I’ve never liked Mickey Mouse. Donald Duck? Okay. Goofy and Pluto? I can dig ‘em. But Mickey and Minnie Mouse? No—they’re just evil little fuckers—especially Mickey who’s a nasty, conniving son of a rodent.
Mice are bad. They carry disease. They eat your food. They piss and shit all over your house. And once installed—they’re damn near impossible to get rid of. At least a duck you can cook and eat. And dogs are loyal and keen—and I’m told taste like chicken. But mice are just goddam no-good evil vermin. Which is kinda troubling when you think that Mickey Mouse is one of the best-known and most loved symbols of the United States of America.
But then again that probably explains a lot….
For the benefit of the court, may I present exhibit “A” in the case of the People Vs. Mickey Mouse. This is a comic book from the 1950s when the US of A was king of the world and everything was peachy. This comic depicts Mickey and Goofy getting their hands on some liquid amphetamine called “Peppo.” Not only do they partake of this drug themselves (fair do’s)—they then try and sell it to Africans. And this is where the script edges towards the racist and offensive—not that anyone thought so at the time which probably tells you even more than you need to know about American attitudes to the rest world.
The comic book was produced in collaboration between Walt Disney and General Mills to promote Wheaties breakfast cereal.
Click to enlarge images.
Read the rest of Mickey and Goofy’s racist adventure, after the jump….
Édouard Chimot was an artist, editor and writer whose career burned brightly through the 1920s but fizzled out during the 1930s and forties. His artwork was a last hurrah for the decadent world portrayed (and generally indulged in) by many French artists during the 1890s.
Born in Lille in 1880, Chimot studied at his local art college and at the École des Arts décoratifs in Nice. It’s fair to say, not much is known about Chimot during this period—though it has been posited he may have originally started out as an architect before switching career to becoming an artist. This may explain why he didn’t exhibit until he was in his early thirties in 1912.
His first exhibition featured drawings, etchings and paintings of the “jeunes et jolies femmes”—the prostitutes and drug addicts who worked and lived near his studio in Montmartre. Chimot often paid these women to sit for him—as prostitutes were often cheaper to hire than models especially when paying by the night. He was heavily influenced by the Symbolist movement of the 1860s to 1890s—writers Charles Baudelaire, Stéphane Mallarmé, and Paul Verlaine; artists Félicien Rops and the Post-Impressionist Toulouse Lautrec. The success of his first show gained Chimot his a commission to illustrate René Baudu’s Les Après-midi de Montmartre—a depiction of seedy lowlife in Paris’s 18th arrondissement.
However, Chimot’s career was once again halted this time by a far more deadly and dangerous interlude—the First World War. Chimot served for almost five years in French army. One can only surmise what happened to him during this time. Yet, it may be possible to ascertain something of his grim experience from the comments of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who once wrote that during war he never felt more alive than when in proximity to death. Wittgenstein’s bloody experience led him to some recklessness behavior—volunteering for several near fatal (if not downright suicidal) missions.
On leaving the trenches, this intense experience led Wittgenstein to a burst of creativity. Something similar undoubtedly happened to Chimot—who produced a large portfolio of drawings and etchings upon quitting the army. This portfolio formed the basis of illustrations published in books—including Les Après-midi de Montmartre.
Most of these artworks were featured in limited edition books—which catered to the tastes of an exceedingly rich clientele. Chimot’s frenzied burst of activity produced his trademark monochromatic erotica of his favored “deadly and delicious passions”—prostitutes, drug addicts and lost young girls. His work tended to romanticize this shabby world of poverty, disease and addiction—but there are moments when his etchings captured some fleeting awareness at the depths of their despair. All that prostitution and skulls without thinking that men might have something to do with it.
Chimot’s career blossomed. He became an editor of Les Éditions d’Art Devambez—responsible for producing fine quality limited editions imprints of such infamous tales as Les Chansons de Bilitis, La Troisième Jeunesse de Madame Prune, Les Belles de Nuit and Mitsou. He also brought together a group of prominent writers and artists like Henri Barbusse, Collette, Pierre Brissaud and Tsuguharu Foujita.
