November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Legend of a Gone World

The Kif Smoker©Peter One

Cover of The Kif Smoker

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

The One and Only Peter One

By Jonathan Evans

In Ibiza, a Spanish Balearic island, back in the ’60s and ’70s, there was a plethora of Peters on the scene –  Pink Peter, Dutch Peter, Intense Peter, even Peter Two – but only one Peter One.  He was my next door neighbor and my dope dealer and we ended up pretty close – or at least as close as Peter got to anybody.  He was tall, thin, dark and Jewish with hair that even Bob Dylan would have envied.  I remember him as incredibly intense, unfailingly uncompromising and generally secretive.  The nature of his unique work necessitated the latter. He would come and go mysteriously at different times of the year, probably at times when the cannabis harvest was taking place and when the “product” was moved around. He was a fearless man in his business, completely obsessive about what he did and had utter confidence in the hashish that he made.  And we all knew it – his hashish and its psychedelic powers were the very best anywhere in the world. Perhaps things would be different today, were he still around, for the potency of the cannabis plants nowadays is vastly stronger than that prevalent in Moroccoin the ’70s.  But when it came to smoke in 1970, Peter produced la crème de la crème.

As I said, we were next door neighbors in the glory days ofIbiza.  It was a beautiful island, set apart from the Franco dictatorship of the mainland, where ex-pats had come in droves from all over the world and had bought land and houses and settled in to enjoy what turned out to be Europe’s final fling before the world went askew and the resulting recession and depression set in.  Peter and I saw each other most days; he would either wander up the hill with his camera in his hand to watch the work in the outdoor studio, or I would walk down to his finca to watch sunset, often seated on the roof, over a pipe or three.  I remember a magical Christmas day, sitting up on Peter’s roof, deep in all-enveloping mist, smoking sebsi after sebsi, oblivious to the world around us.  Peter loved Bob Marley and Reggae music and we went to hear the great reggae star performing at theIbizabullring, a full moon creeping magically up over the lip of the stage. I also remember, to my shame and chagrin, borrowing his brand new copies of Marley’s “Exodus” and Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” and bringing them back at night, climbing down over rocks and letting “Legalize It” slip out of its cover and shatter on the rocks. Yet, Peter took it very well – and I knew that he obsessed about this music – and only said that accidents will happen.  He had a wife too, Pat, a very different kettle of fish, a quiet, serious New Englander who later went on to a successful career in academia, and a young son named Aaron, or “Fish,” as he was commonly known.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Peter One, The Kif Smoker

[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-1.jpg]90
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-1b.jpg]70
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-2.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-2b.jpg]30
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-3.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-3b.jpg]30
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-4.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-4b.jpg]30
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-5.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-5b.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-6.jpg]50
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-6b.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-7.jpg]110
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-7b.jpg]70
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-8.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-8b.jpg]40
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-9.jpg]70
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-9b.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-10.jpg]80
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-10b.jpg]70
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-11.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-11b.jpg]50
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-12.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-12b.jpg]50
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-13.jpg]110
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_kif-13b.jpg]50
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_notes-1.jpg]90
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_notes-2.jpg]60
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_notes-3.jpg]50
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_notes-4.jpg]30
[img src=http://old.ragazine.cc/wp-content/flagallery/peter-one-the-kif-smoker/thumbs/thumbs_z-kifsmokercov2.jpg]40

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

In the fall of 1977, Peter invited me to come toMorocco with him and Fish.  We were going to the Rif Mountains for the marijuana harvest and first flew to Tangier to rent a car for the trip.  I had spent a lot of time there ten or more years before, but Peter really knew the ancient city. We checked into a hotel, Peter asked for and got a specific room and immediately unscrewed the cap at the top of the bed post and retrieved some smoke he’d left there on the previous trip. Like I said, he was pretty obsessive about his drugs.

Chefchaouen, with its distinctive blue-painted buildings was our first destination and from there we drove higher, through the forests of oak and cork trees to Ahmed’s house, which was to be our home for the next six weeks.  We lived in a lovely but primitive farmhouse amidst a constant sea of mud.  The whole stay there remains vivid in my mind.  It was a world of freshly picked marijuana plants, kilos upon kilos of them; our first step was an extensive and exhaustive sampling and testing of their different potencies and highs.  Peter was as meticulous about this as he was high in his standards. He only selected the very best quality plants and we spent the following weeks putting the hemp through different sized sieves, collecting mountains of resin. For the Primo top grade hashish, we merely dusted the flower heads against a fine gauze, accumulating the very best resin.  A large hot press turned the dust into dark pungent blocks of hashish.  Peter was at all times in charge and was deeply absorbed in the work and the final product.  The day we left to drive down to Fez, I remember, Peter drove the car up the hill through the mud, whilst Fish and I, hand in hand, walked up behind him. A mangy, vicious-looking dog from the houses below started to follow us; it came nearer and nearer and was quite threatening.  Before it attacked us, as it looked like it would, I threw a large stone at it and broke its leg – the only time in my life that I have hurt an animal. But this wasn’t Ibiza or England; life up here was extreme and sometimes extreme measures were necessary.

