Righteous Dopefiend

Homeless Drug Addicts on the Streets of San Francisco

Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg spent over a decade doing fieldwork with two dozen homeless heroin and crack addicts on the streets of San Francisco, and produced an extraordinary wellcrafted documentation of this dystopian side of American society.

While reading their new book, Righteous Dopefiend, we found ourselves thinking “it’s like the hobo stories from Jack London’s The Road gone horribly, horribly wrong.” Still, such a description doesn’t fully do this depressing grisliness justice. Particularly dark and unromantic is Schonberg’s photography. Exactly how dark is it? Well, let’s just say that the photo of the guy smoking crack through his tracheotomy hole comes across as a relatively jolly image.

This is an ethnographic tour de force, so we‘re stoked that we are able to bring you an excerpt from Bourgois’ and Schonberg’s book.

 
Photo of medicinal bottle with a label that says “Heroin”

Graduate School

Set in a depraved and desperate Montreal underworld, here’s a pitiless and darkly comic exposé of a dope hungry intellectual who educates himself in the art of hustling access to the contents of pharmacy cabinets. We’re proud we’ve been allowed to share with our readers Paul Knobloch’s real gone piece of fictional autoethnography.

 

Evans Schultes on Peyote

As a Harvard undergraduate student, Richard Evans Schultes – who later has been described as “the father of modern ethnobotany” – did fieldwork in Oklahoma, where he took peyote himself and studied how the cactus was eaten in the rituals of native Kiowa and Comanche Indians.

Read his observations in one of his earliest works: The appeal of peyote (Lophophora Williamsii) as a medicine.

 

Southern Ute Peyote Rite

“What do you mean a bad thing? Does it hurt your church? Well, then, let them have it. It’s their church.”

From Marvin K. Opler’s The character and history of the Southern Ute peyote rite.

 
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