Yesterday, I read a story about Carolyn Kesel, a 46-year-old woman from Seneca Falls, New York who was arrested for drunk driving on January 5th with a blood-alcohol level of .26—three times the legal limit.
During her arrest, Kesel allegedly told police that she ingested two large bottles of pure vanilla extract, got lost and could not find her way out of a Walmart parking lot. She was arrested, of course, and now faces felony DWI charges.
What struck me as odd about this story was the vanilla extract, which apparently has an alcohol level of 41%, roughly the same as gin or vodka. A drug counselor quoted in the story compared it to drinking cough medicine for a buzz, which I’m sure more than a few of us have tried before.
Stranger still, the article then explained how pure peppermint extract can have as much as 89% alcohol and pure lemon extract can contain as much as 83% alcohol. In other words, they told underage drinkers exactly where to go to find an even stronger buzz than vanilla extract can produce!
Lemony peppermint shooters, anyone?
Death is something I read about every day—given how dark and depressing most news stories are—but in general, I try not to ponder my own inevitable demise. Granted, this is something I was preoccupied with in my youth, but as I grew older, I decided life was too short to worry about dying. Death is inescapable and spending too much time dwelling on it can distract from what little life we all have left. Focusing on the days ahead rather than the end of those days is preferable, after all.
Then I started watching documentaries on Netflix and came across a Dave McRae series entitled Final 24, which chronicles the final day in the lives of famous people, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances. And now, much to my chagrin, I find myself thinking about death yet again.
The first episode focused on Sid Vicious, the bassist for the punk band The Sex Pistols who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. After being arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen—a murder he could not remember perpetrating—Vicious went on a drug-fueled bender, sponsored in large part by his own mother. In fact, some believe his mother gave him a fatal overdose on purpose, to spare him from another traumatizing stint in prison. Whatever the case may be, Vicious’ final 24 hours were dark and depressing—as they likely are for most just before they die.
Episode two turned a lens on one of the greatest comedic performers of all time, the great John Belushi. Like Sid Vicious, Belushi spent his final day of life blitzed out of his mind on drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and—go figure—heroin, a drug he had just begun using during his final trip to New York City. Unfortunately, he didn’t just shoot up heroin; he injected speedballs, deadly combinations of heroin and cocaine. As you might imagine, things didn’t go well for Belushi and he overdosed on the concoction, which ultimately caused his death and put an end to one of the most promising careers in entertainment history.
The remainder of the Final 24 series includes stories about other famous people and their tragic deaths: Marvin Gaye, John F. Kennedy, River Phoenix and Hunter S. Thompson. I plan to watch them all, of course, but I am trying hard not to dwell on my own impending death. I say “impending” because it could be today, next week or even fifty years from now. You just never know.
Of course, I hope that when my number is finally up, death comes in the most peaceful and painless way possible. Isn’t that something we all wish for? I mean, the last thing I want is to die while doing something embarrassing—not to me, necessarily, but to my friends and family members. One such scenario might involve masturbation—having a heart attack while stroking off and being discovered in a compromising position. Nothing would be more embarrassing, especially if rigor mortis set in and my hand had to be pried off my junk with a crowbar or something.
We can’t all die in our sleep, after all!
If you have ever been drunk or stoned, then odds are you have probably done something idiotic while under the influence. And if you truly “tied one on,” then you may have even awoken the next morning with no memory of your drug-induced exploits. It has been known to happen, after all.
Of course, coming to your senses and finding yourself in police custody is far less common, but even this has been known to happen. Just ask 19-year-old Brian McCurren, a college student at Notre Dame who recently experienced this firsthand.
Early Sunday morning, McCurren was arrested for vandalism, alleged burglary and underage consumption—he admitted to smoking synthetic marijuana and drinking. And when police administered a Breathalyzer test later, he blew a .106, which obviously surpassed the legal blood-alcohol level of .08.
I’m sure none of this is very surprising, but when you hear what McCurren did prior to his arrest, I think you’ll agree that he should seriously reevaluate his drug and alcohol consumption.
According to police, a highly intoxicated McCurren went to Therapeutic Indulgence—a massage parlor in South Bend, Indiana—tossed a flower pot through a stained glass window to break in, and then smashed through a wall with a hammer to get inside. Once there, he proceeded to destroy furniture, lamps, mirrors and other equipment before moving into the kitchen—and that’s where things truly took a bizarre turn.
