At the Supes’ meeting recently, a witness put it like this: “When you tell someone that you are from Humboldt, the first question they ask you is, ‘ Do you have any cannabis.’” I can attest that this is at least partially true, but I think it belies our poverty, more than it speaks to our strength. Often as not, when I tell someone I live in Humboldt, they say something like: “Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Ain’t nothin’ but pot farmers up there. What do you do for culture?”
Sure, we’re famous for our weed, but mostly because the black-market marijuana industry has choked-off and snuffed-out everything else around here. That said, why should people care more about their pot coming from Humboldt County, than they do about their corn coming from Iowa? Drug dealers always want to tell me where the pot they’re selling me comes from, but as a cannabis consumer, I’ve never really trusted street dealers, so I’ve never put much stock in their stories. Really, as long as it looks like weed, smells like weed, and get’s you high like weed, who gives a fuck where it comes from?
Ask yourself, “What is it about the name ‘Humboldt’ that cannabis consumers will pay a little more for?” Pot smokers sure won’t pay extra to help kill off the last wild salmon or poison the last Pacific fisher. We won’t kick down our hard-earned cash to help put sub-literate rednecks in brand new trucks, or send dope yuppies to Phuket for the Winter, at least not if we have a choice, and can pick up a sack of Willie Nelson Weed, or Marley’s Marijuana for less. Those things could just as easily convince people to boycott the Humboldt brand, rather than patronize it, but we’ve got one thing that makes the name “Humboldt” a goldmine for marketing cannabis. Can you guess what it is?
I’ll give you a hint: Like the salmon, they come back, year after year, despite the abuse we heap on them. I refer of course to the bipedal primates colloquially known as “Hippies.” Hippies. Marijuana created hippies, and hippies made marijuana famous. Marijuana turned people into hippies back in the ’60s, and it continues to turn people into hippies today.
All you need to do to become a hippie is smoke weed and not cut your hair. That’s it, and millions of Americans do it every year. Some of them stick with it for quite a while, until eventually, they crumple, under unbearable economic pressure, and settle for the grim life of a dead-eyed cubicle rat. Still, they keep their hippie identity with them, in a box on the dresser, where they also keep their marijuana.
Hippies have a long history in Humboldt County, and considering how shameful the rest of the history of this county is, we really should promote it. In the ’60s, hippies from San Francisco came to Humboldt to escape “The Man” and corporate exploitation, by getting “back to the land.” Those hippies learned to grow their own marijuana, and they grew better marijuana. With this better marijuana, Humboldt’s hippies took over the domestic marijuana industry.
Growing marijuana is a proud hippie tradition, like organic gardening, long hair and promiscuous sex. Along with the burgeoning marijuana industry, hippie culture flourished here in Humboldt County, and Humboldt’s hippies came to define hippie culture, especially in the areas of owner built homes, alternative energy and restoration ecology. That’s why so many hippies come to Humboldt, and that’s why “The Hippie” holds the key to Humboldt’s future.`
I know you don’t want to hear this. The county already paid big bucks for this information, not that long ago, but nobody wanted to hear it then. The county hired a PR consultant to help define the county’s image. Those consultants introduced their presentation to the Supes with the old hippie anthem, White Rabbit by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band The Jefferson Airplane. You could actually hear the floor drop out from under them with each note. No one wanted to hear it. I don’t know what people wanted to hear, or expected to hear, but like it or not, those consultants earned their money, and we ignore their advice at our own economic peril. Really, if you don’t like hippies, you should get out of the marijuana industry, because without hippies, there is no marijuana industry, at least not in Humboldt County.
It’s time to face facts. Hippies created this industry. Hippies drive this industry, and hippies hold the key to the future of this industry. As an enduring popular American archetype, The Hippie comes in second only to the cowboy. Think about that. Even though cowboys themselves have mostly disappeared from the American West (which is a good thing, because cowboys smell even worse, and cause a lot more problems than hippies) the archetype of “The Cowboy” still sells billions of dollars worth of cowboy hats, cowboy boots, belt buckles, tobacco and firearms, just for starters, every year.
Next to The Cowboy, The Hippie is the biggest marketing goldmine in America, and the single most essential component of the hippie lifestyle is marijuana. Every hippie carries marijuana, just like every cowboy carries a gun. If you live in Humboldt County, you better learn to love the smell of hippies, because that is the smell of money, and Humboldt County will only remain synonymous with marijuana, so long as it remains synonymous with hippies.
Hippies have driven the economy of Humboldt County for decades. It’s about time we showed some appreciation. We absolutely must associate the Humboldt brand with hippies, and we need to make Humboldt county, especially Southern Humboldt County, as hippie-friendly as possible. Not only should we cater to the hippies who visit here, we should encourage everyone who visits to become a hippie for the day. We’ll sell tie-dye T-shirts, granny glasses and peace sign medallions galore.
To attract hippies, and earn their patronage, we’ll want to cultivate a vibe around town that feels about half-way between a Rainbow Gathering and the Oregon Country Fair. We’ll need hippie-friendly campgrounds, clothing optional swimming holes, and vegan eateries because we don’t just want hippies all over America to demand Humboldt Grown weed; we also want them to come here to see it grown, and buy it fresh from hippie farmers. We want hippies to come here because hippies will still pay retail price, even after the big wholesalers have beaten the living profit-margin out of you.
People around here like to say that the “back to the landers” had “hippie values” although nobody seems to remember what those were. Well, we better Google them, because we need to preserve, celebrate and venerate our hippie traditions and heritage here in Humboldt County if we want to remain economically viable. I know you don’t want to hear it, but we need those dirty hippies, and we need them now, more than ever.