May 23, 2015
Detroit 2: Experiment, late September 1983
The one thing Nick could not shake about his exploits in Detroit was his first hit. As was the custom of his secret circle of high profile inheritors of the city’s reigns, a weekend meeting to share in large amounts of coke and alcohol was underway.
In a quiet middle class neighborhood, on the West side, sat Detroit's Assist Mayor, Melvin “Bunky” Grimes’ two story house. With a fairly large front yard and a long driveway that led to a garage where Bunky kept his 1958 Mercedes four-seater, it was an impressive residence from the curb. Actually, it sat on a double lot allowing for a sumptuous garden on the north side.
This is America, what an Assistant Mayor does in the privacy of his own home is no one’s business. What goes on goes on. It just so happened that the discussion inside the house was about the upcoming middleweight championship between Marvin Hagler, the reigning champion and Roberto Duran, a formidable opponent. Among the interlocutors were Ozzie, Linda Rose, Deborah, Anita, Bunky’s wife, Bunky and Nick. All of the above were ‘somebody’ in his or her respective fields. All were seated in the living room enjoying music. On the cocktail table was a small bowl loaded with coke. Each one present had contributed 100 bucks for the blow. Etiquette held the turn taking and size of the lines, everyone was polite…and high as the Georgia pines. The men contested facts about each fighter and came to announcing bets because of this or that detail that would win the match. The women were making fun of the men, argument as entertainment. It was a nice evening, an Indian Summer night and all was well.
It was a little past 11:00 pm when the doorbell rang. Bunky looked at Nick and said, “He’s here!” in a whisper. “Whose here?” asked Nick. Bunky went to the side door, off the kitchen and to the driveway, and let in a man and a woman who were very well dressed. The man was early fifties and the woman was a younger thirty something. She was wearing a full-length mink coat and pointed stiletto heels. She was the taller and quite beautiful. Bunky introduced him as Paul Landy, a former Tuskegee Airman and pilot for the stars. Paul had an air of confidence that resonated with the group. There was something kept under the surface, like what was really going on, in his demeanor. After a few drinks and chit chat, Bunky announced that we were retiring to the basement (fully finished with bar and lounge). That was all he said.
Once downstairs, Paul takes off his coat and goes to the bar. He opens a small black leather pouch takes out some things, a sandwich bag full of cocaine first and then some glass objects and what looked like a dentist’s tool. He asks for some water. He turns to the yet-to-be-named woman accompanying him and asks for the ‘torch’. “Oh! I’m sorry!” he said, “This is my good friend Deidre,” to which everyone laughed and said hello. Deidre reaches into her bag and pulls out a small propane torch and a click striker. As she hands Paul the tools, her coat opened to reveal her bare skin, as she was wearing nothing but bra and panties, expensive stockings trimmed with lace at the thigh and earrings. All took shocking notice. Ignoring this, Paul begins to fool around with the coke in a test tube; he had a captive audience. Everybody was riveted to his one-man show (with assistant) as he lit the torch and held the tube just above the tip of the flame. As he proceeded, he talked about the process of freebase. He explained how the powder would turn to an oily liquid, and it did; then, when all the oily bubbles clotted together into one oily bubble, it was time to use cold water. When he poured the cold water into the test tube and spun it like an old red wine, the substance turned white as if by magic. The party began to chatter about what had been demonstrated. He then picked up another glass object. It was a globe with two narrow, protruding tubes with one resolving in a bell shape and the other straight. “I use five screens,” he announced and held it out for people to see. He then took a razor blade and began to chop the white lump of base into small chunks. “Let me try it out, I’m the test pilot,” he said with a chuckle. Paul then put a piece into the bell-shaped tip and held it over the flame of the torch, like the test tube. The stuff began to sizzle and then he put the thing in his mouth and began to inhale the accumulating smoke. Everyone was frozen in place watching each detail. Paul blew out a long thick, white cloud of smoke and just stood there as if contemplating. It was completely silent in Bunky’s basement.
