Cannabis and Brain Damage: Cerebral Blood Flow Findings

Repost from the old site. The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below. The original post, what is left of it, is here. For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here. For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here. For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here. For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here. For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here. For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here. With the use of SPECT and MRI, we can now measure changes in blood flow in various parts of the brain. Permanent changes in blood flow, especially low blood flow, are said to be indicative of brain damage. Recently, some new SPECT studies have come out of Britain, and were published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, appearing to show reduced CBF activity in certain areas of the brain with long-term heavy use of “skunk weed”, which is extremely potent marijuana. However, the part in the article where they talk about a user’s brain being “pitted and scarred” is nonsense. These are just areas of reduced activity. One user was a 16-year-old who had smoked every day for two years, another an 18-year-old who had smoked several times a week for two years and the third was a 28-year-old who had smoked for 10 years. Whether or not areas of reduced activity can be said to be “damaged” is an extremely difficult proposition to make. If the reduced activity is permanent, we can say that, but if it is temporary, it’s simply not “damage.” A report also indicated that a similar study showed an effect even after one month post-use in teenagers. Another study, this time using MRI to look at cerebral blood flow, actually found increased blood flow in the right frontal lobe, left temporal lobe and the cerebellum in chronic, long-term daily cannabis users. This means increased activity in these areas. If the British study is being used to say that cannabis damages the brain on basis of low cerebral blood flow, then this study can be used to say that cannabis improves the brain based on cerebral blood flow. Furthermore, this study would seem to contradict the British study. Yet another study concluded that very heavy cannabis use may be harmful, while more moderate or light use may be less deleterious. This study found that perfusion deficits in cerebrovascular flow attenuated in light to moderate users after one month’s absence, while persisting in heavy users. Moderate use was defined as 2.5-10 joints/day, while heavy use was defined as 11-50 joints/day. This study completely contradicts the British study that got so much media attention. The CBF findings may be related to dose. One study found an effect at 7.5 joints+/day, but found no effect at 5 joints/day or less. According to this study, it would be prudent to limit oneself to 5 joints a day or less. The finding of this study, of reduced activity in the frontal cortex combined with increased activity in the cerebellum, is a fairly common one in recent studies. Rather than damage, this appears to be a neuroadaptation to the effects of cannabis use on the brain. Yet another CBF study found changes in CBF in abstinent cannabis users on a stroop test. They found low CBF in the left perigenual anterior cingulate cortex and the left lateral prefrontal cortex and excessive flow in the hippocampus. The two regions with low blood flow are said to be involved in something called executive function, which I do not completely understand. The cannabis users scored the same as controls on the stroop test, but they used a different brain style than the one people typically use to  complete the test. Since the scores were the same, the significance of this study is called into question. There is an increasing body of literature showing that cannabis users utilize alternate brain networks than those normally employed, possibly to compensate for the effects of cannabis.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Psychological Damage

Repost from the old site. The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below. The original post, what is left of it, is here. For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here. For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here. For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here. For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here. For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here. For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here. A common accusation of those who oppose the use of cannabis is that it causes schizophrenia. We deal with that notion in this post. Along the same lines, cannabis is said to cause schizotypal symptoms in users. Schizotypal symptoms are best seen as a subset of schizophrenic symptoms, or like subsyndromal schizophrenia. I would argue against this notion just on impressionistic grounds: I have known hundreds or thousands of cannabis users over the years, and only a few of them were schizotypal in any way. Of the cannabis users I know now, none of them seem to be schizotypal in any way. I had a former girlfriend who I was convinced was schizotypal. Other than that, I’m not sure if I’ve met any. But anyway, enough of my impressionistic stuff, on to the studies. Cannabis users have shown elevated scores on schizotypy scales in six different studies. These scales have some serious problems, in my opinion (here is an studies continue with rats. Giving rats cannabis in utero, in adolescence and in early adulthood led to long-lasting memory problems, increased social anxiety and steady-state anxiety and decreased social interaction. Once again, this is interesting, but over a lifetime, I have not noticed a tendency for regular cannabis users to become increasingly socially avoidant or nervous. It is a common sequence that after years of good effects, people start reporting that pot makes them anxious. They usually phrase this as, “It makes me paranoid.” In general, these people tend to stop using the drug.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Cannabis Compared to Other Drugs

