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Agent Orange: A lousy name for a cerebral but relaxing strain

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If you need to cultivate an unnatural intensity of focus, Agent Orange can help. - BAYNARD WOODS
  • Baynard Woods
  • If you need to cultivate an unnatural intensity of focus, Agent Orange can help.

When I was a goofy 13-year-old kid, skateboarding changed my life. I was deeply, wildly uncoordinated before that and it felt like I had never before moved with grace. Somehow, with those wheels under me, I was able to occupy the world differently. My body physically changed and I grew more confident. I also quit listening to Van Halen and Motley Crüe and listened to what Thrasher Magazine — which is the whole reason I ended up working at alt weeklies like this I think — called Skate Rock, which, at first, was the band Agent Orange, who stood at the edge of a bowl, playing hard-charging surf-riffs while skaters caught air in front of them. The song was called “A Cry for Help in a World Gone Mad” and everything about it expressed exactly how I felt.

So now, when I smoke Agent Orange, every single damn time, that song goes through my head. But now it’s troubling because, while the song holds up, at the time I had no idea what the hell Agent Orange was — that it was a herbicidal chemical, millions of gallons of which the U.S. military sprayed on Vietnam for over a decade to kill the jungles the Viet Cong were living in. It had horrible effects on people too, both Vietnamese and American.

I happen to be friends with Ed Martini, one of the foremost authorities on Agent Orange and so I texted and asked him what he thought about this strain.

“I think a lot of the time Agent Orange is used to signify some type of extremism, like with the eponymous punk band, but here you get the added sense of irony that Agent Orange was actually a herbicide that could be used to kill the very herb one might be smoking,” he wrote. So yeah, a band is one thing. But this is like naming your healthy genitalia “The Clap.”
So in my mind there is a pleasant personal association mixed with a bad historical reality while I’m smoking this. And that’s pretty much what it feels like to be alive in America sometimes. But despite all that noise bouncing around, I love this cross between Jack the Ripper and Orange Velvet, which contributes the bright orange coloration of the flower and the super-fruity citrus smell. The nose is exceptionally pleasant, adding to the orange a hint of honeysuckle, which is one of the best odors ever, in my opinion, and one that I’m always looking for in weed. As usual, it loses a lot of the flavor upon combustion, but it maintains the honeysuckle shadow and the smoke is fulsome and fine in the throat.

The high, as you might gather, is a bit cerebral and reflective, but it is also motivating. I smoked a bowl before a late-night email I had to write and, after reworking it about 15 times, I sent the email and looked up. I was not even in the same room that I’d thought I was in. I was completely absorbed in the task — which is, in many ways, the ideal place to be, a Zen state where doer and deed are one.



But it also has the power of relaxation — if you’re already feeling anxiety, it helps to air it out and freshen it up. But it does have a kind of hard come-down. After the letter, I found myself needing some CBD as the strains of anxiety that had engendered the email in the first place came roaring back in a way that seemed heightened in comparison to the relaxation it helped inspire (a doctor recently told me CBD is the “Narcan of THC” — I might not go that far, but it helped. She also told me that chewing a peppercorn helps — in case you need the info). But that could just have been me, because with a daytime smoke, after an intense period of focus, it just sort of faded away.

Strength: 6
Nose: Honeysuckle, orange
Euphoria: 7
Existential dread: 1 with a boost to 7
Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 1
Drink pairing: Orange Crush
Music pairing: “A Cry for Help in a World Gone Mad” by Agent Orange
Rating: 7

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