Enter the King, Bob Dylan

As Bob Dylan began to play his electric guitar onstage at the Newport Folk Festival, members of the audience began booing. Just three songs later, Dylan walked off stage.

Read the entire article "Enter the King, Bob Dylan" by from the pages of the November 2, 1968 issue of the Post.
Read the entire article “Enter the King, Bob Dylan” by Alfred G. Aronowitz from the pages of the November 2, 1968 issue of the Post. (Photo by Elliott Landy, © SEPS)

That brief performance 50 years ago is considered a pivotal moment in American music history. Some regard it as the birth of modern rock, the moment that folk music purists turned their backs on the electric, amplified music of the future.

Others who were at the concert assert that no one jeered Dylan for bringing an electric guitar. They claim the booing was in response to the sound system’s poor quality. One of Dylan’s backup musicians claims it was in response to them not being allowed to perform longer.

Whatever the reason, the concert marked one of many turning points in Dylan’s career. The most recent of his surprising turns is his latest album, Shadows in the Night, a recording of standards that date from 1923 to 1964.

“Enter the King, Bob Dylan” by Alfred G. Aronowitz recounts the changes of this continually evolving musician at age 27 just months after Dylan released John Wesley Harding. In the five-plus decades of his career, Dylan has influenced and explored folk, rock ’n’ roll, gospel, and more. The 1967 album, Aronowitz noted, “pulled out the psychedelic plug and pointed the way toward country music.”

Joseph Francis Kernan

American illustrator J.F. Kernan (1878–1958) specialized in images of middle-class life for the covers and pages of popular magazines from the 1910s to 1940s. His nostalgic and often humorous illustrations celebrate the simple comforts of home, family, and outdoor recreation.

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, Kernan studied and taught at the Eric Pape School of Art in Boston before embarking on his career as a professional artist. He became a well-known artist whose works soon graced the covers of nearly every major magazine during the 1920s and 1930s including The Country Gentleman, Outdoor Life, Collier’s Liberty, Capper’s Farmer,The Elks, and the Associated Sunday. His work was also featured on calendars and advertisements of the period. His credits include 26 covers for The Saturday Evening Post between 1924 and 1936.

Covers by J.F. Kernan

View full gallery »

Purchase prints of J.F. Kernan’s work at Art.com.

Kernan was 45 years old when his first Post cover appeared on newsstands May 31, 1924, depicting an old sailor, with a parrot on his shoulder, working on a model ship while a young sailor looks on. An outdoorsman as well as an athlete (he played professional baseball to help finance his art education), Kernan would frequently incorporate those themes into his work. Hunting and fishing were popular topics. His art captured, as he described it, “the human side of outdoor sports, hunting, fishing and dogs.”

Kernan’s final Post cover, The Sprinter, honored the Olympic Games. It was a fitting finish because so much of his life’s work commemorated sportsman and outdoor life.

Joseph Francis Kernan died in 1958.

The Colorado Experiment

But is it safe? “It’s so nice not to worry about going to jail for pot,” says a man who recently moved to Denver from North Carolina to work in a dispensary. (Shutterstock)

Space Gallery looks like the scene of any art opening in Denver, Colorado. The white-walled warehouse, just south of downtown in the edgy Santa Fe Arts District, is adorned with abstract paintings, and a crowd of mostly 30- and 40-somethings sip local beer and wine while a five-piece brass band crescendos from a classical concerto to an Indiana Jones theme.

Most of the action is on the surrounding patio, where women in cocktail dresses and men in button-downs and blazers gather, between food trucks and Popsicle vendors, and talk politics with the giddy excitement of campaigners at an election party. All in all, it’s an ordinary night in Colorado’s largest city. Except for one noticeable addition — pungent plumes of marijuana smoke that even the plastic-lined fences can’t prevent from wafting out into the warm Denver night. The air is hazy, but no one bats an eye.

These men and women are advocates and entrepreneurs involved in Colorado’s newly legal marijuana industry. They’re here to support an event called Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series. The BYOC (bring your own cannabis) fundraiser for the Colorado Symphony is sponsored by marijuana companies whose merchandise tables are littered with stickers, T-shirts, and glass stash holders emblazoned with names like Gaia, The Farm, and Wellspring Collective.

As joints and vaporizer pens (like e-cigarettes for cannabis) light up, attendees speak of expanding their businesses, lobbying for regulation changes, and worries about Governor John Hickenlooper — “a beer guy.” A young marijuana enthusiast, whose shoulder-length hair grazes the collar on his shirt, says he just moved to Denver from North Carolina to work for the Wellspring Collective dispensary. “It’s so nice not to worry about going to jail for pot,” he says.

Another man in a dark suit is Bob Eschino, the owner of the prominent marijuana-infused chocolate bar company Incredibles. He tells me the cannabis industry is growing faster than any other segment in the U.S. and that millionaires or billionaires are calling every week to try to buy the company. By the end of 2015, he plans to be open in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and New Mexico. “There’s a lot of money to be made all around the cannabis business,” Eschino says.

Six months after Colorado began its social experiment on the legal production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis, a profitable industry was established. Between January and the end of 2014, the state raked in $63.4 million in sales taxes from medical and recreational pot. Grow operations, MIP (marijuana-infused product) kitchens, and cannabis testing labs filled vacant warehouses, and run-down neighborhoods where these operations set up shop have started to gentrify. Nearly 12,000 licenses have been granted for cannabis jobs. That doesn’t include ancillary businesses (the ones that don’t touch the product) such as electrical engineering (for all those indoor growers); marketing agencies like Cannabrand; or the weed marketplace and social network Cannabase — which has already trademarked the term Cannalytics. There are now more than 800 outlets in Colorado where customers can buy pot legally, the majority in Denver. And at least once per month, anyone looking can find a public weed-infused dinner, art class, yoga workshop, or concert (such as the High Note Series) to attend.

The symphony event moves to a second gallery down Santa Fe Drive around midnight for an after-party. The energy and crowd has mellowed to the pace of a late-night lounge, and some people are noticeably retreating into their own heads. I’m about to become one of them, but then I walk into a Marie Claire photo shoot upstairs and get a second wind. Four female cannabis entrepreneurs are posing shoulder-to-shoulder on a love seat wearing brightly colored dresses. It could be a cover image for a Desperate Housewives DVD, if the woman in the center wasn’t puffing on a massive joint. On a nearby table, there are chocolate-covered strawberries and truffles studded with chopped walnuts. Next to them lies a green napkin with the words THESE ARE EDIBLES, underscored and spelled out in capital letters. (Edibles, for the uninitiated, are pot-infused foods, hence the warning.)

This is neither the inner city nor the Fast Times at Ridgemont High pot scene one might imagine. These “ganga-preneurs” are educated, tech savvy, political, and business minded. And all of them are walking the shaky tightrope between state and federal law to be the first of their kind in a, ahem, budding industry. It’s the new Wild West. A state that boomed during the Gold Rush, Colorado is now pioneering the so-called Green Rush, and a new wave of Americans — from youthful pot-fanciers to families looking to treat their epileptic children — are moving in. Industry cowboys are being watched closely by their own government and that of 49 states and Washington, D.C. Big business is watching, too; cannabis companies are now traded on Wall Street, and there are rumors that Marlboro and Monsanto will try to cash in. Judging by the momentum here along with the legalization efforts sweeping the nation — Oregon and Alaska went legal last November; California and four other states are expected to follow in 2016 — the end of cannabis prohibition seems not only probable, but near. Whether or not the public approves, the Rocky Mountain industry is crossing state borders, just like the marijuana smoke evading that plastic-lined fence.

High note: A run-of-the-mill fundraiser for the Colorado Symphony —but for the pungent plumes of marijuana smoke on the patio. (Photos courtesy Serena Renner)

More than half the states as well as the District of Columbia have loosened enforcement of a drug law that originated in 1937. Four years after the repeal of prohibition, the Marijuana Tax Act imposed an excise and tight restrictions on cannabis.

American use of marijuana as medicine began more than 100 years before that, however, and industrial hemp production — growing the woodier, non-psychotropic cannabis varieties for commercial products, namely cord and canvas — was ubiquitous throughout the 19th century. Hemp flourished in Missouri, Illinois, and, most notably, Kentucky, but the industry was on the decline by the time the Marijuana Tax Act dealt its blow.

Many historians believe the law intended to demonize what was then characterized as a dangerous Mexican herb. The anti-marijuana crusade that included the film Reefer Madness ensued, and public opinion as well as criminal enforcement waxed and waned until the War on Drugs, specifically the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, put marijuana in its current place: on the list of Schedule 1 drugs — those with “no medical benefit” and a “high potential for abuse” — alongside heroin and Quaaludes. To put this in perspective, cocaine and methamphetamines are Schedule 2.

The tide started to swing in the direction of cannabis reform when California voters passed Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996. This law replanted the concept of medical marijuana back into the American psyche and created a cannabis industry, albeit a messy one, that today produces enough pot to supply the nation. Since the Prop 215 campaign famously broadcast marijuana’s appetite-boosting benefits for AIDS and cancer patients, there has been a slew of evidence showing positive health benefits for patients with conditions ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to multiple sclerosis. There could be social benefits as well. A 2012 Journal of Law and Economics paper by Mark Anderson, Benjamin Hansen, and Daniel Rees finds that the legalization of medical marijuana leads to fewer traffic fatalities involving alcohol, a relationship the authors believe is due to young adults drinking less as cannabis becomes more available.

While a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalization, worries about cannabis remain. Research on the drug in the U.S. has proved challenging given its Schedule 1 status, so there’s still a lot we don’t know. A 2012 study from New Zealand posed that marijuana may have detrimental affects on the developing brain, and there are concerns that alcohol-style legalization will increase consumption, both among youth and the people who are already the heaviest users.

Colorado’s role in the story begins in 2000 when its Amendment 20 (similar to California’s Prop 215) legalized the purchase and possession of limited amounts of medical marijuana by patients and their primary caregivers. In 2009, that law was amended to allow caregivers to work with as many patients as they liked. This caused the demand for medical marijuana to skyrocket, effectively opening the floodgates to dispensaries, retail outlets that allowed patients with a prescription to become member customers. In the following six months, the number of marijuana businesses jumped from 50 to 650. By the end of 2009, there were eight times as many licensed medical marijuana cardholders as the previous year. The regulation scheme that followed ultimately paved the way for Amendment 64 — a constitutional end to marijuana prohibition in Colorado — which 55 percent of state voters and 66 percent of Denverites approved on November 6, 2012. (On the same day Washington state passed its own version of legalization.) The Cole Memo, an intentionally vague decree from the Department of Justice, was announced in August 2013, suggesting that the federal government would not intrude on the rights of these two states to legalize pot. In effect, the memo granted Colorado and Washington a hall pass to begin their jobs as cannabis labs for the nation.

