Friday, September 30, 2005

Federal Zealots Cause Death of Disabled Man

The mother of a quadriplegic man who died in 2004 while in the custody of the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections filed suit this month against jailers and a local hospital for failing to provide adequate medical care, in violation of federal laws -- including the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

27-year-old Jonathan Magbie was paralyzed from the neck down due to a car wreck when he was 4 years old. Magbie died four days into a 10-day sentence for simple possession of a single cannabis cigarette. It was his only criminal offense. Although it was within D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin's discretion to sentence Magbie to probation only, she imposed a 10-day sentence because she feared he might continue to use marijuana to treat his painful symptoms.

Retchin's 10-day punishment turned into a death sentence for Magbie, who required a motorized chin-operated wheelchair, tracheotomy tube, pulmonary pacemaker, and a ventilator to breathe at night. Additionally, Magbie was at a high risk for contracting pneumonia and had a history of other medical problems with which his jailers would have to contend.

During the four days he was in jail, Magbie's health quickly deteriorated, and he was transferred multiple times between the D.C. Central Detention Facility and the Greater Southeast Community Hospital. He was having a hard time getting oxygen, he contracted pneumonia, and was barely able to eat, according to the lawsuit filed by his mother. Magbie had difficulty speaking above a whisper, and was forced to move his wheelchair around to get the attention of his incarcerators. The movement irritated the guards, who locked him inside an infirmary cell, without access to any kind of intercom or alert button. The guards didn't check on him until the next morning, according to the lawsuit. Magbie's mother, Mary Scott, is seeking over $100 million in damages.

$100 million may sound enormous, but the money won't bring her son back. Compared to being sentenced to drown in their own mucous, the judge, jailers, and hospital are getting off easy.

On a ironic note, President Reagan met with a young Jonathan Magbie in 1982, at a time when the drug war was intensifying. They even shared a Kodak moment...


Vets Against the (Drug) War

Peter Gorman's current Fort Worth Weekly coverage of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is one of the most concise and comprehensive articles on this cutting-edge organization I've ever read, and is bound to generate discussion among U.S. policy makers (those who don't have their heads too far up their self-deluded buttocks, that is).

Mainstream media pundits have conveniently ignored LEAP, but the independent press triumphs again, bringing you information that defies the party lines...

Thursday, September 29, 2005

JUNK Food

I have mixed feelings about promotional material. I dislike the idea of my ideas being reduced to product. However, I believe my novel JUNK could stimulate public focus and debate on our national health policies, and therefore, promotion is a matter of pragmatic expedience.

I am grateful to be working with a publisher/author/editor who respects the novel, and takes the time to create promotional material that digs beneath the surface. Here's Olga Gardner Galvin's image for Mother's Milk and JUNK - a drug war satire...


Shocking News

According to Amnesty International, more than 70 people have died from Tasers in the United States since 2001.

Taser advocates claim the weapon gives them a "non-lethal" alternative to subdue aggressive suspects. However, the purported non-lethality of Tasers may indirectly encourage police officers to use the weapon even when their safety is not compromised. For example, there has been at least one recorded incident in which a Taser was used when a suspect refused to give a urine sample, while he was handcuffed to his hospital bed.

"You better pee, son. I mean right now! If I don't see some yellow liquid, I'm gonna have to zap you! Give that shy bladder a shock! BZZZZZZZ!"

The following chart shows taser death stats from 2004. The body count continues.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Busted for JUNK

"FREEZE! Don't you move an inch, or I'll shoot! I'm Sergeant Belcher, and I've been monitoring your blog. I KNOW you're stashing junk food in this house. I'll bet you keep it near your computer. You probably get all wired on sugar, then sit down to write that damned War on Junk blog. You might as well tell me where the Twinkies are. You know I'm going to find them. Where's the junk? TELL ME!!!"

Uncle Sam's Marijuana Garden

(Special thanks to Don Wirtshafter for fact clarification in this article)

Since 1968, the United States Government has cultivated marijuana. Federal officials know marijuana has medical value, but they don't want the public made aware of their little secret.

The National institute on Drug Abuse (under the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services) grows marijuana at the Research Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) at Oxford, Mississippi. NIDA distributes the marijuana to seven patients with a wide array of symptoms including pain, spasms, nausea, and ocular pressure, related to Multiple Sclerosis, Glaucoma, bone tumors, and Nail Patella Syndrome. The patients receive pre-rolled cigarettes, in a container that looks like a military ration can.



















The Bush Sr. administration closed the program to all new applicants in 1992, after NIDA was swamped with applications from AIDS patients seeking relief from wasting syndrome.

