Art Flash

A New Marquee, atop the BC Marijuana HQ Party Bookstore captures both The Spirit of the Outlaw heroism of the old western Klondike and the Barnum and Bailey three ring circus carnival burlesque bohemia of Vansterdam. Next door, at 300 West Hastings, the New Amsterdam Cafe Fran’s, Near Famous, Sunday Club was in full swing having swollen its numbers to take up not only an entire booth, but several stools in the vicinity.
Before I even entered therein for tea I was stopped by a befuddled young man that blurted out his aching question which was “Are you by any chance ‘Gordon’?”

“Yes sir, Flash Gordon!” was my quick reply, bolting out my paw as quickly as possible to shake his welcome hand.

RTav, from the Cannabis Culture Forums, made it downtown, away from his studies at UBC where he has been majoring in, my old forte,’ Western Philosophy. He hopes to continue his liberal education but not delve too deeply into the realms of metaphysics so as to better enable himself to become a gifted teacher.

Somewhat more than coincidence: RTav had taken delight in following the adventures and descriptions of Vansterdam in “Flash’s Chronic Chronicles” and once that he discovered we both share the same provincial riding RTav jumped at the opportunity to volunteer his service, where he may, to help achieve the necessary number of nominations, that I may join the fray as B.C. Marijuana Party Candidate for Vancouver Kensington. Now, finally Rtav was here in the flesh and perched upon a stool at ‘The Sunday Booth.’

Around the table were a couple unexpected guests. One, a very much a Rasta Man wedged in the corner. “Surely Direct from Jamaica?” This was my first impression; he in his brightly colored Rasta tam; his Jamaican accent seemingly so thick. Although he was entirely Agreeable and smiling, nodding along to all … It was unsure if he had really heard our questions.

After a certain amount of universal sign language, much misunderstanding, and with some difficulty and consternation on my part, it was in actuality ascertained the Rasta “Was from Canada!” & No! Not Toronto Either! But d’acord, Montreal! Doh! A Francophone! Of course! We, unfortunately,with only our High School French to match. (51% in French 11 and that was a ‘gimmie’ in my case.) Nobody seemed too much to mind ‘matching’ tokes though, eh? He too soon pulled out a hefty baggie himself to communicate in international language of “rolling a joint.”

In fact, Fran had already one going that the pepper haired Italian guy had oiled up with deep green isopropanol based oil. The music was playing and everyone at the table loved what was playing; ‘shaken’ and jiving’ to it. None other than the Reefer Jazz tunes by the Tall Brothers,’ Smalls it was. This set the Prohibition Era, Boho, Speak Easy mood. Being Sunday, we were allowed to toke at the tables; city smoking bylaw inspectors off for the weekend with their kids.

Also at the table was Synn, keeping her cards close to her chest and a poker face, as she and Fran cleaned up on the boys at Cribbage. One good thing about playing crib at the New Amsterdam Caf? whether you win or not, or are even playing, everyone at he table get ‘Skunked.’ Synn paused long enough to smile and take the orange speckled spoon pipe brimmed with Grand Forks B.C. hard-pressed water hash garnered from the BC Compassion Club.

The pipe was a generous Christmas gift of Carol Gwilt, the manageress of now destroyed Dakine caf?. I was grateful to own this piece and glad it hadn’t been destroyed by U.S. D.E.A. sponsored and trained R.C.M.P., or Vancouver Drug Squad on Dakine’s Kristal Nacht.

The hash, itself, was solid like a rock, impenetrable with a thumb nail unless heated briskly with a flame. Like a genie pipe, it issued forth, making its rounds; burning on past due, like a sacred menorah. The smallest bit would complete the circle of over 9 in all with still darkened ash left to offer more! All the more surprising, its taste and colour was reminiscent of the Blond Lebanese we’d get in the 70’s, which unlike this hasj, was the consistency of sandstone and went up in a puff.

Around that time W/O Reason showed up with his digital cam for the Sunday session and had brought some machine rolled tubular torpedo’s he fired off, honing in on the taste of Freedom. The svelte blond student from Switzerland in his knitted sherpa toque waved from another booth and joined us to share his typically European tobacco laden slender spiff that not all us West Coasters could handle.

It seems Europeans are more in control of their personal autonomy than us westerners. No one is going to tell them what to do with their bodies or minds. If you want to measure your end days out by cigarette butts and coffee spoons in or crippled and decrepit wish to relieve yourself with the services of a prostitute paid for by your states medical plan, then go right ahead. Its not there the governments job to moralize or dictate control over how you wish to treat your body. If addiction is the disease, there’s no sense roaming the streets to rob someone for your daily fix, or wasting the whole day rummaging for empties to cash in. If it’s that necessary they get the drugs from the doctor delivered to their pharmacy or door so they can maintain and keep the day job, maybe even carry own weight in taxes

Not content to lolly-gag about, W/O Reason and I took RTav for his first tour of BCMP HQ bookstore, stopping in to snoop in Renee Boje’s Entheobotanical Shop decorated as it is, with antiquities.

