Monday, May 27, 2013

My Review of Drinking Mouthwash

 When you spend a lot of time on the streets, you begin to classify bums by the different drugs they use as an easy way to predict their behavior. You, of course, have your languid weed bums and their new sub-group, the K2 bum, who spends all day in a semi-psychotic state talking to himself and starring at the ground. You have your heroin bums who nod off  mid-sentence and you have your crack bums who rage all night and into the early morning hours until they finally hit some kind of critical mass around sunrise and begin to believe the birds are out to get them.

Then you have the old mainstay, the drunken bum who has, by virtue of variety, multiple sub-distinctions. At the top of the tree is the beer bum who is usually somewhat more functional and articulate than his brethren. The whiskey bum is reduced to a semi-human state in which even simple panhandling becomes an insurmountable challenge. Not to be outdone is the MadDog bum, shunned even by his own kind for his uncivilized behavior and brutish countenance. In all cases the drunken bum is a primal being who lives or dies by his integration with his environment. If a bum is skilled you can barely see him as he blends in, chameleon-like, with his surroundings.

If you think there could be no further rung down the ladder than the MadDog bum you are mistaken, because no matter how depraved he may become, he has the comfort of knowing that his drug of choice was, in fact, manufactured for human consumption. Not so the mouthwash bum, who would be shamed by the horrible social stigma his poison incurs if only he was coherent enough to perceive it. Alienated from society, mocked by other bums, the mouthwash bum stands alone as a symbol of how far some people have to go before they finally hit “rock bottom”.

This is the strata that I occupy.

Oh yes, I've drank mouthwash. If you weren't careful I might have drank all of yours when you weren't looking. Before you hone in on the negatives I want to call your attention to some of the benefits of drinking mouthwash:

1: It's legal to carry anywhere. You can bring it in the library if you want to. This is no small consideration to the bums who live under constant threat of citation or arrest for drinking alcohol in public.

2: It's dirt cheep and at 27% alcohol it's a much better value than MadDog., especially if you get the generic brand.

3: You can buy it on Sunday. Have you ever woken up with a bad hangover on Sunday and counted down the minutes of excruciating agony before you could finally buy a drink? Not the mouthwash bum. He just heads to the oral hygiene section.

4: Minty fresh breath.

Now I know what you're saying, “You can't drink mouthwash! It's made with isopropyl alcohol. You'll go blind !” This is a common misconception. Mouthwash is made with Ethanol, it's all the other stuff they put in it to freshen your breath that makes you sick. And make you sick it does, my friends, and deranged beyond all reason.

I went on a mouthwash binge myself not long ago. I like to think of it as an Arthur Rimbaud kind of thing, warping the senses to experience the full the limits of the human experience and true mental freedom. A courageous adventure into the depths of the human soul. Unfortunately, my girlfriend didn't see it that way.

Fun Factor---2 : Does waking up in the morning, shaking so bad you can hardly stand up and stumbling to the pharmacy where the cashier eyes you with open disgust and grudgingly rings you up in awkward silence sound like fun? All alcoholism is ugly but add mouthwash to the equation and you have a phenomenon most people aren’t even prepared to process. As for the high I can only compare it to absinth as it is like the standard alcohol buzz with a little something extra added in. In this case the “little something extra” is Eucalyptol and Methyl Salicylate, both of which are toxic in high doses. I can't say if it was just my imagination, but it seemed like the effect was more disorienting than most alcohol. One thing I can say for sure was that after a few days it started to wreak havoc on my throat and stomach. If you think throwing up tequila is bad try Listerine. I give it two instead of one just because it's always a little bit fun to do something so anti-social, even if one of the side effects is vomiting blood.

