Buying Legal Weed in Illinois

Photo by Roman; panel from the 2006 Artists of the Wall

Weed is now legal in Illinois. That’s not news even if it is new. The long lines to purchase cannabis in various formulations were a spectacle. They were crazy. Unappealing. Deterring. But along came Friday, January 3rd. I had an errand at a bank several CTA Red Line stations southward… And there’s a cannabis dispensary / store just a few more stops south. Surely some of the crowds must have dissipated by now… Should I check it out?

Isn’t it amazing how reason can be enlisted to fulfill a heart’s desire?

So Noon found me walking up the street toward the dispensary, except it suddenly seemed the dispensary was across the street and a block south from where it should be. What gives? There were two security guards on the street. They confirmed: This is the line for recreational customers. Oh look, there’s only a dozen folks queued before the door. I didn’t ask the guards for the wait time.

Isn’t it amazing how blindness can be enlisted to fulfill a heart’s desire?

Well, it didn’t take but five minutes or so for the line to move indoors. That was a majorly optimistic event, but the scene inside should have argued otherwise. When you fold the queue as if it were an intestine, you can pack away quite a few people. And they don’t even complain about what they are going through.

Isn’t it amazing how “in for a penny, in for a pound” disarms sensible responses among humans? You can do almost anything to them. It’s like hypnotizing a chicken with a white line.

But truly, the dispensary had done something clever and almost wise. It was clearly not a good thing all around to have a line of customers down and around the block outside. A storefront show room was available just down the street from the dispensary. Rent this, use it to house a line that would have been otherwise seriously miserable and unsightly. The dispensary embellished this by handing out order forms with a redemption coupon that both promised a future discount and I.D.’d your order. It would be there when you finally made it to the dispensary.

Placing the order turned out to be a bit of a hassle though it was minor compared to the wait. Each clipboard with order form included a printed menu of what was in stock. The people staffing the line clearly did not trust the dispensary’s stated inventory, especially of cannabis flowers, whether prerolled or bulk. They recommended ordering a general category, e.g. sativa flowers 1 gram. And quantities were rationed.

It turns out that once you arrived at the point of sale, the check-out staff were pretty flexible, within State law, about revising your order. I suspect that it was partly that customers were going to insist on this flexibility anyway, and when you’re dealing with a long day of dealing with a huge crowd, who needs the hassle?

The wait stretched on. The line moved periodically, in quanta just large enough to subtly reward your patience. It helped, also, that most of the waiting customers were in a generally good mood, maybe some had taken a head start while at home. This was bolstered by a few security personnel who seemed both mission driven and genuinely appreciative of people. They also periodically handed out free hot dogs (including ketchup for all the out-of-state visitors), bottled water and tangerines. A magician worked the line, pulling items from noses and ears and fooling with unsuspecting decks of cards. Unfortunately, I had no thirst nor any discernible appetite. Give me access to a bathroom and I’ll be okay. Incidentally, considering the crowd, the men’s room, at least, was okay.

For my part, I’m a geezer. My time is both incredibly precious and incredibly devalued. Waste an afternoon in line? I can do that! The out-of-pocket cost is negligible but in the long run…

The crowd, come to speak of it, was largely white and male, though most ethnicities and genders were represented, only not in numbers that reflected the local population. It was possibly skewed toward youth. Certainly my fellow geezers were there, but not many and I’m not old enough for the casualty rate to be quite that high. And on that Friday afternoon, it turned out that a large percentage, though not a majority, of the waiting customers were from out of state.

If there were anything amiss with the dispensary’s strategy, it might have been in relying on a pacific crowd. There were a lot of people in that waiting room and there was only one obvious exit. (There were other exits but not obvious.) It was not a place for any sort of panic.

The final step was queuing to clear the dispensary’s identification check: driver’s license or passport. They scanned the barcodes on these, so just how much information you’re giving up by engaging in this transaction… now that is an interesting question, even though the transactions were all cash.

