Monday, January 22, 2024

Anslinger Censors 1946 Canadian Film "Drug Addict"

Having occasion to look up a list of films banned in the US, I noticed that the 1946 Canadian film Drug Addict was banned by then-drug "czar" and head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry Anslinger due to its depiction or drug addiction as a medical problem, and of addicts and traffickers as white people. 

According to a 1998 article published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, "The Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) attempted to intimidate sociologist Alfred Lindesmith, a long-time advocate of medical treatment of drug addiction, from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. In addition, the US banning of the 1946 Canadian film "Drug Addict" may have been a pivotal event in a pattern of censorship and disinformation carried on by the FBN under the leadership of Harry Anslinger."

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Mexico’s weed "nuns" aim to take the plant back from the narcos

PHOTO: Raquel Cunha/Reuters 

As reported by Al Jazeera, a group of Mexican women have joined a worldwide movement of activists dressing as nuns to reclaim the holy herb. 

“We want to take the plant back from the narcos,” said one of the "nuns," who uses the moniker “Sister Bernardet” online and asked not to give her name for fear of reprisal. "In a country ravaged by drug war and embedded in Christianity, the image of a marijuana-smoking nun is an act of rebellion," writes Al Jazeera. The nuns argue that "the fight against drugs in Latin America has been a failure, leading to widespread violence and mass incarceration."

The Sisters of the Valley started in 2014 in California's Central Valley, and media attention followed. According to the article, the Sisters "fashion themselves after a lay religious movement, the Beguines, that dates back to the Middle Ages. The group, made up of single women, devoted itself to spirituality, scholarship and charity, but took no formal vows."

Monday, January 1, 2024

Tokin' Women and Others We Lost in 2024

Sadly, this page will be updated throughout 2024. 

Eric Carmen
August 11, 1949 – March 11, 2024

Carmen began his musical education with violin lessons from his aunt Muriel, who played with the Cleveland Orchestra. After hits with The Raspberries like "Go All the Way" (in which it is the woman who makes the suggestion), he had a pair of solo hits—"All By Myself" and "Never Gonna Fall in Love Again"— playing the piano on two borrowed Rachmaninov melodies. 

Juli Lynne Charlot 
October 26, 1922 – March 3, 2024

Singer and actress Charlot sang with Xavier Cugat’s orchestra performed with the Marx Brothers in their act at military bases during World War II. But she is best known as the inventor of the poodle skirt, a '50s phenomenon that celebrated the return of prosperity and the availability of lots of fabric. Unable to afford a dress for a Christmas party, Charlot, who refused to learn to sew so that she wasn't a drone like her embroiderer mother, took a large piece of felt and cut a circle in it, adding appliques that soon tended towards poodles, and a phenomenon that twirled at many a sock hop was born. Charlot also designed contemporary renditions of traditional Mexican wedding dresses and died at age 101 at her home in Tepoztlán, Mexico. 

Richard Lewis
June 29, 1947 – February 27, 2024

Lewis, who called himself "The Prince of Pain," made a career being hilariously upfront about his neuroses and his struggles with addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and crystal meth. In his 2000 book, The Other Great Depression, he joked that in college, "I didn't smoke a lot of pot because I was too paranoid to begin with and strong grass made me think I was stalking myself." Of his early days in stand-up comedy when he sipped wine and "occasionally smoked a joint" he wrote, "it was a real pleasure to get a nice buzz... and to be in a head space where I felt so loose and self-confident that I actually might have been legitimately relaxed and happy." His former girlfriend Debra Winger and co-star Jamie Lee Curtis wrote tributes to Lewis on on Instagram, with Curtis adding, "He also is the reason I am sober." (Photo: Bonnie Schiffman, who brilliantly put him in Munch's painting "The Scream.")

Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt
February 8, 1932 – February 26, 2024

Employed as an office manager, Wolf-Rehfeldt was a self-taught artist working under a regime of strict surveillance in the former German Democratic Republic. She turned herself into a typist—a stereotypical female job—and is known particularly for a period of geometric and poetic typewriter graphics art that she called "typewritings" produced between the 1970s and 1990, mostly as part of Mail Art collaborations, which allowed artists living under totalitarian regimes to communicate and form networks, even as they engaged with conditions of official surveillance. Her work addressed cybernetics, environmental issues and human rights.  Photo: Ruth Wolf-Rehfeldt, Information, 1970s. 

Aaron Bushnell
(1998 - February 25, 2024)
Images of the horrific event weren't able to be shown on TV, but social media broadcasted 25-year-old Bushnell's video wherein he self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC to protest the war in Gaza. An active-duty member of the US Air Force, Bushnell grew up in a religious community on Cape Cod called the Community of Jesus, whose former members have come forward alleging abuse and a rigid social structure. He repeatedly yelled, "Free Palestine!" during his protest. Days later, President Biden announced (while eating an ice cream cone with Seth Meyers) that he expected an agreement on a ceasefire within a week.

Nancy Udell
(1973 - February 24, 2024)
Longtime Empire State NORML co-director and treasurer "loved to march in the annual NYC Cannabis Parade and spent many lobby days in Albany prior to legalization," wrote Steve Bloom of Celebstoner. Born in Atlantic Beach, Udell was a graduate of  NYU and the University of Denver and  worked for many years as a paralegal. She was often quoted in stories about marijuana legalization in New York, always arguing for equity, reason and fairness. Photo: Luna Rouge

Alexei Navalny
(June 4, 1976 – February 16, 2024)
Navalny’s death at age 47 has deprived the Russian opposition of its most well-known and inspiring politician less than a month before an election that will give President Vladimir Putin another six years in power. Navalny had been jailed since January 2021, when he returned to Moscow after recuperating in Germany from nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. He was later convicted three times, saying each case was politically motivated, and received a sentence of 19 years for extremism. He died at a remote Arctic penal colony, reportedly two days after he was put in a "punishment cell" there. Over 400 people were detained in Russia while paying tribute to Navalny. The film Navalny won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2023. Souce.  

Bob Moore
(February 15, 1929 – February 10, 2024) 
Moore and his wife Charlee "developed a passion for whole grains that coincided with parenthood," and opened a flour mill in Redding, CA. "The first whole grain loaf of bread that came out of my wife Charlee’s oven on our five-acre farm back in the ‘60s was the most delicious loaf of bread I can ever remember smelling and eating," Bob later recalled. After moving to Milwaukie, Oregon to attend seminary school and read the Bible in its original language, the couple founded Bob’s Red Mill in 1978, and grew it into a leading global food brand offering 200+ products in more than 70 countries. On his 81st birthday, Moore established an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), transferring ownership of the company to its 700 employees, saying, "The Bible says to do unto others are you would have them do unto you." The Moores were named honorary Beavers for their significant donations to Oregon State University, where they helped fund the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition, and Preventive Health. Charlee died in 2018, when Bob retired; he remained a Board Member of the Red Mill until his death at just before his 95th birthday.