Christiane F…A Bit of Junkie Film History

Christiane-FfgwI reckon a lot of people have wondered from time to time, whatever happened to Christiane F.

I always felt that this book – and film -had a profound effect on a lot of people.  Christiane -first came out as a book of course, and one worth reading because it was, as is often the case, a lot better than the film. The story for you young ‘ens out there, is about a 14 year old heroin addict living the life of a prostitute in the 24 hour, 7 day a week chaos that is a young junkies life. I say young coz as most junkies get older, life tends to slow down somewhat and is nowhere near as eventful as ones younger years on the gear and on the game….

“In the ’70’s and 80’s [Zoo Station]…was the place for kids, young kids on smack to be precise; buying, selling, shooting up, scamming, sleeping, nodding and overdosing, learning the rules of a game with some very serious consequences and a lot of unspoken rules.”

 

I’m digressing. Christiane F is about a group of misfits and invisible outsiders living inside and outside the Berlin ZOO train station; Now cleaned up considerably of all the ‘riff raff’ back then, in the ’70’s and 80’s it was the place for kids, young kids on smack to be precise, buying, selling, shooting up, scamming, sleeping, nodding and overdosing, learning the rules of a game with some very serious consequences and a lot of unspoken rules.

It is a seriously compelling book for reasons that you’ll have to decide for yourself as you find yourself being dragged under the bus that is Christiane’s life at 14. She is a real person, and this was a real story, an autobiography written by herself some years later, helped along a bit by a journalist. When she was in her early 20’s I believe, the film came out and the media storm that surrounded it had a major impact on her life. In the book/film, we find her at the end….Ok, Ok, I wont spoil it, suffice to say that she struggles with dependency her whole adult like so many of us.

She travelled the world with her money from the book/film, met loads of people, many who kept wanting to give her drugs, and she used drugs all around the world. German critics regularly gave her a hard time especially when they learnt she was back in a methadone clinic somewhere or just back on the gear or just snapped pics of her visual dramas for the papers. Then at around late 30’s or something she had a kid and left Germany because the wonderful papers were already deciding if she would be a fit mother….

PICTURES OF CHRISTIANE – slideshow


So she had her son in Amsterdam (could be a bad place to go methinks? But the Dutch are sooo civilised so I really catch her drift) and then went on a methadone programme as she had got back on the H at some stage there, only to find herself in a battle with social services in Germany and lost her son! interfering Bastards! I will guess we will have to read book 2 to find out if it was a case of need be or not because, yessiree! She has written a long-awaited follow up fans!

CHRISTIANE AT 51 YEARS OLD IN BERLIN: Promoting her new book.

 

I only found all this out recently as it goes. I thought somehow she made a miraculous recovery and became a writer living out her life…Well, I didn’t know where but just last year, I discovered that she had brought out this other book, based on her life since the first book, because sooooo many peeps were interested in what happened to her.

But before I fill in with a bit of info about her new life and book, (Christiane F; My 2nd Life)  here is the film. For any teen junkies or young ones on the game, it’ll touch a few chords and for anyone else, it will touch many more. Its powerful, though maybe a little dated now, but some things never change. It shows us too how young we are at that age, how vulnerable to predators, and how we always think everything is going to work out, that we know the score when we sooo don’t!  Well folks, here is a full dubbed version of her film (original is in German, this one is dubbed not with subtitles). Some of the actors were real junkies from the Zoo apparently.

 Click here for Christiane F’s interview last year with Vice Magazine about her life since the book and film.

And news of Detlef!!

Fuck, these days you can even say hello in person to Christiane on her FaceBook page which she is regularly updating. Go on, you know you want to!

RARE PICTURE OF CHRISTIANE’S BOYFRIEND DETLEF: He was 14 as well and paying for gear as a rent boy, on show behind the lavs at Zoo station along with lots of other young heroin addicted boys at the time. These days he is alive thank god , and apparently mmarried with kids and drives a buus for the disabled.

