By Robert Core on Thursday, March 13th, 2014

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Rock and roll minus marijuana equals Cliff Richard. If that’s what you want, what are you even doing here? It’s a little more complicated than that of course, so in this post we’ll take a look at how the noble plant has influenced musicians across the years.

Early Daze

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Perhaps, around 30,000 years ago, Og the caveman chanced across a small weed bush and thought, “Ooh – herbs! I shall add that to tonight’s mammoth pie.” By midnight he was ripped to the Palaeolithic knackers, and had fashioned a rudimentary trumpet out of a length of tusk. By 2am he’d invented a kind of proto-jazz, and by 2.15 he was hungry again. By the following Tuesday he’d worked out how to grow his own marijuana from seeds.


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What we do know is that the recorded history of music and dope starts in 1930’s America, with jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway. Armstrong was looking at six months inside for possession at one point, until the judge turned out to be a fan. He was free and playing in a club later that night. Jazz musicians found that smoking fatties improved their perception of how they were playing to the point where they were able to improvise freely over the top of whatever was written down; weed literally “jazzed up” the original tunes.

No Fun

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People were having too much fun, goddammit, so it was time for the government to step in and crack down, which has obviously worked so well in the intervening years that certain US states have given up in the War On Wastedness. Anyway, the next major milestone allowed rock and roll, which was ready to die of blandness in the early 1960’s, to be reborn. Bob Dylan met the Beatles in a hotel room in August 1964. He just happened to be in possession of some eye-wateringly powerful tetrahydrocannabinol, conveniently rolled into smokable form. Paul McCartney’s thumbs have not stopped being aloft since then.


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Before having their minds turned upside down by Dylan’s devilish doobies, The Beatles were releasing “nice” songs like All My Loving. Shortly afterwards we got all the chords in the world in Help! (1965). Things became increasingly weird (partly due to the increasingly naughty nature of the chemicals the Fab Four were ingesting) culminating in Sergeant Pepper (1967) via Tomorrow Never Knows, from Revolver (1966). The youth of an entire planet was officially corrupted. Hoorah!


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Things were also turning strange in the Caribbean. Fast, jumpy ska music had been mellowed into long, lazy, loping reggae by the madness that is reefer. Bob Marley and Peter Tosh sang of the joys of herb, and the vibes filtered through to white boy rock music, some of which was excellent and some of which necessitated the invention of punk, to blow away some cobwebs.

Do. Or Do Not

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These days it’s rap artists like Snoop who are keeping the, er, “torch” alight. Heroic quantities of pot have turned the Dogg into Snoop Lion, apparently christened thusly by a Jamaican rasta priest. Snoop Lion’s songs “No Guns Allowed” and “Smoke The Weed” exemplify his new reggae direction. These days, governments are beginning to realise that people who want to smoke, do. People who don’t, don’t. There’s little or nothing they can do about it.

(Images courtesy of stonerdays.com, wikipedia, spclarke.com, ultimateclassicrock.com, juantadeo.com, wikipedia, mtviggy.com)

— By Robert Core on Thursday, March 13th, 2014

By Akira The Don on Sunday, June 30th, 2013

Yo this is awesome. Going on Hancock’s logic I’m in  the abusive stage right now. MAN WAS ON THE CHEESE! YESSS!



— By Akira The Don on Sunday, June 30th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Friday, January 4th, 2013

From Smithsonian:

One of the chief arguments for the legalization of medicinal marijuana is its usefulness as a pain reliever. For many cancer and AIDS patients across the 19 states where medicinal use of the drug has been legalized, it has proven to be a valuable tool in managing chronic pain—in some cases working for patients for which conventional painkillers are ineffective.

To determine exactly how cannabis relieves pain, a group of Oxford researchers used healthy volunteers, an MRI machine and doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Their findings, published today in the journal Pain, suggest something counterintuitive: that the drug doesn’t so much reduce pain as make the same level of pain more bearable.

