Archive for the ‘drugs’ Tag

The Wah-Wahs and Mudlarking   2 comments



I went mudlarking Tuesday on the polyp-like Rotherhithe peninsula (I don’t know what it is really called) and the Wah-Wahs weighed heavy on my mind.  Here’s a wee (or, ‘Wah’) story to explain, somewhat, what I’m on about and the lasting impact of the phenomenon (right up to this very day).

I blacked out as the Wah-Wahs enveloped me and I regained consciousness miles away in the driver’s seat of my 1974 Monte Carlo which I remembered as needing some new rod bearings.  The skies were the colour of Prince’s duster in the Purple Rain video, the red clay in the logging road on which I was parked was vibrant.  The tick-tick-tick of the billy club on the window was ever more insistent and I heard a stern voice demanding, “Open the door, sir.  Sir?  Right NOW, open…the…DOOR!”  I looked at my hand, still gripping the large bin liner still relatively full of R22 refrigerant (chloro-difluoromethane, HCF2Cl) the bag pushing gently on my chest and the steering wheel opposite.  I looked over and just as I made eye contact with the State Trooper very close to shattering my windscreen, he shattered into a mosaic of a million pieces and dissolved away.



As the shards rearranged themselves, I was actually not at all miles away in my car but still sitting on the couch in the rental house at least some of us were paying rent on.  The bag, indeed, was still in my lap but there were several panicked looking faces circled around me with Mark (the manager of the Turtles record store in town and one of the actual housemates) gripping my shirt with both fists and shaking me so violently that the sputum I was emitting was in our hair, on the window sill (I don’t remember there being glass in the window), and on the floor.  I wiped my face with my sleeve and said, slowly, “wwwwwwwwwwwwowwwwwwww!”  Two of the meat suits animating those previously panicked faces, upon seeing my sudden recovery, each grabbed for the bag, and Pat M came away with it.  In one continuous move held the open end over most of his face, squeezed the bladder-like portion, said something in a monstrously low voice, slipped on some of my sputum, landed on his back on the coffee table, and commenced to violently convulse long after we grabbed for our beers and the table collapsed.

Still stunned, I asked if that’s what happened with me.  “No, dude, you just ceased.”  Now about 40 seconds into his seizure, Pat emerged as suddenly as it had taken hold, and asked how long he’d been gone.  Such is the nature of Freon huffing.



I tried several entrances to the foreshore but only managed short segments of treasure hunting before the waters closed off access and I would be forced to go back up the wall and find my next entrance.  I wasn’t heavily into the treasure hunting aspects of it, though, happy to merely walk the secluded beaches and debris fields slowly emerging as the tide receded.  At the ferry to the Isle of Dogs I was cut off again but was able to wade around (above) the submerged bit without swamping my Wellies.

We got started doing Freon because, VC, another of our associates had driven me to Rose’s Department Store in his cripple-van (another episode of excess, a year or so earlier, found him crumpled in a car wreck with a broken neck).  I needed some car parts and while I was digging through the shelves he rolled up with a couple of cans of R12 freon (dichlorodifluoromethane, CF2Cl2) and a massive grin asking, “do you know how to use these?” in his distinctively nasal voice.  I knew he meant huffing it — we’d both mentioned that we did this as younger kids while our dads were refilling the car AC compressors — but I didn’t have a valve nor the money to buy one (and, wouldn’t we need a balloon so it would warm up a bit out of the can?  answer: no, just don’t get the liquid form on you).  He swung his begloved hand out of the bag draped over his wheelchair seat displaying the ice pick he had already shoplifted adding, “We’ll use this!”

[Side note: I once saw our VC get hustled out of another shop for nicking shit and he got away with it by screaming down the house: “you’re only doing this to me because I’m a cripple!”].


