1970s Drug Culture Lingo

Posted by | on September 2, 2008

The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook is our guide through the strange, and sometimes hilarious slang of the 1970s counterculture.

So the other day my buddy Jess scored me a genuine Hardy Boys Detective Handbook from the 70s! Rawk! The antique and curios shop on the edge of town is a gold mine for retro and kitschy stuff like this, and the swag is usually dirt cheap. A couple of bucks and I’m back in the second grade reading out my project on The Hardy Boys – The Clue Of The Hissing Serpent, even though I never finished the book. I slimed myself up an A+ with some distracting crayon art and a serpent’s head made of egg cartons, what a little bullshit artist I was! But this book is different, this is a Detective Handbook! Perhaps I can atone for my shameful past by learning the ways of the pubescent, crime fighting ├╝ber-honkey. Where’s my decoder ring !!!???

Hardy Boys Detective Handbook

Resembling one of the classic blue-bound Hardy Boys adventures (you know the ones, every elementary school library has a set), this particular book is unique as it contains a “How To” detective guide slapped together by author Franklin W. Dixon, and retired FBI agent Will F. Flynn (real name?). After a couple of rollicking adventures with the twin Gap-shopping teenage super sleuths, we get the low-down on the real criminal underworld, and the tips and techniques we (pre-teen readers = future law enforcement officials) can use to rid our neighborhoods of scum and villainy! Super keen!

This guide has got all the latest information on crime detection that 1972 had to offer : Dusting for, and identifying finger prints, how to tail a suspect, and how to spot and communicate with members of the criminal Drug Culture… wait, what…?

Yep, the lengthy and bizarrely in-depth chapter entitled “Common Terminology Used by Addicts and Dealers” is the unintentionally-hilarious jewel in this tarnished and musty old crown. I’ve skimmed through the extensive pages of both criminal and drug slang and picked some of my personal favs to share. I think it’s possible, with a bit of sly verbal salesmanship we all could bring some of these forgotten ghetto jems back into mainstream conversation. Try ‘em on your friends!

acidhead - Frequent user of LSD (also: freak, cube head).

berries – Dollars.

bread – Money (also: scratch, geetis, lettuce, long green, and folding stuff).

bunco – To cheat or swindle.

bust – Arrest (also: clip, glue, bat out, drop, can, or “got jugged”).

cooler – A person in jail. Also a deck of cards prepared for cheating at gambling.

cat – A sharp character.

dee dee – A person pretending to be friendly.

deck – Container of drugs (also: a bindle, or piece).

dropper – Assassin. Also an LSD dealer

dynamite – Poor-quality heroin.

fireplace ritual – To insult a member of a drug cult in front of other members (drug cult eh?).

finger’s end - Ten percent of the loot.

flattie – Policeman.

freakout - Bad experience with psychedelics.

fresh ‘n sweet – Released from prison (also: ground level, on the streets, hit the bricks)

goofball addiction – Addiction to barbituites.

gut level – Anything emotional.

haircut - to insult a lower member of the drug cultre.

ice cream habit – A small irregular addiction (also three-day habit).

Italian football - A bomb.

manicure – Reemove the dirt, seeds ‘n stems from marijuana.

on the nod – Sleepy.

pop - Inject heroin directly into veins (also: mainline, jab, bang, or shoot up).

script - Prescription drugs.

split – Run from scene.

square – A non-addicted person (also: do-righter, apple, or “do-right Johnny”)

typewriter – A submachine gun.

If some of these themes seem inappropriate for a Hardy Boys novel, you’re absolutely spot on, the preceding chapter actually categorized every conceivable type of drug encountered by police, their mode of consumption and effects on addicts. I guess Frank Dixon and his FBI buddy really wanted little Timmy and Sally Do-Right to know the evils of LSD and the horrors of Talking Hot Dogs !!!

For another slug of retro counterculture lingo slide on over to Skeyelab Music’s How To Speak Hip for one of my absolute favorite lessons on the evolution of “criminal fringe” slang.

Much love.

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4 Responses to “1970s Drug Culture Lingo”

  1. AvatarNani!?

    Whoo, my first post on your site, I’ll try to be nice!
    You’re definitly right, that detective guide isn’t exactly elementry school library material. Did the actual novels have any of these terms in them, or was it just in the Detective Handbook?
    Anyways, it was well written, I’m definitly gonna look in to more of your posts, and I’ll be watching out at my dorm for anybody who uses these terms!
    Keep up the good work man!

    Reply to this comment.
  2. AvatarDo-right Johnny

    Just had a thought. How many children of the 70′s, after buying this book, went out and either, attempted to identify drug users, or were able to score drugs that much easier?

    Reply to this comment.
  3. Avatarsara

    I just found this post with a search for outdated drugs and I have to say this is a gem of a vintage book find. I’m totally hitting the streets to track down any droppers and dee dees who may be lurking in my neighborhood undetected. Maybe I’ll just ask the junkies who live under the stairwell if they know any.

    Reply to this comment.
  4. AvatarNichevo

    Guess I’m square too. I read this as a boy and thought this invaluable information, particularly the drug stuff, which is still current aside from the newest stuff like roofies, synthetic pot, etc (though I thought it had Ecstacy as MDMA).

    But also the safecracking – none of you actually read this book if you don’t remember the description of The Blow Job!

    And, there are more important things sometimes than washing your hands. Good to know!

    Reply to this comment.