Monthly Archives: February 2012

Tuned In, Mashed Out: Halloween Rave of ’98

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 The following is an excerpt from my e-book on Toronto’s rave scene. More excerpts can be found in the December and January archives on this blog. Like what you’ve read? Remember to click on the Facebook “Like” button at the bottom of this post 🙂

TUNED IN, MASHED OUT: Confessions of a Rave Junkie

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved.

Griff & co. rolled out in a raucous spliff smoking, candy chomping convoy of 3 automobiles. We touched down at the Automotive Building shortly after 9:30 p.m. The line-up was already starting to get hectic, but we got in after a 10 minute wait which was pretty damn good considering there must have been at least 300 people waiting outside. The AB’s interior was divided into 2 ENORMOUS rooms crowned with ridiculously high ceilings. Hard house boomed away in 1 while drum & bass rumbled in the other. The sheer magnitude of the space resulted in audio overlap which was kind of annoying. In its entirety, the AB was roughly the size of a few football fields put together. Holy shit….Dose & Syrous really outdid themselves this time! And it was still early, judging from all the empty space we had to explore. Already, there were a few hundred ravers milling around inside. Our posse consisted of Da Underground Crew: Griff, Tonya, Blaine, Christine, Renée, Chris, Tara, Jake, Ryan & myself. Reese, Anna, Deb, Pete, Tippa & his girlfriend evened out the score. And of course, we all had friends & others we expected to meet, rolling with their individual crews. We screamed and hi-5’ed each other for having made it inside & some1 took group shots with a camera. Next, we picked a sweet spot in the house room at a perfect distance from the speakers. This was our designated chill-out / meeting place for the night. Griff, Jake & Ryan gleefully inflated their bubble chairs with an air pump. WIKKED!!! Oh my God…I could hardly fucking wait!!! Multi-colored lasers were going full tilt & funky visuals played out on giant screens. Us girls started dancing & chatting, chilling out for the time being cuz we had a long fucking night ahead of us. I checked out T.R.I.P. & scored a couple of condoms. There was a bar available (not that we were gonna be drinking since we’d be dosing) & a coat-check which Tippa & his girl decided to use. Can you imagine the line-up for jackets at the end of the night? They’re out of their fucking minds. The rest of the gang stashed our coats into garbage bags (which we marked with fluorescent tape) & knapsacks. 

            After the chairs were inflated, I plopped down next to Jake. It was a pretty tight squeeze but it was alright. Besides, Jake’s kind of cute too in his cyber gear complete with loose fitting shirt & tie, colorful beads & polychromatic hair. He’s half Filipino, half Italian. We shared a bag of jellybeans while speculating how great this party was going to be. “Hey, I really like your costume,” he mused as he touched the knobs of my antennae. A formidable charge was already building in the atmosphere. My skin was tingling & I hadn’t even dosed yet! Across the way, Griff was chatting with 1 of his friends. He was dressed in a super colorful, kaleidoscopic looking outfit. His bells were completely covered in stuffed animals & plush toys, while glo necklaces illuminated his fluorescent orange & purple psychedelic tee surmounted by loops of multi-colored beads. A luminescent rod glowed inside of his mouth while he spoke and that spiked, green hair added a couple of inches to his 6′ 4″ frame to make him look even taller & freakier but in a good way. Way to go Griff! Blaine & Christine shared another chair as they rocked back & forth as if riding a wave. I swear if they popped that fucking chair I was gonna burst out laughing. What a night this was going to be…

            By 1:30, the place was absolutely rammed. You could not see the floor for the trees, Freakin’ in full swing if you please. Thousands upon thousands of ravers of every possible shape, size & description were hyping shit up like I’d never seen before. Every1 was reprazenting: from candys to cybers, gravers to gays, ginos, trannies, originals & of course, costume freaks. I’d already dosed a Superman & was waiting for it to kick in, hopefully soon. Tonya, Jake, Christine & I decided to take a walk, hoping to find Joi & the dance crew. It was so fucking loud that we had to scream to make ourselves heard above the ruckus. We waded through an ocean of optical mindbuggery as ravers tripped one another out in crazy, colorful costumes. Vamps, witches, werewolves, fairies, comic book heroes, cartoon characters, manga maniacs & freakazoids decorated in fluorescent tubes & glo-stix were in order. A girl wearing a bodysuit covered in candy rings giggled as a guy proceeded to munch some off her chest. Nice…. Meanwhile, I kept my eyes peeled for Shastri & any1 from his crew but to no avail. If I spotted them in the midst of all this madness it would be a major stroke of luck. Carlos was supposed to be here with his friends as well. Soon we were caught in a traffic jam halfway between the house & the jungle room, right where the sound was bleeding. It was a muddy jumble of scrambled beats which proved highly disconcerting to my increasingly heightened senses. Not to mention, steaming HOT. It was pure hell as we waited for our compacted bodies to get going. Christine was so lucky she had 1 of those little toy fans. My wig began to feel horribly scratchy & it was all I could do to prevent myself from ripping it right the fuck off. Christine, all dolled up as Snow White, suddenly decided she was a real princess after all & shoved the dinosaur dude standing idly in front of me. “What the fuck are you waiting for Barney, GET MOVING!” she snapped. Barney took 1 look at this snarling, Asian Snow White & decided it was best to follow orders. Tonya & I cracked up as we instantly progressed forward. It always helps to have at least 1 pushy person in your crew, especially at a megarave. 

