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The Drug Opera [Jul. 4th, 2012|08:08 pm]


Note: Unedited, unfinished, messy recollection of Rothbury

Bean is on the other side of the drugs again, so euphoric-stoned that her eyes have gone out. “I made some rice squares, Alice,” she mutters around a burning joint, blazing clandestinely in front of her parents' garage, “since these squares aren't keen on letting us smoke in the car. A twist on hash brownies.”

I grin and take the smoldering roach as it is proffered me, nodding as I inhale. For my part, I've dumped the chew out of a snuff tin and packed it instead full of cheap mary-jay for the trip, fully intending its lid to be popping off under psychedelic duress by the time we set foot in the real world again.

“I have liquid morphine too,” Bean tokes, “if you want.”

Ah, of course! Morphine. Opiate of the privileged sub-urban masses. Rich man's heroin—a viable explanation for that outer-rim, medicine cabinet opium den lack of life in her eyes, then.

“Maybe later,” exhaling one last lungful of rich, green smoke, I climb into the caravan. It groans, stuffed to breaking already and with even more piled onto the roof, shielded only by a duct-taped tarp. I take up passage behind the driver's seat and lock in tight like a bag lady, fortressed by pillows, blankets, duffels full of clothes and other incidentals. Behind me is a Kevin who is in no way really a Kevin; all black and white bandanna peeking out from behind his own fort of miscellany.

“Comfy back there, Kap'n Red Beard?” Tommy the blind calls from the driver's seat while Bean cracks open her tin of per-fuct-ly innocent bake-sale goods, each carefully and individually gift wrapped in flimsy glitter plastic.

Captains Kevin/Redbeard and Tommy the deaf—they're the straights. Too straight, actually, to have much business embarking on this particular journey; both strapped to their seats like stewardesses at take-off, up-tight coasting on a lower psychic plane than is required – really – to fulfill the overwhelming potential of the festival experience that lies ahead, but both also more than content to straight-ly undertake the mission of safeguarding – while also feeling a jealous touch of misplaced superiority toward - the mottled-muddled triad of drugged up harlequins who have been invited to temporarily take up roost in their straight, square domain.

Hansel is the third of us. Hansel, playing co-pilot and DJ from the front seat. Hansel, a beautiful young thing - strong but fragile like glass – had, devastatingly, been switched at birth and was consequently sent home from the hospital to the wrong mother in the wrong body, but he has always been a boy to me.

I lean up to request something classic of him—say, The Who? For certainly the never-still spirits of Moon and Entwistle will send our great silver time machine, its three junk-bin psychonauts and their de facto mum-and-dad rum-rum-rumbling back to the new millennial era of deep inner space with the blessing and grace of the old psychedelic age.

I said, now I got my magic bus...

Clutching a Bean bar – all marshmallow, rice and deliciously bitter hemp butter – in both hands, I slouch in my seat, Jesus-sandaled feet propped on mountains of luggage and long-tall bell-bottomed legs splayed open in an overwhelmingly satisfying gesture of feminine rebellion --

I want it, I want it, I want it....

-- against all of the Di-Strict's bland social mores which I resolve aloud, in that moment, to aggressively ignore for the next rest-of-my-life as they shrink ever weaker in the van's rear window while its speakers' steadily crescendoing vibrations rock the wheels and shake us down the highway toward Nirvana

[Widespread Panic and Phil Lesh, anyway].

This high-minded resolution manifests itself in a high-spirited 'Fuck 'em,' which bounces off the window next to my head like a candystore rubber ball, gaining momentum as it ricochets about the van, swelling into a soaring - fuckemfuckemfuckemfuckem - four part, discordant-harmonious farewell to ourselves, to D.C.'s sneering young intellectuals, to the swarms of sun-starved trust-fundies who have descended like a plague —have hatched, matured and followed the instincts their parents have paid dearly to have bred into them -- go, sell your youth to Capitol Hill! It's true, son, the amount line of your paycheck won't read much more than 'experience,' but oh, the prestige! oh, the interminable connections! -- to suck all of the color-flavor-verve from our formerly anti-resplendent chocolate city; adieu, adieu to the cracked old drones and screeching grey crones clogging every artery of the business district, decaying down the streets in their cheap, dark suits and their fat white socks and dingy sneakers, leaving the messes they've spent the sun making all over K Street to our thin, brown 2-am whores to clean up while they go home to plug their spines into rented wall sockets and recharge; farewell, farewell, farewell with a blazingly patriotic, double middle-fingered salute to all of you as you spin away graceless behind us like Dorothy's black-and-white Khaos, Kansas; we promise - promise - to forget you fondly.

