Sunday, March 27, 2022

Top 10 Quotes and Moments from the Oscars

1. "President Biden, bring Brittney Griner home." - Ben Proudfoot, director of The Queen of Basketball, holding up his Oscar for best short documentary film.  

2. "I'm the only sober one up here. Some things haven't changed in 30 years. You guys should have hooked me up." - Rosie Perez on her presenting reunion with White Men Can't Jump co-stars Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes, who joked about taking bong rips in the car on the way to the show.

3. "Documentaries make you feel smart, like you read a book or something, when all you really did was get high and watch Netflix." 
- Chris Rock before handing the Best Documentary award to Questlove for Summer of Soul. But not before Will Smith thought his wife needed a Big Strong Man to defend her against one of Chris's jokes, and responded with violence and profanity (censored from the feed I watched) in the low point of the night. No wonder Smith cried through his acceptance speech; he could use more getting high, watching Netflix and chilling in his life. Apparently the ayahuasca he tried in 2021 didn't last, or wasn't properly integrated. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"Garcia Hand Picked" Pot from Carolyn and Jerry's Daughters Goes on the Road

The daughters of cannabis queen Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia and their progeny are traveling by trailer around the country with their brand, named "Garcia Hand Picked," featuring images of their famous father (or stepfather), Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The brand was created by the daughters Carolyn had with Jerry, Trixie and Annabelle, and her daughter Sunshine by another famous pot pioneer, Merry Prankster Ken Kesey. 

Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia
with her daughters
When Kesey was arrested for pot in 1965, Carolyn told news reporters, “I’m not weeping with remorse.” (This was a rather radical statement for the time.) Soon afterwards, she was gifted with four marijuana seeds brought back from Vietnam by a veteran, and grew them so well that the resulting buds were considered too strong by some. Trained in science and interested in the then-unknown field of organic gardening, she began growing several other cannabis strains from seed, again doing so well that she was inundated with requests to share her secrets. 

Garcia decided to write what became a seminal book on marijuana cultivation, Primo Plant:Growing Sinsemilla Marijuana, first published in 1976. The book quickly became a bestseller, selling 50,000 copies in two years’ time and helping to start the trend of quality home-grown, seedless sinsemilla among the back-to-landers of her generation. 

“It has now become like the wine or brandy industry,” Garcia told in 2014. “There are a lot of very hip, smart, thoughtful people who have gotten into the production.” Among her leadership roles, she served on the advisory board to the Marijuana Policy Project, and helped shape the Women’s Visionary Council, a group that holds events across the country to highlight women’s research in entheogenics. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

RIP "Sister Bobbie" Nelson

Bobbie Nelson, Willie's older sister who played keyboards in his band for nearly 50 years, passed away on March 10 at the age of 91. 

"When it came to pot smoking, I could never match Willie—literally no one can—but I did experience the benefits," Bobbie wrote in the 2020 book she and Willie co-authored Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band. In the book, Willie writes: "Without my sister I'd never be where I am today. I've always needed her.....I would have run into ruin if it hadn't been for my first and best friend, Bobbie. If I was the sky, sister Bobbie was the earth. She grounded me. Two years older, she also protected me." 

The depression-baby siblings' parents broke up and left them with their grandparents when Bobbie was three years old and Willie only six months. After "Daddy" Nelson died when the kids were six and eight, Bobbie would take Willie and hide in the fields whenever the authorities came around, threatening to take them from their grandmother and separate them into foster homes. "Mama" Nelson traded eggs from her chickens for groceries, taught music, grew vegetables, and picked cotton and corn to support the children. The kids worked in the fields with her, and she taught them how to braid her hair. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Was The Band's "The Weight" Written For a Drug-Dealing Woman?

Cathy Smith, Inspiration for "The Weight"? 

From a woman's perspective, the dreary, draggy song has always bugged me. Who was this Annie (or Fanny) who was so weak she needed some burden taken off of her? 

Take a load off Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off Fanny
And you put the load right on me 

Written by The Band member Robbie Robertson, "The Weight" has cryptic and poetic lyrics with many possible interpretations, and is admittedly about characters known to members of the group. "The story told in the song is about the guilt of relationships, not being able to give what’s being asked of you," Robertson has said. "In going through these catacombs of experience. you’re trying to do what’s right, but it seems that with all the places you have to go, it’s just not possible. In the song, all this is ‘the load'." 

