Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Strippers and Acid 9: The Suite

The most wonderful thing about the human brain is how well it performs complex tasks without the constant oversight of the higher brain. This is never more evident than when you're all fucked up on acid. In my case, I don't think I ever would have gotten out of the car and into the hotel had I not been distracted by something shiny and just allowed my body to go through the motions of getting where we needed to be.

There's a delicate line to be drawn there, boys and girls, most especially when you're out in public. Too passive and you revert to "movie mode," a way of thinking where you become disconnected from the events around you, which can be a very dangerous thing, for obvious reasons. Too intense in your investigation of your current environment will result, at the very least, in some unwanted attention from people (and believe me, your fragile sense of reality WILL NOT stand up to close scrutiny by security guards, parents, or police). Ironically, one of the best parts about LSD will be your undoing there--any object or feature in your field of vision will become an infinite array interesting OTHER, component interesting things, not unlike a fractal image (although fractals are generally copies of one another, whereas there's no telling what you'll think of the component parts of, say, your friend's face). And shortly after you become bored with deconstructing the mirror in the hallway (not your image, just the shape and texture of the object), you'll realize that the mirror in its entirety is only a tiny component of your house, and your mind will reel out into space, stopping just long enough at various points for you to visualize just how everything fits together to make a perfect whole.

Or maybe you'll realize it isn't a mirror at all, but an elevator door, and Keith has been making increasingly urgent noises for you to just get inside already.

After what seemed an eternity wandering around the hotel looking for the specific suite, we located room 420, and Keith slipped the keycard through the lock. Against all odds, we had found me a place to be quiet and not worry.

Or at least, not worry about what was going on around me.

See, kids, there's a downside to drug abuse, and especially massive quantities of drugs like hallucinogens and ecstasy (and even, it's true, cocaine): after chronic use, like, over a period of months, your brain starts to get soft and reality doesn't snap back to quite the form it used to. You'll get paranoid (the darkened staircase in my old apartment is a worthy story for that one, remind me), and neurotic. Cocaine's the quickest about this (especially the neuroses), but goes away the fastest. Ecstasy, especially monster ecstasy binges that go for multiple days, will have longer-term effects. LSD's most insidious, and the effects last for a lot longer. Like, uh, a couple of years.

But you're able to function. It just...well, it just coarsens the "reality filter," I guess. And that's all well and good when you're working on a painting or writing a poem or even working on a particularly knotty differential equation...but it can be disastrous if you've been filtering out something like chronic depression or anxiety.

All this is the result of a biochemistry change in your body--basically you're depleting your serotonin level, which is pretty easy to rebuild by eating certain foods, or, you know, laying off the shit for a while. But when you keep these enzymes/hormones depleted (check out Erowid for a more accurate explanation of what goes on--I just eat the stuff, man), over time you get some pretty weird thoughts runnin' around the old' cabeza.

This is all deep background info that's going to keep you from thinking I really AM crazy when I tell you that when I was originally told the suite was on the top floor and had a balcony (in fact, had access to a POOL on the roof), my first thought was how impulsive "jumpers" are. People who survive suicide attempts often say they felt completely normal fifteen minutes before the incident, but felt a strange (and very strong) compulsion to do themselves in, in a relatively short span of time. And while I didn't WANT to die, there was something slightly hypnotic about the pool-level railing I was visualizing in my mind. And this was all before I took the acid.

So I had plans to stay way the hell away from every situation like that. And by the time we actually arrived at the door, I'd forgotten all about it (to the point of walking on the interior-courtyard side on the way to the room).

Furthermore, upon opening the door, it appeared my biggest problem was going to be claustrophobia. The suite was tiny.

The front room looked like a waiting room. No wall was big enough for anything bigger than a chair, because there was a lamp standing on a tiny writing desk in one corner. Two Reebok hitop feet were kicked up on the desk, attached, I eventually found, to the rather sullen looking wrestler kid who'd poured the laced champagne earlier. He seemed even bigger than last time, possibly because the room was so small. Another one of the "older" kids was there, digging in that same beat up blue cooler for Original Coors and Bud Light escapees. Big Boy stared at me.

"Where you been," he asked.

"Dunno," I replied (quite honestly, I might add). "Where's our bachelor?"

"Inna next room. You see those strippers out there anywhere? You were all cuddly with 'em earlier."

"They'll be along, I guess. The blonde one was all fucked up."