Social Stigma---10: People are very sensitive about the whole “drinking their mouthwash” thing. The girl I was seeing at the time just couldn't get over it. Even if I went to the store and bought it with my own money she would harangue me for hours. Hey, I can understand your position, but try to understand mine. If they sold beer on Sunday I would never have even thought to drink mouthwash in the first place. We live in a deeply broken society and I am simply a product of it. The government, with it's acquiescence to the “moral authority” of the Church, made it inevitable that I would end up drinking mouthwash. It was a foregone conclusion. Anyway, that's what I told her but she wouldn't let it go.

Fear Factor---3/10: Much of alcoholism is tied up with the cycle of anxiety and relaxation that is inherent to the alcohol binge. A large part of your consciousness is tied up with how  relaxed you are feeling at the moment and whether or not you should be feeling better than you do. When the booze is at full tilt, you become calm and even-keeled enough to function, albeit in a confused and fool hardy manner. When you are in the middle of a dry spell, like at night or on Sunday morning, the soul crushing anxiety begins to take hold, and soon it is all you can do to keep yourself from shaking wildly. The obvious way to avoid this negative feedback loop is not drinking in the first place, but once it's started, the cycle can be very difficult and even dangerous to stop.

Value of Psychedelic Insights Obtained---0: This one is a toss-up because in some ways the insights you obtain while drinking mouthwash are completely accurate. The problem is that they only pertain to the stupidity of drinking mouthwash and the fragility of human life. You wouldn't need those insights if you didn't drink mouthwash in the first place so they are of limited value. One side effect that's of some interest to the psychedelic warrior is that during the detox phase you experience vivid hallucinations and frighteningly realistic dreams. I can't say I obtained any valuable insights from them but they definitely constituted an “altered state of consciousness”. You will see the pink elephants my friends, and they will not amuse.

Detox---10: Detoxing from alcohol is something everyone from New Orleans experiences at least once in their lives. It's a right of passage akin to catching a Zulu Coconut or sleeping with a teenage runaway from Monroe. As brutal experiences go, few compare to checking yourself into the the ER and telling them you have a four pint a day mouthwash habit. If you're lucky they'll give you some Ativan but some states don't go for that kind of thing and if you don't play your cards right you can end up in the padded room. Detox takes a good week or so and includes several shades of paranoia that you weren't previously aware of. Definitely not worth the menacing hallucinations no matter how realistic they are.

But you didn't need me to tell you that did you? Most people would never consider drinking mouthwash even if I told you it was the best thing since Hindu Kush. And that's a good thing. The chaotic vortex of depravity that is mouthwash is not for the curious observer but only for the experienced aficionado who cannot tolerate the tyranny of the government over his drinking habits and has a hearty tolerance for the disdain of his fellows. Whether or not this disdain is deserved is debatable but you can rest assured that you will not have people lined up to invite you over for dinner. Even if you do it's only a matter of time before they start hiding their Listerine.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Review of Inhaling Scotchgard

When I was growing up, the kids I hung out with didn't care about racial or class boundaries. Rich or poor, white, black or Indian, it didn't matter to us one way or another. We weren’t interested in such trivialities because we were all driven by the same purpose and there was only one question that absorbed each of our minds, “What household chemicals can we get fucked up on?” Some huffed gasoline while others got more exotic and delved into the pool supplies. I knew one kid named Tommy Swallow who got so into huffing paint thinner that his parents sent him away to a brainwashing boot camp. We didn't see him for a long time and when he came back he had a drone mentality and the thousand yard stare. I don't know if it was the boot camp or the paint thinner but something had fucked him up pretty bad.

It was the guitar player of my high school band who turned me on to Scotchgard, which is a stain and water repellent for upholstery. He said it “made you hallucinate better than acid” and told me how to concentrate it into a washcloth and huff in the fumes, “Or if you're hard core you can “mainline” it by putting the rag over your mouth and inhaling the Scotchgard directly.”, using the rag as a kind of filter. I was open to trying any drug in those days. You might say, “How are you any different now?” and the answer is, “Now I look up the pills I find on the internet before I take them.” Back then I would have skipped the research faze and moved right into human testing. I vowed then and there that I would try huffing Scotchgard myself the next time I got the opportunity.

