THE MAN FROM URANUS -
BSC, CA – Cannabis is a complex topic, which is why I wrote Memoirs. I wanted people to see the prism's color lights at a ground level view to show how delusive it is to tie a simple label around cannabis, much like the foot soldiers the plant uses in this fight. Pot, which is the most famous cannabis product, truly is like having the World's Coolest Girlfriend on your arm; everybody be wantin' to grin wit' cha.
Though Jack saw the Big Picture, which is why he is The Hemperor, the driving force going forth outward from Jack is a group of men and women, all varied with different personalities, different needs, different expectations and visions, but united now as allies for a plant fighting against ownership, commercialism, and privilege. Leading the charge is the health contingent and none is more colorful, dramatic, historic, or connected [some say he has a Joseph Kennedy tie-in, but you didn't read it here], then the last kicking* remainder from those Harvey Milk San Francisco days during the breaking AIDS epidemic, Richard Eastman.
For those who like to stay up to date on things Trump, a friend of both President Trump and Alex Jones, a man named Roger Stone, was barred entry into the Staples Center for the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition, happening 9-13 to 9-15. Undaunted, Stone chose to meet with the heart of the DTLA cannabis circles via The Alchemy Lounge, a stone's throw from the convention center. BSC was at that meeting, see the upcoming Stone Not Walled **. You see, as I waited outside the meeting place in a small crowd, up saunters the guy in the above picture, two days after the above shot was taken. So just who is Richard Eastman and why should you care? Make the jump and find out.
In the 70's there was a particular group of hippies out of San Francisco that organized against Richard Nixon. They were part of the Summer of Love which ended with The Rolling Stones Altamont tragedy in 1969. While most of us realized the man had won and decided to go on with our lives, this little band of hippies cranked it up a notch for Nixon and the anti-war effort, usually making article headlines in mags when actual news was reported. I read about these guys as I lived my Panama Red life in the Midwest finding out three things. These hippies were gay, articulate as groups were in those days, and that they organized the first smoke-out on the White House lawn, Nixon's house. They also probably made the famous, or infamous Enemies List that King Richard kept.
Later amid speculation that AIDS was developed in a lad before being tested on weed smoking Haitians and gays, the group of ex-hippies now 'stoners' up in San Francisco had opened a clinic and were doling out marijuana to aids patients there, AND THE POT WAS HELPING!
Being gay in those days was not looked upon as it is in many places today, so when this happened, that pot was helping people cope with the viral load from the medical industry, I said to myself, um huh. So maybe God isn't all that bent outta shape over this issue, plus it's pot; who knew? This turning point happening in SF was news, and the name that I remembered was Dennis Peron. I read about him and his group, and what happened. So political and inspiring. Part of this storyline appeared in the film Milk, starring Sean Penn.
When Sam and I came up to Occupy LA for those two months, camp was like Union Station and the marijuana cause with the 'locals' had a ridge [high ground, no pun intended] on the right side of the south side stairs. I met Richard Eastman and the others including Patrick and Jeanette, Beth Kemp, Melissa Balin, and Jeff Clark. Chacha Vavoom [420Nurses prez] came out on special days like the free pot giveaway. You would have thought they had Rolling Stones tickets or something that day. The line was long but orderly and these were people who weren't in the mix like I was. I met my future book editor the first night of camp and it wasn't over a cup of tea.
Richard was then and still is, slightly larger and stranger than life, or life perceived as 'normal' anyway. But for a guy who saved the Hollywood sign back in the day, what is normal in California? When I hit the LA scene Richard was the photographer for JEMM, a cannabis mag with national news and the latest around town pot social news featuring Richard's smiling face like the Mad Hatter. This was before selfies became the rage so Richard was ahead of his time. Me being classically trained in the midwest and apprenticing on a Southern artist magazine playfully gave Richard a small ration of shit over the practice one NORML event night, until I noticed a glean in his eye. I thought to myself then that this is the Gandolf shepherd of the LA/Hollywood pot scene. When I found out more about the Dennis Peron tie-in, I joined the 'well, that's Richard Eastman' fan club.
When Prop 64 rolled around and the cannabis scene turned into a civil war, I wondered how Richard viewed the flawed law. When he walked up to our booth at the Cannabis Cup and said No On Prop 64 after coming back from D.C., I was gladdened, half relieved and half yep, yep, he saw through it too. I was smiling for three days.
On Wednesday night up in Hollywood at the Hemp Museum late in the evening after a series of out-of-state comedians with the MC as the funniest person onstage, I looked over at the doorway and there stood Richard. After being introduced, Richard energized the crowd with a rousing announcement of two coming events for the museum [Halloween, week later Birthday Bash for Prop 215], then launched into an awareness statement about Prop 64 [“Don't forego your recs come January 2018”] and the importance of medical cannabis with him being an example of having AIDS for over 20 years. The young crowd listened intently because most old timers [stoner talking heads] don't hang with the young headies.
After Richard closed the show, we walked back over to the museum and Richard gave me a personal tour, pointing out pics of him and Bill Clinton, plus many other historical B&Ws including shots from the first White Lawn Smoke-In now in its 47th year. On the Richard wall was just a portion of the files that Richard had amassed over the years as a cannabis activist. I said to him, “This is your book,” a reference to what many of the local crowd of old stoners had remarked to me when my book dropped.
I hope Richard publishes his memoirs someday. It would kinda be like reading Keith Richards but maybe in pictures, not knowing Richard's writing ability as well as his picture talent. However, if he can capture little humorous tidbits like where he used to hide his pot, close to Uranus' two moons, then I predict a best seller.
The news about Roger Stone's dust-up at the Convention's $500 a ticket World Congress Exposition had already reached Hollywood in the northwest being the opening day because LA is like living on the front page.
(*- Dennis Peron is extremely disabled by a lifetime of cigarette smoking but aware of the cannabis revelations. ** - Set to appear elsewhere as a cross-over feature with a link to - Ed)