Jack Herer signing books at Hempfest with wife Jeannie. Photo by David Tatelman

Seattle Hempfest | August 21-22, 2010 the first one without Jack Herer

Jack Herer signing books at Hempfest with wife Jeannie. Photo by David Tatelman

Seattle Hempfest will be a little different this year without Jack Herer.  I worked with Jack in his booth during the 2008 Hempfest, and saw him briefly last year going by in a golfcart.  I greeted him and he smiled and waved at me, and that was the last time I saw him.

Just a few weeks later Jack suffered a stroke in Portland, Oregon, spent much of the next few months in a coma, and died peacefully shortly after.

Jack and I went way, way back.  During the 70′s Jack and I would attend the Boutique Shows in New York City, which in those days were pretty much a drugfest.  Most of the exhibitors were counter-cultural businesses ranging from High Times Magazine to a variety of paraphernalia manufacturers.  We’re talking bongs, smoking papers, and many other creative items which naturally led to all kinds of wild parties in the evenings.

Jack, in those days, was making several items that were used for cocaine. He invented the first coke screen and had a little item called the AbsoTootly, which was a glass spring-loaded tube for inhaling the white powder.

Jack was obese in those days and probably shouldn’t have been doing so much coke, and it eventually led him to having his first heart angioplasty.  I remember visiting him at his home in Los Angeles when he was recovering.  He was amazed how much more energy he had after getting his arteries cleaned-out like that.

Jack and the rest of us eventually stopped doing the white powder and devoted the rest of our lives to getting marijuana legalized.

I remember sitting in my home in Shoreline with Jack while we smoked a great deal of pot.  He kept telling me about this book he was going to write that would completely shake up the world.  He was, of course, speaking about Emperor.  As a jaded publisher I didn’t put much credence in his boasts, but I promised I would sell the book for him when and if he ever got around to writing it.

Jack did eventually write The Emperor Wears No Clothes, and I have to admit, it did change the world!  Almost single-handedly Jack gave a huge boost to the legalization movement, and eventually he became known as the “King of Hemp.”

Although he continued to suffer from health problems, a stroke and heart problems, Jack kept the fight going for years.  To many he is a hero to be revered, and I would have to agree with that.

Hempfest is coming shortly.  There will be many tributes to him, but the biggest tribute will be when marijuana is finally legalized.

Thank you, Jack Herer! I will miss you.

Book review: To Hellholes and Back by Chuck Thompson

Chuck Thompson, who I didn’t even realize lives near Seattle, has written an offbeat travel book about places most of us would never want to go, including him, with some surprising conclusions.

He visits the Congo, India, Mexico City, and Disneyworld.

The first half of the book is about his visit to the Congo and it is definitely the highlight. He has quite a few adventures, and while it confirms you wouldn’t want to visit there, he does end up having some notable adventures. He meets many shady characters, learns all about how bribery works and sometimes doesn’t work, and even gets shadowed by a lion. An When he enters the country it appears that a date previous to his actual entry is stamped into his passport. This seems to be a commonly known trick, because everytime he comes into contact with an authority they point out that he entered the country before his Visa allows him to. This causes all kinds of problems. There are some amusing and shocking observations. For example, there is the matter of widespread AIDS education, in which everybody is told about using condoms. The people are convinced to use condoms, but in the name of comfort they often cut off the end of it.

India is the place that comes off the worse. I was quite surprised because I have heard so many good things about India, but after reading this book I don’t think I ever will visit there. This is despite the fact that my favorite travel writer Rick Steves has said it is his favorite place to visit.

The main reason is the pushiness of the people, whether it be peddlers, taxi drivers, restaurant owners, or anybody else trying to sell him something. There is a particularly hairy episode when he visits a Moslem temple and is confronted by a mob trying to collect a 200 Rupee camera fee for visitors. He ends up fleeing the mob, and finds out later there is indeed a fee, but that doesn’t really make him feel any better about the experience.

Taxi drivers will say anything and agree to take him anywhere just to get him in the taxi, whereupon they immediately tell him they will take him some place better or closer or something like that.

In the end he does have a good experience with a tut-tut driver that makes India look a little better, but still.

