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Marc’s Trip to the Middle East, 1975

submitted by on August 9, 2011

The Sphinx at duskThis is a preview from Marc Emery’s autobiography that he has been working on in prison. (Read the first chapter, "The Prophecy", here.) His life-changing high school trip to the Middle East at age 17 ended with Marc dropping out of grade 12 to open his first bookstore. Here, he describes the incredible journey.


In November 1974, Don McQueen, my favorite teacher at Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in London, Ontario, announced to my history class that there was a Board of Education sponsored trip to the Middle East in March 1975 for select students in London high schools.

It would be a two-week trip, flying from Toronto to London, England, staying there for two days, and then flying to Dubrovnik (later changed to Split) Yugoslavia (and now Croatia). Next we boarded the S.S. Nevasa, a Pacific & Orient (P&O) ship under British flag. We students stayed in what was called fourth class, in bunks at the bottom of the ship. Except for the time the ship spent crossing the Mediterranean for 36 hours, we were on shore during the daytime, while the ship traveled the Mediterranean at night. Once departed from Split, we cut across to Alexandria, Egypt, boarded busses to Cairo to see the Great Pyramids, returned to ship by nightfall, traveled over to Beirut, Lebanon at night, and stayed one day in Beirut. Then the ship traveled down the coast to Tel Aviv, where we boarded busses in the morning to go to Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the day. Returning to the ship, it went north to Izmir, Turkey, where we spent the day visiting the Roman aqueducts at Ephesus. Returning at nightfall, the ship went to Piraeus, the port city adjacent to Athens, where we stayed for three days, exploring the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Athens, and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. Then we flew back to Toronto via London, England.

The total cost, Mr. McQueen announced, for three weeks abroad, was $800. A bargain, I immediately understood.

I was excited. I was 16, turning 17 in February, and had only ever left Canada to see the Detroit Tigers play, or go to comic book conventions in Buffalo or Detroit. I had not seen any of the world as a young adult beyond a 150-kilometer radius of my hometown of London, Ontario.

When I told Dad and Mom about this trip, I was making good money, as much as $100-$300 profit weekly, which I did tend to reinvest in my thriving comic book business, Marc's Comic Room. Dad proposed that if I would pay half, he would pay the other $400. My Dad, Alfred, was thinking that in many aspects, this trip mirrored his own fond recollections of these places he traveled in the Mediterranean theatre of war during WW2. Dad had medals indicating service in the Suez (Egypt), Palestine (Israel), Italy, France, and North Africa, and he had been in Jerusalem, Cairo, and Alexandria. Dad was a voracious reader of history and military books, and I too imitated him in reading many of the same books when I wasn't working on Marc's Comic Room. By this time I had already read dozens of books on ancient history and military histories including William Shirer's 1,000-page tome The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich – the seminal book on WW2 in its day.

The trip was to take place in March, and although I regarded grade 12 as a pointless waste of my time, stealing valuable energy and focus from my burgeoning comic book business, this trip was compelling as I imagined it.

BUYING A BOOKSTORE

"Marc's Comic Room" catalogIn mid-February, two weeks before the trip, I was making my rounds of the used book shops in downtown London, combing them, as I had for five years now, for whatever vintage Marvel comic books they had at a good price for me to add to my inventory. By February, 1975, I had 29,000 comic books, all bagged in plastic, in 259 boxes on over five hundred feet of shelving, taking up the entire unfinished basement area of my parents’ home at 27 Parliament Crescent. I would acquire whole collections from collectors, buy complete inventories of competitors getting out of business, and advertise to purchase comics from individuals by mail in The Comics Journal and any comic fanzine or publication.

I even had my own counter on weekends from 1972 to 1974 in one of the used bookshops in London, The Book Bin. My catalog to sell the comics had 500 printed up every three months. Prices rose consistently, and as the 70's progressed, the hobby grew, and comic books began to be considered a good investment. I had Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) about eight times in the four and a half years from 1971 to 1975. In my first catalog, I sold it for $120, and by the final catalog it was $380. Today, a copy in fine condition is worth over $10,000.

I went into the London Used Book Market on what I recall was a weekday in mid-February, as I had skipped school, and Ernie Rentz, the owner, stunned me upon my entrance by saying "I'm selling the shop, Marc, so if you want it, it's all yours for $10,000." That was it. No introduction. "If you are interested, you have to let me know. I want to move it real soon."

Ernie Rentz always struck me somehow as a former KGB-agent turned bookseller. He had come from Thunder Bay in 1973 and set up a used book shop-military paraphernalia-art gallery mishmash of a shop that reeked of my favorite smell, dusty old books. By now, I had just about finished wading through over a thousand bound newspaper volumes from 1905 to 1955, stripping the colour Sunday comics out of them, and the daily black and white strips too. I had seen the history of the century through the daily screaming headlines of the Sacramento Union, the Boston Globe, The New Jersey Ledger, turning each page by hand, seeing 50 years of history through multiple US newspapers. Old paper smells were ambrosia to me. My comic books that I had lived with daily had a nice pulpy smell, but not like Ernie's shop.

Ernie promised me he'd tutor me how to run the shop if I bought it. "Two weeks is all it'll take". Though I felt unsure of that at the time he said it, he turned out to be right. He wanted to get more into the antiques game; Victorian furniture was reaching its peak at the time. He wanted to spend his days and nights at auction houses in London, Aylmer, Strathroy, and the neighbouring towns, where family estates were being liquidated almost daily. This was an era before Internet and eBay, and I myself would spend many nights in the late 1970's bidding at local auction houses on collections or books, bookshelves, and ephemera from the 1850- 1930 periods. Auction houses specializing in old estate furniture were far busier and more relevant than you'd find today; the market has dropped out of Victorian or old furniture in the modern era, as it doesn't blend with the modern condominium or apartment architecture, or even modern housing architecture. Prices are significantly less in 2011 that they were in 1980 for quality furniture of bygone eras. Not all commodities increased in value over time.

Ernie was adamant about me taking over his store. "I can't wait too long," he said. I told him almost immediately, "I'm interested."

What I liked about Ernie's unpretentious shop, aside from smells and the exciting expectation of old treasure (and flotsam and jetsam) coming through the front door every day was that Ernie ran his shop his way. When a woman customer impressed him, he'd say, overtly flirtatiously, "Marry me, and half this will be all yours." It always got a laugh. Some approaches were more risky, and I met a few woman who called him a sexist pig after he gave out a card that read, "You are hereby awarded this card, which entitles you to 20% off your next purchase, because you are so lovely and beautiful and because you do not wear a bra, thereby making the world a more perfect place in your own wonderful way." This was in the era when, in fact, many attractive women did not wear a bra, but Ernie was very blunt about his appreciation of that matter, and, as far as I could tell, gave that card out a fair bit.

"Marc's Comic Room" catalogHis store took on his personality. I liked that. I had already developed a fairly iconoclastic approach to selling my comic books, a carnival barker's flair for theatre, and I thought, "I would love this lifestyle".

"Okay, I'll talk to my father," I said.

So I went home, feeling like I wanted Ernie's shop badly, but for $10,000 I did not have, nor could I get unless I sold my comic book business. My first thought was to merge my comic book business into Ernie's book shop, get out of military memorabilia (all that Hitler and German military stuff kind of creeped me out) and the art gallery part, straighten the place out, add my comic books, and … paradise.

I told Dad, "Ernie wants to sell his bookshop. He wants $10,000 for it. I think it’s worth it. I'd have to quit school, because he wants to sell it by March and be out by April." Ernie would not budge on the deadline.

The location was 100 feet long by 18 feet wide. It was cramped, crowded, and confusing, but in an era when people still read and collected books – long before Kindle, long before the Internet, before EBay, before amazon.com – it was a place patronized by enough book hounds to be viable. I figured with Dad it would need to sell $300 a day to break even, to cover its costs of operation. The monthly rent was only $500 for a 2,000 square foot place in downtown London, when it was thriving. A good deal in 1975, before downtown experienced a precipitous slide in prestige with the rapacious development of the suburbs and over-development of malls that caused a collapse downtown in 1988 and worsening thereafter.

Dad told Mom, but Mom was adamant, "No, no, no." For three days and nights they argued like I had never before seen. In fact, I had never seen them argue; Dad didn't believe in it. At least, they never argued around me. I could overhear them and Dad channeled himself, saying, "If I deny him this, it may be the opportunity he'll regret losing for the rest of his life. I never got the chance to go my own way. I'm terribly reluctant to take this one chance away from him. He's a bright boy. He thinks he can do it."

I remember Mom said, "He should go to Harvard. He's brilliant. He can't be a shopkeeper!" Dad was proud of his working class roots, and I'm sure he'd wonder how he would ever pay to put me through Harvard – and I had never expressed any interest in school, period, and certainly never university. I had dreamed of owning a shop since I was 11, when I started Marc's Comic Room out of my bedroom. It was all I had ever dreamed of. There was no other alternative to me. Dad knew this. I was really astonished Dad stood up for what must have surely seemed like an extraordinary risk and a long shot, talented as I was.

He looked me in the eye, and said, "Do you really want this Marc? And can you do it?" And I said I could, I simply would. I had no doubt.

So for three days and nights Mom & Dad argued, and on the fourth day, Dad said. "You can do it, Marc." More incredibly, when we spoke about financing it, he said, "I can borrow $5,000 from the credit union. I can redeem my life insurance policy for a $5,000 loan. Together that’s $10,000 I can loan you. You'll have to pay me back $250 each month for four years, and that includes interest."

At this point, the plan was to merge my comic books with the bookshop. I went back to Ernie the following week, and he said, "I think I've got someone interested in buying the shop. What about you?"

I was nervous he'd already committed. "My Dad says I can buy the shop from you."

"Good," he said. "I want to close the deal April 15th. You'll need to sign a new lease with the landlord, Gus Koloufis."

I couldn't legally sign anything, as I had just turned 17. My Dad would have to co-sign the lease, guaranteeing payment. My dad's family had never had any businesspeople in it, ever, and I knew these debts and obligations weighed heavy on him, he who was so necessarily cautious in all financial dealings – a man of working-class background with few maneuverable options, raising four children, a wife, and himself. My Dad, though nervous, never wavered in his confidence in me. And though I have always loved my dad, I loved him even more with this beautiful, touching leap of faith in me, something I would never assume would or could happen, but it did. Dad plunged in with everything he had to give me, co-signing a lease, borrowing from his credit union, borrowing on his life insurance even.

I was due to leave on the Middle Eastern trip in just two weeks, from March 2nd to March 17th. On April 1st, Ernie would train me for two weeks, and then on April 15th, the store would be mine, and I would be on my own. A shopkeeper. A bookseller. A small-businessman. And, according to my disgraced Mom, a dropout. Ten years after I became a success almost immediately – but not quite immediately – in the book trade, Mom would still plead with me, "When are you going to get your Grade 12?" and I heard that plea at least once a year for over a decade.

[Note: In July 2011, Marc officially got his GED grade 12 equivalency in Mississippi's Yazoo City medium-security federal prison. Read about it in his blog post here.]

LONDON & YUGOSLAVIA

It was March 1st, the big day. Late in the afternoon we boarded a bus to take us to Toronto International Airport (called Malton Airport in those days, maybe Pearson by then). We took off near midnight, and I flew my first transatlantic flight in the dark, with the sun coming up as we approached Ireland. It was probably the first flight over an ocean for all of the 40 students from London, Ontario secondary schools. I was one of only 6 or 7 from my school.

We arrived in London, England, at Gatwick airport, and were shuttled to a closeted number of rooms in a part of London. There was no time to rest; we were expected to do that on the plane. After the continental breakfast of muffins, pastries and tea, we visited Westminster Abbey, and I marveled at the graves of some many famous icons of English literature and history. Then we bussed over to Buckingham Palace, and spent three hours at the British Museum, where I remember seeing Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, disturbingly grafittied by magic markers. The British Museum was wonderful, but in three hours, you can see very little of it – though it was certainly enough to fascinate me.

In that very crowded day we were allowed to visit some shops for a few hours, and I remember thinking, in that brief time, that there was something backwards about England, a malaise of some kind, a quaintness of the 1950s somehow still intact. It didn't seem like Swinging London of 1967-1969; it seemed stagnant, for 1975, though I couldn't put my finger on why it seemed that way. Both my parents came from England in 1951 and I remember this only trip I ever had to England, for preciously few hours at that, made me grateful I was raised in Canada.

By 10:00am the next day we were taken to the airport and quickly boarded a plane (BOAC, as I recall, now British Airways), and flew over Europe to land in the seaside port of Split, Yugoslavia. Before we boarded the ship at 6:00pm, we walked around this city for about an hour and a half. I remember all the local people seemed very handsome, very blond and blue-eyed. The local women all held each other’s hands when walking, as if to mutually ward off the predations of the local men, who oozed licentiousness. In the first of many lectures on looking after the women in our midst, we were told never to let the young females in our group out of our sight, preferably hold their hand, and always claim they were our girlfriends and they were absolutely not single. This proved conveniently romantic for me the entire trip, but the British tour organizers (who were often military-bearing individuals) were dead serious and made us aware of the fact that local men were untrustworthy everywhere we were going.

Once on board, crowds of local men called up to the young women of our group on the ship, throwing change up to them, calling out phrases, in Croat I believe, that were no doubt suggestive and along the lines of 'come down and be with us' or 'take me with you'. I thought it was a strange place, this gothic old port city with its handsome, horny, male-dominated quasi-Communist society. At least, that’s what I gleamed from the three or four hours before we were ensconced on board and pulling out into the Adriatic Sea, where we crossed the eastern Mediterranean for the next 30 hours.

17-year-old Marc inside the ship with friend JulieWe were the cheapest paying customers. At $800 per student, much of that must have gone to our flights from Toronto to London, London to Split, and the return trip from Athens to London, then London to Toronto. So we were packed pretty tightly on board, on the very bottom of the ship – hundreds of us, 40 Canadians, but hundreds of British schoolboys and girls too, although their itinerary was entirely separate from ours. The real cost of this ship was being paid for by the third-class, but especially the second-class and first-class passengers. It was necessary that first-class and second-class never see us, so when we were on board, we had specific times to be in any particular spot. We ate in a big dining room on the bottom deck, served with military/prison efficiency, gathered up, and ready to disembark at 8:00am to whatever detailed and meticulous plan had been made for us, and brought back usually around nightfall, around 7:00pm. Each night we could dance in a dancing room from 8:00 to 9:00pm, and then we had to be in our bunks and lights out by 9:30pm.

Now what was odd, and interesting, is there was no age limit on drinking alcohol on this trip. The limit was 4 Dubonnets (sweet) per person, sold to us in the dance hall for 50 cents an ounce glass, from 8:00pm to 9:00pm only. After that, we were cleared out and the real paying passengers had run of it from 9:30 to whenever it closed down. At sea, it seemed also there were no taxes on alcohol, so it was very cheap, and plentiful. This was the first time I tried Dubonnet dry (white) and sweet (burgundy coloured). What was clear and strict is that we had to be out of that dance bar by 9:00pm, so drink up!

I suppose the teachers must have decided, "what the hell, they may as well learn the perils of alcohol under our supervision", it would be as best as any education into the pitfalls of alcohol. (In fact, the school never had a trip that fun, adventurous or amazing ever again, and there were reprimands upon our return when word got around about the 4 Dubonnets per student per night rule.) So this went on every evening, except the night in Turkey we went to see belly dancing at a local restaurant in Izmir, where I discovered Ouzo – and that’s when I really saw the perils of alcohol. But more on that later.

The first trip out of Split was the only time we were aboard ship during the day. We awoke to see the daylight on top, and the Mediterranean looked endless and dark blue, with no other ship or island to be seen until we pulled into Alexandria around 10:00pm. Throughout the night we heard explosions every 15-minute interval, at the water line above us. Apparently, to my disconcert, the Egyptian navy was testing out detonations of mines in the harbour. The 1973 war with Israel was clear in the minds of Egypt's naval defense, but hardly something to make those young ones at the bottom of a very resonant metal ship's hull feel secure.

After getting thoroughly acquainted with our new prerogative to get drunk very cheap and very fast at night, we packed it in, and thanks to the alcohol we slept like the lucky buggers we were.

EGYPT

That morning, on March 5th, we awoke, quickly ate and dressed, and went on top to disembark. There was a large 20-piece brass band, in full blue, gold, and red uniforms, all to greet the 40 of us. The impressive musical greeting may well have been intended for the several hundred tourists on board the ship, but I recall no others to witness it – though I may have been so dazzled by simply being in Egypt to notice.

Camels in Cairo, EgyptAs we marched off double file from the ship to waiting busses, the ocean-swept breeze over the heat was delicious and welcome. I felt in a foreign land, indeed. We boarded a bus and it drove three hours down a road that ran parallel to the Nile River, which we could often see clearly through the windows. On the other side of the river we saw farmers working laboriously. I have never witnessed that before: tilling fields using a hand plow and an ox to pull it. The farmer wore what appeared to be a single sweat-soaked piece of cloth. To us, this was a shocking thing to observe, and we were much quieter than I would have expected, but we were witnessing poverty like we had never seen before. The job looked futile and hopeless; one man here and one there, tilling a field in this blazing sun. It was snowing when we left Canada, cloudy and cool in London, and now it was very, very hot and dry in the interior away from the Mediterranean.

In class we learned that the Nile River floods annually and distributes silt, a fertilizer, over the arable areas adjacent to the Nile River. Only about 25 miles from the River inland does anything grow; the rest of Egypt is the desert. There are irrigation projects that divert the waters of the Nile to outlying farmland. Most of Egypt's 39 million people lived within 25 miles of the Nile at that time. 35 years later, Egypt has 83 million people, and still has so much poverty.

When we arrived in Cairo, it was noon, so we went to the Cairo museum and looked at the many artifacts of ancient Egypt. I remember Mr. McQueen remarking that the place was poorly lit for exhibition and "that’s why the museums in London, Paris and Berlin won't let them be exhibited here, they don't do it right." Later on, the Egyptian guide reprimanded the Europeans for absconding with some many artifacts in the century after Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798. In the time afterward, British, French, German excavations and archaeological digs had unearthed and returned to Europe thousands of previous buried or entombed mummies, artifacts, and treasures hidden among the pyramids, mausoleums, and buried civilizations past.

Then we were given the necessary commercial detour – that is, we were taken to a perfumery shop, which was very nice, but it was a side-trip that was clearly aimed at the first- and second-class passengers who had the money, inclination and interest in extracts, essences and perfumes. I did like the idea of the tea and cakes offered to all of us as a charming Middle Eastern ritual of social etiquette before business, but the owner was out of luck as far as sales went. We did get a nice history and explanation of how perfumes were made, and the ones made and sold there were pure plant extracts and essences, not chemical formulas. I did find that fascinating, though to this day I have never enjoyed perfumes.

After a quick lunch, which we brought with us, around 5:00pm we went first to the great pyramids, as the day was cooling by then and we would have expired from the heat earlier, as we had come out into what was still desert back in 1975. The Sphinx’s nose was blown off, we were told, by the Australian troops massed here in 1916 who used it as target practice, preparing for the ill-fated campaigns against the Turks at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. I have no idea if it was true, but we sure didn't think highly of the Australians after Mr. McQueen told us that.

The Sphinx at duskWe were able to wander about the pyramids relatively unsupervised, except for the permanent caveat that the women in our group were to be accompanied by a male at all times. It was really hot, and as the sun was blazing. I bought a Coca-Cola for five cents, but when the young 8-year-old soda seller sold it to us, he followed me around repeating something, and then realized he had to get the bottle back. So I gulped those Coca-Colas immediately thereafter, realizing what the arrangement had to be. Coca-Cola was the only beverage I remember being offered.

I tried to climb one of the pyramids, but those blocks of rock measured, as I recall, 4 feet by four feet by four feet, and after getting up about 40 feet, I gave up on that exhausting prospect and climbed back down. (It was still a nice view!) Camels and their drivers offered rides, and I took one brief five-minute ride for a few dollars. I found it very uncomfortable and dangerous, and I was glad to get off – then the camel spit right in my face. I somehow thought that was the experience: discomfort and then insult, $2 please.

The sun was setting, and we admired the lovely effect it had on the silhouette of the pyramids and took our photographs before boarding the bus to return to Alexandria.

At the time, the slums of Cairo were visible only a few miles away, but their encroachment on the pyramids moves further out each year, and now I'm told that people live by the pyramids, which would, alas, sully the experience, as even in 1975, the begging of children and supplicant mothers was a bit trying, and despite being taught by the military-like English chaperone how to say "Im-shee" (a rough translation of "bugger off") in a firm tone, it did no good at all.

I recall our stunned, muted wonderment that came with us again on the bus trip north along the Nile to our ship. None of us had seen poverty before. The pyramids were impressive, but our privilege as white Canadians grown up in relative affluence (we had never, ever thought of it before, ever) was the dominant thought we had. That’s what we talked about. "Those people are poor!" "Did you see how they live?!" We were beatific. This trip had already taught us about our tremendous good fortune in being born in Canada, on our first day in Egypt. Considering this trip thus far would be the greatest experience of our lives, and we were to love almost every minute of the entire experience (I'll get to the "almost" when I talk about Turkey). I wasn't the only one who kissed the tarmac on our return to Toronto, and I would never forget my incredible fortune in being born white, Canadian and modern.

We fell asleep on the bus and were roused at the dock. We quickly hurried on, Mr. McQueen was worried that we wouldn't be allowed on as the ship pulled up the ramp at 11 pm, but we just made it. Once on board, we slept soundly, mines detonating every 15 minutes and all, and the ship pulled out and moved northeast to Beirut.

BEIRUT

When we awoke, we were brought on top of the ship and saw we were in a very elegant, handsome city, much different than Egypt. This was the 'Paris of the Middle east': Beirut, Lebanon.

We toured the long boulevards, the handsome center of the city, mostly on foot, and visited shops. Beirut was considered safe, educated and sophisticated, so we were given more freedom to go in groups (always with an adult chaperone in our group, a teacher or a parent who had come along) throughout the city. I spoke to students at Beirut university, learned that many of them spoke English, French and Lebanese. Their clothing was more affluent, their manner more western, and I thought the city was marvelous.

