Editorial: Come Friday

Editorial: Come Friday

William E. Stein, D.D.S.*:
With inspiration and apologies to Jimmy Buffet:
 
Headin’ out to San Francisco for the ADA yearly show, I’ve got my orthotics on; I’ve never had much luck for my back pain control. Terry, I didn’t know, that I’d be missing you so, but come  Friday it will be all right, come Friday I’ll be holding you tight, I’ve spent four lonely days in the Town by the Bay and I just want you back by my side! 
 
Yes, I have just returned from the big annual ADA meeting in San Francisco. San Francisco has been very special for Terry and me. As freshman college sweethearts we spent a glorious  summer day during the “Summer of Love”, 1967, exploring the city. We had a wonderful cantaloupe filled with fruit salad at a foggy sidewalk café to start our day. For lunch we had the  green chili at Senor Pico’s near Fisherman’s Wharf, my first taste of ultra-hot chilies. I was hooked for life. We explored many of the funky little shops. I still have a fringed leather jacket  that I purchased, at a dear price, with some of my construction wages. 
 
We had chocolate at Ghirardelli Square and strolled hand in hand through Golden Gate Park, communing with the “hippies”. We had dinner at the Fior d’ Italia, a historic Italian restaurant that  my dad frequented every day of his only four-week shore leave from the horrors of the South Pacific war. 
 
This day was always tucked away in my memory as the best day of my life.
 
So when the ADA had its last meeting in San Francisco, Terry and I were raring to return. Alas, it is true, “You can’t go home again”. 
 
What were mellow hippies are now a panhandler class,  Ghirardelli Square looks like an amusement park, and the Fior‘d Italia has been burnt down and re-built at least three times. 
 
So this year when I asked Terry if she would like to accompany me  to San Francisco, she replied, “No thanks.” 
 
Well, at least the weather was good, with crystal clear skies and warm days. The city has gotten even goofier. I don’t know if it is just San Francisco or, as I suspect, the whole of  California that has turned into the epitome of the “Nanny State”. 
 
If you don’t bring your own bag to the store, they will charge you for one. The room service menu has only “healthy” choices: chicken, fish, or vegetarian. If you want a steak, you have to  ask for it specially, like some kind of modern “speakeasy.” 
 
From the 36th floor of my hotel, overlooking the Bay, San Francisco is still one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but out on the streets the old girl has sadly lost her luster, graffiti  on all the classic buildings and winos sleeping on the Cathedral steps. 
 
The reason for my return this October was to attend the annual meeting of the AADE, the American Association of Dental Editors. MDA Director of Communications Carol Embertson and I  represented the MDA at the session. 
 
Northwest Dentistry always does well at the annual meeting. All members are invited to bring examples of their publications to share with the attendees. NWD looks the best, and all the  copies seem to disappear into the hands of other publications seeking to improve. 
 
Each year the International College of Dentists presents their awards for the best in dental publications. This year Northwest Dentistry was honored for Best Cover, Division I. As a publication in Division I, we are in competition with all the big guys, The Journal of the American Dental Association, The Academy of General Dentistry, and so on. 
 
We always have great speakers at the  AADE meeting, but for me the best presentation was the Luncheon Speaker, Jim Orr. Jim is a brother of one of the dental editors. He is also a retired undercover narcotics agent with 20  years experience with the Los Angeles police force. After retirement from the force, he took up copyright law. How exciting is that, you may ask? I did. Well, it seems copyright law extends  into the realm of Trademarks, Intellectual Property, Counterfeiting, and Piracy. The last two topics really drew my attention. 
 
When we hear the word “counterfeiting” we think of currency, but nowadays in the age of the internet marketplace all manner of counterfeit goods are offered for sale. Be it “Viagra”,  “Plavix”, toothpaste, dental supplies, what have you, if the price seems too good to be true, it’s counterfeit. 
 
Human nature would lead some of us to say, “So what? The big corporations charge too much any way; what harm is it in saving some money?” 
 
There is a huge harm. First of all, you most likely won’t get what you pay for. Your Viagra (this is Jim’s example) might be plaster of Paris spray painted blue. Your dental supplies will most  likely come from some third world country, repackaged and re-dated. Your cheap toothbrushes may contain heavy metal toxins. But worst of all, as Mr. Orr tells us, through the results of his  investigations, he found that most often the profits made from counterfeit sales go to such sterling organizations as HAMAS, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, The Muslim Brotherhood, Abu Sayyaf,  Islamic Jihad, and even the Hell’s Angels.
 
A couple of years ago, in an attempt to curtail rising costs, our purchasing person found a website offering unbelievable bargains on dental supplies. We placed an order. When the stuff  arrived, we knew we’d been had. It just didn’t look right, the labeling was wrong, items seemed to have been repackaged. I just felt dirty. This is happening in dental offices all over Minnesota and the whole USA. These organizations are out to bring down our great country. The secondary, and perhaps the most intended, result of this scam is that the legitimate  companies that are being counterfeited are forced to accept and refund allegedly defective merchandise that is in actuality counterfeit. Be aware of fantastic bargins at “flea markets”, too.
 
The people who brought about 9/11 now want to bring down our economy. Don’t let them. 
 
It is a big, wonderful, but dangerous world out there. Do the right thing.  
 
 
*Dr. Stein is Executive Editor of Northwest Dentistry. He is a general dentist in private practice in Aitkin, Minnesota, AitkinDent@AOL.com