"I'm not a politician, I'm an artist. Depravity is part of the job description," says self-styled dandy, former drug addict, and controversial British author Sebastian Horsely, who was denied entrance to the US by customs officials at Newark Airport on the grounds of "moral turpitude," a wide net that encompasses everything from fornication to being a "nuisance." Shades of Oscar Wilde.
From the guy who brought you the Whitewater scandal and the impeachment of President Clinton for lying about oval antics in the Oral Office, a legal push to make the Supreme Court just say no to "Bong Hits 4 Jesus." Ken Starr's petition to the Court [PDF] makes clear that Starr believes this is no laughing matter, but a chance for the Court to make a landmark ruling that will give school adminstrators the power to limit student speech: "This case presents the Court with a much-needed opportunity to resolve a sharp conflict among federal courts (and to eliminate confusion on the part of school boards, administrators, teachers, and students) over whether the First Amendment permits regulation of student speech when such speech is advocating or making light of illegal substances."
That'll teach 'em. Two 10-year old girls arrested in Florida and suspended from school for possession of... well uhm, parsely, actually.
"I know these desires could kill me dead, but how you gonna act instead?" So sings eros-haunted Delta-blues-steeped songwriter Chris Whitley on his superbly dark new album, Soft Dangerous Shores, and he's not kidding -- Whitley is currently "very very ill" and receiving hospice care. After Whitley's 1991 debut, Living with the Law, the slim (drug-addicted?) songwriter was acclaimed by his peers as "the real deal." When he was dropped by Sony in 1998, he released an album of stark poetic beauty recorded in a barn, Dirt Floor. Soft Dangerous Shores updates Whitley's coiled-viper resophonic guitars with dreamlike electronic atmospheres (one reviewer describes it as "a hypnotic wrestling match between juke joint blues and Kraftwerkian beats"). Instead of posting an elegy for another underappreciated self-destructive genius a la Nick Drake after his death, check out Whitley's music (via free downloads) while he's still with us on Earth.
"Hemp for Victory!" A USDA educational film from 1942 extolling the patriotic virtues of growing the crop that, a half-century later, over 600,000 people would be arrested for possessing. (Gotta love the official "Producer of Marihuana" license.) How times have changed.