Whether or not you did drugs when you were young baby boomers, you will relate to this frank essay by Los Angeles boomer and blogger Richard Basis. As he himself admits, we were all young and stupid once. That’s when he was living what he calls The High Life.
Before I start reminiscing about my drug days, let me be very clear: I am in no way advocating or encouraging the use of narcotics. The ’60s and ’70s were a unique time that was fueled by the drug culture. Which was nothing like the prescription abuse or opioid crisis in our country today. For one thing, there was a lot more dancing involved.
What can I say? You had to be there.
You have to remember that back in the ’60s, children were never prescribed medication by psychiatrists. Nobody knew anything about ADHD or autism. Everybody just assumed you were either bad or stupid and treated you accordingly. The idea of giving kids prescription drugs for aberrant behavior would have been like making them a stiff drink after a tough day at school.
The first time I became aware of any drugs harder than children’s aspirin was when they started being used for fun. They were glamorized by our role models on TV, in movies, and through music. I was raised in a time when illegal drug use was crossing over from the counter-culture into popular culture.
Most of us started with marijuana. It was cheap and easily accessible and completely different than the weed you buy today. Most of it came from either Jamaica or Mexico. Today there are literally hundreds of strains available with such highly imaginable names as Turbo Mind Warp, Russian Rocket Fuel, Buddha’s Sister, Girl Scout Cookies, Devil’s Tit, Gog & Magog, and Cat Piss, just to name a few. Nothing we bought was nearly as strong as the pot they sell today. Back then, you could smoke a whole joint by yourself and attend all your classes and nobody would even notice you were high. Probably because most of us teenagers act like stoned idiots all the time anyway.
When I was in college, I went through a phase where I tripped a lot on acid and LSD. During this time, I had many unforgettable experiences and life-altering realizations that have stayed with me to this day. I would spend hours contemplating the metaphysical aspects of everything from the sociological significance of the Kennedy assassination to the vast complexities of the solar system to the miracle of nature that was my hand. If I could have majored in hallucinations, I would have graduated with honors.
Cocaine wasn’t as popular in the rock ‘n’ roll ’60s but certainly came into its own in the disco driven ’70s. I still believe it’s the only reason we put up with that music for so long. By the ’80s, cocaine broke out of the clubs and into the workplace and it’s how a generation got its jobs done. Man, did we work hard and fast and long hours and we didn’t even mind. From the worker bees to the top executives and from Wall Street to Hollywood Blvd. For a while there, our economy was fueled by cocaine.
Now, at my age, doing drugs takes on a whole new meaning. You can’t do what we used to think of as the fun kind anymore because they might kill you but you have to take the serious kind because they might keep you alive. To me, it’s always been one of life’s great ironies. When we’re young and have our whole lives ahead of us, we are reckless and take all kinds of risks that could get us killed. When we’re old and have fewer years left, we get all cautious and careful in a frightened attempt to prolong our lives as long as possible. Seems to me it should be the other way around.
I never had kids of my own and I have no intention of running for political office, so I can be completely honest about my history with illegal substances. When I was younger and my old stoner friends were having children, I would often ask them, “What are you going to tell your kids when they ask you if you ever did drugs?” (Don’t forget, ours was the first generation that had to grapple with this moral dilemma.) Usually I got one of two responses. The most common was, “I’m going to lie.” The other frequent response was, “I’m going to tell the truth, of course. Just not the whole truth.”
From this I can only surmise that no child ever really knows what their parents were really like when they were young. And I suppose that’s the way it should be.