Monday, May 13, 2019

RIP To the Marvelous Doris Day

Day in Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
RIP to Doris Day, a wonderful singer, dancer and actress who was hipper than most knew: Groucho Marx once joked, "I'm so old I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." Bob Hope's nickname for her was "jigglebutt." 

Day was too marvelous for words in films like Man with a Horn, The Pajama Game, and It Happened to Jane, where she fights for her rights in a small New England town. As part of her well marketed wholesome image, Day plays a character shocked by marijuana in Lover Come Back (1961), one of several films she made with Rock Hudson.

The rather convoluted plot goes something like this: 

Advertising executives Carol Templeton (Doris) and Jerry Webster (Rock) work for competing ad agencies. Angered by Jerry’s method of nabbing clients using alcohol and women, Carol brings his behavior up before the Advertising Council. But Jerry bribes Carol’s star witness by filming her in a TV commercial for an imaginary product named VIP. When the ads are accidentally broadcast, Jerry pays a scientist to invent something he can call VIP. Meanwhile, Carol goes after the VIP account and mistakes Jerry, whom she has never met, for the scientist. Rock goes along, pretending to be an inexperienced and marriageable academic instead of the rogue his character truly is, a ruse that was a good cover for Hudson’s homosexuality.

When Carol shows up at Webster’s apartment to confront him she is surprised when Jerry, who she thinks is the scientist, opens the door. Jerry feigns confusion, implying he was partying with the dastardly Webster the night before and his memory is fuzzy.

Rock: “I was dizzy after that cigarette he gave me.”

Doris: “Oh, that depraved monster! What kind of cigarette?”

Rock: “I don’t know. It didn’t have any printing on it.”

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Film Review: "Wine County" and RIP Peggy Lipton

Ana Gasteyer whips out the Molly in "Wine Country"

"Wine Country," now in theaters and on Netflix, is directed by Amy Poehler, who co-stars as the insecure control freak Abby on a weekend getaway with gal pals played by fellow SNLers Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell and Emily Spivey.

Of course throughout the movie the characters compulsively slurp wine, our socially acceptable but not very interesting inebriant. The group talks about microdosing Molly, but doesn't do it, mainly because they don't know how it will react with all the prescription drugs they're taking, including Wellbutrin, Xanax, Zoloft, and "WhoYaGonnaCallTrex."  Zoloft, being a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) arguably already works as a microdose of psychedelics, since those substances flood the brain's serotonin receptors. Usually people taking SSRIs don’t feel the affect of psychedelics.

"Apparently we're just not that interested in doing drugs," Abby announces, to which Spivey's astutely responds, "Except for the thousands of drugs we just listed." Instead, the 50-year-old birthday girl Rebecca (Dratch) lays on the floor all night in back pain to have her needed revelation (which sounds a lot less pleasant than taking a little MDMA).

"Toking" is also only mentioned, as a means of coping alongside soaking in a tub, by an amusingly butchy character played by Tina Fey. Then the script makes her a cokehead. Poehler recently pronounced herself unproductive on pot and had a bad time the day after she tried Molly (she wasn't asked about wine). Maybe someday like Chelsea Handler she'll figure out that cannabis can enhance creativity, and it's safer than alcohol. SNL was certainly funnier when its writers and actors smoked weed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Tokin' Woman Does Chelsea (Lately)

Chelsea gives a thumbs up upon
receiving her copy of Tokin' Women
Chelsea Handler, whose new book Life Will Be the Death of Me debuted as the #1 New York Times bestseller last month, appeared yesterday at The Hall of Flowers, a "B2B Premium Cannabis Trade Show" in Santa Rosa, California.

Interviewed by "Dr. Dina" for a conversation titled "Changing Stigmas: Hollywood's Opportunity with Cannabis," Handler looked great in a "Feminized" T-shirt, pencil jeans and purple pumps, and exhibited wit, wisdom, and lots of humor.

To the first question, "What is your relationship with cannabis?" Handler replied unequivocally, "It's strong." Saying that she tried marijuana a few times in high school but got "too stoned" and paranoid, she thought, "Why don't I just stick with alcohol?"

But in her new book she relates how after the Trump election she found that her rage at the political situation was overly exacerbated by alcohol, and so she began learning more about marijuana as a substitute, starting as an aid to meditation. "It's changed my life," she announced. "It's cut my drinking in half, which is a sentence I never thought I'd say."

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Resurrecting Jezebel

Shirley Jones playing a Jezebel
with Burt Lancaster in "Elmer Gantry." 
In the bible, Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married King Ahab of Israel in the 9th century. Queen Jezebel and her followers were defeated by the prophet Elijah, and to this day “a Jezebel” is a term applied to a fallen woman not to be trusted.

