18 April 2023

Ellis Millsaps: The Russians are Coming and Kansas City Shitweed, Part II ( The Long-awaited)

 Read Pt I here

Sometimes while out of work or not we engaged in other money making activities. My friend 

Ken Jordan, the day after I sat in the bleachers cheering wildly as Gene Garber struck out Pete 

Rose ending his historic hitting streak, got to work that evening silk screening t-shirts depicting a drooping rose with the caption ”44 and no more” which he sold out of his trunk in the parking lot of Atlanta Stadium after the next game.

We had other ventures from which we didn't make money but otherwise profited. I'm thinking of the parties we gave at our grand house. Not only did we invite our friends but we put up notices on utility poles in the neighborhood as if we were Pylon advertising our next show. 

The deal was you paid $5 at the bar, got your hand stamped and could drink all of anything you wanted for the rest of the evening from our well stocked bar. We would collect a bunch of cash and go back to the liquor store. I recall one occasion when my oldest friend, Rick Goss, my next door neighbor in Fannin County ( he lived a mile away) and I went to the store, restocked the bar and purchased a bottle of Martell Cordon Bleu which we stowed away for later.

 You might think it's somewhat risky to invite total strangers into your house where you're handling hundreds of dollars in cash, but we didn't worry about it and besides we usually had police protection. An Atlanta city policeman whose first name I once knew but no longer recall,  worked security at Dante's on weekends and appeared regularly in uniform.

We didn't exactly pay him but he had a free ticket at the bar, a bevy of young beauties to court and spark and access to whatever else might be transpiring. I mean if you have lines laid on the table are you going to tell the cop he can't have his? I don't think so. 

Most of the 69ers, as we called our softball team, worked for a healthy income of tips, and other than sales tax and auto tag fees paid no taxes. An exception was my good friend of 50 years, Bill Demond, who worked as an exceptional cook before he became a fishmonger. In 1977 he and another guy founded the two man operation “Inland Seafood “of which he is now CEO with 10 wholesale locations and 600 employees, but prior to that he was out of work a while and accepted a job for which he was paid $500 to drive a U-Haul to Kansas and bring it back full of the marijuana which grows wild there. His financier here wanted this wild weed to mix with his quality imported stuff which he sold in bulk.

Bill made his run and came back home with his money and a grocery bag full of what we soon came to call Kansas City Shitweed. It earned its name because no matter how much you smoked  it it only reminded you a little of getting stoned. It turned out, we were to learn after a while, that the story was entirely different if you cooked it. So one Friday Bill decided he would make some marijuana brownies that we would eat before heading out to see Glen Phillips at the Roxy. What Bill made was more like marijuana pie, two thin layers of brownie surrounding an inch deep concoction of wild marijuana and butter. It was awful but we ate it.

We were headed off toward Buckhead when the road  began to curve over and over like a corkscrew. It is a testament to my young hand to eye coordination that I was able to keep the car on this winding path.

We made it to the Roxy where we were fastened to our seats, unable to move.  That was not  only because Phillips was so sensationally entertaining, (Lowell George of Little Feat with whom Glen sometimes played called him ” the most amazing guitarist I've ever seen.”  Peter Buck of REM said that he doesn't play guitar solos because he’s seen Glen Phillips.) we couldn't have moved anyway. 

You can email Ellis at millsapsellis00@gmail.com

Ellis "Da" Millsaps is a recovering Attorney but has worn many hats over the years: father, bus boy, stand-up comedian, novelist, wiffle ball player, rock'n'roll band manager, and at one time wrote a popular and funny column for The Covington News. A Fannin Co. mountain boy originally, Mr. Millsaps now stays at the mill village of Porterdale by way of 20 years in Mansfield. Usually funny and at times irreverent and subversive, he leans left in his political philosophy but can always be counted on for a pretty darn good write-up. The Chronicles are proud to have him involved...