one meatball

Did you ever pick a restaurant for its fireplace(s)?  That’s how we ended up at Martell’s in Kalamazoo last night (1), where I’ve dragged Kathy for basketball homecoming at Vicksburg tonight.  This month’s Encore conveniently just arrived and featured an article on the 5 best fireplaces in the Kalamazoo area (2).  Readers of this blog know how much Kathy and I love a good fireplace (3), so Mr. Cunningham was a big help for us picking our dinner spots.  Tonight, we’ll dine at the Cove Lakeside Bistro (4) in Portage, on West Lake, right on the way to Vicksburg, just 7.2 miles to the high school.  The big fireplace at the Cove backs up a view of the sunset over West Lake.  Unfortunately, the patio is closed for the season.

Even though Martell’s seems to be a local institution, I didn’t recall it from my high school and college days living in Kalamazoo County in the 60s and early 70s.  Then, thanks to Dr. Google, I learned it used to be called the Black Swan, which I certainly do recall as one of the places to eat (5).  Not only did they have great food, but the location and atmosphere were outstanding.  Still are.  It sits right in the middle of Kalamazoo’s toniest neighborhood – Parkview – which grew up after WWII around Parkwyn Village, a neighborhood built around the four lakeside homes that a group of Upjohn scientists commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design (6).  Although Wright designed only 4 of the 40 homes, he did design the whole community.  The Village celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.  You can see the neighborhood here (7).

But back to food.  One of Martell’s/Black Swan’s legendary dishes is their meatballs, served as an appetizer.  Mildly and subtly spiced, barely holding together, they were superb.  The Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Rosso di Montalcino 2019 washed them down like it was made for the task.  Their Brasato followed (Italian style boneless short rib in a red wine reduction sauce) which stood up even better to that wine than the meatballs did.

So it got me thinking a little more about meatballs.  They have kind of a mundane reputation. “Spaghetti and meatballs” is so simple, especially out of a Chef Boyardee can.  But they’re kind of fussy to make, and not real easy to get right, like the chef at Martell’s clearly did.  Just the right amount of bread crumbs, egg, meat, and cheese.  You don’t want ‘em so hard you have to use a steak knife to cut ‘em in two.  “Fork tender” is the standard. Not too big.  Not too small.  But oh the potential.  Different meats and combinations, different spices, different alliums.  And you don’t necessarily have to whip up a plate of spaghetti for them to rest on.  I’ve taken a few stabs at making them over the last several years, and include the recipes below.  You’re on your own for the wine pairings but red is a good place to start.  Make sure you make enough, so you don’t end up singing the blues like little Josh White, Jr. (8)

Here are the recipes

This one’s the first I tried, using meats from little ungulates who never grew up:

Next, these are some spicy, spicy meatballs.  Must be the harissa.  Oh, and the paprika.  A great appetizer with the green goddess dip:

And you don’t have to drive some place and look at cheap furniture to enjoy these:

Finally, here, the referenced Grandma is Jessica Gavin’s, not my much missed long departed Dutch and German ladies.  I’m sure they made meatballs too, but I haven’t dug into their old recipe boxes or cookbooks to find out how.  This one I found today looking for something like the Martell’s chef made.  I think it’s close.  Can’t wait to try it when I get home.

Buon appetito

References

1.         Martell’s. https://www.martellsparkviewhills.com/

2.         Cunningham D.  Five Faves.  The area’s coziest fireplaces to cuddle by.  Encore February 2022.  pp 7-9.  https://issuu.com/issuuencore/docs/encore_feb2022_final_links

3.         Ike B.  burn on.  WordPress December 14, 2021. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/12/14/burn-on/

4.         Cove Lakeside Bistro. https://www.covewestlake.com/

5.       Bugnaski M.  Martell’s, formerly known as the Black Swan, will offer casual dining with a strong Italian accent.  Kalamzoo Gazette.  September 8, 2009.  https://www.mlive.com/living/kalamazoo/2009/09/martells_formerly_known_as_the.html

6.       Parkwyn Village.  https://www.parkwynvillage.com/

7.       A unique community with the “Wright touch”.  Eight West. August 3, 2018,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjqctyGqQyo

8.         White J.  One meatball.  YouTube.  Posted July 13, 2016.  Recorded 1944.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHRhPcVarbE

stuff ’em, Danno

Tonight’s going to be lamb stuffed peppers.  Meijer’s had a nice sale on those colorful out-of-season Mexican imports so I said what the hell.  Kathy swoons whenever I say stuffed peppers will be on the menu, but I sometimes forget how good they can be.  I haven’t come up with a new way to stuff Capsicum annuum for a while, but from the frenzied times when I first discovered this dish, I’ve accumulated quite a few recipes, which I share with you below.  When my high school English teacher Mrs. Pharriss told me her man John enjoyed stuffed peppers, I had an envelope full of 3X5 cards off to her pronto.  When I “discovered” a few more off they were to Palo Alto.  She had to tell me to stop, but I think John enjoyed the peppers.

