Thursday, October 30, 2008

For Everyone Who Has Ever Sold Me An Eighth In Golden Gate Park


I do not, as a rule, buy drugs on the street. Nor do I make exceptions for parks.

I frown on other people buying drugs, in almost all situations. This is because I have had realistic and horrid encounters with drugs of unknown origins. If I didn’t make it or know the person who did, I don’t do it.

We all make exceptions for addictions. That’s the nature of addiction. It asks for exceptions to your morals. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a problem.

I’ve bought weed over a dozen times in Golden Gate Park. I don’t live in San Francisco, I live about an hour away. On the way I think about risk management and financial stupidity, adding up the gas, toll, difference in weed price/quality/amount, and most of all my own personal, highly-paid time. On the Golden Gate Bridge I hope there isn’t an earthquake, because I’d be horrified to die plummeting into the ocean on the way to buy a shitty two gram eighth or even shittier four gram quarter.

Golden Gate Park is an exercise in spatial black marketeering.

The front of the park is often run by a group, if not a gang, of black men selling the most compressed, least scented, two gram eighths in the park – always in the cheapo plastic sandwich bags with no zipper and that horrible little flap that the shake gets caught in. The mid-section is populated by very old and very young hippies and gutter punks, who create an orbiting cloud around the few of them that actually possess and sell weed. The back section of this space, and sometimes Haight street itself, is occasionally frequented by growers from all parts of the state – desperate to sell off their harvest in eighths to make the most of it, to make rent, to make the grade. Generally these people are less aware of the market, closer to the product, and give the best deals.

In addition to these – for the “drive-thru” customers, for the “to go” market – there are the runners, young charismatic men on bicycles or skateboards who will hook you up, do the legwork for you. On some days, the mid-section of hippie hill is blanketed with blankets – people selling wares which are not, upon close inspection, of any worth, but rather a front for open marijuana sales.

Thus, the park is like a department store of weed. And Haight street has every piece of paraphernalia, every flavor of rolling paper made of trees, hemp, rice, cellulose – you name it, it’s there. The Haight and GGP are like a mall of weed…

…at least from the customer’s point of view. I’ve heard “I’ve never seen you in the park before” enough times to know that from the inside it’s a tightly knit street community – that the proudly drugged out on almost anything but stimulants, but mostly weed and mushrooms, come here to be with other people like them. Low end partiers, many of whom actually live in the park, or on the streets nearby. The regulars. On the days it doesn’t feel like a mall, it’s like an outdoor bar, and I hate bars. I go in, get it done, and get out.

The first time I bought in the park I came there with no sense of direction or neighborhood and a circle on the map drawn by a friend who had purchased weed there ten years prior. I asked a young black-clad gutter punk girl (literally sitting in the gutter) with a double zero gauge ring through her lip “Is this the kind of park I’m gonna get hit over the head and raped in?”

Golden Gate Park? Naw, it’s super-mellow” she clacked out. She then gave me directions to the best place in the park, according to her, to buy weed, hippie hill. I walked about seven feet into the park before a young half black kid smilingly informed me that the tunnel was closed. He sat with a group of other kids, all white early twenties, in my day they would have been ravers. They were clean, warm, happy.

“You looking for bud?”

“How did you know?

“Your cool clothes.”

He sold me an eighth out of a matchbox car case, the top layer of which contained actual cars, sitting in their miniature vinyl garages. I tried to pay Los Angeles prices and he reached back in his car case and eyeballed more buds into my bag. I was too stunned by his sweet innocence and honesty to a stranger to say anything. It was welcome to San Francisco, for me. “Be safe” I said, as I turned away from him for the last time. I’ve never seen him again, which doesn’t surprise me.

