Marc Emery: “Martyr”, or “Fool”?

Marc Emery is a Canadian advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Having been a fixture in the pot world – and more recently, politics – for decades, he’s been referred to as the “Prince of Pot”.

Somewhat of a success story, he has made great money through his BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Headquarters, most people like him (myself included), and he has a good-looking wife.

(WHAT?! I’m just saying.)

But then, he messed up: he sold pot seeds to Americans via his online business. At the request of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in 2005, the Vancouver Police raided his store, then arrested him. For extradition to the US.

I, for one, was disgusted. Since when did the Vancouver Police become the DEA lapdog? (My guess is that the RCMP – who are taken far more seriously here – told the DEA to go **** themselves.)

Despite numerous protests from around the world, Marc was extradited and is now serving 5 years in Washington state. Ironic, given the number of pot smokers there.

In a recent statement he issued through his impressively devoted wife, Jodie Emery, Marc said that he’s doing alright, getting rest and exercise, and observed that “most people here are Mexican and African-American” – in a state where the two races combined make up less than 12% of the population.

Some are now calling him a “political prisoner”.

(*Deeeeeeeeeep sigh.*)

You know who I think of when I think of political prisoners? I think of:

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima

Adolfo Fernandez Sainz

Mumia Abu Jamal

Cho Sung-hye

Nelson Mandela

NOT Marc Emery.

Regardless of my opinion on the subject, here’s my issue with Marc Emery’s fans take on things:

1) The US has enjoyed this antiquated – and very profitable – ‘war’ on drugs for decades.

2) They’ve made it clear that they don’t play fair and that they’ll destroy anyone who gets in the way of said cash-flow. (Too many over-thrown ‘dictators’ to name!)

3) Marc decided that he would go for it anyway. (Maybe he got bored by the lack of a real anti-drug enemy here in Canada??)

4) Marc is screwed now.

Come on, guy! How many DEA agents do you think grew up watching ‘Cheech and Chong’? Probably too many to count, right? But they STILL busted the original ‘Prince of Pot’, Tommy Chong!

The moral: Know the difference between a “martyr” and being a “fool”. And thank God you’re not “Mexican (or) African-American”. Or you’d REALLY be f***ed.

We’ll see you in 5, Marc. And if it’s any consolation, your wife’s a cutie.

(WHAT?! I’m just saying.)

For more info on Marc, his wife, his ‘plight’, or pot in general, go to:

http://www.cannabisculture.com/

Music Snobbery: The Last Form of Discrimination?

I came across a band’s blog post in which one of the core members blasted Nickelback for their song “Rock Star”.

In it, she seems to miss the irony in the song’s lyrics. Instead, she mourns over how “..Music used to be a tradition, a reason for communion, whether to be spiritually or culturally enriched, to celebrate and belong. And one day, when they invented the record, I guess, and music could me easily commodified and sold, something disappeared.”

She then asks, “..When did it all go to shit? When was a song as comical as ‘Rock Star’ meant to be taken seriously?” Answer: it hasn’t all gone to shit, nor was the song meant to be taken seriously.

Following her post, one person proudly shares a tale involving a young boy at his Christmas party.  Apparently the kid tried to play a Nickelback tune on a guitar until the host said “Guess you did not see the ‘NO NICKELBACK’ sign on the door when you came in”.

Charming.

Who knew that music snobbery could eclipse the meaning of Christmas? If a kid wants to play a corny Nickelback tune on the guitar, is it really that bad?

My question for the blogger is this: if “something disappeared.. when they invented the record.. and music could be easily commodified and sold”, then why should her band make another album? Aren’t they only adding to the problem of over-commodification by doing so?

Great band, but I wish they’d lighten up a bit. (And no, I’m not talking about Nickelback!)

“Calgon, take me away!”

The past couple of months have introduced a number of adventures in my life. One of them being marriage. (Thank you in advance for the well-wishes!) Another being television. (I accept your condolences in advance). I’ve avoided both like bad fish for a long time, but for vastly different reasons. Rather than getting all up close and personal though, I’d rather talk about tv.

I’d often found tv a bit too transparent (ie: dumbed-down in order to appeal to a wider range of people, or just plainly dumb). Most who enjoy television have told me that I “shouldn’t take it so seriously because it’s meant to be a form of escapism”. After years of blasting the medium without really giving it a chance to redeem itself, I decided that maybe I was being a bit too hard on it.

