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Remember the 90s? Kind of… Mike Doughty’s ‘The Book Of Drugs’
03.08.2012
11:34 am

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Books
Drugs
Music

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As the old adage goes, the Nineties were just like the 60s but inverted (I think it was on Beavis & Butthead that I first heard that one?) If that was indeed true, then could it be said that the drug culture of the 90s was like that of the 60s only inverted?

Mike Doughty is a singer-songwriter and blogger who is perhaps best-known for fronting the moderately successful 90s alt-rock band Soul Coughing. Doughty’s The Book Of Drugs is a memoir looking back on his time in the band, but moreso (as the title suggests) his addictive relationship with various drugs over the years. From the relatively mild (weed, e) to the more serious (smack, later substituted by alcohol), we’re with him all the way to rehab and the sobering power of the 12-step program (here reffered to mostly as ‘the rooms.’)

This isn’t a book about the insane highs and lows of drug culture, glamorous peaks and perilous troughs - all that sort of thing has been covered in countless other books from the 60s. The Book Of Drugs is rather about the slow, persistent grind of addiction and how it wears the user down over a long period of time, a fitting tone for a book about a period when drug use was seen less as a cutting-edge activity and more a normal part of day-to-day life.

Sure, there are some celebrity cameo drug buddies here, like spliff-caning Redman and the smack-snorting Jeff Buckley (thankfully presented as a regular, fucked up human being rather than some kind of tragic demi-god), but Doughty is still tight-lipped when spilling the real beans. One of the most interesting figures in the book is the unnamed, aging rock star Doughty meets in the New York rooms and who imparts some sage advice. Doughty describes the rock star’s band as basically inventing both punk rock and glam. Hmm, who could he mean? There’s a shortlist of suitable candidates buzzing in my mind…

Doughty does go into lavish detail on the holidays he spent in the far East where his greatest ambition was to stay in his room and nod out. Well, he lavishes upon the reader the bits he can remember, which are scant. Even then, he says, he was pretty crappy at being a good junkie:

I went to the tiny (Khmer] pharmacy to clean them out. I piled box upon box of Valium onto the floor, then noticed—morepreposterous luck!—boxes of codeine. I started flipping those out of the case as well.

I heard a French-accented voice behind me. “What are you looking for?” I turned around and saw a manly, unshaven guy in mirrored shades. I said something half-assed and dismissive.

“Maybe I can help you find what you are looking for?” he said.

I snarled and kept rummaging. He shrugged and went away.


Maybe he was trying to help me in the way I wanted to be helped. who knows what that guy knew how to get—heroin? opium? Here we are in the immediate vicinity of the Golden Triangle. there were a number of basic drug-addict skills that I never got together.

Doughty’s experience of “the rooms,” and especially his squaring of an atheist’s lack of belief with the 12-step program’s insistence upon deferring to a higher power, make for some of the books highlights. In fact, towards the end of the book I was totally sold on the rooms as a potential lifestyle-choice, and had developed an almost Marla Singer-esque desire to go and hang out at my local AA meeting.

However, for all the damage being a drug addict, smack-head and alcoholic has done to Doughty, he saves his real ire not for the drugs, or his various addictions, but for the other members of his former band (who all remain nameless to the bitter end). Some of these passages are bitterly entertaining, and again go to show that like drug consumption itself, by the time the 90s rolled around being in a band was less a glamorous calling than a slog-like routine. One just hopes that, like the drugs he has so successfully kicked, at some point in the future Doughty will be able to let go of all the pain and sadness Soul Coughing has brought him:

I’m full-bore batshit crazy with regards to Soul Coughing. If somebody says they love Soul Coughing I hear fuck you. Somebody yells out for a Soul Coughing tune during a show, I hear fuck you. If I play a Soul Coughing song and somebody whoops - just one guy - I hear fuck you. people email my own lyrics at me—“Let the man go through” or “You are listening”—oddly often (how weird is that, to blurt somebody’s own lyrics at them?), and I type back “Don’t put that one me, I’m not that guy any more, that guy is dead.”

If somebody comes up and says, I’ve been listening to you since 1996, it means I had a definitive youthful drug experience to an old CD, and now you’ll never escape that band that you loathe, and you are forever incomplete without those three hateful faces.

Mike Doughty “Na Na Nothing” (and to be fair, his solo stuff IS better!)
 

 
You can buy Mike Doughty’s The Book Of Drugs here.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
How much pot would it take to kill you?
03.07.2012
02:02 pm

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Drugs

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Excerpted from a 1988 Department of Justice/DEA brief written by Judge Francis L. Young:

“In layman terms this means that in order to induce death, a marijuana smoker would have to consume 20,000 to 40,000 times as much marijuana as is contained in one marijuana cigarette. NIDA-supplied marijuana cigarettes weigh approximately .9 grams. A smoker would theoretically have to consume nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana within about fifteen minutes to induce a lethal response.”

