Tag Archives: travel

Rick Steves – Europhile and travel-activist kicking down the tolerance

I am a huge fan of travel guru and noted nice guy, Rick Steves. He started with great books (Europe Through the Back Door) after traveling around Europe working as a piano tuner. Now, he’s all over PBS TV and Radio and his radio shows are now podcasted. He is totally in me “hero file.” Not only did build a kind and gracious empire promoting travel, good times and friendship from Edmonds, WA but he is also an outspoken and noble endorser of cannabis use and tolerance and chillaxing in general. He is now a member of the Norml advisory board and his ‘regular American dorky dad’ persona is just what ‘regualr dorky Americans’ need to see to push the cannabis bogey man image out of their minds.

I could go on and on but i was eager to let you know that his podcasts are getting better and better and these two (along with one about Prague i listened to this morning) are great examples. Not just ‘which hotel to stay in’ but real global/local minded discourse on the thoughts and customs which make us humans rather intriguing. The contrast (fairly unintentional) between Netherland’s noble aloofness and the cubicle-bound American makes for great listening and his recounting of the Road to Santiago is a treat with behind the scenes thoughts about ‘why’ along with the ‘wheres and hows.’

Anyhow, here are a few links to smoke errr. digest:Rick on Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops

Decriminalization of Marijuana

Europe Through an Open Door (interview)

Among the groups that Steves, a Christian who’s active in the Lutheran Church, supports are Bread for the World, Greenpeace, and NORML, which advocates the decriminalization of marijuana. His trips to Holland, he says, have shown him there are more compassionate and sane policies for managing marijuana use and prostitution.

Rick on Social Activism

So subscribe to Rick’s podcast ye mateys and/or grab a couple of samples below.

Dutch Tolerance and The Overworked American Airdate: April 28, 2007

Rick chats with tour guide Ton Van Garderen from The Netherlands about how Amsterdam makes its “live and let live” libertine policies work andwhat’s behind the Dutch reputation for being “tolerant.”

We’llalso assess the state of the overworked American with author and documentary producer John DeGraff to see how we can reclaim some of the time we never seem to have enough of.

Additional Links:

John Degraff’s website: www.timeday.org

Pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago in Spain, Tourism in Iran

Airdate: March 31, 2007

We learn about El Camino de Santiago de Compostela from a man who takes tourists on updated versions of this medieval pilgrimage route and catch up with a Lonely Planet Iran researcher who finds that, despite the country’s heavy-handed rulers, the Iranian people are some of the most welcoming you’ll find anywhere. Plus we have a new round of listeners’ travel haiku to share.

Additional Links:

Note: I am fascinated by the Camino de Santiago where pilgrims walk for thousands of miles to get near the (alleged) bones of St. James as we learned arriving their the day the Pope JP2 died. The next day were impromptu parades and masses at the giant cathedral (my first Catholic mass too). I did a wee bit of writing a few painting too – maybe i’ll finish them sometime – here’s a photo in the meantime.

Rick Steves Europe: Travel with Rick Steves: Program Archives

Mysterious Speakeasy in Greenwich Village

I am headed to NYC next month for a biz-ness trip (staying a fancy mid-town hotel shockingly enough) and my amigo out there pointed me to the private stash of all bars boasting a history of runaway slaves, literary heroes, illicit alcohol and haunting poltergeists. I am totally going.

Heck, I even made google map to the secret libation locale (though i’ll probably still have to find the stealthy entrance in the alley).

The bar is up for sale (3.75 million USD in case you are wondering) and the place doesn’t necessarily have a name. ‘Chumley’s‘ or ’86 Bedford’ seem to be the parlance of choice.

Anyhow, here is a snippet from the article 86 Bedford Street in NY Resident magazine by Rachel B. Doyle filling in the pieces of the stories,

Despite the building going on the block, Chumley’s isn’t going anywhere since its lease isn’t up until 2085. Touted as “the oldest speakeasy in the country to retain its original ambiance,” Chumley’s has been around since 1926 —when it was purchased by Leland Stanford Chumley, who remodeled the front of the former blacksmith’s shop with innocuous garage-like doors.

Behind this obscure facade, lay the favorite illicit watering hole of literary luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Jack Kerouac, Norman Mailer, Anaïs Nin, Simone de Beauvoir and J.D. Salinger (before he became a recluse). The original incarnation contained kitchen entrances disguised as bookshelves, two trapdoors to conceal spirits, and a trick staircase designed to foil the police.

