The Madcap Laughs: a glimpse of Syd Barrett’s potential

Syd Barrett’s post-Pink Floyd career is too wild to be ignored.

Syd Barrett’s legacy is often spoken about as the tragedy of a man who lost his mind, and later serving as the muse of various works by Pink Floyd years after he had left. Rarely is he remembered for bringing together the initial members of Pink Floyd or even giving them their band name. In his brief time with Pink Floyd, he wrote eight of out 11 tracks on Pink Floyd’s debut studio album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, and a handful of other songs before his infamous departure from the band in 1968 as a result of deterioration due to psychedelic abuse.

As a solo artist having been outcast from Floyd, Barrett began recording his debut solo album, The Madcap Laughs. Recording began in 1968 but was postponed due to a brief psychiatric stint. A year later in 1969, Barrett returned to finish recording of the project at Abbey Road Studios with production of the album handled mostly by Malcolm Jones. Additional production help and instrumental assistance came from Pink Floyd members Roger Waters and David Gilmour.

The 1970 album itself is a self-contained thirteen track composition. Opening track “Terrapin” sets the tone for the album with simple acoustic guitar chord progressions while Barrett narrates what seems to be a love story: “‘Cause we’re the fishes and all we do / The move about is all we do.” Coincidentally, on Pink Floyd’s 1975 eponymous album, Gilmour sings “We’re just two lost souls / Swimming in a fish bowl,” on “Wish You Were Here.” While it is known that “Wish You Were Here” was recorded as a tribute to Barrett, this lyric in particular sees a 29-year-old David Gilmour appearing to wink at Barrett’s solo work.

As the album progresses, tracks “Love You” and “Here I Go” solidify the album with a variety of stream-of-consciousness lyrics and simple drum beats. There is a child-like musical quality provided by a combination of acoustic and electric guitars with a subtle level of distortion. Though this album has less of a distinctive sound compared to Barrett’s other works, it still finds a way to build and morph into a simpler outlet of psychedelic pop fused with folk-like guitar lines. “Octopus” is the album’s most telling song of Barrett’s self narrated descent into insanity, with the song telling a tale of an LSD trip and becoming stuck in a state of madness, “Trip, trip to a dream dragon / Hide your wings in a ghost tower / Sails cackling at every plate we break.”

While the lyrics are sometimes disorganized, hard to fathom and sometimes pose a puzzle for listeners, that’s part of his greatness as a lyricist. As seen on The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, a lot of Barrett’s lyrics seemed to be pulled out of unlikely sources of inspiration. This makes a lot of his songs head-scratchers when taken literally, but his breaking of rhyme schemes and playing with simple and complex words tossed around with irregular syntax create a unique blend of spoken word poetry and happily upbeat songs. In an interview with Rolling Stone, when talking about Barrett’s solo work Gilmour said “Some of [Barrett’s lyrics], quite often it felt like he was making them up as he went along … they all definitely mean something to him, but there’s a sort of barrier between him and me and anyone else that prevents us from being able to hear it.”

Barrett further shows his mental depth on the release by quoting two 19th century poets throughout the album’s tracklist. The first being “Golden Hair,” which sees Barrett reciting a poem titled “Lean Out Of The Window” by James Joyce over an acoustic guitar. The latter is part of the first verse in “Octopus,” where he uses part of a poem by Sir Henry Newbolt’s “Rilloby-Rill.”

If Syd Barrett’s musical potential were a house, The Madcap Laughs is only a room. While the album is not a top-tier polished work of art that has stood the test of time such as other albums by his Pink Floyd counterparts, it does have a variety of moments that are telling of Barrett’s promise as a musician. As the album draws to a close with its funhouse lyrics and punchy sounds, Barrett answers questions about his potential, yet leaves new ones for listeners who wondered “What if? about the late musician. 


Fentanyl still killing our favourite artists

Mac Miller should be remembered for his honesty and talent – not his death

Mac Miller shouldn’t be the subject of your addiction jokes. Following the arrest of Cameron James Pettit on Sept. 4, Twitter came to life as fans lauded the arrest, while others took this as a golden opportunity to mock drug addiction and its victims.

Arresting one dealer won’t actually change anything, though. While Petitt may or may not have been complicit in lacing the drugs given to Miller, the problem lies in the production and overall distribution of fentanyl-laced drugs. On Aug. 29, the largest federal fentanyl and heroin seizure in Delaware took place with authorities finding more than 14,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills. Even if Pettit never sold drugs, someone else would have taken his place and sold the laced drugs regardless.