The original post in its native form was far too long, so I broke it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below. The original post, what is left of it, is here. For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here. For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here. For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here. For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here. For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here. For a summary of the findings of cannabis and brain damage, see here. LSD and psilocybin, while not causing permanent brain damage (that we know of so far), can cause HPPD (Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder), a long-term perceptual disturbance of unknown etiology. I have HPPD myself from using hallucinogens about 40 times, but “suffering” from HPPD once again is an interesting concept, at least in my case. All I get are brighter colors, mostly in neon signs and store displays, and only at certain times. Maybe lots of people would love to have this effect, as the world looks so much better this way. I called up an ophthalmologist about it and he laughed me off the phone, saying he doesn’t treat people whose colors improve. It is only my continuing neurosis that causes me to view these changes as frightening instead of integrating them. LSD does have a deleterious effect on the visual system of the brain – it is hypotoxic to that area in lab animals, for instance, birds – but it doesn’t cause any generalized brain damage at all that we know of, and we have been studying LSD’s effects on the brain for about 50 years or so now. LSD does cause reductions in 5-HT2 receptors on serotonin neurons. But this is a case of these receptors retreating back into the cell due to LSD’s assault on those receptors. After about a week, the receptors to poke back out of the cell again. The most recent evidence also indicates that psilocybin (mushrooms) and mescaline (peyote) also do not cause any generalized brain damage, although psilocybin can cause HPPD. Due to the risks of HPPD, this blog unfortunately does not recommend that anyone use LSD or psilocybin even one time, unless maybe if you are dying. Ecstasy (MDMA) produces comparatively dramatic harm to the brain after only a handful of doses (2-10 doses), with the effects increasing with continued use. The drug causes degeneration of serotonergic axonal terminals, which afterwards do not grow back correctly, if at all. There are suggestions that there may be hippocampal damage. On intelligence tests there are deficits in working memory, declining vocabulary, impairments in verbal learning, associative learning and attention and increased distraction. There also seem to be some mood changes. Perfusion deficits and increased delta waves on EEG have also been found, but the same study did not find these in cannabis users. Impairments were also found in the ability to drive a car in Ecstasy users, even after they were abstinent. However, a recent study found no persistent effects from one dose of Ecstasy. Therefore, it appears that using Ecstasy one time is possibly safe. However, taking Ecstasy as few as an average of 3.2 times causes noticeable damage in verbal memory. Ecstasy should be taken no more than once in a lifetime, if at all. Evidence strongly suggests that the heavy use of PCP, ketamine and DXM may cause permanent brain damage and can often cause schizophrenia-like symptoms which may be related to that damage. The theorized damage involves the vacuolization of neurons (basically a hollowing out and death of the neuron) in various parts of the brain. The evidence comes from rat studies and the dosages have been criticized, but humans are far more sensitive to the effects of dissociatives than rats are, so the differential doses are probably about right. The rat evidence has now been challenged by monkey studies, so the matter is far from settled. But until it is, extreme caution, if not outright avoidance, seems to be the best policy for these drugs. PCP can probably be used up to a dozen or so times in life with no permanent damage. Beyond that, things get a lot touchier. Heavy users show an extremely high rate of schizophrenic and psychotic symptoms, along with symptoms of brain damage. There seems to be some recovery with abstinence, but full recovery is by no means assured. Evidence indicates that ketamine can be used at least once with no permanent consequences at all to the brain. Beyond that, it is up in the air. Ketamine can surely be used at least a dozen times with no risks to the brain. Beyond that, things get hazier. Heavy DXM users have reported a very high rate of psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms, along with symptoms of organic brain damage. Users should approach DXM use with caution, and heavy use should be ruled out. Heavy methamphetamine use has been proven to cause permanent damage to dopaminergic systems, especially in the striatum, caudate and putamen (at ½ gram a day, 5 days a week, and 2 years of use). Studies have also shown degeneration of axons on serotonergic neurons and loss (cell death) of up to 1 In the study above, there was some recovery of the dopaminergic system with abstinence, but it was only partial. Meth can probably be used a dozen or so times without any permanent damage. Beyond that, no guarantees. There is some suggestive evidence of chronic psychosis, depression and anxiety directly related to heavy methamphetamine use (over 10 years of heavy use). Impairments in learning, processing speed, and working memory, along with delayed recall, are found in meth users. Brain dysfunction is often readily apparent in heavy meth users. This is one category of drug user, in contrast to most other drug users, that does sometimes appear “fried.” Much of this “fried” appearance seems to clear up with abstinence. Methamphetamine can probably be used up to a dozen times or so in moderation without any permanent consequences to the brain. Nevertheless, some users have reported permanent effects from only 2-3 weeks of very heavy use. Meth is nasty stuff, and it’s best to keep away from it. Heavy drinking can depress neurons for up to two years. With continued heavy drinking, at some point, there is organic damage, which in many cases is permanent, although there is often significant recovery with abstinence. The case of the “wethead” and “dry drunk,” the former alcoholic who is still damaged, psychologically or cognitively, is well known. Heavy use of barbiturates over many years causes a damage syndrome that looks like chronic alcoholism and that does not completely recover with abstinence. Even chronic Valium use causes long-term EEG changes of unknown significance. Sniffing glue has been proven to be possibly the worst thing you can do to your brain short of putting a bullet in it, and the effects do not recover completely with abstinence. Cocaine, unfortunately, seems to be capable of causing brain damage with as few as 11 doses (constriction of vessels in the brain). At three years of using several times a week, there is slowing on the P300 event related potentials test, that may not recover fully with abstinence. Recent studies have also shown that chronic heavy cocaine use causes reductions in gray matter in various parts of the brain. This means that heavy cocaine use causes an actual loss of brain cells in parts of the brain. It may also cause white matter reductions, which means a loss of connections in the brain. There are also impairments in attention, learning, memory, reaction time and cognitive flexibility in cocaine users. It is not known whether these clear up with abstinence. This blog recommends that lifetime use of cocaine be limited to 10 times or less. Even there, there is a slight risk of sudden death due to perturbations in the heart’s electrical rhythms. These perturbations can cause a sudden heart attack or even possibly a stroke. Vasoconstriction is probably involved. In many of the above cases, there is some recovery with abstinence, but often not to the previous level. Experimental use of PCP, ketamine, cocaine and methamphetamine (use up to a dozen or so times for each one) probably does not cause significant permanent damage. Beyond that, you play with matches. Compared to other drugs of abuse, such as Ecstasy, PCP, Ketamine, DXM, cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol, the effects of cannabis on the brain are dramatically less deleterious. In terms of its effects on the brain for heavy users, cannabis is surely by far least damaging intoxicant of them all, for what that is worth.