“It’s supposed to give the illusion that we’re in a basement, when in reality we’re on street level. It allowed the bartenders some time to clear away alcohol during Prohibition,” said John Lefebvre, a waiter at Chumley’s.

The entrance remains the same as it was in the ‘20s: unmarked and only accessible by a clandestine rear passageway leading from Barrow Street. And Chumley’s will likely never have a sign, as landmark designation restricts anything having to do with physical changes.

A little known fact about 86 Bedford St. is that its seditious reputation actually precedes Prohibition. According to legend, the building was also a refuge for runaway slaves – due in part to it’s proximity to Gay Street, which had a large pre-Civil War era free black community.

“In the floor of the bar there is a trapdoor that lifts up. These same tunnels that may have been used to transport slaves were later used to transport the alcohol into the restaurant during Prohibition,” said Lefebvre, who also just completed a documentary about Chumley’s. “I’m looking right at it.”

While some reviews speak disparagingly about the Chumley’s micro brews (flat and lifeless) and the meat heads (read fratboys) who have found the enclave (to high five in) while others mention the proximity to a firehall which suffered major casualties during the WTC incident or the discussion if this is where the term “getting 86’ed” originated and yet one more talks about the dog patrons – (geez i though it was just Oly’s Eastside Club which allowed dogs) – in a post What’s up with the dogs at Chumley’s?


Here’s the door – is there a secret knock?

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International Heads and Hemp Oil ~ Choogle On! #34

Uncle Weed works through a pile of interesting mail including recent Heads magazines, hemp essential oil from Switzerland, shocking letters from Iranian academics, indecent US border guards ands sends a call out for show topics and offers bribes for show reviews plus a contest, …

Download Choogle On! with Uncle Weed #34 (43:24, 40MB, .mp3)

Subscribe to the Choogle On! feed or Chillaxin feed or in iTunes


podcasting note and toolk

Trivia Contest: What is the Canadian town where Ross Rebagliati and Uncle Weed were born? Listen to Clubside Breakfast Time for answer- and yes, proper spelling counts!

Post answer to this blog post or send e-mail to uncleweed {at} uncleweed {d0t} to win a copy of the winter sports issue of Heads magazine (seen below) with article on Ross Rebagliati … signed by the writer!

Ross article - Heads magazine coverRoss article, Heads magazine

Music Roster:

  1. Black Tories – Flightpath
  2. Drive by Truckers – World of Hurt
  3. Chris Sullivan – Rainin’

Link Stash:

Iran LetterIran Letter page 2

feedback uncleweed {at} uncleweed {d0t} net
note to self: find busted Surrey US border guard article
new note to self: talk about info received from Chad in Surrey

Buena Joint with the Lucky Bastard – Choogle on #33

Aspiring actor and noted carouser O-dawg tells Uncle Weed about his hi-jinks starring in a French reality TV show called “The Lucky Bastard.” He recounts the production foibles, drunken debacles and beach fire exploits of hanging out with African immigrants, smoking hash and scoring with international lassies at the bar and spreads rumours of a existing video tape.

Then, after rollling a joint of outdoor Mendicino Sunshine and Mango in fascinating clear cellulose papers, they head up to San Francisco’s historic Buena Vista Park to dig the view, roast out and continue the story about security nonsense and NYC funtime.

> Download Choogle On! with Uncle Weed #33 (32:36, 29.9MB, .mp3)

Subscribe to the Choogle On! feed or Chillaxin feed or in iTunes

it really is clear due to cellulose

clear cellulose rolling papers

it's a clear joint - really!

A few activities on Island of Guam, Micronesia

(Photo credit unknown but maybe from a satellite or otherwise rather high up - oh yeah this is Talafofo bay.) An old friend who is now living in Zambia (look it up) was bound for Guam for a brother’s wedding and dropped me a note asking for tourist tips. My time in Guam is worthy of a novella or two but much time has passed and development and typhoons have changed the island – an island which is always in change anyhow – a stange tension of military, tourism and local cultures make for a curious fishbowl.

While i will (really) one day write more on this, here are a few quick notes for others bound for Guam.

