When I was a child, growing up in the late 40s and early 50s, I was told how bad and dangerous marijuana was. It would make me an addict. And I would never get over it. “You’ll always be nervous,” my mother warned. I didn’t get over this propaganda until I was in the nut house and met pot smokers. Once I knew I had been deceived, I wanted to try it in the worst way.
Some friends on the open ward promised to fix me up with both pot and a guy who was highly recommended. I was a virgin but I wanted to embrace adulthood with both arms. Of course, I was the youngest patient on the wards. We never got to having that rendezvous. But, when I got out, another ex-patient told me he would help me score. I had my whole week’s salary, about $40, and was willing to blow it all on this highly coveted new experience. As luck would have it, the pot remained elusive. Tom and I roamed all over the city. We ran into some great people and the whole adventure was fun. Finally, toward dawn, we scored. We raced to my tiny (but renovated) studio apartment on Mott Street and smoked. My first high was very disorienting. I forgot where I was several times but I figured that’s what pot did. I also became very suggestible. When Tom went down on me, I saw “visions” on the wall mostly of children. The next day, we lit up and went to the East Village for breakfast. The East Village is Puerto Rican and I pretended I was in a foreign country. I was, frankly, disappointed in pot. It didn’t live up to everything I had heard about it.
Stimulants, on the other hand, were really my “thing.” My first stimulant was bennies, just like in On the Road. Although I was spending a lot of time with Tom, I wasn’t attracted to him. But that night I was lip to lip with him all night as a party raged on around us. It was really that I was thirsty and his mouth quenched my thirst. No. Really.
I still wanted to try everything I had read about or heard about. This woman who was a junkie would get me Psilocybin. Again, I handed over a week’s salary and she went to get it. Upon her return, we all got shot up in our mainlines one at a time. Jim Kolb declined so I had his shot. That’s when he revealed that it was heroin. I should have known. The woman was a junkie. The heroin must have been crap because it didn’t get me high even though my system was totally clean of opiates.
But drugs were my first true love. When I was about to take a bus to Philadelphia where there was a gorgeous beatnik, tall, blonde, with long hair and a long beard, Tom called me to him. He had a new drug he wanted me to try. It was methamphetamine which we snorted. Once I was high, the thought of Philadelphia and gorgeous guys flew right out of my mind. This was the only place and time. We fucked. I loved to fuck on speed. Then Tom told me there were some people he wanted me to meet. That’s how I met Jim Kolb and had one of the most significant experiences of my life. But it was also exploitation on Tom’s part. I saw how it worked. He provided girls and was paid on in meth.
Things were happening quickly. Too quickly. I had quit school at the legal age of 16. It had been great but now I thought I needed to go back to being a kid. I moved back in with my parents and finished high school and college. It was a long while before I did drugs again except for pilfering some diet pills of my mother’s. During college, I had friends who had a connection for pot and we would get high in his apartment. The fact that each time was an occasion tells you something about how little the availability was at the time.
After college, I went to Germany where In worked, eventually making my way to Austria. That’s when the stories about the Manson family began appearing. At first, I just thought of them as weirdos. But I gradually became fascinated. In fact, a whole new crop of rebels had manifested while I was immersed in Wagner and Wurst. It was the Hippies. They were different from the Beatniks who just lived in the cities and were rebels. The Hippies had an alternative lifestyle. It was like another civilization. I was living in the East Village. Around the corner was a friend and on the floor beneath her was Howie who was some kind of chemist for the manufacture of LSD.
I was ready for a new experience so I had my first trip. It was truly amazing. I fell in love with LSD. I felt closely bonded with Liz who had been my “guide” through those trips. I decided to chuck everything and go to California where I could immerse myself in this new culture. I quit my job and just left my apartment with everything in it. I just took a backpack and a sleeping bag and a few changes of clothing.
Hippies, unlike Beatniks, made a distinction between “good drugs” and “bad drugs.” Good drugs were pot, cocaine and psychedelics. Bad drugs were speed and heroin. I know. What was cocaine doing among the “good” drugs as it was a stimulant as much as speed. Whatever. I joined a large commune which demanded little from it’s members. We had to clean and cook one day a week. Everyone was supposed to chip in a quarter for meals but they didn’t always have it. I supplemented my dinner funds by panhandling. I discovered I was much better with money than most of them. I had enough funds to buy a hundred hits of acid for maybe $60. I sold the hits for $1 each. I didn’t touch the stuff I had for sale. I was a connoisseur and had a separate stash of only the best. I had orange sunshine, windowpane and anything special I could find. This worked but I had the handicap of getting super idealistic when I was tripping. I would give my money away. When I came down, I felt like kicking myself for being so stupid, when nobody would even stake me for a cup of coffee.
I joined a cult, Divine Light Mission, Guru Maharaj Ji, otherwise known as “the fat 14-year-old.” I went to India with thousands of other followers. I realized, in India, how much I really loved material things. I was off drugs and remained a mere casual user until the Punk scene. Again, I was in love. Punks were radically different from Hippies. Where hippies were idealistic, punks were cynical. Where hippies were interested in creating a perfect lifestyle, punks were interested in music and art. Punks didn’t have the hippies’ distaste for “bad drugs.” In that way, they were more like the beatniks. I discovered that alcohol gave me energy as long as I kept drinking. When I stopped drinking, I soon felt sleepy. So, for the first time in my life, I drank a lot. I would get drunk and not remember how I got home. In a strange way, I reveled in the feeling of degradation. I played Iggy Pop’s song Dirt a lot. But I found a better way to stay up all night. I went back to my first love: speed. This time, I mainlined. I quit my job to enjoy speed full time. I would go on “runs” for days at a time. And I discovered that when I wanted to crash, opium would keep me going while the speed was wearing off and I just went to sleep when both drugs had worn off.
The predictable thing happened. I took more and more heroin to get off speed and then got on methadone. I was still creative about it. I made a ‘zine called Drug Heresies in which I challenged both the goody-two-shoes anti-drug people and the High Times cultie glorification of pot and coke. Yes, I had been through that with the hippies. But High Times had an aura of materialism and consumerism. I did get off methadone by gradually decreasing it and getting involved in something new (to me) OTO, the quasi-masonic, Crowley identified group which outsiders hardly knew existed. I went to my first Gnostic Mass. A group of hippyish people smoking cigarettes and looking scruffy. Then I was led to the temple. It was beautiful. That these people could create such a disciplined ritual amazed me. They were the perfect combination of freedom and discipline.
I got away from OTO when I moved to Contra Costa County. I was getting too old for many things. Speed? High blood pressure. Heroin. The reasons are too obvious to bother stating. I miss my drugs but I’m not self-destructive enough to keep using. Grandiosity is my drug of choice now.
Once a druggie, always a druggie. I’m too old for all the hard drugs I used to take and love. But that doesn’t have to mean the end of better living through chemistry. I have discovered Provigil which isn’t something that gets one high. It just enhances normal consciousness to make every minute the best one ever. That’s good enough for me. The movie, Limitless is linked with Provigil (or Modifinil) in the public mind although the movie deals with fiction and Provigil is real. Something else I haven’t tried is making quite a buzz on the Internet. Brain Octane Oil promoted on a site called Bulletproof. It is administered by a man named Dave Asprey who uses Provigil as well as the products he sells on his site, including their own coffee.
Grandiosity is still my drug of choice but now it’s on “steroids.”