Category Archives: blogging

Seed ’em for Freedom

seedy bud

The other day, I found myself stuck behind two, empty, 25 yd dump trucks, returning to Redway, waiting for two more 25 yd dump trucks, full of soil, to clear the one-lane bottleneck in the middle of the redwood grove between Lower Redway and Ruby Valley on Briceland Rd. Between the four of them they completely engulfed that remarkable fragment of ancient forest in a thick cloud of diesel exhaust. Ah, the smell of a Spring day in the forests of Humboldt County.

on a clear day

I must have passed two dozen trucks, of various sizes, loaded with soil, or components thereof, in my sixteen mile trek into town. It reminded me of fire season, with soil trucks instead of firetrucks. You can literally watch our roads crumble beneath their weight. Meanwhile, the forests echo with the crass flatulence of chainsaws, bulldozers and ATVs all day, and the endless roar of generators, that fuel the UFO-like glow of brightly lit greenhouses, all night.

ufo like glow

This is crazy! I love marijuana as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth destroying the planet over, and it’s not worth destroying Humboldt County over, either. It’s just pot, for God’s sake. If it weren’t for prohibition, you could hardly give the stuff away. If our pot had seeds in it, weed would be sprouting up everywhere by now, and everyplace in the country would have its own variety, adapted to the local environment and local tastes.

cannabis sprouts

Pot doesn’t need special soil. I once found a fully mature sinsemilla plant growing in the expansion groove of a sidewalk in downtown Akron, OH. Thousands of people must have trampled on that plant over the course of the Summer. No one watered it, fertilized it, or mulched it. No one brewed tea for it, dusted it’s roots or sprayed it with neem oil, and no one strung lights over it, turned a fan on it or put a heater near it. It grew there, all on it’s own. Why? Because pot used to have seeds.

pot seeds hand heart

Weed should be as common as blackberries, and as full of seeds. No one should ever get shot over it, go to jail for it, or fork over a days wages just to enjoy a taste of it. By the same token, no one in their right mind would bulldoze a forest, trash a truckload of plastic film and sink a lot of money into soil and amendments, thinking they were going to get rich off of it, either. Our entire cannabis industry is built on the lunacy of prohibition. It was born crazy, and it’s only gotten crazier.

crazy twice

We shouldn’t build on prohibition. We should end prohibition. We shouldn’t white-wash the black market. We should end the injustice of it and let nature take its course. We can replace the trucks and the soil and the generators and the lights and the pollution and the growers and the dealers and the cops and the lawyers and the prison guards and the laws and the prisons and the money with the gentle motion of the breeze and a card on an album cover. Pot for the people, period. Anything less is a graceless scam that needlessly destroys habitat, generates pollution and creates poverty.

pollution and poverty

A lot of people around here have no appreciation for this place at all. They measure everything in dollars, so they know the price of everything, and the value of nothing. They know that the price of marijuana is high, all over the country, right now, and the risk of going to jail for growing a lot of it here in Humboldt County, is low, and that was all they needed to know about Humboldt County.

greenrush1

Salmon streams and old-growth forests don’t interest them one bit. Deer, bear, raccoon, skunks, gophers, rats and mice all fall under the category of: “pests,” and the rest of the community of life is just “roadkill,” dead stuff that got in the way. For them, regulations serve no purpose. To them, regulations are nothing more than bureaucratic “red tape” to be avoided, resisted, and opposed politically, rather than complied with, and because of them, regulations will not protect wildlife, preserve habitat or even insure our rural quality of life. Regulations won’t stop this madness. Regulation created this insanity in the first place, and new, more or better regulations will only make things worse. This is a concocted problem with a natural solution.

natural solution

If you love living in the forest, and you’re sick of the green-rush, grow some seedy pot this year. Let a patch of your favorite seed-stock go feral on your land. Seed ’em for Freedom! Seed ’em for Freedom, because it’s the only way we’ll ever really put prohibition behind us. Seed ’em for Freedom to put cannabis in the hands of the people who need it the most, and wrench it from those who would rather destroy the world first, and Seed ’em for Freedom because seeds are life, and life knows what it’s doing.

life knows surrender

 


Did You Celebrate Earth Day?

