inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #76 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Thu 27 May 04 17:27
And on another note, I was listening to day to a portion of a panel 
discussion recorded af ew months ago that featured Dave MArsh, David 
Hadju, Rodney Crowell and maybe a couple of others on the life and work of 
Bob Dylan. They were talking about Mr Tambourine Man, and Crowell said 
soemthign like, "When I first heard that song, I thought that I just had 
to go out and get some drugs. I had to have me a piece of that."
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #77 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Thu 27 May 04 18:36
I don't think anyone can ever underestimate the power of the music of
that time in literally creating a cultural consensus for drugs...I'll
quote Paul Rothchild from my book:

“Be bop had featured a small community of musicians using drugs in a
secret underground society of hipsters and the Beats had an impact that
initially extended only as far as their literature, but this
represented something else entirely: artists avidly using drugs,
creating music shaped by the use of drugs, sometimes about the explicit
use of drugs, for an ever-growing audience using the same drugs, in an
age of mass media. The effect of it could be instantaneous, and the
potential of it—artistic, spiritual, cultural, and political--seemed
nothing short of revolutionary.”

Gary, back to your question about drug reform. I'm pessimistic that
were going to see it in our lifetime for many reasons. Historically the
reins of drug policy have been firmly in the hands of conservatives
since 1914, with the exception of Nixon's institution of the methadone
program (which he did largely because he was scared shitless of the
crime ramifications of so many addicts coming back from Vietnam) and
the two years of the Carter Administration, when states were
decriminalizing and Dr. Peter Bourne was around (before his cocaine
scandal and resignation). Virtually since that time the drug war has
been driven by a coalition of right wing interests that show no signs
of letting go of those reins. It's easy to blame the sorry state of
things on Reagan, Carlton Turner, Ian MacDonald, Bennett, Robert
McCollum, Dan Lundgren, William Rhenquist, John Ashcroft and all those
other paragons of virtue who have been bloviating about how we have to
save western civ. from the Drug Plague by dismantling civil liberties
and putting more people behind bars than any other nation on earth, but
what's demoralizing is that the Democrats have all but marched in lock
step with them, cowed by the prospect of appearing to be soft on

I mean, all that Jocelyn Elders had to do was SUGGEST that we study
the possible ramifications of legalization and she was hung out to dry.
And the priorities of the drug war are so obvious. Just think about
Ashcroft coming out to announce the arrest of the "biggest
paraphernalia ring in history" in the days after 9/11. Almost 3,000
people had been disintegrated in the rubble of the Towers and the FBI
were looking like a bunch of assholes, but by God, let's bust those

What charges this issue is that the whole drug war juggernaut
unleashed during the 80s was done as the obvious revenge for the 60s
Then there's the disconnect of reality in which facts do not matter,
only ideology and "sending the right message." In this regard, the
prohibitionists don't really give a fuck if the drug war is even
working or not, only that it's consistent with their ideology. In the
book I equate this with how doctrinaire liberals didn't really want to
look and see if welfare was working or not. 

Yes, there is some movement. In New York there's serious talk of
reforming the Rockefeller Laws in place since the early 70s. It;'s
taken that long for the political climate to be right. Of course, the
degree to which they are able to change the laws remains to be seen.
Think of how long it might take to change the Crack Statutes or any of
the other onerous provisions of the drug legislation of the 80s...

No, for any truly meaningful reform (decriminalization, rescheduling,
sentencing) there would have to be a significant growing constituency
in the House and (more importantly) a Supreme Court willing to go along
(and the Court seems to be gettiing ever more conservative). My take
is that it will be a minumum of a half century for this kind of reform
to become possible. Perhaps the whole generation that lived throught he
60s and 70s will have to be dead and gone for the kind of pragmatism
neccessary for these changes to prevail--for drugs not to be so charged
with the contexts and meanings of our time. 

