27.10.14

Forget it, Jim, it's Pot Town

Arcata, California.  The smell of weed is as prevalent as the white boy dreads, transients, tie dye, Earth tones and Vanagons.  I avoid the place whenever possible, the same way most people avoid the public toilet with the mess on the seat.  When I can’t help but visit, I try to make it a short trip.  It’s a “college town.”  It’s an “artist community.”  Yeah.  I suppose those terms are right.  More than that, though, it is Pot Central, USA.


Arcata has some things worth noting.  Good stores.  Good food.  Even a few good people.  It’s a throwback to the ‘60s while still maintaining a fa├žade of progressive leanings.  The motto tends to be, “Green is good.”  Green, of course, represents money, Mother Earth and Mary Jane.  Green is good.  Yes, it is.  If you can mix and master all three, why that’s called the ArcataOrgasmic Swirl.

Pot rules the roost in Arcata, as it does for most of Humboldt.  Non-native, smaller-time growers took over and jacked up the real estate prices a few years back, though.  Then, sensing the way the wind was blowing, spoke out against the legalization of the drug as black market prices would tumble and a once-sure would become an oh-so-uncertain.  Their laments even started to crossover to the more “refined” growers who, as they like to think, aren’t in it for the buck but for the principle.  The risk of jail (almost nil) is worth the prize … now.  Crime is king because it pays.  While Colorado opens stores dedicated to the one-time devil weed, Humboldt’s natives are scratching their heads and saying, “Why weren’t we first?”  A lot of those queries are coming from Arcata.  Why weren’t they first?  Ask the growers.

Back in the day when I saw what was happening with the legalization movement, I was going to trademark a Humboldt brand for smoking devices and then sue the holy fuck out of anyone who used it.  I figured once it was (inevitably) legal, some of the bigger corporations would find a way to weasel on in.  Since it is only really legal by the grace of a “progressive” Fed in places like Colorado, those corporations haven’t banged down the door yet.  After all, they have stockholders, and stockholders have this fear of the Feds.  Plus, if you follow politics you know that if the Republicans take over, things as we know them will be radically different.  You can bet that they won’t be proponents of states’ rights when it comes to this subject.  Stockholders may be fearful, but they’re also a kind of smart.  They are waiting to see how things pan out because as of now it’s still too early to tell.  Proponents, however, are already claiming victory.  Proponents.  Not growers.  Not all of them.  Not the ones who operate in the secretive world of underground grows, well-hidden outdoor grows, and the less-than-rare gutted house grows.  The native growers with big operations operate well outside of Arcata.  Arcata has its mom and pops, but it also has those late arrivals to the party who took over and slightly altered the course of the town.

So Arcata’s residents ride a wave of Humboldt quasi-legalization, a curl that suits the non-native perfectly well, thank you.  Pot is legal to use and grow if you have a doctor giving the nod (and they all do around here).  You most likely won’t get busted if you don’t have the card giving you that right, though.  You could be.  You probably won’t be.  The police have better things to do, as it should be.  For the capitalist grower, this keeps the prices high and the risk low.  Any student of capitalism knows this is the “sweet spot.”

I imagine if pot ever gets the full-scale legal treatment, Arcata is going to look a lot different.  That low- end, psychedelic vibe that it has now is going to subtly change in a way its residents may not like too much.  While there are folks there who maintain that capitalism is king, there is a decidedly larger group that feels much the opposite, and the idea of pot becoming a commodity like a McDonald’s hamburger or hip hop leaves them with a bad taste in their mouths.  The purity of God’s gift will be violated, and violation will not be tolerated.  Green isn’t always good when it denotes rot. 


Arcata has its charms.  It’s not the people or the product, though.  It’s the idea that the various philosophies can work if given the proper foundation and structure.  It’s the idea of hope.  It’s a place where art wants to rule over commerce.  All of that, however, has been ruined by a population of people who only think they know what makes it special.  It’s not the pot or the entitled fucks playing at being homeless.  Those two things can be tossed out with the unused bathwater.  These people think they and their love of the weed is what keeps the town held together.  That social glue is as weak as their will, though.  What makes Arcata different is that underneath the sticky veneer is an experiment that kind of works as it maintains that delicate balance.  People care about where they live.  They care about what comes in.  They care about their way of life being destroyed by the very thing that gives so many of their lives meaning.

It’s admirable.  It’s honorable.  In the end, though, it will be wasted.  The tolerance Arcata’s citizens have shown to non-native growers (and the scumbag landlords who profit from them) will be its undoing.      


