So the quote goes, “Faster, faster until the thrill of speed overcomes the fear of death” – HS Thompson.
Upon first reading this, something about it felt so right… so representative of my entire… thing. But somehow skewed or twisted… or backward.
In my experience, it would be “Faster, faster until the fear of death overcomes the thrill of speed”. Hmmm….
So, the Hunter S Thompson thing requires acceleration at an accelerating pace… it begs one to go even further [faster] than they are going right now until they reach that place where one is invincible.
My thing, on the other hand, I suppose is an addicts’ tenant. Its avoidance and denial. It presupposes that one is already there and must go even faster to maintain the fact that this is a thrill. Maintenance.
And though I wrote the above at the end of January, it still applies today. Your author hasn’t written anything, in what seems like not just a pit-stop, but rather a old-age home where she has come to die (sometimes it feels that way)… the aforementioned is a part of it. Usually, my digressions become my entire post… but somehow, now, I don’t know. And thus, anytime the folks at 23rd Street find some inspiration to write anything, they must do it, at that moment… and continue to do it until they burn out.
Its a very small window.
Cognitive dissonance. Whatever. Its not like a new thing here. I write about it all the time. Not that I own cognitive dissonance. But anyway, I feel the my expiration. So, here goes. Again, I hate “In Plain Sight”… in the same manner that I kind of secretly love it. But not really. Ideas are ideas… nobody owns ideas. But I have a history of feeling infringed upon, when someone says something in a work of art, that I have felt somehow was ‘my’ idea.
I’m over it.
Whatever the actual definition of cognitive dissonance, (because they seem to speak of denial here, rather than cognitive dissonance). The end of the following rings true somehow to my current state of affairs.
Yes, sometimes when your author is blandly killing time in a CVS listening to popular music over the speakers that she would never admit liking… she feels a sort of longing for Los Angeles. There is a version of quiet in LA that is unique. Somehow, all of the sudden, one desires being in this slow, visually saturated, lonely Wong Kar Wai town. Laconic and alone, soothing self-introspection blended in via comforting and song-like voice over. To be clear, we use “Wong Kar Wai” as an adjective here. Somehow, one just wants to be there. Its a strange subtly self-effacing desire. Probably not much different from what I’ve felt before about living in Manhattan and effectively being a cog in a larger world. There is a difference, though. In Manhattan, there is no separation between person and city… it’s like one becomes a charcoal drawing who’s arm can with an accidental swipe of the artist’s hand, slowly disappear into the atmosphere… shading out. The mood can reach similar heights in both cities… the weight and/or cohesive, singular solidity of an individual will always remain on opposite spheres. One is definitively a separate entity in Los Angeles. …which makes a moody, lonely night with very little breeze and perfect temperature all-the-more striking… all-the-more alienating in a comforting manner.
I mean, as a good friend once said to a young author yet to experience Los Angeles, “Its everything that everyone says… it’s a place that one does not need to experience to really know what it is”… or something like that. Great weather, vapid Hollywood stuff, you have to drive, blonde chicks, blahblahblah. This is all true. But there is longing for what I can only describe as a desire for true loneliness that one can only understand after experiencing it.
So there is that.
Now Los Angeles has also been known for its desperation. But it’s a desperation that lives just beneath the surface of the entire town. Quietly but solidly rumbling away. This is what happens when the weather is so comfortable and people smile all the time. Now, New York is also know for desperation. New York desperation is visible and tangible. Everything is just more difficult here. More difficult, more expensive, more extreme, more uncomfortable in a physical sense. Basically, you really have to want to live here. And this creates a city of very passionate people. Intense. But, man, sometimes you just want to chill for a second, even.
…and maybe you want to get an Rx for pills that are basically entitled to you in Los Angeles. And this story goes:
Part of this comes down to culture. There’s no one thats really “Old School” in LA. LA is the land of the eternally young. Regardless of if one is young or not, one aspires to appear youthful and relevant. You know, health and jogging and plastic surgery and yoga and whatever is the ‘new’ thing. This obsession with the ‘new’ probably contributes to what others attribute as a flatness to the place. The card-board cut-out-ness of it all. It almost destroys time up until this point (even though that is impossible).
