I work across the street from a large car dealership in Sioux Falls, SD. The block on the left houses hundreds of late-model Hondas. The block in front of my work window has its own lot and showroom, much smaller than Big Dad across the street, and houses a much more eccentric collection of two and four-wheel vehicles. I ventured across the lot and entered the show room for the first time today. Inside there were vehicles stacked front to back and side to side with only enough room between them to open a door. Among the “weird kids” this day (a term I use with great affection and respect with both cars and human beings) were six…count ‘em, six…spotless 1970’s Pontiac Trans Am muscle cars. Three of the five were 1979 models, each sporting the iconic “Firebird” decal. The word “Iconic” seems to fit, as it is inclusive of those who love the ‘Bird’ as the talisman of auto muscle, and those who find it quite possibly the most grotesque piece of car decoration ever. While historically I’ve leaned closer to the latter, time has taught me that like people, you deal with automobiles where you find them, not where you’d like them to be.
A salesperson rushed over to me, apparently not used to having some dude walk in off the street and immediately start snapping photos. Seeing I wasn’t a disgruntled customer, a private investigator or a burglar casing the joint, he was quick to add information on the three ‘79’s. He said one of them was originally sold in Deadwood. I replied with the dumbest question of the day: “So Deadwood once has a Pontiac dealer?” “Apparently”, he deadpanned.
On the opposite side of the showroom was something, well, opposite. Next to each othere were a 1947 and 1948 Indian motorcycles. The salesman said what made them interesting is that while they had been completely refurbished on the inside, the outsides hadn’t been touched. In fact, they hadn’t even been washed. On the outside you had two dusty, slightly oily and rode hard Indians, while on the inside you had two completely refreshed bikes. Yes, by today’s standards they are primitive (and with suicide clutches quite dangerous), they remain the real deal. More cool old stuff from lot soon.
Fresh from a night’s dreams filled with enough coronas to fill a large Yeti cooler, eclipse followers in Sioux Falls, SD were stunned and even a bit frightened Tuesday when at the appointed hour of 1:01pm CDT the skies turned dark, winds whipped, and large booming noises preceded a biblically-sized, seemingly non-stop deluge. Many automobiles suddenly stopped running, roadways were blocked, and leaves, branches and thoroughly confused squirrels were ripped from tree limbs. Several of the observers fell to their knees, screaming “I told you so!”, referring to their predictions that the eclipse was actually the beginning of the Apocalypse. Not far away, another group was observed manically laughing and dancing nude in a circle around what had been a bon fire. One rather large dancer wearing only a full-body tattoo of the “Keep On Truckin'” guy explained that members of the group had been planning for the End of Times for months by running credit cards up to the $25,000 limit, buying $5000 bottles of tequila, King Cab diesel dually pickups and Powerball tickets, knowing the end of the World as We Know It would make their hedonistic debts uncollectible.
Many were later observed walking around stunned and confused (and in some cases naked, cold and crying) after receiving news that what they thought was the Rapture and/or the first No Interest Or Payments For An Eternity Visa Card was actually a thunderstorm. T shirt sales, however, were said to be brisk.
What a sweet surprise today. While opening Facebook I saw the following piece from Today’s City Pages website. For those who don’t know, City Pages is the long-time surviving and leading alternative weekly in the Twin Cities. The young lady in the story is Jenny, who happens to be the daughter of my oldest pal Jerry. I know he’s proud of her, as are the rest of her family and friends. And with very good reason.
To me, Jenny is a wonderful example of the great things that can happen when the stigma of addiction is broken. Addiction is not a moral failing or weakness any more than are cancer or a broken arm. Addiction is an illness that can be cured. It is also one of the most devastating public health crises in the country today, costing us all billions of dollars, and costing us the lives of those we love most. It’s also overwhelmingly common, touching just about everyone in one way or another. Yet in far too many cases it is treated either like the proverbial crazy aunt living in the attic; hidden away, not to be talked about, and something to be feared and ashamed of.,,or as a moral failure, a lack of character, and a sin.
Full disclosure: I’ve been in recovery a few months short of 9 years, and am currently working as an Addiction Peer Recovery Coach at Face It TOGETHER-Sioux Fall Every day I see broken people and families devastated by addiction. I also see these same people and families get well and live remarkable lives. Unfortunately, there are still millions who want to punish addicts instead of helping them, and jail addicts instead of getting them the help than can make them well again Jenny is a great example of what can and does happen when we work hard and have the support of those around us. She’s already changing lives. And she’s just getting started.