Monday, September 28, 2009

Seeking American Justice

Don’t apologise, it’s a sign of weakness.”
attributed to John Wayne.

American justice seems a basic contradiction in terms this morning, an oxymoronic statement around a concept that seems more abstract than realized when, at 9 a.m. (pst), Marc Emery, Canada’s “Darling of Dope,” handed himself over to U.S. authorities to fulfill a 5-yr sentence for selling Cannabis seeds to U.S. citizens.

Apparently selling said seeds is not a crime in Canada, as Emery still sells his seeds, by the seashore in Vancouver, worldwide, to this day. His crime was selling them into the U.S. market via the post. This is a federal crime that demands federal time. And according to Emery’s lawyer, he may be allowed to serve his time in a Canadian prison, closer to his wife and friends. This is a compassionate move deemed appropriate for the type of polirical prisoner that Mr. Emery clearly is.

On the eve of medical marijuana’s taxation, it seems cruel to put a man, for what is not a crime in his own country, into the maws of the justice system of a neighbour whose private prisons and percentage of population in prison, are staggering facts. To offer up a Canadian citizen, when technically no Canadian law has been broken is unusual.When Russell Means was extridited to the U.S., in the matter of the murder pf Anna Mae Aquash, he made the case that as a native citizen of both countries he was exempt from being made to leave Canadian soil. This defense was much like a glass hammer in an anvil factory and Means is currently doing his time in a South Dakota prison. The singular difference between the two cases being the charge of murder is recognized in both countries as being a real and extriditable, offense.

Marc Emery sets a new standard for International law where a citizen of any country can now be arrested, under American law, anywhere U.S. authorities have their reach for crimes not considered criminal in their own homeland which they may have never left. Over-shadowing Emery on the morning of his journey into American Justice is the story of one Roman Polanski who, after thirty years in the wilderness of the world, has been arrested in Switzerland on behalf of the United States for extradition to the U.S. on statatory rape charges involving a young girl.

Very slacious stuff, knocking Emery’s extradition off of the news hour lead and thus defeating the entire purpose of the initial exercise. Marc Emery who was arrested and will be convicted only for his obvious publicity value (the Prince of Pot, etc.) has suddenly been made into a side-bar by a thirty year-old sex crime. It must really piss-off certain lawyers in the Justice Department, and agents at the DEA, who have planned their Emery media strategy to coincide with the biggest celebrity bust since OJ drove L.A.

As it is today. Mr. Emery will do his 36-odd months, hopefully in a Canadian prison, with time off for his very compliant behavior. During his stretch, Mr. Emery will write a book destined to create as much, or more, anxiety at Justice than his seed business ever did. College campuses will welcome him as a hero when he makes his, virtual, appearences to discuss the end of prohibition. It’s a funny old world,isn't ’it? Seeking American justice is never easy, at the best of times. But thanks to an aging film director, accepting a prize at a foreign film festival, who has been plunged into the cold-water wash of the system, the seller of seeds may well be remembered more for his leaving prison that for arriving to do his stand-up time.

In the Canadian system Marc Emery will be recognixed as the political prisoner that he is, which is a higher level of prisoner who does easier time. By the time he is released, the landscape will look much different with California tax revenues on medical marijuana expeceted to reach $500 million by 2012. If Mr. Emery can hang on, he will eventually be hailed as a folk hero among the middle-class. But please be clear on the following, if Mr. Emery slips in the shower or has an accident standing in line for chow, or if anything untoward happens while he is visiting the U.S., let it be said that this man is protected from on high with dozens of folks willing to do the time for him if they could. Sound familiar?

