WEED DOCUMENTARIES ON NETFLIX: MURDER MOUNTAIN

weed documentaries on netflix

There aren’t many decent weed documentaries on Netflix. The category is a shortcoming of it’s potential, but it’s likely we’ll see more to come since Netflix seems to have an ever-growing penchant for true crime documentaries. With the massive success of series like Making a Murderer, The Keepers, and Evil Genius, the streaming Goliath recently released Murder Mountain, its first true crime show of 2019.

The Name

The “Murder Mountain” area got its name from the 1982 murder of Clark Stevens, who was murdered by the San Francisco Witch Killers – a serial killer duo composed of married couple Suzan and Michael Carson. But today Murder Mountain is known for its lawlessness and missing persons.

According to California County News, 717 people per 100,000 go missing in Humboldt County every year (where the show takes place). This is a staggering number compared to the rest of the state and the show attempts to direct blame for missing peoples on the cannabis industry. It’s a convenient take to go after whilst the United States sits on the fence of legalization.

Situated in the Emerald Triangle, a 10,000-square mile Northern California area stretching across Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, the weed is about as famous as BC bud. Most of this crop, at least until recently, went out of California to fuel the black market.

Focusing on this mysterious area, it presents questions of vigilante justice with the fates of those involved and a heavy dose of historical footage documenting marijuana cultivation in Humboldt. But the main theme hinges on the murder of Garrett Rodriguez, a marijuana entrepreneur living in the Rancho Sequoia area in 2012.

Coles Notes

The young man travels up to the region to make enough money to fuel his dream of building a house by the beach in Mexico and live as a full-time fisherman. But sometime between Christmas and New Years 2012, his family realized they hadn’t heard from him and eventually reported him missing. It becomes apparent in the first several episodes that a lack of police resources combined with an unwillingness to cooperate with law enforcement makes Rodriguez’s case unpresentable and unrealistic to solve. Eventually, a group of citizens in the nearby town of Alderpoint band together to confront Garrett’s suspected murderer, which leads to his body’s discovery. This vigilante group became known as the Alderpoint 8 and caused a media frenzy surrounding their act of justice.

Critique

weed documentaries on netflx 1

The whole point of the show feels stunted by intervals of morality, justice and profit. Especially with interviews of smaller growers working to meet the demands of regulation and stay afloat in a legal system on the fringe of society. This might just be a convenient story, or there’s another motive. Regardless, the show completely ignores any notion of the wealthy or those who have made fortunes in Humboldt. At one point it’s even mentioned that Humboldt County has been supplying as much as 80% of America’s weed for the last three decades… You do the math, or keep reading. There’s tons of public information regarding the wealth amassed in the area. As if that aspect, that wealth gap, doesn’t really exist.

The blind eye that opens to marijuana’s dark past and the gruesome inner workings that have somehow been masked by a new corporate presence in the cannabis industry are systematically revealed throughout the story to shine a negative light. This is, of course, to show how dark things can get in an outlawed state with no government supervision. Which in the case of cannabis, and it’s standing in America, only pushes for legalization; the thesis of this mini-series.

But that is exactly the problem with this narrative: the aspects of Humboldt that the producers decided to program into the concept of Murder Mountain. The ‘slums,’ the broken down cars, abandoned lots, and the countless murder victims. This goes without saying that anywhere there’s poverty, or the remnants of poverty, there’s the polarizing effect of wealth.

Look at it this way. In 2018 the United States smoked 8.5 billion dollars worth of cannabis. Netflix claims that 60% of that product was produced in Humboldt. That’s $5,100,000,000 generated by Humbolt’s LOCAL economy. So where’s the representation of people living GOOD? Those raking in massive margins in an unregulated market? There’s got to be plenty of them. That or Netflix is inflating the percentage for a dramatic effect. Either way, Netflix decided to showcase the lowest of the low – people fighting over 5K, killing each other over mono-crops – the hairy underbelly of the established underground. This has to be none other than a political move, or story that falls short of its potential.

5 SCI-FI BOOKS THAT ENTERTAIN & POSSIBLY ENLIGHTEN

sci-fi books

There’s a lot of Sci-Fi out there and a lot of it’s boring, or kind of lame.

One of the problems with the genre is that when technology progresses IRL, it makes the technology from old Sci-Fi books seem out of date. Unless, the author was able to guess right about what was going to happen in the future, which is very rare. The gimmick of a pretend new tech that doesn’t exist and will never exist, since it’s already been superseded, can leave a reader feeling like they are reading an instructional manual for an 8 track player.

Another reason Sci-Fi can be a bore is that the genre is used to hide weak storytelling ability: an author uses future gadgets and other gimmicks of the genre to hide lame characters and weak plots. Actually, the latter reason is what most of the Sci-Fi genre seems to be. That’s why it’s so great when you can find a truly sick, Sci-Fi book. Below are 5 examples of well written and entertaining entries into the Sci-Fi cannon.

