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Here’s the Solitary Reason Marijuana Should Be Legalized

21 Aug

There’s been a lot in the news recently about decriminalizing the marijuana pots in the United States. The two sides of this issue seem particularly polarized: on one side, you’ve got folks clamoring that patients should have access to medical marijuana; that hemp (the boring form of marijuana) could be used to make paper and cloth while reducing our reliance on petroleum; that marijuana arrests are clogging our privately-owned prison system and forcing higher Federal subsidies to these institutions; that pot gets you high, which is a pretty nice feeling. And on the other side of the issue you’ve got people that hate fun. I mean, really, barring the conspiratorial forces that benefit financially from marijuana’s prohibition, I can’t understand why non-smokers should care. You might look down on someone that uses reefer, you might think potheads are kind of lame, but is that any reason to rail against this recreational activity? Dispense with television and smart phones if you’re so worried about citizens being vapid and unambitious, these contribute far more to people’s lameness than any gravity bong. Because the fact of the matter is that the utter nonsense my generation was force-fed under Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” programs turned out to be complete bullshit. Weed is not a gateway drug, potheads do not make effective criminals, and the worst thing to come from common marijuana use is painfully shitty music.

Medicinal reasons and the ability to purchase cheap Corona baja sweatshirts are swell reasons to legalize weed, though they don’t necessarily resonate with all people. To my mind, there is one reason that marijuana should be legalized that is shocking and compelling and should affect everyone. As detailed in the book El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency by Ioan Grillo, Mexico is currently in the grip of about three dangerous Mexican drug cartels, staffed with ex-military officers trained to combat Leftist rebels in Mexico and Central America, and the stuff they do is pretty fucked up. Really fucked up, actually. Like “beheading every male member in a town and leaving their heads in the center square as an example” fucked up. Like “kidnapping children and murdering bound people in the street with gunshots to the head” fucked up. Like “bloody public gun fights that result in a dozen or more casualties” fucked up. And the main thing that started these cartels up was shipping marijuana to America. I can’t help but smirk at the disconnect between your balding high school guidance counselor taking a bong rip while the weed he smoked left several orphans in our neighbors to the South.

And the thing that causes all of this death and bloodshed, which keeps a country in terror and causes immigrants to stream across our borders, is the U.S. policy against marijuana. We’ve helped the situation along for decades, actually, stretching back to when the U.S. military contracted with Mexico to supply opium for our war-wounded during World War II. And those ex-military drug lords that fought against the Sandinistas and Communist insurgents were actually trained by the CIA. Oh, and we gave them their guns and vehicles, too, including a substantial air force via a particularly botched-up deal with the DEA. Are you getting it now? The situation in Mexico is our fault. We caused it, and we perpetuate it by allowing these scumbags to stay in business because we don’t see fit to sell and tax weed our damn selves. This trumps every other reason, I believe, for legalizing marijuana. There will be other benefits, there will be many problems, but most of all we won’t be killing a nation and its culture because of some mixed-up policies that are at least partially-founded on misrepresentations and lies. Yes, legalizing pot in the U.S. will present new troubles, and it certainly won’t do anything to reduce America’s obesity epidemic, but at least we can say that we’re not blithely contributing to some of the most sickening atrocities in the world happening just adjacent to our own country. That shit really harshes my buzz.

White Dudes, Nobody Cares What You Think

14 Jan

Ever notice that many of the most ardent social progressives are young, single white guys? No matter what you do to get through your daily business, here’s ofay telling you that you’re doing it wrong. The food you eat is bad for you. The way you raise your children is wrong. The clothes you wear are evil because they disenfranchise some brown kids half a world away. There are alternatives, they tell us, in the form of sustainable, local wares that cost three times as much as the plastic-wrapped crap you get at K-Mart. But it’s all worth it! And you don’t have to give up anything, you can have all of your creature comfort treats and goodies. For example, you can eschew corporate ice cream for Bearded Know-It-All’s Iced Soy Milk, which tastes just as good. As piss-soaked snow.

It doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that we in the Western world live pretty shittily. Why Professor Pothead has tasked himself with educating us, I have no idea. Because normally, socially-acclimated people don’t take advice from those on the fringes of society. I mean, you beanie cap-wearing weirdos think everything mainstream is wrong, that’s why you’re on the fringe. And now you want to tell me what shoes to wear? You opted out, buddy, the day you got that peace sign tattooed on your hand and decided to pierce your eyelids. It’s not about my prejudice, it’s about you living with the decisions you make. If you wanted to change the world for the better, then maybe you could have spent your college years learning about international politics or urban planning, or perhaps you could have gone and found work in a field other than dicking around on the guitar. You think tax laws are unjust, but you’ve never earned enough to necessitate paying taxes anyway. You act like you’ve got Phillip Morris by the balls because you roll your own cigarettes–friend, they own that tobacco, too.

