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Captain Jack grew his first plant in college on the front lawn of his school’s national security house. It was 1966 and they were wild times. Soon, growing cannabis became a prominent passion for Captain Jack and the world of guerilla gardening became a strong presence in his life. He began sneaking off into the woods to care for his blossoming patchwork of hidden gardens.
Although he went to a prestigious New England school where he studied forestry and landscape architecture, Captain Jack built a career on intuition and the keen acumen he developed while cultivating cannabis clandestinely. His passion deepened when friends of his returned from a rare trip to the Middle East with a small surfboard shaped piece of hashish from Afghanistan.
Jack found something special in that hash and it struck him on a visceral level. Hash-making had been a 4,000 year old tradition in Afghanistan.
It imbued a sense of craft, pedigree and terroir that, for Captain Jack, set him on the trajectory of a lifetime.
Jack spent the summers of 1971 and ‘72 making trips to a remote village in the Northeast region of Afghanistan, outside of Mazar-i-Sharif, past the Hindu Kush mountain range. There, he slowly endeared himself to the village elders by working alongside them in the fields, growing and harvesting a magical plant called Gulzar Afghanica, or “Garden of Afghanica.”
By the close of the second summer, Jack had gained the respect of the elders and they honored him with a handkerchief full of special seeds, knowing he was spiritually connected to this precious varietal.
Captain Jack quickly set out to grow his own Gulzar Afghanica.
He voyaged to the West Coast United States to the fields of Mendocino where he discovered the ideal latitude and microclimate for emulating Gulzar’s Afghani homeland. Eventually, word hit the streets about Jack’s special crop—one that would nearly never cause anxiety and often would, by many accounts, have a narcotic-like effect—earning Jack’s Gulzar Afghanica the nickname, “Herowanna.”
While Jack spends much of his time at the helm of a tuna fishing boat (it’s how he earned the title “Captain”), he eventually made it back to his East Coast roots. By a wonderful twist of fate, some New York friends of his introduced him to some friends of theirs; the cast members and writers from Saturday Night Live’s original Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Jack became a regular fixture backstage at SNL tapings…and he always brought gifts.
Needless to say, Captain Jack was warmly welcomed by the iconic cast of SNL. It was the birth of the baby boomer’s creative rise, not only in comedy, but in all forms of art. Captain Jack still won’t confirm or deny if Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight!” is about him or not, but Jack’s marvelous marijuana was right there in the mix of it all.
We also can’t say for certain if there’d be The Coneheads, John Belushi’s Samurai, or even The Blues Brothers if it weren’t for Captain Jack. But we can say this: 30 Rockefeller Plaza was filled with the aroma of Captain Jack’s famous goods, and the powers-that-be let that sweet smoke swirl.
“In those days, you could do no wrong backstage at 30 Rock. That cast was too valuable to NBC,” says Jack.
Captain Jack’s a great person to know. It’s why his Gulzar Afghanica became “The Smell of SNL.”
It was a staple at all the after parties, too.