Looking back on the events of the past two years, Denver city councilwoman Mary Beth Susman can still hardly believe legalization passed. A sparky blonde who doesn’t look her age, Susman had never even seen marijuana until she moved from Omaha to Denver to attend Denver University in the 1970s. There, she witnessed anti-war demonstrations — the heady scent of cannabis is ingrained in such memories. “But then we all grew up, became parents and full-time workers, and I didn’t really think about it again until this came true,” she says.

Susman voted against Amendment 64 because she thought putting recreational marijuana into the state constitution sounded silly. But as president of the city council at the time, she had to help regulate it. “The complexity and number of issues we had to solve were amazing. There were times I would start giggling because of the ways in which we had to think about things. When we were trying to figure out how much marijuana a person should be allowed to buy, someone recommended a 16th of an ounce, because if you were going to smuggle it, you would have to go in and out of a store 256 times to get a pound,” Susman laughs.

“And then there were the questions of whether you have to be a Coloradan to buy it. What are we going to do with the borders? Can people use it in public places or only in private? And what distance do shops need to be from schools? The puns abounded. ‘I’d like to highlight this point,’ you know?”

What resulted is a policy that permits adults over 21 with a valid Colorado ID to purchase up to an ounce of marijuana, while visitors are limited to a quarter of an ounce. Neither residents nor tourists are allowed to consume cannabis in public or while driving. Perhaps most challenging, the state had to figure out how to operate as a bright blue island in a sea of red states and navigate the murky waters between state legalization and federal prohibition. Even less obvious aspects of Amendment 64 — the original “vertical integration” mandate that required stores to own 70 percent of production, for example — are questionable under U.S. law. “What we have here is a state of rampant confusion,” says Peter Hutt, a D.C. lawyer who helped write the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. “We’ve got a federal law that makes marijuana a crime. We have state laws that can’t overrule that federal law but nonetheless say it’s lawful. We have the president who undoubtedly smoked marijuana and indicated that prosecution is a waste of time. We have the attorney general turning a blind eye, and we have U.S. attorneys and state attorney generals doing whatever the devil they want. It’s pure chaos.”

A few days after Classically Cannabis, I head to a café called Stella’s in the Old South Pearl district to get a cannabis science lesson from Max Montrose, a marijuana advocate and educator whose rusty beard matches the rims on his rectangular glasses.

When I arrive, he’s sitting under an umbrella on the side patio tapping furiously on his laptop. He says he’s helping to develop a curriculum for the marijuana industries responsible vendor program, which is loosely based on the one for alcohol. The alcohol program covers everything from checking IDs to determining intoxication levels based on number of drinks. “Those are important parts, but for cannabis they don’t matter half as much as a vendor knowing the product they’re serving to people,” Montrose says.

This issue hits close to home since Montrose has a condition called psychomotor agitation (“it’s like ADD on crack”). In extreme cases, his thoughts can intensify and discombobulate to the point of physical tics like standing on his toes or pulling on his fingers without realizing that he’s doing it. He learned the difference between the two main types of cannabis — sativa and indica — when he saw how each affected his study habits in college. When he learned that sativas help him focus, he threw his Adderall and Ritalin in the toilet. “If I can know for sure that this is a sativa then I know I’m going to be able to pay attention,” he says. “If I smoke an indica, I’m going to be drooling in my seat.

Nearly normal? Pink House, a popular Denver pot dispensary.

“But cannabis is really, really complicated science,” Montrose continues. “Based on your age, your weight, your sex, your metabolism, and the potency of the bud, you’ll have different reactions.”

The underlying reason for differential effects on different people is because cannabis is made up of organic chemical compounds called cannabinoids for which humans, along with many other species, have receptors. This endocannabinoid system regulates everything from sleep, to pain, to immune functioning, which scientists think could explain why cannabis has been helpful in treating such a wide range of ailments. Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol — THC — is the most active and famous of marijuana’s 80 some cannabinoids since it has the most psychoactive properties. But other compounds like cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD) have drawn recent attention for offering health benefits to patients without getting them high. CBD has been the subject of many articles as well as Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s 2013 Weed documentary for its use in the treatment of childhood epilepsy. Sativas and indicas contain different ratios of these cannabinoids, and today, they’re crossed and hybridized into infinite strains, each with its own clever — some would say ridiculous — brand name. “The most famous strain right now that all the stoners are looking for is Girl Scout Cookies,” Montrose says. “If you’re working in a dispensary and have a crappy bud that’s not moving and your boss says ‘sell that bud,’ you call it Girl Scout Cookies and it will be gone by the end of the day.”

It’s time to see how cannabis businesses are faring, so I walk across Pearl Street to Pink House, an inviting dispensary marked by a green cross — the unofficial emblem of medical marijuana — hovering over the front lawn of an old Victorian building that’s painted pastel pink. Inside, three antique chairs, upholstered in bohemian fabrics, back up to an old staircase; the surrounding walls are coated pink and green. It hardly even smells like weed.

I don’t have a doctor-issued “red card” to purchase medical marijuana here, so I sign up for a visitor’s badge, which the marketing director on duty, Joe Rothberger, says allows me to look but not buy. (Pink House was then in the process of obtaining its license to sell marijuana for recreational use at this location.) At one end of the shop, a semicircle-shaped display cabinet showcases two-dozen glass jars brimming with marijuana buds from strains like Chem OG and Nigerian Nightmare. I scan the labels for Girl Scout Cookies, but alas it’s not on the shelf. Nigerian Nightmare, however, is dark purple and high in CBD, that “miracle cannabinoid” that studies suggest has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties yet doesn’t get you stoned. Nigerian Nightmare only has 5 percent THC, the psychoactive component that currently goes up to about 35 percent in smokable pot. Prices here are anywhere between $23 and $60 for an eighth of an ounce, depending on membership status and the product.

Like most medical and recreational shops, Pink House also sells paraphernalia and cannabis-infused products from sodas to lollipops. The company has been around since 2009 and is now a household name with six stores, one grow facility, and another grow on the way. (A “grow” is almost always an indoor facility, using broad-spectrum lights that enable year-round production.) Unlike most marijuana businesses, Pink House offers health insurance to its employees and donates money to local charities, says Rothberger.

There’s still a lot of bureaucracy that comes with growing and selling a drug that’s illegal at the federal level, Rothberger adds. There are steep taxes and fees as well as an ever-changing set of regulations from outdoor sign limitations to the state tracking system intended to weed out (sorry) the black market. In Colorado, every plant is tagged with a radio-frequency Marijuana Inventory Tracking Solutions (MITS) device that has its own 24-digit identification number. “Commercially, we’re able to produce almost a metric ton of marijuana every year from one facility, and not one gram goes untracked,” Rothberger says. “It takes an overwhelming number of people to stay compliant.”

But the biggest challenge is still banking, he says. Despite efforts by the state and federal governments to ease hurdles, banks are still dropping marijuana clients every day because of liability. Pink House went through a phase where it lost multiple accounts in a single month, and the owners still face difficulties growing the business when they can’t get a loan or line of credit.

“If you were to go to a bank and say, ‘Hey, I’m trying to build out this 5,000-square-foot facility, and I need a loan to buy 200 lights that each cost $2,000,’ the bank teller would look at you and say, ‘Marijuana business? Get out.’ And it’s not even cordial.”

Jennifer Beck, co-founder of the wholesale marketplace and social network, Cannabase, had a similar experience. Despite the fact that Cannabase is an “ancillary business” that doesn’t touch the product, her company coffers as well as her personal and credit card accounts were closed. “You can’t get a bank account. You can’t get insurance. You try to apply for trademarks, copyrights, and patents, but those are all managed at the federal level,” Beck says.

This self-described “rule-follower” says the industry still feels like a risky underground that’s evolving all the time. What’s worse is the bad apples who hurt the people trying to do things the right way, she adds. One memorable story involved the edibles company At Home Baked extracting ingredients using a dirty washing machine. “Everybody in the industry is playing by their own set of rules; there’s no standardization,” Beck says. “In the one sense, that gives you the freedom to start making some of the rules. And that’s how you can become a really big business. On the other hand,” she pauses, flashing a weary smile, “that’s how you just get really tired.”

As one would expect, the rapid commercialization of cannabis in Colorado has fierce critics. After the passage of Amendment 64, Denver resident and mother of four boys Gina Carbone co-founded Smart Colorado because she was concerned about the impact the industry could have on the community and its youth.

Although the government is responsible for restricting advertising, prosecuting anyone who sells marijuana to individuals under 21, and introducing educational campaigns focused on research showing that marijuana may have negative impacts on developing brains, people are worried, Carbone says. Seventy percent (181 in total) of Colorado municipalities have opted out or have a moratorium on allowing marijuana to be sold in stores.

The legalization campaign sold Colorado voters on decriminalization, not commercialization, according to Carbone. “The [800-plus] figure for marijuana shops in Colorado is ridiculous,” she says. “The industry wants to integrate itself into the fabric of our society, which I find so disturbing. It’s making money while our kids are paying the price as guinea pigs.”

The state of Washington, by contrast, put a cap on the number of shops and production spaces and has been tougher on edibles. The challenges with edibles in Colorado, including a spate of accidental ingestions by children, prompted the state health department to propose scrapping edibles all together last October. “Forget just all the snacks and sodas, they have popcorn, pizza, ice cream, and salad dressing,” Carbone says. “We have absolutely no regulations on what can become an edible.”

Then there are the “vape” pens, e-cigarette–like devices with a battery-powered heating mechanism that vaporizes the active molecules in marijuana oils. Some are disguised as highlighters and asthma inhalers, Carbone says. “They’re doing it right in the classroom. They’re not even going to the bathroom anymore.”

In the bigger picture, the Colorado model doesn’t adequately address drug abuse, says Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has spent decades studying U.S. drug policy. Lawmakers have expressed concern about substance abuse in minors, but not about substance abuse disorder among adults, he says. By July 2014, heavy users — defined as those who consume marijuana every day — were driving almost 70 percent of demand in Colorado, according to a Department of Revenue report.

The Colorado system is an example of an American ideology that has no room to support temperate policy, Kleiman adds. “Everybody is assuming that we’re stuck with either prohibition or with alcohol-style legalization,” he says. “We’re leaving out state stores. We’re leaving out nonprofits, co-ops, and grow-your-own models.”

But Kleiman, who predicts national legalization will happen “sometime in Hillary’s second term,” worries the damage may already be done. “By the time we’re ready to legalize nationally, cannabis will be legal commercially in so many states that we’re not going to be able to overrun that industry.”

People on all sides of the issue wonder if medical cannabis treatment could be better carried out by doctors at pharmacies rather than “budtenders” at dispensaries. According to Kleiman, medical marijuana laws were a response to the federal government’s refusal to approve cannabis research and develop naturally derived medicines. “The drug warriors managed to suppress the development of genuine medical cannabinoids at the cost of unleashing the medical marijuana demon, which has led to national legalization,” Kleiman says. “A pharmaceutical-based system would actually allow the medical use of cannabinoids, and we could have had the argument about legalization on other grounds.”

