Escape From New Bushland

Illustration by Mike Lee

One week later: Still addicted to CNN’s election coverage (“Brought to you by America’s Pharmaceutical Companies”)? In denial? Shock?

Can you picture a day in New Bushland? No, you can’t. But you must. Stay. You can’t leave us now. Not while we’re stuck here like gum on the sidewalk, gazing up at the teeming Armani foot-shadows as they rise from their shallow ’80s graves. Stay here, with us, in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Stay and stick it out. Because eventually, when some wealthy heel flattens you out, you might be able to at least stick to it and catch a ride to the other side of the street.

To wait for the next heel. Or for the trickling down of homeless urine.

But just stay. Don’t forget, you got your purple mountains’ majesty, your fruited plains. Perhaps you’ll . . . adjust. Join a health club. Buy a tan or two. Chain-gargle St. John’s Wort tea in your sleep. Take on a fifth job.

Shit. Must escape. No escaping the need to escape. Must retain some definition of self as something more than a demographic target, another consumer bouncing from store to store in a mall not of your making.

No wonder we need medication. Always have and always will. But the companies that make the legal good stuff — selective-seratonin-reuptake-inhibiting antidepressants — are some of the biggest investors in New Bushland. With or without prescription-drug insurance, it’s a $150-a-month habit, and it might be nice to take in a good meal now and again.

That leaves self-medication. If you’re going to self-medicate with illegal drugs, consider choosing something that cannot kill you, something manufactured by the Entity you trust, the same One credited with co-authoring your Bible but who hasn’t yet sued for royalties. It may not help anywhere near as much as SSRI’s, but . . .

“Excuse me,” you ask your clergyman, your spouse, your spawn, a cop, “but do you know where a kindly, upstanding sort of fellow might buy some not-too-strong marijuana?”

Year after year, our election process implicitly reveals that most Americans still watch prime-time network television, eat pork rinds, drink beer, procreate with first cousins, can’t get erections without a handgun under the pillow, eat ice cream straight from the tub, and otherwise exercise liver, pancreas, gonads and bladder before brain. Combine Satan’s recent quasi victory — stolen, or apparent, or whatever — in the presidential pageant with the holiday season’s standardized seratonin-depleting debt, guilt, traffic, family gatherings and bad new movies, and it’s a pretty good bet that the demand for prescription-based cheer will surpass even last year’s levels. Good news again for the pharmaceutical barons who control the world’s supply of (and increasingly, demand for) the most profitable antidepressants. Start rehearsing now for extra-double-bonus-merriment at this year’s lavish, tax-deductible Christmas parties.

And just what does making merry entail for those who’ve made enough money dealing antidepressants to make as merry as they damn well please for the rest of their lives? What sorts of chemicals will be tickling these rarefied brains at their highfaluting hootenannies? Fictional sources confirm that the majority of New Bushland executives will be getting plowed on the same stuff everyone else uses, only of a superior quality, and with utter impunity. While you’re getting thrown in jail for possessing an eighth of Humboldt County green while propositioning an undercover tranny cop after three Glenlivets at Jumbo’s Clown Room, New Bushland pharmaceutical execs at the bar beside you will be savoring melt-in-your-mouth hashish truffles dusted with cocaine, drooling over thousand-dollar “escorts,” snifting 18-year-old single malts — and the cops won’t bat an eye.

’Twas ever thus; but in New Bushland, ’twill ever more so be, for, as we recall from our inadequate educations, our federal government condones the right to pursue happiness, not experience it.

Upstanding executives drive surreptitiously (they think) stoned black Mercedes sedans through the underground cement caverns of Century City, lost. Even among upstanding executive users — that is, people who spend all their waking thoughts on making money — marijuana tends to invoke a sense of communal introspection. Usually not enough to matter. But in heavier users, such introspection leads to immorally unprofitable decision making about the workings of the world. For example, where tobacco and alcohol aficionados tend to fight — generating income for attorneys, emergency rooms, physicians, dry cleaners and the like — marijuana aficionados tend to be overly conciliatory, and respond to most threats of violence by staying home and reading (however slowly) a book.

No one makes money off that.

So, to protect our children from the threat of unfettered euphoric introspection, such citizens (mostly commie pagans, of course — folks with no savings to invest in supernational corporate tobacco-hawking good-ol’igarchy-boy governments and who therefore can best serve by simply being removed from the spectacle) are routinely rounded up and isolated from their families via the modern miracle of imprisonment.

“Excuse me,” he asked his clergyman, his spouse, his spawn, a cop, “but do you know where a kindly, upstanding sort of fellow might be locked up for having the audacity to define himself as something other than another pawn in New Bushland?”


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WARNING: This site contains graphic vegetarian-oriented material. Historically, the most physiologically destructive drug for me has been red meat. Addicted to meat. Get help? No. Get lamb chops. Irreversible shoulder injuries, $4.39 a pound, packaged in Styrofoam and cellophane and broiled with salt and black pepper. Messes with mind. Messes with body. Must stop. Must . . . . walk through meat department. Disgusting dead flesh calls out to me, recognizing my weakness. At home, overdosed, blood dripping from hands and face, never again, never again, never. Perhaps the appropriately gruesome, “the site the meat industry wish [sic] vegetarians didn’t own,” might be of assistance.

The Effects of Cannabis on a Web-Based Lifestyle” demonstrates through a small exhibition of JPEGs, four New Bushland spiders’ ability to weave unconventional webs after dining on flies dosed with LSD, mescaline, hashish and caffeine. And, for the sake of comparison, a classic, robust, symmetrical, predictable web woven by a spider claiming to be straight. Take note of the caffeinated spider’s web: It’s by far the laziest-looking of the lot.

As the name implies, the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Hypertext Collection, at the Lycaeum Entheogenic Database Community, is an extensive collection of Fitz Hugh Ludlow–adjacent writings and multimedia presentations that focus on the use of cannabis and other drugs in the 19th and early 20th centuries, before prohibition. Included are works by Louisa May Alcott, Richard Burton, Ella Fitzgerald, Honoré Daumier and Charles Baudelaire, and dozens of Ludlow’s own essays and stories, most first published in Harper’s, as well as the complete, book-length text of what the collection’s proprietors call Ludlow’s masterpiece, The Hasheesh Eater.


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