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Just Cause Y'all Are Trippin' Anyway

Discussion in 'TRIBE Main Forum' started by Snapple, Aug 25, 2003.

  1. Snapple

    Snapple TRIBE Member

    Having just read some of the stuff posted on this board since Friday (and I am in awe), I figured I'd share this cause y'all gotta be on some serious shit to get so uppity over a meaningless (in the greater scheme of things) message board.

    Spam me. Berate me. Beat me. Hate me. Tease me. Fuck me - you all are some crazy motherfuckers.

    Peaz.




    It's 1988, I'm 18 years old, a sophomore in college in Philadelphia, and
    I've just got my hands on two hits of something called Ecstasy. I got it
    from a friend, who got it from his friend, who got it from his girlfriend.
    She worked in a psych lab and had grabbed a bunch of government-issued,
    vitamin-C-coated, grade-A MDMA. Or so we were told.

    I had first heard about Ecstasy a few years earlier in high school, back
    when it was still legal, back before the government classified it as a
    Schedule 1 narcotic, a class of drugs with maximum potential for abuse and
    no sanctioned medical use. I remember reading about young professionals in
    Philadelphia gushing about this new drug. Happiness in a pill. This was
    before there was much talk about Prozac. Or scary studies about
    MDMA-munching monkeys developing Parkinson's.

    I have always had an affection for altered states. My mom tells a story of
    how I used to love trips to the dentist as a 6-year-old because the dentist
    let me go on an airplane ride (helloooooo.... nitrous!). In high school
    there was no greater joy than parking with my pals at what we called Rasta
    Road, smoking bowls, and playing Gene Loves Jezebel over and over and over.
    When a plate of mushrooms walked by in college, I waved it on over. Ecstasy
    was inevitable.


    I spent that first night on E tripping with a girl I'd met when I was a
    teenager, adored at first sight, and a few years later began dating. That
    night, I took the train from Philadelphia to New York City and nervously
    handed her a tablet of MDMA. Over the course of the next 12 hours we had a
    psychological and sexual bond like none I'd known before. We were alive
    together in a singular and extended moment, at once engaged in our inner
    minds and outer selves. It was a dreamy swirl of conversation, sex, Diet
    Coke, and Rolling Rock. We felt what Ann Shulgin, a therapist and the wife
    of one of the drug's early researchers, Alexander Shulgin, calls MDMA's
    ability to offer "insight without fear." I later read that Ecstasy belongs
    to a family of drugs called "entactogens," which literally means "touching
    within." That's what we were doing. It was amazing.

    Around this same time, all over the globe, strangers who would later become
    soul mates of one stripe or another embarked on their own E experiments.

    Earlier that year, Vicki, a friend of mine from the school paper, took a hit
    of E with her boyfriend. They watched "Pink Floyd -- The Wall" all night.
    She had never seen or felt anything as fantastic in her entire 19 years of
    pleasure seeking. She later described it as "like having a six-hour orgasm."
    The next morning she awoke feeling refreshed and glowing -- and transformed.
    She had found God in a pill.

    Meanwhile, Pippi, a brassy Southern girl studying English lit at Dartmouth,
    first popped a pill with "two chicks and a dude." She took the drug in the
    library, downing it with water from a little plastic cup in the bathroom.
    They walked around campus and waited for the sun to set. Then they made
    their way to someone's room, a room filled with candles, weed and good
    music. They sat up all night and talked. She loved E. She loved how it made
    her mind feel. She loved what it did to her body. She loved the $20 flat fee
    for entry, open to any and all. She loved that the feeling of E lived up to
    the expectation that was building around it at that time. But what she loved
    best was the "immediate, sincere feeling of being connected with the other
    people -- the raw emotions we shared without hesitation." She had visuals
    too. She saw the page of a novel, black words on white background. Suddenly,
    the commas all fell to the bottom of the page, collecting in a circle. She
    later turned that image into a painting, a painting that sits in her
    parents' home to this day. "And boy," Pippi says, "do they have no clue."

    Across the pond at Oxford, Jordan (whose name has been changed), a teenager
    prone to depression and isolation, was at a club called Spectrum when he was
    first introduced to Ecstasy. Jordan remembers feeling the walls of his
    personality just crumble. "At first the experience was terrifying," he
    recalls, "a complete loss of control, like a descent into madness." But as
    he came down from the drug's peak and adjusted to the new state of mind,
    intense feelings of love, euphoria and compassion overwhelmed him. For
    several days afterward he felt like a sort of religious convert: While
    taking the drug he'd seen a completely different, utopian mode of being. At
    the time, this seemed and felt absolutely real.