Celebrate Earth-Day

Did you celebrate Earth Day last Friday? Me neither, and I don’t blame you a bit for letting it slip by. Earth Day has quickly become our most depressing holiday. A lot of people find Christmas depressing, especially if they spend it alone. Memorial Day is a real bummer, if you lost friends or loved ones in a war, but compared to Earth Day, these quaint celebrations seem naively joyous.

memorial day sad

Even if you think of Christmas as the mythical origin of the Christian tradition of clerical sex abuse, and Memorial Day as a glorification of technological warfare, which I do, the blackness of Earth Day overshadows them all. Earth Day is more like Good Friday, except that there’s no Easter to follow it up. For people who believe in science and technology, democracy and civilization, Earth Day is a day to observe the crucifixion of their savior, in real time. Nobody wants to see that.

Crucifixion-9841-2203

Earth Day didn’t start out as a depressing holiday. When we first established Earth Day, we thought that a day to celebrate the environment would help us re-prioritize our values and change our culture to meet the challenges of the looming crisis. Those were hope-filled times. We were all really high on LSD, and we thought we could do anything if we just celebrated it enough.

hippy on lsd woodstock

Forty years later, we can’t say “We didn’t know.” Today, the truth stares us in the face. We know we’re killing the planet. We know that we’re destabilizing the future, and we know that it’s killing us, but we don’t know how to stop. Forty years ago we had some ideas about how we could apply the brakes, and turn things around, perhaps even before it was too late. Today, we’re out of ideas. Nothing we’ve tried works. We’ve won a few battles, but we’re still losing the war, and losing it faster than ever. A recent survey estimates that we’ve lost half of the Earth’s biodiversity since the first Earth Day.

threats to biodiversity

 

Not only have we failed to stop the environmental destruction, we’ve failed to slow its acceleration. We have failed, as a culture, to meet our most pressing existential threat. Knowing is not enough. Understanding does not help, and the more we know, the more we realize that it’s worse that we feared, and harder to change than we ever imagined. Against the hard truth of the environmental crisis, the myths of our culture unravel like a cheap sweater.

sweater unravels stars

Today, we can look back on the whole history of civilization since the agricultural revolution, and project forward our global environmental impacts. From this perspective, we can see, pretty clearly, I’m afraid, that the costs of civilization far outweigh the benefits. What’s worse, the benefits of civilization lie mostly in the past, while the costs of civilization loom large over our future. After centuries of secular skeptical scientific inquiry and bold technological innovation, the only thing we know for sure is that everything we know about how to live on planet Earth is wrong.

everything you know is wrong

How do you turn that into a holiday? …that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself? Some people still do the Earth Day festivals, but, you know, any excuse for a party. So go ahead, enjoy the music,

earth-day-on-the-national-mall

eat the organic veggie hippie food,

watermellon

shop for fair-trade, creatively recycled handicrafts…

recycled handicraft

…and try not to think about it too much, because, believe me, you don’t want to know.

'Do not look within. Trust me, you don't want to know what's in there.'

We don’t need another depressing holiday to remind us of how we’ve failed as a culture. We need to pick a day to take back our lives from the economic machine that consumes us all, and the environment around us. We need a global Day Off, just to remember what life is all about, and if people like having a Day Off, just to enjoy life, maybe we can stretch it to a week.

take a week off tree


Let’s Dump “Housing First” and Declare a Housing Crisis

housing is a human right

Everyone knows we have a housing crisis in Humboldt County. Landlords love it, and couldn’t care less. Now that the marijuana industry has taken over much of the residential housing in Humboldt County, landlords can, and do, charge a lot of money for anything with a roof. Most of the rental housing is already sub-standard, especially here in SoHum, because most landlords know that it is easier to find new tenants than fix problems that tenants complain about.

cartoon what do you mean you can't bear to call the landlord?

For tenants, it’s a nightmare. Many people pay half, or more, of their monthly income in rent, just to have a roof over their head. The high rent prices in Humboldt County eat working people alive. Business people complain about how hard it is to find good help around here, but it’s damn near impossible for working people to find a place to live, and greedy landlords use that shortage to drain the workforce. Local landlords wreck the workforce because, by the time you’ve been fucked over by a few Humboldt County slumlords, you’ve learned how to live in the woods without water, electricity, heat, a roof over your head, or money in your pocket, for extended periods of time. Once you’ve gotten used to that, why do you need a job, or a home?

save us from slumlord

The housing crisis is real, working people feel it a lot, and it hurts, to landlords, it just feels like a big sloppy, wet, BJ. Business people complain about not finding good help, but they complain even more about people who prefer not to work, or pay rent, hanging around in public shopping districts. We have a whole complex of social problems, which cause an enormous amount of suffering for the people of Humboldt County, all triggered by an acute shortage of affordable housing. That’s what we mean by the words “housing crisis,” and a “housing crisis” is what we have here in Humboldt County.

