The Selected Quirks of Madjag
The Madjag Chronicles were compiled as memoirs and mental snapshots of my experiences during the 1978-1982 guerrilla growing years in Madjag Canyon and beyond. Importing weed from Mexico, lining up connections with the Colombians, and living for months in Jamaica to set up a 1/2 ton Ganja flight were some of my subsequent adventures. In recent years I have been a medical marijuana grower, a pollen chucker, and an Admin/Moderator for several online cannabis forums.
Temple Nail and the Hashish Trail
After months and months of being pestered, I finally caved in and decided to visit my good friend George in Phoenix. It was February during the winter of 1972-73. I traveled south from Denver partly for the adventure but mostly to get it over with, I mean, Arizona was going to be flat, Phoenix was dusty and dry, and the rest of the state looked like the sand dunes in Yuma anyway so I didn’t expect too long of a visit. As it turned out I only got the Phoenix part right.
Zooey / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
Isn’t that like life, though. We have strong preconceptions that shape our imagined world and totally determine our view until we break through and take a leap. My impression of Arizona being flat was retarded, actually. How could the Grand Canyon be so deep unless it began at a much higher elevation? Otherwise it would be 5,000 feet below sea level at the bottom! If it did start at higher elevation then that would require a lot of terrain and topographical relief, ergo it wouldn’t be all flat like Yuma. So my visit turned out to be one of those defining moments of a lifetime and what a trip it has been since then. I’ve never left Arizona since that day and have spent over 47 years exploring its fabulous natural beauty.
photo courtesy of the Imaginary Foundation
I didn’t understand such simple topographical logic, I guess, because I had never given it any reasonable thought. That’s all. I had lived in Colorado for several years and certainly knew what topographical relief meant. Try hiking to the top of a 12,000 ft. or 14,000 ft. peak and you’ll soon relate. Perhaps it was the days of my youth in the Midwest near Chicago that blinded me to a holistic view concerning the big picture of western USA geography. I might have still thought that a desert state meant terrain like the Sahara desert with rolling dunes but few mountains or peaks. Regardless, as I flew in that February day on a nimble 727 and gazed down at the myriad of deep canyons and massive pine forests along the Mogollon Rim of central Arizona, I was blown away. I glued my face to the jet’s window for more. Our descent into Phoenix had begun near Hannagan’s Meadow in the White Mountains, the densely forested area that forms the central, northeastern edge of national Forest and the White Mountain Apache Reservation. The slow descent brought this crazy maze of cliffs and canyons closer and closer until I felt like we were skimming the tops of the peaks. The emptiness and sheer desolation of the endless miles of high, forested terrain that I jetted past was totally spellbinding. I was hooked. This is Arizona?
Kevin Dooley from Chandler, AZ, USA/ CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Once I landed in Phoenix at Sky Harbor’s old Terminal One I took a cab to my friend George’s home in the old, densely-green section of central Phoenix and blew his mind by showing up unexpected. I had actually come! To celebrate he took me on a 7 day haul-ass tour of his favorite Arizona places, ending with a quick shot to the lava fields and craters of the Pinacate lava field just south of the border in old Mexico. That eerie, remote desert was Carlos Castaneda territory for sure and I felt strangely at home.
More on that whirlwind trip later, but it was that initial day when I walked into George’s stash home near 40th Street and Indian School, a house surrounded by mature citrus trees and a decent-sized olive orchard, that I became an Arizonan. That day’s events formed my introduction to the state of Arizona, or at least to the state of George’s crazy mind.
George was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona and went to college at the University of Denver in Colorado. It was there that we met and formed our odd friendship, a true brotherhood bond that carried us into strange worlds that involved drugs, remote desert locations, women, LPs, Mexican cartels, and more drugs. A Scottsdale boy through and through, I guess he was one of those guys who was always a joker and couldn’t pass up the chance to do you one if the opportunity arose. And for George the opportunity always seemed to arise.
