Drugs & Stuff

As someone who routinely wakes up saying things like, “Mustn’t put daddy’s chainsaw in the washing machine, huh?” I don’t really need drugs to have an odd time. A while back I was reading Charlie Brooker, who was talking about an interview he read with the guys from Orbital. One of them said that they never smoked marijuana because he had what he called an “Alfred Hitchcock mind”- he couldn’t walk past scaffolding without imagining, just for a second, that it was going to fall on his head. Charlie Brooker’s response was to leap up in his chair and go, “me too!”. Yeah, me too buddy. I’m not saying I’ve ever taken drugs of any kind [legal disclaimer], but if I had I would definitely agree with the guy from Orbital. Some of us are not built for escape from reality because we have enough trouble just dealing with the here and now. Real life – the actual minutiae of paying bills, going to work, sitting in an office looking out the window at a sunny day, sighing deeply, eating a bagel, staring out of a window, going home, cooking a rudimentary meal and going to bed – is frightening and surreal enough without the aid of drugs.
Regardless I have huge respect for some drugs and the uses people have made of them. Bill Hicks once said that if you’re really against drugs you should go home, take all your CDs and burn them, because most of the artists who made that wonderful music were high on something. And he’s right – the first part of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy was recorded while he was eating nothing but peppers and doing heroic amounts of cocaine. But allow me to offer an alternative opinion : that music, that art, that literature, didn’t come from drugs, it came from people. LSD can no more write The Doors of Perception than Aspirin could write a symphony – it’s the creative people who are the providers of all that magic.  I guess some people just need the boost. And there are others who campaign mindlessly for cannabis and bore the arse off of everybody. Cannabis is the least creative drug I can think of. If you want a boost, drink a cup of coffee. All you’ll get from pot is lost hours and empty packets of crisps everywhere.
So here’s a bunch of drug references in pop culture, and I’m going to try and be balanced in my appraisal. But if I get one more chain email about how cannabis is a wonder drug I’m going to blow up the internet.
Peep Show
Mark tells it like it is to a bunch of drug people. That’s all I have to say about this clip.
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas
Is Fear & Loathing a self-indulgent, disgusting, depraved novel? Totally. Is it written with verve, humanity and humility? Yeah. Does it lay bare the whole argument? Absolutely. People like to say that Fear & Loathing glorifies the lifestyle it actually critiques as readily as it critiques the lives of the police who hunt drug-users down and the coin-schilling gambling addicts and heavy drinkers. Fear & Loathing is neither pro- nor anti-drugs. It’s about people filling the emptiness. The most famous quote from the novel illustrates this perfectly:
“No more of the speed that fueled that 60’s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Fear & Loathing is about the hypocrisy of users and the straight-laced. Las Vegas is the nightmare town of both kinds of people – a place that fulfills every expectation and lays bare the nihilism that lurks beneath the surface of human existence. Whether high and wired or straight and sober, people are still just doing what they can to allay the feeling of meaninglessness and delay the realization that there is, as Hunter S. Thompson says, nobody waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Family Guy – Brian’s Trip
Family Guy has a lot of content regarding drugs and Brian’s mushroom trip is by far the best. It’s almost as good as Homer’s Chili Trip from The Simpsons, which I couldn’t find, and is sufficiently twisted to a) freak anybody watching who is on drugs and b) worry susceptible parents everywhere. I love this kind of thing.
I don’t think there’s ever been a Great British Novel, but if there was it should probably be Trainspotting. I say that for two reasons: 1, it will infuriate hardline Scots who insist on everything being either “Scottish” or “English” and those guys can go Gay Gordons into a hole for all I care and 2, because Trainspotting goes right to the heart of heroin culture, which mainly consists of lying on filthy mattresses talking about how awesome everything is while trying to find a vein that isn’t so scarred over it can’t have a needle jammed into it. The two funniest characters – Begby, a psychopathic deviant, and Sick Boy (played by Johnny Lee Miller) are not drug users, but orbit around them talking about how disgusting their lives are while showing the clean life is anything but attractive. Trainspotting has no message whatsoever – wasting your life on Heroin is every bit as bad as wasting your life in pursuit of a career or fame or anything, and vice versa. It doesn’t pull any punches in depicting the effect it has on people – babies die, for example, but fundamentally it’s about the (hilarious and terrifying) characters and the eventual hero Renton, a guy who goes right to the very bottom and manages to pull himself out.
Requiem For A Dream
A film that induced a panic attack in me and I was totally sober at the time. Requiem is a truly terrifying film – scarier than The Exorcist and twice as real – because it shows three different people being screwed over by three different drugs in three different ways. Blinded by their dreams, they don’t realise what each dream will cost them. Jared Leto loses and arm. Jennifer Connelly goes into prostitution. An old lady gets ECT. Ugh.
I don’t really know what the point of Requiem For a Dream is, because it doesn’t have any particular kind of moral. I guess it’s just that bad shit happens. Which it does. Again and again and again. Man, that’s depressing. I’m too depressed to make a riff about Jennifer Connelly and pull out my favorite picture of her.
Oh, very well.
Any excuse to get this picture out....again.

What is, like, the seventh time I’ve used this picture?

A Scanner Darkly
The first, best, most insightful essay on drug use and abuse that has ever, and will ever, exist. In Philip K Dick’s classic novel, Bob Arctor and his friends roam around, scoring drugs and dodging police activity, never becoming fully aware that one of them is an undercover policeman and that the drug they’re taking will destroy their sanity. PKD wrote from the position of having been involved in the Californian drug culture for years and suffering permanent pancreatic damage as a result of it – damage that eventually killed him. A Scanner Darkly is part romantic overview of drug culture, part comedy, part science fiction story, part thriller and part criticism, both of the people who use drugs and the system that prevents their understanding. The people in it are very funny, insightful people, but they are like children playing a dangerous new game. It ends with a heart-rending dedication to the people he knew who were damaged or killed by drugs:
This has been a novel about some people who
were punished entirely too much for what they did.
They wanted to have a good time, but they were like
children playing in the street; they could see one
after another of them being killed–run over, maimed,
destroyed–but they continued to play anyhow.
…When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social
error,a life-style. In this particular life-style the
motto is “Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying,” but
the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is
a memory.
It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of
the ordinary human existence. It is not different from
your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place
in days or weeks or months instead of years. “Take the
cash and let the credit go,” as Villon said in 1460. But
that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit
a whole lifetime.There is no moral in this novel; it is
not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play
when they should have toiled;it just tells what the
consequences were.
…In Memoriam. These were comrades whom I had; there are
no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will
never be forgiven.
The “enemy” was their mistake in playing.
Let them all play again,
in some other way, and let them be happy.

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