Apparently, the synthetic weed that McCurren smoked still produced what potheads refer to as the munchies because the next thing he did was to start eating. His feast began with a half box of Hot Pockets, followed by some macaroni and cheese he started to heat in an “antique style oven.” While it was cooking, he sat down at a table to enjoy some Drumsticks—delicious ice cream treats some of you may know as nutty buddies.
And that is exactly where the police found him a short time later: passed out at the same table with a Drumstick in his hand. What’s more, the unattended mac-and-cheese set off the fire alarm and likely would have burned the place down—with McCurren still inside—if police hadn’t arrived when they did.
“The police actually pulled it out and threw it in the sink because it was so toasted, but [McCurren] was sleeping through the fire alarm and everything,” parlor owner Sara Ros Frazier told WNDU-TV News. “He could have burned the house down.”
Thankfully, that never happened. And when McCurren finally sobered up, he had no recollection of how he arrived at the massage parlor or what he was doing there.
If ever there was a better example of someone who should remain sober, in other words, he would have to be it!
It was February 2nd when the body of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46, was discovered in the bathroom of his New York City apartment, a syringe still stuck in his left arm. His tragic death was ruled an accident, but Friday the New York medical examiner’s office released their official cause of death: acute mixed drug intoxication.
Although this news may come as no surprise given the circumstances of Phil’s death—like the syringe—the combination of drugs he used during his final night on Earth just might: cocaine, heroin, amphetamines and benzodiazepines. And this after being clean for 23 years, falling off the wagon, completing a stint in rehab and then staying clean for almost another year now. What a shame.
When I first heard this “laundry list” of drugs—and please don’t take this the wrong way—I thought Phil had to be a complete idiot to let this happen. Here I was believing him to be an intelligent and stable guy—albeit with some bad habits and addictions, which we all suffer from in our own way—only to discover he was a brainless junkie with no self-control and no instincts toward self-preservation.
The truth, however, is that Phil was a sick man who took so many drugs—some legal and some not—that he built up a tolerance to them. The next time he used them, it took more to get him high, and more the time after that. In the medical field, this is referred to as stacking… and eventually, it will catch up with you.
Of course, I’m still struggling to understand why Phil chose this particular combination of substances. I get the heroin addiction and understand its effects to be mellow sedation, for lack of a better term. The benzodiazepines are nothing more than muscle relaxers used to treat anxiety, so they fall right in line with Lady H. And yes, I can see how this combination alone would be enough to do Phil in—and while he was shooting up “in the can,” no less.
What confused me weren’t the depressants found in Phil’s system; it was the stimulants. The medical examiner found both amphetamines and cocaine in the mix, which I’m having trouble explaining. It’s possible he used these to stay awake and enjoy his heroin buzz longer—staving off the sleep that likely comes quickly after combining heroin with Xanax. Aside from that, I have no idea.
All I know is that the world lost an incredible talent and another good person to drug addiction. I feel like Phil could have prevented this—since any intelligent person should know a combination of this many drugs could be deadly—but individuals deal with their addictions in very unique and personal ways. It is never “one size fits all,” but its effects are always the same: pain, suffering and death.
From one combination to another, I guess…
It’s finally Friday and like millions of people around the country, I am anxiously waiting for what I hope will be a relaxing, flu-free weekend. Of course, there are still hours to go until quitting time—the perfect amount of time for another edition of the Reality Round-Up—so here are some dumb and disturbing things that have been happening in the good old United States recently.
23-year-old Teresa Hernandez appeared in court this week on charges of first-degree assault of a child. Apparently, she was home taking care of her boyfriend’s 3-year-old son and decided to punish him in some extreme and brutal ways.
When he got too close to her while she was ironing, Hernandez pressed the hot iron down on his hand and left it there for at least five seconds while he screamed in pain. She initially told police that he grabbed the iron by accident, but changed her story a short time later.
Hernandez also confessed to pushing the young boy down the stairs a few days after burning him with the iron. She was apparently bringing a laundry basket downstairs and pushed into the boy, who tumbled down 12 stairs and hit his head on the tile floor below. The boy was taken to Randall Children’s Hospital for surgery and, as of now, remains in fair condition.
