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John Sinclair - Free the weed 96






FREE THE WEED 96

A Column by John Sinclair


I might as well start with the bad news: My attempt at establishing a smoker-friendly coffeeshop in Detroit, which looked so hopeful just two months ago, came to an unfortunate and untimely end when we were asked to leave the site of the John Sinclair Café in a place called the Psychedelic Healing Shack at 18700 Woodward Avenue at the end of February.

Adam Brook and I opened the John Sinclair Café on New Year's Day and tried hard to implement our ideas as enumerated in last month's column, but instead of the cooperation and support we'd been promised by the Shack's proprietor, a character called Dr. Bob, assistance was consistently withheld and repeated promises of improvements were never to be forthcoming.

Other than the consistent lack of respect and consideration we encountered, the worst disappointment was Dr. Bob's failure to provide a coffee machine to produce espressos, lattes and cappuccinos as required for the operation of a coffeeshop. To this day there is no coffee machine and thus no coffee shop, so our mission didn't get its first foot off the ground.

As a proposed coffeeshop, it was impossible to operate without being able to make and serve coffee. With no product, it was impossible to hire baristas and waitpersons to serve the patrons, so we had no staff of our own and weren't able to rely on the inexperienced and often addled volunteer personnel recruited by Dr. Bob.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but this is a problem we couldn't overcome. Having announced the opening of our coffeeshop, we really couldn't really promote the Café any further without being able to deliver on what we had advertised.

Day after day for the month of January Dr. Bob and his chief factotum, a troubled cat named Jeff Chenowitz, promised over and over again that the requisite coffee machine was being (a) ordered, (b) repaired, or (c) traded for, and finally they had the coffee machine company confirm for us that the new machine would be installed in the Shack on January 27th.

I had planned to institute a nightly music program beginning with the opening of the Café and had lined up Jeff Grand on Tuesdays, Tino Gross on Wednesdays, Billy Davis on Thursdays, RasKente on Fridays, special events on Saturdays, and a poetry assemblage led by M.L. Liebler on Sunday afternoons, plus the weekly broadcast of my Radio Free Amsterdam program, The John Sinclair Radio Show, now in its 15th year, live in the Café on Monday nights.

Without anything to serve the public and no one to serve it, it seemed insane to start the music without yet being a coffeeshop, so I canceled each night's performance until the end of January. When the imminent arrival of he new coffee machine was announced, I scheduled the music to start on January 29th and hoped for the best.

Within a couple of days, however, Dr. Bob and his sidekick confessed that there would be no machine because they couldn't afford to purchase one.
Then the most incredible thing happened: Dr. Bob began shaking us down for money. It turned out that he thought I was rich and famous and could be bamboozled into bailing him out of his financial difficulties with the Psychedelic Healing Shack.

The Shack is actually a fine old house located at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Goldengate Streetthat's been under Dr. Bob's ownership since early in the 21st century. He has his chiropractic and therapeutic massage office in the front, two large open rooms in between, and a vegan kitchen and dining area in the rear, capped by a built-on, enclosed back porch area that opens onto Goldengate Street.

The open rooms in the middle were until recently occupied by a herbal, root, and crystal counter operated by Dr. Bob's now estranged wife, who took the installation with her when she moved out. The open space evidently prompted Dr. Bob and Jeff to contemplate my idea of opening a smoker-friendly coffeeshop that I had proposed to them a couple of years ago, and while I was in the rehabilitation facility in November recovering from a serious fall at my apartment on Peterboro Street just north of downtown Detroit, they invited me to open my Café in their place on New Year's Eve.

Now, anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am not and have never been a rich man. I am an impoverished poet and writer who survives on my SSI allowance, my monthly writing fee from this magazine, and whatever little money I can make from occasional poetry performances and public appearances centered on marijuana legalization. I have amassed a certain amount of notoriety through my many years of achievement in the arts and other fields and by means of my battle to overturn the Michigan marijuana laws from my prison cell during 1969-1971.

I'm perhaps best known as the subject of a song by John Lennon and as the beneficiary of his appearance in my behalf at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally at Chrysler Arena in Ann Arbor on December 10, 1971.I got out of prison three days later as a result, but I have never received any cash or royalties as a result of the song. I was the manager of the MC-5and secured them major recoding contracts with Elektra and then Atlantic Records, but they fired me in June 1969 and I've never received any payments or royalties from their record sales.

As a poet and writer I'm lucky to get my little books and musical albums published by my friends and fans and fortunate to receive a few hundred dollars now and then from my efforts. In fact, anyone who knows me knows I'm not in it for the money and that I've been following a fairly selfless bardic path since my golden experiences with peyote and LSD in the mid-1960s that shaped my life ever after and unto the present day.

The idea that I could channel money into Dr. Bob's operation is simply ridiculous. I don't have any money and I don't know where to get any. In fact, I don't even want any, and I'm in the process of giving away all my intellectual rights and properties to a non-profit entity based in Amsterdam called The John Sinclair Foundation.

My agreement with the so-called Psychedelic Healing Shack was to attempt to attract customers for Dr. Bob's operations by installing a classic old-school coffeeshop on his premises, pay the musicians from the door receipts, pay the servers from their sales revenues, and direct excess monies to Dr. Bob. Adam Brook and I are serving the John Sinclair Foundation in a voluntary capacity and had no intention of taking money out for ourselves.

This might sound crazy to you, but this is the way I am and always have been. I thought people in metropolitan Detroit deserved to have a place rich in art, music and poetry rooted in the Detroit Artists Workshop and the genuine Trans-Love Energies of yore where they could relax, have an espresso, maybe smoke a joint and enjoy themselves in the company of other like-minded individuals, artists, musicians, and fellow intellectuals.

I should mention that I am still recovering from physical injuries suffered last October. I came to the Shack in a wheelchair every day during January and have since graduated to a walker. I left my apartment and moved my bed into Dr. Bob's nearby garage, where I've been sleeping the last two months so I could get up and spend each day in residence at the Café.

That was my commitment, and to make a long story short, I did my job but it came to naught and my time at the Shack is up. I'm moving out and closing up the John Sinclair Café for now, but Adam and I and our associates Matty Lee and Mike Boulanare hoping it might open again in a different location during my ever-shrinking lifetime.

I'm sorry to go on so long about this fiasco, but so many people were pulling for our success that I wanted to explain what happened to my attempt to realize my dream, and of course it feels better to get it off my mind.

My publisher wanted me to tell you about the lawsuit I'm spearheading to get marijuana removed from the Board of Pharmacy's controlled substances list, where it sits with heroin and other Schedule I drugs even though legalized in Michigan last November by popular vote, but I'll have to do that next month because I'm out of space for March. See you at the Hash Bash Cup next month! Free The Weed!

—Detroit
February 22-23, 2019

(c) 2019 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.


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