Who Buys All of This Weed?

bags of weed

I hear a lot of talk around here about the potential impact to our local economy from the impending legalization of cannabis. Suddenly, dope yuppies who, just a few years ago, weren’t even registered to vote, now spend money on lobbyists to convince lawmakers to construct a legalization framework that keeps the money pouring into the pockets of the same people who have profited from prohibition for more than 30 years.

pot grower

Dope yuppies have never cared about anyone but themselves, and the bankers and merchants who make dire predictions about our local economy, would be every bit as concerned about the potential loss in revenue if this county’s chief economic export were underage prostitutes and child-pornography. Money is money, after all.

teenage prostitutes

I don’t hear any mention, however, of the people who buy and consume all of this weed. As one of those proud pot smoking Americans, I am even more fed-up with the outrageously high price of black-market weed than I am with cops sticking their noses in places they don’t belong. While everyone pays for narco cops and prison guards, only cannabis consumers pay these ridiculous prices. Let’s take a look at the people who buy the cannabis grown in the Emerald Triangle, to see where all of this economic prosperity we enjoy, comes from.

owes buys

A recent study found that half of all cannabis consumers have not graduated from high-school. Some of those kids don’t have a high- school diploma because they are still in school. I mean. why do you think they call it “high” school?

kids getting stoned

Some of those kids dropped out of school to grow or sell cannabis as a career, but most of them end up in shitty low-wage jobs. The people who cook and serve your food, wash your dishes, change your oil and clean your offices and hotel bathrooms all smoke weed, and they all pay way too much of their hard-earned money for it.

work form weed

The people who work at Walmart smoke weed. The people who work at McDonald’s smoke weed. Almost every low-wage worker in America smokes weed, or they would, if they could afford it. Low-wage workers often spend more money on pot than they do on food. They do without basic necessities like clothing, like housing, so that they can afford marijuana, because marijuana makes their lives tolerable. High prohibition prices keep them poor and insures that they can never afford to buy their own home, start their own business or get more education. The people who buy marijuana today pay for it with their lives. They pay for it with their futures.

smoke weed at work

Other low-wage workers turn to alcohol, because under prohibition, a few dried cannabis flowers costs more than a big bottle or brewed, fermented, distilled and bottled liquor. People literally choose to sacrifice their health to alcohol, rather than the precious income it would cost to switch to cannabis. A lot of people have quit drinking, by switching to cannabis, and it has saved their lives.

weed beats alcohol

A lot more people would do the same, if cannabis didn’t cost so much. All across America, the people who can least afford it, pay way too much money for marijuana, or do without, when it could really help them. High cannabis prices cause an enormous amount of unnecessary suffering especially among the poor.

homeless-family

People all over America consume cannabis to relieve stress, but high prohibition prices make cannabis itself, unnecessarily stressful. Artificially inflated, prohibition pricing completely undermines the ability of cannabis to relieve stress in the vast majority of it’s consumers. Unless you grow your own, or have more money than you know what to do with, you don’t know what it means to have plenty of weed, and not to have to stress about how much it costs. Cannabis is only effective as medicine, if people can easily afford it.

price of weed too damn high

Millions of Americans enjoy cannabis, millions more rely on cannabis for medicine, and still millions more of us do both. We deserve a break! We are the ones who dragged this state, and the unholy cadre of drug-dealers turned special interest group, kicking and screaming towards legalization. Both the state, and drug dealers have taken advantage of us for decades. We’re sick of it! Now that legalization will finally happen, no thanks to them, they act as though they are still entitled to our money.

Entitled

The Nerve!

entitled not


SAMF 2015

SAMF-2015 poster

I really didn’t intend to write about this, but I ran into Randy Clark, the drummer for the Garberville Town Band recently, and he recounted his horror story about trying to unload his drums at Summer Arts and Music Festival this year. He said it was the worst experience he’s ever had at SAMF. I had to concur. When I told him my story, he recommended I write it up and send it to Jimmy Durschlag who was handling this responsibility for the Mateel Community Center.

mateel sign

Cool, I thought, Jimmy’s a musician. He’ll understand. So, I wrote this letter to Jimmy Durschlag, who plays in at least three bands, hosts two radio shows on KMUD, and is now apparently, the designated shit-catcher for the Mateel too.

