Stuff that got cut from the book
Episode 3 Mary Kay as a business model for psychedelic drug dealing, plus I join the Army.
Good morning, people.
Welcome to another episode of “Stuff that got cut from the book”.
Of all the stuff that didn’t make it into my memoir (which by the way will be available by Christmas), I’m still baffled that this incident didn’t make it in because it was a time in my life that influenced much of who I’d become. Actually, now that I think about it, what the hell was my editor thinking by leaving this out? Anyway, a little background. As a teenager, I was completely immersed in the 60’s counterculture. Beginning when I got turned on to Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention in 69’ and ending about the time when Quaaludes hit the scene in 72’—coincidentally around the same time that the pop song, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl” hit the charts and I think these were related.
Anyway, Quaaludes were these muscle relaxer-sedatives that everyone around me was abusing—the complete opposite of the mind-expanding nature of earlier drugs like psychedelics. Quaaludes only purpose was literally to “get fucked up”. Hordes of my generation staggered around bars and parking lots, drooling, moaning unintelligibly and years later became the idea for The Walking Dead. But I’m digressing—a couple years before Quaaludes were the drug of choice, psychedelics were all the rage and I was a dealer of them. But I wince at the term "drug dealer " - dealer sounds like a car lot. "C'mon down to Hastings Chevrolet, Pontiac, Kia, Pot and Mushrooms where we're dealing like never before!"
I preferred to delude myself by thinking I was a multi-level marketer because I had the warped idea that I could apply the Mary Kay cosmetics business model to psychedelic drugs. The early 70’s had Mary Kay Ash taking America by storm with her new idea of “in-home parties” and getting referrals from neighbors to make sales. Could I not apply that same logic to mushrooms and LSD? The genius of Mary Kay cosmetics was her concept of recruiting fellow housewives to sell to their neighbors, who in turn sold to theirs, etc. etc. Of course, me trying to recruit hippies as responsible sales reps was a daunting task.
It was supposed to be simple: “Here - I give you 20 tabs of acid, you sell them, give me the money for 15, and keep 5 for yourself.”
“Far out!” they’d say.
Three days later they’d return with no money and high as a kite.
“What happened??!” I’d wail.
“Wow man, I don’t know...but look—I made a new friend!”
Some ideas are just ahead of their time…
Anyway, after the peace & love era went out the window, the Quaaludes came, the country was in turmoil, and I figured I better straighten my ass out, become an adult and look towards the future. So, in 1973 while America was still fighting in Viet Nam and losing, that’s when me and my best friend, Jimmy Malogorski joined the Army
The military had just gotten rid of the Draft and gone to an all-Volunteer Army complete with incentives to get guys to join. One was called the Buddy Plan where you and a friend could enlist and serve your time together. They later dropped this because rumor had it the gays were using it as an extended vacation package. Anyway, Jimmy and I fall for this Buddy Pan and sign up. You’d do the same!— Two nineteen year olds get to hang out together for four years and see the world free of charge! And you were guaranteed not to get sent to ‘Nam.
We were psyched. “Let’s look at some maps and decide where we want to be stationed!” “Yeah! somewhere cool!”
We had to take a huge battery of tests to find out what we were suitable for. Our recruiting officer, Sgt. Diano, calls us.
“Boys, I have your test results. Come on and let’s see what we’ve got!” Sgt. Diano sits me down in a room. “Young man, you scored really high on both the aptitude and placement tests!” He looks down at a chart, finds my score and runs his finger along the page to the corresponding job category. “You, my friend, are qualified to be a “Neuropsychiatric Specialist.” “Oh wow!” I said.
“We’re sending you to the world-famous Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C.!”
Jimmy went in for his results and he had qualified to be a heavy equipment operator. He was going to be running a backhoe up in Alaska. It put a damper on things for a few days since the Buddy Plan was now out the window but we were committed—hey at least we’re getting out of Dayton, Ohio!
Jimmy and I had also signed up for another goofy program the Army was offering called The Delayed Enlistment Plan, which said that after you enlisted, you didn’t have to report for duty for six months. Kind of a Run around and get the last of your adolescence out of your system. A bad idea because the last thing you want to give a 19 year old, is 6 months to re-think his decisions. Jimmy and I used our last months of freedom to drive out to the west coast. As we approached Las Vegas, Jimmy wanted to give it a wide berth and drive around it.
“It’s nothing but a giant shrine to American capitalism,” he said.
“Exactly!” I said.
Our compromise was to camp overnight in the desert ten miles from the strip but even from there, the city beckoned me, glowing in the distance like a nuclear plant in full meltdown. Next morning, I talked Jimmy into going to Caesar’s Palace where I promptly lost all our money, forcing us to live on peanut butter and hand-rolled cigarettes for weeks and Jimmy never once gave me a hard time about it.
me & Jimmy- Las Vegas ‘73
By the time we hit San Francisco I’d decided the Army wasn’t my cup of tea. The recruiting officer was freaking out, calling my mom every day, trying to get me to change my mind. It felt like a marriage engagement gone bad. She relayed these messages to me when I would call back home. “Sgt. Diano called today. He said he’s very hurt that you want out.” “Sgt Diano called again. He wants you back.” And weirdly, every excuse I wanted my mom to relay to him also sounded like a breakup. “Tell Sgt. Diano, it’s not him—it’s me.” “Tell him I’m just not ready to settle down.” “Tell Sgt. Diano that I’m seeing other people, other places.”
Jimmy backed out as well and we parted ways. “I’m headed up to Oregon where the air is clean, maybe become a logger,” he said. “I’m staying in San Francisco to make my fortune.” I said.
I recall thinking that I’d dodged a bullet when I backed out of the military. Neuropsychiatric specialist? I was a high school dropout—what kind of work were they going to have me doing anyway? Handing out the daily meds to psychotic vets? Besides, I was way too non-conforming to be wearing a uniform for the next four years. But little did I suspect that shortly I’d be donning a uniform after all—a business suit--just just a uniform with lapels—for the next eight years.
But that’s another story.
I’ll see you later.