- Baynard Woods
- Ready to chase the blues away.
There’s a new Netflix documentary called The Grass Is Greener, about culture, cannabis and incarceration. Hosted by Fab 5 Freddy, the doc begins by looking at the relationship between reefer and jazz. There’s a letter Louis Armstrong wrote requesting a special permit to be able to consume cannabis and threatened to never play his horn again if he didn’t get it (the doc didn’t include the great and possibly apocryphal story where Armstrong was bringing a trumpet case full of buds back from Africa and, as he was passing through customs, asked Richard Nixon to carry it!)
The movie has a lot more going on and is really pretty brilliant and I won’t spoil it for you. But thinking about Armstrong reminded me of the sheer joy that cannabis can bring into the world, an exuberant improvisation that comes from an overflow of life, and how well it helps to deal with that low-down common human malady known as the blues.
I had occasion to be down in the dumps the other day. Bad news came, as it tends to, in the form of a phone call. This wasn’t death or anything but it was shitty enough to induce a bad case of the blues.
A little later, I sat in a dark bar, cast in red neon and dark shadows, Tom Waits on the jukebox, and stared into the warped reflections of bottles behind the bar or into my whiskey glass. I brooded. But, dear reader, we all know the end of that story. It doesn’t help at all. You get sadder and sadder as you sit and stare and sip and listen to the people mumbling all around you.
But when I smoked a big bowl of Virgin OG, I felt a lift. It wasn’t that the blues were gone, I was just not mired in them anymore. When I sat at the bar brooding, I was fascinated with my blues, soaking in them and exploring their contours. The weed broke that fascination. The blues were still there as a low-grade hum behind everything, but they were not the focus any longer. They were just background. It is the makes-you-forget-about-the-pain kind of pain killer, a distraction from the distractions of distress. Like a good blues song.
Virgin OG is a gnarly blues riff of a bud too, deep purple to the point of black with ugly white hairs and crystals colliding in flowers like dense vegetative stones that have gathered much moss. Its smell is weak and you practically have to snort it to get the subtle fruity aroma like dew-soaked clovers and cowshit as the sun rises. That smell explodes into a strong, febrile flavor when ignited and inhaled. But the cowshit turns to blackberry or mulberry or something wild like that, something you remember from childhood.
I thought the name of this strain extraordinarily stupid — like why do you have to put a word like virgin in there, when the whole concept of virginity is fraught and overly complicated? But after I smoked some and thought a little more, the oxymoron of an OG virgin is like the oxymoron of the blues, a mournful joy or broken whole. Blues and buds share something with the unanswerable cosmic question of the Zen koan. I don’t know the answer. But I know, once again, that green buds are better than brown liquor for dealing with blue feelings.
Nose: Clover and cowshit in the morning
Existential dread: 2
Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 2
Drink pairing: Anything but Old Overholt
Music pairing: “Muggles” by Louis Armstrong