Besides, how could 50,000,000 Elvis fans be wrong?

I’m pleased to report that there are a few gems on the tube. “Mad Men” is a personal favorite at our place. You don’t know whether to fawn over the excellent writing or the incredible attention to detail in making this show feel like it’s truly been dropped out of the 1960s. I just really dig this show and can’t say enough nice things about it. Nuff said. But then shows like “Californication” had to come along and spoil the fun. On the surface, it seems like a goofy, fun little romp that promises to entertain you for 25 minutes. Instead, it crams every cliche and newly invented piece of hipster lingo in your face until you cry ‘uncle’.

But “Entourage“, for example, is a stupid show about stupid people, but at least it’s fun. (Despite his abrasive personality, who among us – male or female – wouldn’t want to be Ari Gold for a day? I rest my case.) And, despite its shamelessly sexist content (thank gawd!), it manages to do the impossible by drawing in a huge number of female viewers. It does so by not sucking up to female viewers. It’s a show for guys that women happen to watch.

Another show that I thought had potential but got lame pretty quickly is “Eli Stone”. My biggest problem with it – other than crap writing and annoying characters – is how it unabashedly wears its politics on its sleeve and everywhere else. I get it – you despise Bush and Co. But isn’t this supposed to be a form of escapism? And doesn’t escapism include escapism from politics?

See, the difference between a show like, say, “All in the Family” – a true classic – and “Californication” is not only in its delivery but in its intent. “AitF” reflected the times in a smart, direct way. One can watch its re-runs today, some 30-plus years later, and say “Wow. That was a crazy time! I can’t believe the things they used to say on tv!” Of course it looks dated today. Just as shows from the early 1990s look dated today. (“Fresh Prince” anyone?) Thirty years from now, they won’t be saying that about “Californication”. Instead, they may say something like “Wow. That was a crazy time! I can’t believe how stupid people were back then!”

Sadly they won’t be refering to the characters.

Listen, I get that television shows always have and perhaps always will try to include product placement and/or politics in its content. But the thing that bugs me is when I’m aware of these facts. If you’re going to invite me and others to ‘escape’ into your show, wouldn’t it also be swell if you didn’t remind me about what it is I’m escaping from? Hell, even David Duchovny validates my point, recently confessing to sex-addiction – just like his sex-addicted alter ego “Hank” in “Californication”! And just in time for Season 2!

WOW. Art really DOES imitate life sometimes. The cliche is complete.

“Now let’s hug it out bitch!”

Why I doubt I’ll ever have children

It looks like the powers-that-be in Langley BC have officially lost their minds. And it’s over a single incident.

A couple of 15 year old boys sent lewd messages to a 12 year old girl on Facebook. They also sent pics of their wee-wees to her. She was delighted. All was well, until her idiot mother caught her innocent daughter online in the middle of the night. She was on – you guessed it – Facebook.

So mom loses it, does a bit of sleuthing (you go mom!), and discovers that the original exchange had taken place on school property during school hours! Well, what’s a mom to do, but call the school, demand that they remove access to the site for ALL schools in the district, and annoy the RCMP in to pursuing the matter with the boys’ parents.

This is reminiscent of another mother who caught her 11 year daughter sending and receiving lewd messages, this time via MSN instant messaging. The other party was an 18 year old baseball prospect for a US team. You know the drill: daughter played the ’tearful victim’ card, and mom flipped. (I’d ask where ’dad’ is in all of this, but that’s just wrong.)

The young man was jailed for “sexual coercion of a minor”, until it was discovered that the girl had told him she was 14. The conviction was over-turned on appeal, he went on to play ball in the US (something he wouldn’t have been able to do had he gotten a prison record), and the girl’s mother is probably looking for someone else to blame for why her daughter is on crack today.

I’m only half joking.

Back in the day, these situations would’ve been resolved in a really simple way: kick the kid’s ass. Not physically, but via serious groundings, loss of priviledges, that sort of thing. Then go to the parents of the boys in question and kick their asses. Again, not physically. (Actually, I think I would.) The point IS that there’s no need to make this into more than something that can be resolved between the parties involved.

But this is an era of zero accountability. And no one wants to get their hands dirty. Parents are taking their children out for Hallowe’en in their double-wide strollers (don’t want to give the angels an inferiority complex!), or just as soon as ’little precious’ can walk – even though they’ll have NO recollection of having gone.

