Archives For heroin

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The first thing I did was Google what heroin stamp it was that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I wanted to know. Not that I would recognize the name. The names are relevant to 2014, not 1994. “Obamacare,” “Call of Duty,” “Hangover Part 2.”

Heroin stamps are used by drug distribution crews to mark products. Each stamp represents a different quality of heroin; a different strain, a different high.

heroin_stamps

In case any of you are interested in heroin stamps

 

It was Ace of Hearts and Ace of Spades.

Next, I went online to the heroin community threads to see what the reviews were of these stamps. There are many sites devoted to the detailed analysis of every stamp existing, with rating systems like these:

City or state stamp was copped in:
Stamp name:
Stamp Color:
Stamp Graphic (if any):
Color and Consistency/texture of Product:
Quality/neatness of stamp and packaging:
Quantity of Product (1-10 scale):
Quality of Product (1-10 scale):
ROA: IV, intranasal/sniffed, smoked, etc.
Other comments (duration of high, any weird effects, is this a new batch of the same stamp, anything unusual about the dope, etc):

For the record:

I KNOW THESE THINGS BECAUSE I’M AN INFORMATION JUNKIE,

NOT A HEROIN JUNKIE.

I read about EVERYTHING.

There’s even a chick who has an entire blog devoted to analyzing stamp quality. I was just about to link it, but somehow, I just didn’t think that was a good idea.

I’m angry because the smack that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman, for several weeks now, has been flagged for containing a lethal mixture of heroin laced with fentanyl.

If he’d even been remotely aware of that, he’d be alive today, and three children would still have a father.

 

 

TOASTERS

true_west_cov

 

I’ve been an avid theater goer for as many years as I can remember. I was especially invested in seeing theater the years I lived in New York, and was a bartender and cocktail waitress in after hour clubs. an aspiring actress. I’ve seen hundreds of plays.

And Philip Seymour Hoffman gave me, perhaps, one of the most thrilling nights of theater I’ve ever witnessed. Top three, I would say.

In 2000, he starred in “True West,” written by iconic American playwright Sam Shepard.
It’s a raw and darkly comic story of two brothers who engage in a ferocious onstage battle of sibling rivalry.

And, because it’s family, no one wins.

What made this play something that had never been done before – was that these two actors had decided that on any given night – they would SWITCH ROLES.

This might not seem like a big deal. It was, in fact, groundbreaking.

As an actor, in order to be really good, you have to live and breathe a character.

You have to get inside his skin and embody his every thought, dream and desire, so by the time you get on that stage, there is not one false note.

There’s no room for a false note. There’s no director yelling, “Cut!” so you can try it again.

It’s LIVE. You’d better have it right. Otherwise, you just sound like you’re speaking empty words.

I know this because I have given mediocre performances that sounded like I was just talking. But every so often, the magic kicked in, and I gave a spectacular performance.

I breathed life into a character – and the audience breathed with me. It’s palpable. You know you’ve got it right, because your energy and theirs hum along together on an electric current that fuels you to greatness.

Just their faces on the Playbill cover made me want to see this

Just their faces on the Playbill cover made me want to see this

 

The characters in True West are as diametrically opposed as two characters can possible be. And the idea that the two actors – Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly – could actually do either role on any given night – was nothing short of SPECTACULAR.

It BLEW ME AWAY. It both inspired me as and actress – and, I’ll admit – completely humbled me.

Philip Seymour Hoffman OWNED that stage from the second he walked onto it.

And in my heart of hearts, I knew I would never, ever, ever be that good.

The play is always associated with toasters. Many, many toasters.

Austin, the younger brother (who was played by Hoffman the night I saw it) starts out as the hardworking, straight-laced younger brother.

By the second act, he has traded personalities with his thieving older brother, and has robbed the entire neighborhood of their toasters.

Shepard’s use of Austin’s complete and total satisfaction with his stolen toasters is the literal negation of the American Dream as defined in modern life.

He experiences WINNING – because he’s successful as a toaster thief.

Philip Seymour Hoffman went on to grace the Broadway stage with performances that were second to none. He was special to us – to New Yorkers. He graduated from NYU with a degree in theater. He lived here, right in the Village. Raised his children here.

He belonged to us.

