Sunday, October 30, 2005

Day 24: Austin

Holly and I headed out from San Antonio to Austin, which is only about an hour and a half north. Not too bad.

We had a few tip-offs on what to see when in Austin, so we stuck to those at first. Seeing the San Jose Hotel was fascinating. A kind of Zen-inspired hotel. Then we drove 6th street, where a good part of South by Southwest takes place. That street has made several artists. The we headed to the University area.

Now, I'll tell ya, I've been to several university towns in TX before and none of them felt like Austin. Parts actually felt like Berkeley. Wow. That was refreshing.

Then Holly and I headed over to the Capitol Building. Yes, Austin is the capitol of TX. And who knew, but there was a book fair going on along with several lecturers. Wow. And it was free. (If the next part bores you, skip down a few paragraphs...)

Holly and I caught an hour or so of a lecture called "Overdrugged in America" with Greg Critser and John Hoberman. Wow. Unbelievable information to hear about.

Knowing so many folks who are on mood-altering drugs, this was a fascinating lecture to sit in on. They discussed the two sides of the pharmaceutical companies: One side that essentially a benefactor of mankind and one side that is an amoral money-making machine. I disagree with the last part; I think they are part immoral money-making machines. You might just agree if you heard some of the stories of their so-called experiments posed as solutions or their marketing rules. But I digress.

It was strange to hear a brief history of depression in America. Whereas 20 years ago, a person would walk into their doctor and say, "I'm feeling blue" or "I can't seem to get myself motivated" or "I just don't want to do anything" and the doctor might attempt to prescribe therapy or early forms of mood-altering drugs, now many college students are walking into their school counselor and saying, "I think I might have a saratonin imbalance" or "I am depressed. Would you prescribe for me _______."

Wow. That shows how these mood-altering drugs have so made their way into our dominant national narrative. The pharma companies (who still no doubt have helped several of my friends) are on a mission to sell as much of their drugs as they can. In fact it is so bad that almost without blinking an eye, doctors are just putting people on anti-depressants. The magic pill.

Another interesting point is how folks are dealing with their children's ADHD and ADD. And how several adults are taking Riddlin. That's another post for another day. They called it 'work place doping' and compared it to sports doping. Wow.

An intersting sum-up is this: The word pharmacon (greek) means both 'remedy' and 'poison'. Hmm.

What a long post. So sorry. Anyway, then we headed to the Oak Grove Abbey. What a wonderful community of people. Did a show behind a huge sound system. Saw the Joneses. That's a set of Joneses I wouldn't mind keeping up with. Had great beer and a wonderful time talking to several friends.

An enchanted time.

1 comment: said...

VEGGIE HEAVEN is my fav place in Austin-on Guadelupe St... the old owner used to run a cult with her 'doctrine' right in the menu...classic.

oh and a lot of those college kids deal those anti-depressents/mood altering/ADD drugs... I guess those ADD drugs give u a lot of studying stamina to pull all nighters. the things you learn at a baptist school.