    This extended tribe of fellow MDMA monkeys would spend parts of the '80s,
    '90s, and 2000s playing with this drug, and each other, wondering what was
    real and what was imagined, true utopia or a land of make-believe. We
    weren't the first people to experiment with E, and we won't be the last. But
    as part of the first significant group of people to become recreational
    Ecstasy users -- a generation defined (for better or worse) as Generation X
    -- we've played a part in taking MDMA from its adolescence into adulthood.
    We've grown up with this drug, and it with us.

    Writing in Rolling Stone in 1982, Marcelle Clements related her realization
    that marijuana was no longer fun for her and her fellow '60s smokers. What
    happened, she asked in a famous essay called "The Dog Is Us," to lead the
    people who glamorized a drug to decide to abandon it? A dog walking into a
    room full of pot smokers used to be the most hilarious thing in the world,
    she observed. Years later -- due to increased age, changing values, but
    mainly "ego-chewing paranoia" -- it was no fun at all. What happened? "'Why
    did you stop smoking' I asked people my own age, those I personally started
    smoking with in the mid-to-late Sixties," Clements wrote then. "Persons in
    this group, perhaps in part because they've been so often examined by the
    media (under the hideously titled category 'The Baby Boom Generation'), tend
    to be both articulate and self-conscious: they provide an unusually
    loquacious sample for this sort of inquiry."

    A touch more than 20 years later, I look around at my circle of friends and
    realize that the drug has changed but the question hasn't. Through expert
    opinions, empirical data, and many conversations with the people I started
    taking E with, I looked for that answer.

    This is our story.

    What was in the amazing drug? I can't even remember the first time I
    bothered to ask. The rumor in the late '80s and early '90s that E drained
    spinal fluid caught my attention. But my main thought as a 21-year-old who
    had done the drug about three times was: It's worth it, whatever the cost to
    my body. (The truth was that some Ecstasy research in the '80s involved
    withdrawing fluid samples from users via a spinal tap, and thus an urban
    legend was born. A spinal tap is the only way to lose spinal fluid.)


    As it turns out, Ecstasy was created by accident. In 1912 the German
    pharmaceutical company Merck was searching for a new anticoagulant and
    synthesized 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, as a part of that
    process of discovery. But the compound was never tested on people, and it
    lay dormant in the obscure pages of scientific journals. While there were
    reports of recreational use in the '60s (as well as military experiments
    testing MDMA's potential as a truth serum), the drug's breakthrough moment
    didn't come until the mid-'70s. In 1976 Dr. Alexander Shulgin, a senior
    research chemist at Dow Chemical Co. who had -- since the instant he
    received a shot of morphine while in the Navy -- been intensely curious
    about the effects of drugs on consciousness, resynthesized MDMA and then
    tried some on himself. Shulgin was amazed at the result. He found that MDMA
    produced an enchanting, mellow high, marked by a rich sense of emotional
    openness. He went on to become an outspoken advocate of the drug's
    therapeutic potential, coauthoring the first human studies in 1978 and
    suggesting that MDMA could help therapists unlock repressed emotions. The
    compound that started as an accidental byproduct was rediscovered as an
    "insight tool."

    In the '70s and early '80s, a small circle of psychologists and
    psychiatrists, following Shulgin's lead, experimented with MDMA. They
    nicknamed it Empathy and conducted therapy sessions with patients under the
    influence. Apparently, the drug -- which causes your brain to release
    massive amounts of serotonin -- allowed these doctors to dig deeper into
    their patients' psyches, with less pain (described in detail in "The Secret
    Chief"). "To paraphrase the pioneering MDMA psychiatrist George Greer,
    psychiatrists felt as if they had gone from working in charcoal to oil
    paints," says Dr. Julie Holland, an attending psychiatrist at the Bellevue
    Hospital Psychiatric Emergency Room, an expert on street drugs, and the
    editor of "Ecstasy -- The Complete Guide: A Comprehensive Look at the Risks
    and Benefits of MDMA." "What's so infuriating is that when you make a drug
    illegal, it goes underground, the quality goes down, yet of course people
    will want it more."