Guam … it’s been a while so most restaurants and stuff are probably changed but you should rent/borrow a car and drive to Talafofo and visit the little sandy beach there and go to Jeff’s Pirate Cove – it is close to where Yokoi-san (i think that was his name – the soldier who hid in the jungle for years) was discovered and it is a cool beach restaurant and bar and tourist stop. I used to sell my juggling sticks there. Here’s Jeff’s (there is another Jeff’s Pirate Cove in Palau coincidentally) http://www.jeffspiratescove.com and here’s about Yokoi: http://www.jeffspiratescove.com/yokoi.htm
Dave at starsan beachIf you have time and money, visiting Cocos island (a resort at the south end of the island) is rad cause you can swim with dolphins sometimes and explore some great reefs. I worked at Star Sand Private beach club which was a beautiful location through the Air Force base but not sure if it is still in business or whatever (nothing on the internet).

There used to be a great beach restaurant called Tahiti Rama right on Tumon bay but i think it is gone. Apparently they took over the old island dance show which performed at Tahiti Rama’s including fire stick/staff dance by “King” Tana, (my buddy from Tahiti if you happen to see his show, tell him “Haole Dave” said high – his brother from the reggae band too) and moved it to the Fisheye park.

This fisheye aqua park was just being built when i was there but sounds pretty cool (i scuba’ed at the bomb holes there before): http://www.fisheyeguam.com/optional/e_Optional.htm

Here’s more … according to this blog post: http://www.namamalo.org/weblog/2002_11_01_archive.html

“The observatory is located in the largest of the Piti Bomb Holes, pockets of deep water within the reef offshore of the village of Piti. Local legend attributes their creation to bombs dropped in World War II, but the bomb holes are actually the remains of collapsed caves, similar to Shark’s Hole north of Tanguisson Beach. The observatory, which looks like a flying saucer hovering above the water, is reached by a long causeway above the reef flat. Once inside, a spiral staircase descends twenty feet below the waves to the observation deck. Large porthole windows located around the circumference allow for viewing the fish, shrimp, sponges and anemones in their natural habitat.

After convening at the observatory and watching the sunset, our group migrated back to the the main building on shore. This building houses a gift shop, several large aquariums, the buffet dinner and the Polynesian dancing show. The food was onolicious, a tantalizing seafood buffet, complete with sushi and sashimi. Once we ate our fill, the show began. The dancing was great, and it was like visiting an old friend. The show, the musicians, the performers, the entire act was lifted from the venerable Tahiti Rama beach bar in Tumon. Tahiti Rama was the quintessential beach bar in Guam, a favorite watering hole and destination for many years. They had a great island dance show on Friday nights for a couple years, highlighted by Tana’s fire dance and the owner’s guitar playing and running commentary. Several years ago Tahiti Rama was leveled by hotel expansion in Tumon and I always wondered what happened to the owner and his great Polynesian show. Well he relocated to Fish Eye. And the show is better than ever.”


Anyhow the southern end is totally worth checking out – entirely different from all the busy tourist area and groovy villages and sites along the way plus nice hikes if you are so inclined – i liked being away from the duty free stores and tour buses for sure!

For surfing (boogie boarding is more common due to the shallow breaks with mere centimeters covering harsh coral, Talafofo is the forgiving sandy break, Boat Basin is closest to Tumon beach but the water is nasty and the break intense, Magundas (pictured) has nice waves and beautiful scenery out to the open ocean but takes a level of competence to understand the currents as well as the routine of getting in and out of the water after trekking down a rock cliff. If not careful, you could end up in the Phillipines!

There is also a lot of seedy areas with “massage” parlors and all-night bars for drunken sailors so stay away from there ;-).

Magundas surf break in guam

Mission to the Homestead and Himalayas ~ Choogle On! #30

Exiting the Castro chaos in geta sandals, Mad Dog and Uncle Weed stroll through San Francisco’seclectic Mission district talking about urban planning and related social conundrums and sorting out tense Nepalese political negotiations en route to a fine neighborhood pub called the Homestead with a bench full of hidden wine, naked wimmin on the walls and men with old-timey hats.

Download Choogle On! with Uncle Weed #30 (21:26, 19.9MB, .mp3)

Subscribe to the Choogle On! feed or Chillaxin feed or in iTunes

homestead pub in san francisco Picture(28).jpg
Bonus Resources:

Homestead pub map and review

NepalPolitical news on BBC (tentative peace agreement)


Homeless protest documentation from Indy Media

Downtown Eastside Enqurier article on the homeless sit-in/protest

CBC (protest coverage)

Music from Jerry Garcia Band (duh ;-))

This episode produced by Bread the Producer from recording made by Uncle Weed on Oct. 31st, 2006

Halloween Shooting Chaos in San Francisco’s Castro

More on this topic later but, … i was in San Fran and saw all this shooting craziness go down right f#$%ing in front of me including seeing the guy taking this picture (more at SF Chronicle). More to come on a Choogle on podcast episode. Gang inspired shooting into a crowded street, 9 shot, 1 trampled, no one killed, many police on motorcycles, much flesh and uhhh… creative costumes.