Shit-Catcher-Job

It turned into a kind of a long letter. I’m sure he’s got nothing better to do. Now that I’ve gone to the trouble of writing it, it seems like a pretty good blog post. Since I haven’t got anything better for you this week, here ya go.

here-ya-go

To: Jimmy Durschlag
From: John Hardin
Re: SAMF 2015

Hi Jimmy,

I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but…

a big deal1

Amy and I arrived at SAMF right around 5pm for our 9pm gig in the Belly Dance Tent. We anticipated parking complications, so we arrived early with a positive and flexible attitude. The first person who approached our vehicle on our arrival informed us that we wouldn’t be allowed on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. OK, whatever, we still needed to check-in. I was finally able to convince them to let me into the temporary lot.

Let-me-in

At check-in they told me I wasn’t on the list. Not at all. No one by that name, no one listed in that time-slot. Sorry. An oversight, I’m sure. I explained that I was listed in the program guide, and offered to show it to them, but luckily, someone we knew, Kelley Lincoln was there to vouch for us, so we got our wristbands.

not on the list1

I asked about load-in, and got the same story I heard from the parking guy, that they would not let us take our truck on-site until 30 minutes before our stage time. I asked if we could leave the truck on-site while we played. The answer was “No.” I asked if I could go unload early so I would have time to find someplace to park off-site, and then walk back. That answer was “No.” At that point I began to think: “Maybe they have enough entertainment at this festival. Perhaps we should go home.”

maybe we should just go home

So, we drove back to Garberville, with all of our gear, to weigh our options. I was booked as John Hardin Electric Didgeridoo, but Amy was going play Theremin and sing a few tunes as well. All together, it’s not ton of gear, but it’s more than we can schlep in one trip. It’s always fun to bring out the Theremin, even if it is a bit unpredictable, and Amy and I have some good material that we do together, but, through a decent sound system, I sound amazing, all by myself. I have more than enough material to fill the set. We opted to leave the Theremin and its accessories, in the car, parked in G,ville, and the two of us schlepped all of the stuff that I needed to play solo, to the site, via the shuttle bus. It was as much as we could carry and it was awkward to wrestle it on and off of a crowded bus, but we managed to get on-site with enough gear to play a gig.

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) - RTR25CAL

A bus is driven past a market in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak Province, July 5, 2009. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (AFGHANISTAN SOCIETY) – RTR25CAL

At 8:40pm, 20 minutes before the start of my performance, the last troupe of belly dancers finished their set and cleared out, right on schedule. I moved my gear in and started setting up. My rig isn’t super-complicated, but it takes a few minutes to hook it all up and make sure it works. To be heard at all, I needed to play through a sound system, and there was one there, but the sound-person was nowhere to be seen.

meow mix

Sunshine Tresidder, of Lakshmi’s Daughters Belly Dance Troupe, welcomed me to the Belly Dance Tent, as she poured out some rose petals on the ground in front of me. I thanked her for that. Then she proceeded to tell me: “When you’re done, you need to put the tarp up in front of the tent. You’ll have to move these speaker stands back inside the tent, because, you know, if we leave them out, they’re liable to walk away. So, let me show you where we keep the rope that you’ll need to use to hold the tarp up, and there’s this special way that it attaches, and I need to show you how to do it.”

Lakshmi's-Daughters 2015 l

At that point Amy, who, because of the load-in hassle, had nothing better to do, followed Sunshine around, taking note of how we were supposed to close down her tent. This responsibility came as a surprise to us. We did not volunteer for it, and we were not asked to do it, politely or otherwise, but, you know, we’re flexible, positive, helpful people. We don’t like being talked to like unpaid employees, but whatever, it’s a festival and I wanted to play.