Compare and contrast the damage that just two bottles of tequila would do to the human body (Been there, done that and won the booby prize of 4-day hangover...).

And while I’m on the topic, whereas you can see that it’s impossible for a human to OD on cannabis, the plant is HIGHLY toxic to dogs. That’s right, do not let your pooch near your stash. If you make pot brownies keep them out of your dog’s reach (Chocolate is also lethal to dogs. So are grapes and onions). If your dog eats cannabis, rush it to a pet hospital without hesitation.

via reddit

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Crazy old coot Pat Robertson says something sensible about marijuana laws
03.06.2012
05:45 pm

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Drugs

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Nut-job 700 Club host Pat Robertson, who normally prattles on about the end of the world, Obama being a Marxist and gay marriage—and who just last week insisted that people can stop hurricanes and tornadoes if they’d just pray hard enough (“Jesus stilled the storm, you can still storms” WITH YOUR MIND!)—said some words in an order that made actual sense on a March 1, 700 Club broadcast, as reported by the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition blog:

We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners… Every time the liberals pass a bill—I don’t care what it involves—they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don’t feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.

I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. The whole thing is crazy.

We’ve said, “we’re ‘conservative, we’re tough on crime.” That’s baloney. It’s costing us billions and billions of dollars.

Think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. There’s something wrong about that equation.

We need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties. Putting people in jail at huge expense to the population is insanity.

Folks, we’ve gotta do something about this. We’ve just got to change the laws. We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That’s a shocking statistic.

What is it we’re doing that is different? What we’re doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws—there’s this punitive spirit, they always want to punish people.  It’s time for change!

More and more prisons, more and more crime.  It’s just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses.  It’s time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can’t do it anymore…You don’t lock ‘em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway.

According to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition the rant came in the context of a story about Tea partiers and the NAACP teaming up to address criminal justice reform.

This isn’t the first time that Robertson has spoken out against pot laws. In the clip below, the world’s most unlikely advocate for drug law reform let’s it rip a few days before Christmas of 2010:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Rolling Stones hanging out at Brian Jones’ apartment 1967
03.05.2012
08:23 am

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Drugs
History
Music
Pop Culture

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rolling_stones_home_1967
 
The Rolling Stones hanging out at Brian Jones’ Courtfield Road apartment for an Italian news item, in January 1967. Jones tickles the ivories, Jagger smokes, and Richard lies in bed strumming his guitar. The Stones were about to release Between the Buttons, their 5th U.K. and 7th U.S. studio album, and the last produced by Andrew Loog Oldham. As was the practice back then, the U.S. version differed from the U.K. release with tracks replaced with the singles “Ruby Tuesday”, and “Let’s Spend the Night Together”. The album was a glorious pop masterpiece, and contains the first hint of psychedelia (“Yesterday’s Papers”), which The Stones would focus on with the next album Their Satanic Majesties Request, and Keith Richard’s first lead vocal on “Something Happened to Me Yesterday”.

Though this clip has been over-dubbed, it doesn’t take away from its cultural importance, as it captures The Stones in a relaxed mood at the start of what would be one of their more difficult and controversial years. Within the year, Jagger and Richard were arrested, tried and sent to prison for drug possession. Jones suffered a similar fate, though escaped jail. Where their experience strengthened the bond between Jagger and Richard, it left the fragile Jones broken. Interesting then, to see from this clip, that Jones was the main focus and appeared to be the group’s leader, what a difference 12 months would make.
 

 
With thanks to Simon Wells!
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Have a seizure with Bear In Heaven
02.27.2012
08:21 am

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Amusing
Art
Dance
Drugs
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Yes, another new video by another Hometapes band, but hey, when the goods are this potent I am compelled to share. Bear In Heaven are not content with merely making accessibly catchy dance rock for hipsters of all ages. No, they also are intent on altering your brain’s chemistry via the severe abuse of the zooooooom. Move over, strobe lights, here’s something far worse for you !
 

Posted by Brad Laner | Leave a comment
An interview with David Foster Wallace who would have been 50 years old today
02.21.2012
01:40 pm

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Art
Drugs
History
Literature

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Had he not taken his own life in 2008, David Foster Wallace would have been 50 years old today. Perhaps, in the prime of his creative life. We’ll never know.

In this 1997 interview with Charlie Rose, Wallace talks about writing, fame, drugs, depression and David Lynch.

A the end of the interview, while discussing his depression, Wallace remarks “I’m not getting ready to jump off a building or anything.” “Anything” happened 11 years later when he hanged himself, leaving a brilliant trail of words behind him and a big hole in the heart of modern literature.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
He blew his mind out in a car: Short film on ‘A Day in the Life’ inspiration Tara Browne from 1966
02.16.2012
03:27 pm

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Drugs
History
Music
Pop Culture

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tara_browne_1966
 
He blew his mind out in car, he didn’t notice that the lights had changed. These are the lyrics from The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life”, which immortalized the death of sixties socialite Tara Browne.

