Last Wednesday White House anti-drug crusaders set up camp at KETC-TV (Channel 9)'s downtown St. Louis offices as part of a cross-country tour to help reduce teen drug use 25 percent by 2007.
The way the feds see it, the media are part of the drug problem. According to Robert W. Denniston, deputy director of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, less than 10 percent of news stories about marijuana mention negative consequences. "So we know there's a lot of misinformation out there," Denniston says.
Eager to do our part -- and to partake of the free box lunch -- Unreal joined two fellow journalists, a dozen drug-treatment providers and the anti-drug panel, which consisted of Denniston, two experts and a reformed teen toker.
"We have a lot of new scientific information," Denniston let it be known.
In 2001, emergency rooms tallied 2,311 "marijuana drug episodes" in St. Louis alone. Nine local people died -- died -- that year after smoking pot. These statistics were distributed along with other literature in a shiny folder festooned with a photo of a spanking-new pipe stuffed with schwag. Unreal discerned that the pictured pot was laced with seeds, and, more distressingly, that the statistics were unadorned with context. What was the precise nature, we wondered, of the "drug episodes" and the deaths?
Alas, there was no time for musing; it was on to the "new scientific information."
To wit: Researchers have found that marijuana targets neurological receptors that affect memory, emotional stability and cognitive skills, said Dr. Michael Spigarelli, an assistant professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Pot, Spigarelli added, is addictive, it's probably a gateway drug, and kids who use it are more prone toward violence than kids who don't. Teen dope smokers don't exercise as much as they should and can end up as couch potatoes or worse. "Forgetting the condom, getting in a car accident, can lead to devastating consequences for getting high for a little while," said the doctor. Disaster aside, pot's bad: "You escape for the fifteen minutes or two hours that you are high, but in life you need to pay that time back."
Seventeen-year-old Caroline, who sat behind a placard that read simply "Teen," earned a round of applause when she said she's been clean for ten months. When she asserted she'd never used anything stronger than pot, panelist Linda Cottler, a Washington University epidemiologist, said that was probably because no other drugs were available. One of the most disturbing trends she has seen, says Cottler, are surveys that show 30 percent of high-school seniors don't see anything wrong with occasional marijuana use. Adults with attitudes born in the 1960s aren't much better, she says: "Parents just don't get it."
Jeez, the crisis is much bigger than we imagined.
There are dumb methods of birth control, and then there are dumber. Dumb is the withdrawal method; dumber is when the female participant in a heterosexual coupling says "I know my body" and allows Joe Lumber to splash around unencumbered in the canal.
Trishelle Cannetella, star of The Real World Las Vegas, is all too familiar with the latter method -- to the point where she and co-star Steven weathered an on-air pregnancy scare in the most salacious season-long rendering of the 12-year-old MTV series to date. Prior to her pregnancy scare, the Louisiana-bred Cannetella also played girl-on-girl kissy-face with cutie-pie castmate Brynn, who's now engaged and living in Portland, Oregon. But Trishelle's not spoken for, and this Saturday, June 21, at Union Station's Have a Nice Day Café, she and Vegas roommate Arissa Hill will allow St. Louis' most eligible bachelors -- that means you, fellas -- to compete for their affections.
Based on Unreal's recent phone conversation with a partied-out Cannetella, clubbing and a trip to the East Side might be on the evening's agenda for the lucky gents who win a date:
Unreal: You sound tired. How come?
Trishelle Cannetella: Because we go to the clubs until three in the morning. We only get, like, two hours of sleep per night.
You guys lived at the The Palms and your job was to plan parties. With that in mind, was Vegas the most unrealistic Real World to date?
I've never gotten asked that question. I think it was more unrealistic only because we lived in a casino. All of the Real Worlds are equally unrealistic. It's not real if you don't pay rent. But our actions were real.
St. Louis bachelors will be asked to "show off their physiques" as they compete for a date with you. What is the most attractive/important part of the male anatomy?
I would say the butt. I like a nice butt.
In light of the hot tub chicanery in Vegas, why is Arissa your touring partner and not Brynn? Wouldn't that draw a bigger crowd?
Brynn's pregnant. She's engaged. I get along better with Arissa than Brynn anyway.
Do you still keep in contact with Steven or Frank?
Omigod, they're two of my best friends. Steven lives three streets away from me, Frank lives ten minutes away [in Los Angeles].
What do you think is a better method of birth control: a) strapping a corn husk to a man's penis with a rubber band before sex, or b) crossing your fingers and repeating "no baby, no baby, no baby" during sex?
[Laughs] Neither. That's a really weird question.
What are your post-tour career plans, besides appearing on Jackass?
I'm going to Australia. I actually auditioned to do VJ work on MTV. Hopefully I could get a job hosting, or sports broadcasting. I would love to travel around writing concert reviews. I'm also enrolled in acting classes.
Have you seen the movie What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
No. Leonardo DiCaprio's in it, right?
What do you think is eating Gilbert Grape?
I've never seen the movie, so I don't know.
By outscoring the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles 52-39 in taking five of six scrimmages at Busch last week, the Cardinals essentially out-American Leagued their avian rivals.
Maybe that's because the Cardinals are an AL team. Specifically, the '95 AL West champion Seattle Mariners.
Consider the similarities: In that strike-shortened, 145-game 1995 campaign, the Mariners won the West with a .545 winning percentage. The Cards' winning percentage through 61 games: .541. Projected over a 162-game season, the '95 Mariners would have slugged 203 homers and scored 889 runs. The Cards' projections through June 8: 194 HR, 919 runs.
Also consider the personnel. The '95 Mariners featured three 100-RBI men: right fielder Jay Buhner (121), designated hitter Edgar Martinez (113) and first baseman Tino Martinez (111). In 2003 the Cards have three players -- Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria -- on pace to exceed 100 RBI. In '95 Edgar Martinez led the league in hitting (.356); this year Pujols (.389 through June 8) may capture his first batting title. Backstopping the '95 M's was the steady Dan Wilson, who drove in 51 runs to go with his .278 batting average. Current 145-game projections for Cardinal catcher Mike Matheny: .279, 52 RBI.
Both squads featured solid closers. But with the exception of Bill Risley and Jeff Nelson -- whose '03 Cardinal doppelgangers would be Cal Eldred and Steve Kline -- the M's setup men were famously inconsistent. Sound familiar, Jeff Fassero and Dustin Hermanson?
While the '95 Mariners featured Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson (18-2 with a 2.48 ERA that year), depth in the starting rotation was a huge issue, with Chris Bosio (10-8) and Tim Belcher (10-12) trying their darnedest to gut out six innings per start. The Cardinals rotation is slightly deeper. But beyond Matt Morris and Woody Williams, it has been an adventure. In particular, (former Mariner) Brett Tomko has been, well, Brett Tomko.
If history ends up repeating itself, this year's red-and-white will fall victim to lack of arm strength in the NLCS, where pitching reigns supreme. Which brings us to the critical difference between the two squads: 1995 marked the Mariners' first-ever trip to the postseason, an undeniable success in a glory-starved city. Not so the nine-time world-champ Cardinals, for whom anything short of a trip to the October dance will be considered a sad step sideways.