When you get involved with the cannabis community, you get to meet some of the most fascinating people. I don’t know if it’s attributable to the herb, but they also tend to be some of the nicest people, too.
One such guy was Bobby B, a medical marijuana patient who passed away today in Portland following a long battle with illness.
When I first met Bobby B, it was through my friend Smoke Dogg (yes, we all have strange nicknames). Bobby was accompanied by his caregiver, Pimpin’ Steve, another patient a couple of decades younger than Bobby B. They always made quite the couple of friends to shout out to at an event, the legally-blind Vietnam vet with his walking cane and the flashy b-boy-lookin’ young man in his freshly pressed white track suits and oversize cap.
Bobby B was a legendary grower in the south Portland area known as Sellwood. His signature strain, Sellwood Thunder, was featured in a story about the Oregon Medical Cannabis Awards entitled “Garden of Weedin’” in the local Willamette Weekly:
During the tradeshow, I met a man named Bobby B., a towering, gray-haired Vietnam vet. Bobby B. grows Sellwood Thunder, a venerable Portland strain featured in High Times twice. He handed me a business card. A photo on the card’s reverse side showed Bobby posing by a luxurious green bush. The front of the card read: “Look for Bobby B.’s new hybrid, Thunder Jack.”
“I started growing Sellwood Thunder because it was known for being rich, full-bodied herb,” Bobby B. told me. “But most importantly, it had low smell, so it was hard for cops to detect. There would be times that you couldn’t even get a crop in because of law enforcement.
“Now, everything’s changed. I would say we have some of the best growers in the world here in Oregon, doing it legitimately. I still grow the same way I grew 20 years ago. But now I can show people what I do.”
Bobby B was always very supportive of the efforts to reform marijuana laws, though he never considered himself a “joiner”. ”I stay independent, even though I love NORML,” he once told me as we sipped lemonade and smoked some of that Thunder Jack on a sunny summer day on his patio in Sellwood. ”This way I can support everybody and not piss off anybody.” It was through Bobby B that I got to meet the former pro wrestler and current internet media star, Rob Van Dam. Bobby put in the good word and we appeared on each other’s shows, leading to RVD appearing on a sports panel for us at NORML National Conference 2009 in San Francisco.
On those more frequent not-so-sunny days in Sellwood, we’d retire to his “coffeeshop”, a small shack of a cabin he built with his own two hands and admittedly narrow field of vision. He laughingly showed us the places where walls would meet at not-quite 90-degree angles, doors with long triangles of gap to the floor, a through-the-looking-glass type of architecture Bobby called “blind chic”. It was his little piece of Amsterdam with mementos of interesting places and fascinating times in a life well-led.
My favorite memory of Bobby B came from July of 2009. Slightly Stoopid was on tour with Snoop Dogg on the Blazed & Confused Tour. I was working with Oregon NORML to man an information table. We all had tickets for the show, but in my capacity with NORML SHOW LIVE, I had two media passes as well. I used them to get great backstage and onstage shots of the artists, including Tha Doggfather himself. I returned to the booth to tear down and began thinking of how I might use the passes to get backstage and score an interview with Snoop Dogg, the #2 artist on my 420-interview bucket list (Willie is #1).
That’s when Bobby B and Pimpin’ Steve come strolling up. ”Yo, Radical,” Steve called out, “you still got those media passes?”
Sure, I answered. Then Steve asks me if he can take the passes so he can get Bobby back to meet Snoop Dogg, that Bobby wants to meet Snoop Dogg real bad. I didn’t even hesitate; I’ll probably have another chance or two to meet Snoop, but who knows when Bobby might get another shot.
Steve and Bobby took the passes and sure enough, ended up backstage enjoying the atmosphere with Snoop himself. ”Man, they got along tight,” Steve told me later, “Snoop’s dad was in ‘Nam and they talked a whole lot about that. Thanks, Radical, I know I’ll never forget it and I’m sure Bobby’s never gonna forget it!”
Bobby B, it was my pleasure. My condolences go out to your family and to your friends who had the good fortune to know you longer and better than I had.