Warren Haynes, the Allman Brothers Band guitarist, routinely plays with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead, touring as The Dead. It's the spring of 2009, he's just finished a Dead show in Washington, D.C., and he gets a pop quiz from The Huffington Post.
Where does "420" come from?
He pauses and thinks, hands on his sides. "I don't know the real origin. I know myths and rumors," he says. "I'm really confused about the first time I heard it. It was like a police code for smoking in progress or something. What's the real story?"
Wavy Gravy is a hippie icon with his own ice cream flavor who has been hanging out with the Dead for decades. HuffPost spots him outside the same concert. Asked about the term 420, he suggests it began "somewhere in the foggy mists of time. What time is it now? I say to you, 'Eternity now.'"
Depending on whom you ask or their state of inebriation, there are as many varieties of answers as strains of medical bud in California. It's the number of active chemicals in marijuana. It's teatime in Holland. It has something to do with Hitler's birthday. It's those numbers in that Bob Dylan song multiplied.
The origin of the term 420, celebrated around the world by pot smokers every April 20, has long been obscured by the clouded memories of the folks who made it a phenomenon.
It starts with the Dead.
It was Christmas week 1990 in Oakland. Steven Bloom was wandering through The Lot, that timeless gathering of hippies that springs up in the parking lot before every Grateful Dead concert, when a Deadhead handed him a yellow flyer.
"We are going to meet at 4:20 on 4/20 for 420-ing in Marin County at the Bolinas Ridge sunset spot on Mt. Tamalpais," read the message, which Bloom dug up and forwarded to HuffPost. Bloom, then a reporter for High Times magazine and now the publisher of CelebStoner.com and co-author of "Pot Culture," had never heard of "420-ing" before.
The flyer came complete with a 420 backstory: "420 started somewhere in San Rafael, California in the late '70s. It started as the police code for Marijuana Smoking in Progress. After local heads heard of the police call, they started using the expression 420 when referring to herb -- Let's Go 420, dude!"
Bloom reported his find in the May 1991 issue of High Times, which the magazine found in its archives and provided to HuffPost. The story, though, was only partially right.
The origin of 420 had nothing to do with a police code, though the San Rafael part was dead-on. A group of five San Rafael High School friends known as the Waldos -- by virtue of their chosen hangout spot, a wall outside the school -- coined the term in 1971.
The Waldos never envisioned that pot smokers the world over would celebrate each April 20 as a result of their foray into the Point Reyes forest. The day has managed to become something of a national holiday in the face of official condemnation. Officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California, Santa Cruz, which boast two of the biggest "smokeouts," pushed back in 2009 in typical fashion. "As another April 20 approaches, we are faced with concerns from students, parents, alumni, Regents, and community members about a repeat of last year's 4/20 'event,'" wrote Boulder's chancellor in a letter to students. "On April 20, 2009, we hope that you will choose not to participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your University and degree, and will encourage your fellow Buffs to act with pride and remember who they really are."
But the Cheshire cat is out of the bag. Students and locals will show up around four, light up at 4:20 and be gone shortly thereafter. No bands, no speakers, no chants. Just a bunch of people getting together and getting stoned.
THE FIVE WALDOS
Today the code often creeps into popular culture and mainstream settings. Some of the clocks in "Pulp Fiction," for instance, are set to 4:20. A "Price Is Right" contestant won YouTube celebrity by bidding either $420 or $1,420 for everything. In 2003, when the California Legislature codified the medical marijuana law that voters had approved, the bill was named SB 420.
"We think it was a staffer working for [lead Assembly sponsor Mark] Leno, but no one has ever fessed up," says Steph Sherer, head of Americans for Safe Access, which lobbied on behalf of the bill.
California legislative staffers spoken to for this story say that the 420 designation remains a mystery, but that both Leno and the lead Senate sponsor, John Vasconcellos, are hip enough that they must have known what it meant. Vasconcellos says he has no idea how it got the number 420 and wouldn't have known what it meant at the time. (If you were involved with SB 420 and know the story, email me.)
The code also pops up in Craigslist postings when fellow smokers search for "420 friendly" roommates. "It's just a vaguer way of saying it, and it kind of makes it kind of cool," says Bloom, the pot journalist. "Like, you know you're in the know, but that does show you how it's in the mainstream."
