Monday, November 29, 2021

Back Surgery Followup

Michael Gorman Just so the world knows, if I am tough enough it is because you ran me ragged at baseball, street football and all sorts of "tough guy" things. You took a little brother who had been sick for two years and pulled, pushed, prodded, encouraged me to swing the bat with the weights on it, to run a dozen street football routes fifteen times to both the left and right daily, to make the 126' baseball toss from a catcher's squat 10-20 times a day, and you did the arrangement and fielding for all of that. At the time I thought I was sometimes being cruelly used, but as a grown up I realized decades ago that you were saving me from a life of self pity as a sick kid. What a yoman's job you did. I did get tough. I fought most of my own fights, I hitchhiked more than 50,000 miles. I spent time, and got away, with people I knew were going to kill me. I could write a book, but what it comes down to is you, our sister Patty, and our sisters Peggy, Barbara, and Regina -- along with Mom and Tom, of course -- took a kid who was near death and weak as weak can be, and allowed me to grow into someone who became a great investigative journalist, a fantastic New York City chef, and an Amazon explorer. Not famous, not rich, but who cares. I got to get my fingernails good and dirty and that is what counts. So thanks for doing that for me. I appreciate it boundlessly. (I'm still probably gonna be screaming for our mom when the doc starts burning off nerve endings tomorrow!!!!!)


Little Back Surgery

Going in for the first of two procedures on my lower back tomorrow. About a dozen hot needles to burn away the nerves on the vertebra. They will grow back in six months or a year and then we will do it again.
Doc asked if I wanted anesthesia. I asked if i could get through it with a local. He asked why. I told him I have been under anesthesia 4 times this year and do not want to push my luck.
He said that I had gone through the trial needles twice with just local and thought I could make it tomorrow the same way.
If you hear some strange sound, like a caterwauling at 2 PM Central Time, that will be me begging for anesthesia.
My daughter Madeleina, who will take me to the op has already said she's not gonna hang with me pre-surgery. "Dad, if I don't see or hear you, I can pretend you're a tough guy. But if I see you begging for mercy from the universe one more time, well, let's just say I don't want to see you act like an ahole again."
She has always been my best and toughest audience. Can't get away with nothin' on that girl.


Sunday, November 21, 2021

What's for dinner? An embarrassment of riches!

To be honest, I am often blessed with an embarrassment of riches despite being a poorish man. (I did just look myself up a couple of days ago on celebrity net worth and they, or a site like that, pegs me at $2million. HA! $2,000 separates me from going in the red and that's how it ever was.)
Okay, so on Saturdays, Adrian likes to cook. So while he and Madeleina go to the supermarket to buy things for Saturday dinner -- when he is off -- I generally make a list of things the house needs, including dinner for Sunday, since the supermarkets around here are pure hell on sweet heavenly Sundays.
I forgot to get food for tonight yesterday. Instead I gave Madeleina and her man Adrian the Thanksgiving list of a 20 pound turkey, a boneless spiral ham, fresh potatoes, yams, celery, onions, garlic, butter, cranberries, good quality ready to heat and serve dinner roll (lazy, I know) and seasoned bread stuffing to which I will add tons of stuff (lazy again). And oranges and apples and pears to stuff the turkey, and fresh maple syrup for the ham glaze.
You know too much about me now, so I guess I'll just kill myself. Okay, skip that. I have a point here if I can just find it... Oh, yeah, food for tonight. What to have? We don't have anything.
So I took a look: In the freezer was a duck and three duck breasts. There was a gallon bag of frozen lamb Tagine, and another gallon bag of fajita stew. Then there was a lot of frozen mariscos (shrimp, squid, octopus, mussels) and I have 8 ounces of cooked Atlantic halibut filets that will go with that. Then there was a couple of pounds of dried red beans and a pound of andouille sausage and Jasmine rice, a box of Manicotti and another of Lasagna with 3 pounds of fresh ricotta, a pound of shredded asiago cheese, tomato sauce, onions, a fresh bag of spinach and some fresh basil that I love, plus garlic, chicken and beef bone broth, and mozzarella cheese to top it all off.
I'm going with the zupa de mariscos with garlic, lime, onions, scallions, cilantro, fresh tomatoes, and finished with angel hair pasta to give it a little heft.
Honestly, an embarrassment of riches. I hope all the poor people out there who are hovering between $2 grand ahead or $2 grand behind can find the same riches in their fridge and cabinets tonight.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Smiling Wide Tonight

