Sunday, September 27, 2020

Bill Hicks: Dark Poet for the Ages

What can be said about Bill Hicks that hasn't already been said a hundred times?  He's frequently included in "Top 5 Comedians of All Time" lists, and for good reason.  Those things are subjective, obviously, but his rebellious & brutally honest style of social commentary combined with a uniquely cynical wit are unmatched by anyone save for maybe George Carlin.  Hicks was an even edgier version of that.

Thoroughly Southern, William Melvin Hicks was born in 1961 in Georgia and died in Little Rock, Arkansas, residing in Texas for most of the years in between.  But Jeff Foxworthy he was not.  He spent much of his stage time taking down the rampant ignorance & rot plaguing rural America.  He worked extremely hard, putting on around 270 shows a year & was more popular in the UK than the U.S.  It was only near the end of his life that he was starting to gain traction here.

Bill began his comedy career in earnest at the tender age of 13, sneaking out to perform at clubs in Houston with the Texas Outlaw Comics group that included Sam Kinison & Ron Shock among others.  The demanding lifestyle eventually led to the abuse of alcohol, drugs and especially cigarettes (Bill jokingly said he went through "two lighters a day").  It was this vice that would later come back to haunt him.  Much of his act centered on recounted stories of his psychedelic experiences & the absurdity of the drug war.  By 1991 he claimed to have stopped drinking & abusing drugs, citing an inability to control his drinking though his views on the drug war never wavered.  He also played in a band & did some comedy writing for TV on the side but was adamantly opposed to "selling out" by doing commercials or other things that compromised his artistic vision.

A Dark(er) Side

While Hicks is lionized today by fans who view him as a prophet, he was not without his faults.  Some of his bits came off as elitist, and his misogyny was on full display during this meltdown when hecklers in Chicago--2 male and one female--rudely interrupted his set.  But he only singled out the woman with an unholy tirade I won't repeat here.  Listen yourself:

I don't support censorship & abhor today's hypersensitive climate where people sit around on Twitter waiting to be "offended".  But some things truly ARE offensive.  Even when a comedian says them.  This outburst brought to mind Michael Richards' infamous hurling of the N-word at hecklers.  The fact that society doesn't view misogyny on par with racism speaks to how far we haven't come.  They often go hand-in-hand and sure enough, Hicks can be heard in this clip joking that Reginald Denny should have floored it and run over the "gang" of protesters during the LA riots.  Even by 1993 standards that's harsh.  (I won't even get into his Goat Boy act where he goes into graphic detail about a sex fantasy with a 16-year-old).

Still, the rawness of his act could be brilliant at times, like when he critiqued the Iraq war, advertisement/marketing, Christianity or the Republican party.  (In other words, when he was punching UP instead of DOWN).  This happened more frequently toward the end of his life, which came on February 26, 1994.  He died of pancreatic cancer at age 32 which was diagnosed in mid 1993 after he developed searing pain in his side.  This type of cancer is rare in people that young so it's assumed that his heavy smoking contributed greatly.  Smoking is one of the few known causes of pancreatic cancer.  This makes all his smoking jokes a bit uncomfortable to watch in retrospect.  Bill performed right up until the end, never letting on that he was sick to his audience though he did say "this is my last performance" a couple times.

Perhaps his most depressing end-of-life performance was his 12th appearance on David Letterman which was pulled at the last minute due to being "too controversial".  This was a betrayal that hurt him deeply.  He went on public access TV & spoke about it, citing "pro-life advertisers" as the likely reason for the appearance being pulled (though producers never told him why).  Dave had no idea he was sick but that's beside the point.  In 2009, Letterman had Bill's mom on the show & apologized, airing the piece in its entirety for the first time.  Nice gesture but too little too late for Bill himself.

