Monday, December 29, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
I first heard that aphorism at a holiday party about a decade ago. It's been around longer than that and I haven't been able to determine who first said it and when.
On the face the saying makes sense. After all, what better movie for adults who still believe in Santa Claus than Miracle on 34th Street? Besides (watch out for plot spoiler) the picture's crisis is resolved when a huge federal government agency—the Post Office—comes to the rescue. And with a divorced mother rearing a child alone, Miracle features a non-traditional family, surely a plus in the eyes of liberals.
It's a Wonderful Life, on the other hand, celebrates the infinite worth of an individual human being, a worth that far exceeds even the biggest financial fortune. In Wonderful Life the hero's crisis is resolved (another plot spoiler) by the spontaneous voluntary action of family, friends, and local community; emphatically not by the government. The film also shows people in fervent prayer, not to some generic higher power but to the God of the Bible as worshipped in the Protestant and Catholic churches shown full of believers in the picture. That alone must drive some liberals nuts when the film is broadcast over the public airwaves.
But the game can be played the other way. Wonderful Life presents negative stereotypes of bankers, so much so that when it was released some Hollywood observers (but not, as is erroneously asserted on some liberal websites, the Federal Bureau of Investigations) charged that it was a vehicle for communist propaganda. The charge is easy to ridicule today, but in the 1940s communist infiltration of the motion picture industry was a real and serious threat to American values. Now look at the favorable treatment—not to mention free advertising—that Miracle gives to two large department stores! Main Street Republicans surely must find that refreshing compared to the negative views of business that Hollywood gives us today.
The lesson? It's just a movie! Enjoy them both, or whichever ones you choose to watch this holiday season. Santa's list does not include your political affiliation, but he does have a lump of coal for those who would strip our public life of all sense of Wonder at the Love of God and thankfulness for all Miracles big and small.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
A newspaper film critic is like a canary in a coal mine. When one croaks, get the hell out. The lengthening toll of former film critics acts as a poster child for the self-destruction of American newspapers, which once hoped to be more like the New York Times and now yearn to become more like the National Enquirer. We used to be the town crier. Now we are the neighborhood gossip.
The crowning blow came this week when the once-magisterial Associated Press imposed a 500-word limit on all of its entertainment writers. The 500-word limit applies to reviews, interviews, news stories, trend pieces and "thinkers." Oh, it can be done. But with "Synecdoche, New York?"
Demise of the ink-stained wretch
Worse, the AP wants its writers on the entertainment beat to focus more on the kind of brief celebrity items its clients apparently hunger for. The AP, long considered obligatory to the task of running a North American newspaper, has been hit with some cancellations lately, and no doubt has been informed what its customers want: Affairs, divorces, addiction, disease, success, failure, death watches, tirades, arrests, hissy fits, scandals, who has been "seen with" somebody, who has been "spotted with" somebody, and "top ten" lists of the above. (Celebs "seen with" desire to be seen, celebs "spotted with" do not desire to be seen.)
The CelebCult virus is eating our culture alive, and newspapers voluntarily expose themselves to it. It teaches shabby values to young people, festers unwholesome curiosity, violates privacy, and is indifferent to meaningful achievement. One of the TV celeb shows has announced it will cover the Obama family as "a Hollywood story." I want to smash something against a wall.
In "Toots," a new documentary about the legendary Manhattan saloon keeper Toots Shor, there is a shot so startling I had to reverse the DVD to see it again. After dinner, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe leave the restaurant, give their ticket to a valet, wait on the curb until their car arrives, tip the valet and then Joe opens the car door for Marilyn, walks around, gets in, and drives them away. This was in the 1950s. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have not been able to do that once in their adult lifetimes. Celebrities do not use limousines because of vanity. They use them as a protection against cannibalism.