I came here to play crop

Still no sound person. I asked Sunshine, as she was walking away, if she knew who the sound person was, and where they might be. She replied: “Oh, she’s gone. I don’t know when she’ll be back.”

aint-no-sandwich-when-shes-gone

At that point I noticed that it was getting dark. I spotted two clip-on utility lights that I assumed were provided for my nighttime performance. I tried to turn one of them on. Nothing. I followed the cord to the end to discover that it was not plugged it. Then, I started looking for an electrical outlet, one for the light, but I also needed one for my music rig. I found myself staring at a 12 channel PA board resting in a puddle of cables.

mess of cables

Every single electrical outlet had something plugged into it, and every single channel of the mixer had something plugged into it. I didn’t want to screw anything up, or mess with someone elses gear, but I was supposed to play through this system in about seven minutes, and I needed some light to see what I was doing.

need some light

In the fading light, I spotted a portable CD player with a wall-wart AC adapter that was plugged into both an electrical outlet, and the PA. I knew that I didn’t need a CD player for my set and figured that I could easily unplug the CD player, from the electrical outlet, to free an outlet for my rig. I also began to think that if I could find the right adapter, I might even be able to tap into the PA through the CD player input, if I had to. Still no sign of a sound person. I was expecting the sound person to provide me with two DI boxes that I could plug a pair of 1/4” phone plugs into, but I saw no DI boxes, and no open channels.

DI boxes

I carry an assortment of adapters. It took me a while to figure out how to make it work. Finally, I made the connection using a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter. Do you carry a 1/8th” female to female stereo headphone adapter? If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to play.

female to female headphone adapter

Amy figured out how to turn one of the lights on, and I asked her to stand out in front of the house to check the levels.  The volume was good without my having to touch any of the sliders or knobs on the PA. My lucky day! I used my own headphones for monitors and pointed the floor wedges at the audience to prevent feedback.

floor wedges

Then I rocked that place for an hour-and-a-half. I channeled all of the frustration I felt about how we had been treated, into high-energy dance music. The audience got so hot and sweaty that I had to tell them to take a break and get some water because I thought they might hurt themselves.

sweaty dancers

After about a half-hour, the sound-person showed-up. I knew she was the sound-person because she just stood there for a moment, staring at the PA, with a puzzled look on her face. Then she came over and gave me a hug, while I was playing, and said “You’re amazing!”

youre amazing

“That’s looking on the bright side.” I thought. And on the bright side, the sound system must have sounded good because the audience dug it. As a 53 year old man in a committed long-term relationship, I don’t get that many opportunities to get hot and sweaty with a bunch of nubile young women. I think I appreciate that even more now, than I did at 23. I had a great time playing and really enjoyed the time I had to perform.

had fun playing crop

After finishing my set, sweaty and exhausted, I packed-up my gear. Then Amy and I moved the speakers, got out the rope and hung-up the tarp, as we had been instructed, and after that, we schlepped all of my gear back to the entrance to catch the shuttle. It was about 11:00pm by the time we got to the end of the enormous line of drunk people waiting to catch the shuttle back to G,ville. We waited in that line until 12:30, when we finally boarded the bus. That was a long fucking time to wait for a bus. I was scheduled to engineer at KMUD at 8am the next morning, I could have used the extra hour of sleep.

long line

I enjoyed the applause, and making hot young women sweat. I made $50 in tips and CD sales, as well as some nice nugs from appreciative listeners, not a bad gig from that perspective, but sheesh! We had planned to go back to SAMF on Sunday, just to enjoy ourselves, but we were so put off by the way we were treated on Saturday that we decided we didn’t need any more abuse.

no more abuse

That’s what happened to us at SAMF this year. It sucks to have to recount it like this, but I know that you are a musician, and I hope you understand. I don’t expect to be paid, and I don’t even expect to be fed, although that would have been nice, but Summer Arts and Music Festival is supposed to be a celebration of our local art and music scene, and the Mateel is supposed to be a local arts non-profit.

