As an early teen in the early ’80s, it was just about impossible not to like Michael Jackson’s music. It was certainly impossible to avoid it. With Thriller, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones set out to make the ultimate crossover album — one that would gain black and white audiences in equal measure. And equal airplay, too, back when radio stations were even more racially targeted than they are today.
And boy, did they succeed.
But Michael Jackson the person? It was pretty obvious even then that he was one strange dude. What happened though is what happens to too many child performers: The weirdness went up and up, while the quality of the performances went down and down. By the time Dangerous came out in 1991, the magic was pretty much gone. It sold in the millions, yet nobody was buying it. And by that I mean, nobody was buying Jackson’s pseudo tough/tender/ladies man act anymore. The weird was just too weird.
Then came the obligatory-yet-somehow-disappointing greatest hits collection, the horrifying-yet-believable stories about his sleepover parties with kids…
I shudder even to think about it. His last studio album, ironically named Invincible, came out after years of delays and way over budget — and to a tepid response.
It was around this time he was dangling babies off balconies and looking like a bad drag queen version of Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, and he’d somehow managed to go broke buying giraffes and rollercoasters and stuff. The music had hit bottom and the weird was at the top of the charts.
The amazingly talented and abused little boy who never had a childhood, never really had an adulthood, either. There’s so much blame to go around, you barely know where to start.
Week 10 of my second 13 week season: low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
On Tuesday the 9th of April, about 2PM, I was at work and feeling very strange. I was sleepy, felt sick and shaky, and couldn’t think clearly. I decided to take off early. But driving home, not more than a mile from my house, well, something happened. I zoned out, I fell asleep, I fainted — whatever it was, I was looking at a green light at the interesection and then I was looking at a red light with traffic starting to cross the intersection. I hit the brakes, I swerved to drive around the front of the CenturyLink truck in front of me, and I almost made it. But not quite. I caught the front bumper of the truck with my left rear fender. I bumped my head against the door frame, and came to a stop crossways in the intersection. After a minute, I pulled off the road.
At first I felt — considering the circumstances — okay. I made sure the other guy was okay (he was) and went to stand by the car and wait for the police.
Then I realized I was feeling really really cold, and even shakier than I had felt when I left the office. I went to sit down in the car and when the police arrived told them I thought I needed the EMTs. Or else it was someone who was calling 911, I don’t remember it very clearly.
Anyway, both an ambulance and a fire truck arrived, and a rather cute female firefighter interviewed me for about 30 seconds before trotting to the EMTs, who came and walked me to the ambulance. I’m somewhat proud of myself for resisting my initial urge, which was to tell the firefighter “Hey, I’m just sick, I’m not on fire.”
Jazz and Islam, Part 9
Jazz was more popular than ever in the early ’60s. Then the Beatles exploded onto the American pop music scene, and that was the end of that. Jazz artists who had begun the decade engaging in innovative and enthusiastically received explorations of harmony and rhythm finished it by offering up tired, pale instrumental covers of psychedelic Top 40 hits. Ever since then, many of jazz’s fiercest partisans have spent an inordinate amount of time insisting that jazz is not dead — which, like the claim that “Islam is a religion of peace,” wouldn’t have to be endlessly repeated if it were obviously true.
If jazz is dead, two suspects who should be brought in for some intense questioning are two of the unlikeliest people ever to be thought of as the ones to have administered the coup de grace to America’s foremost native art form: Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
Now don’t get me wrong: I am one of the most ardent fans either one of them could possibly have ever had. On my shelves are easily two hundred discs featuring one or (better yet) both of them. Their historical role as towering musical pioneers and composers, improvisers, and virtuosos of the first order is unshakeable. Yet in their own ways, where the vibrant and popular jazz of the 1960s is concerned, they became death, the destroyer of worlds.
John Coltrane took the road less traveled. He became enamored of Ornette Coleman, the great innovator of “free jazz” — and with good reason. Coltrane liberated his sound from the dense chordally based improvisations he pursued with characteristic passion in the late ’50s and early ’60s — first adopting Davis’s modal approach, and then emulating Coleman in exploring improvisations free from harmonic structures altogether.
The unexamined life, said Socrates, is not worth living; but sometimes I wonder whether the too-closely examined life is not worth living either, for examination uncovers dilemmas where none existed before.
