Prepuce by Fender Tucker


I’ve heard of this legendary book for years and now, thanks to the generosity of Art Scott of Livermore CA, I am finally able to read, edit and thoroughly enjoy the book. And enjoy it I did. But why? How could I enjoy a book written 50 years ago that can have no relevance to today’s world?

Well, the main reason I enjoyed the book was that it surprised me. Just about all of the other thirty or forty vintage paperbacks about drugs in the ’40s and ’50s that I’ve read adopt the Harry Anslinger line: purveyors are evil; users are doomed; no one in the scene is clean. But Marijuana Girl, although it has some of these elements, has a few characters who use marijuana wisely and make it through the book (and beyond, we presume) without suffering the wrath of Gawd or Man. How progressive of N.R. de Mexico!

The book also tackles sex and other social issues without preaching. You won’t find that in many books published since Ronald Reagan slept in the Oval Office. The book simply describes the path of Joyce Taylor’s descent into addiction as a series of logical steps, most of them brought on by need rather than greed. And though we of the 21st century tend to forget it—or deny it—the U.S.A of Marijuana Girl’s time was full of needy people. The average urban workers of the ’50s lived in seedy apartments, not in sprawling suburban homes. The ones with jobs were the lucky ones.

So why is reading about drugs of the ’50s so much more enjoyable and satisfying than reading about drugs of today? It’s because we know there was a general air of naïvete about dope back then and we can forgive our parents and grandparents for their anti-drug attitudes—just as we forgive them for their sexist, racist and homophobic attitudes. It’s much harder to forgive the Mrs. Grundys and Harry Anslingers of today because they damn well ought to know better. After all, they’ve had plenty of chance to smoke some pot and see for themselves that it’s probably the most benign—hell, I say beneficial—substance known to man.

But the main charm of the marijuana underworld of 1950 is its “social” atmosphere. In those days there were night clubs where you could go and smoke pot. There were “pot parties” where people would actually socialize with other people smoking. Of course they were illegal and everybody risked going to prison, but at least the night club or home where the party took place was not confiscated by the state.

In this fourth decade of the modern war on marijuana there’s still a lot of weed smuggled into the country and there’s even more being grown internally. But most smokers tend to light up at home while watching TV or reading and rarely socialize with other smokers. Indeed, even though many of their fellow workers smoke at home, most people who smoke think they’re the only ones who do. Thanks to the Nixon-Reagan-Bush policies, you can get away with using marijuana if (1) you’re white; and (2) you keep your mouth shut about it.

Do a thought experiment: imagine all of the pot smuggled into and produced in the United States each year. Better yet, look up the DEA estimates of how many millions of pounds that is. Then divide by the number of people in the U.S. of smoking age (10-90). You come to one of two conclusions: (1) either there are just a few million smokers and they’re each puffing away about an ounce of weed a day; or (2) there are a lot more than the 20,000,000 people that the government claims regularly use marijuana. One thing for sure—at $150-$300 an ounce there is absolutely NO wastage of weed these days. You drop a one-hit pipeful on the carpet—you get down and pick up every little nugget.

So even though a much higher percentage of people smoke today than did in the 1950s, there is much less socializing. No one admits that they smoke. They couldn’t; they’d lose their jobs.

That’s why it’s so much more fun reading about old-time drugs. Back then the argument was that you’d go insane and kill your family, a charmingly laughable proposition. Now the Bushites are claiming that pot smokers are actively supporting terrorists, a tack that convinces 0% of the people it’s purportedly aimed at, and only works on anti-smokers, making them even more rabidly fanatical than they were before the “pot equals terrorism” ads.

Let’s face it. Drugs are just as beneficial as they ever were, but they’re not as much fun. You have to go back to the good ol’ days of N.R. de Mexico, Cornell Woolrich (“Marijuana”) and David Dodge (“It Ain’t Hay”) to find enjoyable scare stories about weed.

Ramble House is proud to make this classic of American drug literature available again to modern readers who are tired of the preaching prissiness of the hypocritical media. The book is full of real people, just like you and me, and it shows how we as a society had a chance to develop a benign and rational relationship with dope—but blew it. We let the wrong assholes rule the roost and now we can only puff gently on our 10 o’clock bongs and flip between South Park and The Daily Show, thinking we’re the only ones on our block who are cool.

Sad, really.