Entertainment Archives | High Times https://hightimes.com/entertainment/ The Magazine Of High Society Fri, 23 Dec 2022 15:11:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 https://i0.wp.com/hightimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/cropped-FAVICON-1-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Entertainment Archives | High Times https://hightimes.com/entertainment/ 32 32 174047951 I Got Stoned Before Watching the New ‘Avatar’ Movie https://hightimes.com/culture/i-got-stoned-before-watching-the-new-avatar-movie/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-got-stoned-before-watching-the-new-avatar-movie https://hightimes.com/culture/i-got-stoned-before-watching-the-new-avatar-movie/#respond Fri, 23 Dec 2022 15:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=293796 It was a good call.

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My experience watching Avatar: The Way of Water couldn’t have been more different from my experience watching the original Avatar back in 2009. When that movie came out, I was in middle school. My parents wouldn’t drive me to the cinema, so I ended up watching it in class. I had heard so much about the movie and was excited to finally see it, but by the time the credits rolled I failed to grasp what all the hype was about. Maybe I was too young to appreciate what director James Cameron had accomplished, or maybe our teacher’s dinosauric projector didn’t do those accomplishments any justice. Regardless, I was too disinterested to give the movie another shot. 

When Avatar: The Way of Water came out, I was no longer a kid. It had been several years since I graduated college, and I was backpacking through South America. First Peru, then Ecuador. Remembering how much I disliked the first film, I figured I’d liven things up by smoking a bit of weed. In a previous High Times article, I urged stoners to check out the Netflix documentary Alien Worlds, a fictional, David Attenborough-esque nature series about extraterrestrial ecosystems. Avatar is essentially Alien Worlds but with better CGI, so getting high seemed like a good idea. At the very least, I figured it would help make the film’s 190-minute runtime a little more bearable.

Finding marijuana in South America is pretty easy, by the way. The hostel I stayed at in Lima sold brownies. In Cusco, you can buy off art students selling their paintings in the park. In many other places, taxi drivers have it, or they will know where to get it for you. The weed here looks different than the weed from New York, California, and Amsterdam – the weed I am used to. It’s greener, leafier, and it does not have a smell – but it’s very potent, even for a frequent smoker such as myself. You get to smoke in some pretty unique places, too, whether that’s on the slopes of Machu Picchu, or in the parking lot of an Ecuadorian theater chain. 

Pandora or Earth? Ojo del Fantasma near Riobamba, Ecuador / Photo by Tim Brinkhof

When I got my ticket for Avatar: The Way of Water, I assumed the movie would be in English with Spanish subtitles. Instead, it was in Spanish without subtitles. My Spanish is good enough to order a beer and ask for the nearest bathroom, but not nearly good enough to follow along with a movie I’ve never seen before – especially when I’m high. Still, I was pleased with how much I was able to understand. Avatar: The Way of Water is an action-oriented blockbuster that communicates as much through visuals as it does through dialogue, meaning you could probably turn off the sound and still get the gist of what’s happening. 

The movie’s cliché-riddled plot, lamented by critics who watched it in their original language, also helped me figure out what the Spanish-speaking characters were saying. When the bad guy captures the hero and chuckles “Que temenos aquí?” my familiarity with other Hollywood movies tells me that “Que temenos aquí?” must mean “What do we have here?” (It does). Similarly, “Donde estamos?” whispered by a side-character when they discover a strange place, probably translates to “Where are we?” (Correct). 

Just as Avatar: The Way of Water came out more than a decade after the original Avatar, so too does the plot pick up more than a decade from where the first film left off. Jake Sully, who came to Pandora to help colonize the planet for its valuable resources, has left his human body behind and is now a fulltime Na’vi. This time around, Sully and his Na’vi girlfriend Neytiri have a family comprised of three biological children and two adopted ones: Kiri, the Avatar daughter of Dr. Grace Augustine, and Spider, the human son of antagonist Miles Quaritch, himself reborn as an Avatar after being killed by Neytiri.

Unable to fight off the human invasion of Pandora’s forests, the Sullys decide to flee and take refuge with another Na’vi tribe that populates the planet’s the mangrove-covered shores. This is the point where the weed started to pay dividends. The locations from the first film look as impressive as they did in 2009, but they pale in comparison to the new marine environments. I feel confident in saying that water has never looked better on-screen, and there’s so much variety. During the movie you’ll visit crystal clear coral reefs, stormy seas, and murky depths glittering with bioluminescence. 

Speaking of bioluminescence, Pandora’s oceans are positively teeming with life. While some of the creatures struck me as more extraterrestrial than others – the main ones are basically dolphins, flying fish, and whales with extra eyes and fins – all of them look equally realistic, which is just about the best compliment a movie like Avatar: The Way of Water can receive. 

The original film had an at times comically simplistic narrative, one that presents the Na’vi as tree-hugging saints and humans as exploitative savages. The sequel introduces some degree of moral complexity, with Neytiri demonstrating she is willing to kill innocent people to protect her family and Spider saving his dad in spite of everything he’s done, but these moments are the exception rather than the norm. Avatar: The Way of Water, like Avatar, is an uncomplicated film because it tackles an uncomplicated issue. The central argument of this franchise – that environmental destruction is evil, inexcusable, and will lead to the death of all living things – is as relevant as it is foolproof. 

Photo by Tim Brinkhof

In middle school, I did not know enough about climate change and pollution to grasp the earnestness of Cameron’s campaign. I also had not seen enough of the world to realize what all we were losing. The day before seeing Avatar: The Way of Water, I went hiking in a national park that basically looked like a real-life version of Pandora, with floating mountains and cascading waterfalls. Having been exposed to natural wonders that are as awe-inspiring as the ones Cameron creates for the screen – if not more awe-inspiring – I cannot help but see the beauty in a film I once disliked. But perhaps that’s just the weed talking. 

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The Ghost Drops of Past, Present, and Future: A Cannabis Christmas Tale https://hightimes.com/culture/the-ghost-drops-of-past-present-and-future-a-cannabis-christmas-tale/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-ghost-drops-of-past-present-and-future-a-cannabis-christmas-tale https://hightimes.com/culture/the-ghost-drops-of-past-present-and-future-a-cannabis-christmas-tale/#respond Wed, 21 Dec 2022 15:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=293748 What we in the cannabis industry can learn about ourselves by looking at our own past, present, and future through the lens of Toronto’s Ghost Drops.

The post The Ghost Drops of Past, Present, and Future: A Cannabis Christmas Tale appeared first on High Times.

Original Art By Anthony Haley

As the end of the year 2022 approaches and we begin the cusp of 2023, I write this story in hopes that most of us in the cannabis industry will reflect on the lessons A Christmas Carol has ingrained in all of us. Most in the emerging cannabis industry probably feel akin to Bob Cratchit, trying to feed our Tiny Tim’s while quietly, or not so quietly resenting those Scrooges at the top. 

For the purpose of this article, the amount of cannabis companies that went under in the past calendar year will be metaphorically representing the chained ghost of Jacob Marley. Jacob Marley, who warned Ebenezer Scrooge, who will be for the sake of this article representing corporate cannabis, that he was going to be visited by three ghosts. 

If The Ghost of Christmas Past arrived to show Scrooge his cannabis past, they’d probably point to the commotion, panic, and disruption caused by Toronto-based cannabis company Ghost Drops. A company who in the matter of a year, seemingly outsmarted the competition, dominated retail sales, and changed the narrative of weed in Canada forever. They did so simply by being true to what they believe and who they are. 

The Ghost of Christmas Past would convey that until Ghost Drops came along, much of the cannabis industry in Canada was focused on the old narratives first set out by giant billion-dollar licensed producers. “Educating” the public by telling them that anyone involved in weed before legalization was a bunch of hippies, thugs, and stoners hiding in the shadows or under stairwells.

As much as they were right about us, The Ghost of Christmas Past would also point out that the hippies, thugs, stoners, and shadowy stair-dwellers thought of corporate cannabis as overspending predatory investors. A bunch of shiny-shoed idiots who thought they could outsmart the “legacy market” by selling mid-grade cannabis at premium pricing. Not realizing that the consumer could tell the difference even if they couldn’t. 

I guess in hindsight we were both right.

However, the intended spirit of this piece is to come together. Not continue to point fingers, sabotage, or work against each other in the cannabis industry. After all, the lessons we learn in any industry are transferable. A sentiment that has always rang true with the founders of Ghost Drops. 

The Ghost Drops of Christmas Past

Original Painting of John Dean Durante by @anthonyhaleyart

The story of Ghost Drops starts with John Durante and Travis “Organik” Fleetwood and dates back to their early days growing up in Bolton, Ontario. A small blue collar town with small blue collar town problems. Both Fleetwood and Durante started hustling as young kids—as most in small towns do. 

