It's Monday, April 2nd, 828 days to go to my release date of July 9, 2014. Although I get 'released' from prison on that date, because I am Canadian I have a 'detainer' on me, so what happens is US Immigration picks me up from the prison and takes me to an immigration detention center, puts me before a judge where I confirm I want to be deported back to Canada, and then I'll wait in an immigration jail until they put me on a plane to Vancouver with some US Marshall escorting me.
That apparently takes a few weeks, so I'm hoping to be home with Jodie in time for our 8th wedding anniversary on July 23, 2014.
This Saturday I have my 5th concert outside in the recreation area with the excellent amplified equipment they have here for concerts. This is the Easter Weekend concert, and our band YAZOO will be playing in this order:
1) Don's Jam (a warm-up improv piece)
2) Come Together (Beatles)
3) White Room (Cream)
4) Hey Joe (Hendrix)
5) Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
6) Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix)
7) Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Santana)
8) Crazy Train (Ozzy Osborne)
9) Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)
10) Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
11) Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker)
12) Red House (Hendrix)
13) Purple Haze (Hendrix)
14) Blue on Black (Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
15) Pride & Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan)
16) Hotel California (Eagles)
17) Voodoo Child (Hendrix)
I've been practicing every day for a few hours and tonight we have our final studio rehearsal where we run through all 17 of our songs and see where we might have a few things to work out this week in the days leading up to the concert. I feel we know the material pretty well now, my big hope is for good weather. If it rains, we can't have all this electrical equipment outside and the concert would be postponed.
Yesterday we took photos of the band members Don, Terry, Sapp, Chap, and myself, which you will see on my Facebook page in about 3 weeks or so after Jodie gets them in the mail. We aren't permitted to have our instruments in the photo, so we'll be having an artist here make a band poster using our photographs as reference and then drawing us in the studio playing our music. From there I'll use that to make posters for our upcoming concerts here. I'm sure you will see this YAZOO band poster on Facebook and www.FreeMarc.ca when it's completed.
April 20th is coming up in a few weeks, and I'm not shy about saying that this now-colossal worldwide Cannabis Celebration event was started by my HEMP BC staff in April of 1995, and on that April 20 in Victory Square (at Cambie & Hastings street), it was a beautiful sunny day with music, speeches, toking and good times. The original idea to have April 20 change from just a time of the day (4:20pm) to a whole day (4/20, April 20) was inspired by two Grateful Deadheads who worked for me, Danna Rozek and Cindy Lassu. In 1997 we moved the rally to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where about 1,000 people came and toked from about 1pm to 6pm.
In those years from 1997 to 2008, the master of ceremonies and co-ordinator was activist and 'dealer dignity' advocate David Malmo-Levine. It grew from attendance of 1,000 to 10,000 in that decade, and by 2005 the event had evolved to become a farmer's market of cannabis consumables along with a day-long smoke-out, peaking at 4:20pm with a massive collective cannabis plume floating above the Art Gallery square bounded on all sides by Georgia, Howe, Robson and Hornby streets. There is nothing else like it in the world, not even Amsterdam or any other cannabis mecca has a day-long smoke-out in the major downtown public square combined with a fantastic assortment of cannabis ingestibles, smokeables and consumables for sale.
This year even the school board has closed the high schools for Friday, April 20th, accepting the inevitable 4/20 absences and making it official. This means even more young people than usual will be toking all day, and hopefully not drinking alcohol, as problems each year arise from alcohol excess. Police are polite and stay on the periphery to guide traffic, and there are never any major problems. I encourage you to spend money and patronize the vending booths and pavilions by the main sponsors "Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture Headquarters" (or CCHQ), Vancouver Seed Bank, The Dispensary, and EndProhibition.
