These postcards are made from printed photos of my original art pieces, glued to heavy-gauge watercolour paper and then mailed off to elsewhere. Photographed before depositing into postbox. This is all.
Puffing along a trail recounting leaving cold, miserable London en route to post-hurricane Florida with flashbacks to working in Rheinplatz grade fields, gathering chestnuts to sell for beer and bread money, strange encampments at Oktoberfest, and hitchhiking to Amsterdam with gaggle of pals. To London by ferry and rapid exit via cheap flight Florida, quickly interjecting in chaotic domestic situations, meals with surly Hare Krishnas, sleeping on unglamorous beaches, and avoiding looting commotion, while plotting forward momentum, which eventually came in form of a dubious drive-away car situation to Dallas… and beyond (in 1992).
Features music by: “Brave Captain” fIREHOSE (recorded live in Ancienne, Belgique, March 12, 1991 – via Archive.org), “Florida” by Blue Rodeo (recorded live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), and “Crazy Fingers” by Grateful Dead (recorded live in Phoenix, AZ, 1993 – via archive.org).
Brace yourself for: Forward Momentum to Florida – Postcard #75
(20MB, 14:50, 192k mp3, stereo)
On a forgotten forest walk, Dave riffs a story about first trip to Europe – starting with trying not to puke over an Amsterdam bridge after a meeting new temporary coffee shop pals – with flashback to Mexican desert trips with Grandpa, LSD trips with VW bus-fixing pals, and family Grateful Dead road trip to in Arizona.
Foreshadows future stories of an rapid exit from London to Florida then a (rather dangerous) driveway car to Dallas, bus to SLC, flight to Vancouver, then to Japan…
Stuff your rucksack for: Eyes Towards Europe – Postcard #73
(54MB, 37:18, mp3, stereo)
Features music by Grateful Dead in Phoenix, Arizona, March 6, 1994, (Desert Sky Pavilion) playing “Eyes of the World” and “When I Paint my Masterpiece” via Archive.org, (taped by Mike Darby, transferred by Keo).
Transcription of a talk called “Art and Tech are Old Pal” at Wordcamp Vancouver in 2010. Video no longer exists (thanks to blip.tv) but audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.
Dave: I bet you’ve had a lot of knowledge today, so you’re probably pretty exhausted. I’m pretty wiped out but that’s mostly from the speaker’s dinner last night. Thanks to the organizers for bludgeoning us the night before. I really went there. This will be fine. I’m just going to pop in for just an hour or so. It turned out to be longest bus ride of my life on the way home. Overall, we’re good. So, Mr. John Biehler on keyboard. [applause]
So, I do my best thinking in the bath because you can’t do anything else. When you’re in the bath, there’s really nothing else you can do. You certainly can’t use your iPhone unless you put it in a little Ziploc bag. You shouldn’t be using your laptop. That’s just dangerous. I can’t use my vaporizer because I’d be electrocuted. So really, all that’s left to do in the bath is thinking.
Recently, I was in the hospital. Hit me the slide there, John. While I was recovering and having my scrambled eggs and stuff like that, I got to thinking about what a strange conundrum. What a strange piece of place of history that we live in with this tool. I was thinking about coming to talk to you guys. I had to have something because I really couldn’t think about it because I really couldn’t do much of anything.
I started thinking about how weird it is that all of a sudden art and technology were seeing these fruitions of time where all of a sudden a lot of you are making tools, writing codes, I went and sat in some of the things, and John’s talking about Map and all the new innovations of WordPress 3.0., I use the free WordPress.com, so I’m just letting you guys figured out how to build the tools.
But, all of a sudden, we’re replacing time that guys are making tools. You’re also expected or in some way producing content for these things. All of a sudden, you have this new publishing platform in front of you. I started thinking, because I’ve always been caught in space between art and technology as evidenced here with my King Tut exhibit there, that was pretty good and that’s the important part of taking risks, just proof and point about when you make art, you got to take some risks.
Originally appeared in Uncle Weed’s Dossier column in Vancouver Observer on Aug. 2nd 2011 under the same title. This spiel compiled a bushel of ideas I’ve wanted to amplify to Vancouver (knowing change comes slow etc. in land of conservative progressive) and banged it out white hot after returning from New Orleans and seeing the remarkable (dearisay) brand they’ve crafted for their city – and dang if they don’t know how to truly let loose and keep it cool. We have our moments in Vancouver but with absurd prices and policies for beer (which is an essay on its way) and neurotic policy shifts, and an abundance of disparity… a few refinements are in order – the question is: are we ready to step up? heh, you tell me.
Go Cups and Pedicabs ~ Are We Ready to be “World Class” Yet?
Like a beautiful but gangly teenager on the first day of high school, in Vancouver we tend towards constant introspection and self-awareness to the point of mental self-abuse when we discuss our city. “Are we are as pretty as Zurich? Are we more fun than Sydney? Do these pants make me look fat?”