As a teenager, Fleetwood found a love for hip-hop and started battle rapping on the internet, pre-social-media. Fleetwood’s passion for limericks found him success as a self-professed “skinny white kid”. He quickly made a name for himself on the internet and began competing. He even made it as far as battling at the BET Spring Bling, which he won in 2009, but didn’t receive honors due to not fitting their target demographic. However, Fleetwood considers being underestimated as a youth a pivotal point in helping him build drive and character. “My greatest feature is continuously being underestimated,” he said.

With little direction, Durante took a different path and joined the military when he was 19 and served for four years. In the military is where he found the rewards of discipline, hard work, and perseverance. Little did both know, they were developing the transferable skills that would later help them to build a wildly successful cannabis company. 

During this time, Fleetwood had launched what became the King of The Dot (KOTD). Battle rap showcases and competitions that would turn the heads of not only the best in Canadian hip-hop, but demanded the attention of the international rap community as well. KOTD steadily grew to be one of the biggest battle rap leagues in the world, showcasing some of the best talent hip-hop had to offer, gaining global respect, and eventually making content deals with Amazon

When Durante finished serving in the military, the two childhood friends reunited. King Of The Dot had blown up and Durante was finding success in construction. However, cannabis was always a true passion for both of them. 

In 2017, the two lifelong friends secretly started Ghost Drops. Both had experience hustling, but they wanted to start something creative while curating a unique experience for the cannabis consumer. The idea was to start a weed company that would feature and highlight the true rockstars of cannabis: growers, cultivators, and the seed-crackers. The ones who would risk it all to bring the best cannabis to the masses. They would represent the best cultivators and the cultivators could remain ghosts, hence the name, Ghost Drops. The two brought new attention to award-winning cultivators by assigning custom art, “illustrations,” and design to each of their grow  partners.

Ghost Drops’ reputation became an institution in street-level cannabis in Toronto and they quickly grew a national following, serving their massive customer base largely by mail order. 

Ghost Drops online model functioned as a hub connecting their reputable growers with a new audience, something Fleetwood already knew how to build from his time with KOTD. Fleetwood and Durante continued to grow Ghost Drops, but never affiliated publicly so as to not complicate their already complicated lives. 

Ghost Drops continued to operate in this fashion until they came across Gene Bernaudo in late 2020. 

Bernaudo had previously been the President of The Ignite Corporation—a corporation which is famously affiliated with the ever-polarizing figure Dan Bilzerian, who, in your humble narrator’s opinion, presents more as someone who should be selling cocaine rather than cannabis.

Bernaudo managed to build a global network under the Ignite banner until he decided to look for something new. He was then introduced to Durante and Fleetwood by a mutual friend. His interest piqued as he had always wanted to be in cannabis, and that wasn’t the direction Ignite had taken. 

Bernaudo saw major potential in taking Ghost Drops’ gray market platform to the legalized market.

The two parties began to feel each other out. A vetting process which was briefly held back when Bernaudo suggested that Fleetwood and Durante go public as the faces behind Ghost Drops. A proposal that isn’t generally attractive to black market weed dealers. 

A testament to Bernaudo’s ingenuity, Durante and Fleetwood agreed to move forward and the group had seriously begun working together by early 2021. 

With Bernaudo on board the team now had the know-how to bring Ghost Drops to the legalized cannabis market. They had a plan on how to scale the operation, and they wanted to include everyone in the industry. A sentiment that struck a huge chord with Bernaudo, as being a pioneer in legal cannabis doesn’t come without battle scars, “What Ghost Drops was doing was catering to the consumer, not like the rest of the industry, who were catering to their balance,” Bernaudo said. 

The Ghost Drops of Christmas Present

Original Painting of Gene Bernaudo By @anthonhaleyart

With a like-minded approach, the new team set out to build Ghost Drop 2.0: the beginning of the Ghost Drops we see today. They would become the first Canadian cannabis company to launch with pre-existing brand loyalty and the differentiator of deliberate transparency. 

Through pre-existing partnerships, Bernaudo had the means to create a business structure with plans to bring quality genetics and curated products that they not only wanted to put in market, but felt deserved attention. Through well-vetted contract growing, Ghost Drops would build an infrastructure with micro-cultivators, and established licensed producers alike. This would severely reduce the company’s overhead and give Ghost Drops more control of their messaging and experience. A model that many current upstarts have begun to emulate if not copy exactly. 

Rumors swarmed the cannabis industry around what these legacy “Ghost Drop guys” were up to. 

A common falsehood that spread was that Ghost Drops didn’t care about packaging fines, so they put out fluorescent pink jars as a fuck you to compliance, challenging asinine color restrictions set forth in Bill C-45’s (Canada’s Cannabis Act) marketing regulations. 

However, the public would later learn that Ghost Drop’s bright pink branding was one Pantone less than the defined term of “fluorescent.” Ghost Drops ability to cleverly maneuver within the boundaries of government set regulation is another point of pride for the company and by all counts, funny as shit. 

Finally, there was a weed company in Canada willing to take chances. 

By the end of 2021, Ghost Drops had officially announced they were coming to market and the hype was real. With Bernaudo in place as CEO, Fleetwood had publicly associated his Organik persona with Ghost Drops taking creative control of the company, and Durante had taken the role of President. The group was all in. 

Those who had known previously about Ghost Drops founder’s association with the black market version of the company, prior to the press release, felt like they had bragging rights. Those who found out after the fact were thrilled that someone they viewed as a successful artist, known for giving people a platform, had also been supplying them with the best weed in the country. Needless to say the brand caught fire immediately. Some detractors cried “sell out,” but the sentiment was hard to maintain when it became apparent that the new post-Ghost-Drops-era of cannabis in Canada had opened the door for everyone in the “legacy market” to participate in: Legal Land.

While billion-dollar licensed producers struggled to reinvent the wheel, Ghost Drops steam-rolled in on tradition.

Ghost Drops quickly began dominating the market. They bought their own storefront in downtown Toronto, and within months had quickly announced a new program called The League—a division of Ghost Drops planned on funding cannabis startups, the legacy players who got them started, and cannabis brands they believed in

Immediately, corporate cannabis started associating their brands with the term “legacy” in hopes that they could attract some of Ghost Drops’ rabid audience, credibility, and sales—a phenomenon I wrote about in detail in a piece called “The New Narc”.

However, growing fast doesn’t come without a few adjustments. Ghost Drops became in such demand that their mandate of vetting the best growers to deliver the best product had to be reevaluated. This public pause in strategy made many of those in the industry who were envious of Ghost Drops delighted with glee. The pettiest of us were hoping for failure as if Ghost Drops hadn’t already changed the game forever—a success in your humble narrator’s view that could never be taken away from its founders. 

The lesson that the Ghost Of Christmas Present would likely want us to learn is that instead of trying to do what others are doing, focus on authenticity and servicing our own audience. Only Ghost Drops can be Ghost Drops. 

What many didn’t take into account is that when you build something transparently, you earn your audience’s trust and respect—something few licensed producers have been able to maintain. A supporter who doesn’t feel talked down to will always continue to listen. 

Respecting their base is another huge point of pride for the Ghost Drops team.

The Ghost Drops of Christmas Future

Original Painting of Travis “Organik” Fleetwood by @anthonyhaleyart

In November 2022, Ghost Drops took control of their own future and announced a major expansion with a 10,000 square foot processing and production facility. They have also taken leadership roles in educating the consumer and retailer alike on best practice of ordering through distribution programs across the country. Ghost Drops’ will continue to curate the best cultivators, growers, and practices in an ever-improving industry, and are willing to help anyone along the way. 

However, as Ghost Drops continues to curate some of the best cannabis in the country, Fleetwood and the team recognize that the culture needs servicing as well. Their expansion includes continued charitable community projects, and they’ve recently initiated a song-writing camp called Creatives 1st by Club Blvd, a program designed to foster the careers of up-and-coming Toronto-based musicians.

In 2023, Ghost Drops’ plans include events such as a charity-driven industry-wide cannabis-infused poker tournament (March 31st), which they hope will bridge the gap between community and communication amongst the industry. 

Perhaps the most exciting is the return of KOTD to Toronto, something fans of Fleetwood have been clamoring for. Taking place February 25th, the return of KOTD is bittersweet for Fleetwood as it commemorates and honors legendary battle rapper and close friend, Pat Stay, who was tragically murdered in early September of 2022.

Original painting of Pat Stay by @anthonyhaleyart

If the Ghost Of Christmas Future appeared and pointed to our graves, it would be because we didn’t recognize that no matter our opinion of Ghost Drops, they are a fine example of what can happen when corporate, street-level, and marketing genius respect each other’s strengths. 

Once we start recognizing each other’s strengths, we can then begin to own our weaknesses; we’ll be able to build a stronger cannabis industry for all. 

