Monday, October 31, 2005

DEA Hijacks Red Ribbon Week

It's time to paint the town blood red...again.

Red Ribbon Week began in the mid-80s, at the height of Reagan's presidency, amidst the cynical fear-mongering of Just Say No to Commies, AIDS and CIA Crack, with the goal of sending a message (especially to children) that "drugs are bad" (excluding alcohol, tobacco, and a host of pharmaceuticals, of course).

I believe children should be educated about drugs, with a solid context of science and health (D.A.R.E. taught by doctors and former addicts, rather than just police), I'm appalled by Chief DEA prohibitionist Karen Tandy's video clips. She does her best to appear earnest, referring to her agency as a "family" that cares about "children", but she looks like she's trying way too hard. Every facial movement, each inflection of sincerity, seems utterly choreographed. She's looks nervous, like she really doesn't want to be there. Like just maybe she knows what she is doing is somehow absurd, but doesn't know how to stop.

Whether or not she knows, it is absurd to overlook the fact that DEA agent Kiki Camarena (a loving husband and father who truly believed in the cause) did not just "give his life", but was brutally tortured to death and buried in the desert by money-worshipping mobsters who profit immensely from America's drug war. Were it not for prohibition, those mobsters would not have possessed a motive to kill him. In fact, the drug cartellians would not even exist. Some of them may have become legitimate businessmen instead - dealing in strictly regulated products, paying taxes, operating above the radar, no violence involved. But under the shadow of prohibition, the mob thrives and their products are distributed with no regulation for quality control or dosage consistency, and no age restrictions.

The mob bosses (and the terrorists they support) don't care if law enforcement officials catch 10% of their shipments (that's about what they catch), so long as the legislators keep making the other 90% worth its weight in gold. The cartellians will laugh all the way to the bank, while the police are sitting ducks - like Kiki Camarena was.

This was the brutal lesson of alcohol prohibition. Because alcohol was dangerous, it was better to successfully regulate 99% of it, rather than only seizing a small portion while simultaneously transforming the streets into war zones and ensuring mob profits and underage use of unregulated product. I won't quote Santayana, but history is redundant when fools take the helm.

If we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars and yet can't even keep illegal drugs out of the prisons (which have grown considerably, thanks to the drug war), then is it likely we could eliminate illegal drugs by spending trillions to convert America into a big prison? A "drug-free" America would be nice - so would a stairway to heaven, and I don't see our born-again legislators pouring billions into that pet project.

It is absurd to dishonor the memory of fallen agents and officers by holding up sanitized versions of their deaths and using their grieving family members as political shields. In reality, if our federal government had learned from alcohol prohibition (regulate for safety and health, don't prohibit in moral judgment), Kiki Camarena would still be alive today, along with hundreds of other police officials, not to mention innocent bystanders, suffering patients, targeted journalists, assassinated officials and untreated addicts, who have shed enough collective blood in this 100-year failed war to dye a million ribbons red.

Guess it just goes to show, they can wrap garbage in a flag, but it still smells like a big-ole hunka junk.

My Mantra

FLOWERS GROW FROM DIRT, AND SOMETIMES IT TAKES A LOT OF CRAP TO MAKE GOOD FERTILIZER.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Perverted-Justice.com

Instead of passin' da tax buck and expecting Big Brother to protect children, we need to get involved as individual citizens. The folks at Perverted-Justice.com are fine examples of proactive surfers, working to take predators out of the equation BEFORE they kidnap, rape or murder a child.

This group has been covered extensively in the mainstream CORPGOV news, and has occassionally been called a vigilante organization. However, Perverted-Justice does not break the law to uphold it. They cover their legal bases, in order to the preserve evidentiary value of their data. They do not entrap, but expose. They also work with law enforcement, when appropriate.

While some visitors to their site may take issue with their tone and tactics, Perverted Justice is essential in a nation where priorities are skewed and a large share of criminal justice resources are divested to control the personal, consensual choices of adults who are otherwise law-abiding. For example, we have a war on drugs, but not a war on child abuse. We have child predators receiving lighter sentences then marijuana-growers. We have a Drug Czar, but not a Perv Czar (though some might claim the Drug Czar is perverted). We have the ineffective DARE program to teach kids about drugs (in the midst of a 30-year "drug war" that has deregulated the production and distribution of the substances, making them easily available to children), but we have no national program to teach children about their rights over their own bodies.

Our educational system, from family to church and school, teaches kids to venerate authority, to comply with adults, to obey the law, to do as they are told. But then we fail to arm children with information about their legal rights, leaving them utterly defenseless (physically and mentally) against predators. Many children being sexually abused do not even know the abuse is illegal, and some are not even old enough to understand what sex is. Nevertheless, the abuse will imprint itself and can have long-lasting effects on the victim, including disabling conditions like PTSD, substance-dependency, anxiety-related disorders, and major depression with suicidal ideations.

In the meantime, the predators thrive on the ignorance of children and the silence and inaction of complacent adults. This means you and me. It's time to wake up and get busy.

Perverted Justice is the honored recipient of my highly esteemed and coveted Badasses Without Badges Award. Love them or hate them, they are helping to attract national attention to the issue of child protection, and they are filling a gap historically neglected by Big Brother.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tom Delay's Mugshot

He's grinning like a Cheshire, so it's hard to tell this is a mugshot. Nevertheless, this picture is priceless.

Why are their no black lines to mark his height? Don't we need to know how tall he is, just in case he goes on a rampage or absconds before his court date?

I actually wrote Tom Delay several years ago, in reference to a comment he made regarding low-income welfare recipients, something to the effect of, "What are they doing with all that money, anyway?" I reminded him that it wasn't just poor people who received government handouts. In fact, the vast majority of subsidies go to the wealthy. Most people on poverty welfare are working for companies that simply don't pay enough to survive on.

Now the justice system wants to know what Mr. Delay did with all that money. Kharmic justice? Perhaps. To quote Malcolm X, maybe it's just "chickens coming home to roost". I'll reserve my judgment until the facts are in.

Whether you think Delay is innocent or guilty, this photo is definitely one for the vaults. Say cheese, Tom...

Snickergate

More food-related crime... When sheriff's deputies are busted stealing candy from inmates, it gives a whole new meaning to "junk food junkie". Couldn't they wait for their payday? Sure makes me want to snicker.

Clowns Rob Donut Shop

There's no accounting for taste. These Bozos were only out for cash - they left the donuts behind. Still, using the logic of the mainstream press, we might call this a "food-related" crime. And I'm not clowning around.

Scary Halloween For Child Molesters

The State of New Jersey is imposing innovative restrictions on child molesters this Halloween, to prevent unsupervised contact between pedophiles and trick-or-treaters.

I believe these regulations may lull parents into a false sense of security - after all, the best way to protect your children is to actually BE THERE with them when they go door to door (novel concept). Big Brother doesn't come close to catching every know who every child abuser is (the government doesn't even catch all the child murderers). The vast majority of child abusers escape conviction, and some who are convicted are actually innocent - though it may act like God at times, the state isn't perfect. Many predators work their dirty deeds beneath the radar. Parents cannot rely on government officials to protect their kids. Not in a hurricane, and not on Halloween.

You can bet your kernel-corn candy that I would be standing right next to my munchkins on October 31st, even if it meant I had to throw on my faux prison gear and my Dunkin Donuts shirt and pretend to be a junk food junkie.

To sexual abusers of children bemoaning the loss of their Halloween rights, let me make this perfectly clear. You used children to gratify your selfish needs for power and sex. The trick is on you, and you get no treat. You should be grateful to still be alive with your freedom. Stop complaining, before I unleash Christopher Lee's Dracula on you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm the Youngest Marijuana User on Record in the U.S.

The nightmare is always the same. I see the Attorney General of the United States standing behind a tall podium, hovering over me as his voice booms with the authority of a man with a satellite linkup to God.

“In response to an obesity epidemic killing hundreds of thousands of Americans annually, our newly formed Food Enforcement Administration has outlawed junk food. Local police will conduct searches of residential refrigerators. Candy wrappers and barbeque grills are now considered paraphernalia. To dissuade the lucrative black-market activities of street gangs like the Ice Cream Crew and the Praline Posse, neighborhood weight-watch signs will be erected in your area. Pre-employment urine screenings will test for traces of illicit food substances. Fast food felons will no longer be allowed to vote, carry a handgun, or receive a Pell Grant. Our military forces will be dispatched to destroy African cocoa fields used in chocolate production. Police smuggling donuts will face corruption charges. And
insulin-dependent diabetics will just have to suffer and die, because we don’t want to send the wrong message to children about sugar abuse. Can you pinch more than an inch? If so, you aren’t simply unhealthy, you’re a criminal. So just say NO to Cracker Jacks!”