Matt Brown is one of the biggest players in the Colorado Green Rush. I had been in touch with Brown in early 2014 when he was still buzzing from those surreal first days of recreational weed. “If you can legalize pot, you can do anything,” he beamed during a Skype call. We made plans to meet during my trip to Denver.

Originally from Missouri, Brown once worked as an analyst for Bloomberg and a sales strategy consultant for Accenture before moving to Colorado and becoming a cannabis entrepreneur. He helped write medical regulations in 2010 and spoke publicly about how marijuana helped his Crohn’s disease. He became the state’s first medical marijuana industry advocate; worked as a consultant to cannabis businesses; helped formulate the base product of the popular Dixie Elixirs sodas and tinctures; obtained the first medical marijuana research license in Canada (where he has dual citizenship); and started SproutHouse, a research incubator for cannabis innovation. Last year, a Connecticut-based agricultural development company called Greenhouse Solutions offered to buy SproutHouse for half its stock value. At the end of 2014, half the value was $34 million. Brown walked away from the deal.

We get together at the headquarters of evolab (spelled with a lowercase e), a company that makes pure cannabis concentrates: potent waxes and oils produced by extracting the various cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Among the many cannabis-derived nutraceuticals SproutHouse is developing — health-focused oils and serums that don’t get you high — Brown envisions creating a mass-market base product of pure cannabigerol (CBG) that could one day hit the shelves of Walmart. While not studied nearly as much as THC or CBD, CBG is believed to have similar health benefits as CBD while also acting like a stem cell for cannabis — meaning it can transform into other cannabinoids with the right mix of enzymes. Such a product requires a high-tech extraction method like the one used by evolab, scaled-up for bulk production.

When I show up to the warehouse, tucked beside an auto junkyard not far from a refinery and a trucking center, I can’t help but picture scenes from Breaking Bad. Here, Brown and I sit in a shabby meeting space to talk business and hash oil with evolab’s founder Alex Cahoj. “It’s like I’m working five different acquisition deals this week,” Brown says, by way of introduction. “There’s a software company and a hemp producer. I’m talking with another company that’s doing pharmaceutical research.”

“We’ve got a federal law that makes marijuana a crime. We have state laws that can’t overrule that federal law but nonetheless say it’s lawful. … It’s pure chaos.”

Cahoj follows up with the story of how he grew evolab from his basement to this facility near Commerce City. A tattoo-armed outdoor lover, Cahoj once worked in banking and real estate; now he makes cannabis pastes and oils as well as an erotic line and topical ointments designed to relieve pain. “We make a salve right now that we call the Angel Salve,” he says. “It has about 225 milligrams of THC and 40 milligrams CBD in a four-ounce bottle. It helps with arthritis and muscle and joint pain. Customers will buy 10 bottles at a time.”

People have been using or consuming concentrates for at least a decade, but the advent of better extraction methods has resulted in a huge spike in the local demand for hash oil — a sticky, yellow resin made from parts of the cannabis plant that used to be considered waste. Concentrates can reach up to 90 percent THC but usually hover in the 50 to 75 percent range. They’re good for a quick high or fast relief from acute pain.

Concentrates took off in the past few years when people started making them at home by pumping a tube of loose marijuana with butane gas, Brown says. The byproduct is called butane hash oil, BHO, also known locally as honey oil, earwax, and shatter. People generally consume it by dabbing, that is, torching it on a nail or knife and inhaling, though vaporizer pens are a safer alternative. The danger of production — The New York Times reported 32 Colorado home explosions in 2014 — as well as a growing fear about residual solvents like butane has led to better extraction techniques such as those using CO2. Evolab is one of the few companies making clean concentrates from the carbon dioxide that’s naturally released from cannabis during extraction.

Cahoj recently spent $700,000 on pharmacy-grade equipment from a healthcare company called Pic Solution that will double output in one-sixth of the time. It can also isolate compounds so the company can study the effects of individual cannabinoids on customers. “Our goal is to separate the compounds and create custom blends for different applications,” he says.

Evolab has an arrangement with Pic Solution to take the company’s equipment to several other states. “We project expansion into at least 12 markets in the next three years,” Cahoj says.

Whether the country is ready or not, Colorado businesses like Incredibles, Cannabase, and evolab are making their way into other medical-marijuana states as well as Oregon and Alaska, which approved recreational marijuana last November. These entrepreneurs believe federal approval for what could be a $40-billion-a-year American industry cannot be too far off.

Jennifer Beck, who recently launched a beta version of her Cannabase marketplace and map in Oregon and Washington, says the news is no longer about what Colorado is doing, but all the action spreading outward from the Mile High City. “There’s a feeling that we can’t get to every state fast enough,” Beck says. “Not only is this going to happen, it’s happening quickly. That’s where everyone’s mind is at: expansion.”

A November 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that a slim majority of Americans, 52 percent, now favor legalization. Supporters of marijuana for medicine are as diverse as Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Sixty-nine percent of Americans consider alcohol more harmful to a person’s health than cannabis.

The Brookings Institution notes that the majority of support for legalization is driven mostly by discontent with prohibition’s effectiveness rather than outright approval. The same trajectory led to the collapse of alcohol prohibition in the 1930s.

While legislators and citizens cast their votes, the green economy in Colorado will keep humming. Yes, there are cowboys to wrangle and messes to mop, but industry proponents are quick to point to the state’s growing tax revenues, significant job growth, and the fact that “the sky hasn’t fallen.” In the words of councilwoman Mary Beth Susman: “Denver’s experience has been pretty vanilla.”

The gate is open in Colorado, and Americans are passing through. They are coming from all over the country to medicate, speculate, or find freedom in the Wild West.

Serena Renner writes about culture and the environment for Sierra, Afar, and Renegade Collective magazines. She reported the opening scene of this article right before a banana-coconut chocolate bar “edible” kicked in.

The Weed Reports

By the 19th century, marijuana was an ingredient in many medicinal products and sold openly in public pharmacies, even advertised in mass magazines like the Post. From the late 1800s through the 20th century, the Post published numerous accounts of the marijuana experience, including one by Jack London (see “Hasheesh Land,” below) as well as editorials pro and con.

Our Buzzed Writers

Like a Dream

August 3, 1878 — Taken in moderate doses [hasheesh] produces a kind of intoxication that is very pleasant, highly advantageous for a correct knowledge of intellectual phenomena, and at the same time free from serious consequences. … Hasheeh produces a sort of sleepiness during which external objects assume fantastic forms, and all is like a dream.

—“Sanctum Chat”

A Realm of Ineffable Peace

July 25, 1885 — About 5 o’clock in the afternoon of one of those delicious days with which we are often blessed in early June, I valiantly swallowed a 15-grain dose of the magical Eastern drug, the “insane root,” as Bayard Taylor irreverently calls it.

The scene about and above me was glorious in the calm of its perfect beauty. … The happy moments passed unconsciously away; the sun neared the horizon, lingered as it were, lovingly upon its boundary and then dipped, waned, and at length wholly disappeared. …

It is hard to embody in words the feelings which so powerfully possessed me. The influence of the terrible spell which bound me became rapidly intensified. I attempted to walk across the floor, and, for the first time, one of the most ordinary and universal of hasheesh illusions seized upon
me. … I shrink from attempting a description of the visions — let me rather call them the revelations — that followed. Up through the spaces of a realm of ineffable peace I floated in the stillness of the sunlight that has never known a cloud.

—“Within the Veil” by James E. Mears

Hasheesh Land

April 26, 1913 — In past years I have made two memorable journeys into that far land. My adventures there are seared in sharpest detail on my brain; yet I have tried vainly, with endless words, to describe any tiny particular phase to persons who have not travelled there.

I use all the hyperbole of metaphor, and tell what centuries of time and depths of unthinkable agony and horror can obtain in each interval of all the intervals between the notes of a quick jig played rapidly on the piano. I talk for an hour, elaborating that one phase of Hasheesh Land, and at the end I have told them nothing. … Let me talk with some other traveler in that weird region, however, and at once am I understood. A phrase — a word — conveys instantly to his mind what hours of words and phrases could not convey to the mind of the non-traveler.

—“John Barleycorn” by Jack London

Our Surprising Opinion Pieces

Don’t Jail Addicts — Treat Them!

July 28, 1956 — Many years ago, when I was a stripling, I sat listening to a group of elderly men gossiping in a country store. They were denouncing the evils of cigarette smoking, a vice that was just coming in.

This store had on its shelves a jar of eating opium, and a carton of laudanum vials — 10 percent opium. A respected woman in the neighborhood often came in to buy laudanum. She was a good housekeeper and the mother of two fine sons. Everybody was sorry about her laudanum habit, but no one viewed her as a sinner or a menace to the community. We had not yet heard the word “addict,” with its sinister, modern connotations.

Since those days, public opinion has done a complete about-face. The “sin” of smoking cigarettes, in 50 years’ time, has become a socially acceptable habit, while drug addiction has been promoted by hysterical propaganda to the status of a great national menace.

As an example, one prominent official has said that illegal heroin traffic is more vicious than arson, burglary, kidnapping or rape, and should entail harsher penalties. Last May 31, the United States Senate went even further, in passing the Narcotic Control Act of 1956. In this measure, third-offense trafficking in heroin becomes the moral equivalent of murder and treason; death is the extreme penalty, “If the jury in its discretion shall so direct,” for buyer and seller alike, whether addicted
or not.

In my opinion, the lawmakers completely missed the point. For drug addiction is neither menace nor mortal sin, but a health problem — indeed, a minor health problem when compared with such killers as alcoholism, heart disease and cancer. …

Marijuana has been used as an intoxicant for about 3,000 years that we know of, mostly in Asia and Africa. … In 1938, much talk about the addiction of school children to marijuana, and of crime due to the drug, led the mayor of New York City to ask the New York Academy of Medicine for advice. …

The report showed … no association between marijuana and crimes of violence in New York. Further, the committee reported that there was no organized traffic in marijuana among New York schoolchildren. This valuable scientific paper was severely criticized by “drug-menace” extremists. Yet there have been four other studies in this country and two in Mexico which failed to show a connection between marijuana and crime.

Distorted news has prepared the public to support extreme measures to suppress imagined evils. … What happens under such laws? In one case, a man was given 10 years for possessing three narcotic tablets. Another man was given 10 years or forging three narcotic prescriptions — no sale was involved. And another 10-year sentence was imposed on a man for selling two marijuana cigarettes, which are just about equal in intoxicating effect to two drinks of whisky. Extremists have gone on to demand the death penalty.

…Thomas Jefferson, distressed over the ravages of alcohol, once said that a great many people spent most of their time talking politics, avoiding work, and drinking whisky. One wonders what he would say today if some muddled citizen warned him that opiates were rotting the moral fiber of our people. I suspect that he would advise his informant to take care, in walking down the street, lest he stumble over one of our 4.5 million alcoholics and break a leg.