The next time twas from someone that tried to sell me mushrooms in a restaurant on Haight street. Though I didn’t want any mushrooms, his product looked so good I was sure he’d know where to find good smoke. He left and came back 30 minutes later with his friend, and that was the only time not in Amsterdam I’ve had weed delivered to my table. It was also the beginning of my acceptance of the Bay Area, this gentle-streeted (and parked) place with honor among thieves.

Now that I have more connections the Golden Gate Park visits become a rarer thing. It’s kind of scummy and oddly compulsive and there’s not much to love – it’s been easy to give up. I’d rather go to some other part of the park and enjoy it, play disc golf or take a run or just stroll. What I do love about the park, though – is that such a low end, unregulated, disorganized black market can exist, thrive, and sustain over decades of time. Seedy and ugly though it is – it’s what it says about the context of the park – about San Francisco and the Bay Area, that I like. We are tolerant, we prioritize celebration, we are entrepreneurial, we are free, we are stoned.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Synergy I

I dedicate this passage to D – who doesn’t know what it’s like to come up on LSD. To commit oneself to an unseen future… an unknown duration… a guesstimated dosage. I bet when D thinks of drugs he thinks of is as binary, “under the influence” or “not under the influence”. He doesn’t intimately know the slings and rushes of commencement. Like a defendant during trial, waiting, waiting… no way to undo the sentence and no idea what it’ll be.

Cultural wars waged over this drug, corruption around its distribution at all levels. And for me, personally, it’s the only one I do without knowing the maker, the dose, the trail from its birth to my mouth. Because its active dose is so small, it’s not worth it financially to cut the purity with anything, and even if it were, nothing can poison in that small a dose. All I know about this stuff is that it had smilie faces on it, it was once in Canada, and a 19-year-old raver chick from Winnipeg assured me it’s “mellow, nothing to worry about…” which for me is a contradiction in terms.
Hear this D: there’s nothing worse than being caught on the threshold. The cowards who choose low doses probably do so because of the fear induced by their very choices. More is not always scarier or more intense. The LSD asks you to choose its world or yours – and only the willing are given a tour.
So now I sit, stomach rolling, body pushing all toxins to the surface in its innocent effort to excrete the LSD – already absorbed – already passed through me and breathed and sweated out before I’ve even felt the first effects.
It’s been, what, an hour? Did I pay for the ticket without getting the ride?
Body check: increased salivation, thick mucous at the back of the throat, head clear and heart rate only slightly increased (I thank the Lord for organic local food). I am tripping, yes, but I’d guess the dose is ~50mcg. Barely noticeable. My parents’ generation would ingest 10X this amount, ideally, I’d like about 3-4X.
To augment or not to augment, easier to make that choice for someone else than for me. I’m tampering with duration, not intensity. It’s 4:00 pm. Tripping is fun during the day, but the night can wear on if you’ve no one to play with. I am not scared of being taken too far, it’s just that I have things to do tomorrow. If I increase the dose, I’ll be up all night.
And if I don’t, I won’t really trip.
I took 2 of those, dammit. And I don’t even barely feel it. People take 1. That’s why they make them, you know, cut that size, instead of 5X that size. Or is it just marketing?
A bunch of fucking pussies, my generation.

I doubt, D, that at this dose you could tell the difference between the great and powerful LSD and sobriety if you were now in my place.
It’s only prior knowledge that hints at the experience. The shadows on the cement patio COULD be purple. I sense their purpleness. However, they are not actually purple. The music teases me with nuance, yet even when I listen for it it refuses to reveal itself. My thoughts glance off of my divinity, but can’t get inside the lockbox. My handwriting could slant down at a 45 degree angle and take up 1/3 of the page – but no - I’m still able to keep the pen in between the lines set by Mead corporation and the letters, for the most part, don’t have more loops than they are supposed to.