Gary, I really want to get to your question about drug education,
abstinence, etc (the natural next subject in this discussion) but I'm
moving tomorrow. My apartment is a purgatory off boxes and it's
literally time to unhook the old iMac. Moving only 20 blocks north,
from beneath the Cloisters, along the Hudson, to above the Cloisters
(Inwood) but it might just as well be to Seattle. I'll still be in
Manhattan, where I was born, but ever since I got married and became a
father at the age of fifty, with real estate being as insane as it is,
it seems I just keep moving farther and farther away from Zabars and my
favorite pizza joint!

Hope to be back online by Sat eve at the latest. Please keep the
chatter and questions coming--I'm loving it. Also, it's great to see
David Crosby joining in. I'm always interested to hear what he has to
say about this subject.  
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #78 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Thu 27 May 04 18:37
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #79 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 28 May 04 06:27
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #80 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Fri 28 May 04 06:43
But seriously, that is, alas, how it looks to me as well. The prejudices 
that inspire the drug war only partly overlap the prejudices behind 
alcohol prohibition, and alcohol has been part of mainstream experience in 
this country since the earliest colonial days, so undoing this prohibition 
is going to be much more difficult than undoing that one. 

The idea that all of us drug-tolerant boomers will have to be dead before 
meaningful reform is one that sounds just savage enough to be true. I do 
appreciate one thing, though, about prohibition. It's turned a simple vice 
into a deeply political act. I light up a joint and I'm not just getting 
high, I'm committing civil disobedience. (That join, of course, is 

I'll anticipate Martin's response to the question about kids and drugs 
with a little story. I was working on an article about the drug war and 
the 1st amendment and I called ONDCP to get their response to a law that 
a nutcase Mormon Republican congressman from Oklahoma snuck into an 
omnibus budget act. The law forbade, on penalty of loss of federal funds, 
any transit district form carryingany advertising thta was against the 
drug war or in favor the medicinal use of any currently illegal drug. The 
flack told me that ONDCP's sole mission was to prevent drug use by 
children. That's it? I asked. All we care about, he said. And from our 
point of view, he went on, advertising that marijuana ought to be legal 
(or, as in the  case I was writing about, that pot laws were more 
dangerous than pot 
itself), even if it is not directed at kids, even if its intention is to 
get parents to talk honestly with their kids, is dangerous to children. In 
other words, once you've put yourself in charge of the children, you can 
do just about waht you want to their parents.

Another interesting thing.In that article, I wrote about a case in Boston 
in which the transit authority (the T) refused an ad about the dangers of 
jail vs. the dangers of pot. The T's grounds for refusal (after they 
realized that they had to have grounds besides that they didn't like the 
ad) was that Boston schoolkids use the T to get to and from school. In 
court, they got the headmistress of the Boston Latin School to testify to 
her concernst that kids would see an ad like that, smoke pot, and get put 
in jail. In other words, they would go out and  prove the ad true. 
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #81 of 160: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 28 May 04 11:02
(post #78 hidden because it's a duplicate post of #77)
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #82 of 160: William H. Dailey (whdailey) Fri 28 May 04 12:02
It will take a military coup.  The power elite are making too much
money to give it up.
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #83 of 160: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 28 May 04 18:04
(NOTE: Offsite readers who have comments or questions can send email to )
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #84 of 160: David Crosby (croz) Sat 29 May 04 07:30
so about we try to get to AAAHHRNOLD.....and say's
how you solve about ten problems at once ....issue a state license to
grow 3 plants , have a pound , and carry three joints .....for a
thousand dollars .....there goes the state debt and the law enforcement
, judicial , penal systems are suddenly not overwhelmed anymoe  and
can do their job .....I agree with whdaily ....people are making $$
from things as they are but don't you think that would change if they
(at least the state) could make MORE ?......
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #85 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sat 29 May 04 07:31
A thousand dollars once, or a thousand dollars a year?
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #86 of 160: Uncle Jax (jax) Sat 29 May 04 16:46
Hmm. If <croz> picks up the phone to chat up Der Gubernator, does the
switchboard put him through?
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #87 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Sat 29 May 04 17:35
Gary Greenberg, are you out there? I'm back online after the move from
hell. I'm a bit fried but I'd like to get back into this. Let me know
where you'd like to pick the conversation back up. ok?

inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #88 of 160: Andrew Alden (alden) Sat 29 May 04 17:42
Is the Great Stoned Age really over as of 2000, or are we just in a pause?
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #89 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 30 May 04 01:52
Well, we can pick this up wherever you like, Martin. We left off talking 
about the prospects for drug policy reform, and why the hearts and minds 
of kids (or maybe it's parents) are so important to both sides. But first 
tell us how the move went. And one wants to know why you would schedule 
such a thing two weeks after your book comes out. Or is this your way of 
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #90 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 30 May 04 06:01
But <alden>'s question is a good one too. Whither drugs in the new 
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #91 of 160: Uncle Jax (jax) Sun 30 May 04 09:06
There's some historical evidence that the Inner Sea is discovered
periodically in cultures at their peak and then lost again and left as
a twice-told tale for future generations.
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #92 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Sun 30 May 04 10:32
Folks, I'm back, albeit in a mountain of boxes. 

Gary, we moved because we needed more space since William was born and
a suitable apartment opened up in a building across the hall from some
very good friends of ours who have a little girls only two weeks
younger and we can pool the child care resources, etc. Yes, it couldn't
have come at a more inconvenient time, with the book coming out only a
few weeks ago and such. But sometime along the way I had to learn and
accept that the universe doesn't always move in tune to my personal
desires. It hasn't been an easy lesson.

Just a personal word to David Crosby in case you're out there. I sent
you a signed copy of the book in appreciation of the interview you did
but we did it so long ago (do you even remember it?) that I no longer
knew where to send it, so I sent it to Michael Jentzen and they said
they'd forward it to you. Thanks for adding your voice to the
incredible chorus of people in the book I was fortunate enough to

Ok, kids, drug reform, wither drugs in the new milennium. The whole
DARE approach of scaring kids into abstinence has been so thoroughly
discredited by now; the first step has to be getting schools, PTAs,
state authorities to recognize this and chuck it into the dustbin of
history, where it belongs. But as eighty percent of the schools still
use it, this will be no easy matter. We can go on forever about why it
hasn't worked but why bother; the more relevant discussion is what to
do theoretically in its place and why.

Let's begin with two maxims that express opposite points of view about
drugs. BE SMART DON'T START is the basis of the abstinence campaign,
whether DARE or PDFA-related. There is a percntage of kids who aren't
going to do drugs anyway because for whatever reason, it's just not
their thing. Fine; this slogan and what it represents only reinforces
their decision. Then there is a percentage of kids that will do drugs,
no matter what approach is thrown at them. And finally, there's the the
perecentage of kids who are on the fence and could go either way.
These are the kids presumably most susceptible to peer pressure and
cultural message etc in making their decisions. This is where the real
abstinence campaign is traditionally aimed: keeping these kids away,
and shrinking the percentage of the kids most likely to experiment.
This is where the real "hearts and mind" struggle is. 

Now that I've laid out the battle lines as I see them, let me state as
clearly as possible that I believe strongly in the principles of harm
reduction for kids, but not without serious reservations and
qualifications. On the other hand, I do not by any means support a
completely laissez faire approach. 

The best way to explain where I stand is this. To me the best maxim
I've come across that expresses the libertarian point of view about
drug use is Sasha Shulgin's BE INFORMED, THEN CHOOSE. 

