Author Archives: Fragments

Double-Cross Blunt and Other Shaped Blunts

This friend knows a lot about marijuana, and on Halloween (a few days after his birthday) he made a double-cross blunt or a large blunt with two smaller blunts inserted at the far end. The goal is that the smoker will get two friends to light all ends of the blunt so that the smoker gets an initial rush of smoke. This rush of smoke is more powerful than smoking a single blunt, and the idea was first shared in the movie Pineapple Express.

“Basically, it’s this guy, who’s a process server. That’s Seth Rogen, by the way. And then this is James Franco… And then there’s Danny McBride, who’s read and he’s this kind of comedic in the movie. But in the beginning of the movie, when Dale when Seth Rogen picks up his weed from James Franco. James Franco goes, Oh, Bro, I got this sweet Pineapple Express. And you know, like, Oh, they said the name of the movie. But he’s like, Oh, I who am I gonna smoke this cross joint with? I need two people. Because you need three lighters to light the joint. You need to light all three tips. I needed somebody to light the first two tips on the double cross joint and then like the other two for me as I lifted the front.”

There is no religious association with the blunt.

The speaker continued to explain that there are all sorts of shaped blunts (note: a blunt is not the same as a joint). There are turkey-shaped blunts and tarantula blunts (the legs or ‘feathers’ are additional blunts).

When asked what this double-cross blunt meant to him, the speaker said, “You’re smoking with two boys, or whoever’s there. But like, you’re just chilling out. You’re having a good time you’re smoking.”

*

I know that this piece was important to the speaker and he was very proud of his double-cross blunt. I do not smoke but it is interesting to see that there is an art to creating blunts and edibles (this speaker also creates cannabis butter from sativa which he then uses to make very strong edibles.) Because this speaker has knowledge of weed, I respect him more than were he just a regular ‘stoner.’

In this example, the speaker learned about the cross blunt from the film Pineapple Express, but this tradition is seen in other online weed forums and even Pinterest boards. Lighting the blunt is a group activity because the speaker cannot light all ends of the blunt at once. Adding the double cross shows that the speaker has improved the movie’s version of the blunt, and it allows for multiplicity and variation.

Fortune Telling From a Cup of Turkish Coffee

When my friend first read my fortune out of a cooled cup of Turkish coffee, I was told that he saw angels, tigers and trails in my future. He’d been using a Wikipedia article to help him read our fortunes, but he seemed excite to be sharing this experience with me and my other friend, who had never had our fortunes read in this way before.

Turkish coffee is very dense. It’s more like espresso than coffee, and because of this one only consumes a shot-glass or specialized tiny coffee mug. The person drinking Turkish coffee leaves a small layer of coffee grounds in the bottom of the cup and turns the cup over on a saucer to cool. The grounds may slide down the sides of the cup as they cool and solidify, which the reader then uses to tell the drinker’s fortune.

*

“This is very embedded in the Turkish culture. So it’s not something that you learn somewhere else, it’s around you all the time. You know, you grow up with your mom, your grandma, you know, the aunts and the ladies on the balconies, everyone does it. ” The speaker said as we sat in the Nuka Turkish Cafe in Westwood months after that initial reading in our home. He mentioned that shapes in a coffee mug might look like numbers or scenery.

“There are places in Turkey where you would go to visit like an actual medium. Well, those are self-proclaimed mediums. But the interesting thing is, I’ve been to certain mediums that would have incredibly accurate fortunetelling. Like, they will give you a lot of information about your past and your future. And very often, I’ve met people and I have had friends who have these professional medium fortune telling them, like their fortune telling actually becomes true in the future. And so it’s an interesting thing. And I really don’t know that side of it that well. It’s very supernatural. And I just feel like some people actually do have that supernatural talent to be able to use this. “

The speaker added that Turkish mediums also use tarot and palmistry to tell fortunes, and that this tradition is quite old. “The Turkish army that my father is, is a part of has an insignia on it that says before Christ, 200 something. It’s a 2200 years old army.” He added that before Christianity, many Turkish tribes practiced paganism. “

“We have a Turkish idiom that says, “Don’t believe in this fortune telling. But like, don’t live without it… it’s an integral and cultural part of our lives. But we also live in a society where, you know, we are aware that fortune telling is not a very scientific method… So it’s, it’s more of a fun sport at this point than actual people believing in it. It’s more it’s more fun than it’s taken like serious.”

*

The speaker was happy that we had come to visit him in the Nuka Cafe, and he pretended to be annoyed that I was recording his thoughts about fortune telling. When I asked him where he first saw fortune telling, he mentioned that much like a baby doesn’t remember their first steps, he doesn’t remember where he first encountered this tradition. Another friend mentioned that the speaker’s past fortune came true, and later that day he read another cup of Turkish coffee. He told our third friend that he saw a world map and a wedding.