I believe there has been a direct effort to keep information related to the federal program from the American public. Consider the following:

1) Whenever I've called the DEA or NIDA, I've been bounced through 4-8 people before locating an official who is willing to admit the federal program exists.

2) According to the federal research protocol, participating patients are discouraged from speaking publicly about their involvement in the program (yet few of the living patients are remaining silent).

3) Reporters at mainstream news outlets across the nation (including Reuters and the Associated Press) have repeatedly claimed that under federal law, possession of marijuana is illegal for any reason. These statements are blatantly false, as the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 contains an express exemption for federal research programs. I've contacted several of these news agencies to make them aware of their error, but most of them neglected to file retractions. So much for fair, balanced and accurate.

4) Few mainstream news outlets have been willing to print stories about the federal marijuana program, or the patients who receive the marijuana, though the program is certainly newsworthy, particularly in light of many federal agencies' claims that marijuana has no medical value.

5) The federal government provides the patients with no identification paperwork to prove their legal status, so they have been repeatedly harassed by law enforcement officials. The patients must go through an arduous bureaucratic song and dance to avoid sitting in a cold jail cell without their medicine.

6) When federal patient George McMahon and I were in the process of writing the book Prescription Pot (which chronicles the federal marijuana program), we were turned away by researchers at the government-contracted farm at Ole Miss. They would not answer questions, or allow us on the property.

7) The living patients have all received medical value from marijuana, and their doctors (who are their protocol administrators) back this up. These doctors send NIDA medical paperwork regarding the patients, several times a year, but the federal bureaucrats simply discard the evidence. So much for case studies.

8) In 28 years of this "research" program's existence, the government has not produced a single clinical or empirical research study on the patients who receive the marijuana. The patients eventually sought a private source to fund their own study, because the government refused. This intensive study showed that all the patients had derived significant medical benefit from their use of marijuana.

9) Prescription Pot was almost derailed when it came to light that the Executive Administrator of the DEA was making appearances in support of another book released by the same small publisher. What are the odds?

10) Ever see a television news show about the federal program? And yet how many times have news anchors parroted the government line about "dangerous marijuana"? All of the major television news agencies are aware of the federal program, but in almost every case, they have refused to cover it. Perhaps they don't want to lose their revenue stream from Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

11) Partnership for a Drug-Free America receives funding from Bayer (the aspirin company). Bayer is helping to produce an all-natural medical marijuana spray called Sativex, currently available in Canada, and soon to be approved in the UK. However, Partnership for a Drug-Free America claims marijuana has no medical value.

Which brings me to a question. Why would Bayer produce marijuana medicine in one country, while funding propaganda claiming it has no medical value in another country? In Canada and the UK, Bayer markets marijuana medicine. But in the United States, Bayer has yet to obtain a patent. The U.S. currently allows medical cocaine and legal medical methamphetamine (marketed under the brand name Desoxyn), and yet we never hear our federal legislators lamenting the "mixed messages" we are sending to children about coke and speed, the way they do with marijuana.

I believe some of these "representatives" don't give a damn about public health. They don't care about the 75% of Americans who support legalization of medical marijuana. They don't care about their own research program. But they do care deeply about the profits of their lobbyists and campaign contributors. The disgusting truth is, they would rather throw your grandmother in prison than allow corporate profits to wane. In my humble opinion, they are corrupt. Will you join me in ensuring that Congress receives a thorough enema next year?

If anyone is still in doubt about the medical value of marijuana, perhaps you should ask one of these federal patients...



Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Metaphor of the Cross

This metaphor evolved during the writing of JUNK, and is featured in the novel, but I think the idea stands well on it's own...

The vertical beam of the cross represents man's relationship with God (that source of life and divinity, which is called by many names), distorted through institutional religion. The horizontal beam represents man's relationship with other men, disfigured through the government. And where religion and state intersect (as they do on the cross), they have a mutually corruptive effect, and torture and murder are the end results. This is one of the greatest lessons of history, one repeated in diverse eras, cultures, and nations.

One of the visitors to this blog recently claimed he would pray for me to know who God really is. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that his intentions were motivated by love, not the superiority and pre-judgement that have become so pervasive in modern churches. I appreciate his concern, but I already have personal faith. And I am humble enough to acknowledge faith as being a perspective developed through my experience and perception. Faith is not knowledge, but even if it was, I would never seek to use the power of the state to force my beliefs upon my fellow man.

That's why I can have faith even while I mock false religion in a materialistic culture. Six Flags Over Jesus. Praise Jesus and Pass the Pasta. GI Jesus. Fabio poised on the cross, selling low-fat communion wafers called I Can't Believe It's Not Jesus.

