FEED YOUR HEAD
lead singer of the legendary 222s,
arguably Montreal's first punk rock band, Chris is now a freelance
writer based in Montreal. You can check out his writing at
where he combines the sardonic humour of David Foster Wallace
and the deliciously contrived irreverence of Anthony Bourdain.
psychedelics. And while I may not have spent the summers of my
youth wearing tie-die and following the Grateful Dead around,
I can honestly state that many of my life’s happiest moments
stem from being totally whacked out of my head on either acid,
mushrooms, peyote or mescaline. To my mind, or what’s left
of it, there are few things more joyous than floating up a downtown
street, brain cells burning, and pointing and laughing hysterically
at my fellow citizens for having webbed feet and antennas growing
out of their ears. That a five dollar investment in a blotter
of acid can bring such pleasure is truly one of the Lord’s
great gifts. Thank you, Jesus.
thing is now that I’m not as young as I used to be and I’m
finding I just don’t recover that well from these drugs
anymore. That familiar yet uncomfortable yellowy-orange glow that
once coloured my world for maybe a day or so after an acid or
mescaline adventure now sticks to me for several days, forcing
me to consider just how much I may or may not need a fully functioning
brain the week following one of my psychedelic excursions. This
has become something of a minor tragedy to me. My mind is getting
expanded a lot less often than it used to, and, well, I’m
not ashamed to admit I’ve been feeling more than just a
little melancholy about having the doors of perception suddenly
shut in my face.
can only imagine my enthusiasm when I started hearing about this
fucked up new psychedelic, salvia divinorum, a drug that not only
promised to have me conversing with the angels, but was actually
still legal in Canada until 2010. Word on the street was that
salvia, as the hipsters and those who don’t know how to
pronounce the word divinorum like to call it, provided one with
nothing less than an intense,
pseudo god-fuckin-damned religious experience for close to 20
minutes, and, when it was all over, returned your brain back to
you as though nothing had ever happened. Fuck baby, here was a
drug that could have you conversing with the spirits on your lunch
hour, and still leave enough time for you to fully enjoy your
Happy Meal before heading back to work. Better yet, word was you
could order the junk online or just walk on over to most neighbourhood
head shops and buy it, legally, from them. Cool.
divinorum, obviously, is not some new plant that just suddenly
decided to sprout up out of nowhere. The indigenous Mazatec people
of Oaxaca, Mexico have been ingesting its leaves since the time
of the Spanish Conquest, if not earlier. These dudes champion
the muck as a gateway to the supernatural world, and, not surprisingly,
are always sure to have a heapin’ helping of the shit around
whenever the local shamans are called upon to provide a little
spiritual healin’. To the Mazatec, salvia divinorum is nothing
less than a sacred entity, a plant whose leaves should be treated
with the utmost respect and only ingested responsibly.
its use in these parts is a relatively new phenomenon, the reverence
for which its mystical properties are held seems to be shared
by North American enthusiasts as well. “You must approach
these leaves with great respect and caution,” my local head
shop guy warned while pocketing the whopping $50 I gave him for
a gram of “premium leaf.” “This, my friend,
is a substance not to be abused.” And judging by the condition
of his teeth and the way his left eye seemingly moved around of
its own volition, I could tell this was a man who knew his substance
abuse. But still, what could this smelly old hippie teach me about
dope that I didn’t already know?
“Yeah, yeah, okay, be careful. No problem.” I shot
back cavalierly, and promptly went over to the apartment of one
my most bestest drug buddies to get high.
experienced drug users, we both knew to start with a relatively
small dose before jumping in to the salvia experience whole hog.
And though the Mazatec may prefer to eat the muck, apparently
there’s a whole complicated procedure involved, so we opted
to smoke it instead.
maybe an 1/8th of a gram and yeah, the high was okay, but not
nearly as thrilling as everyone had led me to believe. My drug
bud smoked a little bit more than me but he too was left largely
unimpressed by the experience. The buzz only lasted maybe five
minutes, and though I definitely felt like I was being transported
to another place, truth be told, it wasn’t anywhere all
that interesting. There certainly weren’t any angels flying
drug made me sweat a lot, feeling much the same way as you might
after snorting too much heroin and finding yourself face down
puking in to some public toilet. An experience not quite as bad
as it might sound to the uninitiated, but not exactly pleasant
either. I tried it again a few minutes later, smoking a little
more this time, but it was pretty well the same deal. I went back
home feeling as though I’d been cheated, burned by the twisted
gods of salvia divinorum.
until maybe six months later before I accidentally dug up what
was left of my salvia stash and decided to give it another go.
Not expecting too much from it, I sat my ass down in my living
room, all alone, and filled the bowl of my modest little hash
pipe with as much salvia divinorum as it could hold. Remembering
that the buzz hits you almost immediately, and that once it does
there ain’t much else you can do but surrender to it, I
tried to inhale as deeply as I could, for as long as I could,
and as quickly as I could before the shit rendered me useless.
Cow! What a difference an extra ¼ gram makes! Goddamn,
by the time I put down my pipe I was off and running in the magical
land of . . . god fuckin’ knows where, but some place mucho
grande intense, baby. I felt like I was dead, but in a good
way actually, like I had been dead many times before so it wasn’t
all that terrible a thing.
myself back in my parents basement, like I was maybe 2 or 3 years
old, except I wasn’t really sure if I was truly a toddler
or just some depressing older guy who had nothing better to do
in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon than experiment with psychedelic
drugs. But I didn’t care. It was all good as far as my brain
as advertized, came the angels. No kidding, voices started yacking
at me from way back inside of my head. For real. I couldn’t
tell you who the fuck these voices belonged to ‘cuz they
didn’t sound like anyone I’ve ever known, but they
nevertheless felt familiar. Although, to be honest, and at risk
of belittling the experience, if these really were spirits they
must have been a pretty dull lot because I truly can’t remember
a word they were on about anymore. But still, who cares? It was
pretty fucking cool.
was pretty well it. About 10 minutes later I landed back on earth,
feeling a little dazed and goofy but all the richer and wiser
for the experience—an experience, I might add, that I’ve
had many, many times since.
I’ve determined that salvia divinorum is definitely not
a substitute for LSD or mushrooms -- it affects a completely different
part of your brain -- I find myself continually extolling it’s
virtues to pretty well everyone I meet these days -- although
I’m beginning to feel like I should probably keep quiet
about it at job interviews.
by Chris Barry:
12-Tone with Patti Smith
Pageants: The Golden Years
Clubs as Safe Zones
- Swinging Ad Extremis