This is important to me because much like the speaker, I enjoy fortune-telling tools but don’t really believe in them… unless something else changes my mind about their accuracy. I first came across the idea of fortune-telling from tea or coffee in the movie Coraline, and I showed the speaker the section of the film that includes fortune-telling after we had done the first reading in the house. I enjoyed having my fortune read and will not believe it while simultaneously “keeping it in mind.”

This seems to be a largely female craft. The speaker is interested in Turkish folklore and could not remember the meanings of symbols he described to us the first time he performed this tradition using Wikipedia notes.

Maypole Dance at Waldorf School

This friend told me this story late at night in the kitchen on May 1, 2021. We were surrounded by four other friends who moved in and out of the room, and he spoke about his experience attending annual Maypole celebrations at a New York (Ghent) Waldorf School.

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“I went to a very alternative school called a Waldorf School… and they have a lot of different celebrations and practices and things, and one that is very timely is their May Day celebration… one of the main components of May Day is a maypole. I’m not sure which kids are assigned different parts but each has a ribbon and they dance around the pole creating a pattern, this interesting woven pattern on the pole. The ribbons all weave to form a lattice.”

The speaker said that he thought the celebration might be a way to welcome summer, and that different grades performed different tasks in the May Day celebration. The school included grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade, and students in the third grade often performed the Maypole dance. Students in the sixth and seventh grades played instruments (flute, cello, violin, clarinet, viola) in the orchestra.

I asked the speaker to explain, in his own words, what it meant to attend a Waldorf school. “Waldorf school is a pedagogical movement that began in Germany as an education system started by these same people wo run the Waldorf Hotels or Waldorf cigarette companies, and they started this school for the kids of the factory workers,” the speaker said. “And the goal is like to offer holistic creativity-focused education. So there’s a lot of visual arts and performing arts and a lot of things that wouldn’t really fall under the generally accepted scope of academics.”

The speaker said that grounds crew set up the 20- or 30-foot Maypole in late April and that the structure stayed up for a few weeks after May. He said that every student had to take part in this celebration. Younger students would get excited about the celebration. He said that older students did not want to stand in the hot sun playing a violin wearing a dress shirt.

The speaker said that he does not do anything special for May Day, and that he did not appreciate this celebration until after he left the Waldorf school. “That school never really communicated why we were doing what we were doing,” he said, noting that he appreciates this experience in retrospect

*

I did not know that this friend attended a Waldorf school, and I was able to tell him later that the Maypole dance is a fertility dance. It seems odd that third graders would take part in this dance, but they are also young and full of life. The Maypole represents a phallus. I asked questions about how the students received this tradition, and it struck me odd that a school designed to promote the arts would not explain the history or meaning of this celebration.

It is also relevant that this speaker told this tale on May 1. He later explained that he remembered this tradition because he had received a school email describing online May Day celebrations. This shows that some newsletters can be very important for the communities in which they share information. He continues to be loosely part of this Waldorf school community long after he graduated and moved away from this location.

The Black Stallion and Creature With Three Red Eyes: Don’t Walk Alone at Midnight in Guatemala

I heard this legend while many of my housemates were gathered around a table and drinking. The first time the speaker shared this story, he mentioned that his grandfather never drank after he saw a red-eyed figure in Guatemala. When I asked him to retell his story for collection, he gave much more detail about the two creatures his grandfather feared.

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The speaker’s grandfather used to tell this story when he would get drunk: he saw two creatures. One was a being with red eyes, the other was a black horse. In 1960 in San Rafael, Guatemala at exactly 12 am, neighbors in a village of only 15 or 20 houses could hear a black stallion. And if stragglers outside a home were caught alone, they would hear a horse running after them. They wouldn’t see the horse. If they managed to slip inside their house and close the door, they would hear the horse pounding at the threshold until 12:01. Then they would not hear it anymore.

If the horse caught stragglers, they would die of an underlying disease like cardiac arrest or drug overdose, something “easy to explain.” In those days, a lot of children went missing in the wilderness because the area was “unexplored.”

One night, the speaker’s grandfather and his friend left a larger group of friends playing soccer to walk home around midnight. They were both drunk. Suddenly, the speaker’s grandfather felt dread. Every step they took felt “like mud” and the speaker’s grandfather felt like he was being watched. Both friends turned around to see a seven-foot-tall humanoid figure with three red eyes watching “like a little kid goes onto a tree and just sticks his head sideways and stays staring at you.”

The speaker did not know how his grandfather got home that night, but the friend went missing for over a week. “They did find the guy, his friend, my grandpa’s friend. And so he just told me that this dude was torn. Like torn apart. “

When asked what this creature was, the speaker said that “It’s from the time before even that place was colonized by Spain… around the Mayan time… the Mayans just disappeared one day. They were so advanced for their time.” He went on to say that his grandfather believed that the Mayans, who the speaker mentioned were polytheistic built massive pyramids, disappeared because they were killed by these strange creatures. “These things that they [victims] see now are from times that we can’t even comprehend because he’s like, yeah, they’re from the future. And I was like, What the hell do you mean the future?” The speaker trailed off.

