STRAINS IN THE SPOTLIGHT: GG #4

GG#4 Flower
GG#4 / Gorilla Glue / Original Glue flower (photo: potguide dot com)

GG#4, also known as Gorilla Glue #4 or Original Glue, is one of the most reliably effective cannabis strains available for ameliorating pain and promoting physical relaxation. While many Indica strains are known simply for their ability to induce sleep, GG#4, a hybrid strain, is notable for promoting mental and physical relief through pain-management and holistic comfort, making it useful as both a daytime and nighttime palliative. The “Glue” in the name Original Glue refers to the way the strain “glues” the user to the couch by loosening and unwinding muscular tension. The popular GG#4 can be found at local dispensaries and is available in a range of varieties including flower, concentrate, extract, dry sift and more.

Flavor’s GG#4 live resin sugar is the only branded cannabis variety of the strain that I’ve used and contains over 60% THC content, making it far more potent than other forms or varieties of the strain. Dabbing GG#4 live resin sugar with a 710 Life 710-degree e-nail further potentiates the strain’s calming qualities, vaporizing the live resin evenly without burning it. A generous, pea-sized GG#4 live resin sugar dab in the evening relaxes the body, allowing the mind to free itself from pain-awareness and cleanse itself of the day’s toxic accumulation. A similarly sized dab before bed facilitates a near-effortless transition from wakefulness to slumber, as limbs unagitated won’t instigate troublesome tossing and turning.

Cannabis Sativa is known for its stimulating, cerebral, and occasionally psychedelic effects, yet the Sativa genetics in GG#4 promote calmness and physical relaxation in the user. GG#4 was borne of a coupling of three parent strains including Chem’s Sister, a Sativa-dominant variation of the classic Chemdawg, Sour Dubb (also called Sour Dubble), the hybridized child of East Coast Sour Diesel and Sour Bubble, and Chocolate Diesel, the Sativa-heavy offspring of the original Sour Diesel and Chocolate Thai. GG#4’s two-thirds Sativa to one-third hybrid provenance is counterintuitive, to say the least, for a strain so kinetically soporific in effect. It appears that GG#4’s palliative value derives from the same characteristics found in some other Sativas that energize the psyche without causing anxiety. Durban Poison, a landrace strain considered a “pure” Sativa, similarly elevates mood and promotes happiness and contentment in the user.

flav gg4 lrs
Flavor GG#4 Live Resin Sugar sells out quickly (photo: shop dot sfvog dot org)

GG#4 is emotionally uplifting and physically and mentally relaxing, providing much-needed relief both to medical and recreational cannabis users. I’ve written previously about the Flavor brand and about their live resin sugars, and I continue to rate them highly for producing quality, affordable and potent extracts. Unfortunately, the GG#4 live resin doesn’t stay on the shelves for long and there is a notable lag time between restockings, leaving medical patients such as myself who suffer from ailments like sciatica and insomnia, reluctantly looking for other options.

As more black market storefronts are shut down and the legal cannabis industry finds its legs, it is time for manufacturers to increase production, expand distribution, and reduce prices. Flavor has an excellent opportunity to establish their brand and grow their company, but they have to up their game as a company. They need a website. And they need to make their shatter products available for retail sale, if, as their distributor’s website indicates, they do exist. I’ve never seen Flavor brand shatter, though I hope one day that I do, and that it is GG#4.

CANNABIS-FRIENDLY MUSIC, PART 3

Note: This is the third installment in our series about cannabis-friendly music. The order applied to the videos & clips isn’t a ranking, but simply follows the order of posts on our Instagram feed. All you need to know is that is heady, cannabis-friendly music.

11. Kicking off the third set of cannabis-friendly music videos is a short film featuring the song “The Ballad of Evel Knievel” as an accompaniment to an interpretive recreation of Evel Knievel’s many ambitious motorcycle jumps (most of which were punctuated by ill-fated landings). Evel was on television throughout the 1960s and 1970s, usually featured in an ABC Wide World of Sports special. The jumps varied in setting, from a cache of 18-wheeler trucks to the Caesar’s Palace fountain, to Snake River Canyon and beyond. Evel was more than ambitious; he was relentless. Relentless because he wasn’t always successful and he endured many serious, bone-breaking injuries, yet he still continued jumping.

Evel released a largely spoken-word, eponymous album in 1974 wherein he attempted to answer philosophically the fundamental question so often put to him by fans and critics alike: Why? Why did Evel do what he did? He answers the question in his poem, “Why?” (reprinted below), on the last track on side 1 of his LP. Whether he succeeded in answering the question is up to us to determine. “The Ballad of Evel Knievel” is the only song on the album, which also features a twenty-minute press conference, an extended message from Evel to “the kids”, and the daredevil’s wistful musings on “the future”. The LP stands alone as a cannabis-friendly cultural artifact the essence of which is captured perfectly by this short homemade cannabis-friendly film, Canyon In The Sky by Gordon Langley.

