Jesus. Considering the hip, ironic, derisive tone of Washington City Paper writing, I knew that Courtney Rubin’s piece on my book Wasted (Artifacts, 8/15) would probably contain a jibe or two. I didn’t realize that Rubin would bring the tanks.
I’ll start with the mistakes, which seem to be cropping up more and more in the City Paper. Rubin states that at the time I wrote my rant to the Washington Post I was working at the City Paper. As I told her, I had left the City Paper over a year earlier. She writes that my letter to the Post was a response to a “25 and Pending piece,” as if a “25 and Pending piece” were some generic form of essay. “25 and Pending” was a specific piece about Gen X, something the reader might not gather from Rubin’s writing. Oh, and “superstrict nuns” do not run Georgetown Prep. Superstrict Jesuits do.
On the issue of being a zealot, I plead guilty. I find it tragic that alcoholics are still wheeled in front of psychiatristsmany of whom have never studied the biology of alcoholismwhen their problems are biochemically based, and reversible through proper treatment. I also believe that addiction starts early, when a biologically susceptible drinker starts to drink, and more and more experts are starting to agree. (Rubin could simply call the National Institutes on Alcohol and Alcohol Abuse in Rockville if she has any doubts.) It is this new paradigm, the biogenic paradigma term Rubin uses without definingthat I think points the way toward more effective treatment and understanding, and I think that Wasted, whatever else its flaws, has unique value because it’s written from this point. And contrary to Rubin’s claim that I kept insisting “it wasn’t my fault,” the biogenic model makes drinkers more, not less, responsible. As I’ve said a thousand timessorry if this sounds “canned”if you know you’re susceptible to a disease but can avoid it through behavior, then do so. With the proper understanding, alcoholism, like AIDS, is easily preventable.
Of course, it will be hard to achieve any kind of understanding when journalists like Rubin, who are more concerned with sounding glib and looking cool than getting the facts, are nurtured with lazy editing. And one more thing: During our conversation I joked to Rubin that I didn’t know if I was ready to be back in the pages of the City Paper, seeing how my last appearance was in the infamous “Bitch Hunt” article (10/25/96), where I claimed that women were becoming as narcissistic as men. Rubin became quite icy after my comment. Am I paranoid, or was I done in by another humorless feminist?