On turning 58

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Alan Watts, possibly considering publishing a new book, “The Drunken Cosmology.”

This might sound stupid (I thought I’d give that stupidity thing a whirl and see if it works for me).  But one of my last remaining goals in life was to make it to 58.   Two of the acid heroes of my youth — Alan Watts and George Harrison —  both kicked the bucket at 58.  Both of whom I would later come to have decidedly mixed feelings about.  So it was important to me (for some stupid reason) to out-live both of them.

Alan Watts was pretty much a wasted-away, old man alcoholic by age 58.  In between writing all those books about how we could attain the higher states of consciousness, ole’ Al failed to mention that one of his favorite techniques, personally, was to pound endless fifths of straight vodka.

The famous Indian philosopher Krishnamurti used to go on tirades about Alan Watts and Aldous Huxley back in the ’60s.  He blamed them, rightly or wrongly, for helping to lead an entire generation astray with their books that linked psychedelic drugs to spiritual wisdom.  And he held them partially accountable for the Drug Epidemic that swept across America in the wake of the ’60s.

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The Beatles, grooving at one of those famous ’60s LSD parties.

George Harrison, along with them other Beatles, was another one who greatly popularized the notion of LSD to a generation of youth.  People forget, in 1965 and 1966, the Beatles had an audience primarily of millions of prepubescent little kids.  Then, just a year later, they’re singing songs exstoling  the magical (as well as mystical and mysterious) virtues of LSD.  I remember as a 10 year old boy watching the Beatles Saturday Morning Cartoon Show,  and there were the cartoon Lads, singing “Tomorrow Never Knows.”  The lyrics taken practically word-for-word from Dr. Timothy Leary’s “The Psychedelic Experience”  — which he wrote as a How-To-Take-An-LSD-Trip guide.  Which is exactly how John Lennon intended the song . . . .   Nowadays, we’ve banned the Joe Camel cartoon character out of concern that it might influence children to smoke Camel cigarettes.  And yet, very little consideration was given to the potentially tragic aspects of the Beatles singing their LSD hymns to an audience of millions of kiddies.

After John Lennon’s murder in 1980 (by a guy my age who went nuts partially from gobbling down LSD by the handful back when he was a budding 14-year–old Beatlemaniac grooving to the Magical Mystery trip) George Harrison famously opined:  “This would have never happened if John had stayed in England.”  Shortly after, another Beatles-obsessed nut came within inches of murdering George in his English mansion.  Which no doubt contributed to George’s premature demise at age 58.

And me?  Somehow I’ve bucked the odds just to still be walking on two legs on God’s green earth at age 58.  Considering some of the demographics I’ve been in over the years — smoker, drinker, druggie, starving artist, long-time homeless — my life expectancy probably should have been around 40.

And if anybody just wants to write this rant off as, Sour Turd Blames Famous Celebrities For His Own Degenerate Drug Use, there’s probably more than an element of truth in that, too.

 

Signs from God

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Throwback Thursday: This is how I used to look several minutes ago.
I’m actually thinking about quitting drinking.  I’m not actually going to quit drinking.  I’m just gonna’ think about quitting.  That’s a lot easier than actually quitting.

 

The reason I’m thinking about it is because I had the WORST nightmare last night:  In the dream, I’m sitting in this chair having a complete nervous breakdown.  I’m sobbing and crying and wailing.  People are walking around me, but nobody tries to console me.  Either they don’t care, or they don’t know what to do to help me.  And I can’t stop shaking.  It’s like I’m having uncontrollable convulsions or something.  But the worst part is:  I can’t find the words to describe or explain what’s wrong with me.  Finally they come to me.  Three words.  Which I shout out amidst my sobs:  “THERE’S . . . NO . . . ESCAPE!!!”