Still, even with an obvious crisis at hand, people make light of addiction claiming that the simple solution is to ‘stop taking drugs.’ Like many things, it isn’t that easy.

YouTuber Shawn Cee wrote a lengthy series of tweets detailing how his brief stint in the hospital for lung surgery nearly killed him because of a nurse’s misuse of prescription drugs. He also explained how, upon his release, he saw numerous dealers outside the hospital looking to sell cheap counterfeit prescription drugs to patients. These patients believe the prescribed amount of medication isn’t enough for them to feel their effects, so they look for cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

Miller was transparent about his drug use, making it clear that he craved the high on songs like “Jet Fuel” off his last full-length album, Swimming. The entire project saw a depressed and struggling Miller trying to cope with his mental illness through the use of alcohol and drugs, but at no point did it ever come across as a suicidal album. He never alluded to taking his own life. Despite being a somber LP, Miller sprinkled it with hope all across its 13 tracks.

Mac Miller was afflicted with addiction, but make no mistake, it was fentanyl that killed him. The incredibly strong and potent drug only requires small amounts to take a person’s life. In the United States especially, the government has struggled to keep up with this crisis. Without proper universal healthcare and a lack of necessary tools available to test drugs, the problem is only getting worse and more widespread as Canada is also experiencing a crisis of our own.

Fentanyl is arguably the most dangerous drug available right now – and it’s often not known when it’s being consumed as a dangerous additive. In fact, the Canadian government warns that the fentanyl test strips aren’t 100 per cent conclusive and that test results should be taken with a grain of salt.

As the one year anniversary of Mac Miller’s haunting death approaches, it is more important than ever to understand that fentanyl is one of the biggest drug related issues plaguing North America. While fentanyl addiction is necessarily the culprit, addiction to drugs such as cocaine, xanax and oxycodone opens the door for many accidental overdoses to occur.

If you struggle with addiction, please visit for more info on how to get help.

Additionally, Naloxone, Fentanyl’s antidote, is available in many Quebec pharmacies for free.


Photo by J. Emilio Flores

Concordia Student Union News

CSU starts addiction task force

Group will advise union, administration on recovery services for students

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is launching its first addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery task force.  

The CSU addiction task force is composed of five students whose mandate is to implement new addiction-harm reducing initiatives on Concordia’s campus.

The task force will be funded by the student life initiative budget, which the student life coordinator holds in order to implement any initiative for student life, including the upcoming Rapid HIV Testing Clinic.

“Addiction impacts students in a lot of different ways; it impacts their academics, it impacts their involvement in student life on campus,” said Michele Sandiford, the CSU student life coordinator and member of the task force. “We think that it is important to give them a space where they can thrive in school and thrive in the community.”

This issue is particularly important to Sandiford, who has been in recovery for two years. When she was elected as a CSU executive, she made this project part of her mandate. She said this year’s executive team has been interested in supporting mental health issues, giving her the necessary support to achieve her goal.

“For now, we really are just a body that makes recommendations to the CSU and the university, and we’re trying to implement some sort of resources or programing,” said Sandiford. “It’s about establishing recommendations for what might work for students.”

At the moment, the CSU addiction task force is a pilot project in development, while they determine what is already available to students on campus and what they might need in the future. While the launch date of the project is still unknown, the team will continue to discuss its primary focus during their weekly meetings. They also started looking into ways to promote their cause.

“We’re looking at space, we’re looking at resources, accommodations that can be made for students, and ways that we can support them,” Sandiford said. “It might be something like peer support or better access to resources.”

The team of five, including Sandiford, whose other members have not yet been revealed, is composed of students that have backgrounds in addiction recovery or have specific interest in harm-reducing or addiction treatment.

In order to maximize the task force’s impact on students in need, the group “[goes] over research, what’s already available for students, what can be made available, and from the personal experience of the members of the committee or task force,” Sandiford said. “If [students] have specific ideas for things that they might need, we’re happy to have that information brought to us,” she added.

Sandiford hopes the team will be able to bring the right help to Concordia students. She also hopes to offer students easy access to the proper assistance that many of the team’s members had a chance to get or are still going through.

Photo by Mia Anhoury.