Which happened not long after because Scotchgard is easy to come by and I had fairly lax parents who frequently let me spend whole weekends at my, often much older, friend's houses. Because I could play the drums and owned a drum set I was immediately accepted into a couple of bands with juniors and seniors and even one with actual adults. It was hanging out with these older, much more worldly people that I would learn how to play music, take drugs, have sex and basically do all the things in life that matter. One weekend when I was over at my friend Brian's house, the “adult” who's band I was in, Brian got a call to come into work and I ended up having his place to myself all night. Well, not quite “to myself”. Brian was a pot dealer who had gone to my school and we always had crazy parties at his house with other kids from the school and people from around the neighborhood. Because it got a reputation as a “party house” there was always lots of people coming and going and the neighbors from across the street felt perfectly comfortable coming in without knocking or ringing the bell. It was that night that I would take my first, and last, foray into the alternate reality that is upholstery sealant.

I have now decided to begin reviewing drugs I have taken in the past in addition to those I find on the ground. The fact is I really want to write this review but I don't ever see myself huffing Scotchgard again. Or maybe I will when I'm an old man. I'll save it up as a last blast before I finally succumb to the radiation poisoning.

Degree of Disassociation from Reality--- 10: If you think Salvia sends you to another place you obviously haven't huffed much Scotchgard in your day 'cause, let me tell you, Scotchgard takes “disassociative” to a whole new level. It's like an extended stay compared to a late night fly over. If you've always had something you wanted to say to the inter-dimensional beings and couldn't get it out in the time it took for your toad venom to wear off, Scotchgard will finally give you the chance. I was sitting in a chair “mainlining” the stuff like my guitar player had told me and after a few deep breathes I would no longer be sitting in a chair at my friends house, but traveling through the depths of my subconscious mind. The euphoria was intense. I can't remember now what I saw specifically but only that it was all enveloping, multicolored, and gave the sensation of weightlessness. As always with inhalants there was the vague feeling that something profound was taking place. Then, as I would start to come to, I would become aware of the nauseating chemical taste in my mouth and the greasy rag draped across my face as I lay back in the computer chair as far as it would go, drooling and gibbering like a chimp. I'd say the hypnotic effect was so strong that you could have amputated all of my toes and I wouldn't have noticed until the can went dry.

Ability to Function---3: As you've probably guessed Scotchgard isn't the kind of drug you can do while performing open heart surgery or giving a piano recital. When you're under the influence you are fully incapacitated and completely incapable of logical thought. That night when I was in the middle of a blast, the neighbor from across the street came over to use the phone and, as usual, he walked in without knocking. He might as well have been a visitor from another planet. It was several minutes before I could even tell he was a person, as opposed to a color or a piece of fabric. Later he told me that I was trying to get out of the chair and kept falling over, “You looked happy as a pig in shit though. You was laughing your ass off. What the hell were you on anyway?”
“Water sealant.” I said
“Man, crazy motherfuckin' white people. Water sealant?!?!?! You need some guidance.”
The reason I give it three is that if the burglars come in right when you're between hits you might be able to mount some kind of half-assed defense in your 30 second “window of clarity ” before you brace yourself for another rip.

Value of Psychedelic Insights Obtained--- 5: Like most inhalants Scotchgard knows how to do the song and dance but doesn't deliver the goods in the end. You're euphoria level is so high that it can easily obscure the fact that you've been staring at a door knob for ten minutes contemplating it's intricacies and mythic symbolism. Inhalants are great for people who want to be entertained but not very useful if you want to expand the bounds of your consciousness, because they will make you think every idea you have is profound thus obscuring your ability to make objective value judgments. The reason I give it a five is that the immersion of the experience is so great while at the same time being benign so it could conceivably give a neophyte psychedelic warrior some insight into what kinds of mental states are attainable while not overwhelming them with brutal objective realities. Kind of a like the kid's roller coasters at the park only with a more pronounced chemical aftertaste.

