Saturday, August 21, 2010


For the second time in two days I heard the expression "Southie Sobriety", named for the traditionally working class Boston-Irish neighborhood plagued by alcoholism since its inception and ravaged by heroin and suicide in the 1970's - it's mostly gentrified now. Southie Sobriety refers to a way of getting over on your PO or your meeting or your sponsor and it calls for taking super high doses of Neurontin (not a controlled substance and easier to get than candy) and washing it down with Red Bull. Intoxication beyond detection. A heroin addicted girl, who just turned twenty in detox, told me about it yesterday with a smile like she was a double agent providing a piece of intelligence.  It gets you drunk without the hangover, and you won't pop on any piss test. And the guy tonight, he said it feels like a short manic episode. Well, I don't know which it is, but I do know people go a long, long way just to get outside their own heads for a little while.

On the way back here I walked through the Latin American festival downtown. It's all sectioned off and there's a couple of thousand people down there around city hall. The music is there, the beer garden, the street food and souvenir sellers. Parades of cars in the area flying Puerto Rican flags and blaring salsa music are there as they are every year, but something is missing. I'm walking through a sea of people looking for some good street food and I'm looking at all the faces in front of the bandstand and they are, almost all, stone. The stage is huge, the band is good, but almost nobody dances - almost no body's smiling. I look to a two year old girl, lost in clouds of swirling bubbles, for relief. An almost joyless festival at sunset. Night is coming. The police are out in force around the edges of the thing and they are going to close it down tight at 9pm sharp. Makes me wonder what the night has in store.

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