    Indeed, at the same time, MDMA attracted the attention of club promoters,
    who used it for their own commercial purposes. They called it Ecstasy and
    positioned it as a party drug. On July 1, 1985, in an effort led by Sen.
    Lloyd Bentsen, who had heard that Ecstasy was being sold in Texas bars and
    via 800 numbers, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) ordered an emergency
    scheduling of MDMA, placing it into Schedule 1, reserved for the most
    restricted class of drugs, such as heroin.


    The lines were drawn. "In essence the government said, since people are
    sniffing paints, therapists couldn't use the paint," Holland says. "The
    whole point of psychiatry is for the patient to explain what is going on in
    the mind. But because people were abusing this drug, a huge branch of
    medicine has been denied a powerful tool."

    - - - - - - - - - - - -


    Over in Europe, house music was taking off and Ecstasy use went with it.
    Inspired by the scene on the Spanish party island of Ibiza, the London-style
    warehouse rave scene was exploding and coming to America. "The drug was
    breaking down barriers in England's still rigidly class-stratified society,"
    says Jordan, who grew up in southern England and moved to San Francisco just
    before the millennium. "And it was peaceful: no fights and broken bottles.
    Just dancing. And this exhilarating new music: house. Meanwhile, we'd just
    come out of the Cold War: Armageddon hadn't happened and for the first time
    in a decade we were free from fear of annihilation. So with the combination
    of the drug, the music, and the social and political changes, there was this
    incredible sense of something happening."

    "Every modern music scene has been associated with drugs," says Douglas
    Rushkoff, a longtime chronicler of rave culture. "Big band had booze, rock
    'n' roll had pot, psychedelic music had acid, disco's drug was cocaine.
    Raves first emerged out of a growing discontent with commercial club
    culture. Discos were dominated by the culture of alcohol and cocaine. Raves
    said: We can play with each other without intermediaries. We don't need to
    pay the mob-run disco and get past the bouncer to have fun."

    I love talking with Rushkoff. The author of the novel "Ecstasy Club" and an
    expert on media, the Internet, and rave and other cultures, Rushkoff unfurls
    Talmudic takes on these topics, topics that my friends and I have ourselves
    yammered on about late into many an evening.

    "If I were to guess the drug trajectory of you and your friends," he says
    between bites of a burger in a cafe in New York City's East Village, "I'd
    say it was marijuana, acid, mushrooms, Ecstasy, coke, and/or speed."

    Pretty close. Yet this wasn't the trajectory on which my largely middle- and
    upper-middle-class friends and I envisioned ourselves. Our organizing drug
    principles were more organic. Pot and 'shrooms were natural. Even acid,
    though made in a lab, seemed to be more about the mind than the body. We
    didn't do nasty, "dangerous" drugs like coke or meth or heroin. That shit
    was evil. Deadly, even. But E was different.

    Among its many other wondrous qualities, it wasn't addictive, at least not
    among the group who coalesced around this drug in and around San Francisco
    and at our "come one, come all to the desert" festival, Burning Man. We were
    a group of creative, smart individuals -- work hard, play hard, was what we
    did, in every sense of that overplayed expression. Our recreational drug
    habits were impressive, sure, but we also had our lives together.

    "E built a tight connection to a community where we could trust or depend on
    one another," says Victor (not his real name), 34, a rocket scientist living
    in San Francisco. "We'd be in these love puddles, lying around with friends
    and making connections we'd otherwise not make. We could kiss one another,
    we could be physically intense without sexual predatorship or false
    expectations. It was fun and frivolous, but it really meant something. You
    were in a space where you could think no wrong and do no wrong and you could
    carry that head space with you to other situations when you were sober."

    "Until this time, I was always an outsider," says Wren, 37, who grew up in
    California's San Joaquin Valley -- ranch country -- "a culture where you
    just didn't touch each other." She now lives in Missoula, Mont., where she's
    a large-animal veterinary assistant. "E cemented the group thing. You went
    to a party and you kind of knew each other and then you took this drug and
    there was that shimmer -- like a light above a lake. An incredible warm
    rush. Suddenly we were One."

    So for a few years, a group of people who had first tried MDMA in other
    places --- in college on the East Coast, in high school on the West Coast,
    or as self-loathing youth in London -- came together. Extended friends as
    extended family. We were trying, in the words of Rushkoff, "to take an
    evolutionary leap, to add more people to our posse than we had in old
    caveman clans." E was the social lubricant for our new networked reality.

    The E was kicking in.

