WBEZ | addiction http://www.wbez.org/tags/addiction Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Remembering 'Annoying Music Show' and 'Magnificent Obsession' host Jim Nayder http://www.wbez.org/sections/health/remembering-annoying-music-show-and-magnificent-obsession-host-jim-nayder-110595 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Nayder.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Last summer Chicago Public Radio listeners were shocked by the death of WBEZ radio personality Jim Nayder. As host of both The Annoying Music Show and the addiction-focused Magnificent Obsession, Nayder was a complex character.</p><p>To millions, he was was the master curator of annoying musical oddities that ventured so far into the land of bad, that they were almost good--almost.</p><p>They included Lorne Green singing &ldquo;As Time Goes By,&rdquo; Tiny Tim and Bob Dylan singing &ldquo;I Got You Babe&rdquo; and Sammy Davis Jr. singing the theme to Hawaii 5-0. Who knew it had words?</p><p>Nayder&rsquo;s 3-minute show appeared on more than 100 public radio stations across the country; and his regular appearances on NPR&rsquo;s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon expanded the wacky Annoying Music brand all over the country. The show would eventually spawn CDs, live concerts and more.</p><p>But to many early-morning listeners, Nayder was the voice of another very different show, one that focused on wrenching journeys from addiction to recovery.</p><p>Using nothing but hand-picked music and first-person narrative, Magnificent Obsession presented &nbsp;tales of desperation and hopelessness that were bearable only because you knew, that by the end the show, the speaker might make it to the other side.</p><p>In Chicago, most episodes aired in the predawn hours of the weekend. But longtime Nayder friend and former radio producer Craig Alton says the timing was by design.</p><p>&ldquo;To us in the radio business that might seem like dog time,&rdquo; Alton said. &ldquo;But God&rsquo;s honest truth was that&rsquo;s exactly when you want to hit that drinking audience people who are loaded sitting up all night, they listen to this, and right when they&rsquo;re most drunk you hit them with this guy&rsquo;s story.&rdquo;</p><p>Typical stories would feature confessions like &ldquo;And it suddenly dawned on me that I was sitting there shooting dope;&rdquo; or, &ldquo;I envied people that looked normal to me...and I wanted to feel that sense of peace. I wanted the turbulence to stop but I didn&rsquo;t want to give up drinking.&rdquo;</p><p>Nayder often scored these long first-person narratives with love songs whose themes of despair applied equally to heartbreak and addiction.</p><p>Even in the last few months of his life, Nayder was still delivering weekly shows to WBEZ. But what most people--including close friends--didn&rsquo;t know, was that Nayder was dying of the very disease his show was meant to help heal.</p><p>His daughter Blair Botti tried to explain.</p><p>&ldquo;Many people didn&rsquo;t know,&rdquo; Botti said. &ldquo;And I think his way of being public with it was through Magnificent Obsession. &nbsp;What we always said was that he would have loved to be a guest on his own show if he ever were able to recover; because that would have been the ultimate success.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite enrolling in multiple addiction programs, Nayder never did achieve recovery. And he&rsquo;d never get tell his story of finally making it to the other side.</p><p>But today his wife of three decades, Laurie Nayder, and Botti are working to digitally release the stories Nayder gathered from so many others. It&rsquo;s an effort, they say, to help all those struggling with the same demons that eventually took the man they loved.</p><p>And today we tell his story.</p><p>Jim Nayder was born in 1954 on the South Side of Chicago to a large Catholic family. The tall lanky teen played high school hockey for Quigley South. And he spent his summers on his grandfather&rsquo;s Wisconsin farm where he developed a love of ham radio and wild animals.</p><p>In 1974 Jim enrolled in the seminary at Chicago&rsquo;s Loyola University. But soon after arriving, things changed. The priest-in-training fell in love when he went to a party and met a self-identified, &ldquo;nice Jewish girl&rdquo; named Laurie Brown.</p><p>&ldquo;l had some friends that were in the seminary that took classes at Loyola,&rdquo; Laurie [Brown] Nayder remembered. &ldquo;They had really good parties and that&rsquo;s why I hung out with them. Jim came in his junior year to the seminary and he was next door to a really good friend of mine,--Father Wayne, now, but Wayne at the time--and that&rsquo;s how I met him&hellip;&rdquo; she recalled. &ldquo;He had a jukebox that played 78s in his room and I thought that was very cool. But I thought he was just a riot, extremely quirky and really funny.&rdquo;</p><p>Jim and Laurie married in 1977 and by 1980 they gave birth to a future Chicago Public School teacher named Blair. For her, Jim&rsquo;s sense of humor meant things like surprise chocolate sundaes that would magically appear from under her bed during storytime.</p><p>&ldquo;Which, I&rsquo;m sure my mom was pleased about, because it was right before bed,&rdquo; she remembered. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s just how he was. He would make up all these crazy bedtime stories with elaborate ways my bunny blanket would save the day and he was just a really funny, great, kind dad.&rdquo;</p><p>That sense of wacky spontaneity would also end up birthing the now legendary Annoying Music Show one Saturday morning in 1996. Laurie Nayder, WBEZ engineer Mike Gilmore and Craig Alton shared their collective memories on how it all started.</p><p>&ldquo;He used to do the breaks for WBEZ on the weekends...&rdquo; Laurie started</p><p>&ldquo;As I remember it, there was a band that was delayed. The producer asked me if I needed more time. I asked her to tell Jim Nayder, who was in another room, if he could kill 3 minutes,&rdquo; Gilmore added. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We had nothing to put on, so he grabs a record and the only thing next to him was Slim Whitman. He puts it on,&rdquo; Alton added. &nbsp;</p><p>Laurie remembered Slim Whitman singing &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a Small World,&rdquo; too. &ldquo;And oh my goodness! Anyway, he put it on and said &lsquo;that was the Annoying Music Show,&rdquo; Laurie recalled.</p><p>&ldquo;The people answering the phone said the people calling want to know what&rsquo;s on The Annoying Music Show next week and that&rsquo;s when Jim told us that he&rsquo;d played Slim Whitman&rsquo;s &lsquo;It&rsquo;s a Small World,&rsquo;&rdquo; Gilmore added.</p><p>Alton said it was the largest response the radio station received for anything. &ldquo;And we all agreed that whatever it was it was big and it really got people&rsquo;s response going,&rdquo; Alton remarked.</p><p>Laurie said she thought it lit a fire under him--and the rest, was history. &nbsp;</p><p>The show was quickly, picked up all over the country and drove sales on at least four Annoying Music CDs, including a Christmas CD,The Annoying Music Show Presents Songs for People and You Can&rsquo;t Handle This Annoying Music Show. But, as Nayder explained to Simon, the featured music couldn&rsquo;t just be bad music...it had to be seriously wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;He took a particular delight in finding music that people really recorded earnestly,&rdquo; Simon said. &ldquo;I mean they really wanted to put themselves across; and on the other hand there was something elemental about it that just misfired and didn&rsquo;t serve the best purposes. And that&rsquo;s where the humor was.&rdquo;</p><p>While much of the music came from scouring garage sales and wary friends&rsquo; record collections, eventually Laurie says the public started to help.</p><p>&ldquo;People would say &lsquo;Oh, I have something&rsquo; and they&rsquo;d send him things,&rdquo; she recalled. &ldquo;I know he was always upset that he gave Scott Simon his Leonard Nimoy album and I don&rsquo;t think he ever got it back. So he had to find a new one to play.