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Monday, June 14, 2010

Massachusetts Embraces Faustian Economics

With a trifecta of casinos in the offing for Massachusetts, will the state’s wager on casino gambling prove to be an investment in Faustian economics? Without question, the state’s balance sheet and several local communities will benefit. But there will be collateral damage. If you or your loved ones are among the body count, be sure to tell your nearest chapter of Gamblers Anonymous that Wig & Pen sent you.   You can drop in unannounced on regularly scheduled meetings throughout the state. And if you’re in Latvia, there are Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday night gatherings in Riga.

But when all is said and done, nothing prevents a tumble from grace more swimmingly than prevention. In yeoperson work for the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, a public health professional and a library science maven have tackled gateway gambling issues that plague Indiana teens. On page 22 of their study, they depict decks of Jack O Lantern and Candy Corn playing cards, a toy roulette wheel, and a Monopoly board under the heading, Gateway Gambling?

One state over in Champaign, Illinois, the YMCA is offering a youth camping experience that the Indiana duo would no doubt abhor. There’s probably still time for you to enroll the underage members of your family.

The Blood Is the Life. While on the topic of Gamblers’ Anonymous, isn’t the vampire a splendid candidate for 12-step intervention? I'm talking intervention via affinity groups that pay more than lip service to Romanian language skills, the non-kitchen uses of garlic and oregano, and so forth. The vampire’s subversive appeal, after all, is that—like a well-adjusted Victorian—you can relate to the generic compulsion that accompanies addictiveness, while the addiction itself remains at an unreachable distance from your own—be it sex, drugs, or philately. (Lamentably, I recently learned that my 12-step proposal was not the first: Vampires Anonymous, a camp flic released in 2000, explores the phenomenon, but not apparently with much success. The Internet Movie Data Base panned it with a rating of 4.9 out of 10.)

Just like any addiction worth its cred, the vampire’s has its own gateway dynamics. To that end, Wig & Pen leaves you with a photo of the the hapless accolyte Renfield  from Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. Over the course of the movie, Renfield, played by the hyperbolic Dwight Frye,  works his way up the food chain from flies to spiders to rats. Before his untimely death at the hands of his master, he's just begun to explore humans, but with the experimental tentativeness of  a protopubescent.

Substitute M&Ms, petits fours, and, Crispy Creams:  Don't Renfield's rantings have universal, cautionary bite?

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