The Waldos have proof, however, that they used the term in the early '70s. When HuffPost spoke with the men in 2009, they requested anonymity, preferring to go by the names they call each other -- Waldo Steve, Waldo Dave, Waldo Mark, etc. Pot was still, after all, illegal.
Since then, however, California has decriminalized possession of marijuana so that getting snagged costs little more than a parking ticket. Medical marijuana shops dot the landscape, and the plant has become dramatically more culturally acceptable.
In the spring of 2012, they agreed to go on the record with HuffPost.
"The baby boomers have been taking over. People are dying off. The generations behind them are fine," explains Steve Capper.
"I think I read recently a poll where somewhere like 47 percent of the American public are okay with marijuana," says Dave Reddix. (In March 2012, a Rasmussen poll found 47 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana.)
Mark Gravitch also agreed to be identified. The other two aren't yet ready.
The Waldos' story goes like this: One day in the fall of 1971 -- harvest time -- the Waldos got word of a Coast Guard service member who could no longer tend his plot of marijuana plants near the Point Reyes Peninsula Coast Guard station. A treasure map in hand, the Waldos decided to pluck some of the free bud.
The Waldos, who were all athletes, agreed to meet at the statue of Louis Pasteur outside the school at 4:20 p.m., after practice, to begin the hunt.
"We would remind each other in the hallways we were supposed to meet up at 4:20. It originally started out 4:20-Louis, and we eventually dropped the Louis," Capper, 57, says.
The first forays were unsuccessful, but the group kept looking for the hidden crop. "We'd meet at 4:20 and get in my old '66 Chevy Impala, and, of course, we'd smoke instantly and smoke all the way out to Point Reyes and smoke the entire time we were out there. We did it week after week," says Capper. "We never actually found the patch."
But they did find a useful codeword. "I could say to one of my friends, I'd go, '420,' and it was telepathic. He would know if I was saying, 'Hey, do you wanna go smoke some?' Or, 'Do you have any?' Or, 'Are you stoned right now?' It was kind of telepathic just from the way you said it," Capper says. "Our teachers didn't know what we were talking about. Our parents didn't know what we were talking about."
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM THE DEAD
It's one thing to identify the origin of the term. But Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary already included references to the Waldos by 2009, when HuffPost first wrote this account. The bigger question: How did 420 spread from a circle of California stoners across the globe?
As fortune would have it, the collapse of San Francisco's hippie utopia in the late '60s set the stage. As speed freaks, thugs and con artists took over The Haight, the Grateful Dead packed up and moved to the Marin County hills, just blocks from San Rafael High School.
"Marin County was kind of ground zero for the counterculture," says Capper.
The Waldos had more than a geographic connection to the Dead. Mark Gravitch's father took care of real estate for the Dead. And Dave Reddix's older brother, Patrick, managed a Dead sideband and was good friends with bassist Phil Lesh. Patrick Reddix tells HuffPost that he smoked with Lesh on numerous occasions. He couldn't recall if he used the term 420 around Lesh, but guessed that he must have.
The Dead, recalls Dave Reddix, 57, "had this rehearsal hall on Front Street, San Rafael, California, and they used to practice there. So we used to go hang out and listen to them play music and get high while they're practicing for gigs. But I think it's possible my brother Patrick might have spread it through Phil Lesh. And me, too, because I was hanging out with Lesh and his band [as a roadie] when they were doing a summer tour my brother was managing."
The bands that Patrick managed for Lesh were called Too Loose to Truck and Sea Stones; they featured not only Lesh but rock legend David Crosby and acclaimed guitarist Terry Haggerty.
The Waldos also had open access to Dead parties and rehearsals. "We'd go with [Mark's] dad, who was a hip dad from the '60s," says Capper. "There was a place called Winterland, and we'd always be backstage running around or on stage and, of course, we're using those phrases. When somebody passes a joint or something, 'Hey, 420.' So it started spreading through that community."
Lesh, walking off stage after a Dead concert in 2009, confirms that Patrick Reddix is a friend and says he "wouldn't be surprised" if the Waldos had coined 420. He isn't sure, he says, the first time he heard it. "I do not remember. I'm very sorry. I wish I could help," he says.