We went through a road block on the way down to Fez but Fish’s presence in the car seemed to render us harmless to the Moroccan cops, no doubt sitting and waiting for “product” to be brought down from the Rif at that time of year.  In Fez, we checked into a fabulously opulent palace hotel where we met up with Peggy, Peter’s equally fearless partner in crime.  It was she who would transport the hashish toNew York, which was the primary market. They spent two or three days packing the suitcases for the trip, wrapping the blocks of hashish in several layers of plastic and then fitting them into the specially constructed suitcases.  The last step was to cover the plastic with talcum powder to completely mask the smell. It was a careful, well-thought out routine which Peter and Peggy had perfected over years.  That night, we washed all our clothes in the bath in our hotel room and I swear that the water turned bright green. The next day was a day of rest – or rather a day in which we took acid and spent the day roaming the dark subterranean depths of Fez’s ancient markets. They say that there are five or six levels to the huge area, one built upon another going back into the depths of time. We had a guide with us or we would never have been able to emerge.

Peggy had left for New York by a circuitous route, while we flew back from Tangier to Ibiza with a small amount of hashish hidden on us.  Peter’s final, compulsive act before we left for the airport, was to fill up the bedpost at our hotel with a stash for his next visit. He was a man who looked to the future, whilst checking sideways in both directions as well as up and down.

In 1978, I left Ibiza in search of wider pastures and ended up in New York.  And there, my second chapter of adventures with Peter started.  He had a large apartment down off Canal Street while I had a loft at Times Square and we saw a lot of each other for a couple of years.  It was a time of an explosion in music with Punk taking off in the city and my loft was across the road from the old Peppermint Lounge where all the new bands played.  So we went to every band we could as well as a lot of reggae.  We heard Bob Marley play at the Apollo several times and Peter even turned on the Wailers in their dressing room after a gig. One time, he and I posed as journalists from High Times magazine and went to a press conference for Bob.  We got to talk to him and took a lot of photographs. Neither Peter nor I went anywhere without our cameras these days and took endless photos of our musical heroes. One day, I drove Peter up to see his parents in Connecticut; I remember his parents, the Adelmans, being really nice, highly educated people who seemed bemused by their son and the way he had turned out. How much they knew about his irregular life, I have no idea but they must have had their suspicions.  He continued to come and go, to disappear for weeks on end but always come back toNew York during this period.  Probably he seemed tenser to me than he used to be.  He was courting disaster all the time with his flights abroad and his wheeling and dealing in the city.  He continued to smoke like a chimney, did coke, drank neat vodka, ate a lot of red meat and liked his strong coffee.  As I said, he was a full-on sort of guy.  And he never ever got busted, unlike Peggy who went to jail.  In the end, I think that I personally decided that his sort of life, with its secrecy, paranoias and drama, was not for me.

The final episode in this story took place a couple of years later. I had left New York, burned out on reggae, the pace of life there and the rat race, and was living in the hinterlands of Northern California.  I had heard rumors of Peter’s illness but didn’t really know what was going on.  And then the word came through that he had serious brain cancer and wasn’t doing very well.  I wrote to him and told him how very sorry I was and asked him if I could connect him with my old friend Dr. Patch Adams who often worked with cancer patients at his Gesundheit Institute in West Virginia.  He wrote me back an angry letter saying that he wasn’t going to eat fucking lentils for anybody – and that was the last contact that I had with him.  I’m told that he died in great pain six months later, refusing to try alternative treatments after going through a ghastly illness.

It was typical of Peter never to compromise his lifestyle even when he faced death.  I wouldn’t have expected him to.  He was a charismatic man, well aware of his romantic image, I believe, and living his alternative existence, a world of travel, exotic places, high tension and drama, not to mention drugs, to the hilt.  I never heard him talk of quitting for it afforded a glamorous lifestyle, nor did I ever hear him talk of doing anything else.  He took a lot of good photos along the way, especially focusing on Moroccan kif smokers and women carrying bundles of marijuana and published a very nice little book of Moroccan pictures in 1976, called “The Kif Smoker in Morocco.”  I realize that this is beginning to read like an “Unforgettable Character” story but that is exactly what Peter One was.  He could pass for an Arab with his dark hair and colouring and he lived like one most of the time. It is tragic that his lifestyle probably contributed to his death and I shall never know what he might have achieved later. Or perhaps Peter achieved enough already in his short, fierce life.  As I finished this piece off on the night of the U.S. presidential election, the state of Colorado, where I live, went Democrat and legalized the recreational use of marijuana, the very first state to do so. This is something that I had really given up on seeing happen in my lifetime. Peter was always a strong supporter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Lawis legacy, but an occasion to light a bowl and remember…

 

About the author:

Jonathan Evans is a batik artist living in Colorado with his wife and fellow artist, Beth McCoy Evans. Their previous contributions to Ragazine include an account of a UNICEF art education program in Haiti. See also: http://www.jonathanevans-batikart.com/