Photo by Nick Milo
When I’m not sitting at home in my easy chair, puffing on a corncob pipe and ruminating on what captivating aspect of the marijuana world I’m going to traverse in the next "Weediquette," I indulge in the classic childhood fantasy of being a rock star. I’ve played the drums in and out of bands for the better part of my life, and though nothing I’ve ever done has hit the big time, the twilight of my 20s has brought me closer than ever.
I’m in a band called The Kominas, a punk outfit of brown guys that gets booked in various European cities a few times a year, usually at some cultural festival striving to humanize Muslims to the general public of their locale. We make pretty decent poster boys for this effort. We’ve been brought out to the UK, Norway, France, Germany, Austria, and a handful of other European countries to deliver our brand of “Muslim punk,” which is only vaguely Muslim beyond our names and skin color.
As a group, the guys and myself are not a demanding bunch, sparing organizers any green M&M attitude and behaving more like tourists than a band on tour. We sleep where they choose, eat what they provide, and show up on time for sound check. The only request we wish to be fulfilled is that of the green.
We avoid raising this question during planning, opting to save it for the ride from the airport to our hotel when they’re pretty much stuck with us. The reactions range from full cooperation to mild amusement to vehement denial of the existence of drugs in their country. But we know full well that where there are kids willing to come to a punk show, there is smoke.
Thus far, the most hospitable country to our preference has been Norway, where we were brought directly from Oslo airport to the home of a massive pothead who smoked us out hard before sending us on our way to our accommodations. We were given fistfuls of weed on a daily basis. The only issue was that, aside from the welcome wagon, the weed was nowhere near as strong as the shit we get at home. We smoked it hand over fist for four days along with a healthy dose of Norwegian beer, only to realize on the last morning that the stuff was barely getting us stoned. Thankfully, Norwegians are such fun and friendly folk that we scarcely felt cheated out of a high.
The next stop on that trip was London, where we happened to land in the midst of the 2011 London riots. Huddled in a safe house near Farringdon station, we ventured out only to meet the grimiest Pakistani kid I have ever seen to pick up some trees. When he got into our rental car, revealing an abundance of facial scars and squawking in a terrifying cockney accent, we started to second-guess our decision to let him in. The buy seemed to go off without a hitch until we got back to the safe house and realized that the shit tasted like stale cinnamon mixed with burnt hair. Trapped in the apartment, we lamented as we watched all the looting hoodlums on TV, wondering if any of them knew where we could get some decent hash or weed to last out the shitstorm.
Soon after the London fiasco, we found ourselves in Berlin, where we had no official fixer, only a friend of a friend who turned out to be a gem of a human being. He found us a place to stay, drove us all over town, and told us the spot to pick up whenever we needed. However, it sounded a lot less shady than it appeared at first sight. As the most seasoned (fiendish) pothead in our crew, I was tasked with venturing into the bushes at a local park to interface with a squad of African dudes who were basically running a take-out service for mid-grade buds. Though they weren’t at all German, the inherent efficiency of their country of settlement permeated their entire operation. As soon as I made my request, I was placed in an orderly line with two German kids who looked like they had never seen black people before. My relatively relaxed demeanor earned me some small talk and what I’d like to believe was a bonus gram of bud and not a miscalculation on the part of the dispenser, who dumped my purchase directly into my palms. Berlin was so chill about this under-the-radar economy that we scarcely had trouble re-upping at any park in town. And the quality was actually pretty solid, far superior to the shit you buy on the street in East coast cities. With this necessity in place, we were in an optimal state to enjoy the wonders of Berlin, one of the coolest cities on the planet.
At this moment, The Kominas are in Milan to perform at the 8th annual Milano Clown Festival (don’t ask). From a previous experience in Rome, I had the partial expectation that the only thing we’d find was shitty, overpriced hash, and on our first night, this conjecture was confirmed. We found a hookup at a bar frequented by college kids. The hash in Italy is deceptive in that it gives you a familiar uplifting feeling when you inhale it, but it builds to nothing, leaving you burnt out within minutes of smoking. Last night, our bass player and I smoked a hefty load of the shit in hopes of gleaning some kind of intoxication off of it, but just wound up with throbbing headaches that challenged our sleep.
In the end, it makes sense that as travelers in a strange land we won’t have access to the really good shit, but even when we have a knowledgeable hookup who guarantees us that we’re getting the best the country has to offer, we have to wait until we get back to America and into our faithful heads stash to feel the effects of THC. Could it be that the stereotypical American desire for everything to be bigger, faster, and stronger has blessed us with the some of the highest potency marijuana available in the world today? Or are our European brethren simply holding out on us, waiting for us to depart before they reach into the glove compartment and pull out the sticky stank that they’ve been keeping for themselves? I’d like to believe that they share the best of what they have and that either they don’t care as much about quality as we do, or that there just isn’t fantastic weed everywhere.
As I express these final thoughts, I’m melting and breaking apart the last remaining square of hash we’ve got. At this point, no one even really wants to smoke it. We just need something to take the edge off as we stroll through the city looking for places to sit down. Nevertheless, we’ve once again found the object of our affection in a foreign city, as ugly it might be. God damn, we really need to get some groupies or something...