What the Fuck do we Do Now?

Greetings, Clampatriots,

It’s 4am in a place I don’t understand. I assume you are as well. It’s raw here, and as someone who’s endured a fair share of tragedy in my life, the only thing I’m sure of at this point is this awful feeling won’t last. Humans are resilient as fuck, especially when pressed, and in the end all of us will scar over, readjust and move on.

So, right now, at our most raw and unguarded, let’s make good use of this.

We’re in undiscovered country. I honestly believe even Trump didn’t know this would happen. In some weird way, he’s stuck here with the rest of us, like some crazy Stockholm situation where the hostage takers and the hostages find common ground in their insane shared reality.

What matters, the only thing that matters from this point on, is character.

Ask yourself: Are you a good person? Am I? Honestly, I can say, “Not as good as I want to be.” And, more to the point, “Not as good as I’m going to need to be.” I’m going to have to get better. So are we all. Times like these are going to call on us all to sacrifice, to put aside pettiness and quick-hit satisfaction. It’s going to be a long four years. And even beyond, who knows? Certainly the damage will linger for generations, the election alone was destructive enough.

Here’s what I know we’re going to need to do:

  1. Defend democracy Part of that will be accepting this outcome. People voted. This is what they wanted. It’s a democracy. If we ever want this undone, we need to accept it was a fair result.
  2. Protect the vulnerable If you’re like me you probably assumed the progress of time meant incrementally more rights and protections for everyone. Nope- there are leaps backward. We’re going to need to circle around those whom this decision directly threatens.
  3. Build bridges And in some cases, re-build. There is no room for grudges, accusations or recriminations. Bubbles need to go. Again, what matter is character, not team. Good people of any persuasion are not going to let folks get hurt unless they themselves feel threatened. Find those good people. Remind them they are good.
  4. Old guard, step aside The system is not working, it has catastrophically failed. Time to start handing stuff over to the next generation.
  5. Hold accountable From here on, everyone is on notice. The question from 11/9/2016 going forward will be: Which direction did you take? Those that choose the wrong path will bear that mark for the rest of their lives.

Will you indulge me in one favor before we get out there and try and put this thing back together?

From here on out I believe we have to be careful about what we put in our brains. I feel like we’ve been feeding ourselves on a steady diet of anti-heroes, “gritty re-boots” and dark takes for years now, from The Sopranos to The Wire, to Breaking Bad to increasingly bleak Batman movies taking place in a universe where it’s apparently always nighttime and raining. We don’t need that shit anymore- start feeding yourself some optimism. Watch some Star Trek, some LOTR, read some Dickens. Re-read the Harry Potter series. Start retraining your consciousness that the good guys win after they’ve been tested. That’s the script you’re going to be reading from for the next few years.  Get a handle on it.

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“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end… because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing… this shadow. Even darkness must pass.”

We’re all Hobbits now, motherfuckers.

 

Clam Politics Guide: Yes On Four, for Frick’s Sake

Here at the Gloucester Clam, we’re voting YES on Question 4. It’s a no-brainer to us, even if we’re not ourselves users (or are we? who knows). The pros by far and away outweigh the cons, and it means an end to irrational fear over a drug that is overall safe for adults to use, and has a ton of benefits. So to clam-dig ourselves further into why we’re GUNG HO FOR WEED YO, here’s some good reasons why.

One of the main pro-legalization talking points revolves around the benefits of bringing the marijuana industry itself – the entire supply chain- above-board. Bringing it from the streets to downtown businesses by voting yes on four accomplishes several things that aren’t in place with the current quasi-legal status of pot in Massachusetts.

we feel you otto

we feel you otto

First, the industrialization makes it safer. Some of the opinion pieces on Question 4 have denigrated it as too focused on making the industry attractive to big business interests. While the question isn’t worded perfectly and we’d all like to see local shops entering the market instead of conglomerates, making pot an industry isn’t a bad thing on the whole – and we can make further changes to the laws down the line. The alcohol industry, for instance, is closely regulated, and the ABV is noted on your can of good ol’ Amuricabeer. You know what you’re getting, how strong it is, and that’s not only safe for you (or some dumb teenager drinking Alize in back of 7/11), but for the people around you. Driving cars. Because you’re not drinking moonshine anymore, you’re expecting the company selling you a product to sell you a safe one. It’s not a gamble.