As the Grateful Dead toured through the '70s and '80s, playing hundreds of shows a year, the term spread though the Dead underground. Once High Times got hip to it, the magazine helped take it global.
"I started incorporating it into everything we were doing," Steve Hager, then editor of High Times, tells HuffPost in 2009. "I started doing all these big events -- the World Hemp Expo Extravaganza and the Cannabis Cup -- and we built everything around 420. The publicity that High Times gave it is what made it an international thing. Until then, it was relatively confined to the Grateful Dead subculture. But we blew it out into an international phenomenon."
Sometime in the early '90s, High Times wisely purchased the web domain 420.com.
The Waldos say that it took just a few years for the term to spread throughout San Rafael and start cropping up elsewhere in the state. By the early '90s, it had penetrated far enough that Dave Reddix and Steve Capper began hearing people use it in unexpected places -- Ohio, Florida, Canada -- and spotted it painted on signs and scratched into park benches.
In 1998, the Waldos decided to set the record straight and got in touch with High Times.
"They said, 'The fact is, there is no 420 [police] code in California. You guys ever look it up?'" Bloom recalls. He had to admit that, no, he had never looked it up. Hager flew out to San Rafael, met the Waldos, examined their evidence, spoke with others in town, and concluded they were telling the truth.
"No one's ever been able to come up with any use of 420 that predates the 1971 usage, which they had established. So unless somebody can come up with something that predates them, then I don't think anybody's going to get credit for it other than them," Hager says.
THEIR 420 STASH
The Waldos have evidence to back up their story, now stashed away in a vault in a San Francisco bank. Reddix, Gravitch, Capper and another high school friend, Patty Young, gave HuffPost a tour of the vault, where they keep a flag with 420 stitched onto it, letters, newspaper clippings and other pieces of memorabilia.
The men remain positively giddy about their impact on an international subculture. "Attention, ladies and gentlemen, the Waldos are here!" exclaims Reddix outside downtown San Francisco's flagship Wells Fargo. He picks up a plastic "Caution, Wet Floor" sign to use as a megaphone. "You are witnessing history!"
And there it all is: A clipping from a 1970s issue of San Rafael High's school newspaper, in which a student claimed the one thing he'd want to say in front of his graduating class was simply "4-20." A letter postmarked 1975, from Waldo Dave to Waldo Steve, rife with 420 references. The official 420 flag, which Young tie-dyed in her art class.
The bank teller watches as the Waldos show off their archives. "Do you know what 420 means?" Capper asks him.
The teller pauses, then grins sheepishly. "Yes, sir," he says.
The Waldos are slightly conflicted about what to do next. Reddix is gung-ho about telling the story widely and publicly. Capper is more circumspect, worried that releasing too much would cost them future commercial possibilities.
The Waldos are considering a documentary, a dictionary of the rest of their slang and whatever else might be out there for five guys who coined the term 420 four decades ago.
"I still have a lot of friends who tell their friends that they know one of the guys that started the 420 thing. So it's kind of like a cult celebrity thing. Two years ago I went to the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. High Times magazine flew me out," says Reddix.
But "we never made a dime on the thing," he says, half boasting, half lamenting.
Reddix is now a credit analyst, with a side interest in filmmaking that led to the documentary "Roots Music Americana." He works for Capper, who owns a specialty lending institution and lost money to the con artist Bernie Madoff. When we spoke in 2009, Capper was spending more time composing angry letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission than he did getting high.
The other three Waldos have also been successful, says Capper, who notes he keeps in close touch with them all. One is head of marketing for a Napa Valley winery. Another is in printing and graphics. Gravitch is an operations manager in the construction industry.
"I've got to run a business. I've got to stay sharp," says Capper, explaining why he rarely smokes pot anymore. "Seems like everybody I know who smokes daily or many times in a week, it seems like there's always something going wrong with their life, professionally or in their relationships or financially or something. It's a lot of fun, but it seems like if someone does it too much, there's some karmic cost to it."
"I never endorsed the use of marijuana. But hey, it worked for me," says Reddix. "I'm sure on my headstone it'll say, 'One of the 420 guys.'"
Remember that time you thought it would be funny to pick up your iPhone, hit up Siri, and ask her a strain of dirty questions, just to see what she would say? You do? Well so does Apple, or so it seems.
