Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Charlize Theron: I Really Appreciated Marijuana

UPDATE March 8: On the Jimmy Kimmel show last night, Theron said she had "a good solid eight years on the marijuana," and that now, after having a conversation with her mother about both of them getting off of sleeping pills and trying "a sleeping strain" instead, her mom showed up with some edibles. "So, I got some blueberry-covered chocolate ones, but if you want it faster acting ones, you can go for the mints," mom said. Asked how she slept after taking them, Theron enthused. "It totally works, it's amazing!" I'm thinking the brand involved is Kiva. 

In an interview with E! magazine to promote her new film Gringo, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron said of herself and marijuana, "Oh god, yes! I was a wake-and-baker for most of my life."

"Do you remember your first time?" E!'s Sibley Scoles asked. "Yeah, I was older," Theron replied. "But I really appreciated marijuana way more than alcohol or anything else. My chemistry was really good with it when I was younger."

In her early thirties, she quit after, "I just became boring on it." But now she says, "I'm open to retrying it again because now there's all these different strains and you can be specific with it. And I'm actually really interested because I have really bad insomnia, and I'd much rather get off sleeping pills and figure out a strain that helps me sleep better. So when I have a moment, I'm actually doing that with my mom. My mom has really bad sleep too." It's no wonder.

A photo of Theron smoking pot out of an apple was published in the National Inquirer in 2002. At the time, her publicist had no comment. But times have, apparently, changed.

Since Theron turned 30 in 2005, this means she must have made many of her best films during the years she enjoyed marijuana. She starred in five films in 2000 alone: Reindeer GamesThe YardsThe Legend of Bagger Vance, Men of Honor, and Sweet November, and also appeared in The Cider House Rules, Mighty Joe Young, That Thing You Do, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Monster (2003), for which she won the Best Actress Oscar.

In 2007, the South African–born actress founded The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2008, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

In 2013, Theron shone at the Oscar ceremony where she danced with Seth MacFarlane and rescued a security guard who had a seizure on the red carpet. In 2016, Time magazine named her in the annual Time 100 most influential people list. She's currently receiving rave reviews for her "fearless performance as a woman snowed under by motherhood" in Tully.

Gringo, which opens in theaters on March 9,  is a dark comedy wherein Theron and co-star David Oyelowo try to sell a weed pill to Mexican drug lords. It also co-stars Amanda Seyfried, who played a bong-smoking lawyer in Ted 2 (2015) and thinks marijuana is a "wonderful thing."

Watch the E! interview. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Annie Ross: Twisted and Terrific

Born into a Scottish vaudevillian family, Annie Ross was known as "Scotland's Shirley Temple" as a child performer. An aunt, actress Ella Logan, bought Annie her first record—Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket, A Tasket"—and at the age of four she knew she wanted to be a jazz singer. You can see her performing a jazzed-up version of "The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond" on a 1938 Little Rascals episode. 

In 1952, Ross penned and sang scat-style lyrics to saxophonist Wardell Gray's composition "Twisted" and it was an underground hit, resulting in her winning Down Beat magazine's New Star award.

My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head
But I said dear doctor
I think that it's you instead
'Cause I have got a thing that's unique and new
It proves that I'll have the last laugh on you
Because instead of one head, I've got two. 

See Annie performing "Twisted" on Hugh Hefner's "After Dark." 

Ross was interviewed for the book Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan by Leslie Gourse, which says, "As a very young woman, Annie, like Sassy, had enormous energy for a life in the fast lane; together they stayed up all night, drinking and smoking. Sassy liked marijuana and cocaine. Later Annie would switch to herbal tea, but in the 1950s, she too liked to get high."

Ross performed with Louis Armstrong and idolized Billie Holiday, about whom she spoke on a recent BBC interview. She recorded seven popular albums with the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross between 1957 and 1962. During that time, she descended into heroin, and had an affair with Lenny Bruce. According to Jet magazine (11/6/69), she was arrested for drugs, as was Anita O'Day.

 She also had an acting career as an adult, appearing in "The Saint" with Roger Moore, and as a jaded jazz singer in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993) (see her in the trailer below):

"Twisted" has been covered by a myriad of artists, including Bette Midler and Joni Mitchell (complete with a cameo from Cheech & Chong). In 1996, Ross recorded "Marajuana," the Arthur Johnston/Sam Coslow song first performed in the 1930s by Gertrude Michael and also covered by Midler.

