From the November, 1981 issue of High Times comes Robert Lemmo’s comprehensive (albeit satirical) survey of the effects of drugs on pre-, post- and illiterate societies. Robert Lemmo’s course will include detailed analysis of such world luminaries as Alexander the Great, Kublai Khan and Conan the Barbarian.
Robert Lemmo: Dope History 101
Dope is not the basis of human evolution by mere chance. According to the most widely accepted modern view, termed the Big Bong Theory, the universe was born when whirling expanses of seething gases, carrying the germs of life, congealed into the concentrated masses we now call stars and planets. These vital clouds were, of course, exhalations of high-grade cannabis produced by Zeus and the other major deities, a fact long known by ancient Phoenician and Sumerian cultures and forgotten until just a few minutes ago.
Who can say whence the gods scored? Even the most arcane and comprehensive journals of dope lore in the High Times archives are somewhat unreliable concerning what went on from the dawn of time until about 10:30 that morning. The journalistic tradition of sleeping late apparently has roots that run very deep.
It should be noted, however, that god spelled backwards is dog—the very dog that has been a key term in the doper’s lexicon throughout the ages. Way back in history when Conan the Barbarian would bark at an adversary, “Eat sword, dog!” what he was really saying was, “Eat sword, dope!” The term’s most recent revival came in the 1950s and `60s in the United States, when drug anthems disguised as “doggie” tunes inundated the airwaves.
When “Walking the Dog” proclaimed “she broke a needle and she can’t sew,” few listeners failed to comprehend the reference to the illicit use of a hypodermic syringe. The plaintive “(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window” broke hearts across the entire nation with its sorrowful portrait of a middle-aged floozy who realizes to her horror that she’ll do absolutely anything to obtain that “doggie” (“dooje”—heroin) in the “window” (glass syringe).
But I digress. While we may never know where the gods copped in the dim past, by about 3000 B.C. it was evident that the man we know as Noah was the busiest and most respected dealer in the known world. A Babylonian tablet dating from 2000 B.C. bears the inscription: “Noah had everything. I mean everything. And always excellent quality too.”
Of course, the “pairs of animals” that Noah stored away on his ark during the time of the great flood were actually breeding stock of all the dope-producing plants of the ancient world. Noah and his family wanted to ensure that they’d be able to have a few laughs once the deluge subsided, and, being expert in these matters, he knew that coca bushes fare poorly when submerged under six miles of wrath-wrought ocean.
Not only did Noah preserve mankind’s future, but as luck would have it, there were a variety of spider mites and aphids and such on the pot plants and opium poppies and they survived too, and flourished and evolved into the penguins and elephants and all the animals we see around us today. While dangerous rogue skeptics in the scientific community have sought to discredit this account of the creation, I think it suffices to say that Noah’s ark spelled backwards is kras’hoan, which is Antediluvian for crash. I leave it to the intelligent and fair-minded reader to draw his own conclusions.
Another 4,000-year-old Babylonian tablet gives us the first written record of drug abuse, documenting the arrest and execution of a cuckolded fig farmer who was found to be whipping and scalding a small plot of bhang plants in his backyard.
Speaking of the sandy past, all the scientists in the Western world who are not detestable swine think that those two tablets Moses carried off Mt. Sinai had to be made of something a little more “punchy” than granite or quartz. LSD or Percodan, according to most serious researchers. As far as the “burning bush,” it refers either to Moses’ gluttonous ingestion of cannabis or his torrid, if embarrassing, affair with a certain Susi Osiris, a voluptuous exotic dancer known throughout the Holy Land as the “Assyrian Firecracker.”
While it is well known that Christianity began as a magic mushroom cult, few are aware that even Jesus was adopted as a code word for coca by early dope users. For modern corroboration of this relationship, one need only observe the proliferation of fast-living Hispanic major-league baseball players who sport the name.
But let us not get ahead of the story. About 1000 B.C. the Phoenicians invented the alphabet so that they could write down all the funny lines that occurred to them when they were stoned on kif. A little while later the Greeks dumped tons of adulterated narcotics (or “wooden horse”) on the Trojan market, bringing a quick end to the Trojan War. Then things got a little tiresome.
Alexander the Great conquered the world but complained that he still couldn’t put his hands on any really primo hash. Caesar and Charlemagne echoed Alexander’s Lament, as it came to be called. For almost 200 years, Holy Crusades were launched in an effort to find something other than blond Lebanese. Then, in 1215, King John of England was presented with a shipload of two-toke Nepalese and pronounced it a “Magna Carta” or “Big Deal.” The Spanish, who had been reduced to smoking ditch grass for almost a century, initiated the Inquisition out of spite.