I walked, suddenly lighthearted at the thought of Nadine, down the hallway, which was barely long enough to warrant the name. Even my attenuated visual perspective couldn't hide the fact that this whole "suite" concept was a shell game played by the hotel on unsuspecting, out of town guests. Or kids with bachelor parties.

The bachelor, as you might expect, was snoring on the bed, with one foot on the floor and his shirt untucked. The room lights were dim, but I was pleased to see no evidence of a pool. I checked to make sure ol' boy's head was to the side, and slid myself into the bathroom, which was the size of something you'd expect on a sailboat, or maybe in an RV. Avoiding looking in the mirror, or at my penis, I took a leak, then headed back out into the "living room." Ignoring the look of hatred on the face of Big Boy, I grabbed what felt like the coldest beer out of the cooler, and tried not to fall into the emergency chain on the front door.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Jefe Gets Bombed (A Retrospective)

Here's the link to last year's April 19th anti-media screed. Don't get your hopes up--I always get hacked off at media coverage of this event, and I haven't had time to go back and edit.

Like I said over on SITD, I'll probably go back in and do another post, describing actually seeing the building, but for now, this might be worth your time.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Stripper and Acid 8: No, Really, The Cellphone

My head turned when I felt someone touch me, and it took me a second to realize I was being held on to by an extremely short person. I looked down, and was promptly knocked flying back into my own brain.

Several years previously, I’d spent a lot of time in some pretty low-class strip clubs. I was mainly looking for a place where I could drink beer and play pool, but naked chicks didn’t really hurt my feelings either. The whole sorry saga of the Midway is for another time, but for now I’ll give you enough background to visualize my situation.

The Midway was painted black. The entire interior was painted black, and any scrapes that might have chipped away enough paint to show something else were so laminated with nicotine and tar that it didn’t really matter anyway. The stage was a pretty normal setup, a sort of square with a runway, about halfway down which stood the a brass pole, worn down to steel in a couple of places from decades of breasts and sweaty palms. The only light in the whole place was from beer signs, the light over the pool table, and some ropelight strung around the stage, as well as a couple of small lights over the beer coolers. The floor used to be carpet, but had devolved into a hardpack of cigarette ash, gum, old beer, and dirt.

The girls were a friendly mix of ladies who benefited from the low light level. There was only one or two who didn’t have some sort of unattractive feature about her, somewhere, which precluded her from going someplace more upscale. Some liked the freedom to do completely nude dancing in a small room in the back, some were downright prostitutes (it was whispered), and many, many more had fat asses, no breasts, or no teeth. Or some combination thereof.

It was sort of a local’s topless bar. You saw the same guys in there after their shift was over, and when a girl went missing everyone asked about her. Since I wasn’t there to ogle the women, I spent my time in the back playing pool (I suck) and drinking beer, mostly with Jim. We had a lot of fun.

But there was one specific stripper who got under my skin like you wouldn’t believe. She was old, and squatty, and had a loud raspy voice. She had a weird sixties sort of hairstyle, which might have been a wig, and smoked menthol cigarettes and never seemed to get the hint that I wasn’t interested in giving her a dollar. She bugged me.

Until one day, a couple of months after I’d started going there, she came up and asked how I was doing. I glanced at her impatiently, and said “fine, how are you?” more out of habit than anything else. I went back to my beer, and she sat down on the barstool next to me. “Oh, itchy,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me go back up on stage until I shaved the Punisher.”

Beer came out my nose. I bought her a wine cooler, and from that point on we were friends. She let up on the money patter, and I’d buy her a drink whenever I could. It was a good arrangement, even if I never learned her name. She was simply The Punisher.

Flash forward four years, to a club of a different sort, and a boy completely loaded on hallucinogens. As you may have guessed, the Punisher had my arm in her gripper, and was smiling coquettishly.

Her face was pale, and had a vampiric aggressiveness I couldn’t recall seeing before. Her hair was jet black. She had on enough makeup that I didn’t recognize her at first, although after a second or two the hair gave it away. Instead of the ridiculously outdated go-go outfit she always wore at the Midway, she had on some slinky thing that probably didn’t go out of style til the early 80’s, and it was apparent to me she was On The Hunt. I feared for my life, but I was transfixed—after all this time, was the Punisher going to take what she wanted? Would I survive?

I took a big gulp of my drink and got ready to run. She twitched my arm again, smiled lasciviously, and nodded at a kid of about 25, standing a few feet away and eyeing me in a rather aggressive fashion. “Isn’t he cute?” she mouthed, and glided off into the crowd, followed by the boy. She turned and winked at me, as they were walking out of the club.