Two articles in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine ask the question of whether employers should, or have the right to, refuse to employ smokers, as increasing numbers do in the 21 states that permit such discrimination against them.
As is by now no secret, smokers are more likely to suffer from many types of illness than non-smokers, and their health insurance is therefore considerably more expensive than that of non-smokers. They impose costs on their employers which weigh upon all workers, smokers or not. (The authors do not take into account that smokers not only contribute to taxes by their habit but, by dying early, reduce pension costs.)
The authors worry that refusal to hire smokers would be discriminatory against people of lower social class, since it is among the latter that smoking is most prevalent. I am not sure that this is right: the majority of people in all social classes now do not smoke, while people who apply for jobs at any particular level are likely to be of the same social class. Except in the case where there is only one applicant for a job, then, it is likely that there will always be an applicant of any given social class who does not smoke. The discrimination remains against smokers, therefore, and not by proxy against members of lower social class.
Colorado was one of two states to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes last November, but that doesn’t mean residents are free from prosecution for possession of pot. John Phillips speaks with Chris Utterback, a journalism student at Metro State University in Denver, Colorado about why a large majority of students backed Amendment 64 (pot legalization). Hear why Utterback believes drug laws have been responsible for ruining the lives of young people, and why college students still have reason to fear the law.
No doubt I have forgotten much pharmacology since I was a student, but one diagram in my textbook has stuck in my mind ever since. It illustrated the natural history, as it were, of the way in which new drugs are received by doctors and the general public. First they are regarded as a panacea; then they are regarded as deadly poison; finally they are regarded as useful in some cases.
It is not easy to say which of these stages the medical use of cannabis and cannabis-derivatives has now reached. The uncertainty was illustrated by the on-line response from readers to an article in the latest New England Journal of Medicine about this usage. Some said that cannabis, or any drug derived from it, was a panacea, others (fewer) that it was deadly poison, and yet others that it was of value in some cases.
The author started his article with what doctors call a clinical vignette, a fictionalized but nonetheless realistic case. A 68-year-old woman with secondaries from her cancer of the breast suffers from nausea due to her chemotherapy and bone pain from the secondaries that is unrelieved by any conventional medication. She asks the doctor whether it is worth trying marijuana since she lives in a state that permits consumption for medical purposes and her family could grow it for her. What should the doctor reply?
I still lived in Austin, Texas in 1999. That summer, against all odds, Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, new husband, father-to-be, won his first Tour de France in an impressive display of athleticism.
He was a hero, an inspiration. When he returned to Austin, the city held a victory rally, in which park I can’t recall as Austin is loaded with large and picturesque gathering spots. A couple of friends and I went to the rally early to grab a patch of ground close enough to see Armstrong and his miracle-pregnant wife. It wasn’t all about Lance. Austinites need only the flimsiest of reasons to gather outside for a couple of beers. But we did love him. We were so proud of him. Even now, when the whole truth has outed, I can still remember the energy and joy at that rally. And the yellow. Everyone wore yellow.
A few months later, his wife gave birth to their son. The following summer he repeated his Tour victory. Soon, he welcomed twin daughters and claimed another Tour de France victory. Our pride in Armstrong overflowed. He could have done anything.
But then Lance Armstrong took off his hero mask. Sometime after his twins arrived, he left his family. I can’t remember if he already had Sheryl Crow waiting for him. It doesn’t matter really. His marriage didn’t have high conflict, at least not on her part. He might have been cheating or she might have left him due to his doping habit. But in hindsight-enhanced scenarios, he was the culpable party.
My shock at the truth about Lance Armstrong came with the split. I have a few girlfriends who spilled tears over the news. The kind of guy who can abruptly walk away from his wife and his children is capable of almost anything in service of self. So current shock at the truth surprises me. We learned that Lance Armstrong lacked honor back in 2003. The doping simply provides more details and removes any pretense for keeping that scar in the heart of Austin.
Hat tip: Mediaite
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
In 1972 (or what I like to refer to as “prehistoric times” before cell phones, internet or cable) I was a junior at Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
In homeroom, my assigned seat was next to a student named Peter, who my friends had designated “most likely to die of a drug overdose.” But Peter, despite “having issues,” had cultivated a reputation for being on the cutting edge of rock music hip-ness.
So one day during homeroom “quiet time,” I passed Peter a note asking what bands he was currently listening to and he wrote back Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac.
