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The Jim Carroll Website Home > Background > The Basketball Diaries > Stories from Dennis Driscoll > Fun with Acid

Fun with Acid

Stories from Dennis Driscoll


I last took acid when I was 19. I'd had all kinds of experiences on it, and only 2 were bad. I first took acid when I was 14, which was pretty my year of firsts for most drugs. Except for glue and carbonna and alcohol with all came at 12.

Glue was an interesting drug. Much more encompassing then Carbonna, which is dry cleaning fluid, and explained why your lungs felt "clean" after inhaling it. There was nothing you could do to get rid of the taste. With carbonna you'd pour some on a handkerchief and put it to your nose and inhale. The high was pretty immediate and also didn't last long, like most of the sniffed drugs like poppers, which we called something else, I want to say snappers, but I'm not sure that was it. But poppers was mainly a rush. You'd inhale this stuff and get an enormous rush and within minutes you'd be completely straight, but for a minute or two you got an amzing rush and alot of time you face turned a bright red. These drugs were made for heart patients and really didn't appeal to me much. Carbonna was sort of a cross between poppers and glue. Not having the heavy "dreams" you'd get from glue but longer lasting than poppers. The first time I did carbonna was at a kid, Alan White's, apartment across the street from my families apartment.

Alan White was a single parent kid, his dad was raising him, or trying. Alan was younger than me and into drugs heavier. He hung out with this kid Stinky, who was generally a pain in the ass. Stinky's best friend was one of the toughest guys around. A big well built guy that was very protective of Stinky, so Stinky would try to start fights with you so he could go tell his protector who would come and beat your ass. Eventually this guy got hip to Stinky's act and cut him loose.

Alan White's apartment was always open during the day for parties cause he had no mom and his dad worked. So this is where I tried carbonna. Soon after that I tried glue. Glue was the kind of drug that took you to another place, a place where you had wild dreams and all kinds of aural hallucinations. The most common being the buzz. The buzz was a sound, sort of like an airplane engine, a propeller driven engine, that got louder and louder. Also on glue I would always hear someone calling my name, even though there was never anyone really calling my name.

We had a few places to sniff glue in Ft Tryon Park. One place was a paved road we called Bum's Road. It ran parrallel to Broadway, from about Arden St up to near the Alley Cats. In the summer it was covered in foliage and you couldn't be seen from the street in the day or the night. The other spot was called the Indian cave. It was a small cave that had steps, of course called the Indian steps, that were cut out of the rock leading up to the Indian Cave, which we also called the drinking cave. It wasn't very big and it wasn't very deep but it was a cave.

The biggest problem with glue for me, besides the headaches I started to develop after getting high, was the bad habit I had of laying back with the glue bag over my face. Unlike carbonna which were sniffed from a rag or handkerchief, glue was sniffed from paper bags. Two number two bags to be exact. You'd take the bags, one inside the other and crumble them up and got them pliable so when you had them over your face and inhaled the bags would contract and expand. You sort of look like a horse eating from a feed bag. The problem is when you laid back deep into a glue dream the glue would slide down the bag to rest on your face and would dry there, so when you came out of your dream your face was covered with crusty glue, VERY attractive. The favorite glue was Prince's, Testors was ok, but Prince was the favorite. To get glue you'd have to purchase a model. The only place that sold you 2 tubes of glue with your model was called Fred the Idiots. Fred was an immigrant that owned a small candy store and sold 29 cent models and 2 tubes of glue to kids. Then he would buy the model back for 10 cents. So he really wasn't that much of an idiot but that was his nick name.

I finally gave up glue because the glue started to give me headaches, but one night I went to the park and one of the guys was sniffing glue. For some reason a cheap high appealed to me and I headed to Fred the Idiots for some glue. By this time I was a regular and no longer had to buy a model, when you sniffed long enough Fred would finally waive the pretense of selling you models. So I got 2 tubes and head back to the steps where everyone was drinking. I sat down on the steps, there had to be about 30 or 40 guys out there, mainly wetheads, drinkers. George G and myself sat there and pegged, pegging was sniffing glue. Time has no meaning when you sniff glue and I was deep in a dream when I heard someone yell out "the Cops!!!". My glue addled brain finally woke up and I looked down to see a detective car sitting at the bottom of the steps. I took my bag and threw it as far as I could, but continued to sit there. After a minute the cops just laughed and left. Now I'm sitting here totally alone with no idea what time it was. I didn't own a watch and figured it was at least 3 o'clock in the morning started to shit a brick. My parents wanted me home by midnight at that time and I thought I was screwed. I sat there with my head in my hands wondering what I was gonna tell my parents, when Danny Mancole came off Bum's Road. "Danny, what fucking time is it? My parents are gonna kill me" He looks at his watch and says, "its 9:35". "9:35??????????" Slowly all the guys that ran when the cops came started to reappear. Man that glue sure messed with your sense of time.

