Category Archives: Dead Friends

Inspiration from Preacher Lawson & Local Orlando Comics

“When you see someone like wipe tears or something, from laughing, that’s just like a — I don’t know — this crazy rush that’s a really good feeling. […] I was talking to a friend of mine, and ah, and he’s a comedian, and I was like, I don’t know what — I’ve never done drugs and so I can’t compare the feeling to standup — this is what he told me: ‘Well listen man, I did alllll the drugs — there’s nothing better than stand up comedy.’”

Robert Greene: Mastery and Pop Drug Culture

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“In Western culture a particular myth has evolved that drugs or madness can somehow lead to creative births of the highest order. How else to explain the work that John Coltrane did while hooked on heroin – or the great works of the playwright August Strinberg, who seemed clinically insane. Their work is so spontaneous and free, so far beyond the power of the rational and conscious mind. This is a cliche however that is easily debunked. Coltrane himself admitted that he did his worst work while hooked on heroin.  It was destroying him and his creative powers. He kicked the habit in 1957 and never looked back. Biographers who studied the letters and journals of Steindberg discovered a man who was quite histrionic in public, but who in private life was extremely disciplined. The effect of madness created in his plays is very consciously crafted. Understand: to create a meaningful work of art or to make a discovery or invention requires great disciple, self-control, and stability. It requires mastering the forms of your field – drugs and madness only destroy such powers. Do not fall for the romantic myths and cliches that abound in popular culture about creativity – offering the excuse and panacea that such powers can come cheaply. When you look at the exceptionally creative work of masters you must not ignore the years of practice, endless routines, the hours of doubt, and the tenacious overcoming of obstacles these people endured. Creative energy is the fruit of such efforts and nothing else.”

Stephen King on Substance Abuse and Creativity

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 7.26.42 PM“The idea that the creative endeavor and mind-altering substances are entwined is one of the great pop-intellectual myths of our time. The four twentieth-century writers whose work is most responsible for it are probably Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, and the poet Dylan Thomas. They are the writers who largely formed our vision of an existential English-speaking wasteland where people have been cut off from one another and live in an atmosphere of emotional strangulation and despair. These concepts are very familiar to most alcoholics. The common reaction to them is amusement. Substance abusing writers are just: substance abusers — common garden variety drunks and druggies, in other words. Any claims that drugs and alcohol are necessary to dull a finer sensibility are just the usual self-serving bullshit. I’ve heard alcoholic snowplow drivers make the same claim, that they drink to still the demons. It doesn’t matter if you’re James Jones, John Cheever, or a stew bum snoozing in Penn Station. For an addict the right to the drink or the drug of choice must be preserved at all costs. Hemingway and Fitzgerald didn’t drink because they were creative, alienated, or morally weak. They drank because it’s what alkies are wired up to do. Creative people probably do run a greater risk of alcoholism and addiction than those in some other jobs – but so what? We all look pretty much the same when we’re puking in the gutter.”

Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft


Inexpensive time-locked “safe” to keep keys, cards, and wallets from loved ones…

Scriptnotes Episode 120: “Stop Getting High”

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Craig: I think twenty-somethings just get way higher than we ever did. They just –

John: That may be true.

Craig: They just get high all the time. Our generation obviously got high and still gets high. And drinks. And drank and still drinks. But weed in and of itself, when we were in our twenties you could get arrested, you know? [laughs] Like I had to hide it. You really can’t now. There’s not a — and I actually like that. I believe that marijuana should be legalized.

However, I also believe that if you want to be — and this is what I told this person — stop getting high. If you want to write a screenplay, stop it. You want to get high Friday night through Sunday afternoon? Go for it. But this is a job that to me at least requires an enormous amount of sobriety. Even the famous writers who were notoriously drunk –

There was an interesting article recently. A lot of them found that they were most productive when they were writing through hangovers. It was in the aftermath of the drinking and the abuse. But, it’s romantic to think that you can get high and write the best stuff of your life.

I don’t think it works at all.