But there was tension in the air, and the students there made note of us. Tanks roamed the city, though my understanding of Lebanese politics was nil, so I didn't know why they were out. Routine, I maybe thought. Mr. McQueen was somewhat guarded and ominous about the tanks in the city. It didn't seem that odd to me; after all, the Egyptians were detonating mines in Alexandria harbour like clockwork, and that still was okay. But he was concerned. It was March 7th.

We had to come to Beirut first because if we visited Israel first, our next port of call, Egypt and Lebanon would refuse us entry with an Israeli stamp in our passport, so our ship had chugged up the coast today, only to double back the next door down the coast to Tel Aviv.

Streets of BeirutI recall the least about Beirut of all the stops on my trip, simply because it was a lovely day without any specific landmarks. We ate at roadside cafes, walked along the waterfront and wide boulevards, spoke to forthcoming university students, observed the beautiful city, and had a leisurely day.

By 7:00pm, we were gathered back on board, and the shipped headed out to sea and south for the four-hour journey to Tel Aviv. At 8:00pm we filled the bar/dance room quickly, many ordered their 4-drink limit at once, and I remember the ship swaying quite considerably while the disco music of the time played. The floor would angle quite noticeably, and we all had great fun dancing, drinking and swaying down on the angles as the ship rocked in what I could only assume were furious seas outside.

After one hour of this entertaining and unusual partying – I had never experienced anything like it – we were packed off to our male and female dorms. By this time, I had been assigned to escort a young woman names Patsy Hinton, who went to another Secondary school in London. Patsy was very sweet, and naive – and in many ways, I was naive, I had never had sex at this point, and had never even dated a girl since Lorrie Cartwright at age 11. Patsy was brought up by her blueblood parents in a lovely old home on Commissioners Drive. Her father was a well-liked and established doctor. Patsy and I had spent time together at the pyramids, and now in Beirut, and I saw myself smitten by her; she enjoyed my company but probably, at this point, had no idea I was becoming romantically inclined to her.

Once back in the dorm, others remarked that I seemed to be attracted to Patsy. "Why don't you sneak in her dorm and get in her bed with her?" they dared me. They meant that innocently, if it can be said like that. After hearing this for 20 minutes, and after a teacher had confirmed we were all in our bunks and lights were out, I slipped out of my bed, went up to the floor and corridor where I understood the female dorm was, and slipped into the girl's dorm. Once in, it was pitch dark. So I said, "Where is Patsy?" And a few girls agreeably responded and directed me, "She's right there!"

So while Patsy was shocked and exclaimed, "What are you doing here?" I slipped under the covers beside her, in my own pajamas. She was mortified. I could hear the giggles of the other girls. "I came here to be with you," I said bravely, my pulse racing at my wildness. "Oh my God, you can't stay here. We'll get into so much trouble. You have to go!" she insisted. I said, "I'll just stay here with you a while," and didn't move. Patsy was dumbstruck. And I noticed she was lovely smelling and warm. It was cozy, but she was clearly perturbed and silent. Every minute or so she'd whisper, "You have to go back. What will everyone think?!" It seemed a long time, but it was probably only ten minutes.

Then a door opened and Mr. McQueen walked through the dorm clearly looking for someone. Patsy was dead silent. Mr. McQueen, without turning the light on, left the room. "Oh my God," Patsy gasped, "You have to go, now they’re searching for you!" I can't believe my nerve, but I said, "No, not yet. I want to stay a while with you."

"You can't stay any more with me. This is so dangerous," she hissed. Other girls nearby giggled, but I don't remember them saying anything. Within minutes, after combing other parts of the ship, Mr. McQueen entered the girls dorm again, walked directly towards us in Patsy's bunk, and said, "You, back to your dorm," with stern authority. Hiding under the covers, I quickly leapt out and made off like a bandit back to my bed and dorm. Minutes later, Mr. McQueen, coming to my bunk, was serious. "I'm disappointed in you. We'll talk about this later."

When he left, all my fellow male students gave me a great cheer and clapped and hooted, and were delighted when I said, "I was in Patsy's bed that whole time!" I was in heaven, impressed by my own daring. Patsy would have another opinion.

The next morning, when I saw her in the dining hall, her face was beet red. "I'm not talking to you. That was scandalous. You shouldn't have done that." Of course, nothing happened under those sheets, other than her shocked gasps and my devil-may-care delight in being beside her, but she turned her head away and said, "I got into trouble for that. Mr. McQueen came to me and said he expects things like that of you, but I… me, I should know better. He blamed me! That’s all your fault. I'm not talking to you."

For most of that day, she did her best to rebuff me, but she was in a bind once we disembarked, because remarkably, she was still in my care, as she really was gentle and naive, and I was alert, a gentleman, and clearly cared enough for her to let no harm come her way.

ISRAEL

We were in Tel Aviv, Israel, which was an uninspiring city of white blocky high-rises, all relatively new, in that ’70s architecture that’s ugly and practical. Apparently, that’s all gone now, and 35 years later, Tel Aviv is a handsome, happening metropolis on the sea, but then it was derogatorily referred to as a 'dirty port city' of no interest to us.

We boarded a bus and went to this communal farm, called a moshav. A moshav differed from a kibbutz in that in a kibbutz, all property and responsibilities were communally owned and shared. In a moshav, property was possessed individually, and responsibilities shared. I remember these Israelis were smart marketers; when we left their farm after a 90-minute tour, they brought us this great bushel basket of these incredible, perfect oranges. It was hot and sunny and dusty, and we each had two or three oranges out of that basket. We started to devour them right away, and we were saying, "Yum, these are great!" and then the Israeli man, bearded as almost all of them were, asked us all aloud, "What are the best oranges in the world?" and in unison we replied, "JAFFA ORANGES!"

And indeed, they were the best oranges I have had, before or since. Mr. McQueen remarked, "These are smart people," observing how loyal we were to the idea of Israel now, after just a basket of oranges. McQueen understood the subtleties of Middle Eastern politics that we didn't, and he implied to me there was a subtle propaganda value in giving us the oranges, but he could see we loved them and such political nuances were for another time, another day.

Around 1:00pm we arrived in Jerusalem, and we first went to a lookout point where you could see a great view of the old city, the Muslim Dome of Rock, the Wailing Wall, and the labyrinthine streets. It was the most breathtaking sight I had beheld in my life. I was stunned at its ancientness, its pure Biblical antiquity. And I was there, in it – part of it.

Looking at JerusalemWhen we got into the city, and off the bus, we immediately walked through streets that seemed cut out of sheer rock, streets I knew to be at least 2,000 years old. We went to the Wailing Wall, the dome of the Rock, we saw the Garden of Gethsemane, where the Messiah allegedly prayed regularly and on the night before his crucifixion. We walked the path where Christ had taken his last walk – and it was Easter, too – and we had to be quick, as various believers would come running through these ancient narrow streets carrying huge crosses on their shoulders shouting benedictions in languages I didn't recognize or understand, Greek Orthodox perhaps, in commemoration of Christ's final torturous journey to the crucifixion site. I was in awe like no time before or since in my whole life. I have never been to Jerusalem after that trip, but that day put the zap on me. I was boggled by the historical importance of this amazing place, its perfect maintenance as though I were back in the ancient period itself. I was agog.

Then we went to Bethlehem and saw not one, but two places where Jesus was born. At the time (and this may still be so) two churches competed for the honor, privilege of saying "Christ was born here" – a Greek Orthodox Church, and another. The floor marking the exact spot where Christ was born had this magnificent inlaid star on an extremely beautiful marble or tile surface. It was spectacular, though not holy to me, just magnificent. But for other pilgrims, it had tremendous gravity, and the church was stunning and appropriately somber.

Contrasting the striking decor and fastidiousness of Christ's birthplace was the public washroom we next went to. I don't know where we went to pee prior to this on our time in Egypt and Beirut (I don't recall the bus having a toilet, but upon reconsideration, perhaps it had to), but in Israel we stopped at a public washroom, and for the first time in my life I came upon the ubiquitous Asian/Middle Eastern hole in the floor with two foot impressions as to where you were to put your feet while performing urination or defecation. This particular toilet was unlit, dark, rank smelling and unpleasant, but while I was a little leery, I nonetheless had to pee. The women in our entourage were much more alienated by this, squatting in the dark, going local for the first time in their lives. (When I lived in Asia almost twenty years later, from 1992 to 1994, I got quite used to the squat toilets and all-in-one bathroom – called a 'mandi' in Indonesia – where you washed and excreted using the same hole in the floor, but that was my own washroom in a home I was renting, so it was clean and bright.)

After this fabulous experience of our day in Israel, we traveled from Bethlehem to Tel Aviv and boarded the ship around 7:00pm, ate dinner, danced and drank the sweet Dubonnets, and passed out in a glorious sleep by 9:30pm, thinking I had the best day of my life thus far.

TURKEY

While we slept, the SS Nevasa left Tel Aviv for Izmir, Turkey, and by the time we awoke next morning, we were just pulling into the harbour.

The big attraction from a historical perspective that we were going to see was the Roman-built aqueducts at Ephesus. Built during the Roman occupation, sometime around the first century, this was supposed to illustrate how the Romans were great engineers (military conquerors notwithstanding), particularly in the use of water distribution. I really can't remember what the aqueducts were used for when we were there, but I was impressed that they were still largely preserved over 2,000 years later. Not much in the world lasts 2,000 years, and there was a surprising amount of architecture and engineering from the Roman period still around in the world. Coming from a new continent like North America, where very little construction or engineering was over 150 years old, this perspective was sobering.

It was in Turkey particularly I was advised to keep a good eye on the women, as we were told local people would try to pull at blond hair and be particularly forward. What I didn't necessarily pay attention to was another admonition to be careful with local food, and in the late afternoon I bought a sandwich in a bread loaf that gave me terrible runs for much of the rest of the day, and stomach pains and cramps to go with it.

At 5:00pm we boarded the bus and went into Izmir proper, and were all seated at a restaurant, where we had Middle Eastern food, probably for the first time in our lives: falafel, hummus, tabulleh, couscous, and were entertained with belly dancing, which was quite the eye-opener. Although it was neither too risqué or two chaste, it was completely new to us. What was also very novel was our newfound ability to have alcohol with our meal, and we were all served up to two glasses of this licorice/anise-flavoured alcohol called "Ouzo", Turkish liquor. I sipped it and enjoyed the flavour, but I already had the runs from the dubious bread thing earlier, so I asked my new friend Mike if he would like my Ouzo, and he eagerly accepted, with flushed face and broad smile.

In the next 90 minutes, we were entertained, fed, and had a wonderful time. I was given some Imodium and told to drink lots of fluids throughout the night, Mike enjoyed four shots of Ouzo, and many seemed to enjoy this wonderful new privilege.

We returned to our bus and brought back to the ship around 8:30pm, and many of my fellow students were sleepy from the sun of the day and the Ouzo of the night. Mike lay down and muttered something to me. He had the lower bunk, and I was on the upper bunk, with other bunks around us. Suddenly, Mike threw up all over himself, completely covering his entire torso and pants and bedding with the fetid, hot stink of Ouzo-soaked vomit. It was more horrific a mess from drunkenness than I have ever seen, even to this day. After this massive purge, Mike passed out, covered in this slimy hot filth, and then a long farting purge at the other end took place – Mike was unconscious now, and all around me, students gathered round, eyes wide open, their noses assaulted with a gross smell, and we realized Mike had defecated in his pants. This is also something I have never seen to this day!

Mr. McQueen was called, and he looked around for a few seconds, eyeing me for my previous indulgence with Patsy Hinton, and stated clearly, "He's your friend, your bunk-mate, so you have to clean him up, wash his clothes and bedding. Get to it."

Oh my God. Mr. McQueen left the dorm. I had no idea how to clean up this mess. Finding a volunteer helper was difficult, but if I didn't move Mike, who could be barely awoken, the smell infected the whole area. No one could sleep until he was cleaned.

This is when I discovered the phenomenon that people passed out from alcohol weigh a thousand pounds when you try to move them! I stripped down to my underwear, did the "Jesus on the cross", one arm over my shoulder, the other arm over another’s shoulder, and we dragged him, literally, to a shower. There I peeled off all his clothes. Inside his pants was a dump of immense, disgusting proportions. Across the outside of his shirt and trousers (we had dressed up for the restaurant) was the rank dizzying stench of Ouzo-and-food vomit. I stripped him of his clothes and turned on the water, warm at first; he still didn't even stir or wake-up, and it was hard in that slippery shower to hold him upright. Then I realized I couldn't hold him upright, and didn't need to, so I sat him down on the floor and aimed the shower head at him and washed him all down with soap, cleaning him in places I have never cleaned since. He still did not awake much, deep in a drunken stupor. I dumped the solid waste out of his pants, superficially washed his pants and shirt and took them over to a washer basin, where I would thoroughly wash them later by hand with soap and detergent.

Once Mike was cleaned, and snoring away contentedly, I gave him a blast of cold water in a perhaps sadistic bit of revenge, but also to wake him up so I could dry and dress him. He came to enough so he could dry his own private parts (I had already had to wash his ass!) and then he passed back out again, and I put a clean pair of his pajamas on him, dragged him to his bunk, and he was out like a light. Then I washed his clothes by hand in the sink and hung them to dry, and finally I fell asleep.

The next morning, Mike remembered nothing of the ordeal except what he was told from the lurid stories we regaled him with. I have seen Mike seven or eight times over the last 35 years, and much to his embarrassment, I never cease to mention this incident, though I haven't seen Mike since the 1990s.

GREECE

The Nevasa pulled out of Izmir harbour and moved north on the Mediterranean to the port city of Piraeus, next to Greece's capital city of Athens. We arrived on a misty, cool spring morning, mysterious and beautiful, a shroud of fog like a poem by Byron, which I had read earlier at Mr. McQueen's suggestion to get in the mood for one of the most romantic days of my life.

Mr. McQueen came up to me and asked how Mike was. I said fine, that he had a splitting hangover and had taken aspirin. My history teacher looked concerned. "Civil war has broken out in Beirut and Lebanon. There is fighting all over." He looked grave. In fact, a civil war had broken out right after we left, and fighting would continue for the next decade, destroying the tranquility, buildings, infrastructure, tourism and beauty of 'Paris of the Middle East.' In the years following, I found it hard to believe I was in beautiful, elegant, sophisticated Beirut three days before a conflagration destroyed almost all of it, impacting on Lebanon's politics and history to this day. I saw it in the twilight of its glory days, and it hasn't risen from the ashes of conflict since that March day in 1975.

But that moist morning pulling into Piraeus, I didn't have the foresight to think of all that. We were in Greece!

The morning was to see the Acropolis, which is an ancient Athenian structure high above the rest of the city. It is magnificent and awe-inspiring. We toured the few ancient ruins of Athens and explored the modern city too, with its train stations, its streets, and its cafes. It felt marvelous. Mr. McQueen warned me not to discuss politics with anyone though, as Greece was still under martial law, having been ruled by a military junta since a coup in 1967.

Train station in AthensThat night Patsy and I were together, as we often were. She had forgiven me (mostly) for the sneaking in her bed incident, and had come to like me. Although we were supposed to return to the ship by 8:00pm sharp, we had precise directions on how to get a taxi or train to the port where the ship was docked. She and I had a lovely conversation walking the winding streets of Athens, exploring our budding relationship, finally alone to do so. As night fell at 7:00pm, she nervously suggested, "we should go back now", but I deferred doing that, wanting to extract more precious alone time with her, despite her growing anxiousness about being late for the boat.

We continued to wander about, and finally at 8:30pm I relented and agreed to return to the ship. But we were lost, or, at least, I couldn't find a taxi or a train station. And then I got worried. Finally we got to a train station, figured out how to take it to Piraeus, and took a taxi and arrived at the ship at 10:15pm, very late. Mr. McQueen was very upset. Apparently, they had put out requests to the local constabulary to look out for us, the Captain of the ship was notified, and we got back just before alarms went out. I had overdone it, but all I got was a glowering look by Mr. McQueen.

Next morning, we were to board a bus to travel the coastline to get to a place called The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, out by the Aegean Sea, a 90-minute trip. When I saw Patsy, her eyes flared. "I should never talk to you again! Mr. McQueen said he expected you to try something like that, but that I should know better. He blamed me again! You get me into so much trouble!" I did. I apologized. I was crazy about her by now, though.

Mike had struggled through the previous day of sightseeing in Athens, but this morning he was his energetic, funny, excited self. It was our last day in Europe. In the morning we would fly out of Athens to London, England and back home to Toronto and then by bus to London.

The bus took us through charming small towns and beautiful vistas along the shore on the way to Sounion. When we got there, it was breathtaking. Those ancient Greeks sure knew how to worship nature. Poseidon is the God of the Sea, and this temple, a massive structure of pillars, is on the most beautiful outcrop of brilliant orange soil, seemingly honey-kissed by the sun itself – perhaps the most romantic view of the sea I have ever seen. As we looked out, several islands were visible over the distance out to the horizon. It was a perfect 75 degrees, an ocean breeze coming in, and Patsy even came up, forgiving me, and shared this time at my side.

When Lord Byron visited this shrine to the God of the Sea in 1810-1811 during his romantic trip to Greece to witness Greek Independence from the Ottoman Turkish empire, he apparently etched his name in one of the pillars, which seemed very odd that a distinguished British poet, the most famous of the Romantic poets, grafittied his name into this ancient structure; however, there is no direct evidence that he did it himself. Surely though, he would have been swept away by the immense beauty of the Temple and the vista out at sea.

We spent the afternoon hours sitting looking out to sea, mesmerized by the radiant orange soil I have not seen anything like since and the mythical seas of the Aegean. Many of us realized our trip, our grand magnificent two weeks, was ending. Many of us began to cry, "I don't want to go… ever…" and tears began to stream down many of the female and male students’ faces. I cried too. I said, "I want to be buried here one day. This is the most beautiful place on earth." We were becoming overwrought with the significance and privilege of what our trip meant to us, each one of us experiencing the greatest adventure of our lives thus far.

When Mr. McQueen called us all to board the bus, most of us were in tears, tremendously aware of how incredible this trip was, beyond anything we could have imagined when we signed up for it. This was likely the greatest bargain – $800 total for it all – that we would ever get in our lives. We departed Sounion, returning to our ship, and the next morning flew out of Athens airport on a long journey back home.

BACK AT HOME

I did indeed kiss the tarmac when I got off the plane in Toronto. I was so grateful to be Canadian. I had seen stupefying poverty in Egypt, the precipice of civil war in Beirut, Jerusalem in its ancient glory, the Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon, the Great Pyramids, the mighty Mediterranean, the medieval-seeming town of Split, and the once-glorious capital of the British Empire, London. When I returned to Canada, I felt I had grown up. Become a man. I was ready now to run my bookshop, only two weeks away.

The day after we arrived very late at night in London, Ontario, I was at school. I had never felt a greater sense of alienation. I never liked school, never felt it necessary. I was only three months from graduation. But listening to the math teacher, I had a terrible sense of not belonging, that this was child's desk, and I was a man now – that school was not for me, nor could it ever be.

At noon lunch, I left school and never returned again. I was beyond school. I was ready for adulthood and all it entailed. This trip profoundly affected me; I had changed. I was ready for the world.

 


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MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS
39194

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July 28: The “Citizen Marc” movie; Marc’s MRSA infection spreads; and more…

submitted by on August 1, 2011

Marc in Yazoo Prison, May 2011Dearest Miss: Well, now my cellmate has contracted MRSA. He has an infection on his wrist that will not heal for over 30 days now. It is irritated because threads used in surgery on his wrist last year when he was on the outside to repair tendons in his wrist have come a bit undone, and now irritate an area near the surface of his skin.

Wally and I both used the same soap, which the BOP statement of April 2011 on MRSA (that you mailed to me) indicates is a leading source of spread of staph bacteria. When I was diagnosed with MRSA, or even when Wally was, the nurse did not give any advice about not sharing soap, which I always assumed was safe.

So Wally is understandably depressed about this compromise on his health. And they are not offering to send him to a hospital to correct this loose surgery thread that is the source of the refusal to heal. I've been getting sores from the MRSA too; currently there is a large pus-filled red mark on my left leg, which is thankfully starting to heal after a few weeks. I'm concerned about a small lump growing bigger on my neck, so I will make a cop-out request to see medical about that soon. It could just be an ingrown hair. But you and I are both concerned about my health so I'll do what I can.

Currently, the 7' x 12' cell we are in houses just Wally and me, but there are rumors that by December each cell will be retrofitted to house 3 inmates per cell, a very close and disturbing prospect. The population here of 1,500 inmates has the place full already, but the insatiable US prison-punishment gulag wants more inmates in here and crowding us 3 to a cell is coming soon, so it seems. This will create tension, danger and a further erosion of morale here. As I have 35 months to go before my release date of July 9, 2014, it’s something I am not looking forward to.

I continue to stay busy with bass guitar practice 3-4 hours a day, I read my magazines that people have been good enough to subscribe me to, I read one book a week, and have started writing letters to correspondents each day again. I get the New York Times 5 to 20 days after its release date, but the Times is still a pretty good read even that late. In Seattle I would get the Times the same day it was released, and at D. Ray James in Georgia I got it 3 to 5 days later; here it’s usually 10-15 days later, though a few issues have arrived after 5 days.

Yazoo City is truly the middle of nowhere. I was told by one correspondent it was the poorest city in America, and no doubt this is the future of America, an apocalyptic one at any rate, whereby no local economy exists at all other than dollar stores, McDonald's, and a giant prison complex with inmates crammed in to accommodate this cannibalizing war on drugs America wages against itself. As you have told me, there isn't even a taxi service in Yazoo city, and the downtown is completely abandoned. There is nothing but desolation here.

I enjoyed thinking often about my love for you and our 5th wedding anniversary that passed on Saturday, July 23. I hope you enjoyed the 5 red roses I had sent, and the hand-made card that I thought was extremely delicate and beautiful (see it in this "Jodie Emery Show" video), and the custom-made leather purse I had sent for you with “Marc (heart) Jodie”, “5 Years – 7/23/11” on it, with a matching billfold and inside were 10 photographs, really exceptional ones, of you and I from your last visit here on July 4th.

