ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Han Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Heitham Black
   Jarvis Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Zachary C. Bush
   Tony Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   HélÚne Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conesa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Ron Dvorkin
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amelie Frank
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   David Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Lois P. Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Bernard Kennedy
   Raud Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Thomas KrÀmer
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Robert John Miller
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Toti O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Kristena Prater
   Luke Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
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   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
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   Peter Schwartz
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   Ken Scott
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   Lisa Segal
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   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
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   Dahn Shaulis
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   June Shiitake
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   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
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   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
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   Clinton Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
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   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
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   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
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   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
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   Jonathan Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Allen Taylor
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   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
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   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
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   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
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   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
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   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
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   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
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   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
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   Julie Yi
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   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
December 2007
   

 

Drugs And Rock 'N' Roll

(Part 1)

The first time I smoked pot was at a rock concert. The first time I got stoned was at a rock concert. They were not the same concert.
The first time I smoked pot was at a Ten Years After/ Procol Harum concert. It was on April 15, 1972; I was 14. I was in the front, near the stage. A joint came floating through the crowd. I took a hit. It did nothing for me, but I didnt expect it to. The point was, I had smoked pot!
    Although both bands are nearly forgotten now, they we both big names in 1972. Nowadays remembered only for A Whiter Shade of Pale, Procol Harum was a rarity -- a keyboard-based rock band. True, they had the virtuoso Robin Trower (another name almost vanished from memory) on guitar, but the two keyboardists, Matthew Fisher and Gary Brooker, were the true backbone of the group. Even more interesting to me, they were the only band I know of who had a lyricist (Keith Reid) considered a full-time member of the band. Their big hit that year was a live version of Conquistador, one of their early tunes.
    Ten Years After played blues-rock. At the time, their guitarist, Alvin Lee, was considered the fastest guitarist in rocknroll (a title he lost in the late 70s to Eddie Van Halen). In fact, I had positioned myself near the front so I could watch his guitar work, although I had absolutely no understanding of guitar technique. Nowadays, Id Love to Change the World is the one Ten Years After song to occasionally get airplay, but in 1972 they were best known for Im Going Home, a long guitar workout from their Woodstock performance.
    The concert was great, although I no longer remember much of it. I have a clear memory of a large grand piano on the stage for Procol Harum, and of Ten Years After playing a lot of blues and a lot of boogie. Procol Harum did play Conquistador and Ten Years After did play Going Home. I also know that for the next few years I considered it the best concert I had seen yet.
    But hitting that joint is what I really remember best.

    The first time I got stoned was an Alice Cooper concert a year later (the Billion Dollar Babies tour). That may seem like a long interval, but I dont think I smoked much pot in the intervening year. Also, it was pretty well accepted knowledge that you didnt get stoned the first time you smoked pot. (Do stoners still believe this to be true? Or is the pot that much stronger now?) My understanding is that this has less to do with the actual effect the marijuana has on you and more to do with your ability to recognize that effect. That is, you do get stoned, but dont recognize the experience as being stoned.
    Thats certainly what happened to me. Its only in hindsight that I can see just how stoned I was at the Alice Cooper concert. At the time, I just felt a strange disconnect between my mind and the show. I had to keep bringing myself back to the concert, like reminding myself, Hey, youre watching Alice Cooper, enjoy it. I walked out feeling like I had somehow missed half the concert.
    Whats really strange about this is that it is the exact opposite of most of my subsequent experiences of drugs and concerts. The drugs (especially marijuana) usually help break down the distance between my mind and the music, helping me to immerse myself totally in the music.
    All I can think is that I wasnt used to doing that yet. Not only was I not used to being stoned (and probably part of what was going on was my mind going, Hey, whats happening to me?), I was not used to experiencing music by immersion. Up to that point I had experienced concerts intellectually -- what songs are they playing, what kind of show are they putting on, etc. The notion of just immersing myself in the music hadnt yet occurred to me. Those moments of Youre at a concert, enjoy it were actually my mind fighting against getting lost in the music.
    Despite all that, I actually remember quite a lot about the concert (much more than the Ten Years After show). It was much more of a show than any concert I had seen before. The stage was amazing; a multi-leveled structure lit from beneath by bright white floodlights. Alice prowled this stage like a cat, and, at one point, (during the song Billion Dollar Babies) skewered plastic baby dolls with a sword. He was executed by guillotine while singing I Love the Dead, and he kept singing after he was dead. Although I remember many of the songs he played, I dont remember the actual music near as much as the show.

