Fear and Loathing in Hollywoodland by
(166 Stories)

Prompted By Drugs and Alcohol

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shinseungback kimyonghun

I usually begin my day with a cup of coffee and a microdose of psilocybin. A microdose is defined as 80 micrograms of the carefully grown and prepared mushroom. I also take a dropper full of lion’s mane, a mushroom that, like psilocybin, has restorative properties in the cognitive realm.

Eighty micrograms is a holistic dose. It doesn’t make you hallucinate, but it does tend to sharpen your focus.

Since the onus of the Leary years have fallen away, reams of medical, psychological, and spiritual studies have been written on the benefits of psilocybin as a treatment for depression, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The mushroom is also touted for its power to enhance memory and other cognitive skills, something indigenous peoples have been celebrating for millennia.

On the morning of September 23, 2020, as the Covid pandemic was scything its way through the population, I felt great. I worked on a novel I’ve finally completed, saw to some chores around the house. In the afternoon, we tested a few early buds from our 2020 harvest. The results were, as is often the case, spectacular — fragrant, heady, and powerful.

By early evening, I had fallen into my pandemic restless mode. No classes to teach, no films to see, the theaters closed. Restaurants were shut down or too risky to merit eating out. Friends were not yet seeing friends. I poured a glass of red wine left over from the night before, a delicious Portuguese malbec. Then another. Yum.

Earlier in the day, Agent Orange, the former President, gave a news conference in which he announced that a woman had made the short list to replace the sad empty space left by the Notorious RBG. In the same conference, he refused to confirm that he would accept the outcome of the upcoming November election. “You know ballots,” he said, shouting down a powerfully insistent reporter. “You can’t trust ballots. Everybody knows that.”

The whole notion was so ridiculous as to be unbelievable, more bullshit from Agent Orange. Still something about his dogged insistence sent me to my office where I kept a soothing tincture made of distilled THC and tequila. I sucked down four droppers full and wandered back to the kitchen where I was preparing to braise a few filets of wild-caught Alaskan halibut… and drink a glass or two of pinot grigio while I cooked.

I poured two glasses of pinot grigio and talked with my partner for a few moments about Agent Orange’s news conference and noticed I was leaning rather heavily on the kitchen counter while I chatted. No matter, it had been a busy day. My partner left the room and I commenced to address the halibut, sipping on the pinot grigio.


I regained consciousness from an odd POV: I was lying on the kitchen floor. My phone, with the halibut recipe open and shining forth, lay several feet from my outstretched right arm. What the hell was my phone doing on the floor?

What the hell was I doing on the floor?

My partner rushed back into the room. She was clearly alarmed. What was the fuss about? So, I was lying on the floor. Nothing hurt. I got up. She made me sit. She asked funny questions like, “what day is it?”


“Who’s the President of the United States?”

I had blocked the man’s name out, even then. “Andrew Jackson,” I said. “Head of the Know-Nothing Party.”

“Don’t be a wise guy. You’ve been passed out on the floor for two minutes.”

“I what?”

“You heard me.”

That seemed weird. I had no recollection of falling, of missing time, just a lapse in logic, like, what was my phone doing on the floor?”

“I called 911. They’re sending the EMTs.”

“Aw, man…” Yes, I call my partner ‘man,’ that’s how hip I am.

“They’re here.” My partner becomes monosyllabic when she’s in real crisis. Silently, she walked me to the sofa. I sat down. The room filled with giant young men in emergency gear. One of them carried a small suitcase. He attached electrodes to my chest. Another yellow-jacketed giant knelt next to him, peering at the screen. He nodded, rose.

“You’re fine. We’ll take you to the hospital if you want.”

“Naw. Thanks, gents,” I said. “If you say I’m fine, I’m fine.” I felt clear, sober, aware.

“You don’t want to go to the hospital,” a third giant said. “Covid.”

“No thank you,” I said. “Anybody want to try some tincture?” I asked our LAFD visitors.

“No thank you,” they said and filed out the door.

Tomorrow, you go see Irv,” my partner said. Irv is our family doctor.

“Okay,” I said.

“Asshole,” she said. “I thought you were dead.”

I made a quick calculation. That day, September 23, 2020, I had ingested 80 mics of psilocybin, a joint of heady marijuana, two glasses of malbec, four droppers of cannabis/tequila tincture, and two glasses of pinot grigio.

“I’ve known you for thirty years,” my family doctor said later. “You’re not an alcoholic, dumbbell. You had a drug interaction. But do us all a favor. Stop drinking.”

“Good idea,” I said. I wasn’t going to do that to my partner ever again, and I wasn’t going let Agent Orange drive me to drink.