 

 

A Very British Crack Story

EPISODE 22

 This really is a great day! Below you will find some text copied from an ex BP crew member’s blog, which is called ‘How to Become A Crack Addict’. Now, this isn’t any ordinary text, it is almost what one might call drug using prose; or even more to the point -it is a brilliantly written black comedy that manages to take the reader nimbly stepping through the muddy pools of wretched misery that can define some crack habits.
Ben, from Turnham Green as he profiles himself (but he really is!), writes a tragi- comedy about drug use on the streets on London. Your ultimate ‘Nice Guy’ Ben not only has a quiet and articulate turn of phrase for the streetlife’s pre-requisite loud stylee yakking, duckin’ and divin’, he also has a gentle step as he pads along Sheperd Bush Green at all hours of the day and night, befriending all the bedfellows of ‘the rock’ while he waits for the next pipe to be loaded up…
Although just this would be enough to engage one in the story – Ben has fabulously managed to get such a following from his fantastically insightful, hilarious and painful musings about his drug use and efforts to save himself from himself, that he collected them all and published an online book of the same name (see links). At two hundred odd pages for about £3.50 odd it is a really worthwhile buy -you can actually catch most of not all of Ben’s book however on his blog, and such was the encouragement from readers when he got to the end of his blog/book -well, it only seemed right that he kept going. I hope he will turn it into an audio book soon and then you will even hear Ben’s lovely tone…
Oh – but before I forget  -I should tell you that Ben is almost blind. He can hardly see at all and suffers from a painful eye condition that needs constant attention and medical interventions. Now, just think of that for a moment; imagine trying to negotiate the highs and lows of a crack habit, day in, day out -when you can hardly see the rock on your pipe, or the colour of the deal in the dealers hand, or the furtive, worried, scared expressions on a persons face, or the amount of people at the end of an alleyway, or even how to quickly fix your crack pipe. Let me just say, Ben learnt fast, and he learnt the hard way and luckily for us he has decided to share his life. He manages to deliver superb lines consistently, is excruciatingly funny, while being sad, depressing and hopeful, all in the same paragraph. I urge you to read his blog or buy his online book. Ben was one of BP’s best writers, and we are so proud to see him publish his book. Here is Benjamin of Turnham Green’s blog excerpt:

 

 

The Nice Man Cometh

 

This is where I say, ‘I never looked back.’  I did though, a handful of times, mostly out of boredom rather than the old-style compulsion.  A few months in, when life had ground to one of its halts, I sauntered down the road like Noel Coward in search of some fine ground coffee, really because I couldn’t think of anything else to do with my morning.  Once I couldn’t get there fast enough, but now it was like wading through Starbucks latté-syrup.  Addiction had atrophied my life, but now addiction itself was beginning to freeze up.

 

There I sat, in a vintage haunt, a squat several floors above Superdrug.  It was nine in the morning, and my arrival was a thing of joy to those who’d money and charm had dried up in the night.  You had to go up a fire-escape and clamber over the roof to get there, a forgotten little space, comprising a kitchen-table, couple of chairs, strewn blankets and a cat, archly monitoring proceedings from various vantage points.  A girl I’d met somewhere down the line lit me up that first pipe, the one that lifts you to a place where all senses are sated, and librarians can be letches for as long as the high allows.  I leaned back in the creaking wicker-chair, that smelt of cat-sick, but felt almost as wretched as when I’d arrived.  I hurriedly had another, in case of any trickery.  But even though the high had disappointed, the aftermath was as bitter and tense as ever, and the weak, groggy smudge of heroin I smoked did nothing to assuage it.  This may have been one of the few times I left before the money ran out.

 

I no doubt tried again a few weeks later, but it was as if I’d arrived at a place of critical mass, where years of rage and stasis could no longer be safely contained. If I went on, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back.  I didn’t know if my mental health could take it.  Like a man who’d maxed out on every possible card, I could barely move for all the furniture I’d ordered, and all I had to look forward to was a bevy of bailiffs banging beardedly on my not-yet-kicked-in door.  And there was I, slumped, quiet below the windowline, gradually realising that the answer to damage was not more damage.

