The Sunday New York Times today (June 10, 2012) has some rich rewards within its pages.
–A very well-written feature on a group of elderly women in a public-housing apartment building in New York City. They’ve become friends, rallying around one who lost her daughter to a stabbing attack. What could have been a brief or shallow look at a bunch of old gals who bring each other coffee is instead a thoughtful and evocative essay on late-in-life friendship. Reporter John Leland should be proud…as should the headline writer who came up with “The Neighbors Who Don’t Knock.”
–The kindness in that piece may be counteracted by the one headlined “Forced to Early Social Security, Unemployed Pay a Steep Price.” I’m saving that one to read later. No need to ruin the mood immediately. (Plus, I know several people who are taking their Social Security early, so I can predict some of the findings.)
–The centerpiece on A-1, “Risky Rise of the Good Grade Pill,” about kids snorting their way to longer attention spans is a major (pardon the pun) downer. The problem is enormous. Adderall, Ritalin and other drugs prescribed to treat ADHD and other conditions are swallowed or crushed and snorted by students from all walks of life to allow for high energy and “tunnel” concentration that is perfect for taking college boards and other tests. With abuse, the resulting damage to health (of both body and mind) is invariably serious. Most sobering is the observation that many kids taking the drugs are unaware that the pills are amphetamines, and that sharing them with others can be the same as selling them, which is a felony. The story is well reported and well written. Reporter Alan Schwartz did a ton of legwork for this one. Among the take-aways for me: (1) There is no mystery as to why so few sources would let their names be used, but watch as Big Pharma manufacturers use the lack of conventional attribution as they refute the size of the problem. (2) I would have been popping these things with both hands if they’d been available when I was in high school.
–The impressive Sunday magazine cover story by Amos Kamil on abuse in the prestigious Horace Mann School in New York is also very well done. But, for God’s sake — I’m beginning to wonder how any kids manage to escape such predators. I was raised to keep a weather eye out for dangerous guys (they were always “guys”) presumably prison escapees who waited in the bushes on the route home from school. What do you tell a kid now? Watch our for priests, teachers, coaches, babysitters, doctors, Scout leaders and camp counselors? No wonder so many kids are snorting their ‘scripts. You need energy and powerful focus to dodge all these dirtbags.
Finally, there’s the Q&A with author John Irving in the Book Review. When asked which famous author he’d like to meet, he replies that he prefers reading writers to meeting them. Excellent answer.