August 2020 COVID 19

August 2020 COVID 19

689,588 COVID Deaths Worldwide

August 2: 18,055,793 worldwide; 689,588 deaths worldwide

157,921 COVID Deaths USA

August 2:  4,765,155 cases in the USA; 157,921 deaths in the USA

August 2: Dr. Deborah Birx , the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said the US was in a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the deadly virus was more widespread than when it first took hold in the US.

What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” said Birx.
She stressed that Americans needed to follow health recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.
To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. “If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities.”  [CNN story]





Previous COVID-19 posts:

Zig Zag Zouave

Zig Zag Zouave

The Times They Have A’Changed

Boomers grew up at a time of furtive quests for weed. Who might have it? How much was it? How good was it? How safe was it to buy from them? Seeds and stems?

By July 2020, cannabis was medically and recreationally legal–as well as decriminalized–in ten states  plus Washington, DC.  In only eight states was cannabis completely illegal. All the others had a mixture of legal medical and decriminalization.

So for a Boomer walking into a legal dispensary, whether for  recreational cannabis or, prescription in hand, for their medicinal use,  it is a bit otherworldly and even overwhelming. Flower? Pre-Roll? Vaporizer? Concentration? Edibles? Topicals. Tinctures? Sativa? Indica? Hybrid? CBD? THC percent?

A deliberately unnamed acquaintance found himself in such a situation when visiting Washington State. Could all these choices actually  be legal? Yes they were, but that same acquaintance found those “other” states, specifically Wyoming in this case, have discovered a very lucrative source of income by pulling over, charging with intent to distribute, jailing, requiring extended court visits, and probation.

Zig Zag Zouave

An Old Story

A diorama showing Homo erectus, the earliest human species that is known to have controlled fire, from inside the National Museum of Mongolian History in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Humans have inhaled smoke likely as long as they have sat around fires. Archaeological evidence suggests that that could be as far back as 2 million years ago.

Much later, but still a long time ago (at least 7,000 years ago), humans used smoke culturally, such as burning incense and later deliberately inhaling smoke,

Tubes of some time (a “pipe”) were likely the first delivery system. The first rolled item was cigar-like, a wrapped tube of the substance to be burned.

Zig Zag Zouave

Paper Wrapping

Zig Zag Zouave
Francisco Goya’s La Cometa, depicting a (foreground left) man smoking an early quasi-cigarette

When Europeans brought back tobacco from the Americas, they began to use “paper” to wrap shredded tobacco.  The Spanish used the term papelate. The French came up with the term cigarette. The English adopted that term.

Zig Zag Zouave

Siege of Sevastopol

Siege of Sevastopol by Franz Roubaud

The siege of Sevastopol lasted from October 1854 until September 1855. The siege was during the Crimean War–think  Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade

The French soldier was known as a Zouave (originally, Berber  volunteers from the Zwawa group of tribes in Algeria). The story goes that during the siege, a stray bullet broke the pipe of a Zouave. He had the novel idea to roll his tobacco in a piece of paper torn from his bag of gunpowder.

Zig Zag Zouave

Braunstein Freres

In Paris in 1879 Maurice and Jacques Braunstein set up a business making fine paper into cigarette booklets. Due to its success the Braunstein brothers built their first paper factory in 1892.

Two years later the brothers invented the manufacturing process of interleaving. This  process allowed the next paper within the booklet to be dragged out replacing the previous paper every time a new paper was withdrawn.

The brothers noticed that the process of interleaving shapes the papers into a ZZ and in 1900 they created brand name Zig Zag. In 1900 was first year that the apparition of Pierre or Boris or le zouave as he is vicariously known in different parts of the world, first appeared on the cover of the Zig Zag booklets. [From the site]

The Zouave statue – Pont de l’Alma. A bridge named after the Battle of Alma from the Crimean War. Parisians use the statue to measure if it will flood or not (how high the water goes on the statue)

The term zig-zag was not a new term.

Zig Zag Zouave

American Cowboy

Zig Zag Zouave

For the kid Boomer, the idea of hand rolling brought to mind the cowboy at the end of the day after his dinner of beans. Perhaps that was part of the allure of rolling one’s own weed, though there wasn’t much choice if no pipe was available. Baking took too long.

Some became justifiably admired for their rolling skills…”Let Mickey do it!” Some cheated and bought a rolling machine.

Zig Zag Zouave


In any case, Zig Zag papers in general and their logo in particular became part of the 1960’s counterculture.  And coming under the category of “good artists borrow, great artists steal,” Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley–simply Mouse and Kelley–included the the Zouave as part of a poster for an Avalon Ballroom concert with Big Brother and the Holding Company.  Not sure if you can read it, but at the bottom of the poster it reads:  What you don’t know about copying and duplicating won’t hurt you.

Ah the 60s.

In 2018, Zig Zag introduced Organic Hemp Rolling Papers and Ultra-Thin Paper Cones.

Ah the 20s.

Zig Zag Zouave

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Vietnam's Park Lane Cigarettes

Disclaimer: Though of age, I did not serve in Vietnam. I had a college deferment and then was fortunate to get a 332 lottery number. When I meet veterans who said they were in Vietnam and then ask what I was doing, I explain that I was trying to get them home.

