Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Perfectly Blunt

Frankly, I hate potheads.

I don't detest all of them every moment of their waking--or just as often, napping--lives, only when they're under the influence. Except the advocates. The proponents. Those who proselytize. I hate them all the time! And it isn't because I think legalization of marijuana is the worst idea ever; like everything else, the notion has pros and cons. I just despise the self-congratulatory attitude exuded by many Cannabis Connoiseurs, the Hemphuggers, the Blunt Runts, that sort of "Dude-you-just-don't-know-the-insights-and-creative-impulses-spurred-by-my-weedburning" aura , that a person would have to be out of his or her mind not to indulge in the habit.

Some memebers of the legalize-marijuana crowd like to portray themselves as crusaders for justice; they're just fighting for what they believe in, like Mohandas Ghandi or Martin Luther King. To steal a word from their lexicon, whatever! Ghandi couldn't have been a user because he would have wanted some Doritos during a hunger strike and I don't remember any footage of Dr. King saying to Abernathy, "Can I get a hit off that, Ralph?" In any event, King and Ghandi and other real leaders not only spoke out against injustice, but they deliberately broke laws they considered unfair. And--take note here--they didn't violate said statutes in their basements or in dark alleys, they did it in full view of the public and the authorities. If you think marijuana laws are such a threat to our liberty, why don't you go smoke outside the police station or in front of the Statehouse?

Mary Janers toss out all sorts of arguments ranging from specious to irrelevant in order to advance their incoherent cause. A list of these familiar refrains follows:

1. No one ever died from marijuana.

Nice try, Weedneeds, but why don't you ask Bob Marley about that? Or is it normal for a person to die from lung cancer at age 36? Maybe it wasn't the marijuana that killed him; maybe he just checked out because he wanted to get away from those who thought it must have been the ganja that made his music so good, when in fact it was just because he was something most potheads aren't and can never be: a genius.

2. It's no worse than alcohol or tobacco and those are both legal.

They're right, as far as it goes, but who cares? I'll concede liquor and cigarettes damage society to nearly incalculable degrees, but using this as a basis for legal marijuana is fatuous; it's like saying since we've already elected Bill Clinton and George W. Bush president in the past, why not give Carrot Top a shot at it? He couldn't be any worse, right? The reason we have legal drinking and smoking are varied and politically complex, but the marijuana proponents contend, in essence, if one type of destructive behavior is permitted by law, all other forms of it should also be endorsed.

3. It's not even addictive.

Don't make me laugh while you're making yourself giggle. Like the previous argument, there is a certain limited accuracy to this claim; marijuana does not place the same physiological stranglehold on users that alcohol or narcotics manage. But overall, it's a weak statement. Of course it's addictive. Do you think people would spend millions per year on an illegal substance if it weren't addictive? If it's not addictive, why don't you stop smoking it? Just grow it and don't use at all. Take your stand: "Marijuana should be legal and it's not addictive. I don't smoke it, I just grow it as civil disobedience." Any takers here? I'm not holding my breath (unless you're burning another joint, that is).

The question of medical marijuana is similarly messy. On general principles, I don't object to it. When I hear Montel Williams on the radio singing its praises, I guess I believe him. It's hard to tell a guy with Multiple Sclerosis not to light up if it eases his pain. One thing I've never understood is why medical patients have to smoke the stuff. Why screw up their lungs along with everything else? Why can't they just take marijuana pills? Maybe there's a valid reason for this, but I don't know what it is.

I guess, in fairness, there's a lot I don't know. But I do know I risk alienating a large segment of my potential audience by writing this. After all, outside of my own friends and family, who is most likely to read this Blog? Right! Potheads! What else do they have to do?

I also readily admit that some of the jail sentences imposed on marijuana users are completely disproportionate. But you Hempwimps are partly to blame for this by making yourselves so easy to catch! It isn't like the police have to wonder if you're, say, at work when it's time to arrest you. The choices are a) your mother's basement or attic or b) the 7-11.

In summary, Blunt Runts, here's my plea: Smoke tree if it gives you glee, but stop playing martyr. It's getting tiresome.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Dr. King, Lincoln and Springtime Dreams

Have you ever had an idea that seemed practical, sensible and intelligent in nearly every way, but it had one flaw and that one flaw could not be reconciled? I have and I'm going to tell you about it. You may not think it's worth your time, but if time is so important, why are you reading an Internet blog? The flaw of the idea is its utter insensitivity. I choose to reveal the flaw first so no one says "Does he know how insensitive that is?" Yes, I do!

Anyway, it goes like this: why can't we observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the Abraham Lincoln holiday on the days they left us rather than their dates of birth. In Dr. King's case, the date was April 4th and Lincoln's assasination occurred on April 14th, although he didn't die until the following day.

Need I remind you that King's birth occurred on January 15th, which is most often a cold and gloomy day even in the more temperate portions of the country. And February 12th, Lincoln's birthday, rarely represents much of an improvement. Imagine instead having holidays on April 4th and 14th; there are no paid holidays in April as it stands now, and this would give us two, the second immediately before taxes are due. Perhaps it doesn't seem terribly relevant, since only bank tellers and government employees seem to get President's Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day off anyway. But there is untapped potential here.

