Field Notes – HUDSON YARDS – New York City


by Dean Balsamo

They move like Transformers – or the avenging Trees in Lord of the Rings…

straining – stretching – trampling –

applying a Shanghai-worthy…Sci-Fi…sky-crape

To mid-town Manhattan from 9th Ave. to the Hudson

in the recently opened Hudson Yards.

I thought of the French Post Modernist Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle

As I grabbled the images of the new structures

from the streets of Hell’s Kitchen…

Somewhere between

a stone’s throw and a 22 caliber…




from streets that looked like this:

“There goes the”….yeah well it happens everywhere.

Gonna wipe out the rail-yards

the little cubby’s and sidewalks where street people pitch their shit

and the usual criminal and sexual outsiders that give their twist to the genres near the tracks.

It’s always a clash

We enter the large tower anchored by Neiman Marcus off 9th Avenue. We’re meeting my brother at Napa Chef Thomas Keller’s bakery on the 4th floor. My brother’s in the trade –it was one of his projects.

We have a light lunch – it was fine. But the whole retail experience…featuring ..everything you see on the streets from Dior to H&M

Leaves me cold.

This “upscale mall,” has the aesthetics of a casino…cold, cavernous passages surrounded by polished granite-like surfaces. Out of date.

To me it was like walking in the tomb of a cold  retail cadaver.

A tower filled with babel…one percenters with their largely unoccupied penthouses above…retail aimed at..who knows who below. But I did discover a new urban survival strategy …an outgrowth of our Progressive times when I chose to use the private washroom the building provides for un and non-gendered people  – instead of waiting in the lines. I exit to find a Japanese family with kids waiting to use it as well.

The real draw at Hudson Yards is…

The Vessel.

(The Vessel through the windows of Neiman Marcus)

Euro architect,

crafted – assembled – disassembled –

then reassembled in New York by Italians

Everyone’s going there.

The 16 floor high structure is a natural magnet for  crowds. It’s a perfect compliment to the High Line it anchors. People are happy as they take selfies and meet friends.

It reminded me of a gigantic sculpture dedicated to world piece Ernest Neizvestny – a Russian sculptor I knew in NYC – wanted to create. It was his life long dream. He based it – see below for the photomontage mock up – on a twisted mobius strip as template.

It was to have “peace” inscribed in various languages all over the structure. You can see he wasn’t messing around with the scale.

You can see more about Ernst here:

The End of the Americans–My Russian Stories

Anyway The Vessel isn’t a bad diversion for a city that’s in constant motion.

And although we didn’t catch the smell of cannabis here as we were around other parts of the city…my guess is it’s only a matter of time before Manhattanites make the Vessel their own.

All the photographers are by the author.

More photos can be seen on my Instagram. Handle: arcanespace.


CBD – The New Soy for Men?

by Dean Balsamo

“What is there that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison. Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison,” Paracelsus  – Renaissance physician   (1493–1541),

CBD – The New Soy for Men?

by Dean Balsamo

Not sure how to characterize this post. Disclaimer? Public service inquiry? Maybe it’s just a cannabis tale – something that goes up in smoke… but…it does have a happy ending…

A year–long experiment with cannabis tincture gave me a story with three acts: Falling in Love – Sick Puppy – The Restoration… 

And a Finale with a message:

Men who wish to main maintain optimum sexual health and function – will treat cannabis tinctures the same way we’ve learned to treat soy products:

Minimize – avoid – eliminate

“Heresy” “BS” Enthusiasts cry – CBD bestows calmness…a feeling of well being…miraculous healings… I don’t doubt it. Several years ago I alluded to these qualities when I discussed my early experiences with the tincture. I wrote:

As for effects while these things are always individual I found the tincture to work well with regards to just a subtle “lift” to the mood, a sense of well-being, as well as, an ability to help focus on a task-which may seem counter to the usual cannabis experience except the tincture’s method of preparation isn’t meant to deliver a knock- out punch.


But after a nine-month cannabis tincture regime incorporating eight to twelve drops a day – five to six days a week – I feel like I poisoned myself…

Over dosed on the CBD component in the tincture. The body-mind connection short-circuited. My body couldn’t…wouldn’t – respond. The CBD had me by the balls…it happened three months ago when…

My erection wilted. My body refused to manifest my mind’s desire. And nothing brought it back.