&rdquo;</p><p>For nearly two decades--even as he took on other jobs--Nayder would spend his week&rsquo;s producing two different shows--collecting stacks of quirky songs for one and stacks of heartbreaking recovery tales for another. &nbsp;</p><p>And while Jim accepted, and even enjoyed the wild popularity of The Annoying Music Show, he told This American Life in 1998, his heart belonged to Magnificent Obsession. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The experience of Magnificent Obsession in a week, to me, is much more moving on a bunch of levels,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Someone will make contact with me to be on the show. And, in the course of a couple of hours, they told me their deepest, darkest, funniest, most-uplifting experience. And I&#39;ve never met this person before.&rdquo;</p><p>As Laurie and Blair listen to the old episodes of Magnificent Obsession in preparation for launching them as a podcast later this year, they says it&rsquo;s some of Jim&rsquo;s musical choices that touch them most. He used a lot of Leonard Cohen and Lucy Kaplansky but also Aerosmith and Madonna.</p><p>&ldquo;I think the first song he used on the show was Pink Floyd&rsquo;s &lsquo;Comfortably Numb,&rsquo;&rdquo; Blair recalled.</p><p>&ldquo;Also, he would take a lot of songs that you would think were love songs and if you in the right place in your head you realize the love was the love of your addiction,&rdquo; Laurie said. &ldquo;And the song was even more powerful than a love song.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg, whose has engaged in a very public struggle with alcoholism himself, was featured as one of the few fully-named guests on Magnificent Obsession. Most remained anonymous or only offered their first names.</p><p>That taping session Steinberg did with Jim was his first and last encounter with the radio host. Still, he says the news of Jim&rsquo;s death last year shook him.</p><p>&ldquo;It gave me a chill,&rdquo; Steinberg said, &ldquo;because I&rsquo;m writing another recovery book and I am very attuned to the idea that here Jim was trying to help by sharing these stories while the thing was coming back. And that&rsquo;s the insidious part of addiction. I call it the beast in the basement. Some days it&rsquo;s very quiet and some days you can just hear that door crack as it&rsquo;s throwing itself against it.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Although Steinberg never heard a predawn airing of the episode others clearly had. He said he heard from friends and readers every time it aired.</p><p>&ldquo;Someone must be listening at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday, or whenever it played, because I would hear from people that it would move them every time,&rdquo; Steinberg said.</p><p>Although he was very private about it, Nayder also heard from many listeners who had been helped and moved by the program, according to his friend Craig Alton.</p><p>&quot;There were many cases where people would call him a year later and say you know if it wasn&rsquo;t for that show I wouldn&rsquo;t have cleaned myself up,&rdquo; Alton said.</p><p>In retrospect, friends also wonder how much Jim used the shows as a way to preserve his own sobriety--almost forcing himself to attend weekly meetings as part of his job. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve thought about that a lot in the year that&rsquo;s gone by,&rdquo; Simon said .&rdquo;I do think that he thought he might be able to find something that would help him by doing the show. And, by the way, all of us can. You don&rsquo;t have to be fighting a particular substance abuse problem to find something in that show that&rsquo;s filled with wisdom and insight and helps you live a better life.</p><p>&quot;But I think he also thought it was a way of giving something to others whose struggle he understood in a personal and important way--giving something to them even if he couldn&rsquo;t always accept those lessons himself. And I think he wound up accomplishing something very important with that.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Simon, like most friends, learned of Jim&rsquo;s alcoholism very late. And even his closest friend, Alton, said he discovered Jim&rsquo;s problem only after a decade of friendship.</p><p>It was Christmas Day. Jim had been taking medication designed to stop alcohol use. But he drank anyway and ended up the hospital.</p><p>&ldquo;He wasn&rsquo;t an ugly drunk,&rdquo; Alton said. &ldquo;He was a happy guy but he drank in a different way than I have seen anybody drink. He would go 10 years without taking a drink and then down a small bottle of vodka in a single gulp. His goal was to drink and pass out; drink and pass out.&rdquo;</p><p>This struggle would go on for decades Laurie said.</p><p>&ldquo;But he maintained a life for years and years with the struggle,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He was still Jim. He was still able to function pretty much fully. His show went on. His life went on. And until the very end he was the nicest man in the world. He was a nice man with a horrible, horrible problem.&rdquo;</p><p>In his final months Jim and Laurie divorced and he ceased contact with almost everyone he knew. &nbsp;Laurie, Blair, Simon and Alton shared the accounts.</p><p>&ldquo;I left; and that&rsquo;s hard because I had to leave,&rdquo; Laurie said. &ldquo;And then when he died, well, I wasn&rsquo;t with him--so I feel guilty.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;There were indications I got in that final year that he was on and off the wagon,&rdquo; Simon said. &ldquo;There were times when you&rsquo;d talk to him and he seemed upbeat even chipper and &nbsp;then there would be times when he would text you in the middle of the night and you knew something was wrong.</p><p>&ldquo;He made it to Blair&rsquo;s wedding which was huge,&rdquo; Laurie said. &ldquo;He was fine at the wedding and you got the father-daughter dance, and then I think that was kind of the peak, but that was it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It certainly was beyond him to surrender,&rdquo; Alton said. &ldquo;I think he really was just sucked into it. I came out of the apartment one day and I sat in my car and I just cried because you knew it was the end. You knew, this was the last time I&rsquo;d ever see Jim. I thought I should&rsquo;ve taken a picture with him because maybe this was the last time I&rsquo;d see Jim. And, in fact, it was the last time I&rsquo;d ever see or hear from him again.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;He would text a lot to say &lsquo;I&rsquo;m sorry&rsquo; and &lsquo;I love you&rsquo;&rdquo; Laurie said.</p><p>&ldquo;He got to meet Freddy, his grandson, twice--and that was great,&rdquo; Blair remembered. &ldquo;But he just struggled so much for years and, as you put it, he was like a 95-year-old man in a 59-year-old body.&rdquo;</p><p>But family and friends say that Jim would like to be remembered differently.</p><p>&ldquo;I think he&rsquo;d like to be remembered as a loving husband and father,&rdquo; Blair said. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m sure it would be in a funny way,&rdquo; Alton said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;d probably want people to put records on his gravestone. He&rsquo;d want photos of him and kids coloring all over them and making a coloring book of Jim Nayder&rsquo;s life--good and bad all included. Just something bizarre and eccentric. He would want people to hold hands around his grave and sing &#39;kumbaya.&#39; Just something really off-the-wall. He would love it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I hope he knew we thought of him as a good man,&rdquo; Laurie said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think he maybe thought that sometimes. But I&rsquo;ve always thought of him as a good man.