"< Yeah.' he said, 'and then for instate you take a loi of oía) ïiquorheads* when thc> come up here and pass the jug around. Half of Ihem will say thc> had enough cause some spade just took a drink out of il.. and tfrose thai do take it will hem and haw, try in to rub the top off thé hut tie so's you can't see them, "fore ihey put it io then chops. Now with vipers it's different. . Yen don't have tu pass a roach io a viper-hc'll take it right out of your hand and go 10 puffin' ou it not even think in * about who had it in his chops before. Them Indians must of had some gauge in that pipe of peace that they passed a round-at least they had the right idea, ha ha ha! Now, far as hurt in' anybody is concerned, yon know and I know that we can wake up the next day and go on about our business. marihuana or mary-don't wanna, and that's that.1 ..
Mezz Mezzrow and Bernard Wolfe Real!) tlie Bines, 1972
alcohol, by the Volstead Act (1920-33); and pot, by the Marijuana Tax Act (1937). In a curious quirk of history, anthropologists and Indian leaders managed to save peyote from the general inquisition (1937), provided that its use was restricted to members of the Native American Church. Doctors were forbidden to prescribe heroin even to addicts dying of withdrawal, , and recreational drug use was driven underground.
The result; was the creation, not prevention, of organized crime. Though many drugs vanished from the market shelves, they reappeared in the hands of crime czars only too happy to provide once cheap thrills for an inflated price. Fortunes were built. on bathtub gin, Hollywood coke and New York smack,. But prohibition proved impossible, as it always has. As liquor prohibition fell apart, jazz drifted up the river from New Orleans in a cloud of marijuana smoke, and black musicians were the cutting edge of contemporary civilization. Street dealers-Mezz Mezzxow and Detroit. Red (Malcolm Xl-grew into folk heroes, while Lady Day sang the blues. And lawmen hauled them away by the thousands.
Would War II disrupted the natural flow of plant drugs, and substitute synthetics turned into nightmares of the Fifties: Nazis on coke and methedrine and methadone, Yankees on dexies and downers, housewives on cranks and businessmen back to booze. It seemed as though the worJd was going quietly mad in a gray flannel suit, unable to decide between Joe McCarthy and Marilyn Monroe. "I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,'* wrote Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs replied with the death knelL of De Quincey's romanticism about narcotics: "I can feel the heat closing in, feel them out there making their moves, setting up their devil doll stool pigeons, crooning over my spoon and dropper „,. f"
But in 1943 Albert Hofmann, a chemist investigating ergot derivatives at Sandoz Labs in Switzerland, had accidentally, absorbed some lysergic add diethylamide through his fingertips. Suddenly the realms of altered consciousness prcdictcd by James bccamc available in mere microgram doses. Beneath the narcotized quiescence of the Fifties bloomed a revolution. Scientist-philosophers rediscovered the magic hallucinogens; Huxley and Osmond, Schultes and Hofmann, Was son and Heim-a generation of seasoned Sufis devoted to new alchemy. At first
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