Happy 420…20…20!

It is indeed 420. 4/20/2020, to be exact! We’d had hope that this would be a much larger celebration this year. Thirty days of 420 only comes around once! Alas, it is not to be and so we must celebrate together while we’re all apart. Our resident botanist, Carlton Milhouse, has composed some 420 thoughts for us this year. These are after the fashion of  T’was the night before Christmas. Carlton hopes you all enjoy it and all of us here at the Ale 81 Inn wish the very happiest of 420s to everyone!


 

T’was the eve of 420

T’was the eve of 420 and all through the land

Not a head shop was selling, for this act had been banned

The storefronts were shuttered by some governor’s plan

due to some virus; they say it came from Wuhan

The people were chastised and sent to their room

to prevent what was certain imminent doom

Like sheep they all went and meekly obeyed,

away to their homes and there they then stayed

It will be for a month, certainly no more than two,

or until we determine what the hell we’re to do

Now bring on that Fauci and that scarf lady too

We’re led to believe that they might have a clue,

but when one is a hammer then all is a nail

and this is where experts most often fail

For billions of dollars we bought Red China’s shill

We’re all still paying, but I doubt he ever will

With a sickening thud we have screeched to a halt

while media pundits seek to find fault

A banquet for jackals and vultures to dine

They don’t care about shutdowns, they’ll manage just fine

Now Wuhan! Now Corona! Now Covid 19!

Now shut it down! Shut it down! Mass quarantine

When government shuts down it’s the end of the world

Now that it’s our turn? Your true colors are unfurled

The networks persist in their daily charade,

never missing a chance for some point to be made

that has nothing to do with the crisis at hand,

almost as if they had this all planned

And oh! How the spending! Let’s break the bank

so when this is all over we’ll have you to thank

for tiding us over with this little loan

for this time off from work (through no fault of our own)

There are still special favors in the money they’ve spent

Your little tidbit is to buy your consent

The airlines and bankers again are in line

and just like the last time they’ll make out just fine

All that debt will be added to the burden we pay,

but somehow the fat cats will all skate away

Each relief package tied up with a bow

with motives as pure as the wind driven snow

So the stem of this pipe I hold tight in my teeth,

as the smoke encircles my head like a wreath,

because all papers are gone; there are none to be had

Since the head shops are all closed, it’s really quite sad

That last book of Zig-Zags was really quite dear

between rolls of Charmin for wiping my rear

Now we’ll scrimp and we’ll forage for each vital need,

all the while praying we don’t run out of weed

If things grow too desperate it wouldn’t be wrong

to smoke up your bud in a green apple bong

Still despite all of this madness and disarray

Snoop Dogg still came with his magical sleigh

So look in your yard, you may find something there

Because he didn’t make contact, he took special care

But I heard him exclaim, ere he flew out of sight

I’ll see ya’ll next year, ’cause this shit ain’t right!

 

My Pinball Wizard

a reflection shared from our resident Botanist, Carlton Milhouse


 

It’s been a good harvest this year. Throughout the summer months my days were consumed with my herbalogic enterprises, allowing little time for anything else. As with any fruitful venture in life it is only after reaping the reward that we step back to contemplate what we have done. That is if we ponder it at all, which I’ll admit I often don’t.

In high summer (no, not that kind of high) the days are long and filled with labor from dawn to sometimes well after dark. One of the few things that help me to endure these rigors is music. I entered this season with a heightened awareness for the monumental anniversary this year has marked. My playlists have been liberally seasoned with those iconic releases of fifty years ago. Led Zeppelin 1, Abbey Road, In the Court of the Crimson King…. these only scratch the surface. All of these and more have always been in my repertoire, but if only for nostalgic reasons, they have enjoyed a renewed appreciation. Now, as we fast approach 2019 in the rear view mirror, I would like to share some reflections spurred by another of that epochal class of 1969: The Who’s Tommy.

Earlier this year I made a trip to Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with our very own Celeste Wilde. It was actually my first trip there. I have to say that on the whole it was a pretty cool place, but honestly I didn’t come away completely “wowed” by it. Maybe it’s Cleveland, maybe it’s me, but for any who have been to Cleveland lately you’ll have to agree: Cleveland is not the rock and roll town it used to be. Within it’s steel and glass frame on the shores of Lake Erie the Hall of Fame does it’s best to replicate at least some of that. Alright now, I’m not trying to dis the place. If you’ve not been and you like rock music I encourage you to visit, but make it a day trip if you can. There is no place I will recommend staying in Cleveland.