Even when the adventurous Marco Polo left Venice and traveled to Cathay (China), becoming the first European ever to cross the Asian continent, he found the trip dreadfully dull: one camel-fouled desert after another. Upon reaching Cathay, however, Polo was introduced to the joys of opium by Kublai Khan, a comely songstress who had a Nubian band that was really hot.
Polo languished in Cathay for months, smoking opium by day and pursuing Ms. Khan’s romantic affections by night. Brought to the brink of poverty by his two expensive habits, Polo decided to start eating opium and write an outlandish, delirium-colored account of his uneventful trip. He received a huge advance on the book but was forced to leave Cathay when he discovered that in the local dialect his name, Polo, meant both “hashish” and “anal sex.”
A little later, Columbus finally decided to discover America and things got moving again. Actually, as any school kid knows, Columbus was not the first white man to reach the shores of America. Leaf Erikson, a Nordic narcotics mogul, already had thriving cannabis plantations established all along the east coasts of North and South America by the time Columbus stumbled across the New Land.
Columbus soon learned that while Erikson’s profits were enormous—he had most of Scandinavia and half the New World hooked on the weed—the man’s organization had grown fat and vulnerable. Columbus considered attacking Erikson with just his three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but then thought better of it and sent for his ace ship, the Mafia. This was a stout, no-nonsense vessel filled with battle-hardened men.
With the arrival of the Mafia, Erikson’s forces were routed in short order. To his credit, Columbus allowed Leaf a patch of South America to retire on; but to bust the chops of his vanquished foe, Columbus decreed that the place should ever be known as Colombia, and directed that it often be misspelled as “Columbia” in official documents. History can be so elegant.
Columbus’s men were poorly organized and with time the luxurious dope plantations of old began deteriorating. Early settlers of this New World faced fearsome hardships. Barely sheltered in crude shacks, the newcomers were assaulted in 1667 by one of the worst recorded dope shortages in history. Indians being notoriously cheap with their weed, the desperate Pilgrims were forced to smoke ham. Thus was a cottage industry born, but there were many that did not survive that cruel winter.
Quaaludes were most likely invented sometime in the late 1700s, by none other than that old philanderer, Benjamin Franklin. How else to account for this entry in the Great Man’s diary bearing the date of August 19, 1781?
The bovine contours of her undulating neck became to me as folds of fertile flesh; I yearned to plant my seed in each and every moist furrow. I leapt to cry out my delight but got tangled in her bodice and fell heavily. When I next opened my eyes, I felt the oppressive vexation of a large object pressing on my shoulder. I attempted to brush it off, whereupon to my utter consternation I realized it was Mme. de______’s parquet floor. I shall set down more of my queer adventure, but later on, as my demeanor is growing gravely vomitose…
Towards the end of the 18th century, Samuel Taylor Coleridge caused a literary sensation with the publication of his poem “Kubla Khan” The sensation turned into an uproar when it was revealed that Coleridge wrote the classic while under the influence of opium. We see the same scenario repeated throughout literary history as when it was revealed that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” while on cocaine and Erich Segal penned Love Story while high on aspirin and a cola drink.
It should be noted here that in 1864 Simpson (who first isolated chunk light from crude tuna) was able to produce morphine from opium poppies, but he never let anyone else know about it. But time and progress marched ever onward and by 1900 approximately half the population of the United States of America was addicted to some type of drug.
Most of these people had to be shot. The rest were able to pull through with the help of legislation that ordered the removal of narcotic substances from over-the-counter products previously loaded with large doses of drugs. First the cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola, then the marijuana from Mary Jane candies, the speed from Alka-Seltzer, the hash from corned beef and finally the heroine from Gothic novels.
Even as the rigorous suppression of drugs was taking place in the United States, the lands to the south, especially Mexico, were keeping the dope lamp turned up brightly. In fact, the peasants who were Gen. Pancho Villa’s army of liberation fought because the general kept them supplied with powerful Oaxacan buds and promised them an unending paradise of fat colas should they somehow achieve victory. The life of a Villista fighting for dope is poignantly captured by the words of the soldiers’ traditional song, “La Carmen Vega”:
Aye, Aye, Aye, Aye—Quandos tornados?
Beefomo di-lingual pirana dudu,
Plinkato, tornado hey fuckal ucktoo.
