#20. Love + Death Becomes Her. Living Your Truth and Transformation Starring Martha Stewart, Me and Trannabis
Plus Munchies Menu with Festi Dei Morti x Grana Padano
Astromotional update: Love + Death Becomes Her Transformation
Transformation and Living Your Truth
Meeting of the Martha
Election Week Munchies Menu with Festi Dei Morti x Grana Padano
Ask A Weed Witch: On Cannabis and Limits
Weed Witch Book Club: Focus: Bringing Time Energy and Money Into Flow by Pedram Shojai
Trannabis: A Wellness Movement For All. How Cannabis + Chinese Medicine Helped a Trans Activist Find Himself and His Purpose
Recreational Higher Consciousness Theory Time*
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*This one has been moved to a Weed Witch exclusive book coming soon!
Wow. What a week. If you missed the past two newsletters, I can’t blame you. Between Mercury Retrograde, the sun in brooding Scorpio and moon in bull-headed Taurus, the election, and the overlapping symbolism of so much cosmic election day energy, I am pretty sure everyone was on the edge of their seats—and over it.
The sensory pleasures of sight, sound, taste, and touch from Samhain and Dia De Los Muertos, plus a little cicchetti from Festi Dei Morti. Rational mysticism paving the way towards the New Higher Enlightenment period. Where plant medicine will meet pharma, the online world of tech converging with the offline world of agriculture. All filled with people looking to heal and reconnect in the wake of emotional and physical destruction.
Can we talk about how dramatic this year is, by the way? When it was called that Joe Biden won the election, thousands of New Yorkers took the streets to wave their middle fingers at Donald Trump. People were so happy that they seemed to forget there was, you know, a pandemic. The one we have been living through where I could barely hear my own thoughts as helicopters circled night after night.
Since the election, the streets are quiet again. The 100,000 people who died in May felt like a blip and everyone is in a trance. Are we back to “normal”? After all, a win doesn’t automatically solve domestic and global problems overnight. Italy is on such tight lockdown right now that even the notoriously overcrowded Vatican has maybe 10 visitors. Friends in the UK have reported to me that the constant shut downs are depressing. And in New York, the liberal hold out where people continue to walk around unmasked, throwing illegal raves, and the National Guard has had to increase presence at our airports from untested people showing up every day.
Somehow Idaho is surprised by this because information often gets lost—even with so much at our fingertips—and is miraculously among the first states to get a vaccine? Please let us know if it it works! Signed, one of the most densely populated cities in America hit by an instantaneous 32,000 deaths that no one in America seems to take seriously, including a huge chunk of those still living here.
Doesn't this many you just want to smoke a gigantic blunt?
The thousands of people who turned out felt like this strange scene that was pulled from the movie Independence Day before the arrival of the aliens or something. In the middle of this one incredibly special week, I somehow met a trans man who is a spiritual guru guided by Chinese medicine and Martha Stewart, the newly reigning CBD Queen of the Hudson Valley. I know. Wild.
Which is to say that this year has been one of extremes. So many of us shed our armors because we realized that the world we carry on our screens doesn’t necessarily translate into our real worlds. That our friends became enemies, lovers turned into ghosts, and somehow people didn't get the message about how to be a decent human being.
This is really the year to make peace with things. The grand reshuffling of the deck. I worried about dying so many times this year. Narrowly escaping housing insecurity only to land right side up. Dealing with a cancer scare only to be given a second chance at life. Surviving a car accident and flying through a double hurricane only to land in New York, pick up my belongings and find a permanent sense of home. Sitting on the phone with robots designed to replace human beings only to find so many strangers eager to reconnect with one another in a genuine way.
I wasn’t alone. This happened to people all over the country and world. I am still receiving messages of people uprooting to places like Henderson, Nevada, taking refuge in the desert outside Joshua Tree, setting up shop in Maine, Michigan, New Jersey. People who swore off their home towns to go start new lives in cities onto to return. Grandparents dying. Divorces. It’s felt like walking on eggshells this year. And yet, I am optimistic.
Likewise, this year has brought in so many new people to New York City because this is a place that will never die, even when faced with so much tremendous strife. People who wouldn’t leave because they know no other sense of home.
There is a calmness in letting go of the chaos. Taming something within ourselves that we see reflected within the world around us that we cannot control. There is strength and fortitude in overcoming some of life’s most challenging problems where you can look back and say, “I am stronger because of this. I am wiser. I am grateful for everything I have seen and know.”
Life is full of ups and downs. What does not kill us makes us stronger. There is so much beauty around us and so much we can learn from our past and present to forge our futures. I have been pulling cards, encouraging everyone to take conscious control of their lives, to seize this moment towards creating a beautiful future that everyone wants to live in.
I, for one, decided that I deserved a mental health break because I am tired of being saddened and scared by death every day. So, that’s why I am appreciative that I had the genius idea to watch the 1992 ironic dark comedy, “Death Becomes Her,” starring Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep and Bruce Willis. Because you know what I miss the most? Laughing. Not only is it the best medicine because I definitely don’t want death to become my journalistic beat, but also fittingly ironic seeing as I also have no funding anymore because one of the biggest deaths of all this year was journalism for “content.”
This will hopefully be the last issue I talk about death and bad things. I want to use death as a means to consider transformation. To renew oneself in the wake of so much uncontrollable forces. If this brings you comfort, entertainment or education, and you want to help me through appreciation, please invest in a subscription. At present, I want to use the money to invest a full publication that will hopefully support small local printers. This is how we support our communities—it takes a village!
To protect original ideas, cool content and support other Weed Witches as a scrappy start-up requires considerable money and work. The way that Substack operates, unfortunately, is not useful at promoting ideas that do not neatly fit within the mold. Editors on bare bones budgets are no longer commissioning stories after being torn down and struggling to adapt.
Too many of us have had to create new homes for our work, much like photographers, writers, designers, artists, and other creative individuals who once relied on the restaurant industry and people-facing industries to connect us. Magazines and newspapers where we could learn about a wide variety of topics and stay connected to one another. Journalists who were once the connective tool that should be bringing together communities through a centerpiece of publishing—destroyed under an era of “fake news.”
To revert this idea of “cannabis culture” at a time when culture is completely being reinvented is both historically relevant and pricey! To find the cultural gray area of a substance that somehow appeals to so many, is both helpful and harmful in finding a cure for COVID, becoming more relevant in mental health, scientifically relevant as a means for alleviating pain for cancer patients, treat migraines, peri-menopause and women’s health issues, universally loved for watching South Park, yet is still a Schedule I felony, outlawed by social media, and labeled the “Devil’s lettuce” as a legal loophole for outlaw weed churches in California. (By the way, it should be noted that I proposed back in March that we change the broccoli emoji to romaine lettuce for that reason. Just saying).
Somehow the item that everyone used to love for stoner movies have become a horrible commodity that we need to protect the youths through social media—the places that we started as teens and in college with our drunken photos that everyone feels the need to censor and hide. As if we all didn’t do this as teens and adults, and it isn’t parental responsibility to educate ones own kids about the risks of sex, drugs and be actively involved in their kids’ online lives. You live and learn.
Alcohol companies also face similar challenges, even though everyone I know loves to drink. As if personal responsibility and education to thwart marketing efforts won’t always be an issue we need to instill. No one considers the levels of compliance it takes to deliver a bottle to your store or home. Then have to dive into those ethical gray areas of balancing a long-standing product with cultural challenges of abuse. It’s about balance in information, as well as personal responsibility to impart changes without judging ourselves or others.
I often hear about people being concerned about paranoia. Which is fair. This past year, the U.S. Freedom of Press has tracked so many violations from journalists subject to arrests for doing their jobs during the shutdown. Where our country and media reinforce so much paranoia that it makes it challenging for anyone on either side to use the thing designed to make you relax without reminding you of the variety of reasons one might want to.
Meanwhile, there is a stockpile of gourmet edibles, top-tier kush, full festivals and a cultural paradise in our own country separated by borders and restrictions, where the future will be fueled by the creativity of artists, creatives and those in hospitality begging to make functional art and service that will foster shared culture, travel and the economy.
What is culture when it comprises all of these things at once, and it takes many voices and talents to help shape the future of what that looks like? Comedians, artists, innovators and people who create joy at a time when the ethical and compliance constraints of a multi-billion dollar industry that exists in a gray area are so stressful it’s enough to make anyone want to smoke a joint.
A plant is somehow now an agricultural disruptor signified by a five-leafed symbol. Controversially ritualistic in value for scholars and theologians, along with regular users as “pot.” I find the fact my dad takes a whiff of a random bag before hitting the casino to be relatable, funny and sad at the same time. My mom doesn’t use it at all. My own relationship with cannabis had nothing to do with either of them, and yet it helped me understand myself that I’ve shared here during this weird time.
It takes research, time, funding and participation. Do you pay for your “content”? Do you value where your information comes from? Journalists and individuals are not supposed to be siloed in this way. We need qualified writers and individuals to collaborate.
Anyone can be a weed witch. So long as they’re not threatened by plants and people; weeds and witches. Outside thinkers and outliers. Curious minds in search of something different and unique. Flavor hunters and artists who recognize value is in quality and integrity of product. People who want to manifest beauty in the world and share that with others. I don’t know what is good or bad, but I know what has brought me closer to others and it was the peaceful nature of this plant. I appreciate that.
Unfortunately this does not qualify for grants or non-profit status, even if my intent is “good.” I have been building this at length as a product of content in order to package it into a book and other goods to sustain this and grow as a start-up. Original ideas that exist outside the status quo require individuals who are invested in its unique aesthetic as a point of differentiation. I’d rather not become another pharma- or solely marketing-backed project where we pretend like teens don’t know the difference between medical and recreational, when most of them are doing ironic bullshit on the internet just like we all did on TikTok.
Most of us who did this line of work before to support these industries—including sommeliers, bartenders, budtenders, and other care-takers—have been stunted, trying to find space to share value. I want invested readers first, as well as invested advertisers who want to be featured, should also be invested as readers. I see it as a cooperative method to encourage different ways of thinking. And I made it affordable at $6.99/mo.
I don’t believe publishing that should be a “360-brand experience.” Marketers realized all of these people wanted the Fyre Festival experience and to live like Kardashians, so the solution was to keep selling attainable decadence. As someone who has experienced this, I’d say it was worth it to be a fly on the wall but I’d never pay for that. Not my vibe. You can’t even smoke weed poolside in Vegas, now punctuated with a behemoth Damien Hirst. Weirdly, legal cannabis is playing a subtle role in art and culture there, too, in the place best known for Hunter S. Thompson and vintage kitsch.
Brands should be invested in being a part of culture. Having an investment in the publications that they are seeking coverage from, along with readers who value their content. But it takes a village. I hope that if I can do this, anyone else can. Because we need other individuals invested in one another. Taking down publishers rather than building a publication together doesn’t serve anyone.
That is The Weed Witch: experimental ideas in sensuous world for outliers. Thank you for being on this journey with me and I am optimistic that it will be going somewhere beautiful soon. I am still working on building the website and trying to create more objects. I am excited for you to come along for the ride.
The Weed Witch
P.S. - The image this week is a manipulated label from a Georgian wine bottle I found at RAW Wine and two potholders from my grandma, to remind me that great ideas age with time and there is always time to breathe new life into sustaining beautiful ideas and people.