            As we got closer to the jungle room, I started rushing really, really hard. Holy shit…Eric wasn’t joking – this stuff was strong. My heart raced like mad as my body tingled all over & I began to feel tremendously pukey. I hoped to God that I wasn’t gonna hurl right here, right now, in the middle of a fucking crowd. And if so, Barney would be the 1st to get it. I swallowed desperately as I struggled to keep my upchuck down. A pair of Jedi warriors engaged in mock combat brandished their swords ahead of me. I was seriously tripping out on their light sabres as they wiggled before my eyes. An ecstatic fever swept over me as I broke out in a sweat. Penetrating basslines from that monstrosity of a sound system were beating in sync with my heart. Doof doof doof doof…. My entire being pulsated in time to the music. Even my gums were vibrating. Suddenly I became distinctly aware of this amazing, uptempo house track with a bouncy groove & wobbly sub-low resonating through the atmosphere, tripping me out even further as I heard this vocal loop cresting above acid horns like a happy surfer :

            “When you feel that rhythm, moving thru your system… feel that rhythm, moving thru your system…”

                        Apparently other ravers thought it was amazing too judging from the massive screaming, head bopping, whistle blowing session which ensued. I turned around & said, “Guys, I’m fucking rushing!” I put my arms around Christine & Tonya who were behind me. Jake joined in for a group hug as we danced on the spot. I heard him singing along as the happy feeling spread like wildfire through the crowd. Even Christine got caught up in contact high delirium as she screamed with excitement.

Tuned In, Mashed Out – On Sale Now for only $0.99 on Amazon! (£0.75 for the UK massive).

To take advantage of this limited time offer, visit:

http://amazon.com/author/frankiediamond

*Check out the original Freakin 98 Flyer in the Vintage Rave Flyer Gallery under November archives*

PLUR >>>>> Frankenräver

Rave Reviews: Fabric London

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 Located at 77A Charterhouse Street in Farringdon, Fabric is a force to be reckoned with. After all, how many clubs do you know of that boasts a 24 hour drinking license? Things can get mighty hectic on a Friday night, especially when super heavyweights such as DJ Hype, LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad, Goldie, Fabio and Pascal hold court over hundreds of screaming ravers at weekly soundclashes. Techno -house rules the roost on Saturdays where special guests like Adam Beyer, Mark Farina, Magda and more preside over the decks. Saturdays can be good; however, it can sometimes be hit and miss with an occasionally mediocre lineup and sparse crowds. Quite frankly, Stacey Pullen and Brendon Moeller were the only ones that prevented me from abandoning ship prematurely during my last techno night in August of 2011.

Mayhem at Fabric in Room 1

 Fabric is renowned for its stellar roster of international talent, featuring a mixture of well established acts and blossoming newcomers. Craig Richards as resident DJ and program director ensures the lineup remains fresh while staying true to its classic roots, alongside fellow resident Terry Francis. Founded by Keith Reilly and Cameron Leslie in 1999, the club has somehow managed to survive the  recession – thank heavens! During my time in London, this erstwhile edifice was a mecca of sorts for lovers of underground music. Fabric was the name on virtually every clubber’s lips, spoken with a kind of whispered reverence. People’s eyes literally glazed over when they mentioned the F-word, as if slipping into some kind of euphoric trance. Free entry wristbands were frequently distributed outside of 93 Feet East on a Sunday night for the lucky souls who didn’t have to work Monday morning. Of course, I wanted to know what the fuss was about so I ventured down one Friday night to find out. 

Ever the resourceful clubber, I bought my ticket online to avoid getting stuck in the queue. Actually, my ex-boyfriend was generous enough to buy it for me! Cost: £19.50. I must admit I was impressed by the pristine layout of Fabric’s website. They’ve got student discount rates, a fabricfirst membership option with tempting perks such as free mix cd’s and line bypass privileges. A monthly calendar of events proudly displays all the luminaries in attendance so pilgrims can plan their next outing in advance. Already, an impression had been made: Fabric was geared towards providing the ultimate party experience by engaging their audience on multiple levels through their website. I believe that’s called clever marketing.

I arrived just before midnight. Other peeps planned to get down there around 4 am for the half price special, but I wasn’t having that. No sirree Bob, I wanted the whole shebang from the get-go! With printed voucher in hand, I was waved through the advance ticket line faster than floral bacteria in a sheep’s digestive tract. Once inside, I was cordially greeted by a female bouncer. She proceeded to check my purse and frisk me silly. A guy bouncer struck up a friendly conversation (well, flirty was more like it) and advised me to have a good time. Have a good time. Did I hear right? Bouncers that actually smile and say “Good night?” Every last one of them! I didn’t know what kind of alternate universe I’d fallen into, but I was definitely feeling this. The coatcheck was located up a winding staircase to my left. I braced myself for what I thought would be extortionary rates (£5 at least) at this first rate venue, but was amazed to discover it was only a measly £1. I experienced immense gratitude for the respect management showed towards patrons by not insulting our intelligence with jacked up coatcheck fees – unlike many other clubs.

The highly organized security team kept traffic flowing smoothly by directing everyone downstairs as soon

Fabric holds a 24 hr. drinking license…rahtid!

as we’d finished up with the coatcheck and digital ticket scans. It was obvious Fabric ran a tight ship. Blagging odds: 1 in 10,000. Damn….anyways, I ventured into the cavernous depths of this nocturnal beast to Room 1 or should I say, Portal 1 where Hype was mashing tings up large. After all these years, Da Big Dog was still on top of his game, sending the next generation of 20 something junglists off their heads. Room 1 was a hot, steaming jungle of pure mayhem. Heat was damn nigh unbearable but  shit was insane up in here! Frankenräver was forced to strip down to her bikini top (yes, I came prepared). A virtual moshpit had metastasized on the dance floor, with ravers gleefully pushing against one another. The floor was so wet that people slipped and fell down – if there was enough room to fall. Room 1 was jampacked to the nines. Despite the absence of ol skool whistlecrews, this screaming crowd of euroravers compensated for it with sheer enthusiasm. What I found especially fascinating was the semi-ravey atmosphere of what many would consider a commercial club. There was more than a smidgen of underground flavour here that harked back to the good ol daze of yore; hi-5’s, non-intrusive security, random conversations and guys decent enough to buy you a drink – and drinks at Fabric ain’t cheap either. I must admit I had not encountered this kind of friendly social vibe at a club anywhere in a long time… 

Upstairs afforded a different perspective on the action where one could look down at the dancefloor and trip out on vortex style lasers. At the back of Room 1 was a stage facing the DJ booth on the opposite end. It was occupied by mostly shirtless, sweaty guys who decided to brave the sweltering heat and strut their stuff. More power to them. I only lasted about 3 minutes before I had to come down – or risk passing out from the intensity.

