Friday, October 4, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

At the Mall

Nothing much has changed at the mall
Since I was young, except…
Now I’m not.

The babes are still there
Dressed to excess and trolling 
For guys who gaze on cleavage
The way men who covet cars
Check out the grill:

So whatchu got?  Sweet... 
Can I have a ride? 

And when those pretty little things encounter
Old men’s eyes they smile, as if to say;
You’d kill for a piece of this, wouldn’t you? 
How little they know about how little they know!

At the mall I saw a dog collar for the price of a pair of shoes.
A pair of shoes for the price of an outfit.
An outfit for the price of a car.

And I saw pretty little things in lovely cars purchased 
For the price of a comfy home.

CEH 3.13

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chord Play Method; Ad #1


Chord Play is a meditative approach to picking up acoustic that will have newbies smiling, and old hands falling in love again.

Where's Cannabis?

If films are meant to portray the truth, where is the truth about cannabis on the big screen?  Not weed; cannabis.  Weed is marijuana.  It’s typically smoked as a recreational relaxant.  Cannabis is an ancient medicine, and a conduit for creative and spiritual explorations.  While marijuana the chill-out drug is finding its way to the big screen with increasing frequency, authentic medicinal use of cannabis doesn’t yet rate a cameo.

Booze, butts and bad behavior

Feature films and the characters that come to life within them have traditionally reflected and even informed our popular culture and social practices.  This is particularly evident with our use of drugs.  How many smokers light up and squint like Bogey and Madsen, or sip a stiff one like Pacino and the Bonds?  And who hasn’t seen folks, from gay men to socialites, holding their cigs high-wristed, palm to the ceiling, with the other hand cupping the elbow.  The Bette Davis pose.

From the indies to the major studios, drunkenness and hangovers remain standard vehicles for character tells and scene development.  Every December, millions of viewers still snicker as Uncle Billy, clearly a serious alcoholic, staggers home while proclaiming to be okay.  The same audience response is expected in Thor (2011) when Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd ) passes out from alcohol over-consumption while trying to keep up with the big guy. 

Now that we know the truth and have the stats, tobacco and alcohol use on the big screen ought to be going down.  But it’s not at all.  That’s surprising because filmmaking is renowned for giving us a view of our culture that is just one step ahead of the norm.  Even as Colorado and Washington state embody what lies ahead as prohibition fades, visionary films like Avatar (2009) still show us a future with drug choices and practices that even now are so last-century.

Welcome to Cannabis Country

Cannabis country is all around us, and the beauty of that (particularly for dramatic storytellers) is that for the most part that world remains very well hidden and largely unknown to mainstream Americans.  Private grows are taking off, and many of those home cultivators are making their own medicine—an act that is strictly forbidden by our government and yet impossible to stop, tax or control.  And within that shadowy realm, regular folks in ordinary neighborhoods are utilizing cannabis the exit drug as a substitute for toxic and addictive substances that wreck the lives of people from all walks of life—and still define the choices of big-screen characters.

While cannabis use in upscale neighborhoods is on the rise fast, the best place for storytellers to find truly dynamic, provocative, knowledgeable, and colorful characters is to visit with the sort of people found in films like Where the Heart Is (2000) and Winter’s Bones (2010). Think white, broke down, broken, addicted, violent, uneducated, and truly sad.

Unless of course they live in cannabis country, where that same demographic embodies passion, clarity, exploration, empowerment and enterprise.  In rural Maine, you can connect with such people at the summertime festivals in Starks, where many of them remember the old days when drunkenness and beating on things was just the way people got through the long winters.  Not anymore.  Local police in that state and in others have long understood the convenient connection between cannabis use and a reduction in alcohol-related crime, violence and stupid behavior.

In the process of learning how to treat themselves (often completely off the grid of Westernized medicine), rural medicinal pioneers have discovered that cannabis is a safe and versatile medicine they can grow in the basement and refine in the kitchen.  And since all that (scene-making) personal exploration can’t kill them, the valuable knowledge they are acquiring and sharing with trusted friends and family will eventually attract economic opportunity to regions of this country long assumed to be beyond hope.  Not over night, and probably not for decades, but absolutely.  And if it’s in our future, it ought to be in pictures.

