Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tokin Women in Movies & TV

A list of women who smoke weed in the movies and TV:

1935 - A 13-year-old Judy Garland sings "La Cucaracha" in a short film. 

1936 - Reefer Madness and Marihuana trumpet the dangers of women on weed.

1939 - Marjorie Main's character keeps exclaiming, "Smokin' Oakum!" in The Women. (Hope Emerson does the same in 1952's Westward the Women. Oakum is the short fibers of hemp.)

1949 - Lila Leeds, the starlet who was arrested with Robert Mitchum for marijuana, stars in She Shoulda Said No.

1958 - Holly Golightly tries pot in the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (but only uses retail therapy in the 1971 movie).

1959 - Susan Hayward wins an Oscar for her portrayal of femme fatal Barbara Graham in I Want to Live. Jazz, and marijuana, are blamed.

1960 - Yvette Mimeux's character in Where the Boys Are utters lines like, "Mystic!" and "I must have been really smashed—stoned!" When the boys teach her to smoke, she assures her friends, "I don't inhale, though."

1962 - Paul Newman tries to blackmail Geraldine Page over her hashish habit in Sweet Bird of Youth.

1968 - Leigh French debuts her "Share a Little Tea with Goldie" sketch on the Smothers Brothers TV show, and Leigh Taylor-Young bakes Peter Sellers brownies in I Love You Alice B. Toklas. Actresses Jo Van Fleet and Joyce Van Patten inadvertently get baked too.

1969 - Brenda Vaccaro puffs and passes in Midnight Cowboy, and Natalie Wood & Dyan Cannon get in on the pot-smoking fun in Bob & Carol & Ted  & Alice. On TV's "Bewitched" Endora turns up her nose at brownies that aren't made from an Alice B. Toklas recipe. 

1970 - Ruth Gordon plays an 80-year-old woman who opens up her young, troubled friend with the aid of a hookah in Harold and Maude. Barbra Streisand tells George Segal, "Now I'm going to make you happy" as she lights a joint to share with him in The Owl and the Pussycat. And Shirley MacLaine gets a beatific smile on her face after she smokes while playing a nun in Two Mules for Sister Sara.

1971 - Bunny O'Hare stars Bette Davis as a widow who motorcycles to Mexico with Ernest Borgnine, while the two pose as hippies to pull off a string of bank robberies. Borgnine puffs in the movie and Davis's character refuses when offered, but asks some intelligent questions about it. On TV's Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Rhoda (Valerie Harper) suspect they're being used to smuggle marijuana into Mexico for their vacation.

1972 - Paula Prentiss puffs pot as a wacky would-be singer in The Last of the Red Hot Lovers and Cindy Williams turns on a staid bank manager in Travels With My Aunt.

1977 - Annie Hall, starring Diane Keaton as a pot-smoking heroine, sweeps the Oscars and Laraine Newman stumps for the American Dope Growers Union on TV's Saturday Night Live.

1978 - Karen Allen puffs with her college professor in Animal House and Jamie Lee Curtis shares a joint with Nancy Kyes in Halloween.

1980 - Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton have an "old fashioned ladies pot party" in 9-5 and Helen Hunt plays a schoolgirl who smokes pot and is unable to write a book review (ironically, of Moby Dick) on the TV sitcom "The Facts of Life."

1981 - In a "lost episode" titled "I Do, I Do" of TV's Laverne and Shirley, the girls (played by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams) get stoned on pot brownies.

1982 - Keaton sings a Beatles song as she smokes in the bathtub in Shoot the Moon. JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson smoke and yuk it up in Poltergeist (then they pay). And Debra Winger shares a surreptitious joint in the car with a friend (Lisa Blount) in An Officer and a Gentleman

1983 - Winger as Emma and pal Patsy (Lisa Hart Carroll) toke up the night before Emma's wedding in Terms of Endearment. JoBeth is back toking along with Mary Kay Place and Gwen Close in The Big Chill, and Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood passes a joint to Cher in Silkwood.

1984 - Kathleen Turner tells Michael Douglas she "went to college" in Romancing the Stone.

