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Marc’s “Freedom Party” Back In Action for Ontario Election!

submitted by on September 8, 2011

Dearest Jodie: That was a wonderful three day visit we just had, the only three day visitation weekend I'll have until Memorial Day next year, when you'll hopefully visit me again for the three day weekend. We took ten photographs today on Labor Day, and I'm hoping they turn out as well as we think they should. The next photo day is when you visit me on New Years Day, January 1st, 2012. By that day I'll be near the half-way mark of my sentence, and the downhill slide to my release day of July 9th, 2014 begins.

As of Labor Day today, I have 1,038 days to go in my sentence. The next milestone I'm excited about is October 14th, when its 999 days to go, down to three digits from four!

On your next visit to me on the weekend of September 17th and 18th, something special happens. Long ago, in my home province of Ontario in 1982, I founded a political party dedicated to individual liberty, freedom and limited but rational government. I know that seems like a contradiction in principles (government is never rational), but you know I have been an idealist all my life, and I always held that is was possible for limited, rational governance oriented around a strictly adhered to set of principles.

These principles were articulated by Ayn Rand, my great inspiration for my life since 1979, and other great philosophers in history such as Thomas Jefferson, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig Von Mises, Frederick Hayek, Isabel Patterson, Lysander Spooner, and other great individuals whose outlook on government and life would be considered libertarian. That is, the answer to all crises is liberty and freedom, and that governments that respect and protect the liberty and free choices and free markets of its people is most faithful to the idea of 'governance with the consent of the governed.'

The name of that political party was The Freedom Party, and it has never gone away. It was quietly awaiting a renaissance since I departed its daily workings in 1989. Thirty years after it was founded by myself and a brilliant, wonderful man named Robert Metz, the Freedom Party renaissance is happening now.

In Ontario, there is a provincial election on October 6th. There are the usual statist parties vying to bury the province of Ontario in a graveyard of debt, regulation, police empowerment, the dictates of the nanny state, prohibition, and decline, but there are now 65 candidates of the Freedom Party on the ballot in that election to challenge the status quo. By mid-September there may be more to contest the 109 ridings up for grabs in this election.

The Freedom Party candidates in this election are all opposed to the prohibition of cannabis, but significantly, over half of the candidates under the Freedom Party banner are activists from the cannabis culture! Our people have invigorated this party I co-founded, under the inspired leadership of an incredible man of vision and principle, Paul McKeever, into a contender of a political party.

Paul McKeever, whose blogs I have enjoyed while I have been incarcerated for my 18 months now (he is one of my 30 Corrlinks prison "email" contacts), is a constant correspondent of mine, and, incredibly, for a man I have never met in person, the producer and director of the definitive video-biography of my life, The Principle of Pot (watch it at www.YouTube.com/PaulMcKeever).

Paul is a dedicated and articulate activist politician determined to bring liberty and freedom to the people of Ontario. I love Paul, I cannot endorse anyone more than him to protect the fundamental rights of liberty and all that entails in Canada. Ontario voters are incredibly lucky to have a great yet humble man like Paul McKeever as the leader of an Ontario political party that is on the ballot for Ontario citizens to support October 6th.

The Freedom Party has a moneybomb fundraiser on Saturday, September 17th, in just a few short days. Political campaigns require money. Chris Goodwin, perhaps one of my greatest proteges in this movement for liberty, this cannabis culture, is a candidate in this Ontario provincial election. He has recruited dozens of candidates to the Freedom Party campaign and is organizing a 24-hour online fundraiser moneybomb from midnight Friday, September 16th to 11:59 pm Saturday, September 17th.


Click here for information about WHERE to watch the LIVE event online and HOW to donate!

I know you will give some money to them, to support the party I founded long ago. It's vital you show as much support as possible to uplift the wonderful members of the cannabis culture who are Freedom Party candidates, as well as the others who are running with Freedom Party because they have a passion for liberty and a thirst to make that a reality in Ontario.

I hope you will encourage as many other people as you can to watch, participate and donate to this moneybomb. I know Chris Goodwin has an incredible show planned, webcast for 24 hours live. The owner of Vapor Central has generously committed to donating the revenue of VC from that day to the Freedom Party campaign. I hope our supporters will be generous to the cause of liberty, and donate that day. I am so proud of them for what they are doing, and all Canadians can participate in enriching their chances in this election campaign.

The Freedom Party isn't just about freeing the cannabis culture, they're about freedom for all! Go to www.freedomparty.on.ca for information.

Thank you for everything you do for me and others, my sweet wife. And thank you to everyone who has supported me during this ordeal, with letters, mailed photos, books, and donations to my commissary. I'm looking forward to returning to Canada and helping restore liberty when Canada will need it most.

