brittle as the vines that began to scuttle and twist with the movements of small unseen creatures around him.
“I found one! I found the perfect one!” shouted a boy, unaware of the dark shapes that had begun to move up his faded jeans and up the legs of all the children in the pumpkin patch.
The critters were quick to adapt to new food sources and this new world they had stumbled upon was ripe with bounty.
First they had sated themselves on the fruits that had grown on trees or lain on the ground.
But now they had discovered a new source to abate their tremendous appetites.
A new kind of fruit that grew atop soft thick trunks with limbs that moved ineffectually to remove them.
“Happy Halloween!” shouted another child.
The critters advanced upon their newfound prey.
Odem Jacobs was standing in the middle of his pumpkin patch when he heard a rustling in the dry vines around his left boot. This wasn’t at all unusual seeing as how the farm had its fair share of rats, mice and other assorted rodents, none of whom were welcome, especially since tomorrow was the day he officially opened his farm to the public to pick out their special Halloween pumpkins.
Fat payday, Odem called it. Of all the crops he raised and sold throughout the year, nothing procured a greater monetary return for his toil than the bloated and creased orange bulbs which currently littered every available inch of the farm. As the sun slid down under the horizon the pumpkins seemed to glow with a special sultry light: the glow of financial promise.
With an action that would suit a giant, Odem raised his left leg and brought his heavy Red Wing boot down on the spot of vines where the rustling had ceased. In his beer-soaked mind, Odem pictured a furry little mouse hidden there, playing possum, trying to trick the three-hundred pound farmer wearing stained overalls with a green bottle in his hand glinting off the setting sun.
“To hell with ya’!” he spat, grinding his heel into the ground. There was something under it – he could feel through his thick boot — something more than vines and dirt; he’d trapped something. Something alive. He put his considerable weight into the grinding and there came the unmistakable sound of crunching and snapping bones like he’d stepped heavily onto a small pile of kindling. He kept grinding that boot until he was sure that the mouse or whatever was under there was most certainly dead and about as flat as a run-over turd.
He checked under his boot. Sure enough, lying there under the crinkly brown vines he spotted a small furry body squished flat as roadkill as if a Hemi truck had rolled over it at slow speed. Crouching with a heavy grunt, he lifted the small carcass up with his hand and brought it close to his face, angling it toward the moon to catch the light.
“Hmmmm. What the—?“
He expected to find a large mouse, but as it came closer to his face he realized he was holding something that was mouse-like in that it had dark matted fur and a thin rodent’s tail and crawled about on four legs, but there the similarities ceased. The closer he inspected the thing the more he succumbed to a sudden feeling of nausea and a strange tingling feeling throughout his body as if his blood was suddenly running cold as ice. When he pried the thing’s mouth open his breath sucked quickly in, then stopped: a gasp of terror from a man built like a human tank.
Not much caused Odem to feel fear, but what he held in his hand was unlike anything he had ever seen before. The body was furry but the fur was hard, coarse, wiry, not soft to the touch. It felt like a thing you wanted to toss away as fast as you could. And it looked like something from a nightmare.
A mashed-up face, like the face of a vampire bat, with two large holes for nostrils in the center of it and a mouth open and filled with what looked like hundreds of short serrated teeth sharpened to tiny knife points. There were multiple rows of them which moved in a conveyor-like fashion so that if a tooth got broken in a struggle, then miraculously a brand new shiny tooth was swiftly moved in to take its place, just like he’d seen on the Discovery channel on a show about great white shark’s.
A small pointed tongue, red as blood, dangled out of the side of the thing’s maw.
Odem – although repulsed – couldn’t take his eyes off the thing. Having been born and raised on a farm, he was used to the sight and the handling of critters of all types and he had never felt such revulsion at the sight of anything living on the farm and he had seen his share of snakes, spiders, maggots, you name it.
But this – never had he seen anything like this.