I write this note with some degree of sadness though, because although I passed the under-3-years-to-go mark on July 9, it still seems like an eternity away, especially with my health constantly in jeopardy in the US penal system, and the triple bunking that is expected to occur soon.

As of today, I have 1,080 days to go to my release. Every day I wake up, I know how many days remain. On August 8, for example I will be at 5/12ths (25 months, with good time credit) of my 60-month sentence, with 7/12ths to go (35 months). I have the various mathematics in my head and though I was told it’s too early to be counting the days, I have been doing so since I was imprisoned. I know when my sentence remaining hits three digits (999 days to go on October 19th), and I know when it is halfway done (the downhill slide, as it’s called, when you pass the halfway mark), on January 9, 2012.

Yesterday, I received a notice from the Associate Warden informing me that my copy of the August National Geographic was being withheld for review to determine if the alleged nudity and sexually explicit material in this issue will prevent me from receiving it. BOP policy specifically exempts National Geographic from being banned for nudity, so I have politely forwarded this information to the Warden. You emailed me the table of contents, and I wonder if it’s the article about our Neanderthal heritage in fossils, and there are drawings of an unclothed primitive man or woman.

I recall when I was at D Ray James in Folkston, Georgia, the privately-run prison for foreigners, that the librarian there refused to subscribe to National Geographic because it was “way too sexually explicit”. When one of my correspondents had a subscription mailed to the prison library address, the librarian made a point of putting the issue in the garbage container as it arrived, right in front of my eyes, while saying to me, "That's what happens to National Geographic when I get it. Understand, Mr. Emery?" In that gesture, everything that's wrong with America and its current predicament with ignorance, economic decline, end of empire, and colossal betrayal of the values of the founding fathers is clearly epitomized.

At least though, at D Ray James, my personal subscription copy was never interfered with. I hope the Warden here sees clear to release the August issue of National Geographic to me and other inmates with subscription copies. It is perhaps the most esteemed magazine in the world, as copies are in all public schools, high schools, and libraries everywhere on Earth.

In a bit of irony, what forbids the facility from distributing the magazine to inmates is something called the “Ensign Amendment”, Section 7, which states that no federal money may be spent on the procurement and distribution of material which contains nudity and sexually explicit material. Now, I don't see how any federal money is being spent on my subscription to National Geographic, it was mailed to me with your funds, not US federal government funds, but what's ironic is that Senator John Ensign, who the amendment is named after, had to resign from Congress last year for sexual misdeeds done while in office!

I also find unfathomable that a total lunatic like Michelle Bachmann supersedes Ron Paul in popularity for the Republican Party nomination, with an equally stupid and inept Sarah Palin breathing down her neck waiting to launch her Presidential vanity campaign. Ron Paul should really be the GOP candidate against Obama next year. He can explain everything that’s wrong with the United States and how Obama has failed the American people in so many ways.

Citizen Marc: Prepare to Meet his HIGHnessRoger Larry, the film director who is currently putting together a documentary feature film about me called Citizen Marc, is in my hometown of London, Ontario to interview my first two great loves Judith (from 1976-1980) and Sandra (1981-1988), a teacher of mine who went on the school trip to the middle east with me and 40 other students from March 2nd to 18th, 1975 (a pivotal trip, appearing online shortly as an excerpt from my forthcoming autobiography), and perhaps others.

I also advised him while he was in London to speak to the mother of Chris Doty, the author (along with Jason Rip) of the great play about my years in London at City Lights Bookshop – also called Citizen Marc. The play is particularly prescient in that the narrator of the play, in many ways an homage to Citizen Kane, is speaking as though I am in a US federal prison at the time, even though the play was written and performed in 2006. The play, except for the narrator who speaks to the audience in the present tense, takes place in a series of flashbacks 20 to 35 years earlier in my politically formative years as the 'enfant terrible' rebel bookseller of London, Ontario. Citizen Marc won four Brickenden awards that year, including for Best Actor and Best Direction.

At the premiere in January 2006, Chris Doty escorted you and me back to the hotel after I watched what I regarded as an outstanding play, and asked me, "What did you think, Marc?" I said, "It's perfect Chris. I like everything about it. Even the Bernard Herrmann score that was sampled and played at key times. It needs no improvement at all." (Bernard Herrmann wrote the score for Citizen Kane and the Twilight Zones.)

Chris responded, "That's great, Marc. If I died today, I could die knowing that you were happy with this play. That means a lot to me." Five nights later, Chris hanged himself in his mother's home. The only tip-off to a state of mind was at the dinner he had with us, hours before the play's premiere, when he spoke up close to me when we were alone, "No one cares about the values of history, of morality, of the old traditions, like you and I, Marc. I do my documentaries and plays and television programs about the past, but no one cares anymore. The people have no sense of history any more. They don't know what's valuable. I am frightened they will give you up to the Americans. I worry about you, Marc."

That night he also asked me if I had any suggestions. I said, "Yes, get professional cameras and film it. It will be important one day. You can use a video to show theatre companies in other cities how it should look, how it should be done." He said that was an excellent idea. And then on the final performance, when Chris had arranged for Citizen Marc to be filmed, he didn’t show up. Jason Rip went to Chris’ mother’s house and found him dead. It was said he was despondent about Wednesday and Thursday night not being sold out, and this seemed to substantiate his cynicism that people just didn't care, but he also lost his girlfriend to someone else, and who knows what other demons he struggled with. The play was filmed only hours after the macabre discovery of Chris' taking his own life, under considerable emotional difficulty for all the actors and crew, and then performed live – to a sold out audience – that evening.

Chris Doty got his first full time job in television after submitting his first documentary, "Marc Emery: Messing Up the System" (Click here to watch) to the Rogers Cable system network in 1993, and ended his career with the play Citizen Marc. Among the documentaries Chris had made in the years previous was "Famous hangings of London" and "Famous Ghosts of London". His play “The Donnelly Massacre” was a big critical and commercial success, and the money he received from that play he sank into the production of Citizen Marc.

Chris' mom has held on to that videotape of the final performance, and I urged Roger to ask if she would release it for inclusion in the DVD release of the upcoming documentary film of the same name, Citizen Marc. The doc and the play will make outstanding companion pieces. And the play might constitute the ultimate interview with someone who had known me since he was 12 years old and would come into my City Lights Bookshop to listen to me speak about the world and what it all meant, until his very untimely and tragic suicide during the run of the play he left as his penultimate tribute to me.

I also recommended Roger interview John McKay, the District Attorney for Western Washington who was my original prosecutor, who now speaks publicly against the drug war and believes marijuana should be legalized. McKay, in fact, has had a hand in writing the text of legislation for the Washington State Assembly to consider this fall, that legalizes marijuana at the state level. McKay believes prohibition creates violence and harms for all of society, so I urged Roger to interview McKay and see how he reflects on his putting away the leader of a peaceful movement whose goal was to achieve what McKay now seeks to achieve.

The famous and brilliant critic of the US federal government Noam Chomsky has agreed to give an interview for inclusion in Citizen Marc on my imprisonment, and I am very, very honored to have a man I admire more than perhaps anyone else in the world participate in a documentary about me. Citizen Marc is slated to be released in late 2012 in cinemas, and on television and DVD in early 2013.

Thank you, my dear wife, for coming to visit me and take care of me through this very challenging time. I so look forward to spending every day with you when I get home. Let people know how much I appreciate their letters, and I hope I can write back to them all eventually.

Your prince,
Marc

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MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS
39194

Diagnosed with MRSA; Given a Drug Test; Passes Grade 12; Learns More Bass Guitar

submitted by on July 16, 2011

Marc and Jodie, May 30th 2011Dearest Miss: Today is Wednesday, July 13th. I'm finally under the 3-years-to-go mark, that milestone was passed last Saturday. My release date, providing I maintain my good time credit, is July 9th 2014. Only 1,091 days to go to that glorious date on my calendar.

One of the ways to lose good time credit (47-54 days), and get put in the SHU (solitary confinement) for 90 days, lose your visitation rights for a year, and phone & commissary privileges for a while too, is to fail a drug screening urine test. Today I had one of those, for the first time in 15 months in the US federal prison system. I am not concerned, because I do not drink the homemade wine/alcohol that is made and consumed by many inmates in prisons, nor have I ever smoked tobacco, marijuana or any other drug, nor consumed any drugs in any way in 15 months of incarceration.

So I am fine. But the drummer for the band that existed before mine, Laid-Back, a superb band of Brian, Grizz, Terry and Branden, was broken up because Branden tested positive for marijuana and he's been in the SHU (Special Housing Unit – solitary confinement) for 60 days now. You don't get to play in a band when you're in the SHU. You get absolutely nothing'. So it impacts big time when a member of a band tests positive. That's why Laid-Back was disbanded, and Grizz and Terry reformed with me on bass guitar and a new arrival, Damian, on drums. Our band is named STUCK (as in 'Stuck In Prison').

I did the five tests to qualify to receive my GED (General Educational Development) and got the highest marks in all five tests – it was posted on the board "Marc Emery – Valedictorian". On April 1st 1975, I quit high school only three months from graduation to open City Lights Bookshop in my hometown of London, Ontario. I never have needed any high school diploma as I have been in business for myself since I was eleven. (On January 1st 1971, I started Marc's Comic Room, a vintage comic book business by mail order and retail run out of my bedroom, and prospered. By March 1975, I decided to open a vintage, antiquarian and used book shop in the downtown of my hometown, which still operates today under different owners). But here in prison they seemed determined to have me get my grade 12 completion, so I obliged. My mother was constantly hectoring me to get my high school diploma even a decade after I became a successful bookseller in London, Ontario, so if they have a town crier in the afterworld, I hope she's heard the news that I have finally, 36 years later, graduated high school.

When I was at D. Ray James Concentration Camp for foreigners in Folkston, Georgia, a place I still loathe the memory of, I was bitten by the most venomous spider in all the United States, a Brown Recluse spider. Often very dangerous and even sometimes fatal, this bite caused a huge swelling around the bite marks on my left buttock, and within 10 days caused a two-dollar-coin-sized hole in my buttocks that seeped blood and pus for over two weeks, finally healing completely after 45 days. Over four months later, it has left permanent scarring and a purple discoloration. It also caused me to contract MRSA, and penicillin resistant Staphylococcal infection. This is unfortunate, as MRSA is often fatal. In fact, one of the inmates in my unit at D Ray James also picked up a MRSA infection just after I did and they couldn't control it at D Ray James, and reports from other inmates claim his leg was recently amputated and then the infection was still untreatable so he died as a result of this same bacteria I now harbor permanently in my body!

So now this is one more hazard of prohibition I have to deal with for the rest of my life, along with the stress this causes you and its potential life-shortening impact on me. If I die in prison, or because of prison-related causes, it's imperative that all my supporters in the USA, Canada and around the world remember who was responsible for putting me in a US federal prison for peaceful, consenting activities that harmed no one and advanced a great movement. This list of villains in that case is large.

Along with this deadly bacteria I now carry permanently inside me, waiting to be activated, I have been beset by painful boils on the upper cleft of my buttocks (where the MRSA culture was extracted) and now hemorrhoids, which I have never had before. The hemorrhoids come because of pressure caused by all the hard surface seats that are in the prison. The chair in my cell, the seats in the Chow Hall and Rec area, even the toilet seat surface, all are steel, hard, and very uncomfortable. I can truly say that 2011 has been a genuine pain in the ass for me!

I must thank you, my brave wife, for getting news out about this dangerous health compromise imposed upon me by my unjust incarceration. I know that your report of my having contracted MRSA was on CBC TV news in British Columbia, CBC radio, The Vancouver Province and Sun newspapers, the Montreal Gazette, newspapers across Canada, and numerous radio stations and other media. MRSA is a deadly killer of thousands, and it certainly has the potential to make my life much shorter. Rest assured I am trying to be as cautious as possible, and eating as well as can be done, bearing in mind that there are never any fresh vegetables here and that most food is full of fats, sugars, carbohydrates, and salt. It was gratifying that Canadians still care about me and that our media in my beloved Canada still finds me newsworthy even while "out of sight, out of mind".

As to politics, there is much to discuss. I know you have been invited to be a candidate for a seat on the Parks Board in Vancouver, running as a candidate for the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). I believe you should pursue this endeavor. You are a capable woman of intelligence and compassion. I believe the NPA has identified these attributes in you, and have vetted you and feel you would make a fine candidate in November's Vancouver civic election. Your intelligence and reasonableness and attentive listening management style is well suited to the needs of the hundreds of thousands of citizens who use Vancouver's numerous parks, beaches, sports grounds, the aquatic center, and those workers who maintain these properties on behalf of the people of Vancouver and British Columbia.

I also want to field as many candidate representing the BC Marijuana Party in the next BC provincial election, which could be called as early as this autumn. I feel the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) is quite good at representing the anti-prohibition cause with outstanding Members of Parliament like Libby Davies and others in Ottawa, but at the provincial level, there is no such advocacy. Though my good friend Dana Larsen made a principled, significant and ambitious attempt to make prohibition and its destructive effects on British Columbia a part of the BC NDP leadership race by running for that top spot recently, the net effect is that the BC NDP is as prohibitionist as the Liberal party, and will make no attempt to ease the harm of prohibition, nor will they make medical marijuana in BC any more lawful. The BC Green Party is completely hollow and has no gravitas to participate in the BC political scene. It has no money, no impact, no anything. So I am asking all our activists in British Columbia to consider being a BC Marijuana Party candidate in the next BC provincial election. We need up to 79 candidates, and it will be a excellent chance to participate, educate our fellow citizens, carry the cannabis legalization movement into the political sphere, where we must have a presence. I hope you will start collecting names of interested individuals. Once we determine the level of interest, in September we will begin formal campaign proceedings.

In the United States, my friends in Nebraska have been inspired to get a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana outright to the petitioning stage, which is proceeding right now. It will amend the Nebraska state constitution and is titled Proposition 19, the same as the California initiative. It is extremely concise and direct. The Initiative reads as follows:

—–

The object of this petition is to:

The Nebraska Cannabis Initiative seeks to add Proposition XIX to the Nebraska Constitution whose object is to regulate and tax all commercial uses of cannabis, also known as marijuana, and to remove all laws regulating the private, non-commercial use of cannabis.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment language:

To add a new section 1, Article 19:

– The State of Nebraska and any subdivision thereof shall make no law regarding the private, noncommercial growing and consumption of cannabis, also known as marijuana. The Legislature shall enact fair and equitable methods of regulation and taxation regarding the commercial growing and consumption of cannabis. All laws in contravention of this section and all laws referring to marijuana in the Marijuana and Controlled Substances Tax Act are hereby declared null and void, and all marijuana convictions are set aside. The Supreme Court, within 6 months from the day of the 2012 election, shall resentence any person incarcerated or on probation for a crime involving cannabis and any pending charge for such crimes shall be dismissed.

– Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with the laws prohibiting persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others.

– Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with laws regarding the treatment of juveniles.

– If any provision of this section or the application thereof to any persons or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect the other provisions or applications of this section that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are severable.

—–

Essentially, this is a three-paragraph Proposition to legalize marijuana at the state level in Nebraska! For more information on obtaining petition forms to have filled out by citizens of the Cornhusker state, and for info on where to sign in Nebraska, get in touch with necannabiscoalition@yahoo.com, and check out the Nebraska Cannabis Initiative Facebook group and Nebraska Cannabis Coalition profile, and Nebraska_NCC on Twitter. Approximately 112,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Nebraska will be required by July 2012 to get the legalization amendment on the Nebraska ballot. Petitioners are needed to collect signatures in Omaha, Lincoln and all areas of the state. The 112,000 number is about 10% of the registered voters in Nebraska; that's the threshold to get this initiative on the ballot.

It is expected that Colorado and numerous other US states with a ballot initiative process will have Propositions ready for the petitioning process for the November 2012 election. Perhaps even more importantly, is where the cannabis culture's tens of millions of individuals place their support in the upcoming Presidential contest of 2012.

Barack Obama as President has escalated the attack on dispensaries and medical marijuana states in recent weeks, threatening imminent action on the outlets in Colorado, California, Washington, and all 16 medical marijuana states and the District of Columbia. Barack Obama and his appointees as District Attorney for Western Washington and head of the Justice Department are responsible for my extradition, prosecution and conviction and incarceration in a US federal prison. The Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder also refused my treaty transfer back to Canada, a transfer I fully qualified for but was denied because of my critical writings about the privately-owned concentration camp gulag that incarcerates foreigners within the US federal prison system.

No activist of conscience can possibly vote for or support the re-election of Barack Obama as President, especially when the principled Ron Paul is still a viable candidate for the Republican Party nomination. Ron Paul would end the federal drug war in its entirety, immediately. Ron Paul would withdraw the imperial armies and navies of the US from Iraq, Afghanistan, all Europe, Asia, and the middle east. Ron Paul would do everything that Barack Obama hasn't, won't and can't do: balance the budget, end the warfare state, end the drug war, and restore the civil liberties lost since September 11, 2001. Ron Paul's record in the US Congress is impeccable and he is scrupulously honest. I have supported him for many, many years as editor of Cannabis Culture, and I have campaigned for him in 2008. I support him unwaveringly. He is for a transparent government, an obedience to the intent of the Constitution, to a nation founded on inalienable civil liberties and economic liberty. He is everything Barack Obama is not.

Barack Obama is carrying out the same policies of his equally tyrannical and war mongering predecessor, George W. Bush. I urge all supporters who want to end prohibition to support Ron Paul in the primary campaigns with volunteering, donations, votes and activism. Spread the word! Ron Paul is the only Presidential option for the cannabis culture's freedom.

As for how I spend my time, I've been practicing the bass guitar and rehearsing four to five hours every day, seven days a week for about 60 days now. I also read musical biographies and study music theory in any time I have where I'm not working on my skills on bass or the songs I need to learn and memorize and perform competently. I had never played a musical instrument in my life prior to picking up a guitar on May 5th. I started working on the bass beginning May 15th, and have worked exclusively on that because I was told there was a need for a bass player in the band I'm in, and that's how I got the gig. I actually can't believe I'm in a band, especially one made up of skilled musicians, and am enjoying this opportunity thoroughly.

STUCK had its first live concert performance on Saturday, July 2, which I wrote about to you before. Now, I am not yet at the sophistication of a skilled bass guitarist. On most songs I played the root notes of the rhythm guitar, and without any written notes to go with. I had memorized the songs and how to do my part, and the sound it made was fine, but it's not quite the smooth, complex movement of a skilled bass guitarist yet. My fellow musicians are so good that most eyes and ears were on them, but I was very thrilled with the results.

So in the last ten days I have learned, practiced and become familiar in playing the bass lines for White Room, The Wind Cries Mary, Purple Haze, Sultans of Swing and White Rabbit. It will take a number of rehearsals in the studio to become proficient and smooth sounding, but it's eight weeks before our next live electric and amplified outdoor concert for the guys here, which happens over the Labor Day weekend (September 3rd or 4th). Our tentative play list (and order of song play) for that gig is:

1. Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)
2. All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix)
3. White Room (Cream)
4. Breakdown (Tom Petty)
5. Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)
6. Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh)
7. Wanted: Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
8. Turn The Page (Bob Seger)
9. Tightrope (S R Vaughan)
10. Purple Haze (Hendrix)
11. White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
12. The Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix)
13. Red House (Hendrix)
14. Little Wing (Hendrix)
15. Voodoo Child (Hendrix)
16. My Head's in Mississippi (ZZ Top)
17. Ain't Talkin' Bout Love (Van Halen)
18. Johnny B. Goode ( Chuck Berry)

The other rock band here is Out of Bounds, a very polished band that does largely original material. They just finished composing and rehearsing a song they wrote called Prince of Pot. It's about me, and was inspired when they saw Tommy Chong on CNN wearing his FREE MARC shirt. They performed it in the amplified electric studio last night and it's superb – brilliant bass lines, lead guitar and lyrics. The band will be writing the musical notation for the entire song so it can be performed by Adam Bowen and a band at the BCMP lounge for webcast on Pot TV live streamed, as well as recorded for play on YouTube. It's a terrific song tribute to me and I'd like to know it will be performed and heard out there. So expect to see "Prince of Pot", the song originally written and performed by Out of Bounds.

I am finally getting to writing letters again to my correspondents. Since all my time has been going to my guitar skill building and memorizing these songs, for three weeks I have written very few letters to the wonderful people who have written me. I have resumed writing one or two letters a day, but almost all my time goes to improving my musical ability. Nonetheless, I want to thank Len Preslesnik in Holland, Michigan, for sending me a great letter every day I have been incarcerated (over 400 letters!) with news items, photocopies and clippings included. He designs brilliant and hilarious politically satirizing envelopes that his letters always come in. All of them are wild works of art.

I want to thank Barry Cooper for sending me the final draft of the Hollywood movie that is being made about him! Candi And Barry Cooper put money in my commissary account every month too, which is so sweet. Thanks to Tony Glickney for buying my ZZ Top autographed guitar and putting that money in my commissary account monthly. You, Dana Larsen, and Rebecca Maverick have sent me dozens of music books, guitar song books, magazine subscriptions and it's been heaven-sent for this budding musician getting those great items.

Thanks for everything you do, my sweet wife.
I'm so grateful for your love and support!

Marc Emery

MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS
39194

Guidelines for mail rules are posted here at www.FreeMarc.ca.

July 2nd – Marc’s Prison Concert Performance

submitted by on July 7, 2011

Saturday July 2nd: I'm so pleased with the prison concert performance by our band "Stuck"! It was 99 degrees out, and flies landed on my nose on four occasions. One time a fly walked up my left arm to my wrist for about two extraordinarily long minutes during a song and I still was able not to be distracted – whew! That sucker would not fly away; I almost thought it might be diggin' the music. I worked up a real sweat, especially as the afternoon went on.