Room 3 was a tiny antechamber with not much in the way of excitement going on as a lesser known DJ was spinning here. It’s easy to lose your sense of direction in this place – Fabric is fucking huge (for a nightclub that is) with a capacity of 1800. Even the toilets are a trip; unisex, clean, and well attended by security. The communal handwashing fountain provided interesting opportunities to bond with fellow ravers. And bond I must for I’d received a text from my friend saying the line-up was thick outside and he couldn’t get in. Oh well… Pascal, Zinc and Fabio rounded things off beautifully, dropping dirty ol skool gems in da mix. Fabric has state of the art soundsystems installed in each room, including the bodysonic vibrating dancefloor in Room 1. Honestly, I didn’t notice any vibration in the midst of all the ruckus going on in there, but I thought it’s worth mentioning anyway. 

Nevermind the bodysonics; there was one man that I had journeyed here especially to see. A drum and bass maverick that I had somehow managed to miss during the 90’s and I simply could not live with myself until I had seen him in action. At 5 am, this phenomenal High Priest took to the stage after Hype, Fabio and others paid their respects to the legendary master with honorary 5 minute guest spots. What can I say? It was absolute heaven as LTJ Bukem ripped shit up tremendously on the decks with flawless mixing, augmented by skillfully woven melodies on the verge of transcendence. Ravers screamed their heads off and demanded more, more, MORE! Danny Williamson continued to dish it out, track after track after track, killing us all with fantastically resonant sub-lows. The energy flowed pure and true from his superbly gifted hands. Bukem was cool as a cucumber, smiling beatifically while MC Conrad played off rhythms with the confident skill of a seasoned veteran.

“It’s like a dream come true!” gushed an Italian raver who’d befriended me. He came especially to see Bukem too. “What’s he doing in Room 2? LTJ Bukem is a star – he should be in Room 1,” the Italian opined. I had to agree, though LTJ seemed right at home in his present location. It seemed as if nothing could faze this dude. He was totally in his element. Supreme confidence is naturally alluring, so I went to the front of the stage to get a gander. LTJ looked so handsome in his trademark tinted visor, charming smile and flat cap. Heck, even his arms were buffed! Bukem exuded a gentle, charismatic vibe all his own. I felt blessed for having such ravishing eye candy in addition to the spectacular aural stimulation I was receiving. Bonus! Damn it Danny, I think I’m in love! 

The Celestial Boomfest ended around 8 am when we shuffled out into a gorgeous Saturday morning. From the moment I entered Fabric, I did not sit down. The music was far too brilliant to waste precious time that could be spent transcending the boundaries of material existence. I was completely energized and bouncing off the walls on nothing but pure energy. Upon arriving home, I raved to my flatmates about how wondrous the night was and how they missed out. At 9 am, I was still trying to settle down so I could get some sleep. With its relaxed, übercool atmosphere, Fabric is a haven for the Spirit of Rave in a post 90’s party world and an absolute must for any raver visiting London. It is more than just another concept club – it’s an experience.

 Check out Fabric’s jaw dropping roster here: www.fabriclondon.com

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Frankenräver’s Farewell Party with Donald Glaude and Jelo

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Swedish Techno Chef Adam Beyer

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Are you in the mood for something meaty? Well look no further. Here’s a hard, banging techno smorgasbord served up in style by chef extraordinaire Adam Beyer. Originating from Sweden, Adam played drums in his teens before discovering the joy of vinyl in the mid 90’s. He’s also a producer, owns a slew of labels including Drumcode Records and Madeye Recordings, toured around the world and performed alongside Jeff Mills. Beyer recently breezed through Toronto with Ida Engberg on February 4th at Footworks.  Mmmm….I do like me some Swedish meatballs. Smaklig måltid!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Comfort Zone 1998

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Comfort Zone's Flyer Wall

Well well…judging from the number of hits my review on The Comfort Zone has been getting, many of you just can’t seem to get enough of that infernal den of iniquity. Yes, it’s a sleazy little dive but let’s face it – CZ is one of a kind and has definitely earned its place as an afterhours legend.

As a special treat for all you CZ lovers out there, I’ve included an excerpt from my e-book, ‘Tuned In Mashed Out,” where adventure raver G-Fly, heads down to The Comfort Zone with her compadres after a rambunctious house party. It’s 1998, Toronto’s rave scene is kicking up a storm and CZ is still reasonably priced at around $7, long before the era of extortionary cover charges kicked in….

