This week I present a radio feature that was part of my KMUD radio show Monday Morning Magazine on April 8. It includes music by Robin Parmar, Don Haugen, Michal Seta, Mike Rooke, and Kris Force. The Drone Cinema Film festival takes place on Saturday April 27th at Outer Space in Arcata, CA, starting at 7:00pm, with a short set of live drone music by me, John Hardin, on didgeridoo and electronics. The Drone Cinema Film Festival is brought to you by Silent Records and Outer Space.
I do drone on…
On Saturday April 27 at Outer Space in Arcata, I will perform a short live set of drone music on electric didgeridoo to kick off the Drone Cinema Film Festival brought to you by Silent Records. The Drone Cinema Film Festival will present eight films created by artists from around the world who express their vision through drone music and digital imagery. The Drone Music Film Festival has been going on for five years, and the films curated for this screening were selected from the previous four year’s festivals. Filmmakers include: Mike Rooke, Kat Cascone, Sequencial, Kris Force, Don HaugenRobin Parmar, Michal Seta, Stewart Collinson & Andrea Szietvari. I am very excited to be a part of this event, and I hope you will join me at Outer Space in Arcata to experience it all first-hand. For more information, click the…
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You might wonder why I do this. Why do I go so far out on a limb to artfully present an opinion that I know will be wildly unpopular? Some people speculate that I do it for the attention. Although I appreciate an audience, I don’t really care about drawing attention to myself. What matters to me is drawing attention to the things that people learn to overlook. People learn to overlook things when those things do not fit within their cultural mythology.
Whether it’s our local myth about the benign benevolence of the marijuana industry, our national myth of American Exceptionalism and the American Dream, or the greater cultural myth of civilization that tells us that there is a technological solution to every technological problem, the myths of our culture have become a threat to our survival, and the sooner we realize it, the better it will be for all of us. I understand the power of cultural myths, and I know how they can blind us to what’s happening right in front of our eyes. At times like these we need to see clearly and think carefully. Outdated cultural myths interfere with that by lying to us about what is real, and distracting us from what is possible.
Entirely too many people still believe our dominant cultural myths, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Cultural myths act like a security blanket, and an auto-pilot. They give us our default settings about what to believe, how to interpret the world around us, and strategies for thriving in it. Most people rarely think about the cultural myths they inherited, and these myths tend to perpetuate themselves because people constantly repeat and reinforce them. People constantly repeat and reinforce these cultural myths because they constitute all of the safe things to say in a conversation.
You can always say: “It’s so great to live here in the heart of the cannabis community, in the greatest nation on Earth, and we’re so lucky to live at a time when technology has put the whole world at our fingertips.” You can say stuff like that all day long, and practically everyone will agree with you and no one will ever question you about it. You’ll never be at a loss for words, and you’ll be telling people exactly what they want to hear.
The problem is that none of it is true anymore. The Marijuana industry is a blood-soaked ripoff, the US has become the most brutal fascist regime on the planet, and technology has driven us over a cliff, environmentally. 20-30 years ago, some of those myths were still true, or at least half-true, and the jury was still out on others, but today, those myths are all lies, and the sooner we realize it, the better. We’ll never solve problems we can’t face, which is why I draw attention to the inconsistencies that betray our cultural bankruptcy.
People take great comfort in those myths, and in the fact that they are so widely shared, despite the overwhelming evidence against them. People do not like having their bubbles bust. They would rather just complain to each other about why things don’t seem to work out the way they are supposed to. When I make a point, somebody’s myth gets deflated, and that makes them angry, at me. I don’t benefit from that anger in any way, but those myths threaten us all.
Most of our big problems, as a community, as a nation and as a culture, became big problems due to our continued belief in these outdated cultural myths. We will not solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them. I try to look at the world from a different perspective, from one that shows the worst side of our dominant cultural myths, and encourages us to consider other possibilities. If we hope to meet the challenges of our time, as a community, across the country, and around the world, we need to remove those cultural blinders and look at what is really happening, with clear eyes, and to consider every possibility.
This is what I do for fun.
I made this video to demonstrate the tape-scratch noise machine I made out of an old portable cassette player. I removed the motor and most of the tape drive mechanism, and the playback head. I attached some coax to the tape head, and reattached the other end of cable to the stub of the original cable I cut to remove the head in the first place. Then I made scratch boards.