Death Becomes Her Transformation
The best and most salient part of this movie is that it is a mortality crisis wrapped in so many regrettable sins of vanity and excess. It tackles pettiness, ageism, and the meaning of life. We worry about so much about death, aging out, missing our life’s opportunities before a younger version comes around. But we have so much of our lives to live and learn from. You can always lose a partner at any time, which is why we should encourage financial freedom, independence and equity for those who have to sustain themselves during unexpected moments.
Still, with all of the money, riches and success in the world, ultimately it posits: do we really want eternal life? What does that mean? What if you didn’t die and you had a choice. Would you choose death or eternal life alone? We all have choices in life. That’s why I protect freedom of choice and education fiercely. Except maybe not in a libertarian way? Also, Isabella Rossellini looks so sexy!
Somehow this movie gave me bittersweet comfort because I know what it is like to still have feelings for your ex. Yes, it’s true. To carry feelings for someone as a small flame because trying to rectify who we were versus who we are now, you can’t help but wonder how you can share a city with someone and operate as ghosts. Are you alive? I hope you survived! After awhile, you start filling the space with new people and things, but you hold small flame that you can find peace among warring hearts.
This whole year could use more love, including all the haters. “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” Thank you, Ru!
In Death Becomes Her, Ernest (played by Bruce Willis) is sort of a bumbling average guy—but not. He’s a doctor with a massive ego problem seduced by Helen’s sexy and charismatic actress and nemesis, Madeline. Eventually, Ernest and Madeline grow to hate each other as Madeline’s success and ego grow, making Ernest feel inadequate.
Helen, slighted by this blow, starts tormenting herself through food and revenge, until one day she reappears out of the blue, so beautiful and transformed–Gasp! Mad and Hell! Ernest feels torn. He suddenly has the woman he never recognized before, who sees him as this amazing man that she always wanted and never stopped loving. However, between these two forces of women fighting over this man, he suddenly feels objectified and inadequate—even when they agree they are happy to share him and he can have them both. Why choose? They’re all consenting adults, right? Ernest seems to be in the prime position here. He gets it all.
Ultimately, he chooses death and the women have to spend the rest of their lives alone, completely busted but in friendship. It’s sort of a tragic metaphor, but also why it requires a dark comedy to tell it. This is why I am so appreciative of friendship. You can’t count on much, but you should always be able to count on your friends.
That’s the thing about letting someone go: you realize you’re only holding onto your own feelings. Love should be easy, with two people who want to work at it. You aren’t supposed to force someone to love you back or own someone, because you should theoretically each have good lives that complement each other. You share responsibilities, sever the ego and gender roles, where a strong man appreciates a strong woman and not threatened by this, but rather inspired.
In the best case scenario, you find your perfect other, have a good life, and all of the good things. Sometimes you open that relationship or you end it, but you have to be prepared to be alone someday, no matter what, and OK with that. We don’t neatly die at the same time, even in the best case scenarios. Sometimes it is easier to say fuck it or stoke a small flame.
Holding a flame for romance and love made me a more loving person by remembering that we all need to love ourselves, forgive past mistakes by growing and learning. Because like any good relationship, you have to be prepared for the mundane and annoying: the functional bullshit, like arguing over the trash, sharing responsibilities, and knowing how to take care of oneself, etc.
When it comes to love and life, I often lean into unconventional methods for problems solving, using tarot to pull cards and help individuals sort out whatever issue concerns them. Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies also feels like an extension of tarot and creative problem solving. David Lynch is into transcendental meditation. I don’t know their relationships with cannabis, but certainly we both share an interest in higher consciousness, spirituality, art, science and expression between the online and offline worlds. The gray areas.
Most problems are easier to fix if you look at someone else’s life. Cleaning up your own messes is the one no one wants to do, but all of us should. Everyone wants love, and sometimes we have to give it to ourselves when the world around us doesn’t seem to show it and offer it up to others even at risk of rejection. Guilt is a useless emotion. To offer love is a beautiful thing. That’s just logic, not magic.
How boring to go through life thinking of everything so clinically all the time, including love. The person you meet might not be the same person 6 months later or 20 years. Relationships are built on trust, mutual respect, understanding, commitment, and the sacrifice of ones’ ego.
Some people never learn this lesson. Not ownership. You don’t want to tame the wild woman, you just want to ride with her. Or be her. Love is the magical moment when two people find each other. That is not science or logic.
Every experience in life, for better or worse, is there to help you learn and share, even—and especially—the bad ones. A break up, for example, can be a painful and untethering time but an amazing opportunity for self-discovery. Wandering into nature. Volunteering, Manifesting journals. Crafting lighters. Researching the unknown. Becoming comfortable in your own skin. Remembering how to be alone. We will all struggle with loneliness and grief—even those in relationships—because that is human.
We like to fetishize each other for what we have and what we don’t. Some of us will have families and some of us won’t. It doesn’t make us any less or more for having either. I don’t need him for my happiness—but I remember what I valued in him: his intellect, perspective and heart. Qualities worth seeking in so many that we have within ourselves. Though, he’s absolutely handsome—he’ll get old and fat, too, someday. Or maybe he won’t. Some people feel as fit as a fiddle in their ‘50s and older.
Everyone wanted to know about my physical transformation. How I lost so much weight doing “nothing” after years of exercising and meal prep. I just changed my habits and my outlook. Not eating extravagant meals all the time, replacing cigarettes with a joint, edible or glass of wine. When you no longer live above a 4 a.m. bar partying with toxic people will really do wonders on your body. However, all of our bodies are subject to the forces, and my body will change and age, too. It’s about choices.
You accept yourself wholly through your transformation and those who see it will, others won’t. We are all flawed individuals, even our idols. You can read Psychology Today if you want logical information on severing attachments and moving on after a break up or crisis.
That said, I was interested in synchronicity and healing old wounds. When you face death so many times, it makes you confront the life you want to live, the loves you lost, and wanted to reconnect in a more meaningful way with a second chance. I wanted mine to be radically honest and full of love, and push the world to feel that way, too.
“Kill yr idols.” See humans as humans. Change your outlook by changing yourself. Transform. I think there are as many connections to the every day as the supernatural. That gives me balances and focus in the chaos that I cannot control.
Speaking of transformations, weirdly, Jamie and I were on similar paths involving painful break-ups, unknown circumstances, Chinese medicine and cannabis to heal ourselves, and discovering our masculine within our feminine. I am excited to share his story below. He made me rethink the idea of transitioning, to discover this hidden side of themselves and lean fully into it. The duality of perspective and to fully embrace yourself in this new form—even when the rest of the world refuses to see it.
I wanted to “live like a man” so hard last year, I just did it in my female form. It was not an evolved way of looking at the world or gender, to emulate the freedom to be an asshole. To break our attachments is an evolved way of thinking. My ex inspired me to become a better version of myself. I did that all without him. I wish he had been along for the ride, where we were making memories. I was happy to carry a lover in my heart because it made me remember to love myself where he was not physically here.
You will have many times in life where you are expected to save yourself, and can’t expect others to save you. There is intimacy in someone who knows your truth and wants to work through it in order to learn how to trust one each other again.
Love and death became my transformation. The tragedy, therefore, is when two people are alive and choose not speak with one another in order to make peace. That can be our lovers, our friends, our families, our communities, our colleagues. The way we see each other, hold onto judgment and pain.
So, I admit: I sent him beautiful poetry under the big Pisces moon—the kind of writing that felt so beautiful that I didn’t even know I wrote that way. When my ego was severed, I sent him tormented poetry to my own embarrassment, like a teenager. We all do shitty things—even our “experts.” That’s how you become one. Because you’ve fallen enough times to do it beautifully, get up and say, “I was bruised and my wounds have healed.” I know people 20 and 30 years older than me who are still dealing with painful heartache and loneliness. I love them, too.
Through this loss, I found my voice again. The one I stopped using because I was too busy writing for everyone else. Experience requires trying and failing. Getting back up. Surviving. It takes bravery to admit when you are wrong, suck up your shit, own being ‘‘a crazy bitch” or “an asshole” in hopes that you don’t want to repeat your same mistakes over and over. It takes courage to admit that you couldn’t contextualize when someone wasn’t at their best because they were suffering. Forgiving yourself and others. We all go through this.
Two wrongs don’t make a right. But it’s optimistic to think this way—of changing oneself, reconsidering a past relationship and how we conduct business. To sever the ego, greed, fear, and hate. To work with people we don’t like. To forge fruitful unions that bring goodness into the world as a business of love.
I actually found love again through renewed friendship with someone I had severed ties with for many years. We helped each other heal during this rough patch. That brought me comfort. I wouldn’t have reconnected with her had it not been for the ways I disconnected with this other break up.
You can be a tough and professional with a soft, romantic and poetic heart yearning for the biggest love. When that love isn’t there, you must love yourself and commit yourself to doing good by helping others. Men, too, need to forgive themselves and teach others like them the way. We deny these vulnerable parts of ourselves as “weaknesses.” To take past hurt and cycle it into love. Empathy and vulnerability are strengths for how we exercise compassion and promote peace—friends and lovers, alike.
I have found so much wisdom by spending time with older people and younger people, and different walks of life. Losing everything, starting again. Finding new career paths, lovers, and friends. Widows, divorcees, older men, idealistic youth, children, parents. Everyone has such interesting stories to tell. I would rather love than hate, even if it means relinquishing unrequited love to make space for something new.
This year was a cosmic loop that offered a chance to hit the reset button. Many did not. The revolution was not televised; it was on social media and the offline world. Some people tuned out until the impact of the world finally fell on their doorstep. When you have faced tremendous adversity, grief, uncertainty and doubt, there are two methods: to confront it head on or run away. Either way, these moments change you and the way you think. I saw this movie when I was a kid, and that probably explains a lot about me.
So, when you watch Death Becomes Her, remember the following lessons:
Pettiness sucks! Need to sever that ego.
We are all born to die, so live life for today. Life is what you make of it. Death becomes all of us.
Sever your attachments and vanity so that you buy consciously. There’s no amount of botox, beautiful mansions, or fancy things that matter when you’ve seen it all and still have to keep on living. When you fight over petty shit with your enemies, ultimately, you’ll just end up with your busted looking frenemy for eternity. That part was actually kind of heartwarming, in a twisted way. Leave the world a nicer place than you left it, because our bodies were meant to become part of the earth, too.
Take care of your body. It’s the only one you have. Also, everyone in that movie is really sexy. Also, this movie is hilarious.
Death allows something new and beautiful to emerge. In a word: transformation.
Transformation. It’s a beautiful thing. Even if you reach your potential, when you think you’ve peaked or accomplished it all, you have to keep living. Accepting those parts of yourself that no one will understand except you.
From death, we allow parts of ourselves to die and others to grow. So I am proud of myself because I know I am no longer the same person as I was in March, but an individual who has seen it all and survived.
At 35-years-old: a Jewish woman and a nomadic tumbleweed witch born in the south, educated in the Middle West, schooled in the ever-changing boundaries of Bohemia, traveled all over the world, and found herself right back in New York City. After falling in love between the sky and the earth in Hudson Valley, going through hell and back, I still found empathy, love and care for all of my haters and the ones who haven’t even been given the chance to start hating. To have loved and lost. Started from nothing, had everything, and to start again. To be half the size I was, and twice the woman I am. Embracing my masculine and feminine. To have lived like a man and been a Madonna and a whore. I do “have it all,” and I am so lucky to have whatever life brings me. You love yourself wholly, leave the behind the parts that no longer serve you, and work towards a greater good for all.