we want decent housing

For some reason, the Board of Supervisors seem reluctant to declare it. They know that we have all of these problems, and they know that the shortage of affordable housing causes all of these problems. They’ve talked about it a lot, but so far, all they’ve done is hire the consulting firm: Focus Strategies. Focus Strategies have been selling them on the “Housing First” concept. These consultants have advised the county against declaring a housing crisis, and against spending any money on solving the housing crisis, except through their “Housing First” program.

focus strategies

I know that “Housing First” sounds like a great idea, or slogan, or something. I can imagine it on a bumper-sticker, but what does it mean? “Housing First” got a lot of attention as the strategy that Utah used to find housing for all of their homeless people. Utah is a funny place, and most of what made “Housing First” successful in Utah, does not translate well to Humboldt County.

wont work here

In Utah, it’s hard to overestimate the influence of the Mormon Church. Mormons have a strong tradition of compassion, and for helping the poor. Very few places, other than Utah, have such well funded, and well intended churches, and few churches do as much to help people in need, directly, as the Church of Latter Day Saints. Mormons, however, do not tolerate drugs or alcohol. Because of this, unrepentant drug addicts consistently fell through the cracks in Utah, and ended up on the streets, while others got the help they needed from the church.

mormon-temple

This is the crux of the “Housing First” strategy. Under Utah’s “Housing First” plan, the government hired caseworkers to put homeless drug addicts into subsidized housing, so that at least, they would have a room to abuse drugs in, and other people wouldn’t have to see them abuse drugs in public. “Housing First” created a taxpayer subsidized program to put homeless drug addicts into apartments, that did not require people to quit drugs as a condition of receiving help. Once Utah did that, their homeless population disappeared, but only because everyone else got help from the church.

lds love everyone

I kid you not! That is the whole crux of the “Housing First” biscuit. “Housing First” means “Subsidized Housing for Drug Addicts.” It means that landlords will get reliable monthly checks from taxpayers, for letting drug addicts crash in a hovel on their property. “Housing First” gives landlords the option of taking a guaranteed monthly check from the government, rather than renting to working people who might have their hours cut, get laid-off, or have other financial difficulties before their lease expires.

people need homes

“Housing First” does not create any new housing. “Housing First” does nothing to relieve the housing crisis. In fact, “Housing First” will exacerbate the housing crisis by putting subsidized drug addicts, with caseworkers, in direct competition with working families for the, already scarce, available housing.

Low Income Renters Affordable Units

In Utah, thanks to the Church of Latter Day Saints, they have a compassionate community of organized people who want to help. The challenge, for them, was to get around the church’s objection to helping unrepentant alcoholics and drug addicts. That’s not our problem here. Here in Humboldt County, thanks to the black-market marijuana industry, we’re all unrepentant alcoholics and drug addicts, and we don’t give a fuck about each other. The challenge for us is greedy, well organized, land-owners, who control our local government and consistently use that power to suck ever more blood out of over-taxed and over-burdened, working people.

being-poor-3

In Utah, “Housing First” helped a compassionate community overcome its prejudice against drug addicts, which allowed their well-established, common sense approach to homelessness, to succeed more completely. Here in Humboldt County, “Housing First” helps greedy landlords exploit a drug addicted community more effectively, by smothering compassion and common sense beneath a big fluffy pillow labeled “Housing First,” and then creates an expensive bureaucracy that drains county coffers, drives rent prices through the roof, and makes life harder for poor and working families in Humboldt County.

doonesbury gentrification

Don’t ever forget that the people who control our Board of Supervisors, are the very same developers and land-owners who created this housing crisis to begin with. They make their living by screwing over poor and working people, and all they want is more for themselves. If the Board of Supervisors implements “Housing First” in Humboldt County as they plan, the only way you will ever find an affordable place to live is if you quit your job, stop bathing, and make a chronic nuisance of yourself in a public shopping district. “Housing First” is a cynical scam designed to put the taxpayer’s money in landlord’s pockets and sweep the chronically ugly off of the streets, while it drives rent prices up, makes it harder for working people to find a place to live, and insures that more of the people who live and work in Humboldt county, suffer hardship and poverty.