However, his career came quickly unstuck by two very different forces—the major advances in art (Cubism, Fauvism, Dada, Surrealism and Abstraction) and most damagingly the Wall Street Crash which overnight killed off the demand for high-end exclusive erotica. Chimot carried on—but never to the same success. He moved to Spain where he produced artworks that now looked sadly dated, trite and often the kind of representations seen on sailor’s tattoos or low rent pulp magazines. The glory days of Chimot’s best work were over—the early 1920s when he produced some of the most memorable and haunting images for works of decadent literature.
It’s like a Boy’s Own story. You’re at a concert with your best friend, watching your favorite band, when the drummer collapses on stage. The call goes out, “Is there a drummer in the house?” Next thing you know, your buddy has pushed you into the spotlight and there you are playing the drums with your rock star heroes.
This actually happened to one Scot Halpin when he turned up to see his favorite band The Who open their Quadrophenia tour at the 14,000 seater Cow Palace in Daly City, San Francisco, back in November of 1973. Halpin and his buddy arrived twelve hours before the concert was set to begin. They wanted to ensure they had the best seats in the house up near the front of the stage. This was to prove fortuitous for both Halpin and for the band themselves, for an hour into The Who’s gig—during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in fact—Keith Moon passed out at his drums and was carried off the stage.
The house lights came up. Guitarist Pete Townshend announced:
“We’re just gonna revive our drummer by punching him in the stomach. He’s out cold. I think he’s gone and eaten something he shouldn’t have eaten. It’s your foreign food. The horrible truth is that without him, we aren’t a group.”
There was a thirty-minute intermission while Moon was revived backstage with “a cold shower.” The Who returned to the stage and resumed playing. But not for long. Moon collapsed again and this time he he could not be revived so easily.
Moon the Loon.
It was later discovered what had actually transpired: Moon had ingested a massive quantity of veterinary tranquilizers, which he then washed down with his customary bottle or two of brandy. The rest of the band: Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle carried on performing—Daltrey filling-in for Keith’s drums with a tambourine. It wasn’t exactly working. Townshend once more stepped toward the mic and asked:
“Can anybody play the drums? I mean someone good!”
This was the moment when Halpin’s buddy started yelling at the stage crew that yes, his friend was a drummer and boy could he play. Which was true up to a point. Halpin could play but was out of practice as he hadn’t picked up his sticks in nearly a year.
What happened next surprised both band and audience and has become the stuff of legend. Concert promoter, Bill Graham approached Halpin and pulled him up onto the stage.
“Graham just looked at me and said, ‘Can you do it?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ straight out. Townshend and Daltrey look around and they’re as surprised as I am, because Graham put me up there.”
A roadie then gave Halpin a shot of Moon’s brandy.
“Then I got really focused, and Townshend said to me, ‘I’m going to lead you. I’m going to cue you.’”
Townshend introduced him simply as “Scot” and launched into a couple of blues standards “Smokestack Lightning” and “Spoonful.” Halpin acquitted himself well. He kept good time and followed Townshend’s lead. Next up was the Who’s “Naked Eye” which proved far more tricky with its contrasting tempos. Halpin kept his cool and managed a steady beat throughout.
Scot Halpin fills for Moon with The Who.
It was the band’s last number. Halpin deservedly took his bow alongside Townshend, Daltrey and Entwistle. Backstage they thanked “...the skinny kid from the audience for stepping to the plate” but who “didn’t hang around long after the show.”
“They were very angry with Keith and sort of fighting among themselves,” Halpin said. “It was the opening date on their ‘Quadrophenia’ tour, and they were saying, ‘Why couldn’t he wait until after the show (if he wanted to get high)?”
Daltrey, who’d begun drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle at that point, told the substitute they’d pay him $1,000 for his efforts, and a roadie gave him a tour jacket on the spot. “Then everyone split,” Halpin said. “My friend and I both had long drives ahead of us, so we loaded up on all the free food that was put out for the band, and we both headed for home.”
In the meantime, someone stole the tour jacket that Halpin had just received as a gift.
Halpin received favorable mention in the next day’s Chronicle review. He received a nice letter from the band but no money - not that it mattered.
The event was commemorated by Rolling Stone magazine who honored Halpin with “Pick-Up Player of the Year 1973.” Interviewed at the time, Halpin praised The Who’s stamina, saying:
“I only played three numbers and I was dead.”
