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The LSD Story Dock Told Donny
In recognition of Bicycle Day — the April 19 LSD holiday — we explore the origins of major league pitcher Dock Ellis’s acid-fueled no-hitter. Donny is joined by other Ellis experts to discuss the legacy of his achievement, which turns 50 on June 12.
What Is Bicycle Day?
“Dock Ellis,” SF Seals
No-No: A Dockumentary
Alex Halperin’s Cannabis Dictionary
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This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Dock Ellis (00:19):
We flew to San Diego and I asked the manager “Can I go home?” Because we had an off day. So he said, yeah. So I took some LSD at the airport because I knew where it would hit me. I’d be in my own, in my little area, I know where to go. So that’s how I got to my friend’s girlfriend’s house. She said, “What’s wrong with you?” I said, “I’m high as the Georgia Park.” The next day, which I thought was the next day. She told me, you better get up. You got to go pitch. I said, pitch? I pitch tomorrow here, what are you talking about? Because I had got up in the middle of the morning and took some more acid. She grabbed the paper, brought me to sports page and showed me, I said, Oh wow. What happened to yesterday? She said, I don’t know. But you better get to that airport.
Alex Halperin (01:18):
Welcome to WeedWeek. I’m Alex Halperin and I know few of you will recognize that sound.
Donnell Alexander (01:23):
And I’m Donell Alexander. I know far too much about that sound.
Alex Halperin (01:28):
This is a special episode of the WeedWeek podcast. You can subscribe to our free newsletters WeedWeek, WeedWeek California and WeedWeek Canada all at www.weedweek.net and you can find us on Twitter and Instagram @weedweeknews. Got any feedback? We’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org and of course you can subscribe and review and like us on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud and Stitcher.
Donnell Alexander (01:52):
Joining us as we celebrate April 19 also known as bicycle day. Our stories of the Dock Ellis’ legacy. The audio you heard was from Dock Ellis & the LSD no-no. And on June 12th a certain enlightened part of this audience will mark the 50th anniversary of that LSD no-hitter. The Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher threw a no hitter in San Diego while on the tail end of an acid trip. How much do you know about bicycle day, Alex?
Alex Halperin (02:18):
I know a little bit. So bicycle day is April 19th. It commemorates the day of a Swiss scientist named Albert Hoffman, who I believe worked for the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, took what’s regarded as the first LSD trip and it’s called bicycle day because much of it came when he was during world war II and he came up while he was riding his bicycle home from work.
Donnell Alexander (02:49):
It actually happened over a couple of days, this sort of revelation of what LSD could do. But it’s a story that kind of dovetails with what we’re talking about. I can’t think of a better subject for LSD than Dock Ellis’ no-hitter on its 50th anniversary. Oh, how much do you know about Dock?
Alex Halperin (03:07):
Just about everything I know about Dock I learned from you. You made the Seminole story. It was a radio story, I believe. Did you make a movie too?
Donnell Alexander (03:17):
It became an animated short film and it became a documentary feature film. But yeah, that short film is probably how a lot of people know about Dock Ellis.
Alex Halperin (03:25):
And of course, we’ll link to as much of that as we can in the show notes. But it’s an amazing story and I have to say right now it feels like from a very different time.
Donnell Alexander (03:36):
You know, there’s so much more of the story to that story than that short story, the animation. But I became aware of it in 1992 I became aware of Dock Ellis as a player when I was a kid. But there was a song by the S.F. Seals called Dock Ellis that I heard back when I was reporting this story on LSDs come back in ‘92, I was working at Chico. You know, it’s easy to forget how outside LSD was, how far it had fallen as America exited the Reagan Era. For context is probably stressed that there was no hallucinogenic legalization movement happening there like you see happening in Oregon and California right now. If you saw it in a movie, it wasn’t like a cutesy reference. There were characters that characterize an LSD or hallucinogenic user as a complete outsider. It was just a weird time when that story happened. But I got my first gig out of college and I heard this Barbara Manning song. I heard about it. It brought that idea of this LSD no no to me. And I didn’t fully believe it, but I also couldn’t let it go.
