Saturday, June 16, 2007

Voting Green - Part I

I first got stoned in June of ’84. It was the end of 8th grade and my school Wells Junior High even had a graduation ceremony. I think I held on to my diploma for exactly one week. I knew that wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. I hadn’t really been around weed at least among people my age. There were a few people that got stoned at Sandy Bueno’s party early that April (see “My First Party” from Stoner Wall I). I’m guessing my parent’s smoked a few joints incognito style at some of the parties they had with my dad’s co-worker friend Rich, who used to crack up laughing and pound on the walls. After my parents split my mom was dating this sorta hippie-ish shop teacher from the high school she taught at. He had some summer house in Denver where my mom visited him at. My sister said they experienced a certain kind of…”Rocky Mountain High”.

Pop culture also invoked the weed thing – it was hard to not be conscious of it. From cheesy TV shows like

“Facts Of Life”
(which had at least two episodes that dealt with weed) and
"Diff'rent Strokes" to Afterschool Specials like
“Stoned” with Scott Baio and even more ‘serious’ fare like the “The White Shadow” - a TV show that had A LOT of anti-drug episodes). At the same time there was headshops a plenty. The Carter Administration seemed to be a bit lax on the Federal laws and even in the first few years of the Reagan era drugs like weed were still pretty common and considered at least “normal”. In the summer of 1981 I went on a road trip through Northern California and Southern Oregon with my mom an her then boyfriend, Don.

I stayed in the back of his camper whilst I listened for any sign of rock music on his tinny radio. Unfortunately all I could come up with was the occasional baseball game or “pop country”. The game faded in & out far too often so alas Juice Newton, Dolly and Glenn Campbell won out. I took a long sleep and woke up trippin’ out to the sound of rushing water. “Where are WE?!?" I thought we had parked in front of a lake but it turned out it was the Shasta River and a few steps outside the camper I got a an amazing view of the mighty Mt. Shasta. I bought a bunch of basketball cards at the KOA campgrounds. (A few of which are worth some good coin but alas I don't even have a friggin'
Tree Rollins card to my name).

We stayed in Shasta for a day then traveled further north into Oregon. In Oregon we stopped in Ashland which didn't look too exciting though the part we were in had some cool "old west" type of architecture. Then again we had some of that junk in downtown Pleasanton.

Next was the town of Medford. We stopped near a park where I wander off through. Lots of dark greenery, a few hippies and weirdo looking folks that I avoided. I saw a few ducks in the creek which I didn't get to visit too long because one of the hippie weirdos was approaching and I didn't wanna waste any time with 'em being a mere 11 year old whose more into Star Wars, baseball and hard rock than weed and 'the Dead. I wandered off to the nearest group of stores. The first one I went into was a record store/head shop thingy. I had no clue what a headshop was but it had drug paraphenilia laid out completely normal like it was bread or cheese. Remembering the "Facts of Life" episode from a few years earlier I knew the name of these "smoking cylinders" was "bongs". There was a lot of psychedelic stuff, too. Having not lived through the 60's I hadn't seen a lot of this imagery aside from the few trip I took to Tower Posters in Berkeley with my dad. Tower Posters didn't have the psych swirlies and paisley done up too much - it was more of regular rockers place - with Cheap Trick beltbuckles, Van Halen bookcovers and the occasional political shirt or naked girl poster.

Going back to June 1984 there were a few guys who were gonna party on graduation night. I was inviting by this guy named Jimmy who I had know since at least 5th grade. Jimmy had generally been cool with me. Rumor had it that he was "more advanced" in terms of partying. Allegedly taking acid in 6th grade and meth around the same time. Luckily he was only bringing weed this night. Along with Jimmy came Jason K. Jason K. was a troublemaker type often in trouble for taking back teachers, stealing stuff from stores, smoking and drinking. He had a New York accent, too. Given that he looked kind of like Ritchie White in
Over The Edge made him seem that more cool and dangerous.

Also joining us this evening was Scott & Steve F. both of whom had stayed back in 7th grade and graduated in our class. Both of 'em were generally tolerable. Steve F. Scott with the short stature and annoying nasly voice. Steve F. with the muscular build (he was later on the high school football team) and rather "burly dude voice". Steve F. seemed to gravitate to the idea that I was still a "weed virgin". Jason brought a big 'ol bottle of white wine. I sold it to me for a scant $3. It wasn't Thunderbird but whatever the 1984 equivalent to "2 Buck Chuck" was. So it was cheap nonetheless. Around 7:30 we all gathered a began to party. Our location - Donlon Grammar School was suprisingly NOT suspect to the cops. This despite the fact that we were in an alcove that faced out onto a busy street.

Jason brought out his bong - a real D.I.Y. deal - ceramic and glazed in loud red and yellow. A real shop class job. The type that you tell the teacher is a "flower vase" for your "mom". Jason showed me how to smoke out of thing and after a few flicks of the lighter I finally got the whole lighter/inhaling while listening to bubbling water thing. I coughed a bit and exhaled a tiny bit, too. It was rough going but it felt good. I took in some of my wine. This process repeated itself at least two more times two when I said " LONG have we been HERE?!?" Scott said "it's only 8pm, duh." This 1/2 hour felt like 3 hours. I continued to take at least 4-5 more bongloads and eventually drank all my wine. I suprisingly didn't have to hurl. Thankfully they all warned me about this. Not only were these guys being nice to me which was always had an iffy potential but I was always partying with them. This was the beginning of an really stoned summer...

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