Patrick Brown's Reviews > Heart of Dankness: Underground Botanists, Outlaw Farmers, and the Race for the Cannabis Cup

Heart of Dankness by Mark Haskell Smith
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's review
Apr 23, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: best-of-2012, amsterdam
Read from March 29 to April 05, 2012

This book is pretty much precisely what I want from a nonfiction book. It's got a lot of information, and I left it knowing more about the subject than when I began it. But more importantly, it's really, really fun. It could serve as a travelogue about Amsterdam (indeed, it prompted me to realize I've actually read quite a few books about Amsterdam, a city I've never even been to), and it's a great look at the bizarre state of American marijuana legislation, where you can be on sure legal footing with your state but still an outlaw in the eyes of the feds. But mostly, this is a great book about being a connoisseur, something I think we all are from time to time.

I wrote a more structured review of this for The Millions, so do check that out, but here are some rather unstructured thoughts about Dankness:

I live just off Pico Boulevard, and with the exception of a very fine single-origin coffee shop (you know, one of those joints where they make each cup individually and where all of the caramels have sea salt?), my neighbors are mostly auto-body shops and medical marijuana pharmacies. How did it happen that Pico and Fairfax became the Dank District? Was it by city council fiat?

One of my favorite moments in Dankness comes when Smith attends the Cannabis Cup at the end of the book. He comes upon one of the two members of DNA, the seed company comprised of two LA guys living in Amsterdam making the dankest of the dank pot, rolling on a couch muttering and crying. "I'm so fucking high, man." He'd smoked some sort of THC essential oil, if I recall correctly, and it had thoroughly destroyed him.

I also enjoyed the scene where Smith talks about the rift between the younger cannabis people and the old guard, exemplified by High Times Magazine. Nowhere did the rift materialize more than in the music selection. While the Cup featured old school hip hop, some people wanted more reggae (ugh) or worse. As Smith puts it, "Somebody actually said to me, 'I wish Quicksilver were here, man.'"

This book made me crave the things I love in life -- great coffee, good beer (at various points, I would've killed many people for a Dogfishhead 90 minute IPA), and bourbon. I suspect it will do the same to you. Read it!
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Reading Progress

03/29/2012 page 19
03/29/2012 page 25
10.0% "Liking this a lot so far, but the author missed a great Simpsons reference in his etymology of 'dank.' Moe: "Nobody wants to hang out in a dank hole no more." Carl: "You're not thinking of getting rid of the dank, are you, Moe?! Not the dank, Moe, not the dank!""
03/30/2012 page 45
18.0% "Lots of good prose in this section."
04/02/2012 page 126
49.0% "This is a truly great book for people interested in connoisseurship. Not just weed but wine, beer, whiskey, coffee etc."
04/03/2012 page 152
59.0% "Things I've seen people claim causes the financial crisis: pyschopaths, testosterone, and now anti-depressants."
04/04/2012 page 214
84.0% ""While everyone else ran for the glass shelters, I stood in the hail. It was beautiful, like taking a showed in diamonds." Damn."

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Sanam (new)

Sanam But I take exception to "reggae (ugh)." really!!!??? There's more to genre than Shaba Ranks and Buju Banton.

Patrick Brown Sanam wrote: "But I take exception to "reggae (ugh)." really!!!??? There's more to genre than Shaba Ranks and Buju Banton."

I am not completely against reggae. I think primarily I just really don't like Bob Marley. I like a lot of music that is highly derivative of reggae, so I appreciate its influence. Really it's just too many memories of sitting in college dorm rooms listening to "Buffalo Soldier" while some dude in a Che Guevara shirt talked about The Marx/Engels Reader. "Aye aye aye...aye-ye-ye-ya...aye-ye-ye-ya-ye-ye-yah."

message 3: by rivka (new)

How did it happen that Pico and Fairfax became the Dank District?
The medical marijuana storefronts replaced the quickie-dialysis storefronts.

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