Title: A 19 Year-Old-Girl and Poet Allen Ginsberg Talk About Speed
Author: Allen Ginsberg and Anonymous
Publisher: Do It Now Foundation
Publication Date: 1969
Catalog Number: Archives

This story was written by a 19-year
old girl who was shooting speed. She had been using for two years
and wanted to help others who were considering getting into the
speed scene.

I get off when I see someone
getting off. I dig to get off because I dig to rush. The high,
the out-of sight chills, I just breathe….When I see someone
else get off I get all excited and practically rush with them.
I feel what they are feeling, especially if they are having a
bad time. When I saw Benny, a friend of mine, O.D., I was really
nervous. I was trying to tell Benny what to do, and he just got
his book out and started to read for hours and hours. I told
someone to put Benny into a bath and to start massaging his hands
and legs to get the circulation back, but he would get up and
start rubbing the bubbles in his veins, and he would get the
bubbles to go down his armpits, and down into his legs, they
were like blood clots. The other day I saw a girlfriend of his
who said that the doctor said that his leg might have to be amputated.
That scared me as it happened over a year ago, and I can still
remember his leg turning yellow.

I was in the hospital for two
weeks from sort of ODing. I had kidney and bladder trouble as
well as hepatitis all at the same time. It really scared me when
I OD’d, but after it was all over with, and I was out of the
hospital, I went right back to fixing the next day. The day I
OD’d, I had fixed up many times in the morning, and then this
dude came over and he offered to turn me on to some more, and
I wasn’t going to say no, so I fixed up some more and then he
handed me some acid. I was so spaced that it looked like a Vitamin
B tablet or something. I didn’t really care what it was, I just
took it; Then everyone left the house and I was all alone. When
they came back that night, they found me underneath six blankets.
I was freezing and I had a fever of 103. I screamed every time
someone touched me; it felt like things were crawling over my
hands and legs, like bubbles in my head and all over my body.
My veins collapsed and I had a blood clot in one vein which was
red and two inches long and as hard as a rock. I was hallucinating.
The Speed had speeded up the acid. when I overamped, it was good
at first, but after everyone had gone it began to hurt, but I
was glad to be alone as I was going through a lot of changes.

When my friends found me in bed,
they took me to the hospital, and I went under a phony name,
saying that I lost my ID. I was put in a wheel chair and then
they strapped me to a table. All the time I was trying to stop
them from seeing the tracks on my arms. The nurse, who was big
and fat, tried to take my pulse, and she got scared when she
felt it. The doctor took my blood pressure and couldn’t believe
it, but I was more worried about my friends and myself getting
busted than anything else.

The first time I fixed speed,
I felt wired, good, awake and very aware. It was really good,
out-of-sight, but it does get ugly sometimes, but sometimes it
is good again. If I was with a lot of people, I would get scared
and very nervous, and sometimes I still get that way when I am
with a lot of people and I feel that spreading thing, paranoia,
and I used to hear so many things. People would talk who were
really heavy, but I didn’t know what they were saying, I couldn’t
under-stand. It got to be really bad. It made. me happy when
I put down, it made me unhappy when I was strung out, but I would
not admit it to myself, I was always scared to express myself
in front of people, the words wouldn’t come. When I put down,
it made me able to feel more, and be able to say things easier;
before I could hardly talk. Now I hate speed freaks because I
can see how ugly, how mean and cold they are. I know I was like
that, but I didn’t know it at the time, people would tell me
and I would just ignore them.

The first time I fixed speed,
I wanted something to keep me awake, to keep me going through
the day. I was just coming down off acid, and this dude came
to my girlfriend’s house and wanted to fix up in the bathroom.
I wanted some too. I had fixed smack (heroin) before and I dug
the needle and the groovy rush. If I had a needle and nothing
else, I would fix water.

I met Lenny in the Canyon, and
the only reason I was going around with him was to cop crystal.
I didn’t really dig Lenny but we decided to move and live together.
I began to. really like him, but I didn’t love him. As soon as
we put down speed, I really began to love him and things got
better, and it felt so good. Speed numbs your feelings and all
you have to live for is speed. I thought I was going to be doing
a speed thing for the rest of my life, speed was my whole thing.

When I met Lenny, I couldn’t
see the bad in it. I think he meant something to me, but speed
overcame it and he helped me to know. Lenny was going to put
down speed and I started to like him. Everything he said began
to mean something. Lenny could see it was ugly, and he felt dirty,
but I couldn’t see it at the time. All my friends were speeders,
they were my people, but now I don’t want anything to do with
them; they are all dirty, cold, awful; they steal and burn things
from the stores–pacifiers, etc. Vicks nasal droppers-I was always
stealing them. A man would say, “Put back the Vicks you
stole,” and I would look at him and say “What Vicks?”
and walk out of the store. Now I am so glad that I put it down.