I wake up sweating, but then I take a deep breath, still happy to be walking down the green path. Come walk a mile in my shoes…

I am the youngest therapeutic cannabis user on record in the United States. I smoked my first joint in 1971, when I was two years old.

I was deprived of oxygen during birth, and my mother and I both nearly died. I grew into a severely hyperactive toddler (even then, I was a hellion). I was constantly screaming and crying, destroying property, and aggressing toward other people. When I bit my
preschool teacher on the leg and smashed my fist through the living room window, my parents became desperate.

Few people understood medical marijuana (or hyperactivity, for that matter) back then, but my parents had smoked cannabis for years. In fact, my father had graduated Magna Cum Laude from TCU, smoking every day, and was a communications professor at Drake in Iowa – again, smoking daily. My parents were Southerners. They knew about folk remedies, like rubbing sweet rum on the swollen gums of teething babies. They thought cannabis wouldn’t harm me, and they suspected it might relax me. They held the joint to my lips, telling me to suck it like a straw.

I'm sure that at the age of two, I was unable to get a full inhalation, but it was enough to work. Mom and Dad were amazed by the results. The marijuana curbed my aggression, reduced my tantrums, elevated my mood, increased my appetite, and helped me sleep.

My parents provided marijuana to me for the next three years, until I entered kindergarten. Once President Nixon stepped up the "war on drugs", my parents became afraid of the legal ramifications, so they stopped giving it to me. My behaviors went through the roof, so I graduated to a harder drug, Ritalin, which was considered a cutting-edge amphetamine at the time, with serious side effects (including addiction, heart palpitations, and nervous tics, to name just a few). Ten years later, Ritalin would become one of the most over-prescribed substances in the nation. Parents enjoyed the sanitized convenience of behavior intervention in a pill, while their children often sold the pills in the school playground.

My parents kept my childhood marijuana use a secret from me until 29 years later, when I was writing about the federal marijuana program.

In 1990, I had no idea I would become a professional writer. I was sweating my way through college. My mind was full, if not my stomach. I dined cerebrally, devouring books and vegetarian gruel. Still, someone had to bring home the tofu.


I accepted a job as personal attendant for a quadriplegic veteran whose pain specialist secretly recommended marijuana for his agonizing and debilitating spasms. The unfortunate price of his relief was the terror of being thrown in jail. Every time he used medical marijuana, he went through an elaborate ritual of pulling the blinds, spraying air freshener, and dropping a towel under his door.

One night after smoking his medicine he asked me, “Do you really think they would take care of a guy like me if I was behind bars? Give me physical therapy? Wipe my ass? Would they know how to change out my catheter? I wouldn't even be able to defendmyself. I could die in there.”

While the veteran lived in fear, other patients were legally smoking marijuana grown and supplied by Uncle Sam. I met the fifth federal patient,
George McMahon, when he first spoke at UNT in 1998. George receives 300 pre-rolled joints each month, to treat severe symptoms of pain, spasms, and nausea related to years of surgical and pharmaceutical maltreatment, repeated injuries, and a rare genetic condition called Nail Patella Syndrome, which can cause bone deformities, kidney failure, and immune system dysfunction. George and his wife Margaret were traveling the world speaking to legislators, police officials, educators, health care professionals, and patients about the medical value of cannabis.

Prior to being accepted to the government program, George had survived 19 major surgeries, took 17 pharmaceutical drugs daily, and depended on a wheelchair. For the past fifteen years, George has smoked ten government joints each day. During this time, George hasn’t had a single surgery or hospitalization, he no longer takes pharmaceuticals (aside from the occasional antibiotic), and he rides a bike. He is living proof that marijuana is medicine.


George was an inspiration. He could easily have been complacent, enjoying the benefits of consistent access to his medicine. Instead he was fighting for other patients. George told me that helping others gave him courage and strength to get up every morning. He struck me as a humble man with a strength that belied his illness.

I paused to consider the potential ramifications of writing a book with a federal marijuana patient. I already had firsthand knowledge of the dangerous and unintended repercussions of speaking out. People had tried to hurt me on numerous occasions. I had once been physically assaulted by skinheads while protesting a Ku Klux Klan rally on the steps of the State Capitol in Austin, on Martin Luther “Coon” day (as the KKK called it). My car had been repeatedly vandalized, once by fire. In response to my writings on drug policy reform, I’d received veiled, threatening letters from disturbed strangers. I knew how difficult it could be to have a rational dialogue with hysterical people, especially when the First Amendment is often treated like toilet paper. But I couldn't turn away from the opportunity.

We began with George pouring out a lifetime of memories into an old-school Dictaphone. Before we finished, the project blossomed into a major road trip documented on video, including stops at the State Capitol of Arkansas, Elvis Presley’s Graceland, and the
federal cannabis garden at Ole Miss.

Over the past four years, I’ve had the honor of serving as George’s co-author, caregiver, biographer, historian, devil’s advocate, and publicity consultant. We’ve traveled through 11 states together, speaking at law schools, junior colleges, legislative gatherings, and music festivals. We’ve occasionally been followed, videotaped, and harassed by misguided police officers and attorney generals. But we’ve also been welcomed by legislators, church librarians, and DEA agents. And we’ve generated news articles in five countries with an aggregate circulation of approximately 20 million readers. Not bad for a couple of guys with no degrees, a couple of antiquated home computers, several kamikaze editors, and a stubborn desire to dig ditches and help change the laws.

The federal marijuana program lies at the heart of a conundrum that demands resolution. If the DEA is correct in claiming that marijuana is a dangerously addictive drug with no medical benefit, then why has the government been giving it to sick and dying people for the last 23 years? On the other hand, if marijuana has medical applications, why is the federal government criminalizing patients, closing clinics, and denying states the legal autonomy to resolve the issue independently? Until these questions are answered, George’s story needs to be told, again and again.

Politics are intensely personal. Making no distinction between individual circumstances of use, the war on drugs has become a war on suffering people. Legislators aren’t health care professionals, and patients aren’t criminals. Yet health and law become entwined in a cruel and sometimes deadly dance.

After thirty years of perpetually escalating sentences and draconian prohibition policies, we've lost more of our citizens (and more of our civil liberties) than we did on September 11th. Despite this devastating human carnage, illegal drugs are still readily available on any given street corner in America. This is the terrible result of attempting to treat a public health problem as a criminal justice issue. It’s like trying to outlaw junk food. It will never work. It will only exacerbate the health problem while compounding it with a host of legal, economic, and public safety issues.

How long will it take before our legislators implement drug policies that heal people rather than destroying lives? I’m no soothsayer, but I think we hold the answer in the voices we raise and the ballots we cast. Something tells me our journey down the green path has not yet ended.

Oh, yeah…and to all you fired-up activists, I’d like to offer some unsolicited knowledge (at the risk of sounding like Margaret Mead). Never let yourself believe you can’t make a difference. Indeed, you are the only one who can. And you don’t have to be absorbed in some homogenized collective “movement” to change things, either. An organization is only as strong as its weakest link, but you are a majority of one. Act like it. Enough said.





Monday, October 24, 2005

JUNK Review - Andrew Thomas Breslin

Andrew Thomas Breslin, health food afficianado and author of the rich and creamy Mother's Milk, had this to say...

"Junk is gold! Funny, thought provoking, well paced, well written. I read it the way one eats potato chips and was done before I knew it (though without the accompanying indigestion). I found the use of various food-related songs especially amusing, (Fat Bottomed Girls, The Candy Man, etc) as well as the parodies of organizations (National Organization for the Reform of Muffin Laws was the best).

"There is a scene in this alternate-universe version of a head shop that any of my fellow 420 enthusiasts could not help but enjoy, especially if they are chowing down on doritos in a post-smoke munch-out. I love the way the scruffy tie-dyed thespians in those shops will show you a 4-foot grafix bong and with a straight face insist that it's for tobacco and legal herbs only. Extended brocolli tongs. Heh heh. Yeah right, junkie.