It was a gruelling experience. It reminded me of the time, some decades ago, when a great many AMTRAK trains had unreserved seating. I boarded a way oversold train in Springfield, Illinois, then had to stand all the way to Joliet, Illinois. It’s a long state, is Illinois. And on Friday, I finally made it home from the dispensary after 5 PM almost as exhausted as I was at my homecoming on that trip from Springfield.

I also smelt distinctly as if I had been rolling about in a barn full of harvested weed. Come to think of it, the crowd in the waiting room smelt like that, too, and none of them had been to the dispensary. One could only blame the staff, then, as the dispensary itself did smell like a harvest barn. The latest research into human biomes suggests that we shed our passenger micro-organisms (who reside in and on us in often in greater numbers than our own cells) in a way that is distinctly individual. By sampling a room, they can, for a few hours, identify previous occupants. Wow! Imagine that waiting room as a Grand Central Station for microbes. Do they have a ticket to ride?

So: was it worth the adventure? No and yes.

No: I would not willingly again spend 4 or more hours waiting in line to buy weed.

On the other hand: When the steam heat begins to sound like a chorus of castrati singing like theremins accompanied by Tuvan throat singers in complex melodies and rhythms… Well! You know you have arrived.

Photo by Roman.

Street Lit

Photos / graphics by Roman.

There are fads and fashions in governing not unlike other areas of social activity, like clothing or music or food. It’s not clear to me just what, beyond fashion, is so attractive about making sodium vapor street lights look like 19th Century gas lights. Is this to recall a supposedly friendlier time, before automation and mass production, when humans had to light the lights and neighbors were… neighbors? Ah! for the days when we were less anonymous, less synonymous, less a part of a vast machine-like hive intelligence… back when, for light, we lit dinosaur farts and were… natural? authentic? human?

No, such nostalgia for the past really makes no sense to me. We have our problems today, and maybe the problems are terminal, but what an amazing time to be alive!

(Granted, to have the luxury to appreciate the marvel of it all is a privileged postion; for many, it’s the same old same old. Even so!)

But back to the street lights: Worse, as a matter of design, at least half the light is directed upwards, away from where I did not lose my keys.

Though I admit that from the air at night it looks like spooky magic, as if the very ground were glowing.

Anyway! I decided that a photo of an unloved (by me, at least), unlovely and prosaic Chicago street lamp would be far more interesting if it pretended to be a painting. Here are two versions that I think came out nicely, thank you. Where’s my beret and smock? Move over, van Gogh, and lend me your ear…

Photo / graphic by Roman.

2019 Table of Contents

Photo by Steve Owens.

With a good content management system like WordPress, doing a post like this is entirely not necessary. But the opportunity cost of messing around with templates was (temporarily) greater than the work in assembling this (cut and paste, mostly). I hope it’s useful and interesting.

An * indicates one of the top 13 requested posts. (There are only 12 as one was from 2018.)

