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?

Since 2012, 19 states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21. And 38 states and DC have legalized medical marijuana — meaning that a majority of Americans  have access to cannabis, whether medically or recreationally.

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 tipe (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 cigpapers.co.uk 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 was 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 those 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.  Vietnamese 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.

Rod McCormick

A reader of this post contacted me to say that he’d provided some pictures for an October 1970 Rolling Stone magazine article about Park Lane.

Vietnam's Park Lane Cigarettes Vietnam's Park Lane Cigarettes Vietnam's Park Lane Cigarettes

Vietnam’s Park Lane Cigarettes

Pre-20th Century News Music

Pre-20th Century News Music

The term “Protest Music” is often used to describe songs that try to bring the listener’s attention to an issue the songwriter felt was important. But not all songs are obvious in their protest. Some songs point out a possible solution in a clever manner or simply point out the inequalities built into a society’s everyday norms. Others demean the oppressor.

My term, by no means the best, for this music is “News Music” and the following are mainly American examples from the 17- and 18-hundreds.

“Yankee Doodle Dandy”

In 1776: when America’s revolutionary soldiers sang “Yankee Doodle Dandy” they were proudly and deliberately adopting to themselves a slur aimed at their uniform’s comparative lack of military sophistication.  A “doodle” was a fool and “macaroni” referred to a stylish wig—thus a failed attempt at ridiculing the colonists saying they were fools who would put a feather in their hat and think they had one of these wigs. [Wikipedia]

Yankee Doodle went to town,

Riding on a pony;

He stuck a feather in his hat,

And called it macaroni

(full lyrics)

Pre-20th Century News Music

The Chimney Sweeper

In 1789: English poet William Blake wrote a series of poems called Songs of Innocence and Experience. One of these poems had to do with child labor. It is called The Chimney Sweeper and in 1995 Greg Brown put many of these poems, including The Chimney Sweeper, to music.

 When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue
Could scarcely cry ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep! ‘weep!
So your chimneys I sweep, and in soot I sleep.

There’s little Tom Dacre, who cried when his head,
That curled like a lamb’s back, was shaved: so I said,
“Hush, Tom! never mind it, for when your head’s bare,
You know that the soot cannot spoil your white hair.”

And so he was quiet; and that very night,
As Tom was a-sleeping, he had such a sight, –
That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.
And by came an angel who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins and set them all free;
Then down a green plain leaping, laughing, they run,
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.

Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds and sport in the wind;
And the angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy,
He’d have God for his father, and never want joy.

And so Tom awoke; and we rose in the dark,
And got with our bags and our brushes to work.
Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm;
So if all do their duty they need not fear harm

Pre-20th Century News Music

“La Marseillaise” 

April 24, 1792: Claude de Lisle (1760 –1836) wrote “La Marseillaise” which became the French National Anthem three years later. It begins with the rousing words:

The day of glory has arrived!

Against us of tyranny

The bloody banner is raised, (repeat)

Do you hear, in the countryside,

The roar of those ferocious soldiers?

They’re coming right into our arms

To cut the throats of our sons and women!

To arms, citizens,

Form your battalions,

Let’s march, let’s march!

That an impure blood

Waters our furrows

Allons enfants de la Patrie

Le jour de gloire est arrivé !

Contre nous de la tyrannie,

L’étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes

Mugir ces féroces soldats ?

Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras

Égorger nos fils et nos compagnes !

Aux armes, citoyens,

Formez vos bataillons,

Marchons, marchons !

Qu’un sang impur

Abreuve nos sillons!

Arise, children of the Fatherland,


Many filmlovers are familiar with the song from Casablanca.  The German officers precede La Marseillaise with Die Wacht Am Rhein (The Watch/Guard on the Rhine) a mid-19th century

German patriotic song based on a poem. The poem was written in response to a perceived French threat to land (around the Rhine River) considered German.