Yours, always,
Marc

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

Mailing guidelines and more information at www.FreeMarc.ca


WATCH THE LIVE STREAM HERE!

Video is playing every day, all day!
Tune in now for various shows, and LIVE all September 17th!

The Jodie Emery Show – August 11, 2011

submitted by on August 19, 2011

Marc is now a High School Graduate and Jodie has the certificate to prove it! Meet Jodie and Jeremiah Vandermeer at Seattle Hempfest, August 19-21 (http://www.Hempfest.org) and be sure to donate to them, too! Follow Jodie on Twitter! She posts opinions and news story comments every day at http://www.Twitter.com/jodieemery

Tuesday nights are Jams in the Key of Green at the BC Marijuana Party headquarters, and every week we donate half of the entry fees to a charity. Jodie lists the charities who have already received donations and the charities who are next to get contributions from Cannabis Culture and the BCMP. Come down enjoy some great music and help a worthy cause.

(Watch the TOMMY CHONG full jam session at the BCMP here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqfswqI5gdM )

Write a letter to Marc, let him know you're thinking about him and what you've been doing to end the Drug War. Here's the address:

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

The rules for what you can send in the mail are posted with the address at http://www.FreeMarc.ca

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Marc Writes His Own Song And Joins A Reggae Band!

submitted by on August 18, 2011

Marc in Yazoo Prison, May 2011Dearest Miss: I’ve been keeping busy, and am actually enjoying the extreme heat down here. Each day in the morning, or even from noon to 3pm, I go to an elevated wooden umpire booth behind the baseball diamond and take off my t-shirt, sit in the shade, and feel this gentle breeze while I read my magazines, books, and NY Times newspapers for two to three hours. I play my bass guitar every evening and most afternoons.

Lately I've been going down memory lane with the recent excerpt from my autobiography being put online. The teacher who escorted the students on that Middle East trip in March 1975, Don McQueen, my history and politics teacher from Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School from 1973-1975, is alive and well and was interviewed for the “Citizen Marc” documentary that director Roger Larry is finishing up the final interviews for. My friend Roy, whom I’ve known for 45 years, was also interviewed. Roy has just finished a delightful book called “2012 Rabbits and the Happy Apocalypse”, available on Amazon for download to Kindle and due out in print soon. I really have enjoyed the chapters I received from Roy in the mail, and am excited to get the printed copy of the book.

As you know, Miss, I was crestfallen when my instructor/teacher/band leader Grizz and my drummer Damian got sent to the SHU (Special Housing unit, solitary confinement) within 24 hours of each other two weeks ago, because our band “Stuck” was arbitrarily dissolved when that happened. I lost our studio rehearsal spot and our gig spot for the Labor Day weekend concert. But then, a few days ago, Terry and I were invited to be in a reggae band called “Star”, and I am now rehearsing "I Shot The sheriff", "Stir It Up" and "No Woman, No Cry". It's great fun and an education to become familiar with these three classic Bob Marley songs, which we'll play in the new concert in early September.

I am "getting it" – that is, the reggae beat – so it’s exciting. Fortunately, my lead guitarist Terry seems to know every song ever done, having played as a professional guitarist in bands for 15 years, including reggae bands, so I am getting expert instruction on how to do the bass lines for "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Stir It Up". I came up with the bass lines on "No Woman No Cry" from the chords indicated on the sheet music.

So I am in a band once again, and we are in the studio Saturday and Monday nights now – two practice slots, as other new bands did not make the cut, leaving more practice time available for us. When the Music Department C.O. (correctional officer) asked me what Terry and I were doing now, I said I was in the reggae band and he said, "well, that's good, because I know you two know how to play, from hearing your last concert, so your rehearsal times are assured." So that was cool to hear him say I "know how to play."

I always sign my letters to you as "Your Boo, Marc", now I will sign them "Your Rasta-Boo, Marc". In fact, you could send me a copy of what is probably my favorite piece I ever wrote for Cannabis Culture, "The Secret History of Rastafari", so I can show the rest of the band, who are all dread Jamaicans. We are the only interracial band with Terry and I in the mix now.

I had a medical check-up and my health is at its optimum, apparently. My blood pressure is 113 over 63, which is excellent I'm told. No infections or problems – as far as I know! I'm eating plenty of salmon/albacore tuna wraps that I make with my purchases from the commissary. In each meal I prepare myself, no matter what it is, I crush up 10-15 fresh garlic parts (usually a whole clove) and add it to my wraps or any food or even dips I make. To the salmon/tuna or even my cheese dips, I add chili-garlic sauce, chili powder, chopped jalapenos, mayonnaise, and the fresh garlic cloves. I have developed a palate for spicy, tangy foods now, as you can see, from when I was at D Ray James private prison in Folkston, Georgia, where virtually all my colleagues were Hispanic and ate spicy food.

