Saturday, May 26, 2007

Drugs Win War on Drugs 

Image hosted by Photobucket.com I'm sure you have already heard this recording of the cop who calls 911 because he fears he has overdosed on pot brownies, brownies he made from marijuana stolen from the evidence locker. Ever since my days at the Sheriff’s Office I’ve maintained a special fondness for cops, especially slightly dirty ones, but this guy – what a hypocritical fool. That old saw that cops always having the best shit is true, and this pilfering cop and his wife got in way over their heads and boy does it serve them right. I can’t help but feel some pity for them, though. Everyone has a tale of the perils of ingesting rather than smoking due to the fact that it’s so much easier to overdose when you’re eating. There’s no way to gauge the potency until way too late. Marijuana suppresses one’s nausea and gag reflex (which is why it’s so wonderful for chemotherapy patients), but this effect makes it difficult to rescue yourself from your own idiocy by vomiting up anything undigested. Overdosing on ingested marijuana is like childbirth in the days before modern medicine – you had no choice but just to ride it out until it was over. But unlike childbirth, you won’t die from overdosing on pot, even if you are convinced (or wish) you will.

Some tales of cannabis eating woe -

A friend who wishes to remain anonymous was a bridesmaid and at the reception one of the groomsman gave her a brownie. Time folded in on itself and instead of dancing, enjoying herself and attending to the bride, she holed up in the bride’s closet hidden among her stuffed animals like E.T.

My friend who sent me the story was wasted at a fraternity party and wandered in the kitchen, where she spied a pan of brownies. “Hello, sailor,” she said, and ate about half the pan, not realizing that they were ‘special.' She spent the next three days tripping alone in her apartment, in complete agony. Each night she would go to bed praying she would wake up sober and each morning she would wake up as high as the night before.

From another friend...
I remember in Amsterdam, we ate some brownies and went to a square at night where we saw a half-naked, short Italian guy (think Kevin Kline in a Fish Called Wanda but in a leopard pattern g-string) do an amazing acrobatic routine on a pole with a t-bar extension. After it was all over, our friend Joe broke out of his stupor and asked us if we just saw that. Of course we said no and asked Joe to describe it for us. He went through a complete detailed description for about a half-hour, at which point the guy re-appeared and did his routine again. We said “Joe, you called it. That’s amazing!” He freaked out and ran off and we found him at the end of the night back at the hotel totally paranoid and delusional.

One time at my old job a colleague dropped off some pot fudge as bon voyage present for a long trip I was about to leave for. I had pretty much wrapped up my career in pot smoking by then except for rare occasions when I used it as a surefire cure for a blistering hangover. I have a weakness for fudge and my colleague had wrapped it up so artfully in a bow and tissue paper. It looked like something that Martha Stewart would have made if she were a guest columnist at High Times. There it sat on enticingly on my desk until I finally succumbed, right before I was leaving to go home. “A little taste won’t hurt anything. I won’t even feel a thing until I get home.” It was so delicious that I had another bite, and then another, until half the piece of fudge was gone. Before I had swallowed the last bit in my mouth I knew I was in serious trouble.

Usually pot ingested is a slow creeping buzz but this was terrifyingly immediate as if I had somehow freebased it or injected into an artery. I broke out into a cold sweat, my hands went numb and felt waves of heaviness like earth’s gravitational pull had increased ten fold. I walked to the bike room to retrieve my bike and I had to sit on the floor for about ten minutes before I could face the impossibly complicated task of unlocking my bike.

I then had to ride my bike through one of the roughest neighborhoods in town, a refugium
for open vice of all varieties and the people who practice them. Smoking pot typically is like gently pick locking open the doors of perception, but this felt like I had blown open the doors of perception with a grenade. My poor suppressed amygdala was incapacitated and sounds and sights I normally, healthily filtered out were blitzing my brain. I felt like I could hear every noise, every whisper of each drug dealer's conversations, each nodding junkie's snore.

The night was foggy and cold. Because I had a sunblasted youth in Texas the fog in this city usually is like a cool compress on a fevered brow but that night the fog and wind seemed like something out of the Hounds of the Baskervilles or Jack the Ripper’s London. Strange looking people would materialize out of the fog like ghosts and then disappear back into the fog just as quickly. The streetlights were blinding and had a psychedelic rainbow aura.

A guy hissing into cell phone strode down the sidewalk past me. “You want to see violence? I’ll show you violence.”

