Having just watched National Geographic’s expose of Baltimore – “Heroin Capital of America” – on “The High Wire” episode of their popular Drugs, Inc. television series, we are still blown away by the unintentional product placement the drug hustlers gave the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
As one heroin (or, in local parlance “hair-on”) kingpin explained his organization’s business, he was clearly shown cutting up a mixture of morphine and heroin (a medley drug fiends call “scramble”) using a bright red Enoch Pratt Free Library card. In any other context, that’s the kind of robust brand recognition a business would die for. But given Pratt Library’s slogan of “Your journey starts here,” the inadvertent suggestion is the journey isn’t into reading and knowledge but into drug hustling and potential death.
It’s either a left-handed compliment to Baltimore literacy (i.e., criminals are readers) or a reflection of drug slingers’ greed and stinginess (that is, that men that boast of clearing $10,000 a day are too cheap to buy library books, CDs and DVDs with their excess cash, a case of “why buy the cow when the milk is free”).
Either way, it’s the kind of advertising money (even $10,000 day) can’t buy. And we’re sure it’s the kind of free publicity the library would gladly pay to undo! Still, Pratt can take a certain satisfaction in the fact that the gangbangers didn’t give a free shout-out to Baltimore County or another library system. In the Heroin Capital of America, we keep it homegrown and organic, farm to table…library checkout to drug rehab checkin!
“Drugs, Inc.” looks at Baltimore in “The High Wire” (Baltimore Or Less)