Cannabis and Brain Damage: Summary

The original post in its native form was far too long, so I have decided to break it up into seven different posts, in addition to this post. The separate sections are listed below. The original post, what is left of it, is here. For an examination of the evidence of whether or not cannabis causes actual structural damage to brain cells, axons or dendrites, see here. For an analysis of neuropsychological batteries of cannabis users to determine whether or not they suffer brain damage, see here. For an analysis of EEG testing of cannabis users to discover evidence of brain damage, see here. For an analysis of studies looking at cerebral blood flow in cannabis users, see here. For an admittedly impressionistic analysis of whether or not cannabis causes schizotypal symptoms in users, see here. For a summary comparing the effects of cannabis on the brain compared to other drugs, see here. Original monkey and later rat studies indicating structural brain damage have generally not panned out when conducted in humans, but a recent study from 2008 found damage to the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus findings are contradicted by three earlier studies finding no damage, and the finding on the amygdala was contradicted by an earlier study. Another study found damage to the corpus callosum in early adolescent users. And another found damaged axons and brain cells in the prefrontal cortex. These findings have not yet been replicated. Yet another study found damage to two areas but improvements in four other areas of the brain. The consequences of this are not known. At the moment, whether or not cannabis causes structural damage or even improvements to the limbic system, corpus callosum, prefrontal cortex or other areas of the brain is somewhat up in the air. Neuropsychological studies of long-term users have been somewhat contradictory, but in general have not found significant brain damage, although they did find a “very small effect” on learning and memory. Apparently they did not think it was significant enough to be called brain damage. New studies show that chronic long-term users perform worse than controls in memory, learning and recall, and the effect worsens as use progresses. These effects last up to one week after the last use. Therefore, daily marijuana users are always going to be somewhat impaired in these areas. Some EEG studies found some interesting changes in theta waves in users who had used heavily and daily for 15-30 years. The significance of these findings is not yet known; one suggestion that is that the increased theta may be indicative of organic damage. But here again we do not have any clinical correlates of the organic theta change either. Even this study did not find permanent effects from sporadic or occasional use of marijuana. Another found problems with screening out external stimuli after five years of use, but it is possible that two attempts to replicate that study may have failed. A SPECT studies out of Britain showed low CBF in three heavy cannabis users. Another found that low CBF did not clear up in adolescent users even after one month. However, they have been contradicted by two other studies, one showing that the CBF deficits clear up after three months, and another showing increases in CBF as opposed to decreases. A new study using DTI found damage to the left side of the arcuate fasiculus in adolescent heavy cannabis users. This is one of the most disturbing findings to date, and adds weight to evidence that cannabis should not be used by adolescents, since the arcuate fasiculus is still developing in early adolescence. Nevertheless, no clinical significance has yet been attached to this finding. But another DTI study looking at the entire brain found no evidence of generalized damage, and if anything, found that teenage cannabis users have less brain atrophy and more brain cells than non-users. We would expect a clinical correlate of this to be more intelligent teenage potheads, but no one is suggesting that. Unless clinical correlates can be discovered, all findings of damage or enhancement of the brain via marijuana should be viewed with a critical eye. So the evidence on permanent brain damage from long-term heavy marijuana use is rather contradictory and is still somewhat up in the air. It looks like cannabis can be used for up to five years, or possibly up to 15 years, even on a daily basis, without any permanent harm to the brain. Beyond that, there may effects, but they appear to be more subtle than profound.

One Boy One Needle

[wpvideo t4THa9Vd] This video actually came out a few years ago, but it is still going viral in a pretty big way, or maybe it is just starting to go viral, I am not sure. It goes by all sorts of names. Most of them, other than Heroin Boy, are not memorable . The story behind the video is very strange, and no one knows if the video is fake or real. The story behind the video is that a Russian guy wanting to showcase the dangers of drugs arranged the shooting of the video, which involves some young boys shooting heroin in Russia. The boy who gets shot up is 8 years old. The guy shooting the video was actually a drug dealer. The video supposedly depicts the 8 year old boy shooting heroin and then dying from the heroin. After he shot the video, the dealer pitched it around to Western agencies to fund his drug rehabilitation clinic. He stole all the money and never set up any clinic. He was arrested by police later. The cops decided that he was guilty in part for the supposed death of this boy. He was imprisoned, and he died in a Russian prison. Cause of death described by officials: “He repeatedly banged his head up against the wall until he died.” Yeah right. Looks like he was beaten to death by guards, other inmates, or both. How do we know all of this? Because another version of this video has Russian dialogue running in the background (I got the less annoying “no dialogue” version). A translation of that dialogue reveals the story I just repeated above. Anyway, no one knows if the story is true. We don’t know the name of the 8 year old boy who supposedly died. Some are saying that he didn’t even die, that his supposed death in the video is “just the normal, expected effects you would get from mainlining heroin.” We don’t have a name of the supposed dealer, nor any proof he got arrested or that he died in prison. In short, nothing behind the background story about this video has yet been verified. Some say that this video is probably from the 1990’s, when Russia was seriously flooded with heroin, and even little kids were taking it. Since then, things have calmed down a lot. Anyway, fake or not, this video is really freaking out a lot of people who think they are watching an 8 year old boy die from shooting heroin (And maybe they are, who knows?). It’s in competition as one of the worst videos on the Net. This video doesn’t really bother me because it’s not violent. I just tell myself that the kid is going to sleep and not dying, and then everything’s OK. Of course it’s troubling to watch little boys shooting up. Unfortunately, the only copy I could find has this stupid semi-literate written dialogue crap at the beginning, written by the moron who runs the King of Cordia’s Den website. He’s the one who made this video, and my video-editing skills are not sufficient to get rid of his ads and lame illiterate copy in the video.

