Head Shop | Cassandra Voices

Head Shop


Tedium was tip tapping on the pane of Gibbo’s day, the hours slouching into another shite night alone, like the slow but certain, annihilating course of ink on blotting paper. A visit to Tosh in the Head Shop “Happy Daze” on George’s St might just resurrect the dregs, if not by consuming a selection of the products for sale there, then at least by listening to Tosh describe them and the effects they’d produce, the feelings and sensations they’d induce once ingested.

The shop was dimly lit like one of those places that sell lizards as pets to stoners; it smelled of stale joss sticks and half eaten Govinda take away trays. Dub reggae oozed like liquid hemp from two battered vintage speakers that stood at either end of the glass cabinet containing all the pills, powders and shrooms, which looked like the moist, fecund sex organs of alien amphibians. And then there was, Tosh.

Some people become caricatures of themselves but Tosh took it to another level entirely, becoming a parody of the caricature itself. He was pencil thin and tall enough for half of his body to be in an entirely different, Himalayan weather system, to the rest of him. He didn’t wear clothes; they hung from him like sheets of washing out to dry. The brown, round neck Aran sweater that he wore like a second knitted skin, billowed at the slightest twitch of his body.

He had that wizened pirate look that comes from years on the high seas of late nights, rolling spliffs in other people’s kitchens, at parties that always ended with dawn breaking on crushed green cans that spread like metallic spawn from butt soaked sinks.

Of course he had a benign, pointed satanic beard too! And he wore an earring that was given to him by a German girl he’d spent the night with after seeing Marley in Dalymount Park, years back. Everything was “Years Back” with Tosh except for his eye brows which were fierce as fresh printed font. He wouldn’t have looked out of place on the cover of “Mojo” magazine talking about his comeback album but he had little to come back from, other than his greatest hits played in the kitchens of Dublin where he’d roll the best numbers while talking about Syd Barret,  arcane sub clauses in the Brehon laws and mumbling something about the Tuatha De Danann being connected to the Mayans.

“Ah Gibbo, my man! How are we today? Are ye in for a buzz or a chat or a bit of both? I’ve got some crackin’ new stock in from a warehouse in Budapest. I’ll talk ye through it in a minute but c’mere, how did ye get on with them ones I sold ye last week?

Did you do as I told ye?

The cheeky half, chased by a full one just as the half is settlin’ in nicely, then when you’re tilting full gear on the whole one, drop the last half, see, that’s how ye play a two pill game!

D’ye remember I wrote it down for ye? Like how to take them properly, in the right order, there’s no point in double droppin’ these, that’d just be bein’greedy and ye wouldn’t be lettin’ them tell their story, it’s a three act thing, ye got yer intro, yer crescendo and yer beautiful sunrise fade. Apart from the obvious whack off them, did ye get any of those subliminals, I’was tellin’ ye about? There’s a nuance to them, like they’re not in yer face, but they’re all over ye at the same time.

So Gibbo, I have another fella like yerself who comes in most Fridays, now, he loves his food, he’s all culinary, mad into his ingredients, would know his way around all them African spices on Moore St, so, when I’m talkin’ him through the pills I go all Master Chef with me metaphors but you’re a man like meself who’s into his tunes  so I’ll keep it musical for ye, so ye get me drift, I love doin’ the R+D on this shit, I take it seriously, I want me good customers like yerself to know what they’re getting’ into and always remember Gibbo, when ye feel yer bowel howl, ye’ll know they’re kickin’ in, c’mon, are ye ready?

These ones here I call Kittsers, after yer man David Kitt, half an hour or so after takin’ the first half, ye’ll feel a warm acoustic vibe comin’ over ye, a half full but well in to it crowd in Whelan’s buzz, but ye’ll feel a slight stitching of electronics studded around the hinterland of things, I don’t wanna say “a glow” but ye get what I mean, the Kittsers aren’t too strong though, when ye drop the full one, it’s more of a Boutique festival vibe, like Whelan’s morphin’ into a Body and Soul stage and it goes on like that a while, a more genteel “Gloaming” vibe than yer urban “Lankum” trad, they’re smooth, the muchies with these pills are organic, d’ye get me, I found them a bit shite in the end to be honest, like being at some gig in the Iveagh Gardens and ye wonderin’ how ye ended out there?

Nah, I like a bit of grit in me pills.