1. The Stars My Destination – Alfred Bester

The Stars My Destination

Set in a future where people have learned that by just focusing hard enough on a physical place, you can transport yourself there. This book is FULL of amazing ideas executed brilliantly. His underlying premise on the power of will is brilliant and inspired by Aleister Crowley. This book goes beyond the genre into the realm of great fiction.

2. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

Enders Game

Based on a kid that is chosen out of billions to train as a pilot to fight against a race of insectoid aliens. This book has a 36 Chambers of Shaolin charm: lots of fascinating technical training and character development/interaction. The story itself is original and fast-paced plus it’s so good, the author made a zillion sequels.

3. Neuromancer – William Gibson

Neuromancer

The Granddaddy of Cyberpunk is also the king of the sub-genre. Apparently, re-written dozens of times rendering the writing hyper-polished and blindingly fast; it can leave your comprehension in the dust. That’s not to say this book is too challenging, its denseness manages to add to the excitement. Lots of weird techs, gnarly drugs, A.I. Philosophy and tons of violence.

4. Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon

A modern cyberpunk noir entry where peoples’ minds can be transmitted through space and then “sleeved” into new bodies. In true cyberpunk fashion, the future is not bright and when you don’t have enough money, it’s bleaker still. From an A.I. concierge with a high-velocity machine gun to cut-rate bodies that lack senses and taste discernment, the feeling this book gives you is grimy in the best possible way. The show Netflix made for this book is OK at first and the main dude in it is cool to watch but overall the show fails to capture the pumping neo-noir vibe that pervades the novel. The show is weak; the novel is strong.

5. Dune – Frank Herbert

dune book

An absolute classic. Extremely entertaining epic full of great characters and a complex universe that would make Tolkien jealous. Anyone who reads this always wishes it would never end. Too bad the sequels are so lacklustre. Truly one of the most entertaining books ever written.

If you’re looking for more content to get at after smoking, check out these Indie Comics.

DIGGING THE SOUNDS OF JAPAN IN THE ’70S AND ’80S

Early into 2018, we’ve seen a resurgence of disco and the sounds of Japan (from this era) across dance floors of the world.

Mix in Frank Ocean’s cover of Steve Monite’s 1984 Afro-Boogie gem “Only You” on his latest tour, and this conversation is making its way into the mainstream. DJ’s are digging for those gems your handsome papa used to listen to cruising the Big Sur in a vinyl roof Cadillac. And unlike the herd of Hypebeast sheep looking for that latest Supreme drop, disco and dance music fans are looking to the past.

The ’70s and ’80s were one of the greatest eras for American music, putting out some absolute bangers during that time period. Yet across the seas and out to the east, Japan put out some incredible music that resists easy classification. The genre combines Disco, Funk and Boogie into what the Japanese refer to as City Pop.

“Hey, do you want to hear something new? No, show me something old I’ve never heard before.” Here are 5 tracks to get you started with the goldmine of Japanese music spanning the 70s & the 80s.

Hiroshi Satoh – Say Goodbye 1982

Satoh’s production has aged extremely well. It sounds contemporary even in 2018. With vocoder vocals, you’d think they were paying homage to the legendary French duo Daft Punk but considering this came out 11 years before they’d even formed, that is impossible. Satoh’s able to create an extremely original sound blending the funky synths and jazz piano melodies to compliment the summertime beach vibes of the vocal.

Shigeo Sekito- The Word II 1975

This song came to the attention of Mac Demarco fans after he sampled this on “Chamber of Reflection” and later for fans of Quavo & Travis Scott on “How U Feel”. The original consists of a dreamy melody that would even assuage the nerves of my Jewish grandmother.

Tomoko Aran- I’m In Love 1983

The soft vocals of Tomoko overtop the funky basslines, electric keys and guitar solos all come together for a simply classic love song of the boogie era in Japan.

Tatsuro Yamashita – Sparkle

This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one track from Tatsuro Yamashita. Yamashita was a massive star in his home country and had also experienced some success abroad. He was a prolific artist and this tune is a testament to why. Hooking you in with an uplifting guitar rift, Yamashita adds punchy synths to get you moving. Certified banger.

Seaside Lovers- Evening Shadows

If Marvin Gaye, a Rhodes Piano, and an Elevator had a psychedelic orgy this down-tempo dream-pop track would be the product of that completely abstract and impossible love triangle. Like all things the Japanese do, they have the dedication to perfect their craft. Whether its food, tech, music or art, they just get it. Speaking of Japanese Ingenuity, Tatsuro Yamashita actually invented the Soy Sauce bottle. What a perfect invention, the sauce comes out one side and the air comes out the other, creating a perfect pour every time. You’re my boy, Yamashita! Full disclosure I have no fucking idea who invented the soy sauce bottle.

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