15 Comments
Aug 22, 2023Liked by PJ Vogt

This episode really hit hard for me. I lost a friend to an accidental Fentanyl overdose last February -- at least that's what the coroner's report said. She left two kids behind, one of them with special needs.

She had already OD'd once before after smoking Fentanyl-laced marijuana, but she survived. She was furious with her dealer and cut ties with him (his response was, "Wait, you didn't want it with Fentanyl??"). I guess her new dealer was worse.

I appreciate the thoughtfulness and curiosity you brought to this two-part series. I'll have to listen to it carefully again because I've been wondering the same thing -- why kill your customers?

As previous commenters have said, Search Engine fills a gaping hole that Reply All used to fill, even though they're two different podcasts. Perhaps you could invite Alex onto the show sometime? 😉

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Aug 19, 2023Liked by PJ Vogt

This ep was very good, no question. Anyone who loved it - no argument from me. But if you look at whatever stats you have (new listeners, subscribers, etc., over time), and if you can discern which episodes are helping add or retain listeners and which are stalling or reversing the (hopefully) upward trend: I'm curious about the effects of this two-parter. IMO it's possible to say, simultaneously, (a) this was a well-made, moving, novel look at an important topic, and also (b) listening felt like work, and providing this kind of work might not be the most novel and valuable thing that Search Engine can do.

Of course some would find that take shallow, unfeeling, irresponsible. Ok. But I submit that in the current culture we are all bombarded with an infinite supply of important, valuable information about tragic occurrences, social ills that deserve attention and action, grim phenomena that aren't well understood. Individually, all these topics merit our attention. In the aggregate, they overwhelm, they foster despair, they enervate instead of inspiring action. We haven't figured out how to regulate the inflow of all the world's ills.

I know this show can't be Reply All, can't resolve the feeling of loss many of us had when that show imploded. I have no doubt there are powerful personal & emotional reasons that's true (for PJ and Sruthi) as well as creative and logistical reasons. But you can't ignore the fact that a lot of your listeners are here partly because of what that show gave us. In a very grim time, Reply All did real good, in a very unique way, by injecting humor, camaraderie, and a sense of adventurous curiosity about the world, into any day when an episode dropped. That is a very valuable contribution for a podcast to make to listeners' lives, and I'd argue it's a kind of contribution that's in shorter supply than thoughtful, intimate journalism about the grave social ills that permeate the news, social media, and the running background music in many of our brains.

Just one opinion. Check the numbers! And regardless, I hope the show continues to do well.

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author

Don’t worry, we have some deeply silly ones coming up. Thanks for listening, and thinking a lot about the show.

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I'll take it. Good luck!

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Disagree. This episode was fantastic, informative, and yes, very sad, but it never felt like “work.” I appreciate PJ taking the time to help the average person understand why Fentanyl has the hold on people that it does. I also found Luis to be endearing and surprisingly intellectual in a way that had me really engaged. More like this (and more silly stuff, too)

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Aug 18, 2023Liked by Sruthi Pinnamaneni

Man, that interview’s a heart punch.

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Nov 8, 2023Liked by PJ Vogt

This episode was eye opening, heart wrenching, brain breaking, and ear worming. Basically it was organ + verb-ing. Excellent reporting. I connected with Luis’ story in a way I haven’t connected with an interviewee before. I am rooting for him! Please do a follow up at some point in the future.

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Thanks for doing these episodes. They are great. My best friend in high school is one of the lead attorneys in the litigation brought by various government entities against opioid manufacturers and distributors. I'd be happy to connect you with him if you'd like to dig into that side of things.

And I'm excited about Search Engine. I really miss the glory days of ReplyAll. This takes some of what I loved about that show and builds on it in great ways. Thanks for the work you're doing.

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I think this is a satisfying answer because it paints drug dealers and users as a different kind of person, ruled by a different kind of logic and ethics, which is a tidy narrative, but not necessarily true based on the ramblings of one sober drug dealer with a tendency to dramatize his history

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I believe the stories about the old ethics, buying school supplies and groceries, etc. This is Italian mafia stuff. They do it so the community doesn't rat them out. It works especially well when the government is not helpful, but the drugs aren't as strong as crack or fentanyl.

I lived in some New York neighborhoods around 2000 where you could still see these guys. Like, sitting around a table in a Häagen-Dazs store with 70s furniture, or running a model airplane store where everything was covered in dust.

The early 80s still would have a lot of this. This article is about Harlem, but all of the suburban white flight stuff is the same: https://medium.com/harlem-focus/harlems-hidden-history-the-real-little-italy-was-uptown-ac613b023c6b

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the answers from this two-parter leads me to wonder if from your research, you got any insight into why elected officials and law enforcement are invested in this narrative that fentanyl is lethal via absorption. i’ve seen so many articles of police officers allegedly being poisoned from simple exposure and electeds warning against exposure when scientifically we know that’s not possible. do you know what they may gain from this?

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What was the mellow uplifting song at the end of this?

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Would love to hear that other interview about (IIRC) “cuts of convenience” and other strategies that drug dealers use to choose their ingredients when cutting drugs. There was an interesting story about how cocaine was increasingly laced with levamisole a few years ago, not sure if they figured out why that particular cattle dewormer was being used… (this was before COVID).

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Aug 19, 2023·edited Aug 19, 2023

Back in the 70s at least you could buy “Thai Stick” which was supposedly marijuana dipped in opium. Then there was “killer weed” which was marijuana mixed with angel dust. If the government sprayed a marijuana field with paraquat to kill the plants they would be harvested immediately and then sold. Anytime you bought or used marijuana you didn’t really know what you were getting.

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deletedAug 19, 2023Liked by PJ Vogt, Sruthi Pinnamaneni
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Aug 22, 2023Liked by Sruthi Pinnamaneni

hear hear!! Love your journalism PJ!!

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