Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy 420!

Ok, first off, sorry guys for the lack of a blog post yesterday.  Uncle Dave had to go to a sleep study, which was one of the worst, most uncomfortable experiences of my life.  It's not the fault of the sleep center, they provided a fairly comfortable queen sized bed with soft pillows and clean bedding, the room was dark and kept at the "I can almost see my breath" chilly temperature that I love and keep my room at home as close to as possible, they even let me wind down with a little cable TV first so I got to have Rachel Maddow tuck me in and read me my pinko bedtime stories.  The problem was that, for one thing, I can never sleep well in a strange bed.  For another, I apparently can't sleep well when I have 2 dozen sensors taped all over my head, face, neck, chest and legs and a pulse-monitoring clamp taped around my finger and tossing and turning wraps me up in the tiny little wires like I'm Gulliver and the Lilliputians are trying to capture me.  To top it all off, having the techs come in every 2 hours or so to check on me and tell me that I "really need to try and get to sleep" when I'm already consumed with stress over the fact that I can't get to sleep is not unlike having a girl yell at you to "Just get hard already!" when you're trying to bang her with whiskey dick.  In spite of all that, however, I managed to pass out for a solid 90 whole minutes last night, which thankfully gave them sufficient data to work with that I don't think I'll have to repeat that ordeal.  At any rate, between the Dr's appointments yesterday and subsequent sleep study I had to report to right around the time I'm usually just starting my evening, I didn't have a chance to post anything.  It was a lost Tuesday, I just thank God they didn't schedule me on an American Idol night...

I tell this story, not just to explain my absence of content yesterday, but also because the two sleep technicians who hooked me up with the mass of wires and sensors and then monitored me electronically, visually with the night vision camera in the ceiling and aurally with the microphone in my room, were  - at least in my observational opinion - clearly stoners.  My first clue that they might be potheads was the music playing in their office.  While I was being wired in to the matrix, I heard Eminem, Cake and Johnny Cash, clearly an eclectic mix of music, typical of the North American pothead.  My second clue was that they loved geek shit.  They talked about the show Chuck, the Terminator, comic book stuff and World of Warcraft.  These are, without question, pothead hobbies and interests.  My third clue was that one dude kind of looked like Penn Jillette's son and the other dude looked like the bassist for Slipknot.  He had those big piercing hole things in his ear and tattoos.  All of this circumstantial evidence led me to conclude that a fair amount of pot is probably consumed between these two dudes on a daily basis.  Oh yeah, they also work the night shift at a sleep study center, and night shift jobs are pretty huge stoner employment Mecca's. 

So, while I was tossing and turning and sweating like a Muslim in Texas, in spite of my room being about 68 degrees, my mind was racing and I tried to distract myself from thinking about falling asleep by thinking about what I was going to write about today.  I knew today was 4/20, the official "Stoner Holiday," (Sorry, Hitler, you're birthday has been hijacked.  Like the "You have no Quaran" guy would say, "You have no birthday!") but I didn't want to just do a "Hey, pot stuff is awesome, here's a bunch of pictures of killer weed!" post, and I really didn't want to do a "Here's the same old arguments that most people already agree with anyway as to why we should legalize it" post either.  That's when those two sleep techs inspired me.  I'm going to celebrate the hard-working, successful, happy and productive members of society who keep the wheels turning, take care of business, provide for themselves and their families and just happen to get blazed to the bejeesus belt on a regular basis.

In my lifetime I have met a myriad of different people, from all walks of life, who smoke pot.  I once met a couple in San Jose, the woman was a psychiatrist who had her own practice in Los Gatos and her husband was a professional motocross racer.  They both sang the praises of weed.  The psychiatrist in particular raved about it, saying if she didn't have weed to come home to at night, her patients would "drive her crazy."  I met these people through a friend of mine, a guitar player named Greg Camp who happened to be a professional musician, like me (ok, so my musical career is on hiatus, whatever).  Granted, he was a bit more successful at playing music than I was, you might have even heard of his band before...

