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 Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comedian, takes the edge off of the world and explains all those unexplained things in a way that will make you either laugh or cry.

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Jack's Blog

Thursday
Jan142010

It’s a Start

Humble Beginnings...It’s starting to feel like the universe is at seventeen or eighteen after four, just a couple of minutes till the momentous twenty after four when the golden herb, our Yerba Buena, our original tag, that now could be so fitting as our new role as the American Amsterdam, sorry Oakland.

By the way, 4:20...Whatever you heard, whatever the disputes and late night arguments around the glass bong may occur, this is the real deal. Just like Burning Man, these stoney urban myths all begin from humble origins.  

In the late Seventies, Mount Tamalpais was happening. Alongside with these crazy people who were running and exercising on the mountain paths to the chagrin of passing motorists, were long-haired kids who rode street bikes down the knobby, steep terrain. These Pioneers of the Extreme rode their thin-tired Schwinns and Huffys down Tam, bouncing and falling and going head over teakettle, all culminating with a major smokeout. These wild guys did it almost every day. They’d meet at Tam at Four:Twenty. History never knows what it’s doing until later.

I used to smoke with those guys. No big thing except I can always remember them saying at the end, “Seeing you dudes tomorrow...”then the Dopateers would all chime in... “at 4:20, man.” Then they would hop on their hill-thrashed bikes and split.

We’re still in the Seventies...I moved to City right after The Band held their Last Waltz. My roommate, like many other like freaks around the City would, around the first week after New Year’s, bring dried up Christmas trees to Ocean Beach. There would be groups of people, separately, burning the ol’ Xmas tree, of course accompanied by the Yerba Buena. In a few years those beachstoners enlarged the circle, threw the collective trees in the middle, and lit up. The cool San Francisco cops looked the other way for a few years until it got too big with the amount of people and fires. Hence, backwoods Nevada for all fire and smoke watching.

I understand there’s like fifty Burning Man prototypes going on in America now. Even my Mom knows what 4:20 means. Why? Because people like to get high and have fun...

Back to Legalization... It’s all happening and here in San Francisco, we’re at Ground Zero. As Frissy goes, so will the nation. The ghosts of the Kennedy and Seagram bootleggers must be drooling in their graves. We are going from quasi-legal to getting more legal every day. These are heady times. Yesterday we had a major storm. I had Chinese food delivered and a little later, the grand champion of this year’s Cannabis Cup, Dragon’s Breath, was dropped off by my dispensary’s delivery service. These are great times. Speaking of...

Many thanks to all that made the Cannabis Cup 2009 a success. There were rivers of chocolate twisting and turning around stations of stoners and happy smiles ingesting and eliminating some of the best herb available anywhere on this green Earth. While I doff my wool cap to the producers and organizers behind the event, I’d really like to thank the special people who made that night extra cool for me. Like my dapper dreaded friend who produced a joint of the Tangerine Kush when I had asked him, “Had you see any of that T.K. that was floating around?” My D.D.F. patted ever so gently the breast pockets of his three-piece suit, then the side pockets of said suit. Then my D.D.F. checked his pants pockets with a hesitant smile, then the inner breast pockets once again before finding the mammoth doobie in those notorious deep breast pockets. Success!

There was the Edible Lady who danced around and gave us small amounts of body heat in the cool night air while she dropped brownies and truffles into our collective open mouths...There were dressed-down millionaires who’d been living in trailers in the Mendocino hills coming to the big city to show off their wares. But of all the characters I met and the good staff people I hung out with, the Big Shout Out goes to my new BFF, Josh. Josh, if you ever read this, I can never say the words Diesel or Sour without squirting THC- laden tears and thinking of your big buds, Dudesky. And I mean that in the most manly way...

Josh and I smoked and talked about where Weed was going. Josh’s main point, unless the growers are cool, conscious, and not into it for the money, Weed will always be cool. When it’s about the money... then you’re going to have problems.

This is what this column is about. Where Weed’s going... by a guy who’s been going with it since he found his walking stick at twelve. Humble beginnings, sure enough.

More later...

