Bill Irish the dope peddling fiend! Greetings Crimeziners, all you noir lovers out there no doubt know that the highly strung Bill Irish was a pseudonym for hardboiled hero Cornell Woolrich. Perhaps the great man used the cheesy nom de plume, to throw his dope dealer of the scent [pun intended] and thus avoid castigation amongst his reefer toking compadres as a witless hack and Fed suckling money whore?
Still, the 1940’s were a time when it was suggested, in fearful tones on the floor of the house of congress that ‘Reefer’ could cause normal, god fearing, white people to fall under the influence of Jazz Music. Heaven forfend. A nit-wit notion that was added to in the following decade by fear mongering US commissioner of narcotics Harry Anslinger [veteran of Volstead prohibition] who said marihuana was as dangerous as a coiled rattlesnake. Attitudes of Anslinger and his axe grinding right-wing cohorts did much to alarm and misinform a public who was largely ignorant of the Marihuana ‘Menace.’
Woolrich’s overblown and wildly inaccurate book provides much amusement in stoner circles these days, as does the famous Anslinger hate tract Assassins of Youth and the 1937 exploitation film by Elmer Clifton of the same name, that followed it. Crimeziners who are in the mood for a double feature chuckle should also seek out the equally ludicrous 1936 film Reefer Madness—Women cry for it-men die for it, squeals the lurid poster. Today the even sadder truth is revealed at last: Marihuana is a gateway drug to a life of Domino’s Pizza and X-box. Like, wow man—that’s way awesome!
Proud owners of an original Woolrich paperback as pictured, can expect it to fetch an astonishing $100— you can buy a lot of pot with that Crimeziners but beware, you will be listening to Coltrane and The Miles Davis quintet before you realize what is happening.