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Marc’s birthday, prison band, and more updates

submitted by on March 8, 2012

My 54th birthday on Monday, February 13th was spent being sick, my first real malaise since last June or July (I've been in great health otherwise). I was dizzy and unable to stand without being queasy. I believe it was from the vitamin fortified oatmeal I had before bed; vitamin supplements don't seem to sit well with me.

In 2000, I was just starting a daily regimen of vitamin, mineral, glucosamine and other supplements, 20 gel-caps of the stuff, and I got a terrible and sudden dizziness one morning 30 minutes after taking it all. It was like the whole world fell off its axis and I went to the floor, soaked my clothes immediately in a perspiration I had never before experienced. I was immediately nauseous and dizzy. Over the next 36 hours I remained very dizzy and nauseous when standing; it's called ataxia. Within 48 hours I had recovered.

Three weeks later, about 30 minutes after taking the supplements, I had an identical attack of dizziness, imbalance, nausea. I recovered over 36 hours. There were no other symptoms. I put the connecting dots together and never took supplements again and it never recurred… until I went to North Fraser Pre-Trial in 2010 awaiting extradition to the US. The food was inadequate so I ordered a single multi-vitamin out of the vending machine and the exact same thing happened again as had happened 10 years earlier, but not nearly as threatening or extreme. It still took 36 hours to recover.

Then after eating three packages of fortified oatmeal the night of February 12th this year, the next day, after a disturbed sleep, I feel the same dizziness, ataxia, and nausea, but wisely stayed on my bunk horizontal and slept the whole day, getting up only to rehearse in the studio on my birthday, which went well, remarkably. I went right to bed upon my return. Then nine days later a milder but identical attack occurred, still taking 36 hours to throw off the lightheadedness and sluggishness. There are no other symptoms, so it wasn't a cold, flu or other identifiable. I can't identify what I would have eaten that would have caused that last attack. In all five cases from 2000 to present, I am very tired until it subsides, and standing up I become light-headed, nauseous, and dizzy, improving over 36 hours until I am normal. I suspect drinking water would speed getting it out of my system.

So while it was lousy to be sick on my birthday, I did yesterday receive in the mail yesterday from Britney in Vancouver 40 Facebook pages from my birthday with hundreds of people wishing me well. It was great to see some familiar names there and new names. I love getting Facebook pages from my two accounts, so thank you Britney!

My health, other than those two bouts of ataxia, has been exemplary since July. The weather here is always great, it's warm and sunny almost every day, the air is very clean. I walk the track 90 minutes each day, read books (currently reading 'Just My Type, a History of Fonts', and 'A History of the World in 100 Objects'), my 30 magazine subscriptions that come, the NY Times (and the crossword each day), I write a letter every day but fall behind and I'm embarrassed to say some people who deserve replies don't sometime get one, plus I do three hours of email daily. My favorite magazines are MacLean's, which is Canada's 'national magazine', as it totally connects me to home, Mental Floss, a great magazine about anything that is so interesting I read every page, WIRED, DISCOVER, Bloomberg Business Week, and Backwoods Home Magazine. I enjoy reading Time and Newsweek. I get five guitar magazines, Rolling Stone, Architectural Digest, Harpers, and a bunch of others and read them all thoroughly. I'm hooked on a ten-part graphic novel series called 'Y: The Last Man', when all the men on earth except one perish from a plague.

As of today, Wednesday, February 29th, I have 861 days to go to my release on July 9, 2014, and 964 days of my sentence behind me. If I serve every day here, I still will not be released directly or immediately, on July 9th, 2014, US immigration will pick me up and take me to an immigration detention center, get my passport in order, and after about two weeks they will put me on a direct flight to Vancouver. So I'm hoping to be home with Jodie in time for our 8th wedding anniversary on July 23, 2014.

My fourth concert here at Yazoo medium was Saturday, February 18th, on a cool evening between Jodie's visits on the Saturday and Sunday. Our band, Yazoo, was a 6-piece that night, up until now we've been going through personnel changes.