And the night he died, the lights on Broadway were a little less bright.

true west stolen toasters

Do they even make toasters like this anymore?

 

 

 

 

Many of you are probably familiar with the movie “Almost Famous.”

almost famous

GREAT sunglasses

 

It came out the same year I saw True West.  it’s a coming of age film that follows a starry-eyed teenage rock writer on the road with one of the nation’s biggest up-and-coming bands.

It’s a beautifully written story of rock and roll, love, and of our own limitations.

The film has beautifully nuanced performances, and some unforgettable moments.

zooey01

“One day, you’ll be cool. Look under your bed. It will set you free.”

 

For me- unequivocably? It was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of the late, great rock journalist Lester Bangs.

Lester Bangs wasn’t just a rock journalist – he was THE rock journalist.

There has never been a rock writer like him before, or since.

He was demonic, passionate, hilarious, irreverent cough-syrup fueled madman, who lived the rock and roll life while writing about it – and tragically, died a rock and roll death of a drug overdose, at 33.

I grew up in a music-dominated household. My older brothers all read Creem Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice.

And, because I was a nerd, I read all the magazines that were laying around the house. By the time I was my son’s age, I was reading (although not at all understanding) Lester Bang’s music reviews.

When I was older, long after Bangs was dead, I fully appreciated who he was. He didn’t just write about rock music.

He lived it, celebrating its excesses, drawing energy from the chaos, and matching its passion in prose that erupted from those magazines.

“Music, you know, true music, not just rock and roll, it chooses you, it lives in your car, or alone listening to your headphones with vast scenic bridges or angelic choirs in your brain. It’s a place apart from the vast benign lap of America.”

This is not rock journalism.

This is poetry.

Lester_Bangs

Yes, he was a Freaking Mess.

 

If you watch Lester Bangs on YouTube, you will see that Philip Seymour Hoffman captured the very essence of this man.

Is it any wonder that the best scenes of Almost Famous are the ones in which Hoffman portrays Lester Bangs?

The best line from Almost Famous is an actual quote of Lester Bangs.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

The scene is just beautiful.

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman is gone. His three children have lost a father. The world has lost an amazing actor.

The silver lining in the dark cloud of the death of these two geniuses – is that they left indelible marks, and we get to revisit the genius of their work.

Simultaneously.

 

This is my favorite scene from “Almost Famous.”

 

 

Did you have a reaction to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death? 
Talk to me. I’m listening. 

The Jab of a Needle

December 6, 2013 — 45 Comments

Daily Prompt: The sense of touch brings back memories for us.

needle
The jab of a needle.

I have very small veins. Whenever I have to get blood drawn, the phlebotomist always struggles. 

She sticks me. Once. Twice. Thrice.  She jabs. She misses. It HURTS.

“Your veins are just so tiny…let me try the other arm.”

I grow angry.

LET ME DO THIS.

I’ve done this.  Many times. I know how to tie off. Find my tiny veins.

She looks at me as though I’ve lost my mind. I don’t care.

Your venipuncture skills leave much to be desired. The tourniquet isn’t tight enough.  The needles you chose aren’t small enough.  You’ve not located the vein correctly.

I pull the band around my upper arm tighter, grab the end with my teeth, pull it tight,

Then SLAP SLAP SLAP my above my bicep. HARD.

I’m an expert.

So judge me, professional amateur. You could never judge me as harshly as I’ve judged myself.

That Jab of A Needle.

Whenever I feel it, I am reminded.

It feels like…

I’m  kissing God

The Christmas fireplace with the whole family I never had.

The most magnificent church bells ringing in my soul.

My brain is being massaged by Kafka and Burroughs.

The warm golden sunshine of a perfect life.

All pain melts away and I float on pure bliss.

And once the nod passes, the energy kicks in.

I could outrun a marathon runner.

Discuss literature, politics, extensively.  Especially a good conspiracy theory.

Make my house sparkle.

Listen to Lou Reed. Become Lou Reed. Have a “Perfect Day.”

Feel everything times one hundred. His touch is the touch of a king. I have no inhibitions; my body and mind open like a flower to him. And it goes on forever, because there is no orgasm. It never happens.

I write. I am Bukowski.