A wise man once wrote that the purpose of church was to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. Many contemporary churches have this backwards, as they comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. In other words, the Pharisees have taken over the temple again. They turn churches into dens of thieves, whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, rotting on the inside.

Night-night, everybody. I'm off to hug the Buddha in La-La Land. Maybe I'll run into Hunter S. Thompson in my dreams. Fix him a SPAM sandwich. No JUNK food for Hunter.

L is for Largen

Christopher Largen is a name of absurd contradiction. "Christopher" means "the bearer of Christ" and "Largen" is an adaptation of "Largent", which is a French word indicating "royalty". When I hear these words paired, I think they would have made a great name for a televangelist. Jesus and money, what a team!

I've spent my life with a mispronounced (even mangled) name. But the accurate pronunciation makes me cringe, as it has given me grief ever since I was eight years old, and the kids hopped around me in the playground, asking me, over and over again, "You got a large-un, Largen?" I'm not making this up.

I never answered them, preferring to let them guess. After all, some secrets are just too big to share.

DARE Alternative

If I was U.S. Drug Czar for a day, I would actually keep the DARE program, but I would mandate that it be taught by doctors and formerly active addicts, instead of cops. Teenagers naturally rebel against the authoritarian approach of law enforcement, but they will be more inclined to heed the authoritative warnings of physicians and patients. Inform, as opposed to forbid. Facts instead of propaganda. As we already know from ancient spiritual writings, the off-limits apple sure looks delicious. We shouldn't be wasting law enforcement resources to tempt children with drugs and prepare them for prison.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Diggin' Up Dirt

I have to admit, some cliches hold true. The life of a professional writer, for example, is indeed as exciting and romantic as the movies in your mind. It's airplanes and caviar. Public recognition. Beautiful strangers who want to know you better. Intrigue in smoky cafes. I've traveled the nation, visited the U.S. Government's marijuana farm, gone undercover in a federal prison, been assaulted by skinheads at a Ku Klux Klan rally, and even been involved in a few police chases. I'm thankful for all these experiences.

But what does an internationally published investigative freelance journalist do when the checks are late and he needs some quick coin in pocket, when paper and ink fail to bring home the tofu? Does he sell out, grab a brick and mortar job at the local corporate news outlet? No. He barters his body as raw meat for the local labor-ready crews.

It was mid-July, 2004. Prescription Pot had been released for months, and I had yet to see my first non-advance check. The Texas heat was locked in a brain-stroke swelter, but the folks at the Cheap-Labor center said there was a church that needed building. Not just any church. The largest temple of worship in Denton, before they built their new and improved church. Arguably, they also have the wealthist congregation. Their lead pastor has been taped claiming he'd have no problem imposing the death penalty for shoplifting, because he has no intention of shoplifting. I wonder if he has no problem with crucifixions, since he isn't Jesus.

That day was my first visit to the labor center, and I was assigned to a group of three workers - a young Latino male, a black-skinned man, and me. We were led (like sheep) to this expansive drain pit filled with three feet of thick mud and gravel that ran off in the last storm, blocking the large drainpipe. In other words, we were human steamshovels, and it was our mission to spend the next four hours clearing the mud away from the pipe, with no drinkable water to be found for a quarter mile. Not to be crass, but it would have been easier to scoop a lard turd from a whale's ass.

I jumped into the pit and immediately sunk in the mud, which rose to the tops of my rubber boots and then spilled over into my socks like a breached levy. I tried to move my legs, and my boots peeled from my feet. I had no choice but to dig barefoot, though I was worried I might get stuck like a mud-caked statue on Golgotha, a tar-baby monument to the have-nots. Wouldn't that make the Pharisees feel pious?

I tried to will myself into a state of Zen, in order to accomplish the brutal task at hand. But this was impossible, since my coworkers spent the next hours discussing the virtuous delights of -pussy. I mean, the ups and downs and ins and outs of pussy. Tight pussy. Loose pussy. Sweet pussy. Tangy pussy. Nappy pussy. Hairy pussy. Shaved pussy. Relationship pussy. One-night-stand pussy. I suspect these two obsessive testosterone reservoirs were envisioning a mirage of pussy, where they could quench their thirst.

Just for the record, I love women as much as any straight male, confirmed lesbian, or bisexual hermaphrodite. I'm also no misogynist, and I had no desire to spend my afternoon groveling in the shadow of a concrete slab etched with a huge cross, hovering above me like a massive monolith, beneath which I worked out my penance with trembling, blistered hands and the sound of pussy...pussy...pussy, drumming in my ears like the incessant, rhythmic clink of iron on a chain gang.

