Belly Up to the Bar with Frank Bill

Frank Bill may need no introduction. His work has graced the pages of Granta and Playboy, Hardboiled and the New York Times. He writes hard-hitting fiction set in his home region, which first collected in his stunning debut of connected stories, CRIMES IN SOUTHERN INDIANA. I had the pleasure of reading his first novel, DONNYBROOK, where he deftly forges a near-mythic tone of hardboiled action with gothic literary sensibility into a gripping story of marginalized people doing their damnedest to claw their way out of the hardscrabble hell of America’s heartland. Centered around the Donnybrook, a sleazy saturnalia of underground bare-knuckle fighting, it reads like gritty action-adventure filtered through the fierce gaze of Flannery O’Connor. I invited Frank to Belly Up to the Bar after meeting him at an event with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, where he had a chance to talk fighting, martial arts, and its primal influence on our so-called civilization.

Tom Pluck BeerWelcome to Belly up to the Bar, Frank. What are you drinking?
 
 
 

frank billFB: Makers on the rocks.
 
 
 

Tom Pluck Beer I didn’t bring you here to flatter you, but you wrote a hell of a novel with Donnybrook. Tell us a little bit about it, and where the title and inspiration comes from.

donnybrook

frank bill FB: Thanks. Basically a few things. Guy I trained with back in the mid 90’s always talked about guys he worked with and they talked about these underground fights in abandoned warehouses and other unknown locations. We never went but it kinda stuck in the back of mind regardless of existence. When I started writing the novel, it didn’t have a name. I knew I wanted to incorporate what I knew about meth/drug culture in general, working class or the struggling class and fighting. My good friend who is a cop said something one day when I was doing research with him when he was shooting the shit with some other cops.

It was a helluva Donnybrook, he says.

I asked who is Donny Brook?

Not a he, he tells me. An Irish fighting festival.

Hence I looked into it. Then my novel had a name.

Tom Pluck Beer You know there’s a Donnybrook musical, based on The Quiet Man? Back in the ’60s. I’m not sure your novel would translate, but I liked how you put a soundtrack to the action. If you could hand the reader a bunch of CD’s to listen to while reading, who’d be on them?

frank bill FB: No I didn’t know that. Interesting. CD’s, easy: anything by Ray Wylie Hubbard, Scott H. Biram, The Drive By Truckers, Patterson Hood, Chris Knight, Eagles of Death Metal, Slayer, John Prine, Bob Dylan, Gutherie Kennard, Hayes Carll, Hank III, James McMurtry, Son Volt, Johnny Cash, Lincoln Durham, Lightin’ Hopkins, Slipknot, Pantera, Lucinda Williams, Johnny Dowd, Steve Earle, too many to name. I’m a big music fan.

Tom Pluck Beer Whoa, hell of a playlist. I loved Son Volt’s first two albums, I have to get more of them. I recall that you have a fighting background in kung fu. And it shows in your fight scenes. They’re brief, vibrant, and realistic. I train in Thaing and Bando, Burmese boxing and grappling. Fu, the Chinese enforcer, was one of my favorite characters. Have you gone past black belt, or tried other styles? And what made you put on a gi in the first place?

frank bill FB: I began studying Korean martial arts when I was 11. Earned my black belt by fourteen or fifteen. When I turned 18 I began studying closed door Chinese Kung Fu or Gung Fu as some pronounce it. And there are no belts involved. Just levels. As I progressed in age I left my studies with my first teacher. Cross-trained in western and eastern (Thai) boxing. Dabbled in Ju-Jit-su. Found another closed door kung fu teacher. I started studying martial arts as a kid because I was small. Boney. But had this crazy fascination with the old Shaw Brothers kung fu films.

Master of the Flying Guillotine

Tom Pluck Beer I want to train with Joe Lansdale down in Texas sometime. His fight scenes are always on the money. But DONNYBROOK is a lot more than fight scenes. You have a real cavalcade of characters, each of whom could break out and have their own novel. And while there’s not an ambiguous ending, it does feel like the beginning of a new adventure. Will we see more of Purcell and Jarhead?

frank bill FB: Thanks. Too kind. You’ll see more from the characters in Donnybrook in a follow-up, titled The Salvaged and the Savage with new characters and story lines.
 
