Good morning Vietnam, you are now free to enjoy a nice venti, sugar-free, non-fat, vanilla soy, double shot, decaf, Mocha Latte, no foam from Starbucks whenever you want! Last month was the opening of the first Starbucks in Vietnam. Normally, a Starbucks opening in Asia wouldn’t merit much coverage. After all, the Seattle-based behemoth already has more than 3,300 stores in 11 Asian countries, China, Japan, India, being their major markets. But this one was the first ever in Vietnam, opening right in the heart of Ho Chi Min City which is named of course for the Communist revolutionary who was leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam who faught and won a war against the U.S. Imperialists, not that long ago either and probably wouldn’t be too happy about Western Capitalist Corporations expanding their franchise in his backyard, but he’s dead. So let that be a lesson to any budding Marxist revolutionary out there. You can fight wars for decades, huddled in tunnels eating nothing but rice, with only the shirt and the gun on your back. You can go up against a Capitalist Superpower and even emerge victorious. But they will still be building Starbucks on every corner within 50 years of your death. They’re are currently lots of Starbucks in South Korea, but as of yet none in North Korea. Look out Kim Jong Un, you’re next.
There’s a great book, “Baba, Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi”, that is the true story of an American that went to India in the 60’s and later became a sadhu, a chillum baba. So American sadhus do exist. A sādhu (sanskrit साधु sādhu, “good man, holy man”) denotes an ascetic, wandering monk. A sanyasi, or renunciate, who has left behind all material attachments and live in caves, forests and temples all over India and Nepal and now parts of Colorado and the West Coast.
The majority of sādhus are yogīs, but not all yogīs are sādhus. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving mokṣa (liberation), through meditation and contemplation of brahman and smoking the chillum pipe. They are the original dreadlocked rastas and have been around since the man’s early history staying relatively unchanged up until the last half of the 20th century. While their way of life is becoming harder to maintain in this modern world, they are still with us today.
At the 2013 Maha Kumbh Mela, the cyclical mass pilgrimage of faith in which Hindus gather to bathe in a sacred Ganges river, the Sadhus were out in full force. Far from being a dying tradition, there were estimates of 80 millions people in attendance, making it the largest human gathering on a single day in the history of the world.
In our chaotic 9-5 world of cell phones and internet, rush hour 24-7, it’s nice to know somewhere a chilum baba is chilling out, puffing some ganj and giving us blessings. And now the tradition seems to be catching on here in America. I swear there’s one that lives behind 7 -11. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
a 17th century drawing of an Indian sadhu
“Federal patient, as in federal medical marijuana patient. I’m prescribed this by the federal government.” Elvy was patiently explaining to the disbelieving cops in Dixie County, which is just south of the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf coast. They had confiscated her big tin of the 300 joints she’s prescribed every month by the federal government. Apparently they never had heard of such a thing and those idiots arrested her anyway but after a quick call to D.C. she was released. That was in 1997 when we were on the FL Medical Marijuana Referendum Tour. Lots of things have changed since then. As of 2013, 18 US states have passed laws allowing medical marijuana, 14 of these states have decriminalized marijuana, and 2, Colorado and Washington have made marijuana legal altogether.
Of course those are state laws and marijuana is still illegal under federal law in all 50 states. It’s classified a Schedule 1 controlled substance under federal law which means no medical usuage even though they still prescribe it to a handful of patients. These are people that were grandfathered in when the Bush administration ended the Compassion Use Act in the 80’s. There’s only 5 of them left, all the rest of them are dead. 2 of them, Elvy Musikka and Irvin Rosenfeld will be at the 15th annual Medical Marijuana Benefit this Saturday at Tobacco Road. Come out and support the cause and help Florida join those other 18 states with medical marijuana legislation by signing PUFMM’s People United for Medical Marijuana’s amendment petition. ( Or you can find it at www.PUFMM.org )
As you’ve probably heard, Pope Benedict XVI has announced he is stepping down as head of the Holy See at the end of this month. Papal resignation is a very uncommon occurance. The reign of the pope has conventionally been from election until death. While a few have been deposed, only 5 Popes in all of history have ever resigned. Speculations on why he is resigning are varied.
But now the press is reporting that Pope Benedict plans to continue to live in the Vatican after he resigns. Legal experts say that is so he will have immunity from prosecution for sex related crimes charged against the Catholic Church and allegations of impropriety at the Vatican Bank. When Benedict went to Britain in 2010, the public urged British authorities to arrest the pope. Vatican City is considered a sovereign state, and is “invariably and in every event considered as neutral and inviolable territory.” If he left the Vatican, he might face extradition. No word on who the next Pope might be but many think Bono would be a natural.