The Cost of Being a Cowboy

Drugstore Cowboy and the Junkie Lifestyle

There is no shortage of movies that feature drugs and drug use. Most have an agenda regarding their portrayal of drugs and those who use drugs. Most movies either attempt to glamorize drugs or intend to demonize them. I usually find that these movies try too hard with their message or loose the through line somewhere in the second act, but there are a few movies out there that don’t romanticize, idealize, or patronize when it comes to drugs and drug use. Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy is on of these few movies.

Drugstore Cowboy

There are a couple concessions I want to make before I recommend this movie. First, the movie is set in 1971, and it was released in 1989 so it does feel dated at points. Second, there are a few moments early in the movie when Matt Dillon’s character, Bob, waxes poetic about drug use. I don’t view this as romanticizing drug use especially when we hear what Bob has to say later in the movie (hope that isn’t too much of a spoiler for you). With these too minor points aside this is a sound movie that takes an honest look at drugs and drug use (as honest as you can get in the weird world of Hollywood). Drugstore Cowboy is an insight into the world and daily lives of four junkies, but Van Sant does not pass any sort of explicit judgement on their lifestyles (he leaves judgement to the viewer).

If you are in the mood for a well written movie with sound acting and solid directing that features drugs and drug use in a realistic sense then Drugstore Cowboy is worth a watch. Hell, you may want to watch it just to see William S. Burroughs acting.

-K-

Drugstore Cowboy (1989) with Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Le Gros, and Heather Graham. Directed by Gus Van Sant.

Bad medicine is for good times, and good medicine is for bad times. It’s important to know the difference.

-K-

Self Help as Bad Medicine

or Is there Value in Self-Help Books?

Is bad medicine the result of poor intentions, or good intentions that end poorly? A person may not start with the idea that he/she is using (or taking) bad medicine, it may just end up that way. But I don’t want to discuss medicine in the traditional sense of the word today. I want to scribble a few lines about advice as medicine and how bad advice can be just as harmful as bad medicine.

I noticed a co-worker with a self-help book the other day, and I thought of George Carlin’s bit regarding self-help books. I can’t do the bit justice so I suggest you open up another window on your interwebs and give it watch to get some context (I’ll be here when you’re done). … You’re still reading so I’ll assume you watched it. Funny stuff, yeah? Carlin’s idea is self-help books aren’t self-help because you are listening to and following the advice of somebody else. Carlin says this isn’t self-help, it’s just help. In think this insight can be tied to bad medicine (or how we use/misuse medicine). We buy, read, and study self-help books with the intentions of bettering ourselves. Like my co-worker, we have the best of intentions when we begin, but what of the advice these books provide? These self-help books are written by people we do not know and more importantly do not know us. These authors may have experiences similar to ours but their experiences are not our experiences. Although we may get useful information from a self-help book we must remember these books are only offering advice and not all advice is good advice, especially if that advice can’t be applied to our lives. Good intentions can have poor consequences if we try too hard to live a life based solely on somebody else’s advice

I’m not saying you should avoid self-help books (Hell, that would make me just another person giving out advice). I am saying that bad advice can be just as dangerous as bad medicine, and like bad medicine bad advice can be given (and taken) with the best of intentions.

-K-

Bad Medicine: Self-Medication Mix Tape

  • “Cocaine”–Eric Clapton
  • “Hurt “–Johnny Cash
  • “Methamphetamine”–Old Crow Medicine Show
  • “Junker”–Hugh Laurie
  • “Old Fashioned Morphine”–Jolie Holland
“Picking Tunes”
  • “Snowblind Friend”–Steppenwolf
  • “Heroin Addict Sister”–Elizabeth Cook
  • “Hotel California”–Eagles
  • “My Morphine”–Gillian Welch
  • “Nothin'”–Townes Van Zandt

-K-

Dose of Dr. Gonzo

“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”

-Hunter S. Thompson-

Some Thoughts on Bad Medicine

The What, How, and When of Bad Medicine

What comes to mind when you think of bad medicine? If you are thinking about Bon Jovi then you are probably of a certain age, but Bon Jovi is not the topic of conversation (I did see them perform that song in concert though). I’ve been thinking about medicine of late, both good and bad, maybe good or bad is a better way to phrase it. Medicine is a thing, and like many things its use or misuse is what makes it bad.

Medicine comes in many different forms, both in theory and practice. It’s the bad (I feel like I should be putting quotes around that word) that I want to focus on. Alcohol, marijuana tobacco, cocaine, and morphine are just a sampling of medicines that have been viewed as good or bad (or just plain evil depending on who you talk to) at various points of time. What makes medicine good at one point and bad at another? Is it research, misuse, morality, or something else? If it isn’t good for you is it bad medicine? If it makes you feel too good is it bad medicine? These are just a few questions that come to mind when I think of bad medicine.

Personal experiences give us varying views of what makes medicine bad? What one thinks is bad may not be so bad for someone else. This is what interests me. I want to take a closer look at the use and misuse of various medicines and see what, how, or when a medicine becomes bad.

-K-

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