It feels like a summer’s day. I suppose in a way, it is. In the midst of a drought where I am. Blue skies, brown grass and warm winds. The bougainvillea are the prettiest and perhaps the happiest plant in these conditions. Despite the ugliness spawned from the dry season, there is yet still some beauty to behold.
The work in today’s post is once again inspired by Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong’s tune called, “Muggles.” while we return to the classics and learn a bit more about the musician and his vice.
I also have yet another three paintings in the works here, so who knows, maybe they’ll be ready in time for the 8th of June too.
Before I get into that, let’s have a listen to Louis. There’re no words to the tune, so you can read while you listen.
The word “muggles” was a slang term for reefer – alright fine, cannabis – amongst them jivin’ jazz and blues musicians back in the 20’s and 30’s.
Not be confused with people who are not so magically inclined as in the wizarding universe of J.K. Rowling’s entertaining literature.
Armstrong was an avid fan of marijuana use, which at the time was still legal in most American states. Let alone the world.
Preview: ‘Weed Be Good Together’
Essentially in Louis’ earlier smoking days he didn’t have to worry much about getting hassle for gage (another early slang word for Mary Jane) – that would come later – but he still had to deal with a lot of the usual shite that came with old Jim Crow. He’d spent a night in a cell after being seen sat next to a white gal (his managers wife).
The catalyst would no doubt be the very same gage – at least as Harry Anslinger’s outlandish statements would suggest. Such claims made by the, then Minister of Propaganda/Drug Czar when he attempted to outline marijuana’s “effects on degenerate races,” as:
“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
Degenerate races? Wow! – easy with the racist jive there, Goebbels.
That material couldn’t be any more appropriate for the piece I’m working on above. It’s a second take on the, “Jungle Fever Induced by Reefer Madness” propaganda piece I came up with back in 2012.
You can’t make this stuff up, though c@#$ like O’Reilly and Hannity would most likely have you believe otherwise.
“Weed Be Good Together” pretty much summarises the propaganda engineered by Anslinger to successively scare the general public into a mass hysteria, demonising the ganj.
Upon this and the completion of the work below, they will join the others in, “The Toy Box – Identity Retrospective” collection.
Preview: ‘…Our Fountain Was Cooler Anyway’
Alas, I digress. Let’s return to Satchmo and his affinity for marihuana.
“It makes you feel good, man,” Armstrong said. “[it] makes you forget all the bad things that happen to a Negro. It makes you feel wanted, and when you’re with another tea smoker, it makes you feel a special kinship.”
– Louis Armstrong
As I said, despite being surrounded by ugliness there is yet some beauty to behold.
Satchmo loved the shuzzit (yet another old slang word for cannabis) so much that he personally wrote Pres. Eisenhower asking him to end the sensimilla persecution. Even with the lack of scientific research at the time, he conjectured that reefer was far less a health risk than alcohol.
In the original draft of Louis’ autobiography, Satchmo: My Life In New Orleans, 1954, the document was apparently high in cannabis content but those parts pertaining to such were largely censored by his manager when finally published.
Satchmo called for a follow-up which he wanted to call, “Gage.”
“This whole second book might be about nothing but gage,”
Anyway Louis smoked grass for the majority of his adult life, from the day he was introduced to it, til’ the day he died. Despite being a daily smoker of the much maligned reefer – from listening to the way he played that trumpet – he still sounded like he had the lung capacity of a whale.
I imagined those trees he was referring to were the ones he was smokin’ and since I’ve learned more about his love for the gage, it seems all the more plausible.
Indeed Satchmo, when we’re under the influence the world does seem a lot more wonderful.