14 July 2009



A film that documents the effects of children's psychotic drugs and how these drugs can lead to a host of serious problems, will be shown at the Hyland Cinema tonight.

Generation Rx, by filmmaker Kevin P. Miller, follows families who have lost children to suicide and how lives have been affected by medications. There are also interviews with doctors about the consequences of prescribing mind-altering drugs to children.

The documentary is presented at Hyland by Maximized Living and London doctor B.J. Hardick.

"It's a wakeup call for people who don't realize the politics behind getting these drugs approved and the politics behind naming new psychiatric conditions that come out every year without any real scientific testing," Hardick says.

"The realities of prescription drug side effects are also in the news right now with Michael Jackson. We think this is an extreme case, but there are many people walking around in this city taking as many drugs as Michael Jackson was that are prescribed."

Hardick says there is collusion between the pharmaceutical companies and drug regulators in North America.

"The companies have been backing a lot of the research and creating disease names."

The documentary reveals eight out of the 12 school shooters since the Columbine massacre were taking psychotropic medication.

The documentary has created a stir at film festivals.

Academy award winner and London native Paul Haggis called it a "chilling eye-opener. Many of the stories stayed with me weeks after viewing and continue to haunt me now."

Generation Rx has been met with resistance by drug companies and individuals.

Hardick hopes the documentary will help steer families away from unnecessary medications.

"We've done this as a public awareness campaign," he says.

Proceeds from tickets sales will benefit Teen Challenge, a local residential drug rehab program.



What: Screening of Generation Rx, a documentary exploring the dangers of children's psychiatric medications and their use.

When: Tonight, 7 to 9 p.m.

Where: The Hyland Cinema, 240 Wharncliffe Rd. S.

Tickets: $4, at the door or by calling 519-673-1132.

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04 July 2009


MY BROTHER CHRIS WAS A ROYAL PAIN when I was growing up. He and his friends taunted me incessantly when I was little, and as the next sibling above me in the Miller food chain, he made sure I knew that he was the boss.

I could go on and on about the childhood traumas: he pushed me in a pile of dog manure; he broke a neighbor’s window with a baseball — and then blamed me; and once, he even poked me in the eye with a stick. When my Mom brought me home from the hospital, Chris tried to tell me how cool I looked with a patch over my eye, to avoid getting in any further trouble.

“You look like a PIRATE,” he exclaimed with all of the thespian might he could muster.

“The patch is WHITE,” I replied angrily. “Have you ever seen a pirate with a WHITE eye patch?”

He just smiled.

Chris knew that his bullying had to end soon, but he persisted for as long as he could. He had an eerie knack for stopping his evil acts just before being caught-in-the-act by mom. By the time she walked around the corner, his little devil-face would magically transform — and his cherubic demeanor would miraculously re-appear.

God, I hated that.

By the time I was 13, however, I was growing — rapidly. I had developed a far more athletic build than Chris, and suddenly, we were the same size.

The era of being the taunted sibling had come to a close.

CHRIS’ LAST ACT OF CHICANERY came on July 4, 1969 when he stole my brand new outfit: a pair of black bell-bottom pants and a new striped pullover shirt. As I prepared to leave for the Independence Day fireworks at Lakewood Park outside of Cleveland, I noticed that my sweet new clothes were missing.

Chris had somehow slipped into my clothes, slipped out of the door and was long gone.

I’m sure I cursed at him under my breath — and I know for certain that I created quite a stir with my Mom about the injustice of it all — but the bottom line was that I would have to leave for the fireworks without my spiffy new outfit. So I stopped by a friend’s house and we began our walk to Lakewood Park a few miles away.

TEENAGE ANGST AND ALL, my friend Robin and I were looking forward to the fireworks. Lakewood had developed into a huge inner-ring suburb and was full of kids — and the 4th of July fireworks were always spectacular. It had been a picturesque day and we were really looking forward to the evening.

When we were about five minutes from Lakewood Park, the sky turned from beautiful sunshine to jet-black — in less than two minutes’ time. Without notice, Robin and I were suddenly caught in the grip of the most furious storm either of us had ever experienced. Make no mistake, we were scared to death. Trees were snapping all around us. Huge tree limbs were being flung with unfathomable force. So much rain drenched us that we were shivering, and the temperature felt like it had dropped by twenty degrees in just a few minutes time.

And then there were the power lines. . .live electrical power lines that buzzed and danced in the flooded streets.

It was the storm that changed everything.

It took about an hour to get home, as Robin and I made our way through a jungle of downed trees and flooded roads in the darkness. Lakewood — and indeed all of Cleveland was without electrical power. We saw dozens of cars smashed by trees, windows blown out of businesses and even a few people injured by flying debris.

When I finally walked in the door, my Mom and Dad gave me the look of joy and relief that only a parent can truly understand. The living room of our humble home was lit by flickering candles, but it was easy to see how grateful my parents were to see me. The transistor radio was on — and was reporting the bad news: 100 mph winds had slammed into Cleveland and Lakewood with brutal force; people had died, including some who had been electrocuted by power lines like the ones Robin and I had dodged. Scores were injured; hundreds were missing on Lake Erie — and the hospitals, all on emergency power, were under a terrible strain.

As I began to recount my saga to my family, the phone rang.

It was Lakewood Hospital—my brother Chris was in the emergency room. My parents rushed to the car and somehow made it to the hospital, despite the trees and the power lines and the flooded streets. When they phoned a few hours later they told us point blank: “Chris is in critical condition — a priest has given him his last rites — and and it doesn’t look like he is going to make it.”