Bill on Austin TX Public Access


In his last year on this earth, Bill Hicks was voted "Hot Standup Comic" by Rolling Stone magazine, opened a number of shows for rock band Tool at Lollapalooza, recorded his album Arizona Bay with friend & director Kevin Booth & was working on a talk show with comedian Fallon Woodland called Counts of the Netherworld.  Plus maintaining his regular busy touring schedule.  His albums Arizona Bay & Rant in E-Minor were released posthumously.  It's clear that his star was finally rising in America, which made his passing all the more tragic.  This timing was not lost on him.  He left us this final heart wrenching letter a week before dying:
"I was born William Melvin Hicks on December 16, 1961 in Valdosta, Georgia. Ugh. Melvin Hicks from Georgia. Yee Har! I already had gotten off to life on the wrong foot. I was always "awake," I guess you'd say. Some part of me clamoring for new insights and new ways to make the world a better place. All of this came out years down the line, in my multitude of creative interests that are the tools I now bring to the Party. Writing, acting, music, comedy. A deep love of literature and books. Thank God for all the artists who've helped me. I'd read these words and off I went—dreaming my own imaginative dreams. Exercising them at will, eventually to form bands, comedy, more bands, movies, anything creative. This is the coin of the realm I use in my words—Vision. On June 16, 1993 I was diagnosed with having "liver cancer that had spread from the pancreas." One of life's weirdest and worst jokes imaginable. I'd been making such progress recently in my attitude, my career and realizing my dreams that it just stood me on my head for a while. "Why me!?" I would cry out, and "Why now!?" Well, I know now there may never be any answers to those particular questions, but maybe in telling a little about myself, we can find some other answers to other questions. That might help our way down our own particular paths, towards realizing my dream of New Hope and New Happiness. Amen. I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit."
One of the weirder (and more obnoxious) theories to pop up since Bill's passing is the assertion that he's actually conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in disguise.  This is disrespectful not only because the man died tragically young of a horrific disease but because his worldviews were 180 degrees from the bile-spewing Jones.  While Hicks did hold some unconventional views on events like the JFK assassination & Waco, he was a far cry from Jones' brand of dumbed-down proselytizing.  It's like claiming Carlin is actually Breitbart.  Blasphemy.

Bill's real legacy is a mixed bag of genius & darkness peppered with a healthy serving of sarcasm, crassness, bravery, adoration of music/intellectualism and a sense of urgency to speak some elusive truth.  We now see why:  his time on Earth was short.  Maybe he sensed this on some level.  It's impossible not to wonder what Bill would say about today's insane political & social climate.  What would he think of social media, reality TV...a reality TV president?  Would he have "sold out" & done commercials or stayed true to his '90s scruples?  It's almost certain he would've been a 9/11 truther & worked that into his act.  Beyond that, who knows?

It's a shame he was taken so soon but perhaps, as with Kurt Cobain, his early death allows us to hold him in an even higher regard because he was not allowed to make all the mistakes a person with a long career makes.  He was never offered the big bucks so we can't know for certain if he would've sold out at some point, such as when he had a family to support or became too old to put on 300 shows a year.  And there's no way he could've "gotten away" with 70% of the material he did today, at least not without being blackballed by the industry & critics.  That notwithstanding, he would've had to come up with far more material in general due to the advent of cell phone cameras that allow everyone to share things instantly with the world.  (His bits were often recycled because back then, it was all new to every new audience).

There's no one today that even resembles Hicks and maybe there's a reason for that?  Trying to watch Louis CK after a Hicks set just highlights the whole "dick joke" tone of today's comedy.  People really are a product of their time to a great extent.  Bill was borne of that disaffected Generation X cohort raised on Punk rock, MTV, Watergate & Quaaludes while the world he left behind was one of Hip-Hop, Grunge, AIDS, crack cocaine & personal computers.  It was a different time & he was one of the important voices of it.  The fact that much of his material stands the test of time is a testament to his talent.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Edibles: Dixie Elixirs - Sour Smash Gummies (Hybrid)

Y'all know I love my Dixie brand candies.  I've already reviewed their tangy Tarts & 5-star Berry Blast gummies so I had to pick up some more on this trip.  I opted for a different flavor just for the sake of this review (you're welcome).  Could've easily got the same amazing berry ones as last time.  Apparently the flavors are coordinated to the strains, i.e. "Berry Blast" only comes in Sativa, Sour Smash only in Hybrid, etc.  I prefer Indica edibles as Sativa are way too panic-inducing in edible form, though I tend to prefer Sativa leaning flower.  

Anyway, the Sour Smash candies did not disappoint.  They're potent & tasty as usual, though not quite AS tasty as the Berry Blast flavor in my opinion.  But a very close second.  I think they're cherry & green apple flavor--the candies themselves are red & green and those are the fruits featured on the bag.  (I checked the website & they're Sour Cherry, Sour Apple & Berry Lemonade).  They're indeed sour but not as much as the Tarts.  I'm tempted to overindulge based on the yummy taste but know better by now, lol.  The high is powerful...more so than the Tarts for some reason despite being the same 10 mg per unit.  Each bag contains 100 mg with 10 candies; each serving contains 20 calories.  (Correction:  The independent analysis sticker says each bag actually contains 130.3 mg THC, with each candy containing 13 mg THC).

Sour apple Dixie gummy

I give Dixie Sour Smash Hybrid Gummies a 4.9 of 5 stars for taste, potency & price.  Flavor is bangin' but I wish all their flavors came in Indica.  Hybrid isn't too far off though.  The price is right and so is the tartness.  These didn't seem to have as much of the powdery coating as the Berry Blast but no matter--the flavor wasn't affected.  The blue & green candies look so similar I didn't notice there were 3 colors so I look forward to trying the Berry Lemonade one.  Really wish my tolerance was high enough to eat a whole bag like a normal person but that will never happen.  I suppose it saves money this way.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Apollo 13

Designed by the Colorado-based Brothers Grimm, Apollo 13 is an 85% Sativa cross between Princess 75 and Genius.  (Two strains I've never heard of).  According to Leafly, Apollo 13 is "extremely rare" as only 500 seeds came from the original cuttings.  Fittingly, there are only 151 reviews on the site.  It clocks in at an average of 19% THC and leans HEAVILY toward the energizing end of the spectrum.  