TUNED IN, MASHED OUT: Confessions of a Rave Junkie

by Frankie Diamond

Carlos interrupted my Planet Synth excursion to say goodbye. I gave him a hug & promised to call him later. I was still wired. There’s no way I could go home now. About a dozen people were left, dancing in the living room. I needed to find Griff & those guys so I went to the kitchen. Beercans & bottles were scattered everywhere. An E’d out couple sat at the kitchen table with their arms around each other. I asked them if they’d seen Griff & they said no. I checked the backyard. No-1 there either so I went to the basement where I found Griff, T-Rex, Karen, Tippa & others chilling out, playing video games. Reese sparked an L & waxed poetic on how great the night was. And it was far from over. There was talk of going to the afterparty at Comfort Zone. Apparently DJ Sneak was supposed to be spinning. Turned out every1 down here was too fucked up to go home, courtesy of Craven’s fruit punch. Griffin was the only 1 who hadn’t tried it, but he’d dropped an E & was rushing large. I asked Griff how he ended up being friends with someone like Craven & he smiled mysteriously. “Craven’s not your average gino,” he said. “We go back a long way.” Turned out Griff & Craven’s dad had known each other for years through business ties. Griff’s dad owned a Greek restaurant & happened to be good friends with Craven’s dad who ran an autoshop. Craven got his nickname cuz he craved drugs so damn much it was a wonder he hadn’t keeled over yet. “I keep telling him to slow down but he won’t listen,” he said. “One day he’s gonna find out the hard way.”

Griff finally pulled the plug around 4. The sparse group of hard core ravers remaining clapped & showed their appreciation b4 bouncing. Griffin’s long departed guests showed theirs by leaving a huge mess behind. Empty beercans, bottles, roaches, chips & glo-stix littered the floor. Griff didn’t seem to mind. “I’ll deal with that later,” he said as we drove to the afterparty, blazing up on the way down. Eight of us made it down to Comfort Zone, which was strangely comforting in all its grimy glory. The perfect haven for those who couldn’t go home….or didn’t want to. CZ won’t judge you. I could still see my name etched into the peeling, plastic upholstery of the couch where I’d inked it on in a drunken stupor last summer. Welcome back Gemma! Some unknown guy was spinning progressive. Where the hell was Sneak? At least 50 people were here, with more to come. Still early. Griff brought Tonya & I bottled water & we proceeded to dance. Sneak finally snuck on & threw down some deep house. Which was fine but I would’ve preferred something harder. It was getting busier & a tad hot so I went out for a smoke with the fellas. Moments later, I was rushing like a frigging express train. The weed brought me right back up. Fuccckkk…my eyes were rolling like mad so I donned my shades & zoned right the fuck out. Black light action was going on up in here too. I could see my fucking teeth glowing fluorescent green in the mirrors. God I looked like a freak – but so did every1 in here. We’re all freaks to be here in the 1st place at 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning, when decent God fearing folk were either still in their beds or getting ready for church. We were in The House of Ecstasy, which is as close as we’ll come to God (for now anyway). Plus I saw a good number of people from Griff’s house party down here too.

I got my wish when another DJ took over & dropped some hard fucking house. YEAH!!! THAT’s what I’m talking bout! Holy…now the party’s getting started. Griff, T-Rex, myself & every1 else are all stepping like mad. I’ve stripped down to my tank-top, with my sweater tied around my waist. Man, this is the shit! Steve Venom on the decks. Bite me! Later I dropped half an E, blissed right out & finally sat down what seemed like half a lifetime later. Reese had passed out on the couch. He was not alone. About a dozen whacked out ravers were crashed out right beside him. I planned on joining the slumber party soon so I sipped some water & just nodded to the beat which gently vibrated my bottom. Some dodgy looking guy asked me for water. He looked like he might have some kind of disease, so I asked him not to touch the rim with his lips. He looked offended but I didn’t give a fuck. Guy must’ve been really thirsty or really broke cuz after giving me a weird look, he took the bottle grudgingly while following my instructions. Afterwards, I made sure to put it into my pouch for safekeeping.

Next thing I know, T-Rex is shaking me. “G-Fly, let’s go.” It’s after 3 in the afternoon. Can’t complain. We said our goodbyes to some of Griff’s friends who decided to stay, & went out for breakfast. I finally got home around 6. Thankfully mom wasn’t there. She’d have something to say for sure. She really has no clue what I’m up to these daze. Whenever I go to raves, I just tell her that I’m going to an all night party & I won’t be back ’til the next day so she’s kind of used to it now, though she kicks up a fuss every now & then. 

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 Like what you’ve read? Check out more excerpts from Tuned In, Mashed Out under the December and January archives!
 
 Tuned In, Mashed Out – available now on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/frankiediamond
 

The Shulgins:Psychoactive Pioneers

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The Shulgins and their Alchemical Angels by Alex Grey

For Valentine’s Day, I decided to focus on something far more substantial than chocolate covered marshmallow hearts and cheap thongs that lodge themselves in my asscrack, courtesy of an overenthusiastic lover with an embroidered lace fixation. Let’s talk about love shall we? In my opinion, Sasha and Ann Shulgin are one of the finest examples of this underrated adjective, considering that they’ve been together for over 30 years. While the majority of marriages in the Western world continue to implode at an alarming rate, the Shulgins’ have withstood the test of time. Is there a valuable lesson we can learn from these psychedelic sweethearts? Perhaps they are onto something that most of us remain clueless about…

Let’s take a closer look at these Venerable Valentines and their labour of love for psychoactives that has brought them together, and, one might add, kept them together through many years of ups and downs.