You want to rail against Monsanto and tell yourself that shopping at thrift stores is more sustainable than Old Navy, be my guest. But no one is really checking for the opinions of surly white folks. Yeah, you’ve got seventy bucks for plastic shoes, but what you don’t have is two kids who need new shoes every year. What you don’t have is a mortgage, gainful employment, or the need to get regular haircuts. Your biggest concern is paying off your dealer. So perhaps as the Voice of a Generation, you fall a little flat. Maybe in ten years, when white people are actually a minority in America, we’ll listen to your pleas, if you have time to issue them in between finding work and keeping the lights on in your subsidized studio apartment. Come talk to me about Sri Lankan sweat shop workers after you get turned down at your twentieth job interview because the workplace has already filled their Mr. Charlie quota.

I Knew I Should Have Started Up that Suicidal Doomsday Cult When I Had the Chance

13 Jun

Just finished reading Seductive Poison by Deborah Layton, one of the few survivors of the Jonestown Massacre in 1978. She actually defected from the group, named the People’s Temple, some months before, and was instrumental in sending Congressman Leo Ryan to investigate matters in Jonestown, Guyana. His visit triggered the events that would ultimately lead to the mass suicide of almost a thousand people at the behest of charismatic and mentally bonkers leader Reverend Jim Jones. That much I knew before reading the book, and many more irrelevant particulars besides (like Jim Jones selling pet monkeys door-to-door early in his ministering), but I had never read a first-hand account of what went down inside Jones’ jungle compound. It actually makes me realize that I haven’t read that many consequential memoirs. While I am drawn to clunky history books in general, I don’t often learn about events from the people who actually experienced them.

Anyway, it was a pretty gripping book and I recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it, even if they consider themselves experts on Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. Delving this deeply into the mindset of someone who actually a resident of Jonestown is a chilling and humbling experience. I’ve always lumped this tragedy in with other wacky cult activity, and assumed that the people involved were either very stupid or very, very stupid, and so were separated from their basic civil rights quite easily. If they weren’t being fleeced by some huckster, they’d be blowing their money on the lottery or hoarding shit from the Home Shopping Network or otherwise get tricked by any of society’s many legitimate and illegal confidence games. In a world populated mostly by Larrys and a few Moes, these are the Curlys. Fodder for P.T. Barnum in one era, for David Koresh in another.

I see how closed-minded that thinking was, and how I’ve never really given serious consideration to people that get involved with these groups. It’s not a matter of being naive or stupid, but of wanting structure and guidance. Folks ensnared within cults, within paranoid militias, within terrorist cells don’t make the transition overnight. They start by looking for answers, some kind of frame for an otherwise meaningless existence. Someone might attend a lecture where they are exhorted to face and overcome their greatest fears. They might pursue that line of thinking and attend more lectures and workshops. A year later, these people are Scientologists and they’ve cleared their bank accounts to discover that our mental anguish was caused by Darkseid and his diabolical Omega Sanction. Or something like that.

It should come as no surprise to my trillions and perhaps quadrillions of loyal readers that I was no shrinking violet in high school. Yes, the unabashed nerd over whose words you lovingly pore was flush with pals in my teen years, owing mainly to our shared drug abuse but also due partly to my winning personality. I was somewhat of a leader to various high school outcasts, a distinction I neither sought nor disabused, and because I was well-read and articulate several chums sought my counsel (my standard advice: let’s get more pot). When I left for college, I largely sloughed off these would-be friends, in part because I was tired of maintaining the aloof image that masked my lack of self-confidence, but also because I didn’t know what to do with these kids. We had a lot of ideas regarding how to expend our youthful energy and idealism, but none of them panned out because we were so stoned all the time. I wish I had started up a pothead doomsday cult with that gang of weirdos. Our mantra could have been: “We will all commit revolutionary suicide to protest bourgeois oppression…tomorrow.

Lazy Historians

24 May

A friend of mine points out that it looks like a lot of fun to be paranoid schizophrenic. Essentially, you perceive yourself as the center of the universe, someone that tremendously powerful and secretive forces want to affect. Whether they’re beaming invisible thought rays straight into your cortex or planting subversive characters behind the Dairy Queen counter, to a paranoid schizophrenic there are no limits to what the diabolical Powers That Be will inflict upon hapless citizens. I think I might have the reverse of this affliction, since I’ve never perceived myself as very important or that the things I do are worthy of scrutiny.

