Thursday, December 27, 2012
|Teresa and George McGovern after he won |
the Massachusetts Democratic Primary
My first political act, at the age of 13, was to campaign for McGovern. When Nixon won by a landslide, I was so disheartened about the cynicism of the neighbors I'd canvassed and the country I lived in that I didn't get involved in politics again until I found out about hemp in 1991.
Now I see that the laws against marijuana had a damaging effect on a member of McGovern's family.
According to Wikipedia:
In July 1968, George McGovern's daughter Teresa was arrested in Rapid City, SD on marijuana possession charges. Based on a recently enacted strict state drugs law, Terry now faced a minimum five-year prison sentence if found guilty. At the time McGovern was in the running for the Democratic nomination for president.
McGovern denounced as "police brutality" the Chicago police tactics against demonstrators at the convention in August and ended up supporting Hubert Humphrey's nomination that year. Again, Wikipedia:
McGovern returned to his Senate reelection race. While South Dakota voters sympathized with McGovern over his daughter's arrest, he initially suffered a substantial drop in popularity over the events in Chicago.
McGovern won the Democratic nomination four years later in 1972, when he famously became tagged with the label "amnesty, abortion and acid," supposedly reflecting his positions. McGovern favored the decriminalization of marijuana (but didn't say the same for LSD). Ever since, McGovernism has come to mean the embracing of progressive social policies that make liberals easy targets for conservatives. See SF Gate's Obituary.
Teresa was 19 when her pot bust happened. The effect it may have had on her life is unknown. For one thing, it might have sent her to more damaging substances, like alcohol.
In December 1994, at the age of 45, Teresa fell into a snowbank while heavily intoxicated with alcohol, and died of hypothermia.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Tonight, TCM aired Hope's 1951 movie "The Lemon Drop Kid" in which he and Marilyn Maxwell sing "Silver Bells," a song written for the film. Based on a Damon Runyan story, the movie has Hope rounding up New York's petty crooks to dress as Santas and collect money for a phony charity.
While singing the song about 56 minutes into the movie, Hope is clowning around just after it's established a policeman can't shut him down because he's licensed. He stops to sniff a big meerschaum pipe smoked by a street corner Santa, after which he acts goofy, whistling and flapping his wings. (The tune is actually introduced by William Frawley as "Gloomy," who sings, "chunk it in/chunk it in/or Santy will give you a Mickey.")
Hope joked about pot on radio broadcasts in the 1940s and while entertaining troops in Vietnam in the 1970s. "I hear you guys are interested in gardening here," he quipped. "Our security officer said a lot of you guys are growing your own grass." Poignantly, he added that "instead of taking it away from the soldiers, we ought to give it to the negotiators in Paris." The jokes were censored from Hope's 1970 Christmas special (so much for Peace on Earth).
Hope, who admitted to trying pot in a Rolling Stone interview in 1980, gave a nod to his "Road" movie co-star Bing Crosby at the end of The Lemon Drop Kid. Crosby, whose recording of "White Christmas" is the best-selling single ever, was also a VIP.
Another beloved Christmas film, "The Man Who Came to Dinner" (1942), edits out a scene from the 1939 play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman where absinthe is mentioned.
In the film, Sheldon Whiteside, played by Monty Woolley, is the unwanted guest of staid Ohio industrialist Ernest Stanley over the Christmas holidays.
The original play has this scene:
JOHN (manservant): And Sarah has something for you, Mr. Whiteside. Made it special.
WHITESIDE: She has? Where is she? My Souffle Queen!
SARAH (cook): (Proudly entering with a tray on which reposes her latest delicacy) Here I am, Mr. Whiteside.
WHITESIDE: She walks in beauty like the night, and in those deft hands there is the art of Michelangelo. Let me taste the new creation. (...swallows at a gulp one of Sarah's not so little cakes. An ecstatic expression comes over his face) Poetry! Sheer poetry!
SARAH: (beaming) I put a touch of absinthe in the dough. Do you like it?
WHITESIDE: (rapturously) Ambrosia!
Interestingly, the word "counterfeiting" in the play's line, "If that's for the Stanleys, tell them they've been arrested for counterfeiting," was changed to "dealing dope" in the film. Mr. Stanley brags of building ball bearings for the war effort, which is what the real Ohio industrialist Henry Timken did. Timken's son Harold H. ("Henry") also grew hemp in Imperial Valley, California in 1917.
Woolley also appeared in the Christmas movie "The Bishop's Wife" (1947), in which he plays a professor
who describes to the Bishop (David Niven) the never-emptying bottle of sherry that the angel (Cary Grant) bestows upon
him thusly: "It warms. It stimulates, It inspires. But no matter how much you
drink, it never inebritates....it's something you can't explain with all
your Ecclesiastical knowledge."
In his latest brilliant column on marijuana, VIP Andrew Sullivan skewers David Frum and NIDA for their backwards words and policies. He writes,
"The whole point of marijuana use is to disrupt settled ways of thinking and feeling, to offer a respite, like alcohol, from the deadliness of doing. But for reasons we don't quite yet understand, marijuana, like other essentially harmless drugs in moderation, can prompt imaginative breakthroughs, creative serendipity, deeper personal understanding, and greater social empathy and connection. People need these things and have always sought refuge in them, especially at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere."
True, even at the movies.