Addiction - An Equal Opportunity Disease Or, Meet David Carr
I love hearing about people in recovery. Some people’s stories – actually many people’s stories -- stay with you. If you didn’t know it from the start, sometimes it’s hard to believe that the person you know now as sober, once sunk so low. Then you realize that there but for the grace of God is you.
All of which is to introduce David Carr, a columnist for The New York Times. I know Malibu is L.A. Times territory, but with the documentary Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times out now, I have the perfect opportunity to write about a journalist’s story of recovery. He’s in the movie, by the way.
I adore Carr’s writing. He makes writing seem so easy, and he just knows a lot about everything. I remember hearing him interviewed on the radio about his book The Night of the Gun and his life as I was pulling into a shopping mall. I was so mesmerized listening to him that I sat in the car and listened to the rest of the interview.
I’ve never met David, although I freelance for the paper. Every time I read one of his NYT columns or an article he wrote for another publication, I think about how lucky he is that the paper took a chance on him and gave him a job. In his earlier years he drank a lot, he was smoking crack, he beat up his girlfriend, and was not exactly a nice guy. But he has redeemed himself and that was then and this is now.
To write his book, Carr went back to his hometown, Minneapolis, and asked people for their recollections about those horrible years. After graduating from college, he becomes a reporter but is doing cocaine in the evenings. He eventually gets fired. His girlfriend becomes addicted to crack like he does, and gives birth to twin daughters who are crack babies. She loses custody and he raises the girls. Once, he locks them in the car and leaves them alone while he buys drugs. And yes, there was a gun, but luckily nothing happened.
It takes Carr four tries at rehab. He overcomes cancer, remarries, and is a good father and husband, if he does say so himself. Those are the basic facts. He elaborates on them in 300 pages. But to know all the mistakes he made, and where he is now, almost takes my breath away.