 

I’d stumbled on crack by accident.  I didn’t want to graduate to crystal meth, just to work my way towards another certificate, ten years down the line. Tentatively, I began hanging onto money that months before I’d have squandered.  Slowly, as if planted by elves, food began appearing in the fridge, jeans and t-shirts in the wardrobe, and I wanted, I needed, to keep going.  Life felt like a frozen swamp I’d crawled from, but I had to know if I could stand, stagger, even walk, on dry land.  I put my mind to working out what life might mean in this new, yet distantly familiar, wilderness.
For years, I’d been recoiling from the physical pain caused by my sight-condition.  Crack alleviated some of this, albeit fleetingly, and heroin had its own slippery take on analgesia, the more you took, the more you needed, until it ended up taking you.  The days in bed between binges were spent mostly with eyes closed, minimising my need to look at anything, apart from the TV glow in the corner.  But now, up and about, and doing stuff, I found even a day’s worth of blinking could leave me jaded.  There was the emotional aspect to consider also, the disconnection I felt from the world, through not seeing it, and not feeling seen by it, and the relationships I knew this had cost me.
Also, the crack seeped into the fracture-lines caused by the abuse I experienced in my early teens.  In fact, the anatomy of my relationship with crack almost replicated that with my abuser.  In both, I was tricked into believing I was being given something nice, good, but secret, illicit – and there was I, confused as to the rules and legal moves, riven with desire and fear, my own sexuality barely nascent, dammed before it even began to flow.  The strange, stilted manoeuvres of that time were like playing chess in a minefield.  But I’d rather lose honourably than win cynically, any day.

My CV, when I tried to put one together, looked like it had a page missing.  Over the years, I’d frequently passed a local theatre, but never even been to see a play there.  I sent an email to the manager, saying I’d done a bit of comedy, and would like to reconnect with a theatrical environment, deploying phrases like ‘keen interest’ and ‘reliable nature’, as recalled from days in the psychotherapy office.  I didn’t even know if the world still had offices, but I thought some of the phrases might still apply.  A reply came swiftly back, and I am, even now, a bit player in the workings of this lovely, ancient establishment.  I’ve seen a handful of productions, and even been to a few opening-night parties…champagne all round, and the buzzy banter of actorly folk, some with personalities as precarious as mine.  I’m going there today, as it happens, and it’s nice to have somewhere to go that doesn’t smell of cat-sick, or leave you wanting to die.
In my virtuousness, I contacted a local charity, volunteering to befriend an elderly blind person in Isleworth.  Having had a few near misses with the police, I was relieved my CRB check came back free from arrests, cautions, and reprimands, which would have rendered me ineligible for almost anything but more crime.  At first, things seemed the wrong way round, as Jimmy, retired abattoir-manager from Feltham, seemed to have a better social life than me, but at least he didn’t slaughter me, and you woudn’t believe the things you can do with a melted pig’s head.
read the rest of Ben’s blog at:
and his musings today and every day….same site, different pages…

 

Confessions of the first modern drug taker

Thomas de Quincey, after the publication of his book ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’  in 1821 emerged as, it is said, as the first modern drug taker of our times, but was he really? In an era when opium was consumed for everything from the mildest cough to childbirth was De Quincey’s literary confession of opium more about historical timing and familiar titillation of the middle classes, rather than any expose of a new or intrepid drug enthusiast?

De Quincey loudly declared himself the ‘only member’ of ‘the true church on the subject of opium’ and, as if to embrace the challenge,  insisted that The English Opium Eater,  was not the same as any other opium pursuant, but rather was of a superior type: ‘I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the Paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had’.

Drug historian Mike Jay, in his excellent article on the subject called ‘The Pope of Opium‘  adds “Although De Quincey did eat his dose on occasions, sometimes carrying a snuff-box of small opium pills, he typically (like most English people) drank it; Interestingly Jay surmises “by identifying himself as an opium-eater, he was entwining something like our modern sense of ‘recreational user’ with the sneer of a cultural outlaw, appropriating a foreign habit and deliberately courting the reader’s disapproval, even disgust“.

A friend directed me to Mike Jays piece on De Quincey’s Confessions and I found it so interesting I had to relay it here -and just for an extra buzz I have added a few bits from the classic movie ‘ Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ with Vincent Price, sure to give you a smile.

Mike Jay tells us that De Quincey now survives as the first modern drug enthusiast, through “not so much breaking a taboo as deliberately creating one by recasting a familiar practice as transgressive and culturally threatening. It was a Byronic double game: baiting the moralists and middlebrow public opinion while delighting the elite with the invention of a new vice”.