1985 - Molly Ringwald bonds with The Breakfast Club gang with the aid of a joint and Madonna turns on a New Jersey spa salesman in Desperately Seeking Susan.

1986 - Turner goes back in time to high school in Peggy Sue Got Married and smokes reefer with the town beatnik.

1987 - Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Cher smoke pot with the devilish Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick.

1988 - Sarandon plays the philosophical pot smoker Annie Savoy in Bull Durham and Karen Allen returns, this time puffing in a bathtub in Scrooged and helping Bill Murray find his soul. 

1990 - Mia Farrow smokes an opium pipe and finds her true path with the help of some magical herbs in Alice. 

1993 - Milla Jovovich plays with a lighter in the dopey Dazed and Confused and on TV's Roseanne, she and her husband enjoy "A Stash from the Past." Olympia Dukakis, playing landlady Anna Madrigal, turns her tenant (Laura Linney) onto pot in the PBS series "Tales of the City," which became a target for Jessie Helms and the far right due to its depiction of homosexuality and drug use.

1995 - Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Winona Ryder share a joint on the front porch in How to Make an American Quilt, Parker Posey puffs and learns to be a librarian in Party Girl, and Alicia Silverstone gets "baked" at a party in Clueless. TV's "Friends" starts a series of running gags involving Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) and marijuana.

1996 - Liv Tyler and Rachel Weisz toke in Stealing Beauty. On TV, Jane Curtin's character on "Third Rock from the Sun" is revealed to be a former Berkeley radical who tries to smoke a frozen french fry, thinking it is a joint. On "Frazier," Roz (Peri Gilpin) says, "If I can grow plants in my dorm room closet I must know a thing or two about horticulture." (In the 2003 episode "High Holidays" she supplies a pot brownie to Martin.)

1997 - Candice Bergen as TV's controversial Murphy Brown uses medical marijuana. Catherine Hicks plays a mother who admits to her minister husband that she smoked pot in her past after he catches their son with a joint in the series 7th Heaven. Bridget Fonda tokes (but isn't exactly a role model) in Jackie Brown. 

1998 - Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller smoke a joint together after they reunite in There's Something About Mary, and in Stepmom, Susan Sarandon's character uses medical marijuana to treat cancer.

1999 - Catherine Keener rolls a joint for her admirers Cameron Diaz and John Cusak in Being John Malkovich. Claire Danes puffs in a Thai prison in Brokedown Palace, Sandra Bullock smokes sinsemilla in Forces of Nature, Nicole Kidman tries pot (and everything else) in Eyes Wide Shut, and Mena Suvari & Thora Burch share a joint in American Beauty.  Hillary Swank, Chloe Sevingy, Alicia Goranson, and Alison Folland smoke pipes & bongs in Boys Don't Cry.

On TV, Linda Cardellini gets self aware (for a second) in Freaks and Geeks, and Donna (Laura Prepon) moves into "The Circle" in the basement in That 70s Show. Jackie (Mila Kunis) soon joins in too. In the Series 2 premiere ("Garage Sale"), Mrs. Forman (Debra Jo Rupp) and Donna's mom (Tanya Roberts) have some fun with brownies as the adults make a circle of their own. On The Sopranos, Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) smokes in a bathtub and with her boyfriend (Will Janowitz, who says Sigler and he smoked for real before the scene, and that she brought the joint and handled being stoned better than he did). 

2000 - Brenda Blethyn grows weed to save the farm in Saving Grace, Midler inhales onscreen as Mel Gibson’s psychotherapist in What Women Want,  and Mark Ruffalo shares a brotherly joint with Laura Linney in You Can Count On Me. Jennifer Lopez gets trippy in The Cell, and there's a Honey Bear bong in Swimming. Kate Hudson plays a pot-smoking groupie in Almost Famous, wherein Frances McDormand warns her underage son against using drugs.

2002 - Susan Sarandon loosens up with Goldie Hawn in The Banger Sisters and McDormand and Kate Beckinsale smoke in the dreary Laurel Canyon.

2003 - Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) gets caught puffing pot on a NYC street in HBO's “Sex and the City”

2004 - Sandra Oh passes a joint to Virginia Madsen in Sideways, and Jessica Walter uses pot brownies to cope with stress in TV's "Arrested Development."