 

crimes

Tom Pluck Beer Great to hear it. Meth carves a swath of destruction through your stories like flesh-eating bacteria. The meth-head has become the new crack-head, a cautionary tale, a lost cause, the walking dead. How hard has it hit your home region, and if you could change one thing about how we deal with it, what would it be?

frank bill FB: Meth has hit my area hard. Not many counties can say they’ve a lawyer who dated a client and started cooking it in their kitchen. It’s worked its way through the heartland. I don’t know what can be done at this point other than to keep educating people about what it does. You can make all the laws you want but it’s almost too little too late. Meth was an issue in this area in the ‘90s but no one paid attention to it.

Tom Pluck Beer If you could pick three writers that everyone would have to read in school, who would they be?

FB: Larry Brown. Ernest Hemingway and Cormac McCarthy.
 
 
 
frank bill2

Tom Pluck Beer I heard Larry Brown’s JOE is getting the movie treatment. Maybe that will introduce him to more readers. David Gordon Green’s a hell of a director, too. The memoir piece you wrote for the New York Times–about your grandfather chasing down a deer with a club to put meat on the table–really hit home. I’ve always been a city boy, but my great-uncles are children of the Depression and were avid hunters, long into their eighties. They did what was necessary to provide. It seems like as a culture, we’re losing touch with what it means to be a man. And you explore that tangentially with the three bare-knuckle fighters who converge on the Donnybrook. Do you think boys learning to fight- whether it’s wrestling or kung fu- might give American manhood back its center?

frank bill FB: I think every child, male or female should learn to box but also they should learn about or some form of spirituality. Not be a brute or a Buddhist but to learn discipline, how their body operates and how all of this links to the body and mind. For manhood, you have it or you don’t. I was fortunate to be around many great men growing up who been educated by life, but never appreciated my history or where I came from until I got older and began to read and write. A lot of it, for me anyway, comes from how one is raised.

I’m big fan of boxing and MMA and I respect all those involved, those guys and gals have guts and heart and the training they endure, the level at which they strive for is beyond amazing.

cool hand luke 1967 1

Tom Pluck Beer Yeah, you can only get so much discipline from physical training. I was talking with Zak Mucha about this too. We’re working on ways to make ‘manhood’ center around protecting those who need protecting. But any change will be glacial.

We tackled music and books, but for the finisher, it’s death row time. What are your last meal, and the last movie you get to watch?

frank bill FB: Last meal. Big ole thick ass Rib-eye, medium-rare. Cesar salad. button sized mushrooms sautéed in butter and soy sauce, fried potatoes with onions/peppers and a half gallon of Pappy Van Winkles. Movie, High Plains Drifter or Cool Hand Luke.
 

Tom Pluck Beer Luke’s a fave for me too. And before you go, what are you working on next?
 
 
 

frank bill FB: Follow up to Donnybrook and a project I signed on for but can’t announce yet. Thanks for the generous words and having me over.
 

Tom Pluck Beer Thanks for coming by, Frank.

DONNYBROOK hits the streets on March 5th, from Farrar, Strauss & Giroux . If you want a fierce read by a hardboiled warrior-poet, a backwoods Breaking Bad meets Bare-Knuckle Brawls with a dash of kung fu and American gothic, get in line for this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Frank Bill blogs at House of Grit. You can follow him on Twitter at @houseofgrit and find his work wherever fine books are sold:

Donnybrook at Indiebound
Crimes in Southern Indiana at Indiebound

Donnybrook at Amazon
Crimes in Southern Indiana at Amazon

“Bill portrays depravity and violence as few others can—or perhaps as few others dare to do . . . The plot builds relentlessly to the final round of the Donnybrook and gives the reader unexpected jolts all the way through . . . Bill is one hell of a storyteller.”
—Kirkus Reviews