On the night of December 18th 1966, Browne, together with his girlfriend, Suki Potier, drove through the streets of South Kensington in his Lotus Elan. The couple had just left a friend’s apartment at Earls Court around 1am, and were now in search of food. Browne sped through a stop signal at the corner of Redcliffe Square and Redcliffe Gardens. As he swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle, Browne crashed his car into a parked van. His last minute actions saved Potier from certain death, but left Browne fatally injured, and he died in hospital the following day. 

Browne was 21-years-of-age, a member of the Irish aristocratic family Oranmore and Browne, and heir to the Gunness fortune. He looked like a cross between Paul McCartney and Peter Cook (more of which later), was said to be barely literate - having walked out of a dozen schools, lived with his mother, Oonagh Guinness and her boyfriend a “show designer” Miguel Ferreras, drank Bloody Marys for breakfast, smoked Menthol cigarettes, and according to his friend Hugo Williams lived the life of a “Little Lord Fauntleroy, Beau Brummell, Peter Pan, Terence Stamp in Billy Budd, David Hemmings in Blow-Up.”

‘Tara could hardly have failed to be a success in Swinging London. While I was wandering around the globe in ’63 and ‘64, he embarked on the second and last phase of his meteoric progress. He got married, met the Stones and the Beatles, opened a shop in the King’s Road and bought the fatal turquoise Lotus Elan in which he entered the Irish Grand Prix. He let me drive it once in some busy London street: ‘Come on, Hugo, put your foot down.’ I had just got my first job and our ways were dividing. His money and youth made him a natural prey to certain charismatic Chelsea types who turned him into what he amiably termed a ‘hustlee’.

He reputedly gave Paul McCartney his first acid trip. The pair went to Liverpool together, got stoned and cruised the city on mopeds until Paul went over the handlebars and broke a tooth and they had to call on Paul’s Aunt Bett for assistance. There is still a body of people — and a book called The Walrus is Paul — who believe that Paul is dead and is now actually Tara Browne with plastic surgery.’

A month after his death, January 17th 1967, John Lennon was working on a song when he read a newspaper article on the coroner’s report into Browe’s death:

‘I was writing “A Day In The Life” with the Daily Mail propped in front of me on the piano. I had it open at their News in Brief, or Far and Near, whatever they call it. I noticed two stories. One was about the Guinness heir who killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He died in London in a car crash.’

Lennon further explained his inspiration in Hunter Davies’ biography of The Beatles:

‘I didn’t copy the accident. Tara didn’t blow his mind out. But it was in my mind when I was writing that verse.’

However, more recently, in the authorized biography, Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, Paul McCartney added his tuppence worth:

‘The verse about the politician blowing his mind out in a car we wrote together. It has been attributed to Tara Browne, the Guinness heir, which I don’t believe is the case, certainly as we were writing it, I was not attributing it to Tara in my head. In John’s head it might have been. In my head I was imagining a politician bombed out on drugs who’d stopped at some traffic lights and didn’t notice that the lights had changed. The ‘blew his mind’ was purely a drugs reference, nothing to do with a car crash.’

Whichever version is true, Tara Browne is still the man best associated with lyrics. Here is Tara, and his Lotus Elan, in some incredibly rare footage from a short French TV feature, where the aristocrat drives around London and mumbles in French about his car, art, fashion, music and life. There are no English subtitles, but they’re not really necessary as the film is easily understandable. Appearances from Paul McCartney, Marianne Faithfull and famed gallery owner Robert Fraser.
 

 
With thanks to Simon Wells
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Worst acid trip: ‘Skeletons Having Sex on a Tin Roof’
02.15.2012
08:33 am

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Or the best fucking acid trip. Not sure.

The song is “Skeletons Having Sex on a Tin Roof” by Icelandic group Orphic Oxtra from their album Kebab Diskó. I’ve never heard of Orphic Oxtra until today, but from what I’ve listened to so far, I really, really like them.
 

 
Via The Stranger

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
How do I love thee? Let me smoke the ways
02.14.2012
10:11 am

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Amusing
Drugs
Pop Culture

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I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. In fact, I kinda despise it, it’s just some dumb made up “holiday” to sell stuff, although if my special someone presented me with a glorious heart-shaped box of weed like one of these, it just might change my mind…
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
This one’s for the hippies: Greenwich Village in the 1960s
02.12.2012
12:10 am

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Art
Drugs
History
Music
Pop Culture

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Cool film footage of Greenwich Village in the Sixties.

The Village has always been a vortex for cultural energy and you can see it in these images. Soulful young longhairs, wide-eyed teenyboppers and angel-headed hipsters cruising the streets looking for something, not sure what it is, but knowing there was something magic in the air and if you walked along MacDougal or Bleecker street long enough you’d connect with it.

Music: “Summer In New York” by The Imaginations.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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