My Mennonite Canadian friend Peter, whom I shared all my meals with at D Ray James, was supposed to be released on August 8th, a few days ago, and deported back to Canada, where his wife and nine children were eagerly awaiting his return from 21 months in prison for bringing a van of weed into the USA from Mexico. I hope Peter will contact you to say hello now that he is back in Canada. Give him my best wishes and let him know how I am doing. I was also satisfied to learn that my good friends Mike and Brad are doing as best as they can at DRJ, though that horrible place is as dysfunctional as ever by the sounds of it, with the nearby Okefenokee Swamp burning out of control for much of the summer, causing blackened smoke in the air. As you have found out, the air conditioning there has been dysfunctional for almost a month, and the temperatures there are the same as here, about 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) each day. Ugh!

I've got many good books to read. Right now I'm reading the daily diary travel book "Sahara" by Michael Palin. Palin is the former Monty Python member who, in the earlier part of the last decade, did travel shows for the BBC television, and "Sahara" was one of the episodes. Throughout the four-month trip, Palin wrote a daily diary and it is very well done. I am also reading a comic book reprint of a war comic series from 1965-1966 called “Blazing Combat”, a beautifully illustrated comic series done by the great artists of that period, Alex Toth, Reed Crandall and Wally Wood, and all stories written by Archie Goodwin. They’re modeled a great deal on the EC Comics (anti) war comics from 1951-1955 called “Frontline Combat” and “Two-Fisted Tales”. Those latter two titles were classic stories written by one of my favorite artist/writers of comics ever, Harvey Kurtzman.

I just finished the popular novel, “The Help”, which is being released as a movie this month. As you know, because you recommended this book to me, it takes place in 1962-1964 in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi near here. It’s extremely well written, but is probably a little too satisfying in that chick-lit way, in that there are only two villains, a mean old white lady and an abusive wife-beating drunk black man, while all others are saintly or redeemable characters meant to make all readers of both races and genders feel good about the world (today) by the end. This is the secret of its success, along with its deft ear for dialect and story telling.

—————————–

Oh Miss, today was special! In the afternoon I met with John, a drummer, vocalist and songwriter for the other rock band “Out of Bounds”, who composed and put together a terrific song called Prince of Pot. I'm having them write up the music for that one so the BC Marijuana Party “Jams in the Key of Green” jam night MC Adam Bowen can perform it with a band for YouTube.

I was telling John about learning some reggae songs today with Terry, and that I thought one song went notes A, D, E (as it turns out, neither “Stir It Up” nor “I Shot The Sheriff” go A, D, E.).

So John plays the notes A, D, E (John was playing rhythm guitar while I did the bass). Then I play the notes A, D, E, E, E, (the first E a quarter note, the second two E's are eighth notes, that's a full measure in 4/4 time). Then we play it four times, then a full measure of G, then a full measure of E, another measure of G, then go E, D, C (with a 1/4 note, and two eighths on C), and then back to the lick of A, D, E, E, E.

Well, that sounds pretty cool. I said, "That sounds neat." He says, "What do you feel when you hear that music?"

And I say, "It’s funny you should say that, because that music makes me feel like the sun is rising, the desert is ahead, the day is just beginning."

He says, "Well, lets write a song".

And over the next three hours we compose a song with an intro, two verses, a solo – John does the solo, I do 10 measures on the bass that are A, D, E, E, E (four measures), then G, C, D, D, D, (two measures) and then back to A, D, E, E, E (for four more measures), all while John does this excellent solo that plays off my bass riff – then two more verses, with lyrics about a guy waking up, being nagged at, ditching his girlfriend and all his material possessions and driving off into the desert, where he clears his head, looks to the future, picks up a girl on the highway, and finds that she sure is pretty and fun, but perhaps no different from the one he left behind.

The lyrics are fun, they rhyme, they aren't profound, though I may rewrite them to be so, but I have always worked from the presumption I can't compose music at all, that I have no talent musically (I just like to play stuff I'm able to memorize because I love making music), and that I really just am determined enough so I can play songs. So those three hours were really fun. I made suggestions to the song that improved it, and I had a hand in the lyrics, and my playing was very good. It was a terrific exercise and I felt really excited to start from scratch and actually co-produce a song from nothing, a song that was kind of cool sounding. It’s really the first time I have ever co-created a song in a band situation. Yay!

—————————–

When I got back from the visit we had on Sunday the 14th, I wasn't feeling so good, but I thought I'd let it settle. I had the uninspired food they served for dinner, and then I went to the yard and got my bass (I always use B-4, it’s reserved for me). I met up with the singer of “I Shot The Sheriff” and we got some things straightened out and worked on the song, and then I was given “No Woman, No Cry” to do as well, so I have three songs, which is great.