More on the night Moon the Loon was replaced by a member of the audience, after the jump…
DrugAbuse.com created this awfully “handy” chart which shows what the most popular drugs are used at certain festivals. Since most people won’t freely admit to taking any illegal drugs, DrugAbuse.com collected their information by using Instagram.
...researchers first gathered intel on how many Instagram posts mentioned one of the 15 festivals they analyzed (3,622,365).
From there, they looked at how many of those posts also mentioned or alluded to a controlled substance—by percentage, Marley Fest had the most mentions of drug use (pretty shocking…), and the KISS Country Chili Cook-Off had the most mentions of alcohol (which could have been inspired by the Brad Paisley hit of the same name—he headlined after all).
I’m giving this chart a major side-eye. C’mon, just using mentions on Instagram to get your statics without actually physically talking to a single person? I dunno, seems pretty pointless to me. I’d take this chart with a grain of… something fun.
There are not many pop lyricists as good as Jarvis Cocker. Listen to the best of his solo work or the songs written with Pulp and you’ll hear a man who eavesdrops on life and turns the everyday into poetic gold.
When he started, Jarvis had a romanticized view of the writer’s life—the noble poet ensconced in some distant high tower contemplating his own suffering and angst. This all changed after a brief spell in hospital when he tuned into the conversation of his fellow patients and found their lives and tales to be more fascinating than his own. It changed the way Jarvis wrote his lyrics—changing from songs of myself to songs of experience.
When Pulp headlined at Glastonbury in 1995, Jarvis explained his inspiration for the band’s new single:
“‘Sorted for E’s and Wizz’ is a phrase a girl that I met in Sheffield once told me… and she went to see The Stone Roses at Spike Island and I said “What do you remember about it?”. And she said, “Well there were all these blokes walking around saying ‘Is everybody sorted for E’s and wizz?’” And that’s all she remembered about it and I thought it was a good phrase.”
‘Drugs: Pulp Fiction’—NME fire an early warning shot about ‘Sorted…’.
When Pulp released the “Sorted for E’s & Wizz” as a double-A side with “Mis-Shapes” in September 1995, there was a sense that “Sorted…” would have the curtain-twitchers of Tunbridge Wells scratching angry letters to the papers. But as it turned out, it wasn’t the lyrics or the song’s title that saw a tabloid hate campaign launched against Pulp, but rather the single’s sleeve that caused a furore, as music paper Melody Maker explained at the time:
The cover of the single features a photograph of a page from a magazine folded into the shape of a speed wrap. No drugs are shown on the sleeve. The inside booklet features a series of origami-style diagrams showing how to fold a piece of paper to make a speed wrap. Again, drugs are neither mentioned nor shown. However, under pressure from retailers and Island Records, a new, plain white sleeve has been printed.
The press denounced the cover as a “sick drugs stunt,” and the Daily Mirror ran a campaign to ban the single claiming the band were “offering teenage fans a DIY guide on hiding illegal drugs.”
Exhibit A: The offending drug wrap cover.
I think it fair to suggest that most teenagers or twenty-something Pulp fans in the 1990s already knew how to make a drug wrap, because everyone was sorted for E’s, wizz, coke and anything else you could get your jammy little mits on during that decade—and this includes a whole tier of hypocritical Fleet Street journalists and TV producers, who snorted in their executive toilets but damned users in print and picture. Right or wrong, it was just the way it was, and Pulp’s song reflected the ubiquitousness of that culture.
But the Daily Mirror wasn’t just content with keeping down some working class pop stars, their journalists cruelly phoned a father whose son had died from taking ecstasy, and used his experience to damn the band. Classy.
It forced Pulp to change the single’s cover and opt for a clever and rather tasteful knitting pattern design for the song “Mis-Shapes.”
As Jarvis explained the change was more about giving people the chance to hear the song than just giving in to the ire of a few media pundits. In an interview with the Melody Maker, he discussed what happened:
When did you first become aware that the Mirror was going to run with the story?
Jarvis Cocker: It was about half past 10 on Tuesday night. It was my birthday. Usually I would be out on my birthday, but I wasn’t that particular night, and I got a call saying it probably was gonna happen. The next thing I heard about it was my mother calling up at quarter past 10 the next morning, saying breakfast TV and various people had been ringing her up trying to get my number and trying to get her to make a statement about it, and stuff. But me mum’s alright, she’s not daft, so she didn’t say anything to them.
