Friday Free-for-all #32: Roll illegal and weird

What makes you roll your eyes every time you hear it?

That’s simple. Any time somebody takes astrology seriously. Actually, I’ll extend that — any time anybody starts prating on about whatever particular brand of woo woo they subscribe to. It’s a long list: Crystals, reiki, homeopathy, chiropracty, acupuncture, anything peddled on The Goop, tarot or any kind of psychic reader (but see below), and so much more.

I’d even also include a lot of bullshit conspiracy theories (there’s a redundancy!) like “chemtrails”, QAnon, and 9/11 Truthers, to name but  a few.

What’s really frustrating is that I know so many otherwise intelligent and well-informed people who so easily go in for one or more of these things. Well, except for chemtrails and QAnon. I have yet to meet anyone nursing anything resembling a brain in their skull that fell for either of those.

And those last three, more than the others, will make me roll my eyes harder than the dice on a Vegas craps table during a pro competition.

Sure, some of that woo woo is harmless — like reading your horoscope for daily advice, provided you don’t take it too seriously. But some of the medical practices can actually be dangerous or deadly, as well as ridiculously expensive if you get hooked and keep buying the shit. I’m looking at you, Goop fans, but I’m sure that plenty of people have blown a fortune buying crystals, or going to any of the pseudo-medics listed, never mind being scammed by a psychic.

But that brings me back to my initial mention of psychic and tarot readers, which came with a caveat. A lot of them are ethical, and while what they claim they’re doing is total bullshit, what the good ones actually do can be beneficial.

I say this because I was once fortunate enough to get to sit in as a friend of mine did what was midway between a psychic and tarot reading for someone else. He was using one of those New Age Woo Woo decks that was, I think, Archangels. I don’t remember.

If I do remember correctly, the Sitter (as they are always called) picked three cards, each one to represent an aspect of their current concern — something like goal, obstacle, and outcome.

The cards basically had the names and images, but there was a book that came with it, with longer descriptions of the Archangels. And here is where I watched somebody good it actually do something good by exploiting someone’s belief in the woo woo to that person’s advantage.

Basically, it turned into a mini counselling session, nothing more nor less. But the Reader, my friend, was able to use the vague descriptions in the book to form open-ended questions, so that he slowly induced the Sitter to talk through his own situation and discover the issue he thought he had.

And so it continued with the other two cards until the Sitter came up with this amazing realization. In his case, I think it revolved around having a career he enjoyed but which he felt was a dead end, and the possibility of changing but fear over doing so.

All the Reader did was have the Sitter walk through that fear, discover what could realistically be done, and then find a plan to do it. So, in that case, if the woo woo works for you, then it works. But not for the reason you thought it did. No supernatural powers or angels here. Just one dude with some insight and empathy who knows how to ask the right questions.

Speaking of which…

What’s the most illegal thing you’ve done?

This is always such an interesting question, because the definition of “legal” varies so much. I’ve committed sodomy in several states, but it was only illegal in one of them, Texas. Ironically, it was the overturning of that state’s law by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 that made it legal to get your same-sex freak on in all 50 states.

Oh. And oral and anal because, while these laws were often supposed to be targeted at gay people (of the male variety in particular) straight people also technically fell victim, since the wording was of the “only a ding-dong in a hoo-hah is considered actual, legal sex.”

Not the terms they used, but the intent behind the laws was about as mature.

So, yes. I’ve definitely violated state law by sticking my ding-dong where Texas used to say it wasn’t supposed to go, multiple times and in multiple positions.

But state law is for amateurs. What about Federal?

Again, for the most part when we’re not talking about crimes of violence committed by one person against others — rape, assault, sexual assault, murder, arson, armed robbery, burglary, mayhem, and the like — then it’s really kind of hard to define what a crime is.

I mean, that list between the dashes there really should be the 8 1/2 Commandments of “How Thou Shalt Write Thy Laws.”

Everything else? Well, those are open to debate and interpretation and ad hoc sessions of committees of (unfortunately way too often old white men) debating into the night and then doing what the lobbyists pay them to.

