Kansas City Playlist: Confronting Deadly Fentanyl Epidemic Denial

This week the tragic story of three "Chiefs fans" dying by way of drug abuse earned coverage around the globe whilst our local chattering class decided to ignore the story and write it off as mere tabloid sensationalism. 

Kansas City's daily newspaper hasn't offered a single noteworthy editorial on the subject. 

The reality is this tragic and the fatal triple overdose reveals a lot more about American life than so much fanfare surrounding the Super Bowl.

Without rehashing all of the painful details . . . The basics of the story are still important for news-watchers to understand . . .

Despite so many fantastical conspiracy theories & blame shifting . . . Three friends who had habitually used illicit drugs together overdosed by way of lethal amounts of fentanyl. The triple death was shocking even as fentanyl overdoses continue at epidemic levels across the nation. 

A few useful stats & info we can glean from highly politicized sources . . .

Federal researchers now say drug overdoses are a leading cause of death among young Americans age 18-45.

In 2023 the overdose death rate topped 112,000 in a 12 month period for the first time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, law enforcement seized "more than 360 million deadly doses" of fentanyl in 2023, but the drug remains cheap and widely available.

And here's where things get even scarier . . . 

"Meanwhile, the network of roughly 17,000 drug rehab and treatment centers across the U.S. is often described as a "wild west" of expensive, poorly regulated and unscientific programs."

Again . . .

An important conversation about this epidemic has been lost in campaign 2024 rhetoric.

Our view that hopes to achieve a balanced perspective . . . 

Prez Biden has, in fact, FAILED to secure the southern border from drug dealers and allowed a tidal wave of deadly illegal narcotics to flow into this country unrestricted. 

Sadly . . .

The GOP & former Prez Trump proposed solution of bombing Mexico to stop the flow of drugs is the same kind of cartoon-ish rhetoric that tricked so many Americans into believing that a couple of miles of border fence would solve a systemic illegal immigration crisis. 

We won't pretend to have a solution to this or any other problem. 

We merely serve to suggest that blame game politics and outright denial will only leave more loved ones dead with no answers to comfort those left behind. 

As we've noted before . . . The fentanyl crisis is far more insidious than the old school crack epidemic of the 1980s. This time around the deadly drug is claiming THOUSANDS lives in white suburbia and rural America. Poor people & people of color have also been impacted but white middle-class America is now suffering tragic losses to casual drug abuse unseen in the modern era. 

Again . . . Without feigning an answer to an epidemic that has confounded policy makers, parents & law enforcement . . .  We can only suggest that talking about this topic & confronting rampant drug use throughout the American social strata might be more productive than pretending this curse only impacts the "addicted" while more and more fatalities mount.

One last point before this post becomes a cheesy PSA . . . 

Our main takeaway from this topic attempts to go a bit deeper . . . Maybe in ways that aren't appropriate for news content . . . 

Mainly, from our perspective, it seems that endemic American drug use evolving into a deadly plague that's killing young people at historic rates is merely a symptom of underlying societal dysfunction that clearly can't be cured by way of very same vitriolic politics and the corrosive, combative culture that often drives desperate people toward faulty chemical coping mechanisms in the first place.

In the final analysis, the crisis is existential in ways far more important than which old man wins the next mostly meaningless presidential election.

And all of this tragedy inspires our www.TonysKansasCity.com playlist tonight . . .

Let's shift gears and start the list with an EXCEPTIONAL dance song. "I Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd is a track that BRILLIANTLY mixes metaphors between drug abuse & lustful, young love.

Saturday nights are for nostalgia and "I Want A New Drug" by Huey Lewis & The News was TKC's favorite tune as a 9-year-old despite a doting aunt saying she was uncomfortable buying this cassette because of the title of this track . . .

Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind is 1990s song with quite a few fans who don't know the upbeat tune is actually a story of hardcore drug addiction.

There's a myth that pop culture inspired drug experimentation in the 1960s was innocent and only sought peaceful enlightenment. White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane seems to contradict this notion inasmuch as the imagery that borrows from Alice In Wonderland is ominous. The lyrics aren't at all hopeful and the tune is akin to a Spanish-styled death march that ends in screaming toward oblivion as a young Grace Slick seemingly decries overindulgence.

Full-circle TKC fun fact . . . This blog afforded us the opportunity to see Stone Temple Pilots live in one of the last, brilliant performances by the doomed singer who succumbed to his many addictions in 2015.

And so . . . 

To conclude, this description of Interstate Love Song by Billboard does a better job than TKC so we'll quote it and think back to our college days spent commuting on local highways and cranking this song as loud as Toyota Corolla speakers would allow: 

"The focus here is neither drugs nor the person doing them. This chunky alt-rock driving favorite from STP is sung from the perspective of Scott Weiland’s girlfriend, who’s forced to live with the heroin-addicted singer’s constant lies. He claims he’s fine, but she knows better, and she knows there’s only one thing to say: 'You lied / goodbye.'" 

As always, thanks for reading this week and have a safe & fun Saturday night.