2005 - Showtime’s “Weeds,” with Mary-Louise Parker as a pot-peddling widow in suburbia, premieres, Anne Hathaway takes a walk on the wild weed side in Havoc,  and Sarah Silverman takes a bong hit after the show in Jesus is Magic.

2006 - Salma Hayek plays a pot-smoking waitress who seduces Colin Farrel in Ask The Dust, and Blanca Portillo uses medical marijuana in Volver (Penelope Cruz refuses), Jennifer Aniston smokes in bed in Friends with Money, and Cardellini is the life of the party in Grandma's Boy, where Shirley Jones, Shirley Knight, and Doris Roberts drink some interesting tea. On TV, Angelica Houston puffs and passes a joint to her fellow psychotherapist Hank Azaria in "Huff" and on Entourage, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and her friend Tori (Malin Akerman) smoke and giggle together (pictured), then suggest a possible threesome with Sloan's boyfriend Eric, a typical male fantasy. 

2007 - Polly Bergen plays a mom who bakes marijuana brownies for her cancer-stricken daughter on "Desperate Housewives" and on daytime drama "General Hospital," attorney Alexis Davis (Nancy Lee Grahn) tries "Cannabis excellantus" procured by her daughter for relief from chemotherapy. On the big screen, Anna Faris stumbles superstoned through the worst script ever in Smiley Face and Lynn Redgrave plays an irresponsible hippie pot-smoking mother in The Jane Austen Book Club.

2008 - Danneel Harris helps Kumar with his stress levels in Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and Ellen Page plays a Young Republican overachieving high school student who gets more human with a joint in Smart People. Meg Ryan puffs pot proffered by Midler in the Marjorie Main role in The Women remake, and subsequently finds her way to her bliss. Charlotte Rae—who played the housemother TV’s "The Facts of Life"—accidentally doses the "ER" cast at their Christmas party with her medicinal brownies, and In Four Christmases Sissy Spacek warns her grandson against grandma's "special" brownies.

2009 - Meryl Streep and Steve Martin “poke smot” in the movie It’s Complicated, Kristen Stewart has an adventure in Adventureland, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is the hottest MILF ever shotgunning her young date in The Rebound. On TV, secretary-turned-copywriter Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) learns to partake on TV’s "Mad Men"

2010 - Comedienne Jenny Slate's character on HBO's "Bored to Death" is described this way: "She's sexy, she's Jewish, and she has a great vaporizer." In the final season, Mary Steenburgen seduces real-life hubby Ted Danson with weed.

2011 - Jane Fonda shines as a hippie pot-smoking grandmother in Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, Cameron Diaz is the Bad Teacher and Anna Paquin loosens up with Ryan Phillipe in Straight A's. In No Strings Attached, bride-to-be Olivia Thirlby gets stoned when her bridesmaids bring her pot.  On TV, "Harry's Law," starring Kathy Bates as a pot-puffing attorney, debuts.

2012 - Emily Blunt smokes from a Wesson bottle bong and turns on Colin Firth in Arthur Newman. Halle Berry tokes with Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas and Kristina Braverman uses it medicinally in TV's Parenthood. A widow supplements her income by baking "space cakes" in the French film Paulette.

2013 - Amanda Seyfried smokes a joint in Lovelace and Aniston's character tokes and transforms in Life of Crime. On TV, Carol Burnett tries to score medical marijuana at a Hawaiian dispensary in an episode of "Hawaii 5-0" and Martha Stewart tells Andy Cohen that "of course" she knows how to roll a joint on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live." Bette Midler triumphs on Broadway in the role of pot-loving super agent Sue Mengers in "I’ll Eat You Last."

2014 - Helen Hunt takes us for a Ride, and Scarlett Johansson smokes an after-work joint with Jon Favreau in Chef. Elizabeth Moss plays a pothead in love in the trippy The One I Love, Reese Witherspoon tokes in Inherent Vice, Anna Kendrick does in Happy Christmas, and Vera Farmiga takes a big bong hit and gets giggly with Andy Garcia in At Middleton. Charlize Theron turns Seth MacFarlane onto pot brownies (after finding out he doesn't smoke) in A Million Ways to Die in the West.