Thus, there are no real old guys that have been, say a dentist, forever and therefore have that “in my day…” attitude.
Fixing everything with a pill and quick fixes are relatively new things. As such, they are things that this city [LA] has subscribed to with much gusto.
The theoretical Old School NY dentist (with possibly a stereotypical bit of east coast attitude) would subscribe to the notion of pain with a ‘tough it out’ sort of philosophy. Unimpressed or just unaware of the ‘quick fix’ as an option. Nothing needs to be fixed… it’s just pain.
This equals no pills.
No pills = boo!
Theoretical case in point: One goes to the multitude of dentists in LA (most, in my experience, East Indian… and some, of course, extremely fit and relatively good-looking) and for anything even minutely interpretively painful, one is almost expected an Rx for something recreationally abusable. A basic tooth extraction is guaranteed some vikes (I mean as it should be. Basic or not this is the ‘pulling teeth’ of actually pulling teeth). Even the suggestion of pain and small request gets an LA dentist pulling out his prescription pad. This author can tell you that she was novicained and nitroused up for a cleaning. A cleaning. A fuckin’ cleaning!!! Why does anyone need nitrous for a cleaning? Who the fuck cares?
One goes to the proverbial dentist in say… Queens, NY… one gets a basic wisdom tooth extraction (of an otherwise normal though cavity laden wisdom tooth… not impacted the root is not infected). Basic extraction, yes… but you are pulling a bony structure from inside a socket in one’s mouth. Yes, it didn’t really hurt, what with the novacaine and all.
“It may start to hurt when the novacaine wears off. If that happens just take 3 Advil.” – Dentist.
Trying not to sound like a drug seeking individual, “What if it really hurts?” – author.
I proceed to gently prod him in the direction of an opioid pill Rx. I leave with nothing except one less tooth and bloody gauze in my mouth. I give it a few for the novacaine to wear off (and it does hurt… on a scale of 1 to 10, I would say, 2?… but it does hurt), I call the office…
“It really really hurts… I didn’t know that it would hurt THIS much” – author.
The receptionist tells me to give it time and let the Advil take effect… if it still really hurts in a few hours, then call us back.
A few hours pass, I call. This time NY dentist gets on the phone. I, in no uncertain terms, describe the “pain that is radiating in my eyeball and head”.
“Take more Advil. I’m surprised that it hurts at all… You know, because these Tylenol with Codeine won’t even… [Won’t even WHAT?!]… no, Your best bet if the Advil doesn’t work is to take extra strength Tylenol.” -Dentist.
Okay, apparently, you don’t like my liver. I wasn’t even talking about Tylenol 3 which is a bullshit high.
So, drug-seeking-behaviour-seeming or not, someone’s gotta say it: “What about Vicodin?” – author.
“No, that wouldn’t even do anything for this sort of pain.” -Dentist.
Um, I’m sorry, yes it would.
You don’t need a degree in dentistry, in medicine, you don’t even need to know how to read…. you just need to have taken Vicodin one time in the past.
Stunned into silence, I hear myself utter, “Are you sure?”.
“Yeah…” -Dentist (as he goes back to his extra strength Tylenol stance).
Lies!!! And thus a HUGE piece of me wants to be back in LA where the weather is warm, pilot season is a-brewin’ and I don’t have to go thru this bullshit to obtain a valid prescription for valid pain for a mildly narcotic pill that I don’t end up getting anyway. All that I need to do is ask… and have a dental procedure.
To be fair, we must point out that this isn’t like a ‘beyond the grave’-experience that proves that angels exist or something. We don’t want to be misleading as it is the holiday season. People get crazy inspired by things that they would mostly otherwise ignore, if it were, say, just another Tuesday in April or something. Dead Phil was very much alive when he saved my life. Additionally, the act of saving my life did not kill Dead Phil. These are mutually exclusive events that happened like years apart. Lastly, Dead Phil most likely saved my life more than once (actually, I’m almost sure of the fact). Unfortunately, this is the only time that your author can remember glimpses of. And so we go, on our way of trying to piece it all together…
When the cocaine usage expired and the methamphetamine usage started up, much of the writing stopped as well. It is what it is. So, for the really good stuff, we cannot flip back to some sort of scrawled page somewhere. The really good stuff is stored in half-captured memories in your author’s drug-addled brain… most likely held together with the glue of fondness, misattribution and inability to see anything that happened during this time as ultimately… sad or destructive or just non-rock star.
