My first trip to South-by-Southwest in at least a couple of years was a very cool time. Kolby stays up there now, so I had a place to crash and good company to do whatever with. Andrew was in town from LA doing his thing. Had hoped to catch theArt live, but the matinee they were playing during my 24 hr trip got shutdown by the fire marshals before they even took the stage. Still, got to meet them and hang a little. Good folks to a person.
Saw some other good music though (Jon Davidson, the Effects…he’s not a 70s actor and they’re way better than their name), caught up with other old friends (Gabe DeLuc), met cool new people (theArt, Jon Davidson, his girlfriend, the Messina brothers form Electric Touch), and had one ‘celebrity’ sighting (Perez Hilton at some bar watching crap dance rock).
The ‘some bar’ thing got to be chronic. When the AMEX bill came I only recognized about half the names. But then again, I think I drank to the point where I literally became invisible. SXSW has become increasingly tight with who gets into what shows. I didn’t even have a wrist band (much less a badge) but didn’t so much get stopped at the door anywhere. Now, I know I’m cool…but I also know I’m not THAT cool, so how else to explain it but invisibility?!
The above ingredients make for a perfect SXSW; which it was. Along the way I also had the following completely non-musical encounter sitting on the curb of 6th St. outside of some bar. Meet the human medical experiment.
GG: How did you wind up here.
“I do these studies. Where you get paid. Yeah, yeah. Over at the fucking, fucking right across 35. It’s like 7-11s. They’re all over. You can do one, then do another one, and do another one. And you keep getting paid.”
“I’m in between doing studies tonight. I usually have phat money. But when I have it, I just blow it. I just spent $1,200 on my buddy. It was his birthday and we went to the strip club.
GG: Do they ever not pay you?
“No. Never. I met this girl from Michigan or someplace. A lot of people come down here cuz it’s really big down here. She tried to convince me to do her, but I just wasn’t that into it.”
GG: Yeah. Do you ever smoke weed?
“Not really. You can’t have any weed or cigarettes in you. But I know how to get around it. I’m a veteran.”
GG: Are there any tests that you wouldn’t do? Or any tests that you’d wanna do because you know you’d be really good at it?
“Not really [laughs]. I been doing this for 3 years and I’d let them take my eye retina for enough money. You could call me ‘One-Eyed Willie’ for the rest of my life! Take it!! Take it! Cut that fucker out!!!”
GG: What about the opposite? Anything you wouldn't do?
“THC. What they can do with THC.”
GG: What are they trying to discover about THC?
“I tried to get one I didn’t get in. They’re trying to discover it as a pain medicine.”
GG: But isn’t medical marijuana already legal?
“It’s not legal.”
GG: Not here, but…
“There’s nowhere it’s legal. Anywhere. Nowhere.”
GG: If you've got your card you can guy buy it in a fucking shop out in California.
“Federal. The federal will shut it down. My grandfather was supposed to be able to get it, but he couldn’t get it because of federal. My buddy did once, this THC study, and he did it, then he went to go try to get a job, and he had THC in him, and that was why, cuz he didn’t smoke weed. So he went to get his paperwork and came back. And they were like, ‘OK.’ It was a pill though. I hear the THC studies suck, cuz you can’t eat any more [than normal]. You get all the munchies but you can’t eat!
GG: And this is for pain?
“Yeah. Like Novacaine."
GG: So do they jab you or something? What I’m trying to get at is, so they give you the pill or whatever, then how do they test how well it’s working against pain?
“They don’t test that. They test side effects. Stage 1 side effects. How many participants have what side effects. How many have double vision, or whatever…. They don’t know what it’s gonna do. We know what it’s gonna do. Shit makes you hungry! But yeah, they test side effects, and that’s it. They’re not really concerned if it works or not at my stage. Three stages. Stage 1, Stage 2, and Stage 3; then it goes on the market.
GG: How healthy are you?
“Can’t drink coffee. No cigarettes. No alcohol. No HIV. No nothing.”
GG: Do they test if it makes you hornier? Or more virile? Or things like that?
“Yeah. All the time. They do anything that comes up.”
GG: How much can you make? $2,500 weekend?
“I’m going to Houston new week to try to get in a study; $17,400 for 3 months?”
GG: Where are you doing that?
“NASA. NASA has lots of good ones. But you don’t want to start off at NASA cuz it’s hard.”
GG: What kind of study?
“These like muscle group isolation studies. They make it so you can only move one leg at a time for a week or however long, and then make it so you can move the other one but can’t move the first one anymore, and go back and forth seeing how long it takes the one that wasn’t moving to recover.”
“See ya man. I gotta go get another shot.”