Alex Halperin (04:38):
It’s a funny time to talk about the Dock Ellis incident. I don’t know if incident is the right word, but Dock Ellis is an extraordinary story because you know right now California was preparing to vote or there’s a ballot initiative to decriminalize mushrooms and Oregon had a ballot initiative to decriminalize all drugs and both of those seem to be struggling in the face of the Coronavirus epidemic. The petitions that you need to get on the ballot typically require in-person signature gathering. So some of the folks who are putting together about initiatives are trying to get the states to allow online signatures. But so far the state seemed to be pretty busy and they don’t seem to have helped.
Donnell Alexander (05:34):
I think Oregon’s a lot further along with its initiative than California as they have a more supporters who’s actually signed already. So they may be in less trouble.
Alex Halperin (05:45):
So who are we going to hear from this episode?
Donnell Alexander (05:46):
We have the author and Rolling Stone contributor, Dan Epstein is one of the most insightful people out there talking about Dock as a cultural icon. And also, we have Chris Cortes, he’s a guy I know from Portland who was also a producer on Jeffrey Radice, No No: A Dockumentary that came out in 2014. But first up we have Neille Ilel who in 2008 sat down with me in Dock Ellis’s living room to record the story and help kind of build this legacy for lack of a better way of putting it. This was six months before he passed away, by the way. And I should fully say that we mentioned being in a bar with the people who eventually put this thing on the air at KPCC in downtown Los Angeles. And Neely and I were in a relationship at the time. So this story that we’re going to tell here through this interview, sort of putting the pieces together, it’s about getting this story out of my head and into the hands of the editors at KPCC and Week in America. Here’s Neille Ilel.
Donnell Alexander (07:16):
Welcome to WeedWeek. We’re talking about Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No its 50th anniversary and we have a really special guest in to talk about the origin of the story. Who is here with me today?
Neille Ilel (07:27):
I’m Neille. I co-produced Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No with Donnell.
Donnell Alexander (07:33):
Do you remember how Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No got to be on Weekend America?
Neille Ilel (07:37):
I do. I remember that you and I were having drinks with actually the guy who edited the episode. Jim Gates.
Donnell Alexander (07:47):
Where was that?
Neille Ilel (07:49):
In the Short Stop in Echo Park.
Donnell Alexander (07:52):
I think we were a little joyed.
Neille Ilel (07:54):
We were at little joyed in Echo Park at the bar.
Donnell Alexander (08:01):
That’s a very rare thing that we were in bars, just to be clear.
Neille Ilel (08:04):
I don’t know how it came up, but we were talking about a sports performance on LSD. I think maybe because it was the time when all of the players were getting busted
Donnell Alexander (08:20):
Very much so. You know what it was, you may remember this just a little bit, but I had this mild obsession with Barry Bonds and I had written this piece where I was going to interview Dock Ellis for it and I didn’t get him and Jim Gates had asked about that at the bar because I was being a little glum. I said, yeah, I didn’t get this interview.
Neille Ilel (08:42):
That’s right. And I think you also mentioned that somebody in your high school, had like an amazing pole-vaulting performance on LSD.
Donnell Alexander (08:49):
Oh my God. Do you remember that story?
Neille Ilel (08:52):
I do remember. I think that’s how it started,
Donnell Alexander (08:56):
I have a friend of high school who pole vaulted and he began taking acid at the sectionals, the playoffs level of the competition and he kept having personal best upon personal best. That was the story, he would only do well when he was pole-voting on LSD.
Neille Ilel (09:13):
So I think we were talking about that. And then you also knew this story about Dock Ellis and you had tried to get in touch with him before and you said you had a phone number for him and Jim was like, “Oh my God, you guys got to do that story.”
Donnell Alexander (09:26):
That was amazing. So you said we’re off to the races. We went out to him. You remember?
Neille Ilel (09:34):
I do remember.
Donnell Alexander (09:35):
What was the division of labor, you know the sound of getting things on your phone while you make podcasts is going to be sort of institutionalized or I could turn it off. Do you remember that day? Do you remember where Dock was?
Neille Ilel (09:49):
He was at his home. you managed to get in touch with him somehow and he invited us to his home in Apple Valley, which is a little bit outside Los Angeles.