26.7.14

Florida Bondage Trip

I was finally talking to her.  It took me a while to win her trust.  I had to assure her I wasn’t into her sexually.  She was blonde.  Blondes didn’t usually do it for me, and I told her that.  She was also a dominatrix … and that’s why I wanted to talk to her.  Interview her really.
After months of corresponding, she opened up to the idea.  I was serious.  I was professional.  I had questions.  She considered men to be lowlife scum and treated them as such.  She also made a very decent living at it.  Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to beat men for money?  Hell, I’d do it for kicks.  I thought maybe, just maybe, this would be the one who would be interesting to question.

So, with recording equipment in place, I called Florida.  Florida, for those who never really delved into the sexual underbelly of America, seems to have a greater population of freaks than other places you’d imagine.  Sure, California and New York has them, too, but in Florida they are all out there.  Proud and loud.  S&M monsters.  Scat suckers.  Animal fuckers.  You can envision it?  Florida’s got a very open person doing it.

The conversation was not as good as I had hoped it would be.  She, like a lot of the “kink” types I had talked to over the years, was really kind of boring and took herself way too seriously.  Yet she used words like “play” and “toys.”  Oh, how I hated that, but I had to interview her and keep the convo flowin’.  I had white space to fill, you know.

She was saying the same standard answers that had been uttered by others before her and are still being uttered today.  Nothing new.  Nothing insightful.  Nothing interesting.  But then, in the midst of her talking about her favorite whips, I heard it.  Muffled sounds.  In the background.  Muffled screams, to be more precise.

“What is that noise?” I asked her.

“It’s a business man,” she said.  “I’m working with him while talking to you.”

I had called her office.  Now I imagine that also served as her dungeon.  “What are you doing to him?” I asked.

“Nothing now,” she said.

I could still hear the muffled screams and shuffling sounds.  It didn’t sound … right.

“Is he gagged?” I asked.

“Yes.”

There was more.

“And in a body bag.”

That made me smile.  That is why I wanted to interview her.  There was a little something extra in her step.  That blonde had moxie.  That blonde had Mr. Businessman gagged and in a body bag.  He was freaking.  Body bags get hot.  They kill if one is claustrophobic.  They need to altered to allow for breathing, after all they are designed to keep fluids from leaking out when a body gets moved or starts hits that stage of rot.  That guy had to be going nuts in there.  In the dark.  Hearing her talk.  Knowing he was in the same thing used to carry that body that was starting to turn to multicolored oatmeal out in some field somewhere.  Close your eyes and think of that, for a minute.  You can hear her on the phone talking about how she hates men.  How she likes to torture them.  You’ve got a ball gag in your mouth.  You can’t tell if your eyes are open or closed because it’s so dark in the heavy plastic tomb.  Every breath that comes out your nose seems to add to the heat.  Your movement is restricted, and you can hear that blonde bombshell talking to some reporter about how she likes to abuse men.  Did she forget about you?  What if she is really crazy?  What if she lets you die?  Nobody knows where you are at.  It’s not like you told your coworkers you were heading out to get the shit beat out of you by some busty blonde with issues.  You could die in that bag and nobody would know.

I kept her on the phone for another half hour.  It was a good day.



25.7.14

Visualizing the Abyss

There is a large group of people who believe that visualization of what one desires will yield positive results.  Of course, asking for more details relating to this bit of magic leads to vague answers that sound like little more than mystical mumbo jumbo.  In the land of instant gratification, this is worse.

The problems with visualization self-help methods have been well-documented and thoroughly examined.  Quite simply, these visualization exercises don’t stand up to any kind of serious inquiry.  They are, however, a gold mine if you write about them or do the standard series of lectures at Red Lions across America.  You, as a speaker or writer, tell people what they want to hear. (“Just visualize it, and it will happen.”)  The reader or audience member does the exercise (the less one has to work for the goal, the better), and then sits back and waits for results.  It’s a win-win situation for the creator of a visualization method whether or not audience members reach their individual goals. 

If, by chance, some people do get what they visualized, you will have more followers.  If, more likely, there aren’t any results forthcoming, all you have to do is turn it around on the visualizer.  “You didn’t want it badly enough.  You weren’t focused.  Buy my next book, as it will give you the keys to unlock what you desire.”  (The Secret is so powerful that it takes several books to teach its basic lessons.)  These fictions satisfy a need, which is why they keep selling.  It’s not the success rate which pulls in readers.  It’s the hope that life’s little problems can be solved by merely wishing them away. 