On TV, Comedy Central's "Broad City" debuts; "Mozart in the Jungle," based on the book by Blair Tindall, has musicians blowing more than their instruments; "Keeping up with the Kardashians" shows Kris and her mother M.J. eating marijuana gummies and giggling; Garfunkel and Oates sing their song "Weed Card" on an episode where they visit a medical marijuana dispensary; and Kim Cattrall takes an elegant toke in the Canadian series "Sensitive Skin."

2015 - Streep opens up communication with her estranged family with the aid of some pot she finds in the freezer in Ricki and the Flash, and Seyfried plays a bong-smoking lawyer in Ted 2. Blythe Danner, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place and June Squibb have a pot party followed by a munchie run in I’ll See You in My Dreams, and Cloris Leachman has a blast smoking pot for pain with her granddaughter (Mickey Sumner) in This Is Happening. Kate Winslet and Judy Davis bake "special" cakes for a neighbor in pain in The Dressmaker, and Lily Tomlin grabs an Emmy nomination for playing a pot-puffing hippie on the Netflix series "Grace and Frankie" but was more interesting and powerful in Grandma, where she tokes with an old boyfriend (Sam Elliott).

2106 - Pauline Collins makes some Dough, the Bad Moms are, and Melissa McCarthy decides to start a "brownie empire" in The Boss. Tina Fey and Margot Robbie puff on a hookah in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, and Blake Lively pronounces in CafĂ© Society: "Muggles made me feel sexy." In Fleabag on Amazon, Phoebe Waller-Bridge flashes back to toking up with her lost girlfriend Boo.

2017 - Kathy Bates plays a medical marijuana dispensary owner on Netflix's "Disjointed," and Kathryn Hahn wakes & bakes in "I Love Dick." Collins was back smoking a joint "for her arthritis" with Franco Nero in The Time of Our Lives, and British actresses Celia Imrie and Imelda Staunton also use it "medicinally" in Finding Your Feet.  Hayek smokes a joint and has visions in Beatriz at Dinner, the Bad Moms were back with a Christmas movie, and Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady) and Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) smoke together in Bad Grandmas. Tiffany Haddish smuggles pot as only a woman can in Girls Trip, and in the final scene, the girls (Haddish, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith) break out the ganja. In Fun Mom Dinner, Paul Rudd sells Toni Collette  the Ruth Bader Ganja, and “gets supremely high” with Molly Shannon, Katie Aselton, and Bridget Everett.

2018 - Lady Bird wins Greta Gerwig a scriptwriting Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for best director. In it, Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein smoke, have fun, get the munchees, and giggle. Rihanna smokes in more ways than one in Oceans 8, in which she plays a Rasta computer hacker.  And Julianne Moore plays another divorced woman who smokes pot as part of her new life in Gloria Bell: the twist here is she's lead to it with the help of her ex-husband's new wife, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, who pulls out a vape pen after a family dinner. On TV, Rachel Brosnahan as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel smokes with fellow comedian Lenny Bruce (every stoner girl's dream date), and on HBO Sarah Snook as Shiv shares a joint with her brothers like "old times" in the only sweet scene in Succession.

2019 - Kristen Stewart puffs pot in Seberg (pictured), and four Netflix shows have women smoking pot: Rita Moreno enjoys some cannabis edibles (accidentally) on One Day at a Time;  Linda Cardellini "reacquaints" Christina Applegate with weed on Dead to Me; Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney and Ellen Page smoke in Armistad Maupin's Tales of the City; and Andie MacDowell turns Chevy Chase onto marijuana and more in The Last Laugh and runs a pot farm on Cuckoo, in which gal pals Esther Smith and Lily Frazer share a joint and get closer. On the big screen, Billie Lourd asks her fellow high school girls, "Not even pot? Because I think it would relax you" in Booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde, and Elle Fanning has "too many drinks, too much weed" in A Rainy Day in New York

