Saturday, April 6, 2024

100 Years of Surrealism, A Movement Inspired by Cannabis?

Remedios Varo. Harmony (Self Portrait). 1956

Surrealism, the trippy art and cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War I, traces its roots to the publication of André Breton's essay Manifeste du surréalisme, published in October 1924. 

The movement "aimed to allow the unconscious mind to express itself, often resulting in the depiction of illogical or dreamlike scenes and ideas. Its intention was, according to Breton, to 'resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality,' or surreality. It produced works of painting, writing, theatre, filmmaking, photography, and other media as well." [-Wikipedia

Breton's manifesto states that, "hallucinations, illusions, etc., are not a source of trifling pleasure. The best controlled sensuality partakes of it." It continues, "The realistic attitude, inspired by positivism, from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Anatole France, clearly seems to me to be hostile to any intellectual or moral advancement. I loathe it, for it is made up of mediocrity, hate, and dull conceit."

Under the heading, "SECRETS OF THE MAGICAL SURREALIST ART," Breton evokes the hashish-taking poet Charles Baudelaire

"Surrealism does not allow those who devote themselves to it to forsake it whenever they like. There is every reason to believe that it acts on the mind very much as drugs do; like drugs, it creates a certain state of need and can push man to frightful revolts. It also is, if you like, an artificial paradise, and the taste one has for it derives from Baudelaire’s criticism for the same reason as the others. 

"Thus the analysis of the mysterious effects and special pleasures it can produce -- in many respects Surrealism occurs as a new vice which does not necessarily seem to be restricted to the happy few; like hashish, it has the ability to satisfy all manner of tastes -- such an analysis has to be included in the present study. It is true of Surrealist images as it is of opium images that man does not evoke them; rather they 'come to him spontaneously, despotically. He cannot chase them away; for the will is powerless now and no longer controls the faculties.' (Baudelaire.)"

Mayor Breed Lights Up San Francisco's Weed Week

San Francisco Mayor London Breed stopped off before attending the Giants home opener on Friday to welcome participants in the first SF Weed Week, to be held throughout the city on April 13 – 20th.

The kickoff press conference was held in conjunction with a Cannabis Mylar Art Exhibit, showcasing over 1,000 commercial mylar product packages from the legal and illicit market, at the Mirus Gallery & Art Bar at 540 Howard Street throughout April. 

One of the Mylar Art pieces at Mirus
The event was organized by cannabis journalist David Downs and attended by about 100 supporters from the Bay Area and beyond. Downs said he got the idea for a “Weed Week” after hearing about Beer Week in the city, and by Amoeba Records in-store events. “Cannabis growers are rock stars. Strains are celebrities. We’re treating them accordingly,” he said.  SF Week Week events will be held on 7 consecutive nights at 7 different cannabis lounges, showcasing 7 new cannabis strains.

Wearing a Giants jersey and bright orange suit, Breed said she was grateful to be part of, “an opportunity that is so San Francisco.” She added, “When you think about San Francisco, you think about fun, you think about excitement, you think about joy. And the cannabis community, even before it was legalized in California, has been such an important part of that.” 

Mentioning the Beat poets in North Beach and the Summer of Love in the Haight as examples of San Francisco culture that have spread across the world, Breed said today’s efforts would help “transform the conversation and open up opportunities for people to experience joy through cannabis.” She joked that SF Weed Week should be held at the same time as Restaurant Week (because, the munchies).

Cannabis businesses are projected to bring in $789 million to the city in 2024/25 Breed said, mentioning that SF has approved 52 business permits through their equity program, and has given out $11 million in grants for equity programs in cannabis. She said SF Weed Week was an opportunity to “support our dispensaries and small business, and use this as a way to bring tourists and other people back to our city for an experience that only San Francisco can provide.” 

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

On His 100th Birthday: Marlon Brando and Marijuana

 Marlon Brando 

Marlon Brando, born on April 3, 1924, was an actor with an intensity like no other. He made his name after Tokin' Woman Tallulah Bankhead, who turned down the role of Blanche DuBois written for her in A Streetcar Named Desire, suggested "the cad" should play Stanley Kowalski. Brando went on to make motorcycle rebels cool in The Wild One (1953), and won his first Best Actor Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954).

