Tuesday, May 31, 2005

"i smoked crack & wrote an article about it" - article

this is an article back from 1989 that was referenced in a recent slate article (about addiction to...number puzzles!), but i've thought so much about journalism and its repercussions today it seemed like a good post/article to share (i've been reading slate's old deep throat theory articles, that's why). it's fascinating when there's such cultural and media backlash--or maybe just sheer *reaction*--following a story - at what point are journalists making the news as opposed to just reporting it?

Cross fire in the drug war: aftermath of a crack article.

BY: Morley, Jefferson

I smoked crack and wrote an article abut it for The New Republic. As I had hoped, "What Crack Is Like" instigated many debates within the Washington political class and attracted more than a little interest outside that cloistered group. The article made three points, all of which will strike some people as self-evident: Crack is a pleasurable drug with unpleasant side effects; crack can "make sick sense to demoralized people" and the spread of crack capitalism is related to the phenomenon of Reaganism. That same week I published a historical-economic analysis of the drug problem in The Nation ("Contradictions of Cocaine Capitalism," October 2), which initially drew little media attention, no doubt because it was a more substantive article. In fact, the reactions to the New Republic piece were more interesting than the piece itself. The peculiarities of our so-called drug war and the desire for a new debate about the problem have never been more evident.

By noon of the day The New Republic rolled off the presses William Bennett had described my piece as "garbage" and called me "a defector in the drug war." In this compliment I resented only Bennett's implication that I was a soldier, not a citizen, and somehow bound to salute his efforts. Over the weekend, the usual suspects from the Sunday morning talk shows -- Pat Buchanan, Robert Novak, Al Hunt -- reiterated Bennett's criticisms, often word for word: "garbage," "irresponsible" and so on.

What especially galled the pundits was my remark that "if all you have in life is bad choices, crack may not be the most unpleasant of them." No one said this statement was untrue, as Michael Kinsley, editor of The New Republic, pointed out in my defense -- only that it was "unhelpful." Indeed, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., editor of The American Spectator, expressed a journalistic philosophy no longer current, even at Pravda. Tyrrell said my article was "contemptible" because I did not express support for benevolent state efforts to wipe out market activity.

Stephen Rosenfeld, a foreign policy columnist for The Washington Post, at least tried to debate the issue, devoting a confused column to my article. The ink not spent on abusing my person was spent quoting a Washington public health official about the crack experience. Rosenfeld was so excited that he never noticed the official's description of the crack experience in no way contradicted my own. The damaging effects of addiction to drug war rhetoric were evident. Rosenfeld asserted that crack "withers the mothering instinct" among the female users. Exactly how the drug does this, biologically and chemically, he was unable to explain.

The following Monday morning, I went on C-Span, the public affairs cable channel, and exchanged pleasantries with Brian Lamb, a conservative gentleman and a soothing interlocutor. Wasn't I condoning the use of crack? Lamb inquired. If anything I was discouraging it, I said. The curious could learn about the drug from my article. If they took it seriously, they would learn that in one man's very limited experience, crack's pleasure quickly gave way to its side effects, combining "the worst of marijuana and cocaine" and inducing both stupefaction and paranoia. "Let's go to the phones," Lamb said, eyes twinkling. He was enjoying the prospect of my imminent pasting by the vox populi.

Thirteen of the next fifteen callers approved of my article, several of them using the same phrase, "I'm with you 100 percent." What came through most consistently in the comments was a sense of relief at hearing someone in the media say something--anything--outside the rhetorical consensus of just-say-no and zero-tolerance.

I went on radio talk shows in Washington, Milwaukee, Detroit and Boston. "What's crack like?" my interviewers inevitably wanted to know. Or did they? Crack has been around for six years and smoked by millions of Americans. I asked several of these media representatives if they had ever posed the question to the many available crack users in their home towns. Most had not. They were such loyal soldiers in the drug war that they had forgotten to do their jobs. Others said that they regarded local crack smokers as less reliable and less interesting than me. "You're a real person," one TV reporters said in a revealing slip. "I mean, you're a real, articulate person."