2020 - Golden Globe-nominated actress Katherine Langford lights a joint from comedienne Edi Patterson's stash box in Knives Out. Kerry Washington plays a weed-smoking artist in Little Fires Everywhere and Gwyneth Paltrow power puffs in The Politician. PBS's Beecham House depicts hookah smoking, and Natalie Morales makes the right choice on Dead to Me when asked, "Coffee, pudding or weed?"  Anya Taylor-Joy puffs and does pills in The Queen's Gambit as a child prodigy/druggy chess player.
2021 - The United States vs. Billie Holiday depicts how the singer was targeted by the US Government for her drug use due to her politics. Jennifer Lawrence plays a pot-smoking researcher who discovers a comet heading towards Earth in the Oscar-nominated film Don't Look Up.  Leslie Jones gets Eddie Murphy stoned on "ceremonial herbs" in Coming2America, and Loretta Devine says to Ellen Burstyn in QueenBees (pictured): "You've got to live every day. Do you want to get baked?" 

Isabelle Huppert plays a police translator turned hash dealer in Mama Weed, Krisha Fairchild is a Humboldt pot grower / stoner who gets screwed by the legalization laws in Freeland, and Melanie Lynskey plays a pot smoker who gets her act together to right a historic wrong in Lady of the ManorThe Marijuana Conspiracy dramatizes a Canadian research study that locked up a group of young women with weed. 

On TV, Regina King plays a policewoman / hostage negotiator who just overdosed on weed gummies on SNL, and Jean Smart and Hannah Einbinder take weed gummies together in Hacks, and on The White Lotus, two college girls (Sydney Sweeney & Brittany O'Grady) share a shotgun from a bong after they discover that between them they've packed weed, ketamine, and several prescription medications for their trip to Hawaii. 

2022 - Jennifer Lawrence "gets good" in Causeway on Apple +. On The Kardashians, Kris and Khloe enjoy weed gummies and munch out on Mexican food. Jenifer Lewis as a home-shopping-network TV mogul smokes pot in a bubble bath in "I Love That For You" on Showtime. Season 3 of Dead to Me has Linda Cardellini smoking a smuggled joint within the first five minutes. In HBO's stylish Irma Vep, a Parisian woman named Ondine declares herself "Queen of the Joints" and Kristin Stewart rolls one. 

2023 - "That 90s Show," a Netflix reboot of "That 70s Show," has a new generation of high school stoners in the basement, including Leah (Callie Haverda) and Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

What's Missing From HBO's "Bessie"

I've been eagerly anticipating the performance of Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith on HBO, which premiered tonight. It's brave, it's well acted, it's a good story. It just isn't Bessie's.

My first thought, having seen the trailer to the "Entourage" movie as the intro to "Bessie," was, "Why are women never allowed to have fun on film, only men?"

Bessie Smith was by all accounts I've read a bon vivant, bright light and huge talent who enjoyed reefers with her gin. Why then, does the film version of her life focus on any negative, real or imagined, it can muster? According to more reputable sources, for example, her terrible relationship with her sister in the film is nothing like the one in real life. The Queen really belts it in "Bessie," and I wish there had been more music and less so-called plot. It's interesting however that the good man in her life turns out to be her bootlegger (one wonders if he was also her pot dealer).

Latifah grabs a cigarette in a bar in the film (only to have the purveyor beaten by her rotten first husband), but otherwise there's no smoking in it, just drinking. The only time being "high, and drunk" (to distinguish the two) is mentioned is when she's having her child taken away from her (a situation that continues until today).

I waited for "Gimmie a Pigfoot," Smith's signature song; in the last verse she sang, "Gimmie a Reefer." But instead, the HBO version introduces the song just after Smith is stabbed, and shows her giving the intro, but not singing the song. You have to wait until just about the final second of the film over the credits to hear the word, in a version that sounds like Smith's own but is over sweetened with orchestration.

In real life, Bessie died in a car accident in 1937, the year marijuana was effectively made illegal in the US. It was alleged that she was turned away from a "Whites Only" hospital for treatment. Considering how the US government hounded Billie Holiday to death, it's not unimaginable that Smith was another victim of the War on Negroes and Others Who Use Drugs (Especially Those of Color, or Uppity Women).