Life’s a bitch and then you die. You can’t win ‘em all. But there’s a lot more good in the world waiting to be shared where we can help rethink the bad. It just takes relinquishing fear, hate and doubt, and giving yourself the chance to grow and transform. You don’t even have to leave your house to evolve. I discovered all of this when I stopped running and found myself right where I belonged.
Transformation and Living Your Truth, Starring Martha, Me and Trannabis
For this special 20th issue, I wanted to address different aspects of transformation through the lens of myself, Martha Stewart, and Jamie London Wollberg, a trans activist and founder of Trannabis. Three unlikely individuals who have so much in common through food, wellness, cannabis, transformation and living your truth.
My new favorite human on the planet is a dude! I’m not a “man-hating feminist”! I have transformed! Jamie London Wollberg of Trannabis is the coolest guy and so evolved. I love you Jamie!
What were you doing in March? Are you the same person as you were then? Did you grow in meaningful ways? Did you confront harsh truths, or try to see yourself as “better” than those you have chosen to hate? Weirdly, this week, I finally had some clarity that occurred during the strangest timeline of connecting with Jamie on Election Day and running into Martha Stewart randomly on the eve that the election was finally called.
The past few months, I had been looking at old magazines and dipping my toe into the future of TikTok, noting how the former issues of Sassy and Venus are so different than what we understand today. These were “periodicals” because they came out periodically in print: where it required time, money and a team to produce it, with multiple checks and balances to ensure quality and fair reporting. There was an earnestness about it that I miss, with time, reflection and talent to produce it.
Martha’s brand inspired me, too. The entrepreneur wrapped up in a domestic homemaker. It’s actually incredibly subtle in its subversive nature. Please enjoy this video of Martha and Joan Rivers ripping on Donald Trump’s steaks. (Weirdly, I actually have a tangential story to steak, but I’ll save that for another time). Also, I want to rewatch all of her shows. Don’t you just want to be in that kitchen drinking mimosas and talking shit? I miss Joan Rivers so much.
I wrote about Martha in Vol. 14, in tandem when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. Somehow our paths intersected this week, just after I reconnected with Jamie, and I felt blessed.
Martha feels like my personal Six Degrees of Separation Kevin Bacon. As someone who has been writing about food for 15 years, I have never met her but we were so tangentially intertwined: food, cannabis, Hudson Valley.
Meeting Martha and talking with Jamie actually solidified this sense that I should keep going. Jamie actually has a culinary and journalism background, too, and it was cannabis that brought us all together.
Even my most buttoned professional friends are displaced in their careers right now as people-facing industries in music, arts, restaurants, hotels, hospitality have tried up multi-billion dollar travel and tourism industries supporting face-to-face business and contacts. Martha’s own team of 150 shrunk to a mere three, according to her New York Times profile. I want to write about all of these people so everyone knows about them, will visit them and support them, too. I hope they’ll support what I’m doing, too.
On that note, I want to give a shout out during this month of gratitude to Ed Marszewski—another unexpected connection from my past life in Chicago who I became familiar with his incredible new project and concept shop supporting local artists called, Buddy Chicago.
Ed is Chicago’s unofficial Mayor of Bridgeport—a neighborhood that is one of the most underrecognized spots among locals and tourists, which is near and dear to my heart. He’s the Director of the Public Media Institute, owner of Lumpen Magazine and Radio, MARZ Community Brewing, MashTun Journal, Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar—and I don’t even know if I’m missing any of his projects because he has so many, and that’s why I also loved that he has this incredible talk he gave on Creative Mornings called “The Tale of a Successful Failure.”
When I think of someone who is wildly successful and has done so much to keep Chicago cool, weird and unique, I think of Ed. Ed has actually been tremendously helpful at offering resources to me and space to help grow The Weed Witch—which was mostly myself holding myself back as I tried to secure work and funding.
Aside from the fact he has done so much to help create a sense of cool culture, unique experiences and uplift hybrid voices that is woefully under-recognized in Chicago, he has also been a tremendous help at offering resources and ear as I’ve struggled to figure out how to monetize this whole project that I’ve been attaching myself to. I love everything he’s done, and how he’s offered profitable ways for creatives to navigate the field.
On that note, I actually have an amazing Q&A with a Chicago budtender coming up soon, as well as some choice picks for things to watch that are Weed Witch approved in Chicago. I got into a non-collision car accident on the way, with two unexpected flights during a double hurricane and this very long story about Matthew McConaughey I kept trying to get published and couldn’t get a goddamn response from anyone. No one wants to even read that? Really? That’s how bad the journalism landscape is right now!
Creatives are rarely given the business tools in universities to understand how to grow their brands or what it takes to effectively monetize your work. You learn that through trial and error because no one is handed anything in life. We actually have more resources than ever to figure out how to create sustainable businesses.
That includes our spiritual healers, like Jamie, BreadxButta, Thinh Tawn, Panja Culture, and other wellness spaces where individuals are able to put their multi-ethnic inspired healing practices into use. The multi-denominational witch shops in cities around the world, where they have become a haven for all looking for stones, candles, herbs, tarot, or just curious about finding personal meaning. Kitchen witches. So many people who have heightened talents in smell, taste, touch, sight, sound and intuition.
I have been grateful to the community of artists and creatives who have chosen to collaborate with one another, understanding that mutual respect and working together to bridge our respective communities and wheelhouses is how we build a brighter future. We severed a huge loss of cultural identity as most marketers rushed to new platforms in a quick ditch to abandon the old, forgetting the importance in reconsidering investments in publications as centers of community or using existing platforms to repair damage.
The rush to create online programming and events through marketing efforts that may be a temporarily useful means of sustaining businesses, is not an effective strategy for shared culture, community or mental health. Technology should be a means to interact in tandem with humans, not replace them entirely.
When I think of what Martha built, how she created her empire on the screen and the real world, the woman she was, the woman she is—her whole history is so transformational and legendary. She is often summed up as a “bitch” or however anyone wants to describe her, I can’t help but think: Martha wouldn’t be here, or any woman before her, had she done anything differently. She seems mellowed out now; I think it might be the weed.
Jamie is carving out his own space in the LGBTQIA+ and cannabis communities as a trans man at a time when the conversation around transgender issues is often centered around passing trans women and Jewish erasure within the overall topics of intersectionality—even though Jamie also has a multi-disciplinary approach to spirituality and culture, just as I do.
Revealing his new identity bravely through transformation after relentless private trauma, bullying, judgment and chronic pain, Jamie and I actually both found spiritual, physical and emotional relief through Chinese medicine and cannabis—often at odds with each other as Eastern and Western medicine converge between mainstream and counterculture; recreational and medical.
We have all spoken our truths, knowing that we will connect with many and be judged by many. But you still have to live and be yourself, even if no one else gets it.
This year I had to sacrifice many attachments. I think it’s a good thing! You make space to let in new things and people.
Lifestyle experts like myself who followed in the footsteps of Martha couldn’t afford to keep doing this line of work when we turned to “essentials only.” But we all like this idea of a nicer life filled with beautiful things. It’s curatorial for a different audience. My personal style has always been an amalgamation of memories and curated things, along with functional items you hope are built to last.
I recently stepped foot into a Macy’s where I came across Martha’s line next to La Creuset, Chrissy Teigen’s homewares, and other household brands. I don’t have the physical space for a whole collection in this tiny little studio, but someday, I would love a big kitchen like hers that includes hand-selected pottery, cast iron pans, antiques and brand new things.
You build your life by curating it. Some people are just starting their lives and others have special occasions. But the Macy’s was empty, and that was the sad part. I loved interacting with the woman at the counter who gave my friend an extra discount on her Bodum French Press. I’d rather send you to Macy’s to go in-store than the Amazon link I just posted. I think people miss going into stores and other people. But I also love that she has so many products and you can find all of them everywhere. She is amazing.
Coincidentally, Allison Roman got dragged for alluding to that conundrum, which was misconstrued while everyone was at their worst selves back in May. As everyone became angry at mainstream media—bored by being stuck at home or worried about their futures—the playing field ultimately started to dissolve into pay-for-play as we just tried to sell “stuff” rather than invest in journalism. We forgot that these women are often responsible for a lot of unseen labor and make their jobs look incredibly easy to the average American—but they are human, too.
Instead, we have all become funneled in our respective wheelhouses as I have been approached by publicists trying to pay me to write for other outlets, forcing me to become a publisher and editor simply out of necessity, where publicists were becoming paid intermediaries because editors were understaffed and under budget. The obvious solution, in my opinion, is to take out ad space like the old days when the cost of a newspaper was a shared expense as a community source of reliable information. There are so many other ways to work with journalists and publishers with marketing budgets that can impact the greater good. Invest in creatives.
Ask yourself: is this how you want information delivered? No wonder no one trusts the news anymore because everyone wants to be a social media influencer or a brand ambassador. I care about due diligence and logic, as well as free ideas for poetry, expression, and love. I want these ideas to co-exist under the same roof, because that is what a magazine is intended to do: operate as a cohesive space.
Back in March I revealed with vulnerably and transparency that journalism was too expensive to maintain. Shauna Ahern’s book Enough tackles this, as we had been warning about this problem for ages across our industries. This has been happening for years, as NPR has been trying to demonstrate over and over again—even with 23 million followers. I would have loved to work for them. No one is surprised by this, and yet, I still believe in alt weekly magazines.
I had to create my own space here because I wasn’t fitting in elsewhere. Weirdly, I am grateful for that. It meant I could fully express these ideas here. I can write guides, but my marketing budgets were slashed as publications no longer had them and marketers shifted their priority to social media influencers. Otherwise I produce the same things over and over again. The predictable things rather than something different.
COVID presented a conundrum: safety and humanity. The time people need vacations, escapes and self-care the most for our local industries was also the time they were most defunded. I have set up a very affordable and easy way to sustain this so I can continue doing this work. If you want travel guides or product recommendations, I can do this. But it is work to create something beautiful and curated that honors cannabis culture and original thought.
It is a $6.99/mo. commitment that can easily be written off on taxes for publicists and their clients, as well as most creatives and writers who need research for their work. Or I guess, you just build it and hope they come. I have been working tirelessly on building theweedwitch.com. Ideally, I would love to pay people. All of us should be doing this to support one another get things off the ground during these tough times.
Meeting of the Martha
Martha Stewart has been many things. A creative child with a tough upbringing. A successful model. A stockbroker. A brilliant architect. A homemaker. A caterer. A wife. A mother. A successful television personality. A branding expert. A divorcee. An inmate. A perfect Madonna and a flawed “bitch” as she has been called behind the scenes and to her face. I love her so much and I got to meet her under the most unlikely circumstances: on the night the election was called. Pretty wild, I know.
Martha owns it all because she has to wear that as a badge of honor. It will always be apart of her, even the painful parts she has to laugh about, knowing how mercilessly she was judged in spite of everything she has achieved. Polite women do not smash glass ceilings. In fact, that was the first name for my magazine before The Weed Witch: The Grass Ceiling. Because I wanted to smash that glass so we could all just lay in the grass together.