Donnell Alexander (10:00):
So yeah. You know, Jim Gates threw it out there, but it wasn’t like Dock was easy to find. He was working in the prison system. There was no contact with major league baseball. So someone had told me a tip that he worked in the prisons out in San Bernardino. So I called and left a message with a guard who eventually relayed it to Dock, who’s being a drug counselor there. And that’s how we found them. But it wasn’t like he came to LA, right?
Neille Ilel (10:24):
We went up to see him. Apple Valley. It’s a suburb outside of LA, I don’t know, maybe 50 miles outside of LA. I’m not really sure.
Donnell Alexander (10:34):
Well, like if you’ve gone to Vegas, you could possibly see signs for rent. So what was the division of labor like that day when we went out there?
Neille Ilel (10:47):
I mostly managed equipment and you asked the questions.
Donnell Alexander (10:53):
Man, the equipment, you definitely, you held the mic. But there were a couple of elements that I guess we’ll get to later. But was Dock a different person? We were in his living room. Remember his dog? He had a dog, but he was doing that weird thing.
Neille Ilel (11:10):
Yeah, he had a dog that he kept snapping whenever he barked for a thing.
Donnell Alexander (11:14):
It was very unsettling. But you know, it was like the soundtrack to this interview, which was kind of an amazing interview. But what you must have had an expectation of him based on like the whole story or whatever. What was your expectation of him and how would that differ? How is your experience different from that expectation?
Neille Ilel (11:32):
Just because he was so hard to get a hold of and there weren’t that many published interviews from him. I thought he would be more shy or taciturn, but he was really like a great storyteller. So he was a great storyteller, really introspective remembered so many details and I mean, those all came through in the story like he just painted this amazing picture of that day. I just didn’t expect him to just, I don’t know, just tell it so wonderfully.
Donnell Alexander (12:05):
I said the woman in the micro or whatever you did, but I remember you getting these details. There’s a granular quality to the story that is really based in all the details. And I remember you asking at the end, “So what was the red weather like?” And he said there was a misty rain.
Dock Ellis (12:22):
The game started in the mist dark, misty rain. So all during the game was a little mist.
Donnell Alexander (12:30):
And I thought that those elements, it’s like maybe seven of those that actually make it so it wasn’t like you were just (inaudible). Do you remember what happened after you put your microphone away?
Neille Ilel (12:48):
I remember that he told us about a letter maybe. Was it that Jackie Robinson wrote him?
Jackie Robinson, here it is actually. Could you read it? “I read your comments in our paper the last few days and what, you don’t know how much I appreciate your courage and honesty, in my opinion, progress with today’s players will only come from this kind of dedication and sheer also, you know, some of the possible consequences.”
Donnell Alexander (13:24):
What do you remember about that?
Neille Ilel (13:26):
Well, I remember he read it and he really got really emotional.
Donnell Alexander (13:29):
Let’s go back. Because I remember there was a hallway and we’d put our stuff up and he was sort of having that moment where it was a little bit sad that it’s over. You remember that experience in your radio days where people don’t really want the interview and it’s kind of like one of those. We went down the hallway and he mentioned that he had a letter from Jackie Robinson, and I asked him if he had that handy, he said yeah, I’ll go get it. And it was like a glass that separated his office from the hall and he went into the office and retrieved this book that had a letter in it. It was actually the Dock Ellis in the country of baseball, and he was going to start reading it. And so I looked at you and you unpacked your mic and we captured the moment of him reading that letter from Jackie Robinson. It felt very journalistic. It’s like journalism in the movies and then there’s real life, that felt very much like one of those moments. I will not be forgetting that. So you feel like he talked to me differently because I was a black dude who got baseball and acid?
Neille Ilel (14:40):
I would imagine that yeah, I feel like if we’re going to talk about race in this story, I know for my own perspective about this story, there’s like a certain kind of white guy that like loves this story in a way that makes me a little bit uncomfortable. Like it feels very fetishy or like almost like blaxploitationy. So I always feel a little weird about that. So, I mean, one of the things I like about this telling of the story was that it wasn’t like appropriating a story. It didn’t feel that way to me, even though I’m not a black person that likes to baseball.
