This weekend, The Financial Times Magazine runs a hopefully informative and humorous personal essay [PDF] about my mysterious health travails and experience with LA's medical marijuana world at an crucial point in the battle to legalize cannabis in California. It's also online in web-friendly html page-format here, @ FT.com.
Naturally, I thought long and hard about what kinds of supplementary material I could offer on my blog. But we sadly only present words and stuff we can roll and/or bake into Web code Glass Shallot. In that spirit, then let me offer a small chunk of text my editors and I had to cut at the last minute for page-space. It concerns the first dispensary I visited in Hollywood, one of the shops LA will close, where the system -- and the product -- actually worked very well. (Text below)
"More concerned with convenience than finding a boutique shop that sold Valrohna chocolate cupcakes, I first visited Druggie Christmas Tree Girl’s dispensary: a dank space above a seedy Hollywood motel, manned by a hulking Middle Eastern guy with a shaved head, wearing an elegantly dizzying Ed Hardy T-shirt. He screamed my name the way some thug had screamed at Jason Statham in an action movie I once reviewed. Naturally, I trusted him.
“What iz dis?” the guy asked, taking my letter through a little hole in the wall that separated the real store from the waiting room.
“It’s my doctor’s recommendation," I said.
“I never see something like dis, yo.”
“Well,” I said, “It’s real.”
“I see dat, dude. But I still gotta call.”
Yes, this sketchy drug-dealer type was calling a nationally lauded physician because of me.
He left the window, I heard some mumbling. He reappeared minutes later.
“You in,” he said. “He OK it.”
“You spoke with my actual doctor, not some nurse or assistant?” I asked.
“Totally,” he said. “Now whaddayou want?”
I walked into a tiny, smoky space through a cage-protected door, and he showed me some 10 canisters of fragrant weed. I asked for something to alleviate pain – nerve pain, if that meant anything?
“Bubba Skunk,” he said. “That’s you shit.”
“That’s my shit,” I concurred, handing over $50 for a pill bottle filled with buds.
“How much should I use?” I asked.
“Howev much you want, homeslice.”
Then I left, and as I waved my new drugs around the seedy eastern side of Hollywood Boulevard, as a man in a doo-rag drove by me on a miniature bicycle powered by a tiny motor, my wife grabbed the bag and told me to hide it.
“But it’s legal,” I said.
“But this isn’t Brentwood!"
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In Chronological Order, from the most recent:
1. Mr. V "is mad that Joe the plumber just charged me 250,000 to unclug a drain."
COMMENT: "I want his publicist. Dude's gonna be on Entourage next week."
2. MS. X "is watching the debate. thank you dvr. thank you."
2. MS. Y "thinks an angry old man sitting across the table from world leaders is NOT something I want."
3. MS. A "wouldn't call Palin a "role model" for this woman."
4. MR. C "is wondering if anyone knows a good plumber."
COMMENT: "Plumbers do not pay taxes. They get paid in cash. And like waiters, they do not declare and pay taxes on a good portion of their independent income. Most plumbers make more than teachers, police, or fireman. So the candidates should have picked a teacher or lumberjack or barrista as an example"
5. MS. A "pro-choice doesn't mean pro-abortion, a-hole."
6. MS. F "thinks Obama is a class act."
7. MS. T "is thinking McCain doesn't know he's on split-screen."
8. MS. E "thinks McCain looks and sounds desperate"
9. MS. F " is amazed at Obama's restraint."
10. MS. F "wants to know what the Great Society was... I must not have been paying attention in American history."
11. MS. F "thinks McCain is really grasping..."
12. MS. G "is debate."
13. MR. V "is not going to hold back when watching the debates."
14. MS. J "knows her autistic kid is in good hands with Sarah because she 'understands special-needs children.'"
10 days since updating anything on Facebook, and I have to say, I feel such so clogged with unexpressed emotion, I just don't know what to do...
Posted on October 15, 2008 at 11:18 PM | Permalink
Here's to her Alaskan highness Freudian-slipping in the statement: "John McCain is the man to leave--LEAD..."