BW Beer Mug

Rachel Getting Married

This is a fine drama about a recovering addict coming home that avoids the cliches such stories usually include, and contains some of the strongest performances of the year. Anne Hathaway nails Kym, the sister who’s been in and our of rehab for 10 years; the self-absorbed sibling rivalry with her soon to be wed sister is spot on. Rosemarie DeWitt is more subtle as Rachel, and the rest of the cast may not be unknowns, but are masterfully put together as an ensemble of characters we know but won’t recognize. You really sink into the wedding and begin to feel like a guest.
But as Demme and his cinematographer plunge us into this familiar yet diverse family gathering, we get a little lost. A scene where the groom-to-be and his future father-in-law have a good-natured duel over who can load the dishwasher faster is way too banal to keep our attention for 5 minutes. There are too many crowd shots to make us recall what it’s like to wander through a vibrant party where families are meeting for the first time. It’s effective, but distracting. Ebert gave it 4 stars and said the movie’s “true message” was the diverse marriage ceremony. I think he took an extra painkiller that day. The movie nails the relationship dynamics of a family with an addict, a tragedy, and a divorce without ever being hackneyed. Debra Winger- the girls’ mother- has an importance belied by her short screentime, and the nature of Kym’s supposed redemption is easy to miss. I enjoyed it much more than Revolutionary Road, and while Kate Winslet may have out-acted Anne Hathaway, Jonathan Demme could teach Sam Mendes a thing or two about subtlety.
It will probably be snubbed for being released too early in the Oscar season, but this is one of the year’s best dramas. It’s not as fresh as Slumdog or as perfect as The Wrestler, but it should not be overlooked, even though it stars an ex-Disney girl everyone would like to see fail.

The Basketball Diaries

After Titanic and before Catch Me If You Can, Leonardo DiCaprio had a rep as a pretty boy who was squandering the talent shown in movies like What’s Eating Gilbert’s Grapes and This Boy’s Life. I never got around to seeing this movie back in the day, even though I was a fan of Jim Carroll’s music. It’s not bad- it’s got some iconic imagery that will unfortunately be remembered for being liked by dead morons- but it lacks punch.
DiCaprio is fine as the basketball star turned junkie; he’s always got a little glint of mischief in his eye. His compatriots- Mark Wahlberg (the violent one, as expected) and Michael Imperioli, who plays a teen dying of leukemia- are just as good. Seeing Imperioli pre-Sopranos is nice, since he can’t seem to shake the “Christophuh” character now. Seeing him play “Bobby had leukemia- 16 years old- he looked 65 when he died- he was a friend of mine” from “People Who Died” was one of the better parts of the film. It was too short; we see Carroll barely escape a neighborhood cursed by the self-destruction of its youths, but we never get a sense of why. The movie unwisely uses that song ineffectively in the middle of the film when Bobby dies, rather than as the end number (which worked, pretentiously, at the end of the Dawn of the Dead remake).

This is a story we’ve seen before, and the gutter is portrayed with astonishing clarity. The story arc seems snipped at both ends; we don’t see Jim as an innocent, our first introduction is of him being paddled by the priest at Catholic school. He bites his lip against the pain, to show he can take it, but we never learn what made him that way. His mother, Lorraine Bracco plays her as exasperated and is given little chance to do much of anything; we’re as shocked as she is when Jim escapes to drugs. Maybe he just liked to play the bad boy. We get some introspective into Jim’s mind through his poetry, heard as voiceover. But it lacks the power of the songs he’d sing later in the Jim Carroll Band, and just feels like typical teenage drama. I wrote stuff like that too. One scene that works strongly as foreshadowing is when Juliette Lewis’s street junkie shows up, whoring for drug money; they mock her, rebuff her, and forget her, so they can end up just as low later. She’s excellent as usual, embodying the minor role and making it her own.


It will probably be best remembered for the violent fantasy sequence where Jim returns to school, clad in black, and shoots teachers and classmates with a shotgun. Apparently the Columbine killers found it inspirational, and it certainly inspired Keanu’s costume from The Matrix, another movie they obsessed over. But unlike those bullied outcasts, Jim is shown as a basketball star who just falls in with the wrong crowd. After they move from snorting H to shooting it, and live from fix to fix by robbing old ladies and candy stores, there’s a brief moment when the kid who stayed clean and ratted them out is on TV, playing ball. It’s very difficult to sympathize, for he never falls from grace so much as hubris, and we never see his redemption, only that he kicked drugs.

His mother kicks him out but they never reconcile; Ernie Hudson is great as a street ball player who ends up being Jim’s salvation, finding him in the snow and helping him kick his habit. It’s made clear that Reggie has kicked heroin himself, and he tries to get Jim clean but he fails. After that he disappears, which is unfortunate, because I could have watched an entire movie about him. But sadly the poor widdle white boy is the subject, and by the 80 minute mark we tire of his self-destruction. It’s to his credit that he clawed his way out, and to the film’s that it never glorifies the junkie life, or paints it as the wellspring of his creativity. But what is the point?