From SF Gate (via archive.org’s way back machine)


The shooting started when someone got hit by bottle / Alleged gang member started altercation, then victim’s pal opened fire, police say
A city firefighter assists a shooting victim, who was among 10 people hurt when the Halloween celebration in the Castro district took a violent turn. Photo by Jay Finneburgh, special to the Chronicle.

Note: Article shared here for posterity as no longer live online.

ba_castro_dsc0035 ba_castro_dsc0038 ba_castro_dsc0052

The Halloween shootings of nine people in the Castro — and the head injury to a woman during the ensuing chaos — began when a suspected gang member broke a bottle over the head of a reveler from another part of the city, whose friend then opened fire into the crowd on Market Street, San Francisco police said Wednesday.

No one has been arrested in connection with the 10:42 p.m. incident, in which nine rounds were fired into a densely packed crowd at an event policed by more than 600 officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Police say that although suspected gang members were involved, they have no proof the shootings were gang-related, and so the case is being investigated by the general work detail rather than the gang task force.

Authorities briefly detained someone seen running from the scene for questioning, but released him.

Police said Tuesday’s incident began with what Chief Heather Fong called a “stare-down” between about 15 members of a street gang based in the Sunnydale housing projects in Visitacion Valley and a similar-size group from the Lakeview area of the Ingleside district.

“Bad words were exchanged. One person hit somebody with the bottle — somebody in that group pulled out a firearm and started shooting,” Fong said.

Although nine people were shot, most were only grazed. Several of those hit were bystanders and had no connection to either group, investigators said.

Two people were hospitalized at San Francisco General Hospital, one of them a gunshot victim who was hit in the knee. The other person hospitalized — a 10th victim of the violence — was a woman who suffered a head injury when she fell or was trampled.

The shootings occurred on the 2200 block of Market Street, near the party’s main stage as well as one of the nine entrances to the Castro that police set up to screen partygoers for alcohol and weapons.

Sheriff Mike Hennessey, who led a contingent of 100 deputies, was about 30 feet from where the shots were fired and said he heard at least six in a matter of seconds.

“People screamed and ran toward me,” Hennessey said. “We were helping people hide behind Dumpsters, helping people calm down and leave.”

Fortunately, Hennessey said, “the panic was very short-lived.”

Harrison Brace, who saw the shootings from his third-floor apartment on Market Street, said the gunman appeared to be firing wildly.

“It took a second to sink in, then the crowd dove down,” Brace said. “They started knocking over barricades, and there was a lot of screaming. The police came very quickly.”

The shootings were by far the most serious incident in an event that authorities characterized as otherwise peaceful.

Two dozen people were arrested for being drunk in public, including one who allegedly resisted arrest.

Another man was arrested on suspicion of battery and resisting arrest.

Most of the estimated 100,000 people in the Castro were law-abiding and “mellow,” Hennessey said. The lines to get through the checkpoints extended for a block or more, but authorities found little that would indicate trouble would break out.

Deputies and police at the checkpoints “took away obvious weapons from people — spears, stakes, toy guns,” Hennessey said. “I don’t think we took away any real guns. . . . We also took walking canes, those types of things, anything you could swing and hit somebody and hurt him.”

Hennessey said the shootings happened just as officers and deputies were about to start dispersing partygoers under the city’s prearranged plan to shut down the event at 11 p.m.

“The big test would have been then, when everybody was going to be told to leave,” Hennessey said. “We don’t know how that would have worked.”

When the shots rang out, he said, “people ran. It was real easy to close off the event.”

Giving it up for the ‘Shtans

Seems 20th Century Fox is releasing crazy tongue in cheek comedy action about Borat from Kazakhstan (apparently another pop culture phenom i hadn’t noticed). Of course, clips abound on Google’s youTube – both of deleted scenes and an “official” clip posted by the producers.

If the Borat Ministry of Information website is any indication (looks like a 1997 geocities project), the art direction seems fantastically campy and smacks of realism with a touch of over the top-ness so no one is confused – case in point, the Borat tv page and Borat’s Myspace.

