Monday, March 19, 2018

Hey Hollywood: How About an "Inclusion Rider" for Weed?

Frances McDormand
Picking up her second Best Actress Oscar, Frances McDormand left us with two words "Inclusion Rider." I wonder: how about an Inclusion Rider for marijuana fans?

Because so many industries needlessly and pointlessly drug test their employees, it's left to Silicon Valley and Hollywood to hire cannabis consumers, while benefiting from the extra creativity that pot provides. So we ought to be sure that every movie has a requisite number of staffers who enjoy their joints.

Also, in the same way that ethnic and disabled activists are advocating for depictions of them in movies to be authentic, so we must demand that Tokin' Women be played by actress who really know how to act stoned.

Miley Cyrus
Despite once appearing on the cover of High Times and outing herself as a pot smoker, McDormand has never played a good Tokin' Woman role. She did smoke in the dismal Laurel Canyon (were she wasn't much of a role model); I liked her better in Almost Famous where she convinced her 15-year-old son not to smoke pot (which was appropriate for a kid his age).

My casting suggestion: McDormand could play a post-comeback jazz singer and marijuana fan Anita O'DayMiley Cyrus could act, and sing, as the younger O'Day. Don't they all look alike?

Anita O'Day

Of course we have had some matching casting to date. Meryl Streep was spot-on as Isak Dinesen in Out of Africa, and she even toked up while playing Karen Silkwood. Kathy Bates nailed Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris (although there was no partaking of any pot brownies made by her lover Alice B. Toklas).

Bette Midler won accolades on stage portraying a pot-puffing Sue Mengers, and the next thing you knew, she was cast as Dolly on Broadway. But Nicole Kidman as Gertrude Bell and Queen Latifah as Bessie Smith suffered from bad scripts (with no marijuana mentions).

At the Oscars, McDormand had all the female nominees stand up and enjoined everyone present to enable them to tell their stories. I have a few that could be told (with casting suggestions): Susan Sarandon could play a bitchin' Tallulah Bankhead, for example. And how about Jennifer Lawrence as Lila Leeds, the actress she resembles who was arrested with Robert Mitchum for marijuana in 1948.

Jennifer Lawrence
Lila Leeds

Saturday, March 10, 2018

An "Inspired" Oscars Ceremony

As expected (and deserved), Frances McDormand picked up the Best Actress Oscar on Sunday night for her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It's McDormand's second Oscar; she has also won two Emmys and a Tony.

In May 2003, McDormand appeared on the cover of High Times magazine holding a joint. "I'm a recreational pot-smoker," she said, revealing she first smoked marijuana as a 17-year-old freshman at Bethany College in West Virginia in 1975. She told interviewer Steve Bloom (now of, "There has never been enough of a distinction between marijuana and other drugs. It's a human rights issue, a censorship issue, and a choice issue."

As with the Golden Globes, also nominated for Best Actress were Meryl Streep, who's smoked pot in more than one movie, and Margot Robbie, who appeared in a pot-leaf-motif skirt on "Saturday Night Live" and smoked pot onscreen with Tina Fey in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Earning the first-ever Original Screenplay Oscar given to an African-American was Jordan Peele, who has now said he used marijuana for inspiration while writing his award-winning script for Get Out.

Peele also said that Whoopi Goldberg's 1991 speech, made when she picked up an Oscar for Ghost, was a "huge inspiration" to him.  Turns out, Goldberg was "inspired" herself when she made the speech. TMZ aired a tape of her describing how she smoked "a wonderful joint" before the ceremony. "It was the last of my homegrown, and honey, when they called my name..."

Greta Gerwig, only the fifth woman to ever be nominated as Best Director, was also nominated for writing the screenplay for Lady Bird. The film has a pot-smoking scene, followed by the munchees and giggling, with the terrific Beanie Feldstein from Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. Also nominated for best screenplay were Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani for The Big Sick, which has a subtle scene with a pot pipe.

To thank the movie-going public, Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel took a contingent of actors including Wonder Woman Gal Gadot across the street to the iconic Chinese Theatre to surprise an audience watching Oprah Winfrey in A Wrinkle in Time.

Kimmel immediately announced, "There is a strong aroma of marijuana in this theatre."

"It's true," said Gadot. "Not that I know how it smells, but it's true."

Kimmel then continued, "I notice you don't have any snacks, and especially considering the smell in this theatre...." before bringing in a stream of celebrities to distribute snacks to an appreciative (and apparently stoned) audience.

Ah, the movies. Where both the film makers and the watchers are inspired.