De Quincey knew he was “in the crowd but not of it”, and appealing mix of “both aristocrat and outcast” he engineered his following reflecting his own youthful and perhaps voyeuristic fascination with Coleridge and Wordsworth, falling in with the cult of the first celebrity, and perhaps defining our first ‘cool celebrity drug user’.

Jay continues in conclusion to point out that De Quincey’s entire identity was existing through his Confession’s creation, which allowed him to indulge his vice till he died at a ripe age, and to continue to play out romantic dramatisations of the confessional throughout his long and pained existence, ultimately however, to find himself losing the spark of literary vision from the weight of such soporific dependence.

Yet Jay reminds us we should not forget that Quincey’s  “harrowing portrait of the labyrinth of addiction, far in advance of the medical understanding of the day, remains unsurpassed.”

“He was, in modern parlance, a high-functioning addict: the drug enabled him to cope with the self-inflicted stresses of debt, illness and overwork, to persist in a hand-to-mouth existence, to play the victim and indulge an endless drama of persecution. His identity as the Opium Eater served as both cause and excuse for his miserable state. On the rare occasions he had money, he stopped writing and lived the life of leisure he believed to be his birthright; it was his expenditure on opium that forced him back to work, along with his need for fame. The life of the Opium Eater was a living death, but it was also immortality.”

For the entire article, well worth reading, click here. But here is a sample in brief;

 Mike Jay’s discussion on De Quincey as the first real drug enthusiast, begins with an introduction to the classic film, Confessions of an Opium-Eater

There is a little-known film entitled Confessions of an Opium-Eater, shot on a shoestring by Albert Zugsmith in 1962 and starring Vincent Price, an attempt to cash in on and extend his successful series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. It opens with vaseline-fogged images of a Chinese junk and a delirious Price voice-over (‘I am De Quincey…I dream…and I create dreams…out of my opium pipe…’) before clarifying that his character is in fact Gilbert De Quincey, a presumed descendent who wanders the seas as a captain-for-hire searching for ‘…well, what every man searches for’. In the Chinatown of late nineteenth-century San Francisco he is drawn into an intrigue between Tong factions that cues a breathless farrago of opium dens, secret passages, caged Oriental women, masked thugs, rooftop chases and hatchet fights: a two-fisted De Quincey against the Yellow Peril.

Beyond the passing observation that Thomas De Quincey would have applauded its racial politics, the film demonstrates two points very clearly. The first is the remarkable persistence of De Quincey the Opium-Eater as the archetype of the modern drugtaker, recognisable enough even to hook teenage audiences in the drive-ins of the southern States (Poe might have been on their school syllabus, but De Quincey surely not). The second is that this recognition depends on no element of either his life or his work beyond his name and the title of his most celebrated book.

For the rest of Mike Jays excellent article on De Quincey, click here.

Here is a terrific trailer of the original film, which will lead you to the entire film as seen on You Tube grouped in about 10 parts. Brilliant stuff.

Oh Jeez, ok here is part 1 an’ all, which gives you a direct link at the end on You Tube to the other 9. Take a chill pill and watch good ol’ Vincent Price at his finest.

The Trip (1967) – Full Movie

A must see and keep! A freakin classic! Written by Jack Nicholson, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. You have got to check this out, or even better, join in and partake of the fine stuff, whilst watching. Totally cool. Nice one el-Jacko!

Story: Peter Fonda decides to take a tab of acid under the supervision on a very young Bruce Dern, who says all the right things and prepares him nicely and then the film progresses throughout Peter’s whole trip delivering some excellent visuals and moments that only happen when trippin. He asks a lot of short questions, like ‘how did that happen?’ ….’ I dont know’…or ‘Where am I?’ …’Here man!’ as the answers that just hang in the air! Classic!  I dont know the background to this film, but i wouldn’t be surprised if they were tripping in some parts of it..If anyone knows any more about it, we’d love to know. It really is an absolute classic and must see.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Whitney…A Life Shared?

Didn't We Almost Have It All

Whitney's bathroom where she holed up to smoke crack -perhaps not all that different to bathrooms and coffee tables we know?