More and more we’re seeing that like Ghost Drops, it takes the best of all of us, a combination of respect and unique skills coming together and finding success. 

When the Bob Cratchits and Scrooges of the world find respect for each other, then the world will help more Tiny Tims. We can share and laugh while we all smoke big ol’ holiday blunts and share a taste of Scrooge’s big ol’ holiday Turkey (or preferred big ol’ plant-based supplement). Once this happens, we’ll finally get back to what cannabis is really all about: getting high. 

And that’s how weed found Christmas.

The End.

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Adventures With Santa: Braddock, Pennsylvania https://hightimes.com/entertainment/adventures-with-santa-braddock-pennsylvania/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=adventures-with-santa-braddock-pennsylvania https://hightimes.com/entertainment/adventures-with-santa-braddock-pennsylvania/#respond Tue, 13 Dec 2022 15:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=293592 Santa visits the Fettermans.

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Santa headed southeast from Pittsburg, stopping briefly at the Free Store founded by Gisele Fetterman in Braddock, Pennsylvania, dropping off a load of previously loved bicycles.

He’d followed the calling of service of Gisele since she was a young woman. Relocating to Pennsylvania to work beside her now-husband, John Fetterman, while he was Mayor of the town; then supporting him as Lieutenant General of the state as Pennsylvania’s Second Lady; still by his side today, supporting his successful run as State Senator.

Santa knew a good egg when he saw one, and he couldn’t wait to meet the woman beloved in her state. So loved is she that the mantra, “Vote for Gisele’s husband,” was commonly heard throughout the campaign.

He was also aware she was honest about her medicinal use of cannabis for chronic pain after a series of accidents throughout her life, advocating that her state legalize the plant alongside her husband.

At Home with History

Santa steered Rudolph toward the rooftop of the Fetterman’s home.

So proud of his state’s history of steel, Sen. Fetterman converted the former Superior Motors building across the street from the Edgar Thomson Steel Works into his family home. The mill was the first to lay railroad tracks across the country, and the pride factor for Fetterman was strong.

Superior Motors was one of the country’s first indoor car dealerships, with an old Chevy needing to be removed via a crane from their soon-to-be-home.

Gisele Fetterman lay next to her sleeping husband thinking about the holiday at hand, her children fast asleep, her husband’s newly-appointed position as State Senator and all that implied for the future of her family and their beloved state.

Not a creature was stirring when she heard a bump in the night on the rooftop.

Glancing over at her husband’s 6’8” frame, giggling at the sight of his feet protruding off the end of the bed, with his head covered by a blanket as he slept soundly, she tiptoed up toward the rooftop to see what was the matter.

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she could barely believe what she saw.

“Ho, ho, ho!” didn’t mean to startle you,” Santa said, gingerly stepping down and out of the sled, as the reindeer made themselves comfortable on the expansive rooftop.

“I’m not opposed to miracles,” Gisele said with an unsure smile. “Just give me a minute to take it all in.”

“Well, I’m no miracle, just spreading the love of giving, just like you,” he replied. “My hope is that you are as excited to meet me as I am to meet you. You are one of our people. Your selfless and loving ways have not been missed by my missus either.”

Santa pulled out a small dropper bottle of tincture from his pocket and offered it to Gisele, who was now fondly stroking Rudolph’s nose.

“You probably haven’t thought of this, but my lower back can get a bit sore sitting upon this wooden sled,” he said with a seriousness in his voice that surprised her. “The elves started growing hemp up at the North Pole, and Mrs. Claus makes this tincture. She wanted you to have a bottle.”

The Hemp tincture made by Mrs. Claus, was made using high cannabidiol (CBD) and low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound counts, and was hybridized by the late, great, Lawrence Ringo of Southern Humboldt County at the top of Northern California.

Ringo hybridized low THC plants together for his own chronic back pain, into what he referred to as the “God plant,” as the original cannabis plant said to be found in Holy Anointing Oil from the Bible did not have the high THC count we have today. Yet, the plant referred to as hemp, still has the full cannabinoid and terpene profile of the cannabis plant as a superfood, and highly medicinal without the high.

“Both Frankincense and Myrrh are highly medicinal,” Santa informed. “Not just incense for the Baby Jesus. I don’t think most people understand that about most plants, or why they brought medicine to the child in the manger.” 

Gisele understood this and graciously accepted the small bottle with gratitude. But, she was also a bit stunned. It was a lot to take in. Santa, a cannabis advocate – the Elves as farmers, Mrs. Claus an apothecary, weed in Holy Annointing Oil? 

This man in a red suit flying through the air offered up more than physical gifts on Christmas Eve, she thought – pondering gifting him extra cookies by the hearth next year.

She also knew in her heart, if her gentle giant of a husband could win State Senate – wearing his signature sweatshirt, perennial shorts in the winter and sneakers, then anything is possible. Hell, her very existence in this life, in this country, was a crapshoot to begin with.

Gisele Fetterman, Courtesy of Diana Markosian

Silent Night, Holy Night

“I read that you have three strikes against you,” Santa continued. “You began your life in this country as an illegal immigrant – you are a woman, and a cannabis patient.”

“Yes, that’s right – with these thick eyebrows, they just don’t know what to make of me,” she laughed, as Santa chuckled along. “But, I believe that education is everything when it comes to cannabis. It’s been misunderstood for a very long time.”

“So many have realized the plant as medicine, it’s true,” he pondered. “When you think about it, I too am illegal. Each year I cross borders for the greater good of making children happy by giving illegally imported gifts! I pay no tariffs. My reindeer aren’t even documented to be in the U.S., but here we are. There are double standards everywhere, in every country.”

The two had a good laugh at Santa’s perspective, and Gisele had to agree, they were quite the pair. 

The stars in the sky shined brightly above Braddock, as the two took in this very special Christmas Eve together.

“I’m thankful for you, Santa,” Gisele said lovingly. “And for Mrs. Claus and the Elves – and these beautiful animals. And a plant that helps us both.” 

“And I’m thankful for you and your good works,” he repled. “‘If everyone gives, no one goes without.’ That’s what Mrs. Claus always reminds me – especially on those days that seem darkest of all. It’s not easy being misunderstood in this world. It’s not easy watching people go without. And it’s not easy watching people suffer in pain, because this plant isn’t available to them. Thank you for your advocacy, Gisele.”

In the distance they could hear the bells of Saints Peter & Paul Byzantine Catholic Church ringing in the blessings of Christmas Eve. The steel mill across the street was quiet, as Gisele’s family slept peacefully in their beds, unaware of the magic taking place up on the roof.

Santa got back up on his sled and commanded his crew to head toward the City of Love, Philadelphia.

“Wish us luck, we are heading right into Kensington,” Santa said with a wave, blowing a kiss to the State Senator’s wife. “Oh, and you have a little surprise at the Free Store, we dropped off some bicycles!”

“God Bless you, Santa – and God bless the souls of Kensington,” Gisele waved back, then put her hands together in prayer, lifting them up to the jolly man. Then she blew a kiss towards him into the twinkling Braddock night sky.

“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” Santa called back.

For more information on the Free Store of Braddock visit, https://www.freestore15104.org/ 

For more information on newly elected State Senator John Braddock visit, https://johnfetterman.com/

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Lizzo Sports Hemp Eyelashes in Instagram Trend https://hightimes.com/celebrities/lizzo-sports-hemp-eyelashes-in-instagram-trend/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lizzo-sports-hemp-eyelashes-in-instagram-trend https://hightimes.com/celebrities/lizzo-sports-hemp-eyelashes-in-instagram-trend/#comments Wed, 07 Dec 2022 15:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=293458 The singer and rapper loves Velour Beauty’s hemp-derived false eyelashes.

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Singer, rapper, and body positivity icon Lizzo is starting a new trend on Instagram: Biodegradable false eyelashes, made from hemp-derived fiber, instead of animal products. As false eyelashes are sometimes made from mink fur, the new hemp alternative is welcomed by many.

Lizzo wore a plethora of makeup items and accessories to the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards last fall but her use of hemp-derived lashes generated the most attention as people are catching on. Glamour reports that Lizzo’s makeup artist Alexx Mayo chose the lashes earlier this year as he prepared her for the Emmys. The exact lashes he used—Velour Beauty Cloud Nine Lashes—are made from vegan plant fibers, 90% biodegradable, and sold at Sephora and Ulta. 

Mayo posted her look on Instagram, and the designer gave Velour Beauty a shout-out for their hemp-derived “falsies” lash line. The team behind Toronto-based Velour Beauty said they are the world’s first hemp-derived lashes last February. 

Why hemp? Hemp proves to be a durable fiber in the beauty world: the biggest perk from using hemp-derived lashes is that they can be used up to 20 times. The company says they’re comfortable as well.