I wake up feeling stunned.   And drained.  Not just because of the nightmare.  But because the dream exactly mirrored my waking state.  And the sad, sad state of my world.  It’s that feeling you get when you feel that everything in your life  — everything — has gone wrong, wrong, wrong.  Even my cats weren’t around to console me.  Usually, every morning when I wake up, they’re sitting there waiting for me.  But on this morning, even they had deserted me.  Adding to my feelings of rejection and total loserdom.  I figured I had probably scared them off when I was making weird noises while I was having that nightmare.  The scaredy cats.

I took this as a sign from God that I needed to make some serious changes in my life.  Needed to seriously clean up my act.  To be in such a state of despair and agony was a sign that I must be doing something terribly wrong.  And certainly all the drinking I was doing wasn’t helping my situation.

Then Rachel pointed out:  “The cats were probably freaked out by the quake.”

“That’s right!”  I thought.  And it all came back to me.  I remember feeling the ground trembling while I was lying in my sleeping bag last night.  At the time I wasn’t sure if it was an earthquake or the malt liquor.  And in the morning, it was one of the many late-night events that had been erased from my memory by all the malt liquor. But now it came back.  It turned out there had been a 6.0 earthquake in nearby Napa Valley.  And somehow, that explained everything.  Why I had been dreaming of shaking.  And why my cats had seemingly “deserted” me. It wasn’t because of me.  It was because of the earthquake.  This act of God.

I took this as a sign from God that I should continue on as an alcoholic for the time being.  I went to a bar and ordered a pint of beer.  And after the third beer I started feeling a little better.

I sat there at the bar.  Awaiting further signs.

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Beer and Pot

Marijuana jointI’ve been drinking in public just about every night for the last 15 years.  I don’t have an apartment and I’m too claustrophobic to drink in bars so thats what I do.  Drink under the stars as the gods of alcohol intended.  I like to pound a few at the end of the day to relax and unwind and/or get some kind of demented buzz going.   Usually I like to drink about 96 ounces of malt liquor every night over a five hour period.  Thats four 24 ounce cans of  Olde English malt liquor, 7.5% alcohol content so its about twice as strong as regular beer.  “More bang for the buck,” as they say.  And I often like to smoke a couple of joints in between beers to add a touch of surreality to the proceedings.

I don’t know if this makes me an alcoholic.  My line is: “I’m a drunk not an alcoholic.”  Because that sounds less clinical and definitive.  I consider myself pretty much of a functional drunk. Or, at the least, a semi-fuctional drunk.   I’m usually a quiet, happy drunk.  And I like people more when I’m drunk so that really helps.  But lately I’ve been beginning to wonder.

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I got a little retarded last night. I was sitting on a dark, secluded bench on the Berkeley campus pursuing that chemically-induced state of happiness. Hoping to reach that coveted “I-don’t-give-a-flying-fuck” state as I call it.   Now to keep from getting drinking-in-public tickets I’m pretty discreet.  I pour some of the beer into a coffee cup and then hide the rest of the can inside my backpack.  This ploy usually works, but not last night.  For some reason I put the can of beer into my pack up-side down.  Something I realized shortly after when I reached into my pack and everything inside was soaked with beer, as well as my pack reeking of beer.  A tragic waste of malt liquor.

So I take that as a sign to get the hell out of there.  I walk up to the end of the campus to this lighted spot where I can survey the damage, dry off my shit, and pound my last beer of the night.  So I take all my soggy stuff out of my pack and reach for the last can of beer, only to realize I had left it back at the bench along with my bag of cat food.  So I quickly pack up my stuff and rush back to the bench to get it before somebody grabs it.  Fortunately its still there.  So I go from being a complete idiot to a guy who’s still on top of things and has his act together.  So I pour the beer into the cup, reach into my pack to take out my Sony Walkman so I can listen to some tunes, only to realize I had left my radio at the other spot.  So now I’ve got to quickly pack up my stuff AGAIN and rush back up to that spot to get my radio before somebody grabs it.  But when I get there the radio is already gone.  Fuck!  I’m starting to feel like a ping pong ball rushing back and forth from one mess up to another.

I’m sure there’s a moral to this story, but I’m not sure I want to know what it is.