From Austin to Oz. I'm planning to flee the country for 7 months - working for 4 and traveling for 3.
Departure = 03 Sep 2003 / Re-entry = 03 Apr 2004

Thursday, December 11, 2003


During the Brisbane Writers Festival back in October, I picked up a few books by Australian authors. One of the much publicized ones was John Birmingham, author of Aussie cult classic He Died with a Felafel in His Hand (which I purchased). Birmingham and his publisher Random House Australia launched his new book Dopeland at the festival.

From the description of Dopeland on the Random House Aus website:

"DOPELAND follows cult author John Birmingham as he gets paid to travel around Australia in search of its marijuana culture. On his tour JB meets the dope smokers of Australia - and finds that they're not what you might expect. Yes, there are some sci-fi geeks, some student activists, and the obligatory Nimbin ferals, but JB also finds himself smoking with conservative politicians, lawyers, cops, merchant bankers and school teachers. Given that thirty to forty per cent of the adult population have smoked marijuana, and that dope is one of Australia's biggest cash crops, worth roughly five billion dollars a year, maybe we shouldn't be so surprised."

The read made me curious to go to Nimbin, Australia's hippie capital, just to see what a city of hippies looks like. Robin and I went to Nimbin while on our winetour two weekends ago. On my personal observation, Nimbin has two strong strains of population: 1) aging hippies that hold on to eco-friendly, idealistic, peaceful visions of humanity while balancing an expertly rolled joint between the index and middle fingers, and 2.) young kids that just get stoned.

I recommend this book to everyone, regardless the point on the sativa spectrum he may rest. Birmingham balances his nationwide tour citing Aussie law towards marijuana (federal and state laws), Australians interpretations of those laws, and their misinterpretations of those same laws. His writing style is vernacular, heaped with slang, and "No Way! I can't believe that!" engrossing -- just a chaotic riot akin to the Day after Christmas sales. Trust me, you'll spill your laughter everywhere.

Sadly, I cannot find the book mentioned on either the Random House USA or website. Figures. The subject matter would make it an instant US bestseller which would be an affront to the War on Drugs. So much for freedom of speech.


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