The inevitable second question was, "They say you smoke crack once and you're addicted. Are you addicted?" The answer was no. I often replied by asking why they believed that one-time crack use leads to addiction. "That's what everybody says," answered Mark Belling, a talk show host in Milwaukee. Had he ever conducted a survey of crack users in his city to answer the question for himself? Neither he nor any other journalist critical of my article had ever attempted such reporting. (In fact, Harper's magazine reported in November that six out of ten crack users eventually become addicted, compared with nine out of ten cigarette users.)


blogger's note: i could have sworn i got this from a public source. but...perhaps i didn't. sorry. the remaining part of the post has been removed.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

steve's naked bottoms speech

Jill: [about the film "Lesbian Spank Inferno"] How could you possibly enjoy a film like that?

Steve: Oh, because it's got naked women in it! Look, I like naked women! I'm a bloke! I'm supposed to like them! We're born like that. We like naked women as soon as we're pulled out of one. Halfway down the birth canal we're already enjoying the view. Look, it's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like: naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond. Because that is what being a bloke is. And if you don't like it, darling, join a film collective.

Look, I want to spend the rest of my life with the woman at the end of the table here. But that does not stop me wanting to see several thousand more naked bottoms before I die. Because that's what being a bloke is. When Man invented fire, he didn't say "Hey, let's cook!" He said: "Great! Now we can see naked bottoms in the dark!" As soon as Caxton invented the printing press we were using it to make pictures of - hey! - naked bottoms. We've turned the Internet into an enormous international database of... naked bottoms. So, you see, the story of male achievement through the ages - feeble though it may have been - has been the story of our struggle to get a better look at your bottoms.

Frankly, girls, I'm not so sure how insulted you really ought to be.

Coupling, 1x04 "Inferno"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

recommendations 1 - a sleuth, a spread, and a scent

drumroll, please! stolen pretty much directly from mcsweeney's, i am introducing my list of recommendations! the first list is: a sleuth, a spread, and a scent!

"veronica mars"
smart, funny, perceptive - describes both the heroine & upn's new teen detective drama. kristen bell is perfect as veronica; at first i kept being distracted by how similar she was to allison mack's chloe on "smallville," but i honestly got over that really quick cause the story in the pilot is so good! as for lilly, generally, playing the dead girl isn't a great showcase for your acting ability, but amanda seyfried brings so much life to the flashback scenes it's hard to imagine the role going to anyone else. plus, the boys (wallace, logan, duncan, weevil) really grew on me; i wasn't a fan of any of them at first, but the season takes you through so much character growth. and like "the oc," the adult characters are every bit as well developed and interesting. be careful if you're a newbie: start with the pilot, and know that no, of course it's not entirely realistic, but few tv shows are--where "vm" succeeds is, like "buffy," the point is that you can relate to how the characters interact with each other and grow. hooray for season 2's renewal!

chocolate peanut butter
no, i don't mean nutella. i mean Jiffy: Smooth Sensations - Chocolate Peanut Butter. it's not that weird jar with stripes of peanut butter & stripes of something else--it's perfect, blended, delicious peanut butter that you can put in sandwhiches, on apples, crackers, celery...oranges (aaah good times w/olga)...or just eat by the spoonful (parents generally do not approve of this method). it's good. orgasm good. try.

i understand this is pretty broad, but i've decided that it's my blog, and i'll do what i want, thankyouverymuch. vanilla scented oil not only makes me enjoy being me, but also probably had a lot to do with boyfriend retention at one point in my life. similarly, vanilla candles are a big recommendation. i freely admit that i overdo it on the vanilla extract when a recipe calls for it. and vanilla ice cream kicks chocolate's ass. (for some reason, i'm not that big on vanilla bean or french vanilla ice creams. they're just fine, but inferior somehow. opinions on this are welcome.)

ice creams? ices cream? :) hey, opnions on everything mentioned are welcome!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

pavel memorial

pavel memorial
Originally uploaded by jadis.

Not a whit. We defy augury. There is a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to
come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet
it will come. The readiness is all. Since no man of aught he
leaves, knows aught, what is't to leave betimes? Let be.