"I'm actually a bit of a health-food enthusiast, and I liked the way the book gave more than a nod to the fact that junk of all kinds (food, drugs, etc) can be very bad and we shouldn't ignore that, but that prohibitionist approaches are doomed to abysmal failure.

"That's all for now. My Grafix legal herb smoking device calls."

Center for Disease Control Alert

I just received this report from an elusive and shadowy E-contact who would only refer to himself as "Deep Shit"...

The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease. This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior. The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim (pronounced "gonna re-elect him").

Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past 4 years, in spite of having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome problem. Cognitive sequelae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lectim include, but are not limited to: anti-social personality disorder traits; delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor; chronic mangling of the English language; extreme cognitive dissonance; inability to incorporate new information; pronounced xenophobia; inability to accept responsibility for actions; exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado; uncontrolled facial smirking; ignorance of geography and history; tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies; and a strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior. The disease is sweeping Washington.

Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago from a bush in Texas.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Home Alone With The Rain

The day has finally arrived. Texas has taken its begrudging turn for the cold in the fourth week of October. The sky is dark and rain drizzles down, and I'm alone in my house with the clicking of my keyboard and the laboring hum of a fridge.

The IOOF Cemetery (International Order of Oddfellows) is located across the street from my home. I look through my patio door a flash of lightening diffuses over a tombstone, shaped like a scaled-down Washington monument, that reads: BONER.

What a last name. "That's Mister Boner to you."

I feel ill at ease today, as if I'd just heard a prolonged choral scream from the future that was so agonized it reverberated into the past. There are days when I feel regret and fear for the human race. Those days pass quickly, as I begin to chide myself for being so damned melodramatic, for taking the whole experience of life much too seriously. If we are to be destroyed (by ourselves, no less), then let us at least go down with a good gut laugh.

Question of the day... If a martyr was suffering on a cross in front of you, would you hold a marijuana cigarette to his lips to help him ease his pain? Or would you act like the hypocrites who care more for the letter of the law than the spirit on which its based? Or like the mobsters, who care more for money? I bet some of you fascists wish it weren't quite so difficult to handcuff a crucified man.

Here's a nostalgic image for the terrorists, mafia kingpins, corrupt politicians and narcocops who profit from the international drug war. Think about this picture the next time you get soused on booze. Remember, it wasn't the drunks who repealed prohibition. It was police officers, community leaders, parents, and children.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Is Ronald McDonald a Transgender Hussie?

We should have known. Any man who prances around in makeup, fixated on greasy beef and special sauce, must be hiding a deep dark secret. Well now the awful truth is out. Ronald McDonald is sleeping around, having wanton relationships with women, men, and God forbid, Big Macs. It required some deeply-layered empirical research, but I finally tracked it down. Here's the awful evidence. Notice how Ronald goes from happily relaxing with his clown wife to becoming a full-fledged porn addict. My childhood dreams are shattered...

I located my headmaster...

...from 20 years ago, when I attended Professional Youth Conservatory (PYC), a performing arts highschool located in the attic of a church on the campus of Texas Wesleyan College (now Texas Wesleyan University) in Ft. Worth. The school had less than 50 enrolled students when I attended. One of my classmates was world-renowned gospel singer Kirk Franklin, and I studied under David Yeakle, a master of physical comedy. We spent half the day on academics, and another half on dance, music, mime, drama, etc. Needless to say, PYC was an exception among Texas schools that focused on "scorin' touchdowns for Jeezus". It was no parochial school, but I think many of the students worshipped (in a broad sense) through the creative process itself. We were all a part of a great experiment that has yet to be repeated in Texas, that I'm aware of.

Those two years were among the best and most tumultuous in my life. If any of my fellow students from days past happens to read this, please drop me a line. I don't bite anymore. Usually.

And now, I'd like to introduce you to a magician of sorts, a man who believed in his students and has spent his life pouring energy into creative experiments. I owe him one for not expelling me when I broke the piano bench in the sanctuary of the church PYC was housed in, where I was trying to imitate Jerry Lee Lewis' vigorous antics while banging out a pigeon-peck version of "Great Balls of Fire". He aged gracefully and is now a woodcarver, but so much more. His wood portraits reflect a peace and clarity of spirit, and I'm proud of him. He's my former headmaster, Dr. Steve Schoolar.

On Writing

I'm often asked how I go about writing a novel. I have no rigid strategy, but there are some steps that proved effective during the writing of JUNK...

First, I try to love life deeply. This is dangerous, because the suffering of loss is an ultimate (and undeniable) condition of loving. True love does not hide from a painful awareness of absurdity, often manifested through physical and emotional naturalistic details. Love necessitates embracing the void (perhaps laughing while doing so). I accomplish this through writing. Hence my motivation.

When I begin to write, I turn off my internal editor. I create a mental space where logic and reason cannot judge, where my intuition is safe to play. This allows ideas to flow out, tinged with an element of mystery bestowed by the subconscious.

Once I've written, I leave the text alone for a period. I try to trust the passage of time, and keep my itchy brain off the ideas for several weeks.

When I return to the text, I come armed with logic and reason. I narrow my vision to become microcosmic (some might say anal retentive), and address elements of style, continuity, character, theme, technique, motif, etc. I muster tenacity and repeat this process until I work myself into an obsessive frenzy, along with my publisher, who snatches the text from my hands and dashes to the printer before I can grab it back.

I have little advice to offer. I learned long ago that an ivory tower would not teach me to trust my voice (or discover I had many voices). Although I'd been offered an English scholarship, I chose not to pursue a formal degree. This decision was not made in arrogance, but it did contain an element of humility. If I could not be taught to write, then I sure as hell couldn't teach anyone else.

Follow your own heartbeat. I've found it's the only way to the fiery, raw and honest words that set a keyboard ablaze.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Pedophiles Not Potheads

While traveling the U.S. with a federally legal marijuana patient, speaking about therapeutic cannabis use and broader drug policies, I've met people from all walks of life who use marijuana: cerebral professors, astute attorneys, responsible administrators, Native American tribal leaders, loving parents, struggling patients, a few legislators, police officers and soldiers, and thousands of ditch-diggers. And I won't lie to you - I've met a few mellow-yellow, hippy-dippy Cheech and Chong "stoners" too (the ones we typically see in the CORPGOV media). And no, I'm not naming any names.

The vast majority of these cannabis users work hard, value their educations, pay their taxes, love their children, and contribute to their communities. Most of them don't use pot all day, everyday. They do not jeapordize public safety through their use (they don’t drive while impaired, they don't force anyone else to use it, and they don’t provide the herb to minors without a doctor’s authorization – similar to our social and legal perimeters for alcohol). They are mostly nonviolent and law-abiding (aside from their cannabis use).

During the past three decades of our nation's drug war, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars to arrest and incarcerate millions of American marijuana consumers, and yet the resilient cannabis plant shows no sign of being driven to earthly extinction anytime in the near future. To use a metaphor that a child could understand, the herb is kind of like the Incredible Hulk. Hulk not mean. Hulk green. Hulk want be left lone. But Big Brother want kill Hulk. More him fire big gun, bigger get Hulk.

But seriously, here’s something to stuff in your pipe and burn… Right now our nation is home to thousands of child abusers who’ve been found guilty of predatory (not statutory) sex crimes against kids 13 and younger (all the way down to toddlers), who were given probation. That’s right, no jail sentence. Zero time. Nada. Zip.
Breathe deep. Let that sink in a moment...

I suspect some of you are reading this and thinking: That's terrible, Largen. Truly sickening. But what in the world do pedophiles have to do with pot? Couldn't mixing these issues hurt the causes of both marijuana policy reform and child advocacy?

The two issues are already interrelated.

We know that sexual abuse often devastates the lives of survivors, contributing to high rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), along with a host of related psychosocial symptoms including depression, anxiety, insomnia, identity confusion, alientation from self and society, nightmares, cognitive impairments, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, unemployment, self-mutilation, and suicide attempts.

According to analytical research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, PTSD is directly related with much higher rates of substance abuse, as survivors attempt to self-medicate their painful and debilitating symptoms. It’s a cruel irony that a survivor of sexual abuse might receive more jail time (for using illegal drugs to self-medicate) than would the predator who brutalized her. Additionally, the drug charge would make the abuse survivor ineligible for federal financial aid for college, while her abuser would have no problem receiving the same aid, and so our system compounds the injury of rape with the injustice of unequal access to education.