The possibilities of the situation confused me. It happened so fast, I had no time to understand any of it, and like most genuinely bizarre LSD happenings, after a few minutes I wondered if it had even happened at all.

As I came back out of my brain, or became more aware of my surroundings, I heard someone crying, and against my better judgement turned to investigate. It was Shanna, with a couple of the bachelor boys, and Nadine. Shanna was rubbing her knee and practically howling, while Nadine attempted to calm her down and the boys grinned stupid grins and gripped their beercans with big hamfists. They seemed piglike, in a way. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a craving for bacon.

“Stop that,” I thought, “it’s this fucking drug! Pay attention!”

I carefully approached the two girls. Shanna began screaming as I approached, trying to wrest her arm away from poor Nadine. The latter looked at me apologetically. The former was screaming about how she was tripping, and how she’d fallen down some stairs and hurt herself, and how she was going to die. Nadine cupped her hand near my ear and whispered “she’s drunk. I’ve called her sister to come get her.”

I could see my chances of taking this pill slipping away, almost tangibly, until she said “but I’ll be staying. Do you still want to do that with me?” My madly galloping heart leaped. They wandered towards the front door, and I athe bachelor approached me.

“Jefe!” he slurred at me, squinting blearily up at me, “where’za limo?”

“Dunno,” I said, “why are you all wet?”

“Pourin’ down rain, man, it’s horrible! Limo’s gone!”

Raining? Jim was walking home in a rainstorm? Serves the bastard right, I thought. But I was still stuck here with no way to get home, and my façade of sanity was crumbling as the crowd began to thicken.

“Where’s the limo,” I asked, rather stupidly.

Bachelor shrugged and said “dunno. Prob’ly at hotel. Take this. Only two. I want you to have it.”

It was a room key for the suite. Any possibility that I could just wander off into the night was finally shot down when I accepted it.

“Where’s the fucking hotel?!” I shouted at him, but he was gone. I looked around—no one else to be found, just a sea of mouths and baseball caps and class rings.


I made a quick tour of the place, and couldn’t find anyone. I made another, slower, tour, and realized it was hopeless. All the faces I’d seen looked familiar, it seemed, because I’d just seen them a few minutes before. I was stuck. And tripping so hard I couldn’t even think about approaching a stranger. I began to make a mental map on how to walk home.

I ordered a drink, and found I couldn’t pay for it. The bartender didn’t ask, so I wandered back to my remote corner and seriously pondered my situation. None of it seemed good. I knew I could walk home tripping on acid, even in the rain—it might have been a pleasant walk, for part of it, but the matter of the room key, not to mention the matter of the MDMA and sexual tension with Nadine, was an almost physical handicap for me. I was stumped.

It took me some time to realize someone was shouting my name. It was a man’s voice, which meant it wasn’t anyone I knew or, in fact, was looking forward to talking to. Probably wanting more acid, or maybe it was a cop. I turned, beaten…

And saw, in a veritable halo of golden saviordom, my good friend Kevin.

“Hey, where’s the party?!”

“Uh, I don’t know, man, I think I’ve been left here. I’m really confused.”

“Yeah, you look it. One of those guys over there pointed you out, told me to take you to the Concord, room 423. You got any more of that acid?”

“Nope, Jim’s got it, I think.”

“Where’s Jim?”

“Somewhere between here and my house, tripping his nuts off.”

“Wow. He’s walking home?”

“Yup. Listen, can you buy me a drink? I need to sit down.”

Fifteen minutes later, we were in his car, headed towards the biggest hotel on the horizon. Something had been bugging me, and I hadn’t been able to pin it down. Finally, though, the bugs in my brain had calmed enough for me to ask him:

“How did you find me, man?”

“What? Oh, you called me on your cellphone.”

Jesus. Too much, I thought. I began to fantasize about going home, digging a hole, and burying myself in it. This is getting out of hand.

We pulled up to the hotel, and began the long process of getting me out of the car.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Instead of another Strippers and Acid installment, here's my favorite pirate joke:

A pirate walks into a bar, with a ship's steering wheel tied to his penis.

"Yarrr, barkeep! Give me some grog," scowls the pirate.

The bartender slides a cup of grog in front of the pirate, and says "hey, do you know you've got a ship's steering wheel tied to your penis?"

"Arrr, matey," says the pirate sadly. "It's drivin' me nuts!"

