The path

I have started digging back into the meat of this story.  Part of that is remembering the people who inspired and peopled the book.   It is a work of fiction with people I met in those days who are just a shadow now that I must use for my own purposes.  I must lighten those shadows, fill them with life and turn them loose and follow the path I have laid out for them.  Where we will meet at the end of that path is anyone’s guess. But I think it’s important that I give them their head.  The path is my creation, but in an odd sort of way, the characters can move the story as they see fit.

 

I think it’s a big risk to let this happen, but so is strapping yourself into the space shuttle before it launches.  I think the trip will be worth it. But getting down the path is the important thing.  Writing the book.  Success will be to finish it and feel good about it. It is a worthwhile goal.

 

Living in the Past

I have just returned from Vegas where I spent five days living in the past.  In 1974, I was dropped into the aviation world and I spent the next 40 years flying around the world with some of the most incredible men I have met before or since.  I learned World War II history from men who had fought it.  One was an original American War hero.  He walked across the greater part of Europe after a battle and eluding the enemy, he made his way to Poland where he stowed away on a cargo vessel and made it home.  He went on tour to sell war bonds.  Another flew England’s heavy bomber, the Lancaster, on raids over Germany and helped bomb the Nazis into submission.  He threw my text book knowledge of the events of that conflict away and gave me God’s truth from the English point of view.

 

The stories in Vegas went on and on.  I listened intently as eighty year old men poured out their personal history from the viewpoint of aged and matured brains.  I felt such respect and honor to have been able to be a small part of it all.  I am the luckiest person I know.  Life has beaten me up since those days.  But when I die, I’ll pause at the pearly gates and tell St. Peter the best story he has ever heard.

 

Part of flying is spent in the air for long hours with not a lot to do.  In those days, on our airplane, it would take over 8 hours to fly from England to Saudia Arabia.  Everybody had a book and they all read something different.  The seed for me being a writer was planted in those days.  One of the problems I have today is taking a Michener book, a Hemingway book, a Maugham book that inspired me in those days and translating what  I have to say into a style that today’s readers would pick up and read.  The media is so different.  It’s a real challenge.  Lucky for me, I grew to manhood in an environment where the people who surrounded me faced down and defeated so much greater challenges.  You just do the best you can.

Taking the Plunge

So……….  I started writing this book some time ago.  Wrote about twenty pages when life intervened and I stopped.  Now, here we go again.  The last couple of weeks, I have been thinking more and more about just what I want to accomplish.  To get my mind in shape for this project I ordered several books.  Some for research and others for method and style.  Generally, I have decided to take things I know about, take my basic take on the things I have seen that will embody the meat of this book.  Then I decided that it would be a first person narrative about the pot industry in this area.  But it is going to be a fictional story molded by some actual events.  I have decided that the narrator is a hard boiled, jaded man of fifty some who comes to this area with a lot of baggage.  What he finds in his fictional life does nothing to change his view of human nature.

Regardless of what marijuana purists would have you believe, my experience has shown me that, at least in this area, the growing of pot has been influenced by the use of other drugs.  Some people use pot as an alternative to other drugs, others use it to finance the purchase of other drugs.  Very few people over the age of thirty have used pot exclusively.  I have personally met only one single person who uses pot for its medicinal properties only.  Most use it to get high, all else is hype or rationalization.

So given my belief that there are a significant number of people who came to the medical marijuana community as growers, have at one time or another used meth.  For that reason, I am giving meth a voice in this book.  I have never done meth.  I have used cocaine.  I have used ecstasy.  In the few years prior to writing this sentence, I smoked a lot of pot.  My drug of choice is alcohol.  I have given up all other drugs including pot.  I have never used prescription drugs.  My current research includes a book on the history and use of meth, ‘No speed Limit’ and a book by William S. Burroughs, ‘Junk-y.’  For style and method of writing, I’m going to read books by Elmore Leonard, Dashiell Hammett, Agatha Christie and oddly enough, James Joyce.