These names fascinated me because I had yet to hear of any of them.
Why do I even remember this note passing incident from 40 years ago?
Two reasons: first, as predicted, not long after high school Peter tragically died of a drug overdose. And second, the music of the bands named in Peter’s note formed a prophetic soundtrack for my life in the years ahead.
Starting in September of 1973, Pink Floyd and I had a monumental first meeting during my freshman year at Ohio State University. The experience resulted in lifelong friendship bonds chronicled here a few months ago.
Then there is Black Sabbath, or rather Ozzy Osbourne. Although I was never a big fan of his, the lyrics, “I am going off the rails of the crazy train” is a favorite phrase that occasionally pops up in my writing, but more often in conversation when I am describing the current state of our nation.
But most prophetic was Fleetwood Mac, a band with whom I had a love affair which lasted years. Later in 1972 a friend introduced me to their new album called Bare Trees. A good album I thought, but not life altering.
But in 1977, during my senior year in college, Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and that was life altering. Songs from Rumours were always playing in the background as I transitioned from college to Washington D.C with first jobs and first marriage.
I will not bore you with all the tawdry details of why I am so emotionally tied to this album, but please do write some comments about yours! For if you are about my age I know you have some, because this album greatly impacted millions of baby boomers.
Especially one 1946 “first crop” baby boomer by the name of Bill Clinton, who in 1992 revived the popularity of Rumours and Fleetwood Mac by choosing Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow as his presidential campaign theme song.
President Clinton even convinced the band to get back together to play at his 1993 inaugural ball.
Back in the late 70’s, due to the popularity of Rumours, I discovered the first and only album by Lindsey Buckingham and Steve Nicks entitled Buckingham Nicks. This spectacular album, largely forgotten and never released on CD, was a foreshadowing of this duo’s future greatness. Here is the entire album if you have never heard it.
So in honor of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey, Stevie and Peter (may he rest in peace) what shall we drink?
Absolutely nothing but spring water! Because this morning I am sitting in Manitou Springs, Colorado elevation 6,412 feet with a pounding headache that started last night after I imbibed three glasses of Pinot Noir with my dinner of wild boar spare ribs and a few bites of my husband’s antelope.
Apparently, since I now live at sea level (literally next to the sea), an elevation of 6,412 feet and wine do not make beautiful music together for this aging baby boomer.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone and may I recommend that your family along with ours sing this really classic song before dinner.
And will someone please try that “favorite rock song conversation game” I wrote about recently over the long holiday weekend when gossiping about other family members finally runs dry?
From counterculture publisher and ex-Capitalist-turned-Marxist Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds, “Legalized marijuana in Washington and Colorado: Not if Obama can help it“:
Admit it, Obama voters, this is the kinda thing you expected Mitt Romney to do if he got into office. What did this take, all of around 36-hours, to get floated to the press?
Maybe I should have voted for (unimpressive) Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (I probably agree with him on about 25% of the issues, around the same percentage as I agree with Obama, anyway). On election day it was more appealing to me to record a “f*** you” vote to the Republicans than to make a different sort of protest vote, but Obama is already making me regret that, as tiny a protest as that would have been, just TWO DAYS later!
The problem? The president’s federal government won’t give up without a fight. Metzger:
If his DOJ does nothing about this, no one will even notice (Keep in mind that the Bush administration did very, very little to curb the explosive growth in California’s cannabis trade). Now they’re just going to get mad. F*** Obama. What’s so “Forward” about this s***?
I want my vote back!
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Voters in three western U.S. states go to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a move that could spur a showdown with the federal government, with polls showing legalization ahead in Washington and Colorado.
If voters approve the measures, the states could become the first in the country to legalize the recreational use of pot. Each of the initiatives would see marijuana taxed and would regulate its sale in special stores to adults age 21 and older.
But the prospect of legalizing pot, which the federal government considers an illicit and dangerous drug liable to be abused, has raised concerns about how to keep stoned drivers off the roads and joints out of the hands of teenagers.
A survey of 932 likely voters in Washington state released on Saturday by Public Policy Polling found 53 percent support legalization, with a margin of error of 3.2 percent.