John: Well, in a general sense let’s talk about writers and drugs, because I think it’s actually a fascinating topic. The writers who get high because getting high reduces their inhibitions and makes the words flow or whatever, that was never me, and it’s not the experience I’ve noticed from any of my writer colleagues who sort of of my cohort. So, it’s entirely possible that this next generation that’s rising up to replace us, they are tremendously successful at writing while high and I’m just completely missing it. That same way that like I kind of didn’t understand why anyone would have a manager, then Justin Marks explaining why writers have managers.

So, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong. But I kind of don’t think I’m wrong. Because my experience of being around people who get high a lot is that either you can do two things. You can use it as a crutch. Basically like, well, I can’t write because I’m not high, and I’m always high when I write. That’s tremendously challenging when you’re in any situation where you can’t get high. Where you’re actually in a room working on something and that becomes your thing. It’s like having this weird thing where you can only write when the sun is streaming through the window one certain way and any other way it won’t work. That’s bad. That’s not going to be useful to you.

The other thing I would say is that most of the people I know who get high a lot, their ambition just sort of dissipates a bit. And without ambition, I don’t think you’re going to be able to generate the quantity and quality of work it’s going to take to really make a screenwriting career.

Craig: I agree. I think that it’s important for me to point out that my experience of my cohorts is exactly the same as yours. I don’t know one single successful writer who has maintained a career who continues to abuse drugs or alcohol. I know some that have, and gotten over it, but I don’t know any that continue to do it as a matter of practice and can still function through it. I also think that the problem with writing while you’re high is that you’re not writing. The whole point of getting high is to alter your consciousness, which is fun.

It’s totally fun. Drinking is fun. And getting high is fun. I get it. But it’s about expanding your consciousness, and letting go of who you are for awhile, and when you come back from it, perhaps you can come back with something that you’ve learned about yourself. But then you’re not writing. There’s a you and it’s the sober you. I don’t know how else to put it.

John: I would agree with you. Writing is really hard. And so I think some of the instinct behind using something like pot or people who are using Provigil or Ritalin or other sort of stimulant things, helps them sort of focus in on what they’re doing, it’s an attempt to make something that’s inherently hard feel easier. But in making it feel easier, it’s unlikely that you’re going to find great success in that solution.

If you’re on one of these, if you take Ritalin or whatever, you may pile through more pages. The odds that they’re going to be awesome pages are very, very small.

Craig: Yeah. Yeah.

John: And I would also say the same with pot. You may write a few good sentences, but it’s unlikely you’re going to get the work done that needs to get done.

Craig: No, screenwriting is rigorous. It requires enormous attention. To me, writing while altered is right up there with directing while altered. Or driving. And I’m taking away even the aspect of how dangerous that would be for other people, yourself physically. I mean to say your just not very good at it.

It’s something that requires focus, and attention, and intention, and thought. And the whole point of getting high is to make some of that stuff go away. You know, beyond caffeine and, you know, cigarette, you know, if you feel like hurting your lungs.

But, yeah, just no. Don’t. I think culturally speaking I was a little taken aback, not in a judgmental way, but more in a, huh, I think this is probably going on more than you and I realize.

John: I would agree.

Craig: So, advice here is stop. I don’t think it’s going to help you.

John: Yeah. And so I want to phrase it as this is not a moral judgment about sort of whatever substances you want to consume. Just in my experience looking at sort of historical record of people I know who have succeeded and got stuff done, none of the people I know who have succeeded and really gotten a lot of stuff done have been using stuff frequently to do it.

Craig: Totally.

John: Beyond the exact examples that you list, which are caffeine, which is getting you up and getting your focused through that next bit. And some people do smoke. But not that many people smoke now. Even Craig Mazin doesn’t smoke now.

Craig: Yeah, it’s an occasional, you know. The guy that needs to smoke a cigar every day while you’re writing. Great. Worked for Mark Twain. And really caffeine and nicotine or sort of two peas in a pod. But, you know, totally agree with you. This is not judgmental. I believe all drugs should be legal. I’m very libertarian about that. And I don’t care what you do when you you’re not writing. But, I do want you to be writing, not high or drunk you.

John: Yeah. That’s very important. And I will also say that I’m not discounting the fact that some people have special challenges and their brains are not working right, and so this is really talking about an otherwise healthy person who is trying to write a screenplay.

If you are a person who is sort of not overall healthy in life and needs some other antidepressant or whatever else, go do that and take care of yourself first. So, that’s not like a blanket statement against all drugs or any medication that could help a person.