In his book Songs My Mother Taught Me, he wrote, "So many things happened during the sixties and seventies that now a lot of those years are a blur. I was still trying to give my life some meaning and enlisted in almost any campaign I thought would help end poverty, racial discrimination and social injustice. But that wasn't all I did in those years; there was a lot of partying, getting drunk, having fun, jumping into swimming pools, smoking grass, lying on beaches and watching the sun go down. During the sixties in Hollywood, everybody was sleeping with everybody."

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Blanche, The Original Calloway

One more Women's History Month post: 

I was surprised to learn of late that Cab "Reefer Man" Calloway had an older sister Blanche, who was also a musician and a big influence on him. 

"Before swing-era singer, actor, and bandleader Cab Calloway was a household name, he wasn’t even the biggest name in his household. That distinction went to Blanche Calloway, his vocalist older sister and the first woman to lead an all-male jazz orchestra," begins a 2022 article Harvard Magazine

"Blanche was known to be an incredible, charismatic performer, with a big personality. Her style and flair onstage was a huge inspiration for her younger brother, Cab Calloway, and she paved the way in show business for Cab," says an article in Opera Baltimore about the Baltimore-raised performer.  

Friday, March 1, 2024

Women's Herstory Month: Equity and Inclusion

This year, both Women's History Month and International Women's Day (March 8) have chosen equity, diversity and inclusion as their themes. It's a good time to look at equity in the cannabis industry, and honor those women who are a part of it. 

Kim Cargile of A Therapeutic Alternative in Sacramento, who is a leader in empowering women to run cannabis businesses, recently posted a list on Facebook of, "Women who have gone to great lengths to push this industry forward, who have sacrificed everything while working on the front lines of the War on Cannabis. Women that are often overlooked by the corporate takeover of our industry and we should all know there names and if we know them, thank them."

PHOTO: Larry Utley
Inviting others to add names to the list, Cargile included on her list Elvy Musikka, a Columbian-American who was the first woman in the federal IND medical marijuana program, which sends monthly tins of 300 joints to participants. Musikka stumped for our rights (in both English and Spanish) for over a decade with the Cannabis Action Network, which toured the country raising awareness. 

Another inclusion is Yamileth Bolanos, who hails from Costa Rica and founded the Los Angeles cannabis dispensary Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center. Bolanos was instrumental in the passage of California's law protecting organ transplant patients from discrimination over their use of medical marijuana. 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

A Valentine for Valentina Wasson

Those in the know about the discovery of psilocybin mushrooms by Western civilization are hip to the 1957 Life magazine article written by banking executive and author R. Gordon Wasson about his experience taking mushrooms with curandera Maria Sabina in Mexico. 

What is not commonly known or appreciated is that Gordon's wife Valentina Pavlovna Wasson lead him to become interested in mushrooms, and that she published an account of her own experience with psychedelic mushrooms six days after Gordon's article. Valentina's account of her psychedelic journey appeared on May 19, 1957 in This Week magazine, a nationally syndicated Sunday magazine supplement that was included in American newspapers between 1935 and 1969.

"The walls suddenly receded and I was carried out—out and away—on undulating waves of translucent turquoise green," she wrote. "My mind was floating blissfully. It was as if my very soul had been scooped out and moved to a point in heavenly space, leaving my empty physical husk behind in the mud hut. Yet I was perfectly conscious. I knew now what the shamans meant when they said, 'The mushroom takes you to a place where God is.'" She traveled in her mind to the Caves of Lascaux and to 18th century Versailles, where, "I was struck again by the magnificence and intensity of the colors. Everything was resplendently rich. I had never imagined such beauty."

Monday, January 22, 2024

Anslinger Censors 1946 Canadian Film "Drug Addict"

Having occasion to look up a list of films banned in the US, I noticed that the 1946 Canadian film Drug Addict was banned by then-drug "czar" and head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger due to its depiction or drug addiction as a medical problem, and of addicts and traffickers as white people. 

According to a 1998 article published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, "The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) attempted to intimidate sociologist Alfred Lindesmith, a long-time advocate of medical treatment of drug addiction, from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. In addition, the US banning of the 1946 Canadian film "Drug Addict" may have been a pivotal event in a pattern of censorship and disinformation carried on by the FBN under the leadership of Harry Anslinger."