While we're on the subject, we might ask: If our legislators care about children, why do we have federal mandatory minimum sentencing for cannabis offenses, but have no minimums for pedophiles? Since children from broken homes are more frequent targets of predators, why does our government break apart families to incarcerate parents for cannabis offenses? And if our officials are truly concerned about keeping marijuana out of the hands of minors, then why are they pursuing policies that actually make it easier for kids to obtain marijuana than alcohol or tobacco (remember, black marketeers are not regulated by age restrictions)? Have our officials been so focused on eradicating a plant, largely in the name of "protecting the children", that they have neglected to actually protect them?

For the sake of our nation's youth, our priorities must change. While our children are being brutally raped (as in the case of resilient and courageous Shasta Groene) and literally buried alive (beautiful Jessica Lunsford in Florida) like sacrificial lambs, we have no excuse for wasting enforcement and judicial resources on nonviolent, responsible marijuana users. Every law enforcement official who is stuck processing paperwork and making court appearances to prosecute marijuana offenses is one less officer patrolling our streets to make sure a madman isn't abducting, sodomizing, and murdering our children. Every dollar spent to criminalize cannabis could be better spent to strengthen families, build communities, and increase public safety. It’s time our policies were reformed to instruct our police officers, judges and prosecuting attorneys to focus their full attention on their most important missions: keeping the peace, serving our communities, and protecting the children - not controlling private consensual choices and incarcerating Willie Nelson while predators roam our streets.

We must insist our policies evolve so that America is no longer a ...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Halloween Chick Lit

It's almost Halloween, so get those cats fattened for the sacrifice, and break out some blood red sidewalk chalk to draw pentagrams for the devil. Make sure you've got plenty of razor blades for those Snickers bars - the kids will eat them up! Didn't you know? Halloween isn't just about dressing up and having a few laughs. It's a diabolical plot by Satan to control the innocent minds of children!!!

Don't believe me? Just ask the number one authorities, those historically hysterical reactionaries at Chick Bible Tracts.

Go ahead, check it out. It's the scariest Halloween "literature" since "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". And in honor of JUNK, it even features dangerous drugs put into candy bars...

Boo? Boo-hoo. Chick lit ain't just for chicks anymore.

JUNK Review - Indiana Daily Student

I liked this review so much, I think I'll have a root beer float...

Witty story much more than 'junk'
By Rebecca Hosier
Published Friday, October 14, 2005

At first glance, Christopher Largen's narrative titled "Junk" seems to be just that: junk. It's an array of articles, dialogue, fiction narratives, song lyrics, commercialized advertisements and newspaper clippings scattered throughout the book with enticing titles such as "Want to Micromanage your Employees' Pee-Pee? Urine the Right Place!"

But let's not make conclusions based on visual epistemology. From the opening lines of the narrative, "Junk" envelops the reader in an explosive prologue which precedes an equally suspenseful and gripping first chapter in the book. In the prologue, one character is kidnapped out of her room in the middle of the night with only the thought that "War. Is. Hell." The reader is left in awe of the action that has just transpired and curious about what war must be taking place in which casualties and hostages are being claimed, even kidnapped, out of their homes during the night.

The answer: The United States government has officially declared a war on junk food in an over-zealous attempt to stop the rising percentage of obese American citizens. The police are cracking down on all forms of junk food, making them worse than drugs and starting a program called "SCARE" (Substance Consumption Abuse Resistance Education) to replace the good old "DARE" courses (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).

Largen's text is filled with witty ploys on real-life people, places and organizations. He hosts characters such as Chastity Speers and Fernando Rivero (parodies of Britney Spears and Geraldo Rivera). With these correlations between real life and the world of the government gone mad, and with the inclusion of articles about managing employees' urine (among other things), the humor is endless. Yet through the combination of narratives and "Channel 8" interviews, along with various newspaper article clippings, the reader gains a sense of real-life, everyday government and political criticism. The text seems to ask just how far the United States government is willing to go in order to enact violent retribution for violations of trivial regulations. And with the war on junk paralleling the raging wars on drugs and terrorism, the juxtaposition of these political wars no longer seems far-fetched.

Largen makes a concise criticism of the war on junk when he writes that the government had to release many murderers, rapists and other hard-core criminals in order to make room for junk food offenders. The government even goes so far as to give murderers, rapists and drug abuse offenders shorter sentences than those citizens who are caught eating, creating or distributing any kind of junk food.

The use of newspaper articles with humorous names but strictly serious styles of writing also enforce Largen's criticism of prior and current government involvement in any sort of war in which there are casualties. And the war on junk definitely suffers casualties, whether from police brutality, obesity or even one instance of a death by Twinkie. Many people suffer their lives in the path of the government's attempt at making a better, slimmer America.

Christopher Largen's writing style emanates precision and conciseness in his clever debut of the world gone awry. For not only is America involved in the war on junk, but around-the-world bans on nonhealthy foods are being enforced. The involvement of other countries opens the narrative to the introduction of the Mafia-like Candy Man, the head of a large junk food distribution ring which revolves around all of the main characters in the narrative.

Largen weaves a careful and endearing tale about the struggle of several main characters to stay above the temptation of a chocolate craving or the "deadly" doughnut craving, bringing all their lives crashing into each other in a surprisingly thought-provoking ending.Whether you are political or not, democrat, republican, independent or otherwise, and whether or not you crave white chocolate or dark chocolate or must have that morning donut, Christopher Largen's novel is one to be enjoyed by everyone.

Junk Food Blog

Here is a website the Candy Man (that shadowy Godfadda of JUNK) would love...

Want to know about McDonald's new Shrimp Burger (available only in Japan)? Or a chocolate science kit? Pomegranate ice cream (yes, it really exists)? How about a 62-pound hamburger (world's record setter)? Did you know that Hustler Magazine has a new restaurant chain? Ever heard of Root Beer BBQ Sauce (there's no accounting for taste, but it sounds yummy to me)? Tobacco flavored bon-bons? Etch-A-Sketch Lollipops? Edible Easter grass? Corn-flavored ice cream? Adjustable hot sauce?

They still haven't come out with Crack Rock Candy.

Check out Junk Food Blog, a marvelous site reminiscent of Willy Wonka's land of pure imagination, dedicated to the exhaustive spectrum of foods that taste great while inducing addiction, indigestion, mad cow disease, and heart burn!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Laura Bush Forgets the Name of Hurricane Katrina

Isn't it sad when the First Lady of the United States can't even remember the name of the storm that killed hundreds of her fellow Americans? Maybe she caught a nasty case of Alzheimer's from Ronald Reagan. Or perhaps it was short-term memory loss related to exogenous cannabinoids (marijuana smoke), from the federal government's herb-garden at Ole Miss. Oh well. She doesn't have to worry too much. That grand old White House sure is warm and dry. Nobody's looting there. Except perhaps the tenants.

As Mrs. Bush proselytizes parents displaced by Katrina (that's right, Laura, Ka-Tri-Na), false empathy oozes from her photo-op antics. With a Big Momma like this one, who needs a Big Brother? See the painful video footage HERE.

Thou Shalt Not Utter "Political Correctness"

Some readers have accused me of not being PC enough. They say I rock the boat too much. They claim I use words like weapons, that I have little sense of decorum, that my lips are flapping in the wind. These horribly offended folks represent a diverse spectrum of political and sexual orientations, ethnicities, nationalities, and shoe sizes.

Let's get this straight... There are plenty of things to be legitimately offended about in this world - like lying politicians, corrupt officials, totalitarian oppression, bigotry (in all its forms), social and economic injustice, child rape, terrorism, genocide, the potentially imminent destruction of our planet, Paris Hilton, etc. But words are words. Nothing more. They only have the power that people give them.

I think censors are so busy trying to tape my mouth shut, they don't notice the blindfolds that prevent them from seeing THERE ARE MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES IN THE WORLD THAN WORDS! And I say this as a writer who loves words (and the freedom to use them as I please). While we're at it, folks, GENOCIDE AND TORTURE ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN JANET JACKSON'S SUPERBOWL NIPPLE. PASS IT ON TO THE U.S. CORPGOV MEDIA MOGULS.