EVEL KNIEVEL – CANYON IN THE SKY by Gordon Langley featuring “The Ballad of Evel Knievel”

Why?
Everywhere in this world that I go,
No matter who or what I know,
The people, they look, 
Most of them stare,
I wonder if they even care

They see this cane with its golden crown,
Some of them smile, but most of them frown.

I hear them laugh, and see them cry,
No matter what,
They all ask why?

Well, I’m just like you, and you,
and you, and your wife,
We have a special purpose in life.
This way of life, I’m glad that I found,
For like you, I too, make the world go round.

We’re all alike,
Oh yes, we are,
We all have a dream on some faraway star

For when it is over and done at the end of the day,
Some can relax, but I go to pray.
For I know that tomorrow in some other place,
I’ll have that fear again to face.

Could it be the quest for money and fame,
Oh no,
To play with my life is not much of a game.

It’s a want- a want that’s so dear,
It’s given me faith,
I can face the fear

Oh yes, I do think about a day
In life when fate came along and struck my way.

Each time I was hurt, they all said,
The guy is lucky that he’s not dead.

They were right.
But I wanted to get up
To try it again,
I kept telling myself that I knew I could win,
So I’d close my eyes, and to the lord, I’d pray,
Oh, help me God, let me walk someday

And he did.
Every stitch on every scar
Has just brought me closer to my dream afar.

To be a man,
And to do my best,
To stand alone is my only quest.

Success is a term that has a broad use,
For and I to have none in life – there is no excuse.

For you, to do what I do is not right-
But, for me, it’s not wrong
What I’ve been trying to tell you all along
Is that it’s got to be.

So, you wonder why?
The answer to that is just like you,
I’ve got to be me…

– Evel Knievel. (1938-2007)

12. Evel Knievel’s is always a hard cannabis-friendly act to follow but Monoshock‘s “Ice Gazelle” from their posthumous Lost Shock collection makes a commendable effort. The band’s first release, the Primitive Zippo 45 on Womb Records, features on its cover a chiaroscuro rendering of a guy smoking out. They later recorded a cover of Hawkwind‘s “Psychedelic Warlords (Disappear in Smoke)”. They were a cannabis-friendly band making cannabis-friendly music. Aural cacophony…glorious din… however characterized, there’s no doubt it is cannabis-friendly music.

ICE GAZELLE by Monoshock

13. The next cannabis-friendly tune speaks directly to something many cannabis users once dreaded in the pre-legalization days (and may still depending on the employer) known as the drug test. Yo La Tengo captures masterfully in this one short piece all the emotions that surface in the face of drug screening, from the awkwardness and discomfort of forced sobriety in the weeks prior to the test to the anxiety over whether the test will come out clean. The song communicates personal angst at the outset with ominous bass thuds setting the tone and half-formed chords introducing the mood and melody, which is decidedly unsure, inchoate, and a bit of a mess.

Steadied hands soon regain chording control and tame the melody to create space for the singer to tell his tale. The lyrics take great care to convey the singer’s inner fragmentation at being without his steadying drug of choice (we’ll assume it is cannabis), as he confesses that “I’m not ready to face that thing today / I wish I was high”. The song reveals the singer’s unsettled vulnerability as he admits that “I hate feeling the way I feel / I hate feeling the way I feel today / I wish I was high”.

The desire for cannabis comfort finally has the singer imagining what he would be doing if not for the test as he describes his vision to the listener, “I see myself with headphones on / I’m listening to Wake of the Flood (2x) / now I’m high”. Desperation and anxiety have pushed the singer to psychically recreate the setting he would otherwise occupy, high and listening to the Grateful Dead with headphones on. But the daydream is ephemeral and within moments the sobered singer admits his inability to ditch this “wish” that he was “high”.

The singer begins to rationalize the exaggerated desire to be high by conceding he’s “brighter than nothing / smarter than nobody” and “wasted away.” The singer’s self-worth is shot and wholly subject to his desire to be high. He’s physically diminished and lacking the strength to redirect his efforts, even for the sake of the income that would enable him to buy more cannabis. The song never really resolves and there’s no indication whether the singer passed the test, or even took it at all. The song ends with the same ominous bass thuds with which it began but then adds one repetition of the verse melody to end the piece signifying, perhaps, a final thread of hope to which the singer clings.

Don’t take my word for it, tho. Here’s Yo La Tengo performing “Drug Test” live and sober in 1989:

DRUG TEST by Yo La Tengo

14. Next up isn’t cannabis-friendly music per se, but it is cannabis-friendly. Those old enough to remember SCTV will be familiar with the character Dr. Braino and his “Dr. Braino Hour” segment. John Candy, RIP. That was indeed the ultimate bummer.