Then a fellow came in with ten songs from the 1950s and early '60s, and showed them to Terry, who strummed the chords as I did the bass on them (they were all straightforward and simple bass lines) and this guy sang them. It was great fun playing “Hound Dog”, “Oh Donna”, “Shake, Rattle & Roll”, “It’s Alright Mama”, and other oldies.

So I did 90 minutes of music on the bass tonight and I realize I am getting much better, noticeably, and other people are remarking on it. Plus, Terry did the guitar on “Redemption Song”, a wonderful Marley song, with the singer Smitty of Star (there are two singers in that band – Smitty sings “I Shot The Sheriff”, and Marshall sings “No Woman, No Cry” and “Stir It Up”), so he's singing “Redemption Song”, and I'm singing right along ("Please help me sing these songs of freedom, is all I ever had, redemption songs, these songs of freedom…") and it feels very, very good to sing that song. That song is just one guitar and voice; there is no bass or drums on that song. It’s also the last song Bob Marley recorded.

Then I walked around the track twice, in perfect temperature, nice sunset. I felt much better. So don't worry about me, Miss, I'm over my melancholia. I'm enjoying reading a biography of Phil Ochs called “There But For Fortune”, and learning to play his 1966 song “Cops of the World” – a song that Greg “Marijuana Man” Williams of Pot TV had made a video for years ago, which you introduced, but it was removed from YouTube for music copyright violation. It’s good that YouTube is now just adding links to purchase songs from iTunes instead of removing videos that use copyrighted music! The song “Cops of the World” is from the album Phil Ochs in Concert, performing the song at Carnegie Hall.

I'm changing the lyrics when I sing Cops of the World from “Dump the reds in a pile, boys, Dump the reds in a pile” to “Dump the Arabs in a pile, boys, Dump the Muslims in a pile” to reflect that all the contemporary US military campaigns and support target those people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Israel. (The original song lyrics are posted below.)

I hope you have a good time speaking at Seattle Hempfest this upcoming weekend (August 19th-21st). The Seattle activists have always been so supportive, and you’ve been given great opportunities to speak many times at the last two Hempfests, so I really appreciate that! Thanks for being strong and taking care of everything, Miss. I love you so much!

Your Rasta Boo,
Marc Emery

Send Marc mail! The address and guidelines are posted on the front page of www.FreeMarc.ca

Cops of the World

E A E A
Come, get out of the way, boys
E A E E7
Quick, get out of the way
G C G C
You'd better watch what you say, boys
G C B7
Better watch what you say
E A
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
E A
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
E B7 E A Abm A
So bring your daughters around to the port
B7 E
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
B7 E
We're the Cops of the World

We pick and choose as please, boys
Pick and choose as please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys
Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
We don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lie down on your back
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Our boots are needing a shine, boys
Boots are needing a shine
But our Coca-cola is fine, boys
Coca-cola is fine
We've got to protect all our citizens fair
So we'll send a battalion for everyone there
And maybe we'll leave in a couple of years
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Dump the reds in a pile, boys
Dump the reds in a pile
You'd better wipe of that smile, boys
Better wipe off that smile
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck
We'll find you a leader that you can't elect
Those treaties we signed were a pain in the neck
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Clean the johns with a rag, boys
Clean the johns with a rag
If you like you can use your flag, boys
If you like you can use your flag
We've got too much money we're looking for toys
And guns will be guns and boys will be boys
But we'll gladly pay for all we destroy
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Please stay off of the grass, boys
Please stay off of the grass
Here's a kick in the ass, boys
Here's a kick in the ass
We'll smash down your doors, we don't bother to knock
We've done it before, so why all the shock?
We're the biggest and toughest kids on the block
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

When we butchered your son, boys
When we butchered your son
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble-gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
The name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

The Jodie Emery Show – August 4, 2011

submitted by on August 9, 2011

Lots of pictures of Marc to show, along with a special gift made in the prison for Jodie and Marc's 5th wedding anniversary on July 23rd. Seattle Hempfest, the world's biggest marijuana hemp gathering, is only a couple of weeks away on August 19, 20 & 21 — meet Jodie and Cannabis Culture editor Jeremiah there, and hear Jodie speak on stage. Go to http://www.hempfest.org for all the info.

Write a letter to Marc:

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

You can send photos too, and order books and magazines online. Read the guidelines at http://www.FreeMarc.ca along with other ways to help Marc when he needs it most.

Sign up at http://whyprohibition.ca/ and get involved in activism today to help end the War on Cannabis.

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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

Send mail to Marc! Guidelines at www.FreeMarc.ca

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