It’s telling that director Stephen Kalvert came from music videos, and then disappeared like Ernie Hudson’s character. The best and worst parts of the film are like music videos- the school shoot-up works, in slow silence; and the drunken basketball game in the rain after Bobby’s funeral fails utterly, it’s as all wet as the boys. It’s not so much bad as forgettable, and regrettable in how it wastes Lorraine Bracco and Ernie Hudson. Bruno Kirby too; he’s the basketball coach who gets turned into a punchline when he offers Jim money for sex. Catholic priests, and all that. Throw the Jim Carroll Band’s album “Catholic Boy” on the stereo instead, it will tell the story if you close your eyes, and it’s much better.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B00049QQHI&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0140100180&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B000002IB6&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

The Tao of Steve

Although it came out in 2000, The Tao of Steve is a ’90s movie at heart, and I imagine the director and screenwriters tried to make it for a long time, without updating anything. We meet Dex (Donal Logue, Zodiac), a chubby bearded guy in a Hawaiian shirt at his 10th college reunion. He’s a fat stoner slacker, predating the current run of stoner comedies, and an unlikely Lothario. How does Dex get laid so much? By using his philosophy of getting chicks, the Tao of Steve. We’ll explain that later. It doesn’t help the story that we’re introduced to him being shot down by Syd (Greer Goodman, who co-wrote), making his seductive powers seem like wishful thinking.
The movie rides on whaleback, on the character of Dex, played naturally by Logue. He’s a kindergarten teacher when he’s not toking, or playing frisbee golf, pool or poker with his slacker buddies. He’s got an endearing loser quality, and captures that laid back fat guy who wants to be liked archetype perfectly. He teaches the kids how to play poker. He’s about as believable a teacher as Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Kindergarten Cop, but he’s fun to watch. And that saves the film, because the rest of the characters aren’t great company, really.



Take Dave for example (played by now-unemployed Kimo Williams, Buffalo Soldiers). He’s the new dog in Dex’s slacker pack, and serves only to give him someone to explain his foolproof seductive philosophy to. So, what’s the Tao of Steve? First of all, a “Steve” is that cool guy who gets the girls without seemingly even trying. Like Steve McQueen, or Steve Austin, or Steve McGarrett. In case you forgot that Steve Austin was “The Six Million Dollar Man,” the slackers re-enact the opening credits of the show, and dumbo Dave says “oh yeah, the 6 million dollar man!” in case you still don’t get it. And if you don’t remember Steve McGarrett was Jack Lord’s character in “Hawaii Five-O,” they helpfully play the theme on the soundtrack while the guys drum it out on the poker table. Yeah, it’s one of those movies, like Reality Bites, which revels in its writers nostalgic glee and tries to force it down our throats. So how do you get to be a Steve?

1. Eliminate your desires. Very Buddhist. In other words, don’t be a horndog; duh.
2. Be excellent in their presence (and not like Bill & Ted). Show off effortlessly in some manner. Dex shows how good he is with kids, mostly.
3. Withdraw. Play hard to get.

#3 is further illustrated by the mantra that men & women both want sex, but gals want it 15 minutes after men, so “if you hold out for 20 she’ll be chasing you for 5.”

The closest thing resembling another character is Syd, who has been with Dex but he doesn’t remember it, being a stoner and all. He gets blindsided by her, probably because she’s from his past before he came up with his philosophy. He loses his cool around her. She begins unraveling the weakness behind his conquest mentality, the Casanova archetype. Every narcissist is hiding a core of self-loathing, and as the film succinctly puts it: “Don Juan slept with 1,000 women because he was afraid of being unloved by one.”

The revelations come on a very funny camping trip where Dex destroys his tent in a flailing attempt to kill a spider, and has to share tents with Syd, who warns him that if any part of him touches her, she has a knife. By the end of their trip, he’s lost his cool and finds that he doesn’t need the Tao to get with Syd, once she starts seeing the real him beneath the Steve. Being a rom-com, they have to have a break-up of sorts when dumbass Dave blurts out Dex’s seductive schemes, but you know they’ll get back together. The story handles this well, without being too cute.