Posted on October 02, 2008 at 08:34 PM | Permalink
Yvette Siegert, the young and exceedingly talented Columbia instructor, poet, and New Yorker editorial staff member, has finally been given a public forum in the form of, yes, a blog. New Yorker blogs may be obvious references, but what you should know about Siegert, the author of The Book Bench, is that she's not only a voracious and reliable book-scene correspondent; she's eminently qualified to tell us the backstories behind the books while remaining highly literate in the world literature field and so damn likable that you would never go wrong following her advice about what to read. Way to go, New Yorker! You've got a blogger who will literally change the way the magazine reaches the online book world and the readers to whom it caters. See The Book Bench as soon as possible, and watch for much, much more from Shallot friend Siegert.
Posted on June 23, 2008 at 09:11 PM | Permalink
In order to set up shop in this here Los Angeles, I drove across the country in well under a week a number of years ago. My only companion was my brother, and if it wasn't for his devotion to putting the heartland on our odometer in the wee hours of the morning, it might have easily taken us an extra month. Or worse, we would have had to stop in Missouri. I mention Missouri because it's hard to forget. I don't remember the road we took to pass through the state, but I do remember that before a biblical-level storm, we passed only two types of establishments, which alternated on the interstate every 20 to 30 miles. First it was a church. Then it was a pornography village. Rinse. Repeat. And by village, I mean community: As I recall, the little porn compounds included adult video stores, strip clubs, and other types of establishments for the one-stop shopping every God-fearing Missourian needs. Well, maybe I dreamed some of that up but I don't think so. And if Daniel Radosh, author of the excellent new book "Rapture Ready," has anything to say on the matter, I'm sure he'd agree that there are some major contradictions in the world of evangelical America. In fact, "Rapture" discusses the commercialization and proliferation of this idea of devoted faith as represented in pop culture. Funny? Sometimes. Scary? Sometimes. Truthful? Always. I pray that you check the book out and visit the bitchin' multimedia appendix.
Posted on May 15, 2008 at 07:27 AM | Permalink
On Peter Scoblic's blog, the prescient TNR editor and now lauded author explains the motivation behind his very important new book, "U.S. vs. Them," taken from a post he submitted to a book club from the Talking Points Memo.
But after watching way too much of HBO's "John Adams" and Showtimes's "The Tudors" (What can I say: my wife likes the historical TV; I'm not much better for my "Top Chef" and "Magnum, P.I." obsessions) I have to wonder if the history of conservatism doesn't also fuel the creative decision-making in Hollywood, from the nearly historic writers' strike to all of last year's pro-life movies (think again if you thought Juno was "alternative") to the forthcoming Stone movie "W" and even Mssr. Ironman, portrayed by the perhaps most liberal actor Hollywood has seen since, well, Charlie Chaplin.
From Scoblic's post:
"[W]hat I found was that the Bush administration's foreign policy bore a striking resemblance to the conservatism that developed after World War II under the tutelage of William F. Buckley, Jr. and the magazine he founded, National Review. Buckley and colleagues like James Burnham advanced a view of the Cold War not as a struggle between superpowers but rather as an apocalyptic struggle between good and evil..."
Buy the book for a lot more, and when you're done with the truly important issues, see if you don't find some parallels in every form of entertainment--politically related or not--that's marketed to the world. What's frightening about the Bush policies is that they aren't even original. And that they could very well continue. As for
Magnum Tom Selleck sitting on the board of the NRA, well, there are some elements of conservatism I will just have to live with.
Posted on May 11, 2008 at 07:12 AM | Permalink
Posted on April 29, 2008 at 12:17 PM | Permalink
"Styles make fights — or so goes the boxing cliché. In 2008, they make presidential campaigns, too. ...Yet, according to design experts, the candidates have left a clear blueprint of their personal style — perhaps even a window into their souls — through the Web sites they have created to raise money, recruit volunteers and generally meet-and-greet online. On one thing, the experts seem to agree. The differences between hillaryclinton.com and barackobama.com can be summed up this way: Barack Obama is a Mac, and Hillary Clinton is a PC."—The New York Times, February 19, 2008
Today, I, Adam Baer, announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. But I am not a Mac or a PC. I am a Commodore 64. And I mean business—but in a Donkey Kong kind of way.
Let's start with the obvious. I am bulky and shaped like a breadbox. I'll take up real American space in the Oval Office. And I won't have the capacity for extreme detail, speedy platform changes, or impressive light shows. I'm only eight bits. Which means I'm simple. Which means I won't even know how to deceive you. Or hire people who know how to use me for their own personal gain.
