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Rolling Stoned: The Fire is on Fire

By Zack Ruskin
Sep 15, 2020
Benjamin Butler, 5, poses for a portrait with his toy guitar and Metallica hat while celebrating his birthday with his family during a drive-in concert screening featuring Metallica held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, Calif. Saturday, August 29, 2020. Airing at drive-in and outdoor theaters across North America on August 29, the show is Metallica's first concert of 2020 and it's the band's first show in nearly a year. The band is also the first non-country act to participate in the concert series, proving that artists of different genres are interested in the drive-in model.

Sometimes words fail you.

In essence, that’s why there hasn’t been a newsletter for the past three weeks. California has been on fire, as you hopefully know. A dear friend and her husband lost their home in Santa Cruz; the sky was the color of a pumpkin-spiced nightmare last week. Things have been rough, is what I’m saying.

In any event, there are still a bunch of words I am responsible for typing that appeared in some spots and it helps precisely no one if I don’t try my best to share these stories. With that in mind, here’s a very quick summary of what I’ve published since I last came knocking. Read what you’d like, skip it all… honestly, I just hope you’re hanging in there.

I promise to do the same and let’s meet next week, same time and place.


Chapel’s outdoor, socially distanced SF concert in tune with future
(San Francisco Chronicle)

I went to what was ostensibly the first sanctioned live concert in San Francisco of the COVID era. It was an orchestra playing David Lynch music in a parking lot. It was weird but also beautiful.

Metallica at the drive-in: Bay Area fans rock out at first screenings of pandemic-era concert (San Francisco Chronicle)

Following the above excursion, I subsequently interviewed Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo about recording a concert with no fans in a Sonoma winery before attending a screening of said film at an Alameda drive-in. The band shared the story, which was awesome.

I will save my first Sunday Datebook Pink Cover, on my beloved Musee Mecanique, for next week. Ditto a chat in Datebook with the author of a delightful novel about a robotic screenwriter!


Apothecarium Berkeley Opens Despite Pandemic (SF Weekly)

The Apothecarium is a popular line of pot shops here in the Bay Area. I visited their latest store to open, located on Telegraph Avenue, to get an idea of what it’s like to open a legal dispensary in the midst of a pandemic.

SFPD, Pot Shops Work on Their Communication (SF Weekly)

Last Tuesday, a number of high-profile members of the SFPD met with local cannabis operators via Zoom to discuss a recent wave of robberies and best practices moving forward. The meeting was organized by SF’s Office of Cannabis and poses interesting questions about the relationship between legal weed businesses and local law enforcement.

Profile: Hood Incubator (California Leaf Magazine; pg. 32)

I spoke with the founders of Hood Incubator, a Black-led, Bay Area based organization committed to reversing the harmful impacts of America’s drug war. Lanese Martin and Ebele Ifedigbo are truly incredible people and it was my honor to write about their work and vision. For a bonus read, flip to page 16 for my Q&A with Andrea “Dre” Villatoro, budtender at Mission Cannabis Club.

Comedy Host Jimmy Fallon Ridicules Children’s Book About Weed (Bloom & Oil)

“The offense in question occurred during an August 10 segment in which Fallon makes fun of books. Before the context of cannabis is even broached, is ragging on the printed word truly the best use of Fallon and his writers’ resources? Only months removed from a presidential election of profound consequence and days into a deadly heatwave that continues to ravage Fallon’s own state of California, it’s somewhat staggering to contemplate that the collective opinion of The Tonight Show staff was that dissing books was an excellent use of their time.”

Historic California Wildfires Threaten Cannabis Crops (Bloom & Oil)

Sadly, this story is now out-of-date but it still works as a solid primer on how California’s wildfires are also devestating for cannabis growers. The damage since this ran… it’s very, very bad.

President Carter Confirms His Son Once Smoked Weed with Willie Nelson at the White House (Bloom & Oil)

This one is actually fun. Willie is the best.


Okay, that’s all for today. Thanks for reading this and I’ll try to be back next Tuesday (and the one after that too).

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