“Cannabis does not seem to act like a conventional pain medicine,” Michael Lee, an Oxford neuroscientist and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “Brain imaging shows little reduction in the brain regions that code for the sensation of pain, which is what we tend to see with drugs like opiates. Instead, cannabis appears to mainly affect the emotional reaction to pain in a highly variable way.”

As part of the study, Lee and colleagues recruited 12 healthy volunteers who said they’d never used marijuana before and gave each one either a THC tablet or a placebo. Then, to trigger a consistent level of pain, they rubbed a cream on the volunteers’ legs that included 1% capsaicin, the compound found that makes chili peppers spicy; in this case, it caused a burning sensation on the skin.

When the researchers asked each person to report both the intensity and the unpleasantness of the pain—in other words, how much it physically burned and how much this level of burning bothered them—they came to the surprising finding. “We found that with THC, on average people didn’t report any change in the burn, but the pain bothered them less,” Lee said.

This indicates that marijuana doesn’t function as a pain killer as much as a pain distracter: Objectively, levels of pain remain the same for someone under the influence of THC, but it simply bothers the person less. It’s difficult to draw especially broad conclusions from a study with a sample size of just 12 participants, but the results were still surprising.

Each of the participants was also put in an MRI machine—so the researchers could try to pinpoint which areas of the brain seemed to be involved in THC’s pain relieving processes—and the results backed up the theory. Changes in brain activity due to THC involved areas such as the anterior mid-cingulate cortex, believed to be involved in the emotional aspects of pain, rather than other areas implicated in the direct physical perception of it.

Additionally, the researchers found that THC’s effectiveness in reducing the unpleasantness of pain varied greatly between individuals—another characteristic that sets it apart from typical painkillers. For some participants, it made the capsaicin cream much less bothersome, while for others, it had little effect.

The MRI scans supported this observation, too: Those more affected by the THC demonstrated more brain activity connecting their right amydala and a part of the cortex known as the primary sensorimotor area. The researchers say that this finding could perhaps be used as a diagnostic tool, indicating for which patients THC could be most effective as a pain treatment medicine.

Read more:

— By Akira The Don on Friday, January 4th, 2013

By Akira The Don on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012


Smooth shit right hurr.

— By Akira The Don on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Friday, May 25th, 2012

It was fifteen minutes into the domestic flight from San Francisco to LA that I remembered some kids gave me some weed and I’d put it in my bag and forgotten about it. I decided not to worry. What’s the point? I drew some comics and investigated the magazines. It was only a short flight.

So short in fact, I didn’t even get to read all of the crazy in fight shopping magazine, that sells ancient-ass things like Vinyl To CD converters for $400, skeleton gnomes and amazing creations like “The Travellers Bed Bug Thwarting Sleeping Cocoon”, yours for a mere $79.99. It took longer to get out of the airport than it did to fly there. LA has little in the way of public transportation, so I got the “Shuttle” which is in fact a six seater taxi driven by a sardonic cabbie that takes multiple humans to their multiple destinations for a mere $25 each. Naturally I was last, which was excellent as I got a guided tour around the posher bits of LA, along with the most hilly and treacherous, narrated by a nice Jewish lady from Brooklyn, who informed me she could tell from looking at me that I was evidently a great musician, that I had a good energy, and that it is important to drive through cute areas as often as possible. “If your areas are cute, your life is better,” she philosiphised, enthusiastically.

Eventually I was alone with the sardonic cabbie, who proceeded to tell me his life story, which involved a lot of child support payments and two years in jail waiting to be deported. Eventually he was not deported, but if he ever leaves the country he will not be allowed back in, and now resides “in a big hot prison forever, spending all my money on that fucking bitch.”

He dropped me off outside Wade’s place in Hollywood, where I was greeted by a very friendly and excited concierge, who had a similar life story, but a sunnier outlook on it. “Shit, I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “Your buddy Wade is great people. It’s exciting to see him doing his thing, you know? They have amazing parties here. Amazing girls. Just to be around that gives me hope, now I’m back in the game. It’s a blessing, you know?”