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He gave so much more into this world than those of us who loved him,&rdquo; Simon said. &ldquo;And I think of that that love and humor...He makes me laugh every week, even today, and he&rsquo;s been gone a year. I &nbsp;think that is going to happen for the rest of my life. I think our children are going to grow up laughing at what he did; and that puts a lot of laughter into this world.&rdquo;</p><p>You can still hear Jim on archived shows of <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/weekend-edition-saturday/archive">Weekend Edition </a>and Laurie and Blair hope to have select episodes of Magnificent Obsession available in podcast by the end of the year.</p><p>&ldquo;It may not have been the more popular of the two shows but it was definitely the show he was most proud of, and obviously it hit close to home,&rdquo; Blair says. &ldquo;But I think he would have been really happy that even in his death, if he was able to help people with their life now he could still do that.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of WBEZ&rsquo;s Chewing the Fat podcast. Follow her on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a></em></p></p> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 17:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/health/remembering-annoying-music-show-and-magnificent-obsession-host-jim-nayder-110595 Dad gets sober, learns how to be a father http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/dad-gets-sober-learns-how-be-father-110347 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 9.00.38 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Jerome Biegel grew up in a big Catholic family on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast Side, the middle of nine children. His father worked in an industry supporting the steel mills and, like a lot of kids on the Southeast Side, he thought he&rsquo;d follow in his father&rsquo;s footsteps.</p><p>Earlier this year, Jerome Biegel, 66, joined his daughters Karen Benita Reyes, Kendall Veronica Biegel and granddaughter Una Reyes in the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center. They talked about his childhood on the Southeast Side and how he became a father.</p><p>Jerome says at that time the Southeast Side was full of open space. Despite having eight siblings, he was able to play in the prairies around his house. He went away to high school at a seminary, where he soon learned about the war in Vietnam. After school he entered the military and went overseas.</p><p>When he got back to Chicago at age 24, he worked at the Solo cup factory, where he met a woman. They had a child, Karen. Jerome was drinking heavily at the time.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until years later &ndash; and the birth of another child &ndash; that he was able to quit drinking and learn to become a father.</p><p>&ldquo;How was it different to be a father the first time and the second time around?&rdquo; Jerome&rsquo;s daughter Karen asks him in this week&rsquo;s StoryCorps. &ldquo;Did you perfect it all the second time?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I perfected anything,&rdquo; Jerome says. &ldquo;The big difference was definitely me, and the condition I was in. Being an alcoholic the first ten years of your life I was still drinking and abusing alcohol. I know I was around and I know I was there physically. But I feel like I missed more than I wanted to with you growing up.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I learned in recovery the whole thing about &lsquo;stopping drinking wasn&rsquo;t enough,&rsquo;&rdquo; Jerome says. &ldquo;You had to find something else in your life to replace that feeling that we got from alcohol, from drinking.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Life has a tendency to take things away as well as present us with opportunities. That charge that I used to get from drinking was real and I felt it. And you can&rsquo;t shy away from that and say I never wanna feel that way, or I shouldn&rsquo;t feel that way.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;You gotta find something else in your life. Life has a tendency to take some things away but I think it&rsquo;s important for us to help both ourselves and the people around us to find new ways to not only replace those feelings but to find a bigger high.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Sun, 15 Jun 2014 08:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/dad-gets-sober-learns-how-be-father-110347 On Chicago's West Side, mothers and children fight addiction side by side http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-west-side-mothers-and-children-fight-addiction-side-side-110281 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%201.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Clinical Director Florence Wright holds a child at The Women’s Treatment Center. Wright oversees day-to-day operations of the center’s daycare, crisis nursery and preschool classroom among other things. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />Even after her drug and alcohol addictions had forced her onto the streets with an infant son in tow, Jennifer still managed to get high and drunk. She sometimes smuggled alcohol into homeless shelters by hiding it in her son&rsquo;s sippy cup.</p><p>There were many similar stories during the 18 years she abused drugs and alcohol. Until, in the pre-dawn light one morning in late July 2011, she checked herself into The Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, a West Side drug rehabilitation facility that specializes in assisting pregnant and postpartum women dealing with addiction.</p><p>Jennifer can&rsquo;t pinpoint why she chose that day to try to change her life. She had known about the center because, as she says, she used to &ldquo;rip and run this whole block drinking and getting high.&rdquo;</p><p>Looking back, she doesn&#39;t even think that, as she wandered up to the front door, she knew she wanted to get sober.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know alcohol was the problem,&rdquo; Jennifer said. (WBEZ is using only her first name to protect her privacy.) &ldquo;When I walked&nbsp;into the Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, I didn&rsquo;t know I stepped into hope.&rdquo;</p><p>That morning, Jennifer joined about 2.5 million people who seek help each year for drug- and alcohol-related addictions.</p><p>The Women&rsquo;s Treatment Center, 140 North Ashland Ave., is one of nine places in Illinois that allow mothers undergoing treatment to live with their children.</p><p>The hope is that, with their children present, mothers will not only have a better chance of breaking their addictions but can also develop parenting and lifestyle skills, strengthening their families.&nbsp;</p><p>Experts say there are many benefits to treating women with their children. Allowing the children to live on-site usually prolongs the mother&rsquo;s time in treatment, said Nicola Conners-Burrow, an associate professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Arkansas.</p><p>&ldquo;Longer lengths of stay in treatment are quite predictive of better post-treatment outcomes, including reduced substance use, increases in employment, and decreases in symptoms of mental health problems,&rdquo; Conners-Burrow said.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%207.JPG" style="height: 266px; width: 400px; float: right;" title="The Women’s Treatment Center, as seen from the El platform at Lake Street, looking south on Ashland Ave. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />When the center opened in 1990, most of the women came in addicted to crack and powder cocaine.&nbsp; Now, they are more likely to abuse heroin.&nbsp;</p><p>When a mother comes to the center, the severity of her addiction determines her treatment path.</p><p>Women are placed in different units based upon their needs for parenting sessions, budgeting classes and job placement programs.</p><p>Children up to five years old are allowed to stay with their mother. Here, these children, many of whom would otherwise be bouncing from shelter to shelter or in other temporary situations, can attend daycare or preschool every day.