Saturday, July 19, 2008

David Carr & The Audacity of Dope

As my reading habits have changed over the years, more often than not the Sunday New York Times Magazine has ended up in the recyling bin unread.

But a couple of people -- one a former junkie -- tipped me to an extraordinary book excerpt in tomorrow's magazine but already available online from The Night of the Gun, a soon to be published book by David Carr that is not just another poor piteous me account by a former drug addict.

Carr is a reporter, hence the subtitle of the book -- A Reporter Investigates the Darkest Story of His Life. His Own.

An excerpt from the excerpt:
Where does a junkie's time go? Mostly in 15-minute increments, like a bug-eyed Tarzan, swinging from hit to hit. For months on end in 1988, I sat inside a house in north Minneapolis, doing coke and listening to Tracy Chapman’s "Fast Car" and finding my own pathetic resonance in the lyrics. "Any place is better," she sang. "Starting from zero, got nothing to lose."

After shooting or smoking a large dose, there would be the tweaking and a vigil at the front window, pulling up the corner of the blinds to look for the squads I was always convinced were on their way. All day. All night. A frantic kind of boring. End-stage addiction is mostly about waiting for the police, or someone, to come and bury you in your shame.

After a while I noticed that the blinds on the upper duplex kitty-corner from the house were doing the same thing. The light would leak through a corner and disappear. I began to think of the rise and fall of their blinds and mine as a kind of Morse code, sent back and forth across the street in winking increments that said the same thing over and over.

W-e a-r-e g-e-t-t-i-n-g h-i-g-h t-o-o.

They rarely came out, and neither did I, so we never discussed our shared hobby.

I was lonely, but not alone. The house belonged to Anna, my girlfriend and dope dealer, who had two kids of her own and newborn twins by me. One night, Anna was out somewhere, and I was there with the kids. I had a new pipe, clean screens, a fresh blowtorch and the kids were asleep. It was just me and Barley, a corgi mix I'd had since college. When I was alone and tweaking with Barley, I'd ask her random questions. Barley didn't talk back per se, but I heard answers staring into her large brown eyes.

Am I a lunatic? Yes. When am I going to cut this stuff out? Apparently never. Does God see me right now? Yes. God sees everything, including the blind.

Trapped in drug-induced paranoia, I began to think of the police as God's emissaries, arriving not to seek vengeance but a cease-fire, a truce that would put me up against a wall of well-deserved consequences, and the noncombatants, the children, out of harm's way.

By the by, Carr also has a pretty cool website.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DC - are you a real reporter? did you interview Bongo - or Cheryl W., et al? Does this memoir make you a success in spite of or because of?