Wade met me at the door of his vast and luxurious penthouse apartment wearing a baseball cap and a very serious tan, both signs of his thorough and enthusiastic Americanization. He made us meatballs and spinach, because he is still a proud half Swede, and filled me in on what he’s been doing in the past 10 months, since he got his Visa. Mostly he’s been running a successful and super trendy new nightclub, DJing, acquiring a tan, dating a parade of aspirational females, and getting into baseball caps.

I woke up to a somewhat homerian and inspirational 360% panoramic view of Los Angeles. Then Mocky came and picked me up, and took me on a tour of his new stomping ground. A former Berlin resident and underground scene captain along with Chilly Gonazles and Taylor Savy, Mocky recenty spawned, and relocated with his young family to the Golden Coast, for which he is its single most enthusiastic proponenrt. Mocky loves LA, he loves his new life in LA, and he was generous enough to share some of that with the visiting Don.

After a few entirely lovely hours spent munching on Tacos, sightseeing, smoking medical, and listening to the next Mocky LP – dystopian futuretronica spliced with a big wedge of TurboGFunk and Saskamodie‘s lush melodies and instrumentation – we sat around Mocky’s kitchen table to write a song. Less than an hour later, we had written a song. BAM!

It’s a Californian joy anthem, obviously. Lyrically it concerns my recent CA adventures, and the existential nature of putting oneself in the postion to experience Adventure. Mocky recorded me singing it over his FM radio instrumental into his phone, in the futuristic fashion. We’re going to record it properly either tonight or tomorrow.

That night Wade took me on a tour of some of his hangouts, including the notorious Chateou Marmont, a beautiful and opulent castle upon the hill, that was populated only with chain smoking young ladies, as the men had all fled like rats when the electricity briefly went an hour before our arrival. A tall blonde female, excited by my similarly bleached mane insisted on having her photo taken with me. This happens quite a lot here. The photo thing and the tall thing. God knows what they feed them.

After that went went to Wade’s joint, Smoke And Mirrors, which is a very beautiful and classy place with an atmosphere enforcing low ceiling and a goddamn PIANO. I sipped on bourbon and met all manner of interesting mofos, including some super safe anglo japanese half brothers, one of whom turned out to be local producer Rex Kudo, who shared a pair of expertly constructed medical sticks with the interloping british rap star, creating a nice trippy level of brain fluidity with which the young Don wrote some excellent raps in his wife’s Sony Xperia.

Cultural Differences Observation #257: American yoghourt is upside down.

Yesterday Wade took me down Melrose, where I copped some very fly garms, and observed a wealth of cultural glory, like that Wild Things graffiti above, and this My Little Pony gallery.

Wade and I shared a milkshake. “There’s nothing gay about two grown men sharing a milkshake is there?” enquired Wade. ”No, it’s maddeningly attractive,” said Twitter.

Here’s Wade doing some work. Wade’s work outside the cub seems to involve wandering around in a wifebeater making excitable noises into a telephone and occasionally looking contemplative.

When the dark drew in we went for a very delicious and fulfilling Mexican (PINCHES TACOS!), then he DJed at his club and I danced in the DJ booth and wrote about three songs worth of raps. It was Model Night, wherein by some queer magic a disproportionate mass of attractive young womenfolk fill the place to capacity and throw themselves around excitedly to Wade’s Kim Carnes and Snoop Dogg and James Brown records, while the roughly five menfolk that managed to get past security attempt to ply them with buckets of champagne.

Tonight I am told will be “more avante garde… some dudes in wigs and girls on rollerskates.”