My sense of space/time begins to unravel tantalizingly – irreparably – as we hurtle through un/familiar star systems—Ohio, PA or Pennsylvania, OH—high, high, high on hash and abandonment; on the steady hoof beat of tires; on the blow back rustle of blue plastic tarp rattling over our heads and threatening deliciously to spill the weight of our possessions [mine are all safely beneath my feet] all over the highway, on-

--hey, you guys? Can we pull over? I—that sound, you guys--

- Kevin's tension bzzing into my right ear, pulling me up tight in my chair like the stiff tug-laces of a Victorian boot.

“I think we should secure that stuff better. I'm really not liking that sound.”

Sigh. And it's score two for the straights as we swing jarringly into one or another of the clone rest stops that litter our route. Mother wind tries to do you a favor, crissake, and [all of my possessions are safely beneath my] you spit right in her--

“Alice,” Bean lures me over with a tight joint and a loose smile as I stumble onto the pavement, “we'll be here a while, you know?”

Looks like it, Bean. We back away from the boys as they grunt and wrestle with yards of tape and tarp – they seem short-armed and somehow both brutish and helpless in their struggle, like Japanese clay-mation movie monsters – and we keep on until we have somehow wandered away from the schools of rolly-polly midwestern families clad in their vacation best and into the camp of wild gypsy truckers; all bush-bearded with their faces creased into permanent bitter frowns by the steam coming off of their plaid-flannel uniforms. Yes, even in July.

Crouching on the pavement, I light a cigarette and she lights the roach, realizing almost immediately that we need not be as careful as we might have hoped—while the husky, cornfed natives have a habit of gawking at anything that doesn't look like them, these bold-checked ruffians seem to be going out of their way to ignore the dime store hippies on the curb passing their dime bag cheap thrill back and forth.

Except for one – one of them, who throws us a winking grin as he climbs into his rig.

“Wanna hit?” I call to him, Bean coughing furiously beside me. He declines gracefully - if only I didn't have to haul this thing to Utah by tomorrow, miss - and tips his cap like someone accidentally set our time machine on 1955.

We bake in the sun until the tin can prattle of the speedway mellows into the swell of the tides in our ears before getting back into the van.

By sunset we are pinballing through the phos-fluorescent catacombs of a big box retailer somewhere in Michigan— —and when the doors slide open again it is so the vehicle can be searched – hah! - customarily for anything illicit, only the 20-somethings performing the search know exactly where to look for such things and so they don't.

I jump out to kill a craving for nicotine and am summarily chastised for throwing my filter on the ground – there are personal ashtrays for that, see – and also by Tommy the dum for holding up the imaginary line of cars behind us.

They send us through the Michigan wilderness to a place called Day Parking – remember this, Alice, it will surely be important later – where we settle by the tree line among tents and tents and tents, throw up our inflatable bed and breakfast by flashlight--

After the circus

A clumsy ring of orphaned furniture—subway seats, restaurant boothes, beauty shop electric chairs—and at the opening of the tent, swelled up red and bulbous like a tick, my seat, Queen Jane's throne, a crimson velvet couch.

I jump onto it, drawn up in the hand-painted fluff of my Gerald Scarfe petticoats and rainbow striped tights from ya'local GBLT-mart, eyes big as a fairytale and stoned, stoned, stoned I gasp—meaning it more than my life, “you're beautiful.”

He's brown and young and filthy; a dazzlingly crooked smile, rat-dredded hair all caught up with forest-floor detritus and handmade beads, dressed as a scabby-sharp 1930s gangster and crowned by a perfectly West Side Story pin stripped fedora. He cocks his grin at me – thanks – stands up to pace and never stops moving again.