© 2009 Leigh R. Wolf

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Evolution in High Resolution

Mixed messages the daily diet of the down and the depressed
Who wonder why working women are defiant and distressed
That itchy, irritating feeling just as obvious to the oppressed

Women see a see-through ceiling as the cause of their condition
No matter her authenticity, no matter a respectable position
Foolish females figure they're defined by his detailed derision

This post a tactical toast to reminds us of the butchery and burning
Her story of unknown mystery born out of liberated learning
As we turn a critical corner we'll be tactical in our turning

The calendar calls us forwards towards legendary liberation
No extremes of existential laws or any lock-step legislation
Will escape the essence of novelty in IT's evolving escalation

© 2009 Leigh Richard Wolf

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life Lessons Learned

I Con(vince) My Parents
I was away on my first trip on my own and, after several months spent pleading, arguing, in relentless debate, I had managed to wrangle a parent-sponsored Spring break trip to California at the tender age of fourteen. Our local travel agent booked four nights near Disneyland, in Anaheim, and two nights in San Diego, to explore and enjoy all the friendly delights found along the most western part of the USA.

Greyhound Tour to Tijuana
Disneyland was something of a disappointment but the iconography was simulating and stimulating and I had a decent time in L.A. When I arrived in San Diego the first thing I did after I checked into my room was visit the world-famous Seaworld. Once there, I was inundated with advertising telling me that while USA is the best (#1) - Tijuana is different, and exotic, and right next door. The next morning I was second-inline when the Greyhound “Tour Tijuana “ Bus came to a complete stop in front of my hotel.

"How much?" I asked the bus operator. The driver was a big man, about forty years old, with a huge gut and sweaty jowls all packed tightly into a uniform that fit better years ago, or never. I was big for my age, having been able to pass for the age of majority at liquor stores since I was fourteen, and now at sixteen years old I could easily pass for twenty or twenty-one years old. The driver sized me up and threw the information right back at me.

"The tour is twenty bucks with lunch or fourteen bucks without." he repeated like a mantra to the person in line ahead of me who paid their fourteen bucks and then climbed aboard. I thought quicker in those days and having heard mysterious rumblings about "dirty water and bad food" and various forms of revenge based on the local cuisine I was more than willing to fall back on the good graces of the Greyhound Bus company and shell out for their lunch hour offering.

My Eyes Are First Opened
When I first saw the city of Tijuana I was truly shocked. Most of my mental images about this town had come directly from Disney and Disney'esque mythology about a sleepy border city. The city where I live, Vancouver, is 100Km from the United States border and I had visited Blaine, Wa. and Bellingham one hundred times and what I was seeing now was not a sleepy little border town.

Tijuana was, in 1974, a massive city of some six million souls and most of them lived in shanty town conditions. Being a sweet Canadian kid I was unprepared for third world reality as it stretched over miles of wood and metal, barely held together, and poorly disguised as people’s homes. Mile after mile of destitution presented itself and suddenly we were cruising down Revolutionary Blvd., Tijuana's main drag.

The street itself was dominated by massive signs pitching Burger King, KFC, and McDonalds. "Cripes," I thought, " I could have saved six bucks and fed myself without a worry." As I cursed my cautious nature, the bus came to a halt as the operator's voice made an announcement.

"Well folks, this is the first time I have ever said this..." his voice trailed off. "Could all those people staying for lunch remain in their seats. Everyone else, this is the last stop. I'll be back, right here, to take you home in five hours." I could have had five hours in this Disneyland-for-grown ups but instead I had somehow volunteered to go for lunch. Suddenly I realized that everyone else had left the bus and that I was the only one left aboard.

With a pitying look in his eyes, the driver tried to be accommodating, "Hey kid, come on up front." I got up from the back and walked forward in a petulant shuffle accompanying so many adolescent attitudes. He explained to me that this was the first day Greyhound was offering a luncheon service and that I seemed to be the only taker on day number one. I learned something about myself at this point. As a traveller, I was always up for some form of adventure and so, accepting my fate, we chatted pleasantly as we drove to our destination.

An Unexpected Destination
For another five minutes we revisited the massive poverty of the city proper but eventually began climbing a very steep hill, that back home might qualify as a little mountain, and at the top like some obscene maraschino was a beautiful little building that can best be described as a Mexican Pagoda with delicate carvings set against amazing tapestries, topiary designs in huge flowerpots, and a polished marble entry and staircase.