I certainly hope this poor little guy recovers. And I hope they throw the proverbial book at this mean “witch with a capital B.” What a loser…
PORTSMOUTH, RHODE ISLAND
A few weeks ago, Portsmouth Middle School parents received a rather disturbing email informing them of even more disturbing behavior by some of their students. It seems that some kids were caught snorting Smarties, the sugary candy normally associated with Halloween and trick-or-treating.
According to school officials, snorting the fruity treats causes a sugar rush—likely the same kind of rush you might get from actually eating the candy. Unfortunately for this young “users,” snorting sugar won’t get you high and could instead do damage to nasal passages. What’s worse is that school officials even claimed this behavior could lead to cigarette smoking or drug use later, which makes sense since a buzz-seeking middle school student may be more willing to experiment with different substances.
I only hope they don’t graduate to something harder… like Fun Dip or Pixie Sticks!
A 14-year-old girl in the Chicago area was arrested on Tuesday morning and charged with murder. And what she did shocked the small Mundelein community where she lives.
On Monday night, the young girl reached her breaking point with her 11-year-old half-sister, who she felt was unappreciative for all the help she’d been given—her older sister often cooked dinner for her and performed other chores around the house. After deliberating for 10 or 15 minutes, the older sibling went down to the kitchen, grabbed a butcher knife and proceeded to stab her younger sister… at least 40 times!
After showering and rinsing off the blood, the young girl phoned the police and claimed an intruder had broken in and attacked her sister. Local schools were briefly placed on lockdown, but this soon ended once the young assailant confessed to her crime. And since her sister died a short time after being found, the young killer could now be tried as an adult and could spend a considerable portion of her life behind bars.
It’s sad that we live in a society where even young children resort to violence to solve problems that could easily be solved without it. School shootings get all the attention, but it’s obvious that the problem runs much deeper. And the true victims are the kids who should be learning reading, writing and arithmetic… not revenge.
It saddens me to report on this next story, but it does provide yet another example of young children taking extreme and violent measures. Only this time the child in question was an 8-year-old boy.
By all accounts, Julianni Plascencia was a happy and sensitive young boy. He served as the youngest usher at his church, loved to play football and often asked his parents to give money to homeless people on the street. Unfortunately, something changed last Saturday night… and it was something destined to change the lives of his loved ones forever.
While his mother was out buying groceries, Julianni told his older brother that he was going to hang himself. His brother thought he was joking and told him not to say such things or he would tell his mother. Julianni walked away and, for a while, everything seemed fine… at least until his brother realized how quiet the house became and went to see what was happening.
What happened next still shocks the hell out of me.
The older brother found Julianni in his parents’ bedroom and, sadly, he had done exactly what he said he would: he used a scarf to hang himself from the doorknob. Paramedics soon arrived on the scene and were able to get Julianni’s heart started on the way to UC Davis Medical Center, but he passed away the next morning.
Julianni’s father believes his son was only mimicking something he’d seen on television, but that certainly doesn’t make his suicide any easier to handle. And again, it seems as if our violent society has claimed yet another victim… and we all know that he won’t be the last.
It’s been a weird couple of weeks and, as you can see from these stories, a traumatic few weeks, too. Kind of makes you wonder what tomorrow will bring, doesn’t it?
On Sunday, the 2013 MTV Europe Video Awards ceremony was held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. And at the top of the booking list was none other than the Queen of Twerking—and controversy—herself: Miley Cyrus.
True to form, this two-time performer for the night once again caused a stir when she walked on stage to accept the Best Video award for “Wrecking Ball” and promptly lit a joint before making her acceptance speech.
Laws regarding recreational drug use are far less strict in Amsterdam, as I’m sure you know, but no one expected to see drug use on stage, much less broadcast to millions of people around the world.
Fortunately, Miley made up for it by “toning down” her performances. Instead of bumping-and-grinding with Robin Thicke while performing her hit “We Can’t Stop,” Miley opted for giant teddy bears and dancing aliens—Thicke was replaced by a “little person” in a tight latex catsuit. And though some twerking took place, it was limited only to this performance and was absent by the time she performed “Wrecking Ball.”
Either way, leave it to Miley to find some way of getting back into the news. I noticed her name being absent from the entertainment headlines lately and apparently her publicist noticed as well because now, she’s right back where she belongs: causing controversy for the whole world to see.
