Drugs: Colors 62

All Drugs Start Out Beautiful: We’ve taken drugs to heal ourselves, change ourselves, and hurt ourselves for longer than written history can record — but never before has human civilization been more dependent on chemical adjustment. “The truth is,” write the editors in their introduction to the new issue of COLORS, “drugs — whether we realize it or not — permeate all of our lives.”

Drugs are a voyage. Sometimes to extraordinary places, and other times to the depths of banality. Geoff Dyer bravely takes up the hallowed tradition stretching from Thomas De Quincey to Hunter S. Thompson of writing about using drugs (or, in some cases, writing while using them). In “How I Misspent My Summer Vacation,” a philosophical chronicle of narco-tourism, Dyer mucks about Hampi, in southern India, known as a top stop on the world stoner circuit.

Drugs are death. Guy Martin’s “Conflict” takes us on a pan-national itinerary along the front lines of the war against drugs, wars over drugs, and wars fought, literally, on drugs. Whether it’s protecting national underground economy or escaping from seemingly endless violence, drugs and war lock over and over again in a complex sprawling dance of death.

Drugs are money. In the glory days of Colombia’s marijuana economy now a generation ago, lavish spending and status-symbol designer mansions were sine qua non. Silvana Paternostro, who watched it all unfold in her hometown, recalls a time in “House of Cards” when interior decorating for drug dealers was an insanely lucrative -- and death-defying – pursuit.

Drugs are everyday and everywhere. “Bitter Brew” is a brief history of the economics of coffee, the world’s most popular, socially-sanctioned psychoactive drug, and in “An Afternoon Coffee,” Valeria Parrella sends a new friend to the hospital thanks to a strong moka.

Drugs are lifestyle, drugs are illegal, drugs are enlightenment. “What’s In a Name” is a look into how the pharmaceutical industry concocts names for its drugs before they even concoct the drugs; in “The Law of the Land,” COLORS maps out a border-crossing look at where drug possession results in a slap on the wrist and where it can mean a death sentence; plus an illuminating chart tracking the differences in drug consumption around the world, from Sweden to Iran; and in “Sacred Plants,” Daniel Pinchbeck considers the intoxicating aspects of the religious ceremonies of certain native peoples.

Also in this issue: drug and anti-drug culture in Delhi; passing out in Italy; the anatomy of synthetic self-improvement – smaller, bigger or manlier, all by taking drugs; extreme rehab in Thailand; and the illegal drug traffic that is saving the lives of AIDS sufferers around the world.

COLORS “Drugs” will be on newsstands in Europe on August 4, 2004 and in the USA, Canada, and the rest of the world on August 24, 2004


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