I can understand why a crazy person might think that his neighbor is an FBI agent planted to listen to everyone’s most private thoughts through a machine that looks suspiciously like a dishwasher: that person is crazy. In an effort to make sense of a scary world full of hallucinations and symbolism, being targeted by a grand conspiracy is a more salient reason than accepting that one is looney tunes. In fact, constructing such a conspiracy is a symptom of being bonkers. So when some fetid lunatic crawling backwards through a subway turnstile with no pants on–an event I witnessed yesterday morning–starts hollering about the Illuminati ripping off his recyclable aluminum collection, I won’t take that person to task. I have no clues as to the whereabouts of this can collection; for all I know, the Illuminati did take it.

However I am pretty fucking sick of otherwise intelligent, literate people of my peer group that believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories. Now there are reasonable conspiracy theories, many of which are not actually theories at all but immutable fact: Ronald Reagan’s administration traded guns to Iran for hostages, OPEC artificially raised the price of oil in the 1970s while falsely claiming their reserves were depleted, boxing is fixed. When powerful people meet behind closed doors, they can get up to all sorts of mischief. But these romantic ideas of diabolical conspiracies apropos of nothing carried on for generations are absolutely ludicrous. I had a neighbor try to convince me that the some Jewish family had been running the world’s finances since the fifteenth century, passing their secret pact from father to son for hundreds of years without a break. My dad still has to knock himself out every year to remind me that mom’s birthday is coming up, never mind my carrying out a sinister conspiracy on his behalf. Shit, if he told me he was part of some age old Jewish conspiracy I’d probably blab it all over town for free latkes.

Most conspiracy theories suffer from three flaws: one, they offer an incomplete view of history, depicting it all having happened according to an exact plan devised in smoke-filled rooms, not subject to forces like weather. Some theorists reply that the spooky characters who run the world can control the weather, they control everything, which is the second flaw: if the conspiracy is already fulfilled, then it’s not a theory, it’s just life. If the Freemasons decide when it rains but I still have to go to work every day, then I can only hope the Freemasons won’t take away our umbrellas. Why are they making it rain, anyway? That’s the final flaw in most conspiracy theories: they’re compelling and long-winded setups with no punchline. They often involve the most dizzyingly powerful people in the world going through tremendous and expensive ministrations to become even more powerful. What the fuck is the point? That’s like Warren Buffet fighting over a dime at the grocery store. Which he might do, incidentally, if he weren’t secretly brainwashing everyone at the behest of space aliens.

It strikes me as incredibly lazy and powerless thinking, to assume that every event is calculated above your pay grade and therefore is a fait accompli when most of us can barely keep our sock drawers in order. It’s salacious and fun to consider conspiracy theories, but when you start making broad connections across history to suit your assumptions, then you’re starting to line up with the same guy who blows erratically into a harmonica while shitting his pants near Union Square Park. And believe me, you don’t want to end up like that guy. If you thought sent a lot of junk e-mail, the Illuminati’s thought rays are relentless.

Act Like You Know

2 Mar

Americans’ right to convene and protest is one of the more interesting clauses guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. The idea seems counter intuitive to running a successful enterprise. Imagine you worked for a company which allowed insubordination and encouraged disagreements, that company would probably cease to exist in short order. And yet the United States of America is founded on the principle that protesting and free speech insures an active and cognizant populace, and for some weird reason our forefathers deemed an informed citizenry to be a dutiful one, despite all historical evidence to the contrary.

Today, we have people who consider themselves “professional activists.” I have met some of these people. It’s impossible for me to stifle a chuckle at the idea of a “professional” activist, considering they don’t earn any money protesting, but I suppose it’s their ability to think outside the box of normal, accepted definition that makes them revolutionaries and me a brainwashed plebe. In any case, a professional activist is someone who makes it their business to attend and foment protests. The protests could be about anything, really, but they will usually conform to an activist's general political bent. Meaning you'll probably see the same professional activists at an anti-war rally as you would at a gun control rally.

It makes me think of the lines from Rebel Without a Cause: “‘What are you rebelling against?’ ‘What do you got?'” The point of a protest, I believe, is that it should shake things up a little, put average people on alert and the oppressors on notice with swollen ranks of concerned citizens. A protest should not, I think, include some shirtless dude impressing teenage chicks with Devil Sticks and some girl in multicolored dreadlocks screaming inaudibly into a megaphone. The statement being made here is, “what we think doesn’t matter because we’re completely unemployable.” Professional activism has turned protesting into a commonplace thing, a meet-and-greet where people can clap each other on their tattooed backs and assert how much they’re changing the status quo, while mainstream society stays totally unaware of their existence.