Throughout the Old Testament, prophet after prophet warns the children of Israel that God will bring misery upon them unless they cease to burn incense to worship the god Baal. Baal was depicted, in some regions, as a horned god, and his horns were adopted for the Christian concept of the Devil.

Some scholars think that the “burnt offerings” that were made to Baal and his consort Ashtoreth/Asherah "The Queen of Heaven" were cannabis, mistranslated as “calamus” from kaneh bosm ("aromatic cane") in scripture. If so, the first known prohibition of cannabis was a Judeo-Christian one.

Baal was also called Bel, a descendant of Belili, the Sumerian White Goddess. Jezebel, who's name means "where is Bel?" was a follower of Bel, and therefore possibly an incense inhaler herself. In Jeremiah 44, the women tell the prophet that they will continue to secretly burn incense to the Queen of Heaven.

Jezebel was the name of a 1938 Bette Davis movie wherein she betrays her fiancĂ© by wearing a flamboyant red dress instead of a virginal white one to a ball. In the 1960 movie Elmer Gantry, in order to impress another minister/mark, Elmer (Burt Lancaster) throws a picture of a scantily clad LuLu (Shirley Jones) into the fire, pronouncing "Burn, ye naked Jezebel!"

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sula Benet, Kaneh Bosm, and the Amazon Women

Polish anthropologist Dr. Sula Benet (aka Sara Benetowa), whose 1936 doctoral thesis ''Hashish in Folk Customs and Beliefs'' won her a Warsaw Society of Sciences scholarship for graduate study at Columbia University, theorized that the biblical incense kaneh bosm, meaning "aromatic cane" was cannabis, mistranslated as "calamus" in the modern bibles.

Benet proposes that the term cannabis is derived from Semitic languages and that both its name and forms of its use were borrowed by the Scythians from the peoples of the Near East. This predated by at least 1000 years hemp's mention by the Greek historian Herodotus, who in the fifth century B.C., observed that the Scythians used the plant in funeral rituals, thowing hemp seeds on the fire and "inhaling the smoke and becoming intoxicated, just as the Greeks become inebriated with wine."

"Tracing the history of hemp in terms of cultural contacts, the Old Testament must not be overlooked since it provides one of the oldest and most important written source materials," Benet writes. "In the original Hebrew text of the Old Testament there are references to hemp, both as incense, which was an integral part of religious celebration, and as an intoxicant. Cannabis as an incense was also used in the temples of Assyria and Babylon 'because its aroma was pleasing to the Gods." (Meissner 1925 (II): 84)."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Of Paris, Potheads and Jack Herer

I guess I'm feeling extra sad and nostalgic today because I'm watching Notre Dame burning, and it's the anniversary of the passing of "The Hemperor" Jack Herer.

I visited Paris and saw Notre Dame in 1991, which indirectly lead to my becoming a hemp activist (the guy who got me into the movement wanted to meet me when he heard I'd gone to France by myself; also a man I met on the plane advised me to pray for guidance in my life and the next thing I knew, the rebel without a cause had found hers: hemp).

I started my journey as a hemp/marijuana activist at Herer's booth on Venice Beach (pictured), which is how we turned people onto hemp, one by one (we couldn't even get the word "hemp" into the newspaper at the time; they would always change it to "marijuana"). Only one person in 10 knew anything but "rope and dope" when I joined the hemp movement; after a few years, only 1 in 10 didn't know all about hemp. It was all done by the grassroots, and Jack was the leader.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

"We Are Mary Jane" Exhibit in Barcelona Celebrates Worldwide Women of Weed

Celebrating Women’s Herstory Month, “We Are Mary Jane,” an exhibit presenting 12 female cannabis activists from around the world, opened on March 14 at the breathtakingly beautiful Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Barcelona.

I was fortunate enough to attend the opening party, and be included in the exhibit among these inspiring women.

Opening the exhibit is “The Hash Queen” Mila Jansen, who as a single mother invented The Pollinator, a machine used to make hash, while observing a clothes dryer’s tumbling action. Mila published an autobiography last year and was present at the opening and the coinciding Spannabis show with a booth where she signed copies of her book.

Another grand dame in the exhibit is Michka Seeliger-Chatelain, a Paris-based activist and author who has become the first woman I know of to have a cannabis strain named after her, available from Sensi Seeds. Michka’s bestselling books on cannabis have been translated into English and Spanish, and I traded a Tokin’ Woman book for her beautifully written (in French) autobiography De La Main Gauche (From the Left Hand).