We got to play much longer than anticipated. We started playing our set of 8 songs at 11:40am and played to 1:00pm, then played the set again from 1:15pm to 2:45pm, almost three hours in the heat outside, and it turned out wonderful! I only lost my way on our first go at Johnny B. Goode, so missed about six measures until I realized where we were. Considering we played every song twice (16 in total), I am feeling really pleased with it.

Terry the leader guitarist, and Grizz, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist, were excellent and said I did fine. In fact, as I performed the afternoon version of Johnny B. Goode the band, without letting me know in advance, doubled the tempo to eight eighth notes from four quarter notes a measure in the last two choruses – a furious pace for me, that they said was my official initiation into the band, and I passed, as I kept up successfully, immediately detecting their mischievousness. Perspiration drops fell on my glasses during that frenetic finale, but I carried on. What a great day for me!!!!!!!

Three hours performing live and loud in a rock and roll band, 45 days after picking up a bass guitar for the first time, and 54 days after picking up a guitar (any musical instrument, for that matter) for the first time in my life. Those four- to five-hour a day practices paid off. I'm so content inside having done it well enough to get the approval of my fellow inmates, and my bandmates whom have 30 years (Grizz), 24 years (Terry), and eight years (Sap, the drummer) experience respectively.

The songs performed were:

Sunshine of Your Love – Cream – 5 minutes
Tightrope – Stevie Ray Vaughan – 7 minutes
Voodoo Child – Hendrix – 18 minute version
Star Spangled Banner – Hendrix – 7 minutes
All Along the Watchtower – Hendrix – 10 minute version
Red House – Hendrix – 18 minute version
Little Wing – Hendrix – 12 minute version
Johnny B. Goode – Chuck Berry – 9 minute version

As the bassist, my job was to keep up the bass lines, mostly while Terry the lead guitarist did these fabulous virtuoso solos in each song, which were amazing and delighted the audience, and Grizz sang vocals and played rhythm guitar. So I can definitely say my first ever music performance was a tremendously satisfying experience, and nice and long too.

I love playing in a band, especially one with great musicians to mentor me! It's like a fantasy come true. I'm so gratified Grizz and Terry are happy with my performance and dedication. Yay! for me. I can't believe I'm in a band! Thanks for everyone's encouragement!!!! I'm going to relax the next two days. Jodie visits Sunday and Monday, and I'm excited about that!!!

Marc in Yazoo Prison, May 2011For our next concert on the Labor Day weekend, I am already practicing the bass notes to Purple Haze by Hendrix, Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin, and White Room by Cream. We'll also be playing Ramble On (Zeppelin), Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix), Black Magic Woman (Santana), Born Under a Bad Sign (Cream), Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits), and Won't Get Fooled Again (The Who).

Those nine songs will be added to our current repertoire of eight songs to have 16 or 17 songs to play on the Labor Day weekend. Other possibilities are My Head's In Mississippi by ZZ Top (my favourite ZZ Top song), Turn The Page (by Bob Seger/Metallica), and White Rabbit (by Jefferson Airplane). Sultans of Swing and Won't Get Fooled Again are fairly complicated, so they may be replaced by others in the "maybe" column if I have too much difficulty with them. But I hope to learn them and be able to play them competently.

All members of the band spend hours a day learning these new songs, together and separately. Our previous drummer, Sap, a very nice guy I enjoyed playing with, agreed to become part of a reggae band but it seems they aren't coming together, so now we've already got a new drummer and that means Sap might be bandless. Damian, our new drummer, is coming along nicely learning the eight songs we've already performed, and he is learning the new set list also.

Currently I am reading a biography of Texas blues musicians, and Stevie Ray Vaughan specifically, called Roadhouse Blues. I'm also studying music theory and harmony, learning to read music, understand music theory and how it all works. I passed my GED tests with the highest marks in the class in all subjects, getting close to perfect in all 5 areas. But the tests are shockingly easy, at least for a 53 year old like me who has excellent memory retention.

I have not written any letters to my correspondents, and I feel bad about that, but I spend up to five hours every day practicing the bass, another two to three hours on music theory, and haven't made time for letter writing. I do appreciate hearing from people, though, as it distracts from the repetitive routines inside prison, so send letters to me at the address posted at www.FreeMarc.ca. Thanks for your support!

Marc Emery

MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS
39194

 

Photos of Marc taken in May 2011

Photos of Marc and Jodie taken May 30th, 2011

June 29th – Marc Gets Ready for his Prison Band’s Performance

submitted by on

Marc posing with his "Prince of Pot" Sweetleaf guitar in 2009Dear Jodie: On July 2nd, the band I am bassist in, called STUCK – because we are stuck in prison – performs live and amplified for the other inmates. We’re going to play Sunshine of Your Love (Cream), Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry), Red House (Hendrix), Little Wing (Hendrix), Tightrope (S.R. Vaughan), Voodoo Child (Hendrix), Star Spangled Banner (Hendrix, a solo song by lead guitarist Terry), and All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix).

Each day I practice four to five hours on acoustic bass, and practice in the sound studio here amplified on electric bass Monday & Thursday nights from 6 to 8 pm. I study 1-2 hours of music theory each day. Candidly, I have no talent or gift musically, I've always known that, but by intense concentration and work ethic, I hope to become a competent bassist. The other musicians in the band – Terry, the lead guitarist; Grizz, the vocalist and rhythm guitarist; and SAP, the drummer – are outstanding musicians. Grizz instructs me in the bass each day. No one else is available to play the bass and I'm the only person here who has shown any dedication to it, so I was drafted into the band, even though, as I say, I'm very rough and unskilled by any measure. My only ability is I can pick up the notes required to play quick enough, but I have no style, gift, talent or smoothness – yet. In six months I hope to be a competent bassist. The advantage I have is great instructors, commitment and time to jam/practice and even perform with these incredible musicians.

I can't believe I'm in a band, as my ability does not justify it, but I am excited nonetheless. I have been welcomed into the circle of ten really excellent musicians that make up the two bands (Stuck, and Out Of Bounds). They are all always practicing or studying or writing songs or developing new licks, songs, riffs, etc. I am the only one who is a novice, but they are all very helpful and always ask for my opinion on their new songs and they'll perform them for me to comment. I really enjoy their company and that they welcome me into their exclusive little clique.

In fact, that is my life here: I read music or musical biographies, and study music and practice the bass all day when I am not doing assigned tasks or eating, sleeping, etc. Songs we are going to do for the Labor Day set include ZZ Top's My Head's In Mississippi (one of my favorite ZZ Top songs, I can't believe I'm in a band that will be playing this song!!!!), Dire Strait's Sultans of Swing (love this song too), Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train, Badge by Cream, Manic Depression by Hendrix, and Purple Haze by Hendrix. I'm hoping we can do a Nirvana song in the set, like Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, or Heart Shaped Box.

So far, while incarcerated, I've read biographies of Hank Williams, Bob Marley, Kurt Cobain, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Guy, Donovan, and am currently reading "Fire & Rain 1970" about that year's music/career by Simon & Garfunkel, Beatles, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills Nash & Young, and then I'm reading Off The Rails, the biography of Randy Rhodes with Ozzy Osbourne. I'm studying music theory, including reading music, understanding the guitar, harmony, chords, and all the details about music theory that boggle my mind for the most part. Like I say, I have little talent in this area but a lot of commitment I could never have had (Rockin' in the) outside (free world). So I am making good use of my time, I think, and enjoying this process of becoming a competent bassist, and grateful to have such outstanding musicians to work with and teach me.

I'd like to thank Jodie, Dana Larsen and Rebecca Maverick for sending me loads of great guitar song books, Ree Lynch (sent me Neil Young), Tyler Markwart (sent me the complete Bob Dylan song book for guitar), Catherine Leach (sent me Eagles, Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and others), and those who sent me Gordon Lightfoot, Guitar For Dummies, and others to round out my music book/song book library.

The other good band here, Out of Bounds, has written a great song called Prince of Pot”. Spike, the writer/singer, wrote such a wonderful song about me. It was inspired by the CNN show with Tommy Chong (who is in one line of the song) wearing the FREE MARC shirt, which all the inmates here saw on TV. He says I have had a profound influence on him here (he's been here about 40 days, I've been on the bass about 40 days), which I'll explain in detail when you visit because it really is a touching story. Just the usual me, but it sometimes has this great effect on people. Spike says he's not angry anymore, he wants to stop being a jerk to his wife and he wants to be a good man now to her and his young daughter. He said his wife loves me for that. His songs are really wonderful and he could be big one day. All his songs are about his Dad (died), his daughter, and his wife, beautiful sensitive songs, and learning from his past stupidity and bad behaviour. Really prolific outstanding song writer. He said I've been great to everyone in the music clique, especially him. Terry says the same thing, all the musicians in our clique are improving dramatically, even Terry, who is already brilliant beyond compare, because I inspire them with my kindness and musical depth (history wise), and because I work so hard at the bass, so all the others are really putting forth a great effort to improve their art. And they are. These guys are all terrific musicians, but they have all really gotten so prolific and brilliant in the 45 days I have hung out with them.

I am going to be the guest bassist on the “Prince of Pot” song when they perform it on the Labor Day weekend. I can guest bass for one song in the other band, especially the one they wrote about me! They think that will be cool. So I'll have to learn the bass of that song too. I told them we'll get your BCMP jam night leader Adam Bowen to organize a band to record the song when I forward you the lyrics and music score, and then the band members in here can get a relative to play the YouTube recorded version over the phone to them so they can hear how Adam's band performs it. Isn't that neat?

•••

As of Thursday, June 30, I'm not nervous but very, very excited, and maybe by showtime Saturday, July 2, I'll be nervous (a little), but after 45 days straight of four to five hours practicing, I feel confident. The rest of the band and the other musicians think I'm doing remarkably well! Yay for me! Tonight I had a great rehearsal, 150 minutes in the studio, we went over all our songs, whew! I'm pretty sure I have them all okay. We doubled the bass tempo of Johnny B. Goode, and boy did I sweat by the end of that one. It will be our finale song, and it will be 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36 Celsius) when we perform, so I'll be really sweating after that show!

I love you, and appreciate everyone’s kindness and support. Can’t wait to see you on July 3rd and 4th!

Your musical man,
Marc Emery


www.FreeMarc.ca

Write to Marc!

MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS
39194

Marc’s first update from Yazoo City prison in Mississippi

submitted by on June 7, 2011

Yazoo City Medium-Security PrisonDearest Jodie: As of May 21st, I've been at Yazoo City medium security federal prison for 31 days and I'm fairly settled in, so I'll describe my daily routine and what it’s like here. There are three buildings that house 128 men in a unit, 4 units to a building, so 512 men to a building when filled to capacity.

I am in unit one in E building, or Echo Building. Unit 1 & 2 are on the lower ground level; to get to unit 3 & 4, you have to walk up a staircase on the outside of the building. The buildings from the outside, when I first saw them, looked like federal prison indeed: stark concrete buildings with thin slits of windows where each cell inside looks out.

This place is run by the Bureau of Prisons, the bureau under the aegis of the US Department of Justice. As a medium security prison, almost everyone here has had violence or a gun charge in their offense, previous offense, or previous prison record. There are exceptions, like me. My previous place of incarceration, D Ray James, in Folkston, Georgia, was contracted to the GEO Group, a publicly-traded prison business, by the Justice Department to house deportable aliens (foreigners, non-US citizens) exclusively. GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) run many state prisons, federal detention centers (pre-trial or holdover facilities) as well as all 20 or so federal prisons for deportable aliens. GEO Group and CCA run prisons for sentenced "low" security foreign inmates, whereas the Bureau of Prisons operates all medium, high and maximum security facilities, including ones where a deportable alien, eg., a Mexican or Canadian, might end up. I was going to say all Americans are housed in Bureau of Prison facilities once sentenced in federal court, and that is 98% true, but I have a correspondent in Bakersfield whose US citizen son is at Taft Correctional camp in Taft, California, where Tommy Chong served his 9-months for Chong bong shipping, and that prison is run by a private company (as is the adjacent Taft Low for deportable aliens).

There are 64 cells on two levels, and I share my 7' x 12' cell with a cellie, as your cellmate is called. My cellie now is Wally, a 21-year old from Pensacola, Florida. First I shared a cell with a guy called Bird, but Wally's cellie was released, and Wally is a fan and invited me to share his cell rather than him getting some random new cellie for the duration of his 15-month sentence. Wally was convicted of receiving cannabis through the mail for the purpose of reselling it. This is a warning that weed mailed across state lines is a federal offense and punished harshly! Because there was a gun in the same house Wally lived in (even though it was not even his gun), Wally was designated to a medium security federal prison, full of "lifers" and people serving 10, 15, 20, 25 years!

Wally is scheduled for release next March. I liked my previous cellie Bird, but Bird is being released in 36 days and so I moved in with Wally so we'd both have a cellie we could tolerate and get along with. Additionally, Wally's fiancé drives in from Pensacola to visit, and picks you up, my beloved Mrs. Emery, on the way at Jackson airport. It’s unfortunate that you don't drive in this case because it’s 50 miles to Yazoo City from Jackson airport, but also because there are no taxis in Yazoo City for you to get to the prison and back to your hotel. So it sure is good she picks you up on Friday and returns you to the airport on Sundays (or in the case of your 3-day visit on the Memorial Day weekend, on the Monday evening after you visit me), and comes to the prison with you when you two visit Wally and me. It’s great that she has a nice comfortable car and is a very safe driver, that makes me feel very good.

I prepared a schedule for you to visit me every two weeks with a few exceptions, a three-week gap in June, August, and October. You have the busiest summer imaginable, with speaking engagements or appearances at the Treating Yourself Expo in Toronto (June 3,4, and 5), Tacoma Hempfest (June 25), Cannabis Day at the Art Gallery in Vancouver (July 1), Seattle Hempfest (August 20 & 21), Portland Hempfest (September 10). For your visits to me on Memorial Day (May 30), July 4 (Independence Day) and Labor Day (Sept. 5), as per B.O.P. policy, we'll be able to have photographs taken of our visit in the visitation room.

Each cell here has a locker for each cellie, a small desk, a toilet and sink. It’s a small cell for two people, but it’s adequate. It’s certainly more private that the 64-man dorm I lived in at D Ray James, and the locker is better, and I can use the toilet with more privacy that at DRJ. I do have to say, however, that you can adapt to many things, and I had previously adapted to the dorm and the lack of privacy at DRJ. My cell here has a tiny window to look out into the yard, good for at least determining what kind of weather is outside.

The cell door unlocks at 6am each morning. During the week, I get up at 6:15am and dress in my clothes from the night before. If you have any legal mail to pick up, you have to cross the compound and go pick it up at 6:30. On Thursday morning, it’s my day of the week to take my dirty laundry, the bed linens, shirts, t-shirts, trousers to exchange for clean clothes at the laundry exchange; that’s around 6:30 am. Those inmates who work the laundry are very fast and they process 400 inmates a day from Monday to Thursday, you don't wait in line long. Hopefully, when you get your laundry, you still have time to get your morning meal, which is usually oatmeal (I called it porridge growing up with British parents), two pints of milk and a fruit, usually a grapefruit or orange (and a better quality orange than the scrawny ones at DRJ), but occasionally a good apple or banana. Morning meal is from 6:40am to 7:15, and you get called out based on the sanitation inspection that goes on for each unit, so that if your unit is the cleanest during inspection, you get released first for all meals for one week (until the verdict of the next inspection comes in), and if your unit scored the lowest, you get released last for your meals for one week. Being last or near the end means that you can miss a meal if you go to laundry exchange.

In this prison, inmates are only released for "a 10-minute move" at 7am, 8am, 9am, and the recall (all inmates report back to their unit for "count") at 10am. This movement is so inmates can go to the barbershop, the commissary (the inmate store), their job (every inmate is assigned a job which varies vastly in time required, pay, workload), the yard, medical, library, etc. Then lunch starts at 11:20 and goes to noon, with 10-minute movements at noon, 1pm, 2pm and recall at 3pm. We are locked into our cells (called "Lock Down") from 3:45 to 4:45pm when a daily routine called "Stand-up Count" is done of each inmate in their cells at 4pm, and you'd better be standing up when the C.O.s (correctional officers) come by! Evening meal is 5:20pm to 6pm, with 10-minute moves at 6pm, 7pm and recall to units at 8pm.

Each morning, there is a "Call-Out Sheet" in each unit. It is imperative each inmate look at the call-out sheet. If you have been assigned to any appointment (dental, medical, education, meeting with counselors, legal mail pick up, etc.) or have had your job assignment changed, the time and location of where you are expected to be is on the sheet. If you miss an appointment, you can be cited for an infraction. So every inmate checks the daily call-out sheet the night before or that morning.

Each inmate within 3 weeks of arrival gets assigned a job. When you are not reporting to your job, you are free to go to the yard, the barbershop, the commissary, etc. during the 10-minute move.

The most demanding job is to work in kitchen services. Kitchen services makes all the food for the inmates, 3 times daily, 7 days a week, for 1,500+ people. It requires a work force of 170 inmates working either a morning shift from 4:30am to 7:30am, 10am to noon, or an afternoon shift from noon to 2pm, 3:30 to 7pm over a 5-day period.

Jobs here at the prison can pay as little as $5 or $10 a month, light jobs that require only a few hours a day, like my clerking job for the Recreation area. I keep track of the inmates (currently 75) assigned to the afternoon and evening shifts in the Recreation Building and Yard. I note new additions and transfers, and keep track of their attendance for the purposes of their pay sheets. This includes the inmates who teach music, look after the instrument room, the practice studio, the leathercraft studio, the art studio, clean the washroom, maintain the pool tables & equipment, sweep the area, mow the massive lawn area in the rec yard (with push handmowers I haven't seen since I was a kid in the 1960's doing lawns at $1 each), maintain and store the basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, act as umpires or referees during baseball, soccer, football games outside, and basketball games in the gymnasium, cleaning of the gymnasium, picking up of litter and maintaining the trash containers.

More demanding jobs like in kitchen services will pay $40-$60 per month, or in "Facilities" where actual skilled work is required, like plumbing, sheetrock installation, construction, venting, ductwork, $80-$120 per month. There are medical orderlies (workers), commissary orderlies, barbers, laundry orderlies (this requires about 40 people), morning rec yard orderlies, afternoon rec yard orderlies, unit orderlies who clean and polish floors, clean and disinfect phone and computer terminals, clean the showers, take out the trash, maintain the compound area between the three housing buildings and the Chow Hall and other buildings that make up our entire world if you are an inmate.

The highest paying job is to work for Unicor, Federal Prison Industries, Inc. Many inmates want to work at the Unicor plant here and there is a waiting list. Unicor is the Bureau of Prison's industrial manufacturing that goes on in most B.O.P. prisons. It pays workers, depending on seniority and rate of production by each inmate, $66 per month at one month experience, to $100 per month after 4 months, then $133 per month after 7 months, and $166 per month after 10 months, up to $200 a month. After 85 months at Unicor, an inmate could earn $240 a month plus overtime of $2.80 an hour. For the machine operators who make the clothes, there is a minimum quota, and then any additional output is extra pay. Unicor is like a serious factory job, from 7:45 am to 11am, with 40 minutes for lunch and a bathroom break, and then resumes from 11:45 am to 3:30pm.

Unicor employs 350 people here. It is a huge concern! Here they make uniforms and vests for all branches of the US armed forces. A lot of uniforms! Most jobs are in sewing together these uniforms, but like any factory, there are inmate accountants, clerks, computer data inputters, but machine operators mostly. Attendance and performance here are required to keep these desirable jobs, as many inmates have no outside source of income and rely on their Unicor job to give them $75 – $200 a month to spend at the commissary or order a book or magazine subscription by mail. There is overtime pay at time and a half when the demand is there, so there is the possibility of more money to be earned beyond the 5-day a week 7:45am to 3:30pm basic hours. Unicor factories that make clothes are located in 24 federal prisons; factories that make electronics and plastics are located in 15 federal prisons; recycling plants are at 8 federal prisons; industrial products are made at 7 federal prisons; office furniture is made at 8 federal prisons; automotive and naval transportation industrials at 8 federal prisons; and services (like phone, telemarketing) at 16 federal prisons.

Yazoo City Prison Complex SignAfter I return from the chow hall for morning meal, I take a shower. There are 10 showers stalls, concealed properly by doors for privacy, with a good range of temperature from cool to hot, that require you to turn a dial. At D Ray James, there was no privacy, the temperature came out at one level, warm, and you had to press a button every 10 seconds to maintain water flow. This is much better. They sell the coal tar shampoo I need to keep my scalp from getting itchy and flaky, and a good razor and shave cream at the commissary, so the shower is very refreshing.

Then I change into clean clothes for the day. Socks, underwear and any personally owned items, like commissary-bought clothing (you can buy t-shirts, shorts, track pants, sweatshirt, thermal underclothes) and towels, are put in a mesh bag that has your name on it and you place it in a bin in your unit on Wednesday and Sunday, and it comes back the next day washed. Everything in that mesh bag is washed at once in giant – and I mean really big – washing machines with about 25 other mesh bags, and then dried in an equally giant drier machine by the inmates. So our laundry is done in two parts: personal items, socks, underwear this way (washed and dried in your mesh bag); and shirts, trousers, bed linens are exchanged for identical sized cleaned, pressed and folded items.

When you go to your job, or the Chow Hall at lunchtime meal (Monday to Friday), or any medical, dental, commissary, education, visitation or formal detail/call-out, you must be attired in full outfit, khaki trousers, boots, t-shirt, khaki shirt, belt. For morning meal, evening meal, weekends, yard activities, and while in your cell or in your unit, you can wear any kind of the prison-issued clothing and running shoes sold in the commissary. You are permitted to take off your shirt in the yard area during workouts and exercise.

It is blazing hot and humid here at times, almost always sunny, and we are issued hats on arrival and can buy baseball caps in the commissary (at a reasonable $4) and I always wear mine from noon to 3pm, along with clip-on sunglasses, outside in the yard. The boots issued to me here gave my left heel huge painful blisters, so I bought a softer set of boots called Wolverines from commissary for $67, that while still steel-toed, are extremely comfortable and are a great improvement over the hot and heavy boots I was issued. In the yard, inmates wear running shoes, except the lawnmower orderlies who keep the large field of grass cut wear their workboots.