Cans of R12 similar to those we used


Sitting near the Putt-Putt course at the far end of the desolate car park, he balanced one of the cans upright in his lap, held the ice pick over its top with his left hand, and smacked it hard with the padded glove palm of his right.  The ice pick flew free but didn’t cause any damage; he stopped the liquid/gas flow out of the can with his thumb, held these a few inches from his mouth, then released it a bit to take in a huge lungful.  “Oh, yeah, this is GREAT!” he said, loudly and about 4 octaves lower than his normal voice (Freon is a lot heavier than air).  Then, he fell out onto the parking surface and I ran around to collect the can, now spewing all over the place…waste not, want not.  We finished that first can sitting on the pavement leaning against the front tire of the van.



A friend was in town from the States.  I say, “friend,” but we really haven’t seen each other in decades.  She and her husband begged off the foreshore walk despite an offer of a joint put in as a sweetener (they’re from California where weed is legal, so it wasn’t really much to offer).  Waste not, want not as the saying goes.

We started buying (and stealing) cases of this stuff as, over the next couple of weeks, more and more members of our circle of trippers began to participate (most of us with a case of localised frostbite to show for it).  One day, the little cannisters disappeard as a large, green tank freshly acquired from the roof unit above the multiplex cinema replaced it.  This was the R22 from the first paragraph and it seemed to have a much more intense mode of action.  R12 would have a few seconds onset where a cyclic, pounding/wind rush noise would engulf the user (these are the Wah-Wahs) ahead of 20-30 seconds of geometric visuals and perhaps a little glimpse at death from the user’s perspective.  Within 45-60 seconds, it is as if nothing had ever happened and you are ready for more.  A can split between a couple of guys will do about 10 times apiece; split 6 ways, it also did about 10 shots apiece due to less spillage.

The R22 tank was supercharged in that, while only lasting the same time to maybe 30 seconds longer, it was much less predictable and, often, much less fun because the trips lasted so much longer inside than anyone observing could possibly realise and mined personal inventories for their deepest and darkest insecurities.  R22 was the shit, and outrageously dangerous shit at that.  I still am baffled that no one died of it, directly, during that summer.  At one point, we were filling a bin bag with it and doing it out in my folks’ pond in about 8 meters of water.


The debris fields along the Thames are puzzling.  The walk along the Isle of Dogs a few months ago had one stretch that was mostly gravestone fragments and another that had an unusually high number of tampon applicators.  These U-shaped chunks of metal roughly 4 inches by 6 inches are strewn for 200 meters along this bank in plain site of the Tampon-Epitaph Beach.  What are they?  My guess was either some sort of large staple or broken links of chains (the more poetic of the two options).

Which brings me to the memories dredged up on this trip to the foreshore.

I had the keys to a house in Griffin Georgia in sort of a caretaker capacity for retirees to the Gulf Coast near Tampa in — I’m reasonably sure it was — 1984.  My duties were to keep an eye on it so that the sort of parties I was having there would not occur there in their absence and, in exchange, I could use the lake and premises in moderation.

There were about a dozen of us in and around the place, all tripping on some very good blotter but kicking it into overdrive with occasional blasts of the industrial Freon. When the owners walked in, I was sitting at the piano with CLW who was absolutely (and tunelessly) slapping the keys with both hands while banging out timpani on the front of the piano with the foot that he somehow got stuck in an umbrella stand an hour or so earlier.  There were several people having a tug-of-war with VC in his wheelchair in water deep enough to cover the wheels but not quite up to his chest.  RMA, who had been sitting with me and the erstwhile pianist, was just pulling her head out of a 6-inch-wide and inch deep dent she had just put in the plaster a few inches above the floor (R22 was involved).