gentrification cat

It’s time to dump “Housing First” and declare a “Housing Crisis.” The Supes should stop wasting the taxpayer’s money on consultants from out of town, and instead, do everything they can to empower local organizations like AHHA, with compassionate, common sense solutions to Humboldt County’s housing crisis. We need housing solutions that work for our community, because, thankfully, Humboldt County is not dominated by do-gooder Mormon teetotalers , and the solution that worked in Utah will never work here.

mormon shot glass

We need a homegrown, grassroots solution to our housing crisis, not some fatally-flawed, cookie-cutter clone. We need more than just housing; we need to find a better way to live. We have a proud tradition of alternative, owner-built housing here in Humboldt County. We should continue, and expand on that tradition of innovation, by making space for people to build human-scale homes for themselves. Everyone needs a place to live, and everyone needs a place to live that they can afford. If developers won’t provide that for the people who live here, then let the people who live here, do it for themselves.

Everyone Needs a Home


A Sad Story of Cruelty and Abuse

sad story

Kevin Hoover, Editor of the Mad River Union, shared a sad story on KHSU this past Thursday. He told us about a homeless Arcatan, who’s name escapes me, who has had a series of dogs, all named “Mr. Nobody.” Horrified observers spotted this person leading a very unhappy Mr. Nobody around the Arcata Plaza. According to Mr. Hoovers account, Mr. Nobody had been outfitted with a large, heavy pack, and the rather small dog struggled visibly, and eventually collapsed under the weight of it.

over-burdened-donkey

Police arrested the man, who has a history of animal abuse in Humboldt County. Apparently none of his dogs have fared much better than his most recent Mr. Nobody. This time, many hope, the man will be forbidden from ever having a dog again. Sad story, right?

hands cuffed

Of course everyone sympathizes with the poor overburdened dog. “How could anyone abuse a poor defenseless animal like that?” you might ask. Some might even suggest that the man be subjected to the same kind of cruelty that he inflicted on the poor dog. They would publicly parade him around the plaza carrying an impossibly heavy load, until he collapses under the weight of it, all the while enduring the jeers of disgusted townspeople. Personally, I suspect the man has already been punished enough.

punished_him_enough

I certainly don’t condone the man’s behavior. No one should ever treat an animal like that, but I’ve seen how we treat homeless people here in Humboldt County, and it’s sickening. How many times has this guy been asked to “move along,” reminding him that he’s not welcome anywhere. How many times have people called him a “bum,” a “scumbag,” a “plazoid” or worse? How many times have the cops harassed him, woken him up, or forcibly evicted him from his camp? How many times has he been cuffed, booked, and locked in a jail cell? If it’s never happened to you, I can assure you that it is a thoroughly humiliating, degrading, and wrenching experience. How many times has he heard himself and his community talked about as objects, in the third person, to be removed, or disposed of, or as a blight to be excised and cauterized?

After yet another police shooting of an unarmed black man, this one in the Skid Row section of Los Angeles, the big issue remains unaddressed: excessive use of overwhelming force in order to subdue, or kill, suspects.

That’s just the abuse that we heap on all homeless people, institutionally, just for trying to survive. We know that all of those things have happened to him, but we can also assume that he learned abusive behavior early, at the hands of a parent, step-parent, older sibling, neighborhood bully or in an institution. Abuse is probably all he knows, and clearly, he knows it well. In one sense, I kind of admire the visual poetry of the image he created. As a work of art, it was brilliant.

brilliant work

I mean, how did he make that pack heavy enough that passersby couldn’t help but notice the dog’s distress, but not so heavy that the dog couldn’t make it to the Plaza without collapsing before being seen. And the dog’s name, Mr. Nobody, how perfect, civilized dehumanization, simple, direct, elegant, that doesn’t happen by accident.

Dehumanization

 

I can only imagine the scene. This guy, pulling on a leash, attached by the neck to the beleaguered, wobbly, overburdened Mr. Nobody. I see him coaxing the animal along, just to see how far he can go. Then, when the poor pooped pooch finally collapses from exhaustion on the sidewalk, he scolds it, calls it lazy, commands it to get up and move along, and physically drags it along the sidewalk by the neck. What a poignant metaphor for our whole economy.

metaphor conceptual

There’s a lot of Mr. and Ms. Nobody out there, aren’t there? How ironic that we condemn the perpetrator of the metaphor, while we struggle beneath the weight of our own workload, with dogged obedience, only to join in the scolding, berating, and persecution of our peers who have already buckled under the weight of their burden. It’s a terrible thing to witness, so terrible, in fact, that even staging a poetic metaphor of it will likely disgust passersby and get you arrested for animal cruelty. Yet we live with the reality of it day after day.

