Clam-Baking, or what is now called “Hotboxing”, was a way to get higher on dope by shutting the Air Conditioning and rolling up all the windows in a car, then smoking as much ganja as possible, letting the car cloud up so that one would be breathing in THC infested soot with every breath.
My friend and former drummer, Duane and I would get together often at 10:30pm on weekends to devour hot fudge sundaes after a clam-baked car ride. We’d cloud up the car and inevitably stumble out like a couple of circus clowns stumbling out of a Volkswagon Bug, a thick fog of vaporous, toxic smoke traveling out of the car doors behind us.
We’d come up to get a table… Duane would murmur, “Uhhh… two…” to the hostess. To which she’d reply, “Smoking or Non-Smoking?” We’d both grumble, “Uhh… smoking… yeah thanks man…” (a true wanna-be hippie kid uses the word “man” as a noun, adjective, exclamation and verb… the same goes for modern hipsters or whatever you want to call us) We’d then sit down to an endless cup of cheap, burnt, caffeinated brown water and begin to chain smoke, spouting out one wild psychadelic idea after another, and sooner or later, we’d eat a hot fudge sundae or something else that calmed the craving that pot often produced (which is aptly called “the munchies”).
Duane and I were always interested in the spiritual side of things. Marijuana certainly fueled our out of the box ethereal pursuits. Once Duane and I were talking over a hot fudge sundae, stoned out of our minds on dank weed. I had what I thought was a profound revelation…
“So check this out Duane… seriously man! Listen to me dude! I’ve figured out the answer man.” I exclaimed.
“Yeah… what?” Duane replied somewhat apathetically, yet with a gleam in his eye. He knew I loved to think and say totally insane things, and this was definitely going to be another one.
“Like did you ever think we were totally on an atom man?”
“An atom bro, like an explosive little sphere… a MOLECULE!” It must have looked wild to have my eyes open up so wide when they were so beet red.
“Uhh… ok.” Duane muttered.
“Yeah, like we’re on the earth… right?”
“Yup.” Duane inhaled a huge hit of his Winston cigarette and blew it out.
“And like, when we die… if we’re like filled with good karma maybe we go to this next race man… This race of giant DEMIGODS man. And THOSE KATS are the ones that LOOK DOWN on OUR UNIVERSE as like a LITTLE ATOM!!!”
“Wow man, that would be crazy man!” Duane’s interest perked up.
“And guess what too bro, guess what??? Like there could be MILLIONS OF ATOMS in that dimension… earths just like ours man! PARALLEL UNIVERSES! In fact man, in fact bro- think about this… THINK ABOUT THIS! What if in ALL THOSE UNIVERSES- two dudes like me and you are having this EXACT SAME CONVERSATION RIGHT NOW! Isn’t that frickin’ crazy man?”
“Yeah man, and like there’s another dimension beyond that and another beyond that!”
“Yeah, and another below us and another below us! The atoms we’re looking at in a microscope are like LITTLE UNIVERSES with little beings like people that we CAN’T SEE!!!”
This is the kind of stoned chatter that would fill up a Friday or Saturday night from time to time. Of course, I’m leaving out all the colorful expletives that we used. It was thoughts like this that began to birth a spirituality of my own invention. It was not a spirituality that brought me peace, assurance, clarity, focus, graciousness, love, or purpose. It was a spirituality that furthered my confusion and existential despair, and yet philosophically justified my personal vices and desires.
I began to write concept albums, searching for the real meaning of life on earth, and reaching out for answers in the universe. One album actually concluded with the words of the final song “Spiral Dimensia”,
“Don’t stop exploration, the answer will be found.
The mysteries of life will be set free.
Searching for the final answer, all intentions so profound
Feeling insignificant, a speck of dust
On a plane of dimensions
That stretch out longer than in infinity
A never ending spectrum
And we move on with no consequence?
Is there a God who looks upon us?
Are we all alone?
Is there someone out there?”
And they were sung with a raspy, off-key, haunting tone. My spiritual search had truly begun, right in the middle of drugs pounding my brain. Who was I? Where was I going? Would I even make it past age 20? Age 18? Was there some vague power out there? A demigod? A Cartoonist who wrote the story of our lives, and was ready at any time to crumple up the pages of the story and throw them into the trash? Was there any real meaning at all to anything I was doing? My parents’ had once said in the middle of a fight with each other and me, that if it weren’t for me being around, they’d be divorced. Did I have a purpose?