Just feel like letting some shine a few people put on me to rock free. Yes, ego engaged, but hopefully justified. Ignore this if you like. I was looking at for my new book, Magic Mushrooms in India and Other Fantastic Tales, to see if anyone had bothered to post a review. That's ego talking.
Well, I knew my brother had posted something nice, but to my surprise there were five other comments as well. They took me by surprise because I only know one of the people who wrote one, but the other four are utter strangers. And it is very nice, but scary, when utter strangers review your work. I've been lambasted as working for the devil for my Ayahuasca Dreaming book, been called out by animal and indigenous rights folks for my Sapo in My Soul book, and years and years ago had fruit thrown at my actors during one performance of my play Rumors, at Lincoln Center's Library Theater. That stuff stings, but it's what you open yourself up to when you are working in the public eye.
So I was thrilled to read these three reviews of my new book a few minutes ago. Someone named Barley wrote: "I got a contact high reading Peter Gorman's vividly colorful accounts of buzzing around the globe.
"As a storyteller, Gorman is so facile that, as a reader, I easily slipped into each adventure. Joining in the cacophony in India, the grit of New York City and the scent of hashish in the Rif was an extraordinary trip. A gifted writer whose everyman sensibility had me laughing from the first sentence. Gorman's tales are delightful."
Someone named Ishmael wrote: "I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It is a collection of fantastic adventure tales as lived by the author, Peter Gorman. There is also a chapter on Peters "First Time Sex". It's hilarious!
"Lots of stuff that has never been written about before, like naked Catholic swim team meets.
Well worth the money just for that story.
"Gorman is a master story teller.
Fast read. A+++"
And then this was added this morning by someone named Karla: "Somehow somewhere I heard about Peter in another book relating to experiencing DMT in the Amazon. So, I ordered his book Ayahuasca Dreaming, absolutely profound reading for me, so I had to order his next, Sapo. Read that, and then I had to go searching to see what the internet could tell me about him and I found his web address. Honestly, I ranted and raved about him to all my girlfriends at my last cabin retreat and they're scratching their heads wondering what's up with me. I think Peter is opening the western world up to something amazing, because he is amazing. I have never met him, but what he is sharing openly about his lived life is raw, heartfelt, transforming and especially beautiful to the soul. In this book, Magic Mushrooms, I came away with a deeper sensation of his human-ness and found my heart relating to all his misgivings once again."
Please forgive me my temporary shit-eating grin. I just don't get treats like this every day.

Monday, November 15, 2021

My Brother Mike's Regimen

Growing up, my brother Mike had a big influence on me. He was the one who let me know that if you ate cheese or listened to most rock 'n roll you would never be able to concentrate enough on the hard work of baseball to become a pro player. And he was a good player. Partial scholarship for ball at St. Johns, a perennial powerhouse and generally a team in the top 20 in the USA. He went on to play semi pro for 3 decades. And he got me, a kid who was really sick with rheumatoid arthritis midway through kindergarden to believe in myself and become a pretty good athlete in my own right, playing NYC handball against all comers and holding my own, riding a bike 10 miles a day for years, being shortstop on the High Times Bonghitters team when we went something like 15-1 and 17-0 against the likes of Playboy, New Republic, Forbes, Money, WBAI radio station and so forth. My brother turned me into a small "c" champ.
   Today I was thinking about some of the songs I could listen to without contaminating my drive to be a pro in baseball.
   "Ou e, ou a, a, ding, dang, walla walla bing bang, Ou e, ou a,a, ding dang walla walla bing bang." That is from My Friend the Witch Doctor
    Then this: "I took my troubles down to Madam Rou, you know the gypsy with the gold capped tooth," from Love Potion Number 9.
    And "Walkin' to New Orleans, Walkin' to New Orleans. Ain't got a plane, ain't got a train, so I'm walking to New Orleans." From Walking to New Orleans.
   And: "That's the sound of the men, working on the chain, gang....That's the sound of the men, working on the chain gang. All day long they work so hard... . From The Sound of the Men Working on the Chain Gang.
   Then there was: "Hang down your head Tom Dooley, hang down your head and cry, hang down your head Tom Dooley, poor boy you're bound to die." from Tom Dooley.
   And I could listen all day to 16 Tons and King of the Road or even Blueberry Hill without losing my edge. It was just those romantic songs you shouldn't hear because the next think you knew you were liking girls and that was the absolute death of any one wanting to become  pro player in any sport. Kissing softened you up and you had to be hard and focused on swing weighted bats, sit ups, push ups, short sprints, fielding, throwing, running routes if you liked football, or practicing dribbling or jumpshots in the dark if basketball was your aim.
   It was slightly crazy and by 16 all I wanted to was eat cheese and kiss girls, but it got me out of being a sick kid. Thanks, Mike, you were the best.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