A call roars like thunderbolt,
like clashing swords and splashing waves:
To the Rhine, the Rhine, to the German Rhine,
who guards tonight my stream divine?Dear fatherland, no fear be thine,
dear fatherland, no fear be thine,
Firm and True stands the Watch, the Watch at the Rhine!
Firm and True stands the Watch, the Watch at the Rhine!
Es braust ein Ruf wie Donnerhall,
wie Schwertgeklirr und Wogenprall:
Zum Rhein, zum Rhein, zum deutschen Rhein,
wer will des Stromes Hüter sein?Lieb’ Vaterland, magst ruhig sein,lieb’ Vaterland, magst ruhig sein,Fest steht und treu die Wacht, die Wacht am Rhein!Fest steht und treu die Wacht, die Wacht am Rhein!
Pre-20th Century News Music

“Hard Times Come Again No More”

In 1854:  “Hard Times Come Again No More” is a song by Stephen Foster. It was written in 1854 as Foster’s Melodies No. 28. Well-known and popular in its day, both in America and Europe, the song asks the fortunate to consider the plight of the less fortunate and ends with one of Foster’s favorite images: “a pale drooping maiden”.

 Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard Times, hard times, come again no more
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;
Oh hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say
Oh hard times come again no more.
There’s a pale drooping maiden who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are o’er:
Though her voice would be merry, ’tis sighing all the day,
Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,
Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore
Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave
Oh hard times come again no more

Pre-20th Century News Music

Follow the Drinking Gourd

In 1860s: African Americans sang of their dream for freedom and equality before the Civil War, during it, and long after. Though its origin is sometimes disputed, Follow the Drinking Gourd is still thought of as a song used by “riders” on and “conductors” of the Underground Railroad system used to help slaves escape to safety and freedom by using coded directions. The “drinking gourd” likely refers to the North Star in the Little Dipper’s handle.

Follow the drinking gourd

Follow the drinking gourd

For the old man is a waitin’

For to carry you to freedom

Follow the drinking gourd

When the sun comes up

And the first Quail calls

Follow the drinking gourd

For the old man is a waitin’

For to carry you to freedom

Follow the drinking gourd

The riverbank will make a mighty good road

The dead trees show you the way

Left foot, peg foot travelin’ on

Following the drinking gourd

The river ends between two hills

Follow the drinking gourd

There’s another river on the other side

Follow the drinking gourd

Pre-20th Century News Music

The Internationale

In 1871:  Frenchman, Eugène Pottier (1816–1887), wrote “The Internationale.”  Pierre De Geyter (1848–1932) set the poem to music in 1888 and shortly thereafter it became widely used.

In 1944 it became the national anthem of the Soviet Union and is often still sung today as a worker anthem. Its lyrics are even more rousing than “La Marseillaise.” The first stanza is:

 Debout, les damnés de la terre
Debout, les forçats de la faim
La raison tonne en son cratère
C’est l’éruption de la fin
Du passé faisons table rase
Foule esclave, debout, debout
Le monde va changer de base
Nous ne sommes rien, soyons tout
C’est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous, et demain
Sera le genre humain

 Stand up, damned of the Earth
Stand up, prisoners of starvation
Reason thunders in its volcano
This is the eruption of the end
Of the past let us make a clean slate
Enslaved masses, stand up, stand up
The world is about to change its foundation
We are nothing, let us be all
This is the final struggle
Let us group together, and tomorrow
The Internationale
Will be the human race

In 1990 singer Billy Bragg recreated the song: Stand up, all victims of oppression

For the tyrants fear your might
Don’t cling so hard to your possessions
For you have nothing, if you have no rights
Let racist ignorance be ended
For respect makes the empires fall
Freedom is merely privilege extended
Unless enjoyed by one and all

So come brothers and sisters
For the struggle carries on
The Internationale
Unites the world in song
So comrades come rally
For this is the time and place
The international ideal
Unites the human race

Let no one build walls to divide us
Walls of hatred nor walls of stone
Come greet the dawn and stand beside us
We’ll live together or we’ll die alone
In our world poisoned by exploitation
Those who have taken, now they must give
And end the vanity of nations
We’ve but one Earth on which to live

And so begins the final drama
In the streets and in the fields
We stand unbowed before their armour
We defy their guns and shields
When we fight, provoked by their aggression
Let us be inspired by life and love
For though they offer us concessions
Change will not come from above 

See “Early 20th Century News Music” for next group or Mid-20th for another group.

Pre-20th Century News Music