Moore, in the ‘80s the founding director of the Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, has a long history on both coasts as an activist and author having written extensively on issues related to gay men’s emotional well-being as challenged by loss and self-destructive impulses. This memoir follows two novels, GLAAD Award-nominated journalism, and a nonfiction treatise on the inter-generational divide between gay men who witnessed the pre-AIDS, sexually-stoked gay liberation movement and the younger crowd who reduce those heady days to a period of hedonistic hubris followed by, what is to them, the inevitable crash.
In “Tweaked,” Moore clearly wants to seize the current methamphetamine moment to pen a cautionary tale that spans our community’s impulse to use drugs and alcohol from the terrified survivor’s need for consolation to the circuit boy’s panicky need for acceptance. But he also wants to review his own rake’s progress from a lonely childhood throwing sticks at the ground in the country’s breadbasket to sultry days downtown in our own quaint burg snorting anything that didn’t move and snogging anything that did, and finally to Los Angeles and its Dali-esque distortions seen though a rearview mirror, darkly.
The book would work as a picaresque if it had any satiric sensibility. Instead, Moore is serious as sin as he delves into past relationships and binges in flashback or flips through finely-etched portraits of tweakers trying to get clean as if through a deck of dysfunctional playing cards—a psychotic one-eyed jack in a meth lab, a desperate tranny queen of hearts, or an HIV-positive suicide king.
The episodic narrative follows a crisis in Moore’s sobriety when the weight of memories in the past and responsibilities in the present lead the author to the fork in the road that every addict lives on—either continue down the narrow path of recovery or ease on down the road to hell, singing at the top of their lungs to drown out any voices of caution.
Moore goes a fair way down the road to relapse and cranes his neck to see past the first bend, but, with the help of, not scarecrow, tin man, nor lion, but his dipsomaniacal granny, a dyke rehab counselor with a big heart, and a teddy bear or two, manages to emerge from his dark night of the soul.
What remains after reading this memoir is a poignant sense of the damage to the ego that meth inevitably wreaks and the courage of addicts who struggle so mightily to stop chasing the dragon, as well as an appreciation for the light-fingered prose of an author who has been there and done that. Moore combines the earned authority of a survivor with the born writer’s evocation of the sounds and sights of a particularly nasty terrain.
Methamphetamine’s curse is an alchemical distillation of unearned grandiosity combined with a corrosive weakening of physiological and psychic strength. Patrick Moore’s “Tweaked” gracefully delineates a one-time superhomo’s passage back from the edge to the safer shores of being just an everyday queer Clark Kent.