Sharing Spirit with Medicine

For some of you this will sound ridiculous; for others, it will make perfect sense. Since the pneumonia and the Covid -- pretty much back to back -- I need to drink the Peruvian cure of fresh ginger and chopped raw garlic cooked in lime juice and water. One or two gulps, hot or cold and you will be hocking up lugies from deep in your lungs. And of course, since both pneumonia and Covid try to drown you in fluid in the lungs, you need anything that will help clear that shit out. It is gross, but vital to healing.
My daughter or near-son Devon generally make it for me. Tonight Madeleina was not in the mood and Devon is in Hawaii. I asked her a second time and she begrudgingly said she would do it. I told her to clear her heart. Clear her spirit. No begrudging. I want her to make it -- physically I could easily make it -- because I want her spirit in it. Her spirit will double, triple the value of the medicine.
That might sound strange here in the USA, but in Peru and some other countries I've visited where medicines are collected and made on the spot the value of a strong, clear person adding their spirit to the medicine is what makes the medicine work. It is simply what I have observed. And dang if it doesn't work that way. I absolutely love getting a little spirit with the medicine. And when I serve medicine, if it is at all possible, I will make it for you rather than saying, "go boil these sticks for two hours and drink half a cup every four hours." There isn't enough power in that. But you put me, my friends more than me, in front of that medicine for two or 12 hours coaxing that medicine to give up its strongest spirit, and now we're talking.


Thursday, November 11, 2021

Magic Mushrooms in India reviewed by Steve Bloom

 Steve Bloom, an old compatriot and friend from my High Times days, has published a review of my new book, Magic Mushrooms in India and Other Fantastic Tales on his CelebStoner page. Go on over and take a look. And after you are done with the review and bought half-a-dozen copies of the book, go through the website. Bloom is a terrific writer, reporter and editor and his site reflects that. Definitely worth checking out. Here is the review:


Don't like being trapped

First I have to say this is an edit. In the original I was angry at family and have no right to be. So I apologize. That said, it remains true that I have been in this house for months and I am going insane. I am allowed to accompany people to the store, so long as I stay in the car, two or three time a week. I make lists of food daily so that I can cook but I am still housebound. Except for when I go to various doctors. And they all ask the US Government for an unfair amount of bucks. My back doctor, giving me four shots of steriods, with a local anesthetic (lidocaine on a cloth, rubbed on my back) charged Medicare more than $14,000 for less than 15 minutes work. You get that? It is $1000 a minute with total cost of materials under $25.00. Throw in a lab tech, a greeter, an assistant and maybe you're up to $200.00. In Peru I just ask for the steroids in my back and the pharmacist has me raise my shirt and injects me for s/50 or $12 US per shot.
So I am going slightly insane. I have been in this house too long. I want freedom. I am working daily to fix this slightly broken body, but it seems I am in some illness quicksand: At the very start of the pandemic I had just returned from Peru and was in the ICU at the hospital with them telling me I should have my will done. I got over that and learned how to walk again when I suddenly needed 3 small operations. l got those, but on the last one I evidently picked up pneumonia and spent a month pretty sick and then several months getting my lungs okay. Much of that my fault because I have been a heavy smoker until very recently. Still, nothing ever felt like that nd just at that was clearing up I got covid, despite being double-vaccinated. I'm getting cleared up from that now and doing exercises to get my balance back and to get in shape for my upcoming Amazon exploration -- by boat. I will talk about that in a few days. And, since something has me by the throat, now I need and will have lower back surgery in two weeks. I have already had two procedures. I can't imagine what my doc is going to charge Medicare for the big one!
So I felt like screaming. If I was 30 I probably would have punched the walls until I needed stitches. I am not 30, so instead, I made Philly cheese steak sandwiches, with peppers, onions, tomatoes, thin beef in olive oil and garlic, topped with fresh cut Provolone cheese. On Hoagies. Nice.
They are gonna be good. I hope all of you have a wonderful night. Unfortunately, I will bet that a lot of you feel just as imprisoned as I do. I hope we're all clear soon.


Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Some Artists I Love

 I was raised with a lot of art in our house. Not expensive, just copies, but still, lots of it. And I later worked in the art world for a few years, pulling paint on silk screens, delivering artist's proofs, setting up a gallery's shows. So I posted a couple of beautiful pieces of art by my friend Larry Lavalle and then my friend Mac McGee wrote that they were nice. Now I used Mac as an illustrator for stories sometimes when I was at High Times, a lifetime ago. He was poor but fantastic, but he had no idea that I had ever worked in galleries of shops. So I wrote this to him:

Thanks. Means a lot coming from the freaking brilliant artist that you are. And I do not think every artist is brilliant. i love Bosch, Oldenburg, Larry Rivers, the pointilists, and some others. I worked at Multiples Art gallery on 74th and Madison for a couple of years in college, then went on to work for "the impossible man" Dave Basanow who had a huge loft in SOHO where he worked with polymers for artists like Rauchenberg, Marisol and so forth, so I was one of the people filling those molds, mixing colors for the artists to choose from and so forth. I later worked at Chrysalis in SOHO where we pulled the squeegees filled with paint to make the silkscreens for Warhol and Indiana and dozens of others. So I am particular -- I do like Cristo and Tommy Christmas and Jasper Johns and Haring and Klee, Georgia O'Keefe, Vinny Van Gogh and a thousand others. But you, Mr McGill, and my friend Larry Lavalle should be picking up $25 grand per piece, just for starters. Go up to a lot from there. You are that good and there should be that demand.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

My Money-Raising Pitch for an Amazon Expedition

 I am trying hard to raise funds for a trip to the Amazon in Jan and Feb, 2022. I have been promised some funds but need $33 K more. It is a big trip back to the Javari river where I have taken two boats previously, in 1993 and 1994. This is a long pitch, but a good read, and maybe one of you reading has a rich uncle. Hope so.

January-February 2022 Javari River Expedition Proposal


By Peter Gorman


I’m not certain of the format for this type of proposal, so I am just going to jump into the water here.

    I’m Peter Gorman. I’m 70 years old from Whitestone, Queens, New York. I lived in Manhattan for 30 years and have lived in Joshua, Texas for 20-years now. I’m a dad and a granddad and proud of the kids. I have spent an average of 3 months in Peru annually for the past 37 years, including a few years in the late 1990s when I opened The Cold Beer Blues Bar on Puerto Mastranza (Pablo Rossel and Requena) and lived there with my family full time.

    I first visited Northwest Amazonia in 1984, got absolutely fascinated, and returned for a month of survival training with jungle guide Moises Torres Vienna in 1985. On that second trip we ran into a family of indigenous Matsés who were in the process of building a camp not far from the Aucayacu River after having left the Galvez River. I won’t go into it all here but the encounter was extraordinary and left me feeling that I would have to get out to where the majority of Matsés live: On the Alto Javari and Galvez rivers.

    In 1986 I got out to those rivers, visited several camps — spaced roughly 8 hours apart by peque-peque – and made a fast friendship with Pablo, the headman of one small camp, and his brother Alberto, the only other adult male in the camp.