I am going to go see the homies Fat Tony and Tom Crus first, as Mr Tony just hot me on G Chat and invited me to this shindig they’re playing tonight at the Broadway Bar. I will  wear my fly new hat. Look at my fly new hat! It is so choice. I also found the flyest shoes I have ever seen today. I am worried to take them back to London as everyone that sees them will commit immediate suicide out of sheer envy. But they are too beautiful to leave here, damnit.

Oh yeah, Wade and I constructed a desk this afternoon, like we used to back when we lived together and got all our stuff from the local Ikea… apart from the plants which we stole from rich neighbours under the dead of night. Such a manly feeling! Making a desk that is. Plant stealing was very fun and exciting though. We almost got caught one time. Oh god! One time we stole a stone owl, and put it on a plinth in the middle of the garden, then one day we woke up and it had make up on. We never did find out what the hell that was about, but we took it as a bad omen, and didn’t linger much longer in that place. It was far too nice for our hedonistic young selves. The last song on Unkillable Thunderchrist is about that period of my life. I will dedicate it to our neighbours, who were surprisingly tolerant and forgiving.

— Friday, May 25th, 2012

By Akira The Don on Thursday, August 25th, 2011

From Wired:

Marijuana is currently regulated by the United States government as a Schedule I drug, placing it in the same category as heroin, MDMA and LSD. This is largely due to the first condition of Schedule I drugs, which is that the substance “has a high potential for abuse.” The language in that clause is deliberately vague. Does abuse equal addiction? Probably not, since marijuana is not addictive like other Schedule I drugs. Rats don’t self-administer the compound in a lab, it’s virtually impossible to fatally overdose on the drug, and the physiological effects of marijuana withdrawal, if they occur, are far milder than those experienced by chronic amphetamine, alcohol, nicotine or opiate users. Put another way, if “abuse” means “addiction” then cigarettes should be Schedule I, not marijuana.

Rather, the case for marijuana “abuse” has always stemmed from its cognitive effects. While cigarettes are like caffeinated smoke — they increase attention and productivity, marijuana is the drug of choice for slackers, hippies and Seth Rogen characters. In popular culture, all it takes is one hit from a bong before people become ridiculously dumb, unable to solve the simplest problems or utter a coherent sentence. Potheads eat a lot and laugh at stupid jokes. The larger worry, of course, is that such damage is enduring and that “smoking dope” permanently impedes learning and memory.

That, at least, has been the collective stereotype for decades. There’s even been some science to back it up, especially when the marijuana use begins at an early age. But now a different answer is beginning to emerge, thanks to an authoritative new study led by Robert Tait at the Australian National University. The scientists looked at the long-term cognitive effects of marijuana use in nearly 2,000 subjects between the ages of 20 and 24. The subjects were divided (based on self-reports) into several different categories, from total abstainers (n = 420) to “current light users” (n = 71) to “former heavy users” (n = 60). Over the course of eight years, the scientists gave the subjects a battery of standard cognitive tests, most of which focused on working memory, verbal memory and intelligence. One of the important advantages of this study is that the scientists controlled for a number of relevant variables, such as education and gender. In TimeMaia Szalavitz explains why this statistical adjustment is necessary:

The lower education levels of the pot smokers — and their greater likelihood of being male — had made it look like marijuana had significantly affected their intelligence. In fact, men simply tend to do worse than women on tests of verbal intelligence, while women generally underperform on math tests. The relative weighting of the tests made the impact of pot look worse than it was.

Once these population differences were corrected for, the long-term effects of marijuana use disappeared: The scientists found that “there were no significant between group differences.” In other words, the amount of pot consumed had no measurable impact on cognitive performance. The sole exception was performance on a test of short-term verbal memory, in which “current heavy users” performed slightly worse than former users. The researchers conclude that, contrary to earlier findings, the mind altering properties of marijuana are ephemeral and fleeting:

The adverse impacts of cannabis use on cognitive functions either appear to be related to pre-existing factors or are reversible in this community cohort even after potentially extended periods of use. These findings may be useful in motivating individuals to lower cannabis use, even after an extensive history of heavy intake.