My cut contains 23.3% THC and 0.81% CBD.  The most prominent terps are linalool, myrcene & caryophyllene.  It was sold at a discount so I picked up 2 grams for $7.  The smell is light & inoffensive--very similar to my Lifter hemp buds, actually.  Mild citrus & herbal notes.  The dry job is moderate to poor & bag appeal is non-existent.  The hemp actually looks better than the Apollo.  Nugs are compact & tiny with giant stems.  I'm surprised there aren't seeds.  But as with the Maui Wowie, I'm not judging this book by its cover as I've learned looks don't mean shit when it comes to effects.  

Apollo 13

I chose blueberry papers for this strain because why not?  Seemed fitting.  Headed out to the usual field to find my smoking partner (orange kitty) and lit her up.  The taste was bland & so was the high.  Potent but nothing to write home about in the effects department.  I felt a bit agitated, more so than when I started.  One thing I did feel was extreme hunger.  Ended up devouring 3/4ths of a pizza meant for a whole family.  Was disgusted with myself for that.  Some people don't mind munchies but I'm not one of those people.  All the while, my focus was sharp... on shoving the pizza down my piehole.  Not very useful lol.  
Overall I'm giving Apollo 13 a 4.5 of 5 stars for bag appeal, effects & flavor.  The only real positive was the price which is why I picked up 2 grams.  Kinda kicking myself for that now.  It's a great strain if you want to pack on a few pounds & don't mind feeling tightly wound for several hours.  In all seriousness, it was probably the quality (or lack thereof) of the grow that was the problem rather than the strain itself.  It has good reviews on Wikileaf with some users saying it's their fave strain of all time so if you're a Sativa fan, give it a try.  Just make sure it doesn't look like mid-grade hemp flower like mine.  

Apollo 13 container

Apollo 13 is said to be useful for ADHD & nausea which I can definitely see in retrospect.  My focus was sharp but not in a way that was comfortable.  I already take a stimulant so maybe that's the issue.  The rarity of the strain also makes it a novelty so any true connoisseur (of Sativas especially) should pick it up if they see it.  

Sunday, September 20, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies, better known now as GSC, was created by Cookie Family around 2012 & has been a West Coast phenom ever since.  It's an Indica-dominant cross between the narcotic OG Kush & its polar opposite, Durban Poison, that contains the best traits of both parents.  The result is a potent stone that hits like a sledgehammer.  THC levels fall anywhere between 18-28% while CBD clocks in at 1% on average.  GSC won 1st Place for Best Hybrid at the 2013 Southern California Cannabis Cup.

My sample contains 14.6% THC with 0.07% CBD, which is low in today's medical cannabis world.  But numbers mean little in the grand scheme from my experience.  The aroma is probably one of the most repugnant I've ever smelled, right up there with Bruce Banner & Trident.  It smells almost rotten in a way, though I think it's just really dank & sour/skunky.  These tightly sealed containers hold the stench in REALLY well.  The buds are fat & dark green; nothing much to look at.  I paid $5 for a gram so I can't complain.  It's a reliable strain I've always enjoyed so I wanted to grab some for the winter ahead.  

Girl Scout Cookies

I roll her up in a "Vanilla Ice" flavored thin paper & head to my usual smoking spot on a perch outside. It's actually chilly tonight which is a welcome change.  Thankfully this strain doesn't taste anything like it smells.  It doesn't take long before the joint begins to clog... by the end, it's so clogged with goo I have to snuff it out a bit early.  And I'm really stoned when I make my way inside.  The body high is much more noticeable than with any of the other strains so far which is the norm with GSC.  It always brings about a sort of quietness in my head which I enjoy.  I don't feel too hungry either which is nice.  I hate the munchies--they must be a Sativa thing.  I eat a salad but stop there.  

The comedown is nothing to write home about.  A bit foggy-headed but pretty mild.  The GSC high is a well-balanced one but definitely leans Indica.  In conclusion I give her a 4.7 of 5 stars for potency, price & duration of high.  The smell is disgusting, bag appeal could be better & the joint plugged up so I'm docking a couple points.  Plus the high is not in my Top 5 but the strain is reliably good no matter where I get it.  If you're looking for a pain or anxiety reliever or something to take the edge off after a stressful day, GSC is the one.  Maybe not the best for sleep due to the Durban Poison genetics but a great choice for slowing things down nonetheless.  