“I’m not sure if it’s real or not, I’m going to believe because the way he will talk to me, he would stare me down in the eyes,” the speaker continued. “And my grandma would also support that, because even she would hear the black horse because that another story my grandma told me when my grandpa was asleep, was, he couldn’t sleep at night, most of the time in Guatemala, because he said that that’s the human figure would haunt him because of his friend.”

The speaker noted that black stallions were also a status symbol in Guatemala reserved for members of the military.

When asked why he first told the story, the speaker noted that ” Usually when I’m under the influence, then the story comes out But usually, when you’re impaired or under the influence, you see, I wouldn’t say another dimension, but you see something else? Like you see? We see different.”

The speaker’s grandfather worried that these two creatures would come for him after he moved to the U.S. He later died of a heart attack.

*

This speaker is a good friend but he embellishes stories a lot. He later told me that he believed that he’d seen the red-eyed creature in the U.S. even though he called both of these creatures “just legends” in the recording. I also happen to know that in telling these stories, he was trying to get me to trust him again after a breakup. After, he often offered to tell similar stories. But I think he was being genuine when he told me what he knew and what he had seen.

This speaker also struggles with drinking alcoholic beverages. Telling this story may be a way for him to express the fear he feels drinking to suppress emotions or escape responsibility.

He later asked me not to tease him about ghosts because to him, these stories are very real. I might not believe these stories in the daylight, but I will never walk alone at midnight in Guatemala.

Haunted Theaters and Ghost Lights

My friend shared this story with me and another female friend one night in the kitchen after work. I asked this friend about her haunted house and she later shared that her classmates always left a ‘ghost light’ in the school theater. It was bad luck not to leave a ghost light. This friend also said that she believed her theater may have housed some recent ghosts.

This speaker went to an arts school in Tampa, Florida. She took classes in the drama department and was in school theater productions. Here is her story.

*

“Theaters are traditionally haunted all the time… they’re just traditionally haunted,” the speaker said. “After you’re done striking a set or cleaning up or after you’re done rehearsing. You’re always supposed to leave a ghost light, or the ghost, or else that was bad luck.” I asked whether the light was meant to guide the ghosts, but she said that it existed to appease them/ She said ghosts do not like the dark, and that this was ironic.

One day after practice “a student forgot to put the ghost light on, you know, it’s not anything, not a very big deal. It’s literally like a stick and a light ball. And you roll it out onto theaters, like, but we just forgot about it. And then the next day, like a spotlight fell, and that was really bad.”

The speaker said that there were some specific ghosts she thought haunted the theater. “There were a couple of tragedies that did happen at our theater. And there was actually some of them were actually pretty recent. So I’d like to think there were good spirits rather than bad spirits,” she said. The drama director’s brother had passed away that year, and the speaker said that she would like to think that he came to see the productions at the theater. The speaker also added that a young actress had died of a disease in the past, and that there was a plaque in front of the theater honoring her memory. The speaker said that she would like to think that the actress’ ghost visited the theater as well.

When I asked what this meant to the speaker, she said that the young actress had “put so much of her craft into theater.” I suspect that knowing that deceased guests might visit the theater is comforting to the speaker, and that these two particular ghosts help future productions.

*

The speaker has shared other ghost stories and believes that these stories are real, so it makes sense that she would believe these ghosts could be real as well. She began telling this story discussing ghost lights and bad luck, but the story ended on a note of good luck. I was taught to act as if a god was always watching, and I know many people feel comforted to know that someone else is guiding them during stressful parts of their life. It might be comforting to know that ghosts are watching over stage productions as well, since the ‘good’ ghosts the speaker mentioned had theater or theater-adjacent backgrounds.

I did not know that movie theaters and stages are supposed to be haunted or that actors would leave a ghost light. My school had a small theater that we used for small class meetings when the drama department was not at practice. I can’t remember a specific light that was left on the stage, but the room was never completely dark. This was likely for security reasons.

The haunted theater trope may be due to the fact that theaters serve as a sort of liminal space when not in use. Theaters are such specific buildings, and sticking around after the show is not an expected reaction. Only janitors and stage crew might remain after a show is over.

Additionally, members who know about the ghost light are ‘real’ members of the theater community. They understand the traditions of other actors and stage crew, and they are part of an in-group.

This story also draws upon similar ideas as the article ‘Ghostly Possession of Real Estate: The Dead in Contemporary Estonian Folklore’ by Ulo Valk. Actors and other community members who believe in ghosts come to terms with tragedy by carrying out traditions in the hope that loved ones continue to exist in the ‘haunted theater.’ The ghost does not necessarily need to be buried near the theater, rather the theater belongs to them because their devotion to acting tied these ghosts to this particular spot.

For another ghost legend by the same speaker, see ” Haunted House in Indiana- The Funny Man and the Woman with the Red Eyes: Sleep Paralysis and Two Traveling Ghosts” in the USC digital Folklore Archive.