06/14/2007 12:51 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Cocaine Will Never Be the New Weed

I hate this New York Times article and articles like it. Trend pieces about drugs -- how such and such is "coming back." (Though I am fascinated by $2 heroin. Holy shit. I have an old friend who was a heroin addict in, I guess, the 70s; he once told me that whenever he and his user friends would hear warnings about a new batch of street heroin that had caused OD deaths, they'd all rush out and try to get some of it ASAP. One can imagine the reaction of junkies hearing about $2 "cheese heroin.") These articles are always full of obnoxious, wrong passages.

Tom Sykes, a former night-life reporter for The New York Post who chronicled his alcohol- and drug-fueled life in the memoir, What Did I Do Last Night?, said that cocaine is more socially acceptable than smoking. "You could go into a swanky party in New York and do a line and nobody would notice," said Mr. Sykes, who is now sober. "Pull out a cigarette and people would think you'd pulled out a gun."

What? Nonsense. If you just randomly take out some coke and start doing it in plain sight at a nice party (maybe he's talking about nicer parties than I've ever been invited to, though -- that's possible), nobody is going to call the police, but people would certainly look at you askance and you would probably be asked to leave.

Plus, you would not upset people by smoking, unless by "people" he means "paid employees" and the event was at a bar or lounge before 11:30 pm or something. Almost everybody who wants to be "cool" in New York smokes. It's kind of inexplicable, the pervasiveness. Young artists, actors (especially actors), models, musicians (especially musicians), "hotshot" traders, New School students (especially New School students).... It's more socially acceptable here now than it's been at any time since the 1970s. I started smoking in college around the same time I quit drinking. I had to have some vice, right? Now I smoke only one cigarette per day, usually late at night, while writing. I guess that counts as -- controlled addiction?

"Coke is the new weed," he continued. "Everybody says that."

Nobody says that. I've never heard anyone say that in my life. It's not like weed went away or something. Weed is and always will be 500 times more popular than coke -- because, among other reasons, a) it's so much cheaper; b) its pleasurable effects last 10 times as long; c) you don't crash and feel all trembling and miserable after the pleasure is gone.

And coke will never be the new weed, because -- although there are definitely lots of mean, obnoxious people who smoke weed -- coke is a drug that specifically encourages meanness and obnoxiousness, while weed encourages sitting on the couch. There are some nice, intelligent people who use both drugs, but as a general rule...weed is a drug of armchair philosophers, while coke is a drug of flashy poseurs. Example:

"I do it every day," said Kristoff, a European transplant to New York who works in finance and would not give his last name. He said he pays $150 for two grams of cocaine. "If I have to work at six in the morning and I have to be on top of the game, I'll do it. I'll take a gram of coke and make half a million dollars."

Yeah, right.