egg on your face

That’s why I love cats. A cat would never put up with that shit.

dog v cat


Call it Marijuana

call it marijuana

It seems our local dope yuppies have tired of the word “marijuana.” They would prefer us to call their product by the more civilized, Latin name, cannabis. They tell us that marijuana is a derogatory term with racist overtones. They want us to think of them as respectable business-people offering a respectable, up-scale luxury product. More importantly, they want us to forget that the only reason anyone would ever think of cannabis as an upscale luxury, is because the US Government spent billions of the taxpayer’s dollars to arrest and incarcerate millions of American citizens in the War on Drugs, to make this common weed, astronomically expensive.

priceofweed.1

When Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom came to SoHum last Spring, to launch his plan to keep marijuana expensive, by employing the maximum number of law enforcement officers imaginable to regulate it, many growers complained about his use of the term “marijuana.” Newsom pointed out that all of the laws against it, call it “marijuana,” so it made sense to use the term “marijuana” in legislation designed to replace those laws. I thought it a ridiculous complaint, but grower after grower took issue with him about it.

complaint dept

What a laugh! The people who now proudly admit that they profited, for decades, from the institutional racism known as the War on Drugs, and today, pay lobbyists to concoct a legalization policy that continues to suck money out of urban, low-income communities, and funnel it into the pockets of cops and white, rural land-owners, want the rest of us to stop using the term “marijuana” because they find it culturally insensitive. They sounded like KKK Clansmen, lobbying for the repeal of the 19th Amendment, demanding that lawmakers refer to the people they hoped to openly own, as African Americans, rather than Negroes, because the term made their property sound more valuable.

Clansmen for tolerance

Prohibition allowed white rural land-owners to keep marijuana as their slave for decades, and racist Drug War policies brought a tremendous flow of money into Humboldt County, largely from poor, urban communities. Now that we have become economically dependent on it, society has finally risen up to demand an end to the injustice of the War on Drugs. The end of slavery brought economic upheaval to the South. Many fought and died in defense of the indefensible, but who would argue today that we should reinstate slavery for its economic benefit?

Rebel Pride

Today’s dope yuppies are just like those old southern plantation owners. They don’t care how cruel, violent and wrong prohibition is. All they care about is their money, their property, and their way of life. They’ll fight to protect all three, even if they wouldn’t lift a finger to end prohibition and couldn’t care less about the rights of oppressed people or racial injustice. They’ll fight for their way of life, even if it destroys our community and stifles the kind of economic diversity that would ease our dependence on prohibition, and help us transition to a post-Drug War economy.

end the drug war.jpg

 

I sympathize with the people who would argue that cannabis deserves respect. I took Jack Herer’s advice on nomenclature to heart when, at the height of the War on Drugs, I co-founded Mass. Cann. The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. I chose my words carefully when I went door to door, back in 1991, asking people to support a medical cannabis ordinance in Cambridge, MA. I like to play with words, but I take them very seriously.

play-with-words

Today, in the waning years of the War on Drugs, times have changed. It’s time to talk openly and honestly about our relationship with this plant. This plant is a big part of my life, and one word isn’t nearly enough to describe it. Just like the Eskimos, who have something like 50 words for snow, I need many words for weed.

eskimo igloo

I use the word “marijuana” because it’s the familiar name, the common name, and the name everybody knows. Cannabis could be a shirt, a ream of paper, a bottle of machine oil, a sack of pet food or a million other products, but everyone knows that “marijuana” gets you high.

lets-get-high

I like the word “marijuana” precisely because it conjures up the whole ugly history of prohibition. The word “marijuana” reminds us of what we’ve been through. I call it marijuana because I paid prohibition prices for it. I call it marijuana because I’ve been denied jobs because of it, and I call it marijuana because I’ve been to jail because of it.

drug war casualty rachel hoffman

 

Call it “marijuana” so the no one ever forgets that millions of American citizens had their lives turned upside-down, and their futures shattered by a cruel, violent and racist war waged against the American people by the US Government. Call it “marijuana” because it is the common name of a common plant, and there’s nothing upscale about it. Call it “marijuana” because it’s a lovely name for a beautiful plant, and the people who love her have called her that for generations.

pot sounds whack

Marijuana. It just sounds so good. I think I’ll have some right now.

lets go smoke some weed


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