Route from Toronto to Nazareth, PA
When I learned that the title of the song was "The Weight," I wondered if it was also about a drug deal. "Take a load" could refer to picking up a certain weight of pot or some drug from a woman named Fanny, who apparently didn't get paid for the risk she took in the venture, since the lyrics say, "take a load for free." 

The song takes biblical overtones to many with its first lines:

I pulled into Nazareth, I was feelin' about half past dead / I just need some place where I can lay my head....

However, Robertson says this was actually written about Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the home of Martin guitars. The town is a day's drive from the band's home base (Toronto, Canada) on the route to either Philadelphia or New York City. If the band was running weed to supplement their income, as so many musicians have, Nazareth might have been a stop on their trade route. In those days, it's likely they would have been carrying Mexican marijuana from the States across the border to Canada. 

"I loved The Band's music and thought 'The Weight' was a testament to the importance of underground drug dealing during that time," says NORML founder Keith Stroup. 

I picked up my bag, I went lookin' for a place to hide...

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Jack Kerouac at 100, By His Women

This Saturday, March 12 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jack Kerouac, the author whose landmark novels like On the Road defined a generation called “beat.” 

On Thursday, March 10 at 6 PM PST, City Light Bookstore in San Francisco will hold a virtual celebration of Kerouac and his work titled, Still Outside: Kerouac@100. [Watch a YouTube video of the event. Updates from it in brackets.]

Speaking at the event about Desolation Angels—the book that most delves into Kerouac's drug experiences during his travels to Mexico and Tangiers—will be Beat Generation scholar Ann Charters. A professor of American Literature at the University of Connecticut, Charters was the only biographer who interviewed Kerouac about the circumstances in which he wrote his books. She edited his posthumous poetry collection Scattered Poems.  

[Charters ended her presentation with a quote from Marcel Proust, one of Kerouac's favorite authors: “In reality every reader, while she is reading, is the reader of her own self. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to permit her to discern what, without the book, she would perhaps never have seen in herself. The reader's recognition of her own self of what the book says is the proof of its truth.” She added, "And that's Kerouac."] 

Speaking on "How On the Road started a cultural revolution and the price Jack Kerouac paid for it," will be author Joyce Johnson, who dated the author during the time he wrote Desolation Angels and is fictionalized in the book as the character Alice Newman. 

Johnson met Kerouac at a time when, "just breaking away from home was an enormous struggle for a young woman," she told Fresh Air's Terry Gross in a 1983 interview upon publication of her book Minor Characters. "We were women who were attracted to men who exemplified freedom, but who would put women into more traditional roles; we weren't their comrades," she said. 

Sunday, March 6, 2022

South Dakota Lawmaker Calls Drug User a "Whore" on House Floor

South Dakota Rep. Steve Haugaard, formerly a Speaker of the House, called a woman who he said used marijuana and methamphetamine a "wrung-out whore" during a debate about a medical cannabis bill on the state house floor on Thursday.

According to account by the West Central Tribune, Haugaard rose to debate Senate Bill 26, to redefine the definition of "practitioner" under the state's medical cannabis bill, when he asked lawmakers if he could "tell a story": 

He talked about a family welfare check Sioux Falls police performed on a young mother Haugaard's family knows. Haugaard said the woman started "self-medicating" with marijuana because of her depression.

Then, he shared another example of a family he represented as an attorney whose daughter he knew as a "little teenage girl," and has now, in her 30s, fallen into drug addiction. Haugaard said the teenager used marijuana and then turned to methamphetamine. "She was a beautiful girl in her teens and a sweet kid," said Haugaard. "She is now kind of a wrung-out whore because she has prostituted herself for drugs."

Saturday, March 5, 2022

WNBA Player Brittney Griner Detained in Russia, Reportedly for Hashish Vape Cartridge

Sign a petition for Griner’s release addressed to various US officials.

UPDATE 12/8/22: President Biden, at a press conference with VP Kamala Harris and Griner's wife Cherelle standing behind him, announced that Brittney has been freed and has landed in the United Arab Emirates, as she makes her way home from detention in Russia. Griner was exchanged for Viktor Bout, 55, an arms dealer accused of supplying Al Qaeda, the Taliban and rebels in Rwanda. 
Biden and Cherelle both spoke about the need to free US citizen Paul Whelan and others unjustly detained in foreign countries. Speaking about other families who are not yet united, Biden urged US citizens to check the State Dept. for travel advisories. 
(One Canada's advisories says, "Previous use of cannabis, or any substance prohibited by U.S. federal laws, could mean that you are denied entry to the U.S. If you attempt to enter the U.S. for reasons related to the cannabis industry, you may be deemed inadmissible." It seems Griner will skirt this clause, which may not be applicable to US citizens.)
8/15/22: Griner's attorneys have appealed her conviction, and there's official talk of swapping her and other Russian prisoners for arms dealer Victor Bout, and idea has been criticized by former president and coup-inciter Donald Drumpf. I guess the US doesn't want the competition; war toys are some of our biggest exports.

