Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chop the meat of a guinea pig into one-inch cubes

You may know Bob Helms from his zine, Guinea Pig Zero, or from the film Off Label, or even from The New Yorker article I wrote a few years ago.  But this interview with Mark Maynard may well be the best portrait of Bob and his weird, dark sense of humor that I have ever seen. 

MARK: What was the worst test that you were ever involved in?

ROBERT: It was in Neptune, New Jersey, in a relatively large unit. The accommodations were so lousy that you couldn’t really sleep or get a hot shower. Some of the guinea pigs were jailbird types, and the food was just shit. This was the study where my blood pressure dropped so low that I passed out and my face fell into the salad that I was eating. But I never suffered harm or got badly scared in the course of a study. Once, I almost suffered harm, but I only got the placebo.

MARK: What happened?

ROBERT: It was a study at Wyeth-Ayerst, here in Philly. My dose of the drug wasn’t prepared in time, due to a heavy rain storm. The man whose job it was to mix it was blocked by flooding. He arrived a few minutes late, which meant they couldn’t give me the dose. It was a decades-old heart attack drug called Ameoterone. The guy in the bed next to me had gotten it earlier as an injection. He told me that he felt it rush along his veins and up to his head. It felt like he was being brained with a 2×4, he said. He had bruises from the stuff. My dose of the drug would have been as a drip, from a bottle. As the guy was late, though, I just got a water drip (placebo). This other guy had gotten the drug in the injection and water in the drip. We were getting $450 per day, and it lasted about four days. I just kicked back the whole time and got full payment. The other guy really earned his cash.
Read the rest of the interview here.

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