Talking Heroin, Fame, & ‘The Heroin Chronicles’ With Author Jerry Stahl

It’s ridiculous out there. It’s so cold that I saw a cab driver explaining something to a potential fare and his middle finger froze. It’s so cold that my lawyer put his hands in his own pocket. OK, OK, I’ll stop. It’s hard to get people to go anywhere when it’s like this. January and February can be rough on clubs and bars and such – especially in a world where homes have so many ways to entertain: thousands of TV channels, the World Wide Web, and other etceteras I cannot mention in a family column. 

Tonight I will brave the weather but stay in Brooklyn. Jerry Stahl, the author of Bad Sex On Speed, will be reading from his new book: The Heroin Chronicles. According to Zoe Hanson, my fierce friend who contributed to this book, Jerry is… the man. The event will be early, at 7pm at Word in Brooklyn, 126 Franklin St. Brooklyn Brewery is providing it’s product. The tome is available on Akashic Books. If you can’t make it tonight, they’ll do it again tomorrow night at St Mark’s Bookshop, also at 7pm. The crowd that gathers to hear these tales will be super hot and smart and cool…all those things noticeably absent at most joints in town. Dress warm, juice up on some yerba mate, and join me. 

I asked Jerry Stahl a few questions.

Was heroin ever chic? Is it always chic? Does it give the users a certain badge – a certain credibility – or is it just a very bad thing?
Heroin involves a lot of puking on your shoes. And, I think we can all agree, nothing says ‘chic’ like shoe-puking. I never bought into the heroin chic thing myself. I mean, a real dope fiend has to try not to look like a dope fiend, or risk being busted. So anybody who actually wants to look that way is either a poser, in a fashion spread, or Keith Richards. Keith is the exception that proves the rule – plus, he always had the dough for lawyers who could get him off, or a judge who figured setting a charity concert was better than sending him to jail.

On the other hand, an old-time needle jockey once told me how he went to see Charlie Parker in New York, and hours after he was supposed to go on, when the crowd was ready to split, an announcer stepped up to the mic and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Parker is just pulling down his sleeve….”  Which – I can’t lie – sounds pretty goddamn glam. But the truth is, "Bird" was probably backstage wiping puke off his shoes.

Are the stories chronicled success stories or screams or what?
I would describe them as successful screams. Or, in the immortal words of Jonathan Swift, “crawling is performed in the same position as climbing.” I have no idea how this applies to your question, but it’s a great quote, and – if you kind of squint – it does sort of apply

Is a junkie always a junkie, even after the using is chronicled in the rooms/at meetings?
Well, junkies are like veterans. They all share that wartime experience, but not all of them are still living in the jungle 20 years after the war’s over. 

Next Week’s NY Happenings: Luau At The Dutch, Charlie Bird, Month Of Clicquot

MONDAY: Dutch Treat
Andrew Carmellini’s Soho smash The Dutch will make sure you have a transporting Memorial Day, even if you never make it off the island. Go whole hog on summer’s start with a tropical luau on Monday. Ribs, wings, and tuna poke get things started, followed by suckling pig cooked in a Caja China. There will be tiki cocktails and halo-halo for dessert, too.
Memorial Day luau at The Dutch (131 Sullivan St., Soho) runs from noon to 9pm on Monday, May 27th. The lunch prix fixe is $40, family-style dinner is $65. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Evan Sung.

WEDNESDAY: Bird Lives 
Soho newcomer Charlie Bird takes its inspiration from Charlie Parker while getting creative on an Italian-accented menu. Chef Ryan Hardy of Aspen’s The Little Nell turns out a Greenmarket array. Robert Bohr (Colicchio & Sons) handles the stellar wine program.
Charlie Bird (5 King St., Soho) opens Wednesday, May 29th. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Sport of Kings
The Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic returns to Liberty State Park, and while you may not score tickets to the match, you can partake in the citywide “Month of Clicquot.” The Four Seasons Hotel is running “Bubbles and Bites” happy hours at the bar on Fridays in May, Willow Road has a Yellow Label lunch special, and the revamped Bar d’Eau at Trump SoHo is hosting a water ballet pre-party this Saturday at 6pm.
Month of Clicquot runs through May, leading up to the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic on Saturday, June 1st. Water ballet at Bar d’Eau (246 Spring St. Soho) is this Saturday, May 25th. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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