Donnell Alexander (15:24):
What’d you think of the reaction to it?
Neille Ilel (15:27):
The first on our late little weekend NPR show and I think we all really liked it. It was a long editing process to get it right. You know, there were some other details in terms of like tracking down the game call, which took a while. And then just putting all the pieces together and putting the music in. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but this was the actual play by play from that game, from I think the Pittsburgh guy.
Donnell Alexander (16:02):
That’s how it ends. That’s how the piece ends.
Neille Ilel (16:04):
Right. I don’t remember, I made a lot of calls to find that audio. There’s some guy somewhere in upstate New York that collects all this old baseball audio memorabilia. Made calls, found him. He had like the short snippet of the very end of it that he did sell me. I had to pay for it, whatever, which is fine. It was worth every dollar of the hundred dollars.
Donnell Alexander (16:32):
You paid a hundred bucks for that?
Neille Ilel (16:34):
I did pay a hundred dollars for that.
Donnell Alexander (16:36):
I never knew that. My goodness.
Neille Ilel (16:38):
And they didn’t cover expenses.
Donnell Alexander (16:43):
Well, you got music and you were saying all the stuff that you did.
Neille Ilel (16:45):
Yeah. So it wasn’t like he just told the story. He did tell a wonderful story, but it took a lot to get it into the shape where it works and whatever it was, two minutes, three minutes. So it was fine. It did well. We were really happy about it and moved on with our lives and then got an email, I don’t know how many months later with a link to the video that these guys had already put together and basically were like, is it okay if we do this? They already did it. And we were like, sure. It looks great. And then, I don’t know, everything blew up from there.
Donnell Alexander (17:24):
Everything blew up. It was a fascinating time because I’ve never seen anything like I put out, you know, I’ve written books and things, but I’ve never had anything get that much exposure so fast. Did you think it was, I’m not even going to ask this. I’m going to tell you this. I remember a day when it was around 600,000 heads, like the day after it first came out, which was a lot of hits for 2008 overnight. I told you it ended up at 6 million and you scoffed at me. It presently sits about 5.3 million. I bring that up by way of saying were you surprised at how much people got into it. How much of it do you think has to do with fetishization, LSD? What’s your take on why it’s popular still?
Neille Ilel (18:14):
Well it’s an amazing story. I mean I think it was popular before, but it was just a rumor. The fact that Dock is telling it himself and it’s not just like somebody else telling it. When I first started working on this piece, I was Googling around and people knew, it was a rumor, but I think it was just like, did it happen? Did it not happen? You know? So to hear Dock telling it himself was kind of a revelation and Dock is so honest, like you just don’t get that kind of honesty I think from especially sports figures who are very closed about their real emotions generally. That was really different. And I think captivate and then that the illustration was really cool. They added a bunch of sound effects, which were less journalistic piece, planes landing and sirens going and stuff. But I think that made it a little bit more like accessible. I do think there is a factor of the Cadillac and the curlers that it’s just cool and fun, but then it kind of sometimes crosses a line into are people laughing with him or at him? And that’s the part that like starts to get uncomfortable for me because he did this thing, but first of all, it’s cool that he did acid like it’s not like going out and getting wasted. It’s a different sort of experience. And he is introspective about it and he’s a thinking person and so I don’t like the idea that some people would just think he’s kind of a cartoon figure.
Donnell Alexander (20:05):
I had a thing in the phase of going to all those amazing stories and screenings and those reactions that was unlike anything I’ve had like in terms of a consumer reaction, consumer of something I made or helped produce. It was amazing to me and I loved it. I loved like how hard people laughed at. I just scored a touchdown. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Do you have a memory from the Dock experience? It could have been online, it could have been on the festival circuit, it could have been the driveway moments that people had. You have something like that that stands out for you?
Neille Ilel (20:43):
Well I think when he was talking about, his fear of failure that was really eye opening to me. He talked about you make it to the big leagues and now you have to stay there. So it’s almost more scary to be at the top and climbing to the top. And I think that’s not something that people realize probably that don’t get to the top. And I just thought the way he put that it was in the context of all the other drugs that everybody was doing. And then in particular, I think the performance enhancing drugs that people do today. To me it just, it was really enlightening, and I liked that moment a lot.