Fun Factor--- 8: Inhalants are pretty fun in general and Scotchgard gets some extra points for the simple depravity of it. It's the kind of thing that makes for colorful stories to tell the grandchildren before they too succumb to the radiation. I feel lucky that I had such a full and rewarding high school experience! The only reason I don't give Scotchgard a perfect ten in this category is that there is one brutal downside I have yet to mention.

The Come-Down--- 1: Utterly and absolutely brutal. If there had been any confusion in your mind about whether huffing Scotchgard was bad for you, the way you feel the next morning will clear it right up. The horrible chemical taste I mentioned earlier seems to permeate your entire being and flavors the agony in you head all the way down to your gastro-intestinal tract. You can brush your teeth and rinse with mouthwash but the essence is deep down in your lungs, which are now conveniently resistant to water and most stains. If you want to commune with alternate realities you have to pay the price in ours, and Lady Scotchgard is a harsh mistress indeed. I wouldn't advise doing it on a night before you have to give your doctoral dissertation or operate a crane.

Indeed, I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone ever does Scotchgard. The dangers are too great and the benefits too fleeting for further experimentation, in this researcher's opinion. I huffed it for you so you could experience the thrill vicariously. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what I think because the suits down at the Scotchgard factory got wise and changed the formula so as to make it unsuitable for use as a recreational drug. I'm not sure what they did to it but I can report that the new Scotchgard coming out just isn't the same as the stuff I huffed in the Spring of my youth. Oh wait...I said earlier that I never did Scotchgard again, didn’t I? I meant to say I never did “good” Scotchgard again. The stuff the kids are huffing these days is strictly shwag.

My Review of Crack Cocain

I have been to the crack houses of New Orleans and I have smoked crack with the crackheads there. I have sat with the Native Americans in the mysterious deserts of Sedona, Arizona and I smoked crack with them too. In Colorado I met a Yaqui Indian named Wahako. He shared with me his great tribal wisdom while downing pint after pint of Takka Vodka and, after telling me for the fiftieth time that his name was Wahako and that he was a Yaqui Indian, he pulled out his peace pipe and we smoked to our new friendship. Did I say “peace pipe”? I meant “crack pipe”. I've smoked a lot of crack my friends, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that crack is expensive. Except when you find it on the ground.

Like this one time when I was living in a flop-house in the Garden District of New Orleans. As I was climbing up the stairs to my rat-hole room I looked down and happened to notice a small leather pouch sitting at the base of the stairs. I snagged it up, put it in my pocket and rushed on up. When I opened the pouch and emptied it on the the table a torrent of crack rocks came cascading out into an off-white pile. Individually wrapped, twenty dollar rocks and forty dollar rocks, all told five hundred dollars worth. There was also everything you need to smoke crack. Crack pipes, fresh Chore Boy, and a piece of wire hanger to push the Chore Boy from one side of the pipe to the other thus collecting all the crack oil residue in the pipe. This is called the “push” and is often the best hit of all.

My friend Ray was there and we were both completely astonished. I, and I'm sure he, had never seen so much crack before. Now that I think about it I had, on one other occasion, but this time it was mine. I said to him, “OK look, we're going to smoke a couple of rocks and then tomorrow I'm going to sell the rest to this crackhead I know.”

“Whatever you say.”

Twelve hours, and several hundred hits later, Ray finally drove home after having sworn universal brotherly love to me at least twenty or thirty times. I then went on a journey of deep, soul crushing despair that lasted the rest of the day. As I sat there grinding my teeth and cursing my stupidity, I reflected on how unhappy the person who had lost that leather pouch must have been. Losing five hundred dollars worth of crack is the kind of thing that can get you shot.

Several months ago I found a crack pipe hidden in a bush on 6th Street and got a good rip off it, so I feel it has been recent enough to warrant a review.