Example of faith in action... I used to protest the KKK and NeoNazi groups across Texas. After a few years, I stopped doing so, because protests inadvertently draw media attention to the hate-groups and their cause, and many of the Klan protesters were only there for primal scream therapy. Most recently, I protested "Reverend" Fred Phelps, of the Westboro Baptist Church, when he came all the way down from Kansas to Denton, TX, to demonstrate at two of the local churches my friends attend. These moralistic morons waved signs that read GOD HATES FAGS and FAG CHURCH, and they instructed their children to grind an American flag into the mud with their feet. I felt sorry for these brainwashed kids, so I approached them and asked, "How are you guys doing today?" An obese and bitter woman in a faded flower dress stepped forward and belched, "Don't talk to it, kids. I don't know if it's a boy or a girl. It has long hair!" I turned and snapped, "Lady, tell it to Jesus!"

Over the years, I've endured plenty of venomous polemic from those hate-mongering "Christian" supremacists. But I wouldn't duct-tape their nasty mouths shut. Why would I want to suffocate their invective? I'd rather watch them hide under their hearts of stone in a desperate attempt to deflect the counter-lashings of a forked tongue.

Please understand, if you're an advocate of state-mandated political correctness, I try to treat everyone exactly the same, with kindness and dignity. I would never say anything to be gratuitous or offend you. I have nothing personal against you. So if you want to shut me up, go jump in the mudpit with Pol Pot, Joey Stalin, and Uncle Adolph. Okay? Got it? Good. And I'll just keep on ruffling more feathers than a fox in a hen house.

Friday, October 14, 2005

State Sponsored Phone Sex

"Hello? Thank you for calling the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles. For license renewal, press 1. For blowjobs, press two. For handicap stickers, press 3. For bondage and domination, press 4. If you are using a rotary phone, please hold for further mastubatory instructions."

This story represents government ineptitude at it's most perverse and hysterical...

N.J. License Plate Callers Get Sex Line

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey motorists calling a toll-free number seeking handicapped or animal-friendly license plates are getting a little more action than they expected. Instead of getting the state Motor Vehicle Commission, callers reached a phone sex operation.

The mix-up happened because the MVC has the newer 888 toll-free area code, but its number was mistakenly listed with the traditional 800 code on the Web site and printed material distributed by the state Division of Disability Services. The Web site has been corrected, but thousands have received the printed material, The Star-Ledger of Newark reported Thursday.

The wrong area code was on several hundred cards promoting the animal-friendly plates that were left on countertops by state Department of Health and Senior Services. Those cards were also in a newsletter that the Associated Humane Societies sent last month to 65,000 people.

State officials told the newspaper that they are attempting to contact those who got the printed material and make stickers with the right number to place over the wrong number in brochures.

92% of Souls in Hell There on Drug Charges

Drugs are a gateway to Hades! Don't believe me? Check out this report from The Onion...

HELL -- A report released Monday by the Afterlife Civil Liberties Union indicates that nine out of 10 souls currently serving in Hell were condemned on drug-related sins. "Hell was created to keep dangerous sinners off the gold-paved streets of Heaven," ACLU spokesman Barry Horowitz said. "But lately, it's become a clearing-house for the non-evil souls that Heaven doesn't know how to deal with."

The disproportionate number of drug offenders in Hell is a result of God's "get tough" drug policy of the 80s A.D., imposed after Roman emperor Domitian Flavius introduced opium to his people. God's detractors say His reactionary "one sin and you're out" rule places too harsh a penalty on venial drug users.

According to God's law, souls who possess four ounces of illegal drugs at any point during their mortal lives face a mandatory minimum sentence of eternity. High-ranking seraphim in the Eternal Justice Department defended God's law. "It's all about accountability," the angel Nathanael said. "The rule of the Lord affords the complementary blessings of freedom and responsibility, and provides the governing framework under which man is punished or rewarded according to his deeds. The rules are very simple: You do the crime, you do the time. Eternity, in this case."

The ACLU report included profiles of hundreds of offenders condemned to eternal perdition under God's law. Among them is Pvt. Robert "Bobby Joe" Hetfield, a World War I fighter and amputee who became addicted to morphine during his last 72 hours of life on a French battlefield in 1918. As punishment, Hetfield has spent nearly a century cleaning Beelzebub's dope house every morning by consuming the urine, excrement, and vomit left by Satan and his revelers. Another offender listed in the ACLU report is Huachuri, an Incan peasant who used a coca-leaf-based marital aid in 1311. As punishment, he is sodomized continually by a winged, razor-penised goat.

Defenders of God's law argue that eternal punishments like these are the only way to deter other drug users, and preserve order in God's kingdom. "This is not about revolving-door justice," St. Peter said. "While the word of God will keep some on the straight and narrow, Heavenly studies show that eternal damnation is the only deterrent that really works." Horowitz said that while drug offenders are literally rotting away in Hell, serial killers and other dangerous sinners are receiving "mere Purgatorial sentences, thanks to the asking-for-forgiveness loophole." Purgatory is a minimum-security state of limbo that affords its occupants the opportunity to repent their sins and eventually gain admittance to Heaven on good behavior.

"Drug offenders, many of whom have committed no prior mortal sin, rack up infinite consecutive life sentences," Horowitz said. "Meanwhile, rapists say they're sorry, recite a few Hail Marys, and wind up basking in God's divine radiance within 10 years." Among those who oppose God's laws are the stewards of Hell, who argue that his harsh anti-drug penalties have taxed the capacities of the underworld.

"I have one ravenous and overworked hellhound assigned to terrorize 12 methamphetamine users," the demon Abracax said. "After 14 hours in the dog's digestive tract, they are excreted and revived, at which point, I give them another shot of methamphetamine. The dog's exhausted--he was originally intended to be responsible for two users at most."

According to Horowitz, even leaving aside questions of civil liberties in the afterlife, God's drug laws are problematic. "These laws, simply put, don't work," Horowitz said. "What the Heavenly hosts need to consider is some sort of angelic early-intervention program at the pre-death level, or at the very least, some form of afterlife rehab."

JUNK Review - Toxic Universe

Ask Not for Whom the Cookie Crumbles
A Review by Kim Lumpkin 10/12/2005

It's all too easy to dismiss those whose sociopolitical views fall outside of the mainstream of American society as “radical;” one mark of effective satire is when it can convince the audience that what they consider normal today could easily become the new taboo in society tomorrow.

In JUNK, Christopher Largen takes on the entire war on drugs simply by turning it into a war on junk food, a prospect that does not seem quite as far-fetched as one might think considering recent lawsuits against fast food companies, national concern over the obesity epidemic, and the general trend toward legislating personal responsibility rather than teaching it. JUNK takes fighting fat to the logical extreme, and the result is both funny and a little unsettling.

The most remarkable thing about JUNK is the amount of research and detail Largen uses to tell his tale. Besides straight narration, he uses news articles, personal letters, and other documents all based on real ones. Virtually no aspect of the war on drugs/junk food is left unnoticed, from PSAs to head shops to the different ways nations handle the “war.” This allows Largen to examine the war on drugs itself from every angle, with good guys and bad guys on both sides, and the match is so perfect it's almost scary.

As in most satires, the characters are more representative types than fully realized individuals, but some, like Reverend Moe Goodman, a priest who is also a “junk food counselor” for inner city youth, still manage to leave a lasting impression.

As you can imagine, there is plenty of humor in this ludicrous premise, as in one scene where Reverend Goodman, is challenged by one of the kids:

“But I know you ain't even gonna try and tell me you never licked rock, back in the day. Huh, Rev?”

Moe raised his eyebrows as if he was surprised to be asked. “Rock?” He considered his response because he wanted to be a good role model. “You mean candy…or salt?”

Some of the transpositions strain even a generous suspension of disbelief, such as using insulin as a stand in for medicinal marijuana, but the point – that it is downright unethical for the government to tell doctors what they can and cannot prescribe to their patients – still stands.

Perhaps the hardest point to swallow is how the major food corporations so willingly give in and stop producing their highly profitable wares. It's probably the only serious obstacle to such a scenario occurring in real life…who'd have thought corporate greed might be a good thing?

JUNK may be funny, but it shows how dangerous it is to take the small as well as the large liberties for granted. In a time when personal freedoms are at risk like never before “for the public good, Largen is a welcome voice of both playful and serious resistance.