Mexico City actually comes across the best. I haven’t been there myself in over 15 years and I remember it as being a great place, but I couldn’t breathe the air. It turns out that things have changed in Mexico City. The air is not so polluted due to factories being closed and better emission standards. The people are very polite and crime is not bad at all.

Even DisneyWorld, which he expects to hate, turns out not to be so bad, and he even says he would go again.

A very enjoyable book, all in all.

Red Lobster has blood on its hands

Roatan Island, Honduras: I owe much of the following information to a great publication, Bay Islands Voice

On Roatan Island, as on many islands of the Caribbean, lobster diving is one of the few ways the local natives have to make a living. As the local lobsters have been depleted, lobster boats head out for 10 to 12 day trips to the prime hunting areas. Here the lobster divers dive down 100, 150 even 200 feet to catch lobster that are big enough to harvest. The law says they must have a tail of at least 5 inches. The rest of them are supposed to be thrown back, but sometimes the captain lets the divers take the smaller ones for themselves.

These divers don’t know anything about modern diving techniques, involving decompression, etc. They will dive a dozen or more times a day with tanks and regulators, but no knowledge of the dangers. Many of them get the bends. The closest hyperbaric chamber is at Anthony Key’s Resort on Roatan, but that is at least 5 days away. Even if the captain was inclined to take them there, it would take too long to be effective in most cases. Sometimes the diver will lay on the boat writhing, and the decision is to spare them anymore agony by throwing them aboard.

Roatan Island has many cases of divers who have been crippled for life, usually paralyzed from the waist down. Often their families will desert them, unable to provide for them. The Bay Islands Voice had a picture of one man who has been lying on a cot on his stomach for 20 years. He was lucky enough that somebody came to feed him and perhaps clean him up once-in-awhile. Some have a wheelchair, but it’s not all that easy to get around in a shack on a muddy beach.

Divers come into Anthony’s Key all the time. They have no money, but apparently the resort does what they can. As I said before, however, it is usually too late to do anything but try.

A dive shop owner from the Corn Islands off of Nicaragua wrote a letter in response to this article telling about the situation there. Often the divers will carry a tank down under their arm without even a regulator. They breathe directly out of the tank. I have no idea how they can do that. If you are familiar with tanks you will understand what I am saying. These divers very rarely get to a hyperbaric chamber.

The dive shop operator who wrote the letter says that he has started to train the divers in modern diving techniques. Most of them are illiterate, and he must read the entire course to them, which will take at least 10 days compared to the usual 3 for most of us. They have never known about modern diving techniques before.

Of course even if they are trained it is doubtful that the lobster boat will give them equipment. If they are unwilling to dive the normal way, there are many to take their place.

Most of these Caribbean lobster are destined for the Red Lobster restaurants. Think about that the next time you see their bubbly commercials talking about cheap lobster served by perky waitresses.

I was in a local Roatan restaurant that was serving very small lobster yesterday. I asked him if they were legal. He had no idea. Somebody had sold him a large bag of small frozen lobster tails. He thought maybe they were farmed. I told him that I didn’t think there was such a thing as a lobster farm. He just shrugged. I will not mention the restaurant, because he probably is not the only one, and besides his is the only place that offers me free wi-fi.

As for me, I think I will stick to Maine Lobster. They have the claws that I like so much, and far as I can tell they are still plentiful in the sea.

Marathon runners are awesome.

Meb Keflezighi, from Eritrea but an American citizen, won the New York Marathon on Sunday in what amounted to 5 minute miles. That’s 12 miles per hour.

When I ride my bike I cruise at about 11 to 12 miles per hour. When I am really trucking I get up to 15 to 16 and going downhill over 20, but that gets scary real fast.

The New York Times had a little blurb about how fast that is. If you go on a treadmill and push it up to 12 miles per hour it feels like an all-out sprint. In fact very few of us could even run 1 mile at that 5-minute pace, let alone for 26.2 miles!

I ran a marathon myself a few years ago. My goal was to do 10 minute miles, which works out to a little more than 4-1/2 hours, 6 miles per hour. I didn’t quite make it that fast, finishing in just under 5 hours. I was happy. Hell, I was happy I was able to finish the marathon.