Read more about the real Bessie Smith.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Joyce Carol Oates Pens "High"

It's a good day when I pick up a book in a bookstore and find that one of my favorite authors has written a short story about marijuana.

The 2013 anthology titled The Marijuana Chronicles (edited by Jonathan Santlofer and published by Akashic Books) contains a story simply titled "High" by none other than Joyce Carol Oates. 

"High" is a story about an elderly widow named Agnes who takes to smoking pot after her husband dies:

Self-medicating you might call it.
Though she hated the weakness implied in such a term -- medicating! 
She wasn't desperate. She wasn't a careless, reckless or stupid woman. If she had a weakness it was being suffused with hope....
She thought, I will get high now. It will save me. 

A niece teaches Agnes to smoke, and asks: 

Hey, Auntie Agnes! How're you feelin'?
She said she was feeling a little strange. She said it was like wine—except different. She didn't feel drunk....
She was feeling warm, a suffusion of warmth in the region of her heart. She was laughing now, and coughing. Tears stung her eyes. Yet she was not sad. These were tears of happiness not sadness. She felt—expansive? elated? excited? Like walking across a narrow plank over an abyss. 

Smoking marijuana seems to help Agnes move past the pain of her husband's death, and her suicidal thoughts of joining him. It gives her courage, she says, to open a new chapter of her life (or so it seems at the story's end) by looking up a former writing student—a black man who was in prison when she taught him—partly because she thinks he may be able to supply her with pot.

Oates became interested in reading at an early age and remembers a gift of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as "the great treasure of my childhood, and the most profound literary influence of my life." (She probably wondered what the caterpillar was smoking.)

She has published over 40 novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Her novel them about inner city Detroit won the 1970 National Book Award for Fiction. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart also deals with themes of racial tension.

A recipient of the National Humanities Medal, Oates retired last year at the age of 74 after teaching creative writing at Princeton for 35 years. Recently, she spoke at CalTech, along with her neuroscientist husband Charlie Gross.

In January 2014, after admitted former pot smoker David Brooks wrote an elitist oped about marijuana, @JoyceCarolOates tweeted, "Marijuana as 'controlled substance' allows continual police harassment/ arrests of persons of color thus reinforces US apartheid legally."

Other writers in The Marijuana Chronicles include  Linda Yablonsky, Maggie Estep, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, Amanda Stern, Jan Heller Levi and Rachel Shteir. Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels who recently came "out" as a pot smoker, is also included.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Queen of Sheba's Spices: Was Cannabis One?

17th-century AD painting of the Queen of Sheba from a church in Lalibela,
Ethiopia and now in
the National Museum of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The biblical Queen of Sheba, who also appears (unnamed) in the Quran and is claimed by the Ethiopians as theirs, famously brought gold and spices to King Solomon, circa 950 BC. But what exactly did she bring and where was she from?

Two ancient Yemeni peoples, the Mineans and the Sabaeans, were involved in the lucrative spice trade. Some archaeologists think the Queen of Sheba was a Sabaean from the Semitic civilization of Saba (1200 BC–275 AD) in Southern Arabia, now Yemen.

The inscription on a wooden sarcophagus of 264 BC from Egypt now in the Cairo Museum shows it contained the body of Zayd’il bin Zayd, a Minaean trader who “imported myrrh and calamus for the temples of the gods of Egypt.” Researcher Sula Benet argues that in the earliest Greek translations of the Old Testament, "kan" was rendered as "reed," leading to the erroneous translation as "calamus" for "cannabis."

Modern scholars still cannot pinpoint the origin or species of many ancient spices—for example, cinnamon—and they find it strange that myrrh is not among the names of incense inscribed on South Arabian incense burners. Ldn from these artifacts is translated as ladanum, and Qlm identifies with calamus, also known as scented reed, which Pliny described as having "a specially fine scent which attracts people even from a long way off,” according to Queen of Sheba: Treasures from Ancient Yemen (St. John Simpson, ed.).