It’s not like you can overdose and die of too much weed, but the difference between Indica and Sativa mean that if you’re just going to Joe Weedguy who lives in his mom’s basement selling ditch weed, you don’t know what you’re getting and you could either fall asleep or spend the whole day polishing your N64 cartridges. You’re taking the word of someone who posts memes on Facebook about how the Clintons are totally responsible for killing like twelve people.

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When it’s legal, and you follow the source from your local shop to the distributor, there’s a chain of responsibility there. Correct labeling, intended dosage – these are important for all humans. It’s incredibly rare, but pot you get off the street can also be laced with uncool stuff. Again, incredibly rare. But pot smokers deserve better than this chance. They’re our friends, neighbors, kids, parents, and doctors.

Secondly, legalization and regulation also means that gang involvement and criminal activity surrounding weed dealing will lessen greatly. Of course, it won’t be extinct. I’m not going to blow pot smoke up your ass. But take this article from the Independent Journal Review that reports a 10% DECREASE in the statewide violent crime rate, and 13% drop in the murder rate. A study in the journal Psychology and Addictive Behaviors found that couples who smoked were less likely to engage in domestic violence. And in Colorado, the estimated legal vs illegal pot sales is, astonishingly, 90% to 10%. Legalizing it absolutely worked to destabilize the underground drug market. Full goddamn stop.

The important thing to realize is that money that used to go to violent drug dealing rings now is going elsewhere. Even if most of the Joe Weedguys in our community are actually decent people, sometimes with regular families and lives, the supply chain in many cases is traced back to violent drug cartels, which are estimated to lose billions by the WA and CO legalization.

So now big swaths of cartel money goes to taxes – the third huge benefit of legalization. Taxing marijuana, as Colorado has done, has been successful in bringing in new tax revenue that would have otherwise been borne by all taxpayers. In 2015, the industry (medical and recreational) brought in nearly $1 billion (FRIGGIN BILLION), and $135 million was collected in taxes – with $35 million of that total earmarked for school construction projects. In Washington State, lawmakers had estimated about $36 million would be raised from taxing weed in 2014, the first year that licensed shops opened up. It turns out they underestimated. They brought in $70 million.

Fourth – legalization brings jobs. Maybe Joe Weedguy will be out of a job (let’s face it, most weedguys I know of actually work real jobs anyway), but new, actually tax-paying, jobs will be created. Like, in the case of Colorado, 18,000 IN ONE YEAR. ONE YEAR.

So what’s the downside? Are the fears rational?

I’ve heard some folks, parents especially, voice their reasons for their “no” vote. I understand those reasons, but I don’t agree. Some are misinformed or don’t understand the nuance of the issue, others are just naive.

“I don’t want my kids to have access to it or think it’s normal.” Your kids already have access to it. Don’t delude yourself on that front. Every kid in every town in America will have access to pot in their high school years. This study shows that 80% of 12th graders, as well as 40% of 8th graders, reported marijuana is easily available to them. Sorry to poke holes in this logic, but facts are facts, whether we want to acknowledge them or not. Funny, these same parents have no problem whatsoever with beer ads during football games. Huh. 

your kid already, basically

your kid already, basically

And as far as thinking its normal? Cat’s out of the bag on that as well. It’s not that legalizing weed for consenting, informed adults is what has normalized it – it’s that the inroads into medical marijuana helping patients (it stops constant seizures in kids in some cases), a huge policy shift across multiple states, and media actually reporting on how gee golly it doesn’t kill anyone after all that has normalized it. Sorry, parents. When I was a teenager it was pretty normal and we quickly realized DARE had overblown (pun intended) the dangers of pot, and it was a pretty big letdown.

literally the worst outcome of weed usage is making cringeworthy facebook posts.

the worst side effect of weed usage is making cringeworthy facebook posts.

And In the case of Colorado, where marijuana has been legal since 2009, legalizing it not only didn’t lead to the hand-wringing “let’s think about the children who will start smoking now that it’s legal and easy to get,” the opposite happened.

In 2015, 21 percent of Colorado youths had used marijuana in the past 30 days. That rate is slightly lower than the national average and down slightly from the 25 percent who used marijuana in 2009, before legalization. The survey was based on a random sample of 17,000 middle and high school students in Colorado.”