Photo Wall

Video Wall

  • Street Musique — psychedelic animation from 1972: no CGI, but charming street buskers.
  • Bug Love — introducing Aaron Rodriques, the Bug Whisperer.
  • Nighthawk — animation that’s a bit too real; you’ll never drive again.
  • Going Down in Flames — we can only hope. Matt Farmer sings him out.
  • The World Below — time-lapse photography from the International Space Station.
  • Seaweed Sisters: Water Fountain — the Three Stooges of dance…
  • Rabbit and Deer — Abbott’s “Flatland” revisited as a very sweet animated relationship story.
  • Save Our Trolls — love ’em to death!
  • Max Headroom — the original British pilot… sort of a punk “Dr. Who”.
  • Trickster — Are you afraid of clowns? No? You will be.
  • The Centrifuge Brain Project — Perfect for Chicago’s Navy Pier…
  • The Emperor of Time — the strange and sordid tale of the man who accidentally invented movies.
  • Hinterland — A crow steals a bear’s iPod, which becomes a MacGuffin…
  • Union — about a one-legged man and a three-legged dog.
  • Wrong Path — so you’re tired of civilization, are you?
  • If You Can — a simple question. Saying more would be a spoiler.
  • Ace and the Desert Dog — can’t quite imagine a cat doing this…
  • The Artists — a mockumentary that rings a bit too true…
  • Bone Mother — it’s not nice to mess with Baba Yaga!
  • Revolver — a must see, but it’s not clear why.
  • Progress Bar — dating in the age of “artificial intelligence”.
  • If You Never Answered X — crime in the time of connectivity…
  • Franklin’s Brain — two losers, one meat and one silicon, confront their limitations.
  • Tornados of 2018 — Pecos Hank is one of my favorite storm videographers.
  • Savel — Somnia — a ritual dance to the laundry gods?
  • Out of a Forest — tragedy with a twist, but now you know where they come from.
  • TV Shreddin’ — aliens on skateboards.
  • Umbra — a short animation that is truly the stuff of “Twilight Zone”.
  • Hum — Remember vacuum tubes?
  • Fukushima Revisited — “National Geographic” provides a brief, smiley update eight years after.
  • Bed Wettin’ — a tribute to Ub Iwerks: 1930s style vaudeville animation.
  • The Trial — the trial goes on forever as a sort of drip torture: Kafka Lives!
  • Norilsk, Russia — Russians are batshit crazy… We have a lot in common.
  • Screwface — a look at London inner city culture that is every bit a part of Chicago culture, too.
  • Fishing with Spinoza — an uncle’s toe and the hunt for the great white sunfish.
  • The Echo of Time — don’t ask. Have an apple.
  • Future Echo — very nice drug paraphernalia.
  • A Brief History of Fat — and why I need to lose some; your fat, if any, is yours to own.
  • April Fools — gone full kitty cat.
  • Mars Habitat — Imagineering, with a few comments from me.
  • Mice in Space! — Really: on board the International Space Station. They seem to dig it.
  • Albatross Soup — This is rather like listening to This American Life or Radio Lab while on acid.
  • Until They Berry Me — a bad pun and restorative justice…
  • N’Djekoh — for Mothers’ Day…
  • My Home — for all those single moms out there whose children question their taste in men…
  • Solipsist — I guess… but it’s odd and pretty.
  • One Breath Around the World — Guillaume Nery dreams of swimming.
  • Tom Jones? — Pseudo-hippie mindless polyester blatherskite music, but I was charmed.
  • Sprites — for real…
  • Barnaby Dixon’s Bug Puppet — If you’re not hip to Dixon, this is a fun introduction. Puppet, dance and dog!
  • “For Hemma” — for me, this video had something of a mean girl vibe, but I like the dance.
  • Mask Off Presidents — I’m not wild about skate boarding videos nor about music videos, but…
  • Chroma Galaxies — colors and flows… great drug paraphernalia…
  • King Killian — A children’s tale with a mortal twist.
  • Rock & Roll — “This Is Spinal Tap” in less than a minute. (Hello Mick Jagger.)
  • Moth — Full screen and headphones recommended.
  • Omerta — froggy went a’courtin’ in this mash up of “Chicago”, Damon Runyon, Gene Kelly and more.
  • Plastic — a mannequin hopelessly in love with her shopkeeper… I think the Jefferson Airplane had a song about this.
  • 8 Bits — for proper appreciation, maybe you’d best be hip to gaming culture. I’m not hip, but this was still fun.
  • Thought of You — a sad and beautiful mix of dance, animation, music and lyrics.
  • Ephemere — praxis makes perfect? Evolution as paint on the wall? If at first…
  • Cómo Te Quiero — I hate music videos, but…
  • The Cathedral — I vaguely remember the short story. This video seems a better telling of the tale.
