By Gregory Daurer
Tumbleweed’s arrival in Colorado, as announced with a full page Billboard advertisement. Image courtesy of Tumbleweed Records.
The Denver record label that hardly anyone remembers – or has ever even heard of – is getting some love.
A Tumbleweed Records compilation called “Sing It High, Sing It Low” has been released by the noted reissue label, Light In The Attic Records. Mojo – the elegant and tasteful music magazine out of England – gave the project its top rating of four stars. The new album/CD/digital download has shined a spotlight onto a forgotten musical history.
The story of Tumbleweed Records involves a multi-million dollar record deal, one of the most respected names in music production in the ‘70s (who would go on to produce the Eagles’ multi-platinum selling album “Hotel California”), and an eclectic roster of musicians playing everything from quasi-jazz and country rock to psychedelic folk and R&B. Nine albums were released by the label, which only existed from 1971-1973. According to some, it wasn’t so much the-record-label-that-couldn’t as the-record-label-that-wasn’t-allowed-to by its parent company overseers.
But now, thanks to Light In The Attic’s compilation, artists who were overlooked when their music was first released are being re-evaluated – and their highs (some very cannabis-accented ones, at that) and lows are being sung.
“So sing it high, sing it low/Which way would you like to go?…High, low, high…” – “Sunday Sherry” by Arthur Gee.
Tumbleweed Records began in 1971, after two record music vets Larry Ray, 31, and Bill Szymczyk, 28, arrived in Denver. The region had been gaining an increasing reputation as a place for musicians to relocate to. Szymczyk says “the vibe was very, very open” in the city back then, noting the area’s “undercurrent of musicality” – which some have likened to a pared-down version of L.A.’s Laurel Canyon scene.
Ray, who had spent time in Denver growing up, was burning to base a brand-new venture there, likely desiring his own hits with Tumbleweed like his previous employers, Elektra and A&M, had achieved with The Doors, Joe Cocker, and Cat Stevens.
But Szymczyk – who’d had some success producing B.B. King’s hit “The Thrill Is Gone” and the James Gang (featuring guitarist Joe Walsh, who would become a longtime collaborator) – ultimately had a terrifying wake-up call which caused him to join Ray in Denver: the deadly San Fernando Valley earthquake in California, in February 1971, scared him into moving his family out of harm’s way.
Through entrepreneurial hustle, Ray negotiated a multi-million dollar deal with Gulf + Western – one of the largest entertainment conglomerates in the world, and the owners of Paramount Pictures – and Tumbleweed Records was soon in business. Things were looking up for the brand-new label, which featured the image of a tumbleweed on its records (a tumblin’ tumbleweed, in fact, when spinning on a turntable).
Danny Holien. Image courtesy of Light In The Attic.
For their offices, they rented a house at 1368 Gilpin Street (a fact noted on the back of each release) situated near Cheesman Park. Robb Kunkel, who brought several acts to Ray and Szymczyk’s attention before eventually recording his own album “Abyss” for the label, lived upstairs; Kunkel sometimes wheeled his upright piano out onto the deck situated above the house’s porch, filling Gilpin Street with song.
Commander-in-chief Ray had his own office there. So did the label’s radio man, Bob Ruttenberg, doing the all-important promotional outreach to the era’s still-revolutionary band of FM DJs. Tumbleweed had two secretaries and an art department in the basement. Soon enough, the label had a string of albums ready to be released – most of which were recorded elsewhere, often in Los Angeles.
According to promo man Ruttenberg, the Tumbleweed Records crew was considered “radical hippies” by the industry – and not just because of their toking, but also due to their approach to business. Ray has said that Tumbleweed Records set out to equitably share royalties with its acts; not keeping two sets of accounting books like other labels did to screw over their musicians. (Never mind that ultimately there was very little in royalties to ever share.)
Tumbleweed’s label-mates shared their weed as well. “Everyone was smoking,” recalls the intelligently-quirky songwriter Pete McCabe, who would show up at the Gilpin Street house to pick up an advance check for his upcoming album and then spend part of it on that week’s blonde hash. Once, McCabe was visiting Arthur Gee, a Canadian who was Tumbleweed’s resident hippie/cosmic cowboy. Gee told McCabe, “I’m out of pot, but I did spill some hash oil on this sweatshirt.” They cut up that sticky part of Gee’s shirt and began smoking it, according to McCabe.
Ruttenberg also shared his weed with radio DJs. It was a way of seeking airplay, as much as it was a fun way to travel and hang out. Ruttenberg says, “All the FM DJs loved getting stoned – and I loved getting them stoned. And that’s one of the ways I presented myself: as Tumbleweed’s stoner… Let’s get stoned and listen to the new Michael Stanley record. Let’s get stoned and listen to Albert Collins and Dewey Terry.”
Original cover painting by E.L. Bortlenortz (circa 1972) depicting an epic journey to a magical land for a Dewey Terry concert (the venue is in the statue, which is Dewey). Originally commissioned by Tumbleweed as album cover art for Dewey’s “Chief” LP
Notoriously, Ruttenberg was arrested in Seattle with six ounces in his possession after having to unexpectedly pass through an airport metal detector (which perhaps came into greater use as a result of D.B. Cooper hijacking a plane in the Pacific Northwest in 1971). The metal-detector alerted authorities due to the recording equipment Ruttenberg was carrying, and his contraband was quickly discovered.
Ruttenberg told airport security, “Listen, man. This is my personal stash. It means nothing to you. It’s not going to hurt anybody. I’m just going around the country, taking care of business. Why don’t you put the bag back in the suitcase and let me go Eugene, Oregon to see my friend who’s waiting for me at the gate?”
After a short spell in jail and ultimately five thousand dollars in legal fees, charges were dismissed due to an improper search and Ruttenberg was a free man.
But even though its promo man was able to get out of jail, the label couldn’t achieve breakout success.