8/4/22: Griner was found guilty and received a 9-year sentence. Her defense team called the verdict “absolutely unreasonable” and said “we will certainly file an appeal.” The team — Maria Blagovolina, a partner at Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin, and Alexander Boykov, of Moscow Legal Center — said the court had “completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea.”  

UPDATES: 7/1/2022 - Griner's trial has begun, with her wearing a Jimi Hendrix T-shirt to her first court appearance. She is accused of transporting only 2/3 of a gram of hash oil in two vape pens into the country, a "crime" that could bring a sentence of up to 10 years. 

More and more, people are calling this a political hostage situation. On TV's "The View," Joy Behar wondered aloud if the Putin regime might have planted the pot on Griner. 

US Marine Trevor Reed was brought home from Russia in April after a prisoner exchange. In June, former US diplomat / teacher Marc Fogel was sentenced to 14 years in a Russian penal colony after airport workers found half an ounce of marijuana in his luggage.
Griner's hearing will continue on July 7, and several rounds of hearings are expected before she gets to present her case. 

60 Minutes mentioned Griner's plight in a segment about WNBA player (and Megan Rapinoe fiancĂ©e) Sue Bird, during a discussion about why WNBA players go to Russia. 

Former Pentagon official: Russia could use WNBA star Brittney Griner as 'high-profile hostage'
Griner is not the first U.S. citizen that Russia has held in custody as tensions between the two nations have escalated. Last August, a U.S. teacher [Marc Fogel] was arrested with marijuana and cannabis at a Moscow airport and accused of smuggling drugs into the country on a large scale.

Russia wouldn’t be a tantalizing option for America’s best women’s basketball players if they could earn more at home and be treated with the same professional respect as NBA players. It is damning that teams in oppressive countries such as Russia and China—another opportune marketplace for women’s basketball players—place a higher value on players such as Griner than the teams in her own country do.

"They're making her out to sound like a drug kingpin. I think that it is unlikely that Ms. Griner will get a fair trial," concludes Jonathan Franks, the campaign spokesman for Trevor Reed, who has been detained in Russia since August 2019. "I think that every time reporters repeat that narrative, we're doing some of the dirty work of the hostage takers for them. My attitude is Brittney Griner is innocent of any crimes until the world sees otherwise," adds American Iranian journalist Jason Rezaian, who was detained in an Iranian prison for 544 days in 2014.

The Nation: Brittney Griner is a Political Prisoner
Imagine if Kevin Durant [a marijuana fan] were being held in a Russian prison, waiting months for a trial, in the middle of a war. Every day we would have an update, even if it were just to say his name and ensure that he was still in people’s minds....Right now, there are only bad choices. But the starting point has to be the recognition that this is no longer about marijuana possession, if it ever was. There needs to be a recognition that Griner is in fact a political prisoner.

Ms Griner, a nine-year veteran of the league - is the "best of the best", said Melissa Isaacson, a sportswriter and professor at Northwestern University in the US state of Illinois. "She's every bit the Tom Brady of her sport," Ms Isaacson said. "You could argue very accurately that she is one of the best athletes in the world." Roughly half of WNBA players compete overseas in the off-season. For most, it's a way to augment their domestic income: WNBA players receive roughly five times more in Russia than they do in the US. "If she were Steph Curry or LeBron James, she wouldn't be over there at all because she'd be making enough money," said Tamryn Spruill, a sports journalist who is writing a book on the WNBA and Ms Griner's contributions to the league.

According to the New York Times, officials of the Russian Federal Customs Service announced today that they have detained a US basketball player after allegedly finding vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. 

The player has been identified as Brittney Griner, a seven-time W.N.B.A. All-Star center for the Phoenix Mercury who has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for several years. Griner, 31, won Olympic gold medals with the U.S. women’s national basketball team in 2016 and 2021.