It surprised me, cos the thing that I was anticipating having trouble with was getting the record played on the radio. I’d been told that, because it mentioned drugs, they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. They wouldn’t listen to it, and so they wouldn’t realise that it was just a song about drugs. It wasn’t saying drugs are fantastic. So, you know, I thought we were home and dry, but then they started taking exception to the sleeve. It’s stupid, cos that’s basically an origami diagram. Origami does not lead to drug addiction, as far as I know - I might be wrong. Nowhere on the sleeve does it say, ‘Put your drugs in this handy container’. People say it’s obvious what it’s for, but it’s them who’ve spelt it out. It’s like saying if you have a picture of a gun on a record cover, that means you’re gonna go out and shoot people. The subject matter of the song is about drugs, so it’s appropriate that it has drug related imagery.
Any road, the Daily Mirror took it upon themselves to ring up the Association Of Police Officers and get their opinion on it. It was kind of weird, cos they rang back and said they thought the song was great and they had no problem with it, but they thought the sleeve was bad. That was a problem for us, cos basically that could have led to it being banned from a lot of shops. So I thought to myself, I think it’s an important song for people to hear, and if the sleeve is gonna get in the way of people hearing the record, I don’t want that. I’ve been quite angry today cos there’s all this stuff to do with the chart people and all this daft formatting business, and they’re saying if you change the sleeve then it’s another format so it’s not eligible for the charts any more.”
More from the Melody Maker:
Ironically, the pre sales on the single were already well over 200,000 before its release on Monday - the biggest advance figure in Island Records’ history, according to the label’s marketing director, Nick Rowe. Regardless of the tabloid reaction, with Sorted For E’s & Wizz, Pulp seem to have tapped into the wider debate going on in the media concerning drug use in Britain. Recent examples being Channel 4’s ‘Pot Night’ and the current series, ‘Loved Up’.
Jarvis Cocker: I’m not saying I did it cos I thought we could open up a forum for discussion, but I think the drugs thing in Britain now is something that people can’t ignore any more. So many people are doing it you can’t just say it’s these fringe elements and they should be rehabilitated. People are just doing it on a recreational basis and treating it in the same way as they treat drinking or having some fags, so you can’t just say everybody who does it is an evil monster, and you can’t just like shut your ears to it every time somebody mentions it. There’s got to be some kind of a change in attitude to it. That’s why I thought it was great that it got played on the radio, cos that to me showed that there had been a change in attitude to drugs.”
Exhibit B: The offending diagram showing how to make a wrap.
Despite all the unnecessary hoo-hah about nothing much in particular, “Sorted for E’s & Wizz”/“Mis-Shapes” went on to hit the number two spot in the UK pop singles charts.
Below Pulp premiere “Sorted for E’s & Wizz” at Glastonbury 1995.
I’m staunchly supportive of early sex education, I’m certainly all for childhood body positivity—especially in these days of surgical and Photoshop fantasy—and I also don’t think the efficacy or value of children’s programming should me measured by its appeal to adults—sometimes kids shows are visually and aurally lurid to compete with a clamorous world (also, a lot of kids just have bad taste at that age). However, the body positive kids’ sex education web show “Baby! Love Your Body!” really challenges my allegiance to a carefree and liberated vision of childhood. It’s intended for children as young as three, but maybe it shouldn’t be?
Borne of energetic French feminists “Fannie Sosa” and “Poussy Draama” (who—shocker—both belong to an art collective called School of No Big Deal), “Baby! Love Your Body!” is what happens when the impetus for cultural liberalism—apparently at all costs—supersedes all instinct for appealing to a popular audience. It starts with a value-neutral tour of vaginal slang, with all your favorites included. Then it makes a quick left turn with two people dressed up as raver vaginas. From there we see some confusingly metaphorical portrayals of sex and masturbation interpreted with erratic dancing, and then it just completely abandons narrative with a “Through the Looking Glass” love canal adventure. Yes… someone enters a vagina and a psychedelic journey ensures.
