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/

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Kutiman: The Next Generation of Music-making?

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything here. This is mostly because I’ve not been that effected by anything enough to write about it – until now.

Meet Ophir Kutiel, AKA: “Kutiman“. Essentially, he takes elements of people’s original YouTube videos and mashes them together into hauntingly beautiful compositions.

It not only took the guy less than two months to produce 7 songs for his compilation, but he makes it look so damned easy! Did I mention that he also does his own video editing???

If you haven’t heard any of this his stuff yet, check out his YouTube channel when you have time!

Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

“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!”

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.

Lindsay Lohan tries to channel Marilyn Monroe…

slideshow_btnc.jpgAnd fails miserably.
Yes, Lindsay has nice breasts. And to be honest, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for freckles.

My problem is with the photographer’s choice of shots to mimic. This dude shot Marilyn in the nude. THE NUDE. One would guess that he had a pretty good idea of what her curves looked like. Seeing how, erm, ‘different’ Lohan’s body is from MM’s, why would he choose to mimic this pic?

Or this one?

Or even this one?

Marilyn’s body was the epitome of what a woman’s body should look like. Curvy. Natural. Among most of today’s young Hollywood, having large breasts – at any price – is enough. This photo shoot proves it.

When the rest of your body resembles that of a nine year old Chinese boy from the waist down, maybe Marilyn is not the ‘icon’ you should be trying to channel. On the other hand, ‘straight up, straight down’ seems to be what the general North American public seem to want today.

Well, except for blacks and hispanics, of course! (We will worship curves until the end of time.)

Hell, maybe I’m part of the problem by saying what I AM saying about LL’s body. I make no apologies for wanting women to accept who they are though. It’s the anorexic ‘role models’ I pass judgement on. (Shame on you!)

Most women don’t – nor should they – have Marilyn’s 36D breasts. But neither should they be starving themselves to resemble a certain hotel heiress’s body either. Marilyn probably had more than 30% body fat, but she’s considered the ultimate in beauty among most women.

How bizarre, in an era of weight loss gimics and obsessive dieting.

What a difference a couple of generations make, hm?

The Sad Road To Immortality.

There was an art piece that I’d seen a couple of years back or so. It was a collection of images of dead celebrities, all youngish. Che Guevara was in one. So were Marilyn and James Dean. Of course, Elvis was tossed into the mix as well. If memory serves me correctly, the title of it was “I’m Dead, But At Least I Kept My Good Looks”.

It was meant as a commentary on the cult of celebrity and how huge a part it plays in our every day lives. Even during times of war, famine, you name it. While these folks have long left us, their celebrity lives on and will continue to throughout time. We need them, after all. They remind us of what we could become if we really put our minds to it.

Of course, we would do it all so much differently. We would ‘keep it real’, making sure that our friends would still be our friends. Yeah, we may go to the occasional party/awards show/premiere, but we’d be far more careful about who we’re seen with. And as for the paparazzi, are you kidding me? We’d NEVER let things get that crazy! Yes, we’d still be the normal, everyday people we’ve always been.

With that, we pick up the celebrity gossip rags and proceed to gawk at so-and-so’s HUGE ass, such-and-such’s AWFUL dress/haircut, and what’s-her-name’s bizarre antics following the latest child visitation ruling against her. “If I had that kind of cash, I’d have my own island to retreat to. George Cloony did it! So did Johnny Depp! Why can’t they?!”

For some reason, we choose to forget that these people were probably also “normal, everyday people” at one time. Life just happened to hit them at 300 km/second. A life they may not have been ready for. Some people have better coping skills than others.

You cried over a parking ticket you got.

They cried over not being able to step out of the house without being followed by 25 photographers. Every hour. Every day.

“They can always quit if they don’t like it! Tons of people would DIE to be in their place!” Maybe. And perhaps that’s why some choose to ‘quit’ the easy way.

Take one talented young man, for example, who don’t vie for the limelight. He didn’t make regular appearances at awards shows, nor was he tabloid fodder. From all accounts, he did his best to keep his young family life as private as possible. It looks like his death was accidental, but I still feel for his daughter, about whom he had this to say in his final interview:

“I feel good about dying because I feel alive through her.”

RIP Heath Ledger.

Published in: on January 23, 2008 at 6:09 am  Leave a Comment  

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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