    Boys kissed girls, girls kissed girls, and boys who had just a few years
    earlier thought it would be really weird to kiss another boy found out that
    it wasn't. We did E with best friends and bosses, in bars and backyard
    barbecues, on hikes and in hot springs, with people we were sleeping with
    and people we weren't. We did E at bars, on beaches, at weddings, in Santa
    Claus costumes. All for E and E for all! We were shimmering, we were
    shammering, we were zigging, we were zagging. We were a collective Dionysian
    fantasy fueled by a little pill discovered by accident. We did E with
    elaborate planning, and on the spur of the moment.

    We even did E by accident.

    Once, after a particularly raucous weekend of partying that was to end in a
    quiet Sunday night with a couple of 5-HTP pills -- a popular pre- and post-E
    supplement -- William (not his real name), the 33-year-old owner of a Web
    services company in San Francisco, accidentally gave himself and his
    girlfriend Suzanne (not hers either) another hit of E instead of this
    serotonin booster. While that made William the butt of jokes for years, even
    then there were few regrets. "For the record, I have alwa
    ys found it great that William dosed us," says Suzanne three years later. A
    28-year-old editor at an online music site, she was recently engaged to
    William. "One, our friends learned the mantra 'Mark your pills, people.' And
    it was especially hilarious at the time, once I convinced William to enjoy
    it. We spent that night talking, and it was the first time he said he
    thought we'd spend the rest of our lives together."

    We had good jobs, good friends, and an enviable lifestyle. We smiled and the
    world smiled back.

    It's probably 1998, though I'm not entirely sure, and I'm at Burning Man.
    When my friends and I first started going to this desert festival (an event
    that, despite articles like this, is not mainly about taking drugs), we
    might have taken Ecstasy once or twice over the course of four or five days.
    Now, we're popping E once or twice a night, almost every night, over the
    course of a week or more. Chemically, it makes no sense to do this -- once
    you've shot your serotonin wad, it just can't return to levels at which MDMA
    can affect it. (This is why people like Alexander Shulgin don't do the drug
    very often, nor advise others to.) More serotonin in your system means more
    happy and relaxed feelings, so you sort of want to keep serotonin around.
    But I don't know this yet. And if my friends do, it's not a hot topic of
    discussion.


    My third day in a row taking E: It's still daylight when I take a pill and
    at first it feels pretty good. It's somewhat speedy, which is not ideal but
    also not surprising, given how the quality has been slowly but surely
    deteriorating over the past few years -- leading to a slippery slope of
    delusion. ("Maybe this time it will be good. Maybe if I just take two hits
    it'll work like it used to.") My girlfriend couldn't come this year, and at
    first the pill is kind of fun, liberating even -- "Look, Ma, no girlfriend!"
    Then I start to miss her. A lot. I feel lonely and sad and scared. And then
    sick. I puke all over the dusty desert floor. Others have taken this same
    batch and are fine. But my body didn't want MDMA, or whatever else might lie
    in this little powdered pill someone got from somewhere and at some point
    gave to me. Collecting my disgusting self, I drink some water and join some
    friends who are enjoying another perfect sunset. Nigel, a graphic designer I
    met during my first "real" job and the person who introduced me to the
    desert a couple of years before, notices that something's wrong. He puts his
    gentle British arm around me and asks me if I'm all right. I say I'm fine.
    He brings over a few more friends and tells them that he thinks I am missing
    my girlfriend and so they need to keep me company.

    That wasn't the worst trip I've had, not even close. The worst experience on
    E was the night six of us decided to take it together, including one E
    virgin. We all took a pill that I had personally procured, and after 45
    minutes it kicked in. But the virgin didn't really feel it. We decided to
    take another half each. A few minutes later, the first-timer had a seizure.
    He flopped on the ground surrounded by his terrified, panicking wife and a
    bunch of tripping, totally freaked-out friends trying to figure out what the
    fuck to do. A few minutes later, he came to, explaining that he had a
    history of seizures. That night it became painfully clear to me that a guy
    handing out drugs ought to be more acutely aware of its possible side
    effects. Days later, two clicks of the mouse taught me that people with a
    history of seizures aren't ideal candidates for E. Had he died, everything
    would be different. Among other life changes, there's certainly no way I'd
    ever take E again, and I would probably be traveling around the country
    telling high school kids about the dangers of drugs. But he didn't die. He
    soon felt better and stayed up most of the night happily talking. He'd done
    his last pill, sure. But the rest of us hadn't.

    Few of the trips since then weren't what I'd call bad; they just weren't all
    that good. We were doing it too much, feeling it too little.