There is only one episode so far, but it’s been done in English and in French—I’ve blessed you all with the disorientingly English-dubbed version below. The tone is manic with the sort of exhausting, heavy-handed enthusiasm and good cheer that afflicts so much children’s programming these days, but I could see kids responding well to it even if I didn’t. I give Fannie and Poussy a hard time, but in spite of some some absurdly prudish backlash, I think the show could actually be useful—if parents can handle the acid-trip presentation. For those of you who might prefer a more sedate teaching tool—may I suggest a nice, sterile anatomy textbook, preferably in Danish.
Dammit, I knew I shouldn’t have clicked play on this clip of a bizarre anti-drug PSA from the 80s. Any song titled “The Chicken Club” is a sure-fire recipe for an all day earworm. You can tell from a distance, can’t you? I’ve been humming and tappin’ my toes to this catchy lil’ tune all day. I hate myself for it.
The message I’ve taken away from this video and song is, if you don’t do drugs you can do some awesome variations of “The Roger Rabbit” / “The Cabbage Patch” and, you know… you just gotta join the “Chi-chi-chicken Club!”
Are you a “chicken” for not doing drugs? That’s a bit of a mixed message, yeah?
The title of The Art of Tripping, a documentary about the visionary uses of narcotics that aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 1993, has a slippery double meaning. The surface notion is the idea of a guide to tripping well, of tripping with style, but that’s not what it refers to. More literally, the documentary addresses the artistic uses of drugs, art produced by tripping.
“Devised and directed” by Storm Thorgerson, well known as one of the members of the legendary Hipgnosis artistic team, The Art of Tripping is a satisfyingly intelligent narrative that brings the viewer through two centuries of the effects of mind-altering substances on highly creative minds. Hail Britannia: I’m trying to imagine CBS coming up with a program like this, without success. Even PBS wouldn’t likely go out of its way to praise the salutary uses of mescaline, although I’d be delighted to be proven wrong on that point. The narrator is Bernard Hill, who does an excellent job of imitating a certain kind of louche academic type who might plausibly have created the documentary you’re watching (even though he didn’t).
The documentary takes you from the days of Coleridge more than 200 years ago up through De Quincey, Rimbaud, Modigliani, and Picasso before getting to the golden age of chemically enhanced literature and painting following World War II. Be warned: this is a high-minded documentary, and the focus is entirely on authors and painters. You won’t hear anything about Jimi Hendrix here. The doc has a highbrow bias but is no less witty for that: many interviews are digitally fucked-with in appropriate ways, including a Picasso expert whose bit is presented in a cubist style and a commentator on LSD whose outline is briefly replaced with footage of an underwater vista, and so forth. In the familiar effort to make sure everything stays amiably “visual,” there’s also a metaphor in which the narrator ascends a creaky elevator to the rooftop of a building—the resolution of that metaphor could not be more cheesy or perfunctory.
Most notable for the purposes of DM is its lengthy succession of prominent talking heads, from Allen Ginsberg and J.G. Ballard to Hubert Selby Jr. and Paul Bowles. Where such personages were unavailable for reasons of death, Hill “interviews” De Quincey, Edgar Allan Poe, Anaïs Nin, Andy Warhol, and a few others who are embodied by actors who quote diaries and other literary works in order to “answer” the questions.
All of the great druggie classics of the postwar era are explored. Allen Ginsberg reads some bits of “Laughing Gas” from Kaddish and Other Poems, while Paul Bowles discusses the practice of ingesting kif in Tangier and reads a druggy bit from his book Let It Come Down. J.G. Ballard calls Naked Lunch “a comic masterpiece … a kind of apocalyptic view of the postwar world.” Amusingly, Ballard later says that “taking LSD was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life.” Of course, a few years after this documentary aired, Ballard wrote Cocaine Nights, which would obviously have fit this show to a T.
The show is chronological, so if you’re looking for Aldous Huxley or Ken Kesey or Jay McInerney, it won’t be too hard to find. My favorite bit comes towards the very end, when Lawrence Sutin, author of Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick, describes Dick’s disturbingly high intake of amphetamines:
At his peak, in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, by his own testimony he was taking a thousand amphetamines a week. White crosses and whatever speed, street drugs he was taking. The testimony of the roommate who I interviewed was that he would go to the refrigerator, in which was a large jar of white crosses, and simpy dip his hand in, take a handful, and swallow them, so if you ask how he fared with all this, the answer was: badly.