Fun Factor---10: There is a reason people smoke crack, my friends, despite it's being perhaps the most stigmatized drug in America. Have you ever been on The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land? Have you ever sledded down freshly fallen snow? Have you ever played with a puppy? Have you ever had sex with someone you were completely smitten with? Crack is more fun than all of that combined. It's like your brain takes a trip to Disney Land and rides Pirates of the Caribbean all by itself. The problem is the ride only lasts ten minutes.

Fear Factor--- 0 or 10: This one is hard to judge because, although I personally have never gotten paranoid on crack, I have seen people go from completely relaxed to completely certain the police were on to us after one hit. The paranoia it causes appears to be more pronounced in those that smoke it regularly and does not seem to deter them in any way. Maybe it's part of the appeal. It is a bit of a bummer to hang out with someone in that state however because they want you to join in their fantasy and be just as paranoid as they are.

Come-Down---1: This is by far the worst part about doing crack. Like I said, the high only lasts ten minutes and after that you have two choices: suffer mental anguish or smoke more crack. This is the factor that drives many crackheads to violent crime as, when you are in the middle of it, it feels like you would be justified in doing anything to prolong the experience. It's ability to quickly turn an otherwise rational person into a raving animal is what makes crack one of the scariest drugs on the market. It is wise to have some tranquilizers on hand to take the edge off the landing.

Value of Psychedelic Insights Obtained---2: It's hard to imagine a drug being more conducive to total bullshit than crack. It will make you think you are having valuable insights but, in reality, you are having delusional fantasies, often of grandeur. If a pattern is not really there, crack is certain to make you see it clearly. It will also make you prone to misguided sentimentality, such as telling someone you barely know that you love them. The only reason I give it a score of two is that one time when I was smoking crack I had a revelation that my girlfriend and I were incompatible, which was true, but it must be noted that I was on heroin also which may well have compromised the experiment.

Makes You Do Weird Shit Factor---10: Crack makes you do weird shit. The night I found that pouch I ended up climbing to my neighbor's balcony and taking hits up there for several hours. I had no ill intentions toward my neighbor at all, I just wanted to sit on a balcony and didn't see why I shouldn't. Try explaining that to the police. I knew one guy who would dress up in girl costumes and dance around to House music every time he smoked. I say “girl costumes” as opposed to “woman’s clothing” because I have never seen a real woman dressed in such a way. He had a sense of humor about it though which, how could you not? Still, it could be kind of awkward when I had company over. So common is bizarre behavior on crack that the term “crackhead” has become synonymous with it and, from what I've seen, the reputation is deserved.

Now, I wouldn't want to give you the impression that I'm a frequent crack smoker. I'll usually only do it with crackheads as a “When in Rome...” kind of thing. Like, when I'm in Asheville I eat vegan food and go on nature hikes and when I'm in New Orleans I drink King Cobra and smoke crack. Also, I have a hard and fast rule which is to never smoke crack when you are in a good mood. Just one hit can completely ruin your day if you were feeling good already so only do it if you are down in the dumps and presumably have nothing to lose.

It's worth pointing out that most of what I've said about crack also applies to powder cocaine, but to a slightly less degree. I'll never forget the time I was partying with this defense contractor in Houston. He usually snorted cocaine but for some reason he couldn't score and ended up buying a bunch of crack from a friend of mine. “I think I really like this stuff.”, he kept saying over and over again. By the end of the night all he could say was, “I'm never smoking crack again!” And he did.

My Review of the Drug K2

I've decided, in the spirit of rational inquiry, to begin reviewing various street drugs for your information and entertainment. I will try new drugs as they become available and also look back at some of the old classics. I will only review drugs that I have done recently and I will only review drugs that I have found on the ground. I will present a short introduction and then rate the drug in various categories. Today I will review the so called marijuana substitute K2.

The first time I tried K2 was two years ago outside a library in Asheville NC. A guy came up to me and asked me if I wanted to smoke a joint with him, “But look it's not real weed. It's K2. It's kind of like weed but it gets you even more fucked up. I bought it at the head shop.”

