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18-Oct-2004 - The Crystal Prison

17-Oct-2004 - What If There's a Tie?

16-Oct-2004 - Notable Quotes, Volume 3

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13-Oct-2004 - Notable Quotes, Volume 2

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12-Oct-2004 - Ranked Choice Voting Hits San Francisco

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7-Oct-2004 - Prince Adares Shows Signs of Royal Affinity

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October 18, 2004

The Crystal Prison

The Scissor Sisters
A few days ago, I bought the eponymous album of my current favorite band, the Scissor Sisters. The last track on the album, Return to Oz, jumped out at me.

As a kid, I was obsessed with L. Frank Baum's Oz books. I read them all, over and over and over, for years. I couldn't quite make out all of the lyrics to the song, but there were clear references to the Oz books: from Ozma of Oz, the wind-up man (Tiktok), the wheelies, and the queen with a hundred heads, Princess Langwidere (who actually only had 30 heads, and who lived in a palace of mirrors so she could admire them all); from The Patchwork Girl of Oz, the Patchwork Girl and potentially the four-leaf clover (a possible reference to Ojo's six-leaf clover); and the Skeksis, a possible reference to the Skeezers in Glinda of Oz, though more likely a reference to Frank Oz's film The Dark Crystal.

I knew the song was an allegory, but I couldn't make out enough of the lyrics to understand it. The I discovered the lyrics around the same time that I found an About.com interview with one of the band members, Baby Daddy, who comments on the song:

DJ Ron Slomowicz,, About.com editor: Is "Return to Oz" based on a specific experience or speaking about expectations?

Baby Daddy: You'd have to ask Jake [Shears] about that, I think he wrote with Seattle in mind, with all the crystal meth tragedy over there. To me it's a song about San Francisco and to a lot of others it's about New York but it can be about anywhere. I wouldn't say that it was one specific incident, but I think everyone in the band and in our group of friends has been touched in some way by the problems it's talking about. It is talking about the problems of the homogenization of the gay community and people losing themselves in self-deprecation, then losing themselves in an escape that's not a positive escape. It's a retracting from reality.

Crystal meth. Short for crystal methamphetamines. Also known as tina, krank, tweak, and ice.

The scourge of a generation of gay youth.

Look, I'm not a prude when it comes to experimentation. I've tried my share of different things. Not as many as some of my friends, perhaps, but enough to feel satisfied that I've "sown my oats," so to speak. I don't judge my friends and peers who continue to play around with them.

But I haven't tried Tina. Just like I haven't tried shooting up heroin.

Tina's different. Tina's a harsh mistress.

She works so quickly. She's addictive - hard-core, intense, immediate.


Resources

    Tweaker.org

    Magnet

    Crystal Meth Anonymous

 


It's easy to say that it's just for fun, just for weekends or parties, just casual. But I've seen her work. Friends and acquaintances who came down with HIV after being too high to be careful. (I've also seen the inverse: friends who turned to crystal meth to numb themselves after discovering they were positive.) Who lost their jobs because they couldn't handle their addiction. Who ended up homeless because their money went for drugs instead of rent. Who ended up in jail after being arrested for breaking-and-entering to finance their habit.

This isn't one person. And it isn't friend-of-friend anecdotes. I run with a pretty clean crowd, but it would take more than two hands to count the number of people I personally know whose lives have been harmed or ruined by the ravages of crystal methamphetamines. And though so many people I know have used ecstasy and other party drugs, none have suffered the way those who use Tina have.

Tina is cutting a swath of death and destruction through the gay community. I take a live and let live attitude to most things, but not this one. Not this time. How many times have I found myself watching another life ruined? Too many.

There's help. Tweaker.org may be controversial to some because it doesn't condemn the community it serves - but that's what makes them effective. In San Francisco, Magnet provides free HIV and STD-testing, but also hosts special events relating to recovery and can provide recommendations for recovery resources. And Crystal Meth Anonymous offers a more traditional 12-step approach to recovery.

Like Princess Langwidere in her palace of mirrors, Tina offers the promise of love and beauty and happiness and comfort. But her crystal palace is nothing more than a dark crystal prison.

 

2004. All original articles and commentaries published on this site remain the copyright of Kevin C. Goebel except where otherwise attributed. You may use excerpts with an attributed to The Imperial Gazette and a link to either www.cosmomovieawards.com/ig or directly to the excerpted article. For additional information, or to be alerted for new articles and updates, please email the Royal Scribe.