In the middle of all the Cocaine research, I remembered this song, and so all that studying I’ve been doing has a back story, which often happens when I get into researching. It takes off in different directions, sometimes twists and turns. So, here’s a little twist.
Saw him sing that at the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth, not too long before he died.
Van Ronk got the song from Reverend Gary Davis, who said he learned it in 1905 from a carnival musician, Porter Irving.
One of the people I interviewed about drug treatment for the story I’m working on, shared with me some of what he knew about the history of the drug, and its ups and downs.
Cocaine use has declined in recent years, and I asked him how come.
He said popularity for a particular drug goes in cycles. It will get a bad name and people will stop using it. Now, prescription opiates are the drug dejour, but that will change, eventually, too.
Drugs and alcohol have always been around. In 1863, Vin Mariani was a wine that had cocaine in it — it was endorsed by popes and physicians. Nobody said it tasted good. Sarah Bernhard used to say that Vin Mariani gave her strength.
In the 1900s, cocaine was in Coca Cola. Freud pushed cocaine. Some of his colleagues had problems with it. Frued said he kicked it. Lots of music was devoted to cocaine. In 1902, a pamphlet came out, “Eight Years in Cocaine Hell,” by Annie Meyers.
In 1906, we passed the Food and Drug Act, but before that, there was no such thing as a prescription in our country. In the early 1900s, that might have been the greatest period of addiction, but there were no social ramifications. People used to use laudium, everybody took it.
It was probably called something like Carrie’s Feel Good Tonic.
In the 1900s, the Chinese railroad workers were using opiates, but then other people started using opium. We passed the Harrison Act in 1914, which assoiciated drugs with crime, drugs on the street went up 500 percent because before that people didn’t have to steal to maintain a drug addiction.
It went out of fashion, and came back in with Easy Rider, Peter Fonda as Captain America and Dennis Hopper — they pulled off a cocaine deal and went around the country doing nothing and that’s when Cocaine started to come back into the culture.
It was popular through the 1970s and 1980s, then John Belushi died, and John Delorean had troubles because of it, and it went out of fashion.
Found this from last october. a dream and a story. One of those series of strange connections. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense.
It’s getting worse. Last night it was the government – the military that was after me, and for no good reason.
Every time I turned around, a surveillance plane was outside, tyring to get me in their viewfinder.
Of course, I hid. What right did they have to intrude upon my privacy? I hadn’t done anything wrong. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t done anything. For years.
The last time they flew by and hovered outside the sliding glass doors, grabbing the kids, I jumped behind a large potted plant in the corner of the room – not an especially luxurious plant, but hopefully, it was big enough that it would at least distort my features when they ran it through the image generator.
So, that’s what my life has come to. Take a year off, and now, people are after me. All the ones I don’t want — seeking me out, of course. Possible employers were certainly not knocking my door down.
Which makes me think about the value of what I do. Every single panel of volunteers would snap me up in a second. But pay me for my work? Nooo. Too expensive. Not necessary. We can do without. Makes me wonder. But I don’t know what to wonder.
About intelligence. Commitment to excellence. And just plain old simple getting it right. Not necessary. Too expensive. We can do without.
So, as things slide into mediocrity (including me), I jumped behind the ratty ficus in the hopes that a mere plant can protect me from peeping Feds. Fat chance.
It makes me angry more than anything else. At first I was surprised. But that was before I caught on. After all, I was squatting, although I hadn’t thought of it that way, so they had a right to intrude.
But now, the ficus plant? At least, it’s mine. And don’t remind me. I was squatting again, but it was in MY corner.
Why is it that every time I have to start over, I am too old? The old feelings of worthlessness creep back in. It must have something to do with hitting the decade mark. And for some bizarre reason, each decade changeover seems to be timed to some unsettling event in the outside world – not like there is any shortages of unsettling events.
I’m not sure how it started. Of course, that would be likely, because knowing is half the battle. I think it had to do with starting over. Again. This time, though, although my personal crisis was not so great, the world itself was in turmoil, so it was easier the first time around, but, then, it hurt more. Now, at least, there is some pleasure in what I do.
But this particular crisis has something to do with the horse painting. The most expensive one. Painted by Henry Stull, the guy who gave his horses eyelashes.
The woman, an acquaintance, asked to look at it. You know, she said, I meant to tell you. They don’t paint horses anymore.
I was annoyed more than anything else. But also grateful somehow. She was obviously wrong, but I was glad of the small flicker of recognition that maybe I was on to something. Maybe I had something left of value.
I took another look at the picture. I certainly had glanced at it millions of times. But I don’t spend anytime in my living room, and although the largest of my paintings, was not my favorite.
A smaller Stull of a dog is the one I like the best, and I haven’t even looked at that one. Which reminds me of my dad, and how he had looked and looked at them, enjoying them. Once a horseman, always a horseman, I guess. And I don’t fall into that category.
This one, the large painting, shows a dark horse jumping a hedge in a steeplechase race. Caught mid jump, It’s front legs reach for the other side, while the back legs have sprung off the ground. Flying, the horse appears to be flying, and the jockey – his face a mask of concentration, is the still point on the canvas.
It simply reflects what I’m feeling. There’s all that motion, the certainly that you will get to the other side and land on your feet, but the motion, you can’t exactly feel it, and caught in time, the world stands still. Does that make any sense?
The steeplechase was in Andover, near Cheswick, a course carved into the countryside, where fancy people used to go, watch, bet, and root the favorites on to victory.
Neither this horse or rider cares. They are not listening to the crowds – there are none in sight. Just beautiful countryside, wild, but contained.
The horse was not a favorite, at least of the race that day. But a steady gelding, he was a beauty in the eyes of his owner, who, for what it’s worth, loves horses, no matter their natural talent.
This one, his owner, Will Perry would say, had heart. That incredible love of the jump, the course, and running wild. Point it to a high brick wall, and the darn thing would take it on. Just in the course of things.
You don’t find many horses like that. The horse, though gallient, did not have stamina, and was more of a sprinter. But it could jump, and would jump.
Will had favored the horse since it was a foal. Its mother had died, and he had been the one to take care of it, nurse it. And even then, it had proved to be a spunky thing.
It was the endurance that was the problem. Well not even that. It was the speed that was missing. And that was what Will was working on. Heck, the horse was only a three year old. And it ran fast enough in the field when the hey was forked over the fence.
So, what was the measured careful gate once the race was off?