Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 1 | Spring 1985

going out in the world with her work, giving shows. How she stunned me with her beauty and pain. It was those black moods that felled her. Over love. Over life. And the light in her face would grow dim. Scary. Still we laughed. And then, after four or five years, we lost touch. It wasn’t even gradual. It was August of 1981 when I saw her again. It was my birthday, and my apartment was filled up with party. She rushed in, hugged me quickly, and whispered me frantically into my bathroom. “See this,” she burst out, pouring a packet of cocaine on the porcelain shelf. She chopped. “I will always ALWAYS have this in my life.” She chopped. “Cocaine is my love.” How she laughed. How I died. I tried to warn her. I told her cocaine was mirage. I told her it taunted her, hinting and flaunting its greed. I told her it was leaving her one step behind. “It’s squashing your soul. It’s a tease.” She was deaf. She was gone. For years my friend and cocaine have been together having the worst relationship I’ve ever seen. She’s lost in a chronic and thorough obsession. Possession. And her lover leaves no room for laughter. And her lover leaves no room for me. Oocaine is part of the computerized, consumerized, pre-packaged supersonic sheep world in which we live. I hate this world, because it robs souls. And I hate cocaine, because it robs the souls of my friends. Why does cocaine take away the ones we need most? It takes the magicians who produce the most sparks. It takes control of their lights, and it does a bad job. Because the pre-cocaine magic is warm. And bright. And the post-cocaine magic is cold. And white. Jagged with post-modern, linear edges. Blurred into slickness. I can’t stand seeing eyes that used to blind me with light turn into flattened, dead discs of grey. I can’t stand the rigidity. And the edginess. And I can’t stand all the dumb rationalizations. But what I really can’t stand is all the soulless creations that look like, act like and pretend to be art. Because they used to be art. Cocaine is a dehydrated surge. The kind of surge the body turns right into action. Cocaine seems the perfect drug for artists. Because artists swell up with an energy of creation that has to come out. And they fear most that blockage. Cocaine, like an antidote made of the same desperate germ, melts the blockage. And it pushes the fears off the edge. And the artist spews. Stylish spew. Soulless spew. don’t hate drugs. I love drugs. Since I first tried marijuana—that major fateful summer of 1966—being chauffered by hilarious cousins through downtown Seattle, with Jimi Hendrix wailing through my ears, date-filled cookies melting through my mouth, and hysterical laugh- - ter rippling through my soul, I have loved marijuana. And mushrooms and vodka. You slide these substances into your body and they change everything. Day-to- dayness is Xed out. Rules... time... space ... Xed out. These substances absolutely feed your head. It’s just the white, tampered stuff—the shiny, fluffy powders and the geometric pills— I can’t trust. Just like I can’t trust newspapers, television, labels, pilots or George Bush’s face. They are not biological. They are products of modern minds. And I don't trust modern minds. I have tried “sweet cocaine” three ways. And it has filled me with awe...awe for its power to turn me and my friends into blithering puppets. Puppets mechanically mooing the magnificence of cocaine. Maybe it is a personal problem. Maybe I hate cocaine because instead of making me feel good, it makes me feel like all my internal and external systems have been replaced with shattered glass. And these systems are magnetized to pick up and amplify the jagged. Or maybe it’s because I’m a jaded old fool who must react against others pleasures, because those pleasures only serve to blare out my pain. But dammit, I hate cocaine. Cocaine is an elite rapist of the mind, body and soul. It’s imperialistic. And at five times the cost of pure gold, it’s consumeristic. Cocaine has become the love of a generation...mine. And I hate losing what we had when we began. We had a hope...a strong and unique hope. For a strong and unique world. An original world. A revolution. Cocaine—an imperialist— is counter to the revolution. And the revolution must never die. /J ^bctia IdJoA "If a lot of people are going to die here because of United States' imperialistic policies, then a lot of people are going to die there because of cocaine.... It is a war." (Peruvian drug trafficker, “Snowstorm in the Jungle,” Jaques Cousteau TV special) Gcaiite., like. OK lame. dLe&p&iate (jeAm, ntelli the. tdodzocfe,. /Ind it puriheri the ^eaAA. G^ the edcje. /Ind