    The first time I got totally lost in music from being stoned was not even a concert. It was about a year later; I was riding around in the back of a van with couple of my high school friends. We were all very stoned. Very stoned. Whoever was driving played the first Aerosmith album, which I had not heard before. I got totally lost in the music, complete with multi-colored, abstract visuals to go with it. I thought it was the greatest music I had ever heard.
    The funny thing is, the next time I heard the album, I didnt recognize a single note of it. (Although nowadays I can listen to the album and imagine how it probably sounded to me that first time.)
    So my experience is that smoking pot is an acquired skill, one in which previous experience enhances ones appreciation of present experience. In a way, so is listening to music. At this point in my life (mid-teens), I was still learning to do both. Transcendental experiences (with both) still lay in the future.

(Part 2)

    Since my college days, drugs have always been a part of my music listening experience, and for the most part they have helped me enjoy and appreciate music. There was a time when I could tell you which concerts I was stoned for, but that was ages ago. Now, for any given show, (at least those post-high school) its save to assume that I was stoned. Or more. And for the vast majority of those shows, it has been a pleasurable, and even beneficial, experience.
    I realize that in todays climate, it is risky to come out, in any way, in favor of drug use. But I firmly believe that there is a difference between drug use and drug abuse. That is, not everyone who uses drugs abuses drugs. Many, many people use drugs to their benefit. Drug use is so prevalent in human history that it must meet some psychological, or maybe chemical, need in humans. This is not to say that drug use is not a risky venture, or to deny that there are some people who, again for psychological or physical reasons, cannot handle drug use of any sort. But I believe that the number of people who can, and in fact do successfully handle drug use is much higher than anti-drug propaganda would have us believe. I also believe we would have a much better chance of controlling drug abuse if we had an honest understanding of why people use drugs, both the pros and cons.
    To show I have some balance, some understanding of the negative side of drug use, Ill start out with some of my worst drug/music experiences.
    There was the time I went to an Iggy Pop concert on speed. Let me say, right off the bat, that speed is a nasty drug, one I certainly regret ever using. It is a drug in which the negative consequences far outweigh any (perceived) benefits. And it adds nothing to your appreciation of music.
    Nonetheless, in the six months after I graduated from college, I went through a period of being a minor speed freak. Im not talking week-long binges or anything like that. I mostly took it to get through a brutal work schedule (one of the waitresses where I worked was dealing it). But, since I had easy access, I was also taking it as a party drug.
    That spring, Iggy played Stage West, a huge barn of a venue in Hartford, CT (about an hour and a half away from Amherst, MA, where I went to school). A bunch of my college buddies and I all went to the show. My friend Eric was supposed to pick me up from work. I got off work, popped some black beauties in anticipation of the concert and sat down at the bar to wait for him.
    My boss, whom I hated (he was a jerk), sat down next to me and started chatting. I have no memory of what we talked about, probably the restaurant business, but I do have a firm memory of sitting there, starting to tweak pretty heavily, slamming beers and wondering where the fuck my ride was a ride that never showed up.
    Eventually I gave up waiting, and set out to hitchhike to the concert. All I could think of was the pounding I was going to give Eric when I got there. I no longer even cared about the concert; all I cared about was beating up my friend.
    Now obviously I would have been upset about this under any circumstances. And having to talk to my asshole boss while I waited only made it worse. But it was surely the speed coursing through me that made me even think about getting violent.
    Luckily, I got a ride fairly quickly, from people who were going to the concert who turned out to be friends of an acquaintance of mine, who turned out to be playing keyboards in the opening band. So, by the time I got to the concert, I had calmed down enough to just shove Eric around a bit and yell at him; no real violence. And then, I thoroughly enjoyed the concert.
    It took a couple more months, and my quitting that job before I realized that speed was not the drug for me.
    Other unpleasant experiences have been much more innocuous, like the time Eric Clapton joined the Rolling Stones for Little Red Rooster at the L.A. Coliseum (see the Flashpoint CD), and I was so stoned I was going, Huh? What? Eric Clapton? Who? Whats going on? But, as with the Alice Cooper story, that was more a case of the drugs interfering with my intellectual appreciation of the concert, not my aesthetic enjoyment of the music.
    Actually, like both of these stories, many of most my memorable drug/music experiences have less to do with listening to the music than with the externals - the story, shall we say - of the experience. And theyre not necessarily positive or negative experiences, theyre just stories.