Courtesy of @iwantalexx

Velour Beauty, maker of the lashes, is Asian and female-led, and Canadian founder Mabel Lee was profiled last year in Fashion. Velour Beauty’s Plant Fibre Lash Collection is “a lash collection that is entirely plant-based! All components of this lash, from band to fibres are derived from plants,” the company writes. “The fibres are so fluffy and natural-looking, you’d never know they were hemp-derived.”

The company continues, “our Plant Fibre Lashes are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, can be reused up to 20+ times and come in 100% recyclable packaging.” By cruelty-free, the company stays away from materials like mink fur.

Velour Beauty offers at least three styles of hemp-derived lashes in its inexpensive Plant Fibre Lash Collection: Second Nature, Cloud Nine, and A New Leaf.

“You get the same Velour quality, lightweight lashes handmade on premium bands for all-day wear and comfort, but you don’t have to compromise quality for sustainability,” the company writes. “With a fluffy natural-looking texture, you’d never know they’re entirely plant-based.”

Lizzo often wears Velour Beauty hemp-derived lashes, as you can see on accounts exclusively devoted to her makeup. Dramatic lashes are part of her persona. The hemp lashes demonstrate some level of commitment to the environment with a better choice of lashes.

Lizzo Posts About Cannabis Often

It’s not just hemp Lizzo is all about; often it’s weed. Lizzo tweets about cannabis often, and swears by suppositories. And she’s happy to tell all of her followers about her encounters with suppository products.

Time named Lizzo as “Entertainer of the Year” in 2019 for her quick rise to fame. With quick fame comes all of the negative consequences. The singer’s messaging in her music videos about body positivity is crystal clear, but doesn’t always fare well on social media. Trolls on Twitter drove Lizzo from the platform temporarily in 2020.

Despite her constant trolls, Lizzo frequently mentions her encounters with cannabis. In one instance, she announced to her Twitter followers she would be trying cannabis-infused suppositories, tweeting later that they were highly effective.

In another instance, Lizzo tweeted that she’s in love, and it’s not just the weed.

Velour Beauty is taking the lead in innovative ways to use hemp in the beauty world, and Lizzo donning the lashes on social media doesn’t hurt. Hemp-derived lashes are a drop in the bucket of all the ways it can provide a better and more durable fiber.

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‘Hempire’ Developers Announce New Mobile Game, ‘Bob Marley World Tour’ https://hightimes.com/culture/hempire-developers-announce-new-mobile-game-bob-marley-world-tour/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hempire-developers-announce-new-mobile-game-bob-marley-world-tour https://hightimes.com/culture/hempire-developers-announce-new-mobile-game-bob-marley-world-tour/#comments Thu, 15 Sep 2022 18:27:17 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=291181 From the developers of the mobile game "Hempire" comes "Bob Marley World Tour," a rhythm game set to release this November.

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Vancouver-based LBC Studios, developer of one of the leading mobile cannabis games “Hempire” and “Tasty Buds,” announced on Sept. 14 that it’s working on a new mobile rhythm game called “Bob Marley World Tour” which is currently slated to release in November 2022. Unlike its other games, Bob Marley World Tour is a rhythm game and won’t feature any cannabis themes.

“We know fans of Bob Marley and our family will be [as] excited about ‘Bob Marley World Tour’ as we are. It has been joyful to work with LBC on a game that helps bring this music to the world through such an interactive experience,” Ziggy Marley said in a press release. “It has always been our goal to provide fans with unique opportunities to enjoy the family’s music, and we are glad that this upcoming title will further that mission through an entirely new platform.”

LBC Studios was founded in 2017 by Solon Bucholtz and Dennis Molloy. In 2017, “Hempire” released as a game that spoke to the cannabis community. “We looked at the game space and realized that no one had really appealed to that culture and group of people in a meaningful and authentic way,” Bucholtz told GamesIndustry.biz in an interview.

Bob Marley World Tour” will feature original songs and remixes of Marley’s most famous tunes. Eventually, the studio plans to expand these offerings to include other musicians whose work was inspired by Marley’s career. “For us it was a natural fit,” said Bucholtz. “Music fits well with our audience, Bob Marley is a natural fit, and our team was just genuinely excited to be the stewards of such a popular and well-respected brand and bringing that to the mobile game space.”

The decision to make a game based on Bob Marley served to be the perfect intersection between iconic Marley music and a game everyone can play. “When we decided to develop the Marley game, we wanted to make sure we were building a game not just for Marley fans and music fans, but really gamers alike,” Bucholtz added. “And we wanted to make sure it was accessible to as many as possible. One of the challenges we faced with ‘Hempire’ is there are countries where we aren’t able to distribute that game, strictly based on the content.”

When developing “Hempire,” Bucholtz and the team encountered many unique challenges to create a cannabis game that didn’t violate platform requirements and policies. “Early on, we really wanted to make sure that how we present cannabis isn’t about selling cannabis. It isn’t about distribution or criminality. Instead it’s about the positive aspects of cannabis, how it supports communities,” Bucholtz said. “If you look at ‘Hempire,’ it’s really a story-driven joint that focuses on a town that’s down on its economic luck, uses legal cannabis to build up the town, build relationships with people who are dealing with PTSD, and really just an underlying positive message driven by the community.”

The result of being careful and conscious, Bucholtz said Hempire was the first cannabis-themed game to be accepted by Google AdWords.

With “Bob Marley World Tour,” Bucholtz and his team wanted to target a wider audience. “Marley is a global brand and it’s had a global impact around the world. When we started thinking about the design of the game, we wanted it to be rated for a younger audience,” Bucholtz explained. “We wanted it to be accessible globally. And we wanted it to be a product the platforms could get behind. Whether you’re a kid who’s new to Marley’s music or an adult who’s grown up with Bob’s music and his philanthropy and beliefs, you could share that experience together. So the Marley game itself has no cannabis in it.”

Although the community has long supported Marley as a cannabis icon, Bucholtz explained the reasoning behind choosing to make the game without any cannabis references. “It’s a question we’ve discussed with the family and internally as well,” Bucholtz said. “Although there are some aspects of cannabis that obviously were very important to Bob and his beliefs, I don’t think that’s the driving force. And we put enough emphasis on many of the other areas Bob is remembered for today and has a meaningful impact on today in the game that that omission isn’t a negative result in the overall experience or the authenticity we’re delivering.”

Bucholtz added that Marley’s strong beliefs of philanthropy and unity are also a big part of the legacy he’s left behind, and that’s the game’s focus.

Bucholtz ended the GamesIndustry.biz interview by sharing that although his grandfather and father were involved in real estate, he decided to try his hand at game development by founding LBC Studios with limited experience. “We don’t have a very long time on this earth to make a meaningful impact and I wanted to get involved in something where I could touch a lot more lives, something where I could show up every day and be passionate about it,” Bucholtz concluded. “I wanted to make a meaningful impact on generations of people.”

LBC Studios will be working with the Marley family’s partnered charity, One Tree Planted, which aims to plant trees across the world. According to the House of Marley website, it has helped plant 340,400 trees with the organization since 2017. An exact release date for “Bob Marley World Tour” has not yet been announced, but you can keep an eye on LBC Studios’ page here for future updates.

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You Bring the Spliff, Comedian Jade Catta-Preta Will Bring the Fire https://hightimes.com/culture/you-bring-the-spliff-and-comedian-jade-catta-preta-will-bring-the-fire/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=you-bring-the-spliff-and-comedian-jade-catta-preta-will-bring-the-fire https://hightimes.com/culture/you-bring-the-spliff-and-comedian-jade-catta-preta-will-bring-the-fire/#respond Thu, 15 Sep 2022 15:27:11 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=291154 Brazilian-born comedian Jade Catta-Preta was introduced to The Comedy Store in L.A. around 15-years ago, which was also around the same time she was introduced to California weed.

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Drawn to the comedy community, Jade Catta-Preta took a job bartending at The Store and soon moved into working out sets, making her the first female employee to take the legendary stage. She’s gone on to perform worldwide in both English and Portuguese, landed shows like Girl Code, Punk’d, and The Soup, and was tapped to guest judge on Netflix’s Cooking with Cannabis. Her hustle was, and still is, the exact opposite of a “hot mess.”

Her newest step into the reality world puts Jade in the host and judge seat as the heat gets kicked up the Scoville scale on Hulu’s Hotties, a dating/cooking show hybrid that gives you cottonmouth just watching it. Could there be a marijuana element added to the next season? We talked to Jade about that, her special jaded. and the musical version coming out next month, and of course, her love affair with marijuana. 

High Times: Did you get the gig at The Comedy Store because you wanted to be a comedian or did having a job there turn you into one?