Our dish for tonight actually has much more exotic name – “Kooshi mahshi”, which my Google translate takes from Arabic as “stuffed hay”. I’ll assure the dish is tastier than that.  We are blessed to live a couple blocks from a Syrian bakery, which provides us with their so tasty, exotic foods at a whim.  This one is up to their standards.  We must thank our friends the farmers.  We thank our good friends, former colleague research superstar Michelle and husband farmer Mark for letting us bring home one of their ungulates every year and slowly reduce it from our freezer.  Mark and Michelle are just the coolest modern farm couple, so you’ve got to see them

Tonight’s dish is lamb based and very tasty,  See below.  Wouldn’t you want to tie into that?. The Syrians, being Muslims, would eschew alcohol, but then, this dish goes well with a nice Syrah.  Perhaps that’s a cultural appropriation.   I’d await for the DEI office to come down on me’, but so far they’ve left the emeriti alone.

Here is what tonight dish looked like

and here’s the recipe

so, there are many more to try

Here’s an early on I just wanted to use some of my pork

beef and gorgonzola is a good taste treat, so let’s mix it up!

It’s always worth he fuss for Italian. Note this one gives you 2 sides to your 3X5 card, Well worth the fuss.

Who doesn’t love meatloaf? Let’s stuff that into peppers.

Pork again, with more fuss. Still muy tasty.

Should your hunter friends bring you some wild meat, heres something you can do with it.

here’s one based on the Mexican corn snack

So that’s it for now. I was just flipping through my recipe binders and saw “jambalaya stuffed peppers”. Gotta try that one next.

 
 
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explodey!

When I hinted to my wife I was thinking of publishing a 5th volume of Musings devoted to food, she asked “is explodey soup in there?”.  A legendary entry in our family’s food lore, I never had occasion to blog about it.  I explained it to my English teacher Mrs. Pharriss, but not every exchange with her turned into a post.  Since I’m on a soup kick, I thought what the hell.

Here’s what happened.  On a Thanksgiving many years ago, all the Clarks were over.  I thought they deserved a soup course to lead up to their turkey.  I’d come across a recipe for “Golden Harvest Soup”, basically a squash soup – perfect for the season – with just a little fuss getting the squash from solid to liquid.  As with all family Thanksgivings, I was holed up in the kitchen cooking.  Kathy said I was so dedicated so I could avoid her family.  Maybe a little, but I like them better now.  The baked squash were ready for their transformation, so I began to stuff pieces bit by bit into the Waring blender.  The blender was a little balky on the transformation so I decided to help it along.  What harm can a little plastic spatula cause?  With the blender running, I stuck that spatula in, and it caught a piece, yielding “explodey” Golden Harvest all over my face, chest, and kitchen ceiling.  The assembled Clarks had a good laugh at their soiled chef and the story, but later enjoyed each their thimbleful of remaining soup, pronouncing it very tasty.  I’ve made this soup many times since -it’s a great soup – using a Cuisinart.  But to this day it remains “explodey soup”, asked for explicitly.

As John Gorka sang, “That’s how legends are made” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-qMLwhsSg8.  But maybe it doesn’t always begin with heroism and excellence.

Only a few will get the reference to ”explodey”. Sure, I stood there with squash all “explodied” over my face, but there’s more to it.  Kathy and I were big fans in the early 90s of “Ren & Stimpy”, a sick and hilarious cartoon series compiled by the deranged Canadian genius John Kricfalusi.  The first year and a half were otherworldly, then management pulled the show away from him.  But not before he created, among so many other characters, “explodey pup”.  He only appeared once, in a 2 and a half minute cartoon within a cartoon.  Ren Höek, the sleazy chihuahua, had created a cartoon to show to the mogul.  Lots of stereotypes were exploited, including the exit of the hero at the end.  “Explodey’s” name suggested he might have a problem, revealed only at the end when he finally accepted that kiss from his best gal, long suffering Poopie.