Marking his 18th April 20 involvement in Vancouver, having been involved in every Vancouver 4/20 ever, former Cannabis Culture editor (1995-2005), Dispensary entrepreneur, author (Hairy Pothead & The Marijuana Stone), former BC NDP leadership candidate and my best friend Dana Larsen is organizing this year's huge event with Jacob Hunter of WhyProhibition.ca co-ordinating the day's logistics and Adam Bowen (host of the BCMP Vapour Lounge Jam Night) arranging the incredible musical line-up and staging of the presentations that go on from noon to the early evening. You can see videos and photos of Vancouver's 4/20 from previous years at the new website www.420Vancouver.com to whet your appetite for the greatest outdoor pot party on earth this year!
As a point of clarification, Seattle definitely has a huge 3-day rally in August, that possibly sees 250,000 people attend at Myrtle Edwards Park, and there is no peer on Earth to that event, but it's not an open-air farmer's market with cannabis products sold openly and without police interference and consumed openly for 10 hours on end. But why not attend both and see for yourself? They both represent the height of achievement within the movement. Seattle is an all-volunteer event that has incredible political credibility with Congressmen, the Mayor of Seattle, State representatives and other big names speaking. The sheer scale is awe-inspiring. Vancouver's 4/20 has attracted Members of Parliament Libby Davies to speak at last year's event, but it is largely a massive party and celebration of the cannabis culture.
On April 20, while the party goes on, the Vancouver Province newspaper will be sending columnist Jon Ferry down to Yazoo Medium to interview me that weekend. The weather here in Mississippi is warm and sunny every day, quite a contrast to my hometown of Vancouver, where most days are described to me as cool, overcast or rainy. I'm certainly grateful for the very sunny, warm days, the constant breezes, the excellent air that I breathe when I'm outside here. It's a large component in why I feel so healthy here.
I've been reading some wonderful graphic novels, comic books, my many magazine subscriptions, the NY Times newspaper (I do the crossword each day too), some excellent books, and I remain a major source of reading items loaned to many inmates here. Our MP3 players have yet to be put on sale, and although these delays (the MP3 player has been 'coming soon' since I arrived here a year ago) are suspenseful, it has not hindered my musical progress. The current scuttlebutt is that they go on sale in the first week of May.
This last weekend I had a visit from my great friend and Rhode Island activist Catharine Leach. This is the second time Cat has come to visit me, and both times she has had numerous challenges! The first time she visited last October, the electrical system on her plane here failed mid-air and she thought she was going to die until they made a successful return to the airport. This time, she encountered numerous annoyances like banks that wouldn't change a $50 bill into quarters and small bills, the guards here held her for inspection of her rental car, and they refused her admission because her shoes had no backs on them (a rule for visiting), so she had to go into town and buy an $18 pair of shoes with backs on them (that put dents in her feet, as she showed me) to get in to visit me. Then her plane leaving Jackson required maintenance and she was held overnight in Atlanta because she then missed her connecting flight. Plus she came down with a cold and missed her husband and children. It's possible that's the last time Catharine is going to visit me, but I really enjoyed seeing a friend and laughing a great deal over the weekend. I always cherish seeing Jodie visit me every two to four weeks, but seeing a friend in the two years I've been inside US prisons is very rare.
April 12th is my 8th anniversary of Jodie and I becoming involved with each other. In our entire time together, Jodie has had to live with the tension of having me go to jail or being in jail. When I get out in July 2014, I'll be so excited to be with her without the imminent threat of jail time awaiting me. The week we became very close I was in court for passing one joint in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with saw me ultimately get sentenced to three months in jail later that summer. After that stint at Saskatoon Correction from August to October 2004, I was arrested the following year for extradition to the USA, and here I am.
So I'm excited that finally Jodie and I, in July 2014 – by then more than 10 years after we became an item – will be able to have some peace and serenity in our relationship without the threat of prison hovering about our heads. I LOVE MY BRAVE AND AMAZING MRS. JODIE EMERY! It will be so wonderful to finally be home. 828 days to go. (See the daily countdown clock at www.FreeMarc.ca)