According to a report from Wired, Apple keeps each and every single Siri interaction you — and every other iOS user — have had with the virtual helper.
But before you start freaking out about your recent series of escort requests, you should know that Apple says that it does not, in fact, store contact information associated with these requests. In other words, it knows that someone was in search of an adult escort, but doesn’t know who that someone was (it certainly wasn’t me!).
Here’s how the data retention works. You make a request to Siri. That information is shipped over to Apple, but instead of storing it via your actual phone number, you’re given a different unique number, one that is not related to any of your Apple accounts. Your voice is then associated with that number. Future Siri requests come in, but the software is so sophisticated that it can identify your voice, and then sync you up with that same unique number. But, after six months, that Siri request is no longer associated with the number.
It likely stores all of this information to continually improve the information Siri returns. (Maybe it will actually up the joke ante, which would make Siri a whole lot more fun.) But regardless, at the end of the day, you really should be careful about what you ask Siri and how you interact.
Grounded 787 Dreamliner aircraft will be back in the air soon, as the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday gave pivotal approval for Chicago-based Boeing's plan to fix onboard batteries that could catch fire.
"These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.
A new voice digital assistant is on the scene in the U.S., but unlike other Siri-challengers Sherpa comes with some overseas work experience. Sherpa launched its Spanish-language Android app in October and has since risen up the Google Play charts in Spain and Latin America. Sherpa has now learned English, and on Wednesday it launched in the U.S. in the Play store.
Most virtual assistants powered by natural language processing are taught to do specific tasks very well but tend to come up short when given unfamiliar assignments. For instance, Siri excels at jobs like making calendar appointments and dictating text messages but can be confounded by more general requests for information, usually resorting to simple web searches.
But speaking to various analysts, the Journal found plenty of pessimism to go around: As Darren Tristano, executive VP of food industry consulting firm Technomic put it, the cupcake craze was just a short-term trend. “We’re starting to see a real saturation … Demand is flat. And quite frankly, people can bake cupcakes.”
Of course those within the industry, like Yogen Fruz co-founder Michael Serruya, take the opposing view: Serruya just did a $10 million financing deal with Crumbs and says the gourmet cupcake category is here to stay. “We wouldn’t have committed our money to this deal if we believed otherwise,” he told the Journal.
Then there’s Magnolia Bakery, arguably the most famous gourmet cupcakery around, featured in HBO’s Sex and the City and the film The Devil Wears Prada. According to the Journal, its sales are actually up so far over 2012 — though it’s hard to say what that means, exactly, since only half of the store’s revenue is cupcake-specific.
Fear not, gourmet cupcake-philes: If the market really is plunging and you’re not bake-phobic, scores of scrumptious cupcake recipes are just an interwebs search away.
If the reports are true, it would be joining the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google, and others looking to capitalize on a forecasted boom in wearable electronics.
Microsoft has so far refused to comment on the rumors.
This wouldn't be Microsoft's first shot at making a smartwatch. Back in 2004 it fielded a product under the name SPOT that used FM radio signals to send instant messages from Windows Messenger, news headlines, stock information, and weather forecasts as part of a paid subscription service.
But production stopped in 2008, and the SPOT (Smart Personal Object Technology) project was finally canceled last year.
Interestingly, Microsoft researcher Bill Buxton spoke at length on the 37-year history of smartwatches last month, possibly foreshadowing a return to the market.
The news comes days after a bleak report from IDC last week claiming that Q1 2013 marked the steepest decline ever for the PC industry, down 13.9 percent over Q1 2012, a trend that apparently accelerated rather than slowed with the release of Windows 8.
It's also the second significant leak in the report's aftermath — last week The Journal reported that Redmond was also working on a 7-inch Surface tablet due later this year.
So the Mets players bundled up — looking more like snowboarders than baseball players — and ventured into the newly white outfield to play catch as they tiptoed ankle-deep in powder.
The scene, strange as it was, is the current reality for the Mets, whose game Sunday in Minneapolis was postponed because of snow. The Mets on Monday laughed it off and shrugged with resignation. There are things you cannot control — like the weather, and baseball’s schedule-makers.