After a shower and dressing in the morning, I go to check my email. We don't have internet in prison, nor MP3 players, CD players, or Kindle readers, although I think the B.O.P. should sell those devices in the commissary. But we do have radios we can buy, and headphones, and that is how inmates listen to the TV sets in the unit. There are nine TVs in this unit; you listen to them through your radio on a separate internal radio track. Two TVs are geared for the African-American inmates who comprise at least 60% of the inmates (BET, AMC are popular), two are set on the sports channels (ESPN 1 & 2), one is CNN, three are Hispanic (they comprise 25% of the inmates), and one is for the white inmates (NASCAR, Country Music Television, History Channel). But any inmate can watch any television.

Voluntary segregation exists in the Chow Hall where whites tend to sit together, African-Americans sit together, and Hispanics sit together. There is a dining table for anyone – they identify themselves as Christians – where Hispanic, white, black, and homosexuals can seat themselves without prejudice. I sit among the whites because that’s how I was shown when I arrived, and most (but not all) of my friends are white, so I usually sit with a friend or friends in the dining hall.

Virtually all cells are racially compatible, meaning two Hispanics will be housed together in one cell, African-Americans in one cell, whites in one cell, etc. but my friend Chris, who is apparently African-American (I just assumed he was well tanned, honestly!) has had an Hispanic cellmate quite satisfactorily. The radio also picks up radio stations quite clearly if you turn the light off in your cell (the electromagnetism involved in lighting creates distortion) or go outside. I have my radio set to an oldies station (pop hits from 1960 to 1980), a classic rock station (rock songs from 1964 to 1985), Jack FM (which play "anything they want" so they say, but it’s possibly the best station), an R&B station (I keep waiting for them to play Rihanna's song S&M which I just love, Rihanna is "da bomb"!) and a modern pop station. 90% of the time I'm on the oldies station, Jack FM or the classic rock station when I listen to the radio walking the track in the yard, or at night before sleep.

So at 7:30am, I go to my email on the Corrlinks prison "email" system. I have 30 contacts I can correspond via email with. Of course I am most excitedly hoping for a long "overnighter" message from you, my beloved Jodie, explaining how your day before went, bringing me up to date on your life and what’s going on in the world. I am always crushed, if after a long day at work, you get home and fall asleep before writing me a long note, as sometimes happens. I long for you all day, even though I stay busy, but I think about you all day throughout the day, and live for your messages. We only get 300 minutes a month of phone time, and that’s only 10 minutes a day to call you, usually at 9pm at night my time. So I need and crave your email messages in a way that it is hard for someone on the outside to understand.

Email costs me $3 an hour, and in my first 30 days here, I spent $300 on 100 hours of email correspondence! This fee, which sounds exorbitant, is apparently to pay for the B.O.P. staff to read all incoming and outgoing email, as in prison there is no right to privacy – although I have never had any email censored nor have I ever been reprimanded for any email (this is also true of every letter in the mail I have received and every one I have sent, well over 1,300 letters I've sent to correspondents in 12 months in US federal prisons).

I'm on the Corrlinks email for three hours a day, sometimes more. If I have a contact who doesn't email me regularly or often, or only emails me superficial hellos, I will delete that contact to make room for a regular letter mail correspondent who writes by postal mail, and begin an email correspondence with them. In the case of email with me, my contacts have to use it or lose it! If I could have an unlimited number of email contacts, it would be different, but since I can only have 30, they have to be active email friendships because keeping constantly updated and connected means everything when you’re in prison.

This is an account of my monthly spending: $300 on email, $120 on the phone calls to you each month, $320 on my commissary, which is all my food, boots, running shoes, toiletries, t-shirts, towels, shorts, each month (I usually spend the $320 limit before my 30 day period is up), plus about $80-$100 a month on stamps to send letters and books I've read to my correspondents. So that’s $820-$850 each month! This is why I encourage you to ask my supporters and friends to make donations to my commissary account, because that $10,000 a year is beyond your ability to provide. I receive no income except for the $10 or so a month I get from my clerking job. Thankfully, over my decades of activism and financing hundreds of people's projects, campaigns and even personal emergencies, there are many who feel they want to thank me for all I've given to others. That support is crucial and welcome in the most pressing time of need I've ever experienced in my life.

Today I am going to the commissary to spend the remaining $42 left on my $320 monthly limit. My phone minutes and my commissary limits are reset on the 7th of each month, and it's only May 23 today, so my limit won't be reset for 14 days! I'm well stocked on most things, but I need some more trail mix, tortillas for the salmon wraps I make, a few t-shirts, and some postage stamps. I don't buy any junk food, no sweets, candies, chocolate bars, or fattening foods; mostly I eat a lot of albacore tuna and pink salmon packs, chili garlic sauces, garlic, refried beans, higher quality meats, powdered milk, mayonnaise, jalapeno peppers, nuts (OK, these are fattening, but it’s my only fattening food choice), etc. This month I purchased the Wolverine boots, so that $67 took a bite out of my monthly limit. Postage stamps and medicines like ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, etc. don't count against an inmate's monthly spending limit so those can always be obtained if I need them and have the money in my account.

Yazoo City Medium-Security Prison ExteriorInmates are let into the commissary during the 10 minute moves, Monday to Thursday, 7, 8, and 9am, and in the lunch hour (11:20 to noon) and at 1 and 2pm. A C.O. collects your filled-out commissary purchase sheet (listing the items you want) and takes it through a door into the big store area where several inmates whip about with each sheet gathering up each order. You have to wait in the commissary waiting room for your name to be called, and when you go to a counter through a door, the goods are tallied, you put them in your all-purpose mesh bag (used for both laundry and commissary purchases), and then return to the waiting room where you will be let out at the top of the hour (8, 9, 10am, lunch time, or 1, 2, and 3pm). I always carry a book with me when I go to commissary, medical, or appointments where I'll be waiting until the next ten-minute move.

In my emails, I write my experiences, work on my autobiography, receive current news stories, and stay in close touch with you, my close friends and numerous activists. This is distinctly different that my previous prison, D Ray James, which, not being part of the Bureau of Prisons, did not have Corrlinks email. All immigrant prisons in the US run by GEO Group and CCA do not have email for inmates.

After I do one hour of email, usually from 7:30 to 8:30am, I tidy my cell so it’s spotless and the desk is clear, our shoes are lined up according to regulations, beds are made properly, and all surfaces clear. Everything should be inside a locker. You can be punished substantially for not having a totally tidy and neat cell. Also, our entire unit is graded, and as I have said, our position for release to the chow hall for one week is arranged based on that grade.

At 9am I go to the yard for one hour of walking the track. Today I walked 6 laps with my radio and headphones on listening to music. One lap is 1/2 a mile, so I walked 3 miles in one hour. It was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and humid, but not uncomfortable. It will get much hotter and more humid soon however. Yesterday was a Sunday and I practiced guitar for 3 hours, 90 minutes on acoustic 6-string, and 90 minutes of a bass guitar. I have been practicing for 16 days now, at least one hour each day. Much more about that later, as I practice between 6pm and 8pm every day except when you visit me. It’s too hot and sunny to walk the track from noon to 3pm when I am also in the Recreation Area.

This area that Yazoo City is located in is known as the Mississippi Delta. It’s not near the Mississippi River delta – that of course, is down by New Orleans. The Mississippi Delta is a flat floodplain bordered by the Mississippi River on the west, Vicksburg on the south, Memphis on the north, and the Yazoo, Black, and Tallahachie Rivers on the east. This area, if you look at it on a map, is historically very prone to flooding when the mighty Mississippi, the third largest river system in the world (after the Amazon, the world’s largest, and the Nile – and I believe the Mississippi and its tributaries is larger in fact, than the Nile, by far), receives large amounts of rain in the northern states or has a cool spring and the snow melt is delayed. In 1927, a massive flood of this Delta caused the US federal government over the 1930's and 40's to embark on a system of levees and flood containment engineering projects. However, sometimes, like the past month, huge rainfalls combined with cool weather (and thus, delayed snow melt) in the northern states of Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Indiana feed the Ohio River, Missouri River, and various tributaries of the Mississippi to cause it to swell and overflow its banks. That’s why, in the past four weeks, huge areas around the Mississippi river at Memphis, Vicksburg, and much of Arkansas, Missouri, the Delta here, and a huge swatch of Louisiana have been or will be flooded.

For a while it was speculated that if Yazoo City flooded from the Yazoo and Black rivers backing up (not being able to drain into the swollen Mississippi River), that all of us here at the federal prison would be evacuated. The Yazoo River, in fact, is at its highest point ("cresting") today, but the levees have held and not broken or been breached. But even if it floods over the compound, the plan is to take our mattress from the ground floor (where I am) and put it on the floor of the upper building (the three inmate housing buildings have two levels). So we've been a bit nervous about that for a few weeks now, because flooding would close the yard and probably make life very inconvenient for us here.

[Update by Jodie: the flooding has receded and the prison is safe from any emergency action being required.]

This area is famous for a black musical form called the Delta Blues, made famous by Robert Johnson, but continued on by Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Buddy Guy and many other blues musicians who came out of cotton-picking sharecropping families here in the Mississippi Delta. This area has always been white plantation owners and black laborers, and is historically the only state where blacks have always outnumbered whites. Many violent and vicious civil rights incidents happened here from 1955 to 1966.

One of the most famous and notorious torture prisons was here, The Parchman Farm, otherwise known as Louisiana State Penitentiary, famous in the book and movie "Cool Hand Luke". Cool Hand Luke is about a white Mississippian who, protesting City Hall's abuse of power, saws off the money-collecting heads of parking meters, and gets thrown in Mississippi State pen, the Parchman Farm, and ultimately dies there. It’s famous for the line by prison gang work team over-seer (played by George Kennedy) "What we have here is a failure to communicate", ominously mocking the era's liberal values and phraseology while predicting cruelty and torture to follow. Before I arrived in Mississippi I read the book "Worse Than Slavery" on the history of the Parchman Farm (M.S.P.). When civil rights "Freedom Riders" and "Voter registration" activists were arrested in mass round-ups in 1961 to 1966, hundreds were incarcerated at Parchman farm and underwent disturbing cruelties.

This place is, fortunately, not like that. Yazoo City medium is well run in so far as rules are clear and consistent. I have seen no violence here, and I have not seen any disrespect by correctional officers or inmates. I hope it remains that way. The fact is, however, inmates here are sentenced to absurd lengths of incarceration. There are many inmates with 20 and 25-year sentences for cocaine or methamphetamine sales. These sentences will cost the US taxpayer over $1,000,000 each over the life of each 25-year sentence. Most here at Yazoo have been sentenced for drug offenses, and most received 15, 17, 20 years, and some longer, including life sentences. Staggering long sentences! The man who is teaching me bass guitar has been in jail 30 years over drugs, with 9 more to go! I don't know how they manage to find the optimism to keep on going, and I’m grateful for the relatively short sentence I received in comparison.

Inside the unit I am housed in with 125 other inmates (unit E-1), I do three hours a day of email, write letters, read mail, and read my books and magazines. Currently I am reading "Under Their Thumb" by Max German, a well-written memoir by a fan of the Rolling Stones about his time with the band from 1980 to 1985. I just finished an excellent novel by a favorite writer, Lauren Helfer, called "A Fierce Radiance", a story (published 2010) about the mass production development of penicillin from 1941 to 1943 and how it impacted WW2 and a staggering number of previously fatal illnesses that bedeviled humankind. Helfer wrote one previous book, "City of Light", 10 years ago, a novel about the impact mass electrification had on Buffalo, New York (and ultimately all North America) from harnessing the Niagara Falls for hydro-electric power generation. Both books involve murder, huge financial stakes, class struggles, many deaths in the pursuit of progress, and heroic characters – ordinary people driven to extraordinary achievements and accomplishments. I actually thought Helfer has taken Ayn Rand's sense of life from Rand's books and told a better story using genuine characters and historically important epochs to tell them. Yet there is no ideological message that Helfer wishes us to buy into; she's a great storyteller hoping to illuminate us as to the greatness in our past and the triumph of human beings over much adversity and challenge. In both cases, men AND women lead a crusade to harness nature for the good of all humankind. Helfer's lead characters in both books are admirable and convincing women.

Previous to reading "A Fierce Radiance", I read the 11th book in the #1 Ladies Detective series. I have read them all, and they are delightful light reading. Since I have been at Yazoo City, I've read "Lovesick Blues", an excellent biography of Hank Williams, the southern musician that established country music as a mass music; two wonderful books called "Junior Ray" and "Yazoo Blues" written by John Pritchard, using a character, a retired police officer from the Delta here, narrated in a Delta dialect, to hilariously recount the culture and parts of history of this area. Its candor, dialect, and outrageous sensibility had me laughing aloud at times, and both are extremely delightful.

Only one magazine of my 30 subscriptions has had my change of address effected so I am getting it here, that’s the excellent Bloomberg Business Week magazine, a terrific read that keeps me on top of the business world. All others have yet to be rerouted, after 35 days. I miss all my magazines, especially MacLeans, the Canadian current affairs magazine. That’s one of the challenges of being moved to a new facility; magazine subscriptions take up to a couple months to get rerouted. Thankfully, you're working on changing the address for dozens of my magazines. I look forward to getting those in the coming weeks and months.

More updates to come. Thank you for being so supportive!

SEND MARC MAIL & MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS:

Marc Emery #40252-086
Yazoo City Medium E-1
PO Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS
39194

Guidelines for how to send books and magazines are posted at www.FreeMarc.ca under the “Write To Marc” tab at the top of the website.

Marc is already subscribed to the following magazines. He would especially like any travel and news magazines that are not listed.

National Geographic
MacLeans
Mother Jones
Reason
The Economist
New York Times
Maxim
Discover
Bloomberg Business week
The Atlantic
Harpers
Rolling Stone
Vanity Fair
Guitar Edge
Mojo
The Walrus
Surfer
American Curves
Beautiful British Columbia
7×7 Magazine
The Hockey News
SLAM Magazine (basketball)
Prison Legal News
Men's Journal
The Progressive
Wired
Popular Science
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords

Letter to Jodie upon receiving the bad news

submitted by on April 25, 2011

Dearest Sweet Wife: Today, April 16th, I have 1,188 days to go until my release date of July 9th, 2014. That includes my 235 days good time credit, so I have to hope I can maintain that good standing to get out by then. That's 38 months and 3 weeks away, a long time, no doubt, but it was once 60 months. And before that there was five years where you and I anticipated the inevitable extradition and incarceration with anxiety and unspoken dread.

All our time together since you and I became intimate exactly seven years ago this week has been tinted with the certain knowledge I would be going to jail. When you and I got involved in April of 2004, I was facing charges of passing one joint in Saskatoon, a charge that kept me in jail five days just to obtain bail the month before, March 2004. I had been on a university speaking tour across Canada, and after speaking at the University of Saskatchewan campus, 40 of us went to smoke a few joints in the park beside the Bessborough Hotel where I was staying. We were all nestled in the Vimy Ridge memorial pavilion, honouring the soldiers who died in the infamous WW1 battle (fighting for "our freedom" as they say). After we finished, a police officer came by, said he smelled smoke, and asked a 23-year old university student, "Did Mr. Emery pass you the joint?" Yes, the student replied.

On August 19th, 2004, I was convicted of trafficking that one joint, and much to both our shock, was sentenced to three months, 92 days, in Saskatoon Correctional Center. My time there is well documented, and you should resurrect some of the choice jail blogs that I made throughout my time there, especially so they don't get lost into the cybersphere forever, as those were some of the best writings I had ever done up to that time. Remember, that is where we fell completely in love, if we weren't already, because each night I would furiously write my thoughts and politics from 10pm to 2am each night, and then after my job in the jail was done from 8am to 2:30pm – I was the janitor of the prison administration center where much of that staff worked, paid $5 a day, the top wage in the inmate job hierarchy – I called Chris Bennett of Pot-TV collect and he would record my voice narrating my writings of the night before. He would put this on a CD and hand it to you, and each night you would painstakingly listen to the disc, line by line, and type it up so it could be read on the internet.

Just as my newsletters I wrote at D. Ray James were read by the staff there, at Saskatoon Correctional, all the staff would read my jail blogs of my time there. When I was vacuuming the carpets around the staff, I would spy out of the corner of my eye them reading the latest entries. It was a passionate retelling of each day there, and all the political, emotional revelations that were going on. A lot seemed to happen in the 62 days there. I went in to court on August 19th, and I thought I would get a $500 fine, but instead was stunned when the judge, after a long speech condemning my bad influence on the community, gave me 3 months. The last words I said as I was handcuffed and lead away immediately after sentencing was, "Three months for one joint!!!????" It was a blazing hot summer day outside that August 19th.

I was released on October 19th into a beautiful snowy blizzard. Your taxi to pick me up was an hour late because of the bad roads. It was cold and the snow fell relentlessly, but there are few days in my life when I was happier. You were there to pick me up at the prison with Dana and Rebecca, and you accompanied me to the various TV and radio stations to give my comments on my highly publicized release. I savoured the food in four different restaurants that day, and then by mid-afternoon, I could wait no longer and we made love in the hotel. I remember that evening I was in the hotel computer room, doing my email, you sitting beside me, and I was speaking on my phone and said "I just got out of jail", then, noticing a person on the computer beside me, put my hand on his shoulder and said to him, "Don't worry, it was nothing unsavoury", and he turned around and said, "I know." It was Canadian musician Matthew Good, performing that night in Saskatoon, staying at the same hotel, also checking his email.

US transfer application rejection letterUS transfer application rejection letterI bring this jail memory up because yesterday I received the dreadful, but not wholly unexpected, DENIAL of treaty transfer from the US Department of Justice.

I know you had sincere strong hopes that both governments would accept my transfer application. I certainly qualified in all of the criteria set out in the DOJ guidelines, and I had unprecedented political support in Canada – a Senator, 14 Members of Parliament, a Member of the BC Legislature, four city councillors, two mayors, and at least one State Representative. Those are just the elected officials we are aware of whose endorsement for transfer we have copies of. Yet I was refused because of the "seriousness of my offense" and "serious law enforcement concerns".

Additionally, it would appear my constant critiquing of the US penal system in my newsletters was inferred as a reason for the refusal, as the DOJ referred to my "actions within my control" that caused them to deny me.

DEA chief Karen Tandy always said my arrest was political, in fact, in her statement issued the day of my arrest, she doesn't actually mention my so-called crime of selling seeds to consenting adults, because that, juxtaposed with being one of the top 46 most wanted in the world, would sound outrageous and absurd. Instead she railed on repeatedly about my political 'crimes' in opposing the US federal government war of cannabis.

DEA Head Karen Tandy's statement on MarcDEA Head Karen Tandy's statement on Marc

"Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.

"His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today.

"Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General's most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."

When I called you and told you the upsetting news about my transfer application being rejected, you were thunderstruck. I know it was a shock and disappointment, and of course, we both know it's further punishment because of my life's work in repealing marijuana prohibition, and for the millions of dollars – not hundreds of thousands as Tandy stated, but millions of dollars – I contributed to the US, Canadian and worldwide repeal movements, and my pride in doing so.

We have no choice but to channel our indignation into the movement. I expect every soldier in our great cause to do their duty. I hope our American friends and supporters will appeal to hold "OBAMA: FREE MARC EMERY" signs, banners, etc. at every opportunity at every rally, gathering, website, Facebook profile, meeting, town hall, sports event, and wherever people gather. I enjoin them to begin a campaign to write the President and urge him to pardon me.

I also urge my American friends to support the Presidential nomination campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. These two men are great men, fully behind the repeal of cannabis prohibition, and do not retreat from saying so. They need our full support, in primary votes, in campaign contributions, in volunteer efforts, fundraising, and sign carrying. I cannot stress this too much. Ron Paul was the real man of Hope in 2008, but the false Hope was elected instead. Ron Paul is the greatest man of our time, a champion of the Constitution and has opposed every aspect of the drug war since first elected to Congress in 1974. He is co-sponsor of bills legalizing personal possession of cannabis , industrial hemp, medical marijuana, the Truth in Trials Act, ending the Drug Czar's budget – simply every aspect of the federal drug war, Ron Paul has opposed it. [Marc's massive study of all US Congress votes for Cannabis Culture Magazine #63 showed that Ron Paul was the #1 supporter of our culture. View that article here.]

It is my fervent hope that the Republican Presidential ticket for 2012 will be Ron Paul & Gary Johnson as President/Vice-Presidential nominee. Ron Paul is an incredibly decent, honest, ethical man, an intellectual giant and a down-to-earth person. There simply has never been a better candidate for the trust of the people in the last 50 years for the office of President. For our people, our cannabis culture, there simply is no one who comes close. Jodie, if our American people want to honour my life-long struggle to secure their freedom in the face of this prohibition tyranny, they MUST support Ron Paul in his bid for President. [Read more about Ron Paul's stance on cannabis and the drug war here, here, here, and here.]

My Canadian people must commit themselves to voting in the May 2nd Canadian federal election. It is vital to punish the Conservatives for both extraditing me, and persisting in bringing in legislation to impose mandatory minimum jail sentences and other cruel punishments upon the cannabis culture. Most young people do not vote; this has had, and will have, tragic consequences if that happens May 2nd. I recommend all young people, all Canadians reading this, vote at the earliest advanced poll they can find for their riding, before May 2nd. They must vote for the candidate with the greatest chance of defeating the Conservative. In English Canada, this means voting Liberal or NDP, in French Canada, this means voting for the Bloc or Liberal. This is no time to vote Green; that alas, only helps the Conservative. Certainly, it is not the time in our culture's history, in our nation's history, to fail to vote. Think "FREE MARC EMERY – IMPRISON STEPHEN HARPER" and get out and vote.

If they need a push, Jodie, beg them to read my most recent essay, amongst the best works of writing I have ever done, "A Visit by the Grand Inquisitor Himself on the Eve of an Election Call". If they don't realize who the Grand Inquisitor in the story is, Jodie, please tell them. Whatever people think of Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, they are not evil men. Stephen Harper is evil and death, to our culture particularly, and to Canada certainly. [See "10 Reasons to oppose the Harper candidate in your riding" from Rabble.ca for a great list of why Harper is such a threat to Canada.]

