(Article changed on January 25, 2014 at 15:21)
I came of age in the early seventies but I was truly a child of the sixties. My childhood neighborhood was brimming with kids of all ages, and in this milieu I was drawn to the cultural manifestations of my friends' older brothers and sisters. While I did appreciate "The Monkees," I was drawn to folk music and especially that of Tom Rush. His album The Circle Game is the distillation of the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Andy Williams, Chet Atkin's Nashville and Bob Dylan. It was the love child of all of these -- it was a natural, logical musical segue. Listening to it again today, with all the comfortably familiar pop and fuzz of vinyl, got me to thinking about pot again.
I was going to name this piece "Longing for Seeds and Stems
Again" or "Twistin' a Square with Brooks," but I thought it better to honor Tom
Rush and Joni Mitchell. Anyway, pot
these days is way too powerful. Whatever
you want to call it -- "Train Wreck" or "The Nuclear Option" -- it can put you in
the corner admiring a lost penny or cause "I am a responsible person" panic --
worried that you won't be able to drive in time to make it home for
Most of the good stuff back in the day was either too expensive or trucked off to California or Greenwich Village and we were left with the cull of seeds, stems and leaves or partially dried leaves, prematurely harvested when "getting busted" paranoia overtook a casual suburban weed farmer.
This ubiquitous "dirt weed" induced hilarity and profound silliness. You almost never see a gaggle of stoned young folks trying to order a pizza, but having to, in true slapstick fashion, vacate the pizza parlor because they are laughing so hard they are unable to articulate, much less make topping choices. Today, they appear to be able to be buzzed and blithely discuss the different types of pepperoni and the advantages of fresh mozzarella.
Well, to be perfectly honest, there were plenty of "Stoners" back then who could order a pizza while reading "Ulysses" and they did talk about "bud" and "resin," but we didn't give a sh*t about all that -- we just wanted to laugh and enjoy each other's company. It wasn't primarily about getting stoned -- it was about a form of communion; a joining, and music was a big part of it.
I wasn't into Led Zeppelin and the Stones back then -- they were the anti-groove groove. I really appreciate them now musically, but back then, they were killin' my buzz. I wanted to listen to Tom Rush or The Allman Brothers. The herbal mix of seeds, stems and leaves produced a mellowness that gave one a heightened appreciation of: a sweet groove (especially a dulcet groove with poetry), heat lightening or the peculiar inability of your pal to successfully retrieve a ping pong ball from under a chest of drawers. So, there we'd sit with tiny holes smoldering in our shirts -- grinnin' so big it hurt.
I don't think I'll head out for Colorado unless they have a weed store named "The Schwag Shop" or "Uncle Bob's Seeds and Stems Emporium" -- I'm actually truly content with my memories of uncomplicated youthful mirth: chasing armadillos through Central Texas meadows and brush, laughing like hell -- Tom Rush and The Grateful Dead ringing through the mesquite and persimmon, grasshoppers popping into the last rays of sun like winged sprites, the sky afire -- pure joy.
I'm not so sure David Brooks is totally wrong.