I tried to keep to myself and ignore their banter. A construction worker walked by on the road above the pit. Aside from his filthy "Jesus Is My Homeboy" t-shirt, he looked like the Village People's Macho Man. I looked to the sky and wondered if Jesus had any sympathy for his homeboys down here making a meager $6 an hour to wade in the mud and bake in the Texas heat, while these two men spoke of pussy, each trying to outdo the other, as if engaged in a friendly "cockfight".

Eventually, there was a blessed lull in their gynegological ping-pong. For the next several minutes, I was alone with the relaxing sound of my shovel and the slurping mud.

Just when I thought it was over, the black-skinned laborer paused and drove his shovel blade into the ground, holding the erect handle as if he were going to lean on it. He squinted his eyes at the sun, wiped his brows and turned to me, shaking his head and saying, "Man... I sure can't wait to be done with this so I can get me some pussy."

The young Latino blurted out, "You know that's right, Holmes!" and gave his coworker an enthusiastic high-five.

At that moment, the handle of my shovel cracked and I chunked it to the side of the pit in disgust. I sunk my arms into the dirt and debris, shoveling it out with my hands and chest. I felt like screaming, diving in the cool mud, if only to hide, for a few moments, from the exciting, romantic life of a writer.

It is now more than a year later. JUNK is released, and the church has been built. I sometimes wonder if the congregation comprehends the sweat and blood and sacrifice that went into their temple. I'm far enough down the road to laugh about that miserable experience, and see it as a gift. But just in case you're wondering, I have no plans to ever step foot in a mudpit again.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

JUNK Photos - Mr. Munchies

Fresh out of jail, and having a bad hair day, scarfing a Snickers Bar in front of Mr. Munchies, located at 420 (that's right, 420) S. Carroll Blvd., right next to my Denton home. Guess I'm just another junk food junkie. Check out the Hurricane Rita clouds in the reflection of the windows behind me, and my Dunkin' Donuts t-shirt (amazing what you can find in a thrift store). Photos by John Trautman...


Six Flags Over Jesus

I surfed across an article about Holy Land Experience, a Christian theme park complete with Dead Sea Caves, rotating museum exhibits, and a scaled-down model Jerusalem (without the garbage and street urchins, or course).

From a capitalist perspective, the park sounds like a terrific source of revenue. But when I go to a theme park, I expect more - like ass-kicking rollercoasters, junk food, rigged carnival games, and at least one "tunnel of love" style ride where dating teenagers can "snuggle".

Hmmm. I hate the idea of exploiting spirituality for money. But if I built a Christian theme park, it would be much cooler...

Welcome to the Land of Milk and Honey! Step through the Pearly Gates, and the Train Bound for Glory will take you anywhere in the park!

Come ride The Crucifixion, where spinning wooden crosses swing high in the air while terrified kids cling to their nails for dear life.

Thrillseekers should hop aboard our Revelation Rapture-coaster, which will hurl you into the mouth of the dragon, through the bowels of hell, and down streets paved with gold.

After the apocalypse, you'll want to rest your feet and catch our special effects extravaganza, Day of Pentecost, complete with the world's only sing-in-tongues choir!

Need to cool off from the fire of the Holy Spirit? Share a ship with a live sheep on Noah's Ark log flume. Or get baptized by immersion as you part the Red Sea on Jonah's Whale splashdown!

Hungry? Kick back at Mary and Martha's Place with an Oral Roberts popsicle. Grab a kosher burger and a Billy Graham cracker at King David's Deli. Swig some communion wine at Loaves and Fishes Pub. Or bring your own manna and spread a picnic blanket in the Garden of Eden, where kids can pick apples and dodge real snakes.

In the mood for a scare? Hide from wolves in sheep's clothing at King Herod's Hell-House and ride a fishing boat through the Dead Sea! Those who are truly brave can fight for their lives in Daniel's Lion's Den!

Enjoy bowling? Come to Abortion Clinic Alleys and knock down child-murdering doctors with our patented bomb-balls. Strike!

Like the old classics? Step aboard the Robert Tilt-on-Whirl, climb on our Mother Mary-Go-Round, or ride the Pharoah's Wheel!

Bring kids? Drop your fully developed fetuses off at our Suffer the Children Plague-ground, where they can float in a basket on the Baby Moses riverboat ride, and catch locusts with butterfly nets!

Hate homosexuals? Don't miss our hi-tech reenactment of Sodom and Gomorrah, complete wax figures that melt in fire and brimstone!

Come meet the barking carneys manning the rip-off games in Jubilee Alley...

