Watching the lush paradise of Asheville being impermeably paved by apostate-hippie City Council members, I sometimes believe that our only chance is to spike the Western North Carolina coffee supply with pot. In my experience, marijuana accesses the right brain’s creative, appreciation and awareness centers. It could divert developers from trying to outrun restless-leg syndrome via forced erections of hated gated communities.
I’m not talking about homegrown shake, mind you, but the infamous, genetically enhanced potency of the exquisite buds now blossoming in the few remaining undeveloped Madison County hideaways. And no, Mr. Teetotalitarian (Council member Mumpower), I’m not inviting you to stake out my house for another photo-op advertising your brutal antidrug hypocrisy. I stopped using in 1995 because of pot’s potentially lethal side effects.
By far the most destructive of those side effects, however, is the risk of winding up behind bars. Time-warp back to the 1980s, to a little bar called The Wall, located just south of UNCA on the then sleepy, single-lane Broadway. It had a specially designed, screened-in smoking porch where you could always freely sample some of Madison County’s finest reefer as kindly neighbors proudly shared. If police were spotted, pot was stashed, cigarettes flashed, and fans fluttered. The only whiffs the cops got were the gunpowder and burley of the far more destructive drug nicotine.
Just say maybe
During the October harvest season, The Wall’s porch made Amsterdam’s pot cafés seem like fast-food mediocrity. You’d pick and choose until you found the sweetest-skunking, purple-green-gold, THC-sparkling, 4-inch bud, dense as Van Gogh’s fiery trees at Arles. After two deep tokes—careful you don’t choke—the autumn colors transformed into the miracles they are, and your neighbors became the oneness we all partly are.
You could also cruise over to The Brass Tap on Merrimon, now the Atlanta Bread Company, and sneak down some outside stairs into a hollowed-out hiding place under shadowy trees where you could safely imbibe. Then haul back to the hot, live rock ‘n’ roll inside, dancing with gracefully wild Carla and scoring an invite to her brother’s next-day soiree in backwoods Madison County. When I arrived, he was harvesting the quarter-ounce party favors in his bramble-camouflaged back yard. Vast, pristine grass balds harbored volleyball, contradancing and very lucky pot luck. Occasionally we’d slink off on THC pilgrimages down steep, bucolic paths to the wondrously wide French Broad. There we’d dream psychotropic visions and scheme more concrete transformations.
At one of those harvest parties, someone riffed on the revolutionary “general strike” idea, morphing it into the “general shopping spree.” All real Democrats would go on a crazed consumer tear, maxing out credit cards at corporate-owned stores, as well as all other corporate and bank credit lines except their mortgages—and then simply not pay back the money. Your first purchases would be a year’s supply of necessities; you’d keep your home, and there’s no debtors’ prison. Your only loss would be your national credit rating, though you’d keep good credit at locally owned businesses.
But Asheville’s—and America’s—financial system would crash. During that revolutionary year, we would re-humanize corporations and work, arrange basic womb-to-tomb security for everyone, and protect the environment once and for all. Then we’d start the economy again—but this time with sustainable, reasonable and humane goals, rather than Madison Avenue’s Mad Hatter whims.
Brownies for Brownie
To make the best use of pot’s creative effects, new users need a bit of guidance from us veterans. Pot isn’t just for inspiring Pavlovian munchies or twilight-zoning out, as modern pot movies depict. Its benefits are best realized when smoking alone or with a close friend. Ashevilleans need to rattle around in their own brains to see through the infinite “smart growth” propaganda. But you can’t do that if you’re busy fighting pot paranoia among the partying multitudes.
Also, write down those pot-inspired thoughts to negate the drug’s short-term-memory impairment. Though seemingly Einsteinian insights may turn out to be rubbish when viewed sober, some won’t. Asheville desperately needs thinking outside the corporate/capitalist box, and when smoked in solitary, pot blows your mind far beyond the conformist pale as fast as you can say exhale.
WARNING: Pot is dangerously beguiling. Love of its charms has killed some of my friends via lung cancer and almost killed me with a near heart attack. Eating pot can salvage the lungs, but not the heart strain. Moderation!
If you can no longer ingest pot safely, start imitating pot-inspired activities. Slow … way … down. Follow every single thought enthusiastically to its conclusion, uninhibited by those parasitical naysayers of alleged rationality or acceptability. You may start hearing Asheville’s environment praying that pot’s amotivational syndrome will sweep our population.
And anytime you encounter a rampant growth merchant, slyly slip them a secretly spiked, Madison County-pot brownie. But don’t stop there: Also offer Brownie Newman and his backslid-hippie Council cohorts a brownie. Maybe then they’ll see that if they don’t severely and directly restrain capitalism and population, they’re only planting superficial lilies around the deathbed of our quality of life. Moratorium!
[Asheville resident Bill Branyon’s newest book, Will You Mini-Marry Me?, will be published next March.]