Middle Age: Get Healthy or Die

Repost from the old site. Mentally healthy, physically healthy and happy. Once you get around my age, God doesn’t give you many more breaks about this stuff. If you can’t be all three by middle age (mentally healthy – relatively speaking, physically healthy – no excuses, and happy – who needs misery?) at least give it a good shot! When you’re young you can blow off one or more of these things things and get away with it for a while, but as you get older, omissions like that really start to bite! Mentally healthy? Seems you can get away with being kind of nuts when you’re young, but I wouldn’t want to try it at my age. In males anyway, suicide becomes much more of a risk as we age. If I’m going to get depressed, I need to think about that. As a young man, I regularly felt horribly sad, but now I’ll hardly touch it. Depression in middle-aged males is often deadly. How odd. You would think it would be the young guy to buy it with his own hand, but it’s not. It’s the older, wiser, more mature guy. Anxiety? Young men are expected to be anxious. In an older guy, you just seem like an idiot. You’re already an old fart anyway who practically needs to buy friends, and you just gave people one less reason to talk to you. Psychosis? Never tried that one, but some of my friends did. Once again, that’s probably easier as a young man. Most people think young guys are insane anyway, so young psychotic males are generally not behaving dramatically different. With an older guy, it’s like, “Whoa!! Nam vet! He’s gooot a guuuun!” They just know you’re going to go postal. They have a point. It’s usually a middle aged guy going postal, and he’s usually not even nuts. He’s just depressed, plus he just got fired from his job, plus it was a shitty job in the first place, plus he needs Viagra now and he can’t afford it, plus his woman left him, plus he looks around at the women his age, half of whom looked like they swallowed Right Whales, and he thinks, “I’m getting tired of being a mammal.” Add it all up and the guy wants to just write “I’M A LOSER” in block letters on his shirt and walk around town for a few weeks. Pride prevents this of course, so the only logical alternative is to shoot up the former workplace or mall or wherever. Honestly! After every one of these shootings, we get all these people on TV and the press running around saying, “Why? Why? Why?” Oprah holds one her “Oprah Asks Why Shows”. Why, why, why, everyone is running around saying. They’re nearly at the end of the alphabet, they’re running out of letters, and they’re genuinely puzzled. They’re not asking the right question! The right question is not why do people go postal in the US and go shoot up random humans, the question is, Why the Hell does this shit not happen every day, or more than once a day? That’s the damn miracle. Like when teenagers get shot up at a school. People act like that’s the most horrible thing of them all. It’s totally incomprehensible. Huh? Why is that? Teenagers are the most uniformly unpleasant members of our bedeviled species. We shouldn’t be shocked if their perfectly reasonable fellow humans reacted to teenagers’ general assholitude by blowing away multiple numbers of them at once on a regular basis. What’s incomprehensible is how controlled and repressed we are, but that’s the reason for all the postal dudes anyway, right? You’re supposed to nod your head. If you can’t be mentally healthy, at least be as mentally healthy as you can possibly be. It’s important, dammit! Physically healthy? I blew off brushing my teeth for a while recently (I still flossed daily or more than daily) and at the last check-up, I had eight cavities. I’ve got two metal crowns in my mouth now from root canals, and if I don’t watch it, I’ll have a mouth full of metal or even worse, teeth I can pull out and show folks for a gag. In middle age, your sex drive goes from a continuous annoyance that gives you a great big embarrassing hardon (Often with no where to put it either!) every time the wind blows, to a closely guarded treasure capable of being snatched away forever at any time. Use it or lose it! You crave the beautiful young women you couldn’t stop screwing as a young man, and now they look at you like you’re a creepy old pervert. You look in the mirror and you seem to be actually aging, physically and observably, with about every new day. You want sex, but then you look at your wife or girlfriend or the women you’re dating. If she weigh 300 pounds or so like so many, she’ll probably almost kill you every time you do it with her. If she’s not 300 pounds and she’s around your age, you look at her and think, “Well, at least it’s female.” What are your alternatives? You could be in prison, getting fucked in the ass by other guys against your will. Ok, that’s a kind of sex. You could be having sex with your hand, but that gets old. I swear to God for every year men age, women age two. Correct me if I’m wrong! Like to eat lousy food? No problem, but by middle age, you’re going to start paying. If you’re not a fat pig yet, you soon will be. Fat tastes good, sugar tastes good, salt tastes good, so we Americans eat crap and commit suicide by fork. Hey, it’s the red, white and blue, man. Life, liberty and the pursuit of fattiness. Comes with a price. I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol by age 35 and was on health food the next year. I’m still on it, and I’m still on the statins and BP pills too. That’s if you’re lucky. If you’re not lucky, you’ve got diabetes. That’s one shitty disease. You can smoke cigarettes until about mid to late 40’s. Then they are going to start fucking you hard. You’ll only get a really crappy sounding hoarse voice that sounds like you got shot in the vocal cords if you’re lucky. If not, lung cancer or throat cancer and a weirdo voice box. All by 50. I’m not kidding; I’ve seen this. Like to drink? Have fun! Sure you can drink as a young man. That’s what being a young man is all about! Think you can keep it up til 45 or 50? Think again. Assuming you can even stay alive and do this, you will start to look like serious shit. Your face will look like it got run over by a tractor. Your teeth will all fall out. You will look 20 years older than you are, and you’re already old to start with. Your eyes will contain bottomless wells of sadness. And you will become bitter, angry and nasty. You’re old anyway, you look like crap, and now you have the personality of a wolverine. And why should anyone so much as give you the time of day now? By 45 or 50, you and your cohorts will start dropping dead. No one will be surprised, and saddest of all, hardly anyone will give a fuck. The autopsy will be unremarkable. “Natural causes” is not uncommon for this sort of thing. You want to take drugs for 30 years? Who are you fooling? You can’t do it. If you’re male, you will look like Keith Richards. Keith looks like a cadaver with a motor inside that gets injected with motor oil every day to keep the rusty parts moving. I honestly think Keith is a zombie. I think he died a while back, climbed out of the grave and back to life, and here he is with us again for a bit somehow. Ron Woods has that same “I got shot and lived” look about him. Many of the Stones do. You think that’s attractive? To look like human petrified wood? Get real. If you’re female, you end up like Marianne Faithful. People will look at you and think, “Wow, why doesn’t someone just shoot her and get it over with?” So, drugs for 30-35 years? Forget it. You can maybe smoke some pot, but that’s not really drugs. Hate exercising? Great. I hope you like canes, walkers or wheelchairs, because you will be using them soon enough. Seriously, get moving or get dead. In middle age, it’s not just a saying. Like your cock and how it works? Better get off that couch. The longer you sit on that couch, the sooner that thing goes into permanent suspended animation. Happy? Goes along with the mentally healthy part, but also the physically healthy part. Why do people engage in this unhealthy stuff above? In part because they are miserable. Why do emo morons cut themselves, burn themselves and sit around talking gleefully of suicide? Simple reason. Because these shitheads are not happy. How do we know this? Because happy people simply do not do these stupid things. You think happiness is something you can just blow off and be a callous cynic, a stoic hardhead or a cold fish, but look what happens when you do. Happiness is not something to be trifled with – lack of it has some hardcore consequences. If you can’t be really happy, then at least be kind of happy. If you can’t be happy at all, then lie and fake it and pretend to be happy. Laugh and tell jokes and act like you don’t care. I’m convinced even pretending is better than misery. Middle age. It’s no time to fuck around!

