I stumbled upon a reference to this marvelous book The Gourmet Cokebook: A Complete Guide to Cocaine, and I instantly knew I had to have it. I’ve never done cocaine, so how else am I supposed to learn about it, aside from watching Goodfellas or listening to Sticky Fingers?
The Gourmet Cokebook was published in 1972. There is conspicuously no author information provided, but the name “Daniel Chasin” appears on the copyright page, which was either a piece of misdirection or undermined the purpose of avoiding the attention of the authorities. I don’t know who Daniel Chasin is, but a Daniel Chasin is credited as acting on the movie Hussy from 1980, and a Daniel Chasin is also credited with writing and directing the 2003 It’s Tough Being Me, apparently a mockumentary about the inventor of the “Fart Machine,” which I suddenly absolutely HAVE to see. I know it’s a longshot, but I really hope those are all the same person.
The publishing company of The Gourmet Cokebook is listed as “White Mountain Press,” which I find hilarious and perfect. The book cost $2.95 at the time, which I know because the price is printed in rather large letters on the back. It has that Loompanics feel of a semi-clandestine operation designed to teach you how to pick locks or make a fake passport.
In truth, the idea of a “Gourmet Cokebook” is hilarious but in principle, the idea isn’t so bad. As the author (Chasin?) points out, there really wasn’t any proper resource around if you wanted to find out more about the drug—the authorities certainly weren’t going to help. There wasn’t any Internet, of course. The book is mostly sensible and helpful, supplying information about the history of the drug and some nuts and bolts information. But in 1972 cocaine was a new drug for mainstream America, and it would take a decade or so for the down sides of its excesses to become plain to all. The book has an idealistic edge to it that doesn’t sit well with the aura that surrounds cocaine today. There’s an appendix at the end addressing the relationship between cocaine and sex, and to the author’s credit the single paragraph is quite up-front about the fact that after excessive use, “the strong sexually stimulative nature of the drug changes to one of frustration, where erections and orgasms become almost impossible.”