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Ojai Orange | The Column of Lasting Insignificance | Books | Wait-A-Minute

April 5, 2008
John Wilcock - January 5, 2008

 

  The column of lasting insignificance
     


also posted:



2011
November 26 2011
November 19, 2011
November 12, 2011
November 5, 2011
October 29, 2011
October 22, 2011
October 15, 2011
October 8, 2011
October 1, 2011
September 24, 2011
September 17, 2011
September 10, 2011
September 4, 2011
August 27, 2011
August 20, 2011
August 13, 2011
August 6, 2011
July 30, 2011
July 23, 2011
July 16, 2011
July 9, 2011
July 2, 2011
June 25, 2011
June 18, 2011
June 11, 2011
June 4, 2011
May 28, 2011
May 21, 2011
May 14, 2011
May 7, 2011
April 30, 2011
April 23, 2011
April 16, 2011
April 9, 2011
April 2, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 19, 2011
March 12, 2011
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
February 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011
January 29, 2011
January 22, 2011
January 15, 2011
January 6, 2011

2010
December 25, 2010
December 18, 2010
December 11, 2010
December 4, 2010
November 27, 2010
November 20, 2010
November 13, 2010
November 6, 2010
October 30, 2010
October 23, 2010
October 16, 2010
October 9, 2010
October 2, 2010
September 25, 2010
September 18, 2010
September 11, 2010
September 4, 2010
August 28, 2010
August 21, 2010
August 14, 2010
August 7, 2010
July 31, 2010
July 24, 2010
July 17, 2010
July 10, 2010
July 3, 2010
June 26, 2010
June 19, 2010
June 12, 2010
June 5, 2010
May 29, 2010
May 22, 2010
May 15, 2010
May 8, 2010
May 1, 2010
April 24, 2010
April 17, 2010
April 10, 2010
April 3, 2010
March 27, 2010
March 20, 2010
March 13, 2010
March 6, 2010
February 27, 2010
February 20, 2010
February 13, 2010
February 6, 2010
January 30, 2010
January 23, 2010
January 16, 2010
January 9, 2010
January 2, 2010

2009
December 26, 2009
December 19, 2009
December 12, 2009
December 5, 2009
November 28, 2009
November 21, 2009
November 14, 2009
November 7, 2009
October 31, 2009
October 24, 2009
October 17, 2009
October 10, 2009
October 3, 2009
September 26, 2009
September 19, 2009
September 12, 2009
September 5, 2009
August 29, 2009
August 22, 2009
August 15, 2009
August 8, 2009
August 1, 2009
July 25, 2009
July 18, 2009
July 11, 2009
July 4, 2009
June 27, 2009
June 20, 2009
June 13, 2009
June 6, 2009
May 30, 2009
May 23, 2009
May 16, 2009
May 9, 2009
May 2, 2009
April 25, 2009
April 18, 2009
April 11, 2009
April 4, 2009
March 28, 2009
March 21, 2009
March 14, 2009
March 7, 2009
February 28, 2009
February 21, 2009
February 14, 2009
February 7, 2009
January 31, 2009
January 24, 2009
January 17, 2009
January 3, 2009

2008
December 27, 2008
December 20, 2008
December 13, 2008
December 6, 2008
November 29, 2008
November 22, 2008
November 15, 2008
November 8, 2008
November 5, 2008
November 1, 2008
October 25, 2008
October 18, 2008
October 11, 2008
October 4, 2008
September 27, 2008
September 20, 2008
September 13, 2008
September 6, 2008
August 30, 2008
August 23, 2008
August 16, 2008
August 9, 2008
August 2, 2008
July 26, 2008
July 19, 2008
July 12, 2008
July 5, 2008
June 28, 2008
June 21, 2008
June 14, 2008
June 7, 2008
May 31, 2008
May 24, 2008
May 17, 2008
May 10, 2008
May 3, 2008
April 26, 2008
April 19, 2008
April 12, 2008
April 5, 2008
March 29, 2008
March 22, 2008
March 15, 2008
March 8, 2008
March 1, 2008
February 23, 2008
February 16, 2008
February 9, 2008
February 2, 2008
January 26, 2008
January 19, 2008
January 12, 2008
January 5, 2008

2007
December 29, 2007
December 22, 2007
December 15, 2007
December 8, 2007
December 1, 2007
November 24, 2007
November 17, 2007
November 10, 2007
November 3, 2007
October 27, 2007
October 20, 2007
October 13, 2007
October 6, 2007
September 29, 2007
September 22, 2007
September 15, 2007
September 8, 2007
September 1, 2007
August 25, 2007
August 18, 2007
August 11, 2007
August 4, 2007
July 28, 2007
July 21, 2007
July 14, 2007
July 7, 2007
June 30, 2007
June 23, 2007
June 16, 2007
June 9, 2007
June 2, 2007
May 19, 2007
May 12, 2007
May 5, 2007
April 28, 2007
April 21, 2007
April 14, 2007
April 7, 2007
March 31, 2007
March 24, 2007
March 17, 2007
March 10, 2007
March 3, 2007
February 24, 2007
February 17, 2007
February 10, 2007
February 3, 2007
January 20, 2007
January 13, 2007
January 6, 2007

