August 17, 2004

we're gonna find the meaning of feeling good

Sonic Youth at Webster Hall NYC August 13, 2004 [photos found here]

* At Fluxblog, an mp3 is posted of Sonic Youth doing 'Brother James' from their 1992 European tour, as well as some notes regarding Sonic Youth's recent show at Webster Hall.

* The Colonel's Weed, by Steven Young tells the story of a hemp farm run by the Chicago Tribune during the 1930s. The farm was set up by the paper in "hopes of bringing innovation to the desperate farming industry." [via drug war rant] excerpt:

"As crops throughout the midwest withered during the drought of 1936, the Chicago Tribune reported on one plant untroubled by the lack of water. 'When we stopped to look at the test plot where the hemp is growing, we wanted to doff our straw hat and give this plant a little applause,' wrote reporter Robert Becker. 'It has grown remarkably in spite of intense heat and drouth [sic]. In fact, one of the boys was saying that during the week of the most severe heat the hemp kept pushing its head to the blazing sun.'

"Becker's report showed up in a regular Tribune feature called 'Day by Day Story of the Experimental Farms.' This space kept readers up-to-date on two farms in the western suburbs that had been started (and publicized) by the Tribune in hopes of bringing innovation to the desperate farming industry.

"Hemp, traditionally used to make products like rope, paper, and birdseed, was an obvious choice for the experimental farms. Though it had been cultivated in the U.S. since colonial times by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Americans weren't growing much hemp in the 1930s. But new technological advances, as well as its natural resistance to drought, made hemp potentially attractive to struggling farmers.

"Less than a year after Tribune employees reported on the impressive properties of hemp, the drug czar of that day published an influential article in American Magazine. The story by Harry Anslinger, head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, began: 'The sprawled body of a young girl lay crushed on the sidewalk the other day after a plunge from the fifth story of a Chicago apartment house. Everyone called it suicide, but actually it was murder. The killer was a narcotic known to America as marihuana.'

"It wasn't long before the Chicago Tribune's hemp crop was the focus of a federal drug investigation."
"To accompany Ridgway's column, the Tribune published a photograph of farmworkers attempting to harvest the massive plants. At least one person was troubled by what he saw.

A few days after the photograph appeared, the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics received a letter from Washington. [FBI head Henry J.] Anslinger wanted a 'full report' on the Tribune's hemp."

"Anslinger wanted more information. Bass pressed Ridgway, who referred her to H.W. Bellrose, president of the World Fibre Corporation, an Illinois firm that processed the hemp produced by the Tribune farms."
But Bellrose saw more than paper coming from hemp. It promised salvation. "The growing of hemp by the American farmer means the growing of a crop that goes into industry and into the human stomach, and therefore, constitutes the only resolution of the present day agricultural problem," he wrote.

"Apparently Anslinger was not impressed. In 1937, at his insistent urging, Congress passed the Marihuana Tax Act. Though it didn't outlaw marijuana or cannabis, it imposed a tax so high that legal production became economically impossible. Anslinger vowed that hemp farmers would not be impacted by the new law.

"'I would say that they are not only amply protected under this act, but they can go ahead and raise hemp just as they have always done,' Anslinger stated during congressional hearings. It wasn't true. Hemp farmers, including those at the experimental farms, were about to learn that they'd been regulated out of legal existence."

* Krugman. excerpt:

"It's horrifying to think that the credibility of our democracy - a democracy bought through the courage and sacrifice of many brave men and women - is now in danger. It's so horrifying that many prefer not to think about it. But closing our eyes won't make the threat go away. On the contrary, denial will only increase the chances of a disastrously suspect election."


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