BUMMER by Dr. Braino (SCTV)

15. Rounding out this 3rd installment of Swedish Flying Saucer’s cannabis-friendly music video menagerie is Rod Stewart’s Faces covering Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” live in Edmonton, Canada in 1973. The show also happened to be Ronnie Lane‘s last gig with the band (he died in 1997). The song is a classic and I would’ve much rather posted a live version of Christine McVie performing it, but I couldn’t find one. There’s something about cannabis and live music performances complement one another, whether attending a concert or watching live footage at home. And there’s something nostalgic that comes to the fore that is cannabis-enhanced when seeing those guys so young and at their peak. So just put yourself in the right mood, sit back, relax, and enjoy.

BUDTENDING THE RECORD STORE

Budtenders are a consumer’s link to the cannabis industry. They are dispensary ambassadors providing consumers with up-to-date information about strains, varieties, and products, about regulations, taxes, and the law, and about new technology, methods, and brands. Budtenders are both repositories and transmitters of crucial industry knowledge and effectively liaise between the consumer and seed banks, growers, processors, trimmers, manufacturers, distributors, bakers, candy makers and most of all, dispensaries. I decided last year that as my kids head off to high school and college, I would very much like to find a job in the cannabis industry and invest my passion for and knowledge about marijuana in serving the needs of dispensary patients and customers.

Kris Knox, right, a bud tender, helps Kris Bunker of Boulder choose a strain of weed at the Terrapin Care Station (photo: stuffstonerslike)

From the 1970s through the 1990s one of the coolest jobs a young adult could get was a record store job. I was fortunate to work at a few record stores in my youth. One of those gigs was easy to get because I already had music retail and distribution experience. That was at Tower Records – a retail chain that by the 1990s had become a signifier for “record store” much like kleenex and band-aids denote their own eponymous signifieds. The Sacramento, CA-born Tower was steeped in rock and roll lore due in large part to its legendary Sunset Strip megastore, and because of its eventual suburban ubiquity, kind of like Starbucks. The Wherehouse and Licorice Pizza music chains that had blanketed Southern California gradually faded away in the 1990s as Tower’s market share increased along with its satellite stores. I worked at the Tower Records in Woodland Hills around this time. It was a fun job, but I was about to start a family and needed something more corporate (a need I no longer share).

Tower Records Sunset Location facade
End of an Era: Tower Records legendary Sunset Strip storefront in 2013 (photo: Wehoville dot com)

The first record store job I had was in the late 1980s at an independent shop in downtown Santa Barbara. Although I’d been immersed in underground music, punk, new wave, sixties garage music, psych, rock and roll, folk, and so many other musical genres since age 12, I’d never thought of myself as cool enough to actually land a record store job. But I was desperate, having just moved down to Santa Barbara from Santa Cruz, about to start my sophomore year at college. I had already started a job in the Sears warehouse, but it was mind-numbing work and I knew right away that I needed to find something else. Walking up downtown State St. on my day off I thought, “what the heck”, and went into a record store and filled out an application. Having all but forgotten about it, I was surprised later to get a call from the manager who was desperate to replace someone. So without a second thought, I split Sears and I never looked back. Sometimes we get lucky, and I was thankful for the record store opportunity because I needed it, and my experience there led to future music industry opportunities.

The Runaways at Licorice Pizza record store 1977
Joan Jett, Cherie Curie, Lita Ford & The Runaways at at the Licorice Pizza in Canoga Park, 1977 (photo: nightlight dot com)

It is not lost on me how many of today’s cannabis dispensaries resemble the record stores of yore. The brands, varieties, strains and forms of stylishly packaged cannabis products artfully displayed in boutique dispensaries very much resemble the LPs, cassettes, CDs, posters, fanzines and videos that once stuffed the bins and lined the walls of record shops. Finding an eighth of a strain you love but rarely see at your go-to dispensary, like Cookie Family Gushers, is kind of like stumbling onto a rare 45 at your fave record store. Music and cannabis purchases, whether new releases or rare strains, are very personal and at times emotional choices for consumers because they’re so deeply tied to identity and lifestyle.