After emerging from a gloriously sedating Shield For Immunity CBD Kush Queen bath while listening to Tibetan sound bowls to the sounds of thousands of New Yorkers cheering, I found myself in a totally serendipitous moment of passing none other than the Queen Martha eating dinner on a casual stroll after New York had been abandoned for months. This CBD bath bomb rules, by the way.
Queen Martha. Oh my god. Do you guys even understand how meaningful that was to me? To meet such an idol in the middle of a pandemic. I never interrupt anyone’s meal, but I said, “Um, you know Martha, uhhhh…uh uh...I am so sorry, but can I…get a photo? I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Everyone, of course, was visibly annoyed, but fine with it, presumably after decades of having so many fans and being grateful for every last one of them. Mainly, this was my one opportunity to tell her that we are Kitchen Weed Witches and Stoner Sisters. The book about Hudson Valley and the Catskills. The edibles column for Snoop. That I just got her CBD edibles. Just so it could feel real for a minute.
I am not easily starstruck, but it was different with Martha. She wakes up at 4:30 a.m. every morning. That is a very special routine for a very special individual.
Martha didn’t run away when things got hard. She dusted herself off, spoke her truth and did her time, even in a facility that others would call “Camp Cupcake” because any incarceration is traumatizing—no matter who it happens to. Understandably, this has changed her in a lot of ways, but also, I am about 110% sure that she never wants to think about that period of time ever again, just like anyone who has ever been incarcerated.
By the way, please enjoy her trashy biopic starring Cybil Shepherd.
If anything, I would imagined that her experiences probably renewed a lot of healing with her and her family, and the fact she has this line CBD line, joined unlikely but perfectly timed forces with Snoop Dogg as a disgraced uptight WASP and a gang member turned rap mogul entrepreneur, continuing to shine brightly as a flawed, but exceptional human, will always inspire me. I would learn so much from her. I think Martha has learned from herself, and having sushi and celebrating seemed fitting for someone who had lived through so much—for better or worse.
I know because I have spoken with individuals who keep trying to restart their lives after being marked as defective, and unable able to do so because they do not neatly fit into society and never did. She has an amazing sense of humor.
After spending so many years privately suffering watching my own mother carry a lifetime of her own pain, exacerbated by her repeat incarcerations in Cook County Prison because there wasn’t enough room in mental health facilities as someone who can’t control the way she sees the world, I chose to forgive her. She can’t erase her hurt and trauma, even as I encourage her to think differently. I love the person I had previously grown to hate, to see her as a flawed person who made choices out of victimhood, marked by dual stigmas of incarceration and a disability that created lifelong suffering. She was an incredibly talented and a free spirit, and in many ways, I lived for her in the ways that she could not.
I am grateful to therapists who have been in my life over the years, and that’s why I encourage the funding of these programs, destigmatizing mental health and providing access for abortion and choice. Because none of these things are easy, and sometimes we need to rely on each other for really difficult decisions in life.
When I was deprived of these resources, when I lost my job, when I tried to figure out how to thrive while so many of others boomeranged back into their homes—which is not a new phenomenon at all, actually, but a three-decade dilemma of multi-generational housing—I found relief using cannabis, holistic health, and making personal changes. I also have used pharmaceuticals. I have used both and none. You work on yourself, whichever way that brings you peace and helps put meaning back into the world.
Unfortunately, these services are high in-demand and cost prohibitive for individuals who need the focus to get back on their feet. Some people just can’t, and that’s why we take care of those individuals, too. This is also why I loved the vibe with AMDPC that I covered in Vol. 16 because they offered “pay what you can” and community-based resources as tokens for appreciation.
None of us are prepared for the fall out for when things don’t work out in our careers, relationships, and you’re not sure where to go. You decide then if you want to stay on the same path or make a different choice, like a cosmic loop. You decide if you want to continue the path you were taught, or find your own to repair the damage.
Ironically, Sheriff Tom Dart has currently been working to address this epidemic of prisons becoming housing for the mentally ill because there just aren’t enough resources. This is why I leave that work to abolitionists in at the Last Prisoner Project and The Marshall Project, because it is too painful for me to do that kind of work. That is a calling for some, and a job for others. But it is not easy work. I hated cops for a long time, but I had understand there are good people who have to work in unsavory systems to create change. I already knew that from years being a loyal Law & Order super fan.
I bring it up because it is an important reminder: we don’t see a lot of what people struggle with. We see what we want to see. Humanizing those going through a hard time, unable to access resources that can help get someone back on their feet.
Still, you have to laugh at yourself and have a sense of humor. Just like Martha on The Roast of Justin Bieber. You have to. You have to own your shit, and grow a thick skin, and move on. Then offer and pump up resources like The Sabina Project, NAMI, The Child Mind Institute. To find some cause that you can connect with to help you keep living.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “overall employment of social workers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will vary by specialization.”
I know multiple people who quit their jobs to find a calling in the mental health care industry because they wanted to make a difference. That is so amazing! Empathy and justice gave them the fortitude to do this work. It is really hard, thankless and emotional labor that is so undervalued by a society that can’t rectify it own suffering. To create healthy individuals who can function again in world that will always offer challenges, will never be fair or just, and is often abusive to others. Who need to offer their hearts but learn to protect them against ignorance, doubt, greed, and business.
I built myself from scratch. So did Martha. She did a lot of things. She has also burned out and struggled to find that work-home balance, even while making it look easy for everyone else. When people are upset at mainstream media, they don’t understand that these are businesses and facades that are the glue which hold societies together. When you dismantle that expertise and talent, it diminishes its value.
I often advise young people to consider vocational trade degrees first before academic pursuits unless they are ready to sacrifice themselves to the monk hood of higher education. Many of my friends in art had to adapt similarly. It’s normal. They’re craving that opportunity to contribute and express themselves again, too.
It is common to go through transitions in life. Taking thankless, underpaid jobs. Working five of them at a time, freelancing on the side. One day you make it, one day you might burn out. You stay the course or you change paths. That’s just life. You do your work and find your passions. Give money when you have it. Mitzvahs and karma.
When you hit rock bottom, you might start all over again. Reassure people at the bottom that they can get out of this, because you’ve been there, too. You need to assure yourself of this. Find the people who are growing and changing towards the same mission you are. Help each other. Hold onto your money when you have it to make more money, because you are more useful giving away $10 than $1, $100 than $10. Getting the donors who have $1,000 instead of $100, or more. Teach them how to work with financial advisors that can sustainably do good. When we uplift ourselves, we should share that education with others.
Build communities to help one another, support each other, and the business we do here can impact many. When you have all of your needs met and make investments, you should ask yourself: who is this benefitting, really? Do I know my audience?
Until the past two years, when I went on a remarkable personal journey, I didn’t disappear from the world. Instead, I laid it all out. I made it abundantly clear that everything I did in the past and present would define the future, as we all do.
Our actions, our intentions, and our focus all matter. Integrity is expensive. Sometimes business is business. But you can strike balance by taking your money and using it to do good. Everyone does, that’s the only way. When I think of compassionate care and culture in the cannabis industry, it is not simply about cannabis, recreational or medical. It’s about thinking differently.
I am really happy I ran into Martha because it reminded me of my past, as I met Jamie, who reminded me of the future. It made me feel present and reminded me of this mission: to bridge the past, present and future at a remarkable time in cannabis culture and compassionate care.
Election Week Munchies Menu x Festi Dei Morti
On Pizza, Weed, and Witch House Music
Now that I barely write about restaurants and live alone, I just don’t have the iron stomach anymore. There’s nowhere to go! It’s not like I’m going to the bar or theater. Pandemic world sucks. So, I was very grateful to have had this feast on Festi Dei Morti—voting day—that I barely had room for Brooklyn’s Saraghina and Grana Padano, let me tell you: it felt like a gift from god. Plus, I made this whole Witch House playlist with Salem and oOoOO that was very “Brooklyn circa 2012.” If you want to get nostalgic, lower the lights and put on some mood lighting, and listen my playlist.
I was just handing off prosciutto to this poor kid along with whatever else I could get rid of who showed up with my delivery with a Chill Box from Serra. It was so bittersweet because I had no one to share it with! Thank you to Serra—I am in love with this. Saraghina in Brooklyn is one of my favorite restaurants on the planet. Grana Padano was such a treat. Thank you!
That said, don’t get me wrong: I am still a gigantic snob. Can’t help it, sorry. I was a restaurant and hotel critic for many years, so I love delicious things and have a major appreciation for where these things come from. I know I wax very poetically sometimes, but I just have a very romantic spirit as a psychic pisces weed witch. Plus, it is Scorpio season, which means there are a lot of “feels” in the universe right now.
It’s not my fault media doesn’t exist anymore and I live in a newsletter! Arguably, this could be construed as performance art. The Weed Witch reality show: I am a virtual performance artist now and a publishing mogul. I live virtually in my newsletter now. Get me out of here! I want to go to Hudson Valley and the Catskills. Don’t you? Buy my book. I have transcended the divide in content.
If you have ever lived in San Francisco and worked in tech, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Do humans still live in San Francisco or is it all AI now? I miss your cheese and your marijuana. I want to start calling it that again. I feel like it’s the 1980s when we talk about cannabis, like Nancy Reagan. “Have you had a conversation with your child today about the risks of using cannabis?”
That said restaurants were my temple. My church. My disco. I am so verklempt. Restaurants were the place I’d spend all. of. my. disposable. income. Well, that and Sephora. I used to have Rouge membership and a really bad addiction to sample sales. I racked up so much credit card debt from this horrible addiction to “living my best life.”
Today, my poor, tiny, little fridge just barely fits my groceries for the week while I’m waiting for lockdown again! But, I’ve missed eating at restaurants like normal. I ended up taking that giant hunk of Parmesan to a friend’s house who had a wine tasting with choco hongos from Mexico—chocolate psilocybin legally obtained through healers. (Michelle Janikian and DoubleBlind are amazing experts in this field).
I had these really wild dreams that were so vivid and attuned to my psychic nature that I knew it wouldn’t be able to be published here. That will have to be for another day. I was so honored and also, had no idea where I was going to write about any of this stuff except in my newsletter. Subscribe now.
So, here’s what I ate:
Tonight: Curly fries, mac ‘n cheese, raspberry cheesecake Talenti ice cream, MilkBar’s compost cookies, Mimolette cheese, rosemary crackers, Greek red table wine.
Last night: Leftover homemade chicken stock with seared thighs using the recipe I detailed in Vol. 4 mixed into white bean and kale soup with red pepper flakes and Parmesan, riffing off the Italian classic white bean and escarole. An orange. Mango popsicle. Golden turmeric milk.
I mostly eat a healthy and seasonally-driven diet, but we all have vices and treats, which—like any good stoner—include cannabis for my munchies. The nice part about these moments when you’ve totally changed your diet is that you don’t really miss the vices so much. Living alone is that I always eat exactly what I want, and if I eat mistakes that impact my body, I just accept them as my choices. I think a nice meal and a joint is good to have sometimes, and appreciate the service of hospitality, which is devoted to taking care of others. It is a therapeutic industry.
Last year when I met Mary Pryor and Brittany Carbone of TONIC Vibes said something pretty profound, I chatted Brittany as a farmer about the Farm Bill Laws and what she saw with the future of New York cannabis. I was curious her thoughts on farms vs. home growers, which was among the many contested issues stalling progress along with providing a first run for social equity for marginalized groups unfairly impacted by the longstanding War on Drugs. She wasn’t threatened. She said, “Just because you cook at home doesn’t mean you won’t go to a restaurant.”