Alexander Shulgin (or Sasha as he is affectionately known) is an American pharmacologist and author of Russian descent. This champion of subversive psychoactivism is popularly referred to as the “Godfather of MDMA.”  Born June 17th 1925, he is credited with re-synthesizing the drug after a lengthy period of obscurity since its initial discovery in 1912.  Though he never intended for MDMA to become a party drug, he has accepted its popularity from a social standpoint, and even attended a rave once. Sasha’s love affair with psychedelics began when he tried mescaline for the first time. It blew his mind. The experience triggered a lifelong exploration and categorization of mind altering substances that would come to define his legacy:

 “I first explored mescaline in the late ’50s. “Three-hundred-fifty to 400 milligrams. I learned there was a great deal inside me.” – L.A. Times 1995

After earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1955, Shulgin went to work at Dow Chemical Company as a senior research chemist.  With the successful development of Zectran, the first biodegradable (and highly profitable) pesticide, Shulgin was granted carte blanche by the company and his own lab – wonderful assets for any aspiring chemist. Dow hoped that their brilliant apothecarist would continue to create compounds that would line the pockets of their investors. Instead, Alexander came up with increasing numbers of patents for psychoactives, which was far from what Dow Chemical had originally intended.

Ever the sharpminded tack, Sasha quit while he was ahead, and carried on synthesizing psychedelics in a makeshift lab he’d constructed in a shed behind his house (the nerve!). During the mid 1960’s, Sasha became a private consultant and lectured at local universities and the San Francisco General Hospital.  He even worked with the DEA as an expert on controlled substances, which led to him testifying in court cases for both the prosecution and the defence as an authority on the subject matter. Ironically, the DEA raided his lab in 1994 and fined him $25,000 for violation of his Schedule 1 license, though no illegal substances were ever found in his possession, even during subsequent raids.

What really got the DEA’s panties in a knot was the publication of “PIHKAL: A Love Story” which Sasha co-authored with his wife Ann, in 1991. If you look closely at the tripped out illustration at the beginning of this article, you will see PIHKAL and TIHKAL disguised in the winged eyes above the Shulgins’ heads. PIHKAL is an acronym for Phenythlamines I  Have Known And Loved. A quick perusal through this fantastic tome revealed 179 recipes for synthesizing a variety of psychoactives, including  2C-B, 2C-T-2 and MDMA, plus meticulously detailed accounts of their effects, chemical structures and recommended dosage. Obviously, the DEA was not thrilled by the prospect of a publicly accessible “cookbook on drugs,” though realistically speaking, amateurs would not have access to the kind of equipment required to produce these superduper compounds. TIHKAL (Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved) soon followed suit, which featured tryptamines such as DMT and psilocybin and instructions for cooking up 55 psychedelic recipes, many of which Shulgin had discovered himself. Now why would such a lovely, middle aged couple put themselves at risk from incurring the wrath of Uncle Sam? The Shulgins are motivated not by profit margins, but by a desire to ensure that information about psychoactives remain in the hands of the public. They truly believe in the power of these substances, as tools of self-exploration and a potential salve for the psyche, when used under the right circumstances and within appropriate settings. Which brings us to Sasha’s lifelong partner in psychedelic aviation, Ann Shulgin. 

Born March 22nd 1931, Ann worked as a lay therapist using MDMA and 2C-B to facilitate sessions involving married couples, when these substances were still legal. Ann met Alexander in Berkeley in 1979. Needless to say, these kindred spirits fell deeply in love and married in Sasha’s backyard in 1981. So you could say the Shulgins were into eco-marriage before it became fashionable. Together they came up with “The Shulgin Scale,” a unique rating system for the effects of various psychoactives, which they tested out on themselves and a select group of friends in the 60’s and 70’s. Ann has spoken at numerous conventions, contributed to other publications and has travelled around the globe with her husband as an expert on the use of psychedelics in therapy. She is a staunch supporter of her husband’s work and believes MDMA should never have beeen criminalized:

“MDMA is an insight drug,” she says with a determined passion. “It helps you open doors to yourself. You can see yourself for what you are. You can feel a compassion for who you are.” – Time Out, March 2002

It is evident that these two brave souls were united for a higher purpose; to serve humanity in truth and light, and to encourage a greater awareness of the redemptive qualities of psychoactives, contrary to what the government would have us believe. Such remarkable acts of selflessness have come at a rather high cost. The Shulgins are not sitting on a pile of cash, happily retired, as many would like to believe. They have recently fallen on difficult times. In 2010, Sasha suffered a stroke and subsequently developed an ulcer on his leg, which almost led to amputation. They do not have life insurance, and their small pension cannot cover the medical bills which have piled up as a result. Incredibly, the Shulgins are still alive and very much in love. Their amazing longevity defies the popular belief that doing drugs will send you to an early grave. Collectively speaking, Ann and Sasha have done hundreds of drugs, yet they are still alive. What gives? It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that all drugs are not created equal. Some are good, some are bad. The Shulgins were smart enough to distinguish between the former and the latter, so now they are a living testament to this rather intriguing anomaly. They are shining examples of subversive defiance towards state endorsed mind control propaganda. What the world needs is love – and more psychoactivists like these seasoned Old World Warriors.

Despite ongoing hardships, Ann has stood by Sasha’s side, even as he continues to battle health problems and dementia. At 80 years of age, she is taxed physically and emotionally, yet remains optimistic about life and her husband’s condition. In an open letter that courageously addresses their challenging situation, Ann stated: 

I am still a believer in Sasha, because the essential man is still — dementia or not — the person he always was: loyal and loving and tremendously life-affirming and funny as hell.  He still makes good jokes (and lousy ones), and he loves me the way I always wanted to be loved.  He wasn’t clever about money, but what he did care about was — and still is — chemistry, and the fabulous things you  can discover in the world of molecules, and how deeply satisfying it is to send what you know out to the world in the form of books, and how moving it is to hear from hundreds and hundreds of people in all the countries of the world (except Antarctica) writing to tell you how you saved their lives, or marriages, or sanity.  Sasha was, and is, a truly good man, a nice and kind man, and he deserves the best we can give him at the end of his life.  He has a dark side, but I’ve been able to live with it without any regrets, as he seems to have been able to live with my dark side without more than an occasional shrug.  His I.Q. was equal to Einstein’s, but he’s been a much sweeter person than Einstein ever was.  And, unlike most of the extremely high I.Q. people in this world, Sasha never had the slightest touch of malice or cruelty. He’s been a good man to know and love. 