We obsess about being “world class” as though that makes us important. World class doesn’t mean “big” – we remain medium-sized (and our topography ensures we will) – as Goldilocks would say, “Just right.” World class means something unique which makes the city stand out. Sure, we have mountains, the ocean and trees. But to go next level, we need to go wide open with new ideas and take some calculated risks.
I’ve just rambled back from New Orleans (podcast) – a city that knows something about its brand and reputation – with a headful of ideas borrowed from working examples to re-fit our city experiment into something truly more livable for the normal folks.
New Orleans: “Go” cups – simple, put your beer in plastic cup and take it from bar or store to wherever (walking not driving), very civilized. Street music. Not lonely, hunkered buskers, but like the 14 man brass bands holding court on French Quarter corners where the crowd ebbs with high-rollers’ cars and tourists with camera phones mix with locals boogying down. Street-level streetcars (ding ding) with a $3 day-pass to roll on wooden seats down the middle of the road. Also, add a brilliant culinary culture but leave the corruption, rats and humidity.
Austin, Texas: Pedi-cabs – move these cycle rickshaws beyond noisy, drunken weekend novelty status and transform the way we take short up/downtown trips. The licensed drivers make decent cash without emissions and save your sneakers on walks which are too short to bother playing the “where might a cab be?” game.
See also: Hosting art, technology festivals as a civic cash cow a la South by Southwest. Need to loosen up on bars, clubs and meeting centres (seriously, try renting a place) and provide an area for patrons to party (no, GranvilleMall doesn’t count) and you’ll attract conventioneers besides the stuffy ties at the dual Canada Places. Remember that conferences are junkets which requires fun times for attendees.
London: Though gloomy and spendy, I’ll take late night double-decker buses and free museums and galleries. Art saves lives and defines who we are. Make it accessible.
New York: Falafel at 3 a.m. like it’s no big deal. There is more, but this is enough.
Amsterdam: You’ll notice the separated bike lanes after you are run down when you don’t note the signs. As you are falling backwards avoiding the canals as scowling locals pedal by on heavy steel bikes, you’ll say to yourself, “I see, these aren’t sidewalks, these are true bike paths winding along like expressways for cycles.”
The reason bike lanes in Van are getting flack is because something was “taken away” – instead, make bike-only routes separate from the car-ways and everyone will be way happier.
Barcelona: Hard to describe Las Ramblas but we need something just like it – a true city pedestrian mall, a walkway, a people’s area for mingling, lounging and even lightweight commerce (lay down a blanket, sell your wares). Simply, we shouldn’t have to close a major traffic route to host downtown get-togethers or to observe each other on lazy afternoons.
Logan, Utah: Free transit. I know it sounds absurd… another Dave (Olsen, that is) researched free transit systems but missed one in the culturally conservative, big truck driving, two-bar university city by the Idaho border.The seat of Cache County boasts free, quality transit – hop on to go frombig box stores to the Mormon temple. I’d settle for a “SeaBus only” pass.
Brussels: While dignified Brussels manages to beat Vancouver for most underwhelming tourist photo op (Mannekin Pis vs. Gastown “Steam” Clock), the Belgian capital wins big prizes for character bars tended to by pro beer traditionalists serving on endless patio tables ringing vast squares. While we don’t have the centuries of Trappist ale culture, places like Six Acres show you can craft character and bring it outside on the cobblestones.
Vancouver: Summerlive at Stanley Park was close to perfect. Keep in mind, I’m a veteran of Grateful Dead tours, the legendary WOMAD feasts, and a hundred hippie jam fest weekends and attest this was simply a remarkable three days of music and demonstrative of a renaissance of great bands unseen since the beery 80s days of local hardcore.
Held close to the totempoles where I had my fifth birthday party, it felt like we stopped caring about how the outside looked at us and started living like we want to – we ride bikes, we walk the seawall, we tidy up, we sing along. Thanks to the police for keeping it chill and letting us enjoy picnics, tokes and (possibly) a brown bagged bevvie.
We come from all over. Trying to find someone second generation from Vancouver amidst refugees from the frozen lands is a task. And we are already remixing ourselves, our city and our culture daily. The concrete isn’t wet yet here, we can still define who we want ourselves to be. And it’s a good time to do it since the city’s brand (as I learned in a city which survived a hurricane, flood, looting, police corruption and chaos) is “that city that burns cop cars.” Nowhere to go but up.
We have visible homeless problems, demoralizing property values and waffling by-laws. These need fixing. But to make my beloved city truly world class, I’ll be happy with a couple of the above for starters.
Upon the untimely passing of a friend Ian Christiancy (aka Gazoo), Uncle Weed cracks a tall can of beer and sparks a bowl of sour diesel on a dock in Harrison Lake to share memories of friendly adventures to Darrington Rock Fest, Amsterdam Cannabis Cup, curling in Portland, parties at the cabin and hangouts on Steamboat Island and anecdotes about living tough and timely, yet unseemly, advice, leather jackets and souped up Novas.
