Monday, January 19, 2015

Jim Croce and Cannabis

Jim Croce's wife and musical collaborator Ingrid describes evenings with Jim passing a joint around with friends, trading songs and stories in the 2012 biography I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story.

During one such session, Jim treated the group to his song "Careful Man," with a cigarette dangling from his lip:

I don't gamble, I don't fight,
I don't be hangin' in the bars at night,
Yeah, I used to be a fighter but
Now I am a wiser man.
I don't drink much, I don't smoke,
I don't be hardly mess around with no dope.
Yeah, I used to be a problem but
Now I am a careful man.

The Pennsylvania-born Croce was a working man's poet, and a master of the long phrase, penning lyrics like, "Now I got them steadily depressin' low-down, mind-messin', workin at the car wash blues" or "And the roller derby program said that she was build like a 'frigerator with a head." The artist remains current: a character on Amazon TV's Transparent "married" Croce at the age of 4; his song "Operator" was heard on the show's pilot program.

After Croce died in a tragic plane crash in September 1973, small amounts of marijuana were found on two of the other passengers. Ingrid had to sue for insurance payments the aviation company tried to deny her because pot was on the plane. She won, and now works as the chef of the San Diego eatery Croce's (pictured) where great music and a delightful atmosphere are to be found. Last Saturday, it was Jazz Brunch with the splendid guitarist Patrick Berrogain.

Croce's death came months after his song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" hit #1 on the US charts, and one day before his single "I Got a Name" was released.  In "Hard Time Losin' Man,"  Croce displayed his wonderful sense of humor, singing:

Friday night, feelin' right
I head out on the street;
Standin' in the doorway
Was a dealer known as Pete.
Well he sold me a dime of some super fine
Dynamite from Mexico
I spent all that night
Just tryin' to get right
On a ounce of oregano.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Modern Marijuana Family

Tonight's Modern Family had a cute plot about the low-class marijuana dispensary owners who move next door to the uptight Clare and her doofus hubby Phil (pictured).

After their neighbors park a monstrous boat in their driveway against city code, Phil and Claire attempt to break (unleaded) banana bread with them and convince them to launch the vessel elsewhere. When negotiations break down Phil resorts to bringing his father to camp out with his RV on the street.

The plan backfires when Phil's dad (Fred Willard) and his senior buddies start partying with the offending neighbors. The next morning, the boorish boat owner buries the hatchet with Phil, only to find out Claire has "narced" them out. The episode might have been titled, "Can't we all just get a bong?"

Marijuana has popped up before on the show, as in this clip:

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Queen Latifah Portrays Empress Bessie Smith

This is what I call near-perfect casting: Queen Latifah (pictured) playing Bessie Smith in the HBO biopic Bessie, to air this spring.

Born to a large, poor family in Tennessee, Bessie joined a traveling minstrel show at age 14 and was mentored by Ma Rainey. She was soon performing on stages all over the country as The Empress of the Blues. "She was unquestionably the greatest of the vaudeville blues singers and brought the emotional intensity, personal involvement, and expression of blues singing into the jazz repertory with unexcelled artistry," writes PBS on their Ken Burns Jazz page.

“Bessie Smith smoked ‘reefers’ throughout her career, as did many others in the music industry,” wrote Buzzy Jackson in A Bad Woman Feeling Good. “[S]he was more than merely famous, she was a living symbol of personal freedom: she did what she liked; she spoke her mind, no matter how outrageous her opinion; she flouted bourgeois norms and engaged in alcohol, drugs, and recreational sex.”

In 1933, Smith recorded “Gimmie a Pigfoot” featuring Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. In the last verse, instead of asking for a pigfoot, Smith sings, “Gimmie a reefer”:

Queen Latifah (aka Dana Owens) has graced the airwaves, films and TV since her groundbreaking 1989 debut All Hail The Queen set the standard for female rappers, and paved the way for future women in hip-hop to make their way onto the charts. Her standout performance in the 2002 film adaptation of Chicago earned her nominations for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a SAG Award. Her jazzy The Dana Owens Album was nominated for a Grammy in 2005, the year she hosted the awards show.

In 1996 she was arrested with marijuana and a gun in her car. The CHP officer who made the stop "asked Miss Owens if she had been smoking and she said yes."

Latifah was first offered the role of Bessie 22 years ago when she a "full-on rapper" who didn't know who Smith was. Now she says she identifies with her. "I know what it's like to play through the pain, to keep your head immerse yourself in music," she said.

Monday, January 5, 2015

What Were the Addams Family Smoking?

From my youthful TV watching, I seem to recall Morticia (Carolyn Jones) and Gomez (John Astin) of "The Addams Family" (1964-66) smoking regularly from a Turkish hookah. One researcher claims the hookah was scrubbed from later re-runs, but someone's made an animated GIF of the puffing pair, and this clip has survived:

Based on a series of New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams that debuted in 1938, the TV series is enduringly popular in reruns; an animated series (starting with an appearance on Scooby Doo in 1972) followed, as did two films and a musical.

Despite being offbeat and morbid, the Addams Family were loving and accepting. Just like pot smokers.

A hookah also appeared regularly on the TV series Bewitched from the same era, smoked by Endora and Dr. Bombay. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Tokey Awards

Tokin Woman is proud to bestow 

the following “Tokey” Awards for 2014, 

in recognition of the achievement, 

courage and compassion of the awardees 

(and in a few cases, the lack of enlightenment).