The highlight of this trip was discovered nestled within the bosom of The Who exhibit. Wandering about we stumbled upon a darkened nook where there stood two items. First there was a token dispenser, much like one might see in any arcade. It was equipped with an optic register to read the wristband they issue with admission. A few short steps away there stood a work of beauty: a full sized, humming, flashing pinball machine. Tommy’s Pinball Wizard no less! Celeste and I are the anti-Yogi. We’re a little dumber than the average bear, but even we could figure out how this worked. Out of a four hour visit to the Hall there was easily an hour and a half spent playing Pinball Wizard.

Before that day I was convinced that we had entered an age where the growing majority of our population knew nothing of pinball machines, those having been surpassed long ago by gaming consoles and other digital forms of entertainment. On the ride back from Cleveland the conversation settled about the pinball experience and I was quite heartened to learn that the pinball machine has indeed enjoyed a renaissance of sorts. Our conversation on that ride continued to weave in and out of the pinball experiences of our youth.

My own exposure to this venerated form of entertainment came, as it did for most of my generation, from arcade tents at various fairs and festivals. My first forays with the device were exercises in frustration. I came away from these convinced that these machines had been designed for the sole purpose of eating quarters. As with anything one only becomes proficient with practice, for which I was sorely wanting. Growing up on a farm in that era did not present a multitude of opportunities for this, but this was to change when I began high school.

Although I lived in a rural setting, it was at the time on the periphery of a suburban school district.  Most of my classmates lived in the suburban sprawl that came to life through the 1960s and 70s. I was a member of that small contingent known affectionately as the “country fucks”. The school was just off of route 40, known as it is in those parts as Broad Street, and for kids like me this brought an entirely accidental benefit. It meant that for at least a fews days of every week I had access to such adolescent diversions as were not accessible from the farm. These included a steady supply of members of the opposite sex, recreational drugs and yes, even pinball. Blessed with neither an abundance of disposable income nor the requisite social skills to engage successfully with girls, I naturally gravitated to pinball. I know. Sad isn’t it? Well, thats life.

Being involved in a number of after school activities I was left with some period of time between these and dismissal from the day’s classes. Thus developed the ritual of making the trek out to Broad Street, turning right and walking the few blocks east to a local pizza joint called Dino’s Bar and Grill. In those years there were a variety of choices within walking distance for a youth to be misspent. My selection of Dino’s can be attributed to nothing more than the familiarity of it’s name. Some of you may recall a song from the rock band Thin Lizzy, The boys are back in town, in which the “boys” were known to hang down at Dino’s Bar and Grille. I had enough sense to know that my Dino’s was hardly that Dino’s, but as the song was still in current rotation on FM radio I took it as an invitation. I’ve not been back inside of the establishment to see whether or not it’s interior is likewise unchanged, but my suspicion is that it remains what it always was: a dive. Within the boundaries of the same city there is another establishment (also of the dive class) which proclaims itself as the cultural center of the Midwest. I have often mused that this may account for the prevalence of depression and suicide in the region. I could, of course, be wrong.

As our conversation continued I recounted to Celeste how I had developed my pinball skills back in the day, down at Dino’s Bar and Grille. This in turn led to one particular occasion at Dino’s which I had previously filed away into some dark and dusty corner of my memory. When I had first begun these forays out to Broad Street they were mostly solo. Some other ne’er do wells of the same age class would frequent Dino’s in those after school hours. Some of them I knew casually; most were just strangers. One of the first that I became acquainted with at Dino’s (and later on to a greater degree at school) was a young man by the name of Tom Gray.  Young Thomas would later earn the moniker Tom Tripper. That is a title that probably bears little need for explanation to most, but I will elaborate further in due time.

We actually made our first connection due to the fact that we smoked the same brand of cigarettes, Viceroy. I don’t recall exactly when I migrated from these to the more conventional Cowboy Killers, but I do remember that in one of our first meetings Tom explained to me that they had become his smoke of choice because the brand was positioned in such a way at the local IGA store as to make them quite easy to boost from the shelf. Tom wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was a font of knowledge for practical matters such as boosting cigarettes from retail shelves.