"Step right up and try your luck with Mary Magdalene! Three rocks for a dollar! He who is without sin goes first."

"Throw the noose on Judas and get your very own G.I. Jesus action figure, complete with long hair, crown of thorns, camouflage fatigues and M-16. Or step over to Golgotha, grab a blindfold and pin the nail on Jesus to win 30 pieces of silver!"

"Looks like we got a marksman here! Welcome to the Pat Robertson shooting gallery! Come fire a sniper rifle at international government officials!"

Finally, if all the excitement of the day has you feeling a little frisky, take your date on a raft ride through the Tunnel of Celibacy. Scenes of abortion, venereal diseases, teen pregnancy and hairy palms will cool you off faster than a piece of Salt-Peter Taffy!

Out-of-towners can doze amid barn animals, hurricane survivors and foodstamp recipients, in our No Room At The Inn petting zoo. Those needing to exit the park should have their forehead stamped with the number of the beast, for re-entry. Ash Wednesday is Save and Get Saved Day, where tickets are only $6.66!

Texas Governor Perry Jerks His Magic Wand

Another morning in Kharma Cafe. I look through the smoke-stained windows to watch the clouds from Hurricane Rita roll into Denton.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was quoted as saying, in response to questions regarding problems that arose during the Hurricane Rita evacuation, that he wished he could wave a "magic wand" and change the situation.

I have one word for Governor Perry - choo-choo.

If the U.S. had a passenger-oriented rail network like Europe, cities could be evacuated quickly. Trains rarely have traffic jams. They don't run out of gas. They don't explode, killing dozens of elderly people, because of brake problems. They are faster than cars. They're even more environmentally friendly. They contribute less to global warming, purportedly a factor in hurricanes increasing in frequency and intensity.

In fact, there could be a fleet of long trains specifically designed for national emergencies, ready to be networked and dispatched at a moment's notice. Our train stations could even be equipped to serve as temporary shelters for displaced survivors. Talk about homeland security.

My friend Boris Bellyache (featured in JUNK) sits down next to me as I sip espresso. He reminds me that we used to have a more extensive passenger rail system in the U.S., but this was a threat to petrochemical and auto/airplane industry execs. Boris also claims that many modern Americans are out of touch with the development and history of the railway, which has since been overshadowed by the auto industry.

Undoubtedly, revamping our rail system to be prepared for national emergencies would require a significant short-term investment. However, if we can afford over $5 billion per month to fight a war in Iraq, if we can afford $75 billion annually to fight a failed drug war, then we can afford to invest in railway preparation that could save hundreds of thousands of American lives.

If our leaders are too short-sighted and reactionary to discern innovative alternatives, if they are too beholden to corporate interests to make changes vital to our national security, then perhaps we should boot them out of office. As my stepmother Lillian would say, "The numbnuts are numbnuts."

National security doesn't require a magic wand, Mr. Perry. It does require a willingness to think outside the box.

Here's a plaque from an old inter-urban railway, ironically titled...

JUNK Review - Lettuce Have Peas

Self-described anarcho-capitalist Iceberg penned this brief blurb on his site...

"Christopher Largen's JUNK is an upbeat, yet scarily prescient tale of where nanny-statism will eventuate."

Thanks, Ice. You're cool. Like Ice.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

To My Fellow Texans...

Well, it looks like our great state is about to be hit hard by Hurricane Rita. Millions of you have attempted to flee the Gulf Coast, running out of gas on congested freeways.

All I can offer you is this...

Please don't trust the people who claim to be your leaders. Remember that many of them are like George Orwell's pigs in sheep's clothing.

Don't do what you are told. After the government-spawned Louisiana Superdome (AKA Superdumb) Helter-Skelter-Shelter disaster, it is obvious that you can't necessarily trust your public officials during a national emergency.

Don't allow yourself to be corralled, searched, tossed in a locked facility to rot in your own excrement for days. Cut your losses and take your chances. But never allow yourself to be herded into a containment camp, marked for slaughter.

Caught with the Evidence

Evidence that certain U.S. Government officials don't want you to know about...

The following photograph was taken at the 1st Annual Wake Up Festival in Denton, Texas in 2004. It captures me standing onstage holding a metal can, which once held 300 marijuana cigarettes, produced and distributed by the United States Government. Don't worry, there is no cannabis in the can I hold. The metal has been well-cleaned, thoroughly bleached, and lacquered. The can has also been rendered non-functional by a can opener and screwdriver. Otherwise, I would be breaking the law by carrying it. Wearing a business suit, I stood out in the sea of tie-dyes, dreadlocks, and pierced flesh. But that's okay. I wasn't there to party.