This study builds on previous work by Harvard researchers demonstrating that the learning and memory impairments of heavy marijuana users typically vanish within 28 days of “smoking cessation.” (The slight impairments still existed, however, one week after smoking.) While several days might sound like a long hippocampal hangover, heavy alcohol users typically experience deficits that persist for several months, if not years. In other words, heavy marijuana use appears to be a lot less damaging than alcoholism.

Taken together, these studies demonstrate that popular stereotypes of marijuana users are unfair and untrue. While it’s definitely not a good idea to perform a cognitively demanding task (such as driving!) while stoned, smoking a joint probably also won’t lead to any measurable long-term deficits. The Dude, in other words, wasn’t dumb because he inhaled. He was dumb because he was The Dude. (All those White Russians probably didn’t help, either.)

Furthermore, there’s some intriguing evidence that marijuana can actually improve performance on some mental tests. A recent paper by scientists at University College, London looked at a phenomenon called semantic priming. This occurs when the activation of one word allows us to react more quickly to related words. For instance, the word “dog” might lead to decreased reaction times for “cat,” “pet” and “Lassie,” but won’t alter how quickly we react to “chair.”

Interestingly, the scientists found that marijuana seems to induce a state of hyper-priming, in which the reach of semantic priming extends to distantly related concepts. As a result, we hear “dog” and think of nouns that, in more sober circumstances, would seem rather disconnected, such as “leash” or “hair.” This state of hyper-priming helps explain why cannabis has been so often used as a creative fuel, as it seems to make the brain better at detecting those remote associations that lead to radically new ideas.

Why does marijuana increase access to far reaching intellectual connections? One possibility is that the beneficial effect of the drug is mediated by mood. Marijuana, after all, has long been used to quiet anxious nerves — big pharma is currently exploring targeted versions of THC as a next generation anxiolytic — as only a few puffs seem to dramatically increase feelings of relaxation and euphoria. (The technical term for this, of course, is getting stoned.) Furthermore, recent research has suggested that performance on various tests of remote associations and divergent thinking — a hallmark of creativity — are dramatically enhanced by such positive moods. Look, for instance, at a 2003 study by German researchers that investigated performance on a classic remote associate test (RAT), in which subjects have to find a fourth word that is associated with the three following words:

cottage Swiss cake

This answer is pretty obvious: cheese. But what about this problem?

dream ball book

That was a trick question: There is no shared association. Here’s the remarkable thing about these remote associate problems: People can recognize the possibility of a solution before they’ve solved the problem. The German scientists demonstrated this by asking people to quickly press the spacebar whenever they were presented with a triad that had an answer. If people had no intuitions about creative associations, their guesses should have been roughly random. But that’s not what the scientists found. Instead, subjects were able to efficiently sort “coherent” word problems — those with an actual answer — from incoherent problems, which are a waste of time. Before we find the solution, we can feel its presence.

And this returns us to marijuana: Putting people in a positive mood roughly doubled their accuracy at the task. All of a sudden, they were twice as good at identifying problems with possible solutions. This suggests that anything that makes us happier, reducing vigilance and anxiety, might also make us more creative. We can detect more remote associations, of course, but we also know which associations are worth pursuing, which is probably even more important. It doesn’t matter if it’s pot, chocolate or a stand-up comic — those substances or experiences that put a smile on our face can also increase the powers of the imagination, at least when solving particular creative problems.

So here’s the very un-D.A.R.E. takeaway: Heavy marijuana use doesn’t seem to cause any sort of lasting brain damage. All the negative side-effects are relatively temporary. (But those side-effects are real.) Furthermore, the sort of anxiolytic giddiness triggered by THC comes with its own unexpected benefits, which is probably why humans have been self-medicating with cannabis for thousands of years.

This article appears in ful, at Wired.com

— By Akira The Don on Thursday, August 25th, 2011