Drugs are the epitome of cool. It's an infallible truth that's held true through the ages. De Quincey, Ginsberg, Basquiat, ODB, Hedberg, Moses—they were all at it. Granted, they mostly all died of drug-related causes, but drowning before your time, face down in an opiate-induced septic tank of your own vomit is waaaay cooler than dying of boring, old pancreatic cancer anyway, right? Natural causes might be nature's course, but it won't get you on many tributes.
From the beatniks getting hot rock burns in their polo necks, to the current generation with their Benzo Fury, and triangular deep-V sunburns, every generation has had its own drug of choice. In this post-everything world of recyclable music, art, fashion, and culture, how do you tell which drugs are genuinely cool, and which ones are just an ironic homage to whatever decade people are currently fadding-out over?
One thing I want to be absolutely certain of when I'm taking drugs is that I'm going to look cool to strangers. Because what's the point in flirting with heart attacks, respiratory arrest, and coke babble if you can't fool younger and more impressionable people into thinking you're the shit? No one wants to be the martyr that dies with no disciples.
Let's start with weed, because it's probably what you started with, too before you discovered that other drugs can also be a lot of fun and don't kill you nearly as much as you thought they would. And if you're the kind of person who claims that weed "isn't a drug, it's a plant, man,” go fuck yourself. Try smoking a juniper bush and see if it makes you wanna listen to SpaceGhostPurpp.
It's kinda hard to summarize weed, because it's essentially got the same demographic as alcohol: everyone. That means there are as many people ruining the 'erb as there are making it seem like a fundamental lifestyle choice that you'd be a freak not to adhere to. For better or worse (almost definitely worse), I've been smoking weed since I was young enough to find Dre profound, so I'm coming into this with a hefty bias.
That said, people who have never smoked pot are always desperate to tell me that it'll ruin my life and leave me brain-dead, infertile, and alone, perpetually slumped over a sofa and covered in crushed Doritos, which wouldn't be cool. The only thing is, that's complete bullshit. That sort of thing only happens to smokers who had next-to-no drive to do anything in the first place, much like the fact that kids don't shoot up schools because they play video games, they shoot up schools because they're criminal sociopaths.
Anyway, I'm beginning to sound like someone on the "free the leaf" Facebook page. The whole point of this guide is to alert you as to which drugs will make you feel and look cool to people who don't necessarily know you, as there is literally nothing more important in life than the approval of others. Weed has its cons, but it's also a pretty solid, low-risk way of letting people know you're down to party and don't get hung up on the little things, like work, and school, and all that other shit that happens between tokes.
Cool Rating: 7/10
Ecstasy's heyday is now nothing more than a tedious anecdote barked at you by somebody who used to co-host MTV’s Remote Control in the 90s. A chemical reminder that it was once deemed socially acceptable to idolize Danny Dyer in Human Traffic and regularly use the phrase, "Pop a coupla pills and fuckin' get on it, my son." Totally not cool.
If cool is fixies, post-dubstep, and talking like a child on the internet (and, btw, it completely is, I work at VICE, I should know LOL), then ecstasy and the culture that surrounds it are the exact antithesis. "Paranoia not euphoria" is our generation's motto. Nobody's going to think you're cool if you spend your whole night talking about how you really need to spend more time together. Come on, guy—quit the gurners, grow a beard, Shazam every record posted on Noisey and you might (just about) be able to fool people into thinking you're hip.
Cool Rating: 3/10
If real class-A powders are the knowing, worldly cool of Bill Murray, then internet drugs are Piers Morgan's birthday party at Jamie Oliver's house, jamming out to some Snoop Lion. The problem? Tabloids did exactly what they did with ICP, Marilyn Manson, and emo and made mephedrone et al the scourge of every parent-of-young-adults in the world, therefore making it super popular with every 16-year-old in the world.
From joyriding to Limp Bizkit, if the media says something is bad then the kids will say it's good. So yeah, I guess it's cool with that demographic, but we're trying to appeal to people who stay on top of their taxes here. Never even think about publicly snorting any disco plant feed because you won't have a hope in hell of getting laid.
Cool Rating: 0/10
The basic concept of ketamine has to be the coolest of all the drugs. I mean, you're snorting something to help you party that's usually used to sedate full-grown horses, and if you've really got a good connect, rhinos. How subversive! It could almost have been in an Andy Warhol movie, or something—it's that profound. Unfortunately, K itself has now become the preserve of people who ride their skateboards to bro-step nights and people who can't pronounce the names of the DJs they're going to see, which is really uncool.
One definite plus, however, is that it's probably the quickest drug to give you that glazed, nothing-behind-the-eyes look, which is exactly what you want out of any drug experience. The experience itself is but a minor detail, actively alerting people to the fact that you're ON DRUGS is what it's really all about, and K is a winner in that respect. K has the unique ability to make even Danny Brown look like your mom taking a bong hit, which scores it highly on this list.