JUNK Review - LewRockwell.com

Brad Edmonds, author of There's a Government In Your Soup, wrote this review of JUNK for Libertarian E-Zine, LewRockwell.com...

"A book specifically meant to be libertarian while taking an unorthodox tack is JUNK, by Christopher Largen. The book is interesting in its literary technique and in its approach. Largen takes the reader through fragmented, seemingly independent story lines and vignettes, tying them together as the book moves along. What makes this more interesting is that Largen writes very well, and very humorously. What makes it most interesting is that the stories all are fictionalized versions of actual events in the war on drugs in the US, though they are portrayed in the book as part of a fictional government war on junk food.

"LewRockwell.com readers don’t need convincing that the drug war is evil. JUNK is valuable to our choir because it can be used to persuade those who aren’t yet convinced. Largen covers his bases carefully – his characters use the same arguments, both moral and scientific, used today by supporters of the drug war. Read this book yourself because it’s fun and interesting, but to make it truly useful, be sure to give it to someone who’s sitting on the fence with regard to the drug war. It’s all fiction, but very convincing. It is a moral good to convince fence sitters that the drug war is evil."

If JUNK is considered a moral good that can change minds, then I've done my job as an author.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

12 Steps of Drug Warriors Anonymous

Drug prohibitionists are addicted - to power. But there is hope, even for the most depraved. One day at a time. No stinking thinking. And the Twelve Steps...

1. We admitted we were powerless over other people's addictions - that our government had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than our legislation could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the people, and we understood them.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to the people, to ourselves, and to the national media, the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have the people remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked them to remove us from power.

8. Made a list of all persons the drug war had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with the people, praying only for knowledge of their will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a political awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other prohibitionists and to practice these principles in all our current affairs.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Drug Free Employer? Urine the Right Place!

I sit in a Chinese restaurant in Denton called Mr. Chopstix (they've got some great vegetarian food). I've got no reading material, other than the Help Wanted section of the Dallas Morning News. I don't need a job. As a novelist, I work for myself. But I scan the page and run across a block ad that screams:

GREAT BENEFITS!
FUN ATMOSPHERE!
DRUG-FREE EMPLOYER!

I've gotta tell you, I wasn't too interested in the fun or benefits. But a drug free employer? Whoopie!!!!! Finally, I can work for an employer who doesn't use drugs!

Wait a minute... What if "drug free" actually means the employer is giving out free drugs? I'm calling the feds!

But seriously, I know what the ad really means. The bosses want me to drop my pants in front of complete strangers while control-freak pervs watch me take a pee, than fiddle around with my urine, to ensure (supposedly) that I'm not using the approximately ten drugs out of thousands that the government has outlawed (pleasing the drug cartellians immensely, I might add).

I'm tempted to march into the office of this "drug free employer" and demand the bosses empty their bladders in a vial to prove (purportedly) their claim of being drug free. After all, I shouldn't be forced to work for some "druggie", right? Because people who use illegal drugs are BAD, DANGEROUS, DECEPTIVE, CRIMINAL. Isn't that what the news anchors tell us?

Reality check: Drug-testing companies continue to reap profits by marketing products and services to corporate America, even though their tests can (and do) produce false-positives. When their products fail, they just pass the buck to the innocent victims of their negligence, the "testee". Which is good, since those unlucky testees will likely need all the bucks they can get, while waiting in the unemployment lines.

I drop the newspaper and chomp an egg roll. Hmmm... Perhaps I can sue this "drug free" employer for false advertising if one of their staff members ever receives a drug-positive result on a random urine test.

Nah! I'll just stay clean, so my urine will be worth more than platinum. Think about it - lots of illegal drug users will pay big bucks for my liquid gold...

Packing Fudge with a Crack Pipe

In order to ensure a "drug-free" White House, shouldn't the president undergo a full-body search for illegal drugs, including a body-cavity search? That's what they do at high-security prisons, and we know how completely drug-free those facilities are.

And of course, the president won't object - unless he's got something to hide. After all, only addicts object to drug tests and body-cavity searches, right?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

If Someone Wanted to Assassinate the President...

I first met Bill Clinton in 1992, at a rally in Corsicana, TX. Clinton and Gore were on a bus tour, stopping in large cities and small towns across the nation. I wanted a chance to shake Clinton's hand, so I made my way toward the bullpen (the enclosed area directly in front of his podium). As I neared the entrance to the pen, I was briefly stopped by two security officials who wanted to ensure the megaphone around my neck was not a weapon. They did their jobs, then waved me into the pen, where I shook hands with Clinton and Gore. Nearby, a contingency of pro-lifers stood with anti-Clinton signs and chanted for Jesus. They even interrupted Clinton during his oratory. Civil and free speech was in abundance from all sides. There was no violence, no arrests, and no fenced-off free speech zones partitioned from the main event. The same dynamic prevailed when I met Clinton again, a few months later at Meacham Airport in Ft. Worth. No goon squad. No speech police.