Starvation.  Sex crimes.  Herpes.  Poverty. War.  Death of a loved one.  Addiction.  If the power of wish worked, wouldn’t this world be a vastly different place?  If visualization was science, wouldn’t famine be wiped out? 

If all this “positive visualization” movement did was sell books to those frantically looking for simple solutions to complex problems, there would be no harm, no foul.  Buyer beware, as they say.  But researchers Heather Kappes and Gabriele Oettingen published an article in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (a serious publication where statistical data is mandatory and submitted articles are peer reviewed before publication) that points out some of dangers of this movement.  Experiments were done which showed that the conjuring of positive fantasies actually causes a person to be less ambitious.  Positive visualization, according to the researchers, actually drains the body of the energy needed to get to the desired goal, and tricks the brain into thinking it has actually achieved it.  One experiment that caught the attention of Forbes detailed what happened when water-deprived test subjects were told to visualize a glass of icy water.  Their brains responded as if they had really drank the water.  Interesting in a lab setting.  Possibly deadly if one is stranded in the desert.  (As an aside, a website about healing cancer naturally proclaims that by keeping about a tablespoon of saliva in your mouth and visualizing yourself without a particular ailment will actually make that ailment go away!  If you still can’t see the problems with visualization, you need to stop reading now and check yourself into a mental hospital.  Don’t worry, though.  While there you can just drool your insanity away.)

If you delve into experiments that actually offer “proof” that visualization works, your investigation will inevitably lead to terms like “psychic powers” and other New Age thinking that has muddied the waters of the self-help genre.  Dig deep enough and it all becomes magic.  (In fact, just read the reviews of Creative Visualization on Amazon.  More than one refers to the book as “magic.”)

There is no real “magic” when it comes to self-improvement.  What one needs to do is actually spend time reaching into the deepest and often darkest parts of one’s soul and acknowledging that which you find.  You have to look into that abyss Nietzsche wrote about and see what stares back.  You have to go places you never thought you would, otherwise you are lying to yourself about yourself.  You aren’t working with a complete knowledge of that which drives you.  If you don’t understand those things that make you tick, no amount of visualization is going to help.

I know plenty of people who love reading self-help books, especially those in the visualization movement.  (I’ve often thought about writing a few under a pen name to help supplement my income, and I still may.)  I’ve kept quiet around most of them, as arguing this topic is futile, and I do believe that it can act as a stepping stone to serious introspection in the right person (a rarity).  I can’t help but think, however, that if one repurposed all that time spent visualizing that which they think will “fix” them and instead really worked on those things, then it wouldn’t be too long before real results would appear.  To get there, though, one must know themselves inside and out … not just let a false sense of self manifest an unexamined goal and hope for the best.

“Faith: not wanting to know what is true.” -Nietzsche


4.7.14

Horse

He wears leather pants.  They are, as leather pants should be, tight, and he when he walks it is with a stiff gait.  When I first saw him, he appeared to be in his fifties.  Either that or he lived a hard life and was in his forties.  Prior to talking to him, I had seen him walking around Eureka a lot.  Sometimes alone wearing a leather cap, vest and pants.  Sometimes dressed casually in jeans and accompanied by an older woman.  He was, as the more polite would say, a character. 

One day he came into where I worked while I was manning the register.  He was dressed in his finest leather, which wasn’t out of place at that business.  He didn’t bother looking at me and instead went right to the various porn mags and movies while I read my book.  I didn’t pay attention to what he was picking up and paging through.  My many months of employment at the porn store said no eye contact meant no verbal contact, which was my ideal working condition.  I didn’t want the customers talking to me, and I sure as fuck did not want to start a conversation with them.  This guy was no exception.

I eventually sensed his presence at the counter and looked up.  His eyes didn’t seem quite right.  Excited.  Unfocused.  He was, and this is no exaggeration, foaming at the mouth a bit.  In fact, during our short conversation, this whitish, thick slop had to be wiped away from the corner of his lips several times by the back of his gnarled hands.  Some had dried on his face around the left corner of his mouth, and more than a few dollops had escaped his piehole with enough force to land of the glass counter between us.  It was disgusting, but then again, so was he.

“You’ve seen me around town,” he said quietly.  He leaned toward me over the counter.  I was keeping my distance.

I nodded.  My arms were crossed in front of my chest, my book forgotten for the moment.

“Don’t say anything to me when you see me with mother.”

I didn’t plan on it, Norman Bates.  I didn’t say that, however.  In fact, I didn’t say anything.  For some reason, my lack of response seemed to be his cue to continue.

“You seem nice.”