This is ok for adults, but for kids I would amend it to BE VERY
VERY PREPARED. Of coourse, each part of this is a whole discussion unto
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #93 of 160: from WOLFMAN (tnf) Sun 30 May 04 12:35

WOLFMAN writes:




inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #94 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 30 May 04 12:55
Well, actually, Wolfman, I don't think Martin weighed in directly on
the disease question, preferring to point out that it's a debatable
point. Myself, I agree that it is debatable, but only if you expand the
definition of disease beyond its customary boundaries, which generally
require that a disease have a recognizable pathogen. The facts that
alcoholism has a definite course and that it seems to run in families
generally don't really justify calling it a disease. Wishing to rid
alcoholics of moral opprobrium and to garner social resources for them
does justify that, as it does for depression (which also has no
identified pathogen, etc.), but only on an expanded defintion of
disease. People have been trying for fifty years at least to uncover
either a biological marker for addiction, and even in the age of
advanced molecular genetics and brain scans, they have not yet
succeeded. This doesn't mean that they won't, but I think it's pretty
clear that addiction is multiply determined, that many different roads
in many different domains--biological, social, spiritual, etc.--lead to
the condition whereby one is enslaved to drugs. Once there, I suppose
it's fair to treat the condition as the same, no matter how one has
arrived, but even this is not evidence that something is a disease.
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #95 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 30 May 04 12:56
Let's just say that some combination of intimidation, education, and
distraction manages to keep all the adolescents in AMerica from
delaying drug use until they turn 18. How does that solve the drug war
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #96 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Sun 30 May 04 17:57
A note to Wolfman: Dude, if you read my book you'll know I'm
intimately familiar with the experience of "hitting bottom" and its
meaning in recovery. As for your line, "Nature is the artwork of God,"
sure. But I also believe that "God is the artwork of nature," and, for
that matter, that "Artwork is the nature of God." Go figure.

Gary, getting kids not to use until they're eighteen would do a lot, I
believe, to solve the drug war problem. One of the prime reasons cited
by the prohibitionists is the prospect of kids wasted on drug; or, if
not wasted, the prospect of them stunted in some developmental way.
Certainly one of the major factors that resulted in the undoing of the
drug culture came directly from the fact that, by the end of the 70s,
there were a lot of kids in junior high schools blowing pot--often on a
daily basis--and parents started losing it in a big way (hence the
parents movement, which became one of the prime allies in Reagan's drug
war). And as much as I despise the politics that resulted, the parents
had reason to be upset. I started smoking pot at sixteen and it
completely changed my life; when I imagine smoking at twelve or
thirteen, I'm quite frankly appalled by the prospect of kids smoking
pot so young. True, a lot of the worst things that teenage stoners ever
do is lay around, eating too many Dorito chips and listening to the
Stone Temple Pilots or whatever, but still. I'll never forget one of my
conversations with Tim Leary, when we were discussing the
ramifications of drugs in the culture sicne the 60s and the pluses and
minuses, he said, "You know the last thing we had in mind was the
creation of a whole subculture of adolescent haschishines!" Telling

Of course, getting kids to refrain from drugs until they are eighteen
would pose the same problems as getting them to refrain from drinking:
they would find a way to get around it, and there will always be plenty
of binge drinkers. But that doesn't mean that you don''t try  to talk
to them about the dangers of getting a car when they're drunk, right?

 Likewise, I believe there's a lot of common sense information that
you could tell kids, both to try and lobby them to refrain until they
get older, or, if they are going to use, to minimize possible harm.
This is why I think Marsha Rosenbaum of the Drug Policy Alliance is
really into something with her pamphlet Just Say Know.  When a marority
of parents is comfortable with this approach and it becomes
institutionalized, I believe it will sigfnify that we're well along the
way toward a more sane, health-based over-all approach to drug policy
in this country.

More on kids and drugs later. It's time for the season finale of the
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #97 of 160: Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 30 May 04 18:19

Uh, take your time... the Sopranos are taking a week off from whacking.
Season finale is next Sunday.
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #98 of 160: Gary Greenberg (gberg) Sun 30 May 04 19:29
Lambert is in the house!

