A Tray of Plywood All the Way Down

Before brushing into a zeitgeist of parenthood when I illustrated a not-for-bedtime-story, Go the Fuck to Sleep, I wrote and illustrated a children’s book that was, for some, even more controversial. In 2005, I published It’s Just a Plant — A Children’s Story About Marijuana, a tool for parents to discuss a complicated plant with their kids. I recently released an updated edition. This time around, I was surprised to find an audience more sympathetic to my subject, but one that would also admonish me for using the word “marijuana” in its discussion. I received suggestions from pro-pot activists that…

Part Three: “Less Publicity of Articles About Coca Leaves and Narcotic Drugs Will Be Better For The Public”

see Part 1: The Cocainemaker, Reefer Madness, and the Vice-President of The Coca-Cola Company and Part 2: How Coca-Cola Changed the World for Coca

Among other things, my book A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola is about the Coca-Cola beverage and the coca leaf of South America. Chewed for thousands of years, coca is also the plant source of cocaine and has been banned around the globe since 1961. …

Part Two: A Double Standard for the Single Convention Treaty

In March 2009, Bolivian president Evo Morales stood before the United Nations, a coca leaf in hand, citing a history of use of the plant for purposes social, spiritual, medicinal, and nutritional. The event marked the beginning of a formal request to correct the “historical error” of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs — the agreement that orders people to stop chewing the leaves and mandates the destruction of all wild coca bushes. …

Part One: How the Coca gets into Coke

In 1886, a pharmacist named Dr. John Pemberton mixed extract of the green coca leaf — containing the recently discovered marvel of cocaine — with the caffeine kick of West African kola nuts, making a “Brain Workers’ Panacea” tonic called Coca-Cola.

Rikers Island, in Portraits

On Rikers Island it is not fruitful to be angry. I’ve seen anger and frustration revealed in fits and bursts, but more often I marveled at how people accept being locked in a cage for the most precious months and years of their lives. When someone has a family and a future, right now is the most potent moment. And right now, there are almost ten thousand people maintaining extraordinary calm, incarcerated on a small island just a stone’s throw from LaGuardia Airport.

How to be a Monkey Wrench in the Machinery of the Drug War

So you’ve received a notice to report to jury duty.


You’re trying to get out of it?

Too busy?

“I’m going to turn into a dream and then you’ll be in real trouble”

On the morning of March 7th, 2002, Abdul Matí Klarwein passed away in his sleep, from his home in Deia, on the island of Mallorca, Spain.

photo courtesy the Klarwein family

“I painted psychedelically before I took psychedelics…”

Matí became a mentor in my head as soon as I first saw his work. He painted impossibly, beyond what I’d ever imagined one could do in an image—blending styles of the Flemish masters, spectacular Islamic patterns, Indian tantric arts, cartoons, Hebrew, and talismans, to start. He changed his name to Abdul Matí because he said Jews should take an Arab name, and vice versa. …

Ricardo Cortés

I draw, write, & sometimes publish books. Drug wars, oceans, jails, children's books. Rmcortes.com

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