“Ok, whose next?” he suddenly said, regaining himself. “Bunky?” Melvin Grimes stepped up and repeated what he had seen and in turn, each of the excited group took a draw from the glass object. “I don’t feel anything,” said Linda Rose when she finished. “Well I certainly feel that shit!” said Bunky with enthusiasm. “Nick, don’t you want to try it?” he asked. “I don’t know about this shit,” Nick quipped. “Aw come on Nick…you sniff it don’t you?” encouraged Bunky. Nick hesitated. Paul held up the pipe and put a larger piece in the tube, held it over the flame and motioned to Nick to come. “If anything happens to me, all you motherfuckers are going to jail!” he joked. Nick took a long slow pull from the glass and while doing so, Paul said hold it in for a second, which Nick did. He blew out the smoke hard as if to make it reach Deborah, across the room. Within seconds, he was coming out of his clothes. Nick got a blast for the first time and it would tell him and the others what happens to a person hit in the brain with freebase. All he said was “Oh shit! Oh shit!” When he pulled his pants off he had a massive hard on. He didn’t give a damn who was watching, all inhibitions were gone. He just wanted to put his member into something soft and warm…immediately. And he said so. After a while, with repeated turn taking at the bar, others began to get comfortable: blouse unbuttoned, pants removed, within minutes everyone was nearly naked and feeling something quite different.
This is America. What goes on in the privacy of one’s home is no one else’s business.
Sound: Heavyweight champ Leon Spinx responding to questions about his exploits outside the ring.
Music: Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bright Moments
Harlem Undermind: Detroit 1
In his book, The Parasite, Serres recalls that ‘parasite’ also means noise (in French). A parasite is a noise in a channel. And so when describing the rats’ meals in a story from the fables of La Fontaine – the meals of two parasites – Serres also refers to noise: ‘The two companions scurry off when they hear a noise at the door. It was only a noise, but it was also a message, a bit of information producing panic: an interruption, a corruption, a rupture of information. Was this noise really a message? Wasn’t it, rather, static, a parasite? Internet
In 1882, Madame Blavatsky sent letters written by her alleged Master, Koot Hoomi Lal Sing (alleged to have ‘ascended’ in 1889), to an Anglo-Indian newspaper editor, although handwriting analysis later showed she had written them herself. The letters contained an eclectic mix of Western occultism and Indian mysticism, revealing a seven-based cosmology in which there are seven planes of existence, seven Root Races of humanity, seven bodies possessed by each human being and seven cycles of evolution. Ibid
The Chemical Body
Ten years later:
In a Checker, silver gray with a black-grained vinyl top, speeding up the Jeffries freeway at 4:30 am in Detroit, Nick had had it. Enough already. This shit was getting out of hand. He had just spent his entire paycheck getting fucked up. And left work early to do it. Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! As soon as he heard her voice on the phone, on payday, he was already there, on the goddamn ceiling. It was just a matter of going to the bank and then to her and then to a crystalline universe where all things were possible, in the most unlikely places. Now, the hard and white dreamtime crumbles before him and he is searching for remnants, shards of crack on the road ahead. Every small sparkle in the headlamps was potentially a hit. He tried to stop it but couldn’t help himself. Couldn’t help but search and see crack on the road before him, at 70mph. The thing that occupied him, applies to crack, to remain in its human host. Crack was the sound of the door opening on the unzone, unlocked and unloaded. He began to pray but couldn’t cry, as if tears could soften his brittle, teeth-grinding pathology. He had emptied himself out to serve as host…again.
There was no one on this highway but Nick and he knew that all the petrifying screams and disappearances he was driving away from, were in the car with him. Back then, no one knew this was occupation. He was feeling it…that opening with no hinges, no lock and key, no accurate translation of an excruciating language. It weighed and occupied the space he thought was his mind. It was entity and it was seeing for him. it was thinking for him, an unthinkable fear, an inescapable misery. This was a complete solitude, an isolation on the edge sanity. It was witnessing slow suicide in careful, dark increments, as though from the outside, from another place…in the passenger’s seat.
Where was he going so fast? He had no home at such an invisible hour, passionless and cold. He was nearly emptied of himself and his ideas. It was living death and he was a zombie, driving a big, gray Checker up I-96 at 70 mph, into the blackest unknown, a brand new sensation of misery. Abandon hope all ye who enter here, was suddenly in play and it could not be stopped. He wanted to let go of the steering wheel and press the accelerator to the floor.
the silent swarm infests the wetware,
blanking horizon. one from many.
the subject enters the frozen room,
no, room enters the frozen subject, having sliced
open the tissue of the psychic membrane,
invading the colloidal architecture where
the opening occurs. the subject
enters the stopped moment, a nano-second
that stops the heart, which rejects the gas.
that very instance of absence defines
the creature to endure the ripping incision,
to know the awful thing, ungrounded,
to make the exchange and see the body
across the room, in a shadowless anti-time.