Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Carlos Santana Smokes In Vegas, Stays In Vegas

Maybe it's because they've just revived Hair on Broadway, but this does seem to be a good spring for marijuana. Just a few weeks ago, at his first online town hall "meeting," President Obama was asked whether he thought legalizing the smokeable herb might help turn the economy on, I mean, around. Obama ducked the question, joking that "I don't know what this says about the online audience," but today he's gotten the same piece of advice from a "higher" authority--guitar god Carlos Santana.

In an interview with the Associated Press published today, Santana, who first came to prominence as part of San Francisco's 1960s hippie scene, added his voice to those advocating the decriminalization of marijuana, claiming that if that happened, the President could "Take all that money and invest it in teachers and in education," leading to what he predicted would be a "transformation in America."

Of course, it's not entirely clear just what kind of transformation Santana might be talking about. But it should be noted that the musician made these statements as part of his announcement that at the end of May he'll be starting a lengthy residency in, of all places, Las Vegas, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. So maybe Santana is really looking to, as they say, think globally, but act locally: legalize pot in Vegas, just like gambling, and take it from there.

I'm sure counterculture purists might have a problem with Santana playing Vegas in the first place--especially since he'll likely be performing there in mid-August, right on the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival that helped launch his career. But don't think Santana hasn't thought long and hard about playing "Evil Ways" in Sin City.

"It's a milestone for me because I always said I would never do certain things," he said about the entire concept of playing Vegas. "Yet what is very different is this is the year I decided to do all the things that I said I would never do. It's a way of coming into a room that I thought was dark and I would be afraid and I actually bring my light to it."

Moreover, he noted, "Every time I tell God my plans he cracks up, he starts laughing. So I just decided to be quiet for a while and not say that I am going to retire and go to Maui and become a minister," he said. "God was cracking up. He thought it was a good joke. So I said, 'OK.' Every time I want to make him laugh I tell him my plans. So we'll see."

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