– “Let’s Stop This Narcotics Hysteria!” by Laurence Kolb, M.D., psychiatrist and chief of the Public Health Service Mental Hygiene Division

Pot on Campus in the ’60s

May 21, 1966 — When so many are certain that the law is wrong, illegal activities become a huge game like the activities many Americans indulged in during prohibition. When you considered liquor harmless and fashionable, the fact that it was illegal seemed laughable. College students today feel that way about marijuana. Pot smokers, to a man, find their vice “enjoyable” and “harmless.” They deny that student users graduate to heroin… By general medical agreement, marijuana is non-addictive. It almost never leaves a hangover. It is less damaging, physically, than alcohol. Some psychiatrists and doctors believe that the drug should be legalized, and eventually will be. They predict that marijuana will someday rival liquor as the prime social intoxicant.

— “Drugs on the Campus”by Richard Goldstein

The Savings Secret

There are a number of ways to save and invest for retirement with an assist from Uncle Sam. These include 401(k) workplace retirement plans, IRA accounts, and others. Though there are some subtle differences between them, they are all fantastic deals. You should invest as much as you possibly can into such accounts and be sure to avoid making early withdrawals from them.

What makes these plans such a great deal? The answer is tax deferral. The tax on investment gains that would normally have to be paid immediately are deferred until money comes out of the account.

Many people ask why tax-deferred investments offer such a powerful advantage when, in the end, they must still pay the tax. How is the government helping me if it merely puts off collecting the tax until later? Think of it as an interest-free loan to supercharge your investments. The government is saying, in essence, “Keep and invest the money you would normally pay us. Then, when you have used that money to make a lot more, we will take our cut.”

It is easy to underestimate how big an advantage this can really be. Here is an example: Two 30-year-old savers each begin to put away $1,000 per month and continue to do so until they turn 70. One of them puts the money into a tax-deferred retirement vehicle. The other simply puts it into a taxable account. They both earn an average 8 percent annually on their investments and they are both in the 25 percent tax bracket throughout. The fully taxable account will grow to $1,857,144 and all the taxes will have already been paid. The tax-deferred retirement account will have grown to $3,108,678 (in part because of the growth of all that money that was not taken away in taxes), and will now finally be taxed. After paying the tax, this investor will have $2,451,509. Notwithstanding the big tax bill at the end, he has over half a million dollars more than one who failed to take the benefit of tax deferral.

Think of tax-deferred savings plans as interest-free loans to supercharge your investments.

For most people, the advantage inherent in the tax-deferred plans is going to be even greater. For one thing, many people are in a lower tax bracket at age 70 than they were at age 30. Investing in such accounts while working and waiting to take withdrawals during retirement may well result in the money being taxed at a lower rate. More in your control, though, is the ability to choose when to withdraw the money to lessen the tax bite. While the government requires you to take a minimum annual distribution from these accounts when you turn 70 ½, withdrawals above that minimum can be carefully planned to occur in years of low earnings.

A group of tax-advantaged retirement plans named after Senator William V. Roth Jr., including the Roth IRA, use a different tax methodology but ultimately offer similar advantages. While after-tax dollars are invested initially, Roth accounts are not taxed when the money comes out. Whether a traditional tax-deferred account or a Roth solution will ultimately bring the investor more money depends on future rates of return and taxation — things that cannot be known with certainty in advance. As a result, many wise professionals advise using a combination of both.

The important thing is to take the fullest possible advantage of tax-deferred retirement accounts. Fund them to the maximum allowed or, if money is tight, the most you can possibly afford. Whether it is a 401(k) or 403(b) plan at your workplace, an SEP or SIMPLE IRA for the self-employed, or an IRA or Roth IRA that you manage yourself, try to maximize your contribution each year. It’s just too good a deal to pass up!

Maypole Memories

We would take the ribbons in hand, extend the straight like spokes on a wheel, and parade in a circle, earths of humanity orbiting our maypole sun.

Several years ago, our town built a new elementary school, everything from the old school was hauled to the new, except for the playground maypole, which had been removed after flinging some kid into the next county. The maypole was the centerpiece of May Day, a holiday no longer recognized in our town after people noticed the communists were holding parades that day and deep-sixed it. But Mrs. Conley, my fourth-grade teacher, wasn’t cowed by capitalists or communists, so marched us to the maypole, where we welcomed spring. The most agile boy trailing streamers of ribbon would shinny up the pole, tie them off at the top, then slide back down. We would take the ribbons in hand, extend them straight like spokes on a wheel, and parade in a circle, earths of humanity orbiting our maypole sun. Mrs. Conley would recite from William Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written in Early Spring”:

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

By then it was lunch and we would file inside to the cafeteria where Mrs. Sisk had been cooking all morning. In concession to spring, our thrill of pleasure was ice cream for dessert, eaten with flat wooden spoons that left splinters on our tongues. I sat next to Stevie Wright, who was lactose intolerant long before the phrase had been coined. For the sake of his health, I would eat his ice cream, too.

May Day signaled the first day of recess baseball. Mrs. Conley would carry the bats and balls out to the playground, then leave us to divide into teams and play. Today, adults insert themselves into the game to coach and umpire, to keep things on the up-and-up, but Mrs. Conley believed in free-range baseball, in letting us settle matters ourselves, first yelling and screaming, then lowering our voices, giving here, taking there, seeking common ground. Workers of the world uniting, just like the communists.

I was chosen near the end, an obvious burden to any team, so while playing right field would drift unnoticed to the maypole. Other boys would be there, running in circles, lifting off their feet, riding the currents of centrifugal force like the hopping birds of Wordsworth’s poem.

Women running ribbons around a flag pole.
Schoolyard Maypole Dance
Doris Lee
The Saturday Evening Post
May 4, 1946

Occasionally, a boy would let loose and take flight, landing in a bloody skid on the gravel that covered the playground. Today, playgrounds are covered with shredded rubber to ensure soft landings, but back then we understood the gravel as a metaphor, that high flying eventually resulted in rough landings.

When I was in high school, I dated a girl who lived a block from the school. In the spring of our romance, we met there and swung, side by side, hardly talking. She was shy and I was scared, knowing talk was expected. Instead, we would see how high we could swing, arcing back and forth until the chains were parallel to the earth. The chains would sag and we would feel weightless, descending until the chains caught tight, jerking and twisting us. Now those lines written in early spring are faded, replaced by fresher lines since written.

News of the Week: Monsters, Mac & Cheese, and Direct Messages

Did Google Find the Loch Ness Monster?


Well, probably not. But it’s fun to imagine!

With the help of Loch Ness Monster experts and divers, Google is using its Street View project to help search for the legendary creature. And oh my God (aka OMG), they snapped a photo of something in the water that could totally be the monster! Or it could be a log or some other kind of sea animal.

It’s funny how 99 percent of the hype about the monster was caused by a famous photograph taken in 1934 that turned out to be a fake. But there’s a whole industry based on that photo.

What I don’t get about the obsession with the Loch Ness Monster is this: If he exists, how old is he (if it indeed is a “he,” I don’t want to be sexist)? For decades and decades, people have said that they “saw the Loch Ness Monster.” But how could they be seeing the same monster? How long do these things live? Or maybe it’s a monster family or these are babies of the original?

RIP, Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter Norman Rockwell May 29, 1943
Rosie the Riveter
Norman Rockwell
May 29, 1943

You might not know the name Mary Doyle Keefe, but you know the face. She’s the 19-year-old telephone operator from Arlington, Vermont, asked by Norman Rockwell to pose for one of the most famous Post covers in 1943 — Rosie the Riveter. Keefe passed away on Tuesday in Simsbury, Connecticut, at the age of 92.

The painting isn’t just famous as a Post cover. During World War II, the U.S. government used the portrait to sell war bonds and to show support for the women who were working in the nation’s factories, and it’s been a symbol for independent women ever since. She’s even a popular Halloween costume now.

Now You Can Send Anyone a Direct Message on Twitter

tanuha2001 / Shutterstock.com
tanuha2001 / Shutterstock.com

Oh, yes, celebrities and other famous people are just going to love this feature.

Before, the only way you could send a direct message (DM) to someone on Twitter was if they followed you. That’s why you often see people tweeting “hey, can you follow me so I can send you a DM?” But now the social media site has changed things so you can now send a direct message to anyone.

Thankfully, unlike some social media sites (*cough* Facebook *cough*) they have made this feature opt-in instead of opt-out. You have to turn it on yourself — and if you don’t want to, you don’t have to. Note: You probably don’t want to.

Goodbye, Orange Kraft Mac & Cheese

LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com
LunaseeStudios / Shutterstock.com

A part of your childhood is about to change color.

Kraft has announced that they are going to stop using artificial dyes in their original Mac & Cheese in January 2016. They already got rid of the dyes in many of their Mac & Cheese products that come in different shapes, such as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles boxes. The U.K. version of the Mac & Cheese — called “Cheesey Pasta” — is already sold dye-less.

We’ll have to see if getting rid of the iconic color will hurt sales. The Kraft name is still pretty powerful, and we’re all used to buying the same products that we’ve always bought. I assume they’ll keep the box design pretty much the same so people know they’re buying the same thing. If you still want that bright color I suppose you could add some dye yourself, or maybe add some finely shredded orange crayons.

National Pretzel Day


In February of last year, a pretzel tried to kill me. I was eating a couple of those small pretzel sticks when one of my front teeth suddenly came loose. Several months and a lot of money later, I have a bridge in my mouth and no longer look like a prize fighter who loses a lot. So I don’t eat pretzels anymore, probably as an act of caution and also maybe a little bit of principle.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy them! Sunday is National Pretzel Day. Food Network has a recipe to make your own pretzels at home.

And if you’re wondering, yes, the recipe is for soft pretzels. But still be careful, OK?

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

Chernobyl nuclear accident (April 26, 1986)

Here’s the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s background on the power plant accident that caused a fire and the release of radiation into the air, leading to several deaths.

President Ulysses Grant born (April 27, 1822)

Biography.com has a history of the 18th President, with several videos.

William Randolph Hearst born (April 29, 1863)

Read The Saturday Evening Post feature on the history of media bias and freedom of speech.

Empire State Building dedicated (May 1, 1931)

Here’s a really detailed history of the New York City landmark.

The Kentucky Derby (May 2)

The 141st running will take place next Saturday at approximately 6:24 p.m. But leave your selfie sticks at home!

Cardinal Directions

Deepak stepped out for his morning jog around the neighborhood. The mild spring morning was sunny; the bright yellow daffodils, in full bloom just a few days ago, were now fading and drooping, their brief time was up. But, the azalea buds looked like they were about to burst into bloom.

Back home, dripping with sweat, he cooled off on his customary chair in the balcony. Indira brought him a glass of orange juice.

“I called Bangalore. My parents asked about you. My mother spoke to our family purohit … said we should buy a house that faces east; it’s auspicious, keeps off negative energy.”