  • Breakfast — cyriak’s surrealism is the breakfast of champions.
  • Bless You — because when you sneeze, you expel your soul… so it’s said.
  • Negative Space — father-son bonding through… luggage.
  • Vorticity 2 — truly amazing storm photography from Mike Olbinski.
  • Singin’ in the Pond — a really nice animated musical number. With frogs. And newts. And true love.
  • Perk — the simple pleasures of an unemployed mine goblin.
  • Anonyme — the semiotics of clothing by an anarchist terrorist. Pretty cool. (The semiotics, that is.) Best viewed in full screen.
  • Server Room — remember Richard Brautigan?
  • Hugh the Hunter — How to describe this without being po-mo? Nah. Just watch it instead.
  • The Absence of Eddy Table — an animated romantic horror story.
  • Lazy Susan — I can relate to this…
  • Martha the Monster — if only it were this easy. Well done, though.
  • Freedom Is a Verb — thanks to Hugh Iglarsh for sharing.*
  • The Sea — an existential love story.
  • Greg — If this ever happens to you in the subway, call the station attendant first.
  • The Stained Club — inclusion, exclusion, identity…
  • Climate Strike 2019 — a brief commercial.
  • Slowly Rising — some animation that old Walt Disney could only have dreamed of. He probably did.
  • Mocean — video of the ocean as “never seen before.”
  • Movie Memories — a video collage of noir and thrillers.
  • The Weight — I mislike music videos, but one can always find exceptions, it seems.
  • Martinese — for eccentricity, they outdo any Brit.
  • Transient — amazing lightning, slo-mo.
  • Strictly Land-line, Myself — “Damn I Love This Friday Night” enriches my appreciation of being a geezer.
  • Playgrounds — suburban childhood at the dawn of the digital age.
  • The Art of the Storm — time-lapse of a stationary supercell… cool…
  • Chichi — “My dog has dreams and tells me about them. I make movies about those dreams.”
  • Gun Shop — making statements about guns without saying anything at all.
  • Lord Tahpot’s Comedy Minute — music by Danny Elfman!
  • Strike as Performance Art — who says picket lines can’t be fun?
  • And Now for an Artistic Interlude — plus some great stop-motion animation.
  • How About Some Nice, Fresh Epistemology? — Are you living in a simulation?
  • Kaiju Bunraku — the first “Mothra” film to make it to Sundance.
  • Maestro — So… you think you know the music of the forest? Just the right dosage of cute, IMHO.
  • Timelapse Tourism — featuring many of the places a tourist in Chicago might go.
  • The Lot — does for grocery stores what the movie “Office Space” did for tech start-ups.
  • Women & Power — Mary Beard gets the 2019 Getty Medal and reflects on the Classics and patriarchy.
  • Aliens — President Trump’s mouthing-off alienates some truly alien illegals, and then…
  • And, We Disappear — Afterlife? Circle of Life? It’s so pretty to think so…
  • The Tale of Hillbelly — … you are what you eat?
  • Sideshow — A story of love, clowns, dance and the Big Top.
  • A Bad Fall — with a twist.
  • Teeter See Totter Saw — alternating animators.
  • Home — and your answer to her question is… ?
  • Fraktaal — fantasy sci-fi without a story.
  • Culture Vulture? — a clever tale of a burglar who becomes what he eats.
  • Places in Time Chicago — timelapse video of downtown Chicago.
  • High Rider — going to work can be an adventure.
  • Beer — as performed by David Wayne Callahan.
  • A Night at the Garden — a bit of history we’d like to forget.
  • Piece of Chicago — a video collage.
  • The Shutdown — growing up next to a petrochemical plant.
  • Shaun Has Some Real Problems! — until he faces them.
  • Why Does Santa Like Rudolph? — get your mind out of the gutter; it’s not that!
  • Real Soon Now… — the latest dose of surrealism from Cyriak.





  • Occupy Me — a sci-fi thriller by Tricia Sullivan with some truly lovely writing.
  • The Boogeyman’s Intern — an engaging comic fantasy and mediation on pop culture by Matt Betts.
  • Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals — I watched it. That doesn’t mean you should, but if you do, I recommend whiskey.
  • Etch A Sketch — through March 2nd at the Harold Washington Library. But if you miss it, sample it here.
  • Outpost — the first book in W. Michael Gear’s “Donovan” series. Very good for what it is.
  • The Triplets of Belleville — A post by Roy Edroso reminded me of this film. You should see it.
  • The Wormwood Trilogy — or two thirds of it, anyway. Good Nigerian science fiction by Tade Thompson.
  • The History of SOUL 2065 — a delightful collection of short stories impersonating a novel.