Friday, November 25, 2022

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carrying It On

The new PBS American Masters documentary "Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On" is an illuminating and long overdue tribute to this amazing folk singer and songwriter, whose work was suppressed by the US government. 

Born in Saskatchewan and raised by adopted parents in Maine and Massachusetts, Sainte-Marie was an overnight success in the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene of the 1960s. She wrote the anti-war song "Universal Soldier," which was recorded by Donovan and many others, unwittingly giving away her publishing rights to the song for $1 (and partially buying them back years later for $25K). Another early song was "Cod'ine" which she wrote in 1964 after a doctor got her addicted to the opiate drug, from which the young singer went into withdrawals when she stopped. 

Another hit was "Until It's Time for You to Go," a modern, feminist love song that asked for no commitment from a man. It was recorded 37 times by Elvis Presley and by 157 other artists. (This time she was smart enough not to relinquish her publishing rights, even when Elvis's manager tried to insist.) 

"Show business changed," she says in the documentary. "The drug went from coffee and a little pot to alcohol and a little cocaine, and a lot of coffeehouses went out of business. And it just went from a time of innocence to a time of, 'Goose it. Here's where the money is.'" 

"The First Lady" and Marijuana

The remarkable Showtime series "The First Lady," interweaving the stories of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama, illuminates how First Ladies have been able to advance progressive causes in the US, rocking the establishment boat and sometimes causing backlash. 

Marijuana is mentioned twice in the 10-part series.


Flashing back to 1975 in the series, Republican operatives Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney are depicted saying Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) needed to stop talking about progressive issues like abortion rights and marijuana, after she gave a candid 1975 60 Minutes interview shortly after becoming First Lady. Asked by Morley Safer as first lady what she thought about her children possibly using marijuana, Betty replied, "I think if I were their age I probably would have been interested to see the effect." She compared the use of marijuana at the time to her generation's consumption of beer. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

On Witches and Weed

It's Halloween/Samhain season, and witchy images are everywhere, part of a centuries-long denigration of wise women and the powerful plants they used for healing and divination, including cannabis. 

Witch hunts took place in Europe and Colonial America from about 1450 to 1750, resulting in an estimated 35,000 to 50,000 executions. "All of the witch hunts were basically a way for men to keep women away from medicine and the power it conferred," said Simone de Beauvoir. According to For Her Own Good: 150 Years of the Experts' Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English, "In Europe the conflict between female lay healing and the medical profession had taken a particularly savage form: centuries-long witch hunts....the target of the witch hunts were, almost exclusively, peasant women, and among them female lay healers were singled out for persecution." 

Along with devouring babies and seducing priests, the use of "witches medicines" was a charge often leveled against women accused of witchcraft at the time when healers used ergot (the mold that grows on grains from which LSD is made) for the pain of labor, belladonna to inhibit uterine contractions and prevent miscarriages, and other plant-derived medicines. In 1527, Paracelsus, considered the "father of modern medicine," confessed that he "had learned from the Sorceress all he knew." 

Brian Muraresku's 2020 book The Immortality Key unveils "a vast knowledge of drugs that was kept alive through the Dark Ages by pagans and heretics. Until the witches of the world were hunted down for centuries, erasing all memory of the longest-running religion the planet has ever known." 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Jackie Kennedy and Mahjoun in Morocco

A new book by secret service agent Clint Hill, My Travels with Mrs. Kennedy, describes a night when—while First Lady of the US—Jackie Kennedy apparently took some marijuana edibles, and laughed and danced the night away. 

Jackie had been depressed following the death of her son Patrick, who was born prematurely in August 1963 and died two days later of respiratory distress. She was invited by Aristotle Onassis for a trip on his yacht to recuperate. From there traveled to Morocco where she and her sister Lee Radziwill attended a dinner party with King Hassan's brother. 

Hill writes: 

After dinner, they passed around tea trays of desserts. "What are these?" I asked, as I picked up one of the round confectionary treats off a tray and took a bite. 

"Mahjoun. Moroccan specialty," the server answered. Everyone was laughing and dancing. It had been a long time since I'd seen Mrs. Kennedy really let her guard down like that. Mahjoun, it turned out, was the Moroccan version of hash brownies. 

