Banh Mi Me On The Flip Side

greedy clown     On the morning after the copycat supreme court affirmed that freedom isn’t free, never has been, as if, and dues must be paid to a lawyer with reach and pull, which can hardly be disputed, except by dickheads and crumbums, like duh, I tracked a swinging pair of hummingbirds loop complex fig-8’s above a knoll of deep purple sage. A red-tailed hawk trailed by a wannabe crow performed his fig-8’s alone. The hawk was a stud. The crow wasn’t bad. I tried to keep up. I tried to believe it’s the thought that counts. But, nah. Miles Davis was blowing his mind out of the window. His eyes were closed, hips unlocked. That man was free.

smoke in color

I heard, “What are you doing out there?”

I countered, sensibly, “What does it look like?”

I heard, “Don’t you think you should stop?”

I stopped myself from asking why she was not in middle school. Who can keep up with all the new entitlements offered for the benefit of these lazy slackers?

I said, “It might look like something different, but I’m working. It’s a process.”

I heard, “Yeah, right.”

“Hey-ya-ya-ya, hey-ya-ya-ya. It’s a sacred chant from the Lenni-Lenape.”

“I’ll have to Google it before I can believe that.”

“It keeps me grounded. ”

“I can believe that.”

I said, “Chalk one up for my side.”


I heard, “Yeah, right.”

Later, my side had more proof. The polling numbers from those inspired by the freedom smoke weed and ingest edibles were going boffo. Freedom was looking pretty fucking free in all key demographic groups.  Codgers were coming out in droves, boomers, dweebs, brahmans, bros, ascetics, unmentionables, geeks. Lt Guv Gavin Newsom was uplifting staid tectonic plates with the words he paid me to put into his gleaming mouth. Pipefitters came out, urban planners, dry wallers, meat cutters, nude models, starving artists. Even Plumas County was chipping in. At the end of the day, don’t we all really want the same thing out of the freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles? Too bad Albert Einstein is no longer around to plug his preference for blond Lebanese hash. Jonas Salk, too.

“The ideal chant needs accompaniment from a rattle filled with dried beans and corn to get best results,” I conceded.

Still later, and on the flip side of a vision borrowed from Stevie Wonder, I had six new speeches in the can that had been concocted by my prime free-lance sub-contractor, the Unpaid Internet Content Provider. Together, we provided the boost in studly performance that any inflamed stump speaker needs to pass muster. All Lt Guv Gav Newsom had to add was the right gloss of spit and aplomb. And wham-bam. Freedom was surely coming on the glory train now. Before long, the joint was bound to be jumping, going ’round and ’round. Passage of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, AUMA, was coming home to roost, baby. If a man that made-up can’t beat all comers astride his runaway bandwagon on the golden road, what lesser edibles might the population be ingesting? Salt, fats, carcinogens? But, still.


My professional political handler, a strapping brunette who bullied bland bureaucrats into the correct prone positions was due to arrive with a fresh ration of roast pork banh mi with extra jalapenos and pickled carrots any minute, along with the reams of encrypted data that come in handy to wrap rock cod snagged from Monterey Bay before freezing. I can’t say she was happy, because as a principled response to opportunism she doesn’t do happy, but she was more reliable than the data. The daikon she dealt out was snappy, too. I realize I must strive to remain humble and respect the carrier of rare banh mi into the Santa Cruz Mountains at all times. She used to be a so-so cloistered artist before getting blackballed by aggressive Stalinists in the abstract fields of figurative pastels, which was severely verboten, sort of. With all of the first-hand experience she garnered from the in-fighting between iron-fisted curators and ham-handed hacks, politics logically came next after teaching kindergarten. Who else understood that every impulsive gesture had to be categorized and shelved as political deception? Crawling up from the muck was never easy. Shallow comes first, and sticks. The historical problem humans have endured with deep breathing began as soon as we became trapped by air out of water.


When it came, the knock on the door was distinctive. No one else I knew bothered with knocking. Each distinctive knock expects a response. Who needs that? Expectations, as we learn with wisdom, are killers. And the door stayed unlocked no matter what. But, my handler was a real pro, who was not happy to be forced to come all this way out in the middle of nowhere. Like, where was that? Freedom is fine in its place, in a straight line, like any tool, with strict rules in place for correct handling, but still no excuse for anarchy. She would have made a good linebacker in a solid 3-4 defense. Her hair looked as if she already owned the helmet.


The yang twin happened to answer the odd knock on the door due to the savage state of consciousness he calls boredom. It is what it is, but in a good way. He was nearing the end of his twelfth year in the throes of the terrible two’s. She eyed him with the sort of chronic suspicion that perks up his ears, nose, and throat for the scent of sparks about to be flying. No standard zone defense will work against that. He’s also an experienced opponent playing man to man, beats me all day even if I cheat, which I am not ashamed to do.

She glared when he did not display a desire to play nice with others. He returned the glare, and then some. She gave it right back at him. He wasn’t giving in.  She wasn’t giving in. He blocked her path. She was determined. He was fierce. She nudged. He pushed. She pushed back. He feinted. She lunged. He slipped her shove. She kept on coming. He stepped back. He watched her fall. He stood over. He gloated.


Before snagging the bag of banh mi, he let me know, “It’s for you.”

Though I’d seen it coming I did not join in the gloating. It’s the foolish lunge that often leads to downfall. My handler pretended she had it secretly worked out that way. I pretended I did’t see that she had to get back up. I continued chewing a nutty home-made muffin. I offered her a clear glass of water. She scoffed. We did our monkey business, but good.

Then I declared, “So we’re all set,”

She scoffed some more. I took that to be a good sign. Wrong. Her plot had clotted, mixed, thickened, thinned. A spinning wheel whirred. I felt as if I was hearing the screech of an archaic needle scratching a golden oldie off of the hit parade.

According to my faultless memory, I may have muttered, “Ugh.”

I hardly had a chance to say what I was really thinking, which could hardly be an utterance any more appropriate than what the fuck, when I caught first glimpse of what she held in her claws. The sight right in front of my eyes was looking right back at me. Unlike mine,the eyes were spooky. I was spooked. The eyes were smiling. A dense study in dark black and wan white.

The smiley eyes were located roughly in the center of what had once been an innocent white t-shirt in the Watts warehouse of an ordinary silk-screen printer. The blameless screen printer was a pillar of the 103rd St. community. It wasn’t his fault his son turned out to be a Grape St. Crip. The man went to church and sang bass in the choir. He paid a heavy load of shitty taxes. The same ink had been economically utilized to spell out the what, the why, and the wherefore: LT GUV GAV 4 U.

“It’s an idea we are considering

“Cool colors.”

“Crisp and clean”

“Are those eyes looking back at me going to start speaking?”

“It’s still ambiguous at this stage.”

“Trust the data.”

Then she left. That worked out way better for me and for freedom to smoke weed and ingest edibles. I felt proud that my hips had remained unlocked throughout the ordeal. The crux of all politics is us against them but I was thinking more about here and now. I tend to like my light a lot less opaque. For that I was thanking Stevie Wonder. I began to clearly see the air bubbles rising higher. I stuck right alongside like a speck of free radical dust. What if I made no more false moves from now on? What if freedom continues to become more free? What if the cranky codgers on the copycat supreme court got canned and had to get a real job?


About marclevytoo

writer of fiction
This entry was posted in family, fiction, food, humor, legalize marijuana, parenting, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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