A previous version of this article included the sentence “The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is launching its first addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery centre.” The sentence now reads: “The Concordia Student Union (CSU) is launching its first addiction treatment, prevention, and recovery task force.” In addition, the sentence “Since the task force is not fully operating yet, Sandiford advised students needing help with addiction to seek counselling for the moment,” has been removed to ensure clarity and accuracy. The Concordian regrets the errors.


The artificial bliss of opioids

One student’s experience with drug addiction—and why the narrative must change

When I would come home from school, my mom would often tell me to walk the dog. This used to bother me because I hate even the most mundane exercise, but then something changed. In my senior year of high school, I started to walk the dog more often, sometimes without my mom even having to ask.

Unfortunately, my new love of dog-walking had a darker side; it became part of my routine for taking the painkiller Vicodin. Hydrocodone (the active ingredient in Vicodin) is a semi-synthetic opioid, similar to morphine. Morphine comes from the opium poppy, a plant used for decorations, bagel seasoning and heroin production, among other things.

After taking Vicodin and leashing up the dog, I would hike through the hills of my native Oregon. About half an hour into the walk, my worries of the day would begin to fade, and a sense of relaxation would overcome me. At that stage in my addiction, the pills did not impair me; in fact they helped me navigate my daily life with more ease and greater joy.

My affair with opioid painkillers (not to be confused with over-the-counter ibuprofen or Tylenol) started with a headache. Earlier in the school year, I had come home one day with a throbbing headache. I drank some water, and when that did not work, I took an aspirin. A few hours later, my head was still pounding. Out of desperation, I went into my mom’s purse and took one of her Vicodins.

At the time, I did not know how dangerous Vicodin is. I thought it was just a super strong Tylenol. My mom was recovering from surgery and had been prescribed the drug. Ironically, my grandmother, who had come from Los Angeles to take care of my mom, broke her collarbone on the flight up and left the hospital with her own 90-pill prescription. Both my mom and grandmother hated taking painkillers; this left an abundant supply for me.

When I took my first Vicodin, I was stage managing a school production involving 300 people. It was a terrific but stressful job; the Vicodin not only took away my headache but freed me from my worries.

A critical point is that my addiction could have been avoided if physicians had been more aware of the dangers of opioids at the time. Had that been the case, my mom and grandmother wouldn’t have been prescribed enormous quantities of opioids. Had there been safer prescribing practices in place, perhaps my addiction would never have started.

After that first pill, I did not take another one for a few days. Slowly, I began to develop excuses to use them—if my mom wasn’t going to take them, why should they go to waste? I developed a tolerance after a few weeks and started taking two pills to get high. Being high on painkillers isn’t like being high on other drugs. I could still function, attend school and go about my life, but everything just felt better. Nothing bothered me. I felt confident, and a warm sensation enveloped my body. At the time, I did not consider myself to be abusing drugs, and I was oblivious to this destructive pattern.

As time passed, I began to get careless. After months of a constant opioid buzz, I forgot what it felt like to be sober. Vicodin began to make me aggressive, and I started to yell more often at the actors and crew I managed at work. I stopped caring about everything, and my A in chemistry plunged to a dangerous C-. At home, my parents seemed none the wiser about my habit, and I took extraordinary steps to hide my pill-popping.

The gravy train came to an end when the pills ran out six months later. Taking the last pill in the bottle felt like a sacred event—the end of a relationship I believed I could handle on my own. Within hours, I had called my mom who was in Albuquerque. We got in an argument, and I blurted out that I had used all of her painkillers and needed help because I felt terrible. She started sobbing and flew home the next day.

My parents helped me access the resources and treatment I needed. Growing up, I never suffered from any serious mental health issues, but following my opioid use, I turned into a depressed, anxious mess. There were medications to treat my ailments, but they could only do so much. My first moments of sobriety were difficult as I mourned the end of my relationship with Vicodin. The drug turned the most mundane moments into extraordinary ones. Losing that perpetual excitement took months to get used to, and to this day, I miss the months I spent in artificial bliss.

No one wakes up one morning and decides they want to become addicted to drugs. Stealing drugs or causing my family heartache horrifies me. Opioids had an amazing capacity to mute my moral compass. Getting high no longer became something to relieve stress, but rather a necessity to remain functional and have the ability to experience happiness. Once this emotional shield began to fade, things that used to bother me enraged me; moments that hurt me devastated me and life felt like a mission without a goal.