And this just in: Oscars goodie bags had the ultimate swag: free marijuana

Of Madonna and Rosanna, and Marijuana

Ten years ago today, Madonna grabbed headlines away from her fellow Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame inductees by using her acceptance speech to reveal she took ecstasy and smoked grass on her way to the top. The admissions came on March 10, 2008 at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

After accepting her award from Justin Timberlake, Madonna announced, "The night I met Michael Rosenblatt, who signed me to Sire Records, I jammed my demo tape into his hand, we both did a tab of ecstasy and then we danced the night away." She then recalled the night she met long-term publicist Liz Rosenberg, saying: "We smoked a joint together." Ah, drugs, you're so wonderful for bonding.

After pulling a joint out of her boot (pictured above) in the 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan (now on Amazon Prime), Madonna's character turns on a philandering, money-grubbing suburban spa salesman. After smoking, the guy muses, "What's it all about? There's more to life than making money....All time comes from a single point in the universe." Ah, pot, you're so wonderful for philosophizing.

On a March 31, 1994 edition of The Late Show with David Letterman, Madonna asked Dave whether he had ever smoked "Endo" (meaning, presumably, marijuana grown in Mendocino county, California). In 2009 she said to Dave about her high-jinks that night (when she also used the f-word 13 times), "I think it may have had something to do with the joint I smoked before I came on." And she intelligently and compassionately handled her son's arrest for marijuana in 2016, saying, "I love my son very much. I will do whatever I can to give him the support that he needs."

Rumor has it that Rosanna Arquette, who played the suburban housewife Roberta in Desperately Seeking Susan (of whom it is said, "She's so straight she's never even smoked a joint"), hoped to play with wild child Susan instead. Arquette got her turn to be wild in the 2011 film Peace Love and Misunderstanding (now on Netflix), where she tokes it up and howls at the moon, wearing a big old pot-leaf necklace (pictured).

The next movie that should be made available on some platform is the excellent 2005 rockumentary Arquette directed and co-produced, All We Are Saying. With an all-star cast that includes Joni Mitchell, Chrissie Hynde, Macy Gray, Patti Smith and a lot of great men too like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, it could only have been made by the woman who inspired the rock anthem "Rosanna." 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

International Tokin' Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day, here are some herstorical Tokin' Women from around the globe. Click on their names to read more, or order the book Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory.

EGYPT - Seshat

Seshat was the ancient Egyptian goddess of mathematics, creative thought, knowledge, books and writing. Often depicted in coronation ceremonies wearing a leopard-skin garment, Seshat's emblem is a seven-pointed leaf in her headdress. She wore it while performing the "stretching the cord" ceremony before building the Great Pyramids, with a rope made from hemp. It is perhaps hemp's psychoactive effect that is acknowledged in the saying that, "Seshat opens the door of heaven for you."

INDIA - Parvati

Parvati is the Hindu mother goddess of love, fertility and devotion. Maha Shivarati, the holiday when Nepal relaxes its laws to allow the partaking of the holy ganga, celebrates the day that Shiva married Parvati. By one legend, the goddess saved
her marriage by giving Shiva some ganga to smoke, after which the two invented tantric yoga.

CHINA - Magu

Magu is a Taoist xian ("inspired sage," "ecstatic") whose name means Hemp Maiden or Goddess. Her harvest festival, when cannabis is traditionally gathered, celebrates the time “when the world was green.” Magu was also goddess of Shandong's sacred Mount Tai, where cannabis "was supposed to be gathered on the seventh day of the seventh month," wrote Joseph Needham in Science and Civilization in China (1959). Needham wrote, “there is much reason for thinking that the ancient Taoists experimented systematically with hallucinogenic smokes…at all events the incense-burner remained the centre of changes and transformations.”

NORWAY  - Viking Volvas

In 1903, near the Oseberg Farm in Norway, a Viking ship built around 820 AD was discovered containing the remains of two women, along with two cows, fifteen horses, six dogs, several ornately carved sleighs and beds, plus tapestries, clothing, and kitchen implements, and—it was discovered in 2007—a small leather pouch containing cannabis seeds. One or both of the women, whose ages have been estimated at 50 and 70, may have been a Völva (“priestess” or “seeress”).

The discovery is similar to 2500-year-old mummy known as the "Ice Princess," whose elaborately tatooed body was buried with six saddled horses and other acoutrements including a container of cannabis in the Altai mountains, along the trade routes where where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together.