Which, when translated into proper English, reads:
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez—At what time is it that I will get off?
I want to sing, dance with vegetables and give advice to a dolphin’s mom,
Who’s to know my fat wife, Quinella, has gratuitous organs?
One of the greatest drug stories of the 20th century came out of Egypt, the land where the Great Pyramids have mystified humanity for thousands of years. For most of those millennia, there have been those who believed that the philosopher’s stone, which held the secret to transforming base metals into gold, was hidden deep inside a pyramid.
The existence of the magical catalyst was proven in 1943, when archeologists succeeded in penetrating the central throne room of the great Cheops pyramid. There they found the philosopher’s stone—a perfectly preserved 4,500-year-old dry martini with olive—stirred, not shaken.
There has been a glut of idle speculation concerning a purported proliferation of dope in the United States in the period 1960 to 1990. Any scholar worth his methamphetamine salts will tell you there is absolutely no evidence to support such irresponsible contentions. The plain truth is there appears to have been a complete drug drought throughout this period. In fact, the first known reference to drugs in the United States in the latter half of the century occurred in 1992, and it describes the celebrations that followed the announcement of the legalization of all drugs.
The rare “videotape” (which somehow miraculously survived the Los Angeles freebase riots of 2109) shows that on the “Tonight” show of August 6, 1992, the entire cast and crew reveled in a bacchanal of drugs to mark the repeal of dope prohibition. Of particular interest on the tape was one jocular, rotund fellow of about 70 years, who laughed wildly while crushing a huge knob of sinsemilla onto the top of a shoebox and loudly exclaimed, “Man, oh man, there’s nothing that beats breaking open a fresh bud.”
The first new drug fad to develop in the dope-liberated United States started around 1995, when an ex-high school gym coach named Jocko Laharey introduced a line of fast foods fortified with sex hormones. Laharey had amassed a fortune from the sales of his 1992-93 best-seller Brown’s Guide to Fish Massage . The most successful of Laharey’s food lines was the “HE-Man” frozen dinners, which were advertised with the slogan: “Something a man can sink his teeth into. With two—yes, two—grams of testosterone in every serving.”
The 21st century has not been a fun time for drug abuse. In addition to the aforementioned freebase riots, in 2027 as part of secret CIA-Army experiments, Dr. Elmo Nightshade developed a drug that immediately gave the subject the power of astral projection at will. The chemical, which was dubbed “astrodome,” generated enormous optimism in the Pentagon. Seasoned generals were positively a-twitter at the thought of an allied army of ethereal stormtroopers; however, a scandal ensued when a barrel of the chemical was diverted from Army stores and sold on the streets of Bethesda, Maryland.
Kids took to astrodome with a passion and soon bootleg chemists were mixing up vats of the stuff. The results were disastrous. Often combining astrodome with Quaaludes and/or cheap wine, young users would turn into raucous souls careening through the atmosphere, smashing into each other, wailing and puking up protoplasm. It was not a very pretty sight and the phenomenon threatened to reach epidemic proportions. Ultrastrict enforcement and the selective liquidation of maverick chemists has brought production of the drug to a virtual halt, although it is rumored that the Groin Police employ an astrodome derivative in their Nocturnal Practices patrols.
The course of humanity and the solar system, I might add, was forever altered in 2147 when it was reported that smoking Mars can get people very high. Before the story was found out to be a massive hoax, a consortium of Florida entrepreneurs cut the red planet into 100-pound rectangular pieces.
Well, we all know what happened next. The ultimate drug: black holes. In the words of Alpha Kerri, noted black-hole aficionado, “Talk about wasted. A trip through one of these is like putting your ground brain cells into a Melitta and pouring boiling LSD over them, Toots.”
July 15, 2158. An underfinanced mule attempted to smuggle a ragged suitcase full of small black holes into New York’s Steinbrenner Spaceport. The shoddy case burst, the black holes escaped—and the earth has hurtled wildly through space and time. One minute, the pinnacle of success—a thriving, popular planet right in the middle of the galaxy (what a view!). The next minute, the earth was bounced to its current less-than-enviable position out in the godforsaken boondocks of Nova Jersianus.
Of course, New York City itself vanished from the face of the earth as a result of the accident. Its buildings intact, its people no more dead (to the eye) than before the incident, the ill-fated city now seems doomed to wander the lonely cosmos on its own, its orbit bringing it close to earth only once every 400 years. But it all hasn’t worked out so badly—as they say New York is a nice place to have visit, but we wouldn’t want to live here.