WTF Is the Matter With You? Part 2

Repost from the old site. That question is directed to Thistle Harlequin. I won’t upload the movie, and I think it’s copyrighted anyway. It’s pornographic, and we don’t host porn on the site. Rarely, we link to it, if there is some artistic or political reason. In this case, it’s more art or performance art than porn per se. It’s called Putrid Sex Object, a movie performed by Thistle Harlequin (adults only, and don’t watch unless you want to be horribly grossed out). This is part of what my artist brother calls the new art – “that gross, sick, fag shit.” He says this is the new thing in art, because everything else has been done already. Examples include Aliza Shvarts’ abortion jelly exhibit where she gave herself repeated miscarriages via morning-after pills after inseminating herself and then filmed the miscarriages, bottled them and exhibited them in an exhibit. Except the whole exhibit never came off, but that was part of the performance. Our very own Who Dares Wings is an artist in Seattle who makes Disasterware and something called Spone Funerary Ware – granulated calcified human cremains (cremated bones of dead people) over a porcelain slip in a riff on the time-honored tradition of bone china, which was made in part with ground human bone. He also makes things like porcelain vases and teapots with Hitler’s face on them with things like “Forgiveness” inscribed below. There was a guy in New York who was doing some of this art using dead embalmed bodies. He would take the bodies and then pose them in all these weird positions and then take pictures of himself intermingled with the dead bodies. The cops finally had enough of the publicity and raided the guy – I guess what he was doing was illegal. He was getting the bodies from Mexico. Along the same lines are Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ, a crucifix photographed in a jar of urine. There is another fellow, Hermann Nitsch, who takes cow carcasses, slits them open, then makes himself look like a crucifix with the cow carcass as a “cross” background. He ends up covered in blood. His friends stand around him and they all get covered with blood too. There’s blood all over the ground and they shoot a photo of the whole thing and voila, instant art! Women are bottling their own menstrual fluid and using the blood to make blood paintings. It’s called menstrual art. Along the same lines, in Putrid Sex Object, Thistle Harlequin, a gay man, plays a woman who is wandering through a haunted house at night getting more and more frightened. Finally, she comes into a room where they are some severed cow’s heads on the floor. She falls to her knees, starts licking the cow’s head and then starts playing with it, getting blood all over her body. Then he pulls out a penis and it turns out it’s just some fag drag queen. He then puts his penis in the cow’s head and fucks it for a while, pulls out, and jacks off while covered with cow entrails. That’s it. That’s called art I guess. Wow, we really are reaching the end of civilization, are we not? My opinion on all this sick art is much the same as my brother’s. I’m not impressed. This is just gross, sick, fucked up stuff. Art is supposed to make you react, and in a way, it is supposed to be “beautiful.” It’s not supposed to be ugly, sick, repulsive and nauseating. Yes, we are all familiar with shit, puke, wet farts, mucus, snot, piss, blood, dead stuff and dead people, menstrual fluid, on and on. Why frame it up and call it art? Color me confused. Plus it’s not even funny; it’s just gross. Truth is, modern art has just clean run out of ideas. There’s nothing left to do. This is all that’s left, pushing the final boundaries. After this? I have no idea. Kill people? Kill yourself? Who knows. Seriously, there’s nothing left. Buy a famous sculpture, call the cameras in, gather around you and your artist friends, and smash it to bits? Done. The Surrealists were doing this stuff back in the 1930’s. Duchamp made a sculpture of a toilet and then he shipped it to a museum. He called it “Toilet” or something dumb like that. Along the way, it got partially destroyed via shipping. The museum called him up all apologetic and said, “Oh, we are so sorry that your sculpture got so messed up.” He rushed over to the museum, looked at his ruined sculpture and said, “NO! This is perfect! Better than the original!” It went on to become a famous sculpture. Surrealism was always a bit of a joke. The destroyed sculpture is better than the real one – OK, that’s funny. The Surrealists would run out in the streets of Paris in the 1930’s and assault priests walking by in their habits. Assault them, with fists and kicks. No one got seriously hurt, but the Surrealists called that Performance Art – assaulting a priest in habit. OK, that’s funny too. There are artist – musician types out there now who hold “concerts” where they show up on stage and then lower these sound speakers from the