Here’s the conclusion

If you care to watch the whole 2:41 segment, here’s that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZEszeuDxoQ

And here’s the recipe

kitchen sink

Today was the day to make kitchen sink soup.  Everyone has a recipe, and they’re all just loose suggestions.  Whatever is laying around neglected and unused is a candidate for the pot.  That savoy cabbage I bought for the colcannon I made for Imbolc was great, but what to do with the rest of it?  It’s a cathartic exercise, making this soup, as it combines a cleanout of all those storage nooks and crannies with the satisfaction that the neglected discoveries are going into something wonderful.  Here on Harbal, lurking in my freezer, were partially used packs of corn, mixed vegetables, and asparagus. In the fridge were some plum tomatoes and partially emptied boxes of chicken and beef stock.  As a very recent addition, a zucchini that came one of 3 for inclusion into tonight’s shrimp scampi got sectioned and tossed in.  Finally, although kitchen sink soup is usually a vegetarian affair, I had that chicken left over from the coq au vin I whipped up last weekend.  As the hen that sacrificed herself to that pot was a tough old bird, Kathy wasn’t too fond of chewing on the “coq” aspect of the dish, although she loved the “au vin”.  I managed a half pound of meat from the saved chicken, and threw that in at the end.

Now I have a big pot of soup, closer to a stew thick as it is.  I haven’t tasted it, but these concoctions are better if they’ve set a while.  So this pot goes into my garage, maybe tomorrow’s dinner.  Meanwhile, it’s shrimp scampi tonight!

I think I may have found my theme song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvkCEEj4I2s\

Oh, and here’s the recipe

don’t screw with my groundhog

Here in Michigan, our quaint local tradition for this time of year has been “delayed”. Because of the weather! Isn’t this exercise supposed to be all about weather? It inspired me to fire off an e-mail to my Vicksburg buds.

So our own (Howell’s) Woody the Woodchuck was to venture out yesterday, survey the presence or absence of shadow, and go back home.  Or not.  Such was to provide a counter to Punxsutawney Phil, who can only comment on weather in central Pennsylvania, forgodsakes.  How his observations became some sort of national weather forecast is a mystery to me.  Had Woody, the bitch, actually gone out on Tuesday those dense clouds would have precluded any shadows, and she would be out frolicking to an early spring!  Now we see this BS, that the shadow assessment event has been “delayed” until Saturday https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2022/02/winter-says-not-yet-snowstorm-delays-woody-the-woodchucks-groundhog-day-prediction.html!  This violates over a hundred years of tradition not to mention sacrosanct celestial rhythms that indicate this assessment should occur halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.  Sure, Bill Murray got some “do-overs”, but they were on the same damned day, not some bump to Saturday.


This is a travesty.  I’m calling for an investigation

posters

My love for posters, like many of my degenerate tendencies, started in college.  Every bookstore and headshop sold them – cheap – and what a way to cover up a blank boring wall.  Each was a form of self expression, as you could announce your musical likes, political tendencies, sexual attractions, or just general coolness, to you guests.  They were portable, easily going from dorm room to apartment, exacting perhaps their greatest cost from the landlord who didn’t like the marks the tape left on the wall.  You never stopped acquiring them, sometimes because they were free for the taking from some public display.  But somehow they went into hibernation.  I don’t recall putting up a poster in my high rise rent-subsidized apartment in med school, and surely didn’t have any in my cool penthouse bachelor pad in St. Louis.  Yet, I never stopped acquiring them.  Likewise my missus.  I haven’t quizzed her on her poster display habits at little College of Wooster, but I know there was seldom a poster she didn’t like that she didn’t acquire.  The avalanche came when she went to work as NASA’s chief scientist on loan from U of M at the turn of the century.  Space lends itself to some pretty cool posters, and I think she acquired them all.  Me, I was more selective, kyping concert posters in college, the various medical stuff that dribbled in, and actively seeking some things with a Michigan theme.