On with the story…
It is humid. Like. fuckin’. Humid. Hot. Oppression. Even the most minute action (like moving one’s arm from the keyboard to the desk just beneath it) causes one to sweat. With no end in sight. It is the time of the East Coast rolling brown out. What is a rolling brown out? No idea. How is it any different from a black out… which it very much seems to feel like? I don’t fuckin’ know. Regardless, the first thing I think is if I am able to contact frank. That is the anxiety of the first half day. The humidity oppressive and truly uncomfortable, yes. The inability to get frank/meth… not oppressive nor truly uncomfortable, rather some sort of ultimate anxiety leading to death. In a way, this sort of obsessive fight/flight thinking make me somewhat impervious to the oppressive heat. (It was also about to get alot hotter). This imperviousness to said oppressive heat is partially what really allows your author to stare down death with half closed eyes and wonder (as the sun goes down and day light goes away) what ‘that thing is that stands right in front of me’? Eh, who cares? Gotta feel out a vein in the absolute pitch black of the bar bathroom (door closed). Hey man, I’m absolutely up for the challenge. But this comes later…
It must be the first full-day of the rolling brown-out’s arrival in Manhattan. And it really has turned Manhattan (with it’s air and it’s non-solid aspects) into one solidly squishy being. Walking down the street feels like pushing oneself thru some sort of still-ass sauna. Nothing moves. All atmosphere has ceased to flow around one as they truck down the street. Google leads me to believe that it is somewhere around the middle of August. Google is probably fuckin’ right.
As an aside, I must say that we are assuming that our reader knows what a black-out/rolling brown-out is. And of course we would. You are not retarded. But I must say, for the retarded audience (that doesn’t exist)… the reason why it is soooo unbearably hot is because electricity does not work. Air conditioners… really small fans, even. So, it’s not really ideal to have electricity not work at the most humid time of the year.
In any event, with my worry of not being able to reach frank in my time of need squelched the day before. Yay! …And, really, I must say… wow, man… he is amazing. Anyway, meth in pocket or sock or wherever I carry it now, I walk across 23rd Street to the restaurant that I call home. As I approach the Flatiron Building, I see that even the traffic light no longer works. Civilians (trying to be heros) direct traffic. But, you know what? That intersection is fucked up, man. There are like 4 inter-crossing streets all like, weirded-out. So, that sort of creates a bit of an impression. And if your author is doing the math correctly, it’s not even 2 years after that 9/11 thing, so New Yorkers do still feel a jolt of togetherness and the need to help. And the world at large has yet to find everything ironic.
Park Avenue South. And there I am. My boss and co-workers stand outside of the restaurant selling whatever they can to the passerby on the street. No breeze. Nothing. This somehow seems illegal. Eh… Things are spoiling in the refrigerator, and its like a line of business people walking the street to get where ever they would have taken a taxi and/or subway to after work. Oh yeah, the subways no longer work, either. I hear stories of one or two lines that cease to move mid track… people have to be pulled up and out of the cars somehow. It seems like it would suck. Black ash sticking to human sweat so salty. Though I must say that it was probably interesting for the mole people. Because, you know, the mole people don’t get this sort of action to watch ever.
So, we continue to sell our dying goods from the front of the store. Somehow, sometime later, I find myself in a deli around the corner. I’m not sure if I’m buying more things to sell or if I’m just in a deli around the corner. I’m almost positive, however, that I’ve fixed in the restaurant bathroom and/or am concerned about finding a bathroom to fix in. (I never use the term fix). Also, I remember a grave concern as to the night’s activities. And possibly buzzing a bit too hard, a grave concern as to when we (I) were to being drinking. What I wasn’t really thinking about was that with every shot of meth, my core body temperature spiked quickly and intensely. We were selling the beverages with the salesman exploit of “you must keep hydrated”. I wasn’t so much doing that… like, at all.
