Cedric Bixler-Zavala is best known as a Grammy-Award winning musician and front man for the band The Mars Volta. He recently penned an essay for Vulture, the indie music section of New York Magazine, and in that essay Cedric opened up about how he used to spend $1,000 every week on weed, and how devouring such massive quantities of marijuana week after week affected his career. Long story short: Cedric Bixler-Zavala thinks that spending $1k/week on the sticky icky was a poor life decision, one that he now sees was a bad idea.
Below are some excerpts from the piece in Vulture where The Mars Volta front man discusses his toking habits, and his $1k/week weed expenditures. But before sharing those I’d like to first get this off my chest: this is a personal essay, and not meant to apply to each and every human being who uses cannabis. Purchasing and toking such massive amounts of marijuana was a poor life decision for Cedric Bixler-Zavala, but that doesn’t mean that large quantities of marijuana are bad for everyone, and likewise it doesn’t mean large quantities are good. All this essay means is that for this one rock star in particular, weed was NOT a creativity enhancer. Now here are the excerpts from his essay in Vulture:
I was a total monster. I was spending $1,000 a week on weed, and everyone I was in the band with at the time smoked as much as I did. There’s so much stupid behavior caused by weed, but I always had that cliché: I needed it for creativity. I’ve come to realize that at the end of the day, it’s only you yourself that creativity comes from. It doesn’t come from weed. In this day and age, the stuff people are smoking is not necessarily even naturally grown from the ground, anyway; it’s basically been altered to fuck you up and fuck you up royally. I don’t even know how some people are functional after smoking this stuff. And it’s so easy to get now, you can go to stores and buy it. I feel bad because I was always going into the stores to buy and I’d actually see AIDS patients and cancer patients there — and here I am buying in bulk but I didn’t really need it. I just thought I did. I was using it to form this stoned bubble that helped me justify not wanting to interact with people.
I’m extremely curious what Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s excuse was to get his medical marijuana card. In that first paragraph he’s talking very much in the past tense, which leads me to believe he’s not talking about buying weed in Colorado, Washington, or Alaska where weed is recreationally legal. I’m assuming he’s buying it in California, where in order to purchase legal weed you need a medical marijuana card. He’s saying that the weed was not working for him, and he was abusing it. I’m not seeing any mention whatsoever of a medical reason for which he would’ve needed his medical marijuana card….Just a thought.
The thing is, smoking weed was part of my identity. My personality loved the way getting high felt. But why? I had this realization: I know what’s going to happen when I smoke, I know how hungry I’m going to get, I know how much money I’m going to spend, I know I’m never going to be as high as the first time I did it, so why am I still fucking doing this? I don’t want all my art and all my life to be defined by weed. I want to be known as someone who grew up a little.
Personally — and not just musically — there are benefits to not smoking anymore. I’m better off socially. I talk to fans. I’m cool with taking pictures. I’ll sign whatever they want me to sign. That wasn’t me when I was smoking weed. There’s some stoners out there who can appreciate their audience and actually function when they’re high. I couldn’t. Now I can look at my audience and be like, Jesus Christ, thank you so much. It’s a nice thing to be clearheaded and make music.
There’s also a part where he sort of dumps on The Grateful Dead and their long form
improvisational music, and I take some exception to that, but to each his own. You can read the essay in full here, but for now I’ve got a story about dropping mescaline, tripping balls, and playing ouija board with this dude and The Mars Volta.
Now I can’t say for certain if anything in this story was real, because there was mescaline involved, and people were tripping their absolute faces off, and the eworld was moving at about 10,000mph…But here goes:
The date was October 8th, 2009, and there was a Roseland Ballroom (NYC) show featuring The Mars Volta. There were two roommates in NYC, one of them had never even heard of The Mars Volta, the other was a big fan. These two roommates had been living together in NYC for almost a year, and had been to literally a hundred shows together over the previous decade. One of the roommates got it in his head that he wanted to take molly at the show, the other was along for the ride.
After finding someone at the show to sell them molly, about 45 minutes later they realized they’d been ripped off and the guy selling it was nowhere to be found. Someone standing nearby (wearing a striped sweater like Waldo) heard these two roommates discussing getting ripped off and offered to sell them some mescaline capsules. They mulled it over for a minute before buying them and popping them. Then 45 minutes later when they thought they’d been ripped off again the entire world began to move at light speed. Keep in mind that the time frame of the buying-taking-kicking-in of the mescaline for these two roommates had them peaking just as The Mars Volta played their encore.
As everyone began to exit the venue these two roommates were more concerned with what the walls taste like, and discovering the meaning of life. One roommate was following the other, and as one of them opened a door while exiting the venue and proceeded to walk downstairs the other roommate followed him. Them BOOM: there’s the band playing Ouija. These two roommates found themselves melting face, tripping the balls like never before, and now they were in a room where The Mars Volta were playing Ouija Board?
There was almost in instant recognition by the band (or so the story goes) that these two dudes were tripping face, and the band was all about keeping these trippers of balls there to play Ouija with them. At one point one of the roommates began to wander, and walked through a door. After walking through that door the roommate realized that it was a self-locking door, and he was now locked out. So he walked through another door, and another door, finally going in a square (beginning to panic) before finding his bro. When tripping the slightest ordeal can set you off, and this is where the night took a turn.
After getting temporarily locked out of that room the one bro went into a panic, so when he found his roommate again all he could say was “WE HAVE TO LEAVE NOW.” So they did. What they failed to take into account is that a dark room playing Ouija with The Mars Volta is less jarring than basically walking smack dab into Times Square. One of the roommates then had an idea to take the subway, because they’d probably see some weirdness. So they pair walked down into the subway, somehow neglecting to notice the ‘CAUTION’ tape at the entrance, and found themselves standing on a subway platform with about 30 cops. So they ran.
They ran as fast as they could. The police did not pursue. By the time they ‘came to’ one of them was standing in the bushes of the Columbus Circle Trump Towers at 59th and 8th, with a security guard flashing a flashlight in his eyes, mouthing the words ‘where do you think you are right now?‘ That brought them back to reality, and from there the night (supposedly) began to walk down.
Moral of the story? There is no moral, it’s just a story, and the names omitted for good reason. But if any of you bros have ever had experience with eating mescaline and playing Ouija board then hit me down below in the comments!