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Stoned Stories
These are true tales containing reference to being stoned with stones. If you're not over 18 years old do not proceed without your parents' OK.

The Real Reason You Shouldn't Smoke Grass Until You're 20 Years Old

The brain takes that long to develop. The way you think is being programmed during that time by a rapid dendritic (like roots) growth of synapses that connect experience and reality with thought and action. These brain connections work for your inner bodily functions as well as your external personality and actions. Being stoned while these connections are being made can warp you out. Take a look around you at older people who started smoking when they were kids.

The main problem kicks in concurrently with the onslaught of puberty. At this time the Pituitary Gland (which has been quietly ticking along, like a tired old pharmacist, governing the secretions in your body) suddenly goes into hyper-drive and starts dispensing all sorts of chemicals that are strong enough to make hair grow, curves appear, and certain parts take on a whole new size and importance. When you smoke MARIJUANA the first part of your head to be affected is the Pituitary Gland. This gland is trying to get you ready for life. Don't get it stoned or it's most likely to screw up. Then not only is your brain warped out, but your reproductive gear is likely to mutate as well.Girls often will then suffer from a tipped uterus, irregular periods, and/or entropic pregnancies. Boys will have a lower sperm count or a sterile one, and often experience a great lag in recovery time between orgasms. Both sexes will have a greater tendency to paranoia, schizophrenia, and weirdness. Check it out.

If you can't wait until you're 20 to start bonging, give yourself a break and at least wait until you're 18. If you're a teener and already smoking, give yourself a break and QUIT. If you're a religious Christian, Muslim, or Jew regard the biblical passage: "The sins of the father are visited upon the son". Avoid genetic damage.

Previous chapters: Chapter 1

BALI – part 2

Pension Lend Ju is located almost directly across the street from the banjar (sort of like a town hall or meeting place) on Jalan Pande Kuta, the main street leading to world famous Kuta Beach. The banjar is where dances, performances, and ceremonies are held, and is the heart of the village. Every adult belongs to the banjar and must contribute time and labor to its upkeep. Banjar Pantai Kuta specializes in the Barong, or Kris Dance. The Barong is a sacred object, sort of like the two-man dragons you see parading down the streets of Chinatown on Chinese New Year . . . but much more elaborate and bedecked. During the Barong Dance, some of the men will go into trance. They stagger around, eyes rolled back, sweating profusely, and wielding a kris (a curvy-bladed short sword with a long sharp pointed tip). When the spirit has entered them, they set about trying to stab themselves in most imaginative ways. They’ll grab the hilt with both hands, place the point on their solar plexus, and try to pull the kris into their body. When that doesn’t work, they’ll move the point up to the hollow of the throat and try again. Still frustrated, the top dancers will then fall on their sword. They just drop straight forward like a tree falling. The sword hilt hits the ground, the blade bends into a curve from the force of their body weight and becomes the third leg of a tripod: sword hilt and the bent toes of their two feet. They’ll hang like that trying to force the sword point into their throat until some of their fellows come to help them out of the trance. Sometimes this involves forcing a few shots of arak (white lightning) into the dancer; if that doesn’t bring him around they resort to sterner measures, like having him bite the head off a live baby chicken. That usually snaps them out of it.

Pension Lend Ju is one of the domiciles that backs onto the temple enclosure wherein lives the Barong in his own "tabernacle", a special little wooden house just for him. It is mostly goldsmiths that surround the temple enclosure, sort of watching each other’s backs.

Upon my arrival in Kuta, Lend Ju put me in Arkansas Bob’s old room and told me that I, like Bob, would be "the keeper of the gate". All eight rooms were tiny, containing 2 single beds, a nightstand with kerosene lamp, and a little wardrobe suited for people who wear sarongs. The mattresses were stuffed with coconut fiber and slung on coconut fiber ropes. Each room had a double sliding window looking on to the inner courtyard, the dirt of which was swept twice daily, growing with a profusion of bougainvillea, papaya, bananas, and hibiscus. In front of that window were placed two bamboo chairs and a small bamboo table. Every morning it would be set with coffee, fruit, and pastry.