Donnell Alexander (21:34):
Is there anything that you thought I might ask or you wished that I would ask you about Dock or the story?
Neille Ilel (21:40):
No, I think this was a nice walk down memory lane.
Donnell Alexander (21:46):
Well, I was obsessed with it for a while and it’s a thing where I just love that people love it. And when I was in Portland, I got a lot of free drinks.
Neille Ilel (21:57):
It’s funny, the random people just heard of it. Excited to meet you.
Donnell Alexander (22:04):
Well that’s another thing I wanted to ask you actually. Do you think it actually played any kind of role in how we’re treating LSD these days? It almost looks like a performance enhancing drug in this context.
Neille Ilel (22:20):
Donnell Alexander (22:21):
You can’t know, but I just wanted to know if you had any sort of thought on that.
Neille Ilel (22:26):
Well, no, but I think now that you bring it up, there’s this whole micro dosing thing and Mark Bittman’s writing books about LSD or whatever, psychedelics. I think that he was ahead of his time maybe, although a lot of people were doing acid at that time.
Donnell Alexander (22:46):
Not a lot of people applying it that we know of.
Neille Ilel (22:48):
No. I mean, maybe more sports figures sure try it. I mean, they could all be micro dosing.
Donnell Alexander (22:58):
That is my second favorite story of the experience, the Dock Ellis experience, the LSD no-no experience maybe I should say. But when we were at Sundance and we ran into Reggie Miller and we told him about the film and then he got on stage after saying it was the debut of his documentary and I don’t know if you remember him saying it, but he talked about one really bad game and he said, I guess I should have tried some of that LSD. Neille before I let you go. I have to ask, what do you do these days?
Neille Ilel (23:29):
Well I own my own digital agency. It’s called The Glue and we mostly work on projects that help alleviate climate change. So we work with transportation agencies here in LA and other cities, that sort of thing. Still fighting the good fight.
Dock Ellis (23:50):
“The news media, while knowing full well you’re right and honest, will use every means to get back at you. That will be times when you will ask yourself, is it worth it all? I can only say that it is. And even though you want to yield in the long run, your own feeling about yourself will be most important. Try not to be left alone. Try to get more players to understand your views and you will find great support. You have made a real contribution. I do appreciate what you do (inaudible).”
Donnell Alexander (25:09):
Welcome to WeedWeek Dan Epstein and Chris Cortez, two of my favorite people to talk about Dock Ellis. I spent hours and hours talking to these guys about them because they’re two of the best and most insightful people. And you want to tell us about your work we’ll start with Dan.
Dan Epstein (25:25):
My name is Dan Epstein. I’m the author of the books, Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70s and Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76, both of which a feature Dock fairly prominently.
Donnell Alexander (25:42):
Very well received books. And I’m happy to have Dan here. And who else do we have? A guy from Portland, Oregon.
Chris Cortez (25:49):
Hey, Donnell this is Chris Cortez one of the producers of No No: A Dockumentary, which is a film about the life and times of a Dock Phillip Ellis Jr.
Donnell Alexander (25:59):
Yeah, that’s a fine film. Tell us, I want to start actually with Chris. How did you come to Dock as a player?
Chris Cortez (26:07):
I was a Pirate’s fan when I was a kid. But I’m not quite old enough to remember him in that way. I remember him from the ’79 championship season, but he wasn’t much of a factor and didn’t pitch in that series. I came to Dock as a sort of a culture hero because like everybody else, I knew about the story of him pitching a no hitter on LSD. And the film came to be because my friend Jeffrey, who you also know, we were talking about that and as documentary filmmakers wondered if it were possible to fair it out the truth or to see if that actually happened or if anybody could speak to it better than better than any of the materials that we could find. So that’s how that all came to be and that’s how I got to know Dock in a deeper way, not so much personally, but who he was and whose lives he impacted.
Donnell Alexander (27:02):
And Dan, how did you come to Dock?