ceiling. The speakers dangle about ten feet above people’s heads, just out of reach. Then they turn up the speakers really loud with this extremely annoying noise playing right out of reach of the audience. The audience gets more and more angry while the performer stands up on stage, laughs at them and insults them. OK, I have to admit, that’s pretty funny. I believe there are similar artists out there who will schedule a show and advertise all the cool stuff they are going to do during the show. They cover the stage with all these props and it looks like a good show is going to happen. The theater fills up with suckers who shelled out $20/ticket. The performer’s not there. After a bit, someone comes out and says that the performer was delayed but will be there shortly. This goes on for a bit, and the big gag is that the performer never shows up. On purpose. The audience slows drifts away angrily over about an hour demanding a refund, but there will be none. That was the show. No artist. You got burned. Performance art! I have to admit that’s pretty humorous. Man Ray would have looked at that and said, “Two thumbs up.” I saw the Germs at the Hong Kong Cafe on December 31, 1979. It was Darby Crash on vocals, Pat Smear on guitar, Lorna Doom on bass and Don Bolles on drums. Joanna Went, performance artist, opened for them. She came out looking totally nuts, all made up like a clown, wearing some stupid outfit. Shrieking, “Catatooooonic! Schizophreeeeeeenic!” (that’s all I remember), etc. etc.” with these really wild eyes. She had on what looked like a football jersey on top with what looked like shoulder pads. She tore open the shoulder pads while screeching incoherently. Inside, the shoulder pads were packed with vast quantities of shredded cheddar cheese. Then she started to throw it at us, the audience. We threw it back at the bitch. I went to the bathroom. Darby Crash came in, saw me, and asked in this totally gay faggot voice, “Heeeey, you got any Tuuuinols?” Tuinols are a depressant pill. I thought for a second, looked up and said, “No, but I have some Tuinol cigarettes. Want to buy any?” He got this sneering smile on his face, and snorted, “Tuinol cigarettes!?” and walked away. That was my only encounter with the famous Darby Crash. Pretty soon, the Hong Kong Cafe was full of flying shredded cheese and you could hardly even see anything. Through it all, Joanna was screeching away. OK, that was pretty funny. The Germs played next. They all wore black leather jackets with a blue circle on the sleeve – that was their emblem. They were out of this world, of course. Darby Crash was crouching at the back of the stage with a sneer on his face. Everybody was throwing stuff at him – that was the idea – throw stuff at Darby. We took the ice out of our drinks and threw ice at Darby Crash. He crouched down at the rear of the stage like a tiger, loving the abuse and singing like a maniac. Re-formed band, The Germs Return. Don Bolles turned into an alcoholic and goes to AA meetings with his alcoholic girlfriend. He has a long history of drug abuse and run-in’s with the law. Darby killed himself (see below). Pat Smear went on to form the Foo Fighters. Lorna, Don and Pat re-formed the band, with actor Shane West as the new Darby Crash, and they go on tour. Here’s the new band, and Lorna is as beautiful as ever. Myspace page. They must be pushing 50 now. Punks til death. Heck, why not? Later, Darby Crash deliberately OD’d on heroin as part of a suicide pact with some idiot punk chick. I never hung around with these nuts, but some people I know did. They would do stuff like get drunk and hit people over the head with beer bottles – supposedly Pat Smear did that once. Great article on the Germs from the Orange County Weekly. We were leaving the Hong Kong Cafe at 2 AM on January 1, 1980. The LA punkers, drunk and menacing, were outside the cafe throwing beer bottles against the wall and watching them smash. We moved away quickly. We were walking through an alley back to the car, drunk and stoned. Someone came reeling behind us, walking very fast. We turned around. There was a young man about 25 years old. He had glasses on, but he had been hurt somehow. One of the glasses lenses was smashed over his eye. He was holding his eye with the smashed glasses lens, and there was blood pouring out of the area around his eye as he reeled drunkenly down the alley. We didn’t know if he had gotten beat up while drunk, or if he was really drunk and had fallen down, but he was in bad shape. We got out of his way before he would have crashed into us. He moved past us, careening back and forth down the alley, dripping blood all the way. “Let’s help him,” I said. “No way!” We looked at each other and both said, “Wow! Let’s get out of here!” We hurried to the car and drove home on the empty LA freeway, dodging the drunken vehicles along the way. It was the end of the Seventies, but it may as well have been the end of the century.