Jack Rikess

King of Three Leaf Journalism

Tuesday
Oct272009

Homelessness and Street People

”What about the homeless problem in the Haight?” My answer, how can there be a problem if I know the name of the homeless on my block. On my block in the Haight/Ashbury, there are about four to six people sleeping at night, on the street, on a regular basis. Around the corner from me, there’s a tent city every night that in the morning, adjourns to the Panhandle for the day, only to return every night for beddy-by, unless dispatched by 5-O.  Once every couple of weeks, I have someone sleeping in my doorway. This is living in the Haight.

To me, there are two kinds of people living on the street in my neighborhood, the people who live on the street and everyone else.

For example, Gary.

Gary’s the guy who lives in the Panhandle with his over-flowing grocery cart. He’s dressed to the elevenths, even on the hottest day of the year. For a good time, he walks away from his cart, and watches it from a statue. When other humans get close to his worldly possessions, he freaks like Rainman. By the way, his real name isn’t Gary. That’s what I call him. When I go shopping at Lucky’s or Falletti’s, I give Gary some leftovers or sometimes, a few bucks. He thanks me with a nod. One time I saw Gary at Lucky’s. I was surprise to see him...indoors, but I guess the homeless have to shop too. Well, for some reason, Gary had a meltdown in Produce.  I don’t know why he was freaking, but he was. I went over to try to talk to him. Thinking we had some connection. I might as well have been Dick Chaney at a Bush family function. I wasn’t welcome by Gary as he signaled the planes to land with stalks of rhubarb.

Charles the street painter. Charles thinks he came out sometime in the late seventies to follow the Dead. He thinks. That was a long time ago. Another lifetime for Charles. So may family members ago. I commissioned Charles one drunken night, mine, not his, outside of Murio’s, to do a painting for me. He did. I paid the downtown price for his artwork, and was happy to do it. I talk to Charles almost everyday. I know he lives in the Park at night. I think he’s happy. The other day, we were talking about his newest creation. Most of his artwork is bible-based. He does love his biblical action figures. While we were discussing the teaching of St. Augustine as Charles sketch the saintly Floridian, he eye was distracted by the city’s trashcan on the corner from where Charles lives during the day. As much as he tried to draw the saint, he kept fidgeting the garbage container. He didn’t like the way it closed. The door that opened to allow you to empty the receptacle didn’t have tight enough grip. This didn’t sit well with Charles. As fine as artist as he is, not much work got down that day due to the faulty hinge on the trash can. I had to leave Charles as he became a broken record that still spun.

Larry. We think Larry is his real name. Larry thinks Larry is his real name. That’s what we go with. There are those times when we were able to catch Larry in those small lucid moments. In those nanoseconds when he’s able to recall who he is without any of our help. He said that he’s graduated college and has been to war. If the war part is true, we could get Larry some help through the Veterans Administration. When some concern neighbors took Larry to the V.A. to see about getting him on some assistance, or at least a place to live, Larry imploded. The questions must have got to him. He went buggy and they had to leave.

And it goes on. I know many of my street neighbors. Some I know with a nod, others a hello. A guy like Gary, I’m never really sure if he knows who I am. Even when does. Then there are the kids.

The kids range from kids too young to be away from home on their own to the old geezers with their bicycles pulling trailers from here to who knows where. There are vagabonds and partying-transits that glide from town to town, spare-changing and soup-kitchening their way across this great land of ours. By the tattoos on their faces and the nasty outstretched hand position for entitlement, they sit and block Haight St.  Some of these punks yell at you when you don’t pony up the silver or green that they expect. They gather at the corner of Haight and Cole, by the clinic, and party during the day while they work the street. If I’m not anger at the kids for badgering me for the take-out I’m bringing home for the wife and kids, or hitting me up with the promise that if I give them money, they leave. I feel sorry for them. I know for every kid there is a broken home. Or maybe a home that is now broken hearted. I don’t know who’s right. I just know who is hitting me up for spare change.

By the way, having lived and worked on Haight Street for most of my life, the most sure fire response I have for the street kids when asked for spare change is...

Sorry, I am French, en francais.

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