And so, instead of spending the past 1.25 hours coming up on the psychedelic that changed America - I have come up on an LSD-tinged sobriety.
Should I have held them in my mouth longer? The 2 small tabs of blotter paper? Would that have done it? They were so bitter. I felt and tasted that they’d been either stored with perfume or that the dropper used to drop x # of drops (x=.02? :P) of liquid LSD on them had previously been used for perfume… but still the bitterness made me nervous. LSD has no taste – at least, not at human doses. Bitterness can be a sign of additives, impurities… Scariness. So I considered putting them in my vagina so I wouldn’t have to taste them – thought better of it and threw them out. Sad – I think it was just the smilie face ink that made up the bulk of the bitterness. Still – I have sucked on blotter for less time and it’s worked swimmingly.
Oh well. Without the trip LSD has almost no effect on the body. I’d compare it to 1/3 of a cup of coffee. Mild laxative effect, slightly increased heart rate/breathing, some mild skin sensitivity, a hint of tension, and a very, very clear head. Only now that I’ve learned to be in touch with my body do I notice it. I’ve had a similar experience, took 2 of ancient LSD and they didn’t work, but I was so “on” that I didn’t feel it at all, because caffeine and nutrasweet set my baseline off already.

Stunning really. That something so mild on the body could be so glaringly real, so terrifically overwhelming to the psyche. Neurons re-trained for life.
I guess sometimes we learn as much from “not tripping” as we do from “tripping”. Today I’ve re-learned these drug lessons:

1. Caution sucks. 2. Whether it’s the 1st time or the 100th, the decision to take a drug is not really in the hands of the person taking the drug, it’s the drug that decides. 3. Don’t wait years between trips. You forget how. 4. LSD will make you lose weight even if you don’t spend 10-15 hours not eating. 5. Never trust Canadians. 6. Drugs definitely make one less nauseous during the “take off” if one has a clean body/emotional plate. 7. Unless someone warns you “This is REALLY heavy acid man” and that person is age 50+ - just take 3 to start with, with LSD it’s really better to overdose than underdose. At least you have both feet on the ground… aren’t stuck straddling the threshold… devoting all your strategic time and mental energy to assessing a state that isn’t.

8. When all else fails, press the giant button marked SYNERGY:

9. Me like the weed. Me like the sex. Weed and .02 on a scale of 1-10 of LSD oh the joy of a bump up in the trip (.03!), the emotion, the empathy, the telepathy, but a dulling of the clarity, the joy of LSD is the trip/mild stimulant, and when the weed dulls the stimulus its just the trip it’s so so good and yummy but my mind, no longer sharp as a tack, ah well. Instead:

Sex! And as I’m coming (before the sex), my mind calls up images beyond my control, beyond my normal scope, every man whose ever fucked or fingered me – the biker in the hooker motel, the black door-to-door salesman, the coked up movie producer, the drunken dogfucker, and yes D, you too, and they all meld into one and became the archetypal fucker... and my current man just laughs and laughs his sober lil' heart out at that... and then fucks me...

10. Three is the magic number (a full 2.3 or maybe even a 5):

What they never explain about N2O is why it is called laughing gas. Yah, okay, we all know the common explanation. “It compels you to laugh”. But they don’t tell you that the deep, utter, undeniable and growing physical pleasure of the experience consumes your mind, body, soul, and a latticework of sound and images of pure pulsing play on human buttons, buttons for which you can’t imagine a use as nothing in the last 1000 years of evolution has touched them and the intensity expands within you, until your framework is undone, your capacity expanded and the only thing left to do is laugh, laugh your heart out. Laugh at the sheer goodness of it all (orange and sparkly, geometries born in the patterns of life!) and marvel at your capability to feel it and as it recedes, you get what you’re laughing at, and laugh even harder in self-awareness, at your own self-induced madness.

11. And later, when all has settled: Synergy Is Good; Make Lemonade.

And now, fuck, here I am. Swearing my fucking head off. Raving about Canadians. In other words: back to my normal old self.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I’ve only been to Wal-Mart seven times in my life. The first two were as a freshman in college, with seniors buying liquor. I was just happy for an off-campus ride. I bought toiletries. The other five times I’ve been were all to purchase some sort of drug paraphernalia or accessory to drug use. And three pairs of jeans.