FRANCE - Marie Laurencin

Marie Laurençin's painting Les Invités is a record of an infamous 1908 dinner party where hashish pills were taken at Azon's restaurant in Paris. Laurençin's self portrait is upper left, with knowing eyes, flanked by Picasso and Apollinaire.

Laurençin was named chevalier of the Légion d'honneur in 1937 and in 1983, the Marie Laurençin Museum in Nagano-Ken, Japan was inaugurated to celebrate the centenary of her birth.

SERBIA - Djuka Tesla

In Nikola Tesla's autobiography My Inventions, he describes fashioning "of a kind of pop-gun which comprised a hollow tube, a piston, and two plugs of hemp. The art consisted in selecting a tube of the proper taper from the hollow stalks." Tesla wrote that mother Georgina (aka Djuka) "invented and constructed all kinds of tools and devices and wove the finest designs from thread which was spun by her. She even planted the seeds, raised the plants and separated the fibers herself."

IRELAND - Maud Gonne

Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne took hashish with William Butler Yeats in Paris in 1894. "I have to thank you for the dream drug which I have not tried as yet being very busy & having need of all my energy & activity for the moment but I mean to try it soon," Gonne later wrote to Yeats.

On Easter 1900, Gonne founded the Daughters of Ireland, a revolutionary women's society for Irish nationalist women who, like herself, were considered unwelcome in male-dominated societies. In 1918, after the Irish Free State was established and Yeats named a Senator and a Nobel laureate, Gonne was arrested in Dublin and imprisoned in England for six months. She participated in a hunger strike while incarcerated, and used her experiences to further publicize the scandalous prison conditions.

DENMARK - Isak Dinesen

Danish author Isak Dinesen was portrayed by Meryl Streep in Out of Africa, with Robert Redford as her love interest Denys Finch Hatton. She and Denys "liked to experiment with the sensations hashish, opium, or miraa could give them. Denys arranged the cushions on the floor before the fire and reclined there, playing his guitar. Tania sat 'cross-legged like Scheherazade herself' and told him stories."(Miraa is kava, an indigenous African herb that has a mild hallucinogenic effect. Dinesen refers to it in her story "The Dreamers" by its other name, murungu.)

UNITED STATES - Bessie Smith

Blues diva Bessie Smith smoked and sang about "reefers" throughout her career. In 1933, she recorded "Gimmie a Pigfoot," featuring Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden, for John Hammond's Okeh record label. In the last verse she sings, "Gimmie a Reefer."

Smith "was more than merely famous, she was a living symbol of personal freedom: she did what she liked; she spoke her mind, no matter how outrageous her opinion; she flouted bourgeois norms and engaged in alcohol, drugs, and recreational sex," wrote Buzzy Jackson in A Bad Woman Feeling Good.

SCOTLAND - Annie Ross

In 1952, jazz singer Annie Ross penned and sang scat-style lyrics to saxophonist Wardell Gray's composition "Twisted" and it became an underground hit, later covered by Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler.

According to Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan by Leslie Gourse, "As a very young woman, Annie, like Sassy, had enormous energy for a life in the fast lane; together they stayed up all night, drinking and smoking. Sassy liked marijuana and cocaine. Later Annie would switch to herbal tea, but in the 1950s, she too liked to get high."

At the age of 81, Ross sang "Twisted" at the 2011 MAC Awards, where she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A documentary about Ross's life, titled No One But Me, premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2012.  She is reportedly working on her autobiography and still singing.

Order the book Tokin' Women: A 4000-Year Herstory.

Monday, March 5, 2018

NRA TV Calls Marijuana “A Prostitute of Sorts”

Marijuana makes an appearance in an exposé of NRA TV by John Oliver.

Beginning at 13:57, an NRA TV "news" report that sounds more like an infomercial proclaims:

Hidden beneath the dense canopy of trees is a prostitute of sorts.
Those who profit by selling her will stop at nothing to exploit her.

Sold and promoted for her 
non-addictive, even medicinal advantages, what lies behind 
the veil of this seductress is far different that what she first appears to be.

She is a harlot, and her name is Mary Jane.

This in a segment that revealed what Oliver called "gun porn" and documented the shocking way the NRA and the gun industry are urging women to become “Armed and Fabulous,” including promoting purses with special “conceal and carry” pouches and airing a program called "Love at First Shot" that encourages women to take their first shot from a gun, using an AR-15 in the episode shown.


Of course, possibly as far back as Jezebel or even Ishtar, marijuana has been long and assiduously associated with leading women down the road to sin, allowing modern drug warriors to use titillating images of females to gain attention for their self-serving campaigns (witness below). It seems now the plant itself is a victim of what Oliver points out is "slut shaming."

