Martin Torgoff

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Martin Torgoff is an author and documentary filmmaker.

  • "When my friends and I first starting doing drugs in the late '60s, we were making not just a statement about the experience of the substance, but a statement about lifestyle, politics, spiritual values, communitarian values. If you smoked marijuana, you were against the war in Vietnam, and you listened to a certain kind of music -- the psychedelic music, the Beatles. But it also had to do with a life philosophy. In the beginning it was all about opening to things -- to yourself, to the world of the senses, a kind of creative potential. It made you see and feel things differently. There was a philosophy around it of peace and brotherhood -- all the clichés."
  • "But by 1973, suddenly the pharmacopoeia opened wide. Although most of us had tried coke before we left school, it really hit the scene by '77-'78, and followed us right into the arena of work and careers as we got older and had more discretionary income. The values it promulgated were antithetical to pot and psychedelics -- you'd never think of staying up three days in a row smoking weed. It became the preferred substance of lawyers and stockbrokers, and that pretty much sums it up. It promoted an ego-driven culture of greed, exclusion, conspicuous consumption and corruption. Perhaps the closest thing to a Republican drug of choice."
  • "When I stopped doing drugs in 1989, I had a tangled web of feelings about them. I was uncomfortable with recreational drug use, but also equally uncomfortable with the creed of abstinence. And then I was uncomfortable with the "be smart don't start" anti-drug phenomenon. I wanted to go back to the sources to see how all the attitudes about drugs -- both for and against -- formed in this country. I wanted to know how we went from marijuana and psychedelics, drugs that opened things and appealed to your senses -- to coke and Quaaludes, drugs that numbed you and were really about ego, in which your pleasure centers lie to you and tell you that you're experiencing pleasure. I wanted to understand how all of this affected my life, my generation, and the whole culture at large."
  • "There was a continuum that went from psychedelic culture of the '60s to the MDMA culture of the '90s. It had to do with mostly the different nature of the substances. LSD was a wild roller coaster ride -- like ripping your soul out and throwing it down on the kitchen table and staring at it for six hours in its bloodiest state."
  • "Ecstasy is a totally different thing, but it had a value and power in shaping the sensibility of a generation. It was the antithesis of the self-interested cocaine culture of the '80s. For one thing, it was about being with other people and really empathizing with them. The thing that always struck me about the raves were the love-flushed faces and beatific grins, and the hugging and affirmation between people. Except for certain dimensions of the recovery self-help culture, I really hadn't seen anything like that since the be-ins and happenings of my youth. And then when I heard the tenets of the rave movement -- Peace, Love, Unity and Respect -- I began to realize that there was something going on that was much greater than just people taking drugs." --