Character, Color and Conflict

There are two major reasons why filmmakers ought to enrich their stories with medicinal cannabis themes.  For one, cannabis people and practices represent an untapped goldmine of color, conflict and progressive social realities.  The other reason is that since prohibition is a deeply installed war of words and images, bringing the truth to the big screen would be a massive advocacy win for a movement still defined by its love of binge-bonging festivals. 

Movies take us to places we’d like to be, and to worlds we could never go.  If believable big screen characters in excellent feature films were to use cannabis as medicine in the privacy of their own lives, mainstream understanding would rise in a Gore minute.

Cannabis prohibition is on the way out, and since the proof of that future shock can been found in private homes and lives across America, the truth ought to be evident on the big screen.  It’s not.  So while full and unfettered use of cannabis is sweeping the nation, particularly in states where home cultivation is permitted (or at least not busted), screen characters are still rolling fatties, filling bowls and smiling through the smoke. 

Cannabis is medicine; so use it.  Lights, camera, cannabis!

Root essay:  Lights, Camera, Cannabis!

Related essay:  Cannabis Country sketches for storytellers

Carl Hedberg is a guitar teacher and cannabis freedom writer living in Lafayette, Colorado.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Beautiful Piece

This poem is a perfect description of how tough life can be when you refuse to yield because you know you can't.  Adapted from the trailer to the film and the book Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions.
You change direction, but the sandstorm chases you.
You turn again, but the storm adjusts.
Over, and over, you play this out,
Like some ominous dance with death just before dawn.
This storm isn’t something that blew in from far away.
It has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside you.
So all you can do is give into it; step right inside the storm.
Make no mistake about it
No matter how metaphysical or symbolic the storm might be
It will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades.
People will bleed there.
You’ll catch that blood on your hands, your own blood, and the blood of others.
And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you managed to survive.
But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, your life won’t be the same,
It will be Biutiful.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Free to Choose/essay

Jack Herer’s vision of unrestricted cannabis freedom is becoming a reality as patients escape the drug war by growing their own

