Odd. Nobody at my 5:30 P.M. recovery meeting mentioned that today was National Wine Day.
Like the late DLA Piper law associate, David Messerschmidt, Dr. Kiersten Cerveny had a secret.
Messerschmidt would seek out paid recreational gay sex and was murdered in a bizarre situation of a woman posing as a gay man. Cerveny's hidden activity involved cocaine and excess boozing. Last October she died of an overdose outside a Manhattan apartment building. She left behind her career as a doctor, husband, and children.
Now, HBO producer Marc Johnson and a former convict James Holder have been arrested in connection with that death. The charge is distribution of cocaine. After she collapsed, they put her in front of the building. One called 911. Both fled. Here are details from the New York Post.
Johnson's career could be on the skids too. After that October incident he had taken time off from his job as producer of "The Deuce" at HBO. Previously, he had been nominated for an Emmy for his input on Michael Moore's "The Awful Truth."
Look around Tombstone, Arizona. Most of the manpower belong to the Baby Boomer or Silent Generation.
As my companion noted, "This is their dream. Driving a stagecoach around the dusty streets of this old mining town." Another companion observed, "They are in their element."
Actually, that was so much so that we all went to the real estate office to find out about property for sale. The ethos was days of heaven.
You bet, we could make a life for ourselves and run our remote businesses. Or get one of the myriad jobs serving beer in the authentic bar from the 19th century, staging shoot-outs on the street at appointed hours, giving tours of the courthouse and behind it where the hangings were done, and maintaining the horses.
All three of us were professionals. Still are. Minus the fierce ambition.
One of us had the dream of becoming partner in a large Chicago law firm. That didn't happen. He did well enough teaching English as a Second Language. The other dreamed of being a noted policy analyst. That didn't happen but he made a bundle administering the policies of a major health insurer. Me? I dreamed in six years of graduate school of establishing a new school of literary criticism. Of course that didn't happen but I am pleased that I did find a career in writing and ghostwriting.
Not one of the workers in Tombstone seemed like they had gone through any career dark night of the soul. With holsters and guns they strutted Tombstone like they owned it. And maybe they did. It's a tourist town. The property and props could be theirs.
The boom years for Tombstone were 1877 through 1890. The mine turned out millions in silver. Animal spirits ran high. And the graveyard is filled of men killed in gun fights. One gravestone notes that the man interred was wrongly hanged. A placket near a horse's watering hole notes that's where a marshal was murdered.
That devil-may-care attitude still hovers. Unlike most tourist spots, there's no hustling. We were the ones who had to approach the stagecoach driver about the cost of the ride. Food is priced as if it weren't a tourist spot.
The pull force is profound. My friends and I have been back once more. Soon enough one of us will figure out how to worm our way into the scene. I had done that in Salem, Massachusetts, before it went commercial. Just hang out. The regulars will notice you.
Here you can read that tale of how intense periods of work are often followed by excessive boozing. One especially nasty aspect of that is the aggressiveness. No, you can't demur, "Thank you, but I don't drink." The social pressure can be brutal. That's because it often comes from the top of the food chain.
So, lawyers can feel they're not alone in being in a setting in which the center, to quote W.B. Yeats, cannot hold. No niche player can long continue being at the top of the game if the dynamics are built on the ethos of boozing. Sure, it often takes time for the collapse. But, in time, it is certain to happen.
I bore witness to that in the ghostwriting/speechwriting business. In the Fortune 100, we were the high priests of the public affairs departments. After all, we put together those opinion-editorials for executive bylines which were published in The Wall Street Journal. And we composed the keynote speeches which were reprinted in The New York Times as well as brochures distributed to shareholders.
Most of us believed we were immune to the consequences of our excess drinking. We were wrong. After Enron and 9/11, there was a recession in our very narrow niche. Primarily because of boozing those put out of the game never were able to return.
Among the startups I do assignments for, I am seeing that same magical thinking about immunity. One consequence is the bad judgment which lands founders in prison. Another is the business risk which shouldn't have been taken.
Booze is, as Native Americans put it, fire water.
"The Food and Drug Administration plans to re-evaluate its official definition of what constitutes 'healthy' food. An update to that agency's meaning of the term could have direct effect on how food companies today market their products ... The FDA has sought public input on the use and appropriate definition of that term as well." - Jon Gingerich, "FDA Examines Definition of 'Healthy,'" in O'Dwyer's, May 11, 2016. Here is the article.
The review process will likely take years. So marketers of food products are caught in limbo.
Meanwhile many consumers have decided to do their own research on the Internet versus trusting marketing claims about "healthy." Also, this kind of research is increasingly needed.
Myriad primary care medical doctors warn of emerging medical problems associated with food consumption. But few provide concrete guidance. Not even a list of foods to avoid is handed out.
One function of current labeling is to specify the raw amounts of cholesterol, fat, and carbohydrates. Based on those numbers, consumers can make food choices which align with their own dietary guidelines. The pre-diabetic has one set. The obese child another.
When I walked into the restaurant the man who had asked me out had already ordered. For himself. No, it wasn't just a drink. It was the whole enchilada. I froze. Should I leave now? I should have. All it would have taken was to excuse myself to dial one number. Then I would explain that President Obama needed me to punch up the speech his staff had put together for him. How could anyone push back against such a duty for country?