That young woman with the massive bruise on her forehead is now quite middle-aged and visiting London (but, notably, NOT the waterside).  I was going to meet up with her and hers at a pub after the mudlarking, today.  But, I like this memory the way it is so I just picked up my treasure hunting bits and went to a different pub to send some bullshit excuse via email as our reunion meeting time loomed:



It’s not at all a great memory, though.  Of the people at the lake house that day, CLW became an ambulance chasing lawyer; I believe DH is now a drama professor; Pat’s a photographer. There were musicians, TMcB now part of the local canon in Athens Georgia, RMA a singer-songwriter (when it strikes her fancy, and despite the head injury described).  Our VC (musician) eventually committed suicide with prescription meds and another musician, Eric T, blew his head off with the handgun he suggested he and VC should use to shoot me on stage, y’know, for publicity (his brother, Kent, who was also there, died of an accidental drug overdose sometime in the early 1990’s). Yet another guy, Steve B, beat all of them for elan by killing himself with a nail gun squeezed to his temple.  There were others, but the statistically relevant sample of 10 shows 2 academics, 1 scumbag lawyer, 6 artists/musicians.  There were among those listed 3 eventual suicides plus 1 “death by misadventure” (that I am aware of).




There’s almost always something too big or heavy to carry home.  This bar is about 4 feet long and would make a great fireplace poker but I decided to leave it be.

I spent years before, during, and after these events honing a skill that has stood me well.  When someone calls out my name on the street or otherwise in public, I don’t react, flinch, give any acknowledgement that I am who they think I am.  I have actually been cornered by people who, it turned out after convincing them they have my doppelgänger and not me, were folks I actually was glad to see and I had to chase them down to explain this.

The Wah-Wah memories didn’t inspire confidence in the original plans for today.  34 years is just not long enough, yet.



You damn, dirty apes!  God damn you all to Hell!”




Random thoughts whilst reviving an old hobby   Leave a comment

Jokes on metaphysics:

A month or two ago, I heard a woman on — I think it was — a comedy panel show on Radio 4  wherein she pointed out something I am ashamed to have missed all these years.  A joke that all native speakers of English has known since early childhood is both much darker and more mystical than almost anything you’ve heard since.  It goes like this …

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.”

Death? Enlightment? See what I mean?






An Old Head Injury Story:

There was a bit of snow during the soggy Winter of 2000, and I drove from our home in Buggville, where I last practiced this faith*, to the trailhead of Cook’s Trail, a nature path some four miles along Sandy Creek.  I spotted some coppers chatting in the otherwise abandoned car park as I headed into the wood, struggling to balance on the slick mud but certain the icy bits would give way to something more firm a quarter-mile in.

At about a quarter-mile, I was between some boardwalks and immersed in radio on my headphones just a little ways short of the Highway 441 bridge when I caught a surprising glimpse of sudden movement to my right and tried, instinctively, to stop.  My feet slid out from beneath me and I was already heading down when a tree — A FUCKING TREE — grazed the crown of my head and slammed me to the ground with all the force you might expect when a 60 foot tall and 18″ diameter hunk of wood hits you.

I jumped up almost immediately but, dizzy, went right back down 180 degrees from the direction I had started.  I was bleeding like a motherfucker and, because of this and that, couldn’t stop laughing about it as I pulled my sweatshirt off to use as a makeshift bandage.  I had a formerly grey t-shirt under it which was now muddy all along the back and dark red down to my tits.  I emerged from the trail heading to the first aid kit in my car where the two police cruisers were still tip-to-tail a couple of car spaces away.  Shifting my hands to hold the soaked stanch of a sweatshirt with my left so I could fish my keys out with my right, I noticed they weren’t talking anymore…just staring at me (how rude).

I put on my dry kit which also got a bit bloody in the transaction, then went over to let them know what was going on.  “I guess it is only good and proper that the guy staggering blood-soaked out of the woods should introduce himself to the officers there,” I remember saying.  “Are you okay?” they seemed to ask in stereo.  “No.  I just got hit in the head by a falling, fucking great oak.”

They offered to take me to the hospital but I got one of them to put a couple of butterfly bandages on the flap of skin on my scalp instead.  One of them asked if he could take a picture so somewhere out there is a shot of me and his buddy leaning against my old Subaru grinning like Cheshire Cats.