GSC Container

Oh yeah, my cut's dominant terpenes are myrcene, pinene & ocimene.  GSC has a 4.4 of 5 star rating with 7,132 reviews on Leafly.  Definitely one of the 2010's must-try strains.  So many offshoots have come from it, including Thin Mint GSC, Platinum GSC, Animal Cookies, White Tahoe Cookies and Goo Cookies.  

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Friday, September 18, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Edibles: Pot Pops

"Red" Pot Pop

After reviewing a ton of Dixie & Simple Cure products, I thought I'd branch out simply for the sake of having some new material for my loyal readers (that's you).  So I picked up a Pot Pop, which is a lollipop containing 50 mg of THC.  The flavor isn't listed on the bag so I didn't know what I was getting but I ended up with "red" which was my second choice.  This is the highest milligram THC edible I've ever purchased, at least as a single-piece unit.  Everything else has been 10 mg candies.  So it's harder to gauge how much is enough for a single dose.

My first attempt with the Pot Pop was in the evening after coming down from the Strawberry Cough high.  I popped it in my mouth for about 20 minutes & turned it over a bunch, probably reducing it by about 1/5th of its original size.  I didn't take any bites.  And thank god I didn't.  It tasted pretty good for an edible so I was tempted to keep sucking on it longer than I probably should have.  And this time the effects didn't kick in instantly like they do for me with gummies, so I had no idea how high I would be later.  A real "this edible ain't shit" situation. 

I ended up right on the border of 'too high' and 'panic attack/need a Xanax'.  Luckily I was able to calm myself & just get by on my normal sleep aids (Valerian root, Unisom & melatonin) but it was a close call.  I still feel somewhat out of it the next morning but not too bad.  On the bright side, my tolerance has gone up as a result of this and I'll probably be able to smoke more comfortably to complete these reviews of the flower.  But I won't be mindlessly sucking on Pot Pops anymore. 

Overall rating:  4.8 of 5 stars.  Getting too high was my fault.  It's a good deal for the money ($12.50 for one pop) & tastes better than many edibles, plus it's convenient and discreet.  And it WORKS.  Boy, does it ever work.  Pot Pops come in Red, Blue & Yellow from what I can gather, though the flavors aren't listed on the bag for some reason.  That's the only thing I'd really deduct points for.  But it's not a huge deal.  It seems that hard edibles take longer to kick in for me than soft gummies & the like which is interesting.  Will keep that in mind going forward.  


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[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Chocolope

Chocolope is the offspring of the world famous--and now extremely rare--Chocolate Thai landrace crossed with Cannalope Haze.  The result is a Sativa-dominant (95/5) hybrid that's won numerous awards in the High Times Cannabis Cup & other competitions.  The flavor is said to be unusual due to the way its Chocolate Thai parent was grown in nutrient-dense soil used to grow coffee.  Wikileaf lists Chocolope as a morning strain that's great for wake & bake purposes.  Average THC content is in the 19-23% range.

My cut contains 22.1% THC & is rich in myrcene, limonene & caryophyllene.  The dispensary was selling it for $5 per half-gram so that's what I got.  The smell is mostly citrus-y until I break up a nug, then the earthiness really comes out.  After reopening the jar a few days later, the chocolate smell finally makes itself known.  Sweet!  A strain that actually smells like its name and isn't just 'citrus' or 'skunk'.  There is something of a coffee scent to it but not exactly.  The hue is very light green with stout triangular shaped buds & a thick dusting of white trichomes.  To be honest, this looks like weed I usually don't enjoy based on the color & the high limonene content but I'm going to put my prejudices aside until I've actually tried it.


The pic isn't blurry, it's just THAT white due to all the trichomes and the glare of the lights.  I roll her up in a marshmallow joint to bring out the sweet flavor, hoping for a s'mores-like experience (lol).  The buds were hard af to break up by hand & resulted in awkward little chunks, so again the joint looks pregnant & lopsided.  I like to reserve my grinder for hemp only.  But the dry job wasn't terrible. 

The high was quite unique & enjoyable.  Long-lasting too.  I had moments of breakthrough joy, which is rare for my depressed ass.  Especially during a week like I've had.  It made me want to pause & enjoy my surroundings, talk to cats & tune out the bullshit (in this case, my amped up mother who's in one of her manic/mixed states).  After about an hour I ended up eating two bowls of Corn Pops which brought me down a bit but I was still surprisingly high from half a joint.  I saw several people say Chocolope is short-acting on Leafly but that was not my experience.  