Arthur Gee-Whizz Band “City Cowboy” (TWS 107, 1973).
Tumbleweed’s highest charting record was a single by Danny Holien called “Colorado.” It hit number 66 on Billboard Magazine’s charts in October 1972. Whereas John Denver’s 1972 single “Rocky Mountain High” (released after Holien’s) celebrated the natural wonder of the state, Holien’s song explored a dystopian vision, an early take on the “Californication” of Colorado. It has a martial, fife and drum-like quality to it, a deeply-expressed passion for how wilderness would be overrun by development one day.
“Colorado, Colorado, beautiful place that you are/Feel the sorrow of tomorrow, before you go very far/Listen to the calling of the wilderness crying for a human soul to feel.” – “Colorado” by Danny Holien.
The song incorporates what Pulitzer Prize-winning zen Beat poet Gary Snyder has termed a “moral sense of the nonhuman world.” In other words, given its subject matter and keen production, it’s a stunning-sounding bummer.
Holien wasn’t the only act brought to Tumbleweed by Kunkel. Also brought into the fold was Dewey Terry, who had been recording music since the 1950s as part of the soul and doo-wop act Don and Dewey. With his partner Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Terry had written and recorded seriously-grooving songs like “Big Boy Pete” and “Farmer John” (which has been covered, over the years, by The Premieres, Neil Young, and The White Stripes). Don and Dewey toured alongside Little Richard (featuring Jimi Hendrix) and even met the Beatles.
“He was one of the funkiest dudes ever,” Szymczyk says of Terry.
Terry’s howling vocals on the song “Do On My Feet (What I Did On The Street)” call to mind the Don and Dewey ‘50s raver “Justine.” It’s Tumbleweed’s funkiest, James Brown-like moment. Then, on “Sweet as Spring,” Terry delivers a tender, country-esque, string-accented number. The two songs, which sound as if they had been recorded by totally separate acts, both appear on 2017’s Light In The Attic release, as well as Terry’s Tumbleweed record “Chief.” Holien and Kunkel were both a part of Terry’s backup band, the Rocky Mountain Rhythm Kings – as all-white as a snow-capped Colorado peak. (Kunkel has written about how, prior to Tumbleweed starting, he was dragged to Denver’s Five Points neighborhood by Terry so he could share his Thai-stick weed with a fellow soul brother at the “Bucket of Blood” bar and demanded that Kunkel take to the stage and jam on guitar for the all-black audience.)
Arthur Gee. Image courtesy of Jeanne Damerst.
Kunkel also heard brilliance in Denver native Pete McCabe, who rightly calls some of the lyrics on his recording “The Man Who Ate The Plant” “fantastical.” In McCabe’s song “Magic Box,” a seemingly whimsical story about a drunken magician turns into a tale of existential horror: in his act, the magician really does make volunteers from the audience disappear forever, and he laments over how so many people are eager not to exist. To close its reissue disc, Light In The Attic includes McCabe’s “Late Letter” – an ode to movie star Marilyn Monroe told by an admirer whose needy fan letter belatedly arrives after the late Monroe has already taken too many sleeping pills. Szymczyk remembers McCabe as an “eccentric singer-songwriter” and says, “I also always loved the Pete McCabe [record], because that is such an oddball.”
During the recording of “The Man Who Ate the Plant,” Szymczyk says it was “cool as hell” to put the anxious, tenor banjo-plunking McCabe – who’d only played solo before – in a room with 20 accomplished musicians. As for the studio environment itself, McCabe recalls, “Bill told me, ‘Okay, when these string players come in, we put the pot away. But for the horn players, it’s okay, we can smoke.’”
Szymczyk also produced bluesman Albert Collins for Tumbleweed. Collins’ guitar-string bends can wrench one’s guts, while the backing horns add their own “Yeah, ain’t life a bitch?” emphasis. (Collins’ song “There’s Gotta Be A Change” – the title of his Tumbleweed album – is included on his “Best Of” album, but not on Light In The Attic’s compilation, due to issues with acquiring the rights.)
However, if Collins had been hoping to have a hit like Szymczyk had crafted for B.B. King with “The Thrill is Gone”(which reached the 15 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970), the lack of chart success was something that Collins could have written a blues song about. Regardless, the Texan is remembered as a powerful performer by Gee: “He played his guitar and he’d walk into the crowd. That was one of his signatures. He was a fabulous blues guitar player. Very creative.”
Besides producing Collins, Szymczyk also brought Michael Stanley to Tumbleweed. The Colorado Music Hall of Fame presently cites Stanley’s woeful “Denver Rain” as one of the greatest songs ever written about Colorado.
“Maybe it’s back to the mountains/Back to my place in the hills/Hoping that maybe she’ll tell me/Denver rain never will.” – “Denver Rain” by Michael Stanley.
Dewey Terry and Robb Kunkel. Photograph by and courtesy of Daniel Mainzer.
Stanley came to Szymczyk’s attention when he was playing in a Cleveland band called Silk, back when Stanley was still known by his original last name, Gee. That surname proved problematic when he was about to be signed to Tumbleweed. Szymczyk told Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer newspaper, “When I finished Michael’s album we played it for Larry [Ray], surrounded by a cloud of fine Colorado weed, (mostly mine).” Ray was “floored” by the music – which included musicians like Todd Rundgren and Joe Walsh – but there was a problem: the label already had a Gee –
Arthur Gee – as part of its roster. In that shroud of cannabis smoke, Michael Gee ultimately changed out his last name for his middle name, Stanley.
The other Gee – Arthur – was the only Tumbleweed artist to have two albums released by the label. Gee comes off as a troubadour of inner-space and outer-geographies, doing what he’s called his “hippie, wandering-minstrel type thing.” While his first album was released under his own name, his second included a band which Tumbleweed took the liberty of naming the Arthur Gee-Whizz Band. “I was sort of shaking my head about that for a while,” says Gee, who ultimately rolled with the decision.
