Shulgin Archiving: Absurd Item: Kids Shooting Peanut Butter (1969)

An absurd news piece that Sasha collected and studiously filed in the wall of filing cabinets behind his desk. Scanned and pointed out as ludicrous by Trout:

Kids Shooting Peanut Butter News Headline

Authored by the Associated Press and published in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1969, the “Kids Shooting Peanut Butter” article claims that IV use of peanut butter and mayonnaise is a new trend. It reports that there are “several documented cases” of deaths, though no documentation is provided.

Similar articles were published in other newspapers and the story has been repeated for decades in books and online. Although we were able to find the transcribed text of this article on various websites, we did not find any scans or other direct documentation of the fact that something this stupidly wrong was published as factual news by major publications. Amusingly, the meme is repeated in Richard Nixon’s public papers in October 1969: “In certain regions, they [kids] are so crazy and insane as to inject into their bloodstream peanut butter, because somebody said that peanut butter gives you a high, and they die from that. Mayonnaise they are inserting into their bodies”. [Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Richard M. Nixon, 1969, pg 851.]

The short AP article makes several errors indicating that the authors and editors had little or no expertise in the area they wrote about. It cites the information to Ernest A. Carabillo Jr. from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for members of law enforcement agencies to be as confused as the news people who repeat the errors they make. Or perhaps the unnamed reporter misunderstood Mr. Carabillo. Who knows!

We’ve been unable to find any scientific papers or real documentation that this was a trend, or led to any deaths, or was in fact ever tried by anyone. There are zero references in PubMed about this topic between 1960 and 1975. One guess as to the source of this rumor is that “peanut butter” and “mayonnaise” might have been used as slang terms for other drugs. We speculate that ‘peanut butter’ might have been used as slang somewhere to mean tar-type heroin. An Erowid team member says he personally heard “peanut butter” being used to refer to brown colored methamphetamine in the early 1980s. Some drug slang dictionaries list “mayo” as a slang term for heroin or cocaine. An Erowid

The story is a good example of false and essentially baseless Drug War hysteria. Sadly, this type of egregious error continues to plague drug news, for example the well-loved Face-Eating Zombie Drug meme from 2012-2018.

Shulgin Geek Note: The news article was clipped, then taped to paper either by Sasha or Nina to make it more stable when filing. In the upper corner of the paper, “Newspaper – drugs” is written in long-hand pen in Sasha’s handwriting.

Kids Shooting Peanut Butter

A Federal drug expert says youngsters in some parts of the country have taken to injecting peanut butter and mayonnaise into their veins as a substitute for narcotics.

In several documented cases the result has been death, Ernest A. Carabillo Jr., a lawyer-pharmacist in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, told newsmen Monday.

Carabillo said the information that peanut butter and mayonnaise would send users “on a little trip” was contained in an underground recipe book purporting to outline “culinary escapes from reality.”

Other recent fads, he said, include the use of paragoric (sic) cleaning fluid, the local anesthetic ethyl chloride and freon, the pressurized propellant gas in aerosols.

Carabillo said users of narcotic substances confused the bizarre and toxic reactions with the so-called “high” provided by such drugs as heroin or marijuana. He cited the smoking of dried banana skins, a fad of a couple of years ago, as an example.

Frank Gulich, a narcotics bureau official stationed in Chicago, said the underground “cook books” usually sell for about $1 and often give the formulas for preparing drugs such as LSD.

Drug users, Gulich said, are “always looking for new drugs that won’t be a violation of the law.”

[Associated Press]

Revision History:
1.0 Published Sep 28, 2018
1.1 Added note that Erowid staff member personally knew people who used term ‘peanut butter’ to refer to brown methamphetamine: He wrote “I’ve never heard heroin called peanut butter but it has been fairly commonly used as slang for crude impure meth that has not yet been recrystallized — or at least I’ve heard that name being used by tweakers since sometime in the early 1980s. Even the people who commented on using it believed it was bad to be using. Go figure.”

Sturgill Simpson’s Turtles All the Way Down Appreciation

Fuck yeah, I should be able to do these lyrics by memory. Maybe a friend learns to play the song on a guitar so we can sing it. I would have to do a light rewrite of the first stanza, since I have not, myself, seen what I would say fits my understanding of liturgical, mythological, and historical “Jesus” play with flames. But, I do hear tell. Y’all are loved.

If you try the song and don’t like it immediately, give it another minute or two, actually listen to it and you might be impressed where it goes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWx6csgGkg4

I’ve seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met the devil in Seattle
And spent 9 months inside the lions den
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
But I swear that God is there
Every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend

Says my son, “It’s all been done
And someday you’re gonna wake up old and gray
So go and try to have some fun
Showing warmth to everyone
You meet and greet and cheat along the way”

There’s a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal
Something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy
But then again it might make you go sane

Every time I take a look
Inside that old and fabled book
I’m blinded and reminded of
The pain caused by some old man in the sky
Marijuana, LSD
Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love’s the only thing that ever saved my life

So don’t waste your mind on nursery rhymes
Or fairy tales of blood and wine
It’s turtles all the way down the line
So to each their own ’til we go home
To other realms our souls must roam
To and through the myth that we all call space and time

Flaming Toboggan Ride – Portage

In November 2016, we (Earth & Fire) were driving 150 miles to San Francisco in our space cruiser (Subaru 2001 xx7xa.3.4) and happened to hear a long-form audio interview of Stephen Colbert by Terry Gross on her radio show, “Fresh Air”.