We sorta knew we had all this stuff, some of it very cool, but it sat in cardboard tubes in our lower level storage room.  A somewhat unrelated retirement project kicked this off the schneid.  I envisioned a “wall of memories” in the hall from our living room to master bedroom which would bear all our various certificates.  With 6 advanced degrees between us, there’s a lot of paper, plus all that stuff they issue you when you’re a doc and can prove you haven’t killed anybody.  Somehow, that got us interested in all those damned posters.  Up came all those cardboard rolls and we committed ourselves to reviewing and measuring (for possible framing).  It was a wonderful trip down memory lane.  Some of those posters went up almost immediately, like the one for Commander Cody’s 4/17/71 concert at Hill, first time I ever saw them.  Now, our house is already plastered with a bunch of Kathy’s space posters, like the one of the moonrise signed by all the Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon and a few more.  Our house is like a space museum and you should come visit.  But now we have 170 posters looking for a good home.  We have a downstairs, but the walls there scream space, like Kathy’s signed picture of Neil Armstrong.  My job over the next several days is to scan our wall space and look for openings.  Our guest bathroom filled up quickly once we assessed our stock.  No one’s going to be bored there again.

I felt compelled to compile stats.  All those measurements made it possible to calculate the total square surface occupied by our posters: 66,215.7 square inches.  That comes to 459.8 square feet.  That’s less that 1/7 of the floor surface of our 3500 square foot house, and barely 1/10th of a standard basketball court (4520 square feet).  I haven’t calculated the bare surface of our remaining walls but I expect there’ll be some mighty competition as to what goes up.  I’m hoping for rotation and variety.  Regardless, it should compel you to come to Harbal to see my view.  It’s not just the one off the back deck.

trio

Here it is a brand new month. Some in this climate where I live dread February – more cold and dark.  Will we ever get through it?  But it’s a sunny morning here in Ann Arbor, and we’re one day away from that extremely underappreciated holiday of Groundhog Day, which happens to occur on a “cross quarter” day, smack halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox.  The Pagans celebrated this day as Imbolc, which I how I choose to observe it (1).  Much was made in their ceremonies with fire and light, as on this day one can perceive the lengthening of the day’s visible sunlight and know that spring is indeed going to come again.

As I sat in my living room with the sunshine streaming in, fire roaring, and tree still up (it comes down at Imbolc), I happened upon a trio of excellent articles touching on aspects of this COVID thing we’ve been going through for almost 2 years.  I’ve been blogging on matters related to coronavirus throughout this time, even putting the first year-and-a half’s output into a book (2).  But today, I’m going to let these three authors do the ‘splainin’.

All posts are on Townhall.com, a reputable, well-established, conservative-leaning news and opinion site.

Wayne Allyn Root is a conservative radio host who has been pointing out the hazards of the COVID vaxx since back before most everyone else had begin to notice.  Recently released data, particularly from our military, are quite damning.  In today’s article, he brings all those reports together (3).

Scott Morefield is a news columnist and journalist, but he actually spends this column describing the work of Ian Miller, an entertainment industry content manager, who has taken it upon himself to construct illustrative graphs about the actual effects of masks and other COVID mitigations, which mostly contradict the establishment line (4).  Twitter has been his medium, but he has compiled a book for the Twitter averse and also should Twitter eventually pull his account.

The whole issue of masks has irritated me enough to prompt to 8 blog posts so far (5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12) plus another my wife mostly wrote (13).

Kurt Schlichter is a wildly successful LA trial lawyer who carries the rank of Colonel from the army national guard where he was a battle seasoned paratrooper.  A marvelously articulate conservative with several books to his credit and a regular column that is always a must-read for me and Kathy, today he’s showing his love for those Canadian truckers and what it all means in the bigger scheme of things. (14)

Legendary cartoonist Robert Crumb has been done with America and living in France for over 20 years.  But he was always on the side of the revolutionaries, and ya gotta believe he’d be with those truckers.

They’re truckin’ towards freedom’!

References

1.         Ike B.  cross quarter.  WordPress.  Posted February 1, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/02/01/cross-quarter/

2.         Ike R.  Musing through a Pandemic.  My year and a half with Mr. Corona.  Volume I.  about Mr. Corona.  Amazon (Kindle) 2021.  ISBN: 9798530730. https://www.amazon.com/Musing-through-Pandemic-Year-Corona/dp/B098GV14KY/ref=sr_1_5?crid=3S6D9VX3MNOBK&keywords=%22robert+ike%22&qid=1643650138&sprefix=robert+ice+%2Caps%2C114&sr=8-5

