Sunday, April 6, 2008

~ the curing

On Sunday at Camberwell Market, feeling wretched and foolish, I lost a beautiful facsimile edition of Poe’s Tales. Just mislaid it. As I do so often with so many things. Twice I’ve left my phone on the roof of my car. I’ve left my coffee there at least… on a googolplex of occasions. Like my mother – even in her non-declining years – I put inappropriate things in the fridge: TV remotes, laundry powder, money, bills, scissors, face cream, turpentine … I could never remember all the things I forget.

Is it dementia? My mother exhibited signs before she died at the age of seventy-two, but she’d been putting shoe-polish in the Frigidaire even when I was small. I haven’t started doing crosswords yet, trusting that my line of work provides sufficient neural exercise. I just hope that my chronic absent-mindedness is not a symptom of something dreadful on the horizon.

I was at Camberwell Market, wasn’t I? Losing things … Becoming disheartened … After all, I was there to make money, to find books to hawk on ebay, not to leave lying about. Because of the daylight savings shift, I arrived early and didn’t have a good morning. Stall-holders were still hoping for the prices they’d imagined.

For me it’s best to go after I’ve metabolised my Spasmo-Nemigron, after my system has normalised. Then I can enjoy the process.

I found one particularly interesting thing: an old paperback in good condition called ‘Protest: the Beat generation & The Angry Young Men”. These were ‘rebels without a cause, they are shocked by nothing – defying society, conventions, the world, the ‘beatniks’ and the ‘Angries’ speak their minds’.

A bit iffy, comparing these two movements. The Beats were something wild and new, the Angry Young Men were comparatively polite and, well, British. Colin Wilson was the only truly interesting one, and mainly because of his marvellous erudition and his ability to present his subversive ideas in a manner that didn’t too badly offend public decorum. He was not tearing at the very fabric of society as the Beats most assuredly were. The other ‘Angries’ – John Braine, John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, J P Donleavy – were distinguished writers, but we certainly don’t associate them with literary revolution. Indeed they appear starchy and wan compared to Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac, who were the principal Beat contributors.

The book was published in 1960, early enough for William S Burrough’s contribution to still fall under his original nom de plume ‘William Lee’:

A scion of one of America’s most illustrious families, he has not transgressed against established law because of poverty or lack of personal opportunity … Yet ‘by his own description, the author is a drug addict, thief, pusher and pimp.

What follows is an except from his first novel ‘Junkie’, [later to be retitled ‘Junky’]. It’s been ages since I last read it and I encountered a short passage that piqued my curiosity …

“To me, teaheads are unfathomable.

“There are a lot of trade secrets in the tea business, and teaheads guard these trade secrets with imbecilic slyness. For example, tea must be cured, or it is green and rasps the throat. But ask a teahead how to cure weed and he will give you a sly, stupid look and come-on with some doubletalk. Perhaps weed does affect the brain with constant use, or maybe teaheads are naturally silly.

“The tea I had was green, so I put it in a double boiler and set the boiler in the oven until the tea got the greenish-brown look it should have. This is the secret of curing tea, or at least one way to do it.”

I’ve also noticed a certain mythology associated with the curing of pot. It is always spoken of vaguely; one can never get clear answers, yet some will claim it is of critical importance - but as far as I have been able to judge all that is necessary is to let the vegetable matter dry slowly and naturally in a well ventilated room. Upside-down is good, as the leaves dry to form a natural protective sheath for the delicate heads. Various subtle techniques can be employed during the drying, but in the end they make little or no difference, [although practices like ‘sweat-curing’ can help speed things up].

So That’s all there is to it. No great secret. Curing is more or less a synonym for drying. People also speak of immersing the root ball in a sugar solution, but that’s just piffle on a level with the very tempting myth that hops, a near relative of cannabis, can be grafted onto cannabis rootstock and made to produce THC – so creating the appearance of a perfectly innocent, legal crop.

During WW2 the US Government attempted to create a ‘cannabis strain that would yield a superior quality fibre … that would tie up ships without turning on the troops’*. A man named H E Warmke was front-man for the project, which also unearthed a useful means of producing polyploid plants by soaking seeds in colchicine [the toxic derivative of a beautiful flower bulb]. It was Warmke who claimed that hop flowers grown from cannabis roots contained equal levels of THC to standard weed.

A pipe dream, if ever I heard one

* From The Connoisseur’s Handbook of Marijuana

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lily was here said...

My mum's always been forgetful and she's reached 78 with all her faculties still perfectly intact, so dont worry, I just think you probably have an absurd amount of ideas rocking around in your head all the time?
Or maybe, ha ha, its a symptom of male menopause!

Love S x
ps I love those sort of book finds. Was it written about them or was it just excerpts from the individual writers?

Sam Sejavka said...

Male menopause? Now you've got me worried ... Hmmph!

Protest has samples of all the writers' work. A bit of 'Junkie' A bit of 'On The Road', 'The Outsider', 'Howl' in its glorious entirety. The last third of the book is commentary & criticism.


lily was here said...

Is there such a thing?