© Copyright ToxicUniverse.com
10/12/2005

Study Shows Marijuana May Be Useful in Treating Anxiety, Depression

Marijuana Might Cause New Cell Growth In The Brain
Source: New Scientist (UK)
Author: Kurt Kleiner

MARIJUANA MIGHT CAUSE NEW CELL GROWTH IN THE BRAIN

A synthetic chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana makes new cells grow in rat brains. What is more, in rats this cell growth appears to be linked with reducing anxiety and depression. The results suggest that marijuana, or its derivatives, could actually be good for the brain.

In mammals, new nerve cells are constantly being produced in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, anxiety and depression. Other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, have been shown to suppress this new growth.

Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and colleagues decided to see what effects a synthetic cannabinoid called HU210 had on rats' brains. They found that giving rats high doses of HU210 twice a day for 10 days increased the rate of nerve cell formation, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus by about 40%.

Just like Prozac? A previous study showed that the antidepressant fluoxetine ( Prozac ) also increases new cell growth, and the results indicated that it was this cell growth that caused Prozac’s anti-anxiety effect. Zhang wondered whether this was also the case for the cannabinoid, and so he tested the rats for behavioural changes. When the rats who had received the cannabinoid were placed under stress, they showed fewer signs of anxiety and depression than rats who had not had the treatment. When neurogenesis was halted in these rats using X-rays, this effect disappeared, indicating that the new cell growth might be responsible for the behavioural changes.

In another study, Barry Jacobs, a neuroscientist at Princeton University, gave mice the natural cannabinoid found in marijuana, THC ( D9-tetrahydrocannabinol ) ). But he says he detected no neurogenesis, no matter what dose he gave or the length of time he gave it for. He will present his results at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington DC in November. Jacobs says it could be that HU210 and THC do not have the same effect on cell growth. It could also be the case that cannabinoids behave differently in different rodent species - which leaves open the question of how they behave in humans. Zhang says more research is needed before it is clear whether cannabinoids could some day be used to treat depression in humans.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

KKK Story - Part 1

In the early 90s, I spent a couple of years protesting the Ku Klux Klan. During this time my car was vandalized, I was physically assaulted, and I was threatened more than once. But I accumulated some wild and hilarious experiences along the way.

I remember how a self-proclaimed "minister of the lord" approached me at a rally in the city square of Tyler, Texas, where I was the sole Klan protester. The preacher wore a conservative business suit and tie, a button with the Aryan Cross printed on it, and the smile of a used car salesman. He looked at me with reasonable, pleading eyes and said, "Please understand our message, son. We're not saying God hates black people. We're just saying that God doesn't love black people."

Oh no, I thought, another one of those "Jeezus was a skinhead" wackos. I grinned and said, "That's an important distinction. I guess that makes you a moderate then, huh?"

The minister stopped smiling and said, "You better watch yourself, boy. Somebody's liable to grab that megaphone hangin' 'round your neck and smash it."

I turned to a police officer in a cowboy hat, who stood about four feet from us, and asked, "Did you hear him threaten me?"

The officer looked at me with steely eyes. There was a pregnant pause. Then the officer slowly shook his head and said, "I didn't hear a thing."

I knew the officer was lying to my face, and it gave me a chill. It sure felt reassuring to have dependable police protection while I was surrounded by Nazis, Skinheads, and thugs in white sheets. I turned and walked back to my car, parked three blocks away, and the officer followed me every step. As I got into my car, he tipped his hat and said, "Have a nice day."

Once I got out of there, I sure enough did. A real fine day, in fact.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Portugal Cops Encourage Marijuana at Sports Event

The Portugese police know how to keep their crowds happy and peaceful. No moronic, drunken brawls at this event. Cannabis and junk food work wonders in situations of potential violence. Attendees at this Euro soccer tournament were more interested in hot dog vendors than throwing fists because their team lost.

The U.S. media overlooked this gem of a story. Go figure...

JUNK Review - Flirty Kitty

Blogger Flirty Kitty (meow) read JUNK recently, and had this to say...

"I just finished reading JUNK by Christopher Largen, because I listened to his interview about his book on The Writing Show. Being a junk food addict myself, I totally felt the need to start stock piling my cookies, snack cakes and raw sugar while I read this book. It was wonderfully funny, and the character's conflicts were compelling. The visual imagery in this book will stick with you for a long time. I will definitely read it again."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Politics of Pizza

This is a must see. Very funny...

HUNGRY FOR SOME JUNK FOOD? TRY A SLICE OF DOUBLE CHEESE, BUT HOLD THE FASCISM. CLICK HERE FOR SPEEDY DELIVERY AND RAPID VIOLATION OF YOUR PRIVACY!

Kissing Stephen King

When I was thirteen (all the way back in 1982), I attended a science fiction convention called Archon, in St. Louis's ornate and majestic Chase Park Plaza. The guest of honor that year was Stephen King, the prose-master of all things wicked and wonderful. Even then I was a voracious reader, so I stood in awe before him.

After the main speeches and banquets, there was an informal celebration in the hotel lobby. Stephen King had set up a kissing booth to raise money for some charity whose name I can't place. My mom thought it would be a thrill, so she plopped down her bucks and pecked him on the cheek. As she turned to leave, King grabbed my mother and planted a full open mouth kiss on her lips.

King's wife Tabitha shoudn't have been worried - it was all for a good cause. But I stood there in horror. I mean, what could possibly be creepier than having the King of Terror drool on your momma?

I think the incident set me up for a belated Oedipus/Dracula complex. I've often considered suing for emotional trauma. It haunts my dreams to this day. King hovers over me, in Warholish black and white. He purses his lips, bares his fangs, and whispers, "Give us a kiss, give us a kiss!"

Jaxfest: Hunted in Florida

Two reviewers recently questioned whether the stories in JUNK were truly adapted from actual events. I suppose the idea of a war on junk food sounded so absurd to them, it was difficult for them to believe the plot had basis in reality.

The stories in JUNK are based on six years of independent academic and media archive research, and a lifetime of personal experience with drug policy. A few of those personal experiences become archived reports themselves, in fact. "Jaxfest" was among them, a nightmarish account that originally appeared in the internationally distributed magazine, Cannabis Culture, in 2004. A fictionalized version of this segment appears in JUNK. Here's the real deal. Enjoy...

Jaxfest: Hunted in Florida by Christopher Largen

I sit on a beachside bench next to my friend George McMahon, one of five US citizens granted the right to smoke federal marijuana. He uses it to provide relief from pain, spasms, and nausea. McMahon and I have just driven from Texas to Jacksonville, Florida. We've passed through plains and swamps, but we haven't left Bush country.

We're attending the Sixth Annual Jacksonville Hempfest at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach. We're scheduled to speak along with Fat Freddy, Kevin Aplin and Jodi James of the Florida Cannabis Action Network (CAN), Heath Wintz of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Doug Klippel of the Libertarian Party, Ken Hurley of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and The Reverend Roland A Duby. Organizers expect a crowd of 10,000.

Fat Freddy sits across from us. He has turned himself into the living embodiment of the famous Freak Brother cartoon. Freddy claims to take marching orders directly from God. I believe he means it.The Reverend Roland A Duby (a comedian and Libertarian sheriff candidate) sits in a booth near us. The Reverend is shiny bald. A gentle giant with a razor intellect, his huge belly is matched only by the size of his heart. He's been trucking with Freddy for months.

It feels good to be with friends. We have unique paths, but the same goal to educate and liberate. Gentle winds temper the sun, a perfect day for teaching.

A young well-dressed lady asks if I can obtain LSD. She claims she's been homeless for three weeks, but her hair, fingernails and clothes are perfectly clean. I tell her I'm traveling with a federal marijuana patient, so I can't help her. She moves on, disappointed but not deterred.

* * *

Sometimes when things go wrong you never see it coming. A bald man with earrings and a Tasmanian devil tattoo approaches Roland A Duby's booth and points at him several times. A few moments later a male and female uniformed officer approach Duby, who sits behind a table.

The female cop asks what he's holding.

Duby says it's a tobacco box.

She asks to look inside.

Duby states that he won't consent to searches without a warrant.

The male officer claims they don't need one.

The female officer threatens to arrest Duby if he won't open the tin.

Duby asks to think about it for a moment.

The male officer reaches for his cuffs.

Duby is trembling and sweating profusely as he rocks back and forth. He looks into my eyes, and I see his mind working. Then he stands up and throws his box in a nearby trash can.