So, like, this is where it gets to the point where we have to start piecing together the 2 or 3 remained flashes of half-memories I have.
To my delight, we (can’t tell you who, beside me) end up at Dead Phil’s bar around the corner from the restaurant. At this point, day light is fading and there exists no residual artificial light from inside stores. Anyway, in the bar… still soooo hot. The atmosphere soooo still. No free-moving air. Just heat and stillness. And dark. Dark, dark, dark. As the sun ultimately disappears, it is just candles, a vague outline of a bar and the knowledge that the bathroom is in the back of the bar. Oh, and probably many many many shots and things. Probably what a medical professional (and not-so-professional) would call an aggressive version of the opposite of hydrating.
The rest goes like this: I remember being in the bathroom of the bar. And of course, it was pitch black. And of course I was over-heating… as everyone was. I was trying to feel out a vein. Not sure if I did. Somehow, Dead Phil and one of his 2 partners that own the bar, find me passed-out in the bathroom. I don’t recall how they found me (needle in arm or not… gear strewn about…) but it was really dark. Then, the vague recollection that there was a bit of a ruckus of getting me outside to get some air. I, of course, am probably atleast a bit belligerent (because you know how I do… “I’m fine… I can do it myself… don’t worry”).
Then, fleeting half-memories of Dead Phil taking me around the corner, walking me to his apartment and taking care of me so that I don’t die. I must have woken the next day because I’m here now.
And, you know, it occurs now that it is written down, that your author may be a little melodramatic by using the term ‘save’ and ‘life’ and ‘my’ in this title. I don’t have the conscious memory to really speak to the fact that I may have died if Dead Phil and the other bar guy weren’t there that night. And I believe it is a tribute to just the type of person Phil was that I undeniably believe that it went down this way.
For Part I, please see Why the Simple *snap* Hairclip is a Drug Addict’s Best Friend.
Innocuous, inexpensive, but mostly multi-functional is what the silver hair clip is. And such a serendipitous discovery, at that.
You see, not all cotton-candy pink wigs are created equally. Actually, though this may be true, what will carry us eventually to the point is that not all cotton-candy pink wig-wearers are created equally.
What does this mean? It means aforementioned gamine finds a way to make even wig-wearing a comfortingly repetitive entailed procedure. And one that somehow eventually becomes, for a while, atleast, absolutely neccesary, at that. To explain, for whatever reason an action is carried-out the first time, at this time, said action (this first time) is merely an action. The 2nd and 3rd times, even… one can consider said action merely an action. Conversely, at this time, it may already have developed into a sort of “habit”, if you will. “Whatever reason” may no longer be “whatever”, rather “whatever-though-deliberately-carried-out”.
It’s difficult to know exactly when said wig-wearing started to become so necessary to the heroine of this story, but the folks at 23rd Street know that the individual actions to adorn said wig was increasingly becoming rigid, procedural & much, much too routine. Part of the ever-increasing routine’s rigidity involved the silver hair clip. Though, to be fair, the simple clip had been in heavy rotation in general, both before & after any wig-wearing took place.
An extremely simple piece of equipment it is. Even before the crystalline connection, so simple but in a pinch, so useful.
It’s a hair thing.
But we digress.
Around the same time the wig-wearing becomes a routine, aforementioned young gamine had (by our account) already been an experienced self-administrating IV user for years. Though specific dates & specific substances are still in question (laying in the hands of 23rd Street’s research department), we can generally say that wig-wearing started somewhere around 2003. The IV Cocaine entered it’s preliminary out-phase in early 2002 (due to a septic infection & subsequent drug-testing, but that is another story). While the IV coke (and any coke for that matter) fizzles-out, more-or-less, the IV meth entered it’s in-phase approximately late autumn of 2002. …meaning the IV meth usage & wig-wearing did meet each other in time and space but were not necessarily connected. Rather, they were more-or-less mutually exclusive co-occurring “habits”, if you will. Furthermore, the IV meth usage will continue for a long long time after the wig-wearing will stop.