Which should make up the other half to round the above list to 9 Commandments: “Thou Shalt Not via Public Office.”

What should definitely be legal? “Congress (or whoever) shall pass no laws limiting what the People can ingest or inject into or do with or to their own bodies, or do with or to the body of one or more others, provided that all involved are consenting adults.

TL;DR: No drugs should be illegal. And, in fact, the one I took was actually totes legal right up until… 1966, when the U.S. said “Hell Noes…”

Not bad. It had a 21-year run, seemed to have some really beneficial uses, but, as is typical, the panic breakdown seemed to work like this:

Liberals: This seems useful. Let’s explore it!

Conservatives: This scares me. BAN IT!

So, anyway… seeing as how I first did it decades after the U.S. banned it, I did indeed violate federal law multiple times in the 90s by (gasp) dropping acid. Never mind that I’ve also done the same every time I’ve smoked pot, even after it became legal in California. The LSD stuff is just more interesting.

The most interesting part, probably, is this: Unlike other drugs, the effective doses of LSD are miniscule, measured in micrograms, of which I don’t think I’ve even taken more than 1,000 at once. One microgram is a millionth of gram, and a gram is just under four hundredths of an ounce.

Second: LSD apparently crosses the blood-brain barrier quickly, does its thing to certain receptors, and then quickly leaves the brain. It can stay upstairs for about twenty minutes, and then circulate in your blood for about forty-eight hours.

So it’s kind of like this drug sneaks into your brain, bangs a gong and runs away, leaving you to enjoy the reverberations.

Subjective view via many trips: What LSD seems to do is this: It turns off your brain’s filters for a while, and we have a ton of those. Your pupils dilate so your peripheral vision expands like crazy (especially crazy if it’s already mad good, like mine was and is) and you start to experience things in what I’ve always described as “Hindu Time.”

Not meant to be any kind of aspersion or cultural appropriation, but the thing that talking to people while I was tripping that most struck me was that it suddenly seemed like they had multiple faces and arms, all overlapping and swirling. This was a side effect of the thing known as “trails,” but, to me, it made every conversation feel like it took place simultaneously except just before now, right now, and just after.

Then the peak of the trip would hit, most likely involving some sort of audio stimulation (usually music) and this is where the outside world would vanish, but is this really all that different from going to sleep and dreaming? Yeah, I don’t think so.

The more I did it, the more I realized… LSD makes us remove our filters and shields and face the world naked. Some of us like that and embrace it. Too many of us don’t.

And that is what we’re voting on in November, plain and simple. Please. Be brave, Bea Arthur, be naked… but remove those goddamn shields at the very least.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home?

Okay, this is one of those things where I have to give a lot of benefit of the doubt, but let’s start with what I saw…

An entire curio case full of what could be, at the most charitable, referred to as “Jim Crow Memorabilia.” Or, in other words, the smaller, indoor versions of all those tasteless Lawn Jockeys that were mostly eliminated decades ago.

Less charitably, let’s call it a tiny “Museum of Really Racist Shit.” All kinds of stereotyped figurines, some even with placards using incredibly racist slurs.

And I was of two minds on this one, given that the owner of the house happened to work in the business of liquidating estates and such, so he basically evaluated and sold off shit owned by dead old people.

So… favorable evaluation One: This was the shit he refused to sell because it was so goddamned racist, but he felt it necessary to preserve somewhere private in order to document the abuse.

Less favorable evaluation Two: Since my host was from the South… this was the shit he refused to sell because he wanted to keep it for himself, because it somehow fed his narrative.

Conflicty points: I’ve been to dinner parties he’s hosted with guests of all races, which make me lean toward option One. On the other hand, it was at one of those dinner parties that I learned that an Asian man could actually be prejudiced as fuck against Black men, and that broke my white brain.

I mean… really?

But those are the answers for now. Enjoy!

 

Momentous Monday: Four twenty twenty twenty

I suppose that everyone thought that today would be a day for making all kinds of 420 jokes, as well as celebrating the day in mass smoke-outs. Hell, back in January, we were kidding about the entire month of April being 4/20.

