This first appeared in UP Magazine’s February issue. It captures an odd experience I had with a painter in Karen. I know it’s not as ‘down and dirty’ as promised but the heroin piece really couldn’t get published, (something about self implication or whatever) so we’re left with me, a trippy hippie and some of the best LSD you can find in this city. Follow this link to buy some acid for yourself LSD Point.
The acid was kicking in; everything seemed brighter, more beautiful and seemed to make sense. I looked over at my host, a wisp of smoke escaped from between his lips as he put out the joint in his hand. I think he was trying too hard to be honest. With his long blonde dreadlocked hair, he looked like a flower child leftover from the 60’s. Or perhaps more like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Either way though *Flower” had some great insights into drug use and the creative process.
From time immemorial our race has been using drugs to enhance the human experience, the Vikings berserkers would whip themselves into frenzy on mushrooms and Uni students have been popping Ritalin 10mgs like tiny white Smarties for decades to up their grades. I didn’t seek out Flower because I was looking for drugs to up my writing (so before you ask no I was not tripping when I typed this) I tried to get a meet up with him because he’s a well-known artist who’s constantly ‘on’ something.
“Look man” he said in a long drawn out voice. “So here, man, basically my day is always heavy when I’m making my stuff. Wake and bake as always!” We’re seated on giant Ankara covered cushions in his studio/apartment/parent’s pool house while he rolled what looked like the guka joints, a real fat long one that looked like split into pieces it could make four more. The walls are covered with his own art plus some from artists I recognize, there’s a Jackie Karuti III, Michael Soi and what looked like a Peterson Kamwathi. “I don’t know about these guys,” he says pointing to the paintings on the wall “but I can tell you this bro, if I’m not on something you’ll get some boring shi*t out of me”
“All the greatest creative minds have hit something, that’s why half of Hollywood is hopped up on cocaine. Look at the Rolling Stones! I mean I’m sure some Kenyan artists are on it but they just never get caught.” He reached into his fanny pack (yes he was wearing a fanny pack) and pulled out several plastic baggies. He reached into one and gave me a tiny sliver of paper. He handed it to me then took out another and put it under his tongue “See bro, the Beatles were on LSD, the greatest band of all f*cking time! On LSD! Stick that under your tongue and we’ll keep going”
I did and waited.
“I don’t care what the government man says, or all these people trying to hold us down or whatever. I’m not saying every artist should go Tony Montana and stick their nose in a mountain of coke and OD, that’s drug abuse. What I’m talking about is drug use! Taking some weed in the morning to mellow you out, and settle you down, add a psychedelic like special K, mushrooms or acid to open up that creative section of your mind and finally do a line of cocaine so you can pick up that paintbrush, pen or guitar and make some goddamn magic!”
I looked at him, a time displaced hippie living in his parents house in Karen who, despite having grown up in Kenya, still had a lazy Southern drawl, and I tried to figure out how he was still functioning after what I suppose was 3 or 4 years of constant self-dosing. He kept smoking his joint looking at me intensely with his surprisingly white eyes before he turned on his radio.
“We’ll just listen to some music till the LSD hits, and then we’ll head on outside, k man?”
“So what’s the point of it all? If you’re just going to be high all the time?”
“When it hits and you see the world, you’ll understand.”
An hour later we were lying in the grass outside and I kept staring at everything, transfixed. I could hear nature vibrating, feel sound on my skin and if there are gods out there they were speaking right into my soul, telling me all was well with the universe. I look at his paintings now and I finally understand where his vivid portrayal of landscapes and the reckless abandon with which he uses colours come from. I’d never advocate for the use of drugs in the creative process, but I now sure as hell understand it.