December 23, 2014
It is nearly the end of the year, and I still haven’t shown anything of great worth. I turned 60 this year, and I am flirting with the idea of taking heroin (nah) for the first time in my life. If my information is correct, the number one country that produces heroin is Afghanistan, and number two is Mexico. The United Nations estimated in 2005, that there are over 50 million people worldwide who uses heroin. What I find interesting, is that heroin becomes the prominent factor in a person’s reputation - even though he or she is a great artist, if they’re a heroin user, that becomes more known than their art. For instance, the first thing I think of when I hear the words “Charlie Parker, ” “Anita O’Day, ” “Tim Hardin, ” and “Chet Baker” is their heroin use, not their enormous talents as musicians. “Johnny Thunders” also comes to mind when ever I hear his name. The first thought is heroin.
So one loses their identity once they become a junkie. Be that of the narcotic or the public’s love affair of those who morally fail their duty as an artist or a human being. Cocaine has a strong image, but mostly in a group setting. Heroin suggests alienation, remoteness, rejection, outlawness, and also a sense of “exoticness.” To become a junkie is to join a family. I think most addictions are the source of being part of a group. The worst thing that can become of a human being in our culture is to be separated from the group. In other words the family. Like everything else in the world, the family can bring great sense of comfort and joy, or entrapped those who can’t leave the family.
There is strength in numbers, and how many of us desire to join something that is much bigger than all of us. Everything from churches to gangs to even schools, brings us a sense of comfort. I believe that there is obviously a need to become an addict, as well as a need to be a reformed addict. Either way, you are still part of a group. Heroin is interesting because it is basically an anti-social grouping. I never smoke pot, but I have been in social settings where pot is offered and shared. The same as for cocaine. Drinking and heroin strike me as more of a solitude form of addiction. For instance I like to drink, but I get immense pleasure by drinking alone. It’s solitude, but with an edge.
My favorite musicians are junkies. The question: Is it because they take heroin or is it my knowledge beforehand? Perhaps I like the image of heroin in the context of music. Oddly enough I never think of drugs when I hear the name “Brian Jones,” but on the other hand “Keith Richards” is all about heroin. It does not represent a fair comparison of course, but the image speaks louder than the music at times. To see someone rotting away is not a good thing, but for some reason if that person is an artist, we get off on it. Why is that?
Heroin, it seems, is never a positive drug. On the other hand, could William S. Burroughs or Alexander Trocchi exist without heroin? Once you’re involved with heroin, you either become a junkie or an ex-junkie. You’re still in the family. Due to that experience, you are then seen as worth something to our culture - either as a cautionary tale, or a victim. The world turns, but the love of misery, especially seeing someone else’s misery is a luxury in today’s culture.