Those early years of college in 1969 gave rise to exciting ways for augmenting a schoolboy’s income, which was basically nil unless you had a rich daddy. A part-time job was the only way out and George, like many young, creative guys during those hippie years, chose to sell weed, hash, coke, downers, and acid instead of flipping burgers. Because I was a bit more of an inner cosmos explorer than Geo, in addition to giving me wholesale prices on all of the above, he would gift me and a few close friends with samples of his latest stash of LSD. That’s right, we were his acid guinea pigs and tested every batch that was new and exciting! This included over the years Orange Barrel Sunshine, Purple Haze Microdot, Grateful Dead Blotter, and the most astounding find of all, a small batch of Sandoz pharmaceutical acid, as liquid, dripped onto tiny Chiclet gum pieces. The Chiclet Acid was the stuff of dreams, no, the stuff of waking hallucinations….hahahaha.
The Chiclet acid always managed to bend our space-time continuum whenever we tripped. Its impressive purity, however, once sent my friend Steve and me all the way to a plus four (+4) experience when we each did one of the few Chiclet pieces that had the stain of a visible drop completely covering one side and extending part way around to the opposite side of the gum. We estimated that dose to be in the neighborhood of 750-1000 mcg of the pure, pure, pure. This acid was dynamically cleaner, stronger, and had perfectly reliable effects every time you took it. Quality…..We instantly recognized the superiority of that acid over every other variety that we had ingested previously, except perhaps some of the Orange Barrel Sunshine from northern Cali, so I bought up every last bit that was available. 1,200 hits of acid was so totally outside of my normal realm for purchasing drugs at that time however I just couldn’t let it get away. As it turned out I would never need any other brand of acid, nor would any of my good friends, nor would we ever want any other type regardless of who had it. The Chiclet Acid was perfect.
Thank God I grabbed that stash, too, and I’m sure you know what I mean by that. LSD only needs to be experienced once or twice or twenty, not 250 or 500 times like some poor souls that I knew. And more importantly, having pharmaceutical quality meant no adulterants or other chemicals messing with a potentially great acid experience. Bad acid was a bummer.
Firesign Theatre – Proctor and Bergman 1976
I’ve color highlighted the characteristic effects of each increasing category in the scientific summary article that follows. Remember that the numerically higher experience categories also include the previous category’s effects. Also, these descriptions are just mere words trying to describe that which cannot be described. The highlighted qualities of these stages, assigned to the various “highs” attainable from LSD, seem to be part of the map and journey that I have experienced personally. If you recognize these stages and effects as well then we’re speaking the same exotic language…..I guess.
“Total loss of visual connection with reality” was the effect that really pegged category plus 4…….I only experienced it once and no other acid came even close to eliciting that effect. My dear friend Stephen and I lost consciousness for approximately one hour. We were listening to “Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers”, the 3rd Firesign Theater record album. No wonder! And I’m not sure how long the LP was stuck in the ending groove, scratching away repeatedly. Once I was back and able to rejoin the living, I crawled across the floor and turned off the turntable.
From the Good Drugs Guide:
Basically, if you take LSD, you will experience some or none of the effects on the following scale:
How you feel before taking a drug.
Very mild effect. Relaxation. Giggling. Like being stoned but with enhanced visual perception: colors may seem brighter, pattern recognition is enhanced, colors and details more eye-grabbing.
Physically, a feeling of lightness and euphoria, and a slight tingling in the body. Energy. A sense of urgency. Music sounds better.
plus one (+1)
Stronger visual hallucinations. Radiant colors. Objects and surfaces appear to ripple or breathe. Colored patterns behind the eyes are vivid, more active. Moments of reflection and distractive thought patterns. Thoughts and thinking become enhanced. Creative urges. Euphoria. Connection with others, empathy. Ability to talk or interact with others however slightly impaired. Sense of time distorted or lost. Sexual arousal. “Flight of ideas” and “ambitious designs”. You’re tripping.
plus two (+2)
Very obvious visual effects. Curved or warped patterns. Familiar objects appear strange as surface details distract the eye. Imagination and ‘mind’s eye’ images vivid, three dimensional. Geometric patterns behind closed eyes. Some confusion of the senses.
Distortion rather than deterioration of mental processes. Some awareness of background brain functioning: such as balance systems or auditory visual perception. Deep store memory becomes accessible. Images or experiences may rise to the fore. Music is powerful and can affect mood. Sense of time lost. Occasional trance states. Paranoia and distortions of body image possible.
Physical symptoms may include: stiffness, cramp, and muscular tension. Nausea, fever, feeling of illness. You’re loaded.
plus three (+3)
Lying down. Difficult to interact with other people and ‘consensus reality’ in general. You should really be somewhere safe.