Jade Catta-Preta: Kind of both. The first time I went to The Comedy Store, [comedian] Sandy Danto brought me there. I had got a job for National Lampoon doing a clip show and he was like, I think you have a comedy cadence. I didn’t really want to go, but then we got super high. It was actually one of the first times I had smoked California weed. We went to The Comedy Store and there was this crazy sense of familiarity like I’d been there before or something. I was so drawn to the building itself and the history of it all. I just knew I had to be there.

Grateful you felt that pull because it all led to your special jaded., which is so damn funny. How are you feeling now that it’s out?

I’m glad I’m done with it! I’m ready to graduate! I did it in the middle of COVID and there are a lot of jokes within it that I don’t feel as connected to anymore, so I can’t wait to make the next one a little more personal. I had it so memorized though; I was like, it’s never gonna be this good again. I also had a full band and did a musical version so I’ll be releasing that special on a website called Moment.co on October 20th. I’m so excited and after I release that, I’ll never release anything again! I’ll just do podcasts forever.

You say that now, but that’s probably how people feel when they push out that first baby.

True, and now I get to kind of focus on myself and what I actually want to say. Like, how do I actually wanna feel? I would like to share a little more of myself.

Then it’s settled, you’ll release more. Glad we talked this through. In your special you sing a song about what’s not chill, but what is chill after you hit a joint?

I think everything is chill after you smoke weed, especially after you eat a great meal. If I didn’t have weed, I would just be a manic freak. Weed makes me feel normal. Weed makes me not overthink everything and it gives me a break from myself. I love the community and bonding aspect of weed too. The only thing I don’t like to do when I’m high is perform, which is funny. I think I get off on comedy because there is this sense of control. Even if it’s a false sense, I love that.

You also mentioned in the special that when your parents smoke weed, you get named Jade. Joke or fact?

It’s kind of a joke. My dad was an artist, so he had a lot of other artist friends that were always around. He made holograms and was one of the pioneers in the 80’s. There were always a bunch of crazy dudes around who loved rock-and-roll and weed. It’s funny because they did everything they could to keep it away from us, obviously, but my dad had those roach scissors and my sister and I knew what it was. I think I romanticized Pink Floyd and Cheech and Chong, just that era of potheads that were cool and doing creative shit. That is kind of always what I aspired to be.

Photo by Van Corona

What’s your preferred method of marijuana intake?

One hundred percent, it’s a spliff. I hate cigarettes, but it’s just a tiny bit of tobacco. I love the act of rolling it, it’s like a little weird thing I enjoy. I like blunts too because I’m from the east coast originally. It’s funny because in L.A., you smoke a blunt and when it’s almost done, you toss it out. In New York, you get it down to the point where you can barely hold it and people are like, “Don’t throw that roach out!”

What strain do you go for or do you switch it up?

Sativa. I can’t do a Jack Herer though because I will clean my whole house with a toothbrush. I’m not really a big fan of indica because it makes me sleep on the couch and I hate getting sleepy from weed. I like when I feel a little pick-me-up when I smoke. I like right when it hits you because it’s like, ahhhhh. I feel like if I’m home and it’s after 5 pm, whatever I’m doing after that, I’m usually stoned. I should cook more but I’m like, how do I get this condiment in my mouth? I’ll just grab turkey and put mustard on it like, I cooked this! The stuff I get into is ridiculous and mostly just grabbing a bunch of stuff and putting it in my mouth all at once. Then chewing.

What if someone was like, we want you to name a strain. What would you call it?

I’d name it something Brazilian like, Alegría, because it means happy, but it’s also like, what is that word? In Italian it means “cheerfulness,” so I love that. I saw that [Seth] Rogen was doing a weed strain and it’s like, I want to do a weed strain! What a cool space to be in, even though I guess I don’t know strain names anymore. I used to be like, give me that Blue Dream or lemme do that Lamb’s Breath. Lamb’s Breath, by the way, is my favorite strain of all-time. It’s an old and perfect strain that was hard to find even before it was legalized. I think it’s a very expensive to produce because it’s the perfectly balanced hybrid. Something like that. Can you also put somewhere that dispensaries can send weed to me whenever they want? That’s more chill than a stranger that’s like, “Hey I like your butt photos, here’s some weed.”

Putting that all into the universe right now. Hotties definitely pairs well with a sativa. It also really takes your mind off of everything but laughing at people.

That’s the best part, you can get super fucking high and watch my special and Hotties and it’ll be even better. That’s the kind of TV I like. People make fun of me because I love reality TV, but it just puts me in such a calm spot. I’m also voyeuristic so I love watching people that know they’re going to be watched. I like seeing what happens to their personality and how they portray themselves. I read somewhere that Hotties is all fake, but honestly, it’s the least fake thing I’ve ever done. Everything happened as it happened. Everything I said in the moment, they kept. There’s editing, but they didn’t take things out or create some “dating moment.” We’re hoping that if we get a second season, it gets even hotter and weirder and maybe people are drinking. Or maybe, there can even be a weed aspect added! You never know!

Do you think you have more burning butthole jokes in you?

I always have more butthole jokes, but I don’t know if I have any more hot pepper jokes. My friend J. Chris Newberg, who’s an incredible writer and comic, wrote on the show too and we were definitely running out of pepper puns by the end.

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From the Archives: I Smoked Pot With the Governator! (2009) https://hightimes.com/culture/from-the-archives-i-smoked-pot-with-the-governator-2009/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=from-the-archives-i-smoked-pot-with-the-governator-2009 https://hightimes.com/culture/from-the-archives-i-smoked-pot-with-the-governator-2009/#respond Sun, 11 Sep 2022 14:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=291042 The true story of how the world’s most famous pothead got high with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the late ’60s.

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By Tommy Chong

I met Arnold Schwarzenegger at Gold’s Gym in 1968, when he first arrived from Europe. He was 21 years old and could barely speak English. He was the talk of the bodybuilding world and had already won his first Mr. Universe title, in the 1967 competition sponsored by NABBA (the National Amateur Body Builders Association)—a contest he would dominate for the next three years.

Steroids and Arnold arrived at the same time, and Arnold took big muscles to new heights. But as big as Arnold was (20-inch arms!), he still managed to lose the Mr. Universe contest sponsored that year by a rival group, the International Federation of Body Builders, to an American named Frank Zane. According to the gossip at Gold’s Gym, Zane was a master in the use of steroids, and it was this skill that propelled him past Arnold for the IFBB title in ’68. But Arnold was a fearsome competitor—as anyone who saw him at the gym could tell you—and the following year he went on to take both Mr. Universe titles.

At the time, Gold’s Gym was really the best men’s club in the world. Eventually, as more and more people flocked to the tiny gym, the success actually turned Joe Gold off. He really just wanted a place where he and his bodybuilding friends could have a good workout without being bothered. He had started the gym in his garage, and his experience as a welder/machinist came in handy building the early dumbbell and barbell sets, along with the benches for presses.

Then the garage became too cramped, so Joe found a storefront in Venice and opened up the first Gold’s Gym. The building is still standing with the original sign, although it’s now a residence. This was the gym where all the greats gathered. And this was where Zabo (a.k.a. “the Chief”) lived for a few months, sleeping on the sit-up board.

Zabo was the manager and co-creator of Gold’s Gym, and he was already known throughout the bodybuilding world as “Mr. Natural,” a living legend due to his incredible body and devotion to the sport. And although Zabo never took steroids, he was very much into marijuana. A dedicated pot smoker, the Chief had a clear mission in life: to work out, get high, lay in the sun and “service” the ladies.

When I arrived in Venice Beach in 1968, I had the same goals, except that I’d added “writing songs” to the list. I became friends with Zabo as soon as I joined, because he could never remember if I’d paid my membership dues, which were a total of 30 bucks for three months. Whenever I appeared at the gym, Zabo would eventually come up and ask, “Are you a member here?”

To which I would reply: “Yeah.”

Then he’d look at me for a second and go: “Oh, yeah—Tommy, right?”

Back in those days, the mantra given to each new customer was “$30 for three months, no instruction, and put the weights back where you found them.” And that was it! “No instruction” meant Zabo wasn’t about to baby anyone in the gym. If you did an exercise wrong, or if you did an exercise that was bad for you, such as side bends with a dumbbell—that was too bad. Giving instruction in those days was a waste of time, because only dedicated bodybuilders used the gym, and those guys didn’t need it. Most of them already knew what they were doing, having read the available literature and learned the routines used by champions.

But Zabo took a liking to me and would, on occasion, correct what I was doing, because he realized I was one of the few guys there who would actually listen when told what to do. This put me into Zabo’s inner circle, which included all the top guys at the time, like Dave Draper, Frank Zane and, of course, Arnold. Zabo eventually moved into a little cottage within walking distance of the gym. It was at this house that some of the biggest men in the sport gathered to smoke the herb.