Basically, kids are either stealing prescription medications from their parents or getting them from other kids—who I can only assume are stealing from their parents, as well. Once they have them, they boil down the candy, stir in the drugs, allow the candy to re-harden and then package it to look like any decadently-sweet treat you might find at a corner candy store.
In other words, teenagers can walk around and unassumingly ingest anything from Xanax to Valium and no one will be the wiser—at least not until the effects of the drugs are noticeable or someone dies from it.
Yes, this practice is extremely dangerous. And I would never come out in support of anything that might harm other human beings, but you have to admit these methods are pretty ingenious. Misguided and wrong, but impressive if only for the creativity involved.
When I was a teenager, drugs weren’t our “weapons of choice,” but alcohol certainly was. I confess to nothing, of course, but some of us occasionally stole liquor from our parents so we could “throw down” over the weekend. We would stash it in the woods or some other hiding place; recover it once we were free-and-clear of all authority figures; transport it to a house party or other such function—normally at the home of whichever friend’s parents happened to be out-of-town; and use it to enhance the good times… if you know what I mean.
And I am certain that you do.
The only problem with our teenage, booze-soaked rebellion was that it often drew attention from a common enemy: the police. And believe me… convincing a cop that you haven’t been drinking illegally is hard to do in a house full of empty vodka and tequila bottles.
Drunk, teenage jackasses falling all over themselves don’t help, either, but I digress.
In an effort to divert attention away from our “extracurricular” activities—and to avoid having to hide deep in the woods to drink—we did what many others were doing at the time: we hid the liquor in plain sight, only with a disguise.
And no, we didn’t just drink the mouthwash to catch a buzz. Give us some credit, will you?
What we did do, however, was buy some Scope from the drug store—which back then was within walking distance of my home; dump out the mouthwash; clean the bottle thoroughly; pour in our own alcohol mixture, which consisted only of clear liquors; add a little Crème de Menthe for color; shake and then drink to our hearts’ content.
Granted, you couldn’t just walk around taking slugs from a mouthwash bottle in public, but you could carry it with you and not worry about it being discovered by any frisky cops. And since the Crème de Menthe gave it a peppermint scent and flavor, you could easily explain why your breath smelled so fresh if questioned by party-busting officers later.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: teenagers will always find ways to obtain and use drugs and alcohol. My friends and I got creative with mouthwash over a quarter century ago, but today’s teens have evolved even further. The only problem is that the substances have evolved, too, and taking medications not prescribed to them—even if they come in the form of Dum Dum lollipops—is never a good idea.
Might I suggest a quick mouthwash run to the drug store instead?
Thomas DeCarlo Callaway—otherwise known as CeeLo Green—began his music career as a member of the Southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob, but many know him as one of the coaches on the NBC singing competition show The Voice. Unfortunately, the 38-year-old singer responsible for such hits as “Crazy” and “Forget You” is now performing in a different venue: criminal court.
Believe it or not, but CeeLo stands accused of slipping the drug Ecstasy to a 33-year-old woman during dinner in July of last year. They left the restaurant and returned to her hotel, but when the woman woke up the following morning, she was naked and CeeLo was still in her room. She later contacted the Los Angeles Police Department and filed a statement claiming the popular singer not only drugged her, but sexually assaulted her as well.
Fortunately for CeeLo, prosecutors decided not to file a rape charge against him due to “insufficient evidence.” Of course, he still faces a felony charge of furnishing a controlled substance, which could potentially land him in jail for up to four years if convicted. CeeLo appeared in court recently and pleaded not guilty—the judge set his bond at $30,000 and released him—but he is due to appear again on November 20th. And that’s when his real ordeal will begin.
According to the most recent reports, CeeLo plans to “responsibly address” the drug charge in court and is unafraid of the consequences since he knows that he’s innocent. In fact, his attorney Blair Berk almost makes it sound as if his client is looking forward to the opportunity to set things right.
“Mr. Green encouraged a full and complete investigation of those claims, and he was confident once conducted, he would be cleared of having any wrongful intent and it would be established that any relations were consensual,” Berk explained. “CeeLo had faith that if the true facts were known, the district attorney would reject those charges.”
With his trial date looming and his future on The Voice in question, life for this Grammy-winning recording artist over the next few months won’t get any easier. Of course, a few months of suffering would be preferable to spending several years in prison, so I hope things work out for him… unless he’s guilty, in which case I hope he pays for what he’s done.