the o/itut Soutte^i l^oUle #1: ^he Coca dtea^ ^bata "Coca is like a donkey and cocaine is like a supersonic jet plane, with all the dangers to the human and terrestial ecology that such technological miracles imply....” (Cocaine: A Drug and Its Social Evolution, 1976) CZrythroxylon Coca is a flowering plant thcit grows primarily on the slopes of the Eastern Andes at 1500-6000 feet. It is harvested three times a year. Bolivia and Peru, at the heart of the region, produce about 11.5 million kilograms of coca per year, using 90% of the yield themselves. The United States, the largest coca importer, both legally and illegally, buys around 250,000 kilos per year. The only legal importer of coca is a chemical company in New Jersey, which extracts the cocaine from the leaf for medicinal purposes. The only current legitimate medical use for cocaine is as a topical anesthetic on the eyes, ears, nose and throat, and to prevent retching and pain in exams of the upper digestive and respiratory tracts. The remains of the plant are used for flavoring in cola drinks. Cocaine makes up only about 1 percent of the total coca leaf. The leaf also contains 13 other drugs, vitamin C, and most of the B vitamins. Although addictive coca-paste smoking has recently become a problem among South American youth, the coca leaf is primarily chewed with lime, a cereal ash, or a powder of crushed shells. A cocada—the period of time during which a wad of coca is kept in the mouth (about 45 minutes)—is a standard unit of time in Peru. Studies say that coca is actually essential to the health of the South American Indian since it increases the heart rate, arterial pressure and number of breaths per minute. And when one is living and working at altitudes so high that even potatoes won’t grow, need a surge. And coca, for the Andean Indians, is such a surge. A balanced and organic chew. feattie. #3.: ^he e/llAtovucal ^bota Pretty little round-leafed coca The only one who understands my life You who understands man 's life You are the only one who knows my fate. (Inca song) Mama Coca, Mama Coca / r l ummy bundles 2000- 3000-years- old were found on the coast of Peru and Ecuador. They contained sacks of coca leaves and containers for the lime that extracts the cocaine from the leaf. The ancient Indians of the Andes gave coca divine status. The Incas had a legend that the son of the sun brought the knowledge of coca at the same time he brought the knowledge of gods. And the fourth Inca queen was called “Mama Coca.” Coca was nectar. But when Pizarro and a small band of Spaniards took over the Inca Empire in the early 1500s, coca’s legend was taken over too. If these weak, pagan Indians had allowed their great empire to be conquered by a handful of Spaniards...and these same Indians thought coca was a god...well, they AND their coca were bunk. So, in 1550, the Catholic Church published a book claiming coca’s divine powers were nothing more than demoniacal illusion. And coca was quickly prohibited. But the Indians were the workers. And the workers, needing coca, struck. And the economy staggered. Prohibitions were quickly retracted. And a Jesuit priest came out with a book claiming coca’s divine powers were real. White ManlltpliCflii Man ^he initial attempts to interest white man in coca failed. Importing methods were lousy, and the coca leaf arrived in Europe in various stages of deterioration—tasting like hell and impotent. And anyway, it was a peasants’ drug. Too dirty for the civilized white. Except then European explorers started visiting the Andes. And chewing coca. And they liked it. Raved about it. And it caught on fast. It was a new high. A high that allowed one to perform great feats with almost no effort while silencing needs—such as for sleep and food. By God, it was the perfect drug for a world speeding upwards... grasping upwards... towards ultra-civilization. Pretty little round-leafed coca. Whote tyox. *1he Cote Constant inhibition, restraining normal feelings, keeping back, covering, holding in check atomic forces of the mind and body, is an exhausting process, and to this process all civilization is constantly subjected. (Drugs in America: A Social History 1800- 1980, 1981) ^^ocaine, coca's major alkaloid, the heat of the leaf, was isolated in 1855. The blitz began. Angelo Mariani, a Corsican, became the cocaine king. He came out with Vin Mariana, a cocaine-spiked wine which claimed: “It nourishes. It fortifies. It refreshes. It aids digestion. It strengthens the system. It is unequaled as a tonicstimulant for fatigue or overworked Body or Brain.” And the public loved it. Endorsements came from all over. So Mr. Mariani came out with cocaine-spiked lozenges, candy and tea. Then in 1880 