Instead I stayed. I ordered a simple salad. "What is your purpose in life?" That's what he asked.
By that time my back was up. "To stay alive. My family has a suicide gene." He should have blinked. Had he been listening. But he wasn't. Although no spring chicken he explained how he was going to change the world through the movement to bring power to the community. Hey, didn't I try that several decades ago during the Counterculture.
We did walk then to the bookstore. Then, with a big hug, a cloud of dust and hi-ho Silver, this strange creature was gone. Fortunately, this week is booked with complex assignments. Including already one all-nighter and it's only Tuesday. I am too overwhelmed to look again for romance. Maybe I should keep it that way.
Single law associates, be grateful you have no opportunity to hunt for love.
The Better-Call-Saul tone of his ads positioned and packaged him as the enemy of drunk drivers. The message was that his firm took personally any harm done by drunk drivers. Therefore, it was in the injured self-interest to select Maloney to represent them.
However, he may have to tone down that advertising.
As the Daily Mail reports, he was arrested and booked for alleged driving under the influence about 2 A.M. Mother's Day. In addition, he allegedly had been speeding. A bit before 10 A.M. he was released on $500 bail.
If he truly was driving while intoxicated, he might not have been aware of that. Alcohol dulls the senses as well as judgment. So many even normal drinkers, never mind problem ones, had no notion they shouldn't have been driving. Others might have already gone into a blackout and were unaware they had chosen to drive after consuming a significant amount of alcohol. After ingesting any alcohol, it's smart to just Uber it. Then again Uber it after sleeping it off to retrieve one's vehicle.
Maloney's competition will probably take full advantage of this opportunity. If they are good at marketing, they will be able to turn the Maloney brand into a joke.
In June, the book "Girl Walks Out of a Bar" will be published by SelectBoosk. In it, lawyer Lisa F. Smith tells her story of addiction to booze, then cocaine. Here, Christine Simmons at the New York Law Journal interviews Smith.
In the coverage, Simmons cites what probably are not surprising statistics. A recent study by the American Bar Association and the Hazeldon Betty Ford Foundation found that one-third of practicing lawyers have a drinking problem. Also 28 percent experience clinical depression.
Those of us in the rooms of recovery who are female and successful professionals identify with Smith's feelings. She frames herself as an overachiever who felt less-than.
No coincidence, an in-house female lawyer, who made a serious attempt at suicide, had that as a mantra. She couldn't shake her sense of inferiority. Not even after a long stretch in recovery.
A week ago, a retired mechanical engineer, who became a chief executive officer twice, recounted at a recovery speaker meeting how unsure of herself she had been during her whole career. Being in high angst spanned the time before she developed a drinking problem, during it, and at least a decade into recovery.
Growing in up in Machine-run Jersey City, New Jersey, before gentrification, I was a sitting duck for below-zero self-esteem. We stood in the shadow of Manhattan. Instead of having fantasies of working there with a Don Draper from "Mad Men," I was among those who assumed we weren't good enough. As with the mechanical engineer, becoming sober didn't fix that. It simply made navigating my life a bit easier. But not a platform for inner peace.
To feel like I could stand toe-to-toe with the world required I flee the media capital of the world: the New York Metro area. That's where I had conducted most of my career in communications. The internal suffering was brutal. Here for 25 months far away from New York Metro (Tucson, Arizona), I am getting a hang of being equal. At least some days. The other days ...
The takeaway from Smith's drinking memoir may be that there are still females who haven't made it to the Promised Land of being at ease in the world. Somehow we never surfed the three huge waves of feminism. If we are among them, we better watch our drinking habits.
There is that strange voodoo which is set in play when a female or male who commits a high-profile vicious crime receives a life sentence without chance of parole. Love is in the air.
Arias, though, has helped romance along by corresponding with her male admirers on SKYPE. Weekly, reports the Daily Mail, she receives marriage proposals.
She has accepted one. And is in the midst of planning an elaborate wedding inside the Arizona prison and would like to have children.
However, she and her husband to be are in for a disappointment as to the wedding per se - and what happens afterward. Prison rules only permit a 15-minute ceremony in the cafeteria. There will be no typical wedding reception cuisine. Only a few cupcakes are allowed. Also, no conjugal visits are allowed.
The big business of online dating services should analyze the dynamics of prison romances. Then they can advise their clients on how to leverage some of that voodoo.
The good news is that behavior was caught on video, so there is evidence. In addition, no one was injured. How Bessemer fares in the legal system is another matter. He does have a history of mental illness. Here is the coverage in the Daily Mail.
The concern for consumers is that there could be many more Bessemers around. That could especially be the situation now that he has received media attention. These are nutty times in which fame is everything, even if acquired as a miscreant.
So, salad bars, scoop food yourself bins, and produce on shelves should now be considered a dangerous way of marketing edibles. Actually, for years food safety experts have warned how vulnerable we consumers are who opt to purchase food in this way. Well, that grim scenario has played out.
You bet, it will tack on added cost to distribute in safer ways. Instead of a salad bar, we will have to order at the counter or in a shrink-wrapped package the salad we want. But the odds are we will not die from that.
Nothing is fool-proof, though. We who have worked in restaurants know how the resentful chef can add contaminants. Those include human spit.
Immediately, consumers can begin lobbying for food safety. The campaign can start grassroots at the supermarket and restaurant salad bars.