Abusive vandalism or just incompetent gift-giving? A statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Shimla, India was garlanded last night with whisky bottles in a boozy departure from the more traditional flowers, leaving locals "shocked." The incident occurred on Gandhi's birthday, October 2, which is commemorated in India as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Non-Violence. Although the "miscreants" accountable are as yet unidentified, cops believe "some drunk men" are most likely to blame, and the "shameful" incident has "outraged the religious feelings of citizens." It's the first time that bottles of alcohol have been left on the statue, which is usually guarded by night watchmen. "I was informed that a cop was deployed by the statue on night duty, but he was missing," says the deputy commissioner. "It might have taken miscreants 10-15 minutes to tie the bottles with statue." The incident has been called "abuse," but the bottles may have been the drunks' idea of a birthday gift, and a way to thank Gandhi for leading India to independence. If so, the gesture was ill-informed; in his lifetime, the spiritual leader made a vow under Hindu precepts of abstinence to avoid alcohol, as well as meat and promiscuity.
Life away from the cameras has apparently been difficult for Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and sources report that since taping the final season of Jersey Shore, he has recently fallen off the wagon. A witness claims to have seen him at West Hollywood's London hotel last week, "downing so many cocktails, he could barely stand." A rep for the reality star denies the report and claims that he has not been drinking. Since leaving rehab last March, where he was treated for addictions to alcohol and prescription meds, The Sitch has not been seen drinking during any episodes of the current Jersey Shore season, or during his recent stint on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother. However, he's admitted that he hasn't found the sober lifestyle easy—which might be magnified by his continuing habit of frequenting boozy nightspots, where he's had to deal with taunts about his attempt at sobriety.
You'd think most people would applaud drug addicts entering treatment, but residents of a Lawrenceville, GA neighborhood say they're all for it as long as it doesn't happen in their back yard. The residential rehab in question, known as Purple Inc., opened last February and treats young men with drug and alcohol addictions. Nearby homeowners are now taking action after finding out the center applied for a permit to continue operating as a residential facility, claiming it's a threat to their neighborhood and property values. "I felt blindsided in exactly what type of facility it was," says resident Ruthie Cansiz. "I think if any person falls out of this sort of rehab program and causes a problem for one child, one person, one house, that is enough." Linda Chambers, another resident, says that while she doesn't object to the facility itself, she thinks the location is ill-advised: "Across from a subdivision with a bunch of children and across from a high school, that didn't seem like an appropriate location."
The facility houses 25 men and has been operating in Gwinnett County for 10 years without incident, according to Brett Bagley, director of Purple Inc. He recently held an open house and invited the community to attend to learn more, but only one person showed up. "The people who are here are not dangerous people," says Bagley. "These are the guys who are here because they want to get better. They're being drug tested. They're here with clinicians actively participating in changing their lives." The county planning commission is expected to make a recommendation this week on whether the center can continue as a residential facility. It's hardly the first time neighborhoods have objected to rehabs; there have been rumblings against facilities from Malibu to the Hamptons this year, while residents of the New Jersey suburb of Alpine last month tried to tried to halt plans for a proposed residential rehab there.
- Teen Drunk Driving in US Drops as Gas Prices Rise [San Francisco Chronicle]
- Homeless People Die 30 Years Younger [Wales Online]
- Kentucky’s New Mandatory Drug Tests Can Be Costly [Insurance Journal]
- Ohio Gambling Survey Gives Pre-Casino Picture [Businessweek]
- Feeling the Pressure to Drink for Work [New York Times]
- No, Mitt Romney Will Not Legalize Pot [Washington Post]
- Kenny Rogers Snubbed Alcohol After Watching Dad's Addiction Battle [Reuters]
Mark Twain may have based Tom Sawyer, the daredevilish protagonist of his most famous novel, on an old drinking buddy, according to a new analysis from Smithsonian. The inspiration behind the character has long been disputed, but writer Robert Graysmith claims the original Sawyer was a "stocky, round-faced…customs inspector, volunteer fireman, special policeman and bona fide local hero" of the same name, who allegedly met Twain (real name Sam Clemens) in a San Francisco steam room in 1863. The two became close chums and would hang out at the Blue Wing [saloon], drinking, swapping stories from the past, and "spinning yarns." Twain, who was a journalist at the time, "could drink more and talk more than any feller I ever seen," Graysmith quotes the real Tom Sawyer as saying of his literary bar mate. "He'd set down and take a drink…and then when somebody'd buy him another drink, he'd keep up all day." According to Graysmith, in the midst of a "momentous bender," Twain once told his new friend: "Tom, I'm going to write a book about a boy and the kind I have in mind was just about the toughest boy in the world…he was just such a boy as you must have been."
The great American novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, was published in 1876, years after the author would have parted ways with his old boozing buddy. When asked later on about the inspiration behind his impish hero, Twain said "[Tom Sawyer] was not the real name…of any person I ever knew, so far as I can remember." Whether that account was truth, denial, or the result of drinking-induced memory loss would take a time machine to prove. But if Sawyer's recollection was true—and not a "yarn"—then he really was the novelist's muse. "[Twain] would listen to these pranks of mine with great interest and he'd occasionally take 'em down in his notebook," said Sawyer according to an 1898 newspaper. "One day he says to me: 'I am going to put you between the covers of a book some of these days, Tom.' 'Go ahead,' I said, 'but don't disgrace my name'."
Addicts with busy schedules or a fear of being seen at a traditional rehab have a new option, thanks to Lionrock Recovery. The company offers "shame-free" online treatment and therapy sessions via high quality video conferencing from the privacy of your own home. "Whether you need to stay connected to your life in early recovery because of work or family commitments, or get reconnected after residential care, getting this kind of private and intensive support can make staying sober a lot easier," Lionrock's CEO, Peter Loeb, tells The Fix. The idea came from Loeb and his business partner—two tech guys who have dealt with family members with addictions and wanted to use their skills to help. “This has been a journey of making sure that we’re doing it right,” he says.
Naturally, the program has critics who wonder if getting sober at home is feasible, when you’re still surrounded by the distractions and stresses that may have initially contributed to your addiction. “I don’t try to talk people out of being skeptical, but one of the things that I ask them to do is try it,” says Loeb. He claims that the video technology may even make group work more intimate, as it allows you to look into everyone's eyes—rather than just those of the people sitting across the room from you. Plus, he says, being in your own home could help you feel more at ease. “The clients tell us that it’s easier for them to open up and the clinicians have told us the opposite view of that, that they’ve had to develop some skills around slowing people down because they feel so comfortable.” However, he does recognize that online rehab isn't for everyone: if someone needs a more intensive level of care, Lionrock will refer them to an appropriate treatment facility. "We’re not trying to get rid of in-person therapy," says Loeb. "One size doesn’t fit all in this world.”