Flash forward to the year 2001. President Bush appears in front of crowds that have been vetted, pigeonholed, segmented by political affiliation. Protesters are relegated to fenced areas like cattle in a stable. Demonstrators holding anti-Bush signs are detained, questioned and arrested. Rabble-rousing is not tolerated, and violators will be shot. Oops, I forgot. Bush, not Stalin.

Officials from the Bush Administration would claim these chilling tactics serve to strengthen security for the President. After all, the new millennium is more volatile than the early 90's.

Hmmm... Let's think about this a moment, shall we? I bet we can find a major gaping black-hole of logic in this rationale.

If somebody really wanted to assassinate President Bush, they sure wouldn't attend a conservative rally wearing rainbow-colored dreadlocks and a FUCK BUSH t-shirt. In fact, they would probably don the plainest business suit they could score. They would wear their hair in a crew-cut. They would wear a cross necklace and a patriotic American flag on their lapel. They would make damn sure to blend in with the Dittoheads, and they would probably praise the Lord all the way to the security squad, who would likely wave them right into the bullpen, where the President would be an easy target.

Assassins wear disguises. This is common sense, but it doesn't seem to be grasped by the Secret Service. The easy-to-spot liberal protesters are probably the people least likely to pull out a gun, but they are the ones being corralled and contained. I guess they won't be around to witness any carnage when the well-disguised God-squad pulls out automatic weapons in the front row seats they've been approved for by security forces.

One more thing... Before some reactionary Bush adulator misunderstands my sentiments and phones the Secret Service to tell them I'm a naughty boy, let me make something clear. I believe violence is an immoral and ineffective means to secure political change. For the record, I am not a partisan, and I certainly do not support assassination. However, I do believe our Secret Service forces should be focused on the tough job of protecting the President (it's tough - 1 in 10 U.S. presidents have been assassinated), not imposing political apartheid on citizens who respect the First Amendment enough to actually exercise it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush Lands in OZ

According to W's national address last night, live from the French Quarter, Louisiana's devastated disaster area is an "opportunity zone" (the merry merry land of Oz). While it's true that public tax dollars will be divested to private business, stimulating economic growth, will that profit stay in the region? Or will it merely pad the bloated corporate wallets of "opportunists" in locales removed from the impact of the horror?

The nation has not even counted its dead yet. Isn't it a little early to move on? After all, Bush did not call the former site of the World Trade Center an "opportunity zone" a mere week after the Twin Towers fell.

I'm no partisan - the responsibility for this debacle lies with individuals, not parties. I also know that genuine optimism can be healthy for America. But it's in bad taste to think economics while the bodies are still rotting on the field of defeat. It indicates moral and emotional detachment, like a mortician scratching his palms and drooling.

Opportunity zone... Say what, Dorothy? If only those Munchkins hadn't drowned while the Wizards ate cake and played golf.

Raped in Texas

Don't get busted south of the Red River, folks, or you're likely to take a big one for the home tag-team.

Human Rights Watch claims Texas has the highest rate of prison rape in the United States. You've got better odds running the hurricane gauntlet at the Louisiana Superdome (aka Superdumb). Might as well be Iraq.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Sucker for JUNK

I sit in my home office, surrounded by manilla envelopes stuffed with postcards, press releases, and copies of JUNK. Tomorrow I will enclose a contraband sucker in each one, lick enough glue-strips to make me sick, and ship them off to eager reviewers in four nations.

Then comes the hard part. The waiting. Wondering. Hoping.

It's tough to send a piece of yourself to complete strangers, especially ones who hold the future of your book in their hands. Review copies are like shots in the dark. You might think you hit your target - then realize you blew your toes off.

I sent a digital copy of JUNK to the editor of Professional Candy Buyers Magazine, a trade journal for confectionary salesmen. He initially seemed excited about the prospect of reviewing the book - then I never heard back from him. Perhaps he was offended by the idea of candy being outlawed as an addictive substance. Perhaps he was afraid the book will give Big Brother ideas for a new public policy flavor-of-the-month. Maybe he just thought the book sucked. Nah. He was probably just pissed that I couldn't send him a sucker with the PDF file. Junk food junkies can become pretty nasty when they don't get their grub.

