What Did We Learn on the Show Tonight, Craig?


There may be a correlation between the amount of writing done here on 23rd Street recently (none) and the degree to which we feel that we are ‘out of the woods’ as it were (the woods of substance abuse and drug addiction). This is, of course interpretive, based on denial and fueled by the expansion of time (i.e. distance from relative cessation of the hardcore substance abuse) and sealed into a pretty little envelope by the fact that we have come to believe that we are finally ‘normal’.

Then, all of the sudden, Craig Ferguson comes around to remind us that, you know, “remember the time when you were high all the time?” Nothing against Craig Ferguson at all. I’ve actually become acutely addicted to the non-sequitur slinging, late-late night Scotch-American. He’s awesome. In addition, there is nothing aggressively drugged-out about him, either. But, once in a while, he will regale the audience with a half-tale of his version of the 1980’s or just make known the fact that he has been sober 20 years or something. Then, back to regular shenanigans.

So, that is all good & fine. right?

Well, see now, part of my absolute affinity toward Mr. Ferguson is the fact that he was once a hardcore, falling-down hedonistic drunk person. Why?

I mean, one could probably easily connect the proverbial dots (as this is a sort of “addiction” blog-ish operation that we have going on here). But the answer to the aforementioned is much messier and possibly a lot different than the easy page of connect the dots would have one believe. In addition, just because ‘affinity’ is a positive affectation, doesn’t mean that everything that it manifests is positive.

The easy version of connect the dots would draw a picture of identification, I suppose. And this would be true.

I’ve never had “drug-friends”, even whilst doing drugs. And after it all, since I’ve never been in recovery… I’ve never had to sit in a place with chairs and people that tell stories of ‘rock-bottom’ and such. I’ve never viewed the recovery process or have any real concept of it, especially as it applies to an actual person, in real life. It could be all ‘unicorns and plastic chairs and little paper cups with withdrawal pills’ for all I know. Everyone has a minute concept of AA or whatever. I am no different. But my concept of it is exactly that: minute. Books and television. For a once hardcore long-term drug user, I have no more an accurate picture of recovery than a person that can use a remote control.

As such, it is identification.

The more detailed version (the messier version) involves the reminder. The reminder of, “remember that decade when you were high every day?”. Because it is a reminder… because you forget. Again, believing that we are finally ‘normal’ and have been normal for a long time. Its about the fact that recovery (or whatever we are doing at 23rd Street) really requires a shaving away or dulling down. Things, once turned up to 11 have to be dialed down to some volume and frequency that creates a sustainable way of life. So, one doesn’t, like… die. The thing is: this sucks. Its a horrible notion and even more horrible practice. Especially in the beginning. This exceedingly grey-ness of life. This grey-ness that one has to practice… until one forgets that they are doing anything at all…. until one forgets that grey-ness sucks.

And that is all well-and-good. …Actually, as mentioned before, it sucks. But it is what it is. We could stop there, but the fact is, there is more going on beside this uncomfortably antithetical forced changing of behaviour. With the voluntary-ish behaviour change that brings upon this grey-ness… conscious of it or not, at least in our experience, we are killing something. Something is dying. That part of one’s life or certain beliefs or that part of one’s person. Most likely, some cocktail of all of these things. I would be surprised if most people didn’t do it this way. Thinking about it, now, lets say …5+ years after the fact, it just seems easier to dial that shit down if some part of you allows certain things to “die” and accepts the fact. And long after one feels a bit physically in a different place, there exists this period of mourning for that thing that one consciously still has no clue one has killed.

I mean, that’s how death (however, metaphorical) works, I think, no? However it does work, apparently, no one ever really gets over a death of something they believed in so whole-heartedly & loved. This sounds trivial but I loved meth. I suppose I can’t say it that way because I still love meth. The fact that I haven’t done it in forever doesn’t change the fact. The fact that I was able to dial it down to a semi-sustainable level and ‘forgot’ about it in a visceral manner doesn’t change the fact, either.

Nothing does.

I guess on some level, I knew this. And so, the object was to forget. With the increasing passage of time, this sort of thing becomes easier and easier until it becomes more of a cognitive thing. The fact that you know that you love meth. The fact that you were a hardcore meth user. But the drug has been removed from any sort of visceral feeling.

Until that is some random late late show host reminds one of the visceral.

Its strange, this was the first time, possibly ever, that I felt the visceral excitement of being an addict since I’ve stopped the drug. I felt like one of those people in cocaine studies that are shown pictures of paraphernalia as their dopaminergic centers or where ever light up in their brain as if they were high.

This is where it gets a bit messy. This pseudo-high (as pseudo as it may be) is a pleasurable feeling. And all of these things that I thought that I killed (that haven’t been felt for years) come flooding back in a lovely saturated sweet tangerine segment burst in your mouth.

And it has nothing to do with being afraid of becoming a junkie again or anything. I have absolutely no fear of that happening. Its just… with this reminder comes this anticlimactic notion of, “so, here we are”.

Here we are, because, really, where can we be but here? But what is ‘here’?

In addition, it reaffirms the notion that you are different… not normal. And only certain people will be able to understand this part of you. This is no longer catastrophic as you’ve been able to detach meth and meth-life and needles from your personality. You’ve been able to detach the degree of passion and positiveness and importance as it applies to you, inherently.

I suppose this may be a good thing. Well, neither specifically good nor bad. Rather time’s affect on objective introspection?

And so it goes.

-just another extremely sloppily written post from the folks at 23rd Street

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Using Psychedelics When Facing Death

Using Psychedelics When Facing Death (NY Times)

Overthinking and Your Child-Like Mind

Holy shit, Lifehacker!

I only read the beginning and end of the article… but like “yeah!”…(I think). Also, I’m a bit buzzed.

Overthinking and Your Child-Like Mind

Faster, Faster

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.

WARNING!!! This is a stupid, desperate and sell-out post. (Not that there was anyone to sell-out to). Don’t read it… really. It was really only my version of “maybe I can write still”. …and, well, the court is still out on that one. But if this were your evidence… the blog would be condemned, boxed and stored somewhere in some part of some imaginary “Writer Crimes Unit” where it would gather dust until it was burned. 

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.


we are on it: YaY!

I miss LA [aka culture and where are my pills, NY?]

Where are my fuckin' Pills, NY?!

Where are my fuckin' Pills, NY?!

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.

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stupid SOPA & retarded PIPA

The folks at 23rd Street would never be considered activists… ever. Yes, illicit drug usage and fighting for whatever rights for whatever people have oftentime gone hand-in-hand throughout illicit drug usage’s entire existence. We like things like rights and have, of course, felt persecuted in the past for reasons that we cannot remember now.

The thing is… there is always a way around things. That being said, all this acute Anti-Piracy/IP Address bill bullshit, is in fact harshing my gig. And, in that manner, I suppose, we are all free speech and not being the next China or whatever. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you apparently don’t own a computer. Anyway, maybe people are over-reacting whatever blahblahblah, but the prospects are really kind of grand (the bad connotation of ‘grand’).

Whatever. First the ADD drugs and now my interweb?

To be safe (and this is that sort of fear that can and will be created)… most multi-media on 23rd has been ‘disabled’ for the time being. Now, normally, we are not ‘safe people’ at 23rd, but we thought that we’d like stick this in our pipe and smoke it for a beat.

We apologize for our temporary paranoia. Hey watch this, though… its kinda awesome:

the oatmeal

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Quote of the Day?

“…I close now with the words of Winston Churchill (probably the greatest drinker of all time): ‘I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me.” -Alton Brown; Iron Chef America

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The Day Dead Phil Saved My Life

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.

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