But the point of this one wasn’t my incredibly bad luck (had I run through instead of trying to stop the tree trunk would have just missed me) or my rapport with the constabulary.

Instead, for several weeks afterward, my senses of smell and taste were scrambled.  For instance, smoking in bars was still legal and cigarette smoke suddenly triggered the scent of bergamot and a taste in my mouth of chocolate whenever I was exposed to it.  Odd to me, I talked with a friend and colleague from India about it and he wasn’t surprised at all.  Instead, he found it a very reassuring aspect of his own beliefs in mysticism.  I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt on these things, anyway, but that has stuck with me ever since.

*The practice was suspended, finally. in 2005 long after this anecdote, between our return from two years in Amsterdam and our departure for several years in Tucson where cacti were the more common sacrament.



“Stone” Mountain Easter Sunrise Service 1985:

I had a union card that allowed me to run projectors in cinemas AND I had a substantial debt to some Viet Namese gang members (I grew up with a couple of these guys and walked away from a muling gig in Denver Airport when I spotted some coppers — or, SOMEONE with ankle holsters — waiting near the pick-up place) so to work it off I wound up ‘managing’ a pornographic cinema across from South Dekalb Mall for them for 6 months (they found it convenient to have an articulate white guy with a military public relations background to liaise with the District Attorney’s office and officers).

I also maintained the completely DIFFERENT cinematic attraction on top of Stone Mountain at the same time.

I actually lived in the projection booth of the masturbation-and-cruising-emporium at this time since I worked there from 10am until 2am (minus a few hours every couple of days for the kids’ show maintenance on the mountain) but took a day off the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday to go enjoy the Sunrise Service which I was assured was breathtaking as the light filtered through across the flat landscape out toward South Carolina.  I arrived on the last cable car up (literally atop it, with some other park employees) that evening and ate a small amount of paper then went into the makeshift cinema and started playing music.

Really loud.  I got a call from the base of the mountain that they could hear it perfectly as they prepared to start shuttling the worshipers up starting around 4am but could I turn it down before the service started.  Sunrise was at 6:15 so I reckoned the crowd wouldn’t be so large and at 5:15 I started up “Dark Side of the Moon,” cranked the volume the last quarter-turn, and went out for a wee stroll in the dawns early light on the lunar landscape of the hill.

I forgot about the walking trail from the base.  There must have been 10,000 mushy headed Christians milling about not looking best-pleased about the musical accompaniment.  Them, and about a half-dozen Park employees tripping balls trying to explain that only one guy up there had the keys to the booth and he was kind of a weirdo.  I tried to blend in and just enjoy the light show but eventually one of the christian leaders and one of the sky bucket pilots found me.

It went a lot better than you might think.  “Dude!” I exclaimed as I recognised the middle-aged man.  “I thought you were barred.”

He looked at me, still raging, then recognised me as the fellow that threw him out of the Sunshine Cinema a couple of weeks earlier for blowing someone in the bathroom shitter while I was trying to wash my hair in the sink.  I had leaned over and was pouring rinse water over my head from a red picnic cup when I spotted his shoes sticking out from under the stall door.

Chastened by this turn of events, he asked VERY politely if I could turn the music down.  “I-I-I just don’t think this is exactly what constitutes a spiritual experience.”

“You’re absolute right, sir,” I apologised with a big grin.  “Let me give the ol’ knob a twist, and I’ll check back with you to see if it’s how you like it.  You’ll be around the toilet, I assume?”  I explained the situation to my colleague as we climbed the cable/rope ladder into the sound booth to return control of the show to the clergy.


[Picture showing successful Brixton mushroom farm removed by request]


So, there I was, no shit…: Your story is probably much more interesting than any of mine.  Use the time you would spend reading them to tell yours to a stranger (perhaps yourself).