Now, granted, people aren't typically surprised to hear about musicians and entertainers being pot smokers.  It's sort of a given that at least some degree of drug or alcohol use comes with the territory of being a rockstar or a comedian or a similarly famous and notoriously hard-living celebrity.  At the same time though, we're talking about people who founded and run what is, in many cases, a multi-million dollar business.  Not only that, but given the volatile and fickle nature of the industry, you have to stay on the cutting edge of entertainment trends and work constantly to maintain a public image, lest your career fall to the wayside.  To become successful as an entertainer is one of the most difficult things a person can do in this country and yet the majority of those who have done it are regular pot users.  Everyone from Snoop Dogg to Lady Gaga, from Bill Mahr to the late, great George Carlin

Some of the most brilliant minds of my generation were fueled by THC, be it the occasional hit or two here and there before "punching up" his material that George Carlin has admitted to, or the daily use that Bill Mahr has professed.  It is commonly accepted that marijuana is a creative muse for many users, and a calming stress reliever for others, both uses serving to help those people find inspiration or stay focused on the task at hand.  It is perhaps for these reasons that so many people in tech fields, including and especially the computer technology field, are admitted heavy pot smokers.  A few years ago, I was in a new hire orientation for a job I had just landed in tech support at a call center.  We were required by the contract we were working under to provide phone support for a retail website and offer assistance to people who might not be very computer savvy to help them navigate through their order and educate them on how to use the site for future web purchases.  During the orientation, a guy raised his hand and asked the question that is usually job suicide "Do you guys drug test?"  Everyone in the room began nervously, almost incredulously giggling at his question, because we all knew that was the dumbest thing a person could possibly ask during orientation.  However, the response by our soon-to-be boss was completely unexpected and cracked everyone up.  He replied "If we fired everyone in the IT and tech support field who smoked pot, there'd be no one left."  I still remember that, not just because the room erupted in laughter after he said it, but because that was a very candid thing for a boss to tell his employees, especially on the first day.  It also turned out that our boss was, himself, a regular smoker, as I would soon learn when I ended up selling him a bag of weed myself.

It seems that more and more I meet people, all kinds of people, who enjoy a little pot buzz every now and again.  I remember when my old band was playing the biggest show we'd ever played.  We were in San Jose, opening up for Smashmouth.  San Jose is their home town, and this was an outdoor concert at the park, so there were about 30,000 people there.  We had our own "dressing room," which was a rectangular tent set up behind the stage area with an ice chest full of sodas and bottled water in it, a few chairs and a long folding table.  It wasn't white lillies and scented candles, but it served our purpose, which was to give us a place to smoke up before we went on.  After our performance, we retired back to our tent and began the post-show celebration by rolling up joint after joint, packing bowl upon bowl and proceeding to smoke our tent out like we were trying to kill termites.  Slowly but surely, a crowd began to trickle in to our little tent.  I don't even know where all these people came from, but about 30 minutes or so later, there were close to 30 people packed shoulder to shoulder in our tent and a line outside of people waiting to get in whenever someone left.  Guys we didn't even know were breaking out sacks and throwing in on the "joint pile" that I was steadily rolling from.  Hot girls were all over the place, and at some point one of the guys who was a friend of Smashmouth's keyboard player started working the "door" and making sure more girls than guys were allowed in, unless that guy had a fat sack to contribute to the party.  It was so insanely smoky in this tent, just standing inside of it would get you a contact high.  Finally, after about an hour, just before Smashmouth was set to take the stage, one of the event staff security guys came in to the tent and started pushing his way through the crowd to get to the back, where we were sitting like we were holding court on the weed bacchanal.  He approached me directly, since I was the one sending the joints out, and said "Hey man, I don't mean to be a dick, but there's San Jose police right outside this tent and smoke is dumping out of here like it's on fire.  You guys need to chill out on the smoking, I don't want to see anyone get arrested."  So of course, we were like ok, no problem.  Then, just before he left, he said "Lemme get a hit of that real quick!"  Took a puff off the joint I just lit, and said "Right on man, just hold up on the smoking for a bit, ok guys?" and left.  Everyone knows what's up, even security.