As for us, I hope our wonderful supporters who have been so caring, loving and generous to myself and you will continue to be so kind, you will need the financial help so you can visit every two weeks in Mississippi, and I will need the great uplifting letters I continue to receive. 38 months and three weeks IS a long time, but it is made endurable by the gifts of love and respect I receive from those who take the time to show their support, consideration and understanding.

Send mail or money to Marc

Most of all, my dear sweet Jodie, without you I would be lost, forlorn, and ever so lonely. You are my rock, my pride, you have exceeded all my expectations and have become one of the most respected activists for our glorious cause. Every day you impress me and hundreds of thousands of others by your dedication, passion and eloquence. I live on through you and am dearly proud that you bear my name, Mrs. Jodie Emery. I pray for your well being, and I am not a religious man, but those positive affirmations to the universe make me feel better, and I can only hope that many others will do what they can to help you, when and how they can do so.

I remain, Your honoured husband,
Grateful I have so much, under these circumstances, to still be thankful for,
Marc
xox

A Visit by the Grand Inquisitor Himself on The Eve of An Election Call

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My prison conditions are a good measuring stick of Canada’s descent into this new Conservatism. Political leaders always tell us we should judge them by their actions. This is because what a political leader does, what a government does, is a reflection of the leader’s principles, character and beliefs.

When Pierre Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada from from 1968 to 1983 (with a 9 month interruption when Joe Clark was Prime Minister), was asked about putting Canada into a state of martial law under the powers of the War Measures Act in 1970, he said, “there are a lot of bleeding hearts around who just don't like to see people with helmets and guns. All I can say is, go on and bleed. But it's more important to keep law and order in the society than to be worried about weak-kneed people who don't like the looks of a soldier.” At any cost? Trudeau was asked. “Just watch me,” he replied.

Watch what I do, decide what kind of person I am, then vote. This, perhaps, is the most basic and obvious political rule of all. When looking at a Prime Minister’s decisions, the question voters always ask themselves is this: Would I do the same thing? Does this action meet my definition of decency, fairness, justice and civilized behavior?

And while some issues are of a practical nature, such as taxes, others are of a moral nature and go directly to the character of the politicians involved. As an example, when Americans started to see Vietnam as an immoral war, President Johnson had to decline to run for a second term. Johnson was voted in on a wave of idealism over the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his promise of the Great Society. Johnson’s willful deception and sacrifice of American idealism and lives to maintain a corrupt and hopeless South Vietnamese government betrayed both his American supporters and the Vietnamese people.

Nixon, on the other hand, was always despised by the idealists and won election appealing to racists, the fearful and reactionary ‘silent majority’. When Nixon proved to be a venal, paranoid, disgustingly bigoted war-mongering ogre of immense proportions, that didn’t betray the sentiment of those who voted for him. That’s who they voted for!

When I studied the civil rights movement in Taylor Branch’s trilogy on the life & times of Martin Luther King, I was stunned to realize that Jim Crow laws in the South were virtually unshatterable because America had tens of millions of vicious racists whose attitudes and behavior were completely grotesque – yet this was the ‘normal’ of its time throughout virtually all of white society in the South, and much of the rest of America too. This is incomprehensible to a ‘decent’ Canadian of our contemporary time, today. Yet this nasty, wretched racism was the dominant ethos in all southern states only 50 years ago, in my lifetime. Nixon proudly introduced the modern drug war as his legacy of revenge on the generation of young people and the counter-culture who were mostly responsible for his vilification and downfall (with a little help from Woodward & Bernstein).

One such moral issue is how a society punishes citizens and what it punishes them for. This is the single most important issue in ANY society, that of a government taking away a citizen’s freedom and under what conditions.

The decision to deliver me to an American prison was made by the government of Stephen Harper. While it would have previously been government policy to charge me under Canadian law and in a Canadian courts, and serve any jail sentence, were there to be one, in a Canadian jail, the Harper government changed that policy. Now I am in a US Federal prison for foreigners, a contract for profit concentration camp in the desolate southeast corner of Georgia.

Hundreds of thousands of people consider me to be the leader of a culture within Canada and in the world. A peaceful culture that is known for its pacifism and truth-telling. A culture that produced the greatest music of the last century. The great art, film, literature, comedy of our time is also the inspiration of the cannabis culture. I am this culture, and this culture is me. How I am regarded is how every individual in this culture is to be regarded. I am Bob Marley, Paul McCartney, Carl Sagan, Richard Branson, Michael Phillips, Lady Gaga, Carmelo Anthony, Tommy Chong, Rob Van Dam, Jack Nicholson and every individual whose life enriched others through their use of cannabis. And of course, I am you. I am now, at the pleasure of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his appointees in the Conservative government, and the US DEA, at D. Ray James Correctional Institution. D. Ray James CI is an accurate representation of the mind and moral character of ‘the Harper government’.

So, a voter, I hope, would ask him or herself, would I do to Marc Emery what Stephen Harper has done to Marc Emery?

From my perspective, Canada’s Harper government, the new Conservatism, endorses my situation;

1) I am crammed into a dorm with 63 other people, six are fluent in English. I have no privacy of any kind. No doors on toilets, showers. The water tastes bad is suspect. I am sentenced to be in this dorm another 40 months before my release date of July 7th, 2014, for raising money from consenting adults through the sale of seeds to empower a peaceful & honest political movement to legalize cannabis.

2) I am in a slave labor concentration camp segregated by our non-American-ness. I get 12 cents an hour. If I refuse to work the job assigned I get put into solitary confinement. The GEO Group Inc. is America’s largest prison corporation. Formally called Wackenhut, the name change was required when the endless criminal brutality of jail staff became public.

3) I am now part of the massive American prison slave labor system that has been subject of many contemporary books; I have 6 of them, Lockdown America being one of the best. Jail inmates must work to produce goods for the profit of American Corporations. Or it’s solitary. Maybe it’s making jeans, maybe it’s license plates, maybe it’s selling travel packages by phone. For me it’s paralegal and secretarial work at 12 cents an hour.

4) Dental care and medical care may or may not be available when I need it. One doctor and one dentist handle 2,250 inmates.

5) Water and food are nutritionally substandard. Heavy in fats, carbohydrates and sugars, the food lacks adequate Vitamins A, B, C, & D, essential fatty acids, calcium, potassium and most trace minerals. The water is yellowish and foul, and if tests were ever done, would likely show it unfit for human consumption.

6) Books are withheld from me, my letter mail is withheld by Security and read, my outbound mail is opened and read to see what I am saying about my captors.

7) From April to September it is unrelentingly hot and humid, insects of every kind proliferate here as we are beside a massive swamp.

8) There are no courses, career training and the reading library is deliberately kept useless and dysfunctional.

I never hurt anyone, I only did good. My cause is a just one, the majority of Canadians and Americans agree with the premise I have advocated, that cannabis prohibition should be repealed.

After I wrote the essay Injustice & Cruelty As A Laughing Matter, I had a dream that I was visited here at D. Ray James CI by the Grand Inquisitor from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s seminal work The Brothers Karamazov. Normally I never dream, I can never recall any dreams.

In that book, Christ had returned to Earth during the Spanish Inquisition. Heretics were being jailed, tortured and burned alive, all because they would not believe what authority wanted them to believe. In my dream, The Inquisitor is here, now. The Inquisitor has come back for an encore, for the Marijuana Inquisition. Heretics are being jailed, tortured, and terrorized, all because they will not believe what authority wants them to believe.

The Inquisitor has had me arrested, extradited, convicted and put me in D. Ray James CI. I was to go to a California Federal prison but this was not cruel enough for The Inquisitor. It did not satisfy the Inquisitor’s sadistic longings. The Inquisitor has taken over a modern government in this age of propaganda, and proudly releases a promotional photo of the GEO Group Inc., my hosts here at D. Ray James CI, boasting the use of growling German Shepherd dogs, automatic rifles, leading chained, handcuffed and leg-ironed prisoners into a GEO Group ‘Con-Air’ plane. This is the photo that is to soothe the citizenry about keeping a dangerous ‘propagandist’ like Emery, this heretic who would poison the minds of young and old alike, in captivity.

The Inquisitor ordered me to this human compression chamber. Scores of men live crammed together in single rooms. Of all The Inquisitor’s vast array of concentration camps, this is one of the greatest distance away from my wife, my true love.

As the Spanish Inquisition showed, and as history has documented ever since, these timeless Inquisitors feed on the pain of others. This is their trip. This is why they originally devised the most horrendous punishments imaginable, crushing bones, pouring molten lead into eyeballs, even exhuming dead heretics from the grave so their remains could be burned. There are museums of the Inquisition’s implements of torture in most every European country. Hundreds of instruments meticulously crafted for the use of the Inquisitor to painstakingly punish the heretics, the unbelievers.

This went on for centuries, six centuries to be precise, ending only in 1832. But the Inquisitors live on, though modern media has frustrated them. Modern television, newspapers and now the Internet have made The Inquisitor necessarily more shrewd in choosing the heretics targeted for destruction. The punishments must be more to the mind, behind closed doors, away from the revelatory images cast by the media. The Spanish Inquisition had over 17 million victims in 600 years; the last 50 years of the Inquisitors’ war on the drug culture, the cannabis culture and the others who put potions and chemicals in their bodies and into the world, numbers 26 million humans punished as heretics. The Inquisitors have not slowed down, but, in the age of propaganda, adapted brilliantly. Seeing is believing, so the Inquisitor makes the inquisition overwhelming, so that no image can capture the colossal onslaught against humanity.

70 years ago, images of thousands of heretics being brought to concentration camps by trains was extremely disturbing. The Inquisitor of that era did not wish such images to get out in the world. Today, in our supposedly more enlightened time, (Never Again?), the Inquisitors release publicity photos crowing about the hundreds of thousands shackled, being led onto buses and planes, being taken to concentration camps, by men with the same German Shepherds and automatic rifles. I was flown directly to Oklahoma City prison, the landing strip goes right up to the door of that windowless and dour processing hub. But hundreds of thousands of heretics being shipped across America in planes does not evoke the horror of 70 years ago. Something has happened to people since then. 26 million victims, persecuted for their potion, pill and plant consumption in the last 50 years, are still hounded unmercifully worldwide. America arrests over 1,000,000 heretics each year alone. There is no shock or shame.

Now, as the Inquisitor approaches the gates of D. Ray James, he reaches a frenzied state of excitement. He thinks of how he has separated two decent people who are deeply in love. He thinks of their longing for each other. He knows, from monitoring all of my letters, recording and listening to all my calls, that I break down and cry frequently from the void created by this rupture in existence. The Inquisitor knows Jodie suffers from the stress, strain and abuse this forced removal of her beloved husband has had on her. This excites him further.

He thinks of the constant sacrifice the delicate and exquisite Mrs. Jodie Emery must make to see her husband. For a woman who is beautiful inside and out is what the Inquisitor has always feared the most. After these delicious thoughts of vicarious misery, the Inquisitor licks his pale lips. He feels as if he has just had a good meal. The Inquisitor, and all the Inquisitors of humankind’s history, feeds on the denial of love.

The Inquisitor thinks warmly, as his government limousine approaches the sentry at the entrance to D. Ray James, of the thousands – no millions! – of women painstakingly tortured and obliterated as witches in the times past. Ah, the good old days. And he is bringing these days back. In truth, they never left. Torture jails are the new ‘act of Faith’.

I am called to a windowless, characterless room. My Inquisitor has pale blue eyes. Karla Homolka eyes. A disturbing, dead watery blue. Pale and pasty skinned, it occurs to me, in need of blood, vampire-like. He speaks. I say nothing for now. He tells me that Canadians do not believe me. He says he will be able to brainwash “the very people you have been trying to save for 30 years.”

To prove this, my Inquisitor tells me, “I have an army of Inquisitors, not with robes and crosses, but with the faceless anonymity of the bureaucracy and government” to keep me locked up here, until the very last day of my sentence, July 7, 2014, “and longer, if I can make you snap and forfeit your good time credit. And if your wife’s health should fail further, consider how that will make you behave. Worth pondering, yes? Jodie is everything to you, and you to her, yes? We know what we’re doing, or rather, I know what I’m doing. I will tell you why in short order. But consider years of anxiety as you watch the stress eat away at your young wife’s health and vitality. I see you have many more grey hairs now than you did a year ago. If you should, God willing, perish from such anxiety earlier than otherwise, then my work in the world has been done. Your wife would never recover from your demise here, and that would serve my purpose so utterly, don’t you agree?”

I want to gasp, but I only stare into the eyes.

The Inquisitor continues, “It’s remarkable, really, what humans will do for a paycheck. They do what I tell them, or they lose their jobs. I have an army I can pay to frustrate you. It really is hopeless for you Mr… Prince of Pot, isn’t it? As my car approached D. Ray James, here is the place, this Folkston, Georgia, this obscure place, it is a morbid sight, really. All the way here from the airport buildings are boarded up and deteriorating. This prison – you call it a concentration camp, I know, in your pathetic assertion of reality – is located in a barren landscape laid waste by unemployment and the cost of supporting the endless wars that I and my American counterparts never fail to convince the people they must have. We have destroyed the America they love, and they don’t even know it yet.

“And of course, Canada is next, you know I am working hard on that right now, all the more easily done because you are here, isn’t that right? There was a time in 2003 that I feared your cries in the wilderness were, shall I say, resonating with the Canadian people. The people, some judges, were going off script and finding favor with your vision of Canada. But it was only a momentary lapse into reason, and so we Inquisitors dealt with you promptly, and our lackeys in the courts, police and Parliament made the necessary adjustments, and the people, the sheeple, as we joke in our private chambers, were none the wiser. Can you imagine your beloved Canada laid waste like southeast Georgia? Anyone for one hundred miles around clamoring for a job as a concentration camp guard just so they can eat and survive? Can you imagine your Vancouver, your British Columbia, your Canada, in such a pathetic moral and economic prostitution? I know I can.

“I’m really enjoying my machinations in Mexico. You know what is going on in Mexico, don’t you, Prince? Sure you do, there are thousands of Mexicans here in this prison. We Inquisitors decided to annihilate Mexico years ago, as criminal government gangsters battle criminal non-government gangsters for control of the prohibition market. Thousands die month after unrelenting month. It never ends. It never will. Oh, I know you dream of ending it. That’s why we stopped you. There was a time… when you might have had a chance. But I’m repeating myself, and you are here, your body-less existence relegated to some Facebook page, I guess you’d have to admit.

“I really enjoy the evening news on my big TV, although torture and exquisite killing that goes on daily in Mexico is even now too blasé for American media, and the Mexican media are so fearful of reprisal that they have already cut out their own tongue. Ah, it’s like Europe at the height of the Inquisition, but even more satisfying, because with propaganda we have silenced the people’s most powerful resource and tool. Such recourse by the peasants in Europe centuries ago did not exist. We were their voice of the truth exclusively. There was no media. Now, we still are the voice of the truth because, as you and others now know, the price of stating reality is very, very high. And these people will sell their tiny souls as concentration camp guards for a few meals a day and shack roof over their head. Do you really want to save these people, Oh Prince?”

I stare at the Inquisitor. I hear music. It's ‘Sympathy For The Devil’.

His lecture continues. I listen, spellbound, silent.

“Dear Mr. Emery”, he says my name for the first time now, like he’s been holding back until now, “you people never learn. I told this to Christ long ago. Now I’ll inform you. Please pay attention. We tell people what to think. We tell people what to believe. We tell the people what to do. If they don’t follow us, we destroy them. Methods vary. Why is this so hard for you and Christ to understand? Just look at my track record. You made the same error he made. He also thought people would want the truth. He also thought people could rise above a paycheck. He also thought wrong. So do you. Here, look at this.”

I see the Inquisitor get a huge ledger book from out of a briefcase I hadn’t noticed before. It’s a book of pay stubs, job appointments.

“It’s all here, Mr. Emery. Over one thousand individuals who have been involved with putting you in this place. Tens of millions of dollars spent, we spared no expense, to put you in this gulag by the swamp. It took us two decades but it’s done. A DEA world government. The RCMP, a branch of the DEA. Vancouver police, a branch of the DEA. The American Justice Department a branch of the DEA. Judges, court clerks, court reporters, crown attorneys, assistant crown attorneys, District Attorneys, prosecutors, wire tappers, a local swat team in every community, police undercover operatives, confidential informants, anonymous tipsters, desperate drug addicts, paid internet trolls, Ignatieff, Layton, Canadian Senators, op-ed hacks, political operatives, prison guards, university professors, and most important of all, public relations firms. I pay them all. Metaphorically you could say – I know you, Mr. Emery, would say it thus – they have sold their soul for some paper with ink on it.

“Amazing, isn’t it, the true value of a person’s soul? In movies and books, the sale of a soul is made to be some Faustian big deal, but in truth, it’s a cheap, common, banal transaction less thought through than the swatting of a fly. That realization must drive you quite crazy, Mr. Emery. I’m sure it does. And you are here, where you can do nothing about it. Your helplessness delights me. But then, I’m stating the obvious, am I not?”

…Just as every cop is a criminal, and all the sinners saints, wooo, wooo…

“I own these people, Mr. Emery. I pay them all. I bought them all. They are mine. They do what I say. If they want to eat, if they want a roof over their heads, if they want to get a new TV, if they want to take the kids to Disneyland, if they want to get the wife a new mini-van, if they want the husband to get a new copy of Guns & Ammo, if they want dental work, if they want a career, if they want a promotion, if they want to sit on The Supreme Court, if they want ego stuffing, then they do exactly what I say. It is as simple as that. I also educate them. This is how you can be put in a place like this. I educate them to believe they are fulfilling their destiny by working for me.

“This process was predicted long ago in the book ‘La Trahison des Clercs (The Treason of the Intellectuals)’ by Julien Benda. It was written in 1928, but no one believes there is much to learn from the past, certainly not the French, so these little prophecies are ignored in our disposable present tense. That is a mistake for the people, because that is where all the clues are, in books, in history, in all cultures.

“Let me read you what Benda said, In English translation, of course: ‘Our age is the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds. It will be one of the chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity. The condensation of political passions into a small number of very simple hatreds, springing from the deepest roots of the human heart, is a conquest of modern times. Now, at the end of the nineteenth century a fundamental change occurred: the clerks began to play the game of political passion. The men who had acted as a check on the realism of the people began to act as it’s stimulators.’”

The Inquisitor looked up at me from the book he had obviously brought for my edification.

“You see, Marc, this is… may I call you Marc?”

I smiled a faint smile, a wry affirmative.

…what’s confusing you is the nature of my game… wooo, wooo…

“You see, Marc, this is extremely simple. Do you know why I do this? I do it because I can. No other reason. There is no bigger thrill than to create life through propaganda, to look into the eyes of people and see emotions and beliefs you have created. We create things, Marc. And after we have created them, we look proudly at our creations and shout with joy, ‘It’s Alive! It’s Alive!’ Karloff was great in Frankenstein, wasn’t he? Such presence. And those eyes! It’s the maximum buzz, to use a word you might use. It’s like being God. Do you know what it feels like? Do you know what it’s like to hold people’s minds in your hands? Once you get a propaganda hit, you want more and more. You can never stop. Never, never, never. We are using you, Marc, as we have used others like you throughout history, to show there is no limit to this power of propaganda. We can make people believe anything. We can make people do anything. Propaganda put you here, Marc, put you in D. Ray James. I mean, really, what did you do? Seeds! In previous ages you would have been heralded and lauded like John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. Or even George Washington, the most prolific planter of cannabis seeds the United States has ever known! In the space of exactly 250 years, for George’s first massive planting of thousands of acres of cannabis from seed occurred by Washington’s own diary notes, in 1760, to 2010, when you were extradited to America and put here in D. Ray James CI, we’ve proven the power of propaganda. The first President of the United States, the revered father of this nation, was you 250 years ago. Two and a half centuries later we’ve demonized the very same behavior into one of the world’s 50 Most Wanted! Imagine what a triumph of metaphysical alchemy – propaganda – that truly is, what with all the evil in existence today, we could convince the public that you represented a greater threat than any dictator, murderer, drug lord, criminal syndicate and virtually any other agent of destruction that walks the earth today. We were not laughed at when we said you were #46 on world’s most wanted – therefore most dangerous – persons of this modern epoch!

“Five years in a Georgia compression dungeon for selling seeds from Canada to willing adult buyers? In 2011? Even now it amazes me, and I am rarely so impressed by my own work, and I am always effective. You know that. You’ve watched me for 30 years and railed on about me to Canadians and Americans alike but they ignored you. When you really needed them, they could do nothing for you. Only your wife holds a torch, a flame of truth you might say, for you. And we are watching her. Her health is failing. You think she can keep it up for 40 months more, Marc? I don’t think so. I’m sure you think about that yourself, but…”

The Inquisitor held his right palm to face me, “but you needn’t answer that little rhetorical remark. It’s not really a question. I’ve too much experience breaking down the bonds of loving adults to not recognize the signs. Mrs. Emery’s hair falling out? Skin in poor shape? Chest pains? Chronic weakness? Travel Exhaustion? Maybe you shouldn’t make her see you so often, Marc. Your being selfish is going to make the poor woman sick. How would you feel then?”

I clenched my teeth, and bore a steely gaze on him. He stuttered whenever he mentioned Jodie. It began to occur that he feared her more than he feared me. But he hardly missed a beat and continued.

“And to think, the government told licensed users to get their seeds from you. The majority of Canadians continually poll for legalizing cannabis. In your home province and city, two-thirds of the people want to legalize cannabis. But they do nothing for you Marc, have you noticed that? All those people with their point of view and nothing changed, nothing! You know there were colleagues of mine in government who told me it would be impossible to get rid of you. That you were loved as a great Canadian, a folk hero, a great humanitarian even. Told me to forget about getting rid of you. Told me Canada was a democracy and that you’d soon have the majority on your side. They laughed at me when I told them you had to be put far, far away for a long, long time. They laughed at me! They said it couldn’t be done. But I did it with ease. I humiliated you and exiled you and all your supporters could do was… nothing! I showed them to be impotent, and me the omnipotent. That’s democracy, I told my colleagues of little faith. Now who’s laughing?