Even while terrified and sickened, he wondered if he should hang on to the ghastly thing. Perhaps it was worth something? Maybe it was an example of a species thought to be extinct? Like that prehistoric fish some fishermen found back in the thirties or something. A seelacanth or something. That thing was in a museum now and probably worth a fortune.
Better to keep it for now. Then he could show it to someone in town. Maybe Dr. Cooper, the town veterinarian, could determine what it was. One thing was for sure: Odem was glad he got the thing off his farm before the big day tomorrow. The townsfolk were used to arriving at Odem’s farm early in the morning on opening day. They took their pumpkins seriously in this town. The kids loved to run up and down the long rows of them searching for just the right one to beg their parents to buy. Then they would take them home and set them on the dining table on top of some newspaper and commence to cutting them open.
That was the best part, of course. Cutting the stem out and then digging your bare hands into all the cold orange goo and stringy bits and then hauling out a handful of that stuff to pick the seeds out for baking and salting. Even Odem loved that.
In fact, after wrapping the dead carcass of the mystery mammal inside the red bandana he kept in his pocket for nose-blowing, he shoved the package into the hip pocket of his overalls and set out to find a pumpkin for himself. All that beer made him hungry for some freshly-baked pumpkins seeds.
He didn’t need a large pumpkin. The large ones sold for good bucks and he didn’t want to take away too much from his profits. After walking up and down a few rows, admiring what an especially plump and vibrantly-colored crop he’d produced this year, he finally selected a medium-sized beauty to be his very own.
He could feel the lump in his pocket as he walked, the body of the thing wrapped in his bandana. It gave him, for lack of a better word – the ‘heebie-jeebies’. So he quickened his actions and pace. He picked up the pumpkin and double-timed it back toward the small cabin where he lived and had lived ever since he was a child.
A thought occurred to him as he bounded up the creaking wooden steps of the back porch, trying to step over all the empty beer bottles littering the floor. He remembered all the fuss in town recently, how so many townsfolk were angry because some rich developer bought some land nearby and had just started construction. He was going to build a strip mall and a hotel, hoping to attract travelers on the nearby interstate to stop in Hiattsville for a night or two and spend money at the mall and have dinner in some fancy new restaurants.
It wasn’t a bad idea, thought Odem, because he could set up a produce stand at the mall and make some extra income, but many of the townfolk were outraged. They were against any kind of development. They wanted the town to stay just like it was. There was a battle in the local court and some protestors outside City Hall for weeks, but none of it stopped the developer from bringing in a construction crew to level a good portion of the swamp that surrounded their town.
Odem recalled the headlines in the local paper. There were a few stories about all the displaced wildlife. All of a sudden people not only had snakes and rodents, possums and raccoons on their lawns or in their garages, but deer, wild pigs and other larger game were running down the main street and getting hit by cars.
It was crazy. People didn’t realize how much construction like that took away the homes of so many creatures. It posed a threat to these animals and made them desperate and dangerous.
What if – thought Odem — what if the critter in his pocket was some unknown species? Some species that had lived undetected in the swamp around Hiattsville for a long time. And then suddenly one morning there’s the roar of bulldozers and the sounds of strange voices all around and these big machines start tearing up the places where you have lived so peacefully for so long?
What if – thought Odem – what if this critter is not alone? What if it had traveled with many others just like him? In a horde? After all, the construction site was pretty close to the farm, only a mile or so away. Odem’s farm was away from the noisy and threatening interstate as well, away from all the houses where the townsfolk lived. The farm was relatively quiet, especially since the pumpkin crop was out there. Odem hadn’t done any ploughing or anything industrious for weeks. He’d just been sitting on his porch, drinking beer from green bottles and watching his pumpkins grow.
Shit, he said to himself as he set the pumpkin he’d selected onto the small wooden dining table.
There was something wrong with this pumpkin. It was marred.
On one side of the pumpkin, toward the bottom opposite the stem, there was a hole. A big goddamned hole.
“Crap on a cracker,” said Odem. “It’s ruined. What the fu–?”
Then he thought of something else. The hole in the pumpkin. It was just big enough for something like the critter in his pocket to crawl through…
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