I thought for sure Johnny Depp was exiting his larval human stage to become Keith Richards, but it seems like hes’s actually becoming the late Mitch Hedberg.
If you’re not familiar with Hedberg’s comedy, do yourself a solid and watch this video right here. He was a master of absurd one liners and comedic non sequiturs. One of my favorite of his jokes goes like this: “I used to do drugs, I still do, but I used to, too.”
Hedberg died of a drug overdose at the age of 37. Not long before his death, he came extremely close to losing a leg from injecting heroin into it. He was a huge fan of narcotics and no one was able to stop him. Doug Stanhope (another great comedian) wrote about it at the time and did a bit on his 2012 album, Before Tuning the Gun On Himself, about the absurdity of a celebration of his life that included a “don’t do drugs” message.
Stanhope hated the calls to condemn Hedberg’s indulgences. He despised, “the deluge of people who will try to fault him for his demise, as though if he’d spent his days on a treadmill, logging his mileage for tax purposes and avoiding red meat he would have been the same comic that you all loved.”
Stanhope is a balls-to-the-wall Bukowski type and seems hell bent on his own rock n roll suicide, so it’s wise to consider the bias of his cavalier attitude towards fatal medication. I’m not innocent of romanticizing the Bacchanalian destruction of artists either. Just listening to Hedberg makes me want to smoke some heavy OG Kush and slip into a giggle coma.
But here’s the thing, I never produce any good work when I’m fucked up. Years ago I thought it would be clever to write poems while on LSD. They were terrible. Every night I drank I tried to write in my journal when I got home. Usually I just got the spins and puked. Cannabis does nothing good for my creativity or productivity.
The best I’ve ever written was actually on Adderrall. I seriously doubt my senior thesis, Iron John Connor: Apocalyptic Myth and Masculinity Through the Lens of the Terminator Film Franchises, would have been written without it. I cranked out 30 pages of critical theory diarrhea and it made enough sense for me to get an A+ and graduate with honors. I really have to thank drugs and Arnold Schwarzenegger for my academic success.
If I were to return to college I would definitely get a prescription for Adderral or Provigil. These stimulants are absolutely incredible for reading and processing information. In the same semester I finished my senior honors thesis I took a gnarly Shakespeare course. I had skipped class most of the semester and ended up having to read most of the major plays two days before the final. To this day I recall these plays in incredible detail. If brain stimulants are available and they’re cheap enough, I don’t see any reason not to use them.
Heroin on the other hand? Fuck that. Despite some pretty epic anecdotal evidence, I think that shit isn’t doing anyone any favors. Stanhope might believe it’s part of what made Hedberg great, but I seriously doubt it. What do I know? I’m sitting here writing a blog about how I’d take drugs to do well in a fucking continental philosophy course. Nerd alert.
It’s not like you’re going to do anything countercultural on ADHD medicine. I can’t think of any musician who says they use it. Heroin, on the other hand, has respectable representation on the Billboard Top 100. It seems to have a bad habit of killing people, though. Well, everyone except you know who.