As the CelebCult triumphs, major newspapers have been firing experienced film critics. They want to devote less of their space to considered prose, and more to ignorant gawking. What they require doesn't need to be paid for out of their payrolls. Why does the biggest story about "Twilight" involve its fans? Do we need interviews with 16-year-old girls about Robert Pattinson? When was the last time they read a paper? Isn't the movie obviously about sexual abstinence and the teen fascination with doomy Goth death-flirtation?
The age of film critics has come and gone. While the big papers on the coasts always had them (Bosley Crowther at the New York Times, Charles Champlin at the Los Angeles Times), many other major dailies had rotating bylines anybody might be writing under ("Kate Cameron" at the New York Daily News, "Mae Tinay" at the Chicago Tribune--get it?). Judith Crist changed everything at the New York Herald-Tribune when she panned "Cleopatra" (1963) and was banned from 20th Century-Fox screenings. There was a big fuss, and suddenly every paper hungered for a "real" movie critic. The Film Generation was upon us.
Monday, November 24, 2008
It's a sign of the times. Since the election of Barack Obama, if you see Wall-E for the first time and it compels you to go online with Limewire to listen to other songs from Hello Dolly, you will find that twice as many people in the file-sharing Gnutella network have posted a free copy of Hello Dolly by Louis Armstrong and Barbara Streisand as they have posted Hello Dolly by Barbra Streisand and Louis Armstrong.
Friday, October 31, 2008
I steal a car. I stop in a burger joint, kill the owner, screw his wife on the counter, then stuff her head into the deep fryer. Some customers arrive and I take their orders. Then they take mine. I force them into the meat locker and blast them all with a shotgun.
I steal their car and cruise Sunset Boulevard looking for hitchhikers. Two teenage punks in front of the Whiskey. They think they’ve just seen Fear but I’m going to show them the real thing. I lower the window and offer them cocaine. They stick their head in the car. Bad move. I raise the electric window and both their heads fall on the seat.
Hmmm, I wonder who’s at the Roxy? I go to the Rainbow Bar with a severed head in each hand. No one notices. It’s Halloween. I order Bloody Marys for all. I roll a severed head onto the dance floor and knock over all but one dancer. Him, I knock out with a drink. A spare. Not bad. I pour rum over the other head and set it on fire. The Rainbow burns to the ground. No one notices.
I get back in my car and drive through Beverly Hills. I run over a sushi chef, a gorilla in a diver’s helmet, and three Iranians before arriving at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. I go to the coffee shop and buy a paper. The headline reads, "The President’s Brain is Missing!" It was stolen six month ago by terrorists, but till now no one noticed. A massive search is on, as the President would like to do some thinking tonight. Shelly Winters is sought for questioning.
I throw the paper away and go to the men’s room. I wash my face. I turn around. A beautiful naked woman is walking towards me. We kiss. Her flesh melts from her bones. Her grisly skeleton chases me as the room fills with the smell of decay. The front door is locked. I pound and pound trying to get out but it’s no use. I fall to the floor sobbing. I can hear the soggy footsteps getting closer and closer. Seconds pass. A minute. Five minutes. I’m safe. I get up, the door opens easily, and I’m about to step outside when a bony hand grabs my shoulder and pulls me back in.
I wheel around. It’s Stanley Kubrick. He tells me he loved my screenplay. He wants to direct it. He shakes my hand and leaves, but not before mentioning that he also loved my review of Body Heat. I didn’t review Body Heat. I realize he thinks I’m Michael Ventura.
I decide to kill Michael Ventura. I look up his name in the city directory but they don’t list people named after counties. I go to a store. I buy a gun. I blow out the brains of the guy who sells me the gun. Serves him right.
The police arrest me and I go to the pen where I’m buggered and beaten. I escape in a rubber raft. I’m swept out to sea in a storm. I pass out.
I awaken on the shore of a tropical island. Something bites my leg. It’s a toy poodle. Here come hundreds of them. They all get sucked under the sand by some hideous hidden beast. I’d better get out of here.