    During my time with Pablo I was introduced to two vital medicines: sapo — the mucous or sweat from the phyllomedusa bicolor, known typically as the large waxy monkey tree frog — and nü-nü, a snuff made from the inner bark of the cacao tree and black tobacco, Nicotia Rustica.

    During the course of the trip I collected several broken arrows that had been used to kill monkeys, a quickly fashioned stick-and-vine noose used to strangle boars hiding in a hollowed out log, and several other throw-away items. I also collected leaves from several medicines Pablo and Alberto showed me.

    I mention these details because when I returned to New York I began to wonder whether Moises had brought me to real hunter-gatherers or to some sophisticated tourist tribals. In an effort to figure that out, I decided to offer the things I’d brought from the jungle to the American Museum of Natural History. A meeting was set up and I was nervous because I imagined they would look at my things and tell me to get out of there with my tourist junk.

    That is not what happened: Dr. Robert Carneiro, head of South American Ethnology, and Lilah Williamson, who was designing a permanent Hall of South American Peoples for Dr. Carneiro, both wondered how I’d gotten my things and asked if they could have them for the new, permanent hall. Of course I said yes, and they asked me to write a report on the entire trip and very specific information on how and where I acquired each item I was giving them.

    The report included the sapo and nü-nü, and the sapo section was passed along to Dr. Vittorio Erspamer, a pharmacologist working at the FIDIA Research Institute at the University of Rome.

    The plant medicine leaves were passed on to Dr. Steven King, a botanist working on plant-based medicines at the New York Botanical Gardens.

    While Erspamer went wild for my report on the use of frog sweat — which began a correspondence that lasted for several years until his death — Dr. King was absolutely nonplussed with my plant collecting skills. He told me that if I should ever wind up genuinely collecting plant medicines I would have to spend a couple of weeks learning to do it correctly at the Botanical Gardens.

     That chance happened in the 1992, when a new pharmaceutical company, Shaman Pharmaceuticals, went into business. King was a key player in the organization which had Dr. Richard Schultes, the father of modern ethnobotany, as its front man.

     By chance, Dr. King and I met at a seminar to introduce the new company and he agreed to partially back a plant collecting trip to the Javari River for me if I would take the private plant collecting course he’d proposed years earlier. I did and it was fantastic.

      The trip necessitated my having a boat to move sufficient supplies to collect plants. I spent a couple of weeks in the ports around Iquitos searching for a boat to rent before I found a 39’ Brazilian boat that would be perfect. It took a week to supply and outfit it, and then, with a tiny crew: a cook I wound up marrying the following year, a motorist (the owner’s son), and a driver (timonel) to share the chore of getting the boat safely down the Amazon to Leticia and then up the Javari several hundred kilometers to the Galvez and the Alto Javari.

     I collected plants from a number of villages along the Javari, most of which were Matsés, but one of which was a Bora camp that was not supposed to be anywhere in that region.

    The 32-day trip was successful — 55 medicinal plants were collected both in bulk and as herbarium specimens — including a new subspecies of one of them.

     The following year Dr. King sent me back, this time with Dr. Tom Carlson, a medical doctor and botanist with Shaman Pharmaceuticals. Because the first trip had gone so unexpectedly well, Shaman footed the entire bill for the second trip.

      The first boat, the Rey David was no longer available, so I started searching and finally found the Jacaré, a 51’ fishing boat that I had converted to a deck boat.

      That trip was also successful. Unfortunately, Shaman fell on hard times and there we no more trips with them. Additionally, Peru refused to sign onto an Intellectual Property Rights Agreement dealing the medicinal plants, so no one else was going to hire me either.

      25-years have passed since that second trip. I want to go back to the Javari. I want to do a little plant collecting but I primarily want to record the changes that have taken place on the river since I was last there. Is the Bora village still in the area? Has someone taken up the job as plant healer from my old friend there or are they dependent on visits from modern doctors to take care of them? How about the village of blond Matsés on the third day up the river, the result of some German missionary women being stolen some years ago. Is that camp still there? What about the crazy camp of indigenous San Luis (I can find nothing about them) whose camp I have visited several times but I’ve only ever seen their slaves, never a single indigenous? How about logging? There was very little commercial logging there years ago (the good mahogany was taken decades  before I ever arrived) but what is the situation now? How many gringos, both missionaries and adventurers visit or live in that hinterland, the border between Brazil and Peru?

