Saturday, November 8, 2008

Narcotic Farm: New PBS Documentary

Lexington, Kentucky's notorious treatment center.

From 1935 through the 1960s, if you were famous, and you got busted for serious narcotics, there was a good chance of ending up at the U.S. government's combination addiction hospital and mad scientist's dream factory. Novelist William Burroughs may have been its most famous graduate, but everyone from jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins to actor Peter Lorre did time there.

"Narrated and scored by former inmate Wayne Kramer," according to the film's website, "the film tells the story of this long forgotten American institution through the voices of the former addicts who spent years of their lives locked within its walls."

Scientific American says the film is "based on rare film footage, numerous documents, dozens of interviews of former staff, inmates and volunteer patients, and more than 2,000 photographs unearthed from archives across the country."

The documentary will be showing on PBS channels throughout November. Check local listings. A companion book of the same title is available.

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