Sick humor

That’s not funny. We’ve received a number of letters this week from local alternative-health practitioners expressing their deep disappointment with Josh Indar’s contribution to our Jan. 20 health issue, “Health fads A-Z.” In that piece, Indar poked some fun at such medical treatments as aromatherapy, homeopathy and drinking your own urine as a means of staying fit. We’ve printed a couple of the letters in this week’s issue. These doctors, these practitioners of non-Western medicine, these healers who think outside the medical bag, as it were, were upset that anyone—particularly a painfully hip paper like ours—had the gall bladder to have a little fun with what these docs do for a living. Hey, aren’t we supposed to be an alternative paper? Whoever said laughter is the best medicine obviously never met any of these medicine folks.

Apparently there’s just no room for humor in the field of health. One fellow, a doctor of the chiropractic arts, was so bent out of shape by Indar’s piece that he closed his letter with these sad words: “I am withdrawing my advertising from your paper. Dismayed in Chico.” I won’t give the good bone-cracker’s name here because some—including him—might construe that to be advertising. (How’s this for a small dose of irony? The primary purpose of a special installment like the health issue is to sell advertising!) The chiropractor said he found the story “to be uninformed, disparaging and bigoted.” What’s more, he wrote, “Taunting the sick with ill-conceived remarks, off-color humor and crude or rude behavior is not humorous, it borders on the criminal.” (Not sure what behavior the doc is referring to, unless he means the act of writing the story itself.)

To remedy this breach of medical understanding we did what any respectable news organization would do: We let Indar take the fall and showed him the door. (Isn’t that what they did to Rob Blair down there in Las Vegas when he tripped over his weather forecast?) We now expect these indie docs—and their advertising dollars—to come back into the fold. And this little anecdote should make their return that much sweeter: As he was leaving the office on his last day, Indar failed to heed our advice and he let the door hit him in the backside. The sudden impact to his person by the heavy wooden door tweaked his back. When I last saw him he looked very much like a man hoping to find loose change in the cracks of the sidewalk as he hobbled toward his car, forced as he was by his painful condition to keep his head down. And it gets even better—there’s not a naturopath, reflexologist or iridologist in town who will touch him in the wake of his story. How’s that for sweet justice?

Last week I reported in this column that the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company, maker of the all-natural American Spirit cigarettes, was not one of those big Carolina or Virginia tobacco companies. Then this week an e-mail from local photographer Thomas Del Brase shoots that down. Turns out R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Holding of North Carolina purchased the company in 2001. Then last year Reynolds merged with Brown & Williams tobacco to form Reynolds America. Man, is nothing sacred?

WMD once meant weapons of mass destruction. That’s why we engaged Iraq in battle, right? Well, failing to find evidence to support that flimsy excuse for our haughty invasion, we’ve changed our tune. Now WMD means “We Manufacture Democracy,” with the implicit message that we’ll force that democracy down the throats of the rest of the world, whether they like it or not. That’s what you do when you are the world’s only superpower. New yellow message magnets bearing that sentiment should be available as soon as the Chinese company that produces them retools.

Jay Leno did it first. Then Oprah. Since I consider myself to exist in the same celebrity stratosphere as them, I will follow suit. I hereby announce that I am stepping down from this job on March 28, 2020. Don’t be sad. It will have been a great run.