Drugs, Insanity, Death: The World’s Most Bizarre Museums

The Morbid Anatomy Museum

Today, May 18, is International Museum Day—which is really just an excellent reminder that we should make an effort every day to fill our lives with a bit more beauty, peculiarity and enlightenment. But it’s also an opportunity to consider that museums indeed offer so much more than just Damien Hirst, Jackson Pollock and Alexander McQueen. To that end, here are five of the oddest, and perhaps most unsettling of them all. Happy Museum Day:

The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York


Morbid Anatomy Museum 2


This strange and captivating Brooklyn museum’s mission is stated as “Exploring the intersections of death, beauty and that which falls between the cracks.” It has become a meeting point for NYC’s more funereally disposed artistic souls, as well, hosting lectures, screenings and dark-hearted social gatherings. Its current temporary exhibition is The House of Wax: Anatomical, Pathological, and Ethnographical Waxworks from Castan’s Panopticum (Berlin, 1869-1922). Naturally.

Mütter Museum, Philadelphia




Philly’s rather notorious museum of medical oddities, including historical surgical instruments, corrosion specimens, and the Hyrtl Skull Collection, is genuinely not for the squeamish or sensitive. Its current featured exhibition, Vesalius On The Verge: The Book and The Body, focuses on a series of 16th Century books on human dissection. Creepy.

Museum Dr. Guislain, Ghent, Belgium


Museum Dr Guislain


Joseph Guislain was a forerunner of Freud, the first to posit that mental illness was indeed treatable and that its sufferers were to be cared for with dignity. This singularly fascinating eponymous museum is located in the rather lugubrious former asylum in which he did his groundbreaking work (in one of our favorite European cities, Ghent), and explores insanity and madness from Antiquity through to modern times. A current exhibition, titled Shame, is fairly self explanatory.

Museo De Enervantes, Mexico City


Museo de Enervantes


What the Renaissance is to Florence, so are drug wars to Mexico City. And indeed, this is a museum dedicated to its notorious and storied narco culture. Alongside an arsenal’s worth of seized firearms in display cases, there is an edifying run through the long history of drug abuse itself, and a plaque which commemorates those who have lost their lives battling the brutal cartels (it’s a lot). The museum is technically not open to the public; but call ahead (52 55 2122 8800) and say it’s for, um, educational purposes.

Collection De L’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland


Art Brut Museum


Renowned French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet first began assembling and collecting the artworks of the insane in 1945, influenced by Hans Prinzhorn’s seminal text Artistry of the Mentally Ill. Now, of course, the art world lumps it all together as “Outsider Art.” But this collection, located in the glorious Swiss city of Lausanne, is surely the most astonishing and, arguably, the most honest.

The Meow Meow Drug Will Make You Cut Off Your Nuts

The scenario almost sounds like one of those reefer madness stories propagated by the Hearst Corporation in the 1930s; A kid tweaking out on the newish street drug “meow meow” cut off his own penis and then stabbbed his mother. Either sounds like as worst-case-scenario as it gets — or this kid KNOWS HOW TO PARTY!

Is meow meow the zombie uprising instigated in pill form, or is the news story making the rule out of the exception? The way the story plays out, it makes it seem like if any levelheaded teenager takes meow meow, the next thing he will do is take a sharp object to his penis. (Could it also be the case that this kid was mentally disturbed pre-meow meow?)

Meow meow, better known as mephdrone or MCAT, is a synthetic amphetamine-like stimulant that produces effects similar to MDMA and cocaine. Those who meow meow feel euphoria. Also feeling paranoid and anxious, and exhibiting classic teeth grinding. Think of it as designer meth that can be bought on the Internet.

A little meow meow history: Instigated in the UK, the drug started popping up for sale on the Internet back in 2007. Being that it’s a designer drug, meow meow went under the radar of being classified as a banned Schedule 1 drug. Basically, think of meow meow as a sinister little cousin of bath salts.  Need an illustration of that? Check this out:

According to Rolling Stone:

In November 2011, mephedrone was categorized as a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. The rescheduling came one month after a Kentucky father and his two sons were handed down federal prison sentences for distributing 17 kilos of mephedrone across Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and the Internet under the name “Ivory Bath Salts.”

Still mephedrone is widely popular with young Brits; the magazine Mixmag published a reader survey that stated meow meow as the fourth most popular drug (after weed, molly and cocaine), mentioning that 75 percent of its readers have used the drug since it was banned on their shores. Still, you dig around, I’m sure you can find it for sale on the Internet on sites like this.

Like many new drugs, there’s always an aura of sensationalism in the media (Miami Bath Salt Cannibal – I’m talking to you!) It’s never a good thing when someone cuts off their own penis – but they were printing similar type of stories about marijuana back in the ‘30s.

[Editor’s note: probably don’t buy/ingest meow meow if you value, you know, anything.]

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. 

Remembering That Day, That Girl, Central Park, & Danceteria

A long time ago, I sat on a blanket and ate luscious food and listened to friends talk about important things and I held a hand of a special gal who I never wanted to go away and is now lost in time. There was always a guitar, and I remember our squire singing the Simon and Garfunkel song bookends. 