3.         Root WA.  The COVID-19 Storyline Is the Greatest Scam in World History – The Truth Is This Is a ‘Pandemic of the Vaccinated’.  Townhall.com..Posted January 31, 2022.  https://townhall.com/columnists/wayneallynroot/2022/01/30/the-covid19-storyline-is-the-greatest-scam-in-world-history–the-truth-is-this-is-a-pandemic-of-the-vaccinated-n2602554

4.         Morefield S.  This Must-Read Book Obliterates the Mask Cult.  Townhall.com.  Posted January 31, 2022.  https://townhall.com/columnists/scottmorefield/2022/01/31/this-mustread-book-obliterates-the-mask-cult-n2602565

5.         Ike B. Who was that masked man?  WordPress.  Posted April 16, 2020. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/16/who-was-that-masked-man/

6.         Ike B.  Masks.  WordPress.  Posted April 30, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/30/masks/

7.         Ike B.  Masks 2.  WordPress.  Posted May 1, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/05/01/mask-2/

8.         Ike B.  No stinkin’ masks. WordPress.  Posted May 6, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/05/06/no-stinkin-masks/

9.         Ike B.  masks, criminy.  WordPress.  Posted July 4, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/07/04/masks-criminy/

10.       Ike B.  masks, droplets, aerosols, and all that.  WordPress.  Posted August 29, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/08/29/masks-droplets-aerosols-and-all-that/

11.       Ike B.  masks, again. WordPress. Posted December 22, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/12/23/masks-again-2/

12.       Ike B.  Off with the masks!  WordPress. Posted January 4, 2022.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2022/01/04/off-with-the-masks/

13.       Ike B (actually Clark K).  wifey’s turn.  WordPress.  Posted April 27, 2020.  https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/27/wifeys-turn/

14.       Schlichter K.  Keep on Truckin’, Working Class Rebels.  Townhall.com..Posted January 31, 2022.  https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2022/01/31/keep-on-truckin-working-class-rebels-n2602553

CC&hLPA!

Some readers of this blog may have picked up by now my deathless devotion to that 70s band out of Ann Arbor, Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen.  Has any band had a wilder name?  And, I submit, no band was more fun.  In my life, I’ve never had more fun than what I felt at a Commander Cody concert.  I wrote a small book about the joyous, raucous relationships I’ve had with the band and its offshoots over the past half century (1), and posted a loving blog about my celebration of the 50th anniversary of my first seeing them in concert (2).  While it was a hobby of mine in college to kype concert posters, I never snagged the one for that show.  I’ve since located it – kyped from the Commander’s web page – and it hangs proudly in my entryway, first thing you see as you come in the door. 

Now that the Commander is dead can we elevate his band to the immortals?  The remaining Lost Planet Airmen still play about in various guises, with enthusiasm.  But the originals all together were so special and unique, we need to take every opportunity to experience them.  Sure, between the whole band and the Commander himself, they’ve put out a host of CDs with the same songs over and over.  But I’ve just become aware of a new release that anyone who is CC&hLPA curious needs to hear.  Released on www.sunsetblvdrecords.com, the two disc set even states that a dollar of each purchase will go to the American Cancer Society in the memory of George Frayne aka Commander Cody.  It was esophageal cancer that finally took him on 9/26/21 after a 3 year struggle.  Fortunately, the band left a trail of tapes to be tapped.  This new CD set – “Strange Adventures on Planet Earth” – is one of them. 

Don’t the boys look mellow? For those of you not in the know, left to right, it’s Lance Dickerson (drums), Bill Kirchen (lead guitar, trombone, vocals), the Commander (piano, vocals), Billy C. Farlow (vocals, cornet), Buffalo Bruce Barlow (bass), John Tichy (standing: rhythm guitar, vocals), Android E. Stein (fiddle, sax).

Recorded across a number of live dates in ’73 and ’74 ranging from Australia to Rotterdam to Stony Brook, the band is at the top of their game.  An indication they’re at the end of the line is that Ernie Hagar is on pedal steel, replacing Bobby “Blue” Black, who’d replaced West Virginia Creeper.  Ernie was no slouch, an ace pedal steel player, recording since ’65.  At the end of the last cut on the first disc  – “Hey-hey-hey-hey” John Tichy calls to the audience “We love you, goodbye!”.  Is that it?  Fortunately, disc 2 opens with Billy C. singing “There’s good rockin’ tonight”, and for 13 more cuts, there surely is.  How can you not like a set that begins with “Hot Rod Lincoln” and ends with “Too Much Fun”?  In between is all that Commander music that serves poorly to promote sedate and sober behavior.  But sometimes, that’s just what we need.