Cool Rating: 6/10
You can probably tell from this picture that cocaine is, BY FAR, the most glamourous drug on the list. Such hero-worshipped figureheads of cool as Kate Moss, Axl Rose, Lindsay Lohan, and Alice Dellal have been pictured doing it. I mean, Alice Dellal, you guys! How cool is that! Then again, it's also synonymous with those sleazy, handsy kinds of douches who wear dinner jackets with Converse and lurk around every club or party, trying to get wide-eyed young girls to touch their dicks with offers of free bumps, which nobody thinks is cool. Except for, like, Colin Farrell (maybe).
A definite plus is that even if you're doing two percent-purity blow bought from a part time drum 'n' bass DJ, people will think you're rich. But you've got to be nonchalant about it. Because being really rich but kinda jaded about it all is a surefire way to make strangers think you're cool. HYFR.
Cool Rating: 6/10
Believe Keith Haring, De La Soul, and youth center workers across the world: Crack is wack. As much as Pete Doherty spent most of the last decade trying to convince us that it's the 21st century equivalent of opium—something that's intrinsic to any creative endeavor (and he's usually so spot on in capturing the zeitgeist: rosary beads, trilbies, etc)—it's not washing. The only things that ever seem to come out of freebasing are poverty and constant restlessness, neither of which are very cool, unless you're a well-adjusted, middle class student desperately trying to appear damaged. Plus, smoking out of a crackpipe isn't exactly conducive to looking cool—you're all hunched up and overly intense the whole time, which, as any laid back cool cat will tell you, is certainly not cool, brother.
Although there is something rather tempting about smoking it in front of the people that go in eight ways on grams of mephedrone before an Avicii show. It's a statement that says, "This is what drugs are really about. They are dangerous and they are ugly. What you are doing is not drugs." But then you realize you're so fucked up that you're trying to impress people who go to Avicii shows. Fuck that: crack is the wackest.
Cool Rating: 1/10
Weirdly, I've never smoked meth (I know, right?), but as I've learnt from reputable media sources like Breaking Bad and World's Scariest Police Chases, doing so seems a historically terrible idea. Unless you're actively seeking out the quickest route to a rotted mouth, paranoia, and inescapable prostitution—in which case, have at it—it is not for you. Half your face scabbed over from the incessant, tweaked-out scratching? No. You'll be riding the lame train all the way to Tribal Tattoo County, Loserville, no matter how well-defined your new cheekbones.
Cool Rating: 2/10
Much like UFC and internet pornography, people who get into heroin always end up getting into it hard, which must mean there's something pretty cool about it. I suppose it would be a bit like falling in love with a film and getting covered in tattoos of minor characters that have some emotional relevance to you, which at the very least is a good conversation piece at parties. Good conversation pieces also equal cool, by the way. Although if you are addicted to heroin your conversation topics could be limited to how much you love it and how much you're trying to get off it.
Cool Rating: 7/10
There's something quite sexy about the abuse of prescription drugs. People who are addicted to oxy or adderall or vicodin are tortured enough to be cool, but still functional. Able to accompany you to a gig and buy their own drinks, but likely to slink off at some point, before wandering back all nonchalant and mysterious, like a character in a Bret Easton Ellis novel, only less annoying and self-obsessed. They're a higher class of drug addict, sat atop a pharmaceutical block party of legally prescribed fun, where every man is depressed in that appealing, world-weary way and every woman is on just the right side of damaged.
Also, because very few famous people die from taking recreational drugs any more (goddman you, sophisticated rehabilitation programs and methadone courses for starving us of our martyrs), prescription drugs retain a kind of dangerous glamour. And people thinking you might die soon is always a good way to get them to kiss you.
Cool Rating: 9/10
I'm currently signed up to receive Google alerts for drug trend forecasts, and let me get you in on this: Psychedelics are making a comeback. Rejoice, the 60s are back, make friends with some Japanese hipsters.
Think about it: You're strolling through the park on Sunday afternoon, the busy hum and visuals of your surroundings washing over you, when you spot a group of friends chewing on some mushrooms, having a better time than you, letting those visuals dictate their movements, and opening their minds to the fact that hey, maybe belly buttons aren't just for your fetal months? Maybe we're supposed to be using them somehow now, but we just haven't worked out why yet? Pretty cool, right?
Cool Rating: 8/10
After all that, one thing you must remember is that, as a rule of thumb, all drugs are cooler than no drugs. Even if you're smoking month-old hash crumblings from a pair of jeans that turned Polish stonewash in the machine, you're still cooler than the "high on life" crowd. If nobody's actually seen you do them—as is often the case with hallucinogens and pharmaceuticals—just go and tell them you've done them, wave your arms about, and talk about states of consciousness, things like that. People will think you're cool if you do that.
Cool Rating: N/A