"Time it was, and what a time it was, it was 
A time of innocence, a time of confidences 
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph 
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you"

I remember that day, that girl, that moment, and that song, but it’s all so long ago. No names and shadows of faces. My life is filled with memories like that; photos stuffed in boxes and dressers that remind me just-not-enough of a past that has left me here. It seems, when looking at an old video or photo, that I was always quite innocent (even when I was found guilty). There is always a naivety in the 2D, and I wonder if that’s my biggest problem. I believe I’ve grown afar from the things that made me happy on that Central Park blanket day. Yet the fundamentals, the core of me, is the same. I have lost too much in glitz and glam. It is a day of reflection after Obama and MLK Day, but also because an old friend is in town to say hey. 

George Haas, a door person at a club long gone, will meet and greet old acquaintances. Danceteria was as good as it ever got. Some can argue for Studio 54 or Mudd Club or The World or Paradise Garage or Area (a sort of Danceteria on steroids), but in the annals of club history of which I have served a humble role, Danceteria stands tall. It was the ’80s, and from what I can see from the black and white images, the clothes were mostly ridiculous. But the sex, the drugs, the adventures were unparalleled.

I often say that a club is often great because it hits you at a time of your life that you are ready for it. Danceteria hit me hard. I had hundreds of one night stands there. I woke up in strange places. I had more friends than even Facebook would allow me now. There was chaos and dangerous adventure and girls with hair that could hurt me. I met a wife there.

There are still groups on the internet that converse, tell tall tales and "remember the time…" stories. I try to always look forward. I try to define myself in the time I live and with the work that I do now, but nostalgia. according to Don Draper, comes right after "NEW" with the way it pulls our strings. I’m feeling that pull, and I will go to Lit Lounge tonight to see old George and the dinosaurs that come out to gather. Time has changed us, but like that piano player said in that movie: "The fundamental things apply as time goes by." I believe that. 

George Haas, Haoui, Rudolf, John and so many others put the fun in the fundamentals back at old Dancetera. That other crazy author said you can’t go back again… I’m gonna try.

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Could Meth Addiction Cure be in the Jungles Of Thailand?

Khat is a mild, leaf-shaped stimulant that grows in the jungles of Thailand. Khat contains a monoaminealkaloid called cathinone; an amphetamine-like stimulant. In 1980, the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. Strangely, it might also be a cure for meth addiction.


Recently the Thai Minister for Justice, Pradit Sintavanarong, announced that he wants the kratom leaf removed from the country’s illicit drugs list. He claims it could help wean addictsoff harder stimulants, like methamphetamine.


Meth is a big problem in Thailand. Nearly one in every 60 Thai citizens is a methamphetamine user. It’s commonly taken in a pill form that blends meth and caffeine, coincidentally the concoction is the very same the Nazis invented during WWII to keep them marching across Europe for days on end. In 2012, nearly 7,000 children – as young as seven – had been rehabilitated for meth. According to the Guardian:


“The pills come in a pretty rainbow of colours – purple, pink, orange and green – and boast flavours such as chocolate and strawberry to mask the bitter concoction of drugs inside.”


Kratom might be a progressive approach for meth addiction in Thailand, but surely the DEA, FDA, and NIDA (National Institute for Drug Abuse) would prevent any type of research in the United States to combat meth addiction.



Medical Marijuana: A Schedule 1 drug in America, meaning the DEA considers it as dangerous as heroin – with no medicinal benefits. Sorry terminally ill cancer patients…

LSD: An extensive study done in the 1960s and ’70s showed that severe recovering alcoholics were weaned from drinking excessively using LSD. This was noted from a government-funded study with over 500 participants in which all were administered a single dose of acid.

Cocaine: Is valuable for treating lacerations. It’s an effective local anesthetic and quickly numbs the area in question.

Heroin: An opiate; a class of drugs commonly used as painkillers and more effective than morphine.

Ecstasy: Treats people with post-traumatic stress disorder. The reason is the same reason you take it in clubs…it makes people happy.

Don’t Give Gawker Money Just To See Toronto Mayor Smoke Crack

First off, we already know that right-wing nutjob Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has smoked crack cocaine. Secondly, that’s Canada’s problem—as far as I recall, the U.S. reelects crazy drug addicts without much fuss. Third of all, do you care about Gawker getting an exclusive video of this ruddy, racist, drugged-out mess, or the people who shot it getting a bunch of money for being there when he smoked crack cocaine? Man, for $200,000 I’ll win public office and smoke crack cocaine right in front of you. Deal. 

At the moment, Gawker’s “Rob Ford Crackstarter” stands a little more than halfway from completion, meaning people have actually contributed—mindlessly wasted—$85,546 up to this point. Could this money have helped some inner-city addiction programs instead of going toward the downfall of a politician whose days are clearly numbered regardless? Who knows! We’ll only know that if the intended deal goes south and the money is rerouted. But when you throw $75 directly at a non-profit, you don’t get a public thank-you from the Gawker Twitter account, now do you.