I put my gear away, grabbed the Stick, and took a walk around town. Unlike Bali of today, in the early 1970’s the locals vastly outnumbered the tourists. The first thing I noticed was that I was one of the few people dressed in pants. Sarongs were worn by every one of both sexes. Married men wore a red sleeping hibiscus behind their left ear, unmarried behind the right. The village policemen were easily recognizable: well over 60 years old, dressed all in white, and wearing a BIG red hibiscus behind the ear. The women wore flowers too, and seemed to float along in their undulating sarongs, many of the older ones going traditionally bare-breasted. The kids were extremely agile and energetic, and as friendly as a puppy in the pound. A bicycle whizzed by, festooned with six lads from about 3 years old to 10, each perfectly balanced and yodeling with joy.
As I poked along I heard for the first time the never-ending Indonesian opening line: "Hi, where you from? Where you going? Where you stay? What your name?" By answering those first three questions you’ve just given them all the information they need to know how much money you’ve got, how much time they have to get it, and what they need to show you in order for you to buy. They also know where everybody is. That’s one reason why the Indonesians were so quick to nab the Sari bombers, and why ASIO and the orang buleh are out of their depth.

I returned to the losman Pension Lend Ju through the gate in the wall, and decided to do the beach. I put on my speedos, and thought about sarongs. Off of the bed I pulled the thick white cotton sheet with the blue stripes that all losmans used, wrapped it around my waist, and strode down Jalan Pande Kuta towards the sounds of the surf. The happy friendly Balinese were smiling and waving from their shops and doorways as I sauntered along, and cracking up with laughter and pointing at the tall white clown dressed in a bedsheet as I passed by. When I returned from the justly famous Kuta surf they were all smiling and waiting for me, leaving a peal of giggles in my wake.

That evening while dining at Made’s Warong on Jalan Pande Kuta, I ran into a friend of mine who had left Kuranda for Bali a few weeks before me. This was also Graham’s first trip, and after a classic dinner of nasi campur we went back to the losman where he was staying. His had 12 rooms inhabited by an eclectic mixture of guys and gals. There was a Swiss banker who was slumming it, a dairy-fresh honeymoon cow couple from New Zealand, and amongst the ladies was Paula, a stunning mademoiselle who Graham was attempting to corral. There were bongs on half of the tables, so it wasn’t too hard to score a smoke . . . and some valuable information: the restaurant where they served mushroom soup and omelets.

I walked back to my losman, sat outside my room smoking a hot one, and formulated a regimen for my mornings to come: get up just after first light, pull on my long cotton pants and walk to the beach, run the soft sand a mile or so to Legian Beach, do B.O.T.A. ritual and yoga, run back to Kuta and take a swim along the way. I’d then walk back to the losman and have a mande, which is a Balinese bucket bath. By that time Ranik (Lend Ju’s wife) would have my coffee on the table.

The next morning after my run and swim I wanted to see more of the village, but not dressed in pants or a bedsheet. I walked into a shop and bought a sarong. It was hard to pick from the hundreds of patterns and designs, but I found one I liked in a turquoise blue, with white fans and seashells on it. I went back to Pension Lend Ju to change clothes. I wasn’t too sure how to wrap the thing, but sort of like a towel around the waist is what I managed. The wrap was a little tight, shortening my stride a bit, but I figured I’d get used to it. I went for a walk around the village in my new sarong . . . this time leaving a chorus of guffaws and laughter in my wake, as the Balinese pointed at the bearded ex-bedsheet guy now mincing down the lane in a woman’s sarong.

Bali was and still is the greatest spot for entering or exiting Asia. The people of Bali are the most accommodating I’ve ever run across. If you don’t know your Muslim (or any) Asian manners (right hand/left hand, etc) this is a good place to practice. The Balinese are officially "Hindu", and are more forgiving of faux pas, even though they practice a Halal lifestyle themselves. Equally, after one has been living in Asian villages for any extended period of time, Bali offers the re-emerging Marco Polo a great re-integration venue for once again joining with the "real world".

So I was finally informed that men wore patterns and women wore swirlly stuff. I started looking around. During the Barong, the men wore a semi-checked pattern of black, white, and grey. Whenever a ceremony called for the cladding of a statue (like a Raksa, guardian of most bridges and passage points) they were clad in the black, white, and grey. Positive, negative, and the land in between. I bought one, since I figured I was now keeper of the gate.

Eventually I gained enough confidence to venture a bimo ride to Denpasar, the capitol of Bali. A bimo is a pickup truck with a tarp, two rows of seats facing each other down the length, loaded with pigsgoatschickens&kids, women with baskets full of produce, and a fast driver. Sort of like a bus, it stops anywhere to pick you & your load up and, if necessary, stuff you like a sausage full of fluffing feathers and barking ducks. There are no load limits.

So far the Stick had been nothing more than a long thing I carried. I often left it in the room, and rarely took it to the beach. My first trip to Denpasar involved me climbing into a bimo, turning around, and taking my seat. This caused the Stick to graze the knees of three ladies, who threw me a minor scowl as a sign of their disapproval. It was then that I realised I was in a country built for shorter people. What I, and the Stick, had considered "our space" was going to have to shrink a bit. (Who is the Stick? See the last episode of stoned stories).