Another NY Times article recently spoke about how some expert runners think it is has become too easy to run a marathon. They felt that the marathon should end at 6 hours, because any slower than that and you could practically walk it. Maybe, I don’t know, but I do know that for some people, like me, running a marathon is something you remember your entire life.

As I watched the marathon on Sunday I was so excited because I felt like I was one of them. I had run a marathon myself, albeit less than half as fast as them, but hey I finished. And training for it caused me to lose 20 pounds. I felt great. I should do it again.

McGinn for Seattle Mayor

Like many Seattle voters I have been in a quandary over who to vote for Mayor. We unceremoniously tossed out the current Mayor Greg Nickels, leaving us with 2 complete unknowns to choose from.

The natural candidate for me to vote for is McGinn. He’s a friendly guy, has a good smile, and a record of working on environmental and neighborhood issues. All we know about the other guy, Mallahan, is that he was an executive for T-Mobile.

The problem for many of us has been that McGinn was so totally against building a tunnel to replace the viaduct. I like the idea of a tunnel that will route traffic through downtown, leaving us with a beautiful waterfront. Damn the cost, we need progress.

So now all of a sudden McGinn has announced he won’t fight the tunnel if that is what everybody else decides they want. Of course he is getting crap from the Mallahan campaign for being a flip-flopper, as Tina Podlowski hysterically said in an email to me this morning.

That cinches it for me. I am voting for the guy with the beard who is open-minded enough to support something even if it goes against his own preferences.

Aaargh, maybe there won’t be an LA team in the World Series!

I have been watching the baseball playoffs with my friends, 2 of whom are from Los Angeles. One is a Dodger fan and the other an Angel fan. I am of course mostly a Seattle Mariners fan (and they did have a great year), but my second team has always been the Dodgers. My first baseball memories are of the 1955 World Series, the only one the Brooklyn Dodgers ever won.

Anyway, all along we have been looking forward to an Angels/Dodgers World Series, or at the very least a Yankees/Dodgers World Series. Now it’s starting to look like both the Los Angeles teams could very well be eliminated, since they are both down right now, especially the Dodgers.

Well, my very least favorite team has always been the New York Yankees. You could say I hate the Yankees, so I am not really looking forward to seeing them in the Series. The Phillies won’t be too bad, however, especially since Raul Ibanez is a former Mariner, as is Jamie Moyer, who unfortunately is on the disabled list right now. I would be happy with anybody defeating the Yankees!

It’s not over yet. The next 2 nights will determine it. But hey, while I’m at it, why the hell is TBS broadcasting the playoffs anyway? And why can’t Comcast show those games in High-def?

Newsmax columnist: Military coup “to resolve the Obama problem ” is not “unrealistic”

Apparently being inspired by the coup in Honduras, a conservative columnist for the wingnut site, NewsMax, is suggesting a military coup would take care of the “Obama Problem.”

Newsmax columnist: Military coup “to resolve the Obama problem ” is not “unrealistic” | Media Matters for America

There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.

America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it.

[...]

Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.

Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.

Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”

In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.

The post has now been removed.

Spent the night in Medford, OR

On the way home I passed through the usual stops in Northern California and decided to go all the way to Medford, where the Motel 6 is only $35 a night. Found a Mexican restaurant to eat in and was perusing the local weekly, Sneak Preview.

The 2 lead articles were about new businesses in Medford, one a Pilates shop and the other an indoor climbing facility. It turns out that the owners of both these establishments had relocated from Seattle. That reminded me of Linda visiting me when she told me she didn’t have to go to Portland on this trip because all of her friends had moved to Seattle.

The next page had an ad and an article about another local business called Ashland Alternative Health. What these fine folks do for a fee of $175 is lead you through the legal morass of acquiring a permit to acquire an Oregon Medical Marijuana Card. I kid you not. They don’t even get you the card, but for $175 they show you how to do it. The 3 people who run it look very clean cut and wholesome, naturally, and the article says they don’t even allow marijuana on the premises.