Or, for a generous contribution of $1,000, you can go out to dinner with the Gawker Staff. I kind of wonder which of them would actually show up, and the perk description doesn’t mention who will be paying. All this cash is ostensibly going toward the travel/resettlement costs for the guys in danger for even possessing such a video, but given that they’re involved in the drug trade, are we at all worried this money might just go toward … crack cocaine? No? Cool.

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Lance Armstrong Looked Up “Cheat” in the Dictionary

I’m pissed, y’all. It’s bad enough I have to hear about bike lanes and bike etiquette and whatever will New York do about the bikes, WON’T SOMEONE SAVE US FROM BIKES WHILE ALSO SAVING THOSE WHO CHOOSE, AS IS THEIR INALIENABLE RIGHT, TO RIDE THEM. But now I have to hear more about a doping scandal that makes even Major League Baseball look interesting.

It’s cool, though, guys. Lance confessed to everything bad he did. What did he do? Something about having better blood, it sounds like. So how is that cheating? Everyone in the Tour de France has blood, I thought. Not Lance’s fault if you couldn’t afford premium blood, people. That’s just the way the spokes turn.

And, like some college freshman who has to make a statement before the honor committee because he plagiarized a Slate.com article, Lance was sure to look up the term ‘cheat’ in the dictionary for a loophole. In his interview with Oprah, he tells the world what he found there: “the definition was to gain an advantage on a rival. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.” Okay? Case closed. Learn how to read, everyone else."

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Linkage: Taylor Swift and Harry Styles Are Dunzo, Woody Allen’s New Flick Gets a Title

Taylor Swift and One Direction’s Harry Styles have broken up. I, for one, haven’t been this devastated since Taylor Swift broke up with that Kennedy kid. Alas, at least this means Swift will have enough material for at least three songs on her next album. (I’m guessing she’s been drafting some lyrics on that boat.) I’m hoping at least one of them is about Styles’s second set of nipples. (It’d be a good dig in a song called “I Could Never Love You (As Much As You Love Yourself)”) [NY Daily News, Gawker]

Woody Allen’s latest project has a name: Blue Jasmine. It also has a million people in it, including Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Sally Hawkins, and Peter Sarsgaard. Here’s hoping Andrew Dice Clay plays the regular Woody Allen doppelganger. [Splitsider]

Rapper / weed enthusiast The Game took a break from scarfing down peanut butter-covered Fritos and DiGiorno pizzas to make some comments following Justin Bieber’s alleged marijuana use: “Let’s keep it real. There’s a lot of people in high positions…who smoke a little weed sometimes. I’m not saying it’s okay…but [Bieber] made a mistake.” I’m totally surprised that his statement wasn’t more to the point. [SOHH]

Last year, New York pizza joint L’Asso sent me a calendar featuring pizzas in sexy poses. (One included a pizza wearing assless chaps. I know it’s hard to picture, but just go with it.) It looks like someone else has figured out exactly what I’d like to put on my wall in 2013: a calendar featuring women covered in manure. [The Gloss]

“I chose Ellen as Jesus because of the incredibly positive impact she’s had on the masses. When she came out as gay on television her career took an unjust beating, and she rose form the ashes to become more powerful and well-liked than ever. Portia de Rossi was the easy choice as Mary Magdalene. The only other character I wanted to match up historically was Judas. Despite her status as a fictional character, I absolutely had to choose Shane McCutcheon from ‘The L Word’ as Judas because of her notoriously bad behavior in relationships.” Art, you guys. [HuffPo]

James Franco. Justin Bieber. This link placed here solely for SEO purposes. [Observer]

Bones is returning for a ninth season, which only makes me wonder if anyone can bother to explain to me what the hell Bones is about. [EW]

Brad Pitt has been banned from China, and Paris Hilton has been banned from Japan. Too bad I can’t ban them from my brain HA HA HA AM I RIGHT? [Flavorwire]

Apparently we should all be friends with Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia on Facebook. [Creeper Status]

Here’s a video of a dude falling off a skateboard. You know you need it today. [Hypervocal]

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America Apparently Surprised That 18-Year-Old Millionaire Might Use Drugs

Someone lined their pockets earlier this week selling photographs of Justin Beiber smoking something that looks like marijuana. TMZ’s pics allegedly show the Biebs inside a Newport Beach hotel room three days ago with friends, holding some kind of cigarette or blunt in his hand. He cryptically took to Twitter with the usual Miley Cyrus-esque allegations of learning and growing.

The chatty sources told TMZ that Bieber’s security was present at the party, but no one seems to mind that his "BFF" Lil Twist was rolling joints and randoms were photographing Justin holding — nay, smoking! — them. This has me wondering if rumors that Justin Beiber is a jerkface are true and that his security team doesn’t give a shit about babysitting him, i.e. he just got Bush-twinned.

Justin Bieber’s tweets addressing the scandal are typically pop star-ish in that they admit nothing but generally apologize for letting down the fans. 

Oh my God. It is just pot. Shut up. Who cares?

Frankly I just feel sorry for anyone so detached from reality that they think an 18-year-old millionaire isn’t doing drugs. If marijuana is the only thing he’s smoking, Scooter Braun should thank his lucky stars.

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.