Dan Epstein (27:04):
Well first baseball season I really followed intensely was the 1976 season and that was a great season for Dock. He had been traded in the off season from the Pirates almost as a throw in to the Yankees. The Yankees really wanted Willy Randolph and the Pirates kind of wanted to get rid of Dock, but a Dock wound up really flourishing with the Yankees that season, helped to pitch them to the American league championship. And so I was aware of him. I thought he had a cool name. I actually saw him pitch for the Mets in August 1979 when his career was completely running on fumes and he got shelled by the Phillies, but it was still like a cool thing. It was like, yeah, that’s Dock Ellis. And I remember even as a kid, like noticing what a Regal bearing he had on the mound, even at that stage in his career, you could just sense that this guy was a warrior. He was out there to compete even if you didn’t have anything. And so I just always thought he was cool. And it wasn’t until many years later that I realized just how cool he was. And part of that was the LSD no-hitter legend, but also his book with Donald Hall, Dock Ellis and the country of baseball is really one of the best books on the best kind of biographies of a ballplayer that I’ve ever read. And so I think I may have even read that before I knew about the LSD no-no.
Chris Cortez (28:53):
Let me, add to that or just second it for anybody who is interested in that intersection of literary people and film or wants to know why it’s always been fascinating to some of the great American literary people, the game of baseball is so close. Read that book. Donald Hall, that was actually a follow up to I believe, Dan, correct me on this, it was a magazine article or a series of articles where Don and a few other amateur athlete, weekend warrior types out of shape doctors and writers and so forth, went to Pirate’s spring training camp and Hall wrote an article about it. And through that article, through interacting with the players, told everybody, Oh, I’m a poet. And the memory that he had was that really turned Dock on. And Dock was like what does that mean? You’re a poet? How are you a poet? And they really connected and formed a bond that resulted in a long term, lifelong friendship. Donald Hall died just a few years ago. Don being Dock’s biographer so that book Donald Hall went on to be a poet Laureate in 2011, I believe. I think it speaks to what an interesting character Dock was off the field and the relationship between that and that competitiveness elite athlete thing that Dan is talking about is the thing for me that made him so fascinating. All those dimensions.
Donnell Alexander (30:41):
Did you come across the video for an LSD no-no or did you hear the NPR thing?
Dan Epstein (30:48):
Oh, for me it was definitely the video. I’m not a big NPR listener, which is no dis on NPR, I just don’t listen to the radio. And I remember it had to be sometime around maybe even after his death, where I first saw that video. I was not aware of it until it, I would say 2009.
Donnell Alexander (31:19):
He died six months after the audio piece came out.
Dan Epstein (31:25):
So yeah. So the video was definitely it for me.
Donnell Alexander (31:29):
So how do you feel like it impacted his legacy or how people thought about it?
Dan Epstein (31:33):
It’s massive. I think that you can’t post something on Facebook or Twitter about Dock without somebody responding with that video, a link to that video that it’s sort of, it’s almost like a knee jerk thing. Like who can be the first to post that video response Dock Ellis post. I think it’s really firmly planted him in the pop culture, pop cultural zeitgeists in a way that nothing else from his career crossed over to pop culture in the same way. And certainly like there have been songs written about him and the no-hitter, I believe all that stuff came after that video came out.
Donnell Alexander (32:26):
Well, no, I think a Todd Snyder song predates it and certain certainly the S.F. seal song, it was underground. I think that one of the things I amazing about it is the story that existed for such a long time and it could never live like that in this era of the internet and social media.
Dan Epstein (32:47):
Yo, that’s, for sure.
Chris Cortez (32:50):
Yeah. It’s interesting. You were asking how Dan came to the story when Jeff and I first started exploring, it was 2005 I believe. And our material reference was an old High Times article with the story and if I remember correctly, and I don’t know what year that was from, we actually had the physical magazine.
Donnell Alexander (33:10):
Good note. I love hearing that. I interviewed Neille Ilel and I’ve been thinking about this piece for a long time. I’ve been thinking about Dock Ellis and the LSD no-no because Neille and I made it and it worked. And you do all these articles and pieces and drop content over decades and five of them work, and this is one of them, but she said that it lives differently for her in that video forum than it did as the piece that aired on Week in America public radios. Because when you got the video, you got the images of the outrageous image of Dock and curlers and he had the big car and it kind of became this caricature, almost like a blaxploitation character that as plus she put it a certain kind of white guy just loved and kind of feticide. What do you think about that perspective?
