Tag Archives: high school hell

Devil’s Quicksand

Devil's Quicksand

Like anyone else who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, I saw my share of absurd and usually absurdly funny anti-drug movies and slide shows — as well as one jaw dropping “seniors only drug rap” at my high school hosted by a narcotics squad officer in his late 20s.

The officer was “really popular with the kids” according to the school official who introduced him.

Maybe it should have raised an eyebrow when Office Kool (we’ll call him) told the assembled seniors that when he tried marijuana “under a doctor’s supervision” it “scared him to death” because it was like “a thirty minute orgasm.” (I later read that this was a regular feature of his anti-drug speils as he toured area schools.)

Officer Kool was, a year or two later, himself arrested for taking indecent liberties with underage Explorer Scouts in his charge (aged 15 and 17, if I recall). He copped a plea and fell off my radar.

A number of years later, 6 of the 7 school board members running the district during that period were also indicted for a number of crimes ranging from embezzling and kickbacks to theft of district property and supplies.

But the good people of Orange, California, seemingly never learn. Only a few years ago the then-current school board was in the national news again, this time for canceling all afterschool activities and clubs in order to avoid allowing a student club called the “Gay-Straight Student Alliance,” which had been immediately banned but had prevailed in local courts. Rather than follow the court order and allow the club, the school board, dominated by, ahem, social conservatives, simply ceased all afterschool clubs and activities.

After they were turned out, local, er, social conservatives banded together to back a single candidate, hoping that by focusing all their promotional and organizational efforts all on one man, they could elect him.

And elect him, they did.

Unfortunately, they apparently didn’t do much homework on their man, who gives every indication of being very seriously mentally disturbed. He has accused local government and business leaders of trying to silence him; his allegations have included court papers accusing the management of a regional supermarket chain of trying to kill him.

Anyway, I go on at length to show you the cultural milieu (to stretch a phrase) I grew up in — and how easy it was to assume that every warning coming out of the mouths of the buffoons in charge was either the product of ignorance or delusion — or an outright lie.

When they were promoting marijuana by attempting to warn young people away from it, the harm was limited (if even measurable).

But when they got to the the part of their woefully laughable act that focused on heroin and cocaine… that’s where the damage really took hold. Because they’d already wasted all the good scare tactics on marijuana — there was nowhere left to go but “… and heroin’s even worse.”

I was lucky, in that in addition to being a voracious reader as a kid and reading first hand accounts of addiction from believable sources (Bill Burroughs comes to mind), my quest for the wink-and-nod contraban of alcohol* brought me into contact with decidedly unglamorous young junkies. I remember cleaning up drool in the back of my car after several liquor store runs with my buddy’s sister’s brother-in-law’s junkie cousin and his little brother, a 14 year old junkie. It stuck in my mind and always resurfaced when I found myself in a nihilistic and willful mood…

(* In those days, adults were usually glad to find out a kid drank, because a lot of hippies eschewed alcohol, and the adults apparently assumed drinking meant the kid didn’t smoke pot or use other drugs. Adults really were not street-smart back then. My generation brought that gritty knowledge to your popular culture, America. Think about that when you’re coming to visit us in the rest home.)

All that brings me to this disclaimer about today’s song: This is the kind of goofy, over-the top preachment that your hip uncle warned you about. It’s ripe with lurid exaggeration — or what would seem like it.

But — the thing is, kids — some of this shit is real. Worse than killing you, it can make you wish you’d never been born.

I’ve lost family and friends to drugs — the most recent was just a few months ago, a friend who had been sober for the better part a decade. 11 years ago, his example beating crack addiction had given me the courage to quit drinking.

But he started using again, on and off. It looked like ‘drug shame’ kept him away from some of his oldest friends at a time when maybe he really did need a friend. He was a very smart, savvy, and strong person. But he wasn’t strong enough to take that last load of junk.

So, laugh with me through this song — I was laughing out loud at some of the stupid stuff I pull in this song (I stepped out of my de facto format a little, here, and instead of adding a second guitar, added two back up vocal tracks that included a fair bit of ad libbed nonsense) — but while you follow our hapless hero on his hellbound descent, remember, it really could happen to you.

The Devil’s Quicksand

It’s your second chance for the very last time
with your head in your hands and your future behind
grab your life pull as hard as you can
cause your up to your neck in the devil’s quicksand

if she told you once it was good advice
but a thousand times now that’s just a slice
of some other reality you’d prefer to ignore
it’s just that easy you shut the door

on the love she gave it was just too good
and you always hated how she understood
and you walked away and you felt so free
in the park that day spinning under the trees

but now its cold and the darkness comes
and the drugs wear off and your chums are scum
and the cyst on your arm is turning green
and the one-eyeds guys sez it’s the worst he’s seen

so you drag your ass to the ER room
and you wait 12 hours while the TV booms
and the little kids and the sobbing man
and the angel of death is right at hand

you just cant wait and you run outside
in the streetlight night you stop and cry
“is this their pain–or is it mine?”
you ask yourself but you knew all the time

it’s your second chance for the very last time
with your head in your hands and your future behind
grab your life pull as hard as you can
cause your up to your neck in the devil’s quicksand

twenty cents is all it takes
but ya drop the dimes cause ya got the shakes
ya try again an ya get ’em in
but the the phone just rings and your gut caves in

your knees give out ya hit the ground
people walking by just step around
ya see the sky you see the rain
ya see your ashes in a bag in a paupers grave

but the phones in your hand and your hanging on
and just before the dark her voice comes on
and ya tell her “baby just one last time”
she doesn’t say nothing you hear her crying

her sobbing lasts for such a long time
you almost forget why you’re on the line
then it comes back like a drano slam
you got one last chance slip this jam

“come on baby i’m on the bricks”
you can almost hear her kitchen clock tick
“I ain’t done nothin’ in 36 hours
and I need a place to take a shower”

and then it comes and you know you’re dead
her hollow laugh fills up your head
she drops the phone and it hits the floor
you hear her walk away and laugh some more

it’s your second chance for the very last time
with your head in your hands and your future behind
grab your life pull as hard as you can
cause your up to your neck in the devil’s quicksand

(C)1997, TK Major

[A special note on the length of today’s post: Please… next holiday season… no coffee shop gift cards.]