In the oldest Sabaean inscriptions originating from the oasis of Marib, five deities are invoked, the most important being Athar, “behind whose name one recognizes the Babylonian Ishtar.” Athar was associated with the morning star (as was Ishtar). “The Sumerian herb called Sim.Ishara’, ‘aromatic of the Goddess Ishtar,’ is equated with the Akkadian qunnabu, ‘cannabis.'” (Erica Reiner, 1995, quoted by Chris Bennett in Entheogens and the Development of Culture, John Rush ed.)

Islamic legends of the Queen of Sheba (known as Bilqis) have a strange plot in which Solomon polishes the palace floor so that he can see the Queen’s legs, which were reputed to be the legs of a donkey. First-century AD author Josephus Flavius calls the Queen Nikaule or Nikaulis in his Jewish Antiquities.

This is one of the nicknames the Greeks gave to Empusa, the female demon famous for having the legs of a donkey mentioned in Aristophanes’ comedy The Frogs. Some think The Frogs focuses on the exiled general Alcibiades, who stole the sacrament kykeon from the temple of the grain goddess Demeter, and started partying with it at orgies at his home. The play brings in the sybaritic Dionysus as the new god of Eleusis, dethroning Demeter.

The Testament of Solomon, a Judaeo-Christian work dated between the first and third centuries AD, mentions Empusa under the name Onoskelis, which also means “donkey-legged woman.” The Testament, supposed to be the writings of the legendary King himself, says that he and Onoskelis were quite close and that she took an active part in the construction of the temple of Jerusalem by producing hempen ropes.

The Queen of Sheba, from a 15th-century manuscript
now at 
Staats - und Universitätsbibliothek Gottingen
This role is similar to that of the ancient Egyptian goddess Seshat, who was associated with the female Pharaoh Hathshepsut (1508–1458 BC) and “stretched the cord” made of hemp in temple-building rituals. In ancient Egyptian, Sheba means "star" or "seven," a number associated with Seshat, “She of the Seven Points” who has a seven-pointed leaf in her headdress. Wikipedia says: "In Egypt, beginning in the 18th dynasty, a Semitic goddess named Qudshu ('Holiness') begins to appear prominently, equated with the native Egyptian goddess Hathor. Some think this is Athirat/Ashratu [Asherah/Ishtar] under her Ugaritic name." Hathshepsut was from the 18th dynasty.

Solomon’s temple was dedicated "for the burning of the incense of sweet spices before him" (2 Chronicles 2:4). He built a temple to Asherah, which was later torn down by Josiah, as described in Kings 23:13.

Flavius identifies Sheba as "the woman who ruled Egypt and Ethiopia." Some think her name Nikaulis is derived from the Egyptian goddess Neith by way of Hathshepsut, and that The Queen of Sheba was Hathsepsut herself or one of her descendants. Sheba’s Ethiopian name is Makeda and was derived from Hathsehpsut’s throne name, Ma’at-Ka-Re, honoring the goddess Ma’at, the Queen of Heaven, a moniker for Asherah or Ishtar.

UPDATE 10/15: I was informed by a DJ in Jamaica that the Rastas sing about the Queen of Sheba bringing ganja to King Solomon.

She is included in the book Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Grace and Frankie Take a Trip

UPDATE 10/15: Both Tomlin and Fonda are included in the new book Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory

Tokin Women Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, who intelligently addressed pot smoking as a means of empowering women in 9-5, have teamed up again for the Netflix series Grace and Frankie, along with Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman. In it, Tomlin and Fonda play 70-something women whose husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) suddenly announce they're in love and want to marry each other.

The first episode was a revelation. Tomlin's character Frankie, after attempting to squash her heartbreak with junk food, alcohol and cigarettes, instead finds some peyote buttons in her freezer and begins a vision quest. As the clip shown on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon reveals, Fonda's uptight character Grace accidentally joins in the experience and is told, "Brace yourself for some light vomiting, followed by life-altering hallucinations."

Mary Kay Place, who smoked pot with William Hurt in The Big Chill, appears in Episode 2, wherein Grace opens Frankie's freezer and says, "Oh, a bag of pot. She's going to be just fine."