Hamlet, Hamlet, V.ii.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

let me walk - article

this is discrimination, pure and simple. honestly, pregnancy is hard enough. being pregnant while being a student - at a roman catholic high school! - i imagine would make it all the worse. but to then not be allowed to receive your diploma with your class? no way! granted, it's probably not as simple as "if you earn it, you should have that right" since i do understand that as a religious school, there are certain moral principles at work that aren't an issue with public schooling. still, if that's the case, why was the father of the child not given the same treatment? you'd think there would be some element of forgiveness on the part of the administration. or understanding at least.

(yes, i was one of the ones who hated the scarlet letter in school...!)

Pregnant student defies graduation ban

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- A pregnant student who was banned from graduation at her Roman Catholic high school announced her own name and walked across the stage anyway at the close of the program.

Alysha Cosby's decision prompted cheers and applause Tuesday from many of her fellow seniors at St. Jude Educational Institute.
But her mother and aunt were escorted out of the church by police after Cosby headed back to her seat.

"I can't believe something like this is happening in 2005," said her mother, Sheila Cosby. "My daughter has been through a lot and I am proud of her. She deserved to walk, and she did."

The school's guidance counselor delivered Cosby's degree to her house earlier Tuesday, but she still wanted to participate.

"I worked hard throughout high school and I wanted to walk with my class," she said.
Cosby was told in March that she could no longer attend school because of safety concerns, and her name was not listed in the graduation program.

The father of Cosby's child, also a senior at the school, was allowed to participate in graduation.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


miss you & love you. i really, really wish i had shown more appreciation for your talent & our friendship, and now it's too late. you deserved a long, full, fun life, and we've all learned from your strength - thank you. xoxox

Friday, May 13, 2005

angie - article

i think this article is fascinating because it touches on so many specific reasons that i'm obsessed with angelina. it also reminds me a bit of the discussions we used to have in "feminism and film", and about the allure of mystery, and covers an interesting take on angie having certain masculine qualities, and how *that* is the draw for so many women:

Jolie Laide, by Suzy Hansen

In the ad for Mr. and Mrs. Smith—the Cleopatra of its generation, due out next month—there’s Angelina Jolie, sans Brad Pitt, leg up like a flamingo.

"In that picture, you know what she’s saying," a friend said recently. "She’s saying, ‘I’m fucking beautiful. Fuck you.’"

This is not something Julia Roberts said in ads for Pretty Woman, although her pose was similar; not something Nicole Kidman could muster up on a good day. Charlize Theron? Too pretty. Halle Berry? Too unhinged. Hilary Swank? No. Gwyneth Paltrow? No, no, no.

In fact, the only actresses who share Ms. Jolie’s confidence are foreign actresses of the old school: Sophia Loren, Jeanne Moreau, B.B. at her best. Maybe the Maggie Cheungs and Ziyi Zhangs of today. That’s because Americans prefer the girls next-door: smiley-sweet girl-eunuchs clamoring for the next bad romantic comedy or period drama when they should be home practicing that flamingo pose.

Can Ms. Jolie carry a movie like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as the publicity photo suggests, with some legs, lips and hot hauteur? And who’s the star here, anyhow? Ms. Jolie has notoriety, respect and fame, but with a very few memorable movies to her credit. Worse, with some truly awful movies to her credit: Taking Lives, Beyond Borders, The Bone Collector, Life or Something Like It, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Original Sin and, most recently, Alexander. But what was unforgettable about her Oscar turn in Girl, Interrupted was how adolescent favorite Winona Ryder, the passive, doe-eyed 90’s slacker queen, was completely annihilated on screen by this Lioness. It was as if Angelina kicked one ideal to the curb and announced the arrival of another.

As did another puffy-lipped star back in the 1950s. And she could definitely play the young Brando’s roles. Think of Angelina Jolie as the biker in The Wild One or in a snakeskin jacket in The Fugitive Kind—it’s not that much of a stretch. Angelina in Streetcar? Give that girl a T-shirt; she wouldn’t be playing Blanche or Stella.

And now, thanks to Us magazine, Star and reports of jungle noises in the night, she’s been ratcheted up to another level of stardom.