But specifically taking something in order to get yourself to start writing is not my advice to you.

Craig: Agreed.

Full transcript available here:

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Inspiring Art-centric Work-Ethic! Lynn Johnston on Chiustream

Highlights: “There’s no place on Earth that you’re not going to learn – if you get an art job…whether its doing window displays or whether you’re working for a packaging firm, or whether you’re doing sketches for the local library’s read-a-book weekend [hmm… : ) ] you just learn with every turn of your career, no matter what you do.”

“It all comes down to hard work, there’s no other explanation for it…I went around the whole city of Hamilton with my baby on my back door-to-door talking with anybody who would give me a job…anybody. I went to libraries, I went to schools, I went to ad agencies, I went to art studios — anybody. Shops which sold art supplies, “Can you introduce me to somebody who will give me a job?” And every so often, somebody would give you some work and you get it to them on time, at a reasonable price, at less than they asked for – you’ll get another job, and then you’ll get bigger jobs and bigger jobs, and by the time I was looking at the artwork that I am doing now — I was hiring other artists to do things for me, huge things…”

“I think hard times are important but I also think that a solid work ethic is important and to not instill that in your children is a crime — because they need that, because, without the ability to show up on time, be reliable, produce, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing whether your selling furniture or driving a cab — you have to show up on time, you have to be reliable and produce.”

“When I was in art school I used to think if I got doped up I would suddenly be link to extreme creativity and everything would just be so easy! And I would go into these places where everybody was stoned, and I would think, “But you’re not doing anything?? You’re all sitting on the floor stoned, blissing-out listening to Ravi Shankar music and doing and doing sweet bugger all — and so I didn’t get stoned, because I couldn’t produce.”

Lynn’s “For Better or for Worse” comic site:

Gogol Bordello: Rethinking Inspiration One Artist at a Time

“I know that a lot of people are convinced that I am a heroin junkie and other people [in the band] have major doping, but, why does it need to be so? I’ve actually never done any drugs in my life and its all adrenaline, music, and a bit of alcohol…that’s really all it is.” 
I’m convinced drug-free inspiration enables a confidence in creative uniqueness which non-artists have trouble understanding: “It’s not drugs, it’s me.” 

Role Model to Superheroes: Phil Ochs (Anti-Drug Ad Spot)

“Hi, this is Phil Ochs.  Ever since the assassination of John Kennedy things began to fall apart in this country. People started caring less for each other and thought less of themselves. Some tried to escape as we suffered through two reactionary administrations. The war in Vietnam and the use of hard drugs have taken many lives. Now the war is over but drugs continue their destruction. I believe it’s time to turn the corner. I think we can get America back if we get ourselves back — you don’t need drugs, you don’t need gurus. You only need to believe in yourself. Remember it only takes a small circle of friends to get back to a life based on reality — rather than escape.”

“Philip David Ochs (pronounced /ˈoʊks/) (December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was an American protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer) and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice. He wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and released eight albums in his lifetime.

Ochs performed at many political events, including anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events over the course of his career, in addition to many concert appearances at such venues as New York City’s Town Hall and Carnegie Hall. Politically, Ochs described himself as a “left social democrat” who became an “early revolutionary” after the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago led to a police riot, which had a profound effect on his state of mind.”

Where is the Art? Marijuana and Lost Friends

How did it become artistic to get high? It is hard to imagine Da Vinci as a pothead. Drugs are a cheap way for untalented poseurs, curators, and hangers-on to purchase the aura of “artistic” without producing a single work of meaningful bold imagination.

As Anthony Kiedis said, “It’s easy to be a junkie. It’s not easy to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time, or one of the greatest writers.”

Marijuana makes you stupid, lethargic, paranoid, irrational, schizophrenic, emasculated, passive, complacent, and easily ruled. It is not the drug of revolutionaries; it is the drug of frat boys and social incompetents who have nothing in common with each other except marijuana.

Da Vinci would have been curious about the effects of various activities on his mind. With marijuana and most drugs this curiosity can be answered through observation: where is the art??? Where are genius potheads?

