Trippin’ the light fantastic

By |2008-09-04T09:00:00-04:00September 4th, 2008|Opinions|
Parting Glances

It’s been years since I’ve had anything alcoholic to drink. But when I was drinking I drank everything. Beer, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, scotch, brandy, ouzo. (No after shave.)
I never sipped from a straw or sported a glass that was garnished with a cutsy pink umbrella. I held my Budweiser like a man (until asked to leave because I couldn’t walk like one).
I’m alive because I stopped drinking in 1982. (I’ll drink to that! Perrier. Neat.) When I came out in the 60s everyone drank. We met, socialized, got laid in bars. Beer was 50 cents. The three Martini lunch, $3.75. The $10 weekend. Wowee!
As far as drugs go, my experience is limited. A lifelong nonsmoker, I tried pot – not smoking it but chewing it, followed with hearty swigs of Johnny Walker Red. The result was jolting. I felt the blood pumping through my veins. I walked blocks, blocks, blocks, took umpteen cold showers before settling down.
I’d forgotten (or so I thought) what it was like to get high when two years ago I attended a Chris Botti concert in Ann Arbor. During one of the improv numbers the guy with the golden horn and trio really took off. The session was layered with sonics building up, up, up to a bursting climax. As I listened I shut my eyes. Whoosh! I had a retroactive high. It blew my mind. White-light Nirvana!
These days I don’t touch stimulants other than tea, coffee, latte. (I take that back. Sugar-free Red Bull, now and then.) I am curious, though, about what it’s like to get high on mind-expanding drugs like LSD, DMT, peyote and mescaline. So I ask, if I discover anyone who has. (I’ll drop no names.)
It’s my understanding that these hallucinogenics “open the doors of perception” and can have therapeutic or spiritual benefits if taken under controlled conditions with a psychiatrist or a shaman. Peyote, for example, is a sacrament in many Native American cultures.
Two German writers working in Berlin and New York have written a 181-page guide called, “The Curious World of Drugs and Their Friends – A Very Trippy Miscellany” (Plume Book Press, 2008; $14). The paperback is filled with information on just about every drug making the rounds, every drug cartel and every well-known user/abuser under the blinding sun.
One of the writers, Adriano Sack, recently launched a fashion Web site I suspect he’s family, and is responsible for including drug sheets on Boy George, Helmut Berger, Yves Saint Laurent (“he was born with a nervous breakdown”) Calvin Klein (“invited hustlers home, feeding them cocaine and Quaaludes”), Michael Alig (“Movie Monster” killer), George Michael, Elton John (now a shopaholic, “who spent 293,000 British pounds on flowers in a twenty-month period”).
“Memorable” drug deaths detailed: John Belushi, John Bonham, Truman Capote, Nick Drake, Falco (“he wanted to die like James Dean”), Rainer Werner Fassbender, Jerry Garcia, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday, Howard Hughes (“weighed 99 pounds at death”), Harold Hunter, Marilyn Monroe, Keith Moon, River Phoenix, Elvis Presley, Tennessee Williams, Dinah Washington, Anna Nicole Smith. (AND NO: I’m definitely not the father of her child.)
Unnerving item: PCP (Angel Dust) the well-known tranquilizer was first synthesized in 1926. Its use has occasioned horror stories. “Under the influence of PCP, Carlos —–. scratched his eyes out of their sockets and held them out to a police officer.” And: “Luther —– cut off his penis and swallowed it.” He said he felt no pain at the time. Yeah, sure. Just don’t pee.
Which reminds me. There’s also a drug sheet on Stephen King, former cocaine sniffer. Scary stuff!

About the Author:

Charles Alexander