All hell breaks loose.

The officers move in on Duby without stating he's under arrest. Duby backs up slowly but the cops tackle him with a chokehold. He sputters and tries to restore his airflow. He is thrown to the ground and screams, "Oh my God! You've broken my leg!"

The tattooed bald man steps forward and reaches to Duby's face, holding a device that looks like a digital camera. The device makes a hissing noise as mace is sprayed at Duby's face. Duby's glasses block the first shot, but then the cop lifts them and directly blasts his eyes with mace.

A patient named Patty who survived six stomach surgeries stands behind Duby and receives chemical burns on her arms. She doesn't cry out. Pain is already an intimate part of her life.

A young girl watches transfixed as Duby shrieks. I'm grateful my children aren't witnessing this.
Random citizens in the crowd call for help. Randy Cheatham of Florida CAN approaches the tattooed man, taps him and pleads, "What are you doing? Who are you? Leave him alone."

The man responds like a Sumo wrestler on amphetamines. He spins around and yells, "I'M A COP!"

Randy says, "I don't see a badge."

The man frantically whips out a badge from his shirt and spits in Randy's face, screaming "GET BACK! I'M A COP!"

I scoot around to find Duby grimacing, his face inflamed, covered with tears and mucous. He cries out, "I want my mommy!"

I feel like sobbing and vomiting simultaneously.

A guy behind me barks, "Move!"I snap, "I'm not moving. He's my friend!" Then I turn to see the guy is clutching a camera. Right now this man is probably one of Duby's best friends. I pull away quickly.

I squat down to ask Duby the obvious. "Are you okay?"

True to his comedic instinct, he states, "No, I'm not. My eyes are burning and snot is running down my nose."

I look directly at the bald undercover officer and yell, "He's not an animal! He's a human being!"

The female officer tilts her head, shrugs her arms, and says, "Why do you think we've activated a medical response team?"

I know why. They are activating a medical response team because a police officer sprayed chemicals on an unarmed, nonviolent performer at a permit-approved public festival, in full view of beachgoers, tourists, attorneys, politicians, journalists, artists, authors, and patients.

Scott Bledsoe, chief organizer of the Jacksonville Hemp Festival, ascends the stage and announces the arrest. Agitated patrons move toward Duby's tent. The crowd swells. Random shouts fill the hot, humid air.

I try to hold my tongue. I don't want a riot – I've seen enough violence. Traveling with George McMahon, I've learned to stay calm in desperate situations, but I can't remain silent in the face of barbarism. Like McMahon always says, one breath – one choice.

My lips tremble as I rise and shout, "This is America? Congratulations! You just made the press!"

I move through the crowd, weaving like a snake. I can't distinguish my voice from others in the throng. "Go after the terrorists! This was a peaceful event! We just went from cannabis to pepper spray? I feel safer already!"

I approach the female officer and say, "Did you know a federally-authorized marijuana patient was scheduled to speak?"

The officer's face turns white as she points at Duby and asks, "Is that him?"

I say, "Did you bother to ask him his medical status before swarming him? We've got sick and disabled citizens here today. If they smoke a hand-rolled cigarette, will you target and tackle them? What if a diabetic needs to inject insulin? Should patients be afraid to attend this festival?"

The emergency medical team pushes a stretcher to the booth, and I head for the stage. I'm supposed to speak in a few minutes, if I can pull my heavy heart together.

* * *

Fat Freddy stands poised on stage grasping a microphone. He shakes his finger and spits as he denounces the injustice. He counts down to 4:20, then lights up in disrespect of the officers who brutalized his friend and ignored his human rights.

I walk onstage and grab the mike. In spite of my shock and rage, I keep my cool.

"Aside from the pepper spray, it sure looks beautiful out there... but seriously, war is hell. Our casualty list is diverse. We are dying patients denied access to medical cannabis. We are children caught in the crossfire of mobsters and police. We are innocent citizens shot in our own homes during botched drug raids. We are police officers tortured and murdered over illegal drug profits. We are Christian missionaries shot down from the sky in 'suspected' drug planes. We are addicts who die incarcerated because our government spends more on prison than treatment. After 30 years of escalating penalties, we've lost more of our citizens (and civil liberties) than we did in Iraq. Despite this carnage, illegal drugs are readily available. When will our government implement policies that heal rather than destroying lives? We hold the answer in our voices and ballots."

I walk offstage to cheers.

A uniformed officer moves forward, looks me in the eye, nods his head, shakes my hand, and walks away without a single word. I think I just converted a cop. I can't stop grinning.

* * *

I stroll to the beach to meditate and notice two officers following 30 feet behind me. I stop walking to watch the seagulls. The cops stop and gaze at me. I turn from the sand and walk back to the festival. The officers march right behind me like baby ducks.

I'm slightly worried. I know innocence won't protect me from harassment, assault, or arrest. Do these officers just intend to track me... or set me up?

I walk around the perimeter of the festival, the officers almost stepping on my heels. I stop – they stop. I walk – they walk. I consider asking them to dance the congo. My adrenaline is rising. A few minutes later, the cops are gone. Like they were never there.

* * *

McMahon and I enter our motel room. McMahon immediately lights a joint and says, "Those officers were looking for trouble. I sat in pain for six hours. I feared smoking my legal medicine. My health is fragile. One good push could kill me – let alone a police assault. The other patients couldn't take their medicine, so I wasn't alone."

We hear a knock. McMahon opens the door. It's the "homeless" lady from the beach. I never told her where we were staying, but she found us.

She says, "You couldn't get acid, but how about some pot?"I wasn't sure before. Now I'm fairly certain this lady is a cop.

"This motel doesn't allow visitors."

She says, "I wasn't trying to get you in trouble."

I think, "Yes you were. I just wouldn't let you." I close the door and try to rest without further harassment.

* * *

McMahon and I pull over at a Florida rest stop, almost out of the woods. As we return from the restroom we notice a man step out of a sedan. We both recognize him from Jaxfest. He pulls out a camera and videotapes us driving off. Let him. McMahon lights a joint as we cross the state line, and I inhale a deep breath of sweet-scented air.


JUNK Review - The Arkansas Traveler

As an author, I've come across all types of critics. Though most reviewers are legitimate, some are charlatans who profit from reselling books they requested but never had any intention of reviewing. Some write reviews of books they have not even read. Some are intellectual elitists who feel power by writing unnecessarily harsh critiques. However, many reviewers step forward with feedback that is truly insightful, acknowledging nuances of subtext, character and metaphor.

This JUNK review excerpt is from Rebecca Perlow, contributing writer to The Arkansas Traveler...

"An inventive parody...The slant of the book is not against healthy choices, but rather the elimination of choice. Largen displays a keen awareness of the media, how it shapes culture and it's relationship with government agenda. The book could have its own soundtrack album... The excesses of authorities on both sides of the social and political fence are explored and satirized...it maintains its humorous edge...consistently entertaining."

Glad you enjoyed it, Rebecca. Thanks for your insights.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Revolution Rant

Remember that overplayed pop/country ditty?

"I'm proud to be an American, where officials chant "drug-free",
Where goose-steppin', gut-retchin' steel-toed thugs stomp all over me.
When I try to stand UP, they knock me down and torch Lady Liberty,
Cause they believe In God We Trust, and not humanity!"

I think I might be remembering the words wrong. Can you think of a verse? Do share.

Okay... Before anybody accuses me of being a "bleedin' heart lib'ral" (like the reactionary hothead a few weeks back), I'll state (yet again) that I'm not a partisan. I toe no line, other than the one my conscience provides. I don't know about you, but my conscience tells me that when your leaders claim to get their killin' orders from God, when they've declared a "culture war" against "evildoers", when power addicts (both Republican and Democrat) subvert the principles of a democratic republic to line their pockets, when violent child predators roam the streets and nonviolent marijuana users languish in prison, when police officers clamp battery wires to the testicles of your fellow citizens (true story, keep reading this blog), when officials place hurricane survivors in a massive, violent toilet called the Superdome (aka Superdumb), when when you don't know what you can do about it, sometimes it feels good to just laugh your ass off. Laughter is a much more empowering reaction to injustice than the depression, despair, and detached apathy engendered by mainstream media moguls. Don't you think?