“I’m not.”  That really should’ve told him to stop this pointless banter.  But those eyes and that oral froth said to me that he was far beyond comprehending social signals at this point.  Drugs?  On the down side of a bipolar episode?  Rabies?  I had no idea and didn’t care.  He was intent upon continuing the conversation, however, and that did bug me.

“Do you like horses?”

I shook my head.  I really didn’t care about horses one way or another, but I did not want to respond favorably.

“I do,” he said.  His eyes tried to focus on mine.  Tried.  They went over me, around me, back in their sockets.  Anywhere but on me.

“Okay.”

He leaned closer.  “They’re so big.  I like to rub against them.”  I imagined it was much like he was rubbing up against the counter.

I didn’t say a word.  I feared that if I barked at him to leave or shut up, he would cry or collapse on the floor, screaming for his mother.  That wouldn’t get him out of the store any faster.

“I was wondering,” he continued, “if you’d want to go horseback riding with me sometime.”

I don’t know in what universe this seemed like a good idea to him.  I also was sure that if I accepted his invitation he would soon be demonstrating the forbidden thrills of rubbing up against God’s majestic creatures and encouraging me to follow suit.  Horses, much like dogs and Dolly Parton fans, are not something I’ve ever been sexually attracted to … not even for dry humping purposes. 

“That’s not going to happen,” I responded.

He quickly backed away from the counter like he was conditioned to dodge a fist after bringing up the subject.  I’m sure he was, but I wasn’t interested in punching him.  I just wanted to go back to reading.

“Please don’t say anything when I’m with mother.”

“I won’t.” 

“This town has too many Christians.”

And with that he left the porno store.  I never saw him come in again on my shift.

These days I see him around town from time to time (in fact, I saw him today at the Fourth of July celebration in Old Town).  I don’t know if he remembers me, though I look the same now as I did then.  When I see him, his eyes are more focused and that white junk isn’t on his lips and face.  He’s usually wearing the leather, too.  Proudly displaying it for the town’s many Christians.  I haven’t seen his mother in ages.  I imagine she died in her sleep, her son finding her body the next day when she wasn’t up before him, busy making him breakfast in a dimly lit kitchen.  I imagine they owned the house she died in, and he spends most of the day with the shades drawn, erect at the thought of horses.  Photos of the divine beasts line the walls … except in mother’s room.  That remains as it was the day he found her.  He dusts in there, though.  Sweeps the hardwood floor.  Sniffs her pillowcase every once in a while, convinced he can still smell her shampoo.  No more tears.  The rest of the rooms, however, are altars to that which makes his aging cock erect.  Horses.   Newspaper articles about zoophiles.  Ancient porn he no longer has to hide.  The kind of stuff you can’t easilybuy in the stores anymore.  The kind of stuff about the love between a man and his mare.

He’s alone, but he’s happy.  Content to live out his fantasies and not worry about someone saying something to mother.  Why, her heart couldn’t take it, you know. 

He doesn’t seem to remember me, but I remember him.  I’m tempted to ask him, just in passing, “Rub up against any stallions lately?”  That would be cruel, though.  Slightly evil.  In poor taste.  I don’t do it, but not for those reasons.  I don’t do it simply because I don’t want a conversation.  His base desires are nothing to me.  They are his fantasies, and his alone.  I don’t share his fascination, and I definitely would not benefit from small talk.  I learned all I want to know about him that day in the porn store.  All the rest were blanks I can easily fill in with my understanding of people and artistic license. 

I will admit, though, that the slightest conversations can lead to some very strange places.  I didn’t think that this leather-clad clown would have ever admitted to getting his kicks by rubbing against horses.  Nor did I ever think he would be that concerned about his mother.  Most people would be so put off by the horse fetish that they would find the man morally reprehensible.  I’ve heard worse, but even judging him solely by his standards he comes across as tragic (and, yes, a bit disgusting with the foaming at the mouth bit).  He is a man isolated by society, and at one time fearful of what his desires would do to the woman he loved.  He tried to let the world know he was different, his leather pants on a warm summer’s day a sure giveaway, but he could never let that same world know what he really wanted.  I don’t believe he thought I would be like-minded when it came to his desires and that’s why he told me.  I think he believed, like many who came into the porn store and blurted out whatever fantasy they harbored, that I was his confessional figure.  If he told me, he told someone, and that made his connection to the world a little more substantial.  Someone knew.  Some who, by the very nature of the clerk and customer relationship, would be less likely to attack him verbally or physically.  At most I would tell him to leave and his isolation would only be solidified.

Someone knew, and now his world felt a little smaller.

No matter.  I still don’t want to talk to him.