Similar to LSD actually. My worst LSD trip happened in 1969 just before Thanksgiving. I got the acid from a friend, Eddie Hand, who later got shot in the head over essentially nothing and died. Eddie wasn't an acid dealer, but I'd gone to grammar school with him and he knew more of the hippies from Washington Hgts than me so I had him cop for me alot. This was probably the strongest acid I'd ever take, but when I got it from Eddie a piece had been taken from the tab. I was a little pissed as I was gonna split it with a guy named O'B who was good friends with Stinky. The acid was orange and sort of wedge shaped so it was called orange wedge. O'B and I split what we had and Eddie took the other little piece he had taken and went to see the Rolling Stones at Madison Sq. Garden. If I was smart I'd have gone with him. But instead I told my parents I was going to a concert and would be home at 2AM and stayed in Inwood.

We dropped the acid around 8PM, and went to the pool room, Not the best place to trip. Some of our friends were there high on dope and some of them were drunk, and the drunks always thought it was fun to mess with guys tripping. So we tried not to let on we were tripping. But it quickly became obvious something was up because I couldn't sit in one place, and kept moving around the pool room. The was this one really freaky guy there who's name totally escapes me but he was gross. After I started to really get off he got in an argument with another friend of mine. I was having the most intense hallucinations I'd EVER had, and this asshole yells at my friend and tells him to suck his dick, and he whips it out. It was huge, I think it was the drugs but the last thing I needed to see was this greasy junkie waving this enormous dick around. So i go to the other side of the poolroom. When I get there, this guy Tony B, another wethead, maces a friend of his for a joke. The guy he maced screamed put his hands to his eyes and when he lowered them his eyes were watering really bad and his face was all red, again I don't know if it was the drugs or what. But the next thing I know Tony finds out I'm tripping. He comes and sits down next to me and calls my name, I see out of the corner of my eye the mace. This asshole is going to mace me in the middle of the most intense acid trip I'd ever taken. I got up and ran to the back of the poolroom, with him yelling after me, asking why I ran, whats wrong with me. I finally decide to get out of the poolroom. Me and O'B walk through the projects, where he lived. Up until now my hallucinations consisted mainly of walls melting and little things like that, more distortions of reality but not really hallucinations of things that weren't really there, but this trip was different. The colors were very bright, peoples faces took on cartoon qualities.

I decided to walk down the block I lived on. Not too smart as I'm supposed to be at a concert. When I walk down Arden St, there was some graffiti that was day glow in appearance, and bright pink. Things didn't look right. So an urge hits me to go into my apartment just to make sure I still lived there. That was a really really big mistake.

I enter the house and my parents and my younger brother are in the living room watching TV. They look at me and wonder why I'm home so early. I tell them I had a headache and decided to come home. After a couple of minutes I told them I was going to bed.

Now sleeping on acid is almost impossible. I go into my room and take my clothes off and get into bed. The poster of Janis Joplin on my wall is now dancing! After about 30 seconds I'm convinced I can't sleep and I'm on an acid trip with no return ticket. I really felt I wasn't coming back and I was going to be like this forever, which was not an appealing thought. So I go out to the livingroom and tell my parents " I have to talk to you, I took some acid and I don't think I'm coming back, call a doctor!" They couldn't believe I was telling them this and sent my brother to his room. For the next, gee I have no idea how long, but they interviewed me about my drug history. Being in the state I was in, I told them every drug I'd ever taken and where I got the acid I took that night. I told them about pot and pills , they already knew I drank, and worst of all I told them about heroin. All they could say was "Look at his pupils" which were HUGE! Up to this point I'd only taken heroin 3 or 4 times had no habit and had only skin popped. I didn't even have a mark on my arms, I tried in vain to point out where I'd injected the dope and there were no marks. I said to them, "look,look right here" and put my arm under the light but there were no marks. Pretty bad. Finally I go to bed and after awhile get to sleep. When I woke in the morning I was fine. Completely back to normal or at least as normal as I was before this trip. But everything had changed. I went out to the kitchen where my mother was. All she said was " We remember lastnight".

Three days later, my parents picked me up at school and told me we were going to a drug program. They decided to tsake me to the Rockefeller Program, which was really just jail. It was a program designed to take care of the overcrowding in the prison system. So if you were caught with drugs and about to be sentenced Rikers island you could copout to the Rockefeller program. When you copped out you were signing 6 years of your life away. You'd go out to Staten Island and do, I think 6 months there. Then you were released and would have to report for drug testing every few days a week at a facility they called Edgecombe. Invariably, everyone that got out of the Rockefeller program's first 6 month sentence went immediatley to the cooker. Then there urines were dirty and the guy took the dope knew it so he wouldn't report for the test. That day a warrant was put out for the guy and when caught he'd do 90 days at Edgecombe, which was called the snakepit. It was too small for the amount of people in there and people slept on floors and anywhere they could. This went on until your six years were up.

This was the place my parents were taking me. They didn't understand what type of place they were sending me to. When you were signed up more or less voluntarily you only got 3 years, but I weas still in high school and hadn't even had my first habit yet. Luckily my parents couldn't find the place, a cop we'd asked for directions told us it was in the Bronx, where my school was. But it was actually in Mahattan in Harlem. So because we couldn't find it my parents gave up on the idea, for the moment. This was really my lucky day. But things had definitely changed! Dennis Driscoll

PS, Alan White died at the age of 13 after some black guys, who had ripped him off for some seconals, threatened to fuck him up at school, after their friends who took the stolen seconal got caught being high in class and had their stomaches pumped. Alan was so afraid of these black kids he took his remaining 52 seconals and died that night. RIP Alan! He was really a good kid.

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