Salvia Divinorum Meets the Venice Hipsters

Salvia Divinorum Meets the Venice Hipsters


It has finally come to this.  Teenagers trying to play a cruel joke on some thirty-something-year-old hipsters beware: we are down to trip balls!


So here is my story.  One Friday after a long hard day at work and finding a parking spot remotely close to home I came across some friends on my corner drinking beer out of plastic cups.  They are a hodgepodge of hipsters that earn a good enough income to live in such close proximity to the beach but rarely have the kind of employments that make them shave, hide tattoos, go everyday, or get drug tested.  In this case, all of them are white and middle class and most have plenty of time on their hands.  This is just background so bear with me.


Usually we all fill up the time separately, surfing and smoking pot.  On rare occasions we drink beers and smoke weed together, and this seemed like one of those early summer evenings that would have permitted such activities.  We were partially right.  When I joined them it had to be close to five in the afternoon and they had a healthy head start.  I ate a weed-laced cinnamon roll and brought my own Sapporo beer from my apartment to speed up the process of catching up to their buzz.  After all, it was Friday.


Things were normal at first.  Johann brought some ladies from Canada over to start conversation before they headed to see the sunset.  We clowned those that passed by the stoop that didn’t meet our criteria for hanging in Venice.  We talked about motorized skateboards and how they hurt the game and continued drinking beer.  Eventually joints were rolled and everybody got high on the sun and the prospect of no real responsibility for the evening.   I made arrangements to go the extra mile and spring for some mushrooms so that my weekend would be stellar but everybody generally just relaxed.


Just when we all got comfortable, some teenagers rolled up and said that they had access to some weed that they referred to as Bin Laden which was the most powerful weed they had ever encountered.  This came as no shock for the savvy people that I hang with and they let the comments slide with undetected incredulity.  Me, on the other hand, I wanted to see this powerful weed because as you know, I am an expert on marijuana from my experience with the Coast Guard and through personal hobbies.  The kid runs into the house and produces a loaded bong right out on the front porch in broad daylight.


After I was warned sufficiently by their bad-ass name for the weed and assurances that their homeboy was “still on the couch from that shit” I got the lighter and blew the dank.  [Insert *time warp* here]  One hit later, I was exuberantly extolling to my friends that this Bin Laden lived up to the bill of being a supremely potent thing to smoke.  [Did I really just smoke it, or should I smoke some more?]  I must have done a good job of selling it to them because after I ran back to tell them how great it was they all wanted a hit from the kid, and I was their biggest cheerleader.  One by one guys would step up to the bong and wait for one of the two kids (hey where did that other kid come from?) to fill it up with the Bin Laden.  One by one, they all fell down.


The first guy took a massive hit and literally fell out right there on the front porch of his own apartment complex.   While the second was taking a hit and laughing at him, he ran away and we didn’t see him again for the entire weekend.  Come to think about it, I didn’t see him until two weeks after the day it happened.   After the second guy took a hit we all got the strange feeling that we weren’t in Kansas anymore and that the Bin Laden could be weed laced with something else because he felt uncomfortable too.  [Did I jump down the stairs or did I float or fly?]  Then I chimed in with, “I’m fine” so a third guy stepped up to the glass device, and then a fourth.


The third was known as a serious bong smoker so he requested the “double load” with the intent to settle the debate of how strong the Bin Laden could possibly be.  This was the classic mistake.  Merely seconds after passing the cashed bowl to the fourth guy, the adventuresome, thrill-seeking, third guy was on the ground in a stupor.  He looked me dead in the eyes and asked me what had just happened.  I told him that he smoked the Bin Laden that the teens spoke of and he just looked at me like I was crazy.  He didn’t know what I was talking about.  He had no idea that he had smoked anything, even ten seconds ago.  He thought that he just fell down for a brief moment presumably from the heat.  [Note to self: short term memory completely erased with this new weed.]  All of this came from a man that routinely produces those thrilling Generation X sporting movies like snowmobile races, and base jumping.


The fourth guy to hit the Bin Laden proved our worst fears that it was mislabeled.  After getting through a terrific hold on the smoke, he ran down the street full tilt into the Pacific Ocean.  He said that he had to go surfing but he didn’t have a board or a wetsuit and besides, it was flat that day.  At this point, I knew that we were all seriously hallucinating.  [Is that a monster disguised as Michael Jackson, or the real Michael Jackson, hiding behind that unicorn?]  The only thing was, I didn’t care because I like the feeling.  I suspect it is one of the reasons that I smoke drugs in the first place.  To fully beat the dead horse though, you have to have more than one whack so before a fifth guy could step up his nerve enough to ask I grabbed the bong and went again.


Oh.  Now I get it.  [Time warp overdrive initiated.]  A careful inspection of the bong itself was all I needed.  Sure the Bin Laden was green and it looked like chronic but it tasted terrible.  It was bitter when even the strongest of weeds tastes sweet though it may smell sour.  Most noticeably, though, it burned funny.  You could tell by the way deep down in the center of the device it looked like it was turning brown first instead of black.  “Hmm,” is what I though to myself.  It seems that this Bin Laden requires a higher temperature of flame which means that it couldn’t possibly be just ordinary weed.  (Chemists read that a physical properties change is likely due to a chemical property change.)  Also, for all of it’s initially overpowering effects, the high from Bin Laden didn’t last long enough for me to want to wait for the fifth guy to try it once before I tried it twice.


How odd?  I’m not usually a weed hoarder in such polite company.  I just hoped that it wasn’t crack because I had just taken another hit. And then I heard it slip, “saliva.”  I sure hope I’m not smoking some concentrated form of a weed-heads spit, too.  [Was that out loud?]  “What did you say?” I inquired to the kid suppressing his laughter.  He said “eets saliva, holmes.”   I spent the next five seconds or five minutes racking my brain before Salvia Divinorum stuck in my head.  Crumpled up in a bong it would most certainly look like marijuana even though its leaves are oval and foul tasting.  I don’t know how I remembered the plant from the Lamiaceae, or mint, family from that one insane class of Plant Systematics that I had with Dr. Poston at Howard University.  Maybe it was that weed cinnamon roll that jogged my memory because I was definitely high throughout the entire course of tromping through the woods and identifying plants at break-neck speeds? 


Suddenly I wasn’t worried anymore.  The kid’s mispronunciation was a clue that he had no idea what he had been smoking, but I did.  Thanks to a crazy botanist with a PhD that had a peculiar quest for getting to the bottom of nomenclature for every plant supposedly indigenous to North America.  She also had a fetish for plants that were only known to be grown by humans and specifically those plants that could only be grown or cultivated by humans, called cultigens.  That part of the class was easy though.  There are only two plants that fit that description: bananas, Musa Acuminata, and Salvia Divinorum, the “sage of the seers.”   Both of those plants have no seeds.


No hipsters were harmed in the writing of this article.


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