VICE: Andrew W.K. on Psychedelics

Andrew W.K. on Psychedelics | VICE

As I’ve mentioned here before, I grew up in southeast Michigan’s lovely Ann Arbor, the wonderful, beating, countercultural heart of the midwest (no disrespect to Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, or Madison). The radical spirit in Ann Arbor was robust in the 1960s, and lingered on into the early 90s, when I was in my teenage years. This made for a confusing and oftentimes contradictory educational atmosphere, to say the least.

We were just coming out of Ronald Reagan’s ’80s. His wife, Nancy, of course, was vehemently anti-drug. Her “Just Say No” campaign rang loudly in my ears and in those of my classmates. We had been deeply and effectively influenced by all the anti-drug education. The idea we all shared was that if you took drugs—any kind of drug—you could die instantly. Or go insane. Or jump out a window like Helen Hunt in the movie Desperate Lives, a rather absurd anti-drug movie in retrospect, but terrifying at the time to a young boy who knew next to nothing. We were taught in health class that just one snort, or puff, or swallow of anything could kill you outright, or addict you for life. That’s all it took to destroy you. It would be just as dumb, we were told, to drink bleach or break-dance on a heavily-trafficked highway.

Evidence that this info was an extreme exaggeration was all around us, especially in Ann Arbor. I had friends who smoked pot in elementary school. There were kids whose parents did drugs with them, and it was somewhat accepted. Ann Arbor itself was filled with potheads and a proud pro-pot history. Taking acid was about as common as drinking beer. And none of these people were dead or seemed especially crazy.

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