Coca-Cola came out. It was called the “great antidote for the blues.” “Let’s have a dope" was the way you asked for it. And then there was Rococola, Wiseola, Dr. Don’s Kola and 66 more. There was also Coca-Bola, a chewing gum tonic for muscles and nerves. It cost 50 cents a box and contained 3/4 of a gram of cocaine per ounce. And there was Az-ma-syde, an asthma cure with 4 1/2 grams of cocaine per ounce. And Ryno's Hay Fever-n-Catarrh Remedy, which was 99.95 percent pure cocaine. The public was going wild for it. They Joved that quick relief. But they were once again going for the free lunch. They were failing to realize there is none. Cohe Kilti He often hears people taunting or abusing him, and this often incites homicidal attacks upon innocent and unsuspecting victims. Nine men killed in Mississippi on one occasion...five in North Carolina. The drug produces...a resistance to the knock-down effects of fatal wounds. Bullets fired into parts that would drop a sane man in his tracks fail to check the fiend... fail to stop the rush.... (New York Times, 1914) ^ y the late 1800s, cocaine’s crystalline image was tarnished. People were getting hooked. And destroyed. Doctors began calling it the second scourge of mankind. (Alcohol was first.) They said it was a habit that developed more easily and destroyed body and soul fasterthan even morphine. Oregon became the first state to prohibit the sale of cocaine without a prescription in 1887, and other states followed suit. In 1906, however, there was still as much cocaine being imported into the U.S. as there was in 1974. An ounce of cocaine went for $2.50 in New York in 1906. Yet in 1906 there was only half the population. What really broke cocaine's back were the myths. It was said cocaine increased the power of criminals. Especially black criminals. Police departments insisted their revolvers were useless against them. And demanded much larger guns. And within months of the publication of the New York Times articles quoted above, the Harrison Act—the first national anti-drug act—was passed. The import of cocaine still rose. Then in 1932, amphetamines hit the market. They finally dropped the bottom out for cocaine. Because amphetamines were cheaper. And longer-lasting. And amphetamines created the same effects: they made one productive. And productivity, for a developing nation, is the key. feattie #3: 'the Pht^olG(flcaL ^bota A morphine addict can live to be 90...on the other hand, cocaine...and all variations of the benzedrine formula, are ruinous to health.... (William Burroughs) Wolf! Wolff! ^Z at cocaine does to the body is exactly mimic a state of chronic emergency. Cocaine causes your body to cry wolf, as it revs itself up for flight, defense and aggression. Heart and breathing rates increase, blood pressure and body temperature rise, blood vessels constrict, digestion is inhibited. But the body has nowhere to go. And the body has nothing to fight...but itself. Cocaine also goes directly to work on the nervous system. It prevents receiving cells from sending back messages. So they become over-stimulated, while the senders just become weak. Cocaine: ever the imperialist. MoWzetf. 2)a On two experiments done with monkeys and rats, the results were foreboding. The monkeys could shoot themselves up at will with either morphine or cocaine. They used both drugs—cocaine primarily during the day, and morphine at night—until they became so disoriented that no pattern existed in time. Two to four weeks later they became delirious. Soon after, they were dead. When the same experiment was done with morphine alone, it went on for more than a year. And the monkeys—except for an occasional infection—were fine. The rats, on the other hand, were given unlimited access to cocaine. In a week or two, they lost up to forty percent of their body weight, their sleep and grooming habits disappeared, and they died from convulsions and viral infections within two to three weeks. Cocaine: a non-addictive drug? feattie, #4: "the Stotiwlical tbota illegal coke trafficking siphons approximately $30 billion per year off the U.S. economy, four times what heroin does. And if the cocaine trade were included in Fortune's list of the 500 largest industrial corporations nationwide, cocaine would rank 7th in volume for domestic sales, between the Ford Motor Company and Gulf Oil. It is estimated that 5000-people-per- day try cocaine. And that eight million Americans, half women and half men, use cocaine regularly. Cocaine increased in use over three times between 1976 and 1981. And between 1970 and 1982, there was a 500 percent increase in people seeking help for cocaine abuse. Fifty percent of the women callers to a Clinton St. Quarterly 33