By Johnny Mumbles
I'm in love with Mary Jane, but she may be causing me to forget things. As this magic plant has intertwined with my life, tendrils of smoke create shadows in my recollection. Some experiences I have tried to blaze into oblivion, buried in ash and resin. Other moments I held in like a bong hit I never wanted to exhale. Cough! Cough! What was I talking about? Hmmm, maybe it is causing short-term memory loss. Either way, this ganja plant is a part of my life, so I’ve learned to improvise.
I have a complex system of sticky notes, scattering reminders and bright ideas across a landscape of futility. Sticky notes are either the last line before chaos or the first step towards order. My memories manifest in more than little slips of paper. Some people collect things for their value. Conversely, I find value in their recollection. I see the usefulness in uselessness, as instances become occasions. My father made a wedding ring out of a quarter he found on my parents’ first date. I accumulate odds and ends—mostly odds without a lot of ends. I constantly discover things I never wanted to forget. I just can’t always remember why. Then I take a little toke, and it all comes back like it was yesterday.
The first friends I got high with in high school are still some of the closest people in my life. That feeling of timelessness, incubated by the effects of ganja. I have friendships that will last forever because of our shared connection to cannabis, even if we never take another hit together again. That golden era of green buds, purple leaves, orange hairs, and not a care in the world. Is there a time in everyone's life that they never age past in their heart or mind? In some ways, I never left those days behind, or maybe I am just holding on for dear life.
Photo: (Top) Julian Mackler
I have a hard time letting go of the past. I know what I like, and I see no reason to change. I rocked a pager until I got my first flip phone in 1996. Over the next decade, I flipped flops until, in July of 2006, I slid into the slide—the LG Chocolate slide, to be exact. I spent the next 13 years gliding back and forth on gilded tracks until they cut off the 1G network in 2019. That broke my heart. I used to get high and only be able to text, call and slide it back and forth. It felt so right, everything safe and secure, as long as the phone didn’t encounter any sand or grit. I have a box of worthless phones, mostly LG Chocolates, some beaten and battered, others pristine, sliding effortlessly in immaculate obsolescence. Each phone a receptacle of un-transferable numbers, texts, and pictures. Each one a little chapter of my life.
At least the phones once had a real purpose. The dead lighter collection started in the dead lighter corner—the place where all lighters go to die, in the hope that they may live again. In those moments of ultimate darkness, when there isn’t a lighter in sight and you need to smoke that bowl. In some ways, the eternal flame lives in the dead lighter corner. It’s definitely biblical. Only ordained lighters made it from the corner to fill this box of utter uselessness. Every flint is a testament to 3000 flicks with friends, with family, and those that randomly needed a light along the way. An Obama inaugural lighter sits next to a Bic hand-decorated by a close friend turned distant stranger. The lighters are all dead, but each one is a living connection to a person I once knew or a person they once knew as me.
Photo: (Top) Julian Mackler
It gets worse, though. I had a pretty serious movie collection in college, but it was around 2010 that I started collecting VHS cassettes. For 25 cents apiece, I could return to a simpler time of predictable plot twists and easy laughs. At its peak, the VHS collection was well over two thousand tapes. I cast a net over a river of subprime flicks and misunderstood block blusters that will never be offered by Prime or Netflix. Boohoo Hulu!
I decided that the cinema of my youth would not go out with a quiet whimper. It was going to Die Hard, Die Harder, and then Die Hard with a Vengeance. Desperately protecting the films from The Nothing, I played my part in their Never Ending Story. I sheltered Baron Munchausen from the siege, regularly reminded myself of Johnny Mnemonic, and I’ll keep playing Days of Thunder until the reels fall off. Certain movies I am tasked with protecting the world from. Others I hold tight as they decay into fluttering images and a comforting hiss. A static echo of a golden era when the world moved a lot slower and everything wasn’t made to last—Sa Da Tay!
There are other artefacts that my community collects on my behalf. I was Wu-Tang's biggest fan when everyone else had given up. There was a yard sign during the 2020 election, stating, Presidents are temporary, Wu-Tang is forever. Everyone sent me a picture as if to validate that I had been right the whole time. For many years those 9 Swordsmen carried the burden of showing the world how high Wu-Tang can get. I have one buddy that tries to buy me Wu Wear every Christmas. People may consider me a sentimental fool, but they still collected every piece of memorabilia they came upon. Another compatriot gifted me the original 1998 promo release flyer for the first Bobby Digital album. I framed that joint. I have even been blessed with a special edition GZA ninja star herb grinder. Because I never forgot to keep that iron flag waving high and that W shining bright into the sky. Now the love for the Wu is back, and the weight is off mine.
My marijuana collection is my favourite and the most up-to-date. Cannabis has a perfect strain for every occasion. Ganja is like a magical forest full of unicorns chasing psychedelic rainbows. It was this thought—and a medical marijuana card—that began my herbal archive, my dungeon of dank, my menagerie of mystical marijuana mutations. When I discover a strain I like I stash it away. I hide it in the darkness, at 62% humidity, rationing little periodic tastes like I can keep it forever. I have had some blueberry strain hidden away for about three years. That shit still tastes like blueberries, even if the active chemicals have long since dissipated. Like my other archives of obscuria, my chosen strains are ideal for me and almost no one else—low THC, high CBD strains that just tip their hat at getting stoned. As my fragrant foraged phenotypes turn to dust, I am guided by a higher purpose—the Library of Chron-grass.
Where was I going with this? Oh, right. Maybe marijuana isn’t causing me to lose my memory as much as allowing me to misplace it for the short term. While my lucidity is on loan, I have developed methods of madness to mediate the mundane. For instance, walking from the kitchen to the pantry, repeating ‘soy sauce’ so I don’t forget what I was looking for. A mindless mantra memorizing mindfulness. While combating the fear of forgetfulness, I accumulate collections of my connections. I’m not drawing a blank, and I’m painting an absence, filling in spaces with souvenirs. Am I creating a masterpiece or just a mess?
When you truly love something, you must embrace its foibles along with its fantasy. Marijuana may cause short-term memory loss, but that can just be part of the fun. Being stoned keeps me guessing at what I have come up with next. The herb grants me the freedom of the now, flitting carefree between the last and the next. The chronic encourages these seldom moments when I am so present there is no room to reflect. Or when I reflect so profoundly, I lose touch with the present. Staring in childlike wonder at a world I will instantly forget. Surrounded by a trove of lost treasures significant to no one but me.
PS. This piece was written entirely on sticky notes.
Listen on Spotify
For this round, Johnny Mumbles would like to direct your attention to The Wu-Tang Clan's second studio album released in 1997. He has requested that you listen to the double album in the original sequence of tracks—Disc One to Disk Two. Preferably on cassette, at least on CD, maybe even on vinyl, at high volume wherever possible. Almost 25 years later, Wu-Tang Is clearly forever.
Johnny Mumbles is a lifelong cannabis connoisseur. After years of exploring America's marijuana meccas, he’s settled down as a card-carrying medical cannabis patient. An adult diagnosis of epilepsy inspired the exploration of the medical benefits of CBD along with his faithful compatriot, THC. Aside from travelling the path to enlightenment, he spends his time making hip hop cassette mixtapes, watching VHS movies and rattling away on a typewriter. His goal is to elevate the cannabis conversation by any means possible, one head at a time. The Tao te Ching says, “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” He knows just enough to not speak clearly.
Follow Johnny Mumbles on Instagram here: @johnny.mumbles
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