As a relative stranger to the neighborhood it was good for me to have Tom as a companion. Though he was no older than I, he carried a certain street cred due to family connections. Tom was the younger stepbrother to the children of his mother’s second husband. By this time those lads were well off in college, but apparently they had blazed quite a trail before him. For good or ill Tom was a known quantity, whereas I was unmistakably one of the country fucks. It also helped that he was quite handy with a pool cue and this was his recreation of choice. And smoking green. And, later on….

I mentioned that he came to be known as Tom Tripper. In the mid seventies if you were in high school, and you were looking to score your first hits of acid, it was always beneficial to have a collegiate connection. Young Thomas was the embodiment of this maxim. He was very smart in one way especially. Tom recognized early on that he was a consumer, and thus was not suited to act as a distributor. His stepbrothers no doubt aided in this decision. In any case, though Tom never sold acid this did not mean that he would not share. His most famous exploit by far was a live demonstration, in the middle of the cafeteria, of how to drop microdots under your eyelid. To this day I won’t even do that!

Tom and I eventually became a regular pairing on the pool table at Dino’s, when it was available. Whenever there was a wait we had the choice of two pinball machines to pass the time. I don’t recall the theme of either of them, but there was one in the rear near the pool table and the other in front, in what passed for their dining area. Most times we would stick to the machine in the rear because if we were playing pinball that meant we already had a quarter up on the table. Over the course of some months I became pretty confident on that machine.

The key to successful recreational drug use is in understanding one’s limitations. The success is defined by nothing more than avoiding incarceration. Others may disagree, but that is the crux of the biscuit my friends. The youthful tripper is still filled with that euphoria, the blissful elation which engenders the sincere belief that anything is possible. They have not yet been instilled with the requisite paranoia needed to navigate the harsh cruelty of the adult world. It is in that very perilous mental state that I entered Dino’s one afternoon with Tom.  I was about to discover one of my limitations.

On this particular occasion Tom had some purple barrel to share. These were like a microdot, but larger. It was rumored that they were a stacked double dose of purple microdot, though I couldn’t say for certain whether or not this was true. This was not my first encounter with the drug, but this was to be the first time I had entered Dino’s in such a condition. My prior experience up until that point had been solo events; sitting up all night in my bedroom with the White Album over my headphones, the textured patterns in the ceiling paint depicting a re-enactment of bloody European history. That was a safe place for me to trip. This was very edgy. If I’d not been along with Tom I am certain I would not have dropped that hit when I did, around 3:00. It had to have been about 3:45 when we arrived at Dino’s. The experienced psychonauts in our audience can do the math and make an educated guess what happens next.

This was a warm day and quite sunny. Waveforms were already merging with heat mirage rising from the pavement. For the inexperienced tripper on their first public outing this was very unsettling. Once we reached their door I was eager to get inside. Without even looking into the back room to confirm it, I was immediately struck with the sensation that the table was already occupied. I felt hostility reaching out for us. The next thing I knew we were at the pinball machine at the front of the shop, facing out to the passing traffic on Broad Street. That was good. A geographic reference, a way to remember where I was.

Somehow I managed to extract a quarter from my pocket and successfully guide it into the slot. It jolted me when I felt the machine hum to life in my hands and then, for some time that seemed like an hour, I was part of the machine. I really felt it! This was a hallucination. I had lost all four balls inside of five minutes and probably did not even register 10,000 points. And that was just O-Kay. Lights were flashing everywhere, all sounds were compressed about my ears, and Tom drops his quarter. Then I got schooled.

I can’t pretend that I’m some kind of pinball aficionado.  I don’t scan Craigslist to find machines for sale and you won’t find me stalking the county fair circuit to see what is the latest in a twentieth century technology. They are a vestige of my youth and thus I enjoy them. Having the opportunity to play for an extended time for the first time in decades can revive a lot of memories. I maybe have not logged enough hours at pinball to be qualified for this judgement, but for my money Tom’s performance that afternoon was the most impressive display of pinball skill I have ever witnessed. He had at least twenty minutes in before he lost his first ball. And I was left paralyzed there at his side on a stool, hypnotized by the blur of the ball, the passing traffic and the sounds of the machine which seemed to come from everywhere but the machine. That day I learned one of my limitations: do not trip in public places. Tom could do it and many others can, but I am not one of them. It is a rule I have lived by, lo these many years.