I passed a strip club. A man stumbled out the doors, weaved toward the gutter and spit out a mouthful of mint flavored mouthwash, almost striking my tire. He then wiped off his mouth with the back of his hand and went back into the club, fresh and ready to talk to his favorite stripper.

A tranny prostitute checking her makeup in a car window whirled around and gave me the once over.

Then a firetruck blew by and I pulled over, leaning against a car. I could see the whirling, flashing lights even with my eyes closed. I could feel the vibrations of the sirens on a cellular level. It felt like the noise was blowing apart my DNA.

I finally made it home. I was supposed to pack for a big trip but spent the rest of the night useless, curled up on the couch whimpering, “Never again. Never again.”

By the way, I ripped off the title of this post from The Onion. Here are some more of my favorite headlines:

Hanson Sweeps NAMBLA Awards
Plan to Trap Boyfriend Aborted
Like Boxes of Shit in your House? Get a Cat.
Unread stack of New Yorkers Celebrates One Year Anniversary.
Ringo Next (this was right after George Harrison's death)
Trophy Wife Mounted
Harvard Educated Texan can't Decide which to Mention First
White Foragers Report Black Looters (Dateline New Orleans)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Year of the Poodle 

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A woman on my block has recently gotten herself involved with poodle rescue, and now she spends all of her spare time trolling the kill shelters for little white poodles, a breed of which there seems to be an endless, abandoned supply. She adopted two for herself and now she has begun coercing all her friends on the street into adopting as well, much to the dismay of their husbands. Many of the owners meet to go to the beach every morning, and it’s quite a posse, since a few of the women, depending on the weather, dress the poodles up in little outfits. Here she is having a photo shoot with two of her rescues. Billy does not like being outnumbered.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Have a question? Ask a librarian! 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comToday a librarian reluctantly followed a series of olfactory clues to a man perched squatting on one of the library's metal, knee high trashcans. His pants were rolled down and there was no mistaking for what purpose he was using the trashcan. The librarian was aghast.

"Sir, what are you doing? Why aren't you using the bathroom?"

"I couldn't find a bathroom," he grunted.

She backed away to call security, still in disbelief. "But why, why didn't you just ask? There are librarians everywhere."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Ho' Couture 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comMy colleague was retrieving a book from the stacks when she came across a woman in the stacks. She looked like a crack whore, but a very stylish crack whore, with a purple sequined halter top and retro bellbottom pants that hung perfectly on her skeletal frame. She was twitching and vibrating with the effects of the drugs, her eyes wild with hallucination. “You’re the devil,” she hissed at my colleague. “Get away from me, SATAN.” The woman then drew her hands into claws and lunged at my colleague’s eyes but was so shaky that she missed and fell over onto the floor. My colleague high tailed it to security, which found the patron sitting on the ground where my colleague had left her. As expected she was highly uncooperative and security had to drag her kicking, screaming and flailing, all bony knees and elbows, into the office. When security asked her name she replied, “First name FUCK, last name YOU.”

That’s actually pretty good, almost as good as Frances Farmer writing “cocksucker” in the occupation field of her court papers when she was taken in for drunk driving and resisting arrest. Her mother blamed Farmer's subsequent breakdown on 'world communism.'

I kind of imagine the patron as Pam Grier in Fort Apache the Bronx, the alluring but psychopathic prostitute who dances and speaks in eerie singsong before slashing her johns’ throats with a razor she keeps concealed in her mouth.

My colleague, understanding that these things happen, certainly bore her no ill will, and still speaks with admiration about the patron's fashion. "Those were the greatest pair of pants," my colleague said wistfully. "I don't think anyone with an ounce of body fat could pull those off, though."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Image hosted by Photobucket.comI was having trouble with my security access card at the employee entrance the other morning. I keep my badge in an outer pocket of my backpack so I just have to wave my backpack at the security pad to unlock the doors, which are set back in an alcove. For whatever reason it wasn’t reading my badge through my backpack so I fished into my bag to retrieve it. I was clearly having a hard time trying to juggle my backpack and my bike when a young junkie wandered over and helpfully thrust his grimy, needle scarred arm at me, demanding change.

My street survival instincts are all about defusing, deflecting and doing whatever you can not to escalate a situation, since you just never know what little thing will transform your friendly neighborhood junkie into a rage zombie. Junkies consider this town, notorious for its tolerance, the land of milk and honey, but it outraged me that he was so emboldened that he thought it was all right to corner a woman in clear distress and try to intimidate money out of her. I don’t care how dopesick you are.

