To the People

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Mushrooms, Smoking Bans and Decibel Readers

A few delayed thoughts after a recent trip across the Atlantic

Amsterdam -- I was confident that the last time I was in the city in May '07 it would be the final time I was able to sit quietly in a corner of a cafe, stoned out my mind while chain-smoking Camels and slowly drinking beers. Not the case. Despite what I "reported" here, the full ban was delayed until this summer leaving cafes, pubs, restaurants and coffee shops full of smoke for another few months. It was a nice a surprise to see that the country had delayed the ban yet again, coming awful close to delaying the smoking ban as many times as I've delayed taking the LSATS. I challenge them to beat my record.

Government buildings, i.e. airports, train stations, schools, (I think schools, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), etc have been smoke-free since the start of '08. I also noticed a few more restaurants and hotels that had Non-Smoking sections, or were completely smoke-free than in my previous trips.

So, what else was I wrong about? Turns out you can still buy mushrooms from smart shops. From everything I had read it sure looked like wet mushrooms had joined dry shrooms and were banned. Not the case. At least from what I can piece together from my trip.

I have no idea what the actual change in law was. Getting an answer -- about anything -- from a smart shop worker is painful. Excruciatingly painful. Next to impossible to get him to move off his stool, let alone answer a question with a coherent answer. Googling, and casual encounters with locals (even ones I know) got me nowhere. So if anyone has a answer for me, post it in the comments section.

Paris -- I don't have much to say about Paris. I've never been a big fan of the city and on this trip I was only passing through for a night; just enough time to get loaded in a small Scottish bar up an alley that was a very hospitable place to spend a night drinking. A few quick thoughts though -- My buddy and I were in a taxi. Well not really a taxi, it was just what we would call a "hacker" over here. This guy spots some guy on the street getting arrested for smoking a joint and goes on a tirade about how they have no freedom in the country anymore, it's becoming all law and order since Sarko, etc -- "If I was to smoke a cannabis joint in my car, I should be able to." I always love to patiently listen to these types of complaints from foreigners, and then explain that in the US we shoot pot smokers. The looks you get are priceless.

Also -- I noticed in the bar that they had a digital decibel reader above a closet door, so I asked the bartender what the deal was. Turns out that every bar is mandated to have a decibel reader, and if the noise level reaches something like 90dec. the music automatically shuts off. I double-checked to see if this was required by law, and she nodded. I'm guessing it's a city thing. Fascinating. No smoke, no loud noise. Drink your booze while you can.....

Brussels -- Unattractive women and great beer. There are worse combinations in this world...

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