Zabo had a hookah with one pipe stem that he used whenever he had guests over for a toke. He would load the bowl with a big pinch of bud (a quarter of an ounce) and then fire it up, taking a huge bodybuilder’s toke. The trick was to eventually pull so hard that the burning pot would be sucked down and explode in the water. That meant taking an enormous hit, which would be held in those healthy, oversized lungs for a long time without coughing.

The pot was usually old-fashioned Mexican weed with seeds. (This was before the seedless variety.) But one strain—probably Colombian—was potent enough to put you to bed. My recollection is that the nasty stems-and-seeds weed was available for $20 to $50 a kilo at the time, but I’m not real sure about prices, because I never bought weed in those days. I smoked whatever was handed to me, and enough was handed to me that I was continually smiling at the world.

Arnold loved the competition at Zabo’s, so he would try to outdo Dave Draper, who, after taking an even bigger toke, would hold in the smoke even longer. When the pipe was handed to me, I knew I couldn’t even come close to these guys, so I politely took the tiniest toke, then proceeded to cough my lungs out, to the merriment of my fellow tokers.

I wasn’t embarrassed in the least, because I was happy just to be included in this once-in-a-lifetime moment. Working out in the same gym with these guys was a thrill, so sharing a bong with them was a dream come true. And the fact that I was a nobody back then also shows the humanity and love these special men possessed. I was the only guy in the room that hadn’t made his mark on the bodybuilding scene. Most of them had won at least one major contest in their young lives; meanwhile, I was a skinny little gym rat who did his workout at the lighter end of the weight rack, trying not to get in anybody’s way, especially when the giants did their supersets.

An example of a superset was for these guys to start at one end of the weight rack and do as many reps (repetitions) as possible with the lightest pair of dumbbells, then move on to the next heavier pair, until they were curling 190 pounds in either hand. This was done nonstop; the pain was so intense that the screams coming out of their mouths were animalistic. The misconception that somehow bodybuilding is not a sport, and that all these supermen had to do was inject steroids into their bodies to magically become big and muscular, amazes me to this day.

I was there: I saw their workouts with my own eyes. These amazing men also had as much knowledge of the body—and probably more knowledge of nutrition—than most doctors. And yet they took time out of their hectic workout schedule to smoke pot. I think that says it all when it comes to the propaganda and lies that the U.S. government has been spreading for years about the health risks of marijuana.

Zabo also cleaned the gym at night before closing shop. I worked out late, so I would help him put the weights away. He’d always vacuum the place by hand and never used an extension; instead, he would stoop down low to pick up the dirt. When I suggested that an extension would make the job easier, Zabo replied, “Come on, we come here for a workout. A little bending won’t hurt—and besides, I lost the extension months ago.”

On one occasion, Zabo invited me for a “little run.” I accepted the invitation—which was a mistake, since that “little run” turned out to be a fucking marathon. He said, “We’ll just go around the block a couple of times,” and added that the reason he was running was that he was feeling sick and couldn’t work out.

I found out later that Zabo had been a scout during the Second World War and had contacted malaria in the jungles during the 12 months he was behind enemy lines. The virus was in his blood, and he would have attacks on occasion and couldn’t lift weights, so he would run “a few miles” instead. But Zabo ran like he worked out—fast and insane.

He took off like a shot, with me running as fast as I could to keep up with him, but soon he was a speck on the horizon, so I said fuck it and slowed down to my customary crawl. I hobbled back to the gym and waited for Zabo, but he was gone like a cool breeze, so I did my little workout and hung around. I wanted to see how long Zabo’s “little run” would take. I finally gave up after two hours.

Zabo worked on Things Are Tough All Over, the Cheech & Chong movie where Cheech and I played funny Arabs. Zabo was my double, so he did a lot of work in the film. We shot Zabo’s part in Las Vegas.

One day, when we were shooting some desert stuff that didn’t require Zabo’s presence, he joined us for lunch anyway: He ran 25 miles out to the location, had lunch, then ran 25 miles back to Vegas, where he probably did a workout with weights before he ended his day.

Zabo had won so many trophies during his long career that one day Steve, his friend and landlord, came home and found them out on the sidewalk, stacked in boxes alongside the garbage. “What’s going on here?” Steve asked. Zabo replied, “I don’t need that shit.”

Steve—who, like the rest of us, was a big Zabo fan—decided to rescue some of the more important trophies. One reason that Zabo had so many: When bodybuilding contests first began in the 1930s (BS—Before Steroids), the judges would award a different trophy for every part of the body, such as best arms, best legs, best back, etc. This was because different men were well developed in different areas, and the overall trophy was given to the all-around best-proportioned man.

Zabo had injured his shoulder in a diving accident, so he lacked shoulder size, but he had everything else and then some. He maintained an extremely healthy diet, but he also enjoyed life to the fullest—and when it came to his legendary body, the size extended to all the important parts. In fact, one of the reasons some of us thought Zabo never used steroids was the rumor that it decreased penis size. This was one body part that, if it had its own category, Zabo would’ve won in a heartbeat, without having to expose the entire monster.

Zabo is 83 years old now, and he still has regular customers visiting him (including many gorgeous women). I could write a book on the legend of Zabo’s monster, but this is an article about getting high with the Governator, so maybe next time.

I recently ran into Arnold at the Starbucks in Brentwood where he has breakfast, and he recognized me immediately. He smiled as if remembering those carefree times and said, “We both had dreams, didn’t we?” I smiled back and thought to myself: “Yeah, we both did.” I dreamed about becoming a successful writer, and Arnold about becoming a famous movie star. We both fulfilled our wildest dreams. We both started with nothing and became insanely successful.

The question is: How much of a role did pot play in our success? It played an enormous part in my success, obviously, because I went on to make movies like Up In Smoke and Nice Dreams. But although Arnold smoked a joint in Pumping Iron, his success has not been pot-related—or has it? After all, when the Beatles landed in New York for their first American tour, Bob Dylan turned them on to pot—and we all know what that started.

When Arnold landed in America, Zabo turned him on to pot, and now Arnold is the governor of California—after an enormously successful career in bodybuilding and Hollywood. So is there something about pot that changes people? Does it tap into some unseen spiritual side, helping to connect us with the real world where everything and anything is possible? I’m convinced that it does. I personally feel connected to the spiritual world whenever I smoke pot—but maybe that’s because I’m already aware of the spiritual world. Whatever!

In the end, what I do know for certain is that I smoked with the Governator, and he remembered … and that was so sweet!

High Times Magazine, March 2009

Read the full issue here.

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Comedian Brian Simpson Doesn’t Want To Kill It https://hightimes.com/culture/comedian-brian-simpson-doesnt-want-to-kill-it/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=comedian-brian-simpson-doesnt-want-to-kill-it https://hightimes.com/culture/comedian-brian-simpson-doesnt-want-to-kill-it/#comments Wed, 31 Aug 2022 14:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=290828 Simpson, who’s a regular at The Comedy Store and got his start in San Diego, always wants to raise the bar for himself and his material. He wants to improve, not kill.

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Brian Simpson had a unique journey to the stage: He was a foster child and served in the Marine Corps. Over ten years ago, he attended a comedy show in San Diego that was so bad it convinced him to give it a go.

Now, the host of the podcast BS with Brian Simpson is delivering tightly structured, hilarious sets on his Short Wide Neck Tour. He finds fresh angles in the familiar. Recently, Simpson told us about how he crafts his material and how to raise the bar for yourself.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

When did you do your first gig?

I did my first standup comedy in February 2011. It first became an idea for me when all my friends and shit started telling me that I was funny all of a sudden. So I started learning that I could make people laugh when I was complaining about stuff.

How different was your material back in 2011? Or was it pretty similar to now?

I mean the first joke I ever wrote, I still use, but most of it was… It wasn’t garbage, but it was just basic. Everybody starts out with jokes about fucking, and pissing, and shitting, because that’s the most relatable subject. It’s just bodily functions. I think everybody starts out kind of in that vein, or you try to be an edge-lord, and say, “The Holocaust didn’t happen,” or something stupid like that. I was the guy that was doing basic shit.

What were some of the first clubs you performed at?

Well, it was two places, really. One was called the Mad House Comedy Club in San Diego. And this other place was called Queen Bee’s Art and Cultural Center, and they had an open mic there once a week. Those are my two main places where I first started at. I got the most stage time in those places, so that’s where I put most of my time in.

Were they good experiences?

As good as they can be. Yeah. I mean, what experience is all good? I guess that’s what makes you a comedian. I look at any experience and tell you what’s fucked up about it. I’ll be at a wedding, just scowling: “Oh, this is such a waste of money.”

[Laughs] Do you still feel that way?

Yeah. I’m not a big fan of pageantry, or things just for show. They just get under my skin so bad. I don’t want to be in a parade. I don’t want to be at any kind of ceremony if I can help it.