I write magnificently:

“Prosper been and planes there had never been and planes to prote words in there skywriting Seing as I’m not b=vrabby, and dontfolw a grop, I;ll g wite lskmudging wy the afafe thosjoje wuf u jt sj ja aflflowed there had never and there skywriting flowed the car, fulls car, fulls car, fulls car, trailing
It was him. One corner.”

It’s not just the jab of a needle.

Every day, at the gym, when I fasten the neoprene sports armband on to listen to music,

tighten it, pull the strap through and fasten the Velcro

I am tying off a vein.

Every day. The feel of a band around my upper arm.

I remember.

 

Talk to me.  I’m listening. 

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lolla-lighter

It was over 100 degrees the day the air conditioning crapped out on our tour bus. Mid August, somewhere between West Virginia and North Carolina.

20 narcissistic, insecure writers trapped on a scorching hot bus. We drank to block out the oppressive heat. We were off the next day, so we showed no restraint. Not that we ever showed the slenderest thread of restraint.

We were on a rock tour. It was the 90’s. We were in our 20’s. Do the math.

 

In the mid-90’s, spoken word poetry was HOT. The in-your-face nature of it, attacking gender, racial and economic social inequity, was perfect for that time. Which is why Perry Farrell decided to add a Third Stage to Lollapalooza for spoken word.

Slam Poetry

Slam Poetry is spoken word on steroids. A brutal poetry competition where judges quantify your talent with numbers on cardboard signs.

The New York City slam venue was merciless. A take-no-prisoners gladiator arena. You were heckled the minute you stepped on stage. If you were going to be heard, you’d better be good.

I was.

Skinny little white girl with a Big, Fat Mouth, winning slam after slam after slam. Landing me a highly coveted spot on that sweat-drenched tour bus.

 

The 1994 lineup was stellar. Nirvana. Green Day. Beastie Boys. George Clinton & the Parliament Funk All-Stars. Cypress Hill. Tribe Called Quest.

In April, Kurt Cobain put a shotgun to his head, and Nirvana was replaced by The Smashing Pumpkins.

A massive let down.

Even worse  – Courtney Love was on the tour, hooking up with Billy Corgan from the Pumpkins. Kurt’s body wasn’t even cold yet. I could understand a grieving widow craving physical solace, but that skanky clunge was fucking the guy who replaced her husband as the headliner.

I wasn’t the only one who disapproved. Those two would walk into the catering tent and people would actually start booing, and throwing shit. I saw Courtney Love pick banana out of her bleached blonde mane like nothing happened and just keep on talking.

That was the thing about Lollapalooza. Everyone ate together, was back stage together, whether you were a rock star, roadie, or poet.

Tequila at Twelve

We opened the Third Stage at the crack of noon, blasting War’s “Low Rider.” I got things going, dancing onstage in my signature daisy dukes/combat boots.

By 12:30, I was pouring bottom shelf tequila into the mouths of teenage babes from the jug I kept behind the sound booth. Underage, shmunderage. These kids had been tailgating all night and were rat-ass shnockered at 8 am.

We performed several sets of poetry a day. Our teen audience was enraptured by the spoken word scene. They stalked us between sets, asking for autographs. It was heady stuff, all this slavish devotion.

 

The downside was, we were being sponsored by MTV, and were expected to run moronic crowd participation skits, like “The Dating Game” and “Oprahpalooza”. As a mondo fuck-you to MTV, we decided to jack up the skits.

Girl-on-Girl Porn

I ran the Dating Game.

I’d pick an extremely hot, extremely intoxicated Lolita to be the “Bachelorette” on stage, along with three guys. Halfway in, I’d yell, “Forget these losers! Pick ME!

And then I’d start making out with her. I always had an eye to pick the ones who would just love it. We’d end up rolling around on the stage, grinding, tongue kissing and groping each other while the audience went completely bat shit crazy.

It became a standing room only, hot ticket item on Lolla ’94. Two weeks in, and the word on the tour was that there was live girl-on-girl porn on the Third Stage at 4:00.

Thank God there were no responsible adults around.

 

Rock Stars and Poets and Bears, Oh My

Many musicians are really poets at heart. Eventually, most of them came to the Third Stage to size us up. They liked what they heard, and as the tour wore on, we often collaborated. A horn player from P. Funk and I became close. He accompanied some of my poems.