</p><p>&ldquo;If moms can make a difference in those first three years and really be able to really bond and have that relationship, those kids tend to do really well,&rdquo; said Dr. Lisa Parks-Johnson, director of the center&rsquo;s parenting services.</p><p>Even with their children around, mothers sometimes find it difficult to focus. Relapse rates for drug addictions range from 40 percent to 60 percent of patients, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Womens%20Treatment%20Center%20by%20Bill%20Healy%202.JPG" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="A woman pushes a stroller across the street from The Women’s Treatment Center. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />In April, another client, Brandi, was at the center for her second attempt to get clean. A mother of three, she came back to the treatment center because of her abuse of heroin and cocaine, she said. Her two oldest children were born addicted to methadone, morphine, and cocaine.</p><p>Brandi lasted only a month at the center in 2012 before returning to her former life. She was in jail on another drug charge and pregnant when the court sent her back, and she&rsquo;s been at the center for about a year.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of people judge me because I have children,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just not that easy. Now that I&rsquo;ve gotten clean, this child doesn&rsquo;t have to know the old me. I want this more than anything.&rdquo;</p><p>In Conners-Burrow&rsquo;s studies, she has found not disrupting the parent-child relationship helps reduce regression.</p><p>&ldquo;Living apart from one&rsquo;s children has been associated with higher rates of relapse,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We then see, of course, the benefits to the child of participating in programs like this, with a number of evaluations showing developmental gains for the child and improvements in parenting for the mother.&rdquo;</p><p>With their children around them, women don&rsquo;t have to worry about when the children will be fed next and who is taking care of them&mdash;that remains their job, Parks-Johnson said.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that not everyone is going to make it on my time,&rdquo; said Florence Wright, the center&rsquo;s clinical director.&nbsp; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s about their time. It&rsquo;s about planting a seed and maybe this seed is not the one that is going to make a difference, but if we keep planting and digging deep, then ultimately a flower will bloom.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Bill Healy is an independent producer in Chicago. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/chicagoan" target="_blank">@chicagoan</a>.&nbsp;Richard Steele is a WBEZ reporter and host.</em></p><p><em>This story was supported through Northwestern University&rsquo;s Social Justice News Nexus Fellowship. Will Houp and Caroline Cataldo contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 16:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-west-side-mothers-and-children-fight-addiction-side-side-110281 Is Internet Addiction Disorder real? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/internet-addiction-disorder-real-108930 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Flickr%3AEbaynik.jpg" style="height: 404px; width: 610px; " title="(Flickr/Ebayink)" /></p><p>In a society fueled by the rapid-fire connectivity of personal computers, tablets, and smartphones,&nbsp;obsessive Internet behavior has become a cultural norm.&nbsp;However, when does an overreliance on WiFi&mdash;and the rabid need to distract oneself with online gaming, shopping, tweeting, scrolling, &quot;liking,&quot; and microblogging at all hours of the day and night&mdash;morph into an addiction?</p><p><a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/hospital-opens-internet-addiction-treatment-program/story?id=20146923" target="_blank">ABC News</a> reports that a Pennsylvania hospital, Bradford Regional Medical Center, has become the first in the U.S. to treat severe Internet addiction through a 10-day inpatient program. Patients admitted to the voluntary behavorial health treatment center must first undergo a &quot;digital detox&quot; that prohibits Internet use for at least 72 hours, followed by therapy sessions and educational seminars to &quot;help them get their Internet compulsion under control.&quot;</p><p>Dr. Kimberly S. Young, a psychologist and founder of the new program, defines Internet addiction by how a person&#39;s online habits impair their ability to function normally in everyday life.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Like any other addiction, we look at whether it has jeopardized their career, whether they lie about their usage, or whether it inteferes with relationships,&quot; Young explained.</p><p><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder" target="_blank">Internet Addiction Disorder</a> (IAD) was first coined as a joke by Dr. Ivan Goldberg in 1995; and to this day, remains absent from the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). However, the more specific &quot;Internet gaming disorder&quot; did make it into 2013&#39;s DSM-V as a &quot;condition for further study,&quot; signaling a slow but steady change in how psychologists are defining variants of addictive behavior in recent years.</p><p>Accoding to <a href="http://www.helpguide.org/mental/internet_cybersex_addiction.htm" target="_blank">HelpGuide.org</a>, signs and symptoms of Internet addiction may include:</p><ul><li>Frequently losing track of time online.</li><li>Having trouble completing tasks at work or home.</li><li>Isolation from family and friends.</li><li>Feeling a sense of euphoria while involved in Internet activies.&nbsp;&nbsp;</li><li>Feeling guilty or defensive about Internet use.</li></ul><p>Similar to those who dispute the validity of sex addiction, naysayers of IAD argue that logging off is simply a matter of &quot;willpower,&quot; and that the inability to do so is not nearly as physically harmful or self-destructive as succumbing to alcoholism, substance abuse and eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Still,&nbsp;when 60 percent of U.S. adults spend&nbsp;<a href="http://www.whoishostingthis.com/blog/2013/08/21/incredible-growth-web-usage-infographic/#." target="_blank">at least three hours</a> a day online, with teens clocking in at <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html" target="_blank">over seven hours</a>&nbsp;of daily Internet use, real and painful addictions are bound to form.&nbsp;</p><p>Unfortunately, addictive behaviors of any kind are far too easily dismissed in our mental health-avoidant&nbsp;culture&mdash; even the ones deemed more severe than most. Alcoholics are constantly told to &quot;just stop drinking&quot; and anorectics urged to &quot;just eat already,&quot; as if it were that easy. Presumably non-life-threatening addictions such as online gaming are even more misunderstood, because how is playing video games for 24 hours straight in any way comparable to destroying one&#39;s body with narcotics or an eating disorder?</p><p>What many people fail to realize is that using the Internet as a drug can be just as fatal as any addiction in the long run. Dr. Young notes that prior research links IAD with <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_addiction_disorder" target="_blank">existing mental health issues</a>&nbsp;(most commonly depression) and that over half of her patients also struggle with alcoholism, chemical dependency, compulsive gambling, and chronic overeating.&nbsp;</p><p>Numerous other studies have proved that excessive Internet use continually makes people&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/22/4647916/facebook-isnt-making-you-depressed-the-internet-is" target="_blank">feel bad about themselves</a>; but for people already suffering from depression, anxiety, or a co-occurring disorder like OCD or bipolar, that feeling is amplified.