You'll be able to slide old-school floppy disks into my attached drive, perhaps to play one-dimensional games. (I'm fun and by my very nature only able to see one side of things.) But you won't be able to program me to do damn near anything useful in today's world.
I'll be the kind of candidate we need: way behind. You want me to know about something happening in real time? You'll have to plug a dial-up modem into me and pray I actually connect. I'll take our country in the direction we all really want to be headed with all our accusations of plagiarism, speeches vs. action, and number-fudging: backwards.
Sure, there are emulators out there for use on the most innovative of computers. Lots of people have tried to be me, dreamed to be me. But I am the real thing: beige, heavy, slow, and full of glitches. Sometimes I just shut off. Other times, I'm your best friend: your escape into virtual worlds that look nothing like real life--finite, comforting spaces where filling up a pint of beer or swinging ever-so-slowly on a vine over a river filled with pixellated alligators, will take you away from the everyday.
Why care about global warming, education, terrorism, healthcare, the economy, foreign affairs? Pick me and we'll never have to worry again. We just won't have the capacity to do anything--bad or good. Unless you consider procrastinating progress. Because I'm great at procrastinating. I think I would have invented it if I had been given the capacity to process that kind of conceptual stuff.
Just draw the blinds, spin some Supertramp, and we'll have the best time together. Because that's what this country really requires: some 1980s basement fun, right? Hey, I won't even tell if you choose to smoke up a little in front of me or talk dirty to your girlfriend. I have no capacity to speak, except in drones! I keep things BASIC--literally.
Sure, I like music, but I'm not going to offer you catchy campaign orations or songs like the others. I'm just going to blip and bleep. I'm literally going to offer soundbytes and remain proud of them.
Plus, I'm not too portable, so it's going to be hard for me to travel. Which means I'll keep our country out of trouble overseas. I'll just stay put. You may not even see me out and about in your country. I'm used to being alone, it's OK.
What's more, I don't have any special interests. The people who make me are nowhere close to as powerful as those Mac and PC CEOs. I think the people who make me may even be dead. So there you go. I'm an orphan. No important family behind me running their own agenda, no corporate tie-ins. But I could be wrong. I can't think. No possibilities here for artificial intelligence—what, you thought the real kind was available elsewhere?
More impressive, I think, is that I didn't invent the Internet. In fact, I don't even know how to use it—and I don't claim to know anything about that "Web 2.0."
But I am accessible. Want to get in touch with me? Just contact me over your BBS. We'll trade a few words, and you'll have better communication with your commander in chief than you will have ever dreamed.
Most important, however, I….Sorry, DISK ERROR. That's going to happen if you vote for me, I guess.
But wouldn't you rather have a president that can't hide his or her mistakes? With me, there are no secrets. No fancy packaging. No calming fonts or manipulative creative spins. No "thinnovation" or hidden memory card readers. No celebrity endorsements or product placement. No invisible signals permeating my body, connecting me to streams of information sent via WiFi or 3g networks I can use for my own attempt at world domination.
I just don't have an opinion on damn near anything--real, phony, or undeveloped and ever-changing. Feed information to me, and I'll spit out some real (if terribly uncomplicated) results. They might be correct, they might not be. The process might make a lot of noise and take a long time. But it will be pure, honest interfacing.
As for my web site, well, you're lookin' at it. A note sent to some magazine writer's blog. A note I could have just printed out on my dot-matrix friend over there, but that I also thought it would be wise to share with someone a little more advanced, just this one time.
I'm the form-meets-dysfunction autopilot you're secretly looking for with all your gripes about politicians: unreliably safe, eminently limited, unable even to comprehend anything that isn't based in fact or arcane code. Just plug me in and see what happens. You won't regret it. And won't that be a change.
Posted on February 20, 2008 at 06:04 AM | Permalink
[Cross-published at The Huffington Post]
NOTE: See addendum below this piece to as a response to HuffPo commenters.