Where’s Julie been working?   1 comment

“Fancy a trip to Wales?” asked the wife with this link attached:

Nice pun. But, now I’ll have this stuck in my head all weekend:

Posted June 30, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Drugs, Tourism

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Royal Hotel, Purfleet, Essex   Leave a comment


The dress code at the Royal Hotel concerned me.  I was dirty and sweaty and wearing sweatpants with paint on them and a tear in one leg.  I removed my cricket cap and hoped for the best.  I realised that I  needn’t have worried when I reached the garden:



The view of the Thames was obstructed, just after this photo, when a young man brought his beer out and stood on the far side of the wall to crush up a bud of skunk (trust me, you could smell the loveliness back in the City).  Three of his buddies showed up and one started doing the same while another went in for drinks.  They snorted something off the fourth one’s nails.  The bartender came down to help deliver the drinks as the first spliff was lit.  I remembered that the line, “drug use will not be tolerated,” was missing from the dress code sign.  Anyway, they were technically off the property, and they seemed like good boys.



I nodded to one of the lads as I left.  Various forms of ‘have a good day,’ and ‘see you around,’ were offered.  Like I said, good boys.  There is hope for the youf of today.

Posted May 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Drugs, Pubs

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Fig Tree, Uxbridge, Middlesex   Leave a comment


The photos are blurry because it had gotten dark during my run between the Militia and the Fig Tree.  I went in and it was disappointingly modern: this was the old Police Station, according to the upstanding local lads I was drinking with at the immediately preceding pub (although for the life of me I don’t know where they might have gleaned THAT info).

Busting to piss, I found the gents down the 13 Steps and jettisoned my cargo.  I was putting on my sweatshirt when two dudes noisily exited a single shitter stall.  They didn’t seem the type for the one explanation and seemed ENTIRELY the type for the other but without looking under the door earlier I’ll never know if Schroedinger’s Cat was gay or snorting coke (and, of course, Quantum Theory would have it that both were simultaneously true).

Refreshed, I returned to the bar and got a pint of Stella as this seemed to be the sort of place you either drink Stella or get a bottle of wine to go with that grand, Greene King cuisine on offer.  I made a note at the time that you are probably more likely to get into a fight here than at the Militia but that this is the sort of pub Greene King would prefer to operate at a loss while a community asset like the Militia goes under.  Pitiful on so many levels.



Posted September 23, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Jimi at the Atlanta Pop Fest, Byron, GA, July 1970   Leave a comment

Edie likes Jimi

I was eight years old and my family had just moved to a former fishing camp my dad bought about 6 miles outside Griffin Georgia (which is to say 10 miles from the middle of nowhere and quite the asshole of the Universe).  My sister was ferrile, but as my folks were going back to Atlanta to clear out an apartment (we had moved from Hawaii in the spring) they entrusted her with my care for the day.  She then stole their other car and loaded me up to go camping with some of her friends.

300,000 of her friends, as it turned out.  We went to the misnamed Atlanta International Pop Festival at the Byron Raceway another 60 miles south from our new house.


atlanta intl pop


She also loaded up some records hoping to get some autographed.  One, in particular, was Are You Experienced which she left on some grass outside our tent.  Dew covered, some microdots melted on it resulting in the stains.  She considered the album ruined and gave it to me; I still love the record and have laughed my ass off watching every friend to whom I have related this history over the last 45 years lick the cover.


This record has been experienced

Sadly, that’s what I remember of the show — I was only eight years old and overwhelmed by the crowd and excited to be camping in south Georgia nearly where I was born but also exotic to me as I hadn’t been ‘home’ since I was in swaddling clothes.  I knew it was noisy and there were a bunch of stinky hippies everywhere, but nothing about the musical line up registered at all nor would it have made any difference to me had it done.