Celeste’s reaction to this tale actually took me by surprise. She smiled and seemed genuinely amused, while at the same time her smile wore an underlying expression of a look which said “are you really that much of a dumbass?” After responding with the obligatory “what?”, she said ” He’s your pinball wizard? Tom, Tommy…. duh?”

Wow! That was like getting hit with a club! See, for me the memory was always about the trip, and the name Tom Tripper. It matched. It just stuck to his memory over the years. Until that instant in the car I had never thought of it as Tom, Tommy the Pinball Wizard. She was right. Tommy was all about breaking free of limitations. Both of them.

High Tea with Carlton Milhouse, edition 5

High Tea w Carlton Milhous

Greetings Stoner Nation! If it is Sunday (and it is) and the clock on the wall says it is 4:20 (and it does), then it is time for High Tea, with me….Carlton Milhouse. Your botanist. Prepare your tea and your greenery, and…..

Okay! It is time. Today it will all be decided. In a few hours it should be determined beyond any remaining doubt whether or not the New England Patriots, under the Belichick/Brady regime, are the greatest team in league history.  In any endeavor when one individual or organization dominates the field for as long as the Patriots have there will always be people gunning for you. Like the legendary gunslingers of the Old West, after so many years on top it leaves no place to just quietly fade away. The only way to exit is with guns blazing. It would be a perfect symmetry for the legend to end where it began, against a Rams franchise which appeared previously during their exile in St. Louis. I could not imagine any way possible to top the dramatic conclusion of Super Bowl LI. That would have been the perfect exit point right there. For the ride to end with anything less than another Super Bowl victory is completely anticlimactic.

In a little over a year we will reach the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Super Bowl trophy’s namesake, Vince Lombardi. It is entirely believable to posit the idea that fifty years hence the very same trophy would bear the name of Bill Belichick. I am left to wonder, though: will there be an NFL in 50 years? And, if so, will it resemble anything like the NFL of today? Today’s league looks nothing at all like the league of 50 years ago, 1969, the last year before the AFL-NFL merger. In the past decade the NFL has drifted, not navigated, into the murky waters of popular sociological trends. This is because the league’s leadership has fallen away from the very capable hands of men like Pete Rozelle, a man who understood and revered the game, into the hands of technocratic types Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell.

The most pointed of controversies that the NFL has navigated in recent years is the whole stand/sit for the anthem fiasco. Goodell’s helmsmanship has been akin to that of the ill fated Titanic and worse. After failing to miss that iceberg the first time around he actually reversed course to strike it once again! Even with the media’s determination to make this the dominating story a league under the direction of a Pete Rozelle would never have allowed it to become a vehicle for an agenda. All of this began with the pink armbands and socks during the month of October for breast cancer awareness. The minute the NFL signaled that they were willing to be used as a platform for one cause they opened the floodgates to became fair game for any and all. The Washington Redskins. How racist. Where is the outrage for the Kansas City Chiefs? Then there was the domestic violence awareness program because of the ill considered actions of a few of the league’s players. I do not for a second mean to condone any of those acts and it is proper for the league to have well established and uniformly enforced code regarding these behaviors. That does not entail making the league a vehicle for virtue signaling their advocacy on behalf of the victims. Oh, and the concussion protocol. Again, yes it is good to evaluate and monitor, but can we get real here for a minute? It’s FOOTBALL, okay? It’s a fucking game played by grown men for lots of cash because there are lot of people out there willing to watch. And with breast cancer awareness or no, at least 35-40% of that audience is female. Yes, there are actually women who like these rabidly toxic displays of masculinity on the gridiron every Sunday.

The way things are headed it is only a matter of time before the LGBTQ community is up in arms because of the homophobic use of the terms “tight end” and “wide receiver” used to designate certain player positions. I don’t care to dwell on these questions in their broader social context, that’s not my thing, but where it comes to football? The only toxicity I see is of a decidedly effeminate variety. Some might say that is a part of the pussification of society. I might be inclined to agree with some. These social trends will go the way they will, with or without their cheerleaders, but they are no matter for the NFL to concern themselves with. They should stick to football. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have done this for the past 19 years with pretty impressive results. Perhaps with a sixth ring at the end of the day we might someday look forward to a Commissioner Belichick?