Ms. Jolie is probably the only actress in Hollywood who could legitimately have an action-hero franchise (i.e., Lara Croft). The logical choice for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a film about married assassins, she has the chops to believably shoot guns and swing from rafters. She sucker-punched a shark in the second Lara Croft movie. The trailers for Mr. and Mrs. Smith show her in black vinyl dominatrix-wear, effortlessly scaling a very, very tall building, expertly managing a rather large machine gun, tenderly smiling at her husband over pot roast. She never looks silly. Mr. Pitt is cuter, but Ms. Jolie could clearly eat him alive, and women probably hope she’ll do so in real life. At least that would bring good girls everywhere some comfort. Ms. Jolie always seems to break the last heart.

And yet, she looks like kind of a nice girl. Nobly walking the streets of Peshawar, draped in dazzlingly appropriate dress. Playing on the beach in a black dress and pearl earrings, digging in the sand with plastic yellow shovels. Lying in bed in mouse-grey jodhpurs in Vanity Fair, rumbling with her son, Maddox, you kind of can’t help thinking: The stars! They’re just like us!

That’s what Us magazine keeps telling us—selling us—each week in this glossy tabloid age, as we see David Duchovny lugging his laundry and Drew Barrymore leaving the podiatrist. That’s the great tabloid comedown, as in The Star’s annual cellulite-on-the-beach issue. Miss Collins, you have a little egg salad on the side of your mouth … there! Yuchhh.

The great Hollywood Mytho-Queens—and Ms. Jolie may be starting to count as one—have always had their own strange, exalted storyline, one that soared and jet-streamed above and beyond our humdrum lives: Elizabeth Taylor with Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Burton, pneumonia and her Oscars; Marilyn with Joe, Arthur, Jack; Ingrid Bergman with Robert Capa and Roberto Rossellini; Ava Gardner with Sinatra and the bullfighters.

But what did our culture get? The age of Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Hudson, good girls whose prom gowns hung on their bony shoulders and who hit their points with beautiful middle-class manners. That wouldn’t do for an age that had invested so much in paparazzi and Bonnie Fuller’s salary.

O Angelina! You have saved us.

Suddenly, every week is a holiday. This star, she is not like us.

Better yet, Angelina Jolie fits the star’s bill: We want to be like her—for a night.

She has brought back the big, beautiful, silty riverbed of American romance: queen of the photo op, good-will ambassador for the U.N., free-loving promiscuite, rippling action hero, adoptive mom, daughter of a Hollywood duke of the 70’s, Oscar winner.

Oh, and home wrecker, in case you thought that story was gone from American life, left back in the age of Liz eyeing Eddie and Debbie while they lounged on a Hollywood chaise, as though she were ready to swallow him whole.

The old conventional wisdom was that the American woman was supposed to hate that home wrecker. The only storyline more resonant than the dream of true love and everlasting happiness is the one that involves the imminence of envy, infidelity and divorce, and so there’s really nothing for everyday women to like about a born man stealer like Angelina Jolie. Ask Laura Dern. And wasn’t it Melanie Griffith who refused to leave Antonio Banderas’ side when he ripped Angelina’s bodice on the set of some movie we can’t remember?

Now she’s been charged with breaking up a marriage that most Hollywood consumers happily and delusionally believed was perfect.

That would be the Pitt-Anistons.

L’affaire Pitt-Jolie began, or was perhaps imagined, on the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and naturally was followed by a lovefest across the continent of Africa, cruelly interrupted in Morocco so Ms. Jolie could jet off to save the children of South Asia. A is for Audrey Hepburn! It may have seemed that Ms. Jolie—tomb raider—was poised to go the way of Ingrid and Liz: the perennial other woman, the selfish lady who spirits away the most leading of men, the she-devil who earns the scorn of thin-lipped mortals everywhere. Except that she doesn’t. Few women would begrudge their lover a night with Angelina Jolie. It’s different. She inspires curiosity above all else.

At once beautiful and terrifying, Ms. Jolie, in every movie scene and every photograph, seems to be casting a spell, like a sorceress with eyebrow gracefully, spookily arched—it seems as though she could lift weights with that brow—or something out of The Lord of the Rings.

It’s that weirdness, along with the lore of knife-playing, blood-vialing and lover-taking, at odds with (but not completely at odds with) the images of maternal bliss, that keeps her captivating, if a little alien. Of course Brad Pitt is having an affair with Angelina Jolie! Of course cries of glorious satisfaction can be heard from Sierra Leone to Swaziland!