Until we get official word, though, I say we give CeeLo the benefit of the doubt. The truth is likely to come out eventually…
As if Americans didn’t have enough problems already—from the government shutdown to the debt ceiling debate and everything in between—it now looks as if we have a new headache to worry about: krokodil or desomorphine… otherwise known as the “zombie drug.”
Krokodil is an injectable opiate derived from morphine that is cheaper and easier to produce than heroin, a drug for which it is sometimes substituted, often without users’ knowledge. It first appeared in Russia and the Ukraine several years ago and has since addicted more than 120,000 people, according to a recent study published by the International Journal of Drug Policy. And the consequences of using this highly addictive drug are pretty serious, believe me.
“It’s a zombie drug—it literally kills you from the inside out,” Dr. Abhin Singla from the Presence St. Joseph Medical Center in Illinois said recently. “If you want a way to die, this is a way to die.”
The drug—which is produced by combining things like codeine, paint thinner, iodine, lighter fluid and even gasoline—is highly impure and can be contaminated by all sorts of toxic chemicals—much like another drug that’s destroying our nation, crystal meth. Users experience a high similar to heroin after using krokodil and the withdrawal symptoms are equally intense, but check out some of the side effects: black or green scaled skin; vein and soft tissue damage; gangrene and necrosis; severe mutilations; decaying bone structure; sores and ulcers; rotting extremities, like ears and noses; liver and kidney problems; irrational thought and behavior; sleep deprivation and exhaustion; memory loss; speech problems; and quite a few more.
In other words, it isn’t a drug anyone should consider doing… at least not anyone who wants to live.
Unfortunately, it now looks as if this “zombie drug” has reached America. This past weekend alone, five people in Joliet, Illinois were hospitalized with symptoms similar to recent cases in Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah. Of course, a woman in Oklahoma City recently told a local television station about a friend who died from krokodil use last year.
“The doctors say it ate him from the inside out,” Chelle Fancher recounted. “It wasn’t until the next day that they told us that it was krokodil.”
Dr. Robert Geller of the Georgia Poison Center is aware of the drug—as are many doctors around the country— and fears this may only be the beginning of another drug epidemic.
“It’s not clear how widely used it is in the U.S.,” Geller said. “This may be an inexpensive high compared to other drugs, according to its reputation, but it is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms and be a real problem for users. My advice to would-be users is ‘don’t.’ This is a risky way to try and get high.”
Of course, warnings like this have done little to prevent the use of other dangerous substances in the past, so I fully expect to see more about this zombie drug in the news, preferably later rather than sooner. Not seeing it at all would be ideal, though.
I only hope no one tries to blame The Walking Dead for increasing the popularity of zombies and, by association, the zombie drug! Sometimes it’s simply weak human beings who are to blame, for goodness sake!
The ignorance of some of our fellow brothers and sisters never ceases to amaze me.
Check it out.
Unfortunately for this misguided jackass, the York Regional Police caught wind of his request—which obviously went viral—and responded with a tweet of their own.
And they didn’t stop there.
Since this pot-smoking genius was dumb enough to include both the name of the car shop and its address, an officer decided to forward his tweet to someone who would likely be interested to learn what his employee was up to: a member of the shop’s board of directors.
At this point, Cheech’s brain must have started functioning because he immediately tried to cover his tracks, once again on Twitter.
“Never knew weed smokers are more wanted in society than shooters & rapists,” his first tweet read. “Big smh to all of y’all.”
This obviously didn’t satisfy him because his second tweet shifted from defiance to denial: “People really think I’m serious with my tweets? MANNNNN.”
Shortly after his second tweet, our man-with-a-joint-in-his-hand decided to come clean, much like a child who lies and lies until the truth finally comes out and lies no longer work: “Can’t lie, stupid move but would y’all have noticed that tweet if [York Regional Police] didn’t retweet it?”
Sadly, it was too late and the damage had already been done—his last tweet read simply “Just got the call of termination.”
And then he deleted his Twitter account, which was undoubtedly his smartest move in this whole ridiculous situation.
Of course, the story doesn’t end there. York Police followed up with two more tweets, both of which should be considered by anyone hoping to solicit illegal drugs through social networking.
Some people just never learn…