Tuesday, November 10, 2020


Lost in the biggest election news of my 44 year old lifetime, was the monumental decision by Garden Staters to legalize a plant that can be grown in the garden. 

Put less cleverly, weed is now legal in Jersey. This is exciting, socially. And personally.

I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again because it happened when holding Mary Jane could get you locked up. And even sent to the Big House.

For those who don't know, I grew up in Suffern, NY. It's located right on the northern border of New Jersey. You could literally find a spot, just south of Kinchley's Pizza on Franklin Turnpike, and straddle both states simultaneously. You know, until some road raging native honks the horn and yells out the window...

"Get outta the road you fuckin' hard on!"

In any case, those of us from that area identity with both states. And a great deal of my misguided youth was spent in Mahwah, Ramsey and Paramus, making me an unofficial Jersey Boy. 

Years ago, on a trip back to my misspent youth, my buddy Bob invited me to spend a weekend down at the shore, in Belmar, with some friends of his. There was a group of 6 or 7 girls and guys and I thought sure, that would fun. It was after breaking up with a long time girlfriend and my dad had just passed, I could use the frivolity.

But I got more than I bargained for.

While drinking beers on a stoop at 3 in the morning and passing around a communal joint, I felt the sudden sting of cold metal on my wrist. From out of nowhere, an undercover cop sprung up behind me and slapped some bracelets on me as well as the woman sitting next to me -- her name was very Jersey, something like Stacey, Donna, Karen or Elaine.

In any case, "Donna" and I were tossed in the back of a car and hauled off to the Belmar City Hall where we were introduced to their holding tank. I spent the night on a cement block in a stinking cell that smelled like the inside of a piss trough that hadn't been flushed in a month.

I know it sounds dreary and miserable, but I was young, and drunk, and sort of enjoyed the whole unfamiliar experience, knowing intuitively this was one of life's adventures that would make a good story. 

And I haven't even reached the most important part of the tale. 

You see, one of the guests at the shore house was a guy named, Kevin, or Jeremy, or Doug, something also typically Jersey. And "Doug" was an undercover FBI agent, who had the badge to prove it. He told us great stories about how he was assigned to shadow a known KGB agent.

As we were being arrested, "Doug" looked at me surreptitiously and held his finger to his mouth. Meaning don't blow his cover and say anything to the police. A request I faithfully respected. The next morning, Bob and "Doug" showed up at the jail and bailed me and "Stacey" or "Donna" out. We were told he pulled some strings on our behalf.

As I was gleefully exiting the jail, I was handed a green sheet of mimeograph paper (this was in 1989.) It was my official notice to return to Belmar in two months for a hearing on my misdemeanor. Suffice to say, I didn't show up.

Nor did I ever pay the $967 fine. Nor have I ever paid attention to the bench warrant that is probably still on the books for my immediate arrest should I ever return for a visit to the Garden State.

But now, with the legalization of marijuana in the fine state of New Jersey, I am free at last.

Free at last. 


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