During the interview, he described his experience working on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Trapped in our space flight between the California gold country and the metropolis, when Colbert mentioned that he sometimes experiences “the flaming toboggan ride” (FTR), we both spoke up simultaneously and started talking over the interview. Why? The description he gives is very close to our experience of the life and work of Erowid:

To do one of these jobs, you’ve got to kind of love the flaming toboggan ride of it. You’ve got to like it because everybody else is in the toboggan with you. You’re doing it together, that’s the joy. Everybody is doing it together and at the end of it you go, ‘Hey! We survived! Pretty good show! Let’s do it again tomorrow.’

That’s it. It’s the movement forward, because it never stops. You’ve gotta love the downhill hurtle. There’s no finish line. You’ve got to just love missing all those trees that you could’ve hit today.

We’re from Minnesota and we both independently grew up with classic wooden toboggans hanging outside our homes. Family members would carry them up hills and then try to ride them down absurdly dangerous routes. Imagine yourself holding a couple of ropes attached to a set of boards that you can barely aim, hurtling down a freezing slope covered in trees, rocks, and brush. There’s one person in front who is putatively “in control”. But you might be in back, shouting, “Turn, turn, tree! Left! No!!!”, wondering if you should jump off.

The “Flaming Toboggan Ride” experience includes an illusion of control, the inability to stop the ride, and a sense of extreme responsibility for the outcome. A mixture of stimulation, fear, exhilaration, with bursts of novelty, fun, and accomplishment. And exhaustion. There’s a very real feeling that one’s physical (or metaphysical?) life is on the line, whether true or not.

When imagining the flames, are the flames shooting out of the toboggan, or the nearby trees, rocks, and brush? Left! Left!! No, right!!

We personally appreciate Stephen Colbert’s humor stylings that gave us the Flaming Toboggan Ride as a good description of our experience.

What doesn’t quite match with the Erowid HQ experience is that Colbert’s vision doesn’t include the deep sense of activism. We are kept up at night and work nearly every weekend because we believe deeply that a few more hours each day or each week could mean the difference between the future freedom of joyful consciousness, and a slightly less fabulous outcome–for individuals and the culture in general. We are, in a small way, leveraged representatives of everyone who reads this and feels a kinship with our work and goals. We are all in this together.

Although we’ve been using the FTR visualization a lot over the last year, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been thinking that representation is missing a couple of elements. First, a lot of the ride is actually great and good things are happening and getting done. I think Colbert would include that in his silly visualization as well. But more importantly, Colbert’s version misses some kind of pedaling or difficult up-hill climb aspect of our FTR. It’s not just a ride, it’s also a physically exhausting marathon. We’re definitely not only barely-steering a downhill ride we can’t quite get off. To fit our experience, it also includes a series of sprints where the “rests” consist of slowing to a running-jog before taking another slug of caffeinated beverage (diet Coke or tea), enjoying 3 grams of properly-prepared Minnesota wild rice with Tillamook Sharp and some garlicly vegetables, a long nap, and then back on the toboggan.

Yep. That’s what our lives are (often) like. And hoo-boy is January 2018 an impressively flaming toboggan ride.

earth & Fire

PS: As of January 25, 2018, Fire and I have decided to help improve the description by using the term “Flaming Toboggan Portage”. If you haven’t “portaged” a whole canoe-camping trip, it can be difficult to communicate what that means or feels like. Imagine you’re going on a two week camping trip, carrying all of the food and supplies in gigantic backpacks. And you are mostly traveling by water, in a canoe. Now you ‘need’ to carry everything on land, up and over hills, to reach the next lake. Including the damned canoes. Carrying the canoes? Really? Yes. That’s portaging. And it’s measured in ‘rods’.

Often, during “the ride”, one is actually dismounting and carrying all of your stuff and the toboggan up and over a huge hill on a dangerously slippery (and potentially flaming) path.

Medical Doctors as Researchers Humor… In My Clinical Experience…

While discussing epidemiology and drug policy with to an MD who works in the US federal government, he mentioned that he’s trained as a clinician, not in research.

I joked back that I wish most of the MDs who write for medical journals were clearer on the distinction, and he told the following quasi-joke:

Do you know what doctors mean when they say “In my clinical experience…” ? When a doctor says “in my clinical experience…” that means they’ve handled one case related to the matter. If they say “in my long clinical experience” that means two cases. And if a doctor says “In case, after case, after case…“, that means three cases total.