    "When you do it twice a month it starts to get boring," says Pippi, now 35
    and a marketing executive at a software company in Silicon Valley. "You get
    into an E rut, the same E friends doing the same E thing. You feel like
    hell. Why I am taking this and where is this taking me? That's the
    depressing side. I think it comes with age, too. You need to go to higher
    highs as with any drug to be happy with the high."

    With each trip, the downside seemed to be getting more down.

    "It stopped being all sexy and friendly," says Robert, a 31-year-old
    carpenter whom you could count on to do anything and everything, usually all
    at once. "It started being a hassle, an ampy, nasty feeling that had become
    more of a ritual than a choice. And by the way, I don't really like to
    dance. It's like, how come when I'm sober you can't get me on a dance floor,
    but when I'm all hopped up on the goof, I'm out there flopping around like
    Rerun from 'What's Happening?' That doesn't make sense at all, but I was
    trying to force it to work, force it to be fun again."

    For Nigel, 39, it worked reliably for a number of years. Then it stopped
    working. "Not abruptly," he explains, "but over a period of a couple of
    years. I'm not sure if I've done too much, or if the X is too speedy, but
    often I feel depressed two days afterwards. More than that, while I still
    have a good -- though not great or mind-blowing -- time, I'm conscious of
    the fact that I can see through the artifice of the drug. While before I
    could easily suspend disbelief, nowadays I'm aware -- naggingly conscious --
    of the fact that I'm being tricked into thinking I'm happy. My brain tells
    me: You're happy now. But that's 'cause you're on drugs. Just wait till
    tomorrow."

    I had to ask, like Carrie Bradshaw tapping out another obvious yet
    irresistible column: Was the X getting worse, or were we getting too old for
    it?

    Coming Thursday: Monkey gone to heaven: One primate expired during a
    landmark Johns Hopkins medical study. How are the four other monkeys -- and
    less furry Ecstasy users -- doing?

    salon.com
     
  2. Bumbaclat

    Bumbaclat TRIBE Member

    did anybody read all that?
     
  3. PRIMAL

    PRIMAL TRIBE Member

    no, i gave up
     
  4. OTIS

    OTIS TRIBE Member

  5. Temper Tantrum

    Temper Tantrum TRIBE Member

    No, but when someone does can they post a summary? ;)

    ~allie~
     
  6. Syntax Error

    Syntax Error Well-Known TRIBEr

    i looked at it for 2 seconds. does that count?
     
  7. Temper Tantrum

    Temper Tantrum TRIBE Member

    Coles notes for tribe STAT!

    ~allie~
     
  8. chooch

    chooch TRIBE Member

    its about takin' e and how it feels on e and what you do when you do e for to long or just the crazy shit you do when you are trippin'..i think
     
  9. Syntax Error

    Syntax Error Well-Known TRIBEr

  10. chooch

    chooch TRIBE Member

    without e you would be syntax rror oh...i think you like e...alot!

    <----see i don't need e...! ha
     
  11. Yourmamas

    Yourmamas TRIBE Member

    Read the first little bit. It was interesting, but I couldn't read the whole thing, the MDMA has fried my attention span :)
     
  12. Eccentric (LRG)

    Eccentric (LRG) TRIBE Member

    the E is getting worse......... which sucks , cause on e apon a time I liked it. Now I can't really stand it.. if its there I'll do it but I ain't gonna look for it :(
     
  13. Syntax Error

    Syntax Error Well-Known TRIBEr

    touchay.
     
  14. Prickly Pete

    Prickly Pete TRIBE Member

    I read it... and I don't know of what benefit it was to me.... its talks about how doing e alot gets boring cause you have no serotonin left...

    maybe that is his point... he figures everyone on here does e all the time so they have no serotonin and hence all the fussin and fightin on tribe...

    then again... I am just tryin to rationalize what the hell was the point to me reading that whole article...
     
  15. chooch

    chooch TRIBE Member

    now hug me!
     
  16. twist

    twist TRIBE Member

    if fraggles were real i'd fuck at least three a day.
     
  17. Syntax Error

    Syntax Error Well-Known TRIBEr

  18. chooch

    chooch TRIBE Member


    :D
     
  19. Eclectic

    Eclectic TRIBE Member


    Crap, I'd be clctc

    That sucks.

    I need a few E's....

    ;)
     
  20. alcid

    alcid TRIBE Member

    possibly the funiest thing ever posted. ever.
     

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