Gee recalls of the era, “It was an exciting time musically, because there was a lot of experimenting going on, back then, with music and electronic instruments and stuff like that.”
Tumbleweed house band: The Rocky Mountain Rhythm Kings, featuring Danny Holien, Allan Blazek, Robb Kunkel, Steve Swenson, Gaga and Bill Szymczyk. Image courtesy of Light In The Attic.
Although the music was sometimes experimental, the Tumbleweed business experiment didn’t prove sustainable in the long run. There were constant rifts between Tumbleweed and its parent entities – Gulf + Western and its music distributor, Famous Music – which controlled the label’s destiny. Szymczyk and Ruttenberg both maintain that Tumbleweed’s records received decent airplay, but weren’t given proper distribution in retail stores for stoned heads to buy. “In retrospect, we were nothing but a tax write-off,” says Szymczyk. Ruttenberg adds, “We were up against a brick wall with Famous Music. They didn’t do shit for us…We were like a bunch of freaks to them. We were hippies in Colorado, trying to make something happen.”
Until the label wasn’t happening anymore, at all, that is.
Gee, just back from a tour in 1973, discovered that Tumbleweed Records had ended when he paid a call to the label’s office. It had been abandoned. “That’s how I found out,” says Gee. “Nobody called me.”
About two and a half years ago, Light In The Attic Records phoned Gee to tell him they wanted to use his songs for a compilation of Tumbleweed Records material. Light In The Attic had been working on the project for a few years already and had just located him in British Columbia. Gee learned they were going to name the project after a line from one of his songs. “At first, I was a little shocked,” he says.
Despite a quibble or two over song choices, Gee, now 73, says about “Sing It High, Sing It Low,” “I think it’s an excellent package.”
Gee’s greatest commercial success had come in the late ‘60s when his song “Sunspots” was covered by Canadian vocalist Anne Murray on an album that included her best-selling hit “Snowbird.” In the late ‘70s, he formed a punk-inspired band based in San Francisco and Portland. Over the years, he’s played fiddle for a Celtic group, and as a country-inspired artist. He also recorded an intriguing collection of songs called “The Dark Monkey is Laughing” with Jeff Bird, a musician known for his work with The Cowboy Junkies.
On the steps of the Tumbleweed house in Denver, Colorado. Top row, left to right: Allan Blazek, unknown, Aaron Schumaker, Robb Kunkel, Bob Ruttenberg, and Mitch Kampf. Bottom row, left to right: Donna Rabatt, Willie Seltzer, Bill Szymczyk, Larry Ray, and Bonnie McEvoy
Gee’s fellow label-mate Pete McCabe, who lives in Venice, California, recalls his own Tumbleweed Record days as “a fabulous time…To be able to make a record and have the production I got is pretty amazing.” Employed over the years as a graphic designer and teacher’s aide, McCabe, 68, just started recording music again over the past decade, and his Tumbleweed record “The Man Who Ate The Plant” has become a cult favorite. In fact, it’s drawn musicians anew to him, assisting him with his recordings. He released a new disc, “I Forgot,” this year.
McCabe says of his late friend, Robb Kunkel, “I’m just eternally grateful for him for kind of discovering me and bringing me to Tumbleweed.” McCabe calls that period in the early ‘70s “a magical time for both of us.”
In 2009, Kunkel discussed by email his Tumbleweed album, “Abyss,” which has achieved its own cult following for its somber, jazz-accented stylings: “I was 21 and stoned to the hilt making ‘Abyss’ and, at the time, I knew there was not one commercial track on it – but, hey, I had 56,000 bucks to make it and more cocaine than Sly Stone…The company looked at me with suspicion, but [they] were too busy getting stoned to pay attention.”
Due to the label’s problems, Tumbleweed “backfired—but spectacularly,” says Sarah Sweeney, who wrote the liner notes to “Sing It High, Sing It Low.” Ultimately, it’s most noted for having served as a stepping stone for Szymczyk’s subsequent career, allowing him to “hone his chops.” Sweeney says, “[Tumbleweed] really launched Bill Szymczyk into the stratosphere.”
Szymczyk went on to produce popular records for the J. Geils Band, Rick Derringer (“Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo”), Bob Seger, The Who, Joe Walsh (including the song “Rocky Mountain Way”), and the Eagles.
As for his time with Tumbleweed Records, which ended in 1972, Szymczyk says, “I would consider that definitely my grad school work, if you will.”
Pete McCabe during the Tumbleweed years. Image courtesy of Pete McCabe
Szymczyk, 74, still considers the Tumbleweed album he made for Michael Stanley one of the highlights of his career, and he remains one of Stanley’s biggest admirers. In fact, Szymczyk was preparing to travel from his home in North Carolina to visit Stanley and assist the Ohioan with a new album. “As he’s gotten older his songwriting has become incredible,” says Szymczyk. “It’s always done from a perspective of intelligence.”
Recognizing Szymczyk’s achievements, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame will be honoring him with an “Award of Excellence” on August 13 at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre. The Hall of Fame’s Director, G. Brown, says of Szymczyk, “There were only a handful of people that created the classic rock sound of the ‘70s – and Bill was one of them.” Szymczyk’s Tumbleweed days (as well as his more prominent recordings done at Nederland’s Caribou Ranch) will be cited at the ceremony, and Brown is particularly impressed with Light In The Attic’s recent reissue: “That was a forgotten bit of Colorado music history, until they addressed it. I’m not sure who would have.”
In 2019, the History Colorado Center will be including Szymczyk and Tumbleweed Records in an exhibition called “Colorado Sound: Homegrown Music from Folk to Rock.” Curator Megan K. Friedel says of Tumbleweed, “It’s part of that early 1970s story of what’s happening with the music scene here: that suddenly people from outside of the state are discovering Colorado as a place to come and make music, [a place] that’s particularly conducive to inspiring music that’s not necessarily of the mainstream.”