$23.99 on Amazon and worth every penny, IMHO.  If you want to immerse yourself in an hour and half of the Commander Cody experience – accompanied by the intoxicant(s) of your choice, of course – this would be the dive I’d recommend.

If you want to have a little taste first, check out their performance at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor December 1971 (3).  On a bill that included Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs, Bob Seger, Archie Shepp, Joy of Cooking, David Peel, Teagarden and VanWinkle, the Up, and John Lennon (yes, the Beatle), they stole the show before the 17,000 assembled.  Here’s their performance, ripped from “Ten for Two” the documentary of the event bankrolled by John and Yoko (she was there, too).  The set includes their big hit plus the saddest song ever written.  Fortunately, the boys move right into “There’s a riot going on”, so you barely have time to put away the razor blades and the barbituates.

As the Commander and his boys sung many times “Don’t let go” (4).

References

1.         Ike B.  Lost in the Ozone…Again!  The Commander, his Boys, and Me.  50 years and Counting.  Amazon (Kindle) 2021.  Available at https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Ozone-Again-Commander-counting-ebook/dp/B096KY4Z4D/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=Bob+Ike&qid=1624277207&sr=8-3

2.         Ike B.  Two triple cheese….  WordPress.com 4/17/21 https://theviewfromharbal.com/2021/04/17/two-triple-cheese/

3.         Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.  John Sinclair Freedom Rally performance.  (from Ten for Two, premiered 4/1/72.  Produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono).  Posted to YouTube by RW Ike 3/3/21. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ21BHiSlJ4

4.     Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen.  Don’t Let Go (embellished by the Commander’s videography).  YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZs0NuhOuUs

one toke

It’s been established that smoking wards off coronavirus (1 ,2), although that fact has not been widely promulgated.  Could you be protecting yourself even better if you were smoking dope?  I apologize if this is old news.  Two days old to me, which is when my dear friend and high school classmate in Houston sent me this news item about a finding out of Oregon State University (3).

In a diligent collaboration between researchers at the “Global Hemp Innovation Center” and the “Linus Pauling Institute” (who can beat that combo?!), came this discovery.  It’s well known that cannabis sativa contains a myriad of biologically active molecules.  Thanks for the THC, but there’s way more.  The class known as the cannabinoids must be important, as our brains and other cells have receptors for them.

What these folks ended up with was really a beautiful piece of work.  They stated a bit of their driving philosophy in the intro: “Natural products are the most successful sources of drugs and drug leads in the history of pharmacology.  Although combinatorial chemistry receives more emphasis for lead discovery by the pharmaceutical industry, nature continue to be a source of unique structural diversity for new drug discovery.”  So true.

Their search benefited from prior investigations that defined the battleground.  Infection by coronavirus begins by the attachment of the virus through the receptor binding domain (RBD) for the S1 subunit of the spike protein (residues 331-524) to the host receptor ACE2 on the outer membrane of cells, not just in lungs, but on arteries, heart, kidneys, and intestines.  Yes, they really do know this stuff down to the last molecule.

So, anything that gets in the way of this interaction would be a good thing.  It’s what those experimental mRNAs try to coax out in the form of antibodies to the spike, which get ever more ineffective as the spike continues to mutate beyond the original SARS-CoV-2 strain that provided the RNA..

So what these Beavers (Oregon State’s mascot) did was take a shotgun approach.  Thinking there must be something in this weed that would work, they employed a method called MagMASS in which they basically put the S1 component of spike protein on a bead and ran through stuff to see what would stick.  Many things did not, including THC, but 2 cannabinoids bound quite tightly: CBGA (cannabigerolic acid: tetrahydocannbinolic acid, THCA-A) and CBDA (cannibidiolic acid).  After that “aha” moment, the investigators showed the structural similarity of these compounds to the spike protein binding site, showed that these compounds blocked entry of SARS-CoV-2 into cultured cells, and showed this same blockage to variants B.1.1.7 (alpha) and B.1.351 (beta).

There are several pretty pictures in their paper.  I like this one which show how the cannabinoids bind snugly to the spike protein. Take that, Mr. Corona!