treat plumbers like musicians

If the Mateel does nothing else to help local musicians the rest of the year, they should at least treat us with respect at the one festival each year where they invite us to donate our time, energy, expensive specialized equipment and years of preparation. It is in the Mateel’s best interest to cultivate an appreciation of music within the community, and one way to do that is to set a good example by treating generous local musicians, and their music, with the respect they deserve.

respect

The Mateel makes a lot of money from SAMF these days, and they provide free food, camping, a T-shirt, and admission to the festival for all of their volunteers. As a performer, donating my time and effort, as well as my unique musical expression, all I got was a wristband, and I only got that because I knew somebody at the check-in booth. Festival staff were not at all accommodating to my needs, and instead, we were treated like domestic servants.

treated like servants

Last year, the Mateel treated us very well, and we looked forward to performing again this year. I realize that what happened to us was not intentional, and that everyone involved was doing their best under the circumstances, or at least, just being themselves. Like I said, up front, I don’t want to make a big deal about this, but this seems like an area where there is some room for improvement. Thanks for listening.

thanks for listening

Sincerely, John Hardin

John Hardin electric Didgeridoo

photo by Bob Doran


Oh, So You’re a “Farmer” Now.

green-acres

I picked up a brochure the other day from the Small Farmers Association. Their logo showed an old hippie bus with pot-leaf bumper-stickers, parked in a big ol’ farm-style barn. The faint green image of a full size cannabis leaf appears, like a ghost, peeking in from the lower right-hand corner, just in case you missed the bumper-stickers. Every day, it seems, a new group like this pops up, working to cloak the ugliness of cannabis prohibition in the quaint wholesome imagery of the American family farm.

Green-Acres farm

As we move forward towards the inevitable legalization of cannabis, we can expect those who profit from the destructive,cruel, wasteful, but highly lucrative, War on Drugs, to lobby for regulations that preserve the economic advantage they gained by cheating the system and taking advantage of us for so many years. From narco cops to drug kingpins, a lot of people made out like bandits in the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is, by far, the longest war in American history. For generations now, people have taken the War on Drugs for granted. They bet they’re lives on it, and up until now, that bet has paid off for them, while it consumed the lives of so many of their contemporaries. Now that the Drug War is ending, many people have no idea how to live without it, so they will fight to the death to save every last scrap of it regardless of the damage it causes.

war on drugs

That’s why dope yuppies are working so hard to rebrand themselves as “small farmers.” They want to advocate for regulations that will preserve their livelihoods, and prevent “large corporations” from driving them out of business. They know that legislators, as well as the voting public, have a much better opinion of small farmers than they do of drug dealers. Farmers feed America. Drug dealers destroy communities. Everyone knows that. So, dope yuppies would rather we think of them as unusually prosperous small family farmers, whose hard work built this country and feed its teeming millions, rather than run of the mill drug-dealing parasites who exploit our vulnerable youth, make people feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods, and breed crime, corruption and violence everywhere they go.

drug dealing dog

As much as our local dope yuppies would like to convince us of their proud agrarian heritage, drug dealers and farmers have totally different skill sets, motivations and proclivities. You should keep that in mind when thinking about who should grow cannabis in a legal environment. Real farmers know how to produce an agricultural product economically. That’s why they survive as farmers. That is their skill set. Sure, dope yuppies know something about growing cannabis, but they don’t know much about growing it economically. Prohibition has insured that the kinds of decisions that make or break legitimate farming operations, remain only peripheral concerns to pot growers.

real farmer

We compensate drug dealers for the legal risks they take, and for their skill at evading, or bribing, law enforcement, not so much for their economic efficiency. The job requires a degree of stealth and duplicity, so we expect a certain amount of dishonesty from drug dealers. Drug dealers specialize in gaming the system, being sneaky, and taking advantage of people.  Dealing drugs requires a completely different skill set than that required of a farmer.