So now that it actually is 4/20/20 (or 20/4/20, if you insist), things have obviously taken a quite different turn. Oh, the dispensaries are still open in places where they’re legal, but people don’t seem to be in the mood for it.

“420” is also one of those terms that has an unfortunate double meaning, depending upon which culture you know more about or relate to, although for some people it has no special significance. It really is a good and evil pairing, too.

In case you didn’t know, in some circles, “420” refers to smoking marijuana, and it’s been pretty well-documented that the term originated with a group of high school students from Marin County, California who called themselves the Waldos.

Originally, 4:20 p.m. was the time when they would meet to go in search of a legendary abandoned marijuana crop that they never found. Eventually, it came to be shorthand for just smoking pot. Somehow, the expression spread through California marijuana culture of the time — it was 1971 — and then onward from there. It basically went viral after The Grateful Dead found out about it and invited fans at a concert to smoke a joint at 4:20 p.m.

Eventually, this led to April 20th becoming a day of celebration and activism in the increasingly successful effort to legalize recreational marijuana. Currently, marijuana is actually fully legal in more states than it’s completely illegal in — 12 vs. 11. Medical marijuana is legal in a further 22 states, with CBD Oil but not the flowers being legal in 6. The total is 51, since the District of Colombia is included. Pot is fully legal there, by the way.

I suppose that if you work in DC, that’s probably a necessary blessing.

I mentioned that the two meanings of 420 were a good/evil match, and that was the good. The evil is that “420” is also used as code by White Supremacists and Nazis to refer to Adolf Hitler, who was born on April 20, 1889.

This sometimes leads people to think that there’s some connection between Hitler and cannabis culture, but there isn’t. It’s just one of those troublesome coincidences. But lest you think that only bad things came from the date April 20th, this is made up by the date also being the birthday of George Takei (1937) and Jessica Lange (1949).

Takei, of course, was Sulu on the original Star Trek, a prominent political and gay rights activist, and nowadays best known for his Facebook page. Although he didn’t officially come out until 2005, he was one of those celebrities known to the community to be gay for years previously.

It was Facebook and Twitter that brought him to the attention of the next generation, so to speak, and one of his big projects is the Broadway musical Allegiance. While he didn’t write it, it is based on his life story of having been placed in a Japanese internment camp as a child, and he starred in the original production.

Needless to say, that show is even more relevant now than it was while being conceived and created.

In other news, Jessica Lange started out as a model. Her first big acting break came when she was cast in the 1976 remake of King Kong, in the role of the “beauty that killed the beast.” It was not the greatest of films, but her career survived it and the critics loved her.

She went on to play the Angel of Death in Bob Fosse’s brilliant, autobiographical All That Jazz in 1979. Her real breakout came with the 1982 biopic Frances, about the fiercely independent hence tragically doomed actress Frances Farmer — and if ever an actor resembled a character they played in the first place, this was it.

This led to her becoming the first performer in four decades to be nominated for two Academy Awards in the same year: Best Actress for Frances, and Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie. Ironically, she took on the light comedic role in the latter film as something of a palate-cleanser after the emotionally grueling experience of doing the former.

She lost Best Actress to Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice) but won for Tootsie.

Nowadays, she’s best known for being a regular in the Ryan Murphy omnibus series American Horror Story, mostly playing the villain, and it’s a role she excels at. Of course, she had practice in one of my all-time favorite roles of hers, as the Gothic queen Tamora in Julie Taymor’s amazing adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, simply called Titus.

Of course, that film is yet another incredible Shakespeare adaptation, and well-worth checking out. Hard to believe it’s a bit over twenty years since it was released. Surprisingly, it was actually a Christmas movie in 1999.

Okay, maybe that’s appropriate since the story ends with a big family dinner. Or maybe not. But it’s no stranger than a normally joyous occasion like 420 inadvertently being connected to a not very joyous person.

Forty-nine years after they started it, let’s hope one thing. That the answer to the question, “Where are the Waldos?” is “Safely at home.” As I hope are all of you.