You look very comfortable on a stage in front of a crowd.

Oh, yeah. See, that’s different though. Being in front of a crowd and being in the crowd are two different things. Being in front of the crowd is only scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. But being in a crowd is scary all the time. Anything can go wrong. Maybe that’s not a reasonable fear. It might just be crippling social anxiety.

You have a great 30 minute set in [Netflix’s] The Standups Season 3. How’d you prepare?

I think I might have run the set maybe 20 times. But in truth, it was more than that because at first I was running an hour, and I found out it was 30 minutes. And so, it was just a half hour of that, and deciding what comes in and goes out. All of those little meticulous things, which you don’t really have to do. Some people wing it, but it makes me feel comfortable because it’s absolutely the thing that I’m not lazy about. I’ll do all the little tricks and measuring, and recording, and whiteboard, and all of these things to try to make it better. Oh, and weed.

How does weed help when you’re writing?

Well, what happens is when I’m trying to joke for the first time, I like to be high. I don’t like to be high on stage a lot of times, but when I’m trying a joke for the first time, I like to be high. For some reason it just puts you in that creative headspace. You do that on stage with something with a structure to it, and your mind just goes places. And that’s what you need.

You need the tension of the moment and your mind going places that it doesn’t normally go, bam. Because it’s like once you have an idea, you try to find all the angles. You know what I’m saying? It’s like a video game. Some of those angles are hidden behind the weed key. Some of those, you need the mushroom key to unlock. So when it’s all said and done, I try to do every joke in every mindset, to see what I left on the bone.

Needing “the tension of the moment,” that’s a nice way to describe overthinking or paranoia.

Oh, yeah. You know, that mentality has helped me. Edibles used to knock me on my ass. Or I would get so high and just wish I wasn’t that high. But then knowing that, “Oh, this is just me overthinking being high. I’m okay.” You know what I mean?

Yeah. Usually I also try to say to myself, “Things will be okay.”

Yeah, yeah. Or I listen to music. It gives me something to focus on, other than how high I am. Yeah, it’s the best.

You said you don’t perform much while high, right?

Oh, well I do, but only when I’m doing new stuff. The thing is I don’t mind being high on stage in other circumstances, and I’ve certainly done it. But what I hate is if I show up high and go up on stage, that’s fine, but I won’t get high before I go on stage, because what happens is if it kicks in while you’re on stage, it throws all the energy off. It’s almost like your brain’s clicking into another mode, but that split second between the modes, it’s like a hard reset.

I think you feel it more because when you’re on stage, your adrenaline is pumping so high. Even if you’re chill, your adrenaline is up. And so, I think you just feel that weed hit different, and it just stops everything for just a split second, but the crowd can tell. They’re like, “Something’s up.” This is just me. I don’t know about everybody else. But when the weed hit me on stage, I have a problem. If I’m already high before I go up, that’s perfectly fine.

It’s funny you said how with comedy, it’s the one thing you’re not lazy at, but I find that ironic considering your past in the Marine Corps. I imagine that requires an incredible amount of discipline and hard work.



It’s just like anything else. It requires an incredible amount of discipline and hard work to be good at it, not to be there. It takes a minimum amount of work to be there. It takes a lot of work to excel.

That’s a very good distinction. Did you get a lot of material from your days in the Marines?

No. Well, no, that’s not true. Yeah, I would just say the way I see the world was very shaped by that experience. And so a lot of my observations of… All the things I know about white people, I learned in the military. I didn’t necessarily write that joke back then though. It’s not even really in a military setting. I guess it has to be because I set it up that way.

You mentioned using chalkboards, and just really nailing the structure … When do you know the structure’s just right for a set, like for the The Standups set?

Oh, see, I didn’t nail it though.

Why not?

That’s why I can’t even watch it. I can’t even watch it. No man, well, I left a lot of pet words in there, a lot of ums and uhs and mm-hmm. Would’ve been perfect. There were probably 27 of them. That keeps it from being perfect. I mean, perfectly as I want it.

Do you always feel that way after you perform, thinking about what maybe didn’t work instead of what did work?

It’s torture. Yeah, I think a lot of comics think that way too. It’s not good. I think it makes it difficult to enjoy your victories, because your mind is so used to going there. Even after you triumph, your mind is used to going, “Right. Okay. Well, what was fucked up about it?”

Have you ever walked off stage and thought, “That went as good as it could have gone”? Do you ever feel that way?

Oh, yeah, yeah. I felt that before, that’s rare though. That’s rare. People like to throw around the term “killing” and “destroying” a lot, but that’s so rare. Even the best in the world don’t fucking kill, don’t destroy every set. You know what I mean? It might be more often for them that they kill, but it’s still, it’s not even more than half. Most comics, we do really, really, really well, but that’s not killing. Killing is everybody’s dead. They done. They laugh so much, they finish.

I know it can be hard to pinpoint, but was there a moment where you thought, this is my voice and this is my style on stage?

I mean, there was a point, but I don’t remember exactly what that moment was. But I remember several times just being like, “Oh man, I leveled up. I leveled up. I just did something I wasn’t capable of doing before.” And see, and that’s the other thing. Killing changes with… Because when you start and you go from no laughs to some chuckles, that feels like killing.

So it’s like the funnier you get, the higher you raise the bar for what’s killing. So that’s why it might feel like you killed, but you didn’t kill. You don’t know that until you go watch somebody actually kill, and you go, “Oh, okay.” Does that ever happen to you? You see a comic that’s so much better than you, that you’re just like, “Oh wow. I thought I was killing it. I got to go back and write.” You know?

Oh, yeah. I’ll think, maybe I’m doing fine, but then I’ll read something fantastic and feel down, like, “Ah, I’m not doing as well as I thought I was.”

No, but you need that. It’s necessary. I mean, that’s why everyone moves here to L.A. or to New York. Once you’re the big dog wherever you at, you need to get the fuck out of there. I’m saying every second you waste around in rooms where you’re the best comic, you’re wasting your time. You need to be around people that make you sharp. And with people every night [that] make you go, “Holy shit. I need to rewrite some shit.” You want that every day, to see somebody that’s better than you.

So, when do you know you’re leveling up exactly? Is it just based on the laughs?

I guess there’s no way to quantify getting better at comedy, but people close to you can tell. “Oh man, you’re better now.” And when you get that … you tell your jokes differently. I mean most of the time it means you’re telling them better, but I’m sure if I listen to that same exact joke with the same exact wording from five years ago, it’ll sound different.

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Pot in a Planter! Cannabis Found in British Village’s Public Floral Display https://hightimes.com/entertainment/pot-in-a-planter-cannabis-found-in-british-villages-public-floral-display/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pot-in-a-planter-cannabis-found-in-british-villages-public-floral-display https://hightimes.com/entertainment/pot-in-a-planter-cannabis-found-in-british-villages-public-floral-display/#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2022 15:51:46 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=289942 Local officials said the suspicious plants were “not part of this year's schedule.”

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It might not be exactly “anarchy in the U.K.,” but there may have been some mischief at play in the English village of West Parley.

Locals there have been snickering as of late over some unexpected growth discovered last week in one of the public floral displays situated throughout town.

Looming over the bed of pink and purple petals were several distinctive plants that were quickly identified as cannabis.

The “six suspicious plants have been removed from a parish council display after concerns were raised by a resident,” according to the BBC.

British media has had a field day with the discovery.

The West Parley parish council “was left red-faced when cannabis was spotted growing in their flower display,” the Daily Mail howled.

The Daily Mail said that “Tray Veronica, who was on the school run at the time…alerted West Parley Parish Council which confirmed that the plant was most definitely not on this year’s floral schedule.”

Some, according to Veronica, “were so big they were ‘towering above the bedding plants.”

“But embarrassingly for the council,” the Daily Mail said, “despite being alerted to the issue it has still not removed a photo on its social media celebrating the display, in which the cannabis plants are clearly visible.”

“‘I just found it hilarious. The council were looking after these planters every day,” Veronica told Metro. “All the other plants are still in the planter. It’s just the cannabis that’s been removed.

“The planters do look so beautiful. The council did a great job with them and I’m sure this was just someone’s idea of a joke.”

The council eventually addressed the offending plants.

“On 20th July, the parish council was alerted to a report concerning one of the village’s floral displays, which suggested it may have been tampered with and amongst the flowers was a plant not part of this year’s schedule,” a statement from the council said, as quoted by Metro.

“On the advice of the police, the plant was located, removed and has been secured by the parish council and arrangements are being made to pass it on to Dorset Police for identification and destruction,” the statement continued. “An inspection has taken place of all the parish’s other planters, and this has not raised any further concerns.”

The story falls under a niche, but highly amusing genre: Brits discovering cannabis growing where it shouldn’t be.