A string ladder drops from the sky. I climb aboard and get quickly carried aloft. I look up. A helicopter full of soldiers and machine guns. I look down. We’re strafing Polynesian huts full of hula girls and tourists. I’ve got to find out who’s in charge here. I climb the ladder. Darth Vader leans out and cuts off my hand. I plummet towards the ground.
I discover I can fly. I go to New York. I meet a girl. I fall in love. We have a deformed baby that looks like a turkey torso with eyes. After six months of trying to raise it as my own, I throw it in the oven one night. My wife tries to kill me. I chase her down the hallway. I throw her out a window. No one notices.
I walk to the bookshelf and remove Franny and Zooey. I take it with me to a special benefit concert for dead rock stars. In memory of Jim Morrison, they change the name of Fire Island to Light My Fire Island. There’s a riot as the Who forget the words to "Moon Over Miami"; 27 teenagers are trampled to death.
I steal one of the bodies, dress it in my mother’s clothes, prop it up at my dining room table, and force feed it chicken soup till it comes back to life. It can only speak in old Jackie Mason routines. It goes to the Improv and gets discovered by a TV exec who gives it its own show. I’m the only one who knows that the star of a major sitcom is actually a dead teenage girl. I try to blackmail the network. They laugh at me. They tell me they’ve been using nothing but dead teenage girls for years.
I decide that if they can get away with anything, so can I. I walk down the street strangling people. They arrest me. A judge sentences me to produce a TV special about how bad it is to strangle people. I go back to Hollywood and stab a few backs. No one notices.
I put on a mask so no one knows it’s me. I kill baby-sitters. I’ve killed Jamie Lee Curtis 37 times but she keeps coming back for more. Once, I took off all her clothes, hung her from the ceiling, and attacked her with a blowtorch. I recorded her screams for later. I’ve stabbed her in the shoulder in the shower and in the trachea in a train. I save the blood and roll around in it.
I build giant monuments to my most grisly actions. I starve babies. Pluck them from the womb and scatter them about the room. No wire hangers, ever!
I leave a bowl of apples full of razor blades by my front door for trick or treaters. I put on a new mask and drive around suburbia with a chainsaw. I cautiously follow a group of children dressed as characters from Broadway musicals. I throw one into the bushes and try to rape her with the Uncola when the hills come alive with the sound of an earthquake. Los Angeles falls apart. Mulholland and Fountain now intersect. Everyone thinks it’s my fault, not San Andreas. A crowd of tourists beats me to death. No one notices.
A runaway truck full of plate glass strikes a fire hydrant. One sheet flies off the back and becomes a stained glass window as it slices through my neck. A famous French chef picks up my head and takes it to Wolfgang Puck who cracks it open and serves it to Shelly Winters with a melon scoop.
I wake with a scream and find watermelon pits all over the bed. A beautiful nurse enters the room and tries to feed me hospital food, but I have a strange desire for kibble. She tells me I’ve been unconscious for months recovering from a poodle bite. I look out the window and notice the full moon. Little pink ribbons suddenly appear in my hair. With a horrible, bone-rattling crunch, my face transforms itself into a snout. I turn into a giant toy poodle. I terrorize the town. The National Guard arrives but they can’t fire their weapons on me because I’m so darn cute.
I duck down a dark street and up a deserted alley. I join a gang of other poodles. We attack winos. I awaken naked in a zoo. My boss finds out and fires me but I don’t care because I know what I am. I am the longest goddam tracking shot in the history of cinema.
I’m staring into the house through the living room window waiting for your parents to leave you alone. I enter through the back door, grab a knife from the kitchen, and follow you upstairs. I put on another mask. I stab you repeatedly till the walls are a Jackson Pollack of your blood. I walk outside still carrying the knife. I hear sirens. I scream.
I wake up and look around. I’m relieved to find that I’m still sitting in a theater watching the movie. Everyone around me is screaming too, so no one notices mine. I look back at the screen. I’m standing on someone’s front lawn and laughing hysterically. I stare down at my hand. There’s still fresh blood dripping from the knife in it.