Deepak nodded his head.

Indira said, “Deepak! Are you listening to me? I don’t know what you do with that iPad all the time.”

Deepak looked up. “I’m reading Bollywood news.”

“Yeah, yeah, more like ogling those half-naked women … hmm …”

He smiled. “Actually, Katrina Kaif looks smashing in a bikini, look.” He gave her the iPad.

“Deepak! I don’t have time for this frivolous stuff. You need to grow up. First thing in the morning you indulge in these, these … you should join in my morning puja … instead … hmm … anyway, we need to call the realtor, update her.”

Deepak sighed deeply. “Okay, okay.” He thought that it is futile to argue with his overly pious wife.




He remembered the time when she decided their son’s name. When he knew they were going to have a son, Deepak jotted down names such as Rakesh, Satish, Rajesh, which he considered modern and mainstream. For him, a name which ended with “sh” conveyed a sense of distinction and accomplishment. Rakesh Sharma, a distinguished scientist and advisor to the defense minister of India. Satish Dhawan, a renowned aeronautical engineer and the driving force behind the Indian space program. And, of course, Rajesh Khanna, the beloved Bollywood heartthrob. Santosh (Indira’s older brother), in Deepak’s view, was an anomaly; his lack of any accomplishments, either minor or major, didn’t really fit his name.

But unbeknownst to him, Indira consulted her much-revered Bangalore purohit, and named the boy Vasudev.

Deepak said. “What kind of a name is this Vasudev? So old fashioned.”

“Deepak! Shhhh … Don’t talk like that. Vasudev is another name for Lord Vishnu, our family deity. Our purohit consulted the scriptures, he said it’s a very auspicious name.”




Thanks to Indira’s directional desire, the number of suitable houses dwindled drastically. The American builders were not up to snuff with Vastu Shastra — the ancient Hindu treatise on architecture.

Before entering each and every house, Indira checked the compass on her iPhone to make sure of the cardinal directions. The realtor joked. “Looks like you don’t trust me, ha?”

In an immaculate house they saw an eye-popping nude painting, reminiscent of a pregnant Demi Moore.

The realtor said. “She’s the lady of the house. I know her. I sold this house to the family, few years back. Now they are moving to the West Coast.”

And in the master bedroom there were several other nude paintings of the same lady. One resembled Goya’s Nude Maja, with her hands behind her head.

After they got into her vehicle, the realtor laughed loudly. “Deepak, how do you like the Demi Moore house?”

“It’s great, well-lit rooms … but I’m not sure the house comes with her.” He sighed dramatically.

Indira remained glum until they were dropped off at their apartment. “How disgusting! Posing nude … and you, ogling like a teenager.”

Deepak laughed. “That’s a well-maintained house, very suitable. They are motivated to sell; we’ll get a good deal.”

“I’ll not live in that house, all those obscene paintings, bad aura.”




Finally, a four-bedroom house was found in Apex, half an hour from their apartment in Chapel Hill. Deepak wanted to move in immediately after closing. But the remote control in faraway Bangalore did not approve.

Indira said, “We can’t move in right away. On May 26 we should go to the house at 1 a.m., boil milk, do a puja. It’s an auspicious time set by the purohit … it’s based on our horoscopes.”

Deepak groaned. “Get up in the middle of night… hmmm … what’s with milk and all?”

Indira rolled her eyes. “What? You don’t know that boiling milk at a new house will bring good luck? It’s part of the housewarming ceremony … I’m surprised …”

“My father built a house when he retired from the government … we simply moved in after it was ready, no puja, no nonsense.”

Indira ignored his impolite comment. “And then, the same day we’ll have a grand puja …. invite our friends.”

Deepak said, “For god’s sake it’s an empty house, how can you do a puja? Where will people sit … on the floor, ha?”

Indira smiled. “You don’t have to be so sarcastic. Everything’s in control. The purohit from the Cary temple will guide us, and then he will sprinkle holy water around the house, chant slokas to purify the house. He will be back in the morning to conduct the grand puja in the presence of our friends. Caterers will arrange tables and chairs. Food will come from Udipi restaurant.”

Deepak said, “Okay, okay, let’s move in the day after the puja. Let me call the movers.”

Indira screwed up her face. “No, no, no, not so fast. Starting from May 27 to June 15 there’s not a single auspicious day. You know Jupiter and Saturn are not properly aligned with our horoscopes. So, our purohit suggested that we move in on June 16, a really auspicious day, all the planets will be in proper conjunction.”

“Great! You want us to pay rent here and also the mortgage … it’s a bloody waste of money … for almost two months.”

“Shhh … please don’t yell, we should follow the scriptures, or else bad luck will fall upon us.”




Indira wore a brand-new silk sari, imported from Bangalore. The purohit and Deepak wore white dhotis, and Hindu scared thread across their bare chests. With a small fire in a cauldron in the middle of empty living room, the puja was in full swing. The purohit’s chanted hymns, and the aroma of incense and camphor permeated the air.

The serene setting was rudely disturbed by a big thud, thud, thud, and then the front door burst open. Four police officers, with their weapons drawn, rushed inside.

One yelled, “Y’all show your hands!”

The purohit, shocked at this unseemly intrusion, yelled back, “Officer, we are in the middle of a ceremony, please leave.”

Deepak said, “May I know why you broke my door and entered without a warrant?”

The lead cop smirked. “Your door? People living opposite complained about intruders. And this fire here is a fire hazard. If this gets out of control, the whole neighborhood can be engulfed in fire, it’s been so dry these past few months.”

Deepak shouted angrily, “Now you all get out of my house. We can do what we want in our own house.”

The cop took a step toward Deepak. “You need to prove that this is your house. You have disturbed peace, entered a house, and doing all this voodoo.” He pointed at the fire. “You need to come with us.” He motioned to his assistants, and they handcuffed Deepak and the purohit and walked them out of the house.

Indira was distraught. “Officer, this is a big mistake. This is our house, and this … this is a holy ceremony … please leave us alone.” She was in tears, and the kids, already restless and sleepy, started to cry loudly.

The cop said. “Now, lady, you are making me nervous. I suggest you take the kids and leave.”

Deepak yelled just before the cops pushed him into the police vehicle. “Indira, don’t worry; call the realtor, okay? … We will sort it out.”




Indira looked relieved. “Thank god I could get hold of the realtor; she was really helpful, talked some sense into those dimwitted cops. Saying that our puja is voodoo, so rude.”

At the end of a long day, they were back in their apartment. Deepak poured himself a generous amount of whiskey. The grand puja, followed by a sumptuous lunch was a great success.

Deepak took a big sip. “Yeah, it could have been worse. Those ignorant cops and the bloody neighbors. I just can’t believe it, calling cops, ha?”




On June 16, at the exact auspicious time — this time, luckily, was in the daytime — they moved into their house. Indira, following her purohit’s instructions, brought a few belongings, couple of pots and pans, sleeping bags, and other essential items for one night’s stay at their new home. This time she did a small puja by herself, with an idol of Lord Ganesha on the kitchen counter. And then she started to cook.

Deepak said, “Let’s get a pizza, why cook now?”

“No, no, no. We have to cook, that’s the rule, and then we should sleep here tonight. Afterwards, the movers can bring everything.”

Deepak said, “You know, honey, you gotta put a lid on this, this … I mean your purohit got us into trouble with the cops. Maybe it’s time to, you know, tone it down a bit.”

Indira said, “Deepak, whatever I do, it’s for the good of our family. If we want to be healthy and prosperous, we need to follow the scriptures. If the gods are happy, we’ll be happy too.”




Indira said, “We need to place the headboard towards east. Our heads should face east. Otherwise …” She was visibly perturbed.

Deepak was mad. “Bull! You want to place the headboard right in front of the door?” He measured the room. “It’s not safe; we’ll run into it all the time.”

Indira said, “Actually, what I’m telling you is the truth. If you want, talk to the purohit yourself.”

“I’m not talking to that dumb guy … telling you all kinds of crap.”

Indira persisted. “So, you are okay with placing the bed so our heads will face east?”

“I’ll do no such thing. You can keep your head against east or south or north, anyway you like. I’ll sleep normally. The headboard will be against the wall.” He thumped his fist on the dining table.

Indira said, “But my feet will be in your face, that’s not, that’s not …”

Deepak was livid. “I had enough of this religious mumbo jumbo. It’s very aggravating. I almost landed in jail, thanks to your crazy ideas. From now on, I forbid you to talk to your folks about every little thing. I don’t want them to run our life. Puja for this, puja for that. Auspicious time, my foot.”

He went into his den and banged the door shut.

Indira looked at the time; it was six in the morning in Bangalore. She called her mother.

“Mom, did you have your morning coffee?”

Her mother yelled at the top of her voice. “I can’t hear you properly. Hello, hello, are you there, Indira?” The lady modulated her voice depending upon the distance, normal voice when she spoke to her friends in town, a few decibels higher to her son in Delhi, and a crescendo to America, across so many continents.

When Indira told about Deepak’s recalcitrance, her mother said, “Oh! I see … ummm … I think Deepak is going through one those Saturn phases. That’s why he got arrested … hmm … now I see. Yes, it’s definitely the Saturn. Let me speak to our purohit. I’m sure he’ll suggest a remedy, maybe a homam or a yagna to get rid of this Saturn. Don’t worry, baby. We will fix it.”

A Norman Rockwell Myth Debunked

Oh, Pop. My grandfather is 100 percent responsible for this myth — that he couldn’t draw a sexy woman. He said it many times: “I can’t draw a pretty girl, no matter how much I try. I’m afraid that they all look like old men!” One day my father Thomas, his middle son, asked Pop what he meant, and my grandfather explained that he couldn’t draw bodacious, sexy pin-up girls like Vargas and Petty, or even ideally beautiful women like his friend and fellow Post illustrator Coles Phillips, known for his “fadeaway girl.” (Norman Rockwell loved faces with true character in them — either young faces untouched by artifice or guile, or old faces with inerasable histories etched into them; every wrinkle, a story.)

But even a cursory look at Rockwell’s body of work instantly proves my grandfather wrong — he painted pretty, even sexy, women of all ages. Most surprising, I discovered that Pop had a remarkable skill in painting the beauty and allure of women’s legs, particularly the delicate ankles.

One of my favorite examples of Pop’s most seductive females is the woman in this painting (above). Her stance is like a panther about to pounce. We see mostly her back — a psychologically expressive landscape. This is a woman who will do anything to get her way and takes no prisoners. Classic femme fatale. It’s an illustration for the story “Strictly a Sharpshooter,” by D.D. Beauchamp, who later became a Hollywood screenwriter.