IN A RECENT New York Times piece, Paul Krugman, one of my favorite columnists, explains how the numbers can't deny that Hillary's health plan is better than Obama's. But what "better" means here is relative even when stats and dollars are an issue. The idea is that Hillary's plan calls for a mandate and will result in more coverage dollars per person. You can't argue the logic of strong economic research. But what excites me about Obama is his less-than-bright-lining look at things. He's got a realistic hold on the healthcare crisis even if his plan is less likely to insure everyone immediately.
powerful, he's also clearly interested in eliminating waste that
contributes to hard-to-explain hardships for sick people. And from the
standpoint of someone somewhat young with chronic health problems in
the wake of serious cancer, it was damn-near
J.F.K.-inspiring to hear him discuss healthcare in the past by leading
talks about insured Americans who had survived cancer but now face secondary
problems and an endless onslaught of salary-zapping bills.
To be sure, getting everyone insured is of paramount importance. But so is realistically looking at how one can make that happen over a span of time so that it happens correctly in the nuanced way that it should. Does Obama have specific ideas for how to stop hospital and doctor billing fraud? For how to get cancer survivors better quality of life as they age and new bizarre conditions come their ways because of the toxic chemicals and treatments they were forced to endure to be able to vote in this election? I haven't exactly heard them. But if there's one thing that keeps people going after they've been very sick and now have uncertain futures, it's hope. And Obama gives me, a survivor of an autologous stem-cell transplant for pediatric lymphoma, hope.
I just wouldn't trust her looking out for me at the
infusion center if there was another chance for her to win some more
powerful support from someone across the street. I wouldn't look to her
for thoughtful looks at the small problems facing patients
double-billed by hospitals, giant corporations, in fact, who often
charge $150 facility (or in some cases, emergency room) fees in
addition to outrageous doctor fees just because a physician chooses to
practice inside a hospital-owned professional building a few blocks
from the actual hospital building--what I call the branding-inspired
Mayo Clinic model.
What's become evident, however, is that the sufferers and
survivors of chronic diseases in America should band together to endorse a
candidate based on the specific issues of getting and keeping not-just-OK-but-excellent insurance
after a war has been waged against our bodies. Medicare, for
instance, recently stopped paying out for some instances of immune deficiency treatments like intravenous
immunoglobulins (which is also used to treat auto-immune diseases affecting the
nerves, muscles, and joints, to say nothing of its promise for Alzheimer's and
other conditions). Someone needs to ask the candidates about this.
Universal health care is vital. But if some of us devoted to it aren't alive—or well enough—to fight for it as the years pass, voting for someone's broad promise of more coverage dollars for everyone when they may not really care about the details for those sick people lucky enough to already have insurance isn't going to help. If there's one thing sick people know, it's that there are a hundred questions to be answered and solved after deciding on a treatment plan.
There's a way to live more healthfully on the left side with insurance – and that doesn't mean just swallowing our severe insurance and medical care issues because the rest of the country isn't insured. Let's look at the problem in a complex, multi-angled manner, and not jump to the flashiest, sexiest solution just yet.
When flight attendants tell you to make sure your air mask is secured before you help others with theirs in the event of an emergency, it's about not being self-interested or conservative. It's about being smart. And while Obama's thoughts about healthcare may seem like an immediately smaller and less comprehensive band-aid for the country's uninsured, they may also be the most realistic and nuanced on the ticket because they come from someone who sees that this problem is a lot larger and more intricate than it seems.
Response to HuffPo commenters:
Don't teach me about the value of hope vs. the value of insurance. I know it all too well. But I also know it matters who's holding the cards. And it's never you as the patient. So in this case hope matters. Because I simply wouldn't trust Hillary holding the cards that concern my medical treatments--what's allowed, what procedures, what payouts, when. Obama has shown concern not just for universal health coverage but for a growing population in America: the chronically ill, the survivors who now face mysterious secondary conditions (and secondary can mean 5 or 6 or 12 of them). So to anyone who doesn't understand the above piece, let me say it clearly: More coverage dollars and an immediate quick-fix mandate doesn't mean jack if it means that the person in control won't necessarily grasp or care about the nuances involved in high-level medical treatments once plans are put into place. Obama has shown the most important quality here: human concern. My biggest nightmare is waking up to find Hillary with her hands around some patient's IV, discussing the economic worth and political value of his or her treatment with an insurance company.
Posted on February 04, 2008 at 06:46 PM | Permalink