That was two years ago, and I miss it, especially at restaurants, but the longing quickly disappears.

These days, my morning capsule of psilocybin is the only foreign substance that remains in my lexicon. That and the lion’s main mushroom drops. But then, Agent Orange is gone, too. Yes, he is.

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Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

Visit Author's Website

Characterizations: been there, funny, well written


  1. No Charles, we don’t want you on the kitchen floor when you could be further enlightening us with your wondrous prose.

    But afraid Agent Orange not gone yet, sighted today at an Ohio rally.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    Charles, we should have an offline chat about the uses of the drugs you are taking. My daughter, now in the Seattle area, might make better use of those than every pharmaceutical that she takes for her many diagnoses. But glad you gave up the wine. We definitely don’t want you on the floor again. We need your stories!

    I understand how Agent Orange could drive a person to drink (I think he contributes to my migraines). As Dana says, he does not currently hold elected office, but holds far too much sway with far too many people in this country. I’d like to see his clothing match his bronzed face! And we can add DeSantis to that list too, after what he did to those poor refugees last week (among his many heinous actions over the past year or two).

    • Thanks, Betsy. I’m going to risk and double down on my much-better informed opinion of the overgrown, pants-soiling child, by saying the Orange crush is quietly being abandoned, despite the lip service from the rats. They, too, know how to swim away from a sinking ship.

  3. Marian says:

    Glad you could keep the microdose of mushroom. We all could use some mental sharpness, and yes, please keep off the kitchen floor. Glad the EMTs were understanding.

    • Thanks, Marian. Hell, the EMTs had seen and heard much worse than my overdose of cannabis and tequila! And yes, the psilocybin remains, along with a complimentary dropper full of memory-enhancing lion’s mane mushroom tincture. New research is revealing that nearly ALL mushrooms are good for the memory AND nervous system.

  4. Suzy says:

    Great story, Charlie! You have already told Retro readers about earlier drug experiences – Stanley Mouse, and Too Many Books – so it’s good to get this update on what you have been ingesting. Scary that you passed out on the floor. Luckily you didn’t have any cooking-related burns! Did you ever eat that halibut? Too bad that you’ve had to give up Pinot Grigio – that’s my wine of choice. But I trust you are staying with the psilocybin, the marijuana, and the THC/tequila tincture.

    • Thanks, Suzy! Yes, despite my sober approach to the world, I have spent a fair amount of time being gassed one way or another. I don’t remember if we ever got back to the halibut! I’ve dropped everything but the psilocybin and the cannabis. The rest I have left behind with very little pain or regret. I drink a mean glass of water, though!

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    Your story is certainly consistent with the concept that alcohol is the most dangerous drug out there (apart from cigarettes), and that knowing what (and the amount) you are ingesting makes a difference. Glad you have found a good formula that is working! I liked the self-deprecating “that’s how hip I am”–made me laugh. We get by with a little help from our friends.

    • Thanks, Khati. Alcohol tastes good and offers a very nice buzz in moderation, but despite trying every trick in the book, I often tricked myself into over drinking. I don’t miss it all that much. I can’t take credit for the laugh line: it’s from a very funny (and hip) jazz tune called “I’m Hip,” written by Dave Frischberg. This version https://youtu.be/3YXUHvLuo4A begins with my dear, departed ultra-plus hipster jazz cat Bob Dorough who is joined by the composer Dave Frischberg.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    But is he really gone? Nevertheless, glad you stopped letting him drive you to drugs and drink. He’s not worth it.

  7. A most SOBERING account for the readers, and not just for the author. I don’t recall a substance-user, even among the great writers, laying out in such finely calibrated precision, exactly what he had ingested. Well done I say–in regard to the writing of the story and the conclusion reached after the experience.

  8. Thanks, Dale. I can’t read far enough into William Burroughs without throwing his novel, any of them across the room, so I can’t say if other writers are good at keeping an archive of inebriation. Maybe Charles Bukowski. Regardless, today is the second anniversary of my relatively smooth and constant farewell to alcohol.

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    I do know that Dave Frischberg tune–and you appropriated the vibe perfectly in your story. Still got a laugh. I tried to check out the youtube version but couldn’t get it–sometimes it is a Canada thing. Congratulations on your taming the evil alcohol or at least keeping it mostly at bay–maybe the psilocybin is helping.

  10. Dave Ventre says:

    Those (luckily few) times I have wound up on the floor have (with one exception, told of for this prompt) alcohol induced. Until I can buy hallucinogens from real pharmaceutical companies, I have to pass; I know enough chemistry to know that w/o a lot of care and purification, many syntheses yield a wild soup of different products. The incident of the contaminated L-tryptophan in the late 90s has stayed with me….

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