Spun: The Fight to Save Middle America from Bath Salts and Zombies

Jul 17, 2012 by




OLD 67 would like to introduce our newest contributor, Barclay Jones.

Barclay Jones plays the corporate game by day and fights Zombies by night.  He lives by his own rules and encourages you to do the same.


I’m going to establish a few things right from the start.  I’m a lot like you.  I’ve been steadily employed since I graduated college.  I’m married with kids, a mortgage, some pets, a big yard and I live in a nice neighborhood.  Like you, my life has its ups and downs, successes and failures, heartbreak and happiness.  Like you, I get up every morning and do it all again, no matter how good or bad my previous day was.  It’s the process of living, and I do it like most.

The differences between you and I are probably small, except one:  I do drugs.  I imagine that many of you smoke pot and drink.   Some of you smoke cigarettes, but probably wish you could quit.   A few of you like prescription pills.  This is fairly typical of a good percentage of the American population.

I’m not talking about those kinds of drugs.

I do cocaine. It’s been part of my life longer that it hasn’t.  I’ve done it every way it can be done, though I have my preferred methods.  I don’t do it every day, but I do it when I want it. It’s my drug of choice.  I’ve done others, in fact, I’m certain if it was discovered before the year 2000 I’ve tried it, probably twice.  I’m older now and my experimental days are mostly over, I know what I like and what I can handle.

Am I an addict? Am I model citizen?  Am I a good parent? Am I a productive part of society?  Feel free to ask and answer those questions however you like; I make my own choices, you can do the same regarding how you feel about me.  I don’t really give a fuck what you think.  I don’t tell you all of this to be judged nor to boast or entertain.  This is just factual information so you can make an informed decision about what you read next.   In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell postulates it takes 10,000 hours of practice at any given subject to become an expert.  I tell you my history so you understand that I am an expert in the usage, procurement, and culture surrounding drugs in this country.

If you lived in my town, I could take you from the best section to the worst, pointing out where I’ve bought drugs.  I’ve made purchases on corners and in the offices of lawyers, dentists and doctors.  I’ve bought them in trailers and in mansions.  There isn’t an establishment or a parking lot that I haven’t been to conducting business.  To prove my point further, I could go to your town and tell you the same thing.  People like me know other people like me even if we’ve never met, and we’re everywhere.

I want you to understand what I’m about to say comes from someone who knows, not a cop or a politician or a sanitized reporter who might have done some lines at a Kid Rock show and suddenly thinks they know what the underbelly looks like.

I want you to understand that I am the underbelly.

If you’re still reading and wondering why you should care, I can tell you in one word.


I am her to tell you not to fear Zombies.  They are not lurking around the corner waiting to eat your face off.  They are not shambling under bridges waiting for your children on their way to school.  They are not roaming the streets in some mixture of catatonia and rage.  They are not here to make your children commit suicide or rob banks.

Your local news, big media, government officials and anyone else who’s been sucked into the recent hysteria would have you believe that bath salts are fast on their way to becoming the scourge of our country.  They want you to believe this and a whole host of other exaggerations and lies are proof positive we as a society are in a dire race to the end, killing each other along the way.

I want you to understand this is not the case.

Bath salts are not a reason to fear your neighbors or those weird looking teens that hang out on the corner.  Bath salts aren’t even scary enough to fear on their own.  No more than alcohol or any other illicit drug that already exists and is being consumed right around you at any given moment (check out the dude in the cubbie next to you…)

What you are about to read is not a piece of investigative journalism, if you want to know statistics and dollars and what police and politicians have to say, you can read this article from SPIN.   It does a fair job of giving you the nitty gritty details behind the production, distribution, and attempts to eradicate this “new” street drug.  Everything else in the article or that you hear from any news source is mostly bullshit.  Outside of the hard numbers, the rest is an attempt to scare you, to make you emotionally connect with something you shouldn’t even care about.

I’m not going to deny the pain and tragedy of the users and their families profiled in the piece.  Their pain is real, and their situation is beyond sad.  But they are not typical, no matter what the article would have you believe.  Typical wouldn’t sell magazines, it wouldn’t make the article edgy and it wouldn’t make you care.

The author makes a point early on:  bath salts are used primarily by hard core drug addicts and college kids looking for a cheap and easy thrill.  This is a crucial point for her to make.  It starts the reader on a carefully constructed path leading down into a world they are led to believe is a common place.

The hardcore drug addicts profiled contain every cliché imaginable: broken homes, mental disorder, desperation, paranoia and self-loathing.  These are the drug users everyone hears about and assumes are the “typical” drug user.   They aren’t the kind of people anyone wants moving in next door and arriving uninvited to a backyard barbecue.  The thought of these poor sad sack losers lurking somewhere in close proximity is enough to make most families consider leaving.  The implication is bath salts are the gateway through which this couple, and everyone like them, will enter Mr. and Mrs. 2.3 kids’ comfy cozy suburb.

Next we’re told the tragic tale of the once promising swimmer derailed by synthetic marijuana and bath salts. His descent down the rabbit hole didn’t end until he ended his life.