And given that Tumbleweed Records was known for gifting people stone-engraved roach clips in the early ‘70s, it’s fitting that Light In The Attic’s deluxe packaging of Tumbleweed’s music includes a packet of rolling papers. Arthur Gee – who G. Brown says offered him his first hit of weed back when Brown was a teenage rock journalist – agrees: “I think it’s totally appropriate,” says Gee, who says he’s been smoking cannabis for over 50 years and has recently been using a regimen of CBD oil to combat his cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. “Everyone was smoking pot back then.”
In other words, once upon a time in Denver in the early ‘70s, there was plenty of weed at a storied music label called Tumbleweed Records.
Light In The Attic Records: lightintheattic.net
Colorado Music Hall of Fame: cmhof.org
Pete McCabe: www.petemccabe.com
All golf tournament proceeds will benefit Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international grassroots organization dedicated to ending the war on drugs.
DENVER, Colo., (July 23, 2017)— High Rollers dispensary in partnership with The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine will host its 3rd annual Cannabis Charity Open, from 1 – 7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 27, at the Park Hill Golf Club, 4141 E. 35th Avenue in Denver.
All proceeds from the golf tournament benefits Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international network of students dedicated to ending the war on drugs.
Individual registration starts at $150 and $500 for a foursome team. To participate, or for more information, visit CannabisCharityOpen.com.
A much anticipated event, participants will receive free tournament golf balls, tees, and other apparel, as well as player gift bags with cannabis accessories.
“As part of an industry born by the will of the voters, we feel it is important to give back to our community. By being a part of the charitable golf tournament in Denver, we hope to help the communities neighborhoods we serve and make a positive impact on the residents who live in them,” said Luke Ramirez of High Rollers Dispensary.
Highlights include a post-event buffet and free drinks throughout the tournament. A raffle and awards ceremony will conclude the day, with prizes for top teams and individual achievements. Additional donation opportunities will be available during the event.
The Cannabis Charity Open is considered a major fundraiser for SSDP. Founded in 1998, the nonprofit organization brings young people together and creates safe spaces for students of all backgrounds to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. This year’s title sponsor is incredibles, recognized as the number one infused edible company in Colorado.
“We look forward to the opportunity to give back and celebrate cannabis at the THC Golf Tournament. Both incredibles and Students For a Sensible Drug Policy help to educate the public about cannabis while spreading facts about cannabis legislation across the country. The THC Golf tournament helps to bring together all sectors of the industry to support grass-roots cannabis advocacy,” said Bob Eschino, Founder and President of incredibles.
About High Rollers Dispensary:
High Rollers Dispensary is focuses on quality cannabis products and compassionate customer service. Based in Colorado, High Rollers is one of the top dispensaries in Denver for high-grade medical marijuana. Located between Florida and Arkansas Avenues on historic South Pearl Street, High Rollers Dispensary provides a boutique consumer experience. Set amidst locally-owned shops, quaint eateries and personal wellness facilities, High Rollers connects the community with the healing powers of cannabis-based therapy. High Rollers combines sophistication with modern-day technology to bring its clients high-quality cannabis flower, pure cannabis concentrates and delectable marijuana edibles. For more information visit HighRollers420.com.
About The Hemp Connoisseur:
The Hemp Connoisseur (THC) Magazine is a national print outlet dedicated to delivering innovative and comprehensive news content to cannabis industry professionals, patients, and consumers. The magazine is a two-time winner of “Best Cannabis Publication” by the Cannabis Business Awards, educating audiences on the many benefits and uses of both marijuana and commercial hemp. It strives to elevate the image of the cannabis industry and consumer alike by providing mature, in-depth journalism with a foundation of editorial integrity. For more information visit THCMag.com.
By Gregory Daurer
Aaron Lammer, photo by Anna Rose
On the podcast Longform, Aaron Lammer holds lively discussions with prominent journalists, geeking out on their abilities to conduct in-depth research and then write narratives that not only
relay important information, but emotional impact, as well. A savvy interviewer, Lammer readily conveys his fascination with his guests’ narratives to Lonform’s audience.
As examples, the 35-year-old Lammer has interviewed Evan Wright, a two-time National Magazine Award winner, about the warfare he witnessed in Iraq that led to his book “Generation Kill;” Nick Bilton about piecing together “American Kingpin,” his book about the dramatic rise and ugly fall of Silk Road, the onetime, dark web, drug-selling site; Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, about being a man of color reporting on the racial turmoil in Ferguson, Missouri; and New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi about how she cultivates sources, in order to report on what’s happening within the detested militant group ISIS.
The way Lammer conducts himself with prominent people of letters — dissecting their work and asking them about the construction of their stories — one might suspect that he’s a seasoned pro himself, a peer to the guests he hosts.
Hardly. “I’ve never really been employed as a journalist,” says Lammer, although he did work briefly in the publishing world, and did some ghostwriting.
He has another confession to make: “Honestly, I’m interested in journalism — but it’s not my primary interest in the world.” As a web developer, Lammer assisted his college friend, Max Linsky, a onetime alternative-weekly scribe, start the Longform web site in 2010, and then inaugurate its lauded podcast (often seen on “Best Of” lists for the genre) in 2012. Despite having conducted dozens of interviews now, Lammer says, “I think I’m more interested in small projects that serve an important role.”
So what important role is Lammer’s brand-new podcast project, Stoner, serving?
Unlike other cannabis-related podcasts, Stoner doesn’t delve deeply into entrepreneurship or stock offerings, cultivation or commerce. It doesn’t cover activist politics, for the most part, or discuss the origins of various strains.
Stoner is billed as “Creative people talk about their experiences with marijuana (and whatever else comes up).”
As the host of Stoner, Lammer is interested in the gradual, cultural shift taking place throughout America today regarding cannabis — although there still exists wide disparities from state to state. “The experience in New York and the experience in Alabama and the experience in Denver could not be more different than each other,” he says. “When you really look at America as a whole, a very tiny sliver of America is shopping for legal weed, even though it’s sort of swept a bunch of the country.”