Featuring music by Numbskulz, Nazareth and excerpts from The Pudcast with Gazoo and Sajo.
Uncleweed.net for more writings, podcasts, paintings and photos
From a new backporch high on the mountain slopes, Uncle Weed talks about his collections of t-shirts and lighters and long-ago trips to Japan – then discusses stoner culture, legal penalties, and travel observations with a Japanese cannabis enthusiast who tells his favourite strains, how he met ganja in Japan, compares Vancouver and Amsterdam, and documents the many strains of BC bud enjoyed on his visit while eating curry rice.
Pack your satchel for Toking and Traveling in Nippon – Choogle on #67 (.mp3, 21:27, 20MB)
Travel in Europe guru, PBS super-star, decent Lutheran guy, and multi-purpose enlightened thinker Rick Steves wrote a guest column about the failed USA war on drugs policy – i’ve re-posted for educational use from Seattle P-I.com
We need to get smart about marijuana
As a parent helping two children navigate their teen years, and as a travel writer who has seen firsthand how Europe deals with its drug problem, I’ve thought a lot about U.S. drug policy — particularly our criminalization of marijuana.
Europe, like the U.S., is dealing with a persistent drug-abuse problem. But unlike us, Europe, which treats drug abuse primarily as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue, measures the success of its drug policy in terms of pragmatic harm reduction.
Europeans seek a cure that isn’t more costly than the problem. While the U.S. spends its tax dollars on police, courts and prisons, Europe fights drug abuse by funding doctors, counselors and clinics. European Union policymakers estimate that for each euro invested in drug education and counseling, they save 15 euros in police and health costs. Similar estimates have been made for U.S. health-based approaches by the Rand Corp. and others.
While Europeans are as firmly opposed to hard drugs as we are, the difference in how they approach marijuana is striking. Take the Netherlands, with its famously liberal marijuana laws. On my last trip to Amsterdam, I visited a “coffee shop” — a cafe that openly and legally sells marijuana to people over 18. I sat and observed the very local, almost quaint scene: Neighbors were chatting. An older couple (who apparently didn’t enjoy the trendy ambience) parked their bikes and dropped in for a baggie to go. An underage customer was shooed away. Then a police officer showed up — but only to post a warning about the latest danger from chemical drugs on the streets.
Some concerned U.S. parents are comforted by the illusion of control created by our complete prohibition of marijuana. But the policy seems to be backfiring: Their kids say it’s easier to buy marijuana than tobacco or alcohol. (You don’t get carded when you buy something illegally.) Meanwhile, Dutch parents say their approach not only protects their younger children, but also helps insulate teens over 18 from street pushers trying to get them hooked on more addictive (and profitable) hard drugs.
After a decade of regulating marijuana, Dutch anti-drug abuse professionals agree there has been no significant increase in pot smoking among young people, and that overall cannabis use has increased only slightly. European and U.S. government statistics show per-capita consumption of marijuana for most of Europe (including the Netherlands) is about half that of the U.S., despite the criminal consequences facing American pot smokers.
When it comes to marijuana, European leaders understand that a society must choose: Tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They’ve made their choice. We’re still building more prisons.
According to Forbes magazine, 25 million Americans currently use marijuana (federal statistics indicate that one in three Americans has used marijuana at some point), which makes it a $113 billion untaxed industry in our country. The FBI reports that about 40 percent of the roughly 1.8 million annual drug arrests in the U.S. are for marijuana — the majority (89 percent) for simple possession.
Rather than act as a deterrent, criminalization of marijuana drains precious resources, clogs our legal system and distracts law enforcement attention from more pressing safety concerns.
But things are changing. For example, in Seattle, Initiative 75, which makes adult marijuana use the lowest law enforcement priority for local cops, was recently reviewed after four years in action. The results clearly show that during that period, marijuana use didn’t measurably increase, and street crime associated with drugs actually went down.
More and more U.S. parents, lawyers, police, judges and even travel writers feel it’s time for a change. Obviously, like Europeans, we don’t want anyone to harm themselves or others by misusing marijuana. We simply believe that regulating and taxing what many consider a harmless vice is smarter than outlawing it.
Like my European friends, I believe we can adopt a pragmatic policy toward marijuana, with a focus on harm reduction and public health, rather than tough-talking but counterproductive criminalization. The time has come to have an honest discussion about our marijuana laws and their effectiveness. We need to find a policy that is neither “hard on drugs” nor “soft on drugs” — but smart on drugs.
Nederlands Cannabis Trip 2002
Featuring Uncle Weed, The Unabonger (AKA Cosmo G Spacely), Gazoo (rip) and other friends. We judged the Cannabis Cup, put on a screening of the HempenRoad, took train trips to Deventer and Haarlem (for the Dutch Grower’s Cup) and van rides to Madurodam and other outlying areas.
Filmed in 11 second pieces at 320×280 or something on a borrowed early Sony digital camera.