Well, the snow has melted now, and it smells terrible. For about two weeks, we all tried to tell ourselves that the dog shit and cigarette butts that lingered under the snow might somehow magically go away, and this is -demonstrably- not true. The deck could use a good sweepin', and I'm sort of embarrassed at the amount of kitty litter I dumped in the street.
But we did what we had to do -it was prison, right?- and later on when the questions get asked, I'll be able to lie with a clear conscience.
And about those cigarette butts, what's the deal with that? I all but quit during that week that Bee was in Hawaii, and without the requisite insanity, too. I didn't need vitamin supplements or anything, I just didn't smoke.
But then I worked, and that always does it. Next thing you know, I buy myself a pack of Camel studs. I couldn't buy my beloved Nat Sherman's Havana Ovals because that'd be it: I'd be back smoking full-time. So I did that thing that we do, to wit: to ameliorate my shame and gnawing sense of dread about doing something that I know I shouldn't, I do it in a way that is marginally less pleasurable, therefore enabling me to feel good-er about it.
As was put to me in conversation the other day; in what other area of our lives do we ever do that?
It sort of makes me want to make a brief historic overview of my addictions:
Tobacco, in cigarette form (circa age twelve to present): What can I tell ya', kid? (Delivered in gravelly, guttural death-voice) They taste s'damn good. As Oregon rolls into its last day in which one may smoke in a bar, I have to ask one more time; so why can't filthy old man dive bars still smoke, and alla resta them don't have to? If you're wondering how the Gummint might go about seperating the smoke-free wheat from the bad-behavioring chaff, well, they wouldn't. The bar itself would. Every bar that has opened in Portland in the last five years (except The Standard, actually) has been non-smoking by choice, and I have no reason to believe that trend wouldn't just continue.
The argument that "this measure will save lives!" is no doubt true, but far less so than a measure banning...Oh any number of things in Portland's air that we all breathe every day, and not because we chose to do so. Like keeping potty-mouth out of your karaoke routine, I believe this measure will do immeasurable good to the innocent children who are always hangin' out in bars.
This is the kind of shit that made me so despise Diane Linn. That being said, I'm going to try, once again, to quit smoking. They fucking kill you, I'm told.
Marijuana (sometime in my sophomore year in high-school to, I dunno, four or five years ago): I, like everyone who ever does it, thought that I'd really stumbled onto something here. A whole new world, fresh for the exploring, that no one had ever seen before lay before me, and I dove right in. I'd get all baked, write chapter upon chapter of relatively good stuff.
I don't -unlike a lot of you- look back at what I wrote in those days and only see crap. That's the stereotype, but I ain't stereah-typical. It was the product of someone who had recently discovered something that worked for him, and had decided to embrace it fully.
For that matter, it worked because it contributed to my twin needs of wanting to view the world from as many perspectives as possible and conducting a life-long study of exactly how far one can go toward clinical insanity without losing complete control of your life.
It's not physically addicting, but it certainly is emotionally addicting. Also, it costs more per ounce than gold. But that's not really why I went from being an all-day-every-day smoker to the once-every-six-months-maybe smoker that I am now. The reason was boredom. I got tired of it after living for several years with a lady who dealt the stuff. So there y'go.
I've done tons of hallucinogens, but they are neither physically nor emotionally addicting, so therefore don't belong on this list.
Alcohol (I'm Not Sure How Old I Was to Present): "...it's a son of a bitch, y'all," to quote the Butthole Surfers. Yep, that kind of sums it up. It's something we like, and something we do, but it's also something we complain about and wax all martyr-y about, too. It's how we deal with disappointment and grief, also how we celebrate the happy things. When we're stressed, when we're relaxed, boozing is just alright with us. Therefore, it has associations with pretty much every aspect of human emotion.
So many of us in the iconoclasm business started out with the clear intention of not living long enough to get Old. As the years go by (and those stupid enough to not outgrow this adolescent notion fall off, and away), we start to note that there's all sorts of ways to view life, and plenty of different ways to be content within it. The fact that you can deal relatively competently with most situations while fucked up isn't without merit, but on the other hand, it's also kind of a badge of honor to grow older minus a cancerous stomach, necrotic liver.
I'm of many opinions on this subject. Like the smoking of tobacco, I think that it's important that you have a place in your life for going and doing things that are relatively wrong, but only to yourself. "To do the kind of magic I do, I have to walk the poison path," I said to wayyy too many people once upon a time. I would put it differently now, but there's still some validity to the main point -you need to do some bad things, too. It rounds you out.
What did Tom Waits say? "Never saw the mornin' /'til I stayed up all night..." And I've always been one to stay up while the resta youze sleep. But- I am also relearning the joys of a good night's sleep, too.
Cocaine (briefly, several years ago): After a life spent angrily ridiculing those who do The Handsome Powder (thanks to Reverend O'Hare), and shaking my head piously at its return to popularity among the young and hip, I found myself actually getting into it briefly, several years ago.
There was this not-exactly-friend who was dealing the stuff when not DJ-ing (why is this so often the case? Because both deejays and cokeheads love the conversation that starts and let me tell you Another fascinating story about how clever and charming I am!- credit again to Rev. O'Hare), who occasionally needed a ride and had no car. So I'd give him a ride, and he'd pay me in coke. After a while, I was paying money for it, too.
Before long, it was all-night sessions of what generally were political discussions with anyone I could get to hang out with me. Not exactly a bad thing, but of course, as the sun was coming up, one can't help but notice the swollen sinuses, the chemical-filled stomach. Occasional bloody noses, y'know.
It bankrupted me, and actually was the last gasp of truly being a rich bachelor. It led to my abrupt departure from my last home, and was just stupid. No complaints about the frenetic conversations, though: my friends are my friends because I find them interesting and smart, so we didn't just sit there and babble about nothing. Still...You can do that without coke too, it turns out.
Never got into opiates, except for opium itself, but that disappeared from my life at the same time Dead tour did (so 1995, I guess). I know it has potential to fuck up your life, but the worst thing that smoking that stuff ever did for me was put me immediately to sleep, where I'd have sweet dreams. I never awoke immediately needing more, which is a hell of a lot better than I can say for nicotine.
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The ritual we have around here of naming the New Year is a product of the Mondegreen-esque game we play around here of turning misheard-phrases into proper names. Until a few days ago, I really thought that 2009 was going to be named 'Stom Tubbler', but now I think it will be 'Specialty Foxx', which is about as perfect a name for a blaxploitation porn star/secret agent as I've heard.