June is for the Early Birds

By Phineas J. Stone

This week and the next few weeks coming are pretty much the best of the lot for Boston folks.

The longer days mean more sunlight and more time to catch those precious hours outside in the nice weather before the inevitable end of such great times eventually comes.

In Boston, there is almost a mania for people to get outside when the weather lets us. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t lived here awhile, but with a winter that basically starts in October and ends in April, time spent in a seersucker and shorts is precious commodity that has to be taken advantage of when given.

A lot of people speak about being able to sit on their porches or balconies or courtyards until 9 p.m. when the sun goes down.

That’s all well and good, but I prefer the mornings.

There’s nothing better than waking up in Boston in June, rolling out of bed just around 5 a.m. and finding the sun already coming up.

I like taking long walks in the morning in June, and when the weather is right, taking out the row boat in Southie, Savin Hill or even the Charles River isn’t such a bad adventure either.

But things can tend to get weird at that time of morning, even when the sun shines on the underbelly of the city that usually operates in the dark.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was walking along the city streets around 5:45 a.m. – full sunshine already bursting over the horizon – and came face to face with a couple of low-lifes who were stealing the wheels off of a car.

Now that’s something that you don’t see everyday, at least in today’s Boston.

At first I though they were having car trouble, but then I saw the cinder blocks and car jacks.

The crime was confirmed when they ran, sweat pants sagging, with the stolen wheels in hand and put them in a trunk. As they made their grand getaway, one of the guys realized he had dropped his wallet next to the now wheel-less car.

After having peeled out (why do criminals always peel out and draw attention to themselves?), they hit the brakes abruptly and the sagging sweat-panted man jumped out of the getaway car and ran over to pick up the wallet.

Then they made their getaway.

What a thing to see.

It was quite easy to understand these fellows didn’t just decide to do this, but in fact had probably been hard at work all night doing similar things all over the neighborhood. They were efficient, I have to admit, ripping off the wheels and jacking up the car with the speed of an Indy car crew. It was over before I knew it.

But it struck me, too, that as the morning begins so gloriously for those of us with good intentions, it also ends with a thud for those with nothing good in mind.

So be it. I’ll continue to take these fantastic June mornings as they come, with a side of tires or not.

 

  • • •

 

The whole opioid epidemic has me thinking.

I’m no social justice guru nor do I go looking for a cause, but I think it has to be said that the whole opioid epidemic has taken on an approach that we have to call for what it is.

When the epidemic was crack cocaine in the 1990s and it mostly affected black people and poor people in the cities, the call was to clean up the streets with arrests and harsh jail sentences. Many of those people are still in jail, and maybe they should be.

The opioid epidemic has only recently been called an epidemic, but most of us around here know that for the last 10 years or more opiates already have been ravaging some blue collar urban communities. Much like the crack cocaine epidemic, the answer has been jail time and arrests.

Now, once the problem has spread to the suburbs, it has become an “epidemic” and those in charge are calling for us to look at addiction in different terms. All the sudden, we can’t arrest our way out of the problem and new approaches besides jail time have to be considered.

Where did this come from and why? I’m pretty sure we need to ask ourselves this question.

Does it have to do with what they look like or how much money is in their pockets?

Maybe it does. Maybe this approach should have always been used. But maybe it’s also the wrong approach.

The Methadone Mile along Massachusetts Avenue in the South End has been ravaged by drug problems for decades, but that was mostly city people who had the problems. Now the suburbanite kids are showing up there with the same problems, and all the sudden the call from the top down is that there has to be a new approach to handling addiction.

If jail time, arrest records and CORI problems were good enough for solving the crack problem and the first wave of opiate abusers, then why not the current folks who are coming to our neighborhood in record numbers?

I’m no expert on it, but it seems like somebody needs to say it…

 

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