“Here, I’ll show you proof of my absolute power. It is in the following paragraphs in the book the “biography of an idea: memoirs of public relations counsel edward l. bernays”. It’s a modest looking book for such a significant one, the title is all in the lower case, in a modest font. As you well know, Marc, Eddie is the self-proclaimed ‘Father of Public Relations’. A nephew of Sigmund Freud – the father of psychology to manipulate people, all without their ever knowing it. He called this propaganda method his ‘invisible government’, which he created through the engineering of consent. He did this by manipulating buttons in the subconscious sector of the mind. Eddie created the age of propaganda we are living in. His clients included… well, everybody.

“There is this single paragraph in his book that makes it saleable on Amazon for $200 for a fair condition copy, while a mint copy had a recent sale price of $2,000. Yet it is not that old. From 1965. It’s a first edition, but that’s not a big deal in this case. If you want the text, you can buy a Xerox reproduction. It is not personally signed, that $2,000 first edition. There is no leather binding, no gilt edged paged, no vellum paper. For those collecting cover art or dust jackets, there is nothing special here. As a former bookseller, you know this book would be something you’d usually find in the bargain bin and sell for $3.00. But it contains a single truth that allows it to demand this price. It is because of this one paragraph this book has become legendary. It’s on page 652.”

“Karl von Weigand, foreign correspondent of the Hearst newspapers, and old hand at interpreting Europe and just returned from Germany, was telling us about Goebbels and his propaganda plans to consolidate Nazi power. Goebbels had shown Wiegand his propaganda library, the best Wiegand had ever seen. Goebbels, said Wiegand, was using my book CRYSTALLIZING PUBLIC OPINION as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews of Germany.”

“What this means, Marc, is that people like me made up lies that tricked one group of people into making lamp shades out of the skins of another group of people. It means we were able to get those same people to put six million other people in ovens. As you can see from this paragraph, we have proven you can get people to do absolutely anything by using propaganda. And if you can do it in Europe’s most cultured nation, the nation of Beethoven, Goethe, Bach, then you can do it once, you can do it forever in every place.

“Remember, the German people who committed these atrocities, the volk, these weren’t monsters; there were well brought up, educated people with families, love, and normal upbringings. But in a climate of fear and bewilderment, propaganda easily took root. Dachau concentration camp, opened within months after the Nazis were elected to power, in 1933, was just like D. Ray James. The Nazis issued publicity photos to the German press and even the foreign press to show how well its ‘undesirables’ were being treated in these camps, just like GEO Group proudly does.

“At first, the concentration camps were much like D. Ray James is now. They became worse and far more sinister when the German people came to accept the ‘necessity’ of concentrating the ‘others’ into ghettos and gulags, as a normal aspect of life. Once you can herd the ‘other’ into overcrowded, dehumanizing barb-wire fenced prisons, it’s only a matter of time before a cultural genocide is underway. It took, what, just under ten years to go from a gulag of concentration camps to extermination camps? But then the Nazis were in a hurry and the allies were closing in. Still, it’s amazing that tens of millions of Germans could be convinced of the necessity of concentration camps with just a few years of targeted propaganda.

“What do you have here, illegals and those who trade in the ceremonial chemistries of the mind? This GEO Group gets $1 million a week to ‘house’ you. For what purpose ultimately? What is the point? Punishment of the ‘other’, the ‘heretic’, and the debasement of the citizen, who begins to think it’s normal to herd these people around a concentration camp so they can pay the rent? Do you think a German guard at Dachau in 1933 was brought up any different than a guard at D. Ray James today? They are not different at all. They weren’t evil – they needed to eat and put a roof over their head. Propaganda is the great equalizer between cultures. You’ve seen it in the drug war, in Rwanda, in Germany, you see it everywhere. Of course, Eddie has an explanation in the next paragraph:

“This shocked me, but I knew that any human activity can be used for social purposes or misused for antisocial ones. Obviously the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate, planned campaign.”

“Bernays refused to seize on the outcome of his brilliant methods and conclusions outlined in his book. The massive Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Public Enlightenment & Propaganda – the actual name, isn’t it wonderful – which covered every aspect of German life, simply misused his theories for that which was already pre-determined, according to Bernays limp explanation. Bernays was embarrassed (at least so he said) to take responsibility for what became the greatest triumph of propaganda in humankind’s history! To convince essentially good, decent people they must round up all these other decent people and put them in internment camps and within a few years exterminate them all! To destroy several millions women as witches took the Inquisition 600 years! To kill millions of Jews, homosexuals, communists, dissenters, idealists, and others took Goebbels only a few years of brilliantly orchestrated propaganda! Bernays refused to take credit for this staggering achievement. Sigh. Whatever.

“Regardless of how you slice it, propaganda is indeed the truth and the light, the power and the glory, the yin and yang, the alpha and the omega, the works. For is it now a fact that belief determines truth? Lies can be truth if you can make people believe them. Yesterday they were lies, today they are truth. After a few weeks, who cares? We made it all up. We always do. Somebody has to.”

I could see my Inquisitor was warming up to his task. He was setting the mood for some reason, some purpose.

…made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands, and sealed His fate… woooo, woooo…

“You must be thinking, Marc, because you are not talking, who could ever believe the notorious Marc Emery silent, is it for some principle, Marc, that even I’m unable to see? You must have asked yourself, ‘Why me?’ Why you Marc? Why are you in this place? You must, in your despair, ask yourself this question. And don’t try to convince me you don’t despair, I read those newsletters, Marc, I know you cry often, perhaps not over your predicament here at D. Ray James, though that can hardly be a comfort, but over your lovely wife’s absence. How old are you, Marc? 53, 54? What is it for? How many good years do you think you have left in you before you’re a drooling shell of a man, incapacitated from a stroke the same way your father perished, and his father, and his father. It IS hereditary, those things, alas. Surely you think about ‘what if I die in this godforsaken place?’ Don’t you wonder ‘what if I am never to be with Jodie in the outside world again?’ I know you must wonder that, don’t you?

“You are here to help me make a point. I have introduced legislation that will allow me to put all of your people in jail. For such a massive task, propaganda demands that you be demonized beyond even the level of the worst violent criminals. And then we must do things to you that no civilized person would ever do to you. This allows us to form a contract with the public.

“When the public allows us to do this to someone like you, an idealist and Canadian of truly outstanding achievements, personally and politically – I’ll admit you have an impressive record of patriotism, as it used to be understood – the public will accept any one of its own going to jail for trivial offenses and in any number. When the citizenry can’t help you one bit, and again, they’ve gotten you not one iota closer to any kind of freedom, in fact, the more they love you, the more we must deny you, it reinforces their helplessness. They just give up and give in. They join us, rather than be against us, because survival and prosperity is with joining us.

“They could help you. They could vote, they could organize, they could assert themselves, they could face up to the truth of what has happened to their country and really fight for it. But mostly they just write polite letters to their elected MP’s, who are, let’s face it, my lackeys who rubber stamp whatever I tell them. When the citizen’s only protest is a polite letter to these sycophants under my thumb, the citizens become our assistants, our partners in the conspiracy of lies, washing their hands with us, so to speak. They soon realize no one in the Ottawa is listening; they get a form letter back, for goodness sakes! And give up opposing us. After we correct their perceptions through propaganda, they join us, or are silent. Either one serves our purpose.

“It was the same back in the good old days. We never burned them alive. What we did, and here I quote, was ‘abandon’ the heretic to the masses. The public did the torture and killing with their own hands. They were the ones who set the fires. They enjoyed the screams as much as we did. They had been properly propagandized. They surrendered their integrity and their belief in truth for our lies, even the grotesque, uncomfortable lies. Their need to belong and conform, combined with our propaganda, crude as it was in those days compared to today, was all that was required.

“Do you recall, Marc, ever reading about any citizen rebellions to the excesses of the Inquisition? You don’t, because it almost never happened. In 600 years. How many ‘good’ Germans rose up against the concentration camps, the mass killings, in that brief, brilliant 13 years? Less than a few hundred. In what was regarded as one of the most advanced and enlightened intellectual societies on earth! But you can’t go around calling the people evil and expect to be loved the way I’m loved. So we tell them now what we told them then. We tell them it’s all good, that we’re just getting rid of a threatening ‘culture’. Now everyone’s happy. They’re working for ‘the good’. They’re getting well paid. And they’re going to heaven instead of jail.

“When the Jews were demonized, most Germans lived beside and interacted with dozens of Jews daily, good people they bought bread from, or worked with, and did so for decades without any untoward incident at all. Yet it was child’s play to convince these Germans that, contrary to all the experience accumulated over their lifetime, that Jews were vermin to be put in camps and destroyed.

“It’s the same with your people, Marc. Everyone knows a pot smoker. Known them forever, decades. All of us have someone we even love who smokes pot. How could we not? There are 5 to 7 million in a nation of 30 million. Odds are, every one of us has a family member who smokes or grows the stuff! Yet I will convince them their own loved ones should be jailed and perhaps raped in prison over a few weeds. How brilliant is that?!

“Here is my favorite part. They all use cannabis. Politicians use it. Police use it. Crown attorneys use it. Judges use it. Jail guards use it. Do you not find a beautiful symmetry here, Marc, a confirmation of the Grand Inquisitor’s Philosophy?”

I can see he’s ready to wrap up, he’s waving his arms in the air, spinning in his chair. There’s joy in him.

…Been around for many a long, long year; stolen many a man’s soul and faith… wooo, wooo…

“Look around you. Look around outside at Folkston. The name is humble enough, the folks’ town. Sounds sweet, doesn’t it? Rhymes with Volk’s town. What do you see in Folkston? You see people. They’re just like people everywhere. They’re not bad people. And some of the best are here in Georgia. Little Richard is just over there in Macon. But the only way most folks around here can survive is the same way much of America survives. This is by locking up their non-violent fellow human beings. Modern American survival depends on jails and prohibition. It’s pretty well all that’s left in a lot of places.

“We expect to effectively transfer this prison prohibition policy intact to Canada by Christmas. Rob Nicholson will make the announcement of the grandest prison-building scheme ever imagined in Canada wearing a Santa Claus suit. Nobody sells like Santa. Jobs for everyone, a prison in ever community. Nobody will ask, ‘who are we putting in these jails?’ We will have already told them all they need to know: a ‘culture’ we can do without.

“I can tell you all this now, Marc, because it’s unstoppable. It doesn’t have to be secret anymore. We can’t be beat. That election you’ve heard about, don’t think you can count on that. What did they throw the Liberals out for, 10 or 20 million to friends in Quebec for some advertising scam? We’ve put Canada in debt for hundreds of billions more, committed a half a trillion dollars to weapons and militarization, made Parliament irrelevant, and embraced a mania of secrecy the old East German Stasi would admire – and our poll numbers don’t drop! Check the stats. Canada has so many political parties that a prison prohibition punishment cult can get in with 30%, perhaps in perpetuity, no matter how we have transformed Canada into the dark bête noire most Canadians in their gut know is not what they want their children to live in.

“Incremental stages, incremental stages. You’ve read the book ‘Harper’s Team’. That Tom Flanagan. He almost gave away the game when he said Julian Assange ought to be killed for telling the truth about how our governments work. But Flanagan knows brainwashing, I’ll give you that. Add some true believers like Ezra Levant, and Kory Teneycke, and the propaganda brain trust is unstoppable. Now, I’m sorry that Kory put out on Twitter that joke, implying he hoped you’d be raped in D. Ray James here. That’s unbecoming of a man who was a bit too upfront and truthful about how much we relish what we’ve done to you. I did reprimand him for being so candid while media was paying attention, though I’ve got to like his instincts. Kory will make a fine Inquisitor himself one day. So will Ezra and Tom. There are always so many potential Inquisitors waiting to join in our holy crusade.

“But it’s all there in Flanagans’ book, ‘Harper’s Team’. We do it inch by inch. That’s the magic technique. Then, all of a sudden, the country wakes up and realizes it’s one big jail in a police state. We have achieved our goal. Done deal. Believe me, Marc, when you can have a democratic country in 2011 seriously debating putting a person in jail for six months for six weeds, this shows we know what we’re doing. Oh sure, there might be some fine tuning. Ignatieff and Layton will posture, but they’ll buy in. Maybe it’ll be two plants, maybe 20 plants. Maybe it’ll be five months, maybe even seven months. Maybe it will cost $5 billion in 3 years, or ten billion in 5 years. Maybe, as in your case, it’ll be 5 years for seeds. There are hundreds of shops selling those seeds now, aren’t there? But so what? Who cares? That’s not the point.

“The point is that it’s always jail. That’s the one constant. That never changes. Never. We’re talking about it all in a jail context. Totally. Entirely. More punishment. End early parole. End contact visits. End the prison farm program. Jails and the cruelty of punishment is what it’s all about. Making marijuana and jail synonyms in the public mind.

“You’re so well read, so I enjoy discussing this with you. There aren’t a lot of people who can understand what I’ve done. But that’s the price I pay for brainwashing. Sure, they’re great robots, and they’ll do anything I say, but it’s like taking to a fridge. Very cold and uninspiring. They lack the independence of mind to say anything original, and their reading consists solely of a TV Guide and a criminal code. But let’s face it, everyone likes a little appreciation, even a Grand Inquisitor like me. So what do you think? Are you impressed with my work?”

I say nothing. I just stare, waiting for the finale.

…or I’ll lay your soul to waste… wooo, woooo…

“Hmmmm, still not talking. This disappoints me, Marc. Your reputation promised otherwise. Marc, you could have had it all. You are a gifted person. You could be the one in a position of political power. And then you could be sending people to D. Ray James. Anybody you want. Just make a law. It’s easy. Here, watch. Bill S-11 will require cannabis people sent to jail to be whipped twice, once on entry and once on exit. You’ve read the book on us, called Slumming It At The Rodeo. You know this is a law that would meet with the approval of your current government. Indeed it was once a serious Conservative proposal. We’ve done internal polls and our 30% base didn’t flinch, didn’t question it.

“Sadly, you don’t seem to have a taste for torturing and abusing people. We checked and checked, looking for any woman, child, or anyone who could claim you’d shown some degree of hate or sadism or even a mean-streak. We came up empty-handed and, believe me, we looked. Couldn’t believe it, really; you’ve been that virtuous, Marc, that not one person came forward with a first hand tale of sordidness that showed you had the potential to be one of us. Not a single person said they had been harmed by you. We were pretty disappointed we received only seven letters in five years even agreeing with our decision to extradite you. Of course the 3,000 letters we received in the mail opposing your extradition were ignored. We know there isn’t much else they can do after they send those polite letters begging us to spare you from extradition to the gulag, to D. Ray James concentration camp.

“Such a shame, you didn’t become one of us. Here, I’ll tell you what you what I’ll do. You can be out this afternoon. Just do one thing. Confess! That’s all you have to do. Confess! Beg our forgiveness! We’ll let you out. Back to your wife…”

I saw him tremble. Does he always tremble when thinking of women? I wondered. He fears their inherent goodness and unconditional love. He dreads such love, for such love can destroy his power. Therefore, he must try to smash it ever chance he gets. He sees my curious gaze…

…Rode a tank, held a general’s rank, when the Blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank… wooo, wooo…

“Wife… yes, your wife,” he recovered, “Good food, nice clothes, even a few joints if you don’t tell anyone, clean air, non-poisonous water, food that can actually support human life. It’s all yours. Just make the following statement: ‘I, Marc Emery, have sinned. I beg forgiveness. I was led astray by the Devil’s harvest. If you use cannabis, you will develop schizophrenia, kill your family and commit suicide with an axe. I am truly sorry for the trouble I have caused. I will ask all my supporters to join me in helping elect Canada’s first Prime Ministerial Prison Warden. I believe our children are safer in jail until we eliminate the cannabis culture. As a bonus, mandatory minimums will keep the kids off the streets and busy in jail getting raped.

“After you say this, we’ll get you a job as a mainstream politician. The people will love you, Marc. You’ll be on TV whenever you want. You’ll get the best make-up. Free booze. Saunas. Super pension. Lots of money. And don’t give it all away this time. Are you nuts? Nobody gives money away, at least not their own money! But you must confess first. This has been our rule since the Spanish Inquisition, and it remains our rule today. Think of it as honoring a great tradition of changing a culture. That’s all you have to do. Just say it. Just say it once, publicly, stick by it, and you’re free. People trust you. They believe in you Marc, we know that. If you say it like you mean it, they’ll believe it too. If you say it, we’ll stop torturing you. Come on, Marc. What’s it matter? Really. Who cares? This is just the way the world is.

“Just say it. All my lackeys say it. Ignatieff says it. Layton says it. You can’t get a judicial appointment these days without saying it. You can’t get a nomination with any major political party without saying it. It’s not going to hurt you to say it. And trust me, it’s going to hurt a lot more if you don’t say it. A lot more.

“Still silent, eh? I gave you an offer. You’ve said nothing, so I’ll be leaving. I just wanted you to know why this all being done to you. You know that phrase, ‘no good deed shall go unpunished’? You have a lifetime of good deeds, Marc, and as you Grand Inquisitor I have a lifetime, and the power, to make you pay for them. And you will.”

…tell me, baby, what’s my name? Tell me, sweetie, what’s my game? All along the watchtower, who’s to blame?… wooo, wooo…

www.FreeMarc.ca

Marc Emery was transferred out of D. Ray James Correctional Institution on April 4th, and is currently in Oklahoma City waiting for transfer to Yazoo City Correctional Institution in Mississippi. Keep up to date on Marc's situation and efforts to come home at www.Facebook.com/PrinceOfPot, www.Facebook.com/MarcEmery, www.YouTube.com/PotTVNetwork and www.FreeMarc.ca

“The Prophecy” – Chapter One of Marc’s Autobiography

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This is a preview from Marc Emery’s autobiography, which he has been working on while in prison. The introductory chapter, called “The Prophecy”, is a strange but true story, seemingly foretelling Marc’s destiny when he was just 19 years old – even before he knew about marijuana.

Marc first mentioned this in an interview in CC #16, from January 1999. Click here to read "Marc Emery: The Prince of Pot speaks out".

 


One Saturday in September 1977 at my City Lights Bookshop in London, Ontario, I arrived early and excitedly to work on a huge collection of books from the 1800's and early 1900's. It took two trips in my Chrysler van, completely loaded with at least 750 books in each trip, to bring in this purchase from the estate of a deceased person the night before. I have to say, the best collections were always from people who had just died. Usually the children or heirs had no interest in the books and many other ephemera of an entire life of a collector, and in the era before the internet or eBay, those things were either put in an estate auction or, for most people who were impatiently wanting to settle estate matters more immediately, taken away by a bookseller like me. I would pay a nominal sum, and then haul away everything they wanted disposed of.

In this case it was a lifetime collection of religious books from 1800 to about 1930, with a fair bit of British poetry volumes from 1840 to 1900, and perhaps a few hundred illustrated books from the 1870 to 1945 period, probably the best books in the collection. For the 1,500 books in total, I paid about $1,000. The retail price when I was finished marking each one of them up was going to be $10,000 to $12,000. It was a great business, and I loved the old books, as each one was a treasure that was very profitable over time. On days like this, the next morning after a pick-up, it was the most fun my job could be.

I bought a collection of old, musty, rich smelling leather bound books two or three times weekly in those days, so my store was soaked in the smell of old paper and history and stacked with the 1,500 new arrivals in every available space, on counters, on the floor, rising above the counters three feet high above my head. For me to see anyone that morning I'd have to crane my neck around skyscrapers of old books. Only right by the cash register could I see someone in the aisle way.

Upon arriving at 9:30 in the morning, I put in my classic music tape; I was partial to George Frederick Handel Water Music, or Georg Philipp Telemann Flute Sonatas, gentle soothing period music that was clearly suggestive of old books. I unlocked the front door at 10am and started taking the religious books to their section in the back of the store, as I priced a stack of about 20 or so at a time. My store was 100 feet long, so once I was at the back, all I could hear was the classical music piped into every room, and every section was tight with bookshelves stacked with books and little room to move or maneuver. I would often peer around a corner to see if anyone came through the front door or needed assistance, and tried to stay in an isolated section no more than a few minutes before returning to the front area to do another stack of books and take them to their appropriate section. I was pretty fast, but this collection would take the better of three days to price and distribute throughout the bookshop.

I was so thrilled by this new collection of books that I wasn't particularly concerned that very few customers came in, at least for the first 90 minutes. Around a quarter to noon, my good friend and regular David Hogg came in and said "Hello," with a bit more animation than usual. "You didn't come out to see the woman who collapsed in front of your door?" he immediately wanted to know.

"What?" I said. "A woman collapsed? Where?" I was lost in my world and knew nothing about this.

"Right there," he pointed outside the very door he had walked through, "on the sidewalk."

"No; what happened?" I was surprised.

David looked at me askance. "You mean you didn't see an old woman, her head cracked open, blood all over the sidewalk, right there? That's hard to believe, Marc. She hit her head quite badly, apparently collapsed as she walked by, just like that."

"Wow…" I didn't know what to say. "No one told me."

"Well, I don't know how you'd miss it. Jim was following behind her and saw her fall, and called 911 from his store." Jim Weaver was my neighbor and the owner of Belle Air Music, a guitar and instrument shop two doors over. "That was lucky for her; the ambulance was here within minutes. I showed up just as they were loading her on a gurney to take her to the hospital. Jim got a bucket of hot water and washed the blood off the sidewalk just a few minutes ago. And you didn't see or notice any of this? Where were you?"

"Geez, I'm sorry, I guess I was in the back, with the music playing… you know how this place is."

"But you didn't hear the ambulance when it got here or left? It pulled up just outside your window." David was almost accusing me of negligence or something, and I felt a bit guilty. We went out and looked at bloodstain on the sidewalk, already old-looking and dried, but clearly it was quite an injury. I did marvel that I was somehow oblivious to what had happened. "Really odd that you missed that, Marc," David said. "I hope the old lady is going to be okay, but I don't know, it looked pretty bad."