Even in legal states, people can still lose their jobs — and potentially their housing or children — if they’re “out” as a cannabis consumer. Due to factors like that, Lammer has gotten rejections from several invitees he’s asked to appear on the show.
Lammer says part of Stoner’s role is to portray marijuana usage as normal, sane, acceptable; to open up a dialogue about social consumption.
So, why then is the show called Stoner, a term many still view as a pejorative? Lammer says he wanted a word that would immediately convey the nature of the podcast. And he wanted a term that would put the emphasis on people, rather than on the plant itself. Lammer likens “stoner” to the word “nerd,” which has undergone a rehabilitation “where it was negative and then it came to symbolize a community of people: ‘Hey I don’t accept that this is a stigma, a bad thing. I embrace it.’”
On his new podcast, Lammer sometimes spotlights media professionals like he does on Longform – although, they’re often people within the cannabis sphere. Guests have included Amanda Chicago Lewis, who writes a marijuana column for Rolling Stone, Ricardo Baca, the former Cannabist editor for the Denver Post, and Krishna Andavolu of Viceland’s Weediquette show.
Andavolu, who once smoked a joint at Uruguayan president José Mujica’s home in front of Mujica (whose country is the first to regulate cannabis), says on Stoner, “I was telling my parents about that before it came out, and they were just mortified.”
The analogy of “coming out” in the midst of prevailing social stigmas resonated with Stoner guest Alexandra Chasin. She’s the author of “Assassin of Youth,” a book about Harry J. Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar” and the architect of reefer madness propaganda in the 1930s. Due to Anslinger’s effective demonizing of marijuana decades ago, stigmas surrounding the plant still persist today in many quarters.
Chasin tells Lammer that when she came out as “queer,” it was a period when derisive names were still shouted at her, objects were violently hurled in her direction. She jokes about how it takes a “special kind of pervert,” like herself, to miss the onetime social taboo of being gay — or a “stoner,” for that matter. As the LGBT movement progressed into the ’90s, and the emphasis became more on military service and gay marriage, Chasin recalls feeling about her activism that “the thrill is gone.” She tells Lammer, “I feel a bit like that about marijuana” — although Chasin still prefers seeing the birth of a regulated market in America, rather than prohibition living on.
Lammer, who’s resided in New York his entire adult life, birthed the idea for Stoner after trips back to his hometown of Berkeley, California. “It’s a whole other world,” Lammer says of the West Coast. “There’s this massive retail establishment…not necessarily the classiest stuff always. A lot of dispensaries are weird, strip-mally places.” But in New York, some people still buy weed in parks — although, more often than not, purchases happen from delivery services that will show up with say, four to six strains, in Lammer’s experience. For all it’s hipster aspects, Brooklyn still isn’t Portland or Seattle or Denver (places where Lammer has purchased legal weed), when it comes to cannabis.
Perhaps it’s Lammer’s East Coast location, rather than being in a legal recreational state, that gives Stoner a slightly naive sensibility compared to other cannabis podcasts out there. But, then again, Lammer isn’t seeking to convey an in-the-know approach: “I try to come to it with the eye of an amateur,” he says. “I don’t want to be like, ‘Oh, I know more about weed than you.’ It’s more of a journey.”
The show is still coming into its own. Lammer says Longform began hitting its stride after 25 episodes (it’s released over 250 episodes now), and Stoner, with new broadcasts appearing once a week, has less than 20 episodes in its archive.
So far on Stoner, Lammer has amusingly journeyed into the outré, Midwestern mind of Bill Levin, leader of the First Church of Cannabis in Indianapolis. Using Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act as a basis for a lawsuit, Levin is suing the state for the ability to use cannabis as a sacrament (and perhaps eventually sell it in his church’s gift shop, if Levin has his way). When asked about President Trump’s goal to allow churches to make political donations and endorse candidates — which Levin’s cannabis church could potentially benefit from — Levin amusingly tells Lammer, “What is good for one church is good for all churches. And if [Trump’s] going to make beneficial laws for churches, who am I to say no?”
Another guest, Nick Denton, who founded the website Gawker, discusses with Lammer the concept of “cross-cutting identities”: How people from disparate backgrounds can come together over a TV show — or a joint. “Being a stoner is an identity, and it cuts across race lines, it cuts across class lines,” says Denton in his British accent.
The guest who Lammer has known the longest is the singer who goes by the name of Francis Starlite of Francis and The Lights. It turns out Lammer and Starlite have been making music together since they were in their late teens. “It’s still a pretty big part of my life,” says Lammer of his behind-the-scenes music career, which he cites as one of his primary passions. “I’ve been in a band for most of my adult life.”
Within the video for Starlite’s song “Friends,” Starlite’s friends Bon Iver and Kanye West both make appearances. Lammer is listed as both a co-writer and co-producer on the track. Lammer has also released “Big Personality,” an e.p. of songs — including one called “Stoned Out Wonderland” — all written by Lammer and performed and sung by Starlite.
Who knew? It’s something that might surprise regular listeners to Longform or Stoner, who’ve become familiar with the engaging podcaster with the self-described, “scratchy and nasal at the same time, but not particularly high” voice.
“I like not knowing where people are going,” says Lammer. “That’s basically my goal in interviewing people: to end somewhere that neither of us expected…And that’s been an unexpected delight in the show.” ♦
The THC Championship is celebrating our competition this December with THE Industry Holiday Party and will be held at City Hall! This year is our Funkin’ 5th Year Anniversary, and we are going all out for all of our readers, our competitors, judges and sponsors. We have some amazing music in store for the evening starting with the reggae beats by PNUCKLE, then we’re funking up the night with RUDY LOVE and BACKBONE. Our awards will be given out at 7:45PM.