Look, kids, in Jefeland, a day without pirates is a day without sunshine. Trust me--stand up, step outside your cubicle, squinch up one eye and affix your nearest coworker with a livid glare. If you're really into it, stiffen up one knee and approach them with a limp--but in any case, it doesn't count as pirate horseplay unless you give it a good loud "ARRRR!"

"Matey" is still considered optional.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Stripper and Acid 7: The Cellphone Proves Its Worth

I never learned the name of the truly awful all-ages club at which we landed, but I'd let you take an icepick to my scrotum before I'd go back there.

By the time we hit the spot, I had Shanna pretty well calmed down. I pointed out that there's NO WAY she got enough acid to actually die, if that ever happened, which it doesn't. Speaking softly and frequently also helps to calm folks down, and I had every motivation in the world to keep her calm. The inhabitants of this particular limousine were assholish primates to a man, so I knew they'd drop a dime on me in a second, if it came down to handcuffs or state's evidence. Jim was a close friend, but he was falling down the same hole I was, so he would have been no help at all. And Nadine...ah, who could say? Our love had blossomed improbably over the course of the preceding hour and a half, communicated through stolen glances and surreptitious touches, and a better-than-natural probability of sitting next to each other. But could I count on her? Did she include me with the unibrow wrestling squad, who got her girlfriend all fucked up? Did she see, as I did, that Shanna was a squeaker?

I couldn't say, but as we entered the club I had no time for further ruminations--I had to keep cool.

I'll save a lot of time by avoiding description of the club, and what it feels like to be in the middle of something like this on 15 hits of LSD. Go watch "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." The majority of the movie is Gilliam's best effort to film the subtle (and not so subtle) changes acid makes to your perception. So just go get it, pop it in, and at least watch the lizard lounge scene. Imagine trying to be cool during all this, with absolutely no assistance from anyone at all.

Jim had instantly disappeared into the crowd by the bar, doing his best to beat back Thompson's leech, which was by this time moving pretty steadily up both our spines. The mullet boys had disappeared, or spread out, looking for cheap crank or someone's sister. Shanna and Nadine had found some other boys, who looked me over pretty hard every time I came close. I couldn't tell what was being said, but I tried to find a dark corner and fall into it.

The darkest corner was, in fact, not very dark at all. It was also pretty full of people doing things I couldn't understand, speaking languages that were also incomprehensible. I began to get The Fear.

Then, miracle #1: Jim showed up with a plastic cup full of gin and a can of Miller Genuine Draft, shoved them into my hands and struggled back towards the bar.

Miracle #2, about 2 minutes later: Nadine's face swimming up to me out of the flashing, breathing crowd, asking if I was OK and making sure I wouldn't leave without her. I smiled what I hoped was an encouraging, happy, nonthreatening smile and nodded my head. She was gone before I could unjack my jaw enough to get words out.

"Good Christ," I thought at one point, "this is probably the most fucked up I've ever been in a public place. Can they tell?"

Thankfully, nobody was paying the slightest bit of attention to me. The only way I could tell people even knew I was there was an open space around me, where none seemed to exist around any of the other patrons. For this, I felt grateful.

Then the bottom dropped out:

Anti-miracle #1: Jim grabbed me from behind, shoved his sweaty face into mine and shouted "I'm leaving! I can't handle this, man!"

"What?" I hollered back, "you don't have a car here!"

"Fuck it," he said, and shoved another set of drinks into my hand, "I'll walk!"

And then he was gone. "Screw it," I thought, "I'm staying close to my Nadine, and watching the bubbles in this here gin and tonic."

Which I managed to do for about 1000 years, when I felt the strange hand of Anti-miracle #2 tugging at my elbow.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Strippers and Acid 6: An Aside

I think it's important to give you guys some background on my feelings on LSD. Those of you who've read Sketchy Bill or Burning Man 19: Butterfly Girls probably have had your fill of this, but for the new people among you, here you go:

Taking LSD is one of the most intense experiences you're liable to have in your life, unless you wake up every morning and BASE jump into your cigarette boat to get to work for the CIA. It permanently changes the way you look at the world, and for me and the majority of my friends that change has been for the better.

But again, it's very, very intense, and it should always be used with great care in very controlled situations. Unless you're just nuts, like me, in which case you find ways to challenge your mental strength of will by doing deliberately crazy stuff like going to the mall to play hacky sack with cops. Or Jim, who gobbled a bunch before getting on a plane to Dallas several years ago. Now, that doesn't sound TOO difficult, until you think about being strapped into a seat (a window seat, at that) in a cigar tube full of complete strangers, feeling every vibration and bump along the way. And the takeoff g's would probably cause my head to implode.