I think that’s the attitude we all need to have as we look to the future. Neighborhoods are the most interesting when they are filled with an amalgamation of businesses that we can rely on, with friendly faces and hospitality. Cannabis will fold into this future as another option, hopefully one that puts people and plants first, ahead of profits.
I miss being able to patronize restaurants, as they took of care of me for so many years. Housing me, feeding me, and providing incredible wisdom through the shared plate. So many have had to adapt. We rely on each other. I believe in the future of rebuilding safe communities offline, knowing that every individual is on their own path and you can only encourage good choices and purchasing decisions.
Living in New York is about going out. Being relegated at home all of the time is a new thing I am adjusting to after this year of chaos. Fortunately, I am from Chicago so I know how to spend months in hibernation on budget. Also, I was just sent a very cool puzzle and started making crafts. I subscribed to Criterion and got a bunch of teas from Dual Specialty. Looking forward to a cure for COVID, practicing safety and encouraging people to get back into their communities. I know most people are, too.
Aside from this terrible year, I’d say it’s a pretty beautiful way of living that requires appreciation for the people who make and deliver such beautiful things—from the farmers to chefs to the publicists to me: the person you discovered this from. I think about where everything comes from, including my cannabis just like my wine, my cheese, my pizzas.
I recognize that some of us are homebound, so I hope that this will provide ways for us to appreciate the people our communities committing to making beautiful things. To know and appreciate where our cannabis helps medically and recreationally, just like quality pizza and wine. Treat yourself with intention. Think about where your food comes from, because it comes from the earth. Appreciate these things and don’t take them for granted.
ASK A WEED WITCH: On Cannabis and Limits
Recently, I was asked about cannabis and limits from a reader. The fact of the matter is that only you know your own limits.
Is your cannabis usage preventing you from getting things done and contributing into the world around you? How does it make you feel? Are you using cannabis to escape other problems? What is stopping you from confronting those problems? Are you worried about things you can’t fix? Can you engage in exercise and healthy activities? Are you worried about your diet? Cannabis isn’t to blame for that. It’s choices.
In the fight for legalization, the aim is to create more access and equity for education and quality products across state lines. Sites like Leafly and WeedMaps have been doing great work with user generated information, and budtenders can help provide specific information that will be useful.
Safe access to a quality product can mean the difference between life and death for some users—just like anything we put into our bodies. Your immune system, knowing your limits, listening to your body, finding holistic understanding will help prevent illness above any medicine. Preventive care is the best care, which we can all have by supporting sustainable farming, taking control of our energy usage and output, reducing/recycling, and contributing to an overall a healthy ecosystem. This is where science, nature and good ideas converge.
Remember: Cannabis won’t solve all of your problems. It just makes things a little more magical and easier to deal with.
WEED WITCH BOOK CLUB: Focus: Bringing Time Energy and Money Into Flow by Pedram Shojai
So many people I know had painful breakups, divorces, spent time alone or are desperate for some personal space, looking to get their kids back into schools. The handful of people I’ve tried sharing psychological space with on dating apps have felt not worth my time compared to this book I was just sent called Focus: Bringing Time, Energy and Money Into Flow by Pedram Shojai, O.M.D. that is out Nov. 10 (Amazon | IndieBound) from the author of New York Times best-selling book, The Urban Monk (Amazon | IndieBound).
His method is pretty good. It’s basically: there is too much stimulus. Have you tried life lately? Simplicity! Focus, time, energy and money—all very useful things everyone could use more of. What a great year to wipe the slate clean, starting with finding focus and balance in your life again.
Trannabis: A Wellness Movement For All
During lockdown, we connected during a point in which I had become somewhat insufferable, to put it lightly. Every industry I covered fell apart. 100,000 people had died across the country back in March, April and May. Everyone fled New York City. And then psychologically trapped online trying to figure out my own path.
Collectively, everyone was traumatized and there were so many questions we didn’t have the answer to. Our roles as restaurant and culinary experts had started to become nutritionists, wellness experts, home cooks, teachers and strategists. To advise how much consumption was “healthy,” with accessible tips, find platforms to put out our advise, while also making sure no one felt alienated by their choices to binge drink, eat unhealthy food, not exercise, figure out access and equity to quality food and educate those values.
Particularly when many compromise their own immune systems during a time when there is a pandemic, and your immune system and lifestyle might be the only thing that saves you, and food is such a culturally touchy topic. Some of our favorite foods might be culturally relevant, but not “good” for you or the environment.
Through this, I became connected to someone who also achieved centeredness through his own chaotic journey: a trans man named Jamie London Wollberg, situated between New Mexico and Los Angeles by way of New York, who also has a a culinary background from the Culinary Institute of America and a journalism degree from SUNY Purchase, who was one of the first 300 medical marijuana patients in New York State.
Point being: everyone was shitty, including me. Because I overlooked Jamie’s small presence. He was among New York State’s first 300 medical cannabis patients. I don’t know if you realize how historic that is, but it is. In the future, people will be able to just walk into a store and have resources at their fingertips. Jamie engaged in experimental medicine at a time that he was transitioning and dealing with chronic pain. His work is so valuable to the cannabis, LGBTQIA+ and medical communities for future generations to come.
Treating himself through cannabis and Chinese medicine, allowed him to understand to heal this agonizing pain, to find himself, while also discovering his mission: to connect with as many people as possible in order to help with chronic pain, those who are struggling with identity, and use the practices of Qi Gong and Tai Chi to inspire differently abled individuals.
On the afternoon of the election, I finally connected with Jamie, who I am honored to help share his story here.
The Weed Witch: Tell us the origin story of Trannabis.
Jamie London Wollberg of Trannabis Chi: “When I was about 23 or 24, I started to feel very sick. I was living in New York at the time, taking care of my girlfriend and her kid, and everything fell apart. On the outside, everything seemed okay, but I was suffering from invisible illness. I was still living as a female at the time, and I had no idea—truly, because it was so deep down—that I was trans.
At this point, I started using cannabis in this very stereotypical fashion when I was 19: I woke up at a party hung over, and was told, “Do this.” I was completely straight-edge and had only recently started drinking—which I no longer do. So, when I started, I had mainly been a recreational user in New York.
By the time I became sick, I was among the first 300 medical patients in New York. I had moved back in with my parents and was suffering 24/7, just 10 out of 10 pain with migraines, nausea and bone pain. I couldn’t get to the bathroom myself, read or write, or anything that made me “Me.” My mom came in, tossed the New York Times on my lap. I said, “You know I can’t read this.” She said, “Just look at the front page.” New York had just legalized medical cannabis.
Fast forward a few years to when I was 25. It had been two years and I had gone through endless doctors. At this point, I had racked up over 11 diagnoses. But several back then were incorrect. It turned out to be vestibular neuritis—a massive malfunction that has to do with vertigo, where you feel imbalanced, like you’re spinning. With vertigo, it’s your crystals; it resets you and you go about your business; but with vestibular neuritis it’s when I see the world is right side-up, but I don’t feel that way.
TWW: So, what happened?
JLW: When I finally got registered, it was under neuropathy. The person helped me to get registered because New York only had a few things to fit under this, so I had to arrive with a massive stack of documents.
By this time, I was starting to use cannabis [medically], but there was nothing. It was a really traumatic experience. I went into my first dispensary and the walls were white—it felt like a hospital. Next to me was this child, who could not have been more than 8-years-old who must have had cancer or something. It really made me realize, “Whoa, this is sickness. This is where I am at my life.”
“I went into my first dispensary and the walls were white—it felt like a hospital. Next to me was this child, who could not have been more than 8-years-old who must have had cancer or something. It really made me realize, “Whoa, this is sickness. This is where I am at my life.”
I was miserable, completely suicidal. I was already identifying as queer, but without the girl I was going to marry or the baby I thought I was going to be adopting. I lost a few friends, and other people who didn’t know how to react. I wasn’t the “fun and bubbly” person I once was. The “protective, reliable one.” I was completely bed-ridden and suicidal. I ultimately realized that I created this survival mechanism that I never thought of. When I was thinking about ending my life, it really made me think about everything I had, needed or wanted.
When I was bed ridden, I felt like I didn’t have any purpose. I realized, at that moment, that I couldn’t live without finding my purpose. The one thing I knew from a super young age is that I wanted to help people. It wasn’t until I started living in L.A. that I came to discover the next phase of my life where cannabis and being trans all came hand-in-hand. Cannabis was the direct correlation between transitioning and my life before that. I came to that realization, “Holy crap, I think I’m transgender. That explains everything, in so many aspects.”
TWW: But this was also a spiritual journey for you, no?
JLW: As someone who was not at the time big on prayer—we’re Jewish, but I am maybe the most spiritual person in my family—I literally prayed and said, “If I ever get out of this bed again and I can walk again, I am going to live my truth and I am going to help people. I’m just going to figure it out.” And I got out of bed. Not at that moment! It was not that quite of a movie moment as much as it has these cinematic aspects. But I do look at it as a miracle. The direct sign and calling that I was meant for something bigger.
“If I ever get out of this bed again and I can walk again, I am going to live my truth and I am going to help people. I’m just going to figure it out.”
By the time I got out of bed, on October 1, 2015, that was the moment I came out to myself. I was living in Queens, trying to figure things out even before I came out to them.
TWW: So, how did you turn this defining spiritual moment of self-identity and lifestyle into a brand and movement? By the way, I am just in awe of everything you’ve been through.
JLW: I was bed ridden 10-and-a-half months. Right now, I am so far ahead of this because it’s been seven years that I really understand why this all happened to me and made peace with it and become very grateful. Ultimately, what happened was that I became extremely bed ridden again.
I had just finally gotten a dream job at The Trevor Project to be a crisis counselor. I had to call HR literally 24 hours before I had to start training, saying “I can’t even believe that I need to tell you, but my health has taken a turn again. My doctor says that I need to go somewhere I can go more alternative care and stable weather. So, off to L.A. I went!
TWW: That must have been devastating!
JLW: They had an L.A. office. I trained there for about a month. I realized immediately that I am throwing myself into cannabis. That is probably my calling. I got into cannabis and thought, “Wow, this is actually helping me a little bit.”
My first event that I went to where I already had the branding of Trannabis was Blunt Talks—BluntTalks is like Shark Tank, without the investing. They bring in three or four experts in cannabis and do a TedxTalk situation and have a networking option.
By this time, I was sitting with my best friend in Los Angeles, who also happened to be transgender. We were super high on the couch, talking about how much cannabis helped us and how there was not LGBTQIA+ people getting their light shined on them, especially from a trans perspective. I said, something like “trannabis.” I merged cannabis and trans together, and it was an epiphany stoner moment. I thought, “Did I say something cool…. or was this a one-off thing…?” So, we slept on it, and eventually came to realize that Trannabis is a way of life.
TWW: I love a good pun.
JLW: Trannabis, the brand wasn’t even born that day, we didn’t even have the full concept. We were Blunt Broz. Ultimately, we became these characters who each went our separate ways. I realized it was my opportunity to bring it back. Trannabis is a cool word and catchy, but what does it mean? I knew in my heart of hearts that this was a legacy, but I didn’t understand what it was.
What I came up with what it is:
Trannabis is a lifestyle led by a trans, non-binary/gender-conforming cannabis patient or consumer who exhibits empathy, compassion, and passion throughout all aspects of their life to benefit both the LGBTQIA+ community and the cannabis community.