Please note that we will be hosting a camera crew at our event. A part of the “The Love Story” is being shot for the documentary of Rudy Love.
We are looking forward to partying with YOU!
MetLo RoofTop will be hosting the VIP section of our celebration!!
Get your tickets HERE!
Please note – no consumption on City Hall premises
The Love Story (teaser) from TBC on Vimeo. Rudy: www.facebook.com/thelovestoryfilm
by Chanel Wing
One of the most magical things about a cannabis plant is its crystals. They glisten and shine like little diamonds, like snowflakes, like lights on a Christmas tree. Cannabis plants are decorated with their own Christmas ornaments provided by Mother Nature. It is a beautiful thing to behold.
Winter is coming again. The nights grow longer and the holidays are near. I always thought myself lucky to be born one week before Christmas Day. This time of year was layered with celebration for me as a child. I definitely fall into the category of a spoiled millennial. Although, I consider myself to be in the first wave of millennials for whom the ground is more solid.
My life has been anything but ideal. To say my life is not what I expected is an understatement, but in so many ways, it is better than what I expected too. It falls into the category of, “You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.” Our generation cares a lot about what we want, but when it comes to what we need, we aren’t quite as intrigued.
Yet, in my life, it is when I embraced circumstances that I didn’t “want” that I ended up gaining more than I ever expected. On the contrary, when I’ve gotten things I’ve wanted in life I’ve never left satisfied. As sure as you are that your thirst will be quenched once you achieve some goal or obtain some possession, it’s never quite enough. The pull of wanting catches you, and you are again lost in a downward spiral of craving. Never is this maddening cycle more evident than around the holidays.
We are inundated with decorations, commercials, overindulgence and excess. We’re encouraged to want more, to eat more and to drink more. This is a short version of what we refer to as “the holidays.” Ultimately, we end up needing a holiday from the holidays.
There is a lot of emphasis on consuming and receiving. Frequent questions in the month of December fall along the lines of, “What do you want for Christmas?” “Hey, what did you get for Christmas?”
What can we get and how much can we consume pretty much sums up the holiday season. This is our chosen method for celebrating the end of the year on this often-troubling planet. We kiss the year goodbye by indulging in our worst habits. It’s a time of year when it is more evident than ever that our way of life is missing the mark when it comes to true joy and happiness.
Despite my joy as a child in receiving gifts and eating lavishly, as an adult, I’ve been a victim of the holiday blues. Year after year, I struggle to walk away from Christmas feeling a real sense of joy. Each year I ask, “What went wrong?” I wonder how I spent another Christmas day stuck in disappointment. Maybe it’s because I have yet to realize and accept the fact that Christmas is not about my happiness, it’s about other people’s happiness. It’s not about what gift I did or didn’t get, it’s about what I give to others and not just on Christmas day, but every day.
It seems that many of us have neglected the spirit of giving. What if the emphasis was truly on what we can do for someone else? A celebration of love to end the year could be giving back to others. This may sound cliché, but it seems rare that we truly give to others without an expectation of something in return. Giving back isn’t buying them socks, perfume, gadgets, slippers or toys, but by giving them you, your undying love and presence, your ear, your words, your truth, your helping hand, your advice, your acceptance and your admiration. My hope is that we come closer to our true selves, closer to our heart centers, closer to a place of giving rather than receiving and a place of giving without any expectation that it will be returned. That is unconditional love and that’s what Christmas is about.
An iconic image of the Christmas season is a decorated Christmas tree. Trees have a lot to teach us about selflessness. For trees, life is not about wanting increasingly or me, me, me. Life for trees is about giving. They have no ego. They live a life of unity, interconnectedness and sacrifice.
One of the most important trees in my life is cannabis. The cannabis plant exemplifies the spirit of giving more than any plant. The ways in which this plant gives back are numerous. One single plant may reach hundreds of people. The power, sacrifice and ability of these plants to bring healing energy to human beings is unprecedented. Its merits are becoming an undeniable fact to the majority of the population. With all the division in this country this year one thing is clear, cannabis is turning the map green. This magical plant offers so many people the opportunity for healing, for softening, for understanding and connecting.
We can’t always get what we want; sometimes your family can’t afford the newest iPhone or Beats headphones. However, sometimes we get what we need, and what we need now in our country is healing, understanding and above all unconditional love. Unconditional love can only flow from our heart centers. Christmas trees and cannabis silently remind us to stay centered and love unconditionally. That is the greatest gift you can give to those around you.
Cannabis reminds us “it’s not about you, it’s about giving love and service to the people that surround you and the planet you live on.” The plants whisper, “everything will be ok, the undying thread of love is ever present.” They ease my fears. “Be merry,” they sing, for there is so much to be grateful for, so much ahead of us that will shock and inspire us. I’m so glad they are along for the ride. May we all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
reviewed by Lindsay Quinn
WARNING: you will receive attention while wearing this item. The sweatshirt itself is comfortable, breathable, not too heavy, and made with 100% Cotton. The over-sized fit goes perfectly with a pair of jeans or over some black leggings. The screen-print is the eye-catcher – after wearing the pullover home on a walk from the office, many people would drop the “hang-loose” gesture or verbally inform me that they partake in the dab-centric culture. If you don’t mind the fellow dabber or two paying compliments, then this is a fall must-have for every dabbing gal. mmjco.com
by Raelina Krikston
In the sleepy coastal town of Pescadero, CA, tourists drive up and down the shore to watch sea lions basking on the nearby rocks. The wind whips around and licks your face with a wet, salty kiss like an excited puppy. Follow the road into town and through the hills, and you will come across the forested getaway, Venture Retreat Center, where the first Ganja Goddess Retreat is being held.
This was the scene before us as my friend and I arrived to the Ganja Goddess Retreat, a women-only event centered around the spiritual uses and benefits of cannabis.