 Smokestack El Ropo

I, like many in the late 60s, had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Smokestack El Ropo occasionally published “Fables” in it.  Each typically had to do with people about to have, having,  just having had an enhanced experience.

In 1972, Straight Arrow books published Smokestack El Ropo’s Bedside Reader, which the it described as “A heavy-duty compendium of fables, lore and hot dope tales, from America’s only rolling newspaper.

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Shocking Tale of GI Drug Abuse

Since there weren’t enough Fables to fill a book, Smokestack included writings by many others, but each fit the theme.  Among the others was Arthur Leon’s  Shocking Tale of GI Drug Abuse. The title was misleading in the sense that the troop behavior described was not abuse, but simply getting high.

Like any first-hand account, we must take its veracity with a grain of salt or one toke over the line, so let’s be careful.

Leon  describes his arrival in Saigon and how quickly a fellow GI introduced him to its thriving drug scene. The most common drug was local cannabis and the most common cannabis delivery system was cigarettes.  Workers removed the tobacco from actual packs of cigarettes and refilled them with cannabis. Park Lane cigarettes were the most popular refill, but Salem, Winston, and Marlboro were also around.

Leon and friends became friendly with these entrepreneurs and “…were able  to get our price down to the equivalent of four US dollars per carton of 200.”

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

GI Drug Use

Drug use by GIs was not permitted and subject to severe punishment. According to the Thailand Law Forum site:

A survey in 1966 by the U.S. military command in Saigon found that there were 29 fixed outlets for the purchase of marijuana.  Some enterprising individuals removed the tobacco from regular tailor-made cigarettes and repacked them with dried cannabis and sold them by the pack. These pre-rolled and pre-packaged marijuana cigarettes were sold under the brand names Craven “A” and Park Lane.

Reports indicate that US troops began smoking marijuana soon after their arrival in 1963. Although marines were subject to being court-martialed for possessing even the smallest amount of cannabis, the army only prosecuted dealers and users of hard drugs. The arrests for marijuana possession reached a peak of up to 1,000 a week.

In 2002, Peter Brush in a Free Republic article wrote about how GIs had an unwritten rule that cannabis was off limits out in country and lives depended on being alert. But back in Saigon or away from the fighting, enforcement was less important. The article goes on…

In fact, marijuana use was a problem chiefly because it conflicted with American civilian and military values. Use of marijuana did not constitute an operational problem. Smoking in rear areas did not impact operations. Use among combat personnel took place when units stood down rather than in the field. The commanding general of the 3rd Marine Division noted, “There is no drug problem out in the hinterlands, because there was a self-policing by the troops themselves.” Combat soldiers knew their survival depended on having clear mental faculties.

Army Major Joel Kaplan of the 98th Medical Detachment, while noting the high rate of marijuana use by military personnel, said, “I think alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than marijuana.” One Air Force officer understood well the difference: “When you get up there in those early hours, you want the klunk you’re flying with to be able to snap to. He’s a lot more likely to be fresh if he smoked grass the night before than if he was juiced.”

A much larger problem was on the horizon for American military commanders in Vietnam—heroin. When its use became commonplace, one Army commanding officer rationally said of marijuana use, “If it would get them to give up the hard stuff, I would buy all the marijuana and hashish in the Delta as a present.”

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Clever GIs

Park Lane cigarettes were widely advertised outdoors on billboards and posters,  and in newspapers.The Military Assistance Command, Vietnam counter-attacked with posters of their own. In Vietnam, the most enjoyable things were rated “10” and the least rated “1.” The MACV poster–a soldier smoking with the curl of the cigarette smoke spelling POT–were extremely popular with the troops. They hung the poster in their barracks with the 10’s zero crossed out.

Scott Manning, an Armed Forces Radio Network DJ (not  AFRN radio DJ Adrian Cronauer upon whom Robin Williams’s character in Good Morning Vietnam was loosely based) produced a daily serial called Parker Lane: “Flying” Traffic Reporter who commented on Saigon’s scooter and truck congestion.  The brass killed the serial.

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Mail home

Arthur Leon also speaks of GIs taking advantage of  the mail. When heading home, the military would send up to a 200 pound parcel for the GI, sometimes for free or at least at a very reduced rate. Leon tells the story of his roommate buying two Japanese speakers, gutting them, filling each one with 50 cartons of “modified” Park Lane cigarettes, re-packaging the speakers, and getting them home the day after his discharge.

On a much smaller scale, GIs would buy a tape box (reel-to-reel) which held 39 Park Lanes. Wrap the box, write “Tape Recording: Please Do Not X-Ray” on the outside, write a fake return address, and send it home. Free.

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Park Lane Stateside

On January 16, 1971, the New York Times published a short article on page 52 about Park Lane’s presence in the US.

Here is a piece of a video with an American reporter in Saigon looking for weed and finding many GIs ready and willing to speak about it, its accessibility, and Park Lane.

What's so funny about peace, love, art, and activism?