It trips me out how even the most so-called cutting edge, radical shit eventually gets boxed-up and fixed with a fancy label and sold in mass quantities, plopped out of an assembly line like donuts or tampons . Here in Amsterdam, the coffeeshops are a business, just like any other. There are a couple different flavors--the Rasta Bob Marley spots, the "futuristic" techno spots that also sell candy bars and fruit juice, the loud Rock N' Roll spots, and the "generic hip-hop/older brother's living room/this is also a bar and pick-up spot with a TV to watch soccer"spots. I guess it was an in-depth study of the market that yielded these results--polls taken of the "typical smoker", worldwide. Man, all I know is that I don't go for any of that shit. It's not that I don't like Marley or rock music, or the future, or sports on big screen TVs...I just can't stand the packaging. It depresses me. I'm not against consumer culture. I've never contemplated throwing a brick through a Starbucks window, but for fuck's sake, the whole point of smoking (at least for me) is to get on that other level, away from this whole flat as hell life, where everything's in two dimensions--the monitor and the TV, rows and lows of flickering windows with nothing behind them...
The Mind Elevate: I want to rise above all these radiowaves broadcasting rules and information. I'm sick of food in boxes.
When I'm high I dream of making something beautiful--the kind of overwhelming beauty that comes from a multitude of detail and perspectives--I want to create a world onto itself, like a battle scene from the 18th century painted on a room-wide, ceiling-tall canvas.
It takes years to even begin to get down one instant--a single rearing horse is a seperate study...I want to make notes in a sketch book of the faces I see in the street...A man at the market who has a "soldierly countenance". I want to work, work, work on something, one thing, for years at a time instead of all these half-assed, quick, one-off projects I find myself doing.
There was this one coffeeshop I really liked--The Tweede Kamer (Second Room). It was a tiny little place on a side street off Koningsplein. The sign outside was a play on a tiny blue postage stamp, the kind you stick on when you just come up short. Inside there were old Russian intellectuals and neighborhood guys stopping in for a quick puff before lunch. On the weekends, a local intramural soccer team made up mostly of African guys would crowd the place after practice, throwing out looks to the few ladies in the place. The weed was amazing and so was the coffee. There were plenty of decks of cards lying around. And dominoes and newspapers. No one bothered me as I stared into space.
I went in there when I first got to the city and immediately I realized something was different. The postage stamp sign was still there, but inside, the tiny, framed black and white photos that used to crowd the walls were gone. Instead of gypsy music or wailing sitars a live Jill Scott album played. Thinking it was just me, I ordered a spliff and sat down to puff. Two minutes later I was rushing for the toilet. They had rolled that shit with some harsh, stale ass tobacco that made my stomach do flip-flops. When I was done polluting the place, I came up to the counter to ask "what the fuck" which is when I saw the little stack of biz cards. "Coffeeshop Dampkring", they said, with some pseudo rasta graphics floating around.
"New place--my first coffeeshop!" the guy behind the counter told me, when he saw me examining one of the cards.
"Here," he said, and he handed me a clear plastic tube. "This is a new thing, you put your joint in it when it's still lit. Then you close the top and it goes out immediatly. No smell, no fuss--and you don't lose anything by stamping it out in an ashtray."
I nodded and put the tube in my pocket. I was confused and still sick to my stomach. I walked along the canals and watched the ducks. Later on, when I was looking around for some change, I pulled out the tube. "Dampkring" was printed all along the bottom in some ridiculous wavy "stoner" font.
...and to think I told Jamie it was a cool place.
The tubes aren't a bad idea though.
"Sumo Pop" would make a good coffeeshop name.