“Fire it up.”

To say it got you even more fucked up was a bit of an understatement. It got you fucked up on a whole different order of magnitude. The psychedelic effects of weed are quite mild but this stuff had me convinced I was about to get nabbed by the cops right there in the library. I sat there pretending to read my book wondering how long I should stay on a page in order to avoid suspicion. In some ways K2 is more like the mountain than it is like marijuana in that it scares the shit out of you and makes you think you're about to die.

Recently, K2 has become very popular on the streets of Austin as it is quasi-legal and you can buy it at the store. I find the stuff all the time around the homeless shelter and, because it's so strong it freaks people out, you often find whole joints, or even bags of it, discarded in a drug fueled panic. I resist doing it as much as possible but sometimes weed is scarce and I have succumbed to the temptation. It's worth noting that the stuff I'm finding now is probably a different formula than the stuff I smoked in North Carolina as the laws surrounding the main ingredients are constantly changing. That not withstanding, the effects appear very similar.

Fear Factor—8: K2 is a frightening and disorienting drug because it comes on fast and strong. It's more similar to a psychedelic drug than it is to pot, at least until you develop a tolerance for it. The effect IS very similar to weed once the initial blast wears off, which takes about twenty to thirty minutes. Until then you can expect an experience not unlike a bad acid trip in which you dwell upon the most negative aspects of existence. I have been able to turn it around at times and have a more positive experience but only by persistent force of will. If you don't already know the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear I would not recommend smoking K2.

Flavor---2: K2 has a naturally bitter taste to it that they try to cover up with all kinds of artificial flavors, not unlike low quality cigars. It gets 2 points for variety but is no substitute for marijuana in this department.

Similarity To Marijuana---7: The important question is, “Is K2 really an acceptable substitute for pot?” and the answer is, “Yes, but only for the scariest pot you've ever smoked.” The truth is that if you are jonesing for weed and you smoke K2, you will no longer be jonesing for weed. K2 obviously stimulates some of the same receptors in your brain. The problem is that it over stimulated those receptors and, for me at least, gets me questioning why I smoke weed in the first place. Some might feel the fear that comes with K2 is too high a price to pay for the possible good effects, while others might say that you have to face some danger to be a true psychedelic warrior. At any rate there have been times when I was out of weed and glad to have it.

Value of Psychedelic Insights Obtained----8: So is K2 a valuable mental tool that will further you on the path to enlightenment or a superficial mind masturbator that will have you thinking your wall paper is a manifestation of the 7th level? I personally found the drug to induce a kind of forced honesty and objectivity that made me look at myself as I really am rather then as I want to see myself. True, it came with fear but sometimes we must face fear in order to discover the truth about ourselves. In some ways that is the heart of the psychedelic experience. However, it's important to know what you're getting. If you're looking for a gently breeze this isn't it.

Fun Factor---6: K2 could be kind of fun for people with lots of experience with it or other psychedelic drugs but it's hard to imaging kids hanging out and doing it recreationally on the weekends. It's helpful that they give it names like Atom Bomb and Concentrated Mind Charge. At least they're not trying to play it down. In general I would not consider K2 “fun”.

How do Juggalos React to it?---10: For some reason K2 makes Jaggalos sedate and calm just like giving Acid to a biker or meat to a tiger. They lounge about in a languid manner only moving with the shade as the sun makes it's way across the sky.

Overall I would say K2 is kind of an OK drug if you're ready for it and a potential trip to the emergency room if you're not. It is definitely not for the faint of heart and, despite some similarities, will never be a true substitute for good weed. If you are curious about trying this drug my advise would be to just take one hit and see how that effects you before taking any more. It can really creep up on you and a little goes a long way. If you're a veteran psychedelic warrior or a convicted felon on parole or an ice road trucker who has to get piss tested you might find it gives you some of what you want from pot but, if you have a choice, I'd say you're better off sticking with the original.