Philip Garrido's Blog

Here is the very strange blog of Philip Garrido, titled Voices Revealed. Philip Garrido is the California pedophile, rapist, kidnapper and sex offender who abducted Jaycee Lee Dugard off the street in 1991 when she was 11 years old and kept her in a tent in his backyard in Antioch, California until she was finally discovered this year at age 29. She had had two children by him, both girls, named Angel and Starlite, one 11, the other 15.

Angel (left), 11 and Starlite (right), 15, at a neighborhood party several days before Garrido's arrest. After his arrest, they were set free.
Angel (left), 11 and Starlite (right), 15, at a neighborhood birthday party thrown by Cheyvonne Molino for her 16 yr old daughter several days before Garrido's arrest. After his arrest, they were set free. This is the only known photo of the girls on the Web that I could find.
Garrido was apprehended when he appeared at UC Berkeley to try to make some bizarre public demonstration. He was passing out strange flyers and had two young girls with him. The girls appeared “robotic” and the officer become suspicious. The cop ran Garrido’s name and found out he was a registered sex offender. She contacted his parole officer and it turned out he was violating parole. An investigation of his home revealed Dugard, whom everyone had assumed was dead, and the two girls she had had, now 11 and 15, both by Garrido. Garrido’s wife was in on the whole mess as an accomplice (she was in the car when he abducted Jaycee 18 years ago. Curiously, cops had been called to the house several times in the past by suspicious neighbors, but they had never bothered to look in the backyard. Over the years, Dugard came to see Garrido as her husband and fell in love with him. Garrido got a record when he was 25 years old when he abducted a casino worker, Catharine Calloway Hall, in the parking lot of the casino where she worked in South Lake Tahoe. He took four hits of acid and her to a warehouse which he had set up as specifically for his sexual fantasies . There was wine, porn, sex aids and stage lights. He kept her in their for some time, raping her, until a cop making a routine check noticed lights on in a warehouse. The cop drove up, knocked on the door and Garrido appeared. A naked woman then ran out screaming. Garrido was arrested and sentenced to 50 years in prison but he was released early. He married his second wife, Nancy, in Phil Garrido and Nancy Bocanegra at the wedding in 1981. Nancy was born in the Bexar, Texas, to a Mexican-American family in 1955.
Phil Garrido and Nancy Bocanegra at the wedding in 1981. Nancy was born in the Bexar, Texas, to a Mexican-American family in 1955..
Three years after his release, he abducted Dugard. After his release in 1988, he stalked his former victim at her casino job, freaking her out . Rapists come in all varieties, but Garrido was particularly creepy. Abducting a victim and transporting her somewhere in your car, especially to weird warehouse set up for sex crimes, is a particularly dangerous escalation beyond the usual rapist stuff. Keep in mind that lots of guys rape women, in this country and all over the world. We can’t kill all convicted rapists (We’d be executing 1000’s or over 10,000 guys every year) and we can’t even keep them up all locked up forever. I’m no expert on rape, but I assume that most rapists don’t re-offend, since if they did, the statistics would be much higher. For instance, I’m familiar with the guys on the local sex offender list (and I know a few of them). In all the time I’ve lived here, I’m not aware that any of them re-offended. However, serial rapists and certain rapist subtypes are particularly dangerous. The type that abducts women and takes them off to strange places is particularly dangerous – these guys can turn killer. Setting up a place especially for your weird sex games in a serious escalation – once again, these guys can go killer too. Phil Garrido was Christine Marie Perreira, had a Portuguese last name. She describes him now as a monster. There are also quite a few Spaniards in this part of California.
Garrido's mugshot from his 1976 arrest in Lake Tahoe. He's definitely a White man, not an Hispanic like commenters are saying. I think he's Portuguese.
Garrido's mugshot from his 1976 arrest in Lake Tahoe. He's definitely a White man, not an Hispanic like commenters are saying. I think he's Portuguese.
At age 7, Garrido was exposing himself to neighbor girls, so he got an early start in the sex offending game. By high school, he had already been accused of raping a teenage girl.
Phil Garrido in high school. He was already a rapist at this time.
Phil Garrido in high school. He was already a rapist at this time.
This is a pretty typical childhood for these guys. They start young – kids or certainly adolescents. By his teenage years, he had a bad motorcycle accident and suffered a serious head injury.
Philip Garrido as a handsome young man.
Philip Garrido as a handsome young man.
He had to have brain surgery, and afterward, he was completely changed . After that, he began using LSD very heavily, every day for a long time. At some point, he become psychotic and said he was hearing voices. He continued to hear voices for the rest of his life. Although articles and his family are blaming the acid, I’m dubious. It appears that the acid just triggered schizophrenia in Garrido. It’s dubious that LSD causes long term or permanent mental illness in anyone due to damage to the brain for the simple reason that 60 years of testing have yet to find any damage to the brain from LSD, either in humans or any other animals. It does appear hypotoxic to the visual system, and HPPD seems to be the only proven long-term effect from LSD (I have it myself, and I only took LSD 9 times, which isn’t very much). If LSD doesn’t damage the brain, how can it give you permanent schizophrenia or any other mental illness? It can’t. On the other hand, some individuals who have taken LSD many, many times seem to be mentally ill. In some cases, the mental illness was permanent. If Garrido took acid every day for 5 years as he says, that’s a lot of acid – 1,825 trips. For the next couple of years, he took lots of acid, but not every day. It looks like Garrido took acid maybe 2,200 time or more. Further, he often took multiple hits when he fried – up to 4-10 hits at once. Timothy Leary probably took LSD over 2,000 times in addition to using many other drugs. In interviews with him in the 1980’s, I felt that he appeared damaged. A woman who took LSD over 4,000 times is still chronically mentally ill 30 years later. A man who took acid every day or nearly every day for a couple of years became mentally ill and had to be hospitalized. He recovered, but soon began very heavy LSD use again and had to be rehospitalized. We still lack a proper theory or explanation for these bad reactions, as the drug does not appear to damage the brain, as noted above. Until we know more, very heavy LSD use seems like a very bad idea. Looking at Garrido’s blog, there is only one possible diagnosis based on an examination of his writing: chronic paranoid schizophrenia. Garrido functioned very well, running a printing business, marrying, owning a home, but he’s clearly ill. From 1969-1975, Garrido was often dropping acid every day. It’s said you can’t do this since the effect wears off, but actually you can. The high is different, but it’s still there, just much more subtle. By 1976, he had been drinking, smoking dope, sniffing coke and dropping acid every day for several years. He was also jerking off compulsively (often in public – in restaurants, bars, drive-in movies and outside windows of homes) and spending lots of time hanging out in front of schools watching the schoolgirls. He specialized in girls aged 7-10. Once again, this is pretty much classic behavior for a quite dangerous type of sex offender. It looks like he’s a pedophile, and 7-11 or so is AoA (age of attraction) but it also looks like he’s non-preferential in that he also loves sex with older girls and grown women. The guy’s just a first-class weirdo. His neighbors in Antioch called him “Creepy Phil” because he was also ranting about what a drag it was to be a registered sex offender and talking about the voices that he heard. Police now suspect that Garrido threw wild orgy parties in which he offered up Dugard to his drunken buddies. At one time he tried to gouge out his first wife’s eyeball with a safety pin.

