Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kali Meow!

Okay, this is my last post having fun at the expense of the Canadians.

Put first, an apology (in the Socratic sense, and the actual one). As my mom used to say about boys who made fun of girls on the playground, “it’s because they really like you!” 

And I’ll admit. I do have a bit of a nation-crush on Canada. It’s a beautiful country, populated by friendly people with fabulous taste in syrup. I especially love the diversity of the people and terrains. In parts of the country, they even speak an entirely different language, called “Canadian English,” or Englois. They like to baffle American tourists by using strange words like kilometer and Celsius, or spelling center "centre."

The citizens and residents of Modern Canada hail from all corners of the globe. Many come to Canada from countries where they faced oppression, poverty, or being British. In recent years, the country has seen a large influx of people from Asia and South Asia in particular. Regardless of where they come from, immigrants flock to this bastion of freedom, each with the simple dream of opening up a “fusion” restaurant.

I’ve never seen so much fusion food in my LIFE as in Vancouver. Not that I’m knocking it. I enjoy a good Chinese-Persian taco truck as much as the next person. But sometimes, too much fusing of cuisines turns into a diffusing (wordplay!) of the original flavors and narratives of a country.

Also, some foods just don’t fuse well. For instance, we walked past an African-Canadian restaurant (no joke). I didn’t check the menu, but I can only imagine what that would be. I imagine a big injera (one of those awesome Ethiopian "pancakes" that food is served on). But instead of Doro Wat (spicy chicken), it would be topped with a big pile of... poutine?  Now, I love Ethiopian food. And I love french fries with tons of gravy and cheese on them (you know, ‘cause fries aren’t caloric enough on their own). But together? Not so much.

Okay, getting back to Canada's not-quite sort-of illegalish pot situation…

Next door to the New Amsterdam CafĂ©, you’ll find the HQ of the Marijuana Party, which is essentially a nonprofit head shop. The place is operated by Marc Emery, marijuana activist and editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, written by and for people who are seriously baked.

The poor guy’s story is pretty amazing. Emery was sent to jail for attempting to sell marijuana seeds, in Canada, to an American DEA agent. He was then extradited for this thing he did in Canada. Even though his own government didn’t want to press any charges. In 2010, Emery was sentenced in a Seattle, and is now serving out a five-year sentence in a federal penitentiary in Georgia. Ah-mazing.

I don’t think Mr. Emery should be in jail. At least, not for the infraction he committed (which would only carry a $200 fine, or up to one month in jail in his own country). However, I firmly believe that Fashion Interpol should come and take him away for the apparel he sells in his store. The place is an emporium for pot-themed clothing (see previous post for disturbing visual of an ACTUAL SHIRT sold in his store). This is potentially harmful to Our Youth, putting them in danger of wearing horribly unattractive clothing.
Here’s the other reason: 
A feline member of the Cult of Kali, jonesing for some Fancy Feast.
Above is a picture of the elaborately decorated window of Emery's storefront on Hastings Street in Vancouver. No, I’m not worried about the cat, who appeared to be stoned (I know, how can you tell??). My beef is in the background – a series of blown-up excerpts from a book called Cannabis and the Soma Solution, by Chris Bennett.

The premise, in so many words, is that Jesus was a stoner. (You have to admit - He did wear a lot of sandals and loose clothing...) The author goes on to discuss the Hindu cult of Kali Ma, who he describes as “the goddess of terror and delight.” (I’m not sure that’s exactly right, but whatever.) He asserts that the ancient Indians enjoyed "a liquid form of cannabis" as part of some sort of "ecstatic ritual" loosely based on a stoned viewing of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Another danger of pot smoking.*
Full Disclosure: I didn’t take the time to actually read the book in question. Partly because I wasn’t high, which you’d have to be to wade through this tome. A quick scan of the text revealed a long series of run-on sentences, egregious misspellings, and various grammatical and syntactical problems that suggest that the writing/research process for the book went a little something like this: 

The Author and his buddy, Dave, are sitting in his mom’s basement getting high…
AUTHOR: The Last Supper? They were, like, totally getting high, dude.
DAVE: That’s deep, man.
                                            (In the background, a BONG bubbles.)
AUTHOR: And, you know those people in India? They were getting BAKED, man.… How else did they pull that guy’s heart out?
DAVE: Wow. You’re blowing my mind. You should write a book or some shit.
AUTHOR: Totally, man. Dude, where are the Funions? Don’t bogart the Funions, man!
Kids, smoking pot can be dangerous. Sure, the health risks are negligible compared to excessive drinking, or smoking cigarettes.

Still. Smoking too much weed can make you want to expropriate the iconography and narratives of foreign and/or indigenous cultures. It makes you want to print t-shirts representing things like goddesses or totem animals. Or get a tatoo of a Celtic symbol taken from a novelty refrigerator magnet you bought in the airport gift shop in Dublin. You may even want to purchase a pair of dream catcher earrings. Resist that urge. For the love of all things holy, kids. JUST SAY NO! 

*If you get really stoned, you may want to watch this movie again. Please don't.

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