The atmosphere and feeling of the painting is very film noir — the gloomy tones, the smoke, the beleaguered boxer, the tough guy in a fedora with a cigar hanging from his mouth. And, of course, the “dame”: “The dame was an ex-stripper in a cheap burlesque, and she was strictly a sharpshooter. She liked fur coats and champagne, and you didn’t buy those things on the kind of dough you made out of club fights.” Pop’s art always stayed close to the details of a story.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Strictly a Sharpshooter, 1941. Story illustration for American Magazine, June 1941. Oil on canvas, 30” x 71”. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. © Norman Rockwell Family Agency. All rights reserved.
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Strictly a Sharpshooter, 1941.
Story illustration for American Magazine, June 1941.
Oil on canvas, 30” x 71”. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections.
© Norman Rockwell Family Agency. All rights reserved.

My grandfather went to a Columbus Circle boxing club to soak up the atmosphere, get a taste and feel for what the ring was really like. He probably used George Bellows’ painting Dempsey and Firpo (1924) as inspiration. Bellows, part of the Ash Can School of artists, was known for his amateur boxing scenes — stark contrast of colors — visceral — muscular — edge and grit. Both Bellows’ and Rockwell’s paintings are done horizontally — the ropes are an important visual that create tension and a sense of imprisonment. Both paintings are dramatically expressive, in the moment. They hint at the light above and play with chiaroscuro, but Bellows’ contrast is more pronounced. Pop’s one error, in my opinion, was comically exaggerating the expression of the boxer. It takes away from the power of the painting. But Rockwell’s also has a marvelous study of fedoras — each one its own character.

Elizabeth (aka Toby) Schaeffer, the wife of one of Pop’s best illustrator friends, Mead Schaeffer, posed as the sexy “sharpshooter.” Gene Pelham, Pop’s photographer in Arlington, Vermont, posed as the tough guy looking at her in disbelief.

When the illustration appeared in American Magazine, June 1941, the bold caption underneath read: “The crowd expected to see a hard-hitting youngster spar with a punch-drunk bum. Instead they saw the battle of the ages — a blue-eyed blonde as the stake.”

So why did my grandfather misstate his skill? My grandfather’s humility was very real, and at times his lack of confidence could be crippling. Perhaps if he sold himself short first, he would beat others to the punch.


Warm wishes as always,




Strictly a Sharpshooter is part of “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell,” currently on view at Tampa Museum of Art, Florida. The painting will return to the Norman Rockwell Museum in the summer.

Let’s Play Dress-Up

Some years ago — okay, many years ago — an article in Newsweek magazine described me as “hip-casual.” In the article’s accompanying photo, I wore faded jeans and a T-shirt billboarding a friend’s Austin-based turquoise jewelry company. (I also weighed at least 40 pounds less than I do today.) Fast forward, and you will most likely encounter me outfitted by the Gap and J.Crew, extra large, so we’re talking about a lifetime’s accumulation of casual cred. In short, I am no sputtering fuddy-duddy like bow-tie-wearing conservative pundit George Will, who once lashed out at denim, calling it “infantile.”

So, yes, I totally understand the irony of my alerting you to the scourge of TMI — Too Much Informality — that is afflicting us. As far as I’m concerned, the casual ethic has gone too far when it is acceptable to attend milestone events and special occasions dressed as if you were headed to Whole Foods afterward.

Have you seen it?

Sweaters and pullovers at church weddings; flip-flops and “fitness fashion” at funerals; hoodies and silk-screened T-shirts at Easter Sunday mass; skimpy halter tops and Hawaiian shirts at four-star restaurants. Or any combination of these and other clueless behaviors. You have to ask yourself: What are they thinking? Don’t they know better? Clearly, these folks have lost all sense of the appropriate, if they ever had it.

Then there are the hats. A veritable blight of hats, atop what I must assume are bald or balding heads, bobbing about in restaurants and even houses of worship. Wasn’t “Take off your hat indoors” one of the first things your parents taught you about public behavior? (Maybe not. Here’s the deal: If you’re not at a sports or cowboy bar, or some hipster jazz joint where fedoras are welcome, ditch the chapeau.)

And don’t get me started on people who stare into their smartphones while a casket is being lowered into the ground. But that’s another story.

Believe me, it’s a much better world because of casual. I don’t bemoan the era when travelers dressed up to board an airplane. That would be madness today when you are herded into a narrow seat with no legroom and tossed a bag of mixed nuts.

And thank goodness gentlemen no longer wear jackets and ties to a baseball game — unless they work for a sports network. Frankly, the fans in the old newsreels don’t look like they’re having so much fun in that summer heat.

You can't convince me that the Founding Fathers would wear their tri-corner hats backwards at midnight mass.

No, I’m talking self-absorbed, lacking respect for others and the occasion. And there are ripple effects. Screeching customers was listed as one of the 11 worst dining trends of 2014 by the New York Post. Explained writer Steve Cuozzo, “The plague gets worse every year, which is no surprise: The complete abandonment of dress codes yields a corresponding collapse of decorum.”

Economic effects, too. A friend of mine recently told me that her dry cleaner’s had to shutter one of their two establishments. Seems not so many people are bothering to get their clothes laundered and pressed these days.

Let me be perfectly clear, this has nothing to do with class. It is a matter of simple decisions: Do I wear a shirt with buttons or a T-shirt? Do I wear shoes or flip-flops? It has everything to do with the other meaning of class.

Nor is it about American individualism and the perceived right to be a jackass. You can’t convince me that the Founding Fathers would wear their tri-corner hats backwards at midnight mass.

Who can we blame for this dumbing down? Pick a target: the hippies, Casual Fridays, bad parenting, Hollywood, hip-hop, Ayn Rand, Levi Strauss … The list goes on (though my money is on bad parenting).

What to do? Frankly, there’s not a whole lot that can be done, aside from closing one’s eyes and praying for the future of civilization. It’s for sure I’m not about to confront some benighted knucklehead who hasn’t bothered to wear a jacket or tie to a wedding. You never can tell these days: It could be the minister.

News of the Week: Balls of Cheese, Books on Grammar, and the Brontosaurus Is Back

Hello Again, Brontosaurus


For years, scientists have been telling us that the brontosaurus, the gigantic dinosaur with the long neck we’ve all been familiar with since grade school, never really existed, no matter what TV and the movies told us. Seems that a paleontologist wasn’t quite right a century ago and somehow messed up the prehistoric family tree. It’s actually the same thing as an apatosaurus, and I’ll stop there with the explanation before your eyes start to glaze over.

But hold on! Researchers in the U.K. and Portugal say that there might be just enough evidence to apologize to the brontosauruses (brontosauri?). The researchers say that there are enough differences between the brontosaurus and the apatosaurus to make them distinct.

Of course, now there might be a little backlash to the correction, with some paleontologists telling everyone to just hold on a moment before we bring the brontosaurus back. These dinosaur geeks and their infighting! Whenever I hear the word brontosaurus, the only thing I think of is the Flintstones eating brontosaurus burgers and ribs.

Now, did we ever settle the “is Pluto a planet” argument?

New Books: “Between You & Me”

I have a thing for grammar books. I don’t officially collect them, but while going through my books the other day I realized own eight of them (the books by The Washington Post’s Bill Walsh are some of my favorites). I don’t know how much more you can learn about grammar from reading yet another one, but Mary Norris’s Between You & Me sounds wonderful. Norris has been the copy editor at The New Yorker for more than 30 years and Between You & Me isn’t a straight how-to grammar book; it’s also a memoir. Norris is known as the Comma Queen and has an official site with that name.

The title of the book, of course, refers to a question people often have: Should you say “between you & I” or “between you & me”? Actually, they’re both wrong! The correct phrase is “between I & U.”

We’re off to See the Wizard (Again)


NBC announced that they’re going to do The Wizard of Oz. No, not a movie remake or one of their live specials, this is going to be a TV series based on the books by L. Frank Baum. It will be called Emerald City. The official network press release says that a tornado transports 20-year-old police officer Dorothy Gale and her K9 partner to “a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic, and a bloody battle for supremacy.” Sounds more like Game of Thrones than L. Frank Baum.

I’ll make a prediction now: In this version, Dorothy will be really sexy, an expert at karate, and will know how to use a sword.

RIP, Percy Sledge

When a man loves a woman, he can’t keep his mind on nothing else.
He’ll trade the world for the good thing he’s found.
If she is bad, he can’t see it, she can do no wrong.
Turn his back on his best friend if he put her down.

Those are memorable (and probably accurate) lyrics to a song that has become iconic after it was recorded in 1966. Just think of all of the TV shows and movies that have used “When a Man Loves a Woman.” The song was sung by Percy Sledge, and he passed away earlier this week at the age of 74.

Sledge wrote the song after his girlfriend left him. He was working at an Alabama hospital at the time. A producer liked the song, originally called “Why Did You Leave Me Baby?,” but asked him to work on the lyrics, which he did with two co-writers.

Letterman’s Final Guests Announced

David Letterman’s final Late Show will be on May 20, and CBS has released the list of celebrities we’ll be seeing on the show for the next month. The list includes such Late Show mainstays as Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, Julia Roberts, Jack Hanna, Tina Fey, Michael Keaton, Steve Martin, George Clooney, Martin Short, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Don Rickles, Ray Romano, Elvis Costello, and Oprah Winfrey. You can probably throw in a few surprises here and there too, and I’m really hoping that at some point longtime friends of the show like Regis Philbin, Tom Brokaw, and Teri Garr are added.

I’m surprised Amy Sedaris won’t be on one of his final shows. She was on earlier this week, but you’d think that Letterman would have her on the final week since she was one of his favorite (and best) guests over the years. We’ll probably see her when Stephen Colbert takes over for Letterman this fall, since he and Sedaris are good friends. It will be nice to see her Late Show appearances continue.

It’s National Cheeseball Day


Speaking of Sedaris, today is National Cheeseball Day! No, I’m not insulting her; she makes her own cheeseballs and sells them at a shop near her home (at least she used to — not sure if she still does).

Now, you could go out and buy a cheeseball at your local supermarket, but why not make your own? Rachael Ray has “6 Amazing Cheeseball Recipes”, while Kraft has several more cheeseball recipes and tips. I’m in charge of the cheese and cracker tray during the holidays, but I have to admit I always buy them instead of making them. The idea has never occurred to me, but I think this year I’ll try making them this year.

By the way, I’m not sure why cheeseball is sometimes spelled as one word and sometimes as two (“cheese ball”). Maybe I should read that grammar book and see if the answer is in there.

Upcoming Anniversaries and Events

The Boston Marathon (April 20)
The 119th running of famous road race is this Monday.

Manfred von Richthofen killed in action (April 21, 1918)
Read more about the German fighter pilot you might know better as the Red Baron.

Earth Day (April 22)
This year marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day.

William Shakespeare born (April 23, 1564)
Did you know you can read the complete works of Shakespeare online for free?

Library of Congress created (April 24, 1800)
The LOC site is one of those places you probably never think of checking out, but it really has some great stuff.

Ella Fitzgerald born (April 25, 1917)
You can check out the singer’s official web site and listen to one of her best songs, “Someone To Watch Over Me”.

