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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Stephen King’

The Wrong Track

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

On Dec 3rd, Naeem Davis, a homeless Muslim man, shoved a middle-aged Korean man in front of an oncoming Q subway train in Times Square. A Muslim photographer snapped a shot of him waiting to die that appeared on the cover of the New York Post and then went around the world. And that was that… except it wasn’t.

On December 28, there was another shoving murder. After the latest round of murders, suicides and accidental deaths, seven people have died under trains in 2013; a number that does not include the deaths previously mentioned. Last week two people committed suicide by jumping in front of trains. Another was killed in a possible accident. One lost a leg. Two others were seriously injured. And this week there was another suicide.

For those who might be wondering, these numbers are not normal. But they are predictable. While the MTA discusses the cost of putting up platform barriers, the actual triggering mechanism was the New York Post photograph of a dying man waiting to be hit by a train. And that photograph has dark implications for school shootings as well.

We like to think that we have free will. That we enter the station, knowing our destination ahead of time so that whatever delays or mistakes crop up, we will get to where we intended to go. And that may be true for most people. But it’s not true for all people. It may not be true for the people who push others under trains or jump in front of them.

Around the same time that the American Revolution was getting underway, the German writer Goethe wrote a book that would become the Catcher in the Rye and Twilight of its day. “The Sorrows of Young Werther” had the dubious honor of being disowned by its author, starting a fashion trend and a grimmer trend as well.

Werther Fever spread around the world. Readers wrote parodies of the book or imagined different endings for the characters. Some wrote themselves into the story or wrote poems about the story. There were unauthorized sequels, people dressing up like the characters and all the usual things that we have now come to take for granted, but that were still somewhat new and surprising then.

And some committed suicide like Werther. The Werther Effect was born and it had a sneaky way of resurfacing whenever and wherever the book became popular again.

Some 200 years later, German television debuted “Death of a Student”, a six-part series about Claus Wagner, a high school student who commits suicide by jumping under a train. Each episode began with Claus jumping under the train. The series was supposed to teach teenagers that suicide was wrong, or as Big Fun from Heathers sang, “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)”; but it had the opposite effect.

The real message of “Death of a Student” was the same message as that of The Sorrows of Young Werther, if you kill yourself, lots of people will pay attention to you.  And suddenly the number of teenage boys killing themselves by jumping under a train increased by 175%. Having failed to prevent enough suicides, the show aired a second time. This time fewer people were watching and the suicide rate for teenage boys only went up 115%.

A few years later in neighboring Vienna, suicides went up when they were featured on the front page and fell 75% when they were pushed to the back page, without mention of the word, “Suicide.” Young Werther, in his blue-tailed coat and yellow vest, stopped chasing the trains of the Vienna underground.

The suicide cluster is a well-known phenomenon, especially among teenagers; it is why the media avoids coverage of teenage suicides… with one exception. A teenager who hangs himself in his garage, jumps under a train or turns on the gas will generally not make the front page or even the back page. But if he takes a gun into a school, opens fire and then commits suicide,  Young Werther will be front page news for days, weeks or even months.

James Holmes of the Aurora Massacre did not kill himself, but like Werther he picked up his own groupies, the Holmies, some of whom dye their hair orange and dress like him. Misery loves company and so do the unhinged. As the media began covering the Holmies, the fan club increased  with the amount of condemnatory coverage. The usual media cycle of promoting what it pretends to discourage for its own profit, so that it can cover it even more, had begun.

Crossword Puzzle – Torah Toys

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

 

 

 

 

Across

1. Org. no longer in a labor dispute

4. Having two contrasting modes

11. Fresh

14. Pale drink?

15. Small wind instrument

16. A Gershwin

17. Video game system from the Torah?

19. Org. for some agents

20. Letters for some soldiers?

21. Former Chinese head of state

22. Coin openings

23. Toys that do what Moshe’s and the Egyptians’ staffs did

28. Rosh follower

31. Black and white cookie

32. Seeya, Jose!

33. Places for RNs

34. Slack-jawed gaze

38. Kind of yom

39. Toy you might make challah from

43. Wrapping snake

44. Biblical twin

46. Honest ___

47. You might find a fossilized insect in this

49. Needle tree

51. Small body of water

53. Toy that might be used for part of the Seder?

57. Make

58. Nerverland last name

59. ___ it ironic

63. Consumed

64. Toy that might have been used during the mabul

68. Frank McCourt memoir

69. Took by force

70. Rage

71. Help palindrome

72. Sugarcane remains

73. Piggy

 

Down

1. Word on a space suit

2. Went on Qantas

3. Toy used to make a Beit Hamikdash model

4. Swamp

5. An original X-Man (in the comics)

6. Tomorrow, south of the border

7. Sandwich cookies

8. Walt’s company on the NYSE

9. ___ ledodi

10. Before Vegas?

11. Soldier’s fire arm

12. Day for 62-Down

13. Serves food

18. Albeit, to the bard

22. Atmospheric sight in Los Angeles

24. Croak

25. Anti-Semitic car maker

26. ___ ___ I thought

27. Letters in an email subject line

28. Despise

29. Happenings

30. Hindu god

33. Storm center

35. Father

36. Work by King David

37. They were lent to Antony

40. Turner or Lang

41. Assist

42. Lashon ___

45. … ___ a time

48. Kind of mogul

50. Stephen King classic

51. Some televisions

52. Past and future, e.g.

53. Pastrami and roast beef

54. 2:1 is one

55. They might cover a big story

56. Met show

60. Improv act

61. Black emperor

62. Oxygen maker

64. U-boat

65. Team ___

66. Small, curly-tailed dog

67. Work by Keats, perhaps

 

The Crossword puzzle appears on this page the first week of every month.

