Thursday, August 8, 2013

Edward Lee Howard

In Chapter Four "The Traitor's Disease" of my book I describe the case of  Edward Lee Howard, one of America's most destructive alcoholic traitors. I leave off the description of his treachery in the mid 1980's when, learning American authorities were on his tail, he escaped to Moscow.

Now Robert Stone has brought me up-to-date. In today's Wall Street Journal Stone expresses doubt about the official explanation for Howard's reported 2002 death in Moscow. The Russians claimed he died in a "drunken fall" in his dacha. Stone speculates instead that he may have been murdered by the Russians to eliminate a potential embarrassment in their relationship with the USA.

Perhaps. But people in the late-stages of alcoholism have been known to die in falls just as in the early to middle stages when their egomania is at its peak they tend to look for ways to express their need for power. For some in a position to do so, as was the CIA-trained Howard, that meant embarking on that ultimate power trip, betrayal of one's country.

I have no problem believing that the underlying cause of Howard's treachery and his flight to Moscow also led, years later, to his death: alcoholism.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Should an Alcoholic Be Allowed to Get a Second Liver Transplant?

Considering the question of how to allocate a scarce resource: human organs

Theodore Dalrymple

 ... A newspaper in England asked me to write an article, for what for me was a considerable sum of money, to opine that a certain very famous soccer player, who had turned severely to drink after his retirement, should not be given a second liver transplant, the first having failed because of his continued drinking. The player in question was not admirable, but he did say one memorable thing. Impoverished by his habits, an interviewer asked him where all his money had gone. “Wine, women and song,” he replied. “The rest I wasted.”

I told the newspaper that, as a practising doctor, I could not possibly write an article saying that a named person should be left to die without potentially life-saving treatment.

“Do you know a doctor who would write it?” the editor asked.

“I hope not,” I replied.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How Alcohol Has Steered American History

by Susan Cheever

From the Pilgrims' pit-stop at Plymouth Rock, to the murder of Abe Lincoln, to Wall Street's meltdown, booze has played a pivotal role in our nation's most momentous events. But we prefer to ignore its profound impact.  


Many of the darkest episodes in our history, not surprisingly, also include alcohol. John Wilkes Booth reeked of brandy as he ran from Ford’s Theater after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose anti-communist witch hunts in the early 1950s destroyed many valuable careers from Washington, DC, to Hollywood, died in Bethesda Naval Hospital of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48. “McCarthy was an alcoholic, and his alcoholism explains his infamous behavior,” writes historian James Graham in Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power: The Secret History of Alcoholism.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The vilest man in showbiz: Oliver Reed

by Tony Rennell

The boyishly handsome actor David Hemmings was up for a giggle on the set of his first major film in 1963, and his fellow star, the macho Oliver Reed, dared him to hang upside down outside the second-floor window of the hotel they were staying in, promising he’d hold on to him and not let him fall. The 21-year-old Hemmings stupidly agreed.

As he hung there, staring down on a vicious set of spiked railings 60ft below, he heard the dark and dangerous Reed growl threateningly from above, ‘How do you like this, boy?’ followed by a mocking: ‘Wanna come up, boy?’

The terrified Hemmings asked to be hauled back in — and was. But for the rest of his life he admitted to being wary of Reed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sometimes interventions do not work

Edward Lowe Dies at 75; a Hunch Led Him to Create Kitty Litter

Mr. Lowe, who denied he had a serious drinking problem, said his three daughters had joined Alanon, an organization for children of alcoholics, as a ruse. The daughters said they were simply trying to understand what they regarded as his strange behavior. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Charles Jackson

Hero Without a Sequel: Charles Jackson Revisited

April 29th, 2013  
“I’M ABSOLUTELY HOPELESS,” Charles Jackson told an AA meeting in 1959. “I’ve written a book that’s been called the definitive picture of the alcoholic, and it did me no good.” It had been 15 years since Jackson published The Lost Weekend, 14 years since the novel had been turned into an Oscar-winning film, and about five years since Jackson had become a regular (if perpetually relapsing) member of AA.
His “definitive picture” had been a success in almost every way imaginable. Published eight years after Jackson got sober for the first time in 1936, The Lost Weekend offered a merciless (largely autobiographical) account of one bender in the life of an alcoholic named Don Birnam. It sold more than 800,000 copies over the course of Jackson’s lifetime. The New York Times praised it as “the most compelling gift to the literature of addiction since De Quincey.” Sinclair Lewis called it “the only unflinching story of an alcoholic that I have ever read.” Doctors loved it; drinkers loved it; teetotalers loved it (though Jackson didn’t love that they loved it); even the liquor industry loved it. Their trade magazine The Beverage Times ran a lengthy interview with Jackson in which he affirmed the possibility of healthy social drinking — labeling “drunks” as people with a disease effectively sanctioned drinking for everyone who wasn’t one.

Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan, the Love Generation’s prickly and whimsical poet-novelist, died what the sheriff’s report termed an “unattended death” on September 16, 1984. Having committed suicide with one of his beloved Smith & Wesson revolvers, Brautigan was not discovered in his home in Bolinas, California until October 25, at which point he needed to be “scooped[ed] up with a shovel”.

 ...  Brautigan always carried the seed of alcoholism, but success enabled it to flourish. Jubilee Hitchhiker becomes a story of decline when Brautigan builds a house outside Livingston, Montana – “twenty-four bars and an equal number of churches” – to live among a macho milieu of hard drinkers, gunslingers and philanderers including Thomas McGuane, Peter Fonda, Jimmy Buffett ...

 ... He became every host’s nightmare: “One, he brought uninvited guests. Two, he was already drunk. Three, he had a .357 Magnum with him”.

Oscar De La Hoya

Round 2: De La Hoya’s sex pal asks Manhattan appeals court  to reinstate $5M assault case against boxing champ

Read more: 

Previously ...

Oscar De La Hoya's drinking, cocaine abuse put boxer in rehab: Report

Monday, April 29, 2013

David Potts, Private Eye 'Socialite of the Year' and councillor who laid bare his alcoholism, dies aged 30

"In an interview he said he could sometimes consume up to 70 units of alcohol a day, downing a bottle of vodka before going to work as a financial investor.
"He would sip from a hip flask during the morning, then have up to eight gin and tonics at lunchtime.
"Mr Potts blamed only himself, saying in February: "I don't feel sorry for myself, I've brought this on myself. I am paying now for my addiction to alcohol.
""I'd warn other young people to take a lesson from my book. Alcoholism is ugly and pernicious.""

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Concerning Senator Thomas J Dodd

From the obituary of Michael O'Hare former staff member of the late Connecticut senator 

... "Mr. Dodd strongly rebutted Mr. O’Hare’s testimony, called his bookkeeping “sloppy,” and said his previous confidence in the aide was “misplaced.” Mr. Boyd suggested that the senator needed to discredit Mr. O’Hare’s testimony because “it could put Dodd in jail if it wasn’t broken.”

"As a result, the case often became the word of the senator against the word of his bookkeeper. The two gave different accounts about who had signed the senator’s personal checks at various times. Ms. O’Hare said that if her husband had not lent his authority to the investigation, “it wouldn’t have stuck — and Dodd knew that.”

"In March 1967, Pearson and Anderson wrote a column purporting to explain Mr. Dodd’s lapses. They said he was an alcoholic, an accusation Mr. Boyd said was correct. The columnists, presumably quoting Mr. O’Hare, said he ordered whiskey for the senator, called his home to say Mr. Dodd would be late on Senate business when he was inebriated, and then took him home when he had sobered up sufficiently."