    For example, I saw the guitarist Snakefinger at CBGBs in the early 80s. Snakefinger performed regularly with The Residents, a group of San Francisco weirdoes who put out some of the strangest music in all rocknroll. Yeah, were talking obscure on top of obscure here, but I like it that way. Snakefinger was one of those guitarists Im always attracted to, who play unlike anyone else, and make the instrument sound like something brand new.
    My friend Ken and I really wanted to be stoned for the show, but we didnt have any pot. So, I bought a dime bag of dirt weed off one of the street dealers near St. Marks Place, which is honestly the only time Ive ever bought drugs off a stranger on the street. And it was dirt weed. But it did the trick.
    We took our bag into CBGBs, sat at a table on the side, and proceeded to roll the entire bag into joints. It was a very good show, but the only part of it which really stands out is the slide guitar he played in a song called The Model (actually, a cover of a Kraftwerk song). Otherwise, my main memory of that concert is that we got away with rolling joints in CBGBs.
    Still, most of my drug/music experiences have been positive. Most of the time I enjoyed the show just a little bit more because I was stoned. However, there have been only a handful of times when the drugs enhanced the music to a truly memorable degree. There is a state of listening which I have come to call musical transcendence, in which the music takes you over, and all you are experiencing is the music. All your other senses and awareness drop away until there is just you and the music. And, for good or ill, I have found that drugs certainly help one achieve this state.
    I first experienced it at a King Crimson concert (look for the full story of this concert in an upcoming essay). I was on mushrooms for this concert, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Near the end, they played a song called Satori in Tangier (appropriate title) and I found myself completely lost in the music.
    Many years later I experienced the same thing at a Banyan show in a local club in Long Beach, CA. Banyan is a sort of SoCal supergroup, featuring, in the line-up I saw (it has a fairly loose membership) Steve Perkins (Janes Addiction) on drums, Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE) on bass, Nels Cline (SoCal guitar god) on guitar, and Willie Waldman (Snoop Doggs band) on trumpet. They play hard rock like it was free form jazz. The first time I saw them I was very stoned, and certain parts of their show, especially when Cline was shredding his guitar, took me away to that music only place.
    Now, Im not saying the only way to achieve musical transcendence is through drugs. If youre open enough, attentive enough to the music, and the music is good enough, it can be achieved on its own. But the drugs certainly make it easier.
    Many of my greatest moments of music appreciation via drugs were not concerts at all, but listening at home. I have a whole slew of stoned in the dorm room memories, getting totally lost in different albums. Rolling Stones Satanic Majesties, live King Crimson, and Phil Manzaneras K-Scope all stand out. Theres a series of descending guitar notes in the Whos live version of Magic Bus (Live at Leeds) which seared themselves into my memory one stoned night.
    Then, there was one moment of music appreciation in a more academic sense, when, while high, I suddenly realized something about how music did, or could, work on a structural level.
    I was home alone, tripping on LSD, listening to music. Not whole albums, just particular songs that really grabbed me. Riot Act, by Elvis Costello; 365 Is My Number, by King Sunny Ade; and Walking on a Wire, by Richard and Linda Thompson. Songs which, in my mental state, ust swallowed me up.
    Listening closely to Walking on a Wire, I suddenly realized something about the guitar solos. There are two guitar solos in the song. In the first, Thompson is almost fumbling around (but hes such a talented guitarist that even his fumbling around sounds brilliant). It sounds like hes searching for something, but cant quite find it. In the second solo, he nails, perfectly, the solo he was searching for the first time around. The tension of the search followed by the release of the finding make the song extremely satisfying to listen to, even when you have no idea thats what youre hearing.
    I have since noticed other musicians using the same technique. Neil Young does it, most noticeably in the studio version of Like a Hurricane. An interesting example is My Only Love by Roxy Music, on the live album Heart Still Beating, where the guitar searches for the solo, followed by a saxophone, which nails it down.
    Would I have discovered this without the drugs? Quite possibly. I listen to music quite closely at times. But, maybe not. It is possible that it took the drugs to get me to listen closely enough to notice.
    In closing, let me say that drugs are often a shortcut. That any revelation you get from drug use you almost certainly could have arrived at without the drugs. It might have taken you much longer, and much more mental effort, but all drugs do is open your receptivity to new ideas, they dont really create the ideas. Your mind does. Drugs have often been called the lazy mans enlightenment, and thats a pretty good description.

copyright 2007 G. Murray Thomas