These parents either spend more time on social-networking sites than their children, or are completely computer illiterate. The latter of the two couldn’t be bothered to actually check on little Jemma’s and Jayson’s online activities. This is the golden age for pervs, when luring a child from a chat room into reality is as easy as.. blaming somebody else for the crappy job at parenting that you’re doing.

No, there was no internet when I was growing up. But there were still threats and (most of) our parents equipped us as best they could without treating us like God incarnate. I have a newsflash, folks: your children, your special little clones are about as ’special’ and ’unique’ as everybody else’s children.

Think about that… although I already know that you’d rather not. And it’s for this reason and many others that I doubt I’ll ever have children. I care about them too much to bring my own into this world of moronic parents and future narcissists.

PLEASE – Just shut up and SING!

Even though I’ve visited this subject before, it keeps rearing its ugly head in one way or another. What else can I do but share?

There are some days when I miss the simplicity of the music world past. Before technology came and ‘changed’ everything forever. I’m not referring to the days before video officially killed the radio star. After all, video was initially meant to paint a picture to go along with the sound.

Yes, it is tragic that many artists who weren’t the best-looking failed to impress the first ‘Mtv Generation’. (Christopher Cross, anyone?) But that’s why community college exists: to offer hope to those who want a second chance in life.

Back in the flawed but brilliant 80s, most of what we knew about our favorite artists came from either teen magazines, music video programs, or word of mouth (ie: rumors). Today, it’s completely different.

Bands have their own websites/forums from where they can talk about anything and everything. These subjects have ranged from their favorite electoral candidate to their favorite cologne.

On the surface, it sounds like a great thing. But then there are those moments when you feel like it’s become more about the artist than the art. Sometimes I don’t care to know about your family or what you had for breakfast. I want to hear about your ART.

That’s the beauty of having more than one web page – one for your art and another for your mundanity.

PLEASE, just shut up and sing!

Even the Dixie Chicks got the point… eventually.

Politics + Musician/Actor Support = Disaster

Today, I read that Arcade Fire’s Win Butler is staunchly supporting Barack Obama in the next US election. As much as I love his band, I’m BEGGING musicians and actors to please, PLEASE stay out of this year’s elections.

Especially given the results of the last one.I’m not going to get into whom I support this time round, but I will admit that I’m glad that we (ie: the world) will finally be rid of Baby Bush. The global damage that has been done during his reign will take considerably longer to repair, but these things take time.

Back to the topic at hand, I believe that Bush was voted back in partially because of the number of pompous musicians and actors who’d jumped on the Kerry bandwagon. Kerry – a man who has less personality than a cigar store ‘Indian’ – somehow garnered the respect and adoration of many of Hollywood’s and the music scene’s intellectual midgets.

While Baby Bush’s message was incredibly clear (“No gay marriage! No free speech! No need for logic as a US president!”), Kerry’s was extremely vague. Compound that with the celebs who supported him and the combo made little to no sense. If anything, their support ultimately alienated many in the ‘undecided’ camp.

Listen: I’m all for rocking the vote and all that. But there’s a difference between rallying for support and simply showing up for the party. Regrettably, too many young American voters – the demographic that could’ve gotten Baby Bush out of office – chose the latter of the two options. Then slept in on voting day. Bravo.

(Ever notice how few ‘anti-war protests take place before 9 AM? Friggin’ hippy morons…)

Anyway, that’s really all I wanted to say. Let’s put the focus back where it belongs: onto the actual candidates. After all, since when have politicians had anything to do with showmanship?…

PS: I think that Hilary Clinton is a creepy, creepy robot. And speaking of Hilary, I recently heard a joke about how it’ll be the first time she’s slept in the President’s bed if she wins this election.

The end.

Published in: on January 17, 2008 at 3:48 am  Comments (1)  

When you wish upon a star…

“MOOBY SAY RELAX!”

“The problem with being a star is that anyone CAN be, but not everyone SHOULD be…”

When we were teenagers, my friends and I would sit, listerning to our favorite bands for hours. Sometimes we’d watch their videos, imagining what it would be like to be in their shoes – singing songs we wrote while an enchanted world watched and listened. I would go to sleep, wishing for the day when the limitations of funds/technology and the barriers created by A&R folks would be a thing non-existent. In other words, a day when anybody could become a star.