Okay, hair clip.
One day, as aforementioned young moppet takes a break from serving salad to patrons & employees of the 30 Rock building and enters the Rockefeller Center concourse level bathroom, she discovers, to her dismay, that though she has all her “gear” with her, she had nothing in particular to scoop the crystals from the bag onto the spoon. Not a huge deal, of course. One can always tap, tap the baggie on the spoon as the crystalline wonder falls on the waiting spoon. But then, a thought. The hair clip that secured the cotton-candy pink wig to the left side of her head had the perfect slight curve and small size to function as a measuring device as well as a scooper from a small illicit drug baggie. And it was metal thus easily sanitized by a quick isopropyl swipe.
The rest, as they say, is history. A perfect little scoop from a perfectly innocuous device created to keep hair in place.
Though this is not exactly “Why the Simple Hair Clip is a Drug Addict’s Best Friend”.
For this, we need to fast-forward around 2 years to 2006-ish. A little older and possibly a little wiser (and off-the-needle), your aforementioned gamine, now bopping about the streets of Los Angeles (sans wig) has, from a sabbatical of approximately 2 years, taken up her once crystalline best friend. Nose-candy is what it is now. A finely balanced mix of white wine and meth. As kinda chronicled in This took a bit more planning… This is also where the sub-title “aka getting high at work or in generally public places with discretion” comes into play.
You see at this time, the irresponsibly reckless junkie psychonaut lifestyle was now replaced with a version of the former that seemed, at the time, like a more responsible one. Let’s say this one was more a hurlyburly Hollywood executive (irresponsibly reckless) pseudo-professional lifestyle. As such, there was a striving for a certain degree of professionalism. Now, the little baggie, crystals pre-crushed in a pill crusher from CVS and rationed, is sealed, folded just under the seal and clipped with eponymous hair clip. A small self-contained package of fun that slipped easily into the pocket or stayed put against a tight-fitting pair of panty-hose.
(1) enter any sort of private public area
(2) click open hair clip
(3) unfold and unseal bag
(4) scoop a bump from bag
(5) place under nostril
(7) refold bag
(8) clip hair clip closed atop bag
(9) slide back into pocket
This took no more than one minute to complete beginning to end.
It was almost too easy.
And this is why The Simple *snap* Hair Clip is a Drug Addict’s Best Friend.
aka getting high at work or in generally public places with discretion
Please indulge the folks at 23rd street while we regale you with a story from the vaults.
Once upon a time (in a land far far away in relative chronology only) there exists a cotton candy pink haired rapscallion bopping about the streets of Manhattan. Alternately blissed-out and bursting with a desperation that just shirks the dramatic. The desperation of one so young and idealistic and bleeding heart is at times cute and energizing and at times, very sad… but never dramatic. …not yet, anyway.
Said young gamine fancies herself a writer and artist. Everything is so meaningful that it hurts. Every experience, every conversation, every step on the concrete that lines every inch of the city. Her hair cotton candy pink because of a wig that, for unknown reasons, she’s decided to wear day in and day out. There may have not been a reason to begin with at all. And, in fact, the folks at 23rd street are not only privy to think, but almost positive there is no reason. But in this time of routine’s role in sense of self, she finds herself needing to wear it constantly. And so it goes. Seemingly impervious to much of everything, she goes about her day, head covered in cotton candy; veins full of dissolved crystals.
Oh, did we not mention the crystals?
Yes, well you see, beside the constant wig-wearing, said moppet has another acquired routine in her reportoire. This one rife with spoons and saline and needles and veins. One that would direct her to the public bathroom on the concourse level of rockefeller center most days (keeping the cleaning ladies on their toes). But mostly, one which would, in shear serendipity, bridge the gap between one routine and another…. forming a mutual bond. Cotton candy wigs and crystal meth. And it all came down to your simple silver drug store hair-clip.