Weed and War: Getting away with smoking in the Army and why the military should lighten up

Definitely the worst part about joining the military was when I had to stop smoking weed.

I don’t really smoke anymore. It’s more of a casual thing. But I used to. A lot.

It was maybe the hardest part of enlisting in the Army, first because I had to pass a drug test, but secondly because I had to make a decision that changed the very essence of my 19-year-old self.

No weed? What kind of idiot would subject themselves to that kind of fascism? Me, apparently. My reasons for doing so are complicated and dumb. The truth is, I never quite gave up on Mary Jane in the military.  Continue reading

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After Alton

Thoughts on Alton Sterling, the shooting of Baton Rouge Police officers and the next steps forward.

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Nothing has been the same in Baton Rouge since the death of Alton Sterling.

The sadness and frustration has been everywhere. It could only have been made worse by the murder of three innocent Baton Rouge police officers less than two weeks later.

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Patriarchs and equestrians

IMG_2334This summer I had the opportunity to follow a trail ride in Louisiana. Being a native-born Washingtonian who’s only lived in the South for a little more than a year, the experience was one of the most uniquely Southern things I’ve ever done.

I pitched this story to the editor of Country Roads Magazine earlier this fall and had my piece published, alongside the images of a local photographer who has also been documenting the trail riders, Jeremiah Ariaz. 

There is so much to say about the trail riders, especially from my own personal perspective, but alas, there is only so much room to write in a magazine. My piece details the history and culture of the trail ride, how it has modernized over time, and how it is, at its core, a family tradition.

Traveling in the dead of July in South Louisiana (easily 110 fahrenheit or higher), I rode in between convoy of horses, golf carts and pickups, taking photos and chatting up some of the riders. The thing that got me about the event was how paternal the tradition was. As I saw fathers, young and old, riding alongside their sons, I was reminded me of going to “fish camp” with my dad back in Washington state.

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Reviewing HST and the 2016 and 1972 campaign trails

Freak power, or something.
Freak power, or something.

For years Hunter S. Thompson fans have told me how great “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ‘72” is. With the presidential campaign in full swing I figured it would be a great read, but after finally finishing it, I am totally disappointed.

I’ve never been “heavily” into politics, but I assumed by picking up the book maybe I’d get a better sense for the topic. Maybe I’d get a better sense of HST himself. Maybe I got both. But in any case, the book was a total snooze, which sucks because I love HST.

I actually bought the book in 2010 while in Iraq. When I wasn’t bumping down a dirt road in Salah al-Din province I was reading packages of books that I purchased on Amazon. Since then I had been pulling “Campaign Trail” off the shelf, reading the opening chapter’s description of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and thumbing through Ralph Steadman’s erratic illustrations, only to tuck the book back on the shelf again.

This is a frequent issue for books I’m told I need to read, but have no serious interest in. (It took me years before I had the guts to finish “Lord Jim.”)

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