Open Letter to a Cokehead
You’re No Mick Jagger, Buddy
(This article is too good to not be shared / archived.)
I’ll get right to the point.
You have a telltale crust of white powder around your nostrils, and everyone in the room is a little too embarrassed (or a little too high) to say anything about it. You’re slinking off to more and more bathrooms and backstages these days, and returning with that red sting around your watery, shifty eyes. You’re scanning the room to see if anybody knows. Guess what: Everybody knows, and no one but you is laughing.
Cocaine has become Seattle music’s open secret, the affectation of choice among the hipsters, hacks, and hangers-on who are so desperate for glamour that they’ll recycle just about any tired-ass rock cliché you can name if it’ll buy them 10 minutes of feeling authentic. Like booze, crystal, and any number of other trendy intoxicants of years past, blow is simply the snack of the moment for all the lonely little fashion slaves rolling down the Pike/Pine corridor. That’s not how I like to think of you, but you’re making it difficult to see you any other way. Seattle loves to fetishize its addictions and frailties. It won’t be long before you see people wearing spoons around their necks again, just you wait.
And ultimately, who cares, right? I’m not one to moralize about drugs, and I’m not crying for you, Argentina. Everyone likes to get loaded, and I’m certainly no different, as you well know. I’m all for people getting as high as they like, as often as they like, on whatever drug they like. We’re all adults. We know what we’re letting ourselves in for. Drugs are addictive, and they can kill you–it’s all in the manual. No one’s forcing anything on anyone, and some people can handle it and some can’t and blah, blah, blah.
It’s not like cocaine hasn’t been here all along, anyway. It’s just, now that everyone’s doing it all the time, everywhere you look, it’s getting harder to ignore the fact that more and more of my friends and acquaintances are turning into paranoid wrecks right before my eyes. Is it sad? Probably. Tragic? Please.
If heroin is a selfish drug, cocaine is an asshole drug. This doesn’t mean that everyone who does it is an asshole. It just means that everyone who does it by force of habit seems to turn into an asshole–and I mean a complete, insufferable, obsessive, paranoid asshole. You can already see it happening–they’re getting gaunt, short-tempered, ugly. The fact that some of those assholes are/were talented, or sweet-natured, or even just fun doesn’t really mean that they’ll warrant sympathy when the inevitable wave of addiction, recrimination, and rehab starts to crash. Cocaine doesn’t choose you. You choose it. And you can keep it, frankly. If I sound biased, I am. If I sound like a prig, go fuck yourself, because I’m right. You’re not dying as slowly as you think.
As cocaine has re-emerged, so has the lingo, and so have the rationalizations. I know you believe you wear it well, but every time I see you cut and snort a rail of cocaine, or talk about having done so the night before, or exchange knowing giggles with a friend before slipping into a toilet stall, I can only think one thing: How quaint… just like my parents.
My parents were cocaine addicts, back when people believed there was no such thing. Some of my earliest memories are accompanied by a soundtrack of scrapes and snorts, wild parties, and bitter tears. The memory catalog also includes hysterical arguments, bankruptcy, and firearms. They both came out the other side, as most people eventually do. All they lost was their marriage, their 30s, their house, and their dignity. All I lost was my ability to trust happiness, my childhood, and my willingness to see cocaine as just another drug. To me, it’s a virus that sucks all the interesting out of people.
The problem isn’t the drug. It’s the culture that surrounds it, the fashion–because fashion is always the problem. Dear cokehead, you aren’t glamorous. You aren’t Mick Jagger. You’re not even Mick Fleetwood. You’re Jackson Browne. You’re Charlie Sheen. You’re George W. Bush. You’re my parents.
And I can’t wait for you to grow up.
P.S. And wipe that shit off your face–you look like a fucking clown.