I changed the subject and showed David some the old treasures I had hauled in the night before. Twenty minutes later, Jim Weaver came in and walked up to my counter, looking subtly like he had done a good deed, and also to query me. "Did you see the old woman who fell on the sidewalk just outside your door?"

"David told me about it, but I didn't even notice. Honestly, I had no idea. I must have been in the back, maybe even downstairs in that time."

"Well, it did all happen pretty fast. I was walking right along behind her just ten feet, on the way to get lunch from Between The Bread," (that was our neighbourhood sandwich shop three doors over) "and I saw her just drop face forward like a ton of bricks, not a stumble, just straight as a board fell forward. Oh, and the sound of her head splitting, the 'thunk' sound, just enough to make you sick. Went up to her for a second and then I ran into my store and called 911. Then I came out and knelt beside her and waited. The ambulance was pretty quick but I didn't move her and the blood was pouring out. It was terrible! It’s amazing you didn't hear the ambulance or see any of it, it was right there in front of your doorway. I guess no one came in to tell you."

"Not until she was gone in the ambulance, then David came in and told me, and by then you'd even washed away the blood," I said.

"Ian came out with towels," – Ian was his manager – "and a bucket of soapy water and our first aid kit. I didn't want to move her though, in case her head was really badly damaged. I hope she's going to be okay, but she was unconscious, or worse. She didn't move or anything."

 


• • •

Twenty-three days later, on a Monday morning, I was opening my store. I remember the counter was totally clear of books that day. The phone rang.

"Hello, City Lights Bookshop," I said.

"Mr. Emery?" said an old woman’s voice.

"Yes, speaking."

"Mr. Marc Emery?"

"Yes."

"Mr. Emery, you don't know me. We've never met. But I know all about you."

"Er… yes?"

"Mr. Emery, I was walking along Richmond Street three weeks ago Saturday, and I passed in front of your store when a terrible, terrible thing happened to me. As I passed in front of your store, Mr. Emery, right in front of your doorway – and I know you were inside there – in the space of an instant, just a fraction of a second, I felt this most tremendous surge of an energy… of a force… this invasion of my whole brain by YOU, Mr. Emery, a terribly painful invasion by your aura, your essence, everything that radiates from you was forced into my brain, and I collapsed and fell on the sidewalk and split my head open. I understand from the hospital, when they explained what happened, that one of your neighbours called the ambulance.

"Mr. Emery, I was released from hospital yesterday. I was unconscious, in and out of a coma for two weeks. In that time, doctors operated on me, and remarkably, I only fractured my skull, had a very bad concussion and required stitches. They don't know why I was in a coma for two weeks, but I was on life support. After I was conscious again, I was kept in there for another week for observation, but yesterday they released me, as they think I'll be all right. But I know why I was in a coma, Mr. Emery. I didn't tell the doctors the reason I was there, but I'll tell you. I only know that the entire experience I went through is all about you, Mr. Emery.

"I know all about you now, Mr. Emery, in very strange ways. It’s all I can recall from the moment my brain was attacked with this painful energy that comes from you. I know this doesn't make any sense, Mr. Emery – how old are you, Sir?"

"I'm 19." I was disconcerted by how she frequently called me Mr. Emery with both fear and awe, and she sounded like she was blaming me for her horrible accident.

"All the time I was unconscious, all those weeks in the hospital, the second I fell, Mr. Emery, has all been about you. That’s all I've been able to think about. I can't control it. I'm very scared Mr. Emery; I've never met you. I knew nothing about you, I've never heard of you before. I've never been in your store, and now I feel I know too much about you. My husband made me call you to tell you of this, Mr. Emery, he thinks maybe it will stop once I tell you this… what happened to me. Maybe it will mean something one day. But I know you've got to leave my brain, I can't take it anymore. So I'm going to tell you, Mr. Emery, what I saw, and why I believe I fell into unconsciousness in front of you, and your building. I want my life back. My husband and I are so scared and confused, and he thinks if I tell you, it will stop. I don't know why this happened to me. I've never had any psychic experience. I don't even believe in that sort of thing. I want to tell you this and then I want it desperately to go away.

"Throughout the entire unconscious experience I know I was experiencing your life flashing before me. It was just all about Marc Emery, your name, thousands of times repeated to me, with images, and incredible energy and upheaval, like torrents of electricity and power and violent exchanges of energy, but not violence in any way. It was just your life being forced into my mind, so now I have to tell you these things that are coming, Mr. Emery, coming to you. And you need to be prepared."

This was so strange. Customers came in as I listened to this woman, and I even whispered to a woman across the counter, "This is the weirdest phone call ever!" but did not stop listening attentively. How could I not?

"Symbols, Mr. Emery, important and great symbols tell me about your future, your life, you significance to people, to the world, a great mass of people. Noisy masses of people. These symbols are the key to your future, Mr. Emery, and there’s more but these symbols are so important.

"I know I'm to tell you that you have a great destiny before you, Mr. Emery. When or how, I don't know. But you will lead a great multitude of people to sanctuary, to a liberation of some kind. There is great joy and rejoicing, with flags and symbols. And it will be trying Mr. Emery, it will be painful, you will have adversity, and you will have one very great obstacle, Mr . Emery, that you must conquer. You must not give into despair on this journey, you must practice patience and not lash out in anger at the adversity that comes, because it WILL come, and that is not the answer. That will undo everything, if you give in to bitterness. There is great power and influence where you are going, Mr. Emery, but if you give in to despair, you will risk ruining all the good you are working for. This was the largest warning I saw repeatedly. You cannot give into bitterness, anger, despair; those are your enemies, Mr. Emery. I am to warn you about this, because those internal personal adversities will be a great challenge to you, more than any other person or group in your way. You will feel deserving of this anger, Mr. Emery, but you must avoid giving in to it.

"I saw three symbols repeatedly, endlessly in my time unconscious, and they are certainly about your life. I don't know what they mean. I only know they are very important to what you must do and will do in the time ahead.

"The first symbol is the symbol of the dollar, Mr. Emery. The dollar sign. The dollar sign is very special in your life. You will rule the dollar. The dollar is a power you can control – it doesn't control you. With this power, you will have no conflict. You will use the dollar to great ends. And it means something very special in your power, different from its use by other men. You have a great gift and ability. It is like magic in your hands, I can't describe it.

"The second symbol that flashed endlessly was your brain, Mr. Emery, your brain in a steel trap. I think it means your mind holds information like a steel trap. It never escapes your mind. But this symbol changed back and forth. It would sometimes be your mind as the steel cage, and then it was like your mind in a cage. It would flash back and forth, so constantly, mind in a cage, the cage in your mind. I kept thinking it all goes in your brain, both experiences or meanings. This is also where I felt terrible premonitions of despair and sadness inside your brain, and I know I'm to tell you to protect your brain, your great and powerful brain, and to use this mind of yours to accomplish the goal of the next symbol.

"The most dominating symbol of all, the one that was always dominant in my mind the entire time, that never left, is the most mysterious to me because I don't understand it. It is a symbol of a leaf, Mr. Emery. It’s like a maple leaf, but it’s not a maple leaf – it’s different from a maple leaf, but I also thought the Canadian maple leaf was there too, and I'm confused about this. Because the leaf I saw had several fronds, each part of the leaf was similar in varying sizes, and the leaf has uniform ridged fingers around its stem. I can't tell you what colour it is, only that this is the most powerful symbol, it is what all the other symbols and messages I received were devoted to. This leaf is in all your banners, all the parades, all the conflicts, the great liberation, the people, whoever they are, are all bound together by this leaf, and you are leading them, to what I don't know, I just know it’s your destiny and it will happen and you will do it. Does any of this mean anything to you, Mr. Emery?"

I had listened to her desperate and anxious story quietly, hardly interrupting, out of politeness to an old woman who, after all, had nearly died because something about me had laid her out on the concrete sidewalk and put her near death. I felt guilty about that, but I felt she was disturbed, possibly nuts, too.

"I'm sorry, it doesn't mean anything to me," I said. "I'm sorry I'm involved in this… terrible thing that’s happened to you." I thought she was delusional, what else could I think?

She gulped. "Well Mr. Emery, I'm going now. I hope I never think of you again. I hope this all goes away. It’s been the most draining, painful, exasperating thing I've experienced in my whole life, and I'm 65. I am so frightened by what happened. I can't make sense out of it. Why me? All I know is that I saw these things and I know I was meant to tell you, to warn you, to prepare you. But now I want these thoughts gone and my life back. So goodbye, Mr. Emery, and remember, you have a great destiny important to millions of people somewhere, but don't give in to despair – that word was imprinted in these visions, don't give into it, Mr. Emery, that is so important. It will be hard but you have to get through the difficulties and then it will all be fine. Goodbye, Mr. Emery."

I said goodbye, and after she hung up I sighed. I didn't get her name and I never heard from her again. And then I didn't think about it for years.

Prison Blog #33 (Newsletter #9)

submitted by on April 24, 2011

March 9-15: This past Wednesday was extremely odd because I didn’t get a single ordinary sized letter. Odder yet when I didn’t get any letters on Thursday. Or Friday. Normally I get 8 to 10 letters a day. So today, Monday, March 7, I discovered that SIS (Security), led by Mr. Lindsay, is taking my mail from the mailroom after it has all been inspected and cleared of contraband, and then taking my letters to their office and reading each one.

I wouldn’t mind that so much but they are holding letters up to 5 days so they can read them, then I finally get them. None of my incoming letters are a security risk, threat or concern, so it can only be for titillation purposes, although I have never, alas, received a single letter I would consider licentious.

So letters I would have received last Wednesday, I’m receiving 5 days later. My outgoing mail, which in a low security facility is sealed by the inmate and is generally not opened by the facility, is taking a longer time to reach their destinations, so I can only assume security is going the same with my outgoing mail and reading it also, and delaying its posting. I find it remarkable that GEO Group never has enough money to provide fresh vegetables or fruit in our diet, or extra soccer or volleyballs or guitars, but can pay the security men here to read hours of my mail, and to no particular end that I can determine other than to upset me.

I was put on the CIM list two weeks ago, Controlled Inmate Monitoring. I did not realize that meant all my mail was now going to be detained, delayed and read. Since I have posed no threat to this facility, and in all valid assessments am a model prisoner, I find this ‘special’ treatment aggravating. I was able to pose this situation to the Acting Warden Mr. Zenk today. While he casually acknowledged I’m on CIM and my mail is being monitored, he said he would talk to security and see if the turnaround time could be lessened. I will be asking Security what they expect to find in my incoming or outgoing mail that justifies their time, effort and blatant interference in my correspondence.

Newsletter #7 was discussed with me line by line by Security when I issued it 10 days ago, which I did not mind. I was happy to have their input. I gave #8 to Security as soon as the final version was off the photocopier. I have obviously nothing to hide and consider my newsletter a window on the world of DRJ from the perspective of an inmate. In many ways, I do this facility a favor, at no cost to them, of telegraphing the problems of inmates before the problems become critical mass/crises. Many of the staff, families of inmates, and certainly SIS read this newsletter. The B.O.P. liaisons here read it. They have used my comments in their interactions with the GEO Group/D. Ray James staff.

Reading my mail and holding it up several days I regard as a betrayal of trust. I’m living up to my obligations to report fairly, truthfully and behave in a polite manner. What happens to me, matters to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people to in North America and the world. I don’t exploit that in any way. I don’t tell people to bombard DRJ or GEO Group in protest at the inadequacies here I have regarded of egregious. But there is a quid pro quo at work whether DRJ acknowledges it or not. If I am going to be targeted for harassment, which is what I consider this mail screening and delay to be, then I am being disrespected. Mail in the United States takes only 2 or 3 days at most to get here normally, so when I see letters today that are postmarked Feb. 28th and March 1st, I know my mail is being detained unreasonably for no purpose related to the security of this facility.

Along with DRJ’s perfidious blockade of my incoming mail and the snooping of my outbound mail for obscure purposes, I have discovered a systemic error in the Keefe Commissary computer that is ripping me off as well as every inmate here. As an inmate, I have a limit on spending on commissary of $320 a month. I buy a lot of my food I eat from commissary as the food served by DRJ is monotonous, lacking in Vitamin A, B, C, calcium, potassium, essential fatty acids, Omega 3 and 6, and is really just a regurgitation of carbs, fats, sugars and protein day after boring, tasteless day. I spend my limit usually the third week of the month, so for the last 7 to 10 days I have next to no food items to eat. I couldn’t figure out why this was so. Postage stamps and health items are supposed to be exempt from the $320 monthly limit. But I’ve checked my commissary records and that of numerous other inmates and found that I and all other inmates are having stamps deducted from our $320 monthly limit!

For me this has been devastating, as I buy $21 to $26 in stamps each week (the weekly limit is $26.20). The net result of this admitted error is that I am cheated out of being able to buy $100 worth of food a month, because my postage stamps are being subtracted from the $320 spending limit. This is cruel punishment that is inexcusable. In the DRJ Inmate Handbook it clearly states that the $100+ limit on postage stamps is above the $320 monthly limit. So over 4 months I’ve been cheated of $400 on my spending limits. This has affected hundreds and hundreds of inmates as running shoes were also erroneously debited from the $320 spending limit, messing with inmate spending budgets, along with postage stamps. This is unforgivable but I have the statements from Keefe to show they are deducting expenditures on postage stamps from the $320 monthly limit, so we shall see how long it takes this crooked outfit to rectify their previous errors (if they ever will) and stop ripping us off week after week.

So much mail sent to me here has never gotten to me, and numerous letters sent by me here are interfered with and do not arrive. Along with hijacking photographs and letters I send out, they cheat me of photographs that are taken that they don’t give me. My hand is on my wife’s buttock, so they say in denying me the last photo; before that it was a similar complaint. But they don’t show you the photo nor do they refund your $1, so you have to believe their warped interpretation of things, which, considering my experience here, they are completely unbelievable. Hopefully one day you will be able to see my photographs I’ve paid for and had taken of me at DRJ but I have my doubts. [Note from Jodie: The only photographs that had failed to arrive in the mail from Marc when he wrote this finally showed up in my mail on April 1. The photos were taken February 12 and 13.]

I’ve taken to listening in on Randy and Jon’s guitar sessions. Randy is from New Westminster, BC, vocalist of the Mojo Stars, and Jon is from South Africa. I sit in on their 90 minute sessions where they play about 20 songs, from Eagle’s Hotel California to Helplessly Hoping by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Helpless by Neil Young, Under the Boardwalk (Drifters), Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison), House of the Rising Sun, the parody of life here ‘Folkston Prison Blues’ (the Johnny Cash song Folson Prison Blues reworked) and a few beautifully done original tunes as well. I’ve taken to sitting in and throwing requests at them, and filling in a few blanks in their recollection of lyrics. I did a rock and roll trivia board game in 1987 with 6,000 questions and answers, and from 1989 to 1991 had a Billboard Top 40 retrospective show on radio playing songs from 1955 to 1973 with history of the artists and the song.

While there are now up to 6 guitars for inmates to play available there is no sheet music, songbook or access to lyrics. So I asked Jodie to send me some songbooks I could lend the musicians, and she obliged by sending me sheet music of The Eagles, Sting, Tom Petty, and Neil Young. I mailed her a letter asking her to look up the lyrics of about 30 songs, including American Pie and Vincent by Don MacLean, The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot – as ubiquitous a Canadian song as you’ll ever hear, though it is about an American freighter ship plying Lake Superior (“the big lake they call Gitchee Gumee”), numerous Dylan songs, Joni Mitchell, and Cat Stevens.

If any one of my readers has any extra guitar songbooks lying about their homes or studios that you could part with, it would be greatly appreciated here. [Note from Jodie: mail cannot be sent to D. Ray James from this point on, as Marc is being transferred.] There are some songbooks that have an assortment of classic songs in them, with titles like 200 Classic Songs of the 60’s and 70’s, and that sort of thing, that would be of tremendous use here. Beatles, Bob Dylan, Talking Heads, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Neil Young (Harvest, After the Gold Rush, etc.), Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Hank Williams, Sr., Merle Haggard, any blues, western, pop and rock classics in guitar playing notation and lyrics (songbooks) would be appreciated.

Adam at the BCMP Vapour Lounge will be recording ‘Folkston Prison Blues’ next week, live, before an audience, and then it will be put on YouTube shortly afterward and linked to these newsletters. [Note from Jodie: The video and lyrics can be seen in Marc’s blog #8, posted here.] Our next parody song, “It’s D. Ray James As We Know It (and we’re doing time)” – REM song ‘It’s the End of the World As We Know It’ being the source song, is being worked on now for Adam to record after we perform it here. I’ll be part of the vocal chorus in our performance of ‘It’s D. Ray James As We Know It.’

I was pleased to hear that Tommy Chong was in Vancouver at the Rio Theatre doing a fundraiser for my best friend Dana Larsen who is seeking the leadership of the New Democratic Party of British Columbia, the party currently the opposition to the governing Liberal Party. The fundraiser was Monday, March 7, and the next night Tommy jammed with the house band at the BC Marijuana Party Vapour Lounge, helping raise another $1,500 toward Dana’s leadership race. The entry fee to run for the leadership was $15,000 into the party coffers, and Dana was accredited as a bona fide contender. The voting for NDP members to choose the leader of the BC provincial party is April 17. Follow Dana’s leadership campaign at www.VoteDana.ca. Naturally, repealing the prohibition of cannabis is central to Dana’s platform.

Thursday, March 10:

The D. Ray James business office spoke to me today to acknowledge that they have been improperly including postage stamps and health products in the $320 inmate monthly spending limit. The result of this for me is that I order $90-$100 in postage stamps monthly, these are supposed to be exempt from the $320 monthly spending limit; that has, in fact, been debited from my spending limit each month so far. So I’ve only been able to order $220 worth of food, which only lasts me 20 days of each month. I should be able to order $320 worth of food AND $100 in health care (ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, etc.) and postage stamps per month. So for four months I’ve been cheated out of my full spending limit.

From the point of view of Keefe Commissary, they too have ripped themselves off of tens of thousands of dollars because inmates have been unable to spend their full limits. With 2,000 inmates, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars of purchasing power negated all due to a computer inputting error! You’d think one of the Keefe or D. Ray James paid staff would have caught on before I had to alert them into making the correction. There will be no credit or compensation for our/my lost purchasing power, but at least I can take credit for correcting an egregious flaw here. The Business Office assures me that this has now been rectified for all future inmate purchases.

My spider bite on my left buttock is still getting a daily medical department look, and both I and they are pleased it is healing rapidly now, the draining having stopped three days ago after about ten days of blood and pus weeping out of the wound.

Monday, March 14 marks 365 days – one year – in prison so far on my sentence, including all of the time that I spent in North Fraser Pretrial Centre up in Canada before being extradited. My treaty transfer application has been in DC for two months, the decision is due to be made in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Peter Maverick has appointed himself as a one-man books-for-prisoners resource. Peter has sent over 50 books in Spanish including a 25-volume history of each state in Mexico. I have discovered that my Mexican colleagues relate to the state they are from in a strong way, so these books about each state are read voraciously. The books are ordered through Amazon, and Peter has spent well over $750 on these books and postage to send them to me over the last 3 weeks, over 125 books. My personal collection of books, including my law & prison books, number less than 20; the vast bulk of books I have received are loaned to other inmates, and are read studiously and passed on when they are done reading it.

I just finished Michael Pollan’s beautifully written book ‘The Botany of Desire’ and I endorse this 250 page book to anyone who wants to be enthralled by every page while learning so many marvelous details and history about the apple, the tulip, the potato, and marijuana, and the co-evolution of these plants with humankind. Simply terrific book. I understand he has a contemporary bestseller on the NY Times Lists. I’d love that book.

In a triumph of anti-intellectualism here at D. Ray James Correctional Institution, I am on the bring-5-books, receive-5-books regime with the mail room here once again. Thus I must advise anyone sending me books to now only send books I have specifically requested. Recently, I have received perhaps 150 books in the last month which I have by and large lent out to other inmates, which they are devouring in a satisfying manner, satisfying to anyone interested in knowledge, literacy and disseminating knowledge. That, alas, excludes the decision makers here at D. Ray James. This decision would have come from Warden Zenk himself, with input from Security. I am reminded of that Who song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”.

Books sent to me for the benefit of the Spanish-Language inmates have been extremely useful and well-received but will now have to stop. If I can’t store them and send them out once every two weeks, I’ll have to have the 5 I return destroyed each time because I can’t buy enough postage stamps to ship the 5-returnees to my friend Catharine Leach, or my supplier-in-chief Peter Maverick. But I’ll try to return to Peter the books I’m going to inevitably receive that I can no longer take possession of.

Sigh. Mail room nonsense has returned once more. Of course, in any sane place, I could donate them directly to the inmate library, where virtually no relevant books have been purchased and added to the reading library in 5 months since this concentration camp for foreigners opened – 5 months ago! That is why the books I’ve lent around are so welcome: the library is deliberately kept as useless as possible by management here.

I got my pay for February. I’m here every morning, afternoon, and evening shift, 7 hours a day. I missed a day and a half for lockdown, and a few hours in medical getting my infection dealt with, and I don’t get ‘paid’ for Presidents’ Day (February 21). Total pay for the month: $5.10. Yes, you read correctly, five dollars and ten cents. That was 12 cents an hour, and my official reinstatement wasn’t until February 10, but I’ve been here three shifts a day, every day, since December. My pay grade has been raised to 29 cents an hour. Ah, there’s no labor like slave labor. The GEO Group Inc. motto is “GEO Group: World-class employee, performance, behavior.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: On Friday, April 1st, Marc was informed that he will be shipped out to a new prison on Monday, April 4th. Federal inmates can be shipped anywhere in the USA, and are never told where they are going.

Marc will not be able to write newsletters while being transferred, or until he is settled into his new prison and able to get commissary funds for buying stamps to send out mail. There is still a Newsletter #10 to be posted, and two more significant articles by Marc.

Please stay tuned to his progress here and at www.Facebook.com/PrinceOfPot and www.Facebook.com/JodieEmery where updates are posted right away.