“Be careful of what you wish for…”

This 21st century has ushered in the era of my wildest teen-aged dreams. But it’s also created a kind of nightmare that I’d never imagined could exist.

In an age of YouTube stars demanding that we “Leave Britney Alone!” while wiping away tears of mascara (along with any hint of self-respect), spectacle is king. Or queen, as in the case of certain fraudulent “LonelyGirl”. Girls have gone wild while boys proudly exhibit their inner jackass. Their logic asks, “Is it possible for me to get noticed AND taken seriously while pretending to be something I’m not?” People – mostly, but not limited to the young – don’t seem to care about being artists, per se. They want to become what they believe art is.

That is to say, they want to become something stared at, pondered upon, desired, loved or even hated. Art has become ‘the art of the con’. Whatever it takes to elevate these few to that point of apotheosis that they’ll never attain. At least, not in the way that they hope to. See, just like any other god, once one becomes one, they never really accept or realise that they have yet.

This is because it doesn’t feel anything like what they thought it would. Sometimes it’s more draining, other times it’s simply boring. But most of the time, one wants to have more. These are the times when our gods are found dead of an overdose. Or without underwear. The result? Hotel heiresses who are famous for nothing, and slickly-produced television that poses for ‘reality’. (Whatever THAT is anymore! When was the last time you felt ‘real’ in front of a video camera?)

Here’s the saddest part – no matter when this technology would’ve been created, the sad truth is that the results would’ve been exactly the same. With this in mind, I suppose there’s something to be said about having controls in place, limiting just who ends up becoming a star. There’s something kinda liberating about hiding some aspects of art. Who truly wants to know how the coolest magic tricks are done?

One thing that I’m definitely certain of is this: I’m glad that YouTube didn’t exist when I was a teen. God only knows how much of a jackass I would’ve willingly made of myself…

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Passion of the Idiot…

So I’m on the bus a while ago, heading to my buddy’s birthday dinner. The thing is packed like the proverbial can of sardines, there’s the token wacko bitching about the increasing fares, and then there was the frightening slum-village b.o. (I cringe at the recollection…)

Anyway, these two ’emo’ types hop on a couple of stops later. One pays her fare and moves on. But the other – an elfin little thing, no taller than 4’10” – decides that she’s gonna ‘make a statement’. She turns to the exhausted driver – the bus was hot as hell – and takes out her bus pass, muttering the words “Heil Hitler!”. Then, after excusing herself past me, elf tosses her friend a self-satisfied grin.

See, that kind of thing kinda bugs me. When people toss words like “nazi” or “slave” around, identifying it with themselves or their lame causes. I don’t think it’s particularly gutsy or witty when people do that. To me, it’s a bright red mark of ignorance. So I did what I do best – I called her on it. Live and in stereo.

I asked, “Excuse me. What did you just say to the driver when you showed him your pass?”

Let me tell ya – the look of horror on her face was worth the fare alone? Priceless. She managed to stammer, “What?”

So I asked again, “I was just wondering what you said to the driver? Something about Hitler?”

She turned to her equally shocked friend for help. The friend immediately lied, “All she said was ‘excuse me’, dude!” But I calmly said, “No, I’m referring to what she said to the DRIVER. Not to ME.”

The friend insisted that neither of them had said anything, and with that, they pushed their way to the back of the bus through the crowd. (No doubt to be with the other ‘rebels’ back there.)

Pathetic. Gutless. The driver rolled his eyes and smiled. Mission accomplished.

The sad part is that this kinda thing isn’t limited to younger people. There’s no shortage of others of all ages out there who feel justified in their ignorance – until you call them on it.

Here’s my thing. There’s nothing heroic about belittling a city worker on behalf of your misguided protest against Transit. The guy probably had his own problems to deal with. The same goes for people who refer to cops as ‘pigs’, but are thankful as hell when these same ‘pigs’ show up after their friend/loved was raped or their house got broken into.

Are there some cops who suck? Of course! Are there some bus drivers who suck? Definitely! (Hell, I’ll even say MOST do! Sorry guys. But some of you really need to work on your PR skills…) Referring to these people as “Hitler” – a guy who was partially responsible for some pretty shitty things – is so moronic.

Not only that, but if you’re GONNA say stupid shit like that, at least back your shit up.

Sad. Lame. Pathetic.

Published in: on October 9, 2007 at 7:44 am  Leave a Comment