So, it’s my actual passion and goal. Trannabis—what I wanted, or my theory—was if I could help to bring back together the original historic fact that the LGBTQIA+ was a massive part of cannabis, if I could bring communities together, show that they have so much in common, how much they benefit each other, that should expand in the benefits among the communities.
TWW: I love that vibe.
JLW: I started Trannabis three-and-half years ago, doing reviews called Trannabis Test, where I would look into different products to say whether these products were helping me or not because I have a complicated health history and if it could help me it could help others.
Dennis Perronis essentially the father of medical cannabis. He is no longer with us, however his partner has outlived. His whole thing was that he had a partner who had HIV, and he realized cannabis was helping and that’s why he started the San Francisco Buyers Club. So that’s who Trannabis came to be.
TWW: What does it mean to join the Trannabis movement?
JLW: It’s led by someone trans or non-conforming. Does it mean that you have to be that? No, of course not. I need allies to make anything happen. At the same time, it’s a niche. It’s a movement.
In every marginalized community, the activism is often overtaken by those who are not in the community. It’s almost like my activism love letter to the community. To give them the opportunity to take it on, to say, this is the life I want to live. Ultimately, the Trannabis Chi brand I have is an individual practice that I spend most of my time opening up what I do to everyone.
While Trannabis is to bridging the gap in the community is to simply embody it. To support me int eh activities or to take it on yourself, to choose to bring the LGBTQIA+ communities and cannabis communities together. Acknowledging that the LGBTQIA+ has a huge piece in this movement. That there is equity. That people getting jobs and treated well. that are having their voices heard on panels, who are being taken care of when they’re sick, who can afford cannabis products to heal and find joy.
TWW: What was the ultimate diagnosis?
JLW: Trannabis Chi came about a little two years ago. I was bed ridden again and properly diagnosed with a complicated disease only created in 2017. Distinguished by the MAYO Clinic and UCLA called Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness.
It is a multi-genetic disease that takes over your vestibular that creates this imbalance continuously. When I had that diagnosis, he said, this isn’t rare it’s just misdiagnosed. You may have a very complex case, but you can do things to improve your life.
At this time, I was 27 or 28. This was here in Los Angeles. I am in New Mexico at the moment. But he said there are two things you need to do:
1. You have to get moving.
2. You have to reduce your stress.
I said, “Look man, I have been going in and out of offices, you put me in experimental situations, nothing is working I can hardly sit up in this chair, how am I supposed to move/ He said I was supposed to go to physical therapy. This time though the stars aligned, I ended up with someone form Hong Kong taught tai chi and qi gong. She said, “Do you want to learn? I can’t think of anything else that’s slow moving but moving.”
TWW: Was this your first experience with Eastern medicine?
JW: Growing up I did yoga, but I couldn’t do yoga anymore. In fact, I remember the last time I was doing a downward dog and legit thought I was going to die. I couldn’t bend over do any of this stuff. We started with two minutes out of time. Unknown to her, I was using cannabis right before I went in and right after I left for anxiety, nausea and frankly trauma of going to these appointments of medical trauma over and over.
TWW: Oh my god, me too. Massages and acupuncture changed my life.
JLW: She said, you know you’re managing this so well. I went from two minutes to five minutes to 15 minutes twice a day. I finally told her, “I was using cannabis before and after. I was like I gotta tell you, it’s not just the tai chi. I am coming out to you because I feel you have a right to know, that I am finding so much benefit from the cannabis, too.”
She said, “If you are passionate about this, I think you should consider getting certified to teach.” I said, “Really? Like, I’m a white guy—how is this gonna translate? I don’t want to appropriate.” She said, “You’re loving this, you’re living this, this is what’s true for you.”
That doesn’t mean the imposter syndrome hasn’t gone away. It’s been two years and I am just starting to step out, and being so careful, so mindful as traditional as possible. I said, “Listen, I have to have a real talk with myself. Remember when you were bed ridden, Jamie, and literally swore to god that if you got out of bed, you are going to live your truth? I am going to work in this industry and clear the path to truth.” Five, nearly six years later, I had found something. And I got certified through SCW Fitness.
I said, “Listen, I have to have a real talk with myself. Remember when you were bed ridden, Jamie, and literally swore to god that if you got out of bed, you are going to live your truth? I am going to work in this industry and clear the path to truth.”
What I was doing was, since I was seeing her two to three times per week to do Tai Chi, and doing the certification online, I was practicing twice a day every day. Ultimately, I didn’t think I was ready to go into classes with able bodied people, because even though Tai Chi and Qi Gong, can truly work seated or sitting down—it is typically for people standing. I didn’t think I’d be able to as a differently abled person.
So that was the other piece, OK I’m getting certified, who else is doing this? There was no one. There was no one doing this from the LGBTQIA+ community doing this for compassion and a safe space for people from marginalized communities, and no one was doing this in cannabis. ow is there all this yoga in cannabis but no tai chi or qi gong? That came to me quick. This is energy. This is what I am going to do.
TWW: This is so incredible. What an amazing journey you’ve been on! Can you tell us about your mission and who has inspired you?
JLW: This is my mission, my purpose this is how I am going to help people heal. I am a healer. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been healing with mushrooms, and that has helped me my ability to home in on this. Ever since I started this with Trannabis Chi, I was doing both virtual and in-person right before the pandemic.
Ophelia Chong is one of the biggest people in cannabis, she’s mostly left to go into other forms of plant medicine, she’s co-teaching with Double Blind. She’s founded the Asian American for Cannabis Education. She has done so much and is the big fish. She was the one who I was really looking up to, in general, in cannabis. She’s a total legend of a human, just one of my favorite people in the world.
When I did my first class, she came to my first in-person class and said, “If you want to do this in my garden, you’re welcome to do so. That was the biggest seal of approval because of how much I respect her, adore her. I thought, if the one person I idolize in this community, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
The last class I got to teach before the pandemic was in her garden. It was one of the best day of my entire life. This really solidified it for me. No matter who you are, what walk of life, this is for you.
No matter who you are, what walk of life, this is for you.
TWW: Okay, so you were a recreational users who became a medical one. How do you differentiate that way of thinking? And what are the strains that work for you?JLW: I do not erase the recreational community, and there is not one person on this earth and can convince me out of this, the plant is always medicinal first. Even if someone is using it recreationally, they are getting medicinal benefits whether or not they are aware. So, I cannot discuss it without mention that first. It’s about healing.
The reason I respect people who look at it as recreational, because I understand that is so much their activism. they’re trying to destigmatize. But I am a healer. From my own experience, whether I’m laughing or crying or out of pain or working through some PTSD whatever it is, I am healing with this plant.
Even if someone is using it recreationally, they are getting medicinal benefits whether or not they are aware.
TWW: What has life been like for you under the pandemic?
JLW: Ultimately, it became too expensive to sustain that and to find a deliver service that it would get it to me. Then the pandemic happened. As a compromised person with fibromyalgia on top of everything else, it taught me is the perception for what I needed and what cannabis is really changed. I was using Raw Garden 98% THC content all the time, who uses that but this 20:1 is outstanding. The clarity, the release of the bone pain, the headaches and migraines, in combination with psilocybin, is remarkable. I feel like a new person with the amount of suffering that I’m able to remove.
I want to be very clear on suffering, because I believe that I am managing my pain, easing my anxiety and depression. I was someone who had literally had dozens of panic attacks, totally non-functioning. Zoloft was doing nothing, Ativan was like a chewable vitamin. Yesterday, I had this breakthrough where I said to my mom who is quarantining with me: “The biggest gift that cannabis and psilocybin has given me is not just the reduction of pain, but that pain is always going to be, but there is suffering is choice.”
“The biggest gift that cannabis and psilocybin has given me is not just the reduction of pain, but that pain is always going to be, but there is suffering is choice.”
TWW: That is so profound. I realized this myself as I was healing myself through cannabis for muscle pain and spasms pertaining to my anxiety while I was gong through my own challenges. How did you learn to manage all of this?
JLW: It’s all perspective. It comes down to a laxness. I discovered through this process that I wanted to be alive. Which was a revelation for someone who had suicide ideation since when I was a teenager, when I was bullied as a teenager.
I still get bullied, I am just better at ignoring it. It’s about finding who we are through our perspective and abilities. My mission and purpose is to help every single person I can to cultivate unconditional self-love. I believe when we are able to fill our cups and love ourselves unconditionally, any problem will be solved because we will be our most unconditional loving self.
People are like, “What do you do?” I am not afraid to show you the start-to-finish, I am not afraid to fail. I am like a 95 Windows computer that needs to be continuously rebooted. When I reboot, I am evolved version of myself.
TWW: I hate that question. “What do you do?” What does that even mean?! How we make money and our paths doesn’t define us! Our pasts, presents and futures offer so much opportunity to change. You were a chef, who became a journalist, who became an LGBTQIA advocate and now a trannabis advocate. You are full of transformations. It’s incredible.
JLW: [Laughs] I wake up every day in this pandemic utterly grateful that I get to wake up and have the opportunity to help people. When you ask me what I do to chill every day, I do a 2-hour self-care routine. But ultimately, I am completely married to my mission, there is nothing that brings me more joy than these conversations. Whether it was domestic abuse, rape, my health, other forms of trauma, it does not matter. All I want is to be able to relate to as many people as possible and help them. It is who I am.
TWW: Okay, but all spirituality and seriousness aside, what’s your stoner life like? Do you still get high...?
JLW: I certainly get stoned! It’s medicine, and I am stoned. I am such a creative heart. I love anything creative. One of the things I appreciate is a repurpose project. I do not typically hold onto many things. I have done two rounds of a personal Marie Kondo. But one thing I have not held onto were cannabis jars. I was like I’m going to do something with these. In the pandemic, I didn’t have the funds to donate to these organizations I wanted to help, and that the same time, there was nothing I can’t do.
TWW: What are your favorite activities to do stoned?
JLW: For my own sustainability, and to donate, I wanted to make a repurpose project of candles, tins—from jars or gifted—repurposed or recycled. For candles, I do soy candles. Some of these things can be found in my shop. Some products I’ve sold and donated to BLM organizations. I want to make affirmation candles. I binge watch every Netflix. I love nature. The biggest thing for me while living alone for nine months was that I wasn’t outside until about three months ago when my doctor said I could gear up and go out at night. To be walking out in nature. I have two cats that are my emotional service animals. Music is a huge piece. I created a huge playlist of 369 songs (See below).
I am increasingly grateful for the love that is showing up in this industry and space. What I can tell people is that even if you are feeling at the complete bottom of your life, that there is nothing left there for you, I promise you that is not true. I don’t like to say a lot of absolutes, but I absolutely believe that we were here with our purpose. If I can come out with as many “coming outs,” feelings and traumas of coming out on the other side, if I can live and be happier and effective, then anyone can do it. You just have to choose to live and love.
Jamie contributed a dope playlist called “A Queer Trip Home.” Please enjoy!
For more information on Trannabis, check out www.TrannabisChi.com.
Higher Consciousness Theory Time!
Because QAnon and Pizzagate shouldn’t get to be the only ones who come up with batshit ideas, here is where I dream up hilarious conspiracy theories of the unknown. Do we have answers for the supernatural or existence of life? The secrets to eternal life or world peace?