I get what you're saying about kids & drugs, Martin. I am aware that I
dodged a few bullets in my youthful experimentation, but then again I
don't know how any of us lives to 30. It would have been better,
though, not to trust to luck and whatever common sense I had
accidentally acquired--in other words, to have adults to guide me
through. But I wonder--do you think it's possible that kids are to the
drug war what weapons of mass destruction are to the Iraq war?
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #99 of 160: Martin Torgoff (martintorgoff) Sun 30 May 04 21:24
There has always been a great deal of street smarts and granny wisdom
about drugs that get totally lost in the culture of abstinence, and
it's sad whenever knowledge and wisdom accrues and people cannot avail
themselves of it. The discourse about drugs in this country is perhaps
the foremost example of that. This whole notion of how ANY info about
drugs that is not dogmatically against their use is a fom of
equivocation that sends a message to kids that it's okay to take
them--that's the bullshit of "Drug-Free America" propaganda. Think
about how great it would have been to talk to someone who you could
really trust about drugs, who you knew was interested in nothing but
your safety and welfare. You'd listen to that person. A counseler, if
you will, who could teach you to respect their powers to enhance,
distort, and damage, and how to recognize it.

 It's the same deal with progressive drug education. There are so many
parents who refuse to allow anything like contraceptive distribution
because they just don't want their kids having sex at all. They're more
concerned with the "message" than with kids getting sexually
transmitted disease. It has to be their way or the highway as far as
the forum of public education, so the only progressive sex and drug
education has to take place in the privacy of the home. And it does,
but this ignores so many kids who just go out there and play with fire.

The analogy of kids are to the drug war what WMD is to the war in Iraq
is a very interesting  and useful one. One could quibble (kids
actually do get in trouble with drugs, whereas WMD don't appear to
exist at all, at least for the moment), but both were clearly used as
the tocsins for war.
inkwell.vue.214 : Martin Torgoff: "Can't Find My Way Home"
permalink #100 of 160: A Strange Man From Jupiter (cubistpoet) Sun 30 May 04 21:26
I figure that I should throw myself at least briefly into the midst of
this fraying discussion being one of tender youthful age (23) myself
and being not entirely unaquainted with the use of the chief substance
of discussion (marijuana). 

I think that I concur greatly with the idea that marijuana often acts
as a magnifying glass. It cannot give you what you do not already have,
but it sure can enhance what's already there, make you see sharper in
all the different metaphored and unmetaphored definitions of seeing.

I can also concur greatly with Mr. Torgoff's assessment of emotional
disconnection, being one inclined to such disconnections myself.
Stoned, it is remarkably easy to allow emotional disturbances slip into
the wind and fly down to a bar and Mexico and get drunk and die
choking on their own vomit.

And sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes everyone needs a vacation
from unpleasent feelings. Something that alcohol does not always
supply (given the number of violent outbursts). Sometimes one needs to
chuck away thoughts of lost loves in favor of four straight hours of
Mortal Kombat.

I also will speak highly of the way that drugs, especially marijuana
in its pipe-passing form, can act to bond people together. Perhaps it
is the illegality, the shared secret. There is a feeling of closeness
that does not seem to prove false in the same way that the feeling of
closeness associated with sex tends to.

I am something of a mold-breaking case perhaps. In my High School
years, I fell firmly into the category that never had any intetion of
doing drugs. Indeed, I had never smoked a single cigarette, sipped a
drop of alcohol, or engaged in any other drug use beyond the normal
Coke regiment expected of the average American until I reached the age
of 20, nearly 21, when I got drunk for the first time.

Marijuana I avoided for much longer, and even when I initially smoked
it was more of a one-off New Year's Eve kind of thing.

It was only when I became deeply involved in the poetry scene within
my state that any semi-regular use of weed began to arise, so for me
it's strongly associated with an artistic underground even though I am
aware through contact with dealers and such outside of this artistic
underground that there are a lot of people of a non-creative
inclination that engage in marijauna use.

I think marijuana in many circles is still strongly associated with
counterculture, the same Beatnik, Ginsberg counterculture of the late
50's and early 60's. I'm sure the slacker-culture exists as well, but
such has not been the circle that I've traveled in personally.


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