Recreational cannabis is legal in Denver, Colorado, but folks are still feeling a little bit iffy about its sudden visible, and potentially sniffable, presence. The Denver police are now using an instrument called the “Nasal Ranger” (yes, that’s really what it is called), to measure and track the scent of pot in order to better enforce laws regarding smell complaints. They began using the tool fairly recently, purportedly after pot-related odor complaints more than doubled. Doubling sounds like a lot, right?
Oh wait, except that the numbers were pretty negligible to begin with.
In a city of around 634,000 people, there were 98 smell complaints in 2010, seven involved weed. In 2012, there were 288 complaints, with sixteen having to do with marihuana. While that’s an increase overall, complaints about pot actually decreased by about 1.5%, and this was all prior to the legalization of pot for recreational use. In 2013 (up until September 20th), they recorded 85 complaints, eleven of which were attributed to marijuana, a slight increase since 2010, but the city isn’t exactly being hot-boxed. And let’s be honest, at least some of those complaints were made by anti-pot tattle-tales and buttinskies. I only know a few Denverites, but none I’ve spoken to have complained of a sudden pervasive skunky smog enveloping the Mile-High City.
I looked up the Nasal Ranger, attempting to find a price, but apparently you have to request a quote, which is far too much work for an (cough) groggy young woman like myself. It sounds to me like the police department bought an expensive-ass toy in order to assuage some stuffy reactionaries. In all fairness, the Nasal Ranger actually seems like a pretty tame measure when you learn there are people in Denver attempting to pass laws making the very smell of pot punishable by up to $999 or up to a year in jail.
And at least the Nasal Ranger uses measurable data. That way, they can punish only the truly egregious odor levels—smells most likely produced by a dispensary or farm, not personal use. And at most, it’s a $2,000 fine, nothing completely outrageous. The more potentially unjust part is the provision declaring that five household complaints in a 12 hour period constitutes a violation. That could so easily abused by a few vindictive, lying, busybody neighbors.
On some level, I sympathize with a fear of overpowering smells. I grew up next to a donut factory that ran the ovens at 5 am, right when I was driving to my awful job as a hotel maid. I used love the smell of donuts, but after living in a cloying corn syrup fog for a year, I can now only stand the aroma when the odd donut craving hits me. Of course, now I live in a West Indian neighborhood, so guess what my street smells like in the summer heat? Barbecue, you racists! (Seriously, 95 degrees and a smoker full of jerk chicken in front of every brownstone.)
Like a hunk of meat dropped from a shopping bag onto the steaming summer streets of Washington Heights, the FDA and its supposed mission is rapidly turning rancid. Rapidly entering the territory where continued inaction can arguably be equated with criminal and maggoty negligence. Lemme explain just what the hell I’m talking about…
If you had, say, tuberculosis, you wouldn’t seriously consider going online and buying a “GUARANTEED CURE FOR TB!!!” from the same guy trying to sell you Cialis or Viagra, would you? You’d go to a doctor or, if you are poor and reside in the United States, to your local emergency room once you began to hack up blood, and you’d probably just assume that whatever antibiotics they were giving you had gone through, like, testing and shit beforehand, right? That’s the legacy of the FDA: Theoretically, it protects us regular folks from unscrupulous or fly-by-night “pharmaceutical” companies just trying to make a quick buck, right? In general, that’s a reputation we all probably (for the most part) trust in. FDA approval means something, right?
But all that comes to a screeching halt when we’re talking about psychoactive chemicals. I mean, do you really trust the FDA to issue statements or studies on bath salts or designer drugs? Of course not. Check out the recent New York magazine article on designer drugs (”Travels in the New Psychedelic Bazaar”). There are countless LEGAL drugs—albeit not the ones for sale in a Rite Aid, Walgreens or CVS store—entering the illicit market every month, and yet the FDA doesn’t feel like this is something they need to watch or study or bother with, aside from categorizing said psychoactive chemicals as “Schedule 1” under the analogue drug laws and making them illegal In other words, if the public, who they are supposed to protect, actually ENJOYS a drug, the FDA will provide exactly ZERO useful guidance on (eg) dosage or fatality rates or which producers are making their drugs in a harm-minimized fashion.
Am I suggesting that the FDA behave as if the organization were Erowid? Indeed I am!