What a funny movie. Soon they’ll cut to another shot and everyone will get to see what the killer looks like. I’d really like to know. This Point of View shit is driving me crazy. Why is the director lingering so long on this dopey shot of me standing here looking at this knife in my hand? I hear police sirens. Good, maybe they can sort this out. There they are now.
Hey, guys, over here. What are you doing? This is just a movie, isn’t it? I was just watching. I scream but I don’t wake up. Nothing goes away.
No, of course I don’t know what the killer looked like. It was all a POV shot. What do you mean I’ve got to come with you? Don’t you understand? I had nothing to do with it. Where are they taking me? Why doesn’t the director cut to another shot?
The audience gets up to leave. My seat is vacant. No one notices.
What? You thought I made all this up? In order of appearance:
The Postman Always Rings Twice, My Bloody Valentine, The 6:00 News, Maniac, Motel Hell, Plan 9 from Outer Space, Heavy Metal, The Fan, Prom Night, The Jerk, Taxi Driver, Escape from Alcatraz, Blue Lagoon, Blood Beach, Apocalypse Now, The Empire Strikes Back, Superman, Endless Love, Eraserhead, Happy Birthday to Me, New Year’s Evil, The 10:00 News, Don’t Go In the House, Nice Dreams, Get High on Yourself, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Final Exam, Zombie, He Knows You’re Alone, When the Screaming Stops, Blow Out, Psycho, Terror Train, Halloween II, Friday the 13th, Mommy Dearest, Earthquake, Scanners, The Omen, Night of the Living Dead, An American Werewolf in London, Altered States, Halloween.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The World Premiere of the Stage Version of Tom Robbins' Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
By Michael Dare
The new Seattle production of Even Cowgirls Gets the Blues hits the same cosmic gong of enlightenment the book did, making you laugh and think in equal proportions. It's out of the ballpark, never less than outrageously entertaining while remaining extremely faithful to the anarchic spirit of the original book. This was especially true of the world premiere at the Seattle Center, right there under the Space Needle, next to the 60's amusement park that stands as an everlasting tribute to amusement technology gone by. The attendance of Tom Robbins, inserted into the play - very much as he inserted himself into his novel - brought the whole thing into startling 4D perspective.
The Book-It Repertory Theatre Company accepted an incredibly specific and arduous task when they decided to translate the counterculture lunacy of Robbins' 1976 novel to the stage. He once described his novels as pomegranates, you don't wolf them down like an apple, you savor each morsel, each sentence, the kernels are too strong to take all at once. A Robbins novel deliberately slows you down as he takes unimaginable tangents from whatever you thought the plot was. As soon as the first amoeba dripped down the reader's leg, it either pissed them off or astonished them. Who knew there were so many rules of writing yet to be broken. Robbins took you places no novel had gone before, places impossible for any other medium to follow.
Surely you remember Chapter 100 of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, in which the author simply offers an imaginary toast between you and he, two glasses of champagne, in simple celebration of the fact that together, you've made it all the way to the 100th chapter of this absurd book, in which the fact that it is a novel is merely an excuse to celebrate the written word in all its manifestations, as though Chapter 100 had been waiting in the wings for every novelist to discover but none had the audacity to come right out and allow it to happen, for the novel itself to be self-aware and proud as hell of having made it all the way to triple digits in the chapter department.
Tom Robbins makes you aware of the act of reading while you're reading in order to promote the entire idea of self awareness, to give higher and higher perspectives upon relative absurdities of plot. He never takes anything more seriously than his desire to enlighten, like Penn and Teller, two other magicians who deliberately undermine their own magic tricks just to increase your perspective on reality. If you're reading a Tom Robbins book and someone interrupts asking what the book is about, your answer would be completely different chapter to chapter, page to page, paragraph to paragraph, even sentence to sentence. Cowgirls was completely original and hilarious, always playing tricks on you, never letting you be satisfied by simply sitting back and watching the plot go by, as if the plot itself were an afterthought, something to be gotten back to after tripping out about the nature of the moon.