First Victor decided to leave to form his own band, that left us as a four piece, which I really liked: SAPP on drums, TC on vocals, me on bass, Terry on lead. Then we added Don, an excellent guitarist, and Chap, also an excellent guitarist, bassist and vocalist, who were from the other rock band 'Out of Bounds', whose drummer got transferred to El Reno federal prison.

Well, there's a lot of talent in that 6-piece, so giving everyone enough to gratify them is a challenge, but it was working out okay. Then SAPP, our drummer, got in a brawl one day; his Florida homies got in a fight with some New York guys and when two guys get into a fight it can expand until there's a dozen or more within minutes, and so SAPP, not normally a person prone to violence, got put in solitary. We thought he'd be 'in the SHU' (Special Housing Unit) for 3-6 months minimum, and likely get a disciplinary transfer to another prison. So there goes our drummer, we thought.

At the same time, a new fellow came to the prison who is a very good drummer; though he lacks the subtle nuance that SAPP brought, he became our drummer for Yazoo. His name is James, or "JG" as he's called, and he was our our drummer since January to the concert, with no more than 6 practices together. Most of the black guys seem to have nicknames, like TC (our lead singer), or our old drummer 'SAPP' (whose name is Jermaine). So for the President's Day concert we were a 6-piece and it was a little less than perfect.

We played, in order of performance:

I Can See Clearly Now (Johnny Nash)
Red House (Jimi Hendrix)
A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)
Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
Stormy Monday (Bobby Blue Bland)
Black Magic Woman (Santana)
Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix)
Hey Joe (Jimi Hendrix)
Purple Haze (Hendrix)
Voodoo Child (Hendrix)

I thought I would have the most challenge with Black Magic Woman as my left pointer finger is extremely busy in that entire song and it kind of cramps up, but it turned out fine, even on a cold damp night. Our performance is loud and amplified through an excellent sound board and our audience was about 50-100 inmates, as it was dark, moist and cold that weekend, but you perform when you can. I flubbed a few lines on I Can See Clearly Now (which was the theme song for my Pot TV "Prince of Pot" show for years), but was fine for the rest of the songs.

Since that concert, TC, who will be released soon, left the band, and SAPP returned! Yay! JG was a good drummer but his beats were too fast and aggressive, so SAPP being back is a huge boost to the band. Chap will be doing all the vocals now, so we are a 5-piece, which, with SAPP back, will be a great rock 'n roll band again.

Marc posing with his "Prince of Pot" SweetLeaf guitar, 2009(Photo: Marc posing with his "Prince of Pot" SweetLeaf guitar, 2009)

In my 9 months as a musician (I can't believe I'm even able to call myself a 'musician' credibly), I have been part of a Jamaican reggae band playing Bob Marley songs, played four country songs, five R&B songs, nine Hendrix songs and a dozen classic rock songs.

My band's practice time in the studio is Monday evening from 5:30pm to 8pm. We worked on the Beatles 'Come Together' and 'Crazy Train' by Ozzy Osbourne. It's a blast doing 'Come Together', it sounds terrific, there is a great bass line to it, and the song has a strange portentous quality to it. The words and vocals in the original by John Lennon say 'shoot me' over 20 times throughout, and the song seems to be about various jokers and strange people who 'come together' 'over me' like creative friends meeting over a funeral for the singer (John Lennon).

The song apparently was written in 1969 for the aborted run for governor campaign by Timothy Leary for the 1970 election in California. 'Come together and join the party' was the original theme; the song took an ominous turn after Leary fled the USA, first to Mexico, then Algeria, to avoid a lengthy jail sentence for marijuana. Leary had already had the US Supreme Court declare US federal marijuana prohibition unconstitutional in 1968, but he was charged again and given serious prison time. So 'Come Together' has a fascinating history and the bass parts are great! The Beatles were my first great love in music, as our Aunty Gladys sent me the (45 rpm) singles 'Love Me Do/Please Please Me' and 'She Loves You/PS I Love You' for Christmas 1963, when I was 5 years old.