Apparently the owner of this business, who runs it with his aunt, is not from Seattle.

The funniest article was some humor about the neighboring town, Ashland, which is famous for its Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Apparently this town is known for being a very liberal place politically. The author of the piece, Sam Boothby, calls it the hippie colony to our southeast.

Ashland has recently implemented a water containment policy that requires you to pay more if you use more than your allotted amount of water monthly. So he suggests that they take the idea even further and have a new policy called Gluttons for a Gorgeous Gaia, or a tax on anybody who eats more than 2000 calories a day. Further he suggests Sumptuary Consumption Sin Tax Supplement for Supplements, and a policy that allows you only 3 Birkenstocks. Not 3 pair, but 3 shoes. This is to encourage you to get together with somebody of the opposite sex who has the 3 matching shoes.

Well, you get the idea.

Obama picks Punk to be U.S. ambassador to WTO

It’s about time! It’s been 30 years since Sid Vicious died and, as far as we know, a Punk rocker has never been appointed to a high office in this country. Now that we have a black president many barriers to other minority groups have fallen and this is the latest one.

washingtonpost.com

Oh, you meant Punke. Well, never mind.

Well I’ll be damned: Gonzales defends Holder’s decision on CIA

EXCLUSIVE: Gonzales defends Holder’s decision on CIA – Washington Times
“As chief prosecutor of the United States, he should make the decision on his own, based on the facts, then inform the White House,” said Mr. Gonzales, who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush in 2005 and resigned in 2007.

You could knock me over with a feather. Albert Gonzales did something right. Maybe his conscious is bothering him? Who knows. I do know one thing, however, this will probably be the only time I have quoted the Washington Times!

Nancy Reagan tells of friendship with Senator Kennedy

Ronald Reagan, Jr. had his 88-year old mother on his radio show yesterday talking about the longtime friendship between Ted Kennedy, President Ronald Reagan and Nancy. Nancy bemoans the fact that politics today is so hostile that opponents can rarely be friends. Indeed, it is difficult for most of us to imagine that Teddy, Ronald Reagan, and Orin Hatch could actually be good friends.

Here’s the audio, courtesy of BlatherWatch Prepare to be touched.

A bus, a purse, and a thief

My friend Linda from Texas has been visiting. She’s staying on Vashon Island and took the ferry to Fauntleroy, the bus downtown and the 71 Bus to Sunset Hill to visit me. I arranged to pick her up at the stop at NW 65th St. and 32nd Ave. NW.

I was sitting in my car and saw the bus go by me. She obviously missed that stop and got off at the next one a block north. After getting out, carrying a bag and jacket, she seemed to panic and ran back towards the bus, but it was too late. It had already left. Then she started running towards me. This was weird behavior to say the least. She didn’t usually run at all, and had actually asked me to pick her up in my car to avoid walking 4 or 5 blocks.

I picked her up and she said she had left her purse on the bus. The bus was already out of sight, but I knew the route so we took off after it. A car between us was running interference and didn’t turn off until 80th, and the bus was pulling away again at 83rd St. after disgorging a few passengers.

I was taking off after the bus again, when she screamed that a young man getting off had her purse. She jumped out to run after him. He had already turned the corner, so I lost sight of both of them and the bus, too. I couldn’t very well back-up on 32nd, so finally I made a u-turn, just in time to see her coming back to me with a big smile.

She had been yelling at the young man, an Asian man with large headphones on his head, so he couldn’t hear anything. As she caught up with him, she heard her cellphone ringing in his backpack. She immediately grabbed the backpack, reached in and retrieved her purse. The cellphone ringing had tipped her off where her purse was and given her the courage to grab it.

The guy never even had time to respond or protest or anything, as she ran back to me with her purse safely in her hands. He must have been quite bewildered.

I was surprised actually that this young man had stolen the purse. I had just figured it would be turned into Metro’s lost and found, which would have been a pain for Linda, but at least she would have the purse back. I must be really naive when it comes to Seattle, because I am so used to thinking that we are all honest here.

All-in-all a happy ending, because the purse contained her passport, drivers license, credit cards and some money. That would have definitely cramped her style if we hadn’t found it.