It took a while for Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to reach the same stylistic conclusions Tom Robbins embraced from the get-go. Vonnegut's early novels were straight-forward sci-fi, and it wasn't until Slaughterhouse Five and the incredible Breakfast of Champions (another cinematic tragedy worthy of the Book-It treatment) that he broke down the fourth wall with the same fervor Germans used to pull down the one in Berlin. Other than Stephen King inserting himself into The Dark Tower, it's a technique few novelists have dared to gamble with, and for good reason. Readers of novels don't really want to be reminded they're reading a book, any more than watchers of movies want to be reminded they're watching a movie. They want to get so involved they forget where they are.
That can't happen with a play. You can't be so involved in a theatrical production you forget you're sitting in a theater watching actors and sets and costumes that are live right in front of you, so this production takes that foregone conclusion and runs with it, constantly talking directly to the audience, letting us know they know we're here, acknowledging right up front that the whole production is for us. The novel does the same thing with words, so Cowgirls turns out to be the perfect book to exploit this theatrical technique to its fullest.
Even so, there are parts of the book that can't possibly be translated into any other medium, amazing literary tricks that can only be appreciated through the written word.
There's a character in the book named the Countess, and you, the reader, presume the Countess to be a woman until suddenly and mysteriously, halfway through the book, the author drops the word "he" in reference to the Countess and the reader goes "huh?" and rereads the entire book again up to that point, realizing a magic trick has just been pulled, that the author cleverly never used the pronouns "he" or "she" in reference to the Countess, that the author was counting on you to assume it was a woman, to force you to face your own sexual prejudices by springing upon you the sad fact that the whole movie you had going on in your head concerning the Countess and their relationship with Sissy Hankshaw was dependent upon the author using the word "their" instead of "his" in endless sentences such as this.
There's really no way to put that in a play or movie. As soon as the character of the Countess is introduced, you're pretty much going to know he's a "he," but in the book that wasn't so.
It's a subject I know way too much about, so as you can guess, I was prepared to hate this version of Cowgirls even more than I detested the film version by Gus Van Sant. Somewhere in the effort to translate Cowgirls to the silver screen, someone decided this heterosexual paean to female sexuality needed a gay director, mysteriously deciding upon the brilliant but utterly humorless Gus Van Sant. You can take all the laughs in every Van Sant Film, fit them in a flea's navel, and still have room for a hard cover copy of Infinite Jest. Van Sant systematically stripped the book of everything whimsical in a misguided attempt to give the whole thing an impossible sense of realism, forgetting there isn't one realistic moment in any of Robbins' magical books.
But this production pulls the rabbit out of the hat, finding just the right quirks of theatricality to match the quirks of the book. If you don't like this production of Cowgirls, chances are it's because you don't like the book in the first place, it's that faithful a reproduction.
As far as I'm concerned, as soon as Cowgirls is an over the top comedy, a flat out farce, everything fits in place. This production, superbly adapted by Jennifer Sue Johnson and directed by Russ Banham, combines a variety of theatrical techniques, including vaudeville, commedia dell'arte, and most importantly, Paul Sill's Story Theater, which allows them to simply read the book to the audience while acting it out.
It's so simple, it's become commonplace, you've seen it a million times, the theatrical device whereby each character narrates their own story and the stories of others on stage, while simultaneously becoming the people they're talking about, going in and out of character at the drop of a hat, much like a Greek Chorus in which each chorus member gets to play the lead once in a while. No one had done it before Paul Sill's Story Theater, which told tales from the Brothers Grimm. It was simply the most economical means of storytelling the stage had ever seen, appearing first at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in 1971, moving from there to Broadway, where it was just as big a theatrical revelation as Tom's books were literary revelations years later. Ovid's Metamorphosis followed, proving the technique would work with just about anything, even in 1980 in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby where they did the whole book, every character, every chapter, every sub-plot, every nuance, over six hours, seen on two different nights, in Story Theater fashion, just reading the book to you while acting it out.
