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2021: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Updated: Aug 13, 2023


January 6, 2021: Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em. Image Source: Ayamann Ismail, “What I Saw Inside the Capitol Riot,” Slate, Jan. 7, 2021.

Editor’s Note: Founding Points Co-Editor Trysh Travis wraps up 2021 for us and gives a preview of what’s to come on Points in 2022. See you in the new year!

As another Covid year closes out, Points readers may find themselves wondering whether a historical perspective on alcohol and drugs is really useful—or even possible, given the unprecedented nature of our lives right now. Maybe critique is overrated and use and abuse is where it’s at?

While the editorial team shares this existential quandary, we continue to live by those immortal words of Frederic Jameson: “always historicize!” Understanding The-Endemic-We- Are-Now-Living as a historical formation, rather than simply a swirling shit show with no end in sight, is of course challenging. I guess that’s why Jameson also reminds us that “history is what hurts.”

A logical segue here would be to a discussion about last week’s decision by Judge Colleen McMahon to overturn the Purdue Pharma settlement. Was McMahon channeling Jameson when she ruled that the Sackler family should not be shielded from the hurt-full history of the OxyContin epidemic? This is the kind of question that people come to Points to ask and answer.

But you know what? The editorial team needs a break. This post announces a brief hiatus while we rest and recover from the year, and invite you to do so as well. When we come back, it’s going to be serious party time, because, believe it or not, January 2022 marks TEN YEARS since Points was founded. We are celebrating the event with a new and improved layout and, to kick off the year, something you won’t find anywhere else in the blogosphere, our very own Methadone Festival!

If you think that sounds crazy, it’s because you have not seen award-winning documentarian Jim Klein and Julia Reichert’s 1974 cinema verite classic Methadone: An American Way of Dealing—but you’ll be able to see it here on Points! This film is not available through streaming services, but thanks to the generosity of Jim Klein, we’ll be offering access to it through the site beginning in mid-January. Later in the month, you can find scintillating comments on all the issues it raises (and there are plenty) from an all-star cast of Points stalwarts.

Founding Co-Editor Joe Spillane will kick off the series with some meditations on The Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972 (Public Law 92-255), which mainstreamed the use of methadone. Additional commentaries will follow from Managing Editor Emerita Emily Dufton, Contributing Editor Emerita Nancy Campbell, former contributor Samuel K. Roberts, and dazzling newcomer David Frank. I’m your guide Trysh Travis, and I’ll round out the series with an interview with filmmaker Jim Klein—and all this will unfold within a brand new beautiful layout.

So kids, close your browsers, hang up a stocking, make a gingerbread house, go sledding, or just take a nap—anything to put a cork in 2021 and prepare for a new year of alcohol and drug historicizing. History may be what hurts, but at Points, it hurts so good. See you back here in the new year!



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