Now that, to me, is what true love’s all about. Think of it as an equation if you will: 

ANN + ALEXANDER = LOVE PERSONIFIED

* Note: The Shulgins’ remarkable accomplishments are too numerous to be included in this blogpost. I strongly recommend that you do further research  if you are interested. There is a wealth of information on this dynamic duo, including literature, fascinating clips on youtube, and a documentary called “Dirty Pictures.”

Here is a link to a fantastic website devoted entirely to the Shulgins:

http://www.mdma.net/alexander-shulgin/shulgins.html

To find out more about how you can help the Shulgins cover Sasha’s medical expenses visit:

 http://www.shulginresearch.org/home/topics/caringbridge/

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

The Incomparable Miss Honey Dijon

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AFRICAN HISTORY’S DJ OF THE WEEK – MISS HONEY DIJON

 

Honey Dijon

In the predominantly male world of disc jockeys, Miss Honey Dijon is a striking anomaly. During the 90’s rave scene, only a handful of female DJ’s were making the rounds and I most certainly never saw any black women behind the decks. So Miss Dijon is a happy compromise. She is the first black, transgendered DJ I know of that has gained prominence and respect for her abilities on the decks. Rumour has it that she is one of Derrick Carter’s favourites. And that’s no small accomplishment. Arguably, it could be said that as a transgendered artist, Miss Dijon would not have achieved the same degree of success in the commercial arena as she did within rave culture. Which just goes to show how this underground movement embraces diversity of all shades and genders.

So what motivated this flamboyant Chicago native to join dance culture resistance? Great music of course. Classic pioneers of house such as Frankie Knuckles, Mark Farina and Ron Hardy captured Miss Dijon’s discerning ear during her youth. In the 1990’s, she moved to New York where she befriended Danny Tenaglia, who encouraged her to become a DJ and the rest, as they say, is history. Miss Dijon has blazed a scintillating career path across the globe; from spinning at raves to entertaining prominent fashion noteworthies at events hosted by couture giants Hermes, Visionaire and Givenchy. Dijon also spiced things up at legendary venues such as London’s Ministry of Sound and Pacha in Ibiza. Her style can best be described as an eclectic mix of house, electro, tech-house, tribal, funk and disco. She cleverly adapts her set according to the vibe transmitted from her audience. Part psychic intuition, part osmosis, the end result is always the same – fantastic! My fondest memory of  Honey Dijon was when she rocked the I-Dance rally  at Nathan Phillips Square back in 2000. Her set injected a glimmer of hope on a bittersweet night as thousands of ravers united in an attempt to preserve the legitimacy of dance culture in the face of overwhelming political opposition. 

In addition to gigs across Asia and Europe, Honey now has a weekly residency at the Hiro Ballroom in Chelsea’s lower West side. It’s amazing to see this itinerant disc jockette still in action after more than a decade of dance culture. I applaud Miss Dijon – not only for her vinyl popping skills, but for the courage to be herself in a discriminatory world and succeed despite the odds stacked against her. Respect. 

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

 

Did Ecstasy Kill All those People in Calgary – or Not?

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Ever since its categorization as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by the DEA in 1985, Ecstasy has been getting a bum rap in the media. We’ve heard everything, from pills being primed with broken glass to Ecstasy causing holes in the brain, all of which have proven to be categorically false. Despite the fact that cigarettes kill over 37,000 Canadians per year, compared to an average of 10 – 24 Ecstasy related deaths annually (which in itself is highly questionable), it is becoming increasingly clear that certain individuals have a vested interest in creating fear and loathing of MDMA in the general public.

A recent spate of “Ecstasy related deaths” across Canada has got the press in a right tizzy. According to The Huffington Post, there were 16 in Vancouver last year, 7 in Calgary since July of 2011.  The above newsclipping dated January 30th 2012, was taken from The Metro. The headline states: “Ecstasy Overdose Patients Flood ER.” Right away, this creates an unmistakeable impression in the minds of upwardly mobile citizens. But then, the second paragraph reads: “The discovery of another body in a northeast Calgary residence Sunday, raised fears that the total number of deaths linked to a toxic compound known as PMMA could rise. Police believe the compound is being used in place of standard MDMA in ecstasy tablets following a recent crackdown by the RCMP.”

Obviously, there is a glaring discrepancy between what the headline proclaims and the actual substance linked to these deaths. It is clear that these fatalities are linked to para-methoxymethamphetamine (PMMA), not MDMA. According to Calgary Police Services, the latter was said to be present along with PMMA in tissue samples in 5 of the 7 deceased victims. PMMA is apparently less expensive to produce and mimics some of MDMA’s effects. However, it can be lethal as it raises body temperature and disrupts serotonin metabolism in the brain, potentially causing brain and organ damage which could lead to death. As explained by Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer for British Colombia in The Huffington Post:

Because it (PMMA) takes effect more slowly than ecstasy’s usual ingredient, called MDMA, users may take more to achieve its hallucinogenic properties. “They think it’s not happening, the onset is also rather mild to start with, so they start taking more pills because they think that they got lower doses and they end up with more significant overdoses,” he told reporters.”That’s a possible explanation for some of the deaths we’ve seen here or in Calgary.”

