Heroin is a mother drug. It puts you in the warm safety of the womb where everything’s fine. – Tom Verlaine
Everyone loves heroin. Opium, morphine, laudanum (those were days), methadone, codeine, Robitussin, the whole far-flung family and lookers-on and hangers-on, fucked up or following the beat of a different drummer (right next door, the tom-tom club), nodding off on his snare, crashing into his cymbals, we love them to death.
Bird loved heroin. All those cool jiving goateed bereted golden armed hep cats loved smack because of him. Got high as kites but never scaled his heights. When the shit hit the fan, the white ones fled to Sweden, the black ones landed in the can. Like Icarus, Bird fell to earth flying too close to the sun, at the Stanhope, 5th Ave, by gum. Legend.
Keef, I’m looking at you, mate, sprawled out on a chaise lounge like Madame Récamier, stoned. You claim you never caught a cold on horse, coated in narcotic warmth, never mind the Helvetian blood transfusions. Now you’re A National Treasure. A World Heritage Site. The Universal Studio Tour, Dracula in Cocksucker Blues.
Lou Reed, your Song of Songs nearly turned me on. But for sticking a spike into my vein, I’d have gone up to Lexington 1,2,5, instead of alighting at 8th to cop some coke. (No one told me about riding the dragon back then. Bummer.) Just as well, coming of age in the plague years, body bags unceremoniously dumped in Potter’s Field.
The girl next to me in line for Clash tickets loved heroin. Or her boyfriend did, don’t get your hopes up she didn’t need to say. (The boyfriend wasn’t there, scoring presumably, or selling his bony ass or robbing an old lady. Worst case, he was trading junk bonds at Salomon.) After so many hours of exposing her pasty white skin to daylight (she only came out at night), she started to wilt. I got to go, she said, panicky. I told her I’d keep her place. She didn’t return. Go figure. Got the tickets, though!
Amir, Pathan warrior, Eton rifle, leaping tall mountains in a single bound. Amir, heroic drinker, fornicator, all those academic wives, those merciless Marthas married to poor, poor pitiful Georges. Amir, hunter of tigers, wrangler of pythons, Laocoön, Laocoön, drop dead drop of a hat rooftop declaimer of bardic verse, Indic, Homeric, Alexandrian, Gandharan, poppy of the valley, Golden Crescent, a forget me not – who possibly could? But who betrayed whom? Me? You? (Don’t answer that if you can.) Who snuck off to the little general’s room every five minutes to sniff skag? No wonder you agreed to join me at the Anthology Archive to see Yesterday Girl, the shooting galleries of Alphabet City a few mean streets down, Peter Pan in Neverland. MIA.
Be that as it may, given our lot in life, cradle to grave, why wouldn’t you want a taste?
Julian George’s writing has appeared in Perfect Sound Forever, Postbox, New World Writing, Slag Glass City, McSweeney’s, Panoplyzine, Ambit, The Journal of Music, Film Comment, Cineaste and The London Magazine. He’s been in the wine trade, translated at the UN, flogged junk at an auction house and worked as a carer. His novel, Bebe, comes out in October in the UK.