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September 3, 2011

Until You've Tried

Saturday. OK, I mentioned yesterday I thought the breakfast I'd had (corned beef hash with eggs and country potatoes, light on the potatoes) had brought on the dry mouth and other symptoms that disappeared after lying down for a little less than an hour. I don't usually have corned beef hash, all of the “processed” meats are on the list of things to avoid. I can skip them, not a sacrifice to do that. This morning I had a dry waffle with a sliced banana and strawberries on top, something I often have and something that doesn't seem to have aftereffects. Good.

Last night I had some sake along with spicy mussels, calamari, California rolls and green tea cheesecake for dessert that did indeed lead later to the dry mouth and an hour of less pleasant symptoms. Let's now see, going without either one of these forbidden by the doctors factors, how it will go (this month). Ho, ho.

Ho, ho?

Who knows what I'll do once the sun comes up later on this currently overcast morning and the day struggles forward. I've been totally wishy-washy on this avoid the alcohol business, particularly as I'm consuming so little of the damned stuff, no more than two drinks in an evening, although I really would like to know what a week or two of abstinence might show. Totally avoiding cured meats without any alcohol would be the real test. We are curious, we are, and we do not like to have our perfectly nice mouth going dry or experiencing those other odd symptoms. No we don't.

Up after a good night's sleep, by the way, up with the alarm, to breakfast and back on this overcast morning. They're saying into the very low eighties later today here on the coast, up into the nineties and more east of the hills. We do not live east of the hills here in Oakland, one of the reasons we live in Oakland. There are other reasons, but none come to mind at the moment.

Later. A little tired, late this morning, so I did lie down for a while, but none of the dry mouth and other crap. Good. So far, so good. There's an International Cannabis & Hemp Expo coming up this afternoon in the City Hall area of downtown Oakland. First of its kind here in Oakland. No way I wouldn't go and photograph it. Could be interesting, could be a bust, but I have to see what its about, what the current political climate is for marijuana at the moment.

We used to run free full page NORMAL ads in the old Rip Off Review of Western Culture in the early seventies, the Review published, after all, by the home of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. I have no idea if anyone remembers any of that, although the Freak Brothers have sold some some ungodly number of books over the last forty years. Something over forty million copies in seventeen languages. That's mostly comic books versus hard bound or perfect bound paperbacks, but still, forty million is a mind blowing number. Which is appropriate (mind blowing) given their fondness for drugs.

Anyway we all smoked dope in the late sixties and seventies, I along with everyone else I knew, worked or hung out with. Not a whole lot in my particular case, I'm sure I did more damage smoking cigarettes for five years, but I had my share, the morning coffee breaks at the Press more marijuana breaks than coffee breaks. The two are quite compatible, starts a morning with a nice edge. I stopped when I no longer knew people who had access to it in my Napa days. It was around, but wine was then the topic of interest and grass was, well, there for those who sought it out. I had a good Napa friend who got hers through Fed Ex from a grower in the back woods of Kentucky.

Now, of course, with legalization seemingly well under way and Oakland being at one of its centers - Oaksterdam pot clubs and cafés all over the place - it will be interesting to see where it currently sits. I may not have had any contact with the culture now in a long time, but I'm still curious. I could get a permit to buy the stuff easily enough, this sinus upper palate thing would certainly qualify, although I hear all you really need to do is find someone to write a script and there are many locally who are easy to find. So good, it starts at noon, we'll be there.

Oh, and earlier, a short walk down to the local ATM taking one or two pictures along the way with the equivalent of a 200mm lens. The focus isn't all that sharp and I'm somewhat ambivalent over the photographs, but I did take one or two along the way.

Later still. It was a bit different than I was expecting, the lines to get in were a block or so long at noon, a line to get a ticket ($20 for the day, $300 for a VIP ticket that included a bag full of, well, “goodies”) and then a much longer line of people with tickets waiting to get inside. I'm not sure why that second line took so long to move as all they really did was check my backpack to be sure it didn't contain anything dangerous like knives, guns or alcoholic beverages.

There were three areas: a general admission area for people like me who didn't have the card that allowed you to buy and smoke marijuana, an area where the various purveyors of marijuana and its various permutations including grow lights and such were displayed and sold, and another much smaller VIP area that seemed to provide places to comfortably sit.

For some reason they hadn't put security in place at the entrance to the area for people who had a card license to use and sample the wares when I arrived and I was able to walk right in and around the area without anyone calling me on it. I suspect they'd have checked if I tried to buy anything, but I was there shooting pictures. You needed a special wrist band, evidently one of the reasons the lines had been so long and slow moving. Had I known this going in I wouldn't have gone, twenty bucks was too much to just walk around the small general public area unless you'd come to get a license or to shop around.

It's both changed and not changed in these last thirty years, there were none of the old hippie posters and trappings being sold that I remember, but there were still the same (if more elaborate) bongs and other paraphernalia that I suspect will never go out of style. A crowd that was more than familiar with the evil weed, but a younger and more clean cut crowd than you'd have found in the sixties and seventies. I got a pretty good contact high from the second hand smoke, you could smell it a block away.

Altogether interesting, although I didn't get much in the way of pictures. The band playing had no audience, every one was standing in the lines at the vendor booths. They were giving on the spot medical evaluations (which cost, I believe, something like $60) at the entrance and issuing cards. I say cards, but whatever it is that shows you have a one year license to buy and use medical marijuana. As mentioned, the lines were really long.

So, cannabis has come to Oakland. Odd to see all this happening in front of the City Hall, the Oakland police Political Affairs office (closed) facing the (smoking) crowd. I'd seen pretty much everything I wanted to see after some two or so hours and came home thinking I'd do better photographing the Gay Pride Street Festival kicking off up the street here in Oakland tomorrow. I wonder if my neurologist would give me a prescription? I suspect he would. Maybe I'll ask, see if marijuana cookies might make do for sake. I don't think they would, but you never know I suppose, until you've tried.

The photograph was taken at the San Francisco J-Pop Festival Sunday with a Nikon D3s mounted with a 70-200mm f 2.8 Nikkor VR II lens using a 1.4x teleconverter.