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More Reports from Warsaw

Allan Clear continues his reporting from the International Harm Reduction Association conference in Warsaw, this time covering days two and three. Click the "read full post" link below or here to read the whole thing. Day 2 On the morning plenary, Fabio Mesquita provided two case studies of the national responses to HIV among injectors in Brazil and Indonesia. Fabio was instrumental in altering the landscape for drug injectors in Sao Paolo and Brazil as whole. He now works in Indonesia. A couple of notable points were that 28% of the population of Brazil have taken an HIV test and the phenomenal scale up of syringe exchange in Indonesia, from 17 to 129 over two years. The INPUD drug user session was extremely well attended. Bijay Pandey talked about his organizing in Nepal. As NDRI's Sam Friedman pointed out it's hard enough to organize around user's lives in general. To do so during a civil war is particularly impressive. Like all specific user organizing the future of the work is in jeopardy but the effort has been put in. Perhaps there's no more supportive drug researcher than Sam Friedman. A tireless advocate for drug users, Sam provided a Marxist Leninist dialectical critique of global socio-economic substructural micro organized community ventures that help diffuse the totalitarian oppression we all live under in this post soviet imperialistic world. User dominated of course. Alexander Rumyanzev talked about the way drugs are used to affect social movements and oppress drug users. There has been a long line of very articulate drug user activists in the history of harm reduction - John Mordaunt, Matt Southwell, Annie Madden, Jude Byrne, Louis Jones, Bill Nelles, for example – and one of the most articulate drug user activists for the last decade has been the USA's Paul Cherashore so it was good to see him back on form. He urged drug users to strike back at the system. He wasn't clear on a strategy for doing so but made valid comparisons between gay rights and drug user rights using the San Francisco gay community's response to the murder of Harvey Milk and later talked about the Stonewall riots as flashpoints that eventually changed policy and society as a whole. more... I wandered from a fairly boring HCV session to a next-door session on law enforcement that turned out to be very good for me. I caught Prevention Point Philadelphia's Corey Davis's presentation. He talked about the importance of harm reduction training for the police. "Well duh" thinks I until Corey pointed out that it's the minority of programs in the US that actually meet with the police. I'm well aware of programs (in Los Angeles and New York for example) that do meet with the police over law enforcement issues because they're squeaky wheels. We all met with high up police officers in NYC a couple of years ago and have stayed on top of the NY State Department of Health and are now working with the NY City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to follow up. Was I being naïve to think that everyone else in the country was also meeting with the police? According to Corey yes, I've missed the boat completely. What the hell are we thinking? Apart from syringe exchange folks, the other professionals drug users interact with are the police. If we want to consolidate our programs, relationships with our local precincts no matter how antagonistic are vital. Another flashbulb that went off is that for programs in New York City, law enforcement training is now conducted by the State Health Department. Programs also need to maintain on-going relationships with local police. We can't cede this role to health departments. When there is a community problem involving drugs, the local needle exchange has to be a recognizable entity to resolve problems. Just for example when I worked at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center we brokered meetings between the police and sex workers to help catch a violent john. Hopefully Corey is wrong in his information but he convinced me he's not. So get on it folks. A fairly intriguing session on risk environments attracted me next. There was a nice sociological overview of drug dealing situations from Australia and a critique of the word 'chaotic' when attached the word 'drug use'. Yes ho hum very interesting. Ok let's be thoughtful about the narratives we buy into. If only we all could spend our time googling the word 'chaotic'. There was also a presentation on the safe injection site in Vancouver. However I must been in a blackout because I can't remember one thing about it. Barbara Tempalski from NDRI looked at factors influencing the development of syringe exchange in the United States. The primary influencing factors were the presence of a university and activism from the gay community. Another researcher rather unsubtly promoting the homosexual agenda. Take home message is if we want to get more programs throughout