Like everyone who lives in New York, I secretly hate it. Even for the most resilient partier, life in this city occurs in a sequence of overcrowded, exasperating scenes punctuated by moments of self-loathing solitude. This environment makes it virtually impossible to pursue a clear train of thought without having it derailed by a honking horn or a beautiful girl or an unidentifiable food smell. In times when I feel the need to do some serious reflection, I retreat to my mom’s house in the mountains a couple hours out of the city. Sometimes she’s not there and I have the whole spot to myself, and that’s when the real meditation begins.
For me, this usually involves about a quarter ounce of nice trees, a pack of cigarettes, a 20-ounce steak, and a two-liter of Coke—no pills and no white man’s poison. But feeling the need for some extra deep thought last weekend, I brought along a little something else that I used to love in college but haven’t fucked with in years.
When my housemate gave me a hit of acid that had been tinfoil-wrapped and sitting in the fridge since I moved in, he told me he wasn’t sure how strong it was or whether or not it had completely depleted. I brought it along with me, and on Saturday afternoon, after a dozen doobie night all over the house, I ate it and sat around waiting for the fun to begin.
I hadn’t done acid in almost seven years, and had completely forgotten the signs of a trip coming on. About an hour in, I figured it was dead but that I could still salvage the day by smoking a massive J in a nearby forest park. I hopped in my tiny rental car and drove to the spot. As soon as I turned onto the dirt road running above the river, I caught a glimpse of the water shimmering through the still leafless trees and let out an audible “Whoooaaa… Ooohhh.” OK, maybe that acid was actually working.
I slowed down as I drove deeper into the park and felt my brain making all the familiar connections, firing off spiraling trains of thought from every sensory stimuli. Finally reaching a parking area, I turned off the car and let out a breath. I was now about to be tripping in the woods. Perfect. As a final act of responsibility before I totally went off, I decided to drop a pin so I could find my car, just in case. Staring at the garish colors of my phone’s screen, I understood two things: a) this is an ugly, piercing device that poisons me every time I interact with it and b) I’ve never dropped a pin before and have no fucking idea how it’s done. This being the worst time to figure it out, I shut it off before the impulse to smash it on the gravel took hold. I did an inventory check: a pack of smokes containing five cigarettes, a lighter, and three monster fatties, and a bottle of water. On my way out of the house I’d found an old black trench coat that turned out to fit the weather perfectly, and I filled it’s pockets with my gear and ventured into the wild.
Aside from a man bird-watching and a trio of teenagers emerging from a smoke session in the woods, there was no one in the entire area. Walking along a trail just over the river, I was out of human sight within a couple of minutes. I stopped and untied my hair, a massive black mane which, coupled with the trench coat, probably made for a pretty unhinged look. My effects flowing, I poured down the incline to the riverbank. Here I found a nice big rock to sit on, smoked the first fatty, and had three reflections about this very column.
1) Though the focus of Weediquette has diverged far from its initial premise, I actually kind of hate weed etiquette and the people that insist on it. Deep down, I don’t care how anyone else smokes their weed, because I smoke mine how I want and frankly would be happy only smoking by myself for the rest of my life.
2) The only personal reason I care about legalization is that I’d one day like to experience growing and cultivating my own plants without being under threat. Not really for any other reason than just seeing what it’s like to care for a plant that bears something you value. I’d probably suck at it.
3) This column is completely self-indulgent. I’m the kind of person that loves to tell stories from my own life, and I’ve mangled a column about weed culture into my own channel for anecdotes that I have fun relating. I’m more like Andy Rooney than I ever expected to be.
I rose from my rock and headed up the incline back to the trail, a surface that seemed to grow steeper as I ascended. After a considerable struggle, I got back to the path and reached for my water. It was gone. I looked down to the riverbank and saw it propped against a tree about halfway down. My brain exploded with analyses of the symbolism, and I laughed maniacally for several minutes. I eventually recovered it, quenched my thirst while considering the concept of thirst, and continued into a part of the park that was still closed for the season.
This being very early in the spring, the campground was recently groomed but completely deserted. I stood in the perceivable middle of the entire facility and took a long, hearty piss, arguably the best piss I’ve taken all year. I then charged forward, past the empty campsites, where cans of white man’s poison were strewn around doused campfires, blemishes that felt like they were right on my own face. I kept going until my surroundings were completely natural and found a log hanging over the river. I took of the trench coat, plopped down on it and lit the second fatty. Here, I had only one reflection, and its nature was rather immediate.
It dawned on me that the park was probably empty for good reason. This was black bear country, and it’s the very start of spring, when these mountain-dwellers are waking from hibernation famished. Suddenly, every sound I heard seemed to warn of a nearby black bear. I texted my friend Sour Joe and asked him if bears could climb trees, to which he responded, “Some can, yeah… Are you completely fucked?”
He followed that up with, “I remember I read a sign in Canada that described two different kinds of bears in the park and the way to avoid each one was the opposite of the other.” At this absurdity, my head full of acid prompted to laugh wildly, unsure if it was attracting or scaring way any bears in the area. For some reason, I fearlessly remained in this position for quite a while longer until I noticed the sun was starting to brim on the horizon. I walked back to the campground facilities and plodded down on a bench to smoke the last joint. That was when I saw the sign confirming my theory about the bears.
The first thing I thought to do was to pee around the bench, which I did without any knowledge whatsoever about the territorial habits of black bears. At least in this instance, the scent of human piss didn’t send every black bear in a mile radius careening towards me. I lit the final doob and burned it down as I felt the air resume the uneasy chill that the sun had temporarily warmed. Now my thoughts shifted from bears trying to eat me to park rangers wondering what in the hell I was doing sitting in a closed park at dark smoking weed. Memories of high school escapes cascaded through my mind as I trekked back toward the car. I stopped only once, finding a metaphor for life in the playground sign below, which turned out later to just be a pretty ordinary playground sign with no hidden meaning.
I finally got back to the car and headed out of the lot, popping in an old unmarked CD I’d found in a stack in the basement the night before. The first track was J-Zone’s “5 Years, ” a song from 1998 speculating on where hip-hop would be in 2003, predicting a further gun and sex obsessed culture with no sense of actual creativity or talent. And now it’s ten years after even that. Mind blown, again for very little good reason.
Finally arriving back at my mom’s, at the top of a hill surrounded by ski slopes, with everyone in the neighborhood indoors by 8 PM, I turned off the car and had one final reflection. I don’t need acid, or woods, or reflections, or the looming organic threat of black bears to get my head straight. All I need is some good trees and some goddamned silence. I went inside, cranked up the grill on the back deck, and made the best steak I’ve ever cooked.
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