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“A Terse but Complete History of My Weed-Smoking Habits (I Promise I Have a Point)”

I was a pretty big TV junkie in the ’90s and one of the shows I’d catch, sometimes, was called Blossom. The reason I mention this show, which was generally a pretty critically acclaimed sit com conceived in the spirit of The Brady Bunch but more raunch, is that, in one of the episodes, one of the characters gets busted for pot. And I remember it just being this huge, grandiose sort of tragedy, at least rendered as that, as if by smoking pot the individual had given 300 youths in Somalia muscular dystrophy, or along those lines of significance.

So growing up, as stoners, we were public enemy #1, pretty much. With me, it was pretty much obviated that I’d smoke, during my high school career from 1998 to 2002, because my parents were hippies, and I was in a band and into jamming on Grateful Dead, Phish, etc. 

The first time I smoked the powerful herb from the ground was May of 1998, before a middle school dance. I didn’t get high this time but I remember having this incredible feeling of hearing Master P’s “Make ’em Say Uhh” and staring at this Pulp Fiction poster with Uma Thurman on it. Yeah, it was just a cool song and poster, I guess.

The next time I smoked was my last day of my Freshman year in high school and I didn’t get high that time, either. The risks and rewards of this smoking marijuana business were starting to present themselves as a viable debate.

To be honest, I really can’t remember the first time I smoked and got high, but it started happening regularly, leading to such constructive activities as claiming that an eyeglasses holder was an ice cream bar, and then laughing hysterically, in the ensuing minutes. We got our cat high one time and to be honest, I don’t think it ever fully recovered from that: I have this one permanent mental image of it standing in the corner of the living room, staring at the wall and shivering.

As I got older, I started experimenting with acid, shrooms, opium and pills (I did it all in my laboratory, I promise), and weed kind of got pushed under the carpet a little bit. It was no longer a noteworthy enterprise — smoking weed when you were on shrooms was like drinking a glass of water after taking six shots of Southern Comfort. Nobody would do that and then be like, “Whoa, I just drank a killer glass of water after those shots!” And that’s kind of like what weed became.

But the experiences were still there, and really, they weren’t with out enticement. What I’d particularly like to zoom in on regards a couple instances during when I’d moved out to Colorado, doing things like going to concerts and also just chilling and listening to CD’s. I went one time with a work buddy to RAQ and we’d got stoned on the way there — I pretty much hated that band, but the show was an in-store, and I scored a cheap copy of Nirvana’s unplugged album in there. I took that sucker home, put it on and it sank in more than it ever had, even to the point where, for the first time, I noticed that there was an accordion in “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.”

I remember rolling a j before going to the Beastie Boys show in Denver and smoking it on the way, 2008, but more importantly, and this became a sort of default activity of mine, I would smoke, go to a record store, and just spend an expansive amount of time in there, looking at all the CD’s, and then buying some. I’d usually accumulate a stack of about 12 or so used CD’s I wanted, somehow managing the carry them all, then to pare it down to five or six, that I could actually afford, or almost afford, anyway. For some reason I never liked downloading music, which was the chic mechanism around this time — it took forever and messed up your computer. Plus, I liked having CD’s because I could listen to them in a car and also on better speakers, in general, than computers were able to foster. Around this time, I suppose I looked foolish with my Discman in work blaring Camera Obscura, with everybody else cemented to their iPods, but at the same time, Best Buy still stocked CD’s, and Borders was still open, a frequent vendor of music for me.

So when I smoked pot around this era, the late 2000s, my mental state was just distinctly able to absorb a sort of camaraderie with the world. I felt like there was actually a culture, in other words — indie rock was still strong and vital, with Abe Vigoda frequenting this little, drafty room in North Denver called Rhinoceropolis, with Women opening, and putting on probably the best rock set I’ve ever seen. There’s still sort of the skeleton of a rock scene these days around South Bend, Indiana, but it tends to veer adamantly towards realms of jam, emphasizing just the amassing of a large quantity of music and technical skill, somewhat occluding of the basic entity of songwriting, if you will. This was not nearly as much the case in 2010, when I caught a killer Chicago pop-punk unit The Clergymen up in East Lansing, and bands would play original classic rock songs at the Rum Village Inn here in South Bend, too. Calamity has manifested and dictated the proceedings, too, to an extent, as the awesome punk shows they used to have on Lincoln Way got cancelled because of a violent incident that happened in one of them. 

So as this music culture goes, in a sense, so does my mind state when I smoke, and it ended up very much a situation where when I smoked my mind went “to dark places,” as Eddie Vedder once commented, within a discussion of the very same topic. Actually, at this point, I hate getting high so much that I even refused to smoke, as one of the lumps on my shoulders started showing problematic effects. I kept brushing the issue under the carpet, planning on getting expensive, health insurance the next open enrollment, but the trouble kept persisting to the point where I finally caved in and dipped into this homegrown I’d gotten from a dude at work. The leaves were extra-high in THC, apparently, as the dude had emphasized to me. As it turns out, and I think for this reason, it didn’t really make me that depressed (typically, for me, smoking weed had induced a feeling similar to being trapped inside Poe’s Cask of Amontillado, more or less). But this time I took about three puffs, got chiefy off my a**, and put on a couple vinyl records [1]. And I’m going to illustrate that they were Frank Zappa – Apostrophe; Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps and Julia Holter – Ekstasis, toward the contrived measure of making this post about music. But I could feel it. I could feel the medicine working in my system. It would start in my back — excruciating pain. That would last about five minutes and then it would move to my chest, to the back of my shoulder, and finally, I think a couple days later, to the actual lump that was the source of the disease. And it made sense to me that marijuana would be this powerful of an analgesic because of how it affected my mental state — I was finally reaping the reward of all that cognitive awfulness I’d been experiencing while trying to have a good time, in a sense. Ironically, then, the “getting high” aspect of smoking weed is my least favorite facet of the entire process. 

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I scored this cheap-ola record player online for $40 and had been lamenting that all my vinyls had been sounding like sh** on it, until it occurred to me to take off this little plastic disc that was resting on the plastic bass, straddling the middle wand.

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