</p><p>A 2012 research study highlighted in <em><a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2012/01/17/internet-addiction-shows-up-in-the-brain/" target="_blank">Forbes</a>&nbsp;</em>shows that people with Internet addiction exhibit demonstrable changes in their brains, similar to what happens in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, heroin, special K, and other substances. The article also mentions a <a href="http://rt.com/news/internet-use-mental-illness-389/" target="_blank">smattering of horror stories</a>&nbsp;about Internet and gaming addiction, including accounts of many people keeling over and dying after playing video games for hours on end.&nbsp;These addictions are as real as any other, and they deserve to be taken just as seriously.</p><p>Of course, not every person who spends hours surfing the web each day suffers from an Internet addiction. But if we&#39;re being completely honest with ourselves, we might discover that many of our online habits have more of a negative than positive effect on our lives. After all, what good comes from checking one&#39;s Facebook page 15 times a day, or avoiding the outside world to live in a virtual one?</p><p>Maybe we could all use some &quot;digital detox&quot; every once and a while. Try putting down the phone, powering off the computer, and making some real memories without the aid of an electronic device. You might be surprised by how much, or how little, you miss it.</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">@leahkpickett</a></em></p></p> Thu, 17 Oct 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-10/internet-addiction-disorder-real-108930 Addicts on film and TV: accurate or insulting? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/addicts-film-and-tv-accurate-or-insulting-107787 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Don%20Draper.jpg" title="Is Don Draper an alcoholic? (AMC/Mad Men)" /></p><div class="image-insert-image ">The season six finale of <em>Mad Men&nbsp;</em>airs this Sunday, and while many viewers are anxious to see whether that <a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2013/jun/06/mad-men-season-six-theories" target="_blank">Megan Draper as Sharon Tate</a> conspiracy will come to fruition, others can&#39;t help but wonder: will Don admit that he has a drinking problem?</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>Slate recently published a piece about Don&#39;s <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/tv_club/features/2013/mad_men_season_6/week_11/mad_men_don_needs_to_go_to_alcoholics_anonymous.html" target="_blank">obvious alcoholism</a> that got tongues wagging. After all, what came off as a retro gimmick in <em>Mad Men</em>&#39;s earlier season (&quot;Oh, they&#39;re drinking booze at the office. In the morning. During business meetings. Why can&#39;t my office be cool like that?&quot;) has turned into something far more sinister. Now, it would appear that Don is just a few drinks away from completely losing it.</p><p>Jon Hamm does a great job in bringing pathos and realism to Don&#39;s downward spiral; however, other actors have been less convincing in their portrayals of addicts in denial. Sometimes they are at the mercy of bad writing or direction (i.e. when the screenwriters and/or director did not do their research in determing how an addiction actually affects a person and the people around them); while in other cases, the actor&#39;s own scene-chewing gets in the way of delivering a nuanced and truly accurate performance.</p><p>In any event, here are my picks for the best and worst portryals of addiction in the following categories:</p><p><strong>Alcoholism</strong></p><p>Best:</p><ul><li>Meg Ryan in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0111693/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>When a Man Loves a Woman&nbsp;</em></a>(Okay, the film itself is a tad melodramatic, but the effect that her character&#39;s drinking has on her family&mdash;especially her husband realizing his role as an enabler&mdash;feels heartwrenchingly real.)</li><li>Denzel Washington in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1907668/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Flight</em></a></li><li>Jack Lemmon in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055895/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Days of Wine and Roses</em></a></li><li>William H. Macy on the Showtime drama&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1586680/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Shameless</a>.&nbsp;</em></li><li>I also can admit, without a hint of irony, that Nicolas Cage&#39;s suicidal alcoholic in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113627/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Leaving Las Vegas&nbsp;</em></a>was the role he was born to play.&nbsp;</li></ul><p>Worst:</p><ul><li>Marcia Cross on <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0410975/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Desperate Housewives</a>,</em></li><li>Helen Hunt in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0223897/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Pay it Forward&nbsp;</em></a></li><li>Joan Allen in <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365885/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">The Upside of Anger</a>. </em></li></ul><p>All three women&nbsp;play characters with an unfortunate case of &quot;rom-com alcoholism,&quot; meaning that their drinking doesn&#39;t amount to much more than a character quirk and quickly resolves itself by the story&#39;s end.</p><p>I wasn&#39;t so crazy about watching John Belushi comically guzzle entire bottles of whiskey in <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077975/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Animal House</a>&nbsp;</em>either, considering his real-life struggles with addiction and eventual death from a drug overdose.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Drug Addiction</strong></p><p>Best:</p><ul><li>Ryan Gosling in<em> <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0468489/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Half Nelson</a></em></li><li>Edie Falco of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1190689/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Nurse Jackie </em></a></li><li>Aaron Paul of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903747/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Breaking Bad </em></a></li></ul><p>These actors never fail to blow me away with their spot-on performances. Plus, everyone in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117951/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Trainspotting&nbsp;</em></a>(also one of my favorite films),&nbsp;<em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180093/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">Requiem for a Dream</a>&nbsp;</em>(particularly Ellen Burstyn&#39;s character) and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283003/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank"><em>Spun&nbsp;</em></a>(terrible movie, eerily accurate junkies) left me with chills. Oh, and Christian Bale in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0964517/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1" target="_blank"><em>The Fighter</em></a>&mdash; Oscar well-deserved.</p><p>Worst:</p><ul><li>Sandra Bullock in <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0191754/?ref_=sr_2" target="_blank">28 Days</a></em></li><li>Al Pacino in <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086250/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank"><em>Scarface</em></a></li><li>Val Kilmer playing Jim Morrison in <em><a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101761/?ref_=sr_1" target="_blank">The Doors</a>. </em></li></ul><p>They all play completely unrelatable characters who&nbsp;have nothing under the surface&mdash;their character&#39;s drug use is either too understated and romantized (Kilmer), laughably over the top (Pacino) or just tritely inconsequential and unrealistic in every way. Bullock and her participation in the most inauthentic rehab I&#39;ve ever seen on film.