Queen of First Impressions

Being miserably bad at something is an undervalued skill in life. Statistically, it is just as difficult to be elite at being deficient as it is to simply be elite, and at times it can be equally valuable — as in the case of Rose Beauford. Ms. Beauford was unremarkable in every sense, with one remarkable exception: She was the best in the world at misjudging people based upon first impressions. Poor Ms. Beauford was utterly incompetent at separating the good from the bad, the well intentioned from the charlatans and everything in-between. You would trust a blind man to guess the size of your shoes by sniffing the soles before you put stock in one of Rose’s character assessments.

Whether Rose was tainted by long-forgotten relationships gone awry, devoid of intuition, or perhaps just flat out of touch with reality was the subject of much discussion within her family, but the answer was of no real consequence. Rose could not be changed at her old age, and no one bothered to try. It took her only a matter of seconds to formulate her opinions, and once she rushed to judgment, the roadmap was set for all future interactions. Rose would entrust complete strangers with her most precious possessions if she found them to be honest, and she would unleash bitter tirades on her new neighbors based on perceived slights that most people would never even notice. She never entrusted truly honest people with anything, and she never unleashed her temper on new acquaintances when it was actually warranted.

On one occasion, Rose was leaving the drug store with a small shopping bag containing a few sundry items when a young man in his 20s asked if she could use help getting to her car. This particular drug store was in Times Square, as Rose had taken the 7 train in to do some early Christmas shopping. Neither the young man’s feigned ignorance to the unlikelihood of Ms. Beauford having a car parked down the street nor his zeal to help carry a plastic bag with travel-sized facial tissues and mascara for an able-bodied lady in her 50s struck Rose as amiss, and she indulged the man in further conversation, taking great pains not to draw attention to her fascination with the tattoo of a rat gnawing its way through a human carcass slithering down his right forearm.

When Rose responded that she was riding the subway, the man persisted. “I don’t want to see nobody take advantage of a sweet young lady like you. If you pay for my train, I’ll ride back home with you to make sure you don’t get hassled or nothin’.”

The man was sweating profusely despite the frigid temperatures. It seemed like a kind offer to Rose and one that she would be remiss in rejecting from such a polite and endearing boy, who she had already determined was perhaps simply a victim of careless parenting. The two of them shared a seat as Rose went on about her strikingly beautiful and desperately single niece, Tanya. When the train stopped in Flushing, Rose wrote down Tanya’s phone number on the side margin of the MTA ticket, handed it to the man, and got his name: Felix. She even offered to call Tanya right then and there on her cell phone and pave the way for Felix’s call, but Felix vehemently advised Ms. Beauford not to reach into her purse on a crowded train.

When Rose had completed the half-mile trek back to her apartment building, she retrieved her keys from the purse, and reached for her phone to call Tanya and relate the good news: Finally, there was a nice boy in New York who wanted to take her out for a date. There was one problem, however: The phone was missing. So was her wallet, as well as a tanzanite bracelet she had just purchased as a Christmas gift for her sister.

Poor Ms. Beauford let out the type of shriek that could only emanate from the gut of a lady whose purse had just been compromised. She wailed to the heavens at her stupidity in letting such valuable items fall out of her purse somewhere in transit, and to the president of the Junior Parish Council for the Holy Church of the Incarnation, who happened to be passing by on the sidewalk at the time, it appeared as if she would faint.

Although he was late for his volunteer work at the local homeless shelter, where he mopped the floors after weekday lunches, the young parishioner rushed up the steps to assist. “Ma’am, are you okay? Can I help you with anything?” Rose looked up from her purse and gave the young man a full once-over — noting the scuffs on his brown leather shoes and the nibble marks on his fingernails. She could tell instantly that he was a fraud, as nail-biting was a sign of insecurity, which was a further sign of weakness and suppressed rage. He was the type of self-loathing youngster capable of snatching her remaining possessions and scampering away, leaving her stranded. Later in his life, he would no doubt segue into violent crime — eventually dying cold and alone in Rikers.

“You get away from me now, or I’ll call the police, you hear? You disgusting creep!” The poor boy sprinted down the street toward the homeless shelter, with Ms. Beauford shaking her finger at him all the way. “These kids,” she muttered to herself. “We need more policemen around here.”

Neither Felix — also known as Victor Joseph Braden, Victor Alan Medina and “Vic the Rat” — nor Rose’s belongings were ever located. Tommy O’Sullivan made it to the shelter just in time to begin mopping the restroom, where he found a man in the throws of a diabetic seizure, and called 911, ultimately saving the man’s life.

On another occasion, Rose bore witness to an armed carjacking on Flatbush after leaving her podiatrist’s office. She was able to catch a glimpse of the suspect’s face from her vantage point approximately one-third of the way down the block, and was called into the precinct along with four other eyewitnesses for a photo lineup. The officers were fairly confident in their ID of the suspect, as he had been linked to six other similar events in the past five months, and the verbal descriptions set forth by the other four witnesses were a direct match. After brief discussions, the officers laid five photographs out on the table. Photographs one, two, and five were of other non-violent offenders who met the general description of the suspect: 5’9”, 165 pounds, and bald with a gray goatee. Photograph three was the suspect, Otis Tereshchenko — a henchman in the local Ukrainian gun-running syndicate. The final photograph, No. 4, was of Lorne McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams was a very minor celebrity around Brooklyn, most known for his tireless work as the long-time director of the largest battered-women’s shelter in New York. When not working to help women escape dangerous relationships and restore their sense of self-worth and independence, Mr. McWilliams also ran a canine rescue operation out of his house.

Rose was the last of the five witnesses to participate in the lineup. Unbeknownst to her, the previous four had all selected the Tereshchenko photograph, No. 3, without hesitation. Rose entered the room, positioned her eyeglasses and began inspecting each photograph in order. As with her predecessors, Ms. Beauford was able to quickly dismiss most of the suspects, but two remained: three and four.

Photograph three matched the suspect’s facial features as best as she could recall, but something gave her pause as she gazed into his soft brown eyes. Neither his shy and forgiving smile nor his shapely cheekbones painted a portrait of a vicious criminal. This was a family man — the type of man who walked his children down the sidewalk to church on Sundays, and spent the rest of the day teaching them their multiplication tables before pressing their clothes for school, reading them a basket full of books, and kissing them goodnight. Rose was sure that a man like this would not be allowed to stay in our country if he was up to some type of mischief.

After dismissing photograph three, she focused her attention again on No. 4. This gentleman’s facial features were more dissimilar to the suspect than No. 3, but she could not dismiss him. As she gazed into his steely bluish-gray eyes, she did not see kindness. She saw anger. The longer she stared, the surer Rose became that the man pictured in photograph four was the suspect — the type of man capable of unthinkable acts of violence. She suddenly found herself unable to look at the photo a moment longer, and turned to the officers, gulped, and pointed at No. 4. “This is him. This is the man who attacked that poor lady and stole her car. I can see it in his eyes. He’s a bad, bad man. Please catch him, officers. This face will haunt me for as long as I live.”

Approximately two weeks later, Rose and her cousin Eunice were enjoying Sunday afternoon tea when Eunice pointed at the newspaper on the kitchen table. “Isn’t this that man you saw commit that awful crime?”

Rose looked down at the paper, and saw photograph three staring her in the face, right above a headline: Ukrainian Gangster Tereshchenko Linked to Wave of Car Burglaries. She turned the page immediately, as if it would make the story disappear. At the bottom of the following page was a smaller story with another photograph above the headline: Women’s Advocate McWilliams Given Lifetime Achievement Award. Pictured in the photo were a group of six women flanking a familiar face. It was the man from photograph four.

“No, Eunice. I think that’s a different story. I don’t recognize that man.”

Two of Rose’s nieces, Tanya and her cousin Daphne realized at one point that Rose’s special skill could be valuable in wading through the countless profiles of the online dating sites to which they both belonged, and they devised a secret system for selecting promising candidates. Each Sunday evening, Rose, Tanya, and Daphne would scroll through several profiles, and Rose would share her impressions based upon the photos and information provided.

“I like him,” Rose would say. “He says here that he has been on disability for chronic bowel disease for three years, and is looking for a woman who will be patient with his frequent long restroom breaks. Says he wants to work in the custodial field. That’s the kind of go-getter you both need. Men are lazy these days.” Naturally, that one would be rejected.

“I like this one too. Has just left inpatient treatment for an unspecified mental disorder and has been encouraged to seek meaningful relationships with the opposite sex. If he’s that honest, he’s a keeper.” Another rejection.

“Not this one,” Rose would say on other occasions. “He’s a cocky one — look, he’s got Harvard Business School here, and CEO of a software company in Manhattan. It says he recently lost his wife to cancer before they had children, and is struggling with re-entering the dating world, but really wants to start a family. See, you don’t want to be tied down at home with a bunch of kids, just so some self-proclaimed hotshot can go work for 18 hours a day.” This one was definitely a keeper.

After enough keepers had emerged from the process, both young ladies found permanent ones, and always thanked their Aunt Rose for setting the wheels in motion. After Rose passed, and their children got older, both women would entertain the family with stories about the trouble their beloved aunt got herself into by virtue of her unique and skillful shortcoming. Through these stories, their children learned that being terribly bad at something is not bad at all. It’s a cause for celebration.

The Truth (at Last) About Disco

The Disc a GoGo in Dallas in 1965.
The Disc a GoGo in Dallas in 1965.

Mention the word discotheque, and most people think of the 1970s — the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, John Travolta, and Saturday Night Fever.

In fact, the disco trend began early in the previous decade, and it changed the way America danced.

Until the late 1950s, social dancing was a fairly formal arrangement. Dancers maintained some physical contact with their partners and engaged in synchronized footwork. If you were a guy who hadn’t learned much about dancing, you could rely on the utilitarian box step (if the music was in four four time) or a basic waltz (a three four rhythm). If you were a girl, you followed your partner’s lead as you danced backward across the floor, pulling your feet away from your partner’s approaching tread.

As rock ’n’ roll started to gain popularity, teens danced to the new sound with swing dances like the Lindy Hop. There was also the Stroll, the Bop, or the Madison. Dancers no longer held onto each other, but their feet moved in unison to established steps.

Then came the hip-swiveling Twist, made popular in 1960 by Chubby Checker. Suddenly dancers were on their own, doing — to use a popular ’60s phrase — “their own thing.” Soon discotheques were popping up across the country.

Writing for the Post in 1965, Norman Poirier described the discotheque scene as “a noisy national madness that the anthropologists of the 21st century will find difficulty in explaining.”

Read the entire article "Discotheque" by Normand Poirier from the pages of the March 27, 1965 issue of the Post.
Read the entire article “Discotheque” by Normand Poirier from the pages of the March 27, 1965 issue of the Post.

