Thursday, April 25, 2024


Since Guerrilla Mural of a Siren’s Song: 15 Gonzo Science Fiction Stories came out, people probably think I’m on drugs. I’ve never needed drugs to have visions. Hallucinogenic imagery has always come easy to me, even as a toddler when I spent most of my time playing with imaginary friends. My imagination never stops. 

I suppose that most people don’t have weird shit dancing through their brains 24/7. That’s something I have a hard time imagining. Must be boring.

If the police ransacked Hacienda Hogan they wouldn’t find anything that would get me locked up. Sure, there’s some cerveza, but I write sober. And still I make incredible typos.

What is a gonzo Chicano science fiction writer? People probably imagine me sprinkling genetically engineered peyote powder on my Cheerios before I go out in my low rider hovercraft to cruise the barrio in search of virgins to sacrifice to Tezcatlipoca with electrified accordion psychedelic cumbias a-blasting. Maybe some even believe it.

Still, drugs and Xochipilli, the god of mind-altering substances, have not been totally absent from my life—after all I came of age during the Seventies, in Southern California, when you needed a gas mask to avoid the coke and pot in the air. It was part of what was happening, man! And as a writer, I felt it was my duty to be hip to what was going on, so I could write about it.

I was what we used to call a social drug user. At parties and other gatherings of long-haired, freaky people, funny cigarettes and pipes would be passed around . . . in pre-Star Wars fandom, the stairwells of convention hotels would fill up with smoke. 

But I digress . . .

I have to admit that pot, grass, weed, what we called cannabis back then, was fun. But it was me hoping that marijuana (or mariguana, as the Spanish-language press spells it) would make the conversations more interesting. Without the “dope” most of those events would have been dull.

After a while, I realized that instead of bringing others up to my level, it was dragging me down to theirs.

But that wasn’t why I gave it up.

One night, over at a friend’s house, I took a few tokes. I assumed it was good ol’ pot, but there was something different this time. I got this buzzing–WAAAAH! . . .WAAAAH! . . . WAAAAH!--going through my head. Things started to look different–focus and colors looked weird. Then I started puking my guts out. Must have been somekinda unidentified psychedelic whatchcallit mixed in. That was the thing about illegal drugs–you never knew what you were really getting. Also, I seemed to be disconnected from my body, could barely talk, and walking was . . . those several puke-runs to the toilet were . . . interesting. They eventually gave me something with opium in it, and I slept it off.

It was the classic bad trip I had heard so much about. I didn’t really want to go through it again.

Also, I was going through a lot at the time, realizing that if I’m going to do the creative stuff that I do, I absolutely had to keep my brain and body in good condition. I decided to give it up.

By it I mean the stuff with laws against it.

It was pretty easy, I just started saying no when it was offered. Nancy Reagan would have been proud.

Besides, the times I tried cocaine–which made me feel good and so self-confident that I committed a crime someone asked me to (I see how it could mess up your life)--and speed (which was like coke, but not as pleasant) I wasn’t left hungering for more.

And I had done enough research in that area. Sorry Xochipilli, but you don't get to eat my brain.

But then, there was another drug, however, that I did not give up for another decade or so . . .

To be continued!

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