So what happens next?  Can stoners waive this paper at the COVID nazis demanding to see their vaxx passport?  At the very least, such preparation might make such oppression feel a little more tolerable.  Hey, what have you got to eat?  But seriously folks, there is more work to do.  What concentration of CBDA and CBGA needs to be attained at the alveolus to achieve relevant blocking?  How does that compare to the levels attained by smoking a regular joint?  Such data are attainable although I could only find the means, not the end (5).  Fortunately, CBDA is the most abundant cannabinoid in hemp (6). Concentrations of both CBDA and CBGA vary from strain to strain (7). One could see a route by which the OSU researchers patent the compounds, or at least the delivery system, and leave us with some sort of inhaler, costing God knows how much. A combo product with tobacco has some appeal, with perhaps some synergy between the anti-COVID compounds from each leaf. Not to be too blunt (8). With tinkering with marijuana’s genes a reality, and continuing to advance (9), producing a strain that makes only CBDA and CBGA should be feasible. Coronavirus protection without the buzz. Where’s the fun in that?

And time for our epidemiologist buddies to kick into gear!  There are now 28 states where marijuana use is either fully legal or significantly decriminalized.  How are those states doing with their COVID compared the other backward knuckle draggers?

While we wait for the data to roll in, seems to be a way forth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNKL9onYB_8

You always knew it was good for you.

References

1.         Ike B.  Smokin’ corona.  WordPress. 2020 March 18. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/03/18/smokin-corona/

2.         Ike B.  smoke ‘em if you got ‘em?  WordPress. 2020 April 23. https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/04/23/smoke-em-if-you-got-em/

3.         News staff.  OSU study: Compounds in hemp block COVID-19 from entering human cells.  KVAL 13. January 11, 2022.   https://kval.com/news/local/osu-study-compounds-in-hemp-could-block-covid-19-from-entering-human-cells?fbclid=IwAR2i9prcOU0Bl3mMv_lvvSYMFseh2_ar8puP4AV01UzW3-ofCkGK6Xe6gNE

4.         van Breemen RB, Muchiri RN, Bates TA, Weinstein JB, Leier HC, Farley S, Tafesse FG. Cannabinoids Block Cellular Entry of SARS-CoV-2 and the Emerging Variants. J Nat Prod. 2022 Jan 10. doi: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.1c00946. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35007072. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jnatprod.1c00946

5.         Fundación canna.  Quantification of the concentration of THC, CBD, CHG, THCA, CBDA, CBGA, THC total, CBDTotal, CBGTotal in HPLC. https://www.fundacion-canna.es/en/quantification-concentration-thc

6. Formato M, Crescente G, Scognamiglio M, Fiorentino A, Pecoraro MT, Piccolella S, Catauro M, Pacifico S. (‒)-Cannabidiolic Acid, a Still Overlooked Bioactive Compound: An Introductory Review and Preliminary Research. Molecules. 2020 Jun 5;25(11):2638. doi: 10.3390/molecules25112638. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7321064/

7. Coogan, T.A. Analysis of the cannabinoid content of strains available in the New Jersey Medicinal Marijuana Program. J Cannabis Res 111 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-019-0011-z

8. Hitt C. The tightly-rolled history of the blunt. Thrillist. 2020 August 21. https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/what-is-a-blunt-history-origins-timeline

9. Long A. Genetic editing offers marijuana and hemp companies a way to improve plant strains. MJBizDaily. 2021 February 23 (updated 2021 December 17). https://mjbizdaily.com/genetic-editing-offers-marijuana-and-hemp-companies-a-way-to-improve-plant-strains/

songs

A movement needs some good songs. We – all of us skeptical about what our betters are telling us to do about this little virus – are starting to get some.

Check out the latest, out of Canada, where they have it way worse than we do, even with the “free health care”. Matt Bevner is a contemporary Christian music artist. But this message is secular https://youtu.be/_qrSbTIA2Lw.

I’m glad some young folks are stepping up. Till now, the strongest songs were from my generation’s septagenarian guitar god Eric, this his most recent https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNt4NIQ7FTA.

And this his first one, with a little help from Van Morrison, protesting the lockdowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DirL4RI1448

Way back when this first started, I thought we needed to have a fun song to keep our spirits light as we fought this thing together (beware, much virology follows the song nonsense) https://theviewfromharbal.com/2020/03/14/my-corona/.

It stopped being a laughing matter long ago, but our spirits can still use a boost. Thanks to Messrs Bevner, Clapton, and Morrison for their contributions to that effort. Lets hope we hear some more.

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