Everyone looks furtive at Wal-Mart, whether or not they're on an illegal drug-related purchasing mission. Those that are not embarrassed by (or unaware of) the stigma of Wal-Mart’s lack of social responsibility are ashamed of their poverty. No one is proud to be there, from the poor obese souls that spend their lives re-stocking, with cramped hands under multiple hangers, heavy with synthetic approximations of trend – to the greeters in all of their retirement-denied false cheer. Welcome to Wal-Mart, I love you.

The shame colors every nuance of the Wal-Mart experience – when you suddenly realize you know the layout, even in a strange Wal-Mart, in a strange city. You know how to get to the housewares section from the hardware section through the maternity section. You’ve internalized Wal-Mart logic. When you gleefully feel the tension ebb from your body upon seeing that this Wal-Mart has self-service checkout – that based on your innate ability to locate bar codes you won’t have to be acknowledged for buying pie tins, copper wool, extension cords and pyrex by a pockmarked tween who is surely in college in an alternate universe.

Every Wal-Mart shopper has their eulogy to their lost morality: the Wal-Mart excuse story, usually just a re-direct. Mine is “Wal-Mart is the largest retailer of organic foods worldwide.” To “But are they really organic?” I say “it doesn’t matter, it’s a driving force behind the brand 'organic', and that in the long run that makes the market change”.

My hometown is noted for both successfully rebelling against Wal-Mart and holding the front for some years. Enough that a high school friend crafted “H” stickers (with supplies bought from K-Mart) to change “StopWal-Mart” bumper stickers to “Shop Wal-Mart” bumper stickers. Once Wal-Mart finally won the war and moved into the town on the crest of a wave of big box stores – someone actually bombed Wal-Mart. Or the Wal-Mart parking lot, anyway. Poorly. And it was reacted to even more poorly by the local police, who simply shot the bomb with a shotgun. This only reinforcing the authoritative opinion on Wal-Mart: neither it nor its customers are worth salvation. God doesn’t bless Wal-Mart.

The shame hit me, in Wal-Mart, in the changing room trying on jeans. It wasn’t the shame of a middle size fitting perfectly, of thinking of underpaid Chinese women creating garments sized and shaped for the American body. It wasn’t the shame of getting three pairs of jeans for less than $50. It was the shame of the Wal-Mart dressing room – a roving set of walls 10 feet high in a 30 foot high room, walls that should they disappear would leave one naked, next to others naked, in the middle of Wal-Mart, not too far from the sporting goods section where they sell live ammunition and firearms. The nakedness in Wal-Mart, against the backdrop of muzak and ads for in-store products feels as out of place and removed from nature as the lifecycle of Wal-Mart’s products. The shame of being exposed for what I am – someone who knows better, buying cheap chemically treated denim at a Wal-Mart in planned community in suburban California. A greedy, naked, dreaming American in American-Dreamland.

I start to worry that the drug experiences will be colored by where I got the tools to create them and the jeans I’ll be wearing for them but then shrug and give it up because Wal-Mart is fully redeemed by one thing: its prices. The shame is only ameliorated by the underlying, unifying, undeniable righteous beauty that is affordability. The furtive Wal-Mart customers meet each other’s eyes across class and culture with a wink and a smile because behind that shame we know we found the deal, we know we get it. We know what’s really important, not this PC objection bullshit, but what we spend the money we’re not spending at Wal-Mart today on… (drugs). We are all deserving of this cheap child-crafted crap from China. We can have it. It’s for us. We don’t have to hide.

Thank you and God Bless,Wal-Mart, I extol you for taking the blame, the brunt of our wrath at our own lust for product. You ease and cheapen our consumption, freeing us of direct consequence – and in return we transfer our hatred of our own compulsion on to you.