In learning how to live without opioids, I had my “aha” moment. Most users are not lazy; they’re not failures or junkies—they are just like you and me. Often, they are just more sensitive or perhaps suffer from a mental illness.

Unfortunately, the stigma against those who suffer from substance abuse remains static with little to no improvement in public compassion. It took becoming addicted for me to realize it’s time we must shift our mentality and try to help instead of judge. Although I chose to tell my story anonymously, I hope a day will come when someone can write an article like this without hesitating to reveal who they are. Those who fight daily to stay sober ought to be celebrated as the warriors they are.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


The misconceptions of marijuana

Analyzing the misplaced stigma surrounding cannabis consumption

After years of debate, marijuana is finally legal in Canada. On Oct. 17, the first dispensaries opened across the country. This is a massive step toward not only making pot safer and more accessible, but also ensuring a degree of product quality that couldn’t be guaranteed in an unregulated market. That being said, I believe significant progress is still needed in regard to the elimination of the stigma associated with marijuana use.

Certainly, cannabis is by no means a product without fault. Just like everything else, overuse of marijuana can have serious side-effects. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry noted that acute cannabis consumption at a young age has been linked with the inhibition of psychomotor skills, short-term memory, and minor cognitive functions.

There have also been studies aimed at examining and contrasting the overuse of marijuana at a young age with the development of certain mental disorders. While there is a certain correlation, it is crucial to remember that researchers have yet to find any meaningful causality. According to CBC News, Matthew Hill, an associate professor at the University of Calgary Hotchkiss Brain Institute emphasizes that we shouldn’t fall into the stereotypes about pot; instead, we should have faith in the studies being conducted which disprove them.

With all its potential side effects, the stigma around cannabis consumption still massively outweighs the real risks. We live in a world where the majority of the population is comfortable with people drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes (more or less). While people aren’t necessarily okay with others being addicted to opioids or pharmaceuticals, it’s definitely still a very common and accepted pain relief method. Yet some of the same people are still adamantly against the very thought of marijuana.

That being said, alcohol, cigarettes, and pharmaceuticals/opioids are distinctly worse for your health in every aspect and deadlier than marijuana could ever be. Unlike booze, pills or cigarettes, marijuana does not create a chemical dependency in the brain. While attitudes like psychosocial dependency can be developed, the detox period for this is significantly less painful and shorter than the detox period for chemical addiction, according to CBC News.

Another factor to keep in mind is that not a single person has ever died solely due to marijuana consumption, according to Greencamp, a website that researches cannabis use. Not a single one. Ever. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, smoking has killed 37,000 people in Canada this year alone, and opioids have taken 8,000 Canadian lives since 2016 according to CBC News. Marijuana is increasingly being seen as a viable alternative to prescription drugs with research being performed at facilities such as CanniMed and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse on the medical benefits of cannabis. This shows how invaluable it could be for the creation of effective and addiction-free treatments.

According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information, alcohol consumption also led to the hospitalization of nearly 77,000 Canadians in 2016. Yet pharmaceuticals, cigarettes, and alcohol are accepted aspects of society with no legislation aiming to ban them. Unfortunately, marijuana is consistently demonized, and will remain so for several years to come.

In his book Weed: A User’s Guide, columnist for the cannabis website Leafy and host of the Roll-Up podcast David Schmader explained that a person would need to smoke roughly 1,500 pounds of cannabis in an hour to fatally overdose. According to calculations by the peer-reviewed journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, that would come to about 1,943,965 joints. In one hour. Good luck with that.

At its core, legalization of marijuana takes the first step toward the de-stigmatization of its consumption. Regardless of the potential health benefits or the toxic and deadly products we deem more socially acceptable, marijuana use still has a negative connotation to it. However, with the progressive steps governments are taking to not only decriminalize cannabis, but make it more accessible, one can hope this stigma won’t remain a mainstream concept for much longer.

Graphic by @spooky_soda


International Overdose Awareness Day

According to The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, opioids are responsible for approximately 50 per cent of all drug drug related deaths—Canada is now faced with addressing this issue.

International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD) is an annual event held on Aug. 31 that aims to open up the conversation regarding drug overdoses. The day also aims highlighting the harm that overdosing can cause, not only to the individual, but to those around them as well.

British Columbia’s Public Health officer, Dr. Perry Kendal, announced a province-wide state of emergency back in April 2016, in response to the province’s surge in drug-related deaths. The province announced 76 fatalities in January 2016 alone.