At the age of 81, Ross sang "Twisted" at the 2011 MAC Awards, where she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A documentary about Ross's life, titled No One But Me, premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2012.  She was reportedly working on her autobiography and still singing. See Annie's website.

Sadly, Ross died in 2020 at the age of 89.  She was planning a California tour.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

10 Years After: Pot-Puffing Professor Tells Her Truth

On January 6, 2008, the Dallas Morning News picked up Cal State Long Beach professor and novelist Diana Wagman’s column: What my cancer taught me about marijuana, subtitled Why I – and a surprising number my friends – smoke pot. 

Among other things learned during chemotherapy treatment, like that eyelashes really do have a purpose and how wonderfully helpful her friends are, Wagman wrote, “What really shocked me was how many of my old, dear, married, parenting, job-holding friends smoke pot. …People I never expected dropped by to deliver joints and buds and private stash. … The poets and musicians were not a surprise, but lawyers? CEOs? Republicans?” 

Pain was the #1 reason Wagman’s 40- and 50-something friends still get high, she wrote, adding, “We're all beginning to fall apart, and a couple of tokes really take the edge off the sciatica, rotator cuff injuries, irritable bowel syndrome and migraines.” 

Wagman’s oncologist told her pot’s antinauseant properties were discovered 25 years ago, and that patients seem to like it today “because they would rather support a farm in Humboldt County than a huge pharmaceutical conglomerate.” When modern medicine’s anti-nausea drugs didn’t work for Wagman she lit up, finding it helped “a lot” but shocking her 15-year-old DARE-educated daughter. 

“I had come full circle in my life,” Wagman wrote. “The next time I had a toke, I stood in my bathroom with the fan on, blowing smoke out the window, but instead of my parents, I was scared my kids would find out I was smoking dope again.”

Wagman hasn't slowed down in the last decade, recently publishing her first young adult novel, Extraordinary October, “complete with trolls, fairies, intolerance, talking dogs...

Visit Wagman's Website

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Nikola Tesla, His Mother, and Hemp

Someone tweeted out this meme (right) and, not being one to spread false information when there is so much verifiable hempen history (and herstory) to be found, I did a little digging.

In Tesla's autobiography My Inventions, he wrote of taking apart the clocks of his grandfather as a boy. "Shortly there after I went into the manufacture of a kind of pop-gun which comprised a hollow tube, a piston, and two plugs of hemp," he wrote. "The art consisted in selecting a tube of the proper taper from the hollow stalks." Hemp does indeed have hollow stalks, so it seems the young Nikola was familiar with the plant.

A bag made by Tesla's mother
(Source: http://www.teslasociety.com)
Tesla called his mother Georgina-Djuka "a woman of genius and particularly excelling in the powers of intuition." He wrote, "My mother descended from one of the oldest families in the country and a line of inventors....she invented and constructed all kinds of tools and devices and wove the finest designs from thread which was spun by her. She even planted the seeds, raised the plants and separated the fibers herself....When she was past sixty, her fingers were still nimble enough to tie three knots in an eyelash."

It is quite probable that the seeds Djuka planted were hemp. Nikola was born in 1856 in a mountainous Serbian village in what was then part of the Austrian empire and is now in Croatia. Some of my ancestors happen to have lived during that time in a similar village only 200 km away, and I have confirmed that the national costume of the Gottschee people, as they were called, was made from hemp.

According to Gottschee and Its People (John Kikel, 1947):

Being separated from the mother country [Germany], the Gottscheer developed his own national dress. He obtained wool from the sheep which he raised himself, and the hemp which he planted, supplied him with the yarn from which he spun his own linen, which was known as ‘Konig.’ On Sundays and holidays, the men wore linen trousers that went just above the shoes, a jacked made of coarse material and a broad-rimmed large black hat.

The women’s apparel was very colorful and picturesque. They wore snow-white pleated linen aprons and, around their middle, they wore a bright red or brightly embroidered belt with long fringes hanging down their backs. Around their shoulders, they wore a colorful shawl. There was always a great deal of competition amongst the women as to who would have the prettiest dress when they made their next “Kirchgang” since they all made their own dresses . . . Until the latter part of the 19th century, this type of national dress predominated. 

Hemp is still grown and processed throughout Eastern Europe.

Djuka and Nikola didn't necessarily make rope and paper from it, but quite likely she spun and wove the hemp she grew and processed, and her young son played with the stalks and fibers. One can only speculate as to whether Djuka's "genius" and intuition, and that of her son, were enhanced by hemp.