So it's not for everybody, and I've heard it can cause real and permanent damage to people's psyches. Thus, giving LSD to a rational, aware person is a little risky. Giving it to someone who doesn't KNOW they've been dosed: that's downright criminal.

Let me clarify this: I've never, ever slipped anyone any sort of drug without their full and complete knowledge and consent. People that do this run the risk of causing problems for the dosee, compounded with the weird shit that person's liable to do before he or she realizes that it's just a drug. Think about it--what would YOU do if, on a normal Saturday afternoon, trees began to sparkle and blinds began to breathe like fish gills? Or, hey, what if you were DRIVING? Wow, that's too cool! Billy Ray's gonna be so fucked up!

Assholes. Complete and utter fucktards. To do this to a young woman who obviously wasn't quite right in the head to begin with is truly reprehensible.

And to make matters worse, I was apparently the only person around who had any experience dealing in bad trips, or with people who were freaked out. Most of the boys didn't seem to care one way or the other, and Jim's a little do much good.

Even better, the acid couldn't have been in the champagne for more than 3 or 4 minutes--for chrissake, the paper wasn't even soaked yet. I have a hard time believing that this girl got enough acid in the one or two sips she no doubt took before she saw the paper floating around in her glass to make a difference, except in her mind. Perhaps she'd had a bad trip before. Perhaps she'd heard about bad trips. Whatever the case, she was completely geebered out and quite sure she was going to die, which, thankfully, is something I have some experience dealing with (not dying, obviously, but THINKING I'm going to die). The bad news is that getting over that generally requires a quiet place with one person's undivided attention, which isn't exactly where we were going. All I could hope for was convincing the other morons to go inside the club and leave me alone with her, so she didn't march right to the first payphone and finger me as a big drug dealer. Maybe, if we hurried, I could get her calmed down before the other ten hits of acid met up with the first five and started making balloon animals with my visual cortex. It was going to be close.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Strippers and Acid 5: The Dose

The boys and Jim divvied up the acid in the living room, cutting it into tenstrips (that is, 10 dose strips of paper), and then subdividing one of the strips so they could get a more reasonable dose. Jim and I split a tenstrip as we were walking out the door.

I remember that it was almost dark, and warm for that early in the year, when Nadine's hand caught my elbow. We walked alone for a second, and on impulse I asked her if she'd like to share a hit of MDMA with me. She said "yes, but not now. We're still working now." I nodded, and felt the little cellophane wrapper in my front pocket. Then we were back in the maelstrom that was the limousine.

The boys were badgering Shanna to take some acid. She didn't want any part of it, and already had the sort of walleyed look of someone who's just realizing what she's gotten herself into. She practically jumped on my lap when Nadine and I climbed in, and I spent the next few minutes trying not to listen to her and Nadine whisper about whether it was "safe."

Now, this is exactly why I'd never get in a limo with a bunch of bachelor party goons, if I was a hot girl. I mean, I've never seen anything bad actually happen (sexual assault-wise), but it's GOT to happen pretty frequently.

I asked where we were going, and I was told to the rooftop hotel suite at some joint just off I40. But first, we had to pick up our "under 21" contingent at some sort of all ages club around the corner.

This was bad for a lot of reasons: first, it gave Nadine a chance to slip away from me (which was certainly her prerogative, and given Shanna's only slightly subsided panic over the acid, fairly likely); second, I was on a pretty good dose of LSD, and as I've said before, it's bad to take a big dose with strangers, especially in a public place; finally, it's an underage club, and it was a place I'd never heard of, so it was probably going to suck.

I was engaged in some subtle leg- and arm- maneuvering with Nadine (which might have been the early effects of the acid, but I prefer to think not) when Shanna started to screech:


That's when things went into bullet time. She was sitting beside me, and as I tried to switch focus from Nadine's thigh to Shanna's screaming, I noticed she (Shanna) had a champagne glass in one hand. The other held a small strip of paper, still standing straight up. It was a 10 strip of acid. She started to roll down the window, cursing up a storm in the hysterical manner of someone who has finally lost it.

I had to act quickly, and when I did, I acted out of habit. I reached out and stuffed the whole tenstrip in my mouth, then quickly chased it with the contents of her glass.