We’re going to cut a long story short here, but that day and that lesson led me to the absolute conclusion that I owe my loyalty/faith/dedication/purpose to ONLY the "One Thing". I’d been there before, and look forward with confidence to being there again, but for the story’s sake, consider this an epiphany moment. My skill with the stick was pretty good, living in Australia where there’s plenty of open space. In Asia, you’re never alone. No such thing as being "out of eyesight and earshot". In this ancient, very crowded part of the world, people tend to compress their space. It was time for the Stick to learn how to function in a compressed space. We did lots of neat tricks, mainly evolving from holding the Stick closer to the fulcrum, and using gravity to drop the Stick at a moment’s notice through the suddenly opened fingers, resulting in a new grip and angle of access.

Meanwhile, I’d run into Graham again, and he invited me back to his losman for a smoke. By now EVERY table had a bong on it . . . except for the moooooning honeymooners (she could have won "Miss N.Z. Dairy"). They knew that marijuana was illegal. What they weren’t too sure of was these mushrooms we were talking about. If they were served from a restaurant they must surely be legal, and therefore ergo et sum: they must be less potent than that evil weed. And so we organized an omelet breakfast for the entire losman the next morning. We’ll skip the ensuing euphoria an hour after breakfast, and suffice it to say that the honeymooners discovered there was more to life than cows, and the Swiss banker phoned his bosses in Zurich to tell them they could stuff their job where the watch doesn’t wind, and he was never coming back . . . and, to my recent knowledge, he never has.

It was after this trip that things started to open up for me. I was meeting the goldsmiths and watching them work. While living in the uncivilized-no-electricity rainforest of Kuranda, I was always excusing myself because I couldn’t get the proper power tools . . . but here were people turning out master work for centuries with no more than a hammer, couple of filed nails, a gasoline fired torch with a foot pump, and a kiln with palm frond bellows melting gold over the heat of coconut shell coals.

When I’d left America to move to Australia in 1972 I wore a leather reversible belt. One side showed only leather, the other showed eight "brass" conchos that were actually the finest 24kt gold produced in America, weighing one ounce each. Since over 95% of the refined gold that comes into Asia comes through Hong Kong where it is heavily "taxed" (now it’s taxed in China before going to H.K.), no goldsmiths I ever ran across had ever seen gold as pure as mine. Asians feel that anything less than 22kt isn’t really gold. The kudos I gained with a top goldsmith by offering him the finest gold he’d ever worked with in, say, 40+ years of his life (plus my own modest but accurate four-view and 3-D renderings of my designs) resulted in some phenomenal works. I’d start them off with the design in silver, and with a lesser valuable, but twin to a more expensive stone. Occasionally this required more than one silver prototype. If you consider the level of the smith’s expertise you can see why the silver prototypes more than paid for themselves in the long run.

In making my way around Kuta to meet the various smiths, I was inevitably introduced to Rudha, Lend Ju’s father in law. Rudha is the man who started Kuta Beach as a center for jewelry work. In those days Kuta was a swamp that nobody wanted to live in, much like Waikiki was when they decided to develop Hawaii for tourism. Rudha was a consummate artiste in many realms of Balinese art, particularly mask painting. His remarkable jewelry work was selling to the tourists who would occasionally arrive by luxury liner and visit the hotels in Denpasar. The demand for his pieces was increasing, so he moved to Kuta Beach and established the first apprentice workshop that included two large huts and employed some of the few locals as beginners. Lend Ju was one of these. He proved to be one of the best, and so was brought under Rudha’s wing as an apprentice. Under Balinese custom this made him Rudha’s son. That’s the good news. Another news is that he fell in love with Ranik, Rudha’s daughter, which is prohibited because Lend Ju as an apprentice is now Ranik’s brother . . . and this constitutes incest. Can love conquer all? They eloped (a common occurrence in Bali) and were given a piece of land by the Banjar, as is the way, but were disowned by Rudha. Lend Ju dug the sand and Ranik winnowed it through a series of baskets in order to collect enough gold to make their wedding rings.

Sorry about the jumping around of names like Ranik, Rudha, Lend Ju, etc. I’m just trying for a little accuracy here. As time and this story go on, you’ll meet them all again often. Actually, all the Balinese share one of four names: Wyan, Made, Nyoman, Katut. That sort of stands for first born, second born, etc. If they have five kids, they start again. This was probably my first factual confirmation of the magic. I could walk up to anyone in the village and ask "Have you seen Katut?" and they would reply, "Yes, he’s just gone to the market". How did they always know which of the Katuts I mean? They always do.

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