Get Out-est Gals: Tokin Women of the Year

Best Reporting
Sabrina Rubin Erdely, Rolling Stone 
Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle 

August 8, 2014 - USPS Issues Janis Joplin Stamp

Phattest Film Award
Life of Crime with Jennifer Aniston 
The One I Love with Elisabeth Moss 
The Culture High 

Mother of the Year  
Jared Leto’s Mom 

Book of the Year Award
Barbara Ehrenreich Living With A Wild God 
Tom Robbins Tibetan Peach Pie
Ralph Nader Unstoppable 
Alyson Martin and Nushin Rashidian A New Leaf 
Doug Fine Hemp Bound

Top Tweet
Susan Sarandon on Prop. 47:

Most Informative Website

Video of the Year

Weediest Wardrobe

Admission of the Year

Shameless Lack of Compassion Award

A Latte Levity Award

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Emily's Garden

A page from Emily Dickinson's Herbarium showing a male Cannabis plant.
Born today in 1830, Emily Dickinson is widely regarded, along with Walt Whitman, as the premier American poet. A great many of the 1,775 poems she left behind have ethereal themes: Ecstasy, heaven, sacrament, spice, the East, death, magic, fairies, flowers and bees were among her favorite subjects. Her Blake-like vision into the minutest detail of nature and her preoccupation with Ecstatic realms may have been, I propose, inspired by the partaking of ancient plant teachers, today called psychedelics.

Quite the rebel, Dickinson boldly rejected Christianity as a girl, and wrote poems like:
Possible photo of Dickinson circa 1859

Forbidden Fruit a flavor has
That lawful Orchards mocks --
How luscious lies within the Pod
The Pea that Duty locks --

It's quite possible that she was content with her life of seclusion because she was having daily mystical experiences, aided by psychotropic plants she grew in her garden, or found in the woods. She wrote of the white dresses she wore as ceremonial garb, rather than the misinterpretation of bridal dress that moderns impose. She wrote:

Witchcraft was hung, in history
But History and I
Find all the Witchcraft that we need

Around us, every Day— 

Considering that she was not far, in time or distance, from the Salem Witch Trials, this was quite a bold statement to make, and possibly one of the chief reasons she scarcely published during her lifetime.

Dickinson was a master gardener and woodswoman, familiar with all the local flora and fauna, and some exotic ones as well that she grew in a greenhouse. By the 1840s Amherst graduates were at work in foreign missions in Syria, Turkey, India, China, Africa, and the South Seas, bringing back artifacts and rare plants. Emily wrote in a letter: “My flowers are near and foreign, and I have but to cross the floor to stand in the Spice Isles.” 

In Dickinson's Herbarium, a male-looking, unmistakable cannabis plant is pasted into the book with her own hand (above). She didn't label the plant (or several others), but the Harvard academics who have now published a facsimile edition supplied the identification.

In a poem that mentions "hempen hands," she wrote:

A cartoon drawn by Dickinson. Text says:
"Life is but a Strife
'Tis a bubble
'Tis a dream
And man is but a little boat
Which paddles down the stream"
I started Early -- Took my Dog --
And visited the Sea --
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me --
And Frigates -- in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands --
Presuming Me to be a Mouse --
Aground -- upon the Sands

But no Man moved Me -- till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe --
And past my Apron -- and my Belt
And past my Bodice -- too --

And made as He would eat me up --
As wholly as a Dew
Upon a Dandelion’s Sleeve --
And then -- I started -- too --

And He -- He followed -- close behind --
I felt His Silver Heel
Upon my Ankle -- Then my Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl

Until We met the Solid Town --
No One He seemed to know --
And bowing -- with a Mighty look--
At me -- The Sea withdrew-- 

Excerpted from the forthcoming Emily Dickinson's Divine Intoxication, from Evangelista Sista Press.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Elizabeth Moss Plays A Pothead in Love

Mark Duplass and Elizabeth Moss toking together in The One I Love.
Despite being a fan of Elizabeth Moss's acting (especially when she smokes pot on
Mad Men), I didn't see her movie The One I Love in theaters, because it looked like a dreary lets-work-on-our-relationship chick flick. I had no idea how trippy the film would get after the couple's psychologist (Ted Danson) sends them on a retreat and Moss's character Sophie brings along a bag of pot.

After the troubled pair tokes up, other sides of them emerge: his sheds his eyeglasses, exercises more, and wears his hair a little shaggier--and she likes it. Her less "bitchy" alter ego doesn't mind cooking him bacon, wears sexier clothes, and is totally cool with everything he does, or doesn't do.

In an interesting twist, rather than deal with this duplicity in reality, the filmmakers split the characters and their doubles in a Twilight Zone–style scenario, so that when they're seeing their ideal mates, they're actually cheating on their "true" ones. They at first put the strangeness down to a "bad pot and wine night," confirming it was their adulterants that took them out of themselves.

One wonders about the basis for this conceit from writer/producer Justin Lader. Do couples feel like they're in an alternate reality if they get high together? Are they disappointed in life after the buzz wears off? Is there no way to reconcile the two aspects of themselves?

Sophie (Moss) pulls out the pot.
Something Sophie has complained about for three years is her husband Eric's ruining of a magic show by revealing the source of the tricks. She badly needs some magic in her life, and only after Eric can let go of his calculating mind can he project that for her. But when his rational mind takes over, he is only interested in investigating the mystery she would rather explore.

Rather than, "My wife doesn't understand me," married men tell me, "My wife won't get high with me." It's difficult to depict on film, but the cosmic connection made between two beings whilst high is  something that can be beautiful, bonding, and sexy. And it can be hard to come down from that to the more prosaic planet, especially in a world where getting high is denigrated instead of celebrated.

This film could explore some of those nuances, but instead it degrades into a not-so-thrilling thriller, albeit one with an interesting twist at the end. But it still may have some lessons for potheads in love, at least.