The episodic romance is the weak point in between amusing bits where Logue builds the Dex character, based on co-writer Duncan North, a fat kindergarten teacher who banged a few of Jenniphr (spell your name right, for fuck’s sake) Goodman’s pals and related his game plan to her. Dex owes a lot to The Big Lebowski, another stoner slacker who liked to live in a bathrobe and would probably feed a dog whipped cream out of the spray can, too. There’s a lot of clever dialogue that doesn’t seem unnatural, and keeps a mild comedic energy throughout the film, but the movie is carried by this Falstaffian fatboy stoner character, spouting Taoist epiphanies and teaching young children to play poker.
As far as rom-coms go, it’s above average and has more to interest guys than most films of the genre, but it’s horribly dated by trying to jumpstart ’70s nostalgia, and has the same ’90s slacker feel of forgettable films like Reality Bites. After a little research, I found that the idea for the film came in the mid-90s and they began writing it in 1996, so that’s why it feels like a ’90s film. I think the only film of this type that is still watchable is Swingers, because while it does play into the short-lived swing dancing revival of the ’90s, its cultural references are less obnoxious and are done on a filmmaking level, as the director mimics the characters favorite film scenes instead of just throwing stuff on the soundtrack. The Tao of Steve is decent rom-com fare and like The Baxter, About a Boy and the ultimate male-oriented romantic comedy The Apartment, a guy can watch it with his girlfriend without wanting to claw his eyes out.

Pineapple Express

What if Terence Malick decided to make a stoner action comedy? Well, that didn’t happen. But David Gordon Green, a director heavily influenced by him, who made the excellent and acclaimed George Washington, has done so. Under the auspices of producer Judd Apatow, the film still has the frenetic buddy comedy framework of The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but has the unique look of David Gordon Green’s movies, and the loving setting of depressed urban backdrops behind the hilarious character-based comedy dealt out by Seth Rogan, James Franco, and Danny McBride.

The plot is simple- Seth Rogan plays Dale, a process server who’s also a hardcore pothead, who drives around down serving subpoenas and toking all day (And thankfully, this Judd Apatow movie has subpoenas and no gratuitous “poenas”). After he picks up some new Hawaiian weed from his dealer Saul, he goes to serve a subpoena on someone and sees a murder, and ends up running from the killers for the rest of the movie. It’s that simple. Of course he heads back to Saul’s place to hide and the buddy movie begins, with Rogan playing a slightly more jumpy version of his usual film persona and James Franco giving the best slurring stoner with hilarious epiphanies since Brad Pitt sat on the couch with a honey bear bong in True Romance. He manages to craft a character I hadn’t seen him play before, but I’m told is not a far cry from work he did with Rogan in “Freaks & Geeks.” They have great chemistry together and that is what makes the film- against the backdrop of cinematographer Tim Orr’s visuals- rise above the pack.


The rest of the cast include familiar faces like the creepy guy and the violent guy from the party in Superbad, the doorman from Knocked Up, and Danny McBride in one of his funniest roles as a middleman dealer named Red. McBride has been in both Apatow flicks (Drillbit Taylor) and David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls), and his own film which didn’t get great distribution, The Foot Fist Way (it comes to DVD at the end of September). Plus we have Lumberg from Office Space as the bad guy, Rosie Perez as a crooked cop, and Ed Begley Jr. in his best role in years as Dale’s girlfriend’s Dad.

Drug movies can be hit or miss; while Saul and Dale are high out of their minds for much of the film, their bumbling stupidity while sober keeps the comic energy flowing. The infamous car chase, definitely funnier than Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny‘s, rivals those of the Arkin-Falk classic The In-laws. Once again, Seth Rogan crafts a hilarious screenplay that feels like a late-’70s/early ’80s romp updated. The third act, which follows the buddy cop formula so closely that it reminded me of the first Lethal Weapon, and definitely knows it- there’s a shot where someone gets caught in a ju-jitsu triangle choke just like how Riggs kills the torturer.
Pineapple Express keeps the humor full on even as people get shot left and right while dodging through hydroponic pot gardens, and never gets serious even when we think it will. I enjoyed that more than the typical comedy script that turns dramatic to pull heartstrings; we have emotion invested in Dale, Red and Saul by the end of the movie and we don’t need a tearful interlude to force it. Rogan’s script and Green’s direction are smart enough to know this and veer away from formula in this regard. For a film geek, it was great seeing Green’s Malick-esque shots of the boys cavorting in the woods, or seeing iconic neighborhood people in the corners as they talk on grimy payphones. I didn’t think it was as funny as Superbad or as thrilling as Lethal Weapon, but it was engaging as hell to see the stoner buddy comedy get tossed with the buddy action film plot in a way we haven’t seen since the Cheech & Chong movies, and done so much better.