Boart and friends I am fan of the mock-u-mentary format in general (faves include: David Byrne’s underrated masterpiece “True Stories,” (Byrne’s site) “(This is) Spinal Tap” (fansite and even “Best in Show” by the same crew) and hope Borat’s adventure doesn’t rely stricly on fart and sex jokes and boosts some underlying social commentary so it educates not just entertains.

Certainly, I am idealistic to hope the film offers a way of looking at ourselves (meaning “decadant” western cultures) from another lens. Is this a big and unrealistic request? Perhaps but Borat may well be up to it.

Incidentally, I wrote a play for a class about global issues featuring a country called Shtanastan (.pdf) which has some fun at these folks expense as well in the context of some oil exploration coddled by indifferent/drunken bureaucrats.

Ahhh, funny accents and huge mustaches amuse me fer sure but certainly, these central Asian countries are almost forgotten by western world despite vast size and likely abundant resources so there is something to be gained along with the chuckles.

Religion? Economy? Culture? Politics? In reality, I don’t really know about the region except what I’ve learned from Ewan and Charlie’s Long Way Round.  But already, thanks to Borat, I’ve learned more from Kazakhstan.com (news), Kazakhstan’s Wikipedia entry, and Kazakhstan’s Lonely Planet info and also learned that the official Kazakh’s aren’t real enamoured with the film project but the .kz root webserver isn’t going anywhere so i read what i can but a little hunting took me deeper into the heart of Kazakhstan.

Anyone wanna me a couple plane tickets to the Shtans? I’ll go and make a podcast and take some snaps for ya.

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The World is Not Flat checks in from The Netherlands

I don’t know Lee and Sachi personally but seems i am only a degree or two of separation apart … either way, I’ve been following along on their round the world trip and they’ve recently come ’round to Europe and into Amsterdam.

With my particular interest in the social policies of The Nederlands – having visited Amsterdam (Flickr tag) several times – (listen to Choogle on with Uncle Weed podcast episode #27), i read Lee’s recent missive with great interest.

Yup, it’s all about the harm reduction and tolerance and it turns out that decriminalization and normalization does statistically reduce abuse and use – perhaps getting high and screwing whores really are less enticing when the risk/thrill factor is removed ;-).

Thick snippet below but read the whole piece at Sex and Drugs in Liberal Holland.

 I described Amsterdam to my Mom as “A bastion of hedonism”. Sure, it has beautiful canals, nice people, amazing sights, about a billion bicycles and a ton of charm, but what is truly impressive about Amsterdam and what differentiates it on a worldwide scale is the liberal policies of the Dutch government concerning drugs and prostitution.

For instance, we stayed in a guesthouse in the Red Light District and within two blocks of our guesthouse, anyone with the money can legally buy “soft drugs” like marijuana, mushrooms and hashish in small quantities and sexual services from a host of licensed prostitutes who display their wares in large windows under red lights. I suppose you could also see some music and complete the hedonists triumverate of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.

The view from our place:

For the visitor to Amsterdam, these elements of the city can be surprising and intimidating – we talked to some people who would not step foot into the Red Light District. However, I think it is more surprising that the city doesn’t have the overall feel of a “bad neighborhood” with a high frequency of drugs, sex shops and prostitutes. There is a ragged and depressing element to the Red Light District, but I don’t think it is much different than any other city – it is just that tourists are exposed and invited to participate in activities that would otherwise be managed in dark alleys and controlled by criminals instead of government agencies.

The Dutch policy seems based on the idea that people are going to do what they are going to do, regardless of the government or the potential for punishment. And if this is true, their only tools are regulation, taxation and tolerance. It makes sense to me and the Dutch folks we talked to about it.

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Laughing Buddha, Chocomel and Belgian Hash ~ Choogle On! #27

Slightly past 4:20, Uncle Weed and amigo Cousin Herb roll up fat doob of sticky Sativa in a Vancouver park and talk about Herb’s recent trip to Netherlands and Belgium.

Kind Nug from Barney's

Weed recounts a few of his exploits in the low-lands (as a backpacker in 1992, a Cannabis Cup judge in 2002 and passing through in 2005). They talk about Barney’s killer breakfast and award worthy ganja, fave coffee shops, the Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank house, bike rides plus anecdotes about hash-bearing friends in Brussels, great Thai food and addictive Chocomel.

Listen up to Choogle On! with Uncle Weed Episode #27 (.mp3, 23:10)

Subscribe to the Choogle on feed or Chillaxin feed or in iTunes

Music (in order of appearence):

Special kind tokes to the Dope Fiend and Queer Ninja for inspiration and enthusiasm!