Okay, that’s my rant for this week. Regardless your partisanship let’s hope this Super Bowl proves to be a great contest and that the most toxically masculine team prevails.

Enjoy the game and until next time… stay stoned my friends!

 

My tea at 4:00

Got my 4:00 cuppa

Tea wi’ me friend Carlton

We celebrate The Fall in winter

through the years

til High Tea at 4:20

We blaze up his latest concoction

Me, Carlton and Mark E.

Let the Undilutable Slang Truth Live!

My Dog’s Thoughts on Pink Floyd

Not long ago I was introduced to a meditation channel.  It is not the sort of thing I would seek out on my own, but I actually sat and listened to it for a few minutes.  Within a very short time it had formed a reminiscence of the Pink Floyd song from their famed LP Ummagumma, Grantchester Meadows.  I then forced myself to sit and listen to some more of this channel.  I came to a conclusion.  Someone identified the need to create one of these channels (actually there are several) and there are people checking in. This can not be a bad thing if it leads to more people finding their chill and not being such colossal dicks all the time. Or…they could just listen to some Floyd!

There are certain standout pieces from the band’s portfolio which appear with regularity in my various playlists. Dark Side of the Moon in it’s entirety, of course, and select tracks from their other LPs. As I was caused to make a review of these I made a discovery that rather surprised me. There were no tracks from the Animals LP on any of the lists. Naturally my reaction was to cue it up and give it a listen.

The first time I ever heard anything from the album was quite probably some time in February of 1977. We were in the midst of what was up to that time the coldest winter of the twentieth century. In my bedroom above the garage I huddled about the heat register in the floor, a blanket wrapped around to contain the warm air. It was probably in this fashion that I sat huddled in the dark, next to a small radio and listened to a WCOL-FM DJ introduce Pigs (three different ones). Upon revisiting the full LP I am still of the opinion that this is indeed the most striking track of the album, both lyrically and musically.

Though it is hardly February and nowhere near to record-breaking cold temperatures, the change of season has brought with it no shortage of grey, miserably damp, chill days upon which to spend contemplating these weighty matters.  I happened to have at hand an intriguing new strain from my botanist, the Montana Flowering Dogweed, which I employed to good use for the occasion. Both were consumed in the dark, save for the light of the fire. Pink Floyd has always served as a fine soundtrack for any blaze.

For those who are unfamiliar, and those who may have simply forgotten, Pigs (three different ones) was on side two of the original vinyl. The lead off of the LP is the plaintive Pigs on the Wing, followed then by the stark and brooding piece Dogs. Perhaps it is somehow connected to that cold place where I first listened to this work, but I found that the song Dogs takes me to a very cold, dark and distant place.

Beginning at the 6:14 mark of side one there is a segment of about 45 seconds where there are the barks and howls of various hounds. Where I sat enjoying this my dog, Matthau, was at my feet and I noted his ears prick up slightly at this point. In the idle chatter one often engages with their pets I asked ” Well, old boy! Know what they’re saying, do you?” He gave me one of those looks, as dogs sometimes will, which seemed to question my sanity. He raised his massive head to snuff once at the smoke billowing from the glass bong and then rose from the floor to pad across the room and take a seat in the chair opposite. I wasn’t expecting an answer and his behavior, though somewhat odd, was not entirely out of the ordinary. Then he began to speak.

” The dogs, yes… they do go on there a bit, don’t they? Rather funny, that….”

He was sounding a bit like Alec Guinness. “Matthau? I didn’t know you could talk!”

“Of course I can speak, you pillock! I’m an English Mastiff, not some Neapolitan dullard!”

“No offense, Matthau! I just wonder why you waited until now!”

“It’s the Dogweed, old bean. Otherwise you’re too thick to hear it.”

“Is that it?”

“You have a better explanation?”

“I do not.”

“Well, there it is then.”

” I suppose you’re right, old boy. We’ll have to ask Carlton to get us some more of this soon. So what are those dogs saying anyway?”

“Oh they’re banging on about what worthless sods their agents were. Couldn’t even negotiate a reasonable royalties contract, could they?”

“Really? You’re having me on!”

“Am I? Perhaps you’d like corroboration from another hound?”

His point was well taken and I surely had no reason to doubt him. I have since learned of rumor that Roger Waters has advocated on behalf of the estates of these long departed canines. Mr. Waters has declined any comment upon the matter.