Oban-born Andy greets us at the door of a warm Berkeley craftsman, dark wood paneling invites us in on a rainy day. The Scotsman puts the kettle on while he unloads the dishwasher-- he’s been smoking Strawberry Banana, a favorite of his first thing in the morning-- “I start my day the Blackbird way - toke, coffee, and the lady’s breakfast.” Well past breakfast now, he takes time off from his personal photography pursuits to sit down for a cup of tea with us.
He smoked weed for the first time at basic training for the Royal Marines at age 14-- tripping on acid, he was handed a cigarette laced with hash, the norm in Kent. For the record, he does not recommend tripping acid on a military base. After the marines, he spent time in an ashram before diving into the music industry. Previously known as Bluebeard, for his white hair and blue beard, Andy has run the gamut from pirate radio dj to sales and marketing for high-tech companies, bringing some of the first new-age technologies to Europe and the UK.
Relocating to New York 25 years ago, he traveled the East Coast providing film production and marketing for housing developments until development slowed down in 2007. Starting his own web master business, Andy offered New York photography, web design, and social media content production. And New York offered Andy flowers-- it was hard to get a consistent and adequate supply of hashish in New York.
These days he shows off his California cannabis collection like a cellar full of fine wines. “I’ve always believed [smoking] weed and hash helps deal with all the shit in my life.. I don’t have to succumb to prescriptions. It’s natural.” Reveling in his retirement, gadget-savvy Andy prefers silicon peace pipes and crafting joints with a roller.
Music has also been an integral part of Andy’s life, with tastes from Pink Floyd to Die Antwoord, he’s spent a lot of his life combining music and marijuana.. “no point in going to a concert if I’m not stoned. I won’t enjoy it. I’ll just want to go off and get stoned.” Rolling up another joint, this time by hand, he remarks, “that’s the beauty of retirement: you can tell the truth. Let it all rip.”
We talk about [the Purple] and our appreciation for the finer things in life. He’s grateful-- to have experienced love, experience loss, to find love again. We talk about video production. He gets up and pulls a little black cube off a shelf-- he’s been filming us since we sat down.