So you see, something about these so called “Ecstasy deaths” does not add up. First of all, it is extremely unusual for Ecstasy to cause such a high number of casualties within such a short space of time (seven in Calgary within the last six months). It is rather unfortunate that reporter Jeremy Nolais, has opted for sensationalistic journalism. After all, “Ecstasy Overdose” is  more of an eye-grabber than “Ecstasy Tainted with PMMA Linked to Deaths” isn’t it? If Nolais took the time to dig a little deeper, he would have discovered that most Ecstasy related deaths are not due to overdosing, but are linked to circumstances which arise as a result of its physiological effects (heat stroke being a prime example) and users’ reactions to those effects (water intoxication as in the case of British raver, Leah Betts). When Ecstasy is combined with other substances like Dextromethorphan (an active ingredient in cough medicine), diet pills, and amphetamines, the outcome can be fatal. Here’s what Nicholas Saunders, author of “E for Ecstasy” had to say about it:

“In the USA, an examination of the deaths of five people who had taken Ecstasy showed that other potentially lethal medical factors played a major part. Although MDMA was found in the victims’ blood when they died and may have contributed to their death in some unknown or indirect way, in four cases there was an explanation for their death which was not related to taking MDMA. The fifth death may also have been due to other causes.”

Ecstasy is once again taking the blame for failed drug war policies and unscrupulous dealers, who no doubt thought that they could get away with using a cheap substitute for MDMA. What makes this situation all the more tragic is that these deaths most likely could have been avoided if Ecstasy was regulated in the first place. By making it illegal, the government is actually creating a dangerous situation by pushing Ecstasy underground, thus leaving consumers at the mercy of whatever concoction black market chemists have decided to come up with. Another deadly compound, piperazine, which causes fatigue, breathing difficulties and seizures, has been cropping up in pills across Europe. Consequently, more users are turning to MDMA powder and crystals (which are more expensive), and avoiding pills like the plague. Sadly, Ecstasy is not what it used to be 12 – 25 years ago. Chances are you might die before you get high if you pop one of those bastardized replicants nowadays.

So what’s to be done about it? The fact of the matter is people are going to take Ecstasy whether Big Brother likes it or not AND they will continue to do so. A few random deaths will do little to discourage the insatiably curious. Psychoactive experimentation is a rite of passage for millions of people across the globe. It’s high time that governments STOP WASTING taxpayers money on “fighting” a nonsensical drug war – money that would be better spent on providing affordable housing, jobs, and decent pension plans – stuff that matters in the real world . Consumers will always find a way around ridiculous anti-drug policies, which could lead to their demise in some unfortunate circumstances – like the ones involving PMMA. Reports compiled by noteworthies such as Sasha and Ann Shulgin, Leo Zeff and Philip Wolfson, prove that MDMA possesses remarkable therapeutic properties as evidenced by the aforementioned personalities, who have taken the drug and studied its effects in psychotherapy over several years. Ecstasy is much more than a mere party drug. If used correctly, it can be a gateway to profound self-discovery and a greater awareness of one’s connection with the universe. It is the effervescent enemy of an autocratic system ultimately doomed to failure. And that, dear reader, is the real reason why Ecstasy will remain illegal for many years to come.

Note: I welcome  your thoughts and comments on this important topic. Keep your comments concise and to the point. Let’s get a debate going!

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.

Frankenräver’s Book “Tuned In, Mashed Out” has Arrived!

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It’s official! “Tuned In, Mashed Out: Confessions of a Rave Junkie” by Frankie Diamond is available for sale on Amazon. Mark my words: this book will have people talking. Love, sex, drugs, electronica – this stuff ain’t boring! It’s high time Toronto’s rave scene gets the recognition it deserves 🙂 We had a wicked crazy AMAZING movement that should be celebrated for what it was; an epoch in dance culture history that can never be repeated. The 90’s was a special time for us indeed. Who knows what the Future of Rave might hold….but for now, a nostalgic joyride thru tha good ol’ daze should do ya…

“Tuned In, Mashed Out” chronicles the hilarious shenanigans of self-professed rave junkie, Gemma “G-Fly” Anderson. Set in 1998 during the height of Toronto’s burgeoning rave scene, G-Fly is encouraged by her gorgeous supermodel friend, Katrina, to keep a journal for forty nine days as an exercise in artistic liberation. What follows is a mind-blowing excursion into underground youth culture, where Ecstasy reigns supreme and the Dj is GOD. 

While her long term relationship with Delroy teeters on the edge of collapse, 23 year old Gemma finds herself falling for charismatic 19 year old raver, Shastri. Can she withstand temptation and discover her true identity in the midst of all the madness? Brilliant, best-selling author Frankie Diamond, takes you on a fantastic roller coaster ride into Gemma’s angst filled world. Every day’s a headtrip as our plucky protagonist grapples with perplexing dilemmas such as racial identity, recurring nightmares, Ecstasy overload and raging hormones. 

Get ready for a rip-roaring adventure into one of the most colourful, fantastic worlds you will ever encounter. Tuned In, Mashed Out – on sale now at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/author/frankiediamond

To all the bloggers n surfers out there: thanks for your support! I sincerely hope you enjoy Tuned In, Mashed Out. Feel free to leave comments on Amazon and on this blog too. Here’s what some of you have been saying about the book based on the previews:

Like Hubert Selby Jr. and Irvine Welsh all rolled into one.” – Deadstareforlife (Dogs on Acid) 

So these are the homo erotic tales of the Toronto rave scene which can only be told in ebook form? Something makes me think our scene is about to be internationally recognized! LOL.” – Chili Banks (Torontojungle.com)

It’s a glorious day for Canada, and therefore the rest of the world.” – Wayneoway (Dnb forum)

Prepare to be seriously entertained!
Frankenräver 

Another Juicy Excerpt from Frankenraver’s Book, “Tuned In, Mashed Out”

