THE INHALE OF WEED by Peter Nolan Smith

Marijuana was demonized during the 1960s. The Boston police treated reefer smokers as harshly as junkies. John Sinclair, the MC5 radical, was sentenced to ten years of prison for the crime of ‘giving’ an undercover agent two joints. The severity of his punishment did not deter the millions of marijuana smokers of the 60s and the herb found more and more disciples after the Summer of Love.

Cute girls hit the bong. John Lennon was arrested for possession. Football players got high.

I remained straight.

Drugs were for someone else.

I liked beer.

My friends were converts. They smoked in my VW Beetle. In the summer of 1969 John Gilmour lit up a joint of Columbian Red on the way back from Nantasket Beach. I opened the sunroof to avoid a contact

“You’re missing out on a good thing.” He sat in the front seat.

“It’s against the law.”

“So is speeding, but you’re ten miles over the speed limit.”

“That’s different.” I slowed down, because the town cops on Route 3A loved busting heads.

“Your loss.” John passed the joint to Frank Ames. He had just returned from Vietnam. Only John had long hair.

NO TIME LEFT FOR YOU by the Guess Who was on WMEX.

THey were having a good time. I felt left out. We pulled up to a red light in Hingham and I said, “Let me have some.”

“No.” The three of them argued briefly that one of us had to be straight.


They didn’t have a good answer and I grabbed the joint from John and inhaled like a cigarette.

I had smoked one of those in 1964 and coughed like I was losing a lung. I suspected the same result from the joint.

Harsh fumes and coughing.

I was wrong.

I was a long-distance runner. My lungs sucked in a big hit of smoke. I didn’t exhale for 30 seconds. The plume of smoke from my mouth filled the VW with a cloud.

“I don’t feel anything.”

“That’s normal,” John said in a dream.

“Wait. This pot creeps up on you,” Frank said from the back seat.

The light turned green. The color was very green.

“That green is so beautiful.”

“Yeah.” John agreed with me.

“Someone got high.” Frank closed his eyes.

The radio played The Misunderstood’ CHILDREN OF THE SUN. We didn’t move for the entire song.

A horn broke the trance. We were holding up traffic. I shifted into first and we drove to John’s house in Wollaston to smoke another joint.

I was no longer straight.

“I’m hungry.” Frank said after listening to FREAK OUT. He had another week of furlough before returning to Vietnam. “What about fried clams?”

“Tony’s or the Clambox?” I could go either way.

“The girls in bikinis hang out at the Clambox.” Frank rolled another joint.

“Tony’s has better clams.” John was a picky eater.

“Let’s eat at both.” I suggested, since they were only a short distance apart.

It was a good choice.

169 Bar Free

The filth from the 7th Precinct attempted to close the 169 Bar for underage drinking. Their case fell apart, since the investigating officers had faked IDs to get into the bar. The judge threw them out of court and Charles Hanson and his staff are ready to serve their clientele seven days and nights a week

Let the Happy Hour roll into midnight.

I would give the address, but anyone knowing the place knows the address.

Except when you go shot-glass bowling with ‘gansett beer chasers.

I was only chucking strikes.

Or gutter balls.

I wasn’t taking score, because everyone is a winner and a loser at shot-glass bowling.


Yesterday I was on the subway home to Fort Greene. I edited a long short story about a softball game with pen. The 30ish woman seated next to me was slurping a big container of Dunkin’ Donuts slop. The brunette fell asleep and the cup dropped from her hand. Thankfully the lid held firm and she apologized for the disturbance.

“Nice snooze.”

“The lid on on.”

“No, I was talking about your sleep.”

“What are you doing? Are you editing a story?”

I explained about our nightclub playing a not-so friendly game against the best straight bar in the Village.

“In 1986.”

“I was two.”

“I was 34.” I wondered how I got that old or even this old.

“Where are you come?”

Her accent mirrored mine.

“The South Shore.”

“Quincy.” She added that she had attended Milton Academy. She didn’t know my nephew, but she was a good ten years older than FAS IV.

We laughed with familiarity about Wollaston Beach and fried clams.

“Last week I went to Tony’s with my father and he had the fire clams.”

“And you?”

“Fried catfish.”

I didn’t say anything about her choice, but said, “My father could eat fried clams and chased them down with a chocolate shake. He had a strong stomach. How was Tony’s.”

“They’ve gotten a little fancy.”

“That’s why I like Tony’s better.” My younger sister felt the same way. She and I always ate their in season.

We talked about the South Shore, Nantasket, and the Squantum Spit till my stop at Jay Street in Brooklyn.

“I’d like to read your stories.”

We exchanged names and she wrote down her email address.

“I’ll send you a story about the Quincy Quarries. THE HOLE OF HEAVEN.”

“Please do.”

I got off the train happy to have heard words of home in a city not so far from the South Shore.

By the way the fried clams at Tony’s are much better than those at the Clam Box.

Not an opinion.

The truth.

Waiting For Andre

Whenever the question arises at a bar about who was the greatest athlete, I allow everyone to offer their opinions.

“Jim Thorpe.”

He was a multi-talented competitor.


Ali was a great fighter.

Once the debate has lost steam I say, “Andre the Giant.”

They argue that the Frenchman was only a wrestler, but Andre the Giant was a living legend.

I was lucky enough to shake Ali’s hand on 5th Avenue back in 1978 and entered Studio 54 with Andre the Giant.

Both were memorable encounters, however I recently read on that Andre the Giant was driven to school by Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett in the early 50s. The future wrestling legend was a huge twelve year-old. The author of WAITING FOR GODOT had a truck. It was the only vehicle in the village that could accommodate Andre, whose father had constructed Beckett’s cottage in France.

Andre recalled that they spoke about Cricket.

The King of Beer

Joe the guard at the diamond exchange used to drink on the job.



The ex-cop drank off the job too.

His first beer was a Bud for breakfast.

According to his calculation Joe consumed 15-16 beers during the course of a day. His doctor advised his patient to cut down. Joe ignored the warning and his belly bloated to an enormous size, as gas from all the carbonation seeped from his stomach. The only remedy was a complete cessation of beer and soda.

“It isn’t fair.”

Joe has been bemoaning his fall from grace.

“Even after the four-week abstinence I won’t be able to drink beer. Not like a man is supposed to drink beer.”

I commiserated with my friend, because I’m a lightweight in my old age.

No more 20-beer nights.

5 is a lot now, but neither Joe nor I world-class drinkers like Andre the Giant who drank enough for 30 men according to this piece from Wikpedia.

“He has been unofficially crowned “The Greatest Drunk on Earth” for once consuming 119 12-ounce beers in 6 hours. On an episode of WWE’s Legends of Wrestling, Mike Graham claimed that André once drank 197 16-ounce beers in one sitting, which was confirmed by Dusty Rhodes. In her autobiography, The Fabulous Moolah alleged that André drank 327 beers and passed out in a hotel bar in Reading, Pennsylvania, and because the staff could not move him, they had to leave him there until he regained consciousness.”

327 beers.

I’d died after drinking a 10th of that, however Andre the Giant rose from the ashes of his hangover and drink as if there had been no yesterday.

My next beer will be to him.

The King of Beer.

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