With a clear mind you will have confidence the flights of your imagination are empowered by genius, the breath of God, insightful and bold — rather than self-censored by doubts about their chemical origin.

Protect your neurons; take care of your physical brain. Nurture your physical mind — your neurological system — with sleep, exercise, healthy nutrition, optimism, travel, friends, joy, sunlight, and Kindness.

Unfortunately many artists use the drug culture to project an aura of coolness — while in fact they themselves do not use any drugs whatsoever. For example, a brilliant inspiring author (albeit of “horoscopes” in their most broad literary form), writes on his website:

“I was peeved that so few of “the antennae of the race” had enough courage to blow their own minds with psychedelics. How could you explode the consensual trance unless you poked your head over onto the other side of the veil now and then?

Pot, hashish, and LSD were very good to me (never a single bad trip), but their revelations were too hard to hold onto. As I came down from a psychedelic high, I could barely translate the truths about the fourth dimension into a usable form back in normal waking awareness.

The problem was that unlike the other techniques on the list, psychedelics bypassed my willpower. Their chemical battering ram simply smashed through the doors of perception. No adroitness or craft was involved on my part. One of my meditation teachers referred to drug use, no matter how responsible, as “storming the kingdom of heaven through violence.”

Gradually, then, I ended my relationship with the illegal magic. Instead I affirmed my desire to build mastery through hard work. Dream interpretation, meditation, and tantric exploration became the cornerstones of my practice.” (

Amazingly Brezsny goes on to write on page 21 of his book Pronoia, “I had not ingested (and still have not as of this writing) a single mind-altering substance, even marijuana, since 1985.” Why not state this clearly, upfront, as a straightforward guide to future artists?

Why is it so difficult for artists to say clearly, “Hey, I don’t do drugs. I don’t need them. You probably don’t either; they’ll almost certainly make you a worse artist. Nothing has destroyed more potential in our generation than marijuana. Protect your Mind. Rewire your brain with Kindness, not chemicals.”

Rather than militarize our society while providing the false veneer of ‘hip counter-culture rebel’ to paranoid poseurs, privileged dilettantes, and salaried weekend warriors (who need self-medication to survive dream-crushing careers), we should end this false revolution of the anti-imaginative class: all drugs must be legal.

There is nothing cool about getting high; there is nothing rebellious or counter-cultural about using a roadside weed to become a pothead. Marijuana makes you incredibly stupid and does nothing whatsoever to improve your imagination. If you want to go to an idiot parade, watch a NORML march…no kidding, truly unbelievable. Go to a NORML march before becoming a pothead, please. (Many of my friends would be marching if they could wake up and remember the date.)

For an articulate alternative point of view, the comedian Bill Hicks frequently defended drug use as inspirational. Most people though do not take drugs for inspiration; they are not remotely capable of broadening their minds, they are not revolutionary, they definitely cannot retain a single meaningful interesting concept from the supposedly novel experience of smoking marijuana. Most artists were exceptional in elementary school. Long before experiencing drugs they experienced inspiration as a gift. Only then, long after, did some became fat angry drunks and has-been potheads.  2¢

Chemically induced light-trails are not enlightening; hallucinations are not Ideas.  Let uncreative poseurs trip on their crutches.  Artists only need hearts filled with the breath of God.

‎”All the great writers were alcholics. [This is untrue!] Where are the great pothead writers? I’m sure they’re out there but do really want to read a whole book by a pothead? 500 pages on why if you put a hat and glasses on a dog he looks like he could drive a truck.” Dave Attell

Lead singer for the rock band Kiss, Gene Simons, has the courage to speak out against fake Muses, “I have never been drunk or high in my life. I have never smoked a cigarette and do not stay in the same room as people smoking.”

An alternative point of view: “We have a lot of really bad prejudices about marijuana, and we need to expose them as a society, because they’re holding a lot of people back – I know they held me back. They made me – until I was thirty years old I thought pot was for idiots. A lot of people do. And it’s important to let them know, not only is it not for idiots, it’s a tool. You can use it. It can benefit you. This is not a benign substance – it’s slippery, like all other psychoactive substances if you are on the wrong path mentally, you can go off the deep end with it. Like everything else. Like alcohol or anything else.” Joe Rogan, JRE Podcaast #807