&nbsp;</p><p>However, the award for worst &quot;addict&quot; of all time must go to Elizabeth Berkely on that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZqBR67le8c" target="_blank">very special episode</a> of&nbsp;<em>Saved by the Bell </em>(caffeine pills?<i>&nbsp;really</i>?)&nbsp;</p><p>If there was an Oscar, Emmy or Razzie category for Best Portrayal of an Addict, who would you nominate?</p><p><em>Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/leahkristinepickett" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/leahkpickett" target="_blank">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://hermionehall.tumblr.com" target="_blank">Tumblr</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/leah-pickett/2013-06/addicts-film-and-tv-accurate-or-insulting-107787 An addiction to pop culture is actually a sign of depression http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/addiction-pop-culture-actually-sign-depression-101537 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/katherine%20jackson.jpg" style="height: 401px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="" />You spend all your days on the Internet. And you might think you&#39;re just normal. But comedian Katie Rich thinks you might have a real problem -- because she does. With that, Rich brings her take on the latest news in celebrity pop culture, featuring the likes of&nbsp;Stevie Wonder, Jenna Jameson and Taylor Swift. Oh, and if you know all this stuff already, &quot;then you and I should probably go out for brunch as soon as possible,&quot; she says.&nbsp;Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>&nbsp;The other day my boyfriend came home from work and started to ask how my day was and I just screamed, &quot;Katherine Jackson is missing!&quot;</em></p><p><em>And he asked me, &quot;Is that a relative or good friend of yours?&quot; and I replied, disgusted, &quot;No you f***ing idiot; it&#39;s the matriarch of the Jackson clan.&quot; Like he had just asked me if I&#39;d hadn&#39;t seen </em>Can&#39;t Hardly Wait<em> more than 11 times.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Then I went on to explain that she had been missing for 10 days and her grandchildren, Prince, Paris and Blanket of whom she has sole custody of were desperately trying to reach her and I wondered if maybe the father, Joe Jackson had killed her or if Conrad Murray was involved and what would LaToya think and where&#39;s Tito and here&#39;s the thing: she is in poor health and has very weak kidneys so this could be like the old Osama bin Laden theory maybe she&#39;s already dead and her kids have just been releasing old pictures and videos of her this whole time and he just stopped me and goes, &quot;Why do you know all this?&quot;</em></p><p><em>And I said, &quot;Because I&#39;m depressed!&quot;</em></p><p><em>Which I didn&#39;t know before I said it, but then I thought about it and it made sense. As some of you may know I used to have a pretty sweet substance abuse problem. And I wish I could tell you it was something subversive and sexy, but really it was nothing more exciting than copious amounts of booze mixed with some very entertaining prescription drugs, which is due to the fact that I have fantastic health insurance. A visit to my GP and a Ritalin/Clonopin speed ball costs me less than going to a movie. Once I started to look like Carnie Wilson after she got the gastric bypass AND became an alcoholic, my pals were like &quot;Hey do you think you might be depressed?&quot; and I said, &quot;You know what, I might be.&quot; So I cleaned up and like a good addictive personality, I replaced one bad habit with something slightly more benign - which is celebrity gossip. So now, when I wake up to cans of Sprite littering my nightstand and I look at my Google search bar from last night and it just says, &quot;JC Chasez girlfriend?&quot; followed by &quot;JC Chasez Gay?&quot; followed by &quot;JC Chasez &quot;Blowing me up with her love&quot; free mp3 download&quot; I&#39;m like, &quot;Oh sh** I&#39;m depressed!&quot;</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 10 Aug 2012 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-08/addiction-pop-culture-actually-sign-depression-101537 Steve McQueen's NC-17 ‘Shame’ a layered portrayal of addiction http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-02/steve-mcqueens-nc-17-%E2%80%98shame%E2%80%99-layered-portrayal-addiction-94549 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/shame.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>A major transformation happened in the mind of the movie goer over the past twenty years. Television, with its radical insistence on reductive and literal narrative forms, has altered the relationship between the movie viewer and the movie auteur—or the filmmaker. The role of the film artist used to be to ask questions. Today, audiences demand only answers.</p><p>No recent film exemplifies this radical shift more concretely than Steve McQueen's <em>Shame</em>. Many individuals who've seen the film leave it confused and feeling cheated. They’re shocked—surprising for an age in which pornography thrives on the internet—by the rather brief frontal nudity and explicit sex scenes involving the main character, Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender, or his sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan.</p><p>Brandon is a successful New York office-worker in his 30s who moves between his minimalist high-rise apartment and his equally high-tech cubicle. But something else drives and dominates his life: sex. Getting ready for work, Brandon is pleasuring himself in the shower, trying to pick up a girl on the subway. His office computer is confiscated because it is infected with viruses. Out with his boss for drinks, he displays a cool reserve in picking up women. His life, we realize, consists of one-night stands.</p><p>All this changes when his younger sister, Sissy, suddenly turns up at Brandon's apartment—unannounced.&nbsp; She’s the opposite of Brandon's cool—impulsive, garrulous, uncontrolled. She’s a lost soul.&nbsp; As the film progresses, we realize she and Brandon share a painful history—a history we will never learn. She’s easily seduced, but her easily-stirred passions serve as a stark contrast to Brandon's sex addiction which has little to do with sex, and all to do with control.</p><p>A critical scene involving Brandon and Marianne, a co-worker, as they escape work at midday for sex at Brandon's apartment. When finished, Marianne reaches out in tenderness, trying to establish an emotional connection, only to be rebuked by Brandon. Brandon’s never-ending search for sex excludes any possibility of love.</p><p>Steve McQueen, the Turner-prize-winning artist, took on a very tough theme in his first film, "Hunger," which is about the hunger strike at Ireland's notorious Maze prison. <em>Shame</em> is not as extreme as "Hunger," yet its theme of addiction is layered and complex.</p><p>McQueen elicits this with a visual brilliance. The film is gray and architecturally edgy. McQueen uses this palette not just to underscore the alienation of the characters, but to reveal the broken emotional core which leads to obsession and addiction. Self-loathing underpins Brandon's sex-obsession.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Shame</em> contains a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender; smartly, he portrays Brandon as <em>almost</em> invulnerable, protected by an outward shell. Conversely, this suggests the depth of the torment that goes on inside him. Carey Mulligan, in her role as Sissy, has grown as an actress since her role in "Education." Though her own vulnerability is much more in the open than that of her brother, McQueen never lets us in on the secret of the brother and sister's common past. We are only sure that there was one. Yet McQueen is smart enough as a filmmaker not to fall into the trap of empathizing with the characters—something which would allow the audience off the hook. The film would be about <em>them</em>. Instead, <em>Shame</em> is a film that is about <em>us</em>, and about our own addictive behaviors. Our addiction may not be sex, but the moral of <em>Shame</em>, if there had to be one, is that every personal obsession, no matter how petty, blocks the possibility of our being full individuals.