Dark Genies, Dark Horizons: The Riddle of Addiction

In 2014, Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show, Parts Unknown, travelled to Massachusetts. He visited his old haunts from 1972, when he had spent a high school summer working in a Provincetown restaurant, the now-shuttered Flagship on the tip of Cape Cod. “This is where I started washing dishes …where I started having pretensions of culinary grandeur,” Bourdain said in a wistful voiceover. For the swarthy, rail-thin dishwash-er-turned-cook, Provincetown was a “wonderland” bursting with sexual freedom, drugs, music, and “a joy that only came from an absolute certainty that you were invincible.” Forty years later, he was visiting the old Lobster Pot restaurant, cameras in tow, to share Portuguese kale soup with the man who still ran the place. Bourdain enjoyed a lot of drugs in the summer of 1972. He had already acquired a “taste for chemicals,” as he put it. The menu included marijuana, Quaaludes, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, Seconal, Tuinal, speed, and codeine. When he moved to the Lower East Side of New York to cook profession-ally in 1980, the young chef, then 24, bought his first bag of heroin on the corner of Bowery and Rivington. Seven years later he managed to quit the drug cold turkey, but he spent several more years chasing crack cocaine. “I should have died in my twenties,” Bourdain told a journalist for Biography. By the time of his visit to Provincetown in 2014, a wave of painkillers had already washed over parts of Massachusetts and a new tide of heroin was rolling in. Bourdain wanted to see it for himself and traveled northwest to Greenfield, a gutted mill town that was a hub of opioid addiction. In a barebones meeting room, he joined a weekly recovery support group. Everyone sat in a circle sharing war stories, and when Bourdain’s turn came he

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