I just shipped 50 pounds of vintage t-shirts and hoodies out to Colorado to help launch Abakus magazine. These will likely be available at the 710 Cup in Denver on July 10th, as well as the Munchie Cup in Aspen on August 18-20.
I also have many miscellaneous shirts:
Smuggler plane shirt
20th Anniversary shirt
25th Anniversary shirt
“Potzilla” shirt (worn)
“Hemp for Peace” HT shirt
Phoenix logo shirt
Cooking with pot shirt
My Freedom Fighter shirts pre-date the Cannabis Cup shirts by several years and are among the rarest of all my shirts. The original was released in 1989 and contained the “Don’t Tread on Me” logo designed by Flick Ford and used on the cover of the Soul Assassin single released that same year. The other became my everyday shirt for many years so these are well-worn. Also, I cut off the arms on all of these (see picture left). They have a Liberty Bell with the words “Let Freedom Ring,” the slogan of the Freedom Fighters as well as the name of our newsletter edited by Linda Noel of Boston, who founded the Boston Freedom Rally. The Freedom Fighters kickstarted the hemp movement and then our mailing list was given over to NORML after we’d become the largest legalization group in the country in three short years of existence.
Like a great comet, Gatsby returns. I probably won’t make it to the new version, though. Francis Ford Coppola made such a dreadful mess last time around, mostly due to bad casting. Sorry, but Robert Redford doesn’t succeed as “gangster with a dark past,” he’s just too squeaky-clean, plus he had zero chemistry with Mia Farrow, and she was a waif and not the voluptuous Southern Belle I always pictured as Daisy. Robert Mitchum, on the other hand, would have made a perfect Gatsby in his prime.
They call it “The Great American Novel” today but even though it sold reasonably well that first year (20,000 copies) it failed to capture a mainstream audience or much of any praise from critics. In fact, it might have disappeared but for the printing of 155,000 copies distributed free to G.I.’s during WW II. This was the secret of the book’s eventual success. Fitzgerald and Hemingway became kings of the American novel until Kerouac knocked them off the perch with his paradigm-busting insights into the hollowness of the American Dream. The novel has a mixed message because although Gatsby makes the mistake of trying to recapture the past, the narrator ends up moving back to the Midwest, giving up on his dreams of entering the upper classes. Fitzgerald, you see, went to Princeton, a poor boy from the Midwest who desperately yearned to merge into the Eastern Establishment, a project doomed because the closer he got, the more he realized the elite were nothing like him, and there was no way to become a member of their class except to be born into it.
The story is basically a melodramatic pot-boiler while the love scenes are tame and heavily cliched. As an obsessive love story, I much prefer Edmund Wilson’s little-known masterpiece The Princess with the Golden Hair, which was the first truly explicit American piece of literature, and, of course, that book was banned for years because of its graphic sexuality. Wilson pushed the boundaries and lost. It didn’t help that his novel was buried inside a collection of short stories. Maybe we’ll actually get a movie of that novel someday because it’s much more emotionally complex.
I can’t believe the disrespect accorded to the great Arnold Rothstein in Coppola’s version, where the fixer of the World Series is portrayed so crassly. Both Fitzgerald and Hemingway hated Jews and that bigotry turns up frequently in their work, although often disguised. They also had problems writing fully believable female characters, and, in fact, Gatsby has no truly sympathetic females.
Warner Brothers spent over $100 million on this version. Apparently, it runs very long and employs contemporary music. It all sounds very strange. We could have been looking at one of the biggest bombs in film history since the critics mostly hate it, but the first weekend reaped over $50 million, which means it’s a certified hit. The first film version was actually released in 1926 and has been lost, so it probably wasn’t that great (Fitzgerald hated it), although according to reviews it contained a scene where Gatsby threw $20 gold coins into his massive fountain and a gaggle of flappers jumped in to retrieve them. I wonder why no one ever includes that wonderful scene in the updates?
Very little about Guantanamo Bay ever made any sense to me. If you want to get to the bottom of the networks profiteering off guns and drugs, that investigation and trial really needs to happen in public view, with complete disclosure. Congress would have been a better venue for interrogating some of these people. In case you didn’t know, guns and drugs provide the essential financing for most terror networks. Drugs and guns go together like a horse and carriage because trade is a two-way street, which means guns go in one direction and drugs come back on the same planes and boats.
Here are some troubling facts: Over 700 people were taken to the prison and only six ever convicted. 86 of the 186 prisoners still held at Guantanamo (for over a decade now) have been cleared for release as they apparently have committed no crimes, yet they are never released? Four of those who pleaded guilty did so in order to obtain a plea bargain agreement. All evidence indicates Guantanamo is a medieval-style inquisition prison, where detainees are “put to the question” in new and novel torture techniques designed to skirt the Geneva Conventions at every opportunity. Unless they are using the prison to manufacture Manchurian Candidates, I can’t imagine what use this prison has served.
But the weirdest news about Guantanamo came today. One of the public defenders there died from a gunshot to the head last week, information that was strangely withheld for days, and even now it seems no mainstream newspaper wants to touch this story. Most of the detainees, by the way, are 3-months into a hunger strike and teetering on death themselves. But this information about the lawyer was withheld for nearly a week, and even now, very little is being revealed about this troubling case, while the hunger strike gets virtually zero attention. Even though President Obama has called for closing the base several times, nothing happens as we enter the 11th year of this dreadful prison’s existence.
Guantanamo will become a great stain on the history of the United States. The death of this lawyer, Andy P. Hart, reminds me of the death of William Pitzer, who was “suicided” after his role in the JFK autopsy. We really need a Congressional investigation on the size and scope of Watergate to get to the bottom of Guantanamo Bay.