We had the opportunity to attend the event, and in the morning after interview Deidra Bagdasarian — founder of the Ganja Goddess Getaway, about how she hopes to change the perception of cannabis in the public through women’s empowerment and education. Although this is the first year of the event, Deidra is no stranger to cannabis, she is the founder of Bliss Edibles and has been an instructor at Oaksterdam University before she created MYM Events, the parent company to Ganja Goddess Getaway.
photo by Raelina Krikston
THC Mag: First off, thank you for holding an event that has such a strong, empowering energy to it. How did you develop the idea for the Ganja Goddess Getaway?
Deidra Bagdasarian: My husband and I have owned Bliss Edibles and Extracts since 2009; then, we had a baby. When I was on maternity leave, away from the bakery, away from the day-to-day, I felt disconnected from my community and I was trying to figure out how to be a mother to a baby girl. I wanted to show her what women are, and really be the best version of myself. So I started thinking about what I really wanted, something I hadn’t thought about since starting Bliss Edibles, and Ganja Goddess turned out to be what I really wanted.
As I started, magic started happening and I realized that this is what a lot of people want. Women don’t really have a place in the cannabis community. When I went to go find the women in the female cannabis community to tell about this, they weren’t there. There’s a women’s cannabis business network, but I’m not trying to help you start businesses, I’m not trying to teach you to grow weed. I want to normalize cannabis for our culture through women smoking it. The only way that women are going to normalize it is if they understand everything that can be done with the plant. I want to create something that focuses on the creative and spiritual uses of cannabis because no one is having that conversation.
THC Mag: Ganja Goddess is just the beginning, what are your plans for other events under your parent company MYM (Maximize Your Medicine)?
Deidra: We want to create a series of events that all celebrate the same part of cannabis. Something that celebrates the personal use of the plant to make yourself a better person.
Maximize Your Medicine will be the next conference that we put on, we want it to be the “TED Talks of Weed”. We want to really create a space where we can have conversations about cannabis that don’t have to do with growing and selling, but rather using it and making yourself better through using cannabis. People are consuming it, but they’re doing it in their closets or their bathrooms. Let’s talk about how we can use this as a culture to make our culture better.
We started the event company in January of this year. Everyone that we’ve contacted has met us with overwhelming support. The community has been ridiculously positive. I’ve never done anything and gotten this kind of response from it. It’s really exciting.
I’d like to do one event in the same location every year, and more in different locations, but one of the central focuses for MYM events is to spread this information to the places that don’t already have it. We want to go into non-medical states and hold “Goddess Getaways” where we discuss it, we don’t use it, but we have those conversations. If we are going to be a “TED Talk” kind of arena, then those are the places that really need to be included in these discussions. There are people who are using cannabis all over the country, obviously, but the places that aren’t medical have no support. No one is going in there and trying to talk about cannabis, unless they’re talking about legalization. We’re not political, we’re not a business, we’re just trying to talk to the people who are hiding in their bathrooms, because that’s who we were. We were in Arizona hiding from our kids… and buying from sketchy dealers. That’s ridiculous. We want to spread the word and change the perception. Our focus is on women too, the saying goes, ‘if you educate a man, you educate a man alone, educate a women and you educate the family.’
THC Mag: How do you see your future events bringing in more of these “family education” elements? How does this conversation continue?
Deidra: We’ve talked about having parent/Mom’s Retreats, so we can talk about what it is to be a cannabis mom in the prohibition era. I hope it spreads into the family in the sense that it is normalized and children don’t feel like it’s a “Say No to Drugs” thing. I wish parents weren’t ashamed to recreate or take their medicine in front of their children. We’re willing to drink a beer in front of our kids all the time, why aren’t we willing to smoke in front of them? We say it’s safer, so let’s show them. We’re all so shameful about it. I hear all the time ‘Oh, but my kids don’t know I smoke…’ That’s a conversation we’re trying to spark. Let’s talk about those things because it will be perceived by our children however we present it. We have to overcome a lot to re-normalize cannabis in our culture. We have this very bizarre relationship with the plant because of prohibition, but that is not what man has been doing with cannabis for the last 10,000 years.
THC Mag: Considering how cannabis and cannabis use has been affected by being pushed underground, what are your plans to reconnect with the shamanistic uses of cannabis? Are there specific communities that you’re looking to connect with?
Deidra: I’m always looking to find like-minded cannabis users for spiritual purposes. I know that much of the new age community is using cannabis for myriad reasons, but I don’t know that they’re necessarily teaching that cannabis is a tool in the ‘spiritual tool-chest’ of connecting with the divine. I feel like our organization is a thought leader in this regard, and we look forward to connecting with everyone who has a similar message.
These ideas are bigger than any single platform or organization. Education is always the calling card of change, and we are one of the teachers in this movement to restore entheogen use to Western spiritual traditions.
Another thing I’ve just recently started doing is reaching out to Christian women’s organizations to advocate for cannabis. This may be a baby step, but it’s in the right direction. If we can normalize cannabis as legitimate medicine, we can then evolve into the enormous potential of cannabis as medicine that heals your spirit.
THC Mag: We heard you’ve got more than just events in the works, would you like to tell us about some of the other projects you’ve been working on?
Deidra: I’m almost done with my first book, “No One is Afraid of a Cupcake: How Cannabis Edibles Could Change the World.” It’s about how I discovered cannabis and how I’ve seen all those people that have rejected cannabis, accept edibles. I’ve gotten lots of people that say ‘I would never try cannabis,’ — to try edibles. I hope to gain a voice with this book alongside what I teach. Oaksterdam is a voice, but it’s a voice to the community, it’s preaching to the choir, I’d really like to talk outside of the choir.
I feel that as a person who doesn’t have stereotypical ‘stoner look’ I’m a little more relatable. I come from Christian, fundamentalist, conservative America. Heck, I registered as a Republican when I was 18, so I get that mentality; and my family is still there. I want to talk to those people. I want this to have a mainstream voice.