These two tales are sandwiched between statistics, drug raids and official interviews; packaged up neatly as a cautionary tale for Middle America, proof positive that the end of days is near, and we should all be afraid.

I want you to understand these tales of Zombie woe are just salacious little slices of paranoia and fear strung together with either the self-righteous naiveté of someone who doesn’t understand or the callous fear mongering of someone looking to sell magazines.

I’m not going to say the article is a lie.  I’m sure it all happened the way she saw it, but that doesn’t make it any less fantasy.  These stories come around every time something new hits the market.

When I was a kid it was PCP and weed.  if you smoked a joint at a party, it’s likely to be a PCP laced Love Boat.  Next thing you know, you’ll be on the roof thinking you can fly, only to leap to your death.  It was the main reason we were told not to buy weed, because we “don’t know what someone might have put it in it”.  I realized later that if someone was going to put something in my weed, they were going to tell me, and they were going to charge me for it.  I didn’t need to worry about it, the market would take care of me, Capitalism at its best.

In the 70s it was heroin and the image of the Pusherman selling smack to little kids.  This little urban myth was pulped up under the guise of literature in Alice Childress’s “A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich”.  Kids are easy play so pushers give them dope, and then have them sell it; eventually those kids die or go to jail.  The fallacy is that no drug dealer worth his salt (get it?) would sell or recruit a little kid.  They’re shitty, shiftless and unreliable customers, a good enough spanking by their parents and they’d roll right over on you.

I want you to understand that drug dealers don’t target children.

In the 30s it was marijuana, the star of Reefer Madness, a movie that coincidentally enough portrayed dope smokers as sex crazed Zombies.  What was supposed to be a central piece in the burgeoning war against drugs (it worked well at the time), has now become every stoner’s favorite midnight showing.

What all of these stories, and the SPIN article, have in common is the innocent unsuspecting victim meant to represent what we hold most dear:  our children, our safe neighborhoods and our way of life.  These poor victims are done in by the common enemy:  drugs and the down and out low lives that bring them to your town.

I want you to understand innocents can be Zombies, too.

This might be hard to hear, but it’s true:  there is always going to be a well-to-do kid with a bright future who kills himself after a long (sometimes short) battle with drugs.  Bath salts didn’t kill Jay Sirat (the promising young swimmer in the Spin article).  His troubles first came to light when he was busted under the influence of pot and ecstasy; he’d OD’d on heroin a week before he died.  The kid had signed off for whatever reason – pressure, boredom, angst, mental disease, we don’t know what it was.  We probably never will.  I’ve known these kids.  They come from good homes, go to good schools and seemingly have the world wide open to them.  Things aren’t always as they seem, however, and if they don’t accept help, something is going to kill them, whether it’s their own hands, speed, heroin or alcohol.  They don’t have long for this world.

I want you to understand it can be tragic when Zombies die, too.

Fear sells and no one would be afraid if these stories told the whole truth.  No one would be scared if they knew the majority of people who fall down the rabbit hole, who lost it all and kill themselves, aren’t doing it because of the drugs or their easy accessibility.  Readers wouldn’t tremble and rage if they knew the majority of drug users were like me.  We volunteer at our kids’ schools, we go to work, and we participate in everyday life.  We don’t sell drugs to kids, we don’t sneak laced weed into the party, and we don’t kill ourselves. They don’t want you to know that your children aren’t any less safe today than they were before bath salts were introduced to your little corner of the world.

I want you to understand the Zombie could be you.  Not because you’re going to rush down to your local head shop/tobacco store and go bath salt crazy.  The Zombie could be you because you believe what they tell you without questioning.

I did go to my local tobacco shop and purchased some bath salts.  As the Spin article told you, it’s basically one of, or various mixtures of, synthetic derivations of speed.  I’ve done a pretty wide variety of speed, everything from high quality shit that looked like shards of glass to dirty crappy shit that made me piss brown.

Bath salts are low grade shit for sure.  Your heart speed increases and your temperature rises, but the euphoria that comes from coke or really good speed is absent.  It burns going up my nose and the fire lasts longer than you’d normally expect.  It left me with an upset stomach and a head ache, but mostly it was pretty tame.  If I were younger, and couldn’t get the real thing, my friends and I would probably settle for this on the occasional big drinking weekend.  We’d do it while complaining about not having the real thing.  It wouldn’t become habitual; it just doesn’t have the pay off.

Is my experience universal?  Am I saying that stories of bath salt moms going berserk in the maternity ward or the guy killing goats while wearing a dress didn’t happen?   They probably did, but we also know the “Miami Zombie” wasn’t on bath salts at all.  We know that everyone we’ve seen on the news and in the media so far hasn’t been a joy banger; they’ve been habitual drug users.  They aren’t kids out for the occasional good time, nor are they kids trying drugs for the first time and suddenly becoming hooked.  These episodes might be tragic, but they were going to happen sooner or later, with or without bath salts.

I want you to understand we live in a culture of hysteria and hyperbole.

I want you to understand that you are not under attack.

I want you to understand you don’t have to be a Zombie.  The choice is yours.

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  1. Yeagerbomb

    The tags for this post in themselves are enough to spark intrigue…..good stuff.

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