Following in this classic tradition, this production of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues sets the record straight, letting the story go its goofy and ridiculous way with a style in between commedia dell'arte and cosmic circus, letting us know the universe is a funny place where serious things happen, or a serious place where funny things happen, a quirky point of view with every nuance perfected. Story theater lets them incorporate everything from standard Greek chorus to vaudeville, whatever the story calls for, a comedy with plenty of time to get seriously philosophical in between the yocks. This is just the right way to do Tom Robbins for the stage, and everyone involved should be proud as hell.
What's it about? The nutshell? When you try to boil it all down, you're left with FBI agents, whooping cranes, big thumbs, and the first amoeba, not to mention the nature of time and space and everything in between, but mainly Sissy Hankshaw. She's the spokes-model for a feminine hygiene deodorant spray with phallic thumbs who gets involved with a bunch of cowgirls fighting for the rights of whooping cranes, who teach her that the scent of a woman is nothing to be embarrassed about, indeed, it's one of their finest points, which they have no problem sharing with the world, leading to an incredibly funny nude scene in which all the cowgirls chase off the Countess in horror at the sight of their unscented bushiness.
Two narrators play guitar and violin, the perfect accompaniment, Barbara Lamb and Jo Miller, like Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye in Cat Ballou, telling the story through song, underscoring all the ridiculous events that ensue.
Kate Czajkowski plays Sissy goofy and innocent, not an obvious choice, but the right one, keeping the laughs coming as her big thumbs set her life on the road. The set is an old truckstop, the type hitchhikers get stuck at, with hubcaps and license plates covering the walls, and an ice machine that doubles as a cave for The Chink, played to lunatic perfection by Wesley Rice as a variation on Dr. Pangloss from Candide, a looney philosopher horndog who can't keep his hands off the cowgirls, and who can blame him.
Ellen Barkin would make quite a cowgirl, and so does Hilary Pickles as Bonanza Jellybean, a wacked-out R. Crumb caricature of a character, the cutest button of a cowgirl at the Rubber Rose ranch who plants a smack on Sissy's mouth that changes her life.
The rest of the cast is just right, Brian Thompson a hilarious Countess, and every cowgirl a potential Lucille Ball, and that might seem a strange way to go with it but no, comediennes is precisely what this story needed. They're not really "lesbians," a word that doesn't show up till halfway through, and not in a nice way. Sissy ain't no lesbian, she just can't turn down sex from both the Chink and Bonanza Jellybean, regardless of their stereotypes, they both get her off.
The premiere provided the actual presence of Tom Robbins, who hadn't read the book himself in 33 years, which made it all the more entertaining for him, constantly reminding him of lines he'd forgotten he'd written. Tom appears as a character in the book Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, so seeing him sitting down the row from you when one of the characters says "Hey, who wrote this book?", a moment in which he appeared in the play as himself, very much as he appeared in the book as himself, was a genius moment just for that audience, right then, gone forever, unrepeatable, and I wish you could have been there, but don't let that stop you from seeing it without that moment. If you can see it, see it. If you can't see it, read it.
This production doesn't make the big mistake of the film, turning Robbins' hilarious fantasy lesbians on the range into serious politically correct spokesdykes for the righteous homosexual cause. These cowgirls are all perfectly ludicrous, individual characters that add up to a comic book whole, and a Zapp Comic at that. The play has a lusty and zestful fixation on the female crotch, which could be one reason the book is such a classic, the clearly visceral response the author has towards the commercial exploitation of feminine hygiene, which was just getting started at the end of the '70s, when the airwaves were mysteriously full of ads for different spray products for women, as ubiquitous and strange as the current spate of ads for boner pills for men. Cowgirls is as far away from the guilt ridden gay cowboy angst of Brokeback Mountain as humanly possible, putting the gay back in the word gay, leaving out none of the feminist rhetoric, but coming from these ridiculous characters, right out of a Coen brothers or Tim Burton film, in which TONE is everything.