So, this past weekend I put on what I thought was a straightforward Hendrix documentary called Electric Church (my cat loves Jimi) only to find that it was a concert film of his performance in Byron.  Jackie thought she’d be able to follow it by sound so I started while she mixed drinks in the other room.  The film opened with white text on a black screen describing the date and location and I stopped breathing.  Shit: I’ve been to a Hendrix concert.  Most of the other acts I would want to see (the Allman’s, BB King, Johnny Winter, Richie Havens) I eventually did, years later; others, I let slip by (including Grand Funk Railroad, Mott the Hoople, Procol Harum, Rare Earth, and Ten Years After).  I even worked with Colonel Bruce Hampton (Hampton Grease Band) in Atlanta briefly in the 80s.

I guess it means nothing, even less to non-fans.  To me — and, I’m sure, to those few of you out there who have left spittle on my Jimi record — it puts another piece in the puzzle.  Or something.

It ain’t over till it’s over…   Leave a comment

I wrote a note (in response to my removal from consideration for the LSD clinical trial) which was much more professional than how I presented my disappointment here, in this journal.  In thanking the Principal Investigator for considering me (in a subsequent note), I mentioned the likelihood that I would be “going off piste” soon with regards to a less controlled study of my own; he responded by wishing me a good ride and advising that I strap my skis on tightly.  The next morning I got a note from the clinic saying that they were reconsidering my participation.

Unfortunately, Bluto wasn’t right.  It’s over.


Posted February 9, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Drugs, work

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Book: Running Free by Richard Askwith   1 comment

Running Free book cover

“Runners are born free, and everywhere they run in chains.  Or, if you prefer, in chain stores.” — Richard Askwith, Running Free

I really enjoyed Richard Askwith‘s other running book, Feet in the Clouds, about fell running and the Bob Graham Round and have been meaning to get a copy of his more recent one, Running Free (on turning off the stopwatch and running with the hope and intention of getting lost — coincidentally, a major theme of this blog before you).  I finally got around to the Oxford Library for it Wednesday and have been reading it in Fartlek-like bursts ever since.

He isn’t against organised running or, rather, folks that participate in it; but, he rails against Big Running or, as I now think of it, the Running Industrial Complex.  In doing so, he treats us to a funny memoir of his path back to running the way you did as a child: fearless, inexhaustible, and with an infinite sense of wonder at the world around you.  Halfway through it, he has already described a year-or-so as the human quarry for organised bloodhound hunts in Northamptonshire and aimless treks across unknown territory with only the faintest memory (if any at all) of the maps half-studied before setting out — these stories are all too familiar and it is a pleasure to read his version of this sort of endeavor.

He is also at Age Four of what he describes therein as the Seven Ages of Running and which I see versions of all the time out in the pavements and parks:

First Age: Total Novice
Second Age: Zealot
Third Age: Striving for Peak Performance
Fourth Age: Conqueror of the Impossible Challenge

I was born into Age One if family stories are to be believed, impossible to stop running and never especially good at it.  I don’t know that I ever hit ‘Zealot,’ as a result and my period where I Strove for Peak Performance (in High School and my tentative first visit to University in the late-70s) coincidentally overlapped my heaviest use of psychedelics and earliest blossoming of the lifelong love affair with straight whiskey (yes, those of you who knew me in the 80s and 90s…the 70s were my drugs azimuth).  As a result, the Fourth Age has been my rut for most of the last 35 years and results in taking on events people think are difficult (like the London Marathon or the more difficult Snowdonia Marathon) and making them harder by drinking heavily throughout.  As a joke, I once set up a thing called the 30 Pack Marathon where you had to drink 30 twelve ounce beers evenly distributed along a full marathon distance in heat you probably shouldn’t even walk in; not only did the event happen, it is held annually in El Paso, Texas:

BJH3 30 Pack page


The Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Ages are still to be revealed in this tome as is a chapter on the Hash House Harriers.  It has been far too much fun, this read, as running should be when you are doing it right.  Give it a go, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

Posted July 10, 2015 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Drugs, Running

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