Monday, April 3, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Drugs and Rock N Roll

As it turned out, I had become dependent on the NyQuil and Robitussin and espresso.  It was, in effect, an over the counter speedball.  The NyQuil gives an overall softness to everything.  The Robitussin takes that softness and twists it into a psychedelic marshmallow wonderland.  The espresso is important as otherwise it becomes impossible to get off the couch.  The key is to time out each one of the products to allow maximum impact while also insuring never losing the comfortable smooshy cocoon.  I've been riding the snake for a pretty long time as this sickness won't let go.  For two weeks I have not been exactly sure of what is going on around me.  Nothing has very much significance.  "Hey, your house is on fire!"  Oh wow.  Maybe I should like... do something about that.  I'm the guy with the twinkly smile in the Woodstock movie, except with a massive virus that is destroying his respiratory system. 

Playing that sold out gig Saturday was a wild ride.  I had to plan my entire weekend around it as I have almost no energy.  I literally sat on the couch for 24 hours mentally preparing for the inevitability of having to walk waaaaayyyyy out to my car to go drive to the club. Meanwhile I am swigging Robitussin from the bottle, timing out NyQuil and sudafeds, and cranking up the old Illy espresso machine.  By the time I hit the shower and changed into my cowboy outfit I felt like Gram Parsons must have shortly before dying at Joshua Tree.  The van floated out to the Beachland while the stereo played the Stones "2000 Light Years From Home".  I was preoccupied with the idea of how sad it is to be 2000 light years from home.  I mean, it's two thousand light years away!  Please note, I'm pretty sure I was the one driving as I was the only one in the van. I don't recall with absolute clarity being at the wheel however. 

So by the time I get to the venue it's all about timing out these meds while somehow putting my hoarse croak of a voice in a position to do about an hour on stage.  My entire weekend has been focused on being the best possible me I could be for about an hour on Saturday night.  I haul the gear in with Leo and get a text from Sugar that she feels like shit with the same basic symptoms I have but the virus is paced five days behind me.  She is running really late.  Normally that would stress me out but I'm in the cocoon, so it's cool.  No need to stress out.  The cosmos has it all figured out anyway man.  Let's just enjoy these jams.  (Cue Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone") 

The throat is a real issue.  I sound like Tom Waits with a cold.  I decide the way to go is have hot tea with bourbon and honey.  I take sudafed about an hour before set time to reduce congestion.  I'm sitting downstairs in the dressing room with Jon Spencer and Hollis Queens from Boss Hog and those nice kids from Archie and the Bunkers while writing a set list.  It's almost impossible to focus long enough to figure out which songs we play that I can avoid reaching for a high note.  Some very small girl in a shiny gold dress that looks 16 years old sits down next to me and Cullen.  She has this purity and naïveté like a baby deer.  I am really struggling to follow any of her conversation after the second bourbon kicks in.  This could be because I have lost my comprehension skills or because she is making no sense.  She is there to go-go dance on stage after all.  I have to bail out of this.  I pack up my little world and move to the club, which is now completely sold out and packed.

Playing a gig is usually great fun.  However with a claustrophobic room and not knowing if your voice will work it's very stressful.  Well, let me amend that.  I suppose it would be stressful without the speedball of sudafed, Robitussin, hot tea and bourbon.  In that case it becomes more like a small inconvenience to make an asshole out of yourself in front of a large gathered crowd.  It's conceptual much like being 2000 Light Years From Home would be a real drag.  It's like being worried about the coyote falling off a cliff in a roadrunner cartoon.  You feel bad, but it's not real.  

I can't tell you much about the show.  I know I did it.  That picture up there is from it happening.  People seemed to like it.  I remember a lot of cheering and clapping.  I also remember Gary played really well and carried the day.  His shoulders must be tired from the weight he carried on Saturday.  Sugar and I were swigging cough syrup and bourbon neat from little plastic cups like low rent junkies.  (Knob Creek for those of you scoring at home).  I felt pretty good towards the end when I realized that my voice was going to hold.  That's when this weird cold sweat started rolling down my back and my heartbeat went as fast as a hummingbird.  There was a distant concern my heart would explode like an overripe melon.  I thought dying face down at the Beachland would have been sad but I was yet disconnected from it.  Then we were done.  Wait.  It's over?  

I returned to my position on the couch at about 1am.  I sat there with my various items of "my stash" gathered around me.  The fall out from playing that set was a 26 hour coughing jag that went from 1am Saturday night until about 330 am on Monday.  Is it possible to have a bloody throat from coughing?  I woke up groggy.  I shuffled around my kitchen waiting for the Illy machine to kick on.  I went for the cough syrup.  Empty.  I went for the espresso to load the machine.  Out.  Good God.  I'm out of junk.  It's when I noticed that I still had the same acid comedown brain patterns going despite not having been into my stash for the last 12 hours.  Oh no.  Is this the new normal?  Is this how my skull is now?

It's not going to be easy kicking the junk.  I will probably have to find some kind of meeting in the basement of a church.  I can nervously walk in and stand near the coffee stand and fiddle around with a Styrofoam cup as the crowd of NyQuil junkies filter in.  A grizzled guy in a faded army jacket will spot me, walk over and say "First time?".  Uh... yeah.  "Come on in.  You're welcome here.  I'm Pistol."  I will shake his hand and as I do so a foil packet of sudafeds will fall to the floor from my jacket.  Everything will stop as we both eye the pills, his eyes momentarily betraying his desire to seize the packet and run off into the alley.  "Hey man... Are you serious about your recovery?"  I will cough and say I'm trying.  I'm trying.    


At April 4, 2017 at 2:41:00 AM EDT , Blogger old man taylor said...

With all the Sudafed that's in it, you'd think meth would be good for a cold.

At April 4, 2017 at 2:41:00 AM EDT , Blogger old man taylor said...

With all the Sudafed that's in it, you'd think meth would be good for a cold.

At April 4, 2017 at 9:39:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

All I can tell you is that I haven't been interested in eating for 12 days. I hope my teeth don't start falling out.


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