Dan Epstein (34:01):
I think that’s dead on. I think it’s not a huge jump from like that to Dave Chappelle doing Rick James on the Chappelle’s show. It’s, you know, that kind of clown thing, there’s definitely a certain type of white guy with fetish. I was struck at one of the screenings that Chris and Jeffrey did of No No: A Dockumentary. I was talking with some of Dock’s family afterwards and they thanked me for my perspective that I gave in the documentary because they said that they felt that that really helped kind of counteract this image of him as a clown and I think that image is directly traced to that video. And in fact, like having had that conversation with them, that video is great as it is in some ways kind of makes me uncomfortable.
Chris Cortez (35:19):
Hundred percent to all that and I agree with all that, I think that’s a perfectly put and that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy and laugh at the video and all that, but it was intentional to remove Dock from the sort of circus sideshow he had become associated with. And that wasn’t just because of that video that that was almost all we remember Dock for so long. The Pirates did a pretty good job of forgetting doc. Now many would say that the town of Pittsburgh was trying to forget Dock while he was playing there. So there’s something to be said about that too. He wasn’t very popular in his own town. But we should chase that down in a second. I think the thing about finding the man underneath all that and understanding the depth of this guy and how interesting it is that this middle-class African American person and growing up in Los Angeles to sort of a strict traditional dad and mom became super into psychedelics and deep purple and Jimmy Hendricks and all those things that were cutting across counterculture at the time. And how that would sort of affect his worldview, people’s perceptions of him to me there wasn’t as much of that in the final film, but in earlier stages in rough cuts, there were a lot of discussions about Dock’s fascination with those things and how he was a seeker and that’s very different from just this sort of wild person hopped up on grainy thrown at people’s heads, which, frankly Dock also did.
Donnell Alexander (37:01):
Can we talk a little bit, I’ll drill down a little more on this because I was thinking as you were talking, but as a guy who’s the black guy at the show in the eighties it was a lot easier than being the black guy at (inaudible). So, when we talk about that crossover that he was engaged in back then, what’s your takeaway from it, Dan? The thing about the guy that he got the acid from working on green acres, I don’t remember where I got that from. That to me is the early part of this Hollywood crossover from Gardena to the green acres guy’s house to an acid.
Chris Cortez (37:42):
That’s funny, that’s not in the movie. If that’s a fact I love it.
Donnell Alexander (37:45):
Yeah. I may be inventing something here. I don’t want to be held to it, that’s what I have in my memory in terms of the girlfriend of what’s the woman? I can’t remember. Anyway. I’m sorry, I’m trying to ask you a question.
Dan Epstein (38:04):
I mean I think that historically was that crossover of kind of black culture and rock, you know, that that went both ways in the sixties. I think parliament Funkadelic is a perfect example of that, black guys getting blitzed out of their minds on acid and performing whaling rock rifts and combining it with funk and aspects of African American culture. So, I think Dock being a seeker, being somebody who was interested in everything from poetry and religion to black Sabbath and deep purple, you know, it’s just like his antenna was always up and always kind of like beeping around, like looking for something to engage that incredibly active and curious mind of his.
Donnell Alexander (39:11):
I always thought of it as a story about work, you’re fucked up, you go to work and sometimes you throw a no-hitter. Is there an inherent value to the story or just a fluke when you talk about the no-no?
Dan Epstein (39:27):
Well, I mean, for me I see it as a great counter cultural story because baseball is so traditionally strait-laced, so American, Apple pie clean cut all this. And here you have a player, a black player throwing a no-hitter, which is one of the great feats that you can do as a pitcher.
Donnell Alexander (39:58):
To correct you there. One of the great feats in the era where we touch the baseball, the great feats eventually will be in sports and there will be no touching.