Paris Street 2009 –  “Looking ahead”.

We passed it off as one of those man things. But I was mystified. There was no alcohol, drugs-medication, fatigue involved…

and no sexual strength or response either.

More of the same for the next two weeks. Officially freaked out… I apply the famous strategy of the Moist Robot: “ Trial and Error.”

I did a lifestyle scan: Everything – the same as it ever was. Natural foods based – wide macrobiotic focus – some animal and dairy, moderate wine and beer, no medication, mature but not old, hike – two – three miles a day @ 7000 ft., five American Spirits – five hours of sleep – some Herb – no unusual stress…

The only thing I’d added was… the cannabis tincture I’d started taking it nine months before. So I stopped taking the tincture.

Having some experience over years with Herb, plants like Sativa, herbs, teas…I’m familiar with some of manufacturing – processing strategies and this is what helped drive my decision.

It seemed to me that if anything like the approaches used to boost cannabis THC potency…are used for CBD…then it’s entirely possible the normal CBD elements are strengthened, amplified…distorted…maybe even turned into a poison with the wrong dosage.

By poison in this case – I mean over time it appears to have a side effect like some of the antidepressants – that come with warnings about losing sexual potency and desire.

Shortly after my decision The Economist published an article discussing the rise in psychotic episodes in emergency rooms traced to the high potency commercial cannabis now available to the masses.

That triggered my memory of a personal experience with the Supercritical Method of processing plants…a powerful extraction method resembling those used to process today’s cannabis products.

It was fifteen years ago in Baltimore – when it was still funky down at the waterfront. We were doing a booth at the Natural Products Expo – still dominated at that time by Enthusiasts and their incestuous threads …

The Kava Kava craze was hot…this was before reports came out about the effects LARGE DOSES of Kava Kava have on the liver.

The Black rep with the French name invited us to a gathering Levi… 40’s, a pious Jew – yarmulke – gray beard – the things around the shoulders…

was holding in his hotel suite. This dude was THE MAN you went to see about procuring Kava Kava.

We enter the suite…and it’s déjà vu…60s-like…only instead of pot or acid…. it’s Kava Kava …that has people sprawled out on sofas, talking quietly in corners…moving like they’re in a dream…

Levi takes central stage – middle of the room – and like the showman he is – says something…I understand as “let the games begin”…

A young woman glides across the floor with a large platter…topped with an ochre-colored substance shaped like a MOUND – texture like toothpaste… bean dip…krazy glue…surrounded by a ring of sugar-coated ginger pieces.

I grab a healthy portion. As soon as it hits my mouth. My lips go numb – followed the sense of my body…melting. . It wasn’t Sativa …I didn’t collapse but…I had to sit down to enjoy the feeling.

A few hours went by. It was 1:30 AM Sunday. But since the show started later that day …I took more. Big mistake.

I don’t remember getting back to the hotel. I do remember how wasted I felt when I tried to get up later.

I was hung-over…but I didn’t have anything to drink. I’d felt calming effects and mild body relaxation with kava kava in the past…

But nothing like this. I stumbled through day feeling like shit. Not long after…articles about Kava Kava’s effects on the liver began to appear…which confirmed my own experience.

Someone should look at this. Maybe the Israeli’s with their focus on the Medical use of cannabis can look at the tincture effects. See this post for more about their approach:

Regarding cannabis tinctures…I know from my research for a script I’m developing..that the US Army experimented on volunteers with cannabis tinctures in the 1950’s but discontinued the tests because they made people sick.

All I know is… now…three months later…after eliminating the tincture…my sexual health is restored. Everything’s back to normal. I attribute the incident I experienced to the processing and amount of CBD my body had accumulated.

So now that the obstacles to research on cannabis, mushrooms etc…are falling away… maybe it’s time to conduct some controlled experiments on the tinctures with high CBD content.

I can see prisons being a good place to start. Recruit paid volunteers and give them the tincture. I would think that anything that promises to reduce sexual tension, create a calmer environment for study, learning new skills and creative arts…would be worth examining for this setting.

60’s Suite – Detail – The Left Handed Path 
As for myself…I’m done with cannabis tinctures. Happy to have my sexual health back I now understand that for myself – when it comes to cannabis – I’ll stick with the smoke.

Dean Balsamo