the degradation of shooting heroin-- 8/29/16

Today's encore selection -- from Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain. Iggy Pop led a hard core punk band called The Stooges. The Stooges were good friends with MC5 that -- among many other now legendary appearances -- performed outside the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and was closely associated with the violence there. Both groups were heavily into marijuana, but with the crackdown on marijuana that came during that period, heroin became easier to obtain and thus the drug of choice. In the paranoid culture of the time, the band viewed it as a conspiracy of the U.S. government. Here band members Iggy Pop and Ron Asheton, along with MC5 drummer and sometime collaborator Dennis Thompson, discuss their experience with heroin:

"DENNIS THOMPSON: Nixon and the smart boys in the green room back in the brain trust sat down and said, 'Here's the easiest way to handle this damn thing. Just take away their party favors.'

"The government figured it out. It was obvious. 'These people do pot and hash and psychedelics and then they get revolutionary, and they come up with all these new ideas like "Hey let's change this world. And let's eliminate these fascist politicians!" '

" 'Well, the smartest thing to do is give them what's been in the ghettos for a long time because that's been working pretty good there.' All of a sudden all you can find anywhere you go is heroin. It's cheap, and there it is.

"So heroin became the next drug of choice, mainly because you couldn't buy a kilo of pot to save your soul. And there's no doubt about it, music is affected by the substances that you abuse. ...

"IGGY POP: In April or May of 1970, we returned to Detroit from doing the album in California, and things were changing. Suddenly unemployment was driving people out of Detroit. The whole atmosphere had changed, and we started sliding into hard drugs. ...

"RON ASHETON: The shooting gallery in Fun House (their communal residence) was my brother's apartment. It had a bedroom, a bathroom, and it was perfect for shooting dope -- a dark green tile floor, a big round table, and those kind of cheap white acoustical ceiling things they used to have in doctors' offices. Very fifties. The walls were already kind of brown, but the worst thing was that the acoustical tiles were all bloodstained. And there were big blood drips on the floor, and on the walls, because when you pull a needle out of your arm after shooting up, some blood gets in the syringe, and to clean it out, you squirt it.

"So they squirted the walls and the ceiling a lot. Shhhhtick ... blood on the ceiling, blood on the walls, just good drops, like if you took a squirt gun and just shot water up there. This went on for a long time. It wasn't all red, just big ugly brown stains, but a lot of times there would be fresh red stuff. Then it would drip on the table or on the floor, where they'd throw their cotton balls. Such degradation.

"I wish I was smart enough to take pictures of it because it would have been a masterpiece, but I was so disgusted."

PLEASE KILL ME copyright © 1996 by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain; used with the permission of the publisher, Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, Inc.


Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain


Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk


Grove Press


Copyright 1996 by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain


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