Before you accuse me of blasphemy, think about it along these lines. First, both of these holidays are artificially structured to occur on a Monday. We don't observe Dr. King's birth on January 15th, but on the third Monday of January, anywhere from the 15th to the 21st (by the way, I realize George Washington's February 22nd birthday has been fused with Lincoln's to create
President's Day but I'm leaving him out of the argument). As long as it's imprecise to start with, why not give ourselves a better shot at fair weather?

Among many others, one problem is the still living and quite relevant King family. It might not seem quite right in Coretta Scott King's eyes to have to officially honor her husband on the miserable day he was murdered in 1968, rather than the day of his birth, which is likely to create fonder memories. I would include the Lincoln family as well, except that assasination lies much deeper in the past and, in addition, who and where are Lincoln's surviving descendants? We never seem to hear about them.

While commemorating the anniversary of death rather than birth might appear crass and unusual, it is not unprecedented. There are two quite popular examples of it; the first and most obvious is Jesus Christ, whose birth, crucifixion and resurrection are all observed in some manner (incidentally, varying texts report Jesus' birth in several different months, one of which--and I hope this means something--is April). The second is John Lennon. Not much mention is made of Lennon on October 9th, the day in 1940 when he was born. But on December 8th, radio stations play his songs endlessly and ceremonies take place in Central Park near the Dakota Hotel, where Lennon was murdered.

So maybe the insensitivity makes more sense than our senses initially admit. And think about this: Lennon, while one of the world's best songwriters and a well-intentioned, if irascible, human being, was no Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln. Lennon died needlessly, but he wasn't killed because his impact on society was so profound it produced outrage among his political enemies. He was killed, in essence, by a fan who also happened to be a crackpot. But perhaps honoring the day King and Lincoln were killed might remind us: they died! They died because they changed the world. Lincoln died, in large part, because he freed slaves; King died, in large part, because he helped guide the descendants of those slaves down a path toward true racial equality.

Give it a good pondering. April 4th and 14th might be nicer, brighter, freer days than January 15th and February 12th. In more ways than one.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Dan Aykroyd Was Wrong (and Other Anecdotal Nonsense)

At a filling station in Terre Haute, Indiana recently, I observed an employee using a pair of mini-binoculars to make out the license plate number of a vehicle; she promptly wrote down the information on a notepad. I wondered what it meant. Most likely, it was a measure designed to catch gasoline thieves, the "pump and run" types. But had she decided to do this on her own accord or was it behavior the company encouraged? It doesn't seem entirely right to ask a store clerk to act as a security guard as well, at least not without paying her more. Plus, I was curious if she had attempted to take down my license number as well. But I parked with the plate facing the street; she would have needed a periscope! (ha ha, nosy suckas!)

I'm curious if this practice is unique to Terre Haute (town motto: "The Muncie of West Central Indiana") or if it goes on everywhere; I'm guessing the latter. But I'll be watching the clerks next time I go to, say, Muncie (town motto: "Don't Even Think About Calling Us the Terre Haute of East Central Indiana"). Perhaps this problem could be allayed by roving security guards in the lots of filling stations, at least during peak hours. If pump and runs are costing retailers as much as they claim, it would probably be worth the trouble and it beats turning cashiers into cops.

If you thought the name Barack Obama might sound strange when describing the President of the United States, what about one of the latest Presidential hopefuls, Mitt Romney? Does anyone named after a baseball glove have a realistic chance of leading the nation? If he selects Basketball Jones as his running mate, I'm moving to Namibia! Senator Bill Frist has joined the fray, too. His surname sounds like an obscure culinary verb. "Did you frist all them wafers, Bill?"

And Another Thing...
What's the deal with these billboards from God? They say things like "All I know is... everything" and "Keep taking my name in vain and I'll make rush hour longer". And then they're signed by "God." How am I supposed to interpret these? Do the producers of these messages intend for readers to find a grain of humor along with a bit more sober pondering of religion? Or am I really supposed to believe God has the mentality of a six year old child and would force me to wait in traffic longer if I said something he didn't like? Seems a bit presumptuous to sign a billboard "God". Mind you, it's not that I can't take a joke; I just don't know if I'm supposed to be taking one or not. It's hard to imagine the intent is one entirely of levity or solemnity, so I guess it's somewhere in between. Maybe their primary goal was to get people talking about it. If so, mission accomplished. And next time I want to use traffic as an excuse for not getting some place, I'll just start swearing.

The Good News Is...
Optimism is generally a good quality but sometimes people can take a sunny disposition overboard. For example, if you've ever told a victim of sickle cell anemia, "Look on the bright side, at least you're less likely to catch malaria" then you're the type of person I'm talking about!

New Year Blues
2006 has come and it appears Dan Aykroyd's nearly three decade old prediction was inaccurate. Speaking as Elwood Blues on a 1978 recording, he presaged that blues music would by now only be available in the classical section of libraries. Observe the scant blues sections in most retail outlets and you might conclude his half-mocking prognostication hit the mark; luckily, there's the Internet and material by just about any blues artist from the legendary to the obscure can be obtained provided one has the necessary patience and capital. Except Little Johnny Jones! I've been looking for a song by him called "Up the Line" for ages.