William S. Burroughs was a rich kid who lived off his parents during his youth.  In his thirties he got into drugs.  He used heroin, (was actually an addict), cocaine, pot, bennies, opium, morphine, peyote, and alcohol.  This was in the 1940’s and 50’s.  He cleaned up in the 1960’s.

So, after getting a good start, with really no moral or purpose for writing this book, other than to see If I could make some money, I am going to try and make it some sort of literature.  I will leave you with the last two paragraphs of Burroughs book ‘Junk-y.’  At this point in his life, he had left America to Mexico to avoid prosecution.  While in Mexico, he accidently killed his wife, was actively using drugs and still looking for a mystical fix…(junk in the following paragraphs is heroin, yage is a drug he has just heard about, supposed to have telepathic qualities)

“I decided to go down to Columbia and score for yage.  Bill Gains is squared away with Old Ike.  My wife and I are separated.  I am ready to move on south and look for the uncut kick that opens out instead of narrowing down like junk.

Kick is seeing things from a special angle.  Kick is momentary freedom from the claims of the aging, cautious, nagging, frightened flesh.  Maybe I will find in yage what I was looking for in junk and weed and coke.  Yage may be the final kick.”

 

 

 

The times, they are a-changing

It’s harvest time for all the outdoor growers of marijuana in the area.  It’s also a dynamic time in the evolution of the pot industry in Washington.  The rules for growing medical marijuana are changing, or so they say.  They, being the state of Washington.  And this is the first large outdoor crop for the 502 producers, the legal recreational growers sanctioned by the state.   It is about to turn the pot industry upside down.

In the area where I live, there are families who have been growing pot for generations.  The black market for pot has been alive in this country since the 1940’s at least.  A guy I used to work with tells of visiting the back porch of people in Louisiana before World War II, and selling them “smoke.”  But for people in this state, the game has changed.  The state of Washington is already collecting millions of dollars in tax money and are on the cusp of collecting a whole lot more.  These “revenuers”, as the used to call them in the 1930’s, are about to put the kibash on the medical growers who just may have made a few bucks on the side, by selling their “medicine.”  But don’t expect the black market on pot to go away any time soon.

I spent part of my twenties in Alaska during the pipeline days.  I flew on a Hercules (C-130) as a loadmaster, flying cargo from Fairbanks to the north slope of Alaska during that time.  The north slope of Alaska was full on men, few woman and a whole lot of cold and darkness.  Selling booze and drugs to those guys was a profitable business for anyone who could get it to the oil camps in those days.  Two states east of Washington is North Dakota, where an oil boom is going on today and a state where pot is illegal.  Profit motive insures that the black market will not go away any time soon.

So the times, they are a-changing.  There are so many young, motivated and passionate people getting thrown into this cement mixer of the burgeoning pot industry.  There are a fortunate few who will turn this opportunity into personal fortunes.  There are some passionate, some say spiritualistic few, who are enamered with the drug marijuana, who will try to be among those fortunate few.  The winners in this endeavor will have to go up against some corporate and government juggernauts that are driven only by the profit/tax motives.  In the end, I think that some very shrewd, well monied people will gain the most.  But this is America, and there will be a Deschutes brewery or two who will prevail against the Budweisers of the world.  How this fundamental change in American culture will effect us and what legacy is left behind, is the meat that I want to chew on.  Marijuana is after all, a drug.  It alters your thought process.  It alters your personality.   The things and processes that you value may be altered buy the use of the drug.  Some say for the better, some say for the worse. None of this is new of course.

 

In the 1960’s marijuana came into wide use by the generation coming into adulthood in those days.  Timothy Leary spoke about, Ken Kesey wrote about it and a legion of rock and roll stars sang about it. Bill Clinton smoked, but did not inhale it.  Those baby boomers of that era are now running the county.  Bob Dylan’s prophecy still rings true, “The times, they are a-changing.”   But, so are the drugs.  Today, the drug has been refined by growing techniques and breeding techniques.  In the day, the 1960’s and 1970’s, the pot we smoked was mostly Mexican rag weed, seeds and stems included.  Today, pot is a highly refined.  Nowadays, only the “bud” is smoked.  I’m not a scientist but I would guess the THC content is probably three or four times higher than the pot we smoked in those bygone days.  And the method?