The discotheque, he wrote, had originated in France where the word meant “record library.” He claimed the first discotheque was the Whisky a Go Go in Paris, “where members could dance to records and consume whiskey, a drink many Frenchmen then regarded as exotic.” The term go go, he added, was French slang, that roughly translated to “as much as you want.” The French word for disc jockey, disquaire, never made it across the Atlantic.

By the time Poirier wrote his article, nearly every [major] American city had a “go-go” of its own.

Americans entering a discotheque for the first time in the early ’60s would have noticed the absence of musicians. The management used only recorded music, played continuously. And loud. The sound seemed almost deafening to people accustomed to live bands.

They would also have been surprised by the wide variety of individual dance styles. The Twist had spun off several varieties of new dances. Poirier listed some of the better known styles: the Watusi, Hully Gully, Surf, Swim, Dog, Pony, Ska, Frong, Wobble, Slop, and Jerk.

Original caption: "Patrons cut rug with everything from the Frug to the Bug at Ondine, a new New York discotheque woith a nautical motif."
Original caption: “Patrons cut rug with everything from the Frug to the Bug at Ondine, a new New York discotheque woith a nautical motif.”

It could have all seemed strange, noisy, and very modern. And to some newcomers, it might have seemed more than a little decadent. The dancers seemed so frenetic and uninhibited. Many grown-ups looked on in astonishment. What were the kids up to? Why had they abandoned the grace and sophistication of ballroom dances?

“There’s no mystery why anyone is doing these dances — they’re fun,” dance instructor “Killer Joe” Piro told Poirier. But he later admitted they weren’t fun for men who felt awkward and uncomfortable with new steps. “Even when we’re alone in my studio, they feel self-conscious. They giggle when I say wiggle. They won’t relax. They’re all tied up. Men are really more scared about how they look than women.”

Men may have felt inhibited by the new, more expressive style of dancing, but their partners weren’t. “The girls really love these dances,” said Piro. The way he described the discotheque phenomenon, it almost sounds like the harbingers of the modern feminism — a new “women’s movement,” you might say.

“The girl is free to do what she wants to. She couldn’t let herself go before the Twist. They must have been swearing under their breath for years — led around, pushed around, held down. Now they can be as wild as they feel. Watch any discotheque and you’ll see it’s the girls who go. On the dance floor they’ve got no inhibitions!”

Men would learn to overcome their self-consciousness. They’d learn the new steps because, like Piro, they realized that if they were going to get any girls, they’d have to Shag and Frug with the rest of the “in” crowd.

Ina Garten’s Tri-Berry Crumbles

“There’s something wonderful about having your own dessert, so I made these crumbles in the small dishes that I usually use for crèmes brûlées. It’s the perfect combination of warm, juicy berries and crunchy oatmeal topping,” says world-class chef Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa), whose make-ahead recipes and tips are featured in our May/June 2015 issue.

berry crumble desserts in creme brulee dishes on oven sheet
Ina Garten’s Tri-Berry Crumbles (Photo by Quentin Bacon)

Tri-Berry Crumbles

(Makes 6 servings)


2 cups fresh blueberries (12 ounces)
2½ cups fresh raspberries (18 ounces)
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved, or quartered if large
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice for the crumble
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup old-fashioned oats, such as Quaker
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6 crème brûlée dishes on sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

In large bowl, toss together blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, ½ cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

Divide mixture evenly among crème brûlée dishes, including any juices that collect.

For crumble, combine flour, ¾ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter and mix it on low speed until mixture is crumbly. Pinch it with your fingers until it makes large crumbles and distribute it on berries (it will not cover them entirely).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until juices are bubbly and topping is browned. Serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Make It Ahead

Assemble the crumbles, refrigerate for up to 4 hours, and bake before serving.

Nutritional Info

Per Serving (with ¼ cup vanilla ice cream)

Recipe reprinted from Make It Ahead by Ina Garten. Copyright ©2014 by Ina Garten. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

April Showers

April showers may bring May flowers, but before the flowers come there’s usually some fun to be had — or spoiled.

The way a rainy day affected American leisure activities was a regular subject for Post cover artists. The common conundrum of soggy groceries or a cancelled golf outing is something anyone can relate to. Even if your ambitions are modest — a fishing trip, some yard work, a barbecue — rain can put a damper on things. And it’s funny, but only when it’s not happening to you. Here’s a rare view of some of our classic rainy day art from our archive.
Rainy days on the covers of The Saturday Evening Post (click on the covers to see larger image):

More Great Beaches

In the upcoming May/June 2015 issue, Stephanie Citron shares the sand, sun, and stories of “America’s 10 Best Beaches,” but we really couldn’t stop at 10. Here are 12 more of our faves:

1 Blowing Rocks Preserve, Hobe Sound, Florida

On this craggy Anastasia limestone shoreline (the largest on the U.S. Atlantic Coast), waves crashing against the rocks during high tide force water plumes to shoot as high as 50 feet in the air.

Ocean breaking on rocky shore at Blowing Rocks Preserve in Florida
Ocean breaking on rocky shore at Blowing Rocks Preserve in Florida (Perry Correll/Shutterstock)


2 Bruneau Dunes State Park, Mountain Home, Idaho

Looming over several freshwater lakes is the largest single-structure sand dune in North America, believed to have been formed by sand left behind from a flood 15,000 years ago.

The sand dunes and lake at the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park at sunrise
The sand dunes and lake at the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park at sunrise(Sam Strickler/Shutterstock)


3 Calvert Cliffs State Park, Lusby, Maryland

Marine fossils, dating from the Miocene Epoch (5-24 million years ago) wash ashore all day long.

Beach and cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay at Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland.
Beach and cliffs on the Chesapeake Bay at Calvert Cliffs State Park, Maryland. (Jon Bilous/Shutterstock)


4 Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Kanab, Utah

While not technically a beach (it doesn’t front an ocean or lake), the beautiful pink sand (from eroded Navajo sandstone, dating to the Middle Jurassic period) makes this park a worthy stop.

Sun has barely set and near-full moon illuminates dune and mountain cliffs of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah
Sun has barely set and near-full moon illuminates dune and mountain cliffs of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near Kanab, Utah. (Warren Price Photography/Shutterstock)


5 Glass Beach, Whitethorn, California

A beach completely covered in sea glass, in a multitude of shapes and colors.

Pyramid of polished sea glass at Glass Beach in MacKerricher State Park, California.
Pyramid of polished sea glass. Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park, California. (IrinaK/Shutterstock)


6 Grayton Beach State Park, Grayton Beach, Florida

A dazzling white sand beach sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico and Western Lake, a rare freshwater coastal dune lake surrounded by a coastal forest of twisted-trunk magnolias and indigenous scrub.

Beach along the Gulf of Mexico
Beach along the Gulf of Mexico (James Stuart Griffith/Shutterstock)


7 Indiana Dunes Lakeshore, Indiana

Beyond the beautiful sand beaches along the southern tip of Lake Michigan you’ll find spectacular dunes.

Indiana sand dunes on Lake Michigan's shoreline
Indiana sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s shoreline (Delmas Lehman/Shutterstock)


8 Kaihalulu Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Secluded red sand beach gets its color from the crumbling cindercone cliffs presiding over the beach and the bay. Warning: The trail to this beach is hazardous and should only be attempted by skilled hikers.

Red Sand, or Kaihalulu Beach, Maui
Red Sand, or Kaihalulu Beach, Maui (Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock)


9 Medano Creek, Mosca, Colorado

Rent specially designed boards to sand sled down the Great Sand Dunes — the tallest in North America. May-July brings tubing to the freshwater creek reformed each year from snowmelts off the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Sunrise at Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Sunrise at Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (M. Bailey/Shutterstock)


10 Moonstone Beach Cambria, California

Natural gemstones wash up in the surf, including the namesake moonstones (the chalcedony variety) and semi-precious pebbles of practically every color.

Sunset at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California
A spectacular sunset at the Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California. (Jens Peermann/Shutterstock)


11 Sand Beach, Acadia National Park, Maine

On this pink sand beach tucked between pink granite cliffs, you’ll find high-saline seawater, where the salt level measures a half-cup per gallon.

Above Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, Maine
View from above Sand beach in Acadia National Park, Maine (Colin D. Young/Shutterstock)


12 Black Sands Beach, California

A slate-gray sand beach that appears black when wet.

Evening light along California's Lost Coast and Black Sand Beach
Evening light along California’s Lost Coast and Black Sand Beach (James Mattil/Shutterstock)


3 Questions for Dee Dee Wood

Dee Dee Wood, 87, is the genius behind the dance numbers in Mary Poppins as well as The Sound of Music and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, plus countless television specials, not to mention Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime show and the 1984 opening and closing Olympic ceremonies. The dancer-turned-choreographer worked with a cavalcade of superstars ranging from Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews to Bing Crosby, Robin Williams, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner, and the list goes on.

The Saturday Evening Post: How did you get your first break as a dancer?

Dee Dee Wood: In my 20s, I auditioned for renowned Broadway stage choreographer Michael Kidd. This was for the original 1950 Broadway production of Guys and Dolls. I completely blew the audition. I had never danced before in high heels, and I wasn’t used to it, but I wanted that job and I was determined to get it. I waited outside the audition studio for three hours while all these other talented people went in and out. When Michael finally came out, I asked him why I didn’t get it, and he told me to go home and practice dancing in heels and come back and try again. I did and I got it. It was the beginning of a great working relationship and friendship. He asked me to be his assistant in 1959’s Li’l Abner. Then I played the lead in the movie version.

SEP: Which is your favorite of all the movies you worked on or danced in?

DW: Mary Poppins, hands down. It was like working with family. Walt Disney was like a grandfather, who was brilliant. And everybody else was like brothers and sisters. Then of course working with Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews, and all those talented dancers made it so special. And I got to play a penguin! I was the fourth penguin in the “Penguin Dance.” We filmed dancers performing the steps before animators drew them. That’s actually my voice screaming “Wee!” as the penguins turn around during the number, because every time I would make that turn in rehearsal I would yell out. But meeting the great Walt Disney was the best part. I still remember one day back in 1963 when we were filming Poppins, we saw Walt just sitting on the curb on the street outside his office, just like a regular guy. So then he calls us over, very excited, and points to a Mickey Mouse watch on his wrist and says, “I just got this in the company store, isn’t it great? And I even got it at half off because I work here!”

SEP: Who was your favorite actor to work with? And what was your oddest experience working with a star?

DW: My favorite is Dick Van Dyke by far. I met him when I was asked to teach this then-unknown comic actor a few steps for an upcoming appearance on The Jack Benny Program. He told me he couldn’t dance because he never had a lesson, but he was such a natural. His angular movements and that cartoon-like quality gave us so much to work with. As for the oddest, that would have to be when I staged the Super Bowl show with 500 dancers and with Michael Jackson as the main act. Michael was so worried about security; he had three impersonators walking around the stadium so you never knew who the real Michael was. At one point, I had lunch with two of him! They were so good it was hard to tell which one was real, but once you spoke to them it was obvious they were just hard-working actors trying to do a job.