These ones here are more like it, though may I say, they are strictly for well-seasoned travellers like yer self. I call them, “The Gaffs”.

About twenty minutes after taking the first half, remember yer maths Gibbo, half + full + half, the only way to do it, the narrative, the flow, that’s what yer after,

It’ll start to feel like there’s a house party in yer head, a good one with all yer mates there, you’ll feel them coming in, a mad rush at the front door, swingin’ bags of cans, it’s not Whelan’s anymore man, it’s a stairwell full of people ye hardly know, that you’ve never seen in yer house before, one of them nights that’s goin’ to swell, it has its rough edges too though when ye start comin’ up proper, a Garda siren lickin the walls blue and white, ye might feel a tremor, a panic but it’ll pass with a rattle of worry farts, when ye drop the full one it’ll be like the house has been dipped in spirits and torched with new beats you’ve never heard before, some Brazilian dude is DJ-in in yer front room, Favela-Fuckin’-Chic, wadin through a block party, a carnival and a  sudden flash of asphalt wasteland in the room, there’s no lettin’ up with these ones, pure ritual,

ye’ll be all alone but surrounded by people, nice bit of hallucinatin’ on these too, the party will become external, people will leave yer head and pour into the kitchen, ye’ll meet people there ye haven’t seen in years, ye’ll feel the erotic rush of a whole house heavin’ with the dance, like a greedy snort of Pentecostal Poppers,

the colour range on these is like a serious fuckin’ festival rig, ye’ll end out focusin’ on the colour of the kitchen door for way longer than’s natural, ye might even feel a Oneness with shit that’ll make ye oblivious to all the other shit around you,

ye know like when all of life’s asteroids are comin’ at ye, thick n fast and ye do a Han Solo on it and go straight into Spiritual Hyper Space, bypassin’ all the mundane crap that brings ye down, it went like that way for me anyway,

these really are quality pills, all the colours get like a Biblical Dulux paint catalogue, ye’ll start makin’ connections between things that’ll fade as soon as ye try thinkin’ of them again, ye’ll remember nothin’ later, yer mind’ll be like The Shining maze, bein’chased by half formed feral sentences, ye’ll wish ye had a brain stenographer with ye to record yer thoughts, ye’ll think they are important but they might just be shite but who’s to know,

they’re roarin’ “Tune” in the front room, ye’ll have strobe light black outs on the dance floor, not knowin’ how ye arrived into the glare of the kitchen light, ye’ll feel epic and loved, all the walls of the house throbbing like a heart pumpin’ speed, the kitchen and the front room will seem like they’re different hoods in some huge smudged metropolis that yer racin’ through now, high as some released captive thing, a vertigo in your stride, fearless, ye’ll have flashes of being all alone because you are all alone, reality sneaks in the fuckin’ cat flap the odd time with these pills, like morning light torn from a drawn curtain, a prison break on the dance floor,

there’ll be a blonde PR bird at yer living room door with a clipper board, askin’ ye what guest list yer on, ye’ll have to choose carefully or ye’ll be fucked out high as a kite cut loose, tremblin’ alone on the quays, freezin’, neon taxi slur in the puddles, ye’ll look back at the entrance to The Liquor Rooms and ye’ll realise it’s yer own gaff, the door into yer own livin’ room and everyone there is bein’ sliced by strobe, tribal Batucada Beats, and the bird who had the clipper board has lassoed you with her eyes, ye’ll get a lust rush but it’ll be a brain boner, yer lad will be limp as a droopin’ glove, ye’ll think of Lou Reed, “between thought and expression there lies a lifetime”, the music will go all,

ah- whacka-whacka-whacka, ah-whacka-whacka-whacka,

ye’ll get down on yer hands and knees and try crawlin’ away from the echo but soon enough ye’ll surrender to it sweatin’, relieved that it’s yer new Master.

these pills can have quite a rough come down, the worst kind of psychic turbulence but they’re worth it for their plasma screen clarity and the integrity of their buzz, when ye come down proper, all the people who weren’t there will have gone but ye’ll be glad ye met them anyway.

Are ye with me Gibbo? Am I givin’ ye a few ideas for later? C’mon, I got a couple more to show ye.