</p><p>Ultimately, it’s the intelligence of this film that in refusing to give us simple answers, it poses penetrating questions in an original and a riveting way.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Milos Stehlik is the director of <a href="http://www.facets.org/" target="_blank">Facets Multimedia</a>. His commentaries&nbsp;reflect his own views and not necessarily those of Facets Multimedia, </em>Worldview <em>or WBEZ.</em></p><p style="margin-left: 1in;">&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Dec 2011 18:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-02/steve-mcqueens-nc-17-%E2%80%98shame%E2%80%99-layered-portrayal-addiction-94549 Morning Rehearsal: Chicago theater news 4/12 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-412-85069 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-April/2011-04-12/tree2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Monday is a typically slow performance night in the theater world, but there's always someone trying to be funny, so never fear! There's still some stuff you didn't do yesterday.&nbsp;</p><p>1. There <i>is</i> comedy you can bring the kids to...maybe. Last night, Zanie's presented <a href="http://www.marklundholm.com/">Mark Lundholm</a>'s "Alcohol-Free Evening", where the recovering alcoholic of over 20 years made fun of his struggles all within the confines of a "PG rating." In case you're hankering to go, there's an encore performance <a href="http://www.chicago.zanies.com/news.php?NewsSection=Mark+Lundholm">tonight at 7:30 pm</a>.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/cvM-zqzAdt8" title="YouTube video player" width="480"></iframe></p><p>2. Ten years ago this Friday, the Edge Comedy club was founded, and they'll be celebrating this weekend with anniversary shows. The man who started it all, Dave Odd, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-04-12/edge-comedy-club-celebrates-10-years-first-time-funny-folks-85065">talked with&nbsp;<em>Eight-Forty-Eight&nbsp;</em>today</a>&nbsp;about how it all happened. When asked about the long-term potential of comedy in Chicago, Odd said, "There's this, 'you've got to move to one of the coasts to become famous' mentality out there. And I feel like Chicago is getting a lot of notoriety lately because a lot of the people who have come out of here are blowing up, and it's just a matter of getting people to pay attention."</p><p>3. Speaking of LA, the production of "Tree" is playing&nbsp;<a href="http://www.victorygardens.org/onstage/tree.php">at the Victory Garden's Theater</a>&nbsp;after a success run on the west coast. It&nbsp;was written by <a href="http://www.juliehebert.com/index.html">Julie Hebert</a>, who has written and directed for television, film and theater (<em>ER</em>! <em>The West Wing</em>!). "Tree" clashes people of starkly different backgrounds, race and gender, from Chicago to Baton Rouge.</p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" height="237" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-April/2011-04-12/Fair%20%26%20Unbalanced.jpg" title="" width="623"></p><p>4. Second City is cheaper during the week than it is on the weekend (which is either little known or common sense). So next time, take advantage and see their new show "<a href="http://www.secondcity.com/performances/detail/259/">Fair and Unbalanced</a>" on a Monday instead of a Saturday. As usual, the folks at Second City do what they do best and make fun of the people we exalt -- celebrities, and politicians -- leaving you feel warm&nbsp;and fuzzy inside.</p><p>5. The <a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2011/04/11/a-packed-jim-carusos-cast-party-gives-chicago-performers-a-chance-to-show-their-stuff/">Chicago Theater Addict reports</a> that Sunday's Chicago Performance of "<a href="http://castpartynyc.com/">Cast Party</a>" was a rollicking success. Creator Jim Caruso has brought the show from New York, which is best described as a little bit cabaret, a little bit karaoke, with a dash of open mic night. It technically sounds like a disaster, but with some of the biggest talents in Chicago theater showing up, "Cast Party" could be the best thing to leave New York since bagels.</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email kdries@wbez.org.</p></p> Tue, 12 Apr 2011 14:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-04-12/morning-rehearsal-chicago-theater-news-412-85069 The sooner the Bears lose, the better http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="341" width="512" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-January/2011-01-13/AP101226041784.jpg" alt="" title="" /></p><p>As the Bears get set to host the Seattle Seahawks in their divisional playoff this Sunday, Chicagoans are starting to come together like they did when the Blackhawks glided toward hockey&rsquo;s Stanley Cup last spring.<br /><br />The excitement brings to mind some words of a 19th century German philosopher: &ldquo;Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness.&rdquo;<br /><br />If religion is our opium, as Marx put it, then Chicago&rsquo;s National Football League franchise is our crack cocaine.<br /><br />More than three years since the economy began to collapse, the Chicago area&rsquo;s unemployment rate is hovering around 9 percent. Foreclosure filings are rising again. Our wages are anemic. Illinois lawmakers are raising our taxes. <br /><br />Gee, though, won&rsquo;t it be great if Julius Peppers knocks Matt Hasselbeck on his ass this Sunday?<br /><br />We have no connection to these multimillionaire gladiators, yet a few of us are already donning Bears jerseys. It&rsquo;s the only show of Chicago solidarity we can imagine.<br /><br />Some of us will even put money on the team, regardless of the odds. We might be a couple months behind on rent. But Devin Hester could go all the way!<br /><br />On Sunday, finally, we&rsquo;ll spend hours and hours on a couch, gazing into a liquid crystal display. We&rsquo;ll cheer now and then, but the experience will be entirely passive.<br /><br />Then, if the Bears win, the &ldquo;news&rdquo; coverage will crowd out most meaningful Chicago journalism for days. The coverage will quickly turn into hype about the next playoff game. And our addiction cycle will continue on.<br /><br />We could be smoking this rock until at least February 6, the sacred day known as &ldquo;Super Bowl Sunday.&rdquo;<br /><br />Marx may have been wrong about abolishing religion. But the sooner the Bears flame out, the sooner Chicagoans can build some solidarity for things that count.</p><p>*<em>This post was edited from its original state to remove a characterization of a mayoral candidate</em>.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 20:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/sooner-bears-lose-better Commodifying Hookers for Radio Consumption? http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/10/second-order-pimping-or-commodifying-hookers-for-radio-consumption/619 <p>"Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible." (<em>The Journalist and the Murderer</em>, 1990, New York: Knopf) <object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="400" height="300" codebase="http://download.macromedia.com/pub/shockwave/cabs/flash/swflash.cab#version=6,0,40,0"><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" /><param name="src" value="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2056251&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" /><embed type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300" src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=2056251&amp;server=vimeo.com&amp;show_title=1&amp;show_byline=1&amp;show_portrait=0&amp;color=&amp;fullscreen=1" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object> <em> <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/content.aspx?audioID=29570">Eight-Forty Eight's</a></em><a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/content.aspx?audioID=29570"> story </a>on women who exchange sex for money and/or drugs on the streets of Chicago's West Side drug economy took me nearly two months to produce. Of all the stories I've done so far, this one taxed me the most, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. You'd think it'd be simple: Find some hookers, interview each of them for 10 minutes, come back to the studio, and then start slapping sound together and hope they find coherence around some narrative arc. How could you go wrong? It's a story about hookers,‚  women who, as Cat (a crackhouse brothel matriarch) always reminds me, "have a 24 hour ATM between our legs." It speaks to a lurid and unseemly world, and the story is almost tantalizing on its face, really. And it plays to the average "normal" person's voyeuristic tendencies. <!