      I think that is a record worth having, and coupled with my two initial trip reports — along with a 1988 Javari report on a trip done with Moises — would make a unique addition to the literature of the Amazon. And, of course, I think I am the person who is best suited to doing it.

     The trip would take roughly 50 days during high water season in January and February. The first 10 days would involve outfitting the boat, acquiring the fuel and food, and making any physical changes (like building a small room to store sufficient dry goods), a then the trip itself would run roughly 40 days.

     A trip like this requires funding. I can break those costs down category by category if you like. There is the cost to get me there and for my expenses once in Peru. There is the boat rental, fuel, motor oil, dry goods, fresh goods, jungle outfitting, pay for a team of 8 for 50 days, and a host of other things that would need payment.

    Here is a hint of those costs:

Boat rental (gorgeous boat, strong enough hull for the Amazon, well outfitted and price includes the owner’s representative, his motorist, and one driver): $7,500

Fuel and motor oil: $3,500

Dry goods for 40 days for 14 people plus people we run into on the river:  $3,000.

Staff: (3 people in the kitchen and clothes-washing detail, one person who speaks various dialects; one Matsés man; 2 assistants for me, general work, and to assist with plant collecting; 2 people to keep the boat clean and to stay up nights to keep an eye out for pirates) $1,000-$1500 each or roughly $11,000 total

One medical professional for emergencies: $3000

Two quality drones to be handled by Matt H. a lawyer handling the non-profit and other legal matters connected to the trip. (Drone footage, to the best of my knowledge, has never been taken on the Javari. We would be interested in seeing what is going on on various tributaries before we entered them; what villages may be hidden behind the trees lining the banks, etc.) I recommend the EVO 11 Pro K. I recommend it because I did a television show where it was used and its range is 5+ miles with a fly time of nearly 90 minutes with two batteries in use. Two, with tax and extra rechargeable batteries: $3,900.

My costs: Air flight for both Devon W. (associate who has worked with me in the jungle for nearly 10 years) and myself: $3,000. Our expenses in Iquitos and on the river for duration of trip, $3,000; pocket money for the unforeseen: $5,000; money to buy gifts  for the heads of the various military outposts we need permission to pass— panettone, a bottle of whiskey and 5 gallons of fuel for their generators generally does it — and money for FUNAI for permission to enter the Javari: $2,000. Total $13,000

Kitchen equipment: While I can supply pots, pans, plates, silverware, we need two or three good thermoses, dish soap, shower soap, scrubbers, buckets for water to wash with, one extra stove, a freezer, a fridge (used for both is fine) 30 tanks of propane, fresh food — from potatoes, carrots, beets, yams, yucca, corn, and plantain, to fresh veggies and fruit that can be re-upped in Leticia, 4 days up the river at the Brazilian military base of Peleton; four more days up the river at Angamos, and everything else needed to make and serve 50 meals a day. $2,500.

Additionally, while I can provide hammocks, mosquito nets, boots, blankets, etc, we need jungle goods from fishing line and hooks to several rented shotguns for protection, machetes, lanterns if the generator goes, spare propellors, cotter pins, and spark plugs for the engine and a host of little, but important items. $500

All sorts of miscellaneous items from extra fire extinguishers to heavy plastic to prevent rain from coming through the large windows of the boat to a rented or purchased satellite phone for emergencies as there will be very little cell phone coverage. $500

    The list gives you a good idea of what is needed to do this properly. There would be benefit to funders in that drone footage would be available for any documentary; all purchased items from drones to freezer to kitchen equipment would belong to you as well.

    The above items, all ballpark but all fairly close to real expenditures come to $48,500. We have been promised roughly $15,000 thus far, leaving a $38,500 hole. That is where you come in.

    Let me know if you need anything else from me. I will be glad to provide anything you like.



Peter Gorman