Legalization was also ahead in Colorado, where a recent SurveyUSA poll of 695 likely voters conducted for the Denver Post showed 50 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed. The survey had a 3.8 percent margin of error.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
When I was a young doctor, which is now a long time ago, patients who were close to death were often denied drugs like morphine for fear of turning them into addicts during their last weeks of earthly existence. This was both absurd and cruel; but nowadays we have gone to the opposite extreme. We dish out addictive painkillers as if we were doling out candy at a children’s party, with the result that there are now hundreds of thousands if not millions of iatrogenic — that is to say, medically created — addicts.
An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine asks why this change happened, and provides at least two possible answers.
The first is that there has been a sea change in medical and social sensibility. Nowadays, doctors feel constrained to take patients at their word: a patient is in pain if he says he is because he is supposedly the best authority on his own state of mind and the sensations that he feels. This certainly meant that at the hospital where I worked you could see patients, allegedly with severe and incapacitating back pain, skipping up the stairs and returning with their prescriptions for the strongest analgesics to treat their supposed pain. In the new dispensation, doctors were professionally bound to believe what the patients said, not what they observed them doing.
The automatic credence placed in what a patient says — or credulity, if you prefer — is deemed inherently more sympathetic than a certain critical or questioning attitude towards it. And since it is now possible, indeed normal, for patients to report on doctors adversely and very publicly via the internet and other electronic media, doctors find themselves in a situation in which they must do what patients want or have their reputations publicly ruined. When in doubt, then, prescribe.
Nadya “Octomom” Suleman has checked into rehab for a prescription pill problem, leaving her 14 children in the care of nannies.
Over the weekend, Suleman was admitted to Chapman House Drug Rehabilitation Center in California in order to deal with her addiction to the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
More on drugs and addiction at PJ Lifestyle:
Last month in “Why This Election Year America Is Carmela Soprano” I lamented that in The Sopranos, one of the most celebrated TV shows of the era, the main characters remained as broken at the end as the beginning. Tony Soprano spent six seasons going to therapy to, supposedly, treat his psychological problems. It’s all for naught since Tony never grapples with the evil acts he commits and the suffering they cause for others. His wife Carmela also remains trapped in his criminal world, unable to grasp that while she lounges comfortably in a luxurious New Jersey suburb, others lie dead, their bodies hidden and forgotten as a result of her husband’s Mafia-style perversion of the American Dream.
I feared that voters would take a similar approach this election, ignoring the evil men who we now know shaped Barack Obama’s ideas and the bloody reality of their implementation. For all of the summer and into September I operated with the mindset of the 99%. With the legacy media cleaning up his messes, and the economy still not bad enough for most to really feel the pain, there was about a 99% chance of Obama winning the election. And polls aside, the mysterious variable of voter fraud weighed heavily on my mind with every new J. Christian Adams story.
In conversations with friends, I referenced more how we should prepare for Obama’s second term impeachment, rather than putting our hopes in the GOP establishment to avoid a repeat of 2008. And while my respect for Mitt Romney had grown considerably, I still doubted his campaign’s competence. (The yielding of Obamacare!) But a few unknown unknowns remained on the horizon as October began:
Obama bombing that first debate. Benghazi. Two weeks of trying to disguise a terrorist attack as a “spontaneous” response to a YouTube video.
A lot can happen in a month.
Last Sunday, on the eve of the last presidential debate, my wife April and I finished our successor show to The Sopranos, the third season of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. By then my assessment of the president’s reelection chances had dropped to 66% — where it still remains today. The Romney campaign leaped to life as a shot of reality hit the American people in the heart. But is it enough to fully awaken America from the haze of a four-year hopenchange high?
Edie Falco, who played Carmela on The Sopranos, stars as Jackie Peyton, a 20-year veteran of the Emergency Room at All Saints’ Hospital in New York City. She’s a fighter, eager to battle hospital bureaucracy and push others to do what’s right for patients. In an age where we’ve all experienced the packed doctor offices often filled with indifferent staffers, a Super-Nurse Warrior like Jackie makes for an appropriate hero. Jackie’s greenhorn coworker, a Millennial named Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever), sees her as such, declaring her a saint and her role model.
But Jackie knows her sins well. She might be the superhero in the ER but behind the scenes she’s addicted to prescription pills, sometimes steals to support her habit, and carries on an affair with Eddie the pharmacist. She also neglects her husband and their two daughters, both of whom have started acting out in response to her workaholism.