The dark, rich sounds of his trumpet resonated and brought my poetry alive. As his music wove around my words, the audience could feel not only the story in my poetry, but the one of my growing relationship with this man. Those seductive, sunlit, late afternoon renditions of my spoken word, fueled with cheap tequila and extravagant passion, were the pinnacle of my performing career. Never to be rivaled again.

For many, for most, it was the summer of love.

 

Okay. It was a total fuck fest.

On tour, everyone’s single. You never knew which musician would wake up on our bus, crawling out of the coffin-like sleep bunks. I’ll never name names. I’m a star-fucker, not a name-dropper.

 

 

Touring was physically grueling. We only checked into hotels if we played a city more than one night. Otherwise, we packed up, and hit the road. No hotels meant no showers. Eating like crap. Nobody slept. We performed, partied, wrote, repeat.

I walked around talking into a hand-held tape recorder constantly. I have the entire experience on tape.

I can’t bear to listen to it.

 

 

 

To create some sort of order from this complete chaos, I followed a routine. We closed up the Third Stage at 6:00 pm. I had to haul ass if I wanted to get to Main Stage in time to worship at the altar of George Clinton and his P.Funk All Stars. Clinton was an icon who dominated my R&B project girl childhood.

♫ Bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah
Bow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah ♫

 

Then, head to the Beasties trailer. They had a basketball court setup outside their trailer so they could play as their pre-show warm up, and my horn player played against them every night. The Beasties were dope white boys from New York, and I was fond of them, but I took a perverse pleasure in watching my horn player stomp their white asses across the court every single night.

After the game, dinner at the catering tent. Find a quiet corner – not always easy – so I could

Write. Write. Write.

Then, load up the bus and drive through the night, or check into a hotel. Stay up till dawn in whichever room, on whatever bus, was happening that night.

If we were in town for the night, then we tore it up. I was told we were completely off the hook in New Orleans. Police were involved.

I have absolutely no memory of it.

 

—-

Returning Hero

I came back to New York victorious.

Interview clips and MTV blips of our performances had been splattered across TV. Everyone returned to their hometowns in hot demand. We had crossed over, melded performance poetry with rock and roll. It was a pivotal time on the writing scene.

I had offers to do articles. Books. I had performances scheduled. My phone rang incessantly. Managers wanted me. Agents wanted me.

Yay, me.

Unfortunately-

I had acquired a bad habit. Without the tour to keep me going, the camaraderie of the other poets, without the whole carnival of lights, sound and music…

and my new-found fame so overwhelming, I could not handle it…

Or knew I couldn’t sustain it?

Something.

I lost myself somewhere along the way.

 

I missed deadlines. Blew off interviews. Showed up late to performances. Or so fucking high on smack, I’d stumble through a shit show and think I was spectacular.

I pulled the phone out of the wall, for days at a time. Heroin makes you antisocial.

People stopped calling.

I faded into obscurity.

Most of the writers I knew from that tour are successful. They write books; are artists-in-residences. Many still tour and perform.

You post videos of them on your blogs. I stumble onto one of those, and I forget to breathe.

I’m happy for their success, but I get sick thinking about what I squandered.

I never discuss it. People who know me today don’t even know it ever happened.

Maybe it didn’t.

 

For the next two decades, I stopped writing. Lightning never strikes the same place twice. The universe gave me my opportunity, and I blew it.

But now, my life has shattered open. Words, like blood from a wound that never healed, are gushing out. I can’t rein them in.

Even though no one will read, I’ll write them anyway. Just for me.

It hurts to write. It scares the fuck out of me to hit “Publish.” I’m afraid nothing will come of it.

I’m terrified that something will come of it.

 

One of my favorite songs I ever saw performed live is “All Apologies,” Nirvana.

“All in all is all we are, all in all is all we are…”

There are worse things then blowing your career after being on a rock tour.

Like blowing your brains out before you even make it on that very same tour.

 

All Apologies – to myself.

I have to forgive myself.

I need to forgive myself.

Please, God. Let me forgive myself.

 

 

Did you ever blow the opportunity of a lifetime?
Talk to me. I’m listening.