The Book-It Repertory Theatre is a non-profit organization dedicated to "transforming great literature into great theatre through simple and sensitive production and inspiring its audiences to read." It's been going on for a miraculous 19 years I'm sorry I missed. If they were all as good as this, they're one of the most important theatrical companies in the country, translating hundreds of pieces of untranslatable material through the sieve of the perfect theatrical device for translating just about anything. They've got it down, completely perfected, I can't imagine a book I wouldn't want to see their production of.
Of course I could be wrong. This is the only production I've ever seen from the Book-It Repertory Company. Maybe they do EVERYTHING like this, appropriate or not, and I just happened to catch the one where it fit, in which case their upcoming Moby Dick is going to be very interesting.
"A sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised."
- Tom Robbins: Jitterbug Perfume -
Tom Robbins' EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES
Playing September 16-October 12, 2008 at the Center House Theatre
Book-It Repertory Theatre
206-216-0877, ext. 100
Saturday, September 6, 2008
- Robert Anton Wilson -
Like it or not, the scientific results are in. Hemp is the most useful plant on the planet earth, providing clothing, shelter, food, soap, and medicine of unparalleled quality and safety. The argument isn't that it should be treated like any other addiction. The argument isn't that it's harmless. The argument is that it's good for you in absolutely every possible way. You should be wearing it, building things out of it, washing in it, using it for fuel, eating it and smoking it - exploiting its every potential - and anyone who says otherwise is either totally deluded, a gullible idiot, or corrupt and on the take from the billion dollar a year drug war industry.
The Hempfest is not designed to be experienced from one vantage point. Myrtle Edwards park is long and thin, occupying a prime piece of waterfront north of the piers and downtown, blocks from the Seattle Center, with spectacular views of the Puget Sound, the Space Needle, Mount Rainier, Bainbridge Island, West Seattle, and the glorious Olympic Mountain Range. Anyone bored with the fest can easily find entertainment just sitting on a rock by the water and listening to the music while watching international cargo ships pass by with the yachts and paragliders. Turn the other way and the fest becomes something different, a vast parade of humanity.
Freak out as you discover the other people at the Hempfest aren't just rejects from the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers but normal citizens out for a stroll through the park who just happen to need a new bong. If these are the zombies pot is supposed to turn us into, they're remarkable lively, a vast array of characters from every walk of life, many of whom know each other, who've been doing this for years, the core committee, a family reunion of free thinkers and smokers. Since DNA proves we're all related, we're all invited to the annual reunion.
Nobody knows how many people attend, and here's one of those journalistic moments where you have to weigh your core beliefs against one another, where it's possible to hurt the very cause you believe in by giving away too much. Next year's permits could be withheld for any number of reasons, including the blathering of an idiot journalist who puts things in just the wrong light to the wrong people.
- Viv -
"We are the first responders," said David Frankel of votehemp.com at the Hemposium.
"When we find something is harmful to the planet, we stop using it. When we find something is beneficial, we use it. Hempsters deserve respect. Farmers have had enough. There's a car with hemp fiber in the door panels that's as strong as steel. And Americans can't grow it?"
Apparently Sen. Leahy can change one single line in a current bill that will let the DEA give permission to farmers to grow it, even though there's nothing in any existing bill that specifically forbids them from doing so immediately. One might ask why the Drug Enforcement Agency is involved in any way in the struggle of farmers to grow material for car door panels.
"I'm a travel writer," he continued. "High is a place and I want to go there. Don't hide it. Be proud of it. Politicians have got to know it's not political suicide to oppose the drug war. They're blowing billions of dollars to put 80,000 Americans in jail. Real people. The laws are causing more problems than the drug itself. One person in jail for marijuana is one too many."
- Bob Dylan: Theme Time Radio Hour #47 -
- Jack Herer -