A lot of todays users smoke “dabs.”  Dabs are a product made by refining the pot, reducing it to an “oil”.  This oil, which is actually a pasty substance, is  then dropped on a superheated bowl, atomized into smoke and inhaled via a bong device.  I refer you to a youtube video called “ophichus explaining dabs.”  The person in the video’s name is Brendon.  He was a medical marijuana grower in this area until he died in a shootout with a sheriff’s deputy about a half a mile from where I write these words. It is believed that he was high on meth at the time. (I have found out since, this is not true)  I knew Brendon well.  He came to this area to pursue his dream, growing and making a living from marijuana. He is the inspiration for one of the main characters in the book I am writing.  One of Hitler’s legacies, methamphetamine, may have aided in the death of Brendon, but so did marijuana.  And therein lies the dilemma, the enigma that is marijuana.  Brendon came to this area to find peace and grow marijuana.  In the process, he found some demons that destroyed him.  Another person I met that same year is now serving hard time as a result of the very same dream.  A man named Britton got arrested after he chased his partner down the highway firing at him through his side window with a high powered hand gun.  What was Britton doing in this area?  Growing medical marijuana with that same partner he ended up shooting at.  There is, or at least was, a dark side to the miracle bud, marijuana.

 

I have been lax, both in the writing of the book and the posting on this blog.  That is changing now.  From now on, I will post weekly and write diligently.  I would welcome any sort of input and respond to it.

 

Can’t fix stupid

I’m better now.  I just got back from a trip to Alaska.  I had written Alaska off as a place to live until I spent a few days there.  Now? Well, we’ll see.  The road trip back to Washington was a mission.  I had a cooler of fish and a timetable.  As always, the Alcan highway had a mind of it’s own.  I made it within my parameters though.  And, as always, my brain was left to feed on the experience.  I was coming down a hill lined on both sides by aspen, poplar and scrub spruce.  The headlights shot out spears of luminance that gave a cobalt-like sheen to the magenta-colored birch!  I got “stoned immaculate”,  “the air was narcotic.”   Jim Morrison and Edward Abby had a sword fight in my brain.  I feasted on the meat of their combat.  And it was true.  The damned birch trees were purple and glowing.  The air lashing at me through the open window?  Well, narcotic.   Billy Holiday, all the while, pouring her heartache out from the CD onto the serene but knowing  face of my sleeping wife.  Fifteen hours on the road creates it’s own visions.    Brings me to my next project.

 

I recently read a book called Artificial Paradise.  It was written by Charles Baudelaire.   It chronicles pot and opium use and was written in the mid 1850’s in Paris.  Thomas de Quincey. Louis Carrol, Aldous Huxley among others are purported to have used hashish and other drugs.    I live in Eastern Washington where pot is now legal and people are coming from everywhere to grow and smoke marijuana.  A lot of these people tout the spiritual aspect of the drug and insist that it enhances the mind.   I’m of the 60’s generation and so have sampled the drug on many occasions.

 

Since you can’t fix stupid, I am now in the process of writing another book.  This one on the pot(and drug) industry in Washington.  During the early stages of gathering information and actually living part of the lifestyle of the pot culture, I did for a time smoke a lot of pot.  I can’t say that worked out good or bad.  Combine it with alcohol, it usually turned out bad for me.  What I found out about today’s pot is that is takes me to a place in my brain where I don’t ever go when I’m straight.  I like going there once in awhile, but would never want to live there and certainly cannot write from that place.  So, pot like alcohol, is simply a choice for adults.  That is where the problem begins.  Teenagers using modern pot on a regular basis, gives me cause for concern.  An  issue I would like to get some feedback on.

 

Pot is a medicine as valuable as many prescription drugs now available.  I am sure of that.  The aspect of the medicinal value of the cannaboids inherent in the cannabis plant is certainly valid.   The spiritual aspect, the hallucinogenic aspect, the THC aspect,  which seems to be a basic belief of many in the pot culture is not a belief of mine.  An issue I would like feedback on.