2006
December 30, 2006
December 23, 2006
December 16, 2006
December 9, 2006
December 2, 2006
November 25, 2006
November 18, 2006
November 11, 2006
November 4, 2006
October 28, 2006
October 21, 2006
October 14, 2006
October 7, 2006
September 30, 2006
September 23, 2006
September 16, 2006
September 9, 2006
September 2, 2006
August 26, 2006
August 19, 2006
August 12, 2006
August 5, 2006
July 29, 2006
July 22, 2006
July 15, 2006

 

 

April 5, 2008

Basel, March 22:

For the first time
in my long life, I was arrested, handcuffed and thrown into a jail cell today—all for trying to cover some dumb gathering called the World Psychedelic Forum. Seems that because I hadn’t registered in advance (not having known about it in advance), and the Germanic temperament being what it is, I was denied admission.

Having invested $70 in a rail trip from Zurich, I was reluctant to leave until somebody explained what the forum was all about, but the snotty, blonde anorexic in charge of media (whose name tag seemingly identified her appropriately as Ms. Ratt) called the police to take me away.

Before long a Laurel & Hardy-ish pair of bullying clowns arrived, carted me outside and manacled my hands behind my back to the delight of excited observers watching from the forum’s upper windows.

On arrival I had requested to see the organizer, Dieter Hagenbach, a former literary agent who turned out to be a smugly, self-important little twerp with a grey pony tail, and wearing a baggy oatmeal-colored suit. He was unsympathetic to my proposal and brusquely ordered my removal. Shades of Scientology—yet another closed cult that resorts to armed force to evade examination.

From my brief stay inside the hall, all the time guarded by Ms. Ratt and her posse (see Wait a Minute, April 2 at this website), I’d judge the psychedelic adherents to be of that familiarly pretentious type who feel they have found nirvana courtesy of the Prophet Dieter.

My counter-cultural friends in Zurich had raved about a similar gathering, a couple of years ago, which celebrated LSD inventor Albert Hofman’s 100th birthday. But one can only assume that in the interim the group has been captivated by an upper middle-class elite who now thinks they’re the hippest of the hip--although most of them would have been regarded as irredeemably commonplace by Leary, and those of us who spent time with him 40 years ago.

As I sat on a sofa to rest and survey the bourgeoisie, Ms Rat’s posse felt obliged to surround this dangerous reporter as the media maven reiterated her plan to call the police. I sighed. “Go ahead”, I said, “but this matter could be solved so simply. It’s true I didn’t register in advance. But just let it go. Register me now, and allow me to cover your forum”. Ms Rat ignored my plea.

The handcuffs bit painfully into my wrists but the ride to the stationhouse was brief. There I was hustled into an office where the bigger of the brain-dead goons fumbled with the handcuffs, pretending to his diminutive partner that he couldn’t open them. Stan Laurel ignored him in favor of entering details in the computer. Hardy gave an extra twist of the cuffs as though it was part of the script.

The whole scenario, in fact, seemed like it had been practiced. These were not storm troopers, just semi-literate bozos playing procedure-perfect roles while clearly enjoying their ability to inflict (reasonable) pain. The cuffs did not draw blood.

Next, a sojourn in a bare cell while Laurel and Hardy combed through my belongings. Imagine the sweaty smiles that must have wreathed a pair of bovine faces when they came across the single joint that I always carry as insurance (truly medical marihuana) against the arthritis pain that Motrin and Celebrex sometimes fail to alleviate. How pleased they must have been, these bumbling paragons of law and order, that they were then able to confiscate my money ($170), because foreigners (as I was later told) have no legal rights in Basel. Surely, the fuzz smoked the joint.

Thus, on your next visit to Switzerland (which you probably can’t afford) you might want to give Basel a miss, in favor of Zurich—the country’s financial and cultural capital—with its ubiquitous sidewalk cafes and water so clear in its lake and river that a score of places offer bathing in summer (at night the venues transform into bars and cafes).

But although one might admire the Swiss, despite their starchy efficiency, one does not easily come to love them. Based on the admittedly tiny sample I have met or observed in the German speaking region, many seem too tightly wound, unwilling or unable to deviate from mandated patterns such as crossing an empty street against the lights despite no traffic in sight. Rules, rules, rules—isn’t that a German trait, just as the Russians love dictators and Americans are overly self-indulgent?

Unfair perhaps to generalize, especially as my own friends in Zurich are longtime fight-the-system types, veterans of a literary and cultural underground that earlier included Erasmus, Hans Holbein and Paracelcus. Doubtless there are hundreds if not thousands of others like them.

Switzerland is a beautiful country and in most ways a very benign one. You’d think that with five languages to contend with that cohesion might be elusive, but not at all. The Swiss pride themselves on their uniquely successful multi-culturism. Freedom of speech and expression is cherished, reinforced by a vast number of daily papers (four free ones in Zurich alone) in every European language (plus the incomparable Herald Tribune and at every newsstand.

Money, however, is at the heart of the Swiss psyche and a superior standard of living is bound to deter less well-heeled visitors. Fancy paying almost $12 for  MacDonald’s cheeseburger or four bucks for a two-stop tram ride? It’s not in everybody’s budget.

3/29/2008

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comments? send an email to John Wilcock

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