Chocolope joint

Overall I give Chocolope  4.8 of 5 stars  for uplifting effects, bag appeal & aroma.  The taste was nothing to write home about--kinda similar to dirt--but the smell was legit milk chocolatey.  Now I want to try Chocolate Thai though that's unlikely to happen since it's so rare.  Chocolope seems like a great fit for those with depression, low appetite or anyone looking for an afternoon/social strain.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Strawberry Cough

Strawberry Cough is a world-famous strain sourced by Kyle Kushman some time around the millennium from a novice grower in Connecticut.  It's the offspring of Strawberry Fields & Haze and is renowned for its uniquely sweet strawberry aroma.  Its other identifying trait is the trademark 'cough', which is said to be somewhat harsh or expansive on the lungs & produce fits of coughing that take users to the next dimension.  Strawberry Cough is a Sativa-dominant hybrid that tends to hover around the 20% THC mark.  It has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Leafly & has been reviewed by 2,469 people at the time of this writing.  
My cut contains 19.9% THC & 0.1% CBD.  Its most prominent terps are caryophyllene, myrcene & limonene.  I paid $4 for a half-gram.  It's a strain I've always wanted to try but not at the tippy top of my list so I just picked up a small sample.  She is the most photogenic of the strains I bought (see pic below) due to her long, conical buds & tight trim job.  I'm not getting even a hint of strawberry smell, sadly, but more of a strong lemon/lime scent with soft floral undertones.  Pleasant, but doesn't evoke its namesake.  

Strawberry Cough

I roll her up in a raspberry flavored paper with some hemp & take to the outdoors.  The dry job is not optimal so the joint's kinda fat & lumpy.  It burns more evenly than expected.  My mom was stressing me out the whole time I smoked so I can't get an honest read on how euphoric or mood-lifting the strain is, but I'm definitely getting some stimulant vibes.  My heart is amped up in a somewhat uncomfortable way.  It's one of those strains that makes me just want to be alone with my thoughts (which tend to keep going in circles).  A Sativa through-and-through.  The flavor was more interesting than the aroma--I kept smoking until the roach was completely gone.  
After the high mellows out a bit I get the munchies & feel inspired to write this review.  I do feel more creative than usual when searching for words, which is in keeping with the descriptions of this strain's creativity-boosting powers.  And these Lucky Charms are tasting GOOD.  

Strawberry Cough container

I give Strawberry Cough a 4.7 of 5 stars for flavor, overall energy & price.  The dry job was lacking & it doesn't smell like berries at all, but more importantly the headspace is just too anxiety-producing for my taste.  It's very photogenic & tasty but just doesn't fit my needs at this time.  I'd recommend Strawberry Cough for people suffering from lethargic depression, chronic fatigue, ADHD, spasticity & those looking for a morning strain to kick off their day with a bang.  
There's definitely no draggy comedown & the high is entirely cerebral save for the racing heart.  However, if you're not prone to anxiety from weed you should be fine.  It could even replace coffee for those looking for an alternative--it's that stimulating.  

[Review] - Cannabis Flower: Crescendo

Crescendo is a less common gem that's highly sought after by connoisseurs & medical patients alike for its potent, balanced effects.  Some sites say it's Indica-dominant while others claim it's Sativa-dom, but one thing's for sure:  the THC content is out of this world.  It's the lovechild of Chemdog, I-95 & Mandarin Cookies and was originally created in Denver, CO by Ethos Genetics.  Their website stays sold out of seeds for this strain if that tells you anything.  
After researching this strain, I decided to drop a little more $ on it since the reviews were so good.  I ended up spending $15 for a gram which isn't a lot but for me it kinda is.  My cut contains 25.1% THC & is rich in nerolidol, caryophyllene & humulene--some terpenes you don't see every day.  The flowers smell sweet & acidic which seems contradictory but that's the best I can do explaining it.  They're healthy sized & covered in trichs.  


I smoke it the usual way:  with some hemp bud (Lifter) in a blackberry joint, burning through only half the joint in one go.  The weather is actually tolerable tonight & the sunset is gorgeous so I take my time circling the backyard with the doggo.  I'm definitely feeling fuzzy in the head--I referred to a cow as "dog," lol.  Laughter comes easy & colors are enhanced/sharpened.  This is potent for sure.  A whole joint would be too much for me even at the low dose I put in.  
I feel that typical Sativa mind-bending effect but without any paranoia or racing heart, which is nice.  Slight fleeting horniness too.  I think if I hadn't taken a Xanax last night I'd be feeling REALLY good right now.  Damn benzo comedown.  This seems like the right strain to drop extra money on so I'm glad I picked it up.  There's a bit more mindfuck than I'd like but again, not sure how much last night's Xanax is affecting my brain.  