That being said, I'm truly a sensitive, empathetic man. So if I've offended you with my First Amendment antics, I'm thrilled! Just follow orders, turn on your CORPGOV TV and jerk your gherkin in mom's famous cherry pie like it's junk food. Thank you, and have a nice day!

God bless the writers who make us laugh at ourselves, like Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Hunter S. Thompson. Or comedian Bill Hicks, who once boasted that he was "proud to be an American" because his parents happened to have sex there.

Sometimes the only way to deal with a tyrant is to resist peacefully if possible, and revolt if necessary. Some of you will undoubtedly claim I'm an extremist, but the right to rebel was basic and vital to our nation's founding. It is a fundamental (not fundamentalistic) part of our history and heritage. For the record, I abhor violence. But I also recognize that we passed the point of peace a long time ago. Too many people have already died in the streets of our nation (and others), due to misguided policies that have exacerbated and compounded the aggregate suffering of the world citizenry, and reduced our constitution to an antiquated relic.

Artists are (once again) turning to creative expression as a nonviolent means of protesting policies they feel are destructive. Many have compared Bush to Adolph Hitler (in fairness, there are both critical differences and alarming similarities between the two). I ask you, is this extreme? Or is it just the unbearable likeness of being?

Friday, October 07, 2005

U.S. Condones Legal Cocaine and Methamphetamine

Did you know that coke and meth are legal in the United States? That's right. Both are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule II Substances, which allows them to be used medically. Pharmaceutical cocaine has proven valuable as a cardiac stimulant and nasal cavity anaesthetic. Prescription meth (marketed under the brand name Desoxyn) is used to treat hyperactivity. Doctors, patients, pharmacists, and corporate drug execs (don't forget the cartellians) have access to these two substances, the rest of us will just have to "keep our gunpowder dry", as we say in Texas, to defend our homes against addicts looking for quick dough to pay the inflated mob prices.

Legislators and pundits often claim we can't allow medical marijuana because it sends the wrong message to children about recreational marijuana. "It will confuse those poor youngsters, and WE HAVE TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN!" They argue cannabis is a "gateway drug" to more dangerous substances (like cocaine and methamphetamine), and therefore cannot be used medically. Strangely enough, those legislators never use the "consistent message" plea when it comes to coke and meth.

Or perhaps it isn't strange at all. The pharmaceutical lobbyists who fund political campaigns know that meth and coke are synthetic and derivative, and can be patented. So the American "free market" allows big-pharma bribery of politicians, who will gladly enact laws turning their fellow sick and dying Americans into criminals for using cannabis, while allowing corporations to continue pushing highly-addictive and toxic chemicals down our throats.

So much for "protecting the children"...

Inquiring Minds Ask: What's Paris Really Hiding in That Purse?

Don't get me wrong. I can't relate to the diversionary bullshit obsession with Hollywood celebrity gossip, but an E-chum named Flirty Kitty called my attention to a bizarre cultural development, propogated by Paris Hilton and emulated by sassy women across the globe - the phenomenon of pup-in-purse. It got me thinking (a definite danger signal), so please bear with my crass, masculine perspective...

It occurs to me that most of the women I've met treat their purses like their vaginas. Now just hear me out. If a man should ever dare to reach out and violate the sanctity of the space inhabited by the opening (labia) of the purse (vagina) without asking first, the opening will snap shut so tightly, even Aladdin won't crack that sesame! Additionally, women are generally protective of their purses. They are particular about what goes in and what comes out of their leather sanctuaries. The purses will start out clean, then build up waste over time, until they are purged and cleansed - only to begin the cycle again.

No, I am not a misogynist. But I am a writer, adept with symbols, and I know a valid vaginal metaphor when I see one.

The dog in the purse is such a Paris Hilton thang. The implicit message is that of the classic media motif (penis in vagina), but with a deeper (no pun intended) subtext - some men (by all means, not me) transform into quivering Tinkerbell weiners, totally engulfed by vagina, when Paris struts her stuff. They become no less than Toy Chihuahuas.

Vulgar? You bet. And it's all over the airwaves. God, I love America!

Namedropping with Willie Nelson

There's some good readin' comin' outta them thar hills-a-Texas! Check out the free online book, Name-Dropping with Willie Nelson, authored by David Dogma, the illustrious hellraiser behind the seminal work, "My First Love Was A Whore". Dogma credits Hunter S. Thompson as a literary mentor. Perhaps a bit of Charles Bukowski thrown in, for good measure?

Bayer Provides Marijuana Medicine to Canadians

A joint creation of GW Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Sativex is a mouth spray for Multiple Sclerosis sufferers, who can use it to alleviate neuropathic pain and spasticity. Sativex is made by blending pure extracts of cannabis plants, in a manner not unlike blending burgundies or whiskeys. Sativex is formulated to contain two of the main active ingredients of cannabis--tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)--in a 1.08:1 ratio, but it also contains everything else that is in the aerial parts (i.e., all but the roots) of the plant. Approved by Health Canada for prescription use in April 2005, Sativex is North America's first prescription version of cannabis. Compare Marinol, a synthetic version of THC.

In other words, certain United States Government officials are lying, using junk science to propagandize the population. They would rather throw your sick and dying friends and family members in jail rather than allow American patients to use a non-synthetic product.

Mother Ignites Daughter's Rapist

I don't support this type of fiery vigilatism, in theory. That being said, I can't predict what I might do if my child had been sexually brutalized. Can this anguished mother reasonably be held accountable for her actions?

Mother sets fire to her daughter's gloating rapist
By Peter Upton in Alicante(Filed: 26/06/2005)

A Spanish mother has taken revenge on the man who raped her 13-year-old daughter at knifepoint by dousing him in petrol and setting him alight. He died of his injuries in hospital on Friday.

Antonio Cosme Velasco Soriano, 69, had been sent to jail for nine years in 1998, but was let out on a three-day pass and returned to his home town of Benejúzar, 30 miles south of Alicante, on the Costa Blanca. While there, he passed his victim's mother in the street and allegedly tauntedher about the attack. He is said to have called out "How's your daughter?", before heading into a crowded bar.

Shortly after, the woman walked into the bar, poured a bottle of petrol over Soriano and lit a match. She watched as the flames engulfed him, before walking out. The woman fled to Alicante, where she was arrested the same evening. When she appeared in court the next day in the town of Orihuela, she was cheered and clapped by a crowd, who shouted "Bravo!" and "Well done!" A judge ordered her to be held in prison and undergo psychiatric tests, provoking anger from friends and neighbours, who have set up a petition calling for her release.

Soriano suffered 60 per cent burns in the attack on June 13 and was airlifted to a specialist unit. He survived for 11 days before succumbing to his injuries. It is understood that the woman, who cannot be named because of laws safeguarding the identity of rape victims, claims to have no recollection of the attack which took place in the Bar Mary, just 300 yards from the family home.

As decorators painted over the blackened walls of his bar last week, Antonio Ferrendez Lopez told how Soriano had walked in at lunchtime."The place was packed with people eating. I was sitting at a table and Soriano was standing at the bar very close to me when the woman walked in," he said."She didn't acknowledge anyone but walked up to Soriano, who was drinking a coffee, put her hand on his shoulder and turned him round to face her. "Then she pulled the bottle she was carrying from under her arm and began to tip it over him. At first I didn't realise what was happening, but then I smelt the petrol. I jumped up and tried to grab her, but when she struck a match I got clear. The petrol was in a pool around Soriano, and she threw the match into it. It ignited with a whoosh, and he screamed and staggered about covered in flames. Aspeople rushed outside to escape the flames, she just looked at him, then turned and walked away."

Customers helped Mr Lopez put out the fire with extinguishers and doused Soriano with water until paramedics arrived. Soriano's attack on the woman's teenage daughter took place in 1998. The girl was going to buy a loaf of bread when Soriano snatched her from the street, threatened her with a knife and raped her. Her mother is said to have suffered mental illness ever since. Soriano was convicted of the rape and ordered to serve 13 years in jail. The sentence was later reduced to nine years on appeal.

The woman's lawyer, Joaquín Galant, told The Sunday Telegraph last night: "The family has suffered a double tragedy. First the attack on their daughter and now this. Both the father and his daughter would like to express their sadness at the death of Soriano." Earlier, Mr Galant said that the woman did not deserve to be kept in prison. "For seven years she has been deeply affected by what was done to her daughter," he said. "This man, fresh from prison and asking how her daughter was, might be considered to have provoked her."