Very strong hallucinations such as objects morphing into other objects. Tracers, lingering after-images, and visual echoes.
Intense depersonalization. Category enscramblement. The barriers between you and the universe begin to break down. Connection with everything around you. Experiencing contradictory feelings simultaneously. Some loss of reality. Time meaningless. Senses blend into one. Sensations of being born. Multiple splitting of the ego. Powerful awareness of mental processes and senses. Lengthy trances often featuring highly symbolic, often mythical visions when eyes are closed. Powerful, and sometimes brutal psycho-physical reactions described by users as reliving their own birth. Direct experience of group or collective consciousness, ancestral memories, recall of past-lives, and other mystical experiences. Ecstasy.
Music extremely powerful, perhaps overwhelming. Emotionally sensitivity increased (often massively). Crying or laughing, or both simultaneously.
Tremors, twitches, twisting movements, sweating, chills, hot flushes – all common. You’re essentially out of it.
plus four (+4)
A very rare experience. Total loss of visual connection with reality. The senses cease to function in the normal way. Total loss of self. Transcendental experiences of cosmic unity, merging with space, other objects, or the universe. Out of body experience. Ecstasy. “Entity contact”. The loss of reality becomes so severe that it defies explanation. Pure white light. Difficult to put into words.
LSD Psychotherapy, Stanislav Grof, M.D (Hunter House 1980)
The Varieties Of Psychedelic Experience, Robert Masters Ph.D & Jean Houston Ph.D (Park Street Press, 2000)
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), A clinical-psychological study. Savage C. , Amer. J. Psychiat., 1952; 108:896
As I said, George was the essence of the Coyote found in some Native American literature, the ultimate Trickster. We sampled his selections as he brought them to market on the Hill in Boulder, that bizarre spot in the center of town where in 1969-1974 loads of street people hung out and sold their illegal wares. The sidewalk in front of the Brillig Works bookstore was Geo’s favorite and the place to shop for anything your heart desired in the alternative drug world. During his two years there, on and off, he saw it all. He left his Hill post forever after one day witnessing a drug seller take a knife to the chest. Up close.
Now that you know George’s nature and some of my psychedelic experiences, flash forward two years to me walking into his home, dropping my Kelty backpack, and getting caught up on the current events in his life. It was a laugh-filled homecoming reunion that soon went ballistic, though, as a knock on the door quickly interrupted our enjoyment of the latest Oaxacan super bud. Geo had deep Mexi ties and seemed to always have 2 or 3 strains of what was known back then as “grower’s stash”. It was real high weed, herb that stimulated the senses and motivated the body. The best Colombo varieties at that time like Santa Marta Gold were equally potent, cerebral, and highly sought after by George and other wholesalers of fine smoke. The mass onslaught commercial Colombian strains that kicked your ass and put you down for a few hours, reminiscent of today’s Indicas, began to take over the South American export market in those early years, squeezing out the rarified Andean landraces known to be “up” weed. Jungle, knockout weed prevailed in the commercial market.
Suddenly, our good friend Larry opened the door and without being asked in walked through to the kitchen and sat down opposite George. Few words were exchanged as they stared at each other, neither of them too happy, and with no smiles apparent. I could see the daggers flying, with the tension between two guys I thought were life-long friends. What’s up?
At the moment Larry entered George was talking while simultaneously clipping his toenails. He showed me the black toenail on his big toe as he set down his clippers and peeled it loose by hand. The dried blood virtually spanned the entire nail clipping. It had finally weakened its attachment enough that he could get it free. Dropping a 25 lb. weight on your tennis shoe while pumping iron does that.
What seemed like an hour was probably only 10 minutes as neither of them spoke a word so George just continued to talk to me about all kinds of things. Larry sat there, a mere 4 feet away across the table, watching, frowning, and listening. As Geo spoke he also scraped the dried blood from his defunct nail and a tiny black pile began forming on the kitchen table in front of him. That’s when I heard the words “Temple Nail Hash” float by my consciousness. Temple Nail? He must have meant Temple Ball, the connoisseur, hand-rubbed charas from Nepal and northern India, right? I didn’t quite follow what George had said about it, but what I saw next was this side of insane.
