The jazz underground has always been associated with Black people and drugs even from its early days in the 1920’s.
The drug back then was mostly marijuana which was widely demonized back then because it was mostly used by Blacks and Hispanics. Whites who used it were more or less White niggers or wiggers so to speak.
The Pot Makes You Violent Bullshit
My Mom has believed this garbage her whole life. She keeps bringing it up. She got infected with this propaganda way back as a girl. This shows how strong propaganda is and how it has the potential to override all reason.
This is where the myth the crazed psychotic violent pot crazed murdering maniac comes from – the fact that most pot users were either city Blacks or low-skilled Mexican workers. These people were considered to be violent types – and they are more violent than Whites. They also used pot, so it was assumed that the pot and violence went together except that it didn’t and if anything it probably calmed them down.
There were also a few notorious cases in which unstable pot smokers went wild and committed some savage murders. The relationship of pot with these cases is unknown but back then, few people smoked pot, but one thing was for sure – almost all criminals, even White criminals, smoked pot. In fact it was seen as a drug of criminals which is why a lot of people didn’t want to use it.
The completely serious movie (now a so bad it’s great movie) Reefer Madness is emblematic of the anti-pot propaganda of the time.
A man named Henry J. Anslinger headed the Drug Enforcement Agency back then, and he had some sort of a hard-on for pot for some crazy reason. He led the anti-pot campaign in the US for many years starting in the 1930’s. He was more of a brainwashed (and racist) fool than anything else, but he damaged the lives of a lot of innocent pot smokers.
Of course anyone who has smoked pot knows that it calms you down. I knew Jack Herrer, a famous post activist.
He told me that when he was in jail and prison, prisoners who smoked pot always calmed down a lot and became less aggressive and violent. He said some of the wardens even turned a blind eye to pot use for his reason. In fact, the passivity that this drug causes is one of its biggest problems, as people get lost in their bong hits and become apathetic as the world passes them by.
This amotivational syndrome is mostly an issue for teenagers and young adults and it is quite common among young potheads. However, I have hardly ever met an adult past age 23 who had amotivational syndrome, as most even very heavy pot-smokers develop the work ethic needed to survive in our society by that age.
Teenagers and young adults are notoriously apathetic and poorly motivated as it is, since they have not yet been beaten over the head with the Reality Stick of Life. Encapsulate such a young person in a perennial cloud of pot smoke, and it just makes the laziness and lack of guidance, direction, and purpose typical of this age group all the worse.
Anyway, the jazz scene lingered in mostly Black and rather sleazy nightclubs in ghettos where nevertheless a lot of lowlife White types who lived my sort of lifestyle liked to go to slum it up on weekends. White men have been slumming it up forever. There is a cool element to it as long as you do not get too taken in by it.
Ghetto Drugs and Non-Ghetto Drugs
Cocaine and heroin were also pretty widely widely used in this scene – cocaine all the way back to the 1920’s, when we were already getting warnings about the insidious nature of this drug. Heroin was always around too, as it’s always been in the ghettos. It got more popular in the 1950’s and many great Black jazz musicians become junkies.
Psychedelics were never popular, as not only were they not around then, but also people in the ghettos and barrios of big cities have never been big psychedelic fans.
Psychedelics actually do expand your awareness and exaggerate whatever environment you are in. This is great for self-exploration if you have a fairly cozy life, but if your life blows for any reason, you might just have a bad trip.
I kept a hit of strong LSD in my refrigerator for two years until I finally felt that my head was perfectly clear and sane enough to take the stuff. The importance of what is called set and setting is extremely important for drugs like this. Psychedelics are not escapist drugs – they are the opposite.
As Blacks and Hispanics in city ghettos and barrios are usually living anywhere from a hardscrabble to nightmarish existence, the last they want to is to take a drug that makes that very existence about 10 times as powerful as it is.
On the other hand, PCP was popular in the Black and Hispanic communities, but it is not a psychedelic per se, as it is more of an anesthetic – it was originally an animal tranquilizer, and people used to refer to it as “elephant tranquilizer,” which was exactly what it was used for.
Yes, that stuff was actually used to literally knock out massive elephants. Now think about a drug that is strong enough to put an elephant on its ass and try to imagine what it will do to a comparatively puny human.
The PCP experience can be profoundly weird, but I suppose it is also a form of escapism, as when you use PCP you are basically traveling to another planet right here on Earth. Going all the way to another planet while never leaving your own is about as powerful as escapism gets, I would say.
One thought on “The Marriage of Drug, Black, and Jazz Cultures in the Earlier Days of Jazz Music”
A lot of pot-heads are pimp types. That also contributes to the misinformation. I mean, well, some pot-heads ARE violent. In fact, sometimes they have to be – and in other cases, they’re just alpha-male street punks with no reason to be.
Well, in fact, some of the most racist and intolerant people smoke pot. That’s an irony.
I think a lot of adult potheads have it tough – cause a lot of them are into self-employment (my guess). Self-employment is done to avoid drug tests I think. Anyway, it’s very tough cause you need capital to overcome competition – hence I’m guessing a lot of them are very angry, resentful types.