In the summer of 1969, when I was 11 years old, five and a half years after Aunt Gladys sent me those two Beatles singles (which in 1964 we played on my parents "hi-fi"), I got one of those portable kids turn-table 'record players' in a portable box with a carrying handle. My first purchases were two 45 rpm records at 49 cents each from K-Mart: 'Sugar, Sugar' by the Archies, and 'Daydream Believer' by the Monkees. I still love both those songs 43 years later, and can sing them now as I could when I first elatedly bought them and played them 25 times a day for the first week in that summer of '69.

My older brother Stephen, eighteen years old, was so disturbed by my repetitious playing of 'bubblegum songs', he went and bought me five 45 rpm singles of what he called 'real music'. He gifted me with copies of 'Light My Fire' by the Doors, 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay' by Otis Redding, 'Suite Judy Blue Eyes' by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 'Laughing/Undun' by the Guess Who and 'Hey Jude/Revolution' by the Beatles. I have forever loved those songs too, and feel so privileged that my band Yazoo played, at our recent concert, Otis Redding's final song before his untimely death in 1967 by airplane crash.

Davy Jones, lead singer of the Monkees, died today, at age 66 from a heart attack. I remember my first girlfriend Lorrie had pin-ups of Bobby Sherman, David Soul and Davy Jones on her wall that summer of 1969. I was supposedly not cool, according to my brother, to love the Monkees, but I did – and still do. Think of me singing this song, mimicking a boyish English accent. (Thanks, Davy Jones. Video below.)

Oh I could hide 'neath the wings of the bluebird as she sings
The six o'clock alarm would never ring
But it rings and I rise, wipe the sleep out of my eyes
My shaving razor's cold and it stings

Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?

You once thought of me as a white knight on his steed
Now you know how happy I can be
Oh, and our good time starts and ends
With a dollar one to spend
But how much baby do we really need?

Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?
Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?

Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?
Cheer up, sleepy Jean, oh what can it mean
To a daydream believer and a homecoming queen?

Along with Come Together and Crazy Train, I am learning the bass lines to 'Stranglehold' by Ted Nugent and I already know the bass lines to 'Money' by Pink Floyd, so we will be incorporating those four songs in our Easter concert (April 7th) set, replacing 'I Can See Clearly Now', 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay', 'A Change is Gonna Come' and 'Stormy Monday'. Out go the blues, in comes the rock!

In the next month, so we are told, we can buy an MP3 player for $70 that holds up to 1,500 songs, and the terminals to download songs are being installed in our units in the next few weeks. Songs will cost $1.20 and $1.55 each. Alas, my monthly budget is now $850, and it will go up to $920 a month once I buy 40 songs a month.

Marc and Jodie, May 30th 2011(Photo: Marc and Jodie, May 30th 2011)

The biggest expense for me here is email, at $3 an hour, and I do about three hours a day, so that's about $300 a month there, plus $320 on food, clothing and toiletries, $125 on phone calls to Jodie, $50 on postage, photocopies, stationary, and soon I'll add on songs to buy plus the initial purchase of an MP3 player. Plus I need some new running shoes. Usually I would get a guy who cleans shoes to clean them, but last time I did that, he swapped my running shoes and gave me back a pair that was not mine, and that were not in as good condition (and as I looked days later after realizing they felt different, noticed they were not the same size either), but by the time I noticed that they felt different (at first I thought they just shrank or changed shape from the washing), the guy was let out of prison and wearing my better condition running shoes. He 'swapped 'em out' as they saying goes. So that's another $55.