Back in the late 70s we heard rumors in New York of this new (and at the time, perfectly legal) drug being produced at Harvard. or somewhere up in Boston, that provided this initial super-euphoric rush, followed by many hours of just plain outrageous grooviness. I was a teenager at the time, so it didn’t occur to me that, perhaps, this new drug (now known as Ecstasy) might be dangerous or untested. It came from Harvard! I just wanted to try some, what the fuck did I know?
Only a couple of years later, however, an exotic creature named Cindy Ecstasy (you may know her as a backing vocalist on Soft Cell records—she does the rap in “Memorabilia”—but I knew her in a different capacity) was shuttling back and forth between Boston and Brooklyn on weekends and distributing pretty inexpensive hits (about $13 at the time, as I remember) around clubland. It was only an accident that we were ingesting what would turn out to be one of the safest party drugs ever to hit the streets, though, a few years later, it was categorized as “Schedule 1” and made as illegal as heroin or crack. Back then it was pretty pure MDMA, although we did not know that. Who knows what is in it today?
So what we see, therefore, is that “Schedule 1” means that the FDA has basically backed out of any responsibility, despite the fact that millions of drugs are consumed by young people each year. Those consumers of bath salts, synthetic marijuana, designer drugs and other new-and-upcoming substances—critically, drugs that have often come out of nowhere and that have no real street history/folklore yet—know that the FDA has completely backed out of any real involvement, and so take on the risks themselves.
And that would be bad enough. But now, with fully legal recreational pot being sold in two states, and “medical” marijuana either sold or soon to be sold in many more, can the FDA still continue to ignore its responsibility to millions of partakers of psychoactive chemicals? I mean, the FDA regulates donuts, for fuck’s sake. Does it make any sense whatsoever that they continue to ignore the rapidly expanding area of legal MJ medical research? Sure, it’s illegal at the Federal level. Lots of things are. But if hundreds of thousands or even millions of people are consuming a substance, doesn’t the FDA have a responsibility to provide clear and nonpolitical guidance about consequences, usage dos and don’ts, potential contaminants and other dangers?
Put in another way, right now the FDA still has an OK-ish reputation for “big pharm” drugs that battle cancer and other sicknesses. But they’ve completely missed the boat on psychoactive and other chemicals that they are politically bound BY STUPID LOGIC to pretend don’t exist. And everyone knows this. In regards legal or illegal “fun drugs”, the FDA has ZERO reputation, they bring ZERO value, they are doing (what is in effect) NOTHING about substances that have an overall impact that completely outweighs any one pharmaceutical drug, even some of the ones that are the most prescribed! This is why a whole host of US states are currently going it alone, trying to determine how to monitor, license and inspect marijuana cultivation facilities in order to keep their residents safe and to minimize any harms along the way in the supply chain.
Look, alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs out there. It can cause damage or death if consumed without information and guidance, not to mention that you can strip varnish with it. There are consequences to consuming alcohol that we minimize by empowering the FDA and other governmental bodies that don’t do what’s really required, here, now, in 2013. So far, on pot or mushrooms or MDMA or LSD or anything else, the FDA provides pretty much zero in the way of useful guidance, and everybody knows it. In other words, GET OFF YOUR FAT ASSES FDA AND START PRODUCING APOLITICAL GUIDANCE ON PSYCHOACTIVE DRUGS.
The legality or illegality of those drugs is totally irrelevant at this point. Do your job, FDA.
As a filmmaker who’s shot documentaries on both Lil’ Wayne and Lee “Scratch” Perry, Adam Bhala Lough thought it a good idea to cross wires a bit and let the eccentric 76-year-old dub master bestow a bit of mellow wisdom upon the drank-sippin’ 30-year-old rap supastar.
I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with the Michael Alig/club kids story by now, but let’s face it, no matter how many times it is told it never fails to shock and entertain. Limelight is a new documentary which recounts the story yet again, but as opposed to Party Monster, Shockumentary or James St James’ excellent Disco Bloodbath book, the focus this time in on the Limelight club itself and its owner, the nightclub impresario Peter Gatien.