Cookie Family Gushers bud
Cookie Family Gushers, my fave strain that I never see anymore (photo: greenrush dot com)

In my dispensary reviews, I focus on my overall experiences at given shops rather than only my purchases, because I value the feeling I take with me when I exit a dispensary. Did I feel acknowledged, affirmed and respected by dispensary staff? Was my budtender patient, thoughtful and informed? Was the store clean, well lit and organized? How accurate is their Weedmaps menu? Was the budtender willing to talk music with me for a few minutes while I shopped? As a record store clerk, I learned to help shape a customer’s overall in-store experience in a way that benefitted both customer and store. As a result, I have high expectations from the dispensaries I patronize and can identify the qualities that inspire me to return to a given shop. With these qualities in mind, and with my ever increasing cannabis literacy, I now seek the opportunity to create positive and rewarding experiences for marijuana users. I was once able to land a number of music industry jobs, but these are different times. So how challenging will it be for me to find budtender work?

THE BANGS (aka THE BANGLES) first 45 is very rare, kind of like a long lost cannabis strain

Although some dispensaries advertise for budtender jobs on internet job boards, others do not and instead rely on word of mouth or social media for candidates. Many, but not all, of the formal listings for budtender and other dispensary jobs require some amount of cannabis industry or budtender experience to even get an interview. This is reasonable but it also filters out interested applicants lacking such experience yet possessing other qualities suitable for the position. And it begs the question, how otherwise does one acquire cannabis industry experience?

Fortunately, in this age of at-your-fingertips information, anyone motivated enough to seek out specific knowledge required for a job like budtending need only invest the requisite time and effort doing at-your-fingertips research to acquire enough knowledge to create an employment opportunity. In other words, thanks to the internet, lay folks like myself aspiring to dispensary work are on a less uneven playing field vis a vis those with actual industry experience. And the good news for prospective budtenders like me gets better with the continuing proliferation of cannabis dispensaries, particularly here in the east San Fernando Valley, leading me to believe that budtender jobs ultimately may not be as rare as record store jobs once were.

Good budtenders create a positive overall experience for dispensary patrons (photo: gocaliva)

A side-by-side record store/cannabis dispensary comparison begs another interesting question: Is it now as easy to get to know friendly budtenders and to become familiar at a dispensary as it once was to befriend record store clerks and get to know their shops? The short answer is more encouraging than you might expect. Although dispensary shopping lacks what record store customers once enjoyed in terms of unfettered browsing, a worthy budtender will guide his customer around the store as part of the browsing experience. Rather than adrift in the store, dispensary customers are anchored to their budtenders and in that manner have the opportunity to become familiar. The biggest difference I see is that a consumer can’t really patronize a dispensary without buying anything, and he isn’t expected to linger indefinitely while making a decision, whereas a music shopper can spend days familiarizing himself with a store without spending a dime. Understanding the legal limits on a cannabis customer’s shopping encounter is key to respecting the differences between record store and dispensary experiences. Perhaps one day, cannabis regulations will find a way to accommodate a more casual dispensary shopping affair.

Grady, owner and operator of Grady’s Record Refuge, Ventura, CA (Photo by Sergio Bastidas/Brooks Institute, ©2008)

Another significant difference between record stores and dispensaries is that music products are generally less expensive than cannabis products. Theoretically, a music customer can visit a record store more often than a cannabis customer visits a dispensary because it generally costs far less each record store visit than it does at a dispensary. Thus it is all the more challenging for those lacking financial means to become familiar with the cannabis industry and with a prospective dispensary-employer. Making matters more difficult, sales tax on cannabis is roughly three times more than the tax on records and compact discs. The economic challenges facing inexperienced, would-be budtenders are formidable, but they aren’t as unyielding as they appear at first glance. The free flow of at-your-fingertips information about cannabis and cannabis employment available on the web gives prospective dispensary employees like me who might be short on means the opportunity to acquire knowledge regardless of income or experience.

To the north and west of where I live there are several cannabis dispensaries and it isn’t unreasonable to believe I might find a budtender job at one of them. For now, I’m left to continue experiencing what I can of the cannabis industry, researching, writing, editing and publishing my thoughtful observations here at Swedish Flying Saucer. I’m happy to continue in this manner for now while seeking out opportunities to enrich my understanding of the cannabis industry and working towards my desired goal. In this manner, I will advance my marijuana industry “experience” even though technically only a layperson. I’m a few years older than most budtenders I encounter, and it is easy to see how a younger person might have an easier time landing a job. But folks of all ages consume cannabis for medical or recreational reasons and of them, there are those who prefer an older budtender. And I’ve no doubt there are dispensary managers who appreciate the kind of responsibility and perspective that comes from maturity.

I’ve also noticed that a majority of budtenders are female, which has me wondering if that is the norm and another hurdle I must clear in my pursuit of a dispensary job. Ultimately it is inconsequential because I am patient and determined to achieve what I’ve set out to accomplish. I have abundant confidence that as the cannabis industry continues to grow, it will carve out a budtender opportunity for me, your faithful scribe. Once that happens, I look forward to seeing you on the other side of the counter!

Old school budtending (photo: stonerdays)