If you've ever walked into a store after smoking pot, you will get the best litmus test ever as to who is and isn't "In the know" about pot.  Get blazed out, don't change your clothes or put on any cologne or perfume, then hit the mall and see how many people make comments about "Man, it smells good over here!" or who just flat out roll up on you and ask if you got any weed on you.  I like to get high before I go grocery shopping, which I know is the worst thing to do because I end up buying $75 worth of cheese in a can, doritos, beef jerky, mountain dew and little debbie snack cakes, but if I tell you that not a single time has gone by that someone - and usually a mom pushing a shopping cart with kids going ape shit all around her - doesn't make some comment about how good it smells or just straight up asks me if I have a joint on me.  Moms need weed!  It helps you deal with your crazy ass out of control kids!

How about when you order a pizza, and decide to burn one while you wait the 45 minutes or so for it to get there, so that when it arrives, you greet the delivery guy with a cloud of smoke at the door.  Letting dude take a quick hit or two is a great way to get some free shit from the car, or a few bucks knocked off your order.  You know how sometimes the delivery dude says "Oh, they must have forgot your cheesy garlic bread and 2-liter back at the restaurant, I'll go get it and bring it back, so sorry."?  Nah, they didn't forget it, he just gave it to me cuz I smoked him out!  Pizza guys definitely know what's up.

Next time the cable guy comes over, if the house has that faint smell of a freshly blazed joint, don't be surprised if you end up getting free HBO for letting dude take a couple hits.  A good friend of mine recently did just that and got just that in return.  Cable guys know what's up.

See, everyone knows what's up!  Recent statistics have shown that, even when people aren't strictly in favor of legalization, they are at least in favor of decriminalizing pot or greatly reducing the penalties for possession and use.  Even people who don't smoke and have no desire to generally agree that pot is nowhere near as harmful as other drugs or even alcohol.  Studies have shown that about 2/3rds of the people in America have at least tried pot once in their lives and out of that 2/3rds, nearly all of them favor some form of legalization, decriminalization or reduction in the severity of legal penalties associated with the possession, distribution and use of pot.  People know that there are way worse drugs out there, and way worse effects for a drug to have on you than to just make you happy, hungry and sleepy, as Katt Williams so eloquently put it.

So, in honor of the "Stoner Holiday" I just want to take the time to acknowledge the doctors, lawyers, entertainers, athletes, teachers, students, IT guys, secretaries, single moms, assembly line workers, mechanics, supervisors, pizza delivery guys, cable repairmen, artists, executives, business owners, retirees, politicians and everyone else in America who burns it on the daily, handles their business and gets it done.  This isn't just a day for hacky sacks, drum circles, patchouli oil, tie-dyed shirts and Phish fans.  This isn't just a day for slackers and unemployed people and 25-year old guys living in their parent's basements.  This isn't just a day for hippies and pinkos and burnouts and stereotypes.  This is a day for everyone, everyone who enjoys a smoke here and there, everyone who supports the right of their fellow Americans to enjoy a smoke here and there, everyone who loves freedom and liberty and the freedom of choice.  Everyone who realizes that we have a lot bigger problems in this world than smoking the aromatic fruit of an incredibly industrially useful plant.  Everyone who realizes that, for many of us, smoking that aromatic fruit helps us to deal with those bigger problems.  Today isn't just about getting high and watching Cheech and Chong, it's about celebrating freedom, it's about realizing that there are more of us than there are of them.  It's about coming together, the doctor, the lawyer, the pizza guy, the single mom, the college student and yes, even the slacker, standing shoulder to shoulder and passing that dutchie on the left hand side.  Today is our day.  Sorry, Hitler, you're gonna have to fuck off.

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