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Charlize Theron: I Really Appreciated Marijuana

UPDATE March 8: On the Jimmy Kimmel show last night, Theron said she had "a good solid eight years on the marijuana," and that now, after having a conversation with her mother about both of them getting off of sleeping pills and trying "a sleeping strain" instead, her mom showed up with some edibles. "So, I got some blueberry-covered chocolate ones, but if you want it faster acting ones, you can go for the mints," mom said. Asked how she slept after taking them, Theron enthused. "It totally works, it's amazing!" I'm thinking the brand involved is Kiva. 

In an interview with E! magazine to promote her new film Gringo, Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron said of herself and marijuana, "Oh god, yes! I was a wake-and-baker for most of my life."

"Do you remember your first time?" E!'s Sibley Scoles asked. "Yeah, I was older," Theron replied. "But I really appreciated marijuana way more than alcohol or anything else. My chemistry was really good with it when I was younger."

In her early thirties, she quit after, "I just became boring on it." But now she says, "I'm open to retrying it again because now there's all these different strains and you can be specific with it. And I'm actually really interested because I have really bad insomnia, and I'd much rather get off sleeping pills and figure out a strain that helps me sleep better. So when I have a moment, I'm actually doing that with my mom. My mom has really bad sleep too." It's no wonder.

A photo of Theron smoking pot out of an apple was published in the National Inquirer in 2002. At the time, her publicist had no comment. But times have, apparently, changed.

Since Theron turned 30 in 2005, this means she must have made many of her best films during the years she enjoyed marijuana. She starred in five films in 2000 alone: Reindeer GamesThe YardsThe Legend of Bagger Vance, Men of Honor, and Sweet November, and also appeared in The Cider House Rules, Mighty Joe Young, That Thing You Do, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Monster (2003), for which she won the Best Actress Oscar.

In 2007, the South African–born actress founded The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2008, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

In 2013, Theron shone at the Oscar ceremony where she danced with Seth MacFarlane and rescued a security guard who had a seizure on the red carpet. In 2016, Time magazine named her in the annual Time 100 most influential people list. She's currently receiving rave reviews for her "fearless performance as a woman snowed under by motherhood" in Tully.

Gringo, which opens in theaters on March 9,  is a dark comedy wherein Theron and co-star David Oyelowo try to sell a weed pill to Mexican drug lords. It also co-stars Amanda Seyfried, who played a bong-smoking lawyer in Ted 2 (2015) and thinks marijuana is a "wonderful thing."

Watch the E! interview. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Annie Ross: Twisted and Terrific

Born into a Scottish vaudevillian family, Annie Ross was known as "Scotland's Shirley Temple" as a child performer. An aunt, actress Ella Logan, bought Annie her first record—Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket, A Tasket"—and at the age of four she knew she wanted to be a jazz singer.

In 1952, she penned and sang scat-style lyrics to saxophonist Wardell Gray's composition "Twisted" and it was an underground hit, resulting in her winning Down Beat magazine's New Star award.

My analyst told me
That I was right out of my head
But I said dear doctor
I think that it's you instead
'Cause I have got a thing that's unique and new
It proves that I'll have the last laugh on you
Because instead of one head, I've got two. 

See Annie performing "Twisted" on Hugh Hefner's "After Dark." 

Ross was interviewed for the book Sassy: The Life of Sarah Vaughan by Leslie Gourse, which says, "As a very young woman, Annie, like Sassy, had enormous energy for a life in the fast lane; together they stayed up all night, drinking and smoking. Sassy liked marijuana and cocaine. Later Annie would switch to herbal tea, but in the 1950s, she too liked to get high."

Ross performed with Louis Armstrong and idolized Billie Holiday, about whom she spoke on a recent BBC interview. She recorded seven popular albums with the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross between 1957 and 1962. During that time, she descended into heroin, and had an affair with Lenny Bruce. According to Jet magazine (11/6/69), she was arrested for drugs, as was Anita O'Day.

She also had an acting career, appearing in Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993) and providing vocals for other actresses.

"Twisted" has been covered by a myriad of artists, including Bette Midler and Joni Mitchell (complete with a cameo from Cheech & Chong). In 1996, Ross recorded "Marajuana," the Arthur Johnston/Sam Coslow song first performed in the 1930s by Gertrude Michael and also covered by Midler.

At the age of 81, Ross sang "Twisted" at the 2011 MAC Awards, where she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A documentary about Ross's life, titled No One But Me, premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2012.  She is reportedly working on her autobiography and still singing. See Annie's website.