George slowly but surely filled his small glass pipe with the dried blood and reached out to Larry with the pipe as an obvious peace offering. The first words of many silent minutes were spoken between them as Geo said, ”Care for some Temple Nail?” Without any hesitation Larry took the pipe, hit it hard with the Bic lighter, and took a long, steady toke.
You know what happened next. Larry started coughing painfully, almost gagging from the after-burn of vaporized blood in his throat and lungs. To this of course George began laughing hilariously to the point of crying. How he stayed in his chair without falling off was amazing considering how massively he was heaving from laughter.
I have to admit, I was laughing too. And hard. And long. I mean, Larry knew the rules: if you get caught in the trick it’s your own fault. This was totally true when I think about how Larry sat there watching the entire toenail process on the table; the scraping, the cleaning off of the last dried blood dregs, the pile of reddish-black powder. Also, Temple Nail? Come on…….
I wanted to stay and see how it all turned out but I thought it best to split and take a walk around the verdant neighborhood. Way too much energy between those clowns for me to deal with at that point. Besides, Salt River Project had just flood irrigated the area and all the local properties, with their slightly-excavated and below-grade yards, had been flooded with 3-4 inches of fresh water. Once a month was all it took, even less in the winter, to deep water these old-school yards full of citrus and olive trees and keep them healthy and productive. It was really quite amazing. No daily or weekly watering, no discovering of plants that you missed and that had dried out or died entirely. The regular deep irrigation provided a better deep root fix for desert survival of non-native plants. I enjoyed my Oaxacan buzz while I hiked around the neighborhood and learned more about this weird, artificial desert oasis that materialized from the Salt River Project’s irrigation of the older Phoenix neighborhoods.
Matthew Kowal / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
When I returned from my science excursion Larry had already left. George filled me in on why Larry had suddenly showed up in such a tense mood. It seemed that Larry had not called or visited Geo in over 6 months. That day, out of the blue, he came over to settle a score with George. They were best of friends, too, so Larry’s absence meant something big.
Massively big actually: the last time Larry had been over, just like this time, he had sat down at the very same table and watched George snort the last line of some outstanding Cola. As Geo smiled and commented on its purity and wonderful stimulating effects Larry leaned forward and said, “Are you going to give me a line, too?” George told him that his line was the very last of his Coke stash but that he could give him a line of another variety if he wanted. Larry nodded in affirmation and George set to chopping up some more powder. He slid the mirror across the kitchen table slowly as if he was hoping Larry would repent and withdraw his request. Larry merely grabbed the rolled up $100 bill on the mirror and snorted the shiny line with gusto, smiling as he felt it working its way into his soon-to-be-awakened consciousness.
Two days later, when Larry awoke on the couch at George’s house, he was stunned at the enormity of what had just happened, though it didn’t “just” happen at all and he had no idea at that moment that two days had passed in a psychedelic fog. Yep, uh huh, it sure was….pharmaceutical acid, probably 8-10 adult doses. Larry had just spent two days paralyzed on George’s living room couch, sailing through the Universe (his words later), with people walking by and looking on with strange amusement and curiosity every hour of the day. He had pooped his pants, peed his Jockeys, and gone where no man had gone before. To top it all off, he couldn’t think or talk coherently for another few days and was unusually hungry. Wonder why. All thanks to his good buddy, George….
Everyone knows that it’s just not cool to spike someone. Years later even George felt the axe when his acid dealer and old high-school friend Stevo, now living in the exceedingly tiny hamlet of Redway, California, gave him an expense paid vacation to Psychedelic Land free of charge with a one-way ticket. George didn’t laugh either, but that disturbing journey changed the whole scene between those two friends and George gave Stevo back a mighty taste too. Endless retribution. Do you think that’s what Albert Hoffman had in mind when he gave birth to LSD in his Sandoz lab back in 1938? Hahaha….what people do for fun.
Well that’s my long story about a simple event. It was my welcome party to Arizona and the source of endless discussions, and amusement, for a dozen years to come. Larry and George eventually made up in spite of George’s one-sided tricks at Larry’s expense. Larry had a big heart and could handle everything Geo threw at him. I lucked out over the following years because George never tried to spike me. He must have been giving me a pass because he knew that I had been one of his test pilots a few years earlier and had somehow earned a special position in his book. Good thing, too, because as nice as I am I live by another old western saying, “Mess with the bull and you get the horns”. Yahoo!!!