Since the end of days was just another day, 2012 may be best remembered as the beginning of the end of cannabis prohibition.  We have a long way to go before we are all free to choose cannabis, and a long time to wait before Middle Americans look long enough to feel the pain and see the need.  Sadly, the Cash Hyde story was not what everyone in America was talking about before everyone was talking about the Newtown horrors.
Mainstreamers don’t go to cannabis festivals, they don’t watch compelling documentaries like Waiting to Inhale and Hemp and Rule of Law, and they wouldn’t think to read Marijuana is Safer.  While cannabis legalization in Colorado and in Washington State certainly appeared on mainstream screens many times after Election Day, the coverage was often reduced to a sound-bite, a pot joke, or a pitched debate that left viewers sure that there are two sides to every story.
Prohibition propaganda taints us all
The insulation from the truth has been so deeply installed that it could take generations before the lies and the misconceptions about cannabis have been cleared from our collective cultural consciousness.  Consider, for example, this supportive point of view offered by the new Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, the day after she was crowned.  Ms. Culpo, a native of the progressive state of Rhode Island, told Huffington Post Live:
I don't think it should be legalized for recreational purposes, because it's been proven to prevent people from their full potential and I don't think that's a good thing for society. If we're trying to move things forward, a drug like marijuana does the opposite, it will slow things down. But for medical purposes I think it's great, but for every day? No.[1]
Give the woman an A for effort and a C for accuracy.  Those are better grades than many cannabis fans would give NORML these days.  Ironically, even as the medicinal truth is coming out, the original freedom fighter for us all is sticking to its charter that says this fight about marijuana, and marijuana is a smoked recreational weed.  Director Allen St. Pierre has even called the medicinal movement a sham perpetrated by greedy enterprisers.  How last-century is that?
Mainstreamers, of course, know far less about the true nature of cannabis.  They still live deep within the psychic, social and physical bounds of drug war prohibition, and work without complaint in unconstitutional environments where they submit to drug tests to make sure they aren’t using the forbidden flower.  Workplace policies on drugs are forceful but not the least bit drug free:
Pot is not allowed, not even on your own time, and certainly not as ‘medicine’.  Don’t even ask!  Pills are fine as long as you have a prescription for them.  Tobacco breaks outside?  That’s your right.  Drinks after work?  We’ll see you there... 
Negotiated Freedoms
Keeping mainstreamers out of the loop and in the dark is a long-standing prohibition-era practice that both sides firmly agree on.  Leading reform groups like the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) insist that the time to engage voters comes after the terms of reform have been settled and the baby-step bill is ready for sale and debate on the news shows. 
A good example of this incremental march to freedom can be seen in Massachusetts, a decriminalized state that just voted to allow the creation of a dispensary system that will serve patients who are sick enough to qualify.  Northampton lawyer Michael Cutler, a skilled veteran of the movement, recently described the legal framework to The Boston Globe:
The law allows for 35 outlets in the state’s 14 counties, with at least one per county. How the distribution works after that is all up to the state Department of Public Health, which has until May 1 to issue its regulations. Some kind of competition for licenses could open up in the summer, and by the fall those decisions could be made. Then the first dispensaries could begin to open by the winter.[2]
The admirable big picture vision of the baby-step strategy is that down the road, once the safety of cannabis is obvious and the commercial frameworks have all be worked out to the satisfaction of the parties in control, further steps towards liberty will be taken.  In time, they hope, we will all be free to buy cannabis from any vendor we choose. 
Until his death three years ago, Jack Herer was the aggressive ‘free means free’ advocate.  He had no patience for negotiated liberties.  He would be delighted to know that as he foretold, true cannabis freedom is unfolding as a matter of personal choice, in private homes and gardens all over the world.
The Grower Next Door
Private home cultivation is taking off not just because the government is doing everything in their power to limit access while they figure out how to control the game, but because increasingly, cannabis patients feel their choice of medicine is nobody’s business but their own.  The drug war offensive of 2012 drove millions of patients out west back into the shadows.  The ones who went home to grow their own won’t be coming back. 
In Rhode Island patients are permitted to grow in the privacy of their own residences, so dispensary access cards won’t be a huge seller when they’re finally made available.  RI growers are a passionate, cooperative community, as evidenced by the nonprofit model developed by Sensi Organic Solutions.  SOS empowers financially strapped medical cardholders by setting them up with donated equipment, soil and clones, and then guiding them through the first grow.  For help after that newbies can go online or turn to seasoned growers in the SOS network.
The classic stealthy Phototron
Homegrows, especially in urban areas, can still be a seriously risky undertaking.  Growers are keenly aware that their little gardens are lucrative targets for black market thieves, and that in most areas cannabis cultivation remains a deeply misunderstood and socially unacceptable practice.  The solution is secrecy, and after more than 40 years of war, cannabis growers know how to hide.
Serving this market are countless local hydro and grow supply shops, and enterprises like GrowLife, SuperCloset, and BC Northern Lights.  Since these companies are careful to point out that their products are intended to make stealthy home cultivation fun and easy only for legal flowers and vegetables, they are free to sell to anyone; online and in any state. 
Naturally, there is no way to figure the size of the hidden home cultivation market, but it is safe to say there are private grows all over North America—even in neighborhoods where no one ever talks about that sort of thing.  If mainstreamers knew who in their midst was doing what with cannabis and why, they might begin to see the demonized flower in a different light.
Reality in Fiction
With the truth a few clicks away, the power and the task to reveal this hidden world to mainstreamers is in the hands of filmmakers who can command the attention of millions.  Surprisingly, the less a film is about cannabis, the greater the potential reach and impact.
Great flicks like Savages and Pineapple Express certainly took the time to show and tell the truth about the medicinal cannabis community, but most of their viewers were already pretty far along on that learning curve.  Instead, think about movies like Urban Cowboy (1980), Steel Magnolias (1989), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), and The Bridges of Madison County (1995). 
To be sure when those classics were released cannabis was not being used as medicine by those types of characters.  That is no longer the case.  Patients, seniors, substance abusers, preachers, school teachers, professionals, and neer-do-wells alike are re-discovering cannabis for all sorts of good reasons.  Film audiences are a savvy bunch and they can tell when they are seeing the truth in fiction.  They can feel it in the performance, in the honesty of the character, and in the familiarity of the scene. 
Now imagine a 50-something movie star in a starring role (sympathetic or otherwise) casually flipping open the door to a grow box hiding in a closet near the kitchen; snipping and hanging a few colorful flower tops on a line while explaining to a stunned visitor that the buds will be dried to make tincture…for insomnia…and for hangovers…
Twenty seconds, maybe, but with power!  The power to inform, to awaken, and the power to help dispel the crazy notions America’s unholy drug war hath wrought.