In this week’s segment, I take a stab at solving The Great Intersectional Feminist Jewish Messianic Dilemma.
I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to catch up with reading, which led me down the rabbit hole. Everyone hates “white people” right now, while not wanting to discuss the Jewish ethnic paradox of being more than one thing at once, no one has a sense of humor, but loves observational Jewish humor. This isn’t hasn’t been a good time to try a comedy career, but let’s give it a whirl because everything is fuckt.
Fortunately everyone is distracted sitting on Twitter and having meltdowns, which is how Jeffrey Toobin jerking off on Zoom just sort of slid by. By the way, can we take a moment to note that he literally masturbated on a work call and received “a suspension.” That’s where everyone is mentally in America this year. If a woman did this, it would be be co-opted, she would be dragged, and never be able to find a job ever again. Then landing on some Red Pill Reddit page where she’d be called a whore by incels jerking off to her. I can’t imagine cohabiting with this person after such idiocy. One fucking hour. YOU ARE EMPLOYED BY THE NEW YORKER AND CNN. JFC. I digress.
Update: He has since been fired for this. Too bad he jerked off on the internet during work because his strong suit is everything else that was so much more important than a hand slip. I still respect his work as a professional, even if he was an idiot. Jeffrey, I know you just missed Yom Kippur with this royal fuck up, but if you are out there, donate to Planned Parenthood and keep your dick in your pants during work hours. Signed, a Jewish woman who never got to instill a judgy guilt trip on her non-existent idiot son.
Anyway, let’s just say that my feeling is that intersectional feminism, in theory, should have the overall goal to seek to fold in men who want to be better allies and the people we “hate” through mutual understanding, empathy and working towards functional allyship by deconstructing antiquated norms. Still, everyone was too busy taking everyone down to have a solid laugh about this
So with that in mind, I got chastised a lot this year by well-meaning white Christian women who just discovered racism and activism, which led to a lot of identity issues pertaining to the “white saviorism” theory, which made me realize that a lot of people don’t really get Judaism. We don’t save people. Which is fine. The Old Testament is very long and I don’t even know Hebrew. I haven’t really read the New Testament but it’s scary and not my bag. I’ve sat in your church services and tuned out, too. Thank you for the cookies, though.
Few things: first of all, my confession is that I never had a bat mitzvah. This is actually OK because my own grandmother couldn’t get one until she was an adult because these things didn’t exist. Second: I was never part of one synagogue because we moved all of the time. As a result, I have a pretty loose and esoteric view on religion and spirituality because we are not monolith and I had to forge my own new traditions by honoring the old. Joining a synagogue in New York is very much a thing. Go rewatch Curb Your Enthusiasm. They cover this pretty well. I would love to be part that synagogue in L.A.
Side note: I should note that I fully enjoyed the opportunity to livestream Rosh Hashanah from the Yankee Stadium of Jews at Temple Emanu-El. I really like their programming at The Streickler Center because it has Jane Fonda and Ina Garten. Do you understand how awful it is living in one of the world’s most beautiful cultural epicenter and having all of our artistic and cultural institutions shut down? My favorite hobby was to go to the theater constantly. Thank god for Criterion Channel.
Anyway, that’s the kind of Jewish stoner I am:a ratchet intellectual. Please, someone, accept me. I think I talk about this in one of the my other issues. You’ll have to go catch up.
Point being: my views on Judaism are esoteric because I have never lived anywhere long enough to be part of a synagogue. But, I love my culture and ethnicity, which is often tolkenized or erased. I honestly didn’t care, except this year when everyone wanted to talk about this, including this year’s Census, which erased us entirely. But I feel like that’s exactly the point. Just like this interesting take on how “There Are No Black People in Africa” on Medium. It’s about the construct of race and colonialism, which if we all recall, was Christianity. Jews were just trying to find a place to go about our own business. I went to goy schools, so I kind of get both.
Still, if you can figure out the differences between Lutherans, Catholics, Evangelicals, Episcopalians, and all other segments, you can understand that our people, too, are not a monolith. If you want to deep dive into our microcosms, look up the history of outlier Jewish communities in the Americas, Asia and Australia. It’s pretty interesting stuff. I love meeting outlier Jew communities. It’s the ignorance of people leaving their small towns and not sorting their things out with their ignorant families and friends I can’t change. Which is useful considering Millennials and Gen Z are the biggest idiots when it comes to knowing about the Holocaust.
Being a Christian doesn’t make you a good or bad person inherently, nor does being a Jew, Black, Asian, Latin, or Middle Eastern. However, it should be noted that Christianity is a patriarchal construct and the foundation of Western rationalism founded in the expectation of the return of a male savior and a variety of other toxic topics from some book that keeps getting reprinted over and over again like a bad blog or Michael Bay reboot.
When I brought this up to my friends as a reminder, it made everyone deeply uncomfortable. I don’t want them to be uncomfortable, just be better people. If Jesus gives you comfort, that’s fine. He was a Jew, too. However, the worst part was it made people so awkward to talk about me being a Jew. Why?
Ah yes, saviorism. The part neither of us wants to discuss because it has been used to demonize our people from alt right groups and these subtle groups that want you to have a heart-to-heart with your Chosen Friend about Jesus because they’re worried about going to hell. I found that, by the way, while looking for a heart-to-heart that I could have with my Christian friends so I could explain to them the paradox of whiteness and Colonialism. I do, however, have good news for you my friends!
So let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that our people are an ethnicity and ideology that include brown, black, and BIPOC+ people through awesome awesome organizations trying to promote peaceful relations, like A Wider Bridge, given that Israel is among the most gay-friendly places in the Middle East. You know why I don’t talk about Israel? I don’t live there.
You can be raised with one ideology and reject it, not choose the color of your skin (unless you’re Rachel Dolezal…? I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot pole!), form your own gender identity, and still accept others into your personal practice. Did you know you could multiple identities and still an asshole? Celebrate differences and co-exist. Spirituality is personal. Proselytizing is not. That is why there is a very clear separation of church and state. I liked that.
Just look at Ireland and the UK. Major identity crisis from a ton of ancestral trauma—but overall pleasant and welcoming people! They’re also islanders, just like the rest of the U.K., which also has an identity crisis. Most Irish people are embarrassed of American racism, but can’t recognize it at home. The Chinese and African immigrants I spoke with said they deal with this all the time, but weren’t that they are not bothered by it. They just showed up and are happy to be there.
Admitting ignorance is a beautiful thing. I’ll just be honest: I actually didn’t get the trans movement. Particularly as trans men rarely get coverage and have their own erasure within the LGBTQIA movement, that includes plenty of problems there with sexism and racism. That’s why it was actually so cool to meet three different trans men recently for that reason because as a non-conforming cis woman with fluid ideas about gender and sexuality.
I also kind of understand wanting to be a man because I wanted to live like one for awhile, or at least have the privilege of being able to write for a men’s magazine and be my own nouveau Hunter S. Thompson or a Jack Kerouac. To not have to think about the feelings of men who neatly compartmentalize them and routinely objectified me. To treat them like I felt I was treated.
That’s toxic masculinity and an unevolved way of thinking about gender through sexual empowerment. Consent is sexy. Mutual respect is sexy. Commitment is sexy. Honesty is sexy. Communication is sexy.
They don’t teach you this in religious places that seek to repress, shame and dissuade people so that they end up getting arrested for getting freaky filming a three-some with sex workers in church. The act itself bothers me less than the hypocrisy of it all.
I was treated differently in that position of power. I liked it. I got to be a slacker like Mark Zuckerberg showing up in a hoodie or Anthony Bourdain in a jean jacket, and be treated with professionalism, and commanding the same level of respect in a dress. You understand double standards and how unfair it is, but you appreciate the power of doing both. When I removed the labels and didn’t have the support of an outlet that I felt untethered, when I was not believed about the things I saw and knew. The perception of everyone else was off and I wasn’t sure my own sense of self without my career, community or love life. Possessions to remind me of a sense of home.
So I started thinking about my identity, sexuality and origins. I asked other people. I thought about my lesbian friends dealing with double misogyny through the male gaze. Trans men, in particularly, made me to rethink gender and queerness simply because of our connection through our assigned births and rejecting that notion.
I’m not “a man-hating feminist”! Because I never was. That’s the misconstruing of feminism. I love trans men as a cis heteroflexible woman. Trans women often have to deal with relinquishing male privilege and having to adapt to the same constraints that have always confounded women about their bodies. Trans men are interesting to me, because gaining acceptance as equals with men and a different passing dilemma.
I am not an expert in trans issues, but LGBTQIA+ kids still experience homelessness because they’re rejected by their families. That’s how they end up in cities where no one gives a shit because this is also where people openly shoot up heroin so who gives a fuck about your gender? The fact trans kids are gaining acceptance in suburbs is a beautiful thing. Then everyone can just succeed and fail at life and love equally.
I understand the value now of joining the Trannabis movement as an ally, and carving a space and niche within the cannabis movement as becomes mainstream. It made me understand that exist on a spectrum that should be for everyone, because LGBTQIA+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, AND ALSO Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual + any other ally. How humanistic is that?
It just took another white Jewish trans man to help me get it. Someone who was “like me,” but different. Frankly, I think “everyone’s a little gay” because all of us have masculine and feminine qualities within us on the spectrum. Like different pieces of a recipe. Yin and yang! That’s why we’re all connected! We’re all on the spectrum of that rainbow, that includes all colors as part of the human race. It’s actually the most beautiful metaphor ever to recognize our differences and what brings us together. A ha!
To that point, Jews don’t have white saviorism complexes. It’s not a bad thing! It’s a different perspective from the mainstream that values “saviorism” through an ideology expecting it to be a man.
So my conspiracy theory is this: If the second coming of Christ was a woman or a trans man, then you no longer would have to be worried about abortion preventing the possible return of the messiah. Because it would have happened. We could no longer use religion in the name of persecution. We could listen to women, allow them to make choices over their own bodies because pregnancy can kill you, stop blaming Mary and our mothers, accept the matriarchy to balance the patriarchy. We could repair ancestral trauma caused by the damage of this toxic ideology. If you’re intersectional, then you leave room at the table. Problem solved.
If men embrace the matriarchy as intersectional feminists, then we are all equal. Some of us will be workers and are fine with that, and some of us will be great thinkers. We all offer strengths and bring different ideas to the table. That doesn’t eradicate anything.
Men, who want to be caretakers, could stop being judged for playing an empathetic, supportive role, embracing their feminine side, and be trusted with more shared household responsibilities instead of supreme dominance. Or they could retain their masculinity, because no one is asking that you sacrifice it. Just stop using it in ignorance to dominate or own others. Get therapy. That doesn’t make you obsolete or useless, it makes you powerful because you’re evolved and useful. That’s the privilege.
If the world was governed by more forward-thinking female leaders, then perhaps we would stop warring so much. The era of “one queen of hip hop” is over. Why do we feel this need to divide ourselves? If you open your mind to the possibility of changing the way you were taught to think in order to stop unintentionally harming those you want to help. It requires consciousness. You’d have the right to choose your gender and be treated equally. It’s pretty simple.
Stop waiting for a man to arrive to save you. Save yourselves by investing in humanity. If you are a man, stop blaming women but recognize where you can offer an open arm for help. Try to be helpful and listen to them, and balance them. Being treated equally in the eyes of the law does not absolve one from their actions. It’s acknowledgment of personhood.