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Tuned In, Mashed Out chronicles the hilarious shenanigans of self-professed rave junkie, Gemma “G-Fly” Anderson. Set in 1998 during the height of Toronto’s burgeoning rave scene, G-Fly is encouraged by her gorgeous supermodel friend, Katrina, to keep a journal for forty nine days as an exercise in artistic liberation. What follows is a mind-blowing excursion into underground youth culture, where Ecstasy reigns supreme and the Dj is GOD. While her long term relationship with Delroy teeters on the edge of collapse, 23 year old Gemma finds herself falling for charismatic 19 year old centrefold, Shastri. Can she withstand temptation and discover her true identity in the midst of all the madness? Brilliant, best-selling author, Frankie Diamond, takes you on a fantastic, roller coaster journey into Gemma’s angst filled world. There’s never a dull moment as our plucky protagonist grapples with vexing dilemmas such as racial identity, recurring nightmares, Ecstasy overload and raging hormones. Get ready for a page turning, thrill addicting experience, guaranteed to leave you in stitches and jonesing for more.  

Tuned In, Mashed Out: Confessions of a Rave Junkie by Frankie Diamond

Sat Oct. 17 – DAY 31 

             Khareem took me to a lounge on Richmond St. where we met up with his homies. He was happy to feed me drinks & I knocked back a coupla shots, plus 4 beers. If it’s 1 thing I love about Khareem is that the brotha’s not cheap when it comes to drinks! The music was kinda boring; commercial RnB mostly, but the DJ played some house, which kind of made up for it. I told him he should try raving sometime. He said it sounded interesting & he might check it out 1 of these days. I don’t remember much about last night apart from dancing on a table & being asked by security to come down, subsequently slipping on a wet patch & falling flat on my ass. All in all, it was a good night. I got home at 4, to be up for work by 7. Woke up with blinding headache, regurgitated stomach contents. Even saw bits of undigested hot-dog floating around in there. Life’s a bitch, ain’t it? Somehow, I managed to get through the Saturday morning frightmare. The customers must have noticed my zoned out zombie expression & decided it was probably best to refrain from asking me dumb ass questions. Might chew your face off for that price tag infraction, lady. Finished work at 3:15, went home, crashed out, only to be awakened by T-Rex calling to say she’ll be picking me up in half an hour. I haven’t even showered yet. Now I gotta get ready for Griff’s party. My outfit’s laid out on the bed. T-shirt, matching beaded necklace, sweater & jeans. I save the expensive gear for when I go to the clubs – like my shiny cargos for example. I would really hate for gum to get all over that. Hope I have time to blaze 1 up b4 I step out. Should be a good night!

Sun Oct. 18 – DAY 32 

            Last night was da bomb! Oh my God, Griff sure knows how to throw a friggin party! When we arrived, Griff & his homies had cleared out the living room to set up turntables & speakers. Crates of records were stacked on the floor. T-Rex, her friend Karen & I, set the chips, dip, & snacks out on the dining table. The fellas proceeded to do a sound-check which consisted of Reese, a Jamaican brotha, rhyming on a mic to some jungle. Carlos sat on the couch with T-Rex & me, bopping his head while rolling a blunt. “Dis here’s some good shit!” he bragged. “We’re just getting warmed up.” This was mykinda scene! I was dying with curiosity about what those boys were doing behind the decks, so I approached them & they gave me a tutorial on how to mix. It was fun! I loved the feel of vinyl under my fingertips. I thought, hey, I could be a DJ too! Griff gave me pointers on beat-matching & showed me how to man the switches n stuff. When I first started raving, I asked him about the special FX producers used on the tracks & he schooled me on basics like sub-lows, filters, panning, etc. He’s so cool. I learn a lot just from hanging with him. He asked T-Rex if she wanted to give it a try but she shook her head no. We took a break to get blessed with Carlos’ creation. Damn. That was some kick ass bud! After 3 hits, I couldn’t toke no more. I sat there chilling & next thing you know, I felt a weight pressing against the side of my head. I moaned in protest. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” I looked up groggily & saw a white girl I didn’t know sitting next to me on the couch. T-Rex & Carlos were gone. Shit, I passed out!

             I sat up immediately. The room was filled with people. A hard house track was rocking full tilt. I could hear chatter & laughter all around me. The pungent odor of sess & cigarettes filled my nostrils. Alright! I woke up just in time for the party!  I walked around, looking for familiar faces. The clock on the wall said 11:40 so I was out for roughly 2 hours. I turned right & walked down the crowded hallway towards the kitchen. I couldn’t believe how busy this place was! I squeezed my way in and saw Griff sitting on the counter, beer in hand, chilling amongst friends. Boxes of partially devoured pizza laid open on the table. The noise in here was a virtual uproar. I walked over to Griff & he gave me a hug. “Hey Gemma, u ok? You were out for a while! Here, have some beer.” I took a sip while he introduced me to his friends. I was dying with hunger so I inspected the contents of the pizza boxes. Meat lovers was way too heavy for my taste. All that was left of the vegetarian were a few lonely pieces of green pepper & mushroom. I managed to score the last 3 cheese & settled for picking off the pepperoni on another slice. I got a beer from the fridge to wash it all down. Mmmm….yummy! At that moment, Delroy ran across my mind. I wished he could be here with me. That really made me sad so I put it out of my mind with another swig of beer. Everywhere I looked, it seemed almost every1 was hooked up ‘cept for me. Shit. I tell myself I’m being paranoid cuz Griff’s single too…well, sort of. It seems like him & T-Rex r kinda seeing each other. SHIT! I really need to forget about this else I’ll drive myself crazy, so I returned to Griff’s corner & listened in on the conversation. They were discussing rave related stuff like upcoming parties, headliners, & the best type of E currently available. Eric couldn’t make it cuz he’d gone on a business trip to Amsterdam. That lucky bastard.

Copyright © 2012 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.