The province of British Columbia also announced a large contributing factor to the rise in overdoses is due to the synthetic opioid fentanyl, with the province announcing that 49 per cent of overdoses in the first three months of 2016 were related to the drug.

“Fentanyl is more powerful than drugs like morphine,” said Concordia psychology professor Uri Shalev.

Shalev explained that fentanyl is a very effective pain-relieving drug to those with an opioid tolerance. He said issues arise when inexperienced users attempt to abuse the powerful substance.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

“Addicts won’t overdose unless the supply changes,” said Shalev. He explained that the mixing of substances is when overdoses begin to occur, for users no longer know how much of a substance to take before their lethal dose is reached.

According to the Canadian HIV/Aids Legal Network, during this year’s IOAD, 70 organizations from the Canadian Civil Society made an urgent call to action regarding Canada’s current overdose problem.

The urgent call to action consists of a list of five recommendations, which call for all levels of the Canadian government to take immediate action in addressing the issue. Part of the plan involves rapidly increasing the distribution of naloxone, a medication used in response to overdoses. Professor Shalev said naloxone is a miracle drug in reviving individuals from overdoses. However, he said that educating citizens and users is the most effective way to tackle the problem. Other recommendations include expanding access to treatment for users, and enacting the Good Samaritan Legislation – a legislation which gives immunity against arrest to those present during an overdose.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

The Canadian Civil Society is now urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with Canada’s health and justice ministers, to implement an action plan, to address the rising problem.

Those wishing to show support for the cause can donate to the IOAD. All funds go towards tackling the issues surrounding substance abuse. Supporters are also encouraged to host their own IOAD events. More information about how you can get involved, visit the Overdose Day website.


Into the Deepnet: can buying ecstasy be art?

Randomized computer art program that purchased drugs seized

When a robot buys drugs in the name of art, who’s to blame? Is there a point at which art stops being art? These are some of the questions that police in Switzerland are now trying to answer.

The machine in question, The Random Darknet Shopper, is a computer program designed to make one random purchase from the Deep Web a week with $100 in Bitcoin. The items are then shipped to the sight of the art exhibit, titled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, and added to its previous purchases.

The only problem: the marketplaces being bought from are comparable to the Silk Road. Items purchased thus far include: the complete Lord of the Rings book set, a pair of Diesel jeans, Nike shoes, a fake passport, stolen credit cards, and ecstasy pills.

The the artistic group responsible—!Mediengruppe Bitnik—said in an interview with The Guardian that the goal of the work was to get the public to think. “We really want to provide new spaces to think about the goods trades on these markets. Why are they traded?” The project also notes that they aim to explore the ways that trust is built between anonymous participants in online transactions for possibly illegal items.

Their exploration of the darker side of the web came to a close on Jan. 12, when police seized the bot and exhibit. According to a statement made to TechCrunch, “the confiscation [was] to impede an endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited by destroying them.”

It is unclear, at the time of writing, if any legal action will be taken against the group who created the work. Aside for the question of who is responsible, this situation comes down to one question: what is art?

In !Mediengruppe Bitnik’s conversation with The Guardian, the Swiss constitution is described as having articles which state that “art in the public interest is allowed to be free.” This would indicate that, if deemed artistic, there is no crime.

Remember, the police took no issue with displaying fake passports and credit cards, which could potentially be used—just the ecstasy.

Through the non-issue with all other forms of illegal items, there seems to be an understanding that The Darknet is art. The question then changes from whether its art, to how far should art be allowed to go.

Should there be a limit to what aspects of human reality should be broached by artists? Historically, artists of all types, have been the first voices silenced by authoritarian political regimes. The reason for this is precisely because the artist can speak about things which are taken for granted or ignored in society.

There are no numbers on exactly how much money is spent on black market websites each year, but it is reasonable to assume that there is a fair amount.  This is something that most people turn a blind eye to. Perhaps this should not be so.

Whether or not The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland is good art, it is something worth thinking about. At the very least it’s left us with a lot of questions.


Student Life

Why I always say ‘no’ to drugs

The high really isn’t worth the pain

Eighteen years ago, my aunt’s fiancé Grant went to close his family’s cottage in Southampton, Ontario with several of his high school friends. It was an unusually chilly night for early November and they had postponed the trip to attend a friend’s wedding the weekend before. He was taking cold medication, and when they arrived at the cottage, they started drinking and taking psilocybin mushrooms, better known as magic mushrooms. He left the cottage late at night and walked to the beach before heading into town. He was naked. People saw him wandering around, but no one tried to help him. His friends at the cottage were so intoxicated that they could not find him. By the time the police found his body in a ditch two miles away the next morning, he had died from hypothermia.