This was written just after Whitney died though just tidied up and re-posted today.Hi, I just felt I should raise a flag, have a moment, share a thought about Whitney Houston. Now although it isn’t really relevant here I will say Im not a great fan of her music as such, despite acknowledging her incredibly beautiful voice, but that shouldn’t stop me from feeling something for a sister lost the fight to stay alive and function well whilst taking drugs.Whitney, I remember, informed me (through reading about her escapades) of crack smoking methods for the very rich; ie -she made her own ‘the crack blunt’ or ‘crack cigar’ -basically using cigar papers, (or by emptying a cigar) she’d roll up marijuana, stuff loads of it in there, and stick an 8 ball of crack in there as well -and that was how she would smoke! Now thats an 8th of an ounce my friends (3.5 gms yes?).  She talked about this on her 2009 Oprah interview.. Now just imagine that to blow your Godamn socks off! And of course she would cook up her crack, it appeared looking at the fotos of her bathroom that were exposed a couple of years back (and re-exposed recently -see pic). She would cook up coke in the spoon, so she had obviously ditched the fussy freebase way and just gone straight for the bicarb. Although her chauffeur of many years has recently come out and said his car caught fire when Whitney and Bobbi were freebasing in the backseat of their limmo which they seemed to do regularly, inbetween her late night limmo rides to Compton, a dangerous gangland area where she could buy crack and dope at any time of the day or night.

whitney's bathroom

Now anyone who has experienced the scary intensity of a stimulant dependence will know, looking at Whitney’s bathroom pics, at what kind of state she would have been in, and when your bathroom gets like that, then things are pretty intense. But it was the psychological stuff that was really concerning, that level of drug activity is going to end up in disaster -and with stimulants you just know that paranoia is going to set in at some stage down that drug smoking road when your using massive amounts of stimulant drugs.
Whitney’s psychosis got so bad (she sent her cleaners home, moved Tina Brown in to tidy up and be her smoking buddy when Bobby wasn’t around-Tina being Bobby’s sister who also had a crack problem) and she just lived in her bathroom and bedroom. Tina, after some time sold her story to the press, with pictures of the bathroom, but worrying had said said that Whitney would be covered in bruises where she used to hit and punch herself really hard becoz she thought demons were coming up through the floor into her body – or she would see them trying to get out of her body and into Bobby Brown so she’d hit herself again. It must have been crazy to live like that and it is incredible really that it seemed to go on for so long.

It really sounded like a painful existence, to have all that money and all those drugs, and because society does not let us discuss our drug user sensibly,  and the media will not let celebrities have a drug problem without screwing them to death over it -people just hide stuff, take cover, get out the way of people who will judge you as so often so many do…

Whitney’s daughter seems to have her own problems, her ex boyfriend saying she has a serious coke problem and pictures being leaked of her snorting lines…How on earth she managed to grow up level headed in those extremely intense and excessive surroundings -must have been almost impossible –  however she certainly did have a close relationship with her mother – who did seem to share an especially strong bond with her -which surprises none of us as we know how deep that love for our children goes – drugs or no drugs.  She ‘appears’ to have a drug problem as cited by ex boyfriends etc, and she was certainly around her mum and dad when things were at their craziest (the chauffeur stating Whitney regularly smoked crack in front of Bobbi, as well as her husband. I imagine the drug taking would pale into insignificance when trying to cope with a large helping of cocaine psychosis. According again, to Tina Brown, (though it clearly has a ring of truth to it mirroring dutifully what really does happen in coke induced freakouts) Whitney would get screwdrivers  to pull apart all sorts of appliances  and objects thinking she was being bugged and spied on, and would spend months in just her pyjamas. How Bobbi jnr will fare is anyone’s guess in Hollywood with all that money and temptation all around you to just wanna forget…