Damn Right We Are

And screw you if you don’t like it. Baby Boomers Still Getting High, Agency Says. I’m not sure when I last smoked pot. I think it was less than a year ago though for sure. I started smoking it again, and it was one of the best things I’ve done lately. I have an anxiety disorder called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I don’t talk about it much on here because no one wants to hear about it, and this isn’t a “Crazy Blog.” Stigma is still an insanely (Joke!) huge issue, and I have enough problems as it is. Crazy Blogs are the ballooning number of sites where folks with mental dx’s (usually way worse than mine, like Manic-Depression, Major Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, Asperger’s, Schizophrenia, etc.) mostly write about their mental stuff. I take meds for OCD – an SSRI called Lexapro. I’ve gone off many times, but I relapse slowly but surely every time. Thing is, I started smoking pot again a few years back on a whim, and it worked great for OCD! Unfortunately, folks like us have to deal with fools called “psychiatrists” and “psychologists” sometimes. Psychiatrists sometimes to get the meds. Psychologists for therapy, which I’ve had years of anyway and don’t really need anymore, as it doesn’t do that much for OCD, and I’ve already learned enough about myself and my life as I need to know. This whole field, including all of the psychiatrists and psychologists, is insanely (Joke!) dead set against this thing called “drugs,” despite the fact that they shovel them out all the time as a way of getting their fat paychecks. Plus the dope that the psychs dish out is way worse in terms of side effects than any kind of cannabis. One particularly annoying thing that these idiots do is the minute you meet some new psych-fool, and they learn you have both a dx and a drug history (even if deep in the past), they immediately make the extremely helpful suggestion that your dx was caused by getting high! Wow, thanks a lot! A dx that developed like 27 years ago, and I’m supposed to feel guilty for the rest of my life about causing it! I feel so much better now! I see why they call it the “helping professions!” Even though in my case there seems to be zero evidence that this is the case. As an obsessive, I’ve thought this issue to death 50,000 times in multi-hour mental vicious circle sessions. And drugs never really made it worse or better anyway in the past. Though sometimes coke would make OCD better, usually with plenty of booze too (I also did great creative writing on coke and lots of booze – great combo!) and one time when I was on LSD, I had 1-2 hours free of a particularly horrific obsessive thought that had locked into my brain 24-7, 365 for about a year or so. That was the only couple hours of peace I had had in that whole year. That’s why acid is evil, you know. Because it helps mental illnesses sometimes. Anyway, if you admit to drinking at all (I drink two glasses of red wine a night) or taking any drugs other than the evil junk the p-docs write scripts for, you get shoveled out of all the programs immediately towards some bull called “Drug Treatment.” Yeah, that’s right, if you admit you take one hit off a jay once a year, you go to local equivalent of Betty Ford. Lame or what? This is because recently the mental health idiots (not the people with the illnesses, they’re the smart ones), meaning the morons who “treat” us, decided to split “mental health” and “drug treatment.” Nowadays most of the former are dopers too, so this doesn’t make sense, but the whole motto nowadays is never the twain shall meet! So if you have any dx at all, even fulminant schizophrenia I guess, you get shunted to the Synanon clowns, and the mental guys won’t even talk to you until you get “drug treatmented.” Only then you go into mental health, but only if you get “clean.” What if you never go clean and keep using? I guess mental health says go away until you come clean. This is based on the somewhat lame idea that you can’t treat anyone with a psych dx as long as they are “using.” There’s no evidence that this is true as a general statement, and in a lot of cases, it’s just stupid. The local medical treatment folks are much the same. I use a public facility, so this may be the problem, but I bet privates are just as insane (Joke!). If you tell them you are smoking weed, even for good reason (like it’s medicine, duh) they freak out and remand you to “therapy.” Then you go to the Therapist Lady who knows little about dope and less about medicine, and she tries to force you to quit smoking dope. Mind you, this is in California, where cannabis is legal to use medically as long as you have a card! I can imagine what things are like in South Carolina. Unfortunately, this anti-drug societal meme, which is profound even here in the middle of a California barrio, has taken a hold of me lately, and I even haven’t been stoned in a while. I take exception to the standard crap line about drugs. I’m extremely happy that we Boomers are continuing to get high. The typical line is that drugs are evil life destroyers, and everyone who takes them is an evil scum to be avoided and shunned. In terms of my life experience, my position is that drugs are fun. Drugs are a blast. Drugs are oodles and oodles of kicks and endless good times. That’s been my experience. I never got addicted or totally messed up on dope like it seems every other user did. I’ve been using off and on for 35 years now, and I’m not any the worse for it. That’s because I was always just a recreational user. Everyone I tell this to is like, “No way! What’s that? No such thing as a recreational user!” This is because, you see, all users are either very casual experimenters or addicts and screwups with a life-wrecking problem. But really. The only drug I ever used regularly was pot, and even if you use it daily, it usually doesn’t screw you up that much. I used coke for 13 years and never got addicted. I did probably less than an ounce of coke in 13 years, maybe a gram or so a year. I’d just tickle my nose now and then. I only did speed 3 times, and I never got into heroin, although I admit to very much a liking for codeine these days, which is killer good for OCD too for some weird reason. I did hallucinogens for 14 years (40 times overall). These drugs actually act against addiction in that they are so overwhelming that it’s almost impossible to take them regularly. I took psychedelics maybe 3-4 times a year, never had a serious bad trip, and I don’t think I have any serious consequences from it other than really bright lit up colors sometimes, which I think is HPPD. I’ve known many folks who took LSD anywhere from 1-700 times, and I can’t say I’ve ever met one person who was messed up from taking the stuff. I’ve known folks who have been using pot daily for 20-30 years, and they are psychologically normal in every way, shape and form. Those that were not, I saw them quit pot, and in general, they didn’t get any healthier psychologically. Sometimes they even started back up again, and still not much changed. I concluded that pot in general doesn’t seem to have much to do with psychological issues one way or the other. The notion of the permafried pothead or former acid user is largely a myth as far as I can tell, or at least it’s uncommon. Most of the really psychologically messed up folks I’ve met weren’t using anything. I always thought maybe they could have used some weed to mellow them out a bit. Oh yeah, one more really evil thing pot does to me. Sometimes it makes me laugh. For hours and hours, off and on. And, even after the high wears off, it still makes me laugh, even for days afterwards, even out in public (where I do try to suppress my giggles). I don’t care if people think I’m nuts for laughing in public. The sane people will just figure I’m thinking of something funny, which is exactly why I’m laughing. So you see, that’s one more reason cannabis is so evil. It makes people laugh, sometimes on and off for hours and days on end. We can’t have any of that now, can we?

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