the States, recruit, recruit, recruit. Had a delicious plate of deep fried cheese in breadcrumbs over wonderbread on jam for dinner. Had a candy made from cocaine for dessert. It was supposed to be the equivalent of about 3 cups of coffee. Must admit that I noticed no psychoactive effect although I haven't been to sleep since and I seem to be talking really intelligently about the CIA. Hang on, someone's knocking on my door again. Let me hide…… Paul Cherashore Day 3 The hump is on and we're sliding towards the finish of the conference….. Today there was an ibogaine session that was unconnected to the main conference for which I had agreed to provide opening remarks. My interest in ibogaine goes back about 17 years to the Lower East Side in New York and really doesn't seem to move out of the neighborhood. There was a guy called Fred Gotbetter who participated in the Lower East Side Needle Exchange Program. He was a fixture - smart, good company and often annoying as he made demands that were either not realistic, totally doable but I didn't want to support or things we should be doing but had refused to do. He was frequently right and frequently wrong. However he did talk about ibogaine and how great it worked for eliminating withdrawal from drugs and he touted it as a cure. However he had taken it 6 times and was still a mess. However there was usually something to what Fred said. Others thought so too and so ICARE, the Lower East Side user group, invited Howard Lotsof to attend one of its meetings and let more people know about ibogaine. Howard is generally credited with the African alkaloid's discovery as an addiction interrupter and for bringing it back to the States. Howard explained that treatments were available but one had to travel to Holland and a treatment cost $20,000. Thus endeth that. A few years later, Dana Beal (see travel section of this blog) randomly added me to cc list on a ranting e-mail. Another cc was a guy called Patrick Kroupa who was another LESNEP participant and knew me back in the day. He lives in Miami and had used ibogaine and now worked on off shore trials of the drug. We got together and he explained his journey. Not long after, Dana showed up in HRC's office with Dimitri Mugianis in tow. Again I hadn't seen Dimitri for many years but if you check out HRC's heroin brochure, he's the guy chasing the dragon and I was the photographer. Again he'd used ibogaine and it had worked for him too. What intrigues me now is that underground ibogaine treatments are taking place in the USA now. Folks realized that to bring attention to the efficacy of ibogaine it needed a core of successful patients who had been treated locally. Which brings us pretty much up to date. I was the opening speaker and after my remarks I headed back to the main conference. Unfortunately the plenary presentation I was looking forward to "The History of Collaboration between Drug Users, PLWHAs, gay men and women around HIV/AIDS" by Gregg Gonsalves had already occurred. Gregg's a longtime AIDS activist who moved to South Africa and is now causing waves down there. He always has something sensible to say and as we talked in the corridor after his presentation it seems he'd laid into the conference organizers for failing to meet the needs of drug users. Always causing trouble is Gregg. The afternoon drug user involvement panel was disappointing. But HRC's Hilary McQuie proved herself to be an excellent host during a Living Room session as she talked about the federal ban on the funding of needle exchange. However there was only one thing on my mind at that moment. Luciano Colonna and myself were excited about visiting the urinetherapy center next door to the hotel. The "Source of Life" urinetherapy center is one of a set of centers located in this part of Warsaw known for its waters. Visitors are shown to a pretty solarium and a menu of "teas" is brought to each table. Admittedly we were not very brave and passed over the bull juice and the 10 year old fermented banker water and ultimately plumped to self-serve and after a visit to the bathroom to fill the teapot we returned to the solarium. Our teapots were infused with fine herbs and returned to us. Surprisingly invigorating and refreshing we prepared for the evening's party with a massage of a special butter made from the urine of former KGB officers. An excellent way to round off the afternoon. One thing the conference has always delivered on is an end of conference party. This year the event was held at an old factory somewhere on the edge of town. The main attraction was the Harm Reduction Allstars a band made up of er self-styled harm reduction all stars. And if one enjoys sixties soul and 12 bar blues, they were a lot of fun. Luciano Colonna Pablo Cymerman & Allan Clear at the party The Harm Reduction Allstars -- Patric O'Hare, Franz Trautmann & Jimmy Dorabchee Sangeeta Sran & Palani Nararayan at the party
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Fred Gotbetter