We are starting to hear now about the days before Whitneys death and her totally wasted state. I dont know what im trying to say about all this except it seems painful indeed to watch (becoz we can watch it all) how someone, who really did have one of the best voices of all time -fall into such a desperate state. Her interviews with Oprah make compelling viewing, she was clearly in love with Bobby Brown, truly madly and deeply, despite him appearing like a temperamental bully, who would flip into a rage at a seconds notice and whom she always seemed to be appeasing. What a mess it all got. How awful to have ones messes thrown across the pages of the worlds tabloids and gossip columns for all to see..However for reading the views of people really quite well placed to comment, Whitney was also a victim of the addiction society has of stigmatising drug using women -there either the victim -usually of bad men -(like Whitney) or the temptress and vixen, like Courtney Love. Amy Winehouse (victim of bad men again), Lyndsay Lohan (temptress and manipulator).  Whitneys chauffeur of 4 or so years said it was Whitney that 9 times out of 10 wanted to go and score, demanding to get high, now, and not Bobby the demonized husband. (Though he does appear the violent and jealous type with a huge chip on his shoulder struggling under the shadow of his way more talented wife)…

It is said Whitney has spent her 100 odd million fortune and was effectively broke just recently. That is some serious goddamn money to go through on drugs and fast living and Im sure she had some good times amongst all that! There was a purpose to all that activity! Fun! Imagine what you would do with all that money and drugs and resorts to indulge in! And then, you start taking drugs to forget the mess your leaving all around you…

Again, im not sure what i am trying to say, just that I wanted to remember her, hold up a little torch and say -as a using community – we understand the difficulties of drug dependence when it gets really ugly -and I just wish we didnt have a society that has made it almost impossible for society to learn how to use drugs in moderation, not in excess, that we could buy clean, safer, cheaper drugs…It is perhapsnot suprising at all however that we will probably find Whitney died from prescription drugs given to her by a multitude of doctors who just kept accepting the cheques she gave for another prescription (but we cant blame the Dr’s really either coz we know how they get hassled and pleaded with to prescribe something to help/get through). But it is typical nevertheless -Get her off the illicit drugs only to stuff her full of the legal ones. Im not blaming anyone here, just trying to show some sadness for the way Whitney spent the last years of her life. It doesnt seem right does it? It doesn’t seem right she appeared to be left in this truely psyched out state, for so long. What happened there i wonder? She was clearly a diva and had a rotten temper of late but so many people claimed to adore her…Was she just too difficult and people had pretty much given up? Or were people turning a blind eye, and what they didn’t see every day, didnt happen. Too complicated, too hard, too busy today….

We will remember her amongst our using community, as yet another victim of Hollywood’s massive excess, (though not, as stanton Peele says, because of Hollywood itself) the hypocrisy, and a developing drugs culture in our society that has no ability to guide generations effectively through the tricky minefield of psychoactive substances.
RIP Whitney..

The Surprisingly Low Addiction Rates of Crack, Heroin, and Meth

Here is an interesting blog I just discovered -Narco Polo (www.suburra.com), a guy who is devoting his site to the pursuit of recreational drug use. His name is Rob Arthur. In his own words he is “A former inner-city teacher and public defender”. His book, You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos, takes “An anthropological look at how wrong and debilitating our beliefs are about sex, drugs, and more. It won the 2008 Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking independent book.

Rob explains that the purpose of his blog, entitled Narco Polo is to defend recreational drug use -” and all other consensual adult activities – that the American government deems criminal. When media sensationalism and government propaganda are confronted with facts, it is apparent that the unintended consequences of these prohibitions have caused much greater suffering than the activities themselves.” Well said Rob! He certainly has something to say and would be worth a read and returning to now and again to see what interesting viewpoints he throws up.  Here’s a link to an interesting but brief blog, but do look around for some other gems.

The Surprisingly Low Addiction Rates of Crack, Heroin, and Meth

.Crack Heroin Meth For Life - Not

Steve Jobs sees the light…

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

Image via Wikipedia

An interesting  article by Glen Greenwald from ENCOD reprinted here – coz its important to remember that clever dudes take drugs too -and that the insight a little letting go can give (ala LSD) can be lifechanging…RIP Jobbies

America’s most admired inventor heaps praise on his own drug use, exposing the falsity at the heart of the Drug War

By Glenn Greenwald .

It’s fascinating to juxtapose America’s reverence for Steve Jobs’ accomplishments and its draconian drug policy with this, from the New York Times‘ obituary of Jobs:

[Jobs] told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand.

Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he added that Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”). These quotes (first published by a New York Times reporter) have been around for some time but have been only rarely discussed in the recent hagiographies of Jobs: a notable omission given that he himself praised those experiences as an integral part of his identity and one of the most important things he ever did. A surprisingly good Time Magazine article elaborates on this Jobs-LSD connection further:

 

The paradoxes of love have perhaps never been clearer than in our relationships with Apple products — the warm, fleshy desire we feel for such cold, hard, glassy objects. But Jobs knew how to inspire material lust. He knew that consumers want something that not only sparkles and awes, but also feels accessible, easy to use, an object with which we want to merge and to feel one and the same. . . .

 

Not coincidentally, that’s how people describe the experience of taking psychedelic drugs. It feels profoundly artificial yet deeply real, both high-tech and earthy-crunchy, human and mystically divine — in a word, transcendent. Jobs had this experience. . . . As attested by the nearly spiritual devotion so many consumers have to Jobs’ creations, the former Apple chief (and indeed many other top technology pioneers) appeared to have found enduring inspiration in LSD. Research shows that the psychedelic experience is, in fact, long lasting: a new study published last week found that people who took magic mushrooms (psilocybin) had long-term personality changes, becoming more open, more curious, more intellectually engaged and more creative. These personality shifts persisted more than a year after taking the drugs.

 

America’s harsh prohibitionist drug policies are grounded in the premise that the prohibited substances have little or no redeeming value and cannot be used without life-destroying consequences. Yet the evidence of its falsity is undeniable. Here is one of the most admired men in America, its greatest contemporary industrialist, hailing one of the most scorned of these substances as integral to his success and intellectual and personal growth. The current President commendably acknowledged cocaine and marijuana use while there is evidence suggesting the prior President also used those substances. One of America’s most accomplished athletes was caught using marijuana at the peak of his athletic achievements. And millions upon millions of American adults have consumed some or many of those criminally prohibited substances, and themselves will say (like Jobs) that they had important and constructive experiences with those drugs or know someone who did.

 

In short, the deceit at the heart of America’s barbaric drug policy — that these substances are such unadulterated evils that adults should be put in cages for voluntarily using them — is more glaring than ever. It’s rather difficult to reconcile America’s adoration for Steve Jobs in light of what he said and did with its ongoing obsession with prosecuting and imprisoning millions of citizens (mostly poor and minorities) for doing what Jobs, Obama, Michael Phelps and millions of others have done. Obviously, most of these banned substances — like alcohol, gambling, sex, junk food consumption, prescription drug use and a litany of other legal activities — can create harm to the individual and to others when abused (though America’s response to drug use — prison — also creates rather substantial harm to the drug user and to others, including their spouses, parents and children). But no rational person can doubt that these substances can also be used responsibly and constructively; just study Steve Jobs’ life if you doubt that.

 

Jobs’ praise for his LSD use is what I kept returning to as I read about the Obama DOJ’s heinous new policy to use the full force of criminal prosecutions against medical marijuana dispensaries in California. In October, 2009, I enthusiastically praised Eric Holder and the DOJ for appearing to fulfill Obama’s campaign promise by refraining from prosecuting medical marijuana dispensaries in compliance with state law (a “rare instance of unadulterated good news from Washington,” I gushed). Yet now, U.S. Attorneys in California will expend substantial law enforcement resources to persecute medical marijuana dispensaries that sell to consenting adults even though those transactions have been legalized by the voters of California and 16 other states (to see what a complete reversal this is of everything Obama and Holder previously said on this subject, see here).

 

Progressives love to point out the hypocrisy of social conservatives who righteously rail against (and demand legal sanction for) the very same sexually sinful behavior in which they enthusiastically engage — and rightly so. But what about a society that continues to imprison millions of human beings for using substances that vast numbers of people in the nation have secretly used and enjoyed, or which empowers people with the Oval Office, or reveres people like Steve Jobs, who have done the same? Even leaving aside the rather significant (and shameful) fact that drug laws are enforced with overwhelming dispropritionality against racial minorities, what possible justification is there for putting someone in a cage for using a substance they choose to use without any evidence that they’ve harmed anyone else or even risked harm to anyone else?

