Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tequila and Cocaine

The Dust. The Heat. The Extremity. The Desert City. The Tequila. The Cocaine. The Shark.

For my 12th consecutive year as a Black Rock City resident I drank tequila and snorted cocaine every day. I promptly stopped upon return to the default world. I didn’t use weed and was THC free for three months before so called it “My first sober Burning Man”.

I don’t drink. I don’t use cocaine. I criticize others use of both.

The first few times I tried cocaine were in the bathroom on a film set, curious because of everyone else's rampant use. I found it less effective and euphoric than caffeine, and bothersome in its duration and comedown.

Once I visited the Medicine Man and he sold me weed, gesticulating excitedly about politics and spirituality. He was more amped than I’d ever seen him and I kept looking at him quizzically. Picking up on this, and looking as though he knew better but wanted to let me in on a secret – he told me he had some cocaine that no one had seen since the 1980’s. I refused at first, but he persisted that I should at least look at it.

The one time I’d bought my own gram of cocaine it was a dull powder, like baking soda. That’s what I was used to seeing - even at the best Hollywood parties. I walked into his private back room and there was an ornate, gold encrusted alter, with tiny drawers containing spoons and straws. The top of the small chest of drawers was mirrored, with mirrored walls on three sides set at 123 degree angles. On top of Old Smokey was a fist-sized rock of cocaine. It shone and glistened – reflecting the light in the room in all directions – as pure as driven snow. My jaw dropped. I accepted his offer of a line. He chipped it off of the rock and handed me one of the straws, sterile and wrapped in paper. I unwrapped it and bent down towards the mirror, eye to eye with the rock of Gibraltar. It was so bright I felt my pupils down aperture.

I got it. The euphoria, the openness, the feeling of being on a manageable dose of MDMA with no comedown, no negatives – just pure enhancement. When the effects of my line had exhausted he offered me another, but I refused. It was my first positive experience with cocaine and I was satisfied. I felt that I understood the decades prior with more clarity – and I never accepted an offer for cocaine again until Burning Man 2009.

Something about the psychic and physical space of Black Rock City alters the way drugs affect people’s bodies. For me, the drugs I choose there are a different set than I would when not there.

I had two buddies, one for tequila, one for cocaine. My tequila friend mixed me organic tequila margaritas with organic agave-sweetened mixes of different exotic, all natural flavors (blackcurrant, meyer lemon, blood orange, and pomegranate). I enjoyed getting drunk with my friend, it bonded us in our travels and experience there - though we spent considerable time apart We had stopped at three BevMo’s on one day and back again at one of them on our way out – as the beginning of our pilgrimage. We carried nothing illegal but were loaded down in hundreds of pounds of liquor and beer for ourselves and others.

Agave is a friend of mine. I avoid sugar as a poisonous drug, but occasionally I’ll turn to agave’s sweet nectar to tickle the tooth and tongue. I never tolerated alcohol well, until I discovered that it is all about quality, and that I take well to agave. I can handle my tequila. As Little Brother would say "It's not alcohol, it's tincture of agave." The alcohol made me feel keenly adjusted to the desert city. Aware of myself, aware of my place, aware of my surroundings – present.

My cocaine friend brought four grams to last us the week. It was mediocre, but I was so boozed up and he was so tripped out that it didn’t matter. It just helped me stay the course. I was surprised to find that the drug that Burning Man is lengthened the duration of cocaine considerably, so that a few lines would get me high for hours at a time.

The cocaine made me feel immortal, and heightened awareness even more combined with the tequila, adding a glow to the city. I floated along on air and confidence. Often it made me annoyed with others that didn’t. I realized how often I look down on those not as sharp as I am, and I how I chase those that are sharper.

The others referred to their vaporizing sessions as “safety meetings”. My cocaine friend and I referred to our sessions as “danger meetings”. We would meet in secret. We’d use a full-length mirror furnished by Wal-Mart laid across both of our laps, and rolled up hundred dollar bills. During the peak of the cocaine high question each other with animation as to why this particular substance is so taboo in the circles we find ourselves in. Clearly MDMA is more damaging to the body, and everyone around us was rolling on E – but cocaine is poo-pooed and maligned by the same pseudo-hippie crowd.

Each day I would consume around a half liter of organic tequila and five or so lines of cocaine. I became a queenpin. Confident and arrogant. Output centric. On the few days I wore my shark costume I felt perfectly suited.

The Black Rock Desert doesn’t give a fuck about you. It’ll tear you apart, the alkaline seeping into your skin and causing lesions, filling your lungs and giving those that stay out there long enough a lung disease similar to silicosis. Tequila and cocaine were my Popeye’s spinach. I triumphed, I transcended. There was no sloppiness – every move was precise. I was filled with a present invincibility, and available to all. I was reliable, on time, full of integrity. I gave pep talks, I was a shoulder to cry on, I was a leader and a sorcerer. I looked down my nose at all the uncontrolled debauchery and wonderment. I was controlled. I was certain. I was drunk and high.

I had always believed I could never be an alcoholic or a cocaine addict, drunk or cokehead, boozer or fiend. I had never drank or snorted cocaine two days in a row in my life until this week. I now realize that with habitual use I can accomplish addiction to anything – I just need to put my mind to it.

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