I was eight years old and had only met him a few times. He was the first family member I knew who died and, although I do not remember much, it still marked me to some extent. It is part of the reason why I have never taken drugs.

According to a 2012 study by the Quebec Rehabilitation Centres Association, about a quarter of young adults aged 15 to 24 years old have used cannabis in the past year without using other substances. On top of that, 12 to 15 per cent of 15 to 24 year-olds have consumed other drugs (with or without the use of cannabis). In total, 34.9 per cent of women and 44.4 per cent of men aged 15 to 24 have used at least one illicit drug in the past year.

I am the other 75 per cent, and though I fall within the majority, it has often felt like I was one of the only ones of my peers not using drugs. It makes me feel uneasy and I find it disturbing that it has become normal, even to me, to be around people who are almost always high or drunk.

“I notice two trends: to demonize drugs and to trivialize them. I think the reality is somewhere in between,” said Éric Gascon, a social worker at Le Virage Rehabilitation Centre in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield and a lecturer on addiction at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

“We must try to understand as much the reality of people who do not do drugs as those who do take them,” said Gascon.

Gascon explains the cycle of addiction in which people get caught. “The reward comes immediately when we consume, and the punishment will come later. There is a behavioural effect where we will have problems later, but we will not always associate them with the consumption,” he said.

When someone is addicted to drugs, they have more trouble setting boundaries, said Gascon. “They will do it at the wrong time and place that could get them into trouble. There is something stronger within them that drives them to do it.”

It also becomes more difficult to manage one’s consumption of drugs, since we cannot be sure of the composition of a substance even during recreational consumption, he said.

Myriam Cardinal, a planning, programming and research agent at the Rehabilitation Centre in Montreal, University Institute (CRDM-IU), said that drug consumption often starts in a recreational form and is supposed to be pleasurable. “But in dependency, people consult because they accumulate a bunch of negative consequences due to their consumption,” said Cardinal. “The idea is to name the issue as soon as possible.”

“Four to five per cent of the population who consume drugs have a problem in abuse or dependency. That means that it is not everyone who consumes that has a consumption problem,” said Cardinal.

But for those who do have a problem, physical and psychological dependency come at a cost. The detox process takes an average of seven to 10 days, while a psychological dependency can last a lifetime. “The craving for consumption can come back almost anytime. It will fade, but it will still remain. There can be relapses,” said Cardinal. Drug rehabilitation centres in Quebec provide free services to people who have addiction problems, and can help those who are still using recreationally to reduce and eventually stop.

Nothing could ever completely stop humans from taking drugs, which is why a regulatory framework is needed, said Gascon. “If we want to control consumption, if we want to be able to regulate it in a spirit of public health, we will have to go through legalization, a bit like we do with alcohol.” He believes that it would be better to manage distribution by having legal drug outlets, because for now it is relegated to the black market. He would like to see on-site services where people could go to buy drugs and there would be health workers to give assistance if needed. Gascon said that if one drug is legal, all drugs should be legal as well. “There is always a question of morality when something that is bad for people is sold,” added Gascon.

Grant was 26 years old when he died, the same age as I am today. Everyone loved him and his death traumatized all of his friends and family. It also had a number of consequences for a large circle of people who were either closely related to him or distant relatives.


The road from hero to zero

Lance Armstrong / Image via Flickr

What do athletes Tiger Woods, Michael Vick and Mike Tyson have in common? Well, they were all the kings of their games; golf, football and boxing, respectively. Then, as is common when dubbed a ‘celebrity,’ a scandal erupts. Their once top-notch reputations have been broken to pieces.

Now, Lance Armstrong has joined this list.

It makes me sad to see such a pillar of the sports world brought down to his knees. He was once an inspiration to all cyclists and athletes alike. An inspiration to the millions suffering from cancer, watching him day after day recover from his sickness and creating the company Livestrong, that offers free services to help anyone suffering from cancer. After fighting cancer he went on to win one of the most prestigious cycling tournaments, the Tour De France, seven times.