 

All of this becomes even more incomprehensible when one considers the never-ending preaching about the need for “austerity,” which means: depriving poor and middle class citizens of services and financial security. In this environment, how can it possibly be justified to expend substantial sums of money investigating, arresting, prosecuting and then imprisoning large numbers of people for doing nothing more than consuming marijuana or selling it in states where it is legal to sell it to other consenting adults? That makes about as much sense as deploying a State Department army of 16,000 for a permanent presence in Iraq at the same time political and financial elites plot cuts to Social Security and Medicare. I genuinely don’t understand why a policy that single-handedly sustains America’s status as World’s Largest Jailer — and that consigns huge numbers of minorities and America’s poor to prison and permanent criminal status for no good reason, in the process breaking up families at astonishing rates (to say nothing of the inexorable erosion of civil liberties) — isn’t a higher priority for progressives.

But just like the senseless and monumentally wasteful Endless military War, America’s Drug War feeds the pockets of a powerful private industry: the growing privatized prison industry, which needs more and more prisoners for profits, gets many from drug convictions, and thus vehemently opposes and lobbies against any reform to the nation’s drug laws as well as reform of harsh criminal sentencing. That, combined with self-righteous, deeply hypocritical anti-drug moralizing and complete obliviousness to evidence, has ensured not that the Drug War and its prison obsession endures, but that it remains outside the scope of what can even be discussed in mainstream political circles. And as the Obama DOJ’s newly intensified attacks on marijuana demonstrate, the problem is, in many respects, getting worse, even as most of the world moves toward a much more restrained and health-based (rather than crime-based) approach to dealing with drug usage.

When Memories Hurt

Watching tv the other night, feet up on the sofa, eyes closed, ears listening out for Murdoch updates on the news, enjoying a little opiated nod…Then i heard the newsflash…Amy Winehouse is found dead in her flat. I leapt up and let out a strange noise, a shock that went right through me, like this awful pain. i dont know where it really came from, it caught me so by surprise. I didnt even own one of her records (though i wanted one) and so i just sat there with my mouth just open, speechless, in fact i couldnt speak at all for ages…i looked at my mum who was shocked at my reaction and wanted to know what was wrong, did i know her? I didnt. But so many times i meant to write to her, to try and give her some strength and comradeship from our using/activist community – some belief in herself that might protect her from the complete crap that the tabloids used to dump on her.. all those awful jokes they said about her, all those terrible articles and photos, calling her the ugliest woman in the world (incredible!! Who are these fuckhead journos? GQ mag i think -And not forgetting Murdochs collection of disgusting exposes- good ridence to him aye!), dissing her at any opportunity, calling her names, and all those horrible jokes, the sniggering about her drug use, catching the photos when she skips up the pavement,.proof that she’s a staggering drunk, peering with long lenses into her own HOME to.catch.her smoking crack, splash it across the front pages…destroy another life……and now she is dead.

It just seems to awful, it seems so sad, there was something about her music that plunged into the depths of emotion, humour, love and life -the same kind of places we visit and dive into when we choose drugs; its so easy for us to use our.drugs to both pull you out of despair but also to throw you in the colourful genius of life and its brilliant adventures. We can be so vulnerable when we are young, drugs can be dangerous there is no doubt about it, its so easy to start mixing too many drugs together. I fear it may be the alcohol that pushed her over the edge, it so often is when mixed with CNS depressants…but apparently she had only got out of the Priory (rehab) the week before and saw her doctor the day before she died. Are we going to hear about a prescriptionor cocktail of drugs, taken perhaps with too much alcohol? Whatever the case may be, i along with thousands of others, am feeling a huge pain and loss of a special talent.

I cant help but wondering tho, Is it simply a case of opening old wounds, a reminder of friends and loved ones who we have lost in the same painful way? I dont know. probably. but im depressed, every death gets harder to bear it seems, it gets closer and closer each time to touching the rawest nerve..Or Is it a fear of the thinnest of tightropes we find ourselves walking on, jolted awake with a short sharp shock? a knife in the guts. A scare. A reminder of our fragility? It makes me afraid, a ghostly feeling that leaves me less whole, for a while at least, but the older i get the more i feel these things chip away at my belief in living life until a ripe old age. it cuts off more corners, and tries to leave u vulnerable all over again. RIP Amy and everyone else who is remembered on our very recent international remembrance day, 21st July 2011…

beautiful genius – amy winehouse

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