It also doesn’t erase the Jews, because I am not erasing the fact I am Jewish. In fact, I am asserting it, because there is so much Jewish erasure with people denying anti-semitism under the wide-sweeping guise of “whiteness” so all of us are pigeonholed and erased through anti-racist and intersectional discussions. That is not white saviorism. That’s just logical. I enjoy scholarly debates, just like Yentl. I love that movie.
This year’s Census—which, by the way, was super racist—is both helpful and harmful in theory. There is no differentiation of the 76.3% of white people who make up the country, as well as this other number of 60.1%. Black people, as a whole make 13.1%, not counting their voting record, turn out or gender. Furthermore, it is reductive multi-ethnicity and erasure of complex ethnicities like Judaism. You know, the gray area where more than one thing can be true at once. I don’t have the answers for that. Data doesn’t fix cultural attitudes. People do.
We are actually more alike than our differences. The purpose is to acknowledge these differences and leave an open door. There are lots of shitty women, men and non-conforming people of all colors. True intersectionality is about all of us working together to create safer communities for everyone by acknowledging our differences.
Most Reform Judaism and Reconstructionist Judaism aren’t into the Messiah, but are obligated to work towards a “Messianic Age" (the World to Come) in the sense of a "utopia" in the tradition of Tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.” “The phrase has origins in classical rabbinic literature and in Lurianic kabbalah, a major strand of Jewish mysticism originating with the work of the 16th-century kabbalist Isaac Luria.” Mystic!
This is also why Evangelists have a really weird relationship with the Zionists through a love-hate relationship. This is too long to discuss Israel, but let’s just say that this idea of “going back to where you came from” is bullshit because would mean everyone just leaves all of the “white” places, including white people to Ireland, England, France, Spain, and Europe. That erases multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and adopted people who don’t have that information.
Separatism is bad. “Gentrification” used to mean “integration.” People do it all the time by creating welcoming environments where you respect neighbors and invest in your community. If you are confused about how to help, go join SURJ. The point of that organization is to help white people become less dumb at talking to other white people by giving them the space to mess up without fear. Myself and my Turkish best friend both volunteered to do this. Did you?
We should be working together to make it stronger. We say, “We honor the past sacrifices and mistakes made by our ancestors, and we work collectively to repair that damage in the present and the future to promote a more loving society.”
Interestingly, Trump supporters think they’re counterculture, too. They feel persecuted. Jews for Trump, Blacks for Trump, Gays for Trump, or anyone was such a weird lens to look at things. I know, it’s kind of a weird way of looking at it. If we stop looking at each other as black and white, liberal and conservative, we can work together to start dismantling hate and fear, spread by ignorance. They’re just united by patriarchal constructs.
We can value a variety of contributions from people of all of walks of life because we are committed to the same values. Cis men who don’t think they don’t need wombs to remember who gave them birth. For those who reject their children because of what they were taught, to apologize and for themselves and their kids.
Female leaders are doing exceptional work in New Zealand and all of the other women-led countries. African, Asian and Latin American women are ready to lead and are fighting for trans rights, dismantling homosexuality and toxic masculinity in their countries, too.
Good news: the caveat is that this is not white woman saviorism because technically the Jews do not save anyone and whiteness is a construct of colorism. That’s not our deal. You just celebrate mitzvahs.
“It’s a mitzvah!” usually referring to a charitable, beneficial act performed by another person. However, the Hebrew word mitzvah does not mean “a good deed” in that sense. Mitzvah literally means “commandment.”
In fact, Jewish tradition understands exactly 613 mitzvot (plural of mitzvah) to be derived from the Hebrew Bible. The 613 are listed in Maimonides‘ Sefer Hamitzvot (Book of the Commandments), divided into “positive” (things one is required to do) and “negative” (things one may not do) commandments.
It is not simply a “good deed,” for example, to refrain from murdering or stealing. And similarly, the mitzvot that deal with feeding the poor, acting kindly to the stranger, or observing the Sabbath are much more significant in the Jewish tradition than mere divine suggestions on how to be good. Mitzvot are commandments, traditionally understood to come from God and to be intended for the Jewish people to observe.
Those of us who live in the Western world are often uncomfortable with the idea of being “commanded” to do something, because it seems to deprive us of the right to choose how we behave. In fact, the Torah itself says that when God gave the commandments, God declared: Behold, I have set before you the blessing [of observing the commandments] and the curse [the potential punishment for failing to observe the mitzvot] — therefore, choose life!
It seems that even God recognized that the Jews had a choice in the matter — and was clearly hinting at the right choice.
I thought about the peace pipe a lot while researching cannabis. Just like the neo-Nazis girl group Lynx and Lamb Gaede credit marijuana for renouncing their hate in favor of love. It’s pretty beautiful, and I hope they’ve been able to start new lives.
Maybe it’s Kamala. She’s black-Indian mix with a Jewish husband. I love how intersectional they are. It sounded like a cool hack, except Jesus wasn’t afraid of death and I think I’m still kind of a coward and not the anti-Christ. That word is rough! I don’t like it. I love my all of my friends, who were all raised with good values or found them on their own.
From what I understand, Christ hung out with prostitutes and the poor, and probably smoked weed, so I’m not really “anti-Christ.” I’m not anti-anyone. I just want people to stop being shitty. I don’t really want to be crucified and the rapture is scary sounding. Though, Haifa looks pretty dope. The Ba’hai Gardens are there, as well as The Carmelite Monastery, and apparently Jews and Arabs live in harmony there.
Haifa is where this is all supposed to take place. If I have to get sent back there, please be gentle. It looks pretty nice, to be honest. It reminds me of Perpignan, which is also along the Mediterranean. I pretty much love the Mediterrenaean—Crete, south France and Spain. The water is perfect and the food is so good. I just don’t know anyone there and the vibe is so intense. I didn’t make it to Haifa when I was in Israel because I had to get back to my job, where I was instantly fired because they were assholes. But there are dolphins there!
I like the Bible and most religious texts as a beautiful metaphor. The Jewish religion is about questioning the unknown. None of us know what’s on the other side, so life and morality is about living in the the present. I think that’s why I like Pema Chodron. I liked Ba’hai, too, except they don’t accept homosexuality. Otherwise, it’s a pretty peaceful religion. It’s when it gets bastardized, like The Matrix, from a metaphor about coming out as trans into being blamed as a symbol of hate.
Don’t worry, I’m here. I am super judgy and don’t want to save any of you unless you are not a piece of shit. However, you have to save me though by subscribing to my newsletter.
I think if I had to be in exile in Haifa, I’d only do it if I had a cool crew. Everyone I know is so sad, if it was the end of the world, I’d just want to have some good meals. I don’t really like being alone. I miss hanging out with my friends, visiting everyone on the West Coast and abroad, and a shared sense of community. Cannabis legalization in Israel is becoming quite interesting, including progress towards COVID research. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
Shared company, nice meals, and good values that where we can be friendly to each other as we support our unique differences? You opt-in or you opt-out. But we co-exist no matter what.
Can we laugh about things again? Is that the hack? You get to be the “chosen one” to break the ice? Eh?! Buy an heirloom vegetable and support your local farm! There are so many people who hate me, think I’m a bitch, have bullied me, made anti-Semitic comments, and still, I rise to the occasion and say, “Can we all smoke a bong?” Choose to be a nicer, more empathetic person, and accept that no one knows what anyone has been going through. I’m pretty sure Jesus said “Hate the sin, not the sinner.” Choose love and empathy over hate. Love, me. Trust me, I work on it constantly.
I love being Jewish. I love my nose. I love Zabar’s. I love my friends who look different and come from different walks of life. I don’t want to deal with lots of mean people. That said, I am fine with being tough. I just wanted to do some reporting on the human condition through the lens of cannabis. To promote travel and good ideas in food. I am overwhelmed by “stuff,” where I am not even getting paid for it. I would like to be able to afford my own lifestyle, where I can help my community at large.
Do I want to deal with people? I don’t know. I want to get a coffee and a bagel in peace. I want to be Fran Lebowitz. Can I be her personal assistant? I feel like I also advocate for smokers’ rights—but joint smokers. I wonder how bored she is right now and what she’s eating.
I understand that you’re quarantining in your New York apartment with books, riding out the pandemic.
That is exactly what I’m doing. Before the virus, for my entire life, I dreamed of lying on the sofa and reading from Friday to Monday, without ever leaving the apartment. I did not expect to be given six months to do this.
Did it turn out to be a good thing?
Financially, it’s a very bad thing. If you could get paid for lying on the sofa and reading, I would be the richest person in the world. But mostly the way I make money is flying around the country speaking, which I can’t do now, because theaters are closed.
How are you making money, then?
I’m not. I’m living off my life savings, which I expected to last the rest of my life, not starting now.
You just turned 70. How was that?
Very bad. Anyone who tells you something different is lying. When people say, “How are you?” now, you’re supposed to say, “I’m great, I’m fine, I don’t have the virus.” I’m happy I didn’t get it, but other than that, it’s horrible being 70. People say, “You know, it’s better than the alternative,” which is death. But I would like another choice, please.
Fran, if you read this and you want to hang out, let me know. Fortunately, she’s in the same boat as all of us. Man, I hope I am past that at 70.
American news is sensationalist in nature, designed to capture your extremely limited attention and currently dominated by people who are egoists. I love BBC. It doesn’t stress me out to read it. I love how boring and benign British people are with really good senses of humor. They regret being Colonialists haunted by the ghosts that they ideologically fucked up. They’re all on lockdown by the way, and doing much better job about it than we are.
The UK sounds like a tired dad with their kids coming to bitch them about how fucked up they are. “I hate you dad!” “Yeah, I know. I suck. I’m old. I’m tired. Sorry I fucked you up. Leave me alone. I have COVID now.”
Coming back to America was annoying because it was really easy: talk to your humorless parents about you are all racists, accept that you like being white, stop hating your mixed identities, work shit out and just try to not be so shitty about it!
Everyone’s a racist. It means they like their own culture best because it’s familiar. Just stop shoving it onto everyone. Or, maybe your family sucks. In which case, don’t feel bad about letting them go. I don’t want my publication to stress anyone out. I want you to laugh. I want you to smoke weed and laugh and not be shitty.
I think I’m comedian because my life is a joke and it makes no money. I am ready to be an entertainer and an observational comic like Jerry Seinfeld. America needs a sense of humor again, and you need an asshole Jew. It is me: I am the asshole Jew who is here to promote world peace through weed. Apparently you can’t say anything, unless you’re a comedian. So I am a comedian now, and also the second coming of Christ. I’m just kidding. I don’t want that. I like my life fine.
I am big in Chicago and Europe. I am well-liked in most places. I have a decent likability rating, and also a huge asshole rating. I think that is the mark of an exceptional individual. I still hate people because I love them. Feel my wrath! But only if my friends can hang out and everyone is nice.
I want to be Amy and David Sedaris. They have a sense of humor about their dysfunctional families, too. Also, David spends a lot of time in France, and I want to, too. Amy makes crafts and does video. I like that Fran doesn’t have to write many books, and gets around with speaking engagements at BAM. Which are all canceled now. So, I need that in order to do anything good I am going to be owned by a brand as an artist and comedian. Just like Jonah Hill is owned by Adidas now.
Actually, I just want people to buy heirloom apples and be nicer. Anyway now you can save me, just like I saved you. Subscribe to my newsletter