In Episode 4, Christine Lahti guests, and the exchange is:
Grace: “All your clothes reek of pot.”
Frankie: “Because I wear hemp and not dead snakes on my feet.”

Next, in Episode 5, Frankie is shown rolling a joint and then smoking it with Grace's daughter Brianna. "How did you survive her?" Frankie asks, meaning Grace. "This helped," is the reply (meaning the marijuana). Grace confronts her fears about the "drugs" that Frankie prefers.

All 13 episodes of Grace and Frankie are now available for binge-watching on Netflix.

Also see: 
Grace & Frankie: Seniors Who Smoke (Cannabis Now review) 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Carly Fiorina: We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Tax Dollars

UPDATE: Fiorina has now said, "Drug addiction should not be criminalized" and has come out for states' right to legalize.

Carly Fioria has announced she’ll seek the Republicans nomination for President in 2016.

Named Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Woman in Business” in 1998, Fiorina took the helm of HP but failed to produce promised profits and was forced to resign. With a huge influx of her own cash, Fiorina won the Republican primary for Senate in California in 2010, challenging Senator Barbara Boxer (who recently co-sponsored the federal CARERS Act to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level just after announcing she will retire).

During her Senate race, Fiorina said the she opposed Prop. 19, which would have legalized adult use of marijuana in California, because “sending billions of dollars in new tax revenues to Sacramento is exactly the problem…because Sacramento—and Washington, DC—have a spending problem and will continue to spend the money we send them.”

Fiorina recently told Slate magazine she isn’t even for medical marijuana: “I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, ‘Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?’ I did not,” she told Slate. “And they said, good, because marijuana today is such a complex compound, we don’t really know what’s in it, we don’t really know how it interacts with other substances or other medicines.”

Fiorina's announcement video (they have those now) took aim at Hillary, her opposing queen on the fast-filling chessboard. Also announcing today was Dr. Ben Carson, a neuroscientist not near as hot as Carl Hart who still quaintly believes in the gateway effect; expected in by the end of the week is Clinton nemesis and fellow Arkansas homeboy Mike Huckabee.

Fiorina may have been brought in to dilute any progressive shift on Hillary by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who co-sponsored the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act and voted against mandatory drug testing. His entry into the race prompted President Obama to joke that we could have another “pot-smoking socialist” in the White House.

Hillary is being pressured to go progressive on other issues. Her speech on racial disparities in our criminal justice system, where she said, “It's time to end the era of mass incarceration. We need a true national debate about how to reduce our prison population while keeping our communities safe,” was a welcome surprise to many and showed some of the old Hillary stuff.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Liz Mair and Marijuana

Rising (and sometimes falling) Republican strategist Liz Mair had expressed some interesting opinions about the War on Drugs on the April 24 edition of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher.

The Libertarian-minded Mair wasn't so surprised at the blockbuster news that nearly every examiner in the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony over more than a two-decade period, including 32 death-penalty cases. Acknowledging it was "obviously a horrible situation," Mair added, "It's the government. We don't instinctively trust them with a great deal."

Responding to Maher's statement that the US, with 4% of the world's population, incarcerates 22% of the prisoners worldwide, Mair noted that we've locked up "a bunch of people who have put there for doing very minimal nonviolent things. You look at pot convictions....This is what makes people feel that we're going a good job of being tough tough on crime because they look at the numbers, but it's not substantiated in any way, shape or form."

Conservative Weekly Standard columnist Christopher Caldwell then opined that the War on Drugs had brought down the murder rate, to which Maher responded, "If you want to cut the murder rate, end the War on Drugs." Mair agreed, "at least in Mexico."

If Mair, a former online strategist for Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina, is an augur of things to come for the Republican party, liberals might find some GOP allies on ending the War on Drugs. But what else will we have to swallow: privatized police forces or prosecutors?

Meanwhile, 35 Congressional Republicans joined California Libertarian and former Reagan speechwriter Dana Rohrabacher in voting to allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana. Sadly, the amendment failed by only 3 votes as 8 Democrats voted against it, including Joe Kennedy III, whose cousin Patrick (a former Ambien addict) is banging the anti-marijuana drum with his group SAM.