Crescendo container

Overall I give Crescendo a 4.8 of 5 stars for potency, bag appeal & cure.  I'll have to give her another go when my brain is in a better state.  I've been feeling out of sorts this whole afternoon (predictably) but for now I'm pretty impressed.  It beats Blueberry Headband, Durban Poison & Bruce Banner in the happiness department & is similar to Maui Wowie in terms of THC content & Sativa feel.  But with slightly more euphoria & body stone.  The comedown is smooth & gradual; no drowsy drop-off or irritability like I sometimes get.  
I'd recommend Crescendo for anyone with a high tolerance or cannabis connoisseurs looking for something with a unique & rare terpene profile.  If you can find it, that is.  There are only 29 reviews on Leafly compared to over 2,000 for Strawberry Cough.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Identity vs. Reality: A Response to the JK Rowling Insanity

Trigger warning for you sensitive souls.  This post contains what some will undoubtedly label "transphobia".  By definition, transphobia means "dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people" (thanks, Google) so I strongly disagree.  I do not view trans people as lesser human beings & nothing in this piece implies that they don't have a right to exist.  It also contains intimate details about myself & MY identity that I've never shared with anyone so consider that before dragging me.  Or go ahead & wish death on me.  Whatever floats your boat I guess.  

I know what it's like to feel like you were born in the wrong body.  That your race & even your sex are not aligned with how you feel deep in your soul.  Like the roles society has imposed on you are 180 degrees backward from who you are at your core.  Not just how you feel but how you present on the outside, to the point that your peers & even your family mock & bully you from a young age. 

When the music, clothes, literature, film & other forms of art you consume don't match your skin tone or where you come from (rural South), you face ridicule & exclusion that's both subtle & overt.  When your friends & romantic partners don't "match" your skin tone in a place like where I'm from, it might as well be Hell on Earth.  That is to say, none of this is a choice.  It's who I am.  Life would be a lot easier if I was not a lesbian attracted to Black culture in a very white part of America, or if I weren't a leftist in a red state full of Trump supporters.  Hell, sometimes I don't even identify with human beings due to my autism & social anxiety.  But that's another topic for another day.

Don't get me wrong:  I'm no Rachel Dolezal or Shaun King.  But the very fact that these race poseurs exist (Google:  "Blackfishing" for more examples) speaks to the pervasiveness of the phenomenon.  People identify differently than they present quite often.  It's a thing, and the Dolezals, Kings & Jessica Krugs of the world are just the tip of the iceberg.  I suspect it's a spectrum like most things.  You see shades of it in the white people who lay in tanning beds or under the harsh UV rays, risking cancer to look less white and the Black people around the world who bleach their skin with mercury-laced creams to look less Black.  Talk shows like Ricki Lake & Jenny Jones were featuring "ashamed of my race" guests way back in the '90s so it's nothing new.  The grass simply looks greener on the other side of the racial fence for many people.

The problem comes when folks actually attempt to pass themselves off as something they're not.  This is universally denounced as offensive & dishonest, and rightfully so.  At least with race.

Gender/sex gets a special pass, however.  Men who call themselves women & insist that others go along with their belief while pushing their way into women's safe spaces--bathrooms, changing rooms, women's sports, rape crisis centers & prisons--places that are female-specific for a REASON, are considered the oppressed class & given free reign to do just that.  Any woman who objects is called a "TERF" or thrown in the pile with backward conservatives.  Upwards of 80% of these transwomen retain their male genitalia, which makes them capable of impregnating & transmitting serious STI's to women in addition to raping them.  Anyone with half a brain could see why it's a bad idea to lock women up in confined spaces with male-bodied people, but in case you have doubts, check out this well-sourced website featuring real stories of trans-inflicted violence.

The kneejerk reaction these days is to label these views as 'transphobic', but I would argue that nothing I've said is hateful or bigoted at all.  Rather, they're dry statements of fact that reflect the real danger women & girls face when feelings are prioritized over biological realities.  I might identify with Black culture, music & history but that does not make me Black in any capacity.  I'll never know what it's like to be profiled by police or followed in a store like I'm stealing because of my skin color.  And I might've strongly wished I was a boy growing up because sexism made me feel inadequate & powerless (and still does at times).  But I'll never BE a man, even if I were to take testosterone & have surgery to alter my genitals.  I was not raised or socialized as a male, and I didn't go through male puberty.  I don't have XY chromosomes, sperm or testes.  For all the benefits of being male, there are also drawbacks:  Men get drafted into the military, die a few years younger than women on average, complete suicide more often than women & are more likely to have a drug or alcohol problem.  I'll have to settle for being a gender non-conforming lesbian in a man's world. 

Likewise, someone raised & socialized as a male will never know what it's like to be a woman.  To face the horrors of female genital mutilation, die in a menstrual hut or live with a 1 in 3 lifetime risk of domestic violence at the hands of her partner.  These things don't happen as a result of gender identity but the biological reality of being female--something we can't identify out of when times get hard.  Endometriosis, lower pay for equal work, sexual assault, miscarriage, reproductive rights restrictions, misogyny, a 10:1 rate of autoimmune disease compared to men, honor killings, exclusion from medical studies & countless other forms of female-specific suffering are unique to us and our bodies.  Calling yourself a woman when you'll never have to face them is an insult.  Read that again.