The drama started months ago when he was first accused of using performance-enhancing drugs during his long career, something he was quick to deny. In the meantime, however, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency had accused Armstrong of leading “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” They had testimonies from his former teammates, accusing him of using steroids, the blood booster EPO and blood transfusions.

It was all downhill from there for Armstrong. He was stripped of his Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005, stripped of his bronze medal in the Sydney Olympic games in 2000 and was banned from cycling competitively. He also stepped down as chairman of Livestrong. For the U.S. Anti-doping Agency, this closes “one of the most sordid chapters in sports history,” as they wrote in their 200-page report detailing Armstrong’s use of performance enhancing drugs.

Surprisingly, this isn’t what has most people utterly furious at Armstrong. Many were still ready to support him, arguing that he was still an exceptional human being, overcoming cancer and starting a foundation that helps cancer patients. Although this part of his reputation remains somewhat intact, he lost a large amount of credibility after finally admitting to using performance enhancing drugs in an exclusive interview with Oprah.

Come on, Lance. After denying it for so long, you finally come out and admit it, after we all knew it was true, on an interview with Oprah? Before this, most of us were mad at Armstrong. Now, we’re all extremely disappointed.

Livestrong issued this statement after that interview aired: “We at the Livestrong Foundation are disappointed by the news that Lance Armstrong misled people during and after his cycling career, including us.” This interview was nothing more than a plea, a last act to try and save his name and it completely backfired—most people saying that it was the worst acting they had ever seen.

“It kind of reminded me of Tiger Woods coming clean,” said Scott Allison to the Los Angeles Times, a psychology professor at the University of Richmond who has studied fallen heroes in American society. “For people like Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong, it’s so foreign to admit wrongdoing that they are out of their element … It can come across as robotic.”

Lance Armstrong had achieved a lot, there’s no doubt about it. He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, an inspiration to sports enthusiasts and a great human being. There’s no doubt in my mind that he could have achieved greatness without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

In the next few weeks, we hope to see some light shed on the cycling world to determine how deep this drug use goes in the sport and if the cycling system is as corrupt as some people have called it since Armstrong’s fall.

Student Life

Pillow Talk: How to Deal with Drunken Friends

Have you ever been the only sober one at a party? It kinda sucks, eh? You have to make sure nothing gets broken—from your bestie’s unnecessarily high heels to her drunken heart.

All of a sudden you’re on clothes, phone and boy patrol, shielding all of your friends from involuntary hook-ups and public humiliation. Let’s face it, you love your friends and you would do anything for those crazy mother truckers, but sometimes situations can get hard to handle. Here is a list of those situations and how you can handle them without losing your cool.

What to do if your friend is:

1) Hooking up with a 4/10

Try to get her attention. This might be hard if she’s playing a hardcore game of tonsil hockey with him, but in that case, just rip her away.

The next part gets a little tricky. Tell her the guy would be better suited for a horribly lit “before” photo than Cosmo’s two-page “Most Eligible Bachelor” spread. Remind her that she can do way better. She might go on the defensive and claim you’re trying to “steal” him, but just repeat yourself and hope that some of it sinks in.

2) Stumbling around like a kitten on roller skates

If she’s wearing heels, get them off her. I know, you’re downtown, it’s dirty, who knows what she could be stepping on?! But as my mother always says, “Better a foot fungus than a broken ankle!” … or something like that. If she’s wearing flats and still can’t walk, time to put her in a cab and get her home. In order to not feel like you’re trying to manoeuvre the Leaning Tower of Pisa down the street and into a car, enlist the help of another friend. Two is better than one.

3) Blabbing like she has stocks in gossip

First, resist the urge to push her down a flight of stairs. For this one, it’s always best to confront her right then and there, and then to bring it up the next day when she is, hopefully, a bit more sober. Also, just a quick reminder ladies, “I was drunk!” isn’t a valid excuse for breaking a friend’s trust and telling all 150 party-goers that she makes music videos with her cats on Saturday nights.

4) Going to be sick

Act quickly and act subtly. If a drunken friend tells you she’s going to be sick, find the closest bathroom or discreet hiding space. Do not announce it to the rest of the party, or even to any of your other friends. Go with her, make sure she doesn’t choke or fall asleep hugging the toilet, and then get her up and cleaned off. It’s not the most glamorous part of your job, but sometimes you just have to suck it up!

There you have it—how to deal with your drunken friends. Now that you (and they) are safely home, have a glass of wine. You deserve it.


Exit mobile version