I want to thank Mr. Rochte of Grosse Point, Michigan for putting $50 in my account twice, as has Kevin H. in Winnipeg, who put $40 in my account twice over the last month, and a Mr. Sernocky who also put in $50 twice in the last month! Yay! It really helps me, and I feel like less of a burden on Jodie. In the last 16 months alone, Jodie has spent $38,000 to visit me, and I have required $13,000 to live on in that time, a total of $51,000. Jodie and I have received donations totalling nearly $31,000 in that time, plus I sold my ZZ Top signed guitar for $2,500 to Tony Glickley (thank you Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, who donated the guitar, Francouver who arranged it, and Tony for buying it), so without the help of friends all over, my life would be way more difficult, challenging, and lonely! Jodie also depends on the store to help cover travel costs, so her customers and supporters are definitely appreciated and necessary. A super-special thank you to Dana Larsen for sending me over 100 books over the last year and arranging for my friends Catharine Leach, Jeremiah & Carina of CC, my ex's (and still friends) Cheryl and Marcy to visit me, and being always beyond generous and helpful. Dana is my best friend and without him my ability to cope would be greatly lessened.

The Province newspaper is coming to visit/interview me on April 21st and 22nd, right after 4/20, for an article on how I'm doing here at Yazoo. I would love it if the reporter could see my band playing in the studio on Monday night so I have a witness from home who can testify our band sounds like the real thing, especially on our Hendrix songs, or 'Crazy Train', 'Come Together', or 'Black Magic Woman'. It would be good propaganda for the prison too, as I have already said in interviews that regarding its core job of keeping inmates safe, and having guards who don't harbor animosity towards inmates, this place is well run. I arrived here on 4/20 last year. CBC National TV news is also seeking permission to film an interview with me here to put on their national news telecast. I would love to have our band play Black Magic Woman for CBC TV news! But it's not likely to happen, as the prison doesn't seem eager to have reporters come visit. So we'll see how that goes.

My next visits from Jodie are March 10/11 and 24/25, then April 15/16 and 29/30, then May 19/20, then June 9/10. I just received back today ten photos of Jodie and I taken in the visitation room from our last visit on the Presidents Day weekend (February 18/19), so you'll see those in a week or so!

This Saturday I'm hoping Ron Paul wins his first primary/caucus with the Washington State caucus. I'm hoping he wins first in Washington, Alaska (March 6th caucus), and comes in second and gets delegates out of Idaho, Virginia, North Dakota, Vermont on Super Tuesday (March 6th). Go Ron Paul! My good friend and busy SuperMom activist (and CC blogger) Catharine Leach of Rhode Island is campaigning until April 24th, the day of the Rhode Island Primary, to be a Ron Paul delegate to the Republican Presidential Convention in Tampa from August 27-30. Catharine has qualified for the delegate nomination process, and now must campaign to have Republican primary voters back her to be a delegate. Rhode Island gets 16 delegates to the Republican convention, 8 from the two districts in RI. If Ron Paul gets 15% or more, he gets at least one delegate from each district; if he comes in first, he gets 4 delegates from each district, second is two delegates, third or fourth (but over 15%) is one delegate each.

Catharine and I (as well as Jodie, and many others!) believe that if Ron Paul is not the Republican nominee, America is in serious trouble. Our great faith in Ron Paul's strong views against prohibition were beautifully summarized with a speech he gave on Thursday, February 16 in Vancouver, Washington, where he said (quoted verbatim from Seattle CBS local evening news of February 17th, and Associated Press):

"'If we are allowed to deal with our eternity with all that we believe in spiritually, and if we're allowed to read any book that we want under freedom of speech, why is it we can't put into our body whatever we want?' Paul told more than 1,000 people at a rally in Vancouver, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Voters in Washington are likely to decide this year whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana."

(Also see videos and articles of Ron Paul defending and fighting for the cannabis culture here)

I hope the legion of cannabis activists in Washington State will go vote for Ron Paul at the Washington state caucus this Saturday, March 3rd. The Oregon Primary is May 15th, and Ron Paul has a good chance of winning first or second in Oregon also. Good luck to you, Catharine, and please, my US supporters and readers, please get out to vote for the wonderful, decent, anti-prohibitionist Ron Paul in your states primary or caucus!

www.RonPaul2012.com

 

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