Brian O'Dea (bodea) Thu 17 Sep 09 14:15
SSOL My book's early incarnation was as a newsletter to my friends who had been so supportive of me. Somewhere early on I decided to include stories from my life that acted as stepping stones on the pathway to prison. Many of my friends who had supported me so vigorously knew little of my life as most were post-sobriety friends. I thought they would get a kick out of the stories, and that the stories would somehow inform me. From time to time I would write down sounds of what was going on around me, and drop them in the newsletter for some "Live" moments. It started to take its shape from that. An original title for the book was INSIDEINSIDE
Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 17 Sep 09 16:30
ooh, I like that title. So, I'll ask, why didn't you go with title?
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Thu 17 Sep 09 16:48
The publisher at Random House Canada worked through over fifty titles before settling on HIGH, Confessions of a Pot Smuggler, which Virgin Books in Britain changed to HIGH, Confessions of an International Drug Smuggler, and that's the title Other Press in the US went with. More provocative in a sense I guess, a little less telling of the tale of overcoming the many small selves and the circuitous route it sometimes takes to get to a significant threshold, which INSIDEINSIDE seems to depict.
Hugh Watkins (hughw1936uk) Thu 17 Sep 09 18:10
if you legalise drugs - how will the criminals make money? more robberies?
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Thu 17 Sep 09 18:35
If we were to truly legalize drugs, all the way to regulating their distribution, we would remove the single most powerful currency presently in the hands of criminal gangs, which not only control whole neighbourhoods, but countries, even. We simply will take away one of the many tools in their arsenals, but a very potent one nonetheless.
Infradibulated Gratility (ssol) Fri 18 Sep 09 09:37
I'm with you on the prohibition position. Since the US started keeping records in the early 1800s on addiction to alcohol and such, the rate of addiction and recovery has remained the same; about 12.5% for each group. Laws have no effect on this now apparently genetic predisposition to addiction. Laws are like yelling at a pickle to turn back into a cucumber. Congrats on your triumph among that 12.5%! "Confessions of a Pot Smuggler" Have you read "Confessions of a Hashish Eater" by Ludlow, or "Confessions of an Opium Eater" by DeQuincy. Was your book's title an allusion to those volumes?
Lisa Harris (lrph) Fri 18 Sep 09 09:57
The contrast between sound and action - prison and smuggling - is obvious. Do you recall these experiences in those ways? Or did you purposefully write them differently to emphasize the contrasts?
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Fri 18 Sep 09 10:47
To SSOL - In fact it was not, at least as far as I know. That I should be mentioned in the same sentence as those cats!
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Fri 18 Sep 09 11:04
I wanted to let the prison pieces speak "Live", to give a sense of immediacy to the lunacy of our overuse of the "hammer' as our sole device to fix the broken
bill braasch (bbraasch) Fri 18 Sep 09 11:09
the 12.5% factor feeds the taste buds, but not everyone sets up a smuggling network. you must enjoy a bit of risk in your life. you've also got some foresight, for example sleeping in a cot in the aisle instead of moving up to the 3d floor with the aryan gang at terminal island. how do you know who to trust in the laissez faire world of drug smuggling?
Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 18 Sep 09 14:43
Brian, sorry we weren't able to meet while I was in Toronto. I was somewhat astounded by your generosity in offering to get together to chat over coffee! Loved your book and was interested in the bookeding with that Christian Brother, how you ran into him at your father's funeral (was it?). And how you said he wrote his own book. Seems there are enough cluse for someone to track him down, though I guess what would be the point? I'm glad you included the personae at the end, because I definitely had trouble sometimes telling Rick from Richardo from Bob from Robert etc. Will this become a movie at any point? I'd love to be able to tell the players without a scorecard, and there are some fascinating little portraits of characters in there that I'd love to be able to visualize a bit better if brought to life by actors. I was surprised to learn later that the prison time in the LA harbor was relatively short (about a year?) - threaded through the book it seems like an eternity.
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Fri 18 Sep 09 16:20
Bill In Shakespeare's Pericles there is a line early on that goes something like this "It is well that it is known, and it is fit; what grows more known grows worse to smother it." That about says it. Intuition, first knowing is the course of action to follow. There is no room for second guessing, and to survive as long as I did, I think that was key. And even when I fell, I knew when making the decision to participate that something was not quite right. I defied my intuition, and paid the price. But it made room for threshold experience after threshold experience. The greatest gifts I have received have come in the oddest of disguises. I think I would have turned almost all down given the opportunity up front.