And in every episode new saints and sinners stumble into the ER and Jackie struggles to balance the scales, pushing ethical boundaries and soothing her guilty conscience with the thrill of saving everyone else’s life except her own.
And the statues of the saints watch on as Jackie retreats to the hospital’s chapel — her Temple — struggling to find a way out of the new problem brought courtesy of her expensive drug addiction.
Noah was a drunk. David was an adulterer. Jackie is both.
Not yet mentioned in the series, though somewhat implicit, is that Jackie probably has some variety of psychological disorder. The same biochemical combination in her head pushing her to risk everything to save a life also drives her to risk her marriage with an affair. Sometimes the gambles pay off, other times they explode in her face. One moment she’s flying high, the next she’s crashing and burning.
Where have we seen this recently?
What is it lately with Washington types obsessing over Led Zeppelin?
First it was Congressman/VP candidate Paul Ryan exclaiming that his iPod playlist “ends with Led Zeppelin” during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC). This revelation caused a mini-ruckus and inspired the house-band to play the lamest version of the Led Zeppelin song “Rock and Roll” that I have ever heard.
Then, just last week the Kennedy Center announced the honorees for their upcoming Honors gala. This event (which I must admit I have attended several times, decades ago) affords the opportunity for Washington’s power elite to slobber all over A-list Hollywood types.
The award is the nation’s highest honor for those who have influenced American culture through the arts. It comes with a dinner with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and a reception hosted by President Barack Obama.
So this year, honored in a group that includes Dustin Hoffman and David Letterman will be “the surviving members of the rock band Led Zeppelin.”
Washington Post continues:
The three surviving members of the Britain’s Led Zeppelin — John Paul Jones, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant — are being honored for transforming the sound of rock and roll. They influenced many other bands with their innovative, blues-infused hits such as “Good Times Bad Times,” ‘’Immigrant Song,” ‘’Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven.” The band, which has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, issued a joint statement saying America was the first place to embrace their music.
Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors? I bet this band really did issue a “joint statement.”
These are the guys who practically invented the concept of sex, drugs and rock and roll – or at least elevated it to legendary new heights, while, along the way trashing hotel rooms and spawning several books on groupie exploits.
Does anyone remember the shark story? Now I am even more amazed to find a Wiki reference to this sordid tale.
Notice how the Washington Post mentions “three surviving members” of the band. Let’s take a moment now to remember drummer John Bonham who infamously died choking on his own vomit after 40 shots of vodka.
Regular readers of this semi-absurd weekly series are now fully aware of my personal devotion (obsession?) with Led Zeppelin. But what is really getting weird is how the “universe” continues to place Led Zeppelin directly in my path. (I know this all sounds totally “New Age” crazy but please hear me out!)
It all started while I was leaving for the RNC in Tampa and had finished writing (but had not yet sent to the editor) what was the third installment of this new series — a piece about the first Led Zeppelin album and its profound effects on the teen-age me in 1969.
Then mid-week after Paul Ryan mentioned Zeppelin during his RNC speech, the crowd went nuts, so I renamed the column and changed the ending.
Now, you could just chock that up to good timing, but stay with me here for this goes much deeper.
Related stories at PJ Lifestyle:
American anti-doping officials plan to strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and impose a lifelong ban from cycling — the sport that made him an American hero and a sports icon, it was revealed on Thursday.
The announcement from the US Anti-Doping Agency effectively destroys his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists in history and rubs a black smudge on a story that inspired millions of fans, drawn to his story of returning to glory after recovering from horrific cancer.
The USADA acted within an hour of Armstrong’s announcement that he would stop fighting charges that he used blood doping to illegitimately enhance his performance.
Despite the action, Armstrong maintains his innocence and called the USADA’s case a ‘witch hunt.’
The battle over his Tour de France wins is likely not over. USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said the agency has the authority to remove the titles from the 40-year-old athlete — and would act promptly to do so.Armstrong says only the International Cycling Union, which oversees the Tour de France, has that power.
‘USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles,’ he said in a statement. ‘I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.’
USADA maintains that Armstrong has used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions — all to boost his performance.
‘It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes,’ Mr Tygart said. ‘It’s a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There’s no success in cheating to win.’
Armstrong, who retired last year, declined to enter arbitration — his last option — because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests that he has passed as proof he was clean.