Dan Epstein (40:10):
At the time,1970, baseball is still a very white Brits sport, very conservative. And here you’ve got outspoken black guy throwing a no-hitter at the very least under the tail end of an acid trip. And so I feel like it’s a great middle finger to all that sepia toned and holy and conservative and uptight about the sport.
Chris Cortez (40:55):
I love that answer. My answer is totally different, but I love it. So I’m going to presume that we’re all heads here listening and speaking. We’ve all had that time when you’re tripping that you can like throw a hundred pieces of wadded up paper in the wastebasket and never miss. Or that there’s some sort of a window of perception that you’ve crossed through that now you could do athletic feats, you could shoot a basketball more accurately or whatever that conferred benefit is, right? And you really want the story to be that. This guy takes acid and all of a sudden he can see through time and he’s just smoking players. And I think what you’ll learn is equally interesting. Which is that this was a San Diego Padres expansion team that was terrible. It was a TWI-night double hitter, a doubleheader in the rain. And Dock went out there with more talent than anybody thought he had yet and pitched a kind of messy eight walk, three hit batter, no-hitter, and the next year without 119 games and ended up starting the all-star game for the national league. So that’s what it became for me after where it started. And that journey to me is super fun.
Dan Epstein (42:28):
Well, you mean this, so sort of like this is really like beginning of Dock’s in middle flee short, but his period of greatness begins here.
Chris Cortez (42:37):
100% five solid years of pitching, right?
Donnell Alexander (42:39):
And he was not necessarily a made guy at that point. He’s four and four, right? Yeah. I mean he was not above 500 pitcher, not necessarily a roster player. Guaranteed.
Chris Cortez (42:50):
I’ll trust your stats. That sounds right.
Donnell Alexander (42:52):
Hey, you guys are great.
Donnell Alexander (42:53):
Chris Cortez mentions that the No-No dockumentary team, most of which is based in Austin, had been planning a day in date of event in theaters to commemorate the 50th anniversary. But that doesn’t seem likely. So they’re trying to figure out a digital alternative. Keep your eyes open for that. And this is going to be all for our show this week. As usual, Alex has a tweet from social media this time. It’s from Twitter. This is a response to content from our candidate editor Jesse Jesse Staniforth. It’s not fully coherent, but there’s something there. What are you thinking?
Alex Halperin (43:25):
So in Jessie’s newsletter he was talking about cannabis has confusing status under the Coronavirus, whether it’s essential or not. And Ontario seems to have come up with a system where dispensaries are closed but they can offer essentially curbside pickup. @awesomeaound1 tweets: “LOL curb side pickup/Delivery like a common black market street dealer, who has many more corners then 22 Tokyo smokes Really think this will help failing Government sanctioned weed corporations? LPs failed and lost 65% of their worth, months before the “Virus” this fixes nothing.” He’s packing like a treatise into this tweet. But the point, I think it involves saying that Canada, which is pretty hostile to its industry, things aren’t going to be getting any easier.
Donnell Alexander (44:29):
No and I’m looking at his tweet and another one of the replies and thinking the hostility toward the government and cannabis seems even more pronounced than ours here stateside. Am I reading the tea leaves right there?
Alex Halperin (44:42):
I don’t know. I mean maybe with regard to weed. There’s a lot of hostility towards our government.
Donnell Alexander (44:52):
I’m not going to compare. Even cat packer would agree with you. Okay, so that’s our tweet for the week. Have you said what you needed to say about that?
Alex Halperin (45:02):
Yeah, I think so.
Donnell Alexander (45:06):
Okay, as always, you can find us on Instagram @weedweek news or email us. We’re, email@example.com.
Alex Halperin (45:13):
For lots more weed news. You can sign up for our newsletters, WeedWeek Canada, WeedWeek, California and the original WeedWeek written by me. They’re all free and you can subscribe at www.weedweek.net. If you’re this deep into the episode, it only makes practical sense for you to immediately subscribe and review and like us on Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, whatever else you happen to be listening to. I’m Alex Halperin.
Donnell Alexander (45:34):
and I’m Donnell Alexander.
Alex Halperin (45:36):
Our show is produced by Donny Alexander and engineered by Larry Buhl. Alicia Byer wrote our theme music.