I trot after him to the Tree of Knowledge. It has been standing stolid and undisturbed throughout the day, unsurprisingly.

I notice for the first time that there are speakers blooming around its perimeter, electronic drums encircling its trunk, all abandoned.

He tells me his every day is like this. He is a runaway, a stowaway, following the festival circuit from Bonnaroo to Burning Man, no home, no mother, no chains.

How old are you, Lost Boy?


He grabs my hand and we race into the forest, twinkling with sound and vibrating with light, a garden of hammocks and onion tents popping out of the ground.

We duck into the one that opens to—India. Rich smoke, colors yet unnamed, and another one--young, brown, filthy, perfect--beating a rain-steady rhythm out on a skin drum.

...The Lost Boy finds a wrapped stick of chewing gum lying in the dirt, offers me half. I take it because I've resolved never to utter the word 'no' again, and when he turns manic again I leave him quietly to rush down a fork in the path and I come out from the trees to double cage domes, a light show on the woods behind them, music, relative solitude...

I settle in the grass on my back – I know you deceived me now here's a surprise – and sing along with both hands on my brow – I know that you have 'cause there's magic in my eyes - warm water draining from my eyes – I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles and miles - basking in knowledge and attrition

Broken open. Finally.

- oh, yeah -

Epiphanies and epiphanies falling on me heavy. I pull colored pens from my bag and write them all over my arms. Consciousness in all things. Love begets love, peace begets peace, everything is true and so is its opposite, protect the earth as she protects you, syn-chro-nic-ity, gaia/pangea, power by knowledge, opposites exist, an eight/infinity on the back of my left hand, a circle on my right.

I crawl from the dome and settle near the oldest living tree.

“You're beautiful sitting under this tree,” two men approach – no, one man and a boy from a book, “smoke with us?” They settle on either side of me and hand me a tightly packed pipe.

We talk about everything that has ever mattered.

And when they go I return to the circus. Behind me Relic, Fustian, Whimsy and Sorry are playing poker with rusted playing cards. A fairy prances in and back out, leaving her boy/friend and her hula hoop burning with blinking lights on the ground.

I dance inside of and with the hoop, the crowd and band change, I dance and am washed in such ceaseless knowledge that I am struck in the knees, fall to the ground babbling thanks, bleeding tears.

When I sit up to collect myself, he is next to me, kneeling—the Tolkien boy. “I knew you'd need me,” he says. I clutch his shoulders and he helps me stand, I am fragile, “what is this?” big-eyed, hungry, astounded.

He takes me outside by the arm and we sink into my red velvet lounge.

“Krishna,” he says gently.

Krrriissshnaaah, I repeat over and over, languishing, lavishing, savoring the most beautiful word ever uttered.

I know I am in Shangri La. Convinced.

--Why doesn't everyone know? Everyone has been screaming it at me my whole life. The Yard Dogs, they know, don't they? They were trying to tell me...--

Everything is vibrations.

All matter is energy condensed,

Karmic wheel

It all makes sense.

We hold hands and I cannot tell where mine ends.

His face quivers rainbow.

One blue eye one green. Thin. Fair. Dread-locked. Beautiful. I mean it more than my life.

How old are you, hobbit?


We sink in together and stare at the eye blazing where the sun used to be, vibrating everything outward, everything connected, flowing together so strongly that I can see/hear/feel/taste it, it is overwhelming sacred--safe and fearless--

Her mouth sewn up with blood crusted thread
His fingertips sticky with paste
and shiny cling magazine letters
ransom notes spelling out that
There’s nothing, nothing in the world for which he’d give her back

nicotine fits are a bitch when you’re locked in someone’s closet
Cold fault line floorboards
Her ears twitch at every sound
Will it be another black eye, or stopped wrists and
eyelid kisses

Let us rest, jericho

a cluster of spiders in a corner of the ceiling
slipping on a straight jacket and heading out to dinner
[can't tell y'that, missus, 'til someone fills in the name on your birth certificate]
he asks me not to bring real life into this
and who is that under his foot?

What they did not know was his name. What they did not know was he’d be dead by morning.