More Biking at PJ Lifestyle:
In late 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder authorized raids against marijuana dispensaries in California, where medicinal marijuana is legal, in an effort to create a distraction from the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious, a new book set for release Tuesday claims.
“Eric Holder, Obama’s embattled Attorney General, was under mounting pressure from Congress to explain the botched Fast and Furious sting operation, whereby two thousand assault rifles and other firearms were sold to suspected traffickers for the Mexican drug cartels,” Martin A. Lee writes in “Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana – Medical, Recreational and Scientific.”
“It was intended as an intelligence-gathering ploy, but U.S. agents lost track of most of these weapons.”
In an excerpt obtained and published by the left-wing news and opinion website TruthOut.org, Lee describes the Fast and Furious scandal — including how it led to the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry — and how Holder “stonewalled” Congress for months, “disavowing any knowledge of the caper despite documentation showing that high-level Justice Department officials aided the surveillance mission.”
“The fact that Fast and Furious had its roots in a similar Bush-era ATF operation mattered little to GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, the grandstanding chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, who went so far as to accuse the Obama administration of purposely allowing the guns to escape as part of a liberal plot to impose new gun control laws,” Lee writes. “Issa was not credible; nor was Holder.”
Lee goes on to explain that when calls for special investigations into Fast and Furious and for Holder’s resignation intensified in October 2011, Holder played what Lee calls the “ace up his sleeve.”
“Ever since California voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use in 1996, law enforcement lobbyists had been urging the federal government to enforce prohibition and choke off the burgeoning industry,” Lee writes.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
From May: How to Smoke Weed With Barack Obama
From the Atlantic Wire this morning, reporting on a vote yesterday by the LA City Council:
The crackdown on marijuana dispensaries in California reached a new level on Tuesday when the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. There’s still hope, though. Not all of the pot stores are closing.
The pressure on pot stores in California really started to grow in October. Long thought to be the state where everyone smoked, mostly because that’s what TV shows like Entourage told us, federal officials decided to flex their muscles against a “marijuana industry” in California they deemed out of control. Just last week, prosecutors filed court papers to shut down a huge dispensary in Oakland that called itself the biggest in the world. It was not a mom’n'pop pot shop.
On Tuesday, L.A.’s City Council voted to ban pot dispensaries within city limits. There are currently 762 medical marijuana dispensaries in L.A., and technically under the ban they should be each receiving a letter telling them to shut down immediately or face the wrath of the city’s lawyers. But the council decided to order an ordinance be drawn up to keep 170 of the original marijuana dispensaries open, so not all hope is lost for Californians. Somewhere, Turtle is quietly weeping.
There are two kinds of dispensaries in Los Angeles. Anybody walking down Ventura Boulevard can see — and smell — the difference. Legitimate dispensaries have security guards and look like professional businesses (though the law requires them to be non-profits). Illegitimate dispensaries are expansions of head shops that sell bongs. They’re for-profit businesses. You can smell the weed wafting out when walking by them on the street. These newer dispensaries get busted so much partly because they sometimes act as fronts for other criminal activities.
So good riddance. Voters did not support medicinal marijuana laws so shady characters could become millionaires.
There is a cultural war beginning over marijuana that will come out more in the coming years. And it’s not the political fight over whether legalization happens, but how. Should the government regulate marijuana as though it’s a recreational drug like alcohol and tobacco? Or should it recognize THC as a powerful, risky medicine worthy of regulation in the same style as opiates?
The great potential of marijuana is not in its natural, Cheech-and-Chong, smokeable form but as pills, edibles, and even topical creams designed to treat specific conditions. But to get there it requires A) a rejection of the Baby Boomers’ definition of “weed” as something stupid “stoners” smoke to have fun and B) a recognition that properly-refined THC products administered with the guidance of a real physician have the potential to replace many of the poisonous, corporate drugs that kill Americans every day.
Asked if the Sharpton project generated income for the 47-year-old Rosemond, Martin replied, “No, Jimmy said it was costing him money because he was paying for Al Sharpton to go to Los Angeles. He was paying for his hotels, he was hiring his car service to go to meetings. Stuff like that.” It is unclear whether these costs included payments directly to Sharpton.