I wish I had put it down sooner.
I would like to go through the experience for a couple of weeks,
but not for as long as I did. I wish somebody had got to me before
I got carried away. I used to know a lot more things, like words
and how to express myself easily, but when I did speed I lost
so many things, now I have lost a lot of my vocabulary and things
I learned in school. I can still express myself, but not so easily,
as I never bothered to express myself for two years, and it takes
time to remember how to. Before I did speed I was conscious of
what people thought of me; when I was on speed people told me
I was ugly, but I didn’t give a damn, and I can see the changes
in them now and when I see them now I just want to love them.
They were right and I was wrong and I didn’t even know it.

GINSBERG: Let’s issue a general
declaration to the underground community, contra speedamos
ex cathedra.
Speed is
anti-social, paranoid making, it’s a drag, bad for your body,
bad for your mind, generally speaking, in the long run uncreative
and it’s a plague in the whole dope industry. All the nice gentle
dope fiends are getting screwed up by the real horror monster
Frankenstein Speedfreaks who are going around stealing and bad
mouthing everybody.

The answer to it, I would say,
is somehow put the speedfreaks in relation to doctors and nature
again. What the government ought to do is establish quiet farms-mountain-wilderness-fresh
air-heated log cabins, where speedfreaks can go with their girl
friends or boy friends, if they have any, and get out of the
city where speed is available and get back to the refreshing
influence of nature. They’re getting all dirty fingered handling
the garbage in the city, and they’re getting all sorts of electronic
horror vibrations: It’s the worst thing in the whole drug scene
that I know of, the one thing I can’t figure out what to do about.

I’ve used speed briefly, like
for a day for writing, but the use of speed over. two days tends
to lead to irritability and insistency and a kind of Hitlerian
fascist mentality, which may be the byproducts of real perceptions
of interest. But generally, the interpretations are over-forced,
with too much will power and insistency, so they’re always leaning
on everyone else around them, trying to force everybody else
into their universe. It’s not a common universe that is the problem,
it’s not one everyone can participate in–the speed-crystal universe.
Speed was originally invented by the Germans for use by the pilots
in bombing England, so it’s originally a kind of totalitarian

The physiological problem is
that if you stay up three or four or five days, you tend not
to eat well enough to nourish your body, and pretty soon there
comes to be a metaphysic of despising your body out of that crystal
universe. Since you don’t sleep, you don’t get your necessary
45 minutes of dreaming each night, and so after a while the unconscious
dream life begins to erupt during waking, walking around consciousness,
and you begin to act out your dream life and mistaking hallucinations
from the unconscious as being manifest sensory realities that
other people can pick up on, which is not true, so there’s a
disjunction of realities. Or there’s the insistence on your reality
being the only reality, if you’re the speed freak, which is undemocratic,
and that’s where it’s totalitarian.

Since 1958 it’s been a plague
around my house. People that I liked or who were good artists
have gotten all screwed up on it, and come around burning down
the door, stealing. All the stuff I brought back from India was
stolen by speed freaks.

The junk problem’s an easy problem
to handle compared to the speed problem. With speed you don’t
have a physiological addiction, but you do have a psychic addiction,
which is strong and is followed by a long depression. It takes
several months for the metabolism to stabilize itself, and there’s
a depression that lasts during this time. Apparently getting
off speed requires a great deal of attention and care and love
and nature. But the speed addict has generally so offended everybody
by the time that he wants to get off that he’s created a social
void for himself.

The ideal government agency to
deal with speed freaks would be a whole bunch of lumberjacks
up in the mountains and strong peasant girls to cook flap-jacks
and make a fire; and let the speed demon sleep off his depression
and lie around for a couple of weeks until he finally feels like
going out and smelling the evergreens and then maybe building
a fence or a bridge back.

Although the above is about
Speed in particular, many of the incidents described are true
with all injectable harder drugs–including Downers, Heroin and
Morphine. Whenever anything is injected in less than clinical
surroundings, the user subjects himself to a number of dangers.

Among these is the chance
of abscess–or a vein collapse. Hepatitis also runs very high
when more than one person uses the same needle. Overdoses are
common on downers and opiates, with resulting death. Impurities
found in homemade drugs also take many lives.

We at the DO IT NOW Foundation
urge young people everywhere to stop shooting harder drugs into
their bodies NOW. Mainlining isn’t now, and has never been, a
turned-on thing to do.


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