I stared at him in disbelief. I backed up against the door and my bike fell against my hip painfully. He moved in closer, fencing me in, and repeated himself. “Got any change.”

“No and GO AWAY,” I hissed at him like a cat.

He drew back and gave me a wounded look. "No, YOU…YOU go away." (Snap!) Thankfully someone walked by just then and he slouched off.

Maybe it's just me, but lately homeless around the city have become much more restive, their cant more aggressive and intimidating. Last week a large, muscle bound man asked me for money and I smiled and said sorry. He bowed up and glared at me and screamed, “Damn, all I’ve been getting all day are smiles!” I was taken back by the venom in his voice, so I hurried off. I was still shaken from that ugly encounter when I walked by a squatting man holding a rather uncouth cardboard sign: “NEED MONEY FOR PUSSY.” Walking the streets around the streets of this city has become a gauntlet.

I was soothing myself by looking at up paintings of Flemish master Quentin Matsys on the internet. All his paintings have incredibly sumptuous colors and mind blowing attention to detail, but even his loveliest paintings have that streak of the grotesque I find so appealing. The characters in his portraits have such striking personality, individuality and presence.

Fun fact: Matsys' sister was buried alive in the town square for reading the Bible, a capital crime at the time. (Her husband was decapitated.) Just as Jesus would have wanted them to be, I'm sure. This was during the Reformation and the Catholic church, terrified of losing control, was cracking down. I'm glad that the Catholic church has lightened up a bit since then.

Here is a nice little write up on the image pictured here, The Ill-Matched Lovers.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Damnation of Memory 

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe 15 minute internet computers have been relocated to the back of the building. All the desks are facing the other direction and it is difficult to keep a close eye on them. Predictably, many patron behavior problems - carousing, fisticuffs, drug dealing, line jumping – have blossomed there. Now that our backs are turned it is like a perverse game of Mother May I, and when we whip our heads around or the security guard patrols everyone is suddenly and peacefully waiting in line with innocent, doe-like expressions.

This beautiful Norwegian tourist couple, so polite, so fresh scrubbed, asked me if the library had internet so I reluctantly led them back to the 15 minute computer line. As we approached the area I saw a man sitting in line swatting at his hallucinations dancing around his head and another one muttering to himself and glaring at everyone in this alarming and menacing way. Although it was standing room only the chairs on either side of him were empty and even the most hardcore were giving him as wide a berth as a stick of sweating dynamite. As we approached the men all turned and looked at the female tourist as if she were a roasted Thanksgiving turkey adorned with leg frills. When I got close and I was struck by the rough crowd’s odor rising above like some foul, choking incense, I turned us all right back around and gave them internet passes to other computers. I have too much national pride to let them wait in line with that.

A patron called and had me look up a cool Latin phrase I had never heard of: Damnation of Memory, a practice in which all records and traces of a person were 'disappeared' were permanently erased by the state. Soviets, of course, were modern masters of this. I’ve always had a perverse interest in doctored Soviet photographs from Stalin’s time, when people who fell out of favor were expunged, sometimes with cartoonish and laughable efforts, from state photos. Imagine what Stalin’s people could have done with Photoshop.

Damnation of Memory was often carried out on a more personal, familial level. Often the family Bible acted as the official family record and was the only place where vital records such as birth, marriage and death dates were kept. Black sheep’s names were occasionally struck from the family Bible for disgracing the family is some unforgivable way, like eloping with a person of the wrong religion or gambling away the family fortune or abandoning her husband and children and running off with a Yankee officer, as my great-great granfather's first wife supposedly did. (My great-great grandfather immigrated from Kentucky to Texas shortly thereafter, and details are rather hazy as to whether he was official divorced before he married my great-great grandmother, which is why my great uncle always remarked, "I don't know why this family puts on such airs when we're all just a bunch of bastards.")

I have been revisiting the beautiful stories of Katherine Anne Porter. In Old Mortality, a fictionalized account of her grandmother and her constant companion, Nannie Gay, who had been slave given to her when she was a little girl. Her grandmother caused a minor scandal when at the age of nine she entered in Nannie Gay's name in the family Bible next to hers.

Nannie Gay,” she wrote in stiff careful letters, (black),” and though there was some uproar when this was discovered, the ink was long sink sunk deeply into the paper, and besides no one was really upset enough to have it scratched out. There it remained, one of their pleasantest points of reference.

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