Mr. Munchies

A Vietnamese sandwich shop (no junk food) opened up next door to my apartment complex. It's located at 420 S. Carroll Blvd. The city permit for the restaurant was signed on April 20th (4-20), by a woman named Jane Stone. The name of the restaurant is Mr. Munchies. I kid you not - this is no pipe dream.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fishing in New Orleans

This requires no comment...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Food Fix

Just in time for the release of JUNK, an article in Science News draws direct links between drug addiction and food addiction.

What's next? The Food Enforcement Administration? Coming soon to a concession stand near you...

"You got anything on you I need to know about, son? Knives? Guns? Bombs? Snack chips?" - Sgt. Belcher

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Cheney Told to Fuck Himself

Though I avoid partisan politics like cholera in a hurricane-ravaged city, I must admit there is something immensely cathartic and satisfying about hearing the Vice-President told to go fuck himself on national television. After all, these were the same bitter words he spat at Patrick Leahy in DC some months ago. This is better than Crossfire, folks. Are you feeling the love?

Maybe Dick forgot - in the dirty world of politics, paybacks are hotter then hell.

Dick responded to the televised insult as if he was oblivious. Does he not comprehend that children were gang-raped in the Louisiana Superdome (aka Superdumb), on his watch? Of course he's not completely responsible for this, but does he know what it's like to wade through toxic waste? Has he ever been elderly, disabled, vulnerable, unable to evacuate to his underground bunker? Has he ever been forced to "loot" bread, water, and diapers?

Hurricane survivors are unwilling to be used as political fodder for any self-serving politician, Democrat or Republican.

Political correctness aside, Uncle Dick should just suck in his gut and suck it up - then swallow.

Hurricane Katrina Photos

Hurricane Katrina has produced some of the most dramatic and devastating American images since September 11, 2001. Despite FEMA's prohibition on journalists accompanying search and rescue teams (justified out of "respect for the dead"), the truth will get out. And a single picture is worth a thousand platitudes.

Bloated politicians thirsty for cheap photo-ops should seek elsewhere. After all, it's hard for them to win elections by kissing a child who was abandoned, starved, and raped on their watch. And though both Democrats and Republicans are to blame, I couldn't help but juxtapose the following images in my mind...

Monday, September 05, 2005

Writer's Kharma

I'm sitting here in Kharma Cafe in Denton, TX. It's like a scene from Amsterdam, smack in the middle of Bush country. I'm surrounded by tobacco smoke, coffee grinds, textbooks, show flyers, and alternative newsweeklies, obligatory trappings of life on the slack. I've frequented this place thoughout the last decade, watching it evolve through multiple transmutations of style and architecture, studying the transient crowds who seek its refuge. It's sacred and hallowed space, a home away from home.

I attach headphones to a laptop, and listen to an Internet radio site called Secret Surfer. It's a mix of lounge, surf, and spy music. The current title on the playlist is Bedrock Twitch, from the early days of the Flinstones. It's cheese at its finest, certainly preferable to braodcast radio playlists.

Bohemian stereotypes aside, cafes have nurtured writers for centuries, before it was ever considered chic to sip a bold Columbian roast from a styrofoam cup while reading Allen Ginsburg. Today, coffee houses are meeting places for liberals and libertarians alike.

Five miles away from this latte haven, in a Baptist summer camp, sit approximately 300 refugees from Hurricane Katrina, who were bused to north Texas from New Orleans. The camp is in dire need of volunteers. I heard that drug dogs sniffed the survivors as they exited their buses. Welcome to Denton.

But in fairness, this didn't just occur here in my hometown. Reports from New Orleans indicate that security forces performed drug searches on the weary refugees who obeyed their government officials by seeking to enter the Superdome. Unfortunately, there were insufficient law enforcement resources to prevent young children from being raped once they were inside. Did emergency officials prioritize "sending the right message" over promoting public safety? Or is this just another day in our government's failed war on certain drugs?

Oh shit, I forgot! The parking meter! Gotta jet!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

JUNK is Unleashed!

The novel is printed at last! Copies are wrapped in cardboard war-wombs, biding time in munitions boxes, waiting to be launched like paper missiles across America. Perhaps the book will blow some minds.

I can't wait to hold the book in my hands, run my finger over the cover, sniff the fresh pages. The final tangibility of creation appeals to the sensory realm. It can even have erotic qualities.

Don't worry. I'm not that kind of book worm. But writing is like inviting complete strangers into your bedroom, then whispering in their ears about your most personal dreams. It's more honest than flirtation, and more intimate than sex.

I wonder if this novel will provoke people to think outside the box. Will it spawn iconoclasm, breed reform? There's only one thing I'm certain of... One man's JUNK is another man's treasure.