Saturday, August 05, 2006

Life In Hell

Those of you who watch the Simpsons may be aware that cartoonist Matt Groening started out drawing a comic strip by the name of Life In Hell. Its characters were little blob-like mutant bunnies, although one of them bore a strange resemblance to the future Marge Simpson.

Anyway, as the relative heat index here in Charm City approaches 110 degrees I find myself thinking about life in hell. Or more specifically, about life in a 200 year old prison with no ventilation and no air conditioning. In one particular Life In Hell strip the character Akbar says to Jeff, “Give me one good reason I shouldn't kill myself.” Jeff disappears, leaving the suicidal Akbar alone staring at nothing for nine panels. Finally Jeff reappears in the last panel, hands Akbar an ice cream cone and Akbar says, “Mmm..new flavor.” Suicidal crisis averted by ice cream. Gotta love it. I wish it were that easy.

Sometimes the small things do keep you going though, like the pharmacy nurse who donated her own fan to my clinic one morning just as I was about to recreate the final “I'm melting...melting...” scene in the Wizard of Oz. Or the administrative assistant who brought me a cup of my favorite Amaretto Royale coffee (in less Life-In-Hellish days) just as I was on the verge of rolling a cop for his Dunkin Donuts cup. I am constantly touched that the people who show the most humanity and concern are the people at the bottom of the political totem pole.

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Speaking of Life In Hell, I saw this link show up in OmniBrain. In keeping with Dinah's tradition of stealing...er...following up on other people's posts I thought I'd mention it. I also figured someone would see this and suggest it to me as an ideal ClinkShrink vacation, so I'm beating everybody to it.

An entreprenuer in northeast Moscow is looking for investors to turn a former prison camp into an “extreme reality” vacation destination. Vacationers can spend up to three days in prison and experience an almost-authentic gulag complete with watchtowers, guards armed with paintball guns, snarling dogs, rolls of barbed wire, spartan living conditions and forced labour.

What, no commissary?

Foo, I'm in if you're in.
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I put up my own pic this time to spare Dinah the work.

14 comments:

On the Same Page said...

Oddly enough, I was having lunch in a small Russian school in NY, back in the day, when the Dean walked through with Aleksandr Solzenitsyn. Having already laborously struggled to finish reading the Archiapelag GULag, I was absolutely stunned to see him. He said nothing and kept moving. Equally odd, he looked none the worse for the wear. But as you know, appearances are often deceptive. He ended up exiled, only to take up "exile" in New Hampshire in a guarded compound in the Home of the Free.

Having returned to Russia, I am told he is unknown to the current generation, and has the equivalent (I did have to spell check) of a "community cable acccess" TV show. He is said to look like the Prophet Elijah, and devotes his show to chastizing the Russia for its sinfulness.

This, in my mind, speaks to the GULag experience and, hey, it was just AdSeg with torments. I don't believe I'm paid well enough to traverse the American GULag (and that's another matter), so paying for the experience ain't 'happinin.

But, Clink, by all means, do send a postcard.

Dinah said...

Clink,

Didn't your mother ever talk to you about not inviting men you haven't met to vacation with you? Really! And his name is Foofoo. Aside from that, I might be able to suggest something more fitting for a first date than a Russian Prison Camp.

I think we need to get you your own CO to keep you in line.

ClinkShrink said...

Great story, foo. It's been years since I read the Gulag Archipelago, but I remember the thing that struck me was his observation that the people being hauled off by the police always seemed to go along quietly, even knowing where they were going. He couldn't understand why they didn't wrap themselves around a solid object or scream or do something to resist. I think about this now whenever I read about someone being taken in by Homeland Security as a "material witness" in a terror investigation.

Dinah, I take it for granted they give us single cells. Regardless I think we'd be too busy dodging paintballs and trying to escape. If they need guard dogs perhaps Max could get a summer job. He really is old enough to start working, you know.

Murky Thoughts said...

I am constantly touched that the people who show the most humanity and concern are the people at the bottom of the political totem pole.

Because being more familiar with discomfort they empathize more deeply/readily? Because it's more rewarding to assist a superior?

ClinkShrink said...

Yes, they definitely have had more lifetime hardships than I have and I think you're right about that. I think they do it just because they're nice people. I'm not their superior in any technical or social sense (social structure in prison is quite different from social structure in free society). In prison all civilians are at the bottom of the total pole, and doctors have no particular pull or status compared to any other civillian. We all have to step through the metal detector one leg at a time, so to speak.

NeoNurseChic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ClinkShrink said...

Ah, thanks Carrie. I just sent a couple Happy Bunny ecards to a couple friends of mine. The advantage of doing everything you're doing and being nice is that when the stuff hits the fan you are protected by a good reputation. Trustworthiness cannot be undervalued.

Dinah said...

Hmmm, I got a "Cute But Psycho" happy bunny in a strait jacket. What does that mean. I'll just be happy that I qualified as "friend" wondering what Roy got. Won't even think about if FooFoo got a happy prisoner bunny card.

Fat Doctor said...

You crack me up. By the way, I just researched Auto-Cool and it's apparently a scam. Who could believe such a thing? I was thinking maybe if you put a million auto-cools in your prison...

ClinkShrink said...

Auto-cools might work, given that constitutionally I probably can't force the inmates to stand outside my room waving palm fronds...

I ran to Walmart today and bought three pairs of scrubs to wear in Hell until the heat wave breaks. At least now I won't keep getting mistaken for a nun or a social worker.

On the Same Page said...

Funny, I am often mistaken for a nun. It's probably the hat... I thought we were boycotting Walmart?

ClinkShrink said...

No, you are being mistaken for a poodle. It's probably the name, although for all I know you could also be wearing a funny hat in addition to the Kevlar. At least no one is mistaking you for a duck addict.

If Kevlar comes in pastel colors I may have to make another run back to Walmart. I'm sure they buy Kevlar in bulk.

The Neurocritic said...

CALLING ALL SHRINKS!

I love your blog (as a non-shrink neuroscientist), and I'm asking for your perspective on a topic that has generated a heated discussion over at The Neurocritic.

It's about a recent article in PLoS Medicine that, in my opinion, is strongly anti-psychiatry in tone.

Any comments there will be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I'm pleased you finally found your own picture. --dinah