Post-Young: The Junky List (or the Incredible Weirdness of Not Being Dead)


At seventeen, all I wanted was to be a  famous junky. Like all my heroes.

I never actually thought I’d make it.

(Look at me, I’m blushing like Miss America!) But, damn it, I’m not going to lie, I turned fifty-six last Monday. That’s right, my birthday is on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and I’m now older than your Dad. Go ahead and make carnival at my angst. Mortality aside,  I am busting my buttons at having made the roster of big name dope fiends compiled by the brains at NNDB, a list of giants who lent the whole damn business such heinous allure in the first place. I mean, Johnny Thunders, Iceberg Slim, Jimi Hendrix, Lenny Bruce, Fats Navarro… Corey Feldman. Okay, maybe not Corey Feldman. But you get my drift.

I  may be staring down the barrel of Deep Fifties.  I may never have gotten a Guggenheim, never written a book that ended up in a supermarket. And my liver may get its mail at a dog track in Granada. But—there I said it!—the struggle wasn’t all in vain. Thanks to a frenzied career track that included “dope fiend” (after “failed novelist” “pornographer” and “TV Writer,” but before “McDonalds Fry Jockey” on the resume ), I have carved out my own hard-earned, embarrassingly thrilling niche in the annals of Celebrity Addict.

Do I sound like I’m bragging?

Forgive me. I do have humility, and I’m not knocking the kids in my third grade class who never got to be astronauts, firemen, or Moe Howard. We can’t all hitch our wagon to a star. But thanks to a long-gone yen for God’s Medicine, your humble author has taken a seat in Narco-Posterity.  Sure, there may have been a marriage that  tanked, a friend or five who still wonder what happened to their VCRs, some inappropriate public napping and a couple of novels that sold worse than Iranian pocket Torahs. I’m not saying I’m Albert Schweitzer.  Not at all. It’s just, at the end of the proverbial day, what, really, do we have but our reputation? That’s why I included the fridge door-ready compilation below.

After I pick up my Golden Syringe at the Hard Rock, Las Vegas ceremony, I’m going to put it in on my mantel beside the… well, actually, it’s going to be up there by itself. Like an Irving Thalberg Lifetime Achievement award for IV Professionals. Not to suggest that I ever did anything particularly impressive with my life. But, call me sentimental, to celebrate the peculiar, squirm-inducing miracle of Not Being Dead. I didn’t have a Plan B—but I didn’t have a Plan A, either, so what the hell…

Never let go of your dreams.

Jerry Stahl has written 8 books, including Permanent Midnight, Bad Sex On Speed, and I, Fatty. His new novel, Happy Mutant Baby Pills, is now out from Harper Perennial. More from this author →