Cass used to tell me about this hard-drinking, shit-kicking poet on the circuit named Bucky Sinister. They used to sit up late at night downing whiskey and talking shit together at the national poetry slam events. Last week she showed me his latest book: Get Up: 12-Step Guide to Recovery for Misfits, Freaks and Weirdos. I would have included and Artists in that title. But maybe he figures Misfits, Freaks and Weirdos covers most of us, too.
It's some cool shit. 12-Step stuff was hard for me to hang with at first. I never had any real cred as a punk, but I came from that outsider / freak scene and in many ways I still identify with it. I go to Burning Man and hang out with people who like to stay up late. The conformist aspects of 12-Step scared the shit out of me. Bucky's book would have helped me relax into a program a lot more easily. Just knowing that out there somewhere is a Punk Rock AA group that opens with a moment of violence followed by the serenity prayer makes me happy.
But I really wish someone had handed me this book about ten years ago when I was still drinking. It's full of handy tips for anyone who is wondering if maybe they have a problem with booze or drugs. For example:
If you're the oldest person living in a punk rock house, you have a substance problem.
If you've ever bought one of those 'clean up my urine sample' kits for drug testing at your job, you have a substance problem. Normal people would far rather just not do drugs and keep their job safe.
If you've ever developed a system to keep you from drinking or using too much (eg: leave the credit card at home, only drink beer, only drink at home, alternate between a drink and a glass of water) then you have a substance problem. Normal drinkers don't need a system.
If you hang with a group that does coke - even occasionally - you have a substance problem. Most people NEVER see coke in their entire lives.
Oh by the way - if you're saying "Yeah I do some of the above but that doesn't make me an addict. Loads of my friends do that stuff too." then you have a substance problem. And so do loads of your friends. You've chosen to hang around with people for whom excessive use is normalized. Say it with me again: "Normal people don't do this shit."
And finally, Bucky NAILS the substance abusing artist's attitude of self-pity, resentment and self-delusion: "It's not fair, I am an extremely talented, misunderstood artist and I can't get ahead because of (insert excuse here). If only people would appreciate me for the genius that I am... Or could be... I haven't really produced a lot lately but that's because of (insert excuse here). My drinking is part of my cool Bukowski / Hunter Thompson / Dylan Thomas / Darby Crash image and if I stop, then I will lose my inspiration and my sense of self. Plus the drunken badass image is cool.
Get over it. The music / art / lit scene is a TOUGH racket. Some of the best of the best get to fuck up publicly with booze & drugs and have it fuel their image. And then there's the rest of us who aren't at the top. All we have is talent and good behaviour. Being a badass loses us more work than it wins us.
So buy this book. For yourself. Or your talented drunk-ass friend.