Sobbing uncontrollably, I ran to the darkness of my bedroom and began to pray. . .and pray. . .and pray. “If you let him live, Lord,” I said, “I will never fight with him again. I-WILL-NEVER-FIGHT-WITH-HIM-AGAIN.” I repeated this mantra hundreds of times, begging and pleading and crying all the while.

Over the coming hours and days we learned that a tree that was over four feet in diameter had hit Chris, and discovered that the very same tree that had struck my brother so violently had killed the sister of one of my classmates.

We learned of the heroism of volunteers and emergency workers who risked their own safety to free my brother — who had been trapped in the middle of the tree after it splintered around him. And we learned that once Chris had been freed from the clutches of the tree how the volunteers and ER workers carried him to a makeshift triage in a garage nearby the Park in an attempt to save his life.

Today is the 40th anniversary of that day.

On the 30th Anniversary I drove to Lakewood Park before all of the festivities began — and just sat quietly. Then I picked up the phone and dialed.

I told the person on the other end that thirty years prior I had made a promise to God—that if he would spare the life of my brother that I would not fight with him—ever again.

“It’s been thirty years,” I said. “And do you realize that we’ve never had so much as a disagreement?”

On the other end of the phone, my brother Chris sobbed. Since the accident, his life has been one of unbelievable twists and turns — of challenges and faith — and of real-life drama.

But forty years later I am happy to report that God did indeed answer my prayers — on that night when the storm changed everything.

And that’s what the 4th of July means to me.

02 July 2009


DURING THE 1980s, somewhere between working in the music business and becoming a documentary filmmaker, I thrashed around and tried to make a living by producing corporate and non-profit films.

It wasn’t meant to be. We were in the Reagan years; it was supposedly “morning in America” again — but it sure didn’t feel like it, at least to me.

I recall making a presentation to produce a video for a national group of chemical recyclers whose collective aim was to re-use chemical solvents that had become a part of every day life. The chemicals were cleaning agents used at the local dry cleaner and the corner gas station — and people seemed to be becoming aware that it was better for all if the solvents could be recycled.

There was a chemical plant in a Cleveland neighborhood that wanted to expand its’ operation to meet the needs of this relatively young but environmentally-conscious industry. I tried to sell the group on the need for a short film about what I perceived to be the honorable goals of the company and the real need for its services. The video would address — upfront — the potential safety concerns of neighbors, and explain why the company would be a steward of not only this new environmental activism, but of good jobs for area residents.

I presented my 13-page assessment and proposal — full of Kevin Miller’s idealism — gave a speech to the Board, and waited. A week later the chairman phoned to tell me how much they loved the idea. “We are so impressed with your research,” I recall him saying. “How did you find all of this stuff?” Later, however, he said, “we’re gonna have to pass on doing this right now. We’re not sure it’s a good idea to raise the sceptre of safety if we don’t have to.”

I thanked him for his kind words but politely challenged his conclusions. “You’ve heard of NIMBY, right?” I asked the Chairman. “NIMBY — Not In My Backyard? If you don’t state your case directly to the public, your neighbors will see no value in your recycling efforts — and eventually, fear will rule, as it always does.”

Sure enough, six months later, the neighbors said “not in my backyard” and reacted, well, fearfully. City Council rejected the expansion plan.

The company went out of business in the 1990s.

I was reminded of this because of two separate but unrelated news stories that cropped up in the news of late. One story dealt with the trends in Massachusetts and Ohio where people were crying “NIMBY” over proposed wind turbines. The other — across Lake Erie on the shores of the Canadian province of Ontario — explained proposals to add a nuclear power facility in Canada.

The Great Lakes are home to the largest body of fresh water in the world. It has been said that if you stood on the moon, you would instantly recognize the enormity of the Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie. Covering more than 94,000 square miles, these “freshwater seas” hold “an estimated 6 quadrillion gallons of water, or about one-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply,” according to the Great Lakes Information Center. In the U.S. alone, these magnificent lakes account for about nine-tenths of the U.S. supply of fresh surface water.

So the idea that another nuclear power plant could surface on Lake Erie — there are already three — should scare the daylights out of everyone. Both the Davis-Besse and Perry Nuclear Power Plants are located adjacent to Lake Erie, and in Michigan, the Fermi II plant is located next to Lake Erie near the city of Monroe.

There have already been two near catastrophes at Davis-Besse. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the plant was responsible for “two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States” since 1979.

So when people say, “not in my backyard” to wind turbines on Lake Erie, have they considered that just one catastrophe on Lake Erie could contaminate up to one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply?

I sure have.

If your ‘backyard’ is Lake Erie — everyone should embrace the future — now. We should do it before Ontario puts a fourth nuclear power plant on the shores of this — the most shallow of all of the Great Lakes — and we should employ some vision, for God’s sake! Estimates from a 2004 Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) report states that 12,000 wind-industry jobs could be created in Ohio, a region decimated by the loss of manufacturing jobs. That is second only to California!

For once, we should follow the lead of the innovative visionaries in Holland who have not only embraced wind farms, but also other innovative environmental solutions.

We need to take the leap — and accelerate the development of renewable energy on the shores of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes as a whole.

In Ohio, Michigan, and the Midwest, millions are out of work. The fear of losing it all is beginning to hit home. In that context, this NIMBY over wind turbines just doesn’t work anymore —especially with a fourth nuclear power plant on Lake Erie's horizon.

People need jobs. We need power. The future of power generation in the Midwest is there for the taking. We can shift to wind power and push nuclear away from the shores of our Great Lakes.

It is irresponsible to not act.

PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Ondrey - The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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