If you disagree with my stance, which many of you undoubtedly will, that's fine.  Feel free to leave a comment stating why or just ignore this article.  But I implore you not to stick your fingers in your ears and "cancel" me based on this one article.  People should feel free to share opinions respectfully without being silenced or shunned.  Note:  I'm not promoting violence or discrimination towards anyone.  Trans people deserve their own safe spaces & equal rights in the workplace, housing & public sphere.  They deserve the right to marry whomever they want & adopt children if they so choose.  All the things everyone else is entitled to.  It just shouldn't come at the cost of women's hard-earned gains.

For instance:  There's a reason men's & women's sports are separate--to preserve the safety and fairness of women's sports.  Taking estrogen doesn't undo the changes to bone structure & musculature that happen after going through male puberty.  A male pelvis can still be identified as male hundreds of years after death.  Trans people should be fighting for their OWN sports leagues, prison wings, domestic violence shelters & bathrooms/changing rooms, not imposing themselves on the vulnerable group who already have to deal with men hiding cameras in our spaces & posting "upskirt" videos on porn sites or otherwise violating our privacy.  Go to any porn site & you can find hundreds of these hidden camera videos right now, many of them recorded in public bathrooms or changing rooms.  And that's the least severe of the violations that can happen when men access our private spaces.

For those who are confused:  nobody's accusing trans people of hiding these cameras or doing the raping.  But valuing "gender identity" over biology opens the door for ANY male rapist, fetishist, narcissist, pedophile or pervert to access our spaces based on how they identify.  This is not a slippery slope argument.  It's already happened.  Google Jonathan Yaniv if you haven't heard of him already.  While you're at it, Google "cotton ceiling" & check out /r/actuallesbians on Reddit.  Despite the name, the subreddit is moderated mostly by transwomen (aka males) & chock-full of dick jokes or references to 'ladydick'.  Ditto for /r/TwoXChromosomes.  I shit you not.  And don't dare go to /r/Lesbians looking for genuine woman-to-woman's just pornography.  Lesbians have no home.

The radical feminist Gender Critical subreddit was recently shut down despite following every rule to the letter, as was the LGBdroptheT sub.  Yet countless pro-rape & misogynistic subs remain.  And the other day, #RIPJKRowling was trending on Twitter with posters saying they wished she was dead or pretending her work was written by other people.  All because she said people who menstruate used to be referred to as "women".  If you think this is acceptable, you might want to evaluate your definition of fair & normal.  I've never read a JK Rowling book or seen a Harry Potter movie but I must applaud her for stepping out on a ledge in this climate of anti-female censorship & putting her reputation on the line to stand up for us.  Read her full statement on the issue here.

If you believe souls are gendered, that's fine.  Like a religious belief, you're entitled to it.  But we have freedom of religion in this country which means you can't impose that belief on others.  Someone claiming to be another race is scientifically closer to the truth than someone claiming to be the opposite sex, as race is literally only a set of superficial characteristics like facial features, hair texture & skin tone with no hormonal or other underlying differences.  Sex, on the other hand, has a very real basis in genes, chromosomes, hormones & every cell of the body.  Obviously it's fraudulent & absurd to lie about your race so fuck you if you do that.  But our reaction as a society to these two forms of cosplay is ass-backwards.

Thanks for reading.

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Fall Is Psychedelic/Dissociative Season

Unto every season there is a drug; unto every drug there is a season.  Fall is a time of harvest, abundance, family gatherings & transition from hot to cold weather...long to short days.  Psychedelics are the perfect fit for the mood of this time of year.  Imagine Halloween on ketamine or stumbling through a corn maze on shrooms!  Whether you're a daytripper or prefer gazing at the night sky on hallucinogens, now is the perfect time to partake in the mind-expanding effects of these substances.

Even if you don't personally like a particular type of drugs, you can still harness their vibe to improve your mood & get into the spirit of the season.  I don't care for psychedelics in any dose or setting but have learned much from my uncomfortable trips.  Meditating on the energy of LSD, DMT, peyote or other psychedelics during this time of year is a good alternative to tripping if you don't have access or don't wish to partake.  Follow me on Twitter @BannedintheUSSA for articles & posts about dissociatives & hallucinogens right now.

Happy Autumn & stay trippy!  🍁

Saturday, September 12, 2020

[Review] - Medical Cannabis: Kief

My bestie picked up some kief at our brand new local dispensary where things are way overpriced but within walking distance so I felt compelled to write a quick review.  It's my first time trying kief so I was apprehensive as I've read it's about 4x stronger than cannabis flower which is already overpowering for me.  She picked up a gram of kief of unknown strain/origin for $65.  Yeah, not cheap.

1 gram kief

As I do with cannabis flower, I sprinkle the kief in with hemp bud in a joint to balance out the THC & avoid getting too high.  I use the long end of a Bic ink pen lid to scoop out the powdery kief material which works pretty well.  No idea how much kief I actually put in there in terms of weight...sorry.  But it appears to be the circumference of a nickel maybe?  I roll it all up in a marshmallow flavored joint & head for the hills on a cloudy September afternoon to shmoke.