I call these pills “The launches”, they’re cunnin’ little bastards, the first half comes on all warm like yer at some art openin’ in a warehouse, somewhere in the Batter, NCAD heads wearin’ vintage gear, some lad in a knit wear bobble hat, stooped over a lap top playin’ Ricardo Villa Lobos minimal techno, craft beards and shite lager but it’s free, so ye dive in and talk crap about the installations, ye’ll get these comin’ up jitters, feelin’ that what yer sayin’ about the installations isn’t the right thing to be sayin’ about them, like yer out of yer depth at a party full of those Irish Times “ 50 People To Watch in 2009”, ye know the fuckers, video sculptors ‘n vegan choreographers.

Ye won’t feel like yer one of them, me and you Gibbo never make it on to them lists, but once ye drop yer first full “Launch” ye’ll feel better than all them cunts collaged together

You’ll feel like you’re the artist, that it’s your launch, you’ll have interviews about your work runnin’ through yer head, ye’ll feel like ye own the room, on top of yer mad out of it game, ye’ll see yer self on the box talkin’ about yer difficult second album even though you’ve never played a note in yer life, it’ll be like ye become whatever music yer listen’ to, it’s so real, ye’ll feel ye’ve got the fingerin’ all sorted on the tenor sax yer mimin’ the fuck out of in the mirror, ye’ll see posters for “An Evenin’ With Gibbo” flappin’ on the lampposts in yer twisted, head fucked streets, you’ll believe you’ve really gone and learnt an instrument, then the most fucked up, loved up shit kicks in,

Yer playin’ stadium concerts now, yer the lead singer or the guitarist, ye can be whoever the fuck ye want to be, snortin’ lines of adulation, ye grab yer crotch and gurn, “I am Live Aid. I am Freddie Mercury”, a Nuremberg crowd rush of pure fuckin’ love, the best gig ye ever gave to yer reflection in the mirror, yer all alone and shittin’ yerself, a stab of the fear, but ye mange to pull yerself back into a pub sized gig, yer listenin’’ to Howlin’ Wolf, built for comfort, “300 Pounds of Joy”, it’s Walters in Dún Laoghaire and ye command the room, ye’ll see everyone ye knew there when ye were young and they’ll love ye, ye’ll feel Savoy 1 screen stretched, everythin’ about ye will feel epic, it’s the maddest rush.

I, like, became Marley in Dalymount an’ I seen meself singin’ as Marley to me younger self and the German bird that gave me the earring, fuckin’ multiple identity trippin’

The come down from these is smoother than you’d than ye’d think, like a class of farewell tour, a “for one night only” vibe, ye’ll see posters for yerself again but they’re smaller, ye’ll be back to playin’ Whelans, but it’ll be a good crowd, when ye come round ye’ll have forgetten all the interviews ye gave but ye’ll know ye did give them,

ye won’t even have a ticket stub to one of yer own gigs.

The rest of the gear I got is natural, herbs and shrooms, Inca gear, it’s not really party gear, it’s all about foliage and mad ancestral voices,

These first two herbs work in seconds, they both wreck yer sense of time, one makes nine hours seem like it’s just two minutes that’s passed and the other stretches two minutes into what seems like nine fuckin’ hours, so, you choose dependin’ on how yer fixed for time, both have the same immediate effect of ye seein’ foliage growin’ on yer walls, it’s Amazonian, the green is so deep ye could swim in it.

The Shrooms are ancestral though, I got an intense Ogham Stone vibe off them, like I was rubbin’ my hand up one of them and understandin’ this 8th century braille that was chipped into them by some mad mason monk years back before, like when ye know some of the Brehon Laws were still standing, I felt like a kind of gutter with all this mythology streamin’ through me, playin’ me Bothy Band and me Ó Riada sa Gaiety albums backwards and hearin’ messages from The Tuatha, ancient secrets that would make Fatima blush, d’ye get me, I had some experience of knowledge, somethin’ unbroken, like I was totally plugged in to the whole meaning of shit, like, I saw through it all, connected it all up, wrote a new fuckin’ alphabet and found a story way out of it all, I was it all, I had Prophet deliriums, I sweated two languages and learned a third, I tied myself to a post and crawled through centuries to tell people what I’d learned , the further I went the less I remembered until I had no idea where I was or what I was doin’ and I’d forgottin’ what I was supposed to tell them and they didn’t like me for that.

Ye just don’t know what portals the shrooms are goin’ to open up for ye Gibbo.

Are ye with me Gibbo?

So, what’s it goin’ to be? A bit of herb and nine hours of Kittser?

A mad one or a quiet one?

You tell me.


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