Our Junky Forefathers: White Lines

It’s been a while folks, but after a long hiatus, the Our Junky Forefathers series has returned – and there is more in the pipeline! (Yes, I actually do have a pipeline. I’m more organized than you might think. You know any other active junky able to keep a site like this up? 😉 If you missed the prior videos in the series, they can be found in the Videos section above.

Oh alright, lazy bastards. You can find it HERE too.

The series is a video exposé chronicling our nations history and attitude towards narcotics since the beginning of the 1900’s. We started by taking a look at the evolution of the syringe, a tool which changed the face of modern medicine but quickly became the target of hate and stigma worldwide. We puffed our vaporizers and smirked at crass, outdated cigarette advertisements (Can you even believe they were legal??) printed in Philip Morris’ heyday before we were enlightened to the critical health risks they posed. We took a peek into the medicine cabinets of our late junky forefathers and envied their large, unscheduled medicinal supply, including legally purchased heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, strychnine, cannabis and the list goes one. After which, we grazed the pharmaceutical manufacture’s marketing efforts that made these now forbidden chemical compounds so appealing to our predecessors. In need of a little mindless entertainment, we headed to the midnight showing of Pulp: Drugs, Sex and Scandal! A demonstration of America’s original genre, pulp fiction and the influence drugs had on it’s scandalous and titillating pages.

We’ve watched as the tides began to change. The waves engulf the medicine of a bygone area and pull them away from our shores, slowly out into the oceans watery abyss. But as each new set of whitewater slowly lapped up the beaches, a variety of assorted pills and syrups, suppositories and ointments wash ashore with it. The new generation of medicine begins to arrive. With their discovery comes universal praise. Greedily, doctors and pharmaceutical companies, pharmacists and psychiatrists await at the shores, prepared to scrap, to play dirty in order to grab the next antidote ready to copyright. Throughout the masses, the murmur is the same, “How could we have not foreseen the horrible scars those past medicines would leave on our society!” “You! You were the one to first endorse it! I gave you too much credit by following your lead!” “But these new medicines! They will change the world! We will cure disease with these new medicines!”

Since the advent of the syringe, we’ve seen the rise and fall of patent medicines, fought through the Prohibition, watch the Harrison Act take the first steps towards making us criminals, seen previously flaunted snake oil “cure-alls” and miracle tonics poured into the gutter and banned. Suddenly they became fodder for seedy midnight pictures and naughty pulp magazines, fueling society’s underbelly – the temptress and the conman, the call girl and the gangster. Those who relish bad for the sake of bad. Once a staple in every home, the century’s first generation of medicine is now reviled, restricted and revoked. While a new group of medicine appears, the psychotropic, psychopharmaceutical and antipsychotics. These mood-altering, psychiatry focused, 2nd generation pharmaceuticals slowly fill the space left by their predecessors in abandon medicine cabinets across the country. No question, these drugs are more sophisticated than the prior elixirs. The later treating the symptoms of underlying alignments and the former aiming to treat the neurologic root of the problem. But as we know now in the 21st century, those drugs too simply masked symptoms – sedating, inhibiting, calming, relaxing and stimulating our moods until we were catatonic and unable to process any real feeling.

As we now know, the fate of these drugs was to meet the same end as the previous generations, cast aside as archaic and replaced by the third generation of benzos, z-drugs and SSRIs. I think it’s ironic that while this has all taken place, medicine has taken yet another turn to the 4th generation of pharmaceuticals, opiates many times strong than heroin or morphine flood the market, states individually approve medical cannabis and previously banned research on hallucinogens like LSD and psilocybin has been reestablished and is making huge strides towards legalization. Not to mention more modern drugs like MDMA.

And the tides come in and the tides go out, and the tides come in and the tides go out. And the cycle repeats.

In our little video series, Our Junky Forefathers, we’ve covered most of the century, and have come to the 1970’s. Discos, glam rock, late night clubs, big hair, big lapels, big shoes, bright colors, glitz, glamour and big-time parties rule the late-night scene. Free music festival and free love have been replaced with seedy music clubs, exclusive lines and boku bucks. Psychedelics and herb for amphetamines and cocaine – make that freebase cocaine, if you will. Quaaludes are at an all-time high. You’re gonna need something to help you come down from that bender. And Quaaludes will make you forget all that guilt left over from the hedonistic party last night (can I have two, please?). But they are still legal, for now anyway, so fuck it. Cocaine, however, is not. Although it’s so ubiquitous in some scenes that it’s legal status might have been questioned. It became the trademark drug of the decade and all the negative press that it received after its heyday in the early century was somehow forgotten. It became the signature drug for the decade, making its way into executive offices, pop culture references and every bar bathroom from sea to shining sea. In fact, a 2009 study discovered that cocaine residue can be found on 90% of US paper money in circulation, as confirmed by snopes.com.

With cocaine being the DoC of the decade and advertising standards that would make today’s consumer guffaw (as seen in Your Doctor Recommends Camels), it’s no surprise that there were plenty of eager businesses trying to capitalize on the trend. Take a look at the advertising from any decade and you’ll get a good feel for what the country’s attitude was on any given topic. From hailed medical breakthrough to outright prohibition, cocaine found a home in the 1970’s as a socially acceptable party aid.

Both funny and sophisticated, trendy and classic, the companies in these advertisements make it clear cocaine had surpassed all socio-economic barriers and made its way up noses across the county.

I present… White Lines (Or, Cocaine: A Classy Drug For a Classy Decade)


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