When it was uncovered that RTav had never…No! Never!…been given the opportunity to try a vapor hit of a near 1000.00 dollar Volcano Vaporisor, there was nothing else to do but V.I.P.P. him past the watchful eye of purple haired Karra at the seed desk down to the bowels of the BCMP basement to ask the permission of Pot TV manager Rev. Chris Bennett to initiate the novitiate. Something told me Mr. Bennett would be up for a toke and sure enough he welcomed W/O Reason and his primo bud. Bonuses! David Malmo Levine was on hand as well.

“Ohhh, RTav ! Now, I know you! I’ve enjoyed your posts, more intelligent than Most!”

I believe is what David declared, after having mostly ignored us ’till he heard RTav’s Forum nickname and welcomed him warmly. While I boasted of the new recruit’s academic record we passed around the inflated turkey bag and refilled the volcano device for another round of cannabinoid essences.

D.M.L. and Chris joked jocularly about C.B.D. to T.H.C. ratios in vaporized pot verses the raw smoked product measured sardonically against the parameters set out by the now well outdated / N.o.r.m.l. Smoking Devices Study.

Those two love to kid, tease, and challenge each other thru one-upmanship. Like drug warriors in training, sparing combatants with quick wit and pointed questions, they ready each other for feisty thick headed reporters whom have only their editor’s agendas in mind and their heated questions.

Chris hypothesized that the vapors produced through this superior volcano German technology was the ‘Holy Grail’ or alchemists quest; the metaphorical “Lead turned to Gold” sought after all those medieval centuries ago : Had they only had the modern advantage of “blowing hot air” they could certainly have saved themselves some serious time and trouble. A theory, far fetched though it may seem at first took on some resilience under the effects of the vapors. (See “Skellington’s Gifts” mapinc/norml study notes. )

We raided the candy bowl on our way back to the cafe to rejoin the others and distributed Hershey chocolate or Peppermint Patties to each one around the table. The pepper haired Italian thanked us for “bringing lunch.” I’d singled out a turtle candy for gracious Fran, which she offered back to comfort me when I spilt part of a joint I was rolling and looked as if to cry. Spilling it has got to be the most severe form of ‘drug abuse’ where cannabis is concerned. Yet, I soldiered on, insisting the Sunday Club founder deserved the find.

Not sure how many joints or bowls it was later…. I found myself immersed in a painting on the wall I had been mesmerized by before during the Tall Brother’s reefer jazz event.

“Blue Jazz” was marked at $1200.00. It was a symphony in Blue with a caricature of a sultry freak-a-zoid lady reclining on a grand piano of distorted proportions. The pianist is a Humphrey Bogart look-a-like with an eternal cigarette hanging from his lips. She is accompanied by Picasso-esque trumpet players; a double-visioned vertically Cycloptic Bass Player, a Tuba Player with much more than blue cheeks whose shades keep him kewl and a green one eyed octopus with a pretty nice tie, picking up the beat on drums. All framed by stars and martinis, cruel roses lain at the singers feet.

“You see that wonderful painting doesn’t it just capture the feel of that night when the Tall Brother’s played” I sort of half muttered in awe, wishing to bring it to Fran’s and Rtav’s attention. “Those are Bob’s”: Fran informed me. “What? Our Bob? The Bob I go for a smoke with three times a week… The friend of Marijuana man that hangs out at the seed desk who knows so much about genetics and growing?” I asked, incredulous. “Yes, he did just about all these paintings in here.” I was further clued in. I knew he had done the new sign outside headquarters and the seed sales Carnival like sign…

“I can’t believe it! He’s such a down to earth guy! I had no idea he was that great an artist.” My stereo typical views and personal Weltanschauung went out the window.

I had examined the paintings at the New Amsterdam on many occasions, “Blue Jazz” my favorite. I had compared them in my mind to similar Mandela- type style of Luke Brown “Namaste” and “Baphomet” by Luke both, $1111.00, now hang in Bubbleman’s Melting Point Gallery and raw food cafe on 1111 Commercial Drive half block down from Napier and Britannia Park.

Originally from Ontario, Luke Brown, did not even know that he could draw or had the art within him until he took his first dose of L.S.D., heard the Muses and picked up a pencil to draw. He began to gain a reputation with a tattoo shop on the sunny Sunshine Coast.

His work in the gallery is done by scanning parts and photo- shopping samples, multiplying images and overlapping, until the final work is digitally printed.

I fell in love with “Namaste” when Luke Brown show-cased his work at the first Entheogenesis conference, arriving with his beaded entourage from the Nelson region of B.C., all of whom nodded pleasant asanas when passed the Sacred Herb.