3.5 tokes out of 4, and don’t Bogart it, dude.

Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay

It’s nice to see that stoner movies have made a comeback. If you watch a Cheech & Chong movie with people who didn’t grow up in the 70’s, it’s impossible to explain why they were allowed to make so many damn movies. The answer is simple: marijuana.

I didn’t even know what marijuana was the first time I saw Cheech & Chong, which was on HBO when I was 8 or something. But they were still funny. And the same thing goes for the new doobie duo, Harold & Kumar. Their first movie, about a munchies-fueled trip to White Castle that turns into a harrowing adventure, was a surprise hit on DVD. It’s completely idiotic, but I suggest you rent it. Harold & Kumar aren’t just stoner types. Like their forebears, they are likeable and recognizable characters that play off racial stereotypes, but are unique and real people.

That’s what makes the comedy work; that and a crazed sense of the absurd where Doogie Howser can show up anywhere, and you can ride a cheetah in the Pine Barrens. The movie begins right where the first one left off- they’ve had their sack of sliders, dealt with their parents, and now it’s another day. They want to go to Amsterdam to chase the love of Harold’s life, the girl he sees in the elevator.

Before they get on the plane, they meet Kumar’s ex-girlfriend, who’s engaged to an uptight politician-in-training, and the stoner feels a twinge of regret at their break-up. All’s forgotten as they get on the plane. Through a bizarre set of circumstances Kumar gets mistaken for a terrorist, in one of the funniest sequences of the movie, and they are shipped off to Guantanamo to be served cockmeat sandwiches.

From there they stumble from one adventure to the next, like the first film. A bottomless party in Miami gives us a solid 5 minutes of Brazilian-cut bush, which a great bonus now that the Gratuitous Boob has become an endangered species, replaced by Judd Apatow’s desire to put a Superfluous Schlong in all his comedies. I don’t begrudge the ladies their unwarranted wangs, but there’s been a Boobie Drought since the 80’s that needs quenching. H&K give us a plethora of punani in this film to make up for it.

They stumble through backwoods trailers and KKK rallies, and of course run into their hero Neil Patrick Harris again, who is funnier than ever. The weakest point is when they meet Dubya, who is played by a bad impersonator. It’s still funny and eventually you don’t care how bad his make-up is.

The movie follows the same formula as the first, giving us bizarre comedy followed by a sentimental ending that is true to the characters. If you like the first film, you won’t be disappointed here. It doesn’t top it, but it’s enjoyable in the same manner as its predecessor. It’s probably a lot funnier … on weed but it’s still great sober, or after a Sam Adams Summer Ale or two.

This… is… Serious!

We could make you delirious
You should have a healthy fear of us
Too much of us is dangerous!

We’re not candy!
Even though we look so fine and dandy,
When you’re sick we come in handy,
But! We’re not candy!
Ohhhhhh no!

When I Was Your Age, We didn’t have no Anti-Drugs. This was long before your brain on drugs was sunny side up with a side of bacon, and even before Nancy told us to just say No. They didn’t even bother trying to keep us away from illegal drugs! They knew we’d be making supercollider megabongs in metal shop as soon as we hit high school, so they didn’t even bother. Go ahead and play with your parents’ funny-smelling pipe and the oregano hidden in the water clock, just stay away from the colorful little pills. They’re not a natural high. I think that silly commercial even made us more interested in finding Grandma’s magical talking pills.

That commercial even got referenced in a Busta Rhymes song.

The 70’s and early 80’s were a magical time. Sex was like a video game; if like Pac-Man, you got hit by one of the four ghosts of VD, the Clap, Space Herpes, or the Syph, you put in another quarter and got a shot at the doctor’s, to start a new game. Then in 1985 the CIA invented AIDS and ruined it for all of us. Those were the days.