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VICE Chats with an Atypical Crack Reporter

RubenCastenedaCoverWe thoroughly enjoyed this week’s interview by VICE staff writer Matt Taylor with Ruben Castaneda, the Washington Post alum who once upon a time covered the crack beat while also, himself, regularly getting high on crack.

Castaneda’s book about this incredible and dangerous odyssey, Street Rising, was published at the beginning of the month. Here’s what Castaneda, who before the Post was with the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, he told Taylor when asked about the first time he tried the addictive drug:

“I was on a reporting assignment on the western edge of downtown LA in a pretty tough neighborhood. This very, very attractive young woman caught my eye. She gestured for me to come over, so I put the reporting aside for a moment and went over to flirt with her. Now, I was already, at this time, drinking heavily. In fact, I had already gotten pretty toasted that afternoon at Corky’s — a dive bar — so I was pretty impaired in judgment.”

“So when she offered me, very quickly into our conversation, a hit of crack, I was 27 years old enough to know better but young enough to feel invincible. I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing something that I had read so much about. I’d read that crack cocaine produced this incredible high. In that moment, I dismissed any thoughts that this would throw me into addiction.”

Castaneda talks extensively about the night he mirrored Washington mayor Marion Barry… in the same hotel. Read the full Q&A here. To coincide with the July 1 publication of the book, Politico magazine shared a lengthy essay by Castaneda.

[Jacket cover courtesy: Bloomsbury Publishing]

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