There’s a game we play every four years here in America, it’s called the National Conventions. It all begins when either of our two relevant political parties announces which city they intend to hold their bacchanalian bash, where they’ll determine who will represent their platform in the campaign for President. Immediately, both the police of that city and professional activists nationwide begin to mobilize: the former to allocate more funds in order to hire more cops and buy more riot gear, and the latter plan to show up and cheese off the pigs with slogans and armpit funk. Once the event arrives, the cops allow the protesters some time to rant and rave, but when the Port-O-Potties start overflowing, police line up with their see-through shields and batons and push the crowd away. The protesters act indignant at their treatment (though many will be glad to have been arrested, making their professional status official), the police have justified their budgetary needs, everything goes on as normal. We get to do it all again at the other party’s national convention, then everyone has to wait for four years for the fun to start all over again.

And that’s the state of a lot of protesting, in my mind. A lot of self-serving, unwashed weirdos who want the whole world to know how angry they are. More of a tantrum, really. I don’t think this is what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, that people would protest anything and everything just because they could. These endless mini-protests, retarded mid-day marches by bored theater troupes and vitriol because the progressive bill passed by Congress just wasn’t progressive enough, they undermine the entire process. If you catch yourself attending more than two protest rallies per year that are about wildly different subjects, then you should probably evaluate your effectiveness. Some of that time protesting life’s unfairness could be spent, you know, working at a fucking job. I suspect that the definitions of both “fairness” and “professional” will change after such an experience.

Potheads, Please Stop Promoting Pot

10 Feb

There’s nothing in this world that will make you want to smoke weed less than a pothead. These sorry souls get embroiled in their sad world of cartoons and counterculture stickers, and the most pathetic thing of all is they think that they are interesting and their opinions are valid. Look buddy, you may be a certified genius, but the day you catch me taking esoteric advice from some dude with tribal tattoos in a tam o’shanter is the day I can finally be checked in for a lobotomy. First impressions are everything, and the only impression I get from you is “I’m completely unemployable.”

See, I do smoke weed. I enjoy it. Apparently, a lot of people do. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to base a lifestyle around it. Hardcore potheads are annoying the same way that outspoken vegans or virulent racists are: they’re so focused on this one thing that they are not very well-rounded and become boring and redundant in about sixty seconds. Wow, you like to watch Pink Floyd’s The Wall when you’re high? Surprise, EVERY-FUCKING-BODY DOES. We can share these experiences as people that are high, but to go on and on about it as if something has been achieved, well that’s pothead logic for you.

I like smoking weed, but I don’t ever want to have a conversation with you about crunchy nugs, or kind bud, or hairy strains, or any other marijuana fantasies that you masturbate furiously over. I don’t want to debate the methods of smoking pot, I don’t want to see your skull bong with a double ice chamber that you call “Hootie.” Let’s smoke weed, watch this episode of COPS, and laugh together like a couple of stoned jackasses. And the very last thing I want you to do is debate marijuana reform with me. While I’m high.

The problem with marijuana reform in this country is that the organizations seeking reform primarily have potheads at the helm. You get your pot rallies where a bunch of stoner bands take the stage and a stoned crowd cheers because the lead singer lit up right on the nightly news, dude! and everyone’s getting baked in front of police officers and they can’t do a thing about it, bro! It’s a stone groove, man. Some white dude with neatly-packed dreadlocks takes the stage and yammers about medical marijuana for ten minutes, everyone cheers and returns to their salty snacks. And the day is saved! The potheads smoked weed in a public park one day and the society can return to spurning them the other three-hundred and sixty-four days of the year as usual. A lot was done, nothing achieved. Pothead logic.

I think marijuana reformers stick to legalizing medical marijuana because it’s the softest touch. Pretty much everyone has had someone in their lives who died of a painful, terminal illness, and the thought that their pain might have been eased by toking a little reefer makes us regretful. The problem here is that medical marijuana laws have already been abused so much in California and Denver, that mainstream society views “medical marijuana” as a euphemism for “freely available weed.” It doesn’t help that the people promoting medical marijuana aren’t normally doctors, but some guy in an afro wig wearing an ironic t-shirt and Elvis sunglasses. And no, calling yourself “Doctor Feelgood” won’t help matters.

As far as I’m concerned, the reason for legalizing pot is that it isn’t really that bad. It makes you kind of lethargic and corny, but that’s a small price when you consider the murder and crime committed to keep the illegal pot trade afloat. Not to mention the money we hemorrhage trying to curb the stuff both abroad and at home. Tied to any marijuana reform should also be a stipulation for the growing of hemp, that miracle plant that could really, you know, help us out. I do think marijuana should be legalized, frankly I think it should be as available as alcohol or cigarettes. But I’m not going to listen to Shaggy from Scooby-Doo tell me about it. Put on a fucking collared shirt and talk to your political representatives and stop using pothead logic, for crying out loud.

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