I grew up with him! Ilost contact with him. He was my best friend when I was young. Does anyone know what happened to him? Please e-mail Bernie at:[email protected]. Thanks!

The above article mentions "Fred Gotbetter"

I grew up with him. He was my best friend! I moved to Florida in 1984 and never heard from him again. Does anyone know what happened to him? Please e-mail Bernie W. at:[email protected] Thanks!

Fred Gotbetter

Fred was a friend of mine too! My name is Alex, and I'm looking to get in contact with the old crew of Fred's friends from New York. [email protected]

Fred Gotbetter

Needle exchange program? Ibogane research? Where is the Fred Gotbetter I knew growing up? We were a bunch of guys that went to "Hillcrest 'High School" in Jamaica, Queens, N.Y. Fred was from Kew Gardens, Queens, N.Y. I was from Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y. Yes, Alex, hell yes, I remember you! The "science lounge" at Queensborough Community College". And what about Jamie Zuckerman of Briarwood, Queens, N.Y.????? so Fred, where are you? You still hanging out with Mickey from the "Church of the realized Fantasy"? Or the Yippies? Dana Beal? Fred, where the HELL are YOU?

I'm not anonymous, I'm Bernie W.

Bernie W. is from Hollywood, Florida and can be reached at [email protected]. So, Paul Cherashore, would you please get in touch with me in boring Florida!!!!!

Paul Cherashore

Hey Paul, you mention Fred Gotbetter. Where the hell is this dude? If you or anyone knows, e-mail Bernie at:[email protected]. Also looking for Laura Mae Finn now, I believe Laura Mae Montoya.

Sadly, Fred died in the mid or late nineties

Sorry, I don't recall exactly when. Dana Beal might know more. Google him to find contact info. I think he's still on Bleeker St.

Fred gotbetter

Please be more specific! You wrote "anonomous". How do you konw that Fred died in the mid or late 90's? There is no contact for Dana Beal. I hung out with Dana in the late 70's when he had his "Yipster Times" periodical and this warehouse loft on Bleeker Street. Living in Pembroke Pines, Florida, I have no way of tracking dana Beal. big question is....HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? Did you know Fred? Please, he was my best friend growing up and I am desperate to find out any information about him. My e mail address is:[email protected]. Thank You!

fred gotbetter

fred died on 3/17/97 in my apartment in brighton beach of pneumonia according to the medical examiner....

more on fred gotbetter

this is aron kay,,,contact me via [email protected]

even more on Fred Gotbetter

I also was an old friend of Fred's.
I originally met him at summer camp in the mid 70's where we became good friends.
He turned me on to Jimi Hendrix, Peyote, Tryptamines, and The Native American Church.
I lost touch with him but later found out (from Dana Beal who I had met thru Fred) he overdosed on methadone.

Hey guys. Anyone remember me?

Hey guys. Anyone remember me? Eddie from staten Island? I was a good friend of Fred's also. In the late 70s. The guy really taught me a lot. After we had a falling out I took that knowledge and really did some big things with it. I owed a lot of that to what I learned from Fred.

I Remember Eddie from Staten Island & Eric Mones !!!!!!

Yes, Eddie......I do remember you! It was hard not to have a fall out with Fred once he was possessed with going down to 3rd Street and Avenue B.   Heroin overtook his life.  The  person I know lived a long life as a junkie was author  William Burrroughs.  A certain path to death,   I could no longer associate with Fred once his sole focus in life became his next nod.   Saad, he was such a great guy back in the mid 70's.  And this guy was  "reverend" for the "Native American Church."  I remember once going down to his basement where he lived with his mother and sister on Brevort Street in Kew Gardens and this dude had 1000 peyote buttons strung up  by rope drying.  His mother, European in background, came down and said "Frederick....what the hell are these things?"  He told her they were Vitamin C supplements!   She bought it!  Too bad this guy couldn't find Narcotics Anonymous or some kind of therapy.  R.I.P.   Fred!    

Bernie W. 

Fred Gotbetter

I met Fred in the mid 90s in the LES thru the needle exchange program.  We became fast friends since it was pretty hard to not like Fred (at least IMO). I lived right around the corner from the exchange, on Ave B and 4th St.  For about a year and a half, Fred and I ran the streets together....he was always coming by my apt, ringing my bell at all hours, needing somewhere to get off.  I didn't mind....even when he was high, Fred was good company.  I remember listening him talk about his experiences with ibogaine....he was all around, just an interesting guy.  I went to rehab in Aug '95 and that was the last time I saw Fred.  A couple of years later, I went back to the LES asking about him and heard that he had died.  Occasionally, I still think about him and tonight, for some reason, I googled "Fred Gottbetter NYC" and found this page. It's nice reading comments from people that knew him from way back.  Nothing I read here surprises me at all - he was smart, funny, quick-witted, kind, stubborn, and sometimes quite difficult.  I only knew Fred for a short time, but I still think about him sometimes.  I have an old answering machine tape that still has a few of his messages on it.  I kept it....well, because I'm weird like that, but I like knowing I still have his voice on tape. He's one of those people, if you're lucky enough to meet, that you just never forget.  And I love that so many years later, people are still talking about Fred.  He'd get a real kick out of that...


a lot of the fols who were around at the time are not w/us!!! its so hard to  believe fred passed 16 years ago

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