skill set

For instance:  Drug dealers often need to lie about what they do for a living. It becomes second nature to them, so rebranding themselves as farmers is as easy for them as changing color is for a chameleon. Once upon a time, they told people they were carpenters. Then they told people they were in the medical profession, now they say they’re farmers. What’s the difference?

whats the difference

Drug dealers need to know how to evade law enforcement. This is where drug dealers excel well beyond the average American. Cannabis cultivators have a long history of finding ingenious ways to avoid detection, and moving here, was just part of that rich history.

pot farm4

The Emerald Triangle remains one of the most rugged, inaccessible places in the US. All of the factors that make it difficult for narco cops to enforce marijuana prohibition will also make it difficult for agricultural inspectors to verify compliance with strict regulations. I don’t understand why anyone would believe that the people who have most successfully evaded law enforcement throughout the War on Drugs, will now eagerly and honestly submit to strict regulation. They’re already looking for ways to game the system, and the system doesn’t even exist yet.

cheating

There are other ways to tell farmers from drug dealers as well. For example:

For Example John

Real farmers buy land because it has fertile well drained soil, suitable for agriculture.
Drug dealers buy land in places where they know that it will take at least an hour for a cop to get there.

farm vs drug

Real farmers make a phone call to the Ag board for advice on what will grow best in their soil.
Drug dealers make a phone call to have soil delivered, like pizza, with the toppings of their choice.

soil delivery simplified

Real farmers grow their crops in the soil under their feet.
Drug dealers grow marijuana in Sri Lankan coconut coir and Indonesian bat guano.

sri lanka coco crop-tile

Real farmers wear overalls, drive tractors and work from dawn to dusk just for the privilege of farming.
Drug dealers wear Hawaiian shirts, drive luxury SUVs and spend the Winter in Belize, just because they suck.

hawaiian shirt guy

I’d like to see what real farmers can do with cannabis. If they can produce broccoli for less than $5 a pound, I don’t see why they can’t produce good organic cannabis for less than $50 a pound, and it’s high time we let them try. As a low-income artist and long term cannabis user, I’m even more tired of subsidizing greedy dope yuppies, than I am of subsidizing greedy narco cops. Half the reason for legalizing cannabis is to put drug dealers out of business. We should let real farmers use their skills at producing agricultural products economically and efficiently to weed the drug dealers out of the cannabis industry, once and for all, and the sooner the better.

the sooner the better


Dime Bag Day

dime bags of weed

Lemonade Day is coming up this Saturday June 6th. Have you heard of Lemonade Day?

Lemonade-Day-Logo

Lemonade Day was designed to teach kids about capitalism and running their own business by encouraging them open a lemonade stand. They’ve had Lemonade Day in the northern part of the county for a few years now, but our 2nd District County Supervisor Estelle Fennell introduced me to a woman named Lynette who told me that they received a $3,000 grant to help get Lemonade Day off the ground in Southern Humboldt.

3000 dollars

How about that! We can get $3,000 bucks to convince a bunch of kids to have lemonade stands all on the same day, but we can’t get wifi at our local library. I never made anything like $3,000 from all of my childhood lemonade stands put together. Maybe we should have Grant Writing Day instead. Certainly more people around here make their living by working for non-profits than do by selling lemonade.

NonProfit_

Then Brian Elie told me a story of an inspiring young entrepreneur. I don’t know his name, and I’m sure I wouldn’t use it if I did, but Brian showed me a picture of a rather pissed-off looking young man, about 20, with a shaved head wearing a white, wife-beater T-shirt. I didn’t recognize the kid in the picture.

shaved head wbt

“He hit me!” Brian exclaimed, and proceeded to tell me about this young go-getter. One day recently, as Brian approached his office, behind the bagel shop in Garberville, he noticed this young man involved in what appeared to be a drug transaction, behind his office.

drug-deal1

Brian said he yelled at the kid: “Hey, don’t do that around here!” to which the kid replied “Fuck You Asshole!” Then, Brian said he saw a cell phone laying on the ground. He picked it up. That’s when the kid attacked Brian physically, and slugged him. I guess it was the kid’s phone.

