Monday, July 16, 2007
Saturday night I was on the Rail Trail, trying to walk my blues away. It was the first time in a while that I had been on the trail, lazy Andy having been a bad influence on me, and it was nice to be communing with nature again on one of our Valley's most beautiful walkways.
When I got near where the trail passes behind the Hampshire Mall, specifically near where the movie complex is, I spotted a couple of young dudes a little ways off in the woods. The sound of their laughter is what drew my attention, that and the giant cloud of smoke that was billowing around their heads. They were dressed all in black and leather, with skulls and other death symbols on their clothes. The duo looked more like bikers than hippies, but there was no mistaking the smell as that cloud of smoke billowed my way.
It was hashish.
I called out to them. "Excuse me gentlemen!"
They looked about in confusion and seeing no one else around, realized I must be talking to them.
"Yeah, whatta ya want?"
"Excuse me," I repeated. "But is that hashish I smell you smoking?"
They laughed and one of them waved their arm in a welcoming gesture.
"C'mon, you can have some. We'll share the wealth!"
I generally dislike socialist sentiments, but was happy to make an exception in this case as I left the trail to join them in the woods. They passed me the pipe and I took a hit. The taste of the hash was heavenly.
Despite their menacing looks they turned out to be really nice guys. They told me they were on their way to the movies. I asked them what film they were going to see, expecting to hear the title of a recently released blood soaked slasher film, but was surprised to hear them say that they were going to see the new Harry Potter movie. I told them I had read mixed reviews about it.
"Oh we don't care about the acting or the plot." one of them explained. "We're just going for the special effects." As the first wave of the powerful hashish began flowing through my brain, I realized that under the influence of this intoxicant any movie would be fascinating.
I wanted to buy some. "Where did you get this hashish?" I asked. "At UMass." was the reply, with his friend adding, "At UMass you can get anything." As it turned out they had made a casual purchase from a pusher who had approached them on campus, and didn't know where to get more.
So I told them a few stories about how we used to do hashish when I was at UMass many years ago. Today most hashish is made in domestic labs, usually in people's houses, but in my day it was almost all imported from overseas. I recalled how you could buy bricks of hashish with Persian writing stamped on them. I told them that in the dorm rooms we used to smoke it under glass.
"Under glass?" one asked, "What do you mean?"
I explained how we used to take the cover of a matchbook and put a large sewing pin through it so as to make a stand with the pin sticking straight up. We would place this on a desk or table. At the point of the pin we would stick a rock of hash. Then we would light it, quickly covering the stand, pin and burning rock with a common clear drinking glass. The hash would burn until the oxygen ran out, while the glass would capture all the smoke. Then you could slide the glass to the edge of the table, put your mouth over the opening created when the glass went past the edge, and suck out all the smoke. In that way all the hash would be converted to smoke, with zero percent waste. I'm not the son of one of the Valley's most famous conservationists for nothing!
Sometimes we would use a large jar instead of a glass and put three or four hash rocks on the pin. We called this a "hashish-kabob."
My new friends were very pleased to be informed of this technique, which they had never known about. Then suddenly we heard a loud rustling in the bushes! Someone was approaching! Oh no! Had the mall cops picked up the smell? We frantically tried to conceal the hot pipe.
The bushes parted and two kids, a boy and a girl, came into view. Perhaps brother and sister, they looked to be about twelve years old. The girl had on what might have once been a ballerina costume but which had been altered to resemble a spangled flowing robe. The boy had on a pointed wizard hat. I assume they were going to see Harry Potter. The boy gave us a knowing wink as he passed us.
Cripes, I thought, don't tell me that today even the middle school set can recognise the smell of dope!
That interruption was my indication to split. I was outrageously stoned, and didn't want anymore of the pipe, although my companions were relighting it. I thanked them for their generosity, expressing only the regret that I couldn't purchase any from them. "I'll wish I had more later when I start to come down."
"Well," one of them said philosophically, "it is better to be coming down than to have never been high at all."
Who could argue with that? I continued down the trail, or I should say I floated down the trail, my mood enormously enhanced. The high lasted for hours, even as I sat dreamily in the Haymarket Cafe, resolving that should I ever get hold of more hashish, I really should check out the new Harry Potter movie.
The University is holding its orientation sessions for new students all summer, and I notice that the UMass Republican Club is already beginning its recruitment campaign, as evidenced by this flyer stuck to this mailbox in downtown Amherst. (Click to enlarge)
I love the classic New England architecture of this Amherst Church.
It also has a wise message in front.
Finally, here's something from the golden age of MTV.