As per usual, I only smoke half the joint to avoid getting too blazed.  This was a good decision as the kief is pretty potent.  The hemp burns more evenly than any of the weed flower I've bought around here, as all of it is poorly dried.  This results in a slow-burning joint that gets me nice & toasted.  The high is more cerebral & energetic than I'm used to which is nice.  No pounding heart like with some Sativas though, possibly due to the balancing effect of the CBD-rich hemp.  (It's the batch I got from Horn Creek Hemp Co. that I had to cure myself).  Very clear-headed high with no lethargic comedown.  This is a nice departure from my usual smoking fare.

Kief + hemp joint

Kief has many uses, from crowning bowls of weed to pressing into hash, rosin or use in moonrocks and cannabutter.  You can apparently put it in a hot cup of coffee or tea with milk or another fat too.  Overall I rate this kief  4.8 of 5 stars  for potency & effects with a few points deducted for the high price.  It's not branded as it is made by the dispensary itself but kief is kief.
(I really only wanted to review it so I have an excuse to show off my new camera's picture-taking abilities.  More reviews will be forthcoming in the upcoming weeks but I hope you enjoyed this one for now).  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

[Documentary] - Magic Mushroom Medical Trial: Real Stories

While feeling highly depressed during a Fioricet comedown the other night, I stumbled across a magnificent hour-long documentary about a psilocybin trial for severely depressed patients in the UK.  It was almost too close to home at the moment as the patients reminded me of myself:  one had tried 22 medications for his depression to no avail which is the exact number I've tried. 

I've taken magic mushrooms on multiple occasions as well as identical substances like 4-AcO-DMT (psilacetin), all of which have resulted in extremely uncomfortable "bad" trips.  Not scary or anxiety-producing, just depressing & unpleasant as if I'm dying but without any fear attached.  My friends would be laughing & having a grand time while I'd be curled up in the fetal position praying for it to stop.  But the afterglow always felt refreshing, as if I'd just come back from some kind of mental vacation or hit a spiritual "reset" button.  This feeling of invigoration lasted a couple days at most before my old grey cloud came back.  This is how all drugs tend to work with me. 

Anyhow, it's interesting seeing how psilocybin affects the 3 men in the study, all of whom are severely depressed.  The outcomes are not what you expect.  The first dose is a small threshold dose while the second is a larger 2.5 gram equivalent dose that produces more profound effects.  From that alone, significant results are seen.  Here's the documentary:

Do you think it's safe to give psilocybin to severely depressed patients?  Got any experiences you'd like to share?  Leave a comment below & get the conversation going.  This is likely to be a big issue in the psychiatric field in the coming decade as attitudes toward psychedelics change. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

That Time I Tried: Salvia

I was a dumb, bored teen--about 18--who would much rather have been smoking weed but couldn't get any without hanging around absolute losers & wannabe gang bangers, so I decided to order some dried salvia leaf online.  This was back when people were first discovering its psychoactive effects en masse around the early 2000's before the highly potent extracts became popular.  Thankfully.

Dried salvia divinorum leaf

I tried salvia leaf several times both orally & smoked but I'll tell of the time I stupidly drove out in the country & hit the pipe.  (Never, EVER drive while intoxicated.  This is dangerous & you have no right to do it.  To my credit, the salvia high only lasts a matter of minutes & I waited until I was completely sober to drive back home but it still was irresponsible since I was alone).  I'd already experimented with smoking salvia in my room at home so I kinda knew what to expect (not much).  Salvia HURTS in a way weed smoke doesn't.  It's harsh & singes the lungs and throat and only works when you hold it in for a long-ass time.

I parked on a hill around sunset hoping for something similar to my first time smoking weed in a cemetery which was magical.  I lit up a fat bowl, hit it deep & held it in for about 20 seconds.  The effects I actually got were a brown-tinged visual field that looked somewhat bent.  Sort of like I was looking through a fish eye lens.  Not much to write home about.  Kinda felt lightheaded too.  No euphoria or deep thoughts.  Blah.  Nothing like what you see on Youtube with the kids giggling or freaking out on the extracts.  It was almost like a deliriant where you're disoriented more than anything.  And no afterglow.

Fresh flowering salvia

I've tried using salvia leaf orally a few more times over the years as a migraine treatment without much luck.  I know shrooms help with cluster headaches & thought why not?  Again, I've never touched the potent extracts.  If you've had a crazy or interesting salvia experience, share in the comments below.  Definitely check out the Youtube salvia trips if you haven't...they're way more entertaining than this trip report.

That Time I Tried: 4-HO-MET

I first tried 4-HO-MET around 2012 during the absolute pinnacle of the research chemical Golden Era (2010-2015).  It was the 2nd psychedelic...