Sheldon Norberg, the East Bay author, actor, and recreational-drug fiend whose book, Confessions of a Dope Dealer, made the rounds a few years ago, is taking his act on the road as a solo performance piece this Sunday (7 p.m.) at 155 Dwinelle Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Norberg’s show is sponsored by UC Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Campus Libertarians, and tickets are $10 adults, $5 students (not for children under twelve), at the door or from ADopeDealer.com. We caught up with Norberg somewhere in the ether and asked him a few questions.
Q: So you’re touring colleges now. Any stoners around?
A: Stoners are everywhere. I recently performed in Nowhere, TX, and Nowhere, IL, and had students desperate for information on DXM and Salvia divinorum, albeit too late to save them from the hard crashes they had already had.
Q: Your show isn’t stand-up, it’s more sit-down, observational, even confessional?
A: I always saw myself in the Alan King mold, but when you’re smoking joints the size of cigars, you end up sitting down a lot. Still, I looked myself pretty straight in the red-eye when I wrote the book.
Q: Compared to the bong-and-nitrous years, don’t students in 2004 seem to be pretty focused?
A: It could be the standard reversal of trying to avoid whatever your parents did, or the grim realization that the bright post-collegiate future of bucked-up technocracy that your high school counselor sold you was worth about as much as WorldCom stock, and that a job at Oil Changers might not have been so bad. There always seem to have been those who were excessively driven, though — engineering and math majors, you might call them, versus the liberal artists. Whether they realize it or not, psychedelic culture has pervaded everything, from virtual-reality programming to computer chip design itself, and perhaps those who are supposed to meet up with drugs will do so at a point in life when they’re more capable of dealing with them. It’s not like I’m pretending that all my acid-bingeing at nineteen did me a lot of good.