They had an official Moroccan photographer there, but by the end of the evening I realized there could be some pictures that might not be flattering to Mrs. Kennedy. I explained to the photographer that this was meant to be a purely private visit, and that I would need to take his film so we could preview the photographs. 

First Lady Jackie Kennedy dancing at an October 1963
dinner party in Morocco at which Mahjoun was served.
Apparently one photo made it through, found at

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Weed Gummies on "The Kardashians" and Bong Hits on "The White Lotus"

New TV shows are featuring females using cannabis. 

In Episode 3 of Season 2 of "The Kardashians" on Hulu, Mama Bear Kris goes shopping for cannabis to treat her hip pain, spending over $700 on edibles, infused lube and other products at "The Leaf" cannabis boutique in Palm Springs. 

She and daughter Khloe then partake and go to get some tacos, with Kris overordering on food and giggling uncontrollably throughout dinner (pictured). Kris expresses that Khloe has been unhappy over her messy marital break up with NBA player Tristan Thompson, and she hoped for a fun night out. 

"Your gummy definitely kicked in, you just ordered five things," Khloe tells Kris during dinner, adding, "I need to give you one of these every day." She tells the camera, "I love when my family is silly and lighthearted, and they can laugh at themselves....the fun, relaxed nature of it. This is my happy place." 

"I can tell you one thing for sure," Kris says. "I'm not feeling any pain in my hip right now. Not a (bleep)ing thing." The following day, she muses, "I really did have a great night with no pain. Thank God security was driving," meaning their driver/security guard Corey who joined them for dinner.  

"Being able to laugh the night away has been the best sort of medicine for my spirits," said Khloe, who claimed to feel no effect from the gummies she ate. "I really needed this trip to Palm Springs I think more than I realized....If my mom comes back, so will I. And I will always have gummies on hand."

Saturday, September 17, 2022

How Lauren Bacall Lit the "Joint" that Humphrey Bogarted

Lauren Bacall's birthday this week got me thinking about my theory that the famous line "Don't Bogart that Joint" came from the movie she did with Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep, in which she lights a cigarette for him while he is tied up, forcing him to say his lines through the rest of the scene with the cigarette dangling from his lips. 

I found an interview with "The Fraternity of Man" bandmember Lawrence "Stash" Wagner in "It's Psychedelic Baby" magazine that confirms my theory. Wagner said he "got down on my knees and begged" their ABC record label to put their song "Don't Bogart That Joint" on a single, agreeing to change the title to "Don't Bogart Me." When Peter Fonda put the song on the Easy Rider soundtrack, "Bogart" became a classic, later recorded by Little Feat and others.

On the origin on the song, Wagner said, "The band was smoking some pot in our rehearsal house up in Laurel Canyon, when Elliot [Ingber, the band's guitarist] turned to me and said, 'Hey man, don’t bogart that thing.' Elliot was always coming up with hypsterisms from the 1950’s and I loved adopting them. I asked him, what does ‘bogart’ mean? He said, 'You know, like Humphrey Bogart always had a cigarette in his hand or hanging from his lips when talking. Well, you were hanging onto that joint while your lips were flapping.' I said, 'Cool, we should write a song using Bogart.'" Three minutes later, the band had written the song.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Long Live King Charles and His Environmentalist / Pro-Pot Stances?

More news from the UK: just after the country's second female Prime Minister took office, Queen Elizabeth has died after 70 years of her reign, and her son Prince Charles, 73, is the new King. He will presumably be coronated using the holy anointing oil, as his mother was. 

In December 1998, Charles surprised a Multiple Sclerosis sufferer by suggesting she try medical marijuana. Karen Drake, 36, said: "He said he had heard it was the best thing for relief from MS." 

Rita Marley with Charles in 2000. 
In February 2000, he visited Trench Town, Jamaica, the neighborhood of late reggae legend Bob Marley, and was greeted by Marley's widow and Tokin' Woman Rita Marley, who gave Charles a red, yellow and green Rastafarian knit hat with false dreadlocks. The prince put it on, and said, "I'll tell you who would really love that—my children." Marley said her husband would have been amazed by the royal visit to the neighborhood. "Boy, he'd burn a spliff to this - a big, big spliff,'' she said, "Rastafari lives!''*