(Answers, next week)

Yoni can be reached at yglatt@youngisrael.org

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 2/09/07

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

Drowning In A Sea Of Asperger’s (Part 1)
Dear Rachel,

For 27 years, I was married to a man who was bipolar. One minute he would yell and the next minute he would be nice. My mom did not validate my need to divorce. To this day she questions whether I am better off divorced. Sure, it’s hard to survive financially, especially when he gives me zero child support, but the peace and tranquility outweigh financial challenges.

Baruch Hashem I have five sons, so there is always someone around to make Kiddush – and if there isn’t, I read Hebrew too. For those people who are struggling in abusive relationships, my message is that there is life after divorce and that life, for the most part, is peaceful and pleasant.

I hope that my story will help others who find themselves in similar circumstances, so that they may save their sanity before it is too late.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Mommy, the police are looking for you.”

Bile threatened to explode in my throat as I went to the door to acknowledge the unexpected intrusion.

Maybe they were traffic cops who noted my speeding down the Tappan Zee Bridge on my daily commute to the South Bronx.

“Are you Samantha M.?” asked one of the two uniformed cops flanking my doorway.

“We have papers for you.” I was offered a packet.

“You really don’t know what this is all about, do you?” asked the bewildered officer.

I had some inkling, probably due to all those support groups for abused women that I had attended. But I wasn’t about to make his job any easier. “I really don’t know, but I am sure that you are about to tell me.”

“I have papers for you from Ronald M.,” he explained.

I interrupted with a burst of nervous energy. “Ronald M.? Why, Ronald M. is upstairs, at the dining room table. If he wishes to give me papers, why not simply give them to me instead of hiring you to come to my house to give me papers from him” I stopped to gasp for air.

“He lives here?” the cop asked. “He lives in the house?”

“Unfortunately,” I admitted, “but in a separate bedroom, as per doctor’s orders.”

“Should the children be around while I clarify the material?”

“I have no secrets from my children. I won’t summon the others for some impromptu show, but the children who are present may remain.”

My two sons moved closer to me as the officer reluctantly revealed the contents of a thick transcript. “Ronald M. accuses you of behaving in an abusive manner,” he began. “In 2000 you punched Ronald M., causing retinal detachment in his eye. In 1995 you bit him…”

“Is the monster who has abused me for more than 25 years claiming that I am victimizing him?” I asked, astounded.

“Yes,” the policeman calmly verified, “and if you go upstairs to confront him, you will be violating the Order of Protection.”

“Do you think I plan to be in his vicinity any more than I have to?” My tone softened. “My husband is fragmented. He expects me to take the papers from you, place them on my dresser, then come downstairs and join him for the meal. I don’t think so.”

Turning to the children, my heart breaking, I told them I was sorry. Blinking back burning tears, I forced myself to continue. I’m going next door to eat the Shabbos meal. Tell the rest of the children that I apologize, but I cannot be at the same table with him.”

I found myself snarling at the law enforcers who had unwittingly just turned my life upside down. “I am permitted to leave the house, am I not? I don’t have to remain in the company of the man I have been accused of victimizing.”

“That would be a wise course of action to take,” one officer affirmed.

Kissing my children good-bye, I retreated to the home of my neighbor. Together we would examine the papers served by him – while he presided over the dining room table, pretending all was right in his world.

For 27 years I lived with a man who hid his anger under a veneer of normality. Stephen King could replicate the scene, details intact, and then adeptly uncover the abnormal within the ordinary, the terror beneath the staid. Ronald M., a quintessential Stephen King character, stalked the earth, latent rage hidden beneath a flimsy veil of ordinariness. Mild mannered in appearance, the Clark Kent parody needed no telephone booth to facilitate his transformation. Able to metamorphose instantly by connecting to the horror within, Ronald effortlessly tapped into a dormant underlying rage, changing instantly into Super Horror.

I thought it normal to witness his explosions, and then a half hour later his suggestion that we go out to eat. I would often crawl into bed awash in tears because he had yelled at me for burning the spaghetti, or for writing too many checks – only to have him wake me a couple of hours later for mandatory intimacy.

Had I imagined the yelling? Maybe I was being overly sensitive. He couldn’t have really meant it. He did invite me out to dinner afterwards, didn’t he? Such were my thoughts as I made a desperate attempt to make sense of a discombobulated existence. There was nothing strange with my husband’s volcanic eruptions one moment and his calm demeanor the next. To me, it was part of daily living. In fact, it was insane.

An undiagnosed mentally ill spouse, he possessed an array of symptoms ranging from bipolar, borderline personality, to unadulterated temperamental rage. I cohabitated with a walking time bomb for more than two decades, never knowing what would set him off. When people asked how I’d managed for so long, I replied dismissively, “You get used to anything.”

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/drowning-in-a-sea-of-aspergers-part-1/2007/02/07/

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