Mr. Brown is now working on projects on our beloved Sunshine Coast, where so many popular B.C. strains have had their birth. He is teamed up, working on a film with Alex Grey and his highly esteemed mentor Robert Venosa who’s “AYAHUASCA DREAM” print is also up for bid in Bubbleman’s high-end gallery here in Vansterdam as well.

I, myself, can fairly say that although I have experimented with Cannabis and Entheogenics most of my life, I’ve never discovered anything I didn’t already know. I can only get out of it what I bring to it like an author can only write about what they ‘know.’ Even Ram Das, a fellow of Timothy Leary and author of “Be Here Now”, didn’t get his excellent writing skills from a mushroom. Already, he had equipped himself with a P.H.D. and long studied though he lacked at first public speaking skills but gained that courage from his experiences. Leary even preached proper ‘Set and Setting’ are imperative for a safe and happy trip.

Pilots who fly on go pills tend to crash more than those who push themselves to the point of transcending normal endurance through their very will, so my WWII Royal Air Force Vet father taught me.

The chemicals, good or bad, are already available in abundance stored in our wee pea, brains. Kurt Vonnegut would always attribute the erratic behavior of his central character Kilgore trout to “Bad brain chemistry.’Your Will and Environment can awaken them, providing ever higher levels of spiritual consciousness or awakening, ‘Eureka!,’ and ‘Nirvana’ like revelations. Or, conversely, that quagmire of doldrums; ennui, and depression, where the vision from atop your personal Mount Sinai fails you; no longer able to see the final harvest for all the damn plants.

Now, I had to go around the caf? like a Catholic doing the ‘Stations of the Cross’ and examine the intricate detail of each and every one of Bob’s works. Now, that I knew the humble genius behind the pallet and brush was my own good pot pal.

I hadn’t noticed the “Punk” wedged in the corner of the place, a large canvas, though it be. The joint smoking lead singer, in tiger print boxers, leather, chains, boots, his eyes bulging with expression, right out of their sockets, which be many. His Mohawked accompaniment again with as multiple eyes like Picasso was fond to paint. A big breasted punk chick, her ass half exposed, swallows a microphone in her gaping hole of a jaw as well, bullets outlining her belt. Across from her she is joined by a wigged out Rasta drummer keeping the beat with a Chong sized doober in his goateed jaw.

Surrounding its central characters the painting is busy with symbols of Punk: a stabbed and bleeding heart, skulls, blades, dice, eight balls and flaming eye balls, broken bottles and beer cans, playing cards, a bong, joints, pills and barbed wire. It drew me in making me even more curious about the experiences the artist had gone through. He had signed it NI8TINBALE 2004 and priced it at $800.00.

A less busy painting far more soothing painting hung next to “PUNK” called “Snurfing.” Against a simple background of aqua marine surfed four many eyed boarders who look of Aztec deity descent. Each of the four panels carried symbols of strangely familiar yet illegible style of the that met in the middle to form a central eye the entire canvas trimmed with hungry fish in a food chain, scuttling crabs, tortoise and other sea creatures.

Symbolic to me also, was the untitled work that I would call “Green Inferno.” Goblin like creatures both green and dark blue, jockey for position, most on skate boards in a kind of happy hell where at least one has a big reefer on the go around a hopeful green and yellow glow at the end of the tunnel which appears to bring them both hope and light.

Unfortunately I haven’t a picture of the tamest of the paintings simply called “World Beat” A Caribbean or South American tribute where scorpions, frogs, geckoes and bugs surround where colorful Rastafarian caricatures with Picasso like features, play both bongos and snare trumpet and guitar. This one signed Ni8tng8le, Bob now prefers Cheeba.

Cheeba has an etched drawing, done in elaborate detail in the seed office 50% of which sale will bolster the pot supply of those serving in the seed office whom are so often put upon to share the wealth with visiting tourists whom perhaps have never had the opportunity to appreciate such quality as has been available on a daily basis to us. He also has more what he calls more ‘classical art’ in his personal collection.

I toked also with a young, up and coming artist named Nigel Brooks about my day photographing the ‘Art of Vansterdam’: Nigel shook his head sadly. Apparently it is all great and wonderful to find yourself lauded by the ‘drug culture’ and ‘down and in,’ but, even with his diploma in fine arts from Kwantlen College and a 2003 Bachelor of Arts from the world famous, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, the more work he did for legalization and social justice issues against the evil forces of the drug war; the more stigma he was up against and the less opportunities were offered by the ‘Main Stream.’ “The main stream doesn’t like it so much for some reason” he explained. Even so, Nigel is inspired: “To make art that gets people thinking about the conventions we live in, our past, our culture, and our part in it.” For now at least he’ll publish his work on his own site to effect change rather than not at all:

I had gone out for Sunday at the caf? and ended up finding inspirational Art. Talented, yet struggling artists right here under our noses in Vansterdam. Creating exactly, what you could call: “My cup of tea.”

Thanks to W/O Reason mostly for the digi’s !