--break--> Well, it hasn't been easy like this. In fact, it's been far more difficult than I ever anticipated. Why? Because journalism, especially when its practitioners interact with dispossessed populations, is in some ways morally indefensible. So let me begin with a qualified declaration of guilt: This story commits immoral acts. Or does it? Eight years ago I began living among the addicts, hookers, drug dealers, thieves, white collar workers, blue collar workers and others who patronize, frequent, traffic, and otherwise occupy The Brickyard. Having lived there, in a cardboard or plywood shanty, for a total of about two years (once you add together the many different sojourns spread across time), I developed hundreds of meaningful relationships with people who share the problem, the mental illness, of drug addiction. In the past six months, <a href="http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Program_848_Series.aspx?seriesID=115">working as a freelance contributor for WBEZ</a>, I have aspired to create a forum in which these dispossessed people can give voice to their lives, humanize themselves in ways often precluded by the very nature of the popular, profit-oriented mainstream press. The <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>staff has amazed me with generous offerings of support, technical assistance, conceptual feedback, and all-around embrace of the work and the purpose behind it.<!--break--> But there's an internal contradiction I want to reveal right now: Helping to humanize the dehumanized among us-the hookers, addicts, and thieves-necessitates a form of dehumanization. That is, telling these stories, this one in particular, has required me to reduce complex human beings into "characters" who appear in a "story."‚  The act of humanizing requires dehumanizing the dehumanized, but in ways different from how they've been dehumanized to date. Their complicated lives-their hopes, biographies, passions-must get reduced to what we call "actualities," or the edited (sometimes heavily so), seemingly "natural", spoken passages that you hear between the voice over narration segments. Producing these stories hinges on my ability to transform these living, breathing, morally-concerned humans into disembodied, less complicated figures in a tale whose contours I determine. I create audio worlds for them to populate. I decide what kind of citizenship they will have in this audio world. I decide what kind of character they will have. And you trust me to get it right. You trust me to tell an accurate story. In this audio world I am the benevolent dictator. And they, the "subjects" (a term with dual connotation, technical and political) trust me to get it right. But more than that, they expect me to tell you their respective versions of THE TRUTH. Essentially, they figure that because we have this pre-existing bond, this quasi- or genuine friendship, I will present them in the most flattering ways possible. When I tell them "you're going to be in a radio show," they assume that I mean, "I'm going to present you in a story the way you would most like to see yourself." That, of course, doesn't happen. In the end, they may disagree with how I have reduced their lives, their persons, to relatively flimsy representations. They may disapprove of MY story, my account of how I see things. My perspective is informed by their perspectives, but it is not synonymous with them. After all, this is MY story to tell. Near the end of this story's production, a colleague of mine said, "Hey, it's great that your piece will be airing on the first day of pledge drive. That's gonna make some money for the station." I don't think my colleague fully appreciated the irony and contradiction inherent to this statement. Here I am, producing a story about women who "rent" their bodies in exchange for money, who prostitute themselves, who get pimped forcefully and subtly by the men in their lives, and their story, as a commodity, will "make money" for someone else. Throughout the process I have exploited their lives, their relationships, my relationships with them, to the end of producing a story that I hope causes people to think and talk differently about "that hooker" on the corner. I really hope to change the terms of the debate, to force people to realize, or at least consider the notion, that the people in The Brickyard are more similar to us, the so-called "normal people" than they are different. We're all prostitutes. We're all addicts. We're all thieves (e.g., remember those office supplies you took home without approval from the boss?). But we're not all equally situated to prevent these aspects of our lived experience from becoming the "master status" to which the rest of the world holds us accountable. Imagine your most shameful behavior, the most horrible thing you've done in your life. Now imagine that for the rest of your days you will be known, defined as that act, that moment. If this mental exercise works, you'll feel for a moment what it's like to BE a Brickyard resident. When the women in this story, and the women of the streets they represent, speak about themselves and talk about their lives, they pepper their narratives with verbs. They don't say, "I'm a prostitute," and they most definitely refrain from calling themselves "sex workers." If they talk about sex at all, they refer to the activities in which they engage to receive income. And money isn't money, at least not in the conventional sense. It's merely a very briefly possessed token whose redemption will afford them the drugs they need to satisfy, momentarily, their illness, their addiction. As Faye put it, "I can't wait for the next shot (of heroin) because the next shot will keep the next thought from coming. For me, thinking is dying. If I let myself really think about the situation I'm in, I'll probably die from the light of it."‚  So they speak and conceptualize themselves, their Selves, in verbs. They hustle, they work, they trick, they date, or they hook. The nouns associated with these verbs become symbolic prisons, lingusitic carceral cells in which they get reduced to what they are. "Sex is something we do," says Chrissy (my adoptive sister), "not something we are."‚  To embrace the noun (e.g., Whore) is to resign oneself to the degraded and static status of a spoiled identity. So does the production of a story on hookers become a form of second orderpimping? I have reduced these women to characters, manipulated theiractualities into a (hopefully) compelling story, one that you will consume happily, one whose consumption will inspire you to give your attention and your MONEY to WBEZ.‚  I have pimped the women yet again. (Notice that I did NOT say, "I am their pimp"...always avoid the noun). Is this accurate? If so, is it morally indefensible, as Janet Malcolm might suggest? Or is there some greater good, some positive contribution to public discourse that outweighs my exploitation of the lives of disadvantaged people? In the end, have I done more harm than good? And what about you?‚  Every interaction is suffused with moral phenomena, notions of and concerns about right and wrong. How was your experience listening to the story a moral instance?‚  How did it affect your moral sentience?‚  Let me know....</p> Thu, 23 Oct 2008 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/gscott/2008/10/second-order-pimping-or-commodifying-hookers-for-radio-consumption/619