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COLUMN EIGHTY-THREE, JANUARY 15, 2003
(Copyright 2003 The Blacklisted Journalist)

LETTER FROM NASHVILLE:
WHY DISCO STILL SUCKS: THE 'DOPEY' AMERICANS, 1975 " 1985

"Reality is for people who can't handle drugs."
                           --Ladd Henderson, 1976

Nashville, TN---Here's what happened, really. Was a time when there were just a few freelove dopers, really, but nonetheless The Conspiracy---"they"---decided to get the ones that there were. So they put a lot of money behind the effort, hired some guys to chase and catch the dopers, which the guys of course started seriously doing. This was about 1970.

Was a simultaneous time of Jungian mass boredom. I don't mean ennui, to which all jaded intellectual types are prone, but sheer, unmitigated bovine boredom, to which our less flighty but far more numerous fellow citizens can sometimes fall prey. Such was the MO00oed of the people that they would believe anything they saw on TV. Such that this is the time when the precursors to "Cops" and stuff, that is, the Steadicam live action on-tape six o?clock News comes into the historical portrait. About 1972.

And, suddenly, geologically speaking, there began to appear on the nightly local news shows all across the land news stories about the "busting" (that was the term for arrest) of these alleged dopers, and how pernicious and epidemic it all was, and the people watching the news and watching the drama shows, which had picked up on it quick, maybe because they were into it earlier, started thinking, well, shit, if everybody's doing it, what the hell.

And so, inured, they started doing it, too. 1974. Suddenly there really was an epidemic. Demand was high, and, like magic or why...a capitalistic marketplace, so became production and supply. Suddenly South America had a Product. The war on drugs became THE WAR ON DRUGS. More cops. More criminals...More laws. More prisons. More dope.

The term "coke whore" came into being.

The fall of so many Americans into the grip of dope during that period of time caused a few rents in the warp and woof of American cultural fabric that are still with us today. I think it would be safe to say that, at least among single people of a certain post-high-school age at that time, there were more people who did dope than who did not. And most of 'em fell into the large area of the intellectual bell curve.

For instance, had dope (and now we're talking cocaine, of course) not developed the cachet of hipness, the bouquet-attitude of a fine wine ("it's pure pink Bolivian flake, man"), and especially the mystique of the very rare and expensive, and therefore to Americans, desirable...if coke had remained something that only some old doper in the neighborhood and a couple of white boys who paid him visits for personal use, knew about, it woulda stayed a trashy thing to do.

Instead we had alla these moocows watching ABC, CBS, NBC...and getting curious. We wouldn't have the problems we got today, and I don't just mean socially with the prisons and the


The way an
enlightened
country musician sees it


murders and alla that. I mean we have suffered mightily not from dope itself but from our thoughtless, Puritanical responses to it in the past. Those responses created the Drug Problem. Not dopers.

One of the things we, as a culture, suffered because of this dope horseshit that our kneejerk official responses brought down on us, is, we finally arrive, you say: Disco.

Disco is a music form that is inseparably intertwined with this period of time. And Disco was entwined with the mass drug culture, especially cocaine and quaaludes, several top Disco labels running on the profits of massive coke deals, and the drug was passed around as a party favor at all labels of the time. It being prevalent in the realtime, how could it not in the time recorded?

Disco spawned a lotta coarse deviations. The eagerness of, apparently, a lot of American women to become better sex objects is one of them if we can judge by the popularity of Cosmopolitan Magazine and its competitors, or by the increasing randiness of even formerly sedate publications such as Good Housekeeping. This phenom occurred by means of co-opting the Free Love movement that was somewhat prevalent among the hipsters. Instead, Free Love became Free Sex...which turned out, with AIDS, to be very costly indeed. Still, to this day, sex continues to be confused with love. Or better anyway, artfully separated from it.

Disco was the theme music of these co-options and these corruptions. The friendly dealer became the user dude who owed fifty large and was blown away to set an example. The cops became corrupted. Many people died. Or worse, didn't. When I hear Disco I am immediately transported back to those unfathomably black societal waters, those unbelievably scary cultural times.

Fortunately, many people escaped. Earlier learned values came to the fore, perhaps.

But, as in the Cosmo example above, the ripples of this particular case of bad management in our approach to the drug problem continue to spread, to strike islands in our cultural ocean, and be reflected in myriad undetectable and unpredictable and unchartable ways.

And so...Disco Still Sucks.  ##

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