Prosecutors contend that the overwhelming majority of Rosemond’s income was derived from cocaine trafficking, and that he funneled these illicit gains into real estate, entertainment ventures, and restaurant franchises. So it appears likely that money spent by Rosemond on the “Judge Sharpton” project would have come from the proceeds of this alleged narcotics operation.
At the time Rosemond–who is nicknamed “Jimmy Henchman”–met Sharpton, the hip-hop figure was already a career criminal whose rap sheet dated back to 1981 and included multiple weapons charges, along with collars for robbery, assault, drug distribution, and larceny. He had spent a total of nearly seven years behind bars for his various federal and state convictions.
Martin testified that Sharpton and Rosemond (both of whom have frequented the private Grand Havana Room cigar bar on Fifth Avenue) met after a March 2007 incident during which Rosemond’s son was roughed up on a Manhattan street by associates of the performer 50 Cent (who was then involved in a rap world beef with The Game, a Los Angeles-based rapper managed by Rosemond).
But wasn’t it the CIA who was conspiring to destroy black people through pushing drugs?
In A User’s Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama Buzzfeed offers excerpts from a new biography of the President, Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss coming out in June. Here’s one describing the future President’s activities in high school with the Choom Gang, a group of friends at Punahou School who enjoyed basketball, “good times,” and marijuana:
As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.
Jump forward a few decades and a President who campaigned on leaving state-approved medicinal marijuana alone now unleashes the federal government to bust dispensaries.
Back in October I wrote at PJ Lifestyle on: Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients.
Peters Township, PA The Weekly Vice – Joseph Moody, a 31-year-old Pennsylvania man was jailed Tuesday after he allegedly asked police to return a bag of drugs he had left behind at a local grocery store.
I was heavily involved in the third and fourth editions of the manual but have reluctantly concluded that the association should lose its nearly century-old monopoly on defining mental illness. Times have changed, the role of psychiatric diagnosis has changed, and the association has changed. It is no longer capable of being sole fiduciary of a task that has become so consequential to public health and public policy.
Until now, the American Psychiatric Association seemed the entity best equipped to monitor the diagnostic system. Unfortunately, this is no longer true. D.S.M.-5 promises to be a disaster — even after the changes approved this week, it will introduce many new and unproven diagnoses that will medicalize normality and result in a glut of unnecessary and harmful drug prescription. The association has been largely deaf to the widespread criticism of D.S.M.-5, stubbornly refusing to subject the proposals to independent scientific review.
New diagnoses in psychiatry can be far more dangerous than new drugs. We need some equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration to mind the store and control diagnostic exuberance.
I don’t know about an organization like the FDA -but I agree there should be more oversight in how diagnoses are determined and there should be more scientific rigor. I remember when talking with past APA president and author of the book Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well Intentioned Path to Harm, Nicholas Cummings, that he mentioned that psychiatric diagnoses were just made by consensus of the task force. This is hardly science and it should be, at least as much as possible.
This morning Mediate highlighted Greg Gutfeld on The Five providing the sane response to Democrat Bob Beckel’s demands that the government waste more of your money to magically reduce the alleged increase in teenage marijuana abuse:
All of this increase has occurred under prohibition. The reason why is dealers don’t ask for IDs. However, licensed operators and regulators do. Imagine if alcohol was illegal. No one who check for ID’s for booze. So you have this really weird irony: In America, it’s easier to score illegal pot than legal booze simply because it’s regulated. You can also regulate the strength, the power of the pot. It’s easier now for kids to get high because it’s banned. Once it’s legal, then you will lose your license if you give pot to a kid.
The instigator of the debate? This report from The Partnership at DrugFree.Org which claims preposterously that teenage marijuana consumption has raised 80% since 2008.
But how did they get that big number which makes for such a scary headline (and inspires Beckel’s fear-mongering about how pot leads to cocaine)? The real number they’re talking about is much smaller and a non-story:
So that “up 80 percent” only amounts to an increase of 4 percent among so-called “heavy monthly” users in one organization’s survey.
Let’s pretend for a moment that these numbers actually approximate what’s happening in America today. (And aren’t just propaganda for increasing the size of government.) Why is the question framed as, “How can we spend more taxpayer money to make marijuana more expensive for adults to obtain?” instead of, “What is the matter with the 9% of parents who are unable to control their child’s drug use to such a degree that their teen can get away with smoking weed more than 20 times a month?”