Just last summer, police discovered a huge illicit cannabis growing operation in a 17th century British castle.

“Officials took multiple days to remove plants and cultivation equipment from the building, but have not shared whether any damage was incurred to the centuries-old property as a result of the grow,” the Canadian newspaper Regina Leader-Post reported at the time.

Earlier last year, police in London discovered a massive marijuana growhouse located in the heart of the city’s financial district.

“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity,” Andy Spooner, the London detective who oversaw the investigation, said at the time. “However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here.”

The New York Times noted that the operators of the growhouse capitalized on the lack of activity in the normally bustling district, which had seen a decline in foot-traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The area is normally teeming with people, particularly on weekdays. The London Stock Exchange and the corporate headquarters of major financial groups, as well as the Bank of England, are all tightly clustered in the zone, also known as the Square Mile,” the Times reported.

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Opening the Curtain on Cannabis in the Opera https://hightimes.com/culture/opening-the-curtain-on-cannabis-in-the-opera/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=opening-the-curtain-on-cannabis-in-the-opera https://hightimes.com/culture/opening-the-curtain-on-cannabis-in-the-opera/#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 14:00:00 +0000 https://hightimes.com/?p=288662 High Times spoke with the self-proclaimed "Willie Nelson of opera singers," Michael Mayes and his wife Megan Marino about the role cannabis plays in the opera.

The post Opening the Curtain on Cannabis in the Opera appeared first on High Times.

Before getting started, I need to confess; my only exposure to the opera was back in the early 90s when I watched Bugs Bunny play maestro Leopold Stokowski.

Regardless of my lack of experience with and attendance at the opera, with cannabis’ popularity apparent in the theatre, I couldn’t imagine a world in which cannabis wouldn’t make opera better.

The opera house lights dim, the curtains open, and the music starts. A fluttering flute followed by a single, boisterous voice echoing Italian or German, neither of which I speak, but I can understand the emotion behind the words more intimately.

This is my romanticized vision of attending the opera, and I might not be that far off.

But does cannabis play a role in the lives of opera singers? And if so, what are the risks and benefits of consuming as it relates to their career?

Anonymous Opera Singers on Cannabis Consumption

Some opera singers prefer to go off the record when speaking about cannabis consumption. That being said, several anonymous opera singers on Reddit weighed in on the conversation.

One elusively elevated opera enthusiast on Reddit claimed that singers perform while high in top opera houses throughout the world.

A second nameless Redditor said, “Weed made long tech rehearsals bearable.”

According to another unknown Redditor, “From my experience, older generation of singers drink vodka and cognac, younger guys smoke, but not tenors.”

Another unnamed Redditor said, “Soprano here, just sang the Brahms Requiem stoned out of my f*cking mind on Sunday.”

And, my personal favorite anonymous statement on the increasingly apparent: “Only tenors and sopranos get high.”

Michael Mayes / Photo by Michael Yeshion

The Self-Proclaimed “Willie Nelson of Opera Singers”

Michael Mayes, a professional opera singer and the self-proclaimed “Willie Nelson of opera singers,” discussed his experience with cannabis in the opera.

“There’s a boatload of opera singers who use cannabis,” Mayes said. “I don’t think I’d have gotten to where I am in the industry without it.”

“Cannabis really helped me get through a traumatic time in my life and was much less devastating to my health than my old vices that just weren’t working anymore, and were in fact taking a real toll on my health,” he added. “It also provided me with much needed relief from my chronic pain, which had become a real barrier to my expression on stage, without the side effects that a lot of pain relievers have that can be detrimental to the voice.”

But like others performing in the opera houses, he and his wife, Megan Marino, a Mezzo-Soprano, didn’t advertise their cannabis use early on.

“It used to be such a taboo thing in our industry. People were really cagey about it, and it definitely had a real sort of insider stoner kind of vibe—like a weird fraternity of pot smokers who could sniff each other out,” Mayes reminisced. “We definitely didn’t advertise the fact that we used cannabis early on—but once legalization hit Colorado, that all changed.”

Edibles & The Opera

Edibles seemingly brought cannabis use into the mainstream of opera; performers then had an accessible way to consume without damaging their vocal folds.

“Singers could get the benefits of the plant without having to pull smoke across our vocal folds, which for a lot of singers is just too harsh a delivery system,” Mayes explained. “The demands that we make of our voices are so heavy (think elite athletes) that inhaling smoke was just a non-starter for a lot of singers.”

“I find edibles to be the best for me,” Marino added. “Though I do partake in flower when I’m on a long enough stretch between jobs. I barely notice the effects smoking has, but I don’t want to push my luck. I’ve been making my own edibles, butter in particular, since 2005.”

As a benefit of union membership, Megan has access to free online college courses and is pursuing a cannabis concentration as part of her degree. Cannabis justice reform is important to her, and she hopes that by continuing her education, she’ll play a role in changing it.

“‘Reefer Madness’ propaganda and Nixon’s drug war is no longer popular in American culture,” Marino explained. “We’ve seen the dangerous effects of alcoholism and the opioid epidemic. Let’s give folks, especially those dealing with chronic pain or stressful jobs, legal access to the safer option of cannabis.”

Megan is continuing with her education and shares her infused foods with her friends and colleagues.

“I used to make lots of confections (from the traditional brownie or cookie to pies & patisserie) to share with friends and colleagues in almost all corners of the biz—from my fellow singers to rehearsal pianists, stage managers, directors, administrators, artist managers—at ALL levels of the business and nationalities,” Marino said. “Now that it’s so readily available and legalized for medical, adult-use, or decriminalized in so many of the places I work, that part of my sharing is less frequent.”

“Anecdotally, I would say that I know more administrators now who use/have used cannabis that don’t, and they will often pick my brain about making their own edibles and extracts,” Mayes added. “This is something I would never have dreamed of contemplating 10 years ago.”

Marino as Rosina in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Opera Colorado / Photo by Matthew Staver

Other Consumption Methods in the Opera House

Those in the limelight of this genre are also familiar with other consumption methods, but the preferences among opera singers vary.

“Once the cartridges came out, a lot of folks found that they could use them without much stress on their cords, but the way inhalable cannabis affects the voice really varies by the individual; a lot of singers just won’t inhale smoke of any kind, while others don’t seem to suffer any fatigue or negative effect on their singing whatsoever,” Mayes explained.

Tinctures are popular, too. While living in Colorado, Mayes and Marino grew cannabis and made tinctures. After recreational cannabis became available in the Centennial State, there was a shift in the attitude surrounding it in the opera house.

“As more singers began to use cannabis—and spoke freely about using it—administrators’ attitudes began to shift toward acceptance, and now acceptance has become almost ubiquitous among admins—especially in legal states,” Mayes said. “They’re the ones who do the hiring and the firing, so this was a welcome development for those of us who partake.”

Mayes also cleared the air around his own consumption.

“I’m never high before or during a performance when I’m singing opera … just too many moving parts and things that could go wrong,” Mayes explained. “But when we’re playing with our bluegrass/Americana band, that’s a different story…”

Cannabis Smoke & the Voice: What Does Science Say?

So, we’ve heard how opera singers feel about cannabis consumption. But data-backed insights are essential to pair with anecdotal evidence, especially in the cannabis industry.

Research published in The Journal of Voice and reported on in PsyPost highlights how smoking cannabis affects the voice.

“Marijuana use has been common among rock and popular singers for decades, but it also occurs among other professional voice users including classical singers, teachers, politicians, clergy and many others,” study author Robert T. Sataloff, a professor and chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Drexel University, explained.

“Until very recently, it was not possible to study the effects of marijuana on voice prospectively because the substance was illegal. It still is in many states. Nevertheless, anecdotally laryngologists have seen adverse effects from marijuana,” Sataloff added.

The researchers surveyed 42 adult patients from Sataloff’s clinical voice center. Around 77% of the study’s participants reported that they’d tried cannabis during their lifetime.

Those who’d tried it reported on their beliefs about perceived changes to their voices that resulted from cannabis consumption. Around 42% of the cannabis users believed that smoking cannabis immediately altered their voice, and 29% reported that they think their consumption had a long-term impact, including vocal weakness and hoarseness.

“Smoking marijuana can cause voice dysfunction. For high-level voice users such as opera singers, intoxication or alteration in cognitive function from any cause can alter fine motor control and result in voice injury. This is true of marijuana, as it is of alcohol,” Sataloff told PsyPost.

One other study published in 1980 showcased how cannabis use can affect the voice. This research offers some evidence highlighting the darkened vocal folds of cannabis smokers. However, researchers still must conduct other studies to learn how cannabis impacts the voice.

The opera community has spoken. And it makes sense that the opera house is becoming more cannabis-friendly, especially with legality budding in states throughout the country.

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