punch_in_the_face

The cops eventually caught the kid, and sent Brian the photo, to see if Brian recognized his assailant. He did. Brian said that all of the text messages on the phone were notes like “I ned n 8th.” Can you believe it? That kid was hustling nickle bags of weed in Garberville! That’s like selling bottled water to fish living in the ocean. “What a spunky young businessman.” I thought.

fish buy water

Then I thought to myself: “Where would this community be without thousands of energetic, self-motivated young men, just like the one Brian told me about, who work so tirelessly, all across this country, to sell the product for which Humboldt County is so well known?

street dealer

I’ll bet a good percentage of Humboldt County’s successful businessmen began their career as one of those young men. It must take an enormous army of resourceful, motivated young street dealers to insure that every Jr. High and High School student in America has access to Humboldt County’s most famous export.  Yes, this community owes its prosperity to the hard work, determination and can-do spirit of young entrepreneurs just like the kid who punched Brian Elie outside of his office.

Drug-deal-school

All over this country, every day, nice people like Brian Elie get cursed at, punched and worse, by the wonderful people who work so hard to make this community prosperous. Talk about aggressive marketing! As the price of cannabis continues to fall, marketing will only become more important. That’s why, here in Southern Humboldt, we need to rethink Lemonade Day.

lemonade day_humboldt

The Lemonade Stand is cliche and passe. Nobody around here makes money on lemonade, but more than 500 families have made more than a million dollars each, thanks to an army of drug-dealing street thugs just like that enterprising young man who slugged Brian Elie. You can find them operating in every single town in America.

drug dealer1

Besides destroying communities and terrorizing neighborhoods, every year, an alarming number of this tremendously successful marketing team die violent deaths well before their time.

Police officer walks past the body of a drug dealer who was killed in a crack deal gone bad in Minneapolis

Police officer walks past the body of a drug dealer who was killed in a crack deal gone bad in Minneapolis

More still find themselves incarcerated, serving long work-related prison sentences.

Crime , drug traffic . Police action . Drug dealer being searched after report from neighbours .

Crime , drug traffic . Police action . Drug dealer being searched after report from neighbours .

I cannot stress how important it is to the economy of Humboldt County that children growing up today learn the skills they need to fill those empty shoes. That’s why I encourage all of you to join me in making this Saturday June 6, the first official Dime Bag Day in Southern Humboldt.

dime bags day Humboldt county

Here’s how it works:

heres how it works

If you grow weed, you can sponsor a child on Dime Bag Day by fronting them an ounce of pot. The child then takes the marijuana home, splits it up into quarter, and eighth-of-an-ounce bags, and decides how much to charge for them. By doing this, children learn about math and fractions, weights and measures, materials costs and profit margins. Then on Saturday, June 6, all of the kids come to town and try to sell their weed. Anyone can participate, and we encourage everyone to come out and support the kids.

kid smokes weed crop

This Saturday, on Dime Bag Day, if a kid comes up to you and offers to sell you some weed, say “Yes, Please.” Even if you have plenty of weed, or don’t smoke weed at all, buy some weed from a kid on the street on Dime Bag Day. We want these kids to have a positive experience, and for this early success to bolster their confidence. Just give them your money, and don’t haggle too much about the price.

build up your child

This is a great opportunity to teach kids about business and how the economy really works, so get the whole family involved in SoHum’s first Dime Bag Day. Your kids will learn the value of a dollar, gain valuable business experience, and get a taste of the exciting fast-paced life of a street dealer. They’ll also give those Lemonade Day sucka’s something to spend their hard-earned money on.

drug dealer sloth


A Busy Weekend

too busy

This will be a busy weekend for my partner Amy and I.

john and amy

Starting Saturday we will perform on electric didgeridoo and Theremin at the 39th Annual Summer Arts and Music festival at Benbow Lake State Recreation Area.

