Glenn Jones wondered when he was 9 why his older brother Ray averaged nine cavities per year while he had none. They ate the same food, drank the same water; but then Glenn considered the fact that Ray was taking allergy shots while he was not. Converting an unused shed on the Jones family farm in Fowler, Colo. into a lab, Glenn, on a hunch, injected rabbits with the same antigens his brother was receiving to control his allergies. Seven years and 654 rabbits later, Glenn has come up with statistics linking allergy remedies to tooth decay so compelling that the American Association for the Advancement of Science invited him to address their recent annual conference in San Francisco. The 16-year-old also reported to the distinguished assembly that inoculated male rabbits suffered a high rate of cirrhosis and cancer of the liver; females were totally unaffected. (Glenn’s brother has stopped taking the shots.) Glenn, a B student, hopes to study biology in college—if he can save enough money milking cows to afford it.
Miguel Piñero became the most acclaimed new American playwright of the season upon the premiere of his first full-length play, Short Eyes, at the New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater in March. The next morning he paid a visit to a probation officer, not as further research into the prison microcosm which Short Eyes depicts so vigorously, but because he was nabbed three years ago looting an apartment building at gunpoint. At his trial, Piñero, now 27, remembers two of the victims testifying “that I was the nicest burglar they ever met.” Unfortunately the law had already made his acquaintance: by then he had participated in over 100 burglaries. Piñero had first been caught in an attempted jewelry store heist and sentenced to three years on Rikers Island, where he was introduced to heroin. After the apartment job he was given five years at Sing Sing.
Born in Puerto Rico, Piñero came to New York with his family when he was 4. By age 10 he had been driven to street hustling to help support the growing family his father had abandoned. At 11 he was picked up for truancy and stashed in a juvenile detention center for a month.
Piñero maintained his intense loyalty to the Puerto Rican community as a member of the Young Lords in the days when the group, like the early Black Panther Party, placed a higher priority on effective action than on ideological purity. But it was the discovery of theater at Sing Sing that showed Piñero how to achieve his greatest social impact. Up for parole last summer, Piñero joined The Family, a group of players made up almost entirely of former inmates operating out of New York’s Riverside Church. Short Eyes was first produced there before the company turned down a Broadway offer in the interest of group unity and moved the play to the Public Theater. Piñero, for whom theater has been “not only a way out of prison, but a way into myself,” is currently probing deeper into his past. His next play, tentatively entitled Playland Blue$, explores the world of adolescent street hustlers.