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Fri 18 Sep 09 16:32
Hi Christian - There is an even more complicated story with that brother cat, but we'll save it for a conversation some day, which I hope will be soon. I have been working with some very fine guys in LA recently and it seems I am will get to discuss the film potential with a couple of very accomplished producers who surprise me with their interest. I participated in the writing of two distinctly different scripts for HIGH, one for TV and the other feature, and while the TV one works, the feature version was weak. I have shelved the TV version in order to pursue it as a feature in LA. While I longed to be elsewhere, I am fortunate to have lived at Terminal Island, to have been able to experience the great bonds uniting people which can only be constructed in such a place; as life throws a whole new set of circumstances at you, life preservers show up in abundance.
Lisa Harris (lrph) Fri 18 Sep 09 17:14
I agree with xian's impression that your time at Terminal seemed, well, interminible.
bill braasch (bbraasch) Sat 19 Sep 09 14:52
your intuition would have served you well in any line of work. You took a lot more risk. Part of the attraction?
Lisa Harris (lrph) Sun 20 Sep 09 10:15
Along those same lines as Bill's question...is there any part of it you miss? Or rather, would do again, if it weren't illegal?
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Mon 21 Sep 09 07:16
Perhaps risk was part of the attraction, although one might argue that there are many other ways of taking risks that aren't life threatening, or have the potential of years in prison as a result. I miss the group coming together to accomplish such a huge project. I have been in legal and large projects since, however nothing has had the feelings of unification of a group of diverse individuals to accomplish a single goal like smuggling. But, ultimately, that smuggling part of my life was a threshold to something else, and it has done what it came to do. I have no interest in going back, for I left nothing there.
bill braasch (bbraasch) Mon 21 Sep 09 09:29
That's an interesting way to look at it. I suppose you don't need a lot of role playing exercises in a conference room somewhere if you've all got the same goal right from the start. Being from Chicago, I found it interesting that the guy with the gun was from Chicago, as was a ripoff. Your collaborations by nature involved teams from different areas, different cultures. You shared a common goal, but you needed some level of trust or perhaps fear of recriminations from the others to keep things on track. I suppose over time you may have learned who to steer clear of, and it would not just be the narcs. You're not really competing against the other smugglers, I suppose, but against the legal system.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Mon 21 Sep 09 12:46
Brian, I got the feeling throughout the book from the way you portrayed yourself that you felt you were primarily motivated by a desire to share things (and live a free, easy, high life, perhaps) but that most of the people you met in the drug underworld were scary damaged menacing characters frequently motivated by money (and perhaps later by drug-induced psychoses). I often felt afraid for you as your described your interactions. How did you handle the stress?
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Mon 21 Sep 09 13:24
Xian I am the kind of guy who crammed for every exam he ever took. Perhaps I have a greater capacity for "stress storage" than others, taking the pressure off through temporary outlets such as drugs/alcohol/relationships. I may have alluded to it earlier, but once I made a decision to move forward in a project, I rarely thought about it again, just kept my eye on whatever was going on, projecting as little as possible. I don't know that at that time I could have wrapped all these words around how I did what I did, but retrospectively it becomes less and less difficult to see the tracks I have left, if I am willing, that is.
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Mon 21 Sep 09 13:25
Xian Further, life kept showing me time and again that all things work out, somehow, and I became a believer. Mark Twain said 99% of the battles he fought never took place...
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Mon 21 Sep 09 14:07
"A believer" - in life delivering the necessary goods, that is. That sentence seemed to have a religious ambiguity to it, which I hope is cleared up.
Christian Crumlish (xian) Mon 21 Sep 09 18:15
sure, I follow. it does seem that there's an element of faith involved. not so much religious faith as faith in "the way of things."
Brian O'Dea (bodea) Tue 22 Sep 09 09:50
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 22 Sep 09 11:22
Brian, early on in this conversation you described the reason for writing as a way to make mind-course corrections. That was a powerful idea, and it makes that interesting point that the process of the writing can be as important as having the material to look at later. Do you still write on a regular basis about your current life? Do you mostly write interactively for the near term, as in this conversation or in email? How has your experience of the process of writing changed over time?
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