SAMF-2015-

We are scheduled to perform starting at 9pm in the Belly-Dance tent.

Bellydancers

No, we won’t belly-dance, but you are welcome to. If you haven’t heard us play before, this is a great opportunity. The belly-dance tent has a nice sound system, and we’ll rock the place like nothing you’ve ever heard before.

lets_rock_this_place

I hope to see your bouncing belly-button there.

belly button

Just a few hours later, we’ll be at KMUD’s studios in Redway for Amy’s radio show: The Living Earth Connection.

living earth connection

Amy will read a great monograph by visionary author Daniel Quinn called The Book of the Damned.

book of the damned

The Book of the Damned will change the way you think about culture, civilization and the future. Please listen.

please listen

Then, early Monday morning, I’ll be back at KMUD to engineer Monday Morning Magazine from 7-9AM with host Pat Higgins, after which, I’ll have a new essay to post.

writing gif


The Crackle by Totter on The Adventurous Ear #3

the crackle by totter cov

Really, thus isn’t a music blog, but I can’t say too much about music. Music probably precedes language in human evolution, and I would say that music exceeds language in shaping human culture. We live in a peculiar culture, from that perspective, in that we exalt the more primitive forms of intelligence, that is, language and reason, more than the higher forms like music, art and humor.

intelligences gardners eight types

In other cultures, we would expect our leaders to sing, dance, and play musical instruments. We would expect them to tell jokes and stories. In fact, their duties would include such things, and they would have become leaders by doing those things well. Their passion would speak to us through music. Their truth would resonate in their stories and they would demonstrate their powers of observation, sharp intellect and quick wit though the jokes they told.

tribal leaders dance

Our culture worships the rational mind, the lowest form of intelligence. The rational mind has its place. It helps us secure food. It helps us design traps. The rational mind helps us capture prey. Don’t ever forget that. The rational mind is there to help us turn other beings into lunch. The rational mind is not uniquely human. Chimps have it. Dogs have it. What makes humans exceptional, with regard to the rational mind, is that humans are the most doggedly rational creatures on Earth. Symbolism, abstraction and language became natural extensions of this tactical form of intelligence.

leakey quote

Still, the rational mind is all about stalking and setting traps. We decide legal cases through the adversarial system. Two lawyers argue opposite sides of a case. We assume they are both equally competent at stalking and setting traps, but, we also assume, the truth will favor one side or the other. Political campaigns work the same way. Each side makes an argument, each side attacks the others argument and the people decide at the polls, who they thought was more convincing. We spend our days trapping each other and being trapped, and we call it “the economy.” The rational mind is constantly setting traps, and constantly falling into traps. That’s why you should never trust reason when it comes to making big decisions.

ViolentPoliticalRhetoric

When it comes to making big decisions, you need to know what you love, because the closer you are to what you love, the happier you are going to be. I love music. I know a lot of people do. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no rational explanation for it, but I feel very strongly about music, and not just music in general, although I like music in general. Some music I like a LOT more than other music.

music-time quote frank-zappa

Some music takes some getting used to, and all music takes a few listens to appreciate, but it’s worth the effort, because the more you know about what you love, the more you know about who you are, and what you are doing here. This Thursday I have the rare opportunity to share with KMUD’s listening audience a new album that I really love. I realize that listening is something of a lost art, but it is such a rewarding exercise. I do hope you’ll listen.

lost-art-of-listening

On Thursday May 28th at 5pm KMUD will air the third installment of my new radio series called The Adventurous Ear.

the adventurous ear

This time The Adventurous Ear listens to The Crackle, the latest album from Totter.

totter the crackle-horz

I met Totter at a Summer Solstice gathering at Heartwood a couple of years ago. I played didgeridoo at the opening of the event and Totter played sax and flute with the headline act whose name escapes me. I think he was the only guy at the event with a beard longer than mine. We exchanged CDs. It was a weekend of New Age, spiritual, vegan bliss. When I got home, I put on The Crackle. Wow!

