New Star Blogs

Struthers’s pot tome postponed, excerpted


Devil V1Andrew Struthers’s new book of mar­i­jua­na sto­ries and insights, The Sacred Herb / The Devil’s Weed, is post­poned indef­i­nite­ly. We look for­ward to announc­ing a firm pub­li­ca­tion date for this hilar­i­ous and (still) time­ly book, but it won’t be in 2016.

To allay the rumours spread by Andrew’s Truthers that he buried the man­u­script to increase its poten­cy but then couldn’t find it, we are high­ly pleased to share this sec­ond excerpt (see here for part 1) from the fiendish side of the forth­com­ing book:



by Andrew Struthers

I moved into the for­est to live inten­tion­al­ly, to cre­ate a space that I could call home. That seems fatu­ous right now, because the next thing to go when you’re trip­ping Buck­y­balls is space itself. By the light of rea­son all things appear sep­a­rate and dis­creet, which gives rise to the illu­sion of cause and effect; but down here in the roar­ing dark every­thing is con­nect­ed to every­thing else. For exam­ple, in 1974 an explo­sion in the price of shrimp sends Jamie, a fish­er­man from Van­cou­ver, on an unex­pect­ed jour­ney to Nova Sco­tia, where he buys a shrimp drag­ger, plan­ning to motor home through the Pana­ma Canal, but when he reach­es Jamaica he makes a stop.

At the bar in Kingston town he meets a Chi­nese busi­ness­man who’s also inter­est­ed in shrimp. He offers Jamie a tidy sum for the drag­ger he just bought. Ka-ching! Jamie takes the man out on the water to show him how well the ves­sel works, but the net wraps around a sub­merged rock and grinds the gears to shrap­nel, at which point the busi­ness­man bails, so Jamie ties up at the quay and waits for engine parts to ship down from Mia­mi.

Next morn­ing three dock rats beg him for a bread bag from the gal­ley, twist up half an ounce of gan­ja in it, set it ablaze and pass it to Jamie, who draws on that crum­pled foot-long ’till the cher­ry cracks and spits like a new­ly-set camp­fire. The torch is tend­ed by a crew of teenage boys whose sole pos­ses­sion is a bub­ble pipe made from a coconut with a clay chillum stuck in one hole and a yard of sur­gi­cal tub­ing in the oth­er.

Next day on the beach each tween toss­es sacra­ment into the bowl from stash­es wrapped in paper like rolls of pen­nies, then they light the chillum with one of the wrap­pers and take three puffs apiece, exhal­ing every wisp to purge the “old smoke”, a rite which to a Ras­tas­far­i­an is seri­ous as Lent, and for rea­sons as opaque. The last lung­ful they hold in, in, in … then out it comes, till the air turns blue and all Jamie can see is a hand com­ing out of the mist, like the Lady of the Lake clutch­ing a pipestem instead of a sword.

Now Jamie’s crew is lost on land, the bon­fire of their san­i­ty burns all day, all week, all month, and still the engine parts do not arrive. A born Celt, Jamie knows a faerie ring when he sees one and dances around in it for a month, so he wan­gles his way onto a bomber, flies to Mia­mi, buys the engine parts and flies back the same day, and then a month in debt to the Time Lords — he and his crew at last escape that far­away beach.

This is the prob­lem with the stones of sum­mer: the sto­ry is so good you nev­er want it to end, although clear­ly you can over­do peace, love and mis­un­der­stand­ing, a hard truth Steve dis­cov­ers when he moves from Sooke to Salt­spring, just fifty miles as the crow flies, yet worlds apart. Sooke is a log­ging town on the south tip of Van­cou­ver Island where pot is so scarce  Steve doesn’t toke until he’s ten, when some old­er kids with a joint of shag­gy leaf smoke him up behind the video arcade on Sea Otter Road and he plays Mis­sile Com­mand and Don­key Kong until dark.

Two years lat­er his dad moves the fam­i­ly to Salt­spring, a hip­pie wun­der­land where his new best friend Corey pops out from behind a bush at the school bus stop every morn­ing bran­dish­ing a joint, and by the time they reach the school in Ganges they’re bast­ed, along with all the oth­er kids, who car­ry bags of weed from their par­ents’ grow-ops, which pep­per the woods for miles around. One after­noon he’s called into the office while he has an ounce of bud stashed in his crotch, and noth­ing hap­pens because The Author­i­ties just don’t care, and truth be told, pot is the least of Steve’s prob­lems — his par­ents are rabid Pen­te­costals, so inside the house dad lays down the law like Moses, while out­side it’s sex and drugs as far as the third eye can see.

The girl next door is called Sasha and her par­ents are nud­ists, so all day a dozen naked hip­pies bounce on the tram­po­line by the pool while Steve spies on them with binoc­u­lars from a tree near the fence. He’s nev­er once seen the dad wear pants, not even the time Sasha for­gets her lunch and he runs naked along the verge behind the van with his bon­er bounc­ing, shak­ing the lit­tle brown bag and shout­ing Hon­ey! You for­got this! Hon­ey! for a good quar­ter-mile, and one Sun­day when his father is dri­ving the fam­i­ly to church Steve spots an aged hip­pie woman shit­ting on her own veg­etable gar­den.

That sort of thing can knock a young man back, and soon Steve’s thirst for bound­aries and under­pants dri­ves him off Salt­spring and into the city of Vic­to­ria, which to his bump­kin eyes burns like the last line of a Blake poem. Summer’s here and the time is right for smok­ing in the streets. A rooftop toke while the sun descends over a great city like New York or Charn, and you can see clear to the End of Time, and the hot­ter the bet­ter, unless you’re in  Mon­tre­al, where the swel­ter holds you down and fon­dles you like a drunk priest.

Which is not to say that all priests are pedophiles; Kevin’s priest at St Bruno’s is a real cool cat, he lends out the church key to the local kids, and all night long they blast CHOM-FM through the organ speak­ers into the street. It’s 1974, so CHOM spins “Sat­is­fac­tion,” “Pur­ple Haze,” any­thing except “Stair­way To Heav­en,” which ston­er kids request so often the DJs impose a quo­ta, glee­ful­ly announc­ing around dusk, That’s it! No more ‘Stair­way’ ’till tomor­row!

Apart from “Stair­way,” any­thing goes, so one night when his par­ents go out Kevin cycles to St. Bruno’s to join the fun, then can’t ride home again because he’s too high to ped­al, and as he winds on down the road the bike keeps falling side­ways into hedgerows, so he push­es it all the way and arrives just as his par­ents pull up, then his wor­ried dad fol­lows him into the house ask­ing, What’s up? and Kevin thinks for a moment then hurls onto his dad’s shoes, which are at least twelve feet away. The human body is capa­ble of amaz­ing things, some­thing I learned from surf­ing all day and only com­ing ashore to eat and sleep, because as soon as I’m out there time wash­es away and I’m left in an eter­nal Now, despite the con­stant threat of being sledge­ham­mered into the sea floor, a ter­ror you have to embrace, which is prob­a­bly why I’m not wor­ried this hot tub trip will take a wrong turn despite hav­ing gob­bled enough THC to kill Tusko the ele­phant. I’ve dropped acid till the walls turned into play­ing cards, but I’ve nev­er been as blitzed as I am right now — images are tum­bling from my cor­tex like clowns from a tiny car — but I’m safe in the knowl­edge that no amount of THC can kill you — unlike pan­ic, which will do the job in a trice.