 

The most destructive part of the pot business, from my point of view is the attraction of ancillary drugs, mostly hallucinogenic.   Mushrooms, DMT, LSD and the like.  And come harvest time, meth and cocaine.

 

My goal is to write a book that will make some money for me.  In that process, I want to write a fair and balanced view of the business of and the relative value of pot.  My personal experiences so far, weighs me in on the negative side.  Pot, viewed as medicine and a social drug, I’m ok with.  As a pathway to wisdom and any spiritual aspect of pot?  I find that possibility is getting weighted down by the crowd gathered around the business.  Some bad guys.  Some good guys.

 

I personally, have given up smoking pot.  A personal choice.  During the last couple of years, my personality has changed under it’s influence(combined with alcohol).  Pot seems to lend an arrogance and confrontational aspect to my behavior that is uncharacteristic.  I become the world’s smartest man.  Then I throw it in your face.  It has impacted relationships that are important to me, in a negative way.  Certainly, alcohol is complicit.  So, that’s my view.  I look forward to any input.  The game is on.

 

 

A requiem

I made a deal with a self publishing company to publish my first book.  Big mistake by me.  I wrote the book fifteen years ago and laid it on the shelf where it should have stayed.  I dusted it off and offered it up to find out how the publishing world works.  I never considered any consequences.  I wrote the book to try and vanquish some demons living in my head in those days.  It worked pretty well until I dusted them off and set them free again.  I am at the point in my deal with the publishing house where I am obliged to do some radio interviews.  I haven’t slept well for three days.  I buried my young daughter eighteen years ago.  Those demons sprang to life in my head soon after.  I hoped I had buried those same demons after the therapy of writing that book granted me.  Wrong.  Now, in the process of trying to sell the book that should have stayed on the shelf, those demon bastards of my still grieving brain have risen up to do their dirty work on me once more.  I try to keep the spirit of my little girl close to me.  Those demon  bastards are like wolves hanging on the exposed intestines of a dying moose.  It sucks the joy and life out of my days to have to relive those days.  For a radio interview of a book that is best left on the shelf?

 

Well, done with the interviews.  They went OK I guess.

Top of the mountain

Just spent a week and more on top of a mountain.  I hope to build a completely off the grid home there in the coming year.  One of my true friends was there to lend a hand.  We spent nights around the campfire drinking beer and spilling out images and words that spanned the fifty years we have known each other.  That was after spending the days pretending we were twenty again and working our asses off.  In the process, we furthered my dream and held each other up for the ransom of honesty.  As good a week as I have had in many years.  In the back of my head was the guilt of detaching myself from society and my pipe dream of being a writer.  I had not taken care of the business of taking seriously my first promotional campaign.  I signed a deal with a self-publishing company and now they are keeping up there end of the bargain.  They are trying to promote my book.  I don’t really want to promote my first book.  I want to use it as a learning experience and find out how the industry works.  The book is far too personal.  It was written as a therapy.  I’d like to leave it at that.

 

If you put my current location as a red dart on a google map, you could add another twenty dots in a twenty mile radius as places where the pot industry is getting legal after taking root many years ago.  It is the topic of my next book.  Thank God they are making it legal.  The value of pot is subjective.  I choose to treat it much like alcohol.  For some it is a medicine, for some it is a livelihood.  For some it is almost a religion and for some it is a combination.  Mostly, I think that adults can be helped in some ways and certainly not harmed to any great degree by pot.  Choose your God, choose your sedation, choose your poison.  The really bad part I have seen is the people it attracts, given the profit motive and the fact that a lot of children grow up in the culture.  Some say that is good.  I disagree.  So I invite any and all of you into the discussion as I want to portray as truthfully as I can, the story of my time in the culture.

 

I have been involved in a very personal way.  I have seen two people die and one put in prison as a direct or indirect result of the legal growing of pot.  People I knew on a personal level and all three who I liked on a personal level.  And it goes on.  I have several personal friends who use pot as a positive influence in their lives.  Most as an alternative to prescription meds.  Personally, I worked in the transportation industry for forty years.  Pot was a no/no.  I never missed it and when I returned to using it, I found out that I became the world’s smartest man under its influence with an audience that ardently disagreed.  I smoke seldom now and truly, only socially.  So, please offer me up your comments or anything else of value to either you or me.   I look forward to it.  Be patient though, I intend to spend a lot of time on the mountain.  As everybody knows, the top of the mountain is close to hillbillys and Gods.  I’ll check in once a week though.