Talk about a new role model! What woman wouldn’t want to be gamboling with her son and "lover," platonically building sand castles on the beach at a luxury resort on the coast of Kenya?

Her freedom of action has won her something like respect, while scorn and derision are reserved for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, America’s latest desperate housewife. Ms. Jolie is a tougher breed, resilient and indifferent, a film noir hero on the run, somehow inspiring the collective admiration and pumping the blood of thousands of women looking for a role model. As in: Damn! That girl knows how to live!

Despite her turn as gun-wielding British genius wonder woman Lara Croft—a film that had trend-writers unfairly lumping her with the giggly-wiggly street fighters of Charlie’s Angels—Ms. Jolie doesn’t exactly get the feminist stamp of approval. She isn’t uplifting in a Gloria Steinem sort of way.

But in an Ayn Rand kind of way, although better-willed, she constitutes complete freedom, both kindly and voracious. She’s a little libertarian and an altruist sex bomb, a man-eater and a boy-raiser. No one thinks Ms. Jolie would have their back. She’s a lone vessel.

Still, rather than feeling threatened that someone like her walks the earth, plenty of women feel liberated by her for a complicated reason: Despite her packaging, she manages to move and feel like a man. And she somehow communicates the fact that she might act on those feelings.

So, just as Mae West could look at a man and have him understand what she was feeling, Angelina makes women feel ….

This strange androgyny is why straight women often say they’d choose Andro-Angie for that one lesbian love affair they keep meaning to have. One consensus is that she’s the hottest: Ms. Jolie’s been compared to the incomparable Ava Gardner; critic David Thomson once proclaimed her one of the only women onscreen, along with Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow, to actually "seem to want to do it on screen"; and she wasn’t cast as the stunning Gia Carangi for kicks.

Even when men claim they don’t find her attractive, there’s a distinct sense that they’re either feeling threatened or being contrarian. Or maybe that they sort of find the thought of all that Angelina Jolie-ness exhausting—What will she want from me? they seem to say.

But it’s also because those narrow hips and skinny legs, those free-swinging arms, that cocky, defiant walk and prominently featured face, calls up the sexiness of a guy—of a young (or old) Mick Jagger, for instance. A sexually electric, unbearably charismatic rake. It was this deadly tomboy fury that made her so devastating in Girl, Interrupted. Without curvy hips to coyly sway—instead, insanely stalking the halls of that insane asylum—she struts and sits into her pelvis, as if the true power is, well, right front and center.

And while her breasts are comically accentuated in Lara Croft, so big and shapely that the women in Pushing Tin suspect they’re fake, they’re almost unnecessary to the coiled-up erotic energy in the rest of her frame. They’re adornments, like very well-chosen and expensive earrings.

All of this is to say that, for women, Ms. Angelina is yet another case of confusing affection with well-intentioned envy. Just as women often fall in love with men they actually want to be—because they’re so free, or because they’re more powerful—women fall in love with Ms. Jolie. Perhaps for her solitude above all else.

So while the Brad-Jennifer-Angelina story will continue, for now, it still plays second fiddle to another love triangle of recent memory—that of Ms. Jolie, her son and the starving children of the world. Ever since her divorce from the spit-swapping Billy Bob Thornton, a whole new being has taken over. The girl who played with razors and wore blood to her wedding became an immaculately dressed traveler of the Third World. The woman twice married and prone to kissing her brother became someone who rides carriages in Central Park only with her son. The girl who sported tattoos of her Billy Bob had them rubbed off.

She dedicated her life to getting her life back together. She stopped seeming so weird. It really does seem like she’s always with Maddox. And yet the wily seductress remains, even peering out from under a head wrap in countries where they mutilate girls as a matter of course.

All in all, it’s a stunning self-transformation. Or calculation. She’s got the man who used to be married to America’s best Friend—the girl next-door, that nice, nice girl—but it’s hard to hate her for it. Angelina Jolie, the brave actress who does her own stunts and raises her own kid and has plenty of tattoos and plenty of boyfriends (because it’s better that way), the woman who looks so good in Vanity Fair and so proud in D.C., is the deregulated movie star of our era. What is that woman doing? She’s seducing us, and she’ll do it again.

You may reach Suzy Hansen via email at: shansen@observer.com.