At first I just wrapped a board with cassette tape, and that worked OK, but I thought a layer of felt between the board and the tape might help the head make better contact with the tape. I found some adhesive backed felt at a thrift store, and made a few new scratch boards from a scrap of foam-core I had lying around. I wrapped each board with a continuous strip of tape from a single cassette, and I…
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I heard a report from that stupid conference the HIIMS held last week about the so-called “impacts” of the Netflix miniseries Murder Mountain. From what I heard in the report, people in the cannabis industry worry a lot about their image. Instead of prosecuting the violent criminals in our community, it’s more important to the industry to convict the media for drawing attention to the murders they’d rather sweep under the rug. It seems shocking, but non-events like this recent conference, and the “SoHum Values Conference” that happened a couple years ago, offer incontrovertible objective evidence that the cannabis industry cares a lot about the image it projects. I don’t ever remember having a conference like this to address the problem of violence within the marijuana industry? As I noted last week, the industry obviously cares more about how they are portrayed in the media than they do about real murder and violence within their community.
One should remember that the people who built the marijuana industry, built it on top of an enormous mountain of dead bodies called “The War on Drugs.” To this day, most Humboldt growers refuse to acknowledge that the price they were able to demand for their product on the black market had anything to do with the human costs of the War on Drugs. They’ll tell you that the price they get is all about the quality of their product. This kind of delusional thinking pervades the industry here, and while this denial of reality allows growers to ignore the dark side of this business and helps them cope with the stress of the War on Drugs, it does not help them evaluate their business plans realistically.
Blood stains every single dollar of black-market marijuana money. The bloodbath called “The War on Drugs” makes the Manson murders look like innocent children finger-painting by comparison, and Humboldt County’s marijuana industry was born of it, and in the middle of it. People get killed every day, all across the country, to keep the price of cannabis high, and a lot of those people died right here in this community. The War on Drugs wounded us all in some way. We all lost family members, friends and loved ones in it, and it continues to destroy people’s lives today. At least four people, working in the cannabis industry, were murdered in SoHum in 2018.
Those are the facts of life about Humboldt County’s marijuana industry, because that’s the truth about the War on Drugs. We all know how much blood there is in that marijuana because it is our blood! That’s why the marijuana industry cannot just reinvent itself as “the cannabis industry,” all innocent, clean and new. Anyone who associates the name “Humboldt” with marijuana remembers the War on Drugs. We know! We all know the truth about the War on Drugs in our bones!
For us, cannabis is sacrament. That’s why we found it more valuable than gold, and why the risks you took were rewarded so handsomely. Cannabis is more valuable than gold, because only fools worship gold, but cannabis is not rare, nor is it difficult to produce, so there’s no excuse for high prices. We are not impressed by your expensive display cases, slick marketing lingo or environmentally egregious packaging. That stuff just reminds us that you still make too much money from our blood. We might buy your weed, if it’s the best we can find for the money, but we don’t buy your bullshit.
Try as growers might, to “tell their own story,” that story will remain nothing but a fairy tale from Never Neverland if it doesn’t connect to the facts of life, and the facts of life about Humboldt County’s cannabis industry are intimately entwined in the deadly branches of the War on Drugs. The only real option for Humboldt County’s cannabis industry is to face facts, admit to, and take responsibility for the murder, violence and trauma that the black-market marijuana industry brought to our community and the toxic environment it created here, and in communities all over the country. If Humboldt’s cannabis industry wants to lay claim to the back-to-the-land ideals of their hippie elders, they also need to take responsibility for the war crimes of the outlaw black-market marijuana industry that followed.
It’s going to take real effort to make amends, restore justice and heal wounds to show that the cannabis industry acknowledges its origins and stands willing to take responsibility for its past. If the industry did that, even a little, in a tangible way, they could promote those efforts widely, and use them to rehabilitate their image and their heritage.
That is how you show the world that Humboldt County’s cannabis industry has a conscience and cares about making the world, and our community, a better place to live. But it all starts by facing up to the harm that the War on Drugs has done to our community, and accepting responsibility for it.