As impressive as the outside had been, inside the main dining room I was struck by the surreal nature of this environment as compared to the one I had just been in seconds before. This was hand-carved, hard won, beauty expressed in every detail. The driver gave me a loopy, almost sad, look and sensing my anxiety said, "Well kid, good luck..uhhh, have a good lunch..." He reached for a thermos and put his legs up over the passenger handrail. As I left the bus he looked up and winked. "You'll have great time, kid. You paid for it... so go for it dude..."
"You're not coming with me?" I asked quietly hoping he'd change his mind.

I felt like I had swallowed a bug. I had chosen the safe route and had rolled into the swankiest eatery in all of the city, perhaps in the entire Province. In retrospect, the architecture and design were amazing and some of the tastiest to be found along the North American west coast. As the driver opened the door to let me out, the sounds of music stirred the air. As I actually got out of the bus a Mariachi band started playing and three men dressed in tuxedos followed by the band dressed in formal Mexican garb appeared The men came forward and introduced themselves as they greeted me and shook my hand.

They were, in order - the owner of the restaurant, his brother-in-law who was the assistant to the third man who was the Mayor of Tijuana. I stood there as the band finished their first number and as I looked over these people I realized that I represented something very important and that this was probably not the right time to either break wind, walk away or ask for take-out.

A Very Spatial Moment
As the music stopped he Mayor began to make a speech in Spanish but quickly began speaking English with very thick accent. "Thees ees thee Inauguration of blah, blahh. Aligning my episodic orientation towards other things, I tuned out the Mayor and waited, somewhat patiently, for him to finish. The bus driver, seduced by the band and dignitaries, had joined me as the audience and, after we were formally introduced to all three men, we then entered the actual restaurant which was obviously the pride and joy of the trio.

The sheer power of the opulence was somewhat overwhelming. Fine crystal, glasses and goblets. Three spoons, two forks, of fine formal silver service. The plates were a hand-thrown pottery of the finest kind and the walls covered in Aztec treasures that could have played stand-in for all the loot that Cortez ever expropriated. This was some kind of over-elegance, not so much designed as bank-rolled.

Each implement seemed to weigh at least a pound and the glasses, now being filled with Sangria, were heavy to lift. Even a snot-nosed, middle-class, kid from Canada had to admit that this was a mighty attempt at creating a classy operation that would, pathetically, satisfy the needs of their well imagined, high-toned, rich American customers - whom I was now representing. It was almost a parody of what wealth could provide except that the owner and his compatriots, never far away, were very earnest and quite serious in their service.

The meal was delivered quickly to the table. The driver had taken refuge near the entrance, as if to be able to make a quick get-away if needed. I barely picked at my choice of chicken ala Tijuana and instead finished my Sangria as another goblet was placed before. They either had an all-you-can-drink policy or they were happy to get me high... it did not matter to me as the cold, sweet juice mixed with the usual red plonk was cold and, apparently, flowing.

As I finished my meal, I thanked my hosts without betraying any discomfort, thereby pleasing my absent parents and no doubt the local Chamber of Commerce. It was, without doubt, one of the most beautiful rooms I had ever been in and I had just visited the home of the simulacrum, Disneyland days earlier. Previous to my California trip, I had, at fourteen years old, visited Neu Schwaunstein, the fairy-tale castle of King Ludwig of Bavaria and therefore was not easily or quickly impressed. But the overwhelming opulence, especially in contrast to the massive poverty of the surrounding neighbourhood was devastating.

I Make My Escape (and review my lessons...)
The tour bus operator, having being somewhat amused by my situation now took pity on me and did not hinder our departure and in minutes we had left the heady climes of the hilltop and had begun our ascent into the dirty, smoggy, poverty, and chaos that is downtown Tijuana.

My relief was palpable and soon I was stumbling around the main drag eating a hamburger and contemplating my situation complete with beginnings of a mid-day hangover. The sound of the traffic, the waves of people, the dogs loose and barking, the smells of tobacco, whisky, exhaust, combined with all the shit and shinola was dynamic.

I now understood that my home continent had a third-world enclave just a ways down the I-5, along the coast. I learned that I liked to adventure and that a good story can come out of anyhwere. I learned that basic manners can get one through pretty much any situation and, ultimately, I learned an age-inappropriate lesson about independence, inter-dependence, and the critical balance between the two that we all need to survive.

© 2009 Leigh R. Wolf