Facebook and Easter

We have been on the road now for the better part of four months.  I now find myself back in the city where I grew up.  I don’t care for it much these days, except for the people who live here.  Facebook is truly useful, but insidious describes it as well.  Man, it can suck you in and take over your life.  I am sitting in a city where I went to school and instead of meeting people face to face and having a conversation, you message them.  They may only be four or five miles away.  So you look at a Facebook icon that identifies someone you knew years ago and try to remember them so you can send a message.  Then you message them and wait for a response.  Instead of gazing across a table to look for body language, the other person has a lot of time to consider their response.  I guess this is the useful part of Facebook.  You can hide behind your computer screen and consider carefully what you say next.  And since you have no plans of seeing this person, maybe ever again, you can either be as honest as you want or you can bait them a little.  That is a useful tool, knowing the same thing is happening behind their computer screen, makes it kind of a chess game.

 

For my part at this point in my life, I have decided to hell with the chess game.  The truth is so much easier to deal with.  Being truthful carries risks of a sort, but if you ever do see that person again, that person can gauge you on your words as they will and you can just be yourself.  I have good friends enough to last my lifetime, more are always welcome, but friends, by my definition must be truthful.  It is kind of cool to watch a circle of internet friends interact with each other.  I choose not to participate much, having a basic distrust of social media.  But on this day, this Easter day, I was able to interact with a person I barely knew a long time ago, and hopefully have a positive impact on a friend of mine a thousand miles away.  The invisible hand of Facebook  was a useful tool in my effort to do a good deed for a friend of mine.  I hope my friend gains a little peace during the trying times he is going through.

Being a dumb ass

Geeze,  I just got an email from my editor.  I got taken to the woodshed and put in my place.  I love the guy.  He’s honest.  In the process, I got a lesson in writing and a lesson in life.  As a writer I use a lot of things as tools to make a point or polish some sort of issue I have.  The life lesson is do not trash another person’s values simply to enhance your plot or maybe just your illusions.  The value we are talking about here is the United States Navy.  Most of the men who served in the Navy value it highly and rightfully so.  The same way I value the men I flew with over a forty year period.  To trash the institution of the navy in order to provide a drug experience that was mostly about highlighting my writing skills was stupid, insensitive and potentially, it was a way to alienate a whole portion of the male population for stupid reasons.  There may be writers of infinite skill out there, me, I need a team.  Well, that’s just the surface.  Now I have to re-read my whole book for the umpteenth time only to find out that mostly, I suck.  But, if you value the truth, you have to face it.  So I’m back in the woodshed, I have a different point of view and I am moving forward.  Good luck to me

The hard part

So, another book in the pipeline.  Why is rereading your own work such an emotional process?  In my case it’s pretty simple.  I take people from the past and use their memory to people my book.  Being a white man, how do you get into the head of a girl from forty years ago and portray her as she really was?  How do you get into the head of a black man in that same time frame and do him justice.  When that same man was someone you respected greatly and who was someone who was thirty years older, an entire generation older?  Do you run with the images you have in your head?  Do you go with political correctness.  What if you are wrong in your view of his view?  In my case you stick your neck out.  And you soon realize how dangerous that can be.

My editor is also a content evaluator.  He is a navy man and was appalled at how I portrayed navy life.  He straightened me out and thankfully so.  Given something like that, where do you get the gall to portray how a woman or a black man might perceive the world?  Take your shot, take your criticism and learn.  I guess you can invite other people into the creative process, along with their biases.  What I think is important though, is to let those people correct you on facts.  As a writer, emotions, hidden realities are probably more important than facts.  Succeed or fail on your insight and intuition, correct your facts, live with the result.  Probably sink into insignificance in the process.  Remember, the world needs more truck drivers, they get paid every week.