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On the two hundred and thirty-first anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Wall Street Journal gave Mr. Wang Dang Sweet Poontang precious column inches to weigh in on the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Ted Nugent‘s conclusion? Drugs suck.

This comes as no surprise from Nugent or WSJ‘s editorial page—both are bizarre mixtures of conservativism and liberality—but you have to wonder (and I was especially thinking this after reading about the heavy drinking of comic novelist Evelyn Waugh in the July 2nd issue of the New Yorker): Is it reasonable to try to separate great works of art from the process, even if the process involves overindulgence?

Says Nugent of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Mama Cass: “I often wonder what musical peaks they could have climbed had they not gagged to death on their own vomit. Their choice of dope over quality of life, musical talent and meaningful relationships with loved ones can only be categorized as despicably selfish.”

It seems callous from a humanitarian standpoint to say that I’d take Electric Ladyland over Hendrix old and gray and pumping out crap like Carlos Santana‘s recent music. That’s not to say that it’s better to burn out than to fade away, but that perhaps people like Hendrix have no choice and that’s what makes them notable in the first place. They burn brightly or they don’t burn at all.

My mom was talking about my Grandad, her father, when she called on July the 4th. His parents lived to be in their 90s and she wondered what would’ve happened to him had he not drunk and smoked to excess and died in his 80s. “Well,” I said, “he might’ve stepped out in front of a bus.”