To learn more about the event, visit ganjagoddessgetaway.com
by Samuel Farley, Twitter and Instagram @THC_Samuel
Cannabis has permeated American culture in many ways. Music, movies and other forms of media have embraced cannabis in some form. Glass artists, and the pieces of functional artwork they create, are a large part of that culture. Joe Peters is an example of a glass artist who showcases a wide spectrum of artistic talent and expertise via glasswork. He’s also found a unique way to get his work into the hands of influential musicians who support cannabis culture.
Joe began painting in high school and dabbled in pottery in college. His interest in pipes began when he was 18 and saw functional glass in a head shop for the first time. Around age 20, he began taking lessons, learning how to make wine goblets and glasses, and started to learn flame working, or glass blowing with a torch. About two months after his first class, he quit his part time job to make pendants in his parents’ garage. Although he loved pipes, his mom wouldn’t allow him to make cannabis paraphernalia in their garage, so he first had to pursue the more formal side of nonfunctional glass blowing. According to Joe, she was so adamant about him not making bongs in the garage that she would go in with hot tweezers and break any pipe she found him making. While his parents were stern, they allowed him to continue blowing glass, but only nonfunctional artwork.
Joe P. Queen Bee – Honey Hemisphere) Collab with Jupiter Nielsen
He began going to small events, such as farmers markets, to sell his work. Initially inspired by aquatic life from a love of scuba diving, it only took five years before he was going to prestigious glass art shows, completing installations for children’s hospitals in different cities across the country and being commissioned for private work. The nonfunctional glass artwork took him far in the high-end glass craft circuit, until around 2008 when the market crashed. In 2009, he was worried that the next generation wouldn’t appreciate the artistic medium as much and began questioning his ability to make a living as a glassblower. After seeing the work of artists like Banjo, he decided to make the shift to creating functional art. By then, he had his own studio space and could comfortably start honing his functional glass craft. “It’s where I always wanted to be,” said Joe, “But it was a really good path, because if I had started off making pipes, I would be a different glass blower than I am now. I wouldn’t have all of the years of taking classes in Italy and learning to blow soft glass and all of those experiences contribute to the artistic techniques that I incorporate into my work now.”
While in Portland, Oregon in 2015, he got front row tickets to see country music and cannabis legend Willie Nelson, and decided to make him a pipe. Joe’s original plan was simply to get the pipe to him after the show. However, through a random series of events, manifestation, mutual friends and a little luck, Willie Nelson was able to see the piece beforehand, and Joe was able to give it to him personally.
Joe P. Ti-pi Biosphere
Joe’s work has infiltrated the world of hip-hop as well. In early 2016, rapper Action Bronson purchased a collaboration piece from Joe, continuing to solidify the place of high-end functional glass
artwork within music culture. Joe’s work was recently featured at the 2016 Big Industry show in Denver, and it can also be seen on his Instagram @JoePGlass and will also be on display at the Heaterz Glass Show later this year on December 9th and 10th at the Space Gallery in Denver.
Our friends over at Purr Glass have done it again. This piece is sick! It comes in three colors, Pink Slyme, Dichro Black, and Slyme. It bears a reinforced stemless design and is approximately nine inches tall with a matrix perc. Not only does this piece look cool, but it is so smooth to smoke out of. This has quickly become a highly favored tube at our house. It will be your favorite too, or your lady’s favorite, or your best homie’s favorite. Any cannabis consumer will love this Swiss Honeycomb Tube. Find at www.purrsmoking.com.
by Caroline Hayes
One of my many jobs at THC Mag is to find an artist every month to feature, which is so fun for me as an art-lover to discover new talent. A couple months back I was browsing Instagram and discovered Brian Scott Hampton, which led me to the Threyda collective, which led me to Peter Westermann who was last month’s featured artist (thank you Instagram). Brian (and Peter) showed a great deal of enthusiasm to be featured in THC Mag and was thoughtful in his answers, which is so appreciated. His style has a very soothing yet powerful look to it, like the universe is trying to communicate a message to you through his artwork.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brian Scott Hampton and I create for a living, mostly as a studio artist.
Are you a Colorado native?
No, I was born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Owasso, Oklahoma.
Blooming Odyssey What mediums do you use to create your pieces?
I use acrylic paint and spray paint mostly, but nothing is off limits.
What’s the longest you’ve ever spent on one piece?
I prefer to finish work quicker, so probably a few months at most.
Can you tell us a bit about your artist process? How do you get in the groove and what keeps you motivated?
My process involves a lot of letting go, and letting exciting things outside of myself happen. I prefer to focus on expression and spontaneity, rather than perfection and technique. Good music always helps me get in the groove, along with a potent indica. I generally get a good amount of motivation from observing inspiring aspects of the world we live in. Inspiration is all around us.
Professionally speaking, what are your goals?
I prefer to focus on what I feel adds to the sustainability of this creative journey, and goals are always evolving as we evolve. So at the moment, one of my largest goals is to simply be an influence.
Depth Charge Last month, I featured Peter Westermann. What is your perspective or thoughts on the Threyda artist collective here in Denver?
I’ve felt as though Denver literally pulled Threyda here, along with myself. The look and feel of the group seems perfectly suited to the city of Denver, and we are reminded of that quite frequently.
What artist, if any, do you identify most with?
The answer to that question depends on which part of my creative persona is dominant that day.
What do you think is the most inspiring place in Denver?
Well, as a visual artist I would say the RiNo district. It’s tough to top all the creative scenery there.
Where can interested buyers find your work to purchase?
Threyda.com would be the first place to look. I also sell work through social media.
Brian Scott Hampton in the studio Please tell us anything else you would like us to know about you, life, your career, etc.
Remember to explore, experiment, and be free.
Thank you for your time Brian. May your artistry bring you great things.
Facebook: Brian Scott Hampton, Instagram: @brian_scott_hampton, Website: threyda.com