Totter Todd at House of Blues, Chicago

Totter Todd at House of Blues, Chicago

There is not one bit of New Age vegan bliss in The Crackle at all. The Crackle is dark and bloody and hard. It was like watching a horror movie after church. Definitely not what I was expecting, but it blew me out of the water. Great playing, terrific lyrics, astounding vocals and gripping music that doesn’t let up. An hour later, I’m shaking off a cold sweat, hoping this album doesn’t give me nightmares.

totter white face

This isn’t music to liven up your party, though a few cuts could work that way. This is an album to listen to from start to finish. Totter has taken the pains to weave a rich tapestry of musical artistry that is well worth your precious time. Take the time to appreciate Totter’s dark portrait of Gothic Americana, and celebrate it for the masterful work of art that it is.

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You can hear a 28 minute preview of The Crackle, along with snippets of an interview I did with Totter about the album, last month at KMUD’s studios in Redway. Totter is a local SoHum guy, at least part of the time. His music keeps him traveling, but I see him around town from time to time, and he was gracious with his time for the interview. I think the show came out great, and I’m really excited to present it. I hope you’ll tune in. That’s Thursday May 28th at 5pm on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio for The Adventurous Ear, featuring The Crackle by Totter.

Click this link to hear an mp3 of the show right now.

and visit www.tottertodd.com for more about Totter and his music


A Springy Bass and the Humboldt Horn

big horn

People seemed to like the Harp Project last week, so I thought I’d lay a couple of my other new homemade instruments on you.

homemade creations

I built this electric bass from a hunk of 2×4 I extracted from a shipping pallet, and the cast-aluminum housing from a long-dead car-stereo amplifier.

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This bass uses vibrating springs, salvaged from expandable curtain rods, instead of strings, and additional sympathetic springs, concealed within the body, increase the instrument’s resonance.  More springs attached to the outside of the body increase the instruments sonic potential.

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This bass has two piezoelectric pickups, one designed to pick up vibrations from the long springs stretched over the neck of the instrument, and a second that allows the body of the instrument to be played like a drum. A single potentiometer allows the player to balance between the two.

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It’s really a very crude device. I had a lot of trouble getting decent sound to video, and I’m just beginning to explore what this instrument can do, but compared to, say a washtub bass, I think this instrument has a lot of musical potential.

I feel strongly about working with salvaged junk. I hate to see the natural world sacrificed to produce disposable consumer crap, but one distinguishing characteristic of our time is this abundance of exotic materials that would have been unbelievably rare, or completely non-existent only 100 years ago.

junk

We live in an age rich in garbage. All of the earth’s natural beauty, and life-sustaining abundance, has been ravaged, transformed, consumed, abandoned, and discarded. There it is, our stolen future, on the curb, in the rain, free for a generation of dumpster-divers.

dumpster-dive

Here in Humboldt County, this black poly-pipe waterline grows wild in the woods. I find it everywhere, along with chicken-wire, buckets, flower pots, tarps, water tanks, soil bags and worse.

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These woods are strewn with the detritus of thirty years of guerrilla growing, including enough abandoned poly-pipe waterline to reach a grow on Mars. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Prohibition may soon end, but the miles of black poly-pipe in our forests will last forever.

black poly pipe

“Let it sing.” I say.

singer

I made the Humboldt Horn out of waterline and a flowerpot.

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I cut the mouthpiece off of a cracked and discarded vuvuzela I found while cleaning up a property in Ettersburg. I reinforced it with a bit of electrical tape, and adapted it to fit the horn.  vuvuzela

I can vary the range of the instrument by substituting longer or shorter lengths of waterline. The flowerpot acts as a resonance chamber, and has an omnidirectional microphone mounted inside.

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Because the flowerpot is turned upside down and rests on the ground, the instrument is very quiet, but the microphone inside the flowerpot provides a strong signal to drive amplifiers, effects and/or recording equipment. While not particularly attractive, I find the Humboldt horn both expressive and versatile as a musical instrument. Give it a listen.


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