Pops, Jews, Jazz & Joints

Louis Armstrong with smoking trumpet

There is no disputing that the vast majority of gifted, African-American jazz musicians were largely responsible for the development of this authentically American musical form. It is also clear that these musicians were not alone in their efforts to produce great art. Adrian Cho, in her essay “Jewish Influences in Jazz,” notes that:

Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Alan Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg were some of the great songwriters and lyricists who put Tin Pan Alley on the virtual musical map. Jewish influence in Tin Pan Alley was so strong that Cole Porter reportedly attributed his success to the fact that he wrote “Jewish music,” although he was not Jewish himself. (https://carleton.ca/linr/wp-content/uploads/Handout-1-3.pdf) Continue reading “Pops, Jews, Jazz & Joints”

KROQ Comedy: Freddy Snakeskin”s ’82 Air-Check

Back in an era before the internet or cable tv or cell phones, when your ear was always close to a radio speaker, the dee jay was your best friend in the world. If you were home sick, or without any plans on a Saturday night, or driving down the highway, or grounded for the weekend, dee jays helped make everything ok because they were there with YOU, playing music for YOU, being irreverent and obnoxious to satisfy your teenage sensibilities. In the early 80s, even with a more programmed playlist, KROQ was still a very free form radio station, particularly when it came to dee jay banter. One of the funniest and most irreverent weekday KROQ dee jays was Freddy Snakeskin. Freddy always spun the latest new wave pop hits but also found room for groovy oldies, edgier punk tracks and odd art rock outliers.Freddie Snakeskin was THAT dee jay and those were GREAT TIMES. Here’s 30 minutes of Freddy Snakeskin’s 1982 air check archives, replete with original commercials and oddball KROQ in studio guests.

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Air Vape X Sets a High Standard

Air Vape X black blue


The Air Vape X by Apollo USA is the latest generation in compact, portable, vaporizers that can handle both dry herb and waxy concentrates, and it can be purchased directly via the company website for the moderately immodest price of $179 plus tax. The price of dab pens and portable, dabable vaporizers like the Air Vape X can be prohibitive for many and understandably obviates this category of purchases from their consideration. For better or worse, the high retail prices of innovative products, particularly in the earlier stages of their development, reflects the high cost of creating and producing new technology. That’s just how the system works. Some see the high cost of such items as discriminatory against those who can’t afford, but the reality is that such is the cost of technological innovation. The good news is that eventually new and shiny gadgets become more affordable and thus accessible to a larger population. This is true of old school vape batteries, which were once fairly pricy, but now sell for about ten bucks. Or you can purchase an all-in-one disposable vape pen/cartridge combo for about $30. There’s no reason not to believe that dab and dry herb pen prices will go down over time, and as the technology continues to improve. Continue reading “Air Vape X Sets a High Standard”

Magical Terpenes & Marijuana Mysteries

Terpene Chart

I’ve spent decades as a cannabis user never appreciating the diversity of aromas emanating from different strains and varieties of herb. I’d never heard of terpenes, never thought about my stash smelling like anything other than skunk or pine. Admittedly, it wasn’t easy to get premium flower strains back in the day, and more often than not I had a baggie half full of seeds and stems that smelled more or less like dirt. It was like being a connoisseur of cheap, watery beer, and only being able to compare Old Milwaukee to Milwaukee’s Best (hint: there is no difference!) There was no top shelf, connoisseur hybrid strain of the week. Seeds, stems and dirt were it! Continue reading “Magical Terpenes & Marijuana Mysteries”

Pre-Rolled Joints & The Shaky-Handed Twaxer

Varieties of Inferno Gold Fire Sticks Pre-rolled Joints

Pre-rolled joints are another of the potent varieties offered at dispensaries for both medical and recreational use. As someone with shaky hands who has a terrible time with fine motor coordination, pre-rolled joints are a welcome option. There’s something about smoking a joint that doesn’t compare to pipe or bong. It is harsher, yes, but there is a more intimate and direct connection with herb when only a thin sheet of rolling paper sits between you and it, like the skin of an apple holding all the juicy fruit within. Continue reading “Pre-Rolled Joints & The Shaky-Handed Twaxer”

Scratch Feels the City Heat and Heads for the Hills

Lee Scratch Perry’s “City Too Hot” is a song that, through music, lyrics (included at end of post) and  arrangement, situates itself in a very specific time and place and as a whole, evokes much deeper issues than the song title or chorus would suggest.


Cover art for Scratch & The Upsetters "Super Ape" LP
Super Ape by Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters (1976)

Scratch’s deep roots track was released in 1977 as the “A” side of a 12″ single on his Upsetter Records label, featuring another hefty cut on the back called “Bionic Rats”. The single was released on the heels of his excellent 1976 LP, Super Ape, both coming at a time of great violence and political upheaval in Jamaica. When Scratch bewails the urban heat in “City Too Hot”, he’s evoking not just the noontime scorch, but also the intensity of conflict in Kingston and elsewhere at that time. Fortunately, the self-appointed Kojak (“my name is Kojak / meet me at the track with a dubble attack” – “Kojak” from Revolution Dub, 1975) knew of a physical / spiritual / metaphorical refuge within reach, capable of alleviating the heat at all levels, providing comfort, safety, spiritual fulfillment and community. Continue reading “Scratch Feels the City Heat and Heads for the Hills”

Jeff Lynne’s ELO Live at The Fabulous Forum, LA, 8-5-18

Walking across the Forum parking lot to see ELO for the first time, it hit me that I’ve probably seen more aging rockers play shows over the years than I can remember. It is impossible to try and remember all the bands, shows, etc., I’ve seen over the past 40 years, let alone my favorites. Last night Mr. T asked me to name my 5 favorite shows of all time, and I was at a loss, because I know there would be many I wouldn’t recall.

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Coconut Oil Caps: Homemade Maripills Made Easy

Maricaps in a Filling Machine

One of the many opportunities presented by legalization is that which enables patients and recreational users to create their own “product” at home using flower, shake, trim, leaf, kief, concentrates, etc. After much experimentation with edibles and other home concoctions, I have finally found my ideal product: marijuana caps (aka maricaps, maripills). Continue reading “Coconut Oil Caps: Homemade Maripills Made Easy”

Heroin, Tied to the Mast

Different songs engage us in different ways, depending on our life experiences. Some songs look at simple, everyday experiences but present them in new ways that resonate with us even though we’ve never thought about them in those ways before. Other songs echo experiences we’ve had or corroborate conclusions we’ve drawn, reassuring and comforting us in a fraternal way. Finally, there are those songs that speak to the experiences we know await us, that instill us with fear, enliven us with anticipation, make us sad or giddy, and speak to us with other elements of expectation. These songs communicate the intensity of experiences that we’ve never had, and yet based on what we’ve read and heard about those experiences those songs nonetheless ring true. Even though we’ve not yet had these experiences, we’ve lived with the dread of or thrill for those experiences for many years of our lives.  Continue reading “Heroin, Tied to the Mast”