“We’ll just have to adjust,” Manager Terry Collins said after it was announced the teams would play, or try to play, a split doubleheader on Tuesday starting at 3:10 p.m.
The Mets last had consecutive games postponed by weather conditions in August 2011, when Hurricane Irene was passing through the New York area. It was rain then. This week, it has been snow and cold, the constant threat of which has put the Mets into a state of uncertainty.
“It gets to be tough, because now your pitching is drastically affected along with your pitching down the line here a little bit,” Collins said.
Dillon Gee, who was supposed to pitch on Monday, was expected to pitch the first game on Tuesday. Collins was undecided on who would pitch the night game. The right-hander Jeremy Hefner was scheduled to start Tuesday night, but the left-hander Aaron Laffey was also a consideration.
The only certainty seemed to be that the Mets would use Matt Harvey against the Washington Nationals and their ace, Stephen Strasburg, on Friday, when the teams open a series at Citi Field.
“I don’t think I’m going to mess too much with Matt Harvey at this particular moment,” Collins said. “I would imagine that he’s still on track for Friday.”
He added, to laughter, “I don’t know who’s pitching Saturday and Sunday, I’ll tell you that.”
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each posted a goal and two assists while Wayne Simmonds and Erik Gustafsson also scored for the Flyers, who snapped a four- game losing streak to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.
Also thanks to 25 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov, Philly now has 39 points on the season and sits seven back of the New York Rangers for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.
Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher each posted a goal for the Canadiens, who have dropped two of three. Carey Price gave up six goals on 29 shots in two periods while Peter Budaj allowed one in on four shots in the third period.
Montreal sits in second place in the Eastern Conference and first in the Northeast Division with a one-point lead over the Boston Bruins.
Boston was scheduled to host Ottawa on Monday, but the game was canceled in the wake of the twin bomb blasts that occurred at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
The Flyers scored just 2:45 into the game as Simmonds let fly with a slap shot from the right circle that was stopped, but the rebound came back to him and he chipped it out front where the puck went off a Habs stick and into the net.
It was a 2-0 game three minutes later as Gustafsson wristed a shot from in front that went through a screen provided by Simon Gagne.
Montreal got one back with 57.2 seconds to play in the first period while on the power play as Tomas Plekanec sent a pass from the right point to the slot where Pacioretty re-directed the puck between the pads of Bryzgalov.
The goal sparked the Habs as the team tied the game just 38 seconds into the second period on the power play when Gallagher netted his 13th of the year off a feed from Pacioretty.
The Flyers, though, answered 24 seconds later when a Canadiens player overskated the puck behind his own net and Giroux quickly passed it out front where Voracek one-timed it home.
Skating on the man advantage, Philly made it a 4-2 game when Giroux sent a short pass from the left circle to the slot and Hartnell one-timed it in at the 7:30 mark.
Montreal kept it close by scoring just two minutes later as Davis Drewiske's shot from the right point was stopped, but Galchenyuk put the rebound home while battling out front.
The Fiat 500e has an EPA-certified range of 87 miles when it is fully charged, which Fiat claims is “best-in-class and better than all U.S.-market all-electric vehicles produced by high-volume manufacturers.” It also has an estimated 108 MPGe. There will be 25 dealerships all across California that will sell the 500e, and each will offer 4 charging stations that 500e owners can use. The dealerships will also help customers find other charging points, as well as offer locations of other charging stations on the customer’s route.
Fiat will offer its customers the “Fiat 500e Pass Program”, which allows 500e owners to choose an alternative car to use for up to 12 days each year. The owners will be able to choose from select cars offered by Enterprise Holdings, including the Fiat 500s, the Dodge Dart, the Chrysler 200, or bigger vehicles like a minivan or a pickup truck. The Fiat 500e Pass Program is only available for the first 3 years after you purchase your 500e.
There is also a smartphone app available for 500e owners. The app is available for both the iPhone and Android phones. It will provide you with details like real-time vehicle status and charge management, and will also allow you to track energy use, locate charging stations, prep routes, set up alerts, and more. The 500e itself has a 111hp/83kW electric motor that is able to deliver 147 lbs-feet of torque and is powered by a 24 kWh lithium battery. It is able to be charged in under 4 hours with 240 volts. The Fiat 500e is expected to be a huge hit in California.
Your Daily BS. © 2011