Freedom Fighter Reunion; Hash Bash 2017

freedomfighterconventionBack in 1987, the marijuana rally scene had long since faded away, and it wasn’t until a group called the Freedom Fighters appeared that the modern rally scene took off. That’s because in the late 1970s, the media was using smoke-ins to mine images of hippies smoking joints in public, and these images were greatly alarming mainstream America, and were helping turn people against legalization. Because it was so difficult to distinguish hippies from burnt-out drug fiends on looks alone, NORML began a policy of not supporting smoke-ins. It was the birth of what became known as “the suits versus the stoners.”
I thought it was a silly policy by NORML because you can’t have a culture if you don’t congregate and hold ceremonies. So when I got a letter from some students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor saying their legendary Hash Bash founded by John Sinclair was down to less than a dozen die-hards and about to die, I took action by creating the High Times Freedom Fighters. The concept of wearing tri-corner hats and Colonial outfits was to help carry the new message about hemp and our founding fathers, while also costuming the members so that their appearance could not be held against them. The Freedom Fighters became instant magnets at every rally because news crews seek people in colorful costumes. Members were trained to start talking about George Washington and hemp as soon as any cameras were rolling on them.
14753363_10153757053487024_6239109113042836686_oTo encourage participation, members were given pins at every rally they attended and there was even one letter-writing campaign where you could get a pin with a blue Liberty Bell for every response you got from Congress. John Birrenbach gathered so many responses his tricorn became smothered in pins. I didn’t initially realize the implications of what we were doing, but the magic began manifesting on a big scale right away, and the costumes and Betsy Ross flags were certainly helping.
Within two years, the Freedom Fighters became the largest legalization group in the country and only required $15 to get a lifetime membership that included the Freedom Fighter Newsletter edited by Linda Noel, who was the original brains behind the Boston Freedom Rally. From their inception, the Freedom Fighters were wired into my Cannabis Cup, and a member elected by open council to attend the Cup all-expenses paid every year, an honor won by luminaries like Jack Herer and Gatewood Galbraith. It was bizarre when High Times told me to give up the organization saying it conflicted with my editorial duties. I’d amassed a volunteer army of over 10,000 members, and many were enthusiastic supporters pouring immense energy into creating new rallies and other cannabis events all over the country. It was certainly snowballing.
14642352_10154731718660921_9065905013702339237_nThis background is all in the way of announcing a Freedom Fighter reunion at the 2017 Hash Bash. I’ll be looking for a psychedelic bus to take us there, and a site where we can hold a proper ceremony honoring our departed hemp heroes. Jack, Gatewood, Chef Ra, and Tom and Rollie of Rainbow Farm.
We will also be doing inductions for the Pot Illuminati, my replacement for the long defunct Freedom Fighters.

My Guide to Zero Budget Publishing

prmo2After three years of self-publishing, I have some hints for newbies in the field.
1) I suggest joining Quora and using that site to navigate all forks in the road. Before undertaking any new project, ask Quora for advice. You typically get a response from an expert in the field within hours. Most Quora users are polite and seeking information only and there is an unspoken rule against hostile behavior, although some of the younger users engage in flame wars and loaded emotional content.
2) Set up a free blog. Three years ago, I asked Quora, “what is the best blogging site,” and determined WordPress was the option I liked. It’ll take time to design and tweak your blog, and you need to blog something everyday for a month or two before you’ll get any sense of bearings and find your unique voice and subject matter. Look for an under-developed niche that doesn’t have a lot of competition. Many of my books began as a series of blogs on a subject that interested me, a list that includes my most recent one, Killing Lincoln: The Real Story.
3) Feed your blog into social media sites, and use social media daily. Every book should have its own Facebook page.
4) Create a video site, Youtube or Vimeo are the big ones. Video is the best way to promote any product. Even a video shot on your smart phone can be useful.
5) Join ToonBoom to make your promo videos. To get HD resolution, you’ll need to pay an annual fee, which is worth it. Your animations will download easily to your video site. No experience is necessary to make professional-looking animations instantly.
6) Join Klout to get feedback on the effectiveness of your social media. Whenever you experience a bump on Klout, that indicates something is working. Find out what that is and keep doing it. Without a feedback loop like Klout, it’s difficult to judge how effective your social media is.
6) Publish your book on Smashwords and CreateSpace, or some other combination of ebooks and print-on-demand.
7) Join Prlog to circulate a free press release. These likely won’t get much attention, but every book should have an official-looking release that can be circulated on social media. You should post a promotional blog that provides links to your promo video(s) and press release(s).
8) Answer questions on Quora daily related to the topic of your book. Strive to become one of the most read posters on your subject of choice. The top ten in every subject are awarded honors on Quora, and it is not difficult to become one if you have good information to share.
When all these cylinders are up and humming, you’ll likely be on your way to a career in self-publishing on zero budget.
Good luck and happy publishing.

May the circle keep on tokin'

chefraDedicated to James “Chef Ra” Wilson
G                                                 G7
I was standing by my window
………C                           G
On a cold and cloudy day
………………………………Em
When I saw Chef Ra a-skating
…………..G                D7        G
Come to carry my blues away.

 

G                                               G7
May the circle keep on tokin’
…………….C                           G
Bye and bye Ra, bye and bye
……………………………….Em
There’s a better world awaiting
…………G         D7         G
In the sky Ra, oh so high.
G                                                         G7
Well, I noticed, the town was lonely
………..C                         G
For Chef Ra, he had gone
………………………………Em
All his friends, we were cryin’
………….G            D7            G
For we felt so sad and alone.
G                                               G7
May the circle keep on tokin’
………….C                      G
And get high, oh, so high
…………………………….Em
There’s a better time awaiting
……….G           D7              G
In the sky, with Ra, so high.
G                                      G7
Undertaker, undertaker
……………..C                             G
Won’t you please drive by slow
……………………………..Em
For that man you are a-haulin’
………….G         D7           G
We so hate to see him go.
G                                               G7
May the circle keep on tokin’
………….C                             G
And get high, Ra, oh so high
………………………………Em
There’s a better world awaiting
…………G       D7            G
In the sky Ra, in the sky.