Gatien owned a string of venues in New York, Atlanta and London during the 80s and 90s, including the very successful Tunnel and Club USA in Times Square. The Limelight was perhaps the most notorious (due in no small part to the club kids’ involvement), and became the focus of Mayor Giuliani’s crackdown on the city’s night life and drug culture. Gatien made a fortune from his venues, but was found guilty of tax evasion in the late Nineties and deported to his native Canada. Gatien is interviewed in Limelight, along with a prison-bound Michael Alig and everyone’s favorite vegan porn-hound Moby (who describes the Limelight as being like “pagan Rome on acid”). The documentary is released on Friday, here’s the trailer:
A very interesting talk here from two of the more credible voices to comment on the 2012 phenomena (who I think need no introduction). As you would expect though from Hancock and Pinchbeck (both names together have a nice ring, eh?) the conversation covers much more than that, and takes in crop circles, drug consumption, 2012, the future, and the “freedom of consciousness”. The talk is opened up to the floor for some very interesting questions two thirds of the way through. This was recorded Baltimore late last year, and is here presented for the first time in its entirety, lasting just over 70 minutes. Perfect background listening while you are doing some dishes and washing some clothes:
Los Angeles-based designers Cast of Vices create whimsical pieces of jewelry based on “pop culture and our obsession with self-medication and addiction.” There’s also a pricey ($1,350) 14k Vicodin necklace you can view here.
Kanazawa has a theory, which he calls the “Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis” which goes something like this: “Intelligence” evolved as a coping mechanism of sorts (maybe stress-related?) to deal with “evolutionary novelties”—that is to say, to help humankind respond to things in their environment to which they were previously, as a species, unaccustomed to. An adaptation strategy, in other words.
Translation: Smart folk are more likely to try “new” things and to seek out novel experiences. Like drugs.
How else to explain toad licking? Someone, uh, “smart” had to figure that one out, originally, right? Someone intelligent had to come up with the idea to synthesize opium into heroin, yes? Yes.
But to be clear, and not to misrepresent his theories, Kanazawa clearly states (in the subtitle) that “Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing,” either…
Consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, the analysis of the National Child Development Study shows that more intelligent children in the United Kingdom are more likely to grow up to consume psychoactive drugs than less intelligent children. Net of sex, religion, religiosity, marital status, number of children, education, earnings, depression, satisfaction with life, social class at birth, mother’s education, and father’s education, British children who are more intelligent before the age of 16 are more likely to consume psychoactive drugs at age 42 than less intelligent children.
The following graph shows the association between childhood general intelligence and the latent factor for the consumption of psychoactive drugs, constructed from indicators for the consumption of 13 different types of psychoactive drugs (cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines, LSD, amyl nitrate, magic mushrooms, cocaine, temazepan, semeron, ketamine, crack, heroin, and methadone). As you can see, there is a clear monotonic association between childhood general intelligence and adult consumption of psychoactive drugs. “Very bright” individuals (with IQs above 125) are roughly three-tenths of a standard deviation more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than “very dull” individuals (with IQs below 75).
Shit, I must’ve been pretty smart because I purt’near crossed almost everything off this list (except for the sleeping pills) by the time I was seventeen!
Consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, the analysis of the National Child Development Study shows that more intelligent children in the United Kingdom are more likely to grow up to consume psychoactive drugs than less intelligent children. ... “Very bright” individuals (with IQs above 125) are roughly three-tenths of a standard deviation more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than “very dull” individuals (with IQs below 75).
If that pattern holds across societies, then it runs directly counter to a lot of our preconceived notions about both intelligence and drug use:
People—scientists and civilians alike—often associate intelligence with positive life outcomes. The fact that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume alcohol, tobacco, and psychoactive drugs tampers this universally positive view of intelligence and intelligent individuals. Intelligent people don’t always do the right thing, only the evolutionarily novel thing.
Speaking for myself—and I wasn’t a very innocent child by any stretch of the imagination—I was already trying to smoke banana peels (“They call it ‘Mellow Yellow’) and consuming heaping spoonfuls of freshly ground nutmeg when I was just ten-years-old. I got the banana peels idea, yes, from reading about the Donovan song and its supposed “hidden meaning.” The nutmeg idea came from the infamous appendix of William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, which I was able to pick up at the local mall (When my aunt, visiting from Chicago, caught wind of what my 4th grade reading material was, she was shocked—and told my mother so—but little did she know that I was already at that age actively trying my damnedest to get my hands on some real drugs).