17,000 is a pretty big sample size, and that matters. Legalization opponents had been harping on a Federal survey that showed use by teenagers had remained flat, and that Colorado’s teen usage was a bit above the national average. But that survey only involved 400 teens, and wasn’t nearly as accurate as the larger-scale study.

The reduction is good to hear. Pot isn’t safe for teenagers long-term (which is why the legal age to procure and smoke would be 21), and it was a reasonable argument that legalization might lead to more teenagers with access to pot and therefore, more smoking. But, it’s looking more and more like that isn’t happening, at all, in any state where it’s currently legal.  A study in the medical journal Lancet shows similar findings.  And again, pot isn’t safe for teenagers, but it won’t kill them, like underage drinking can. In a heartbeat, I’d tell my kids that smoking pot is a much better alternative to drinking, and if they’re at a party where they feel pressured to try one or the other, I’d rather they smoke so they don’t end up dead of alcohol poisoning. 

The anti-legalization folks recently put out this amazingly bad reefer-madness style ad, complete with absolutely false assertions (pot that looks like fucking candy will not be sold in windowsills you dumpsters, and it will still be illegal to smoke on the street, for god’s sakes you bags of ham). This is how ridiculous they look trying to scare the bejebus out of the middle-aged suburban mom voting bloc, but it works.

There are other, non “but my children” reasons against legalization, as well. Some people think there will be increased instances of driving while high, and this is absolutely something to consider. But, again, this is illegal already. Drunk driving is a much more deadly occurrence. Driving while high isn’t as unsafe as drunk driving, but still, no one’s saying it’s ok. But, I have faith that our law enforcement can deal with this problem since they won’t be busting kids for having 1.1 ounce on them now, or spending days staking out teen pot dealers. 

What the anti-question 4 folks don’t bring up is that pot is safe, far safer than drinking, and helps a lot of responsible adults feel relaxed, blow off stress, and enjoy themselves. It’s not just dumb kids, it’s folks from all walks of life – lawyers, doctors, EMTs, Rick Steeves on PBS, construction workers, and more, who are able to enjoy it occasionally and responsibly, and they deserve to have the right to purchase pot legally and consume it in their own home.

Or they're motherfucking astronauts.

Or they’re motherfucking astronauts.

So let’s do it. Let’s make some tax money, reduce gang activity, and stop incarcerating and ruining the lives of mainly People of Color for being in possession of weed at the same damn time. Let’s admit we’ve been wrong for a long time in this and finally make it right instead of clinging to notoriously flawed arguments.

Lenghazi Is Upon Us, Folks, Buckle Up

So by now everyone and their mom has heard that our police chief, Saugus native Lenny Campanello, has been suspended while an investigation takes place. Lenny is known mostly for his innovative approach to heroin addiction and subsequent founding of PAARI, which has literally saved dozens of lives and is spreading compassionate treatment instead of locking up addicts. The Clam folk were really taken aback by this, as most of us across the city  were. We’re no stranger to the issues between law enforcement and the citizens they police, and we prided ourselves on having a caring, nonjudgemental, decent local police force. And now, the media trucks are surrounding our downtown, and it’s a huge goddamn letdown for all of us who care so much about this town and were just so, so tired of scandals and negative stories about Gloucester.

"It's JRM's problem now, suckers!" - Hiltz, probably.

“It’s JRM’s problem now, suckers!” – Hiltz, probably.

We like(d) Lenny, but this investigation is serious business. The initial knee-jerk reaction by a lot of people is that it was a “witch hunt” and no one should say anything until more comes out, and that people including the mayor just don’t like him and are stringing him up on false charges. Because Lenny could do no wrong, obvi. I can see why people believe that – he’s literally, again, saved lives. He’s changed an entire way of thinking. He has done a lot of good for the entire dingdang nation.

But it’s getting more clear that he did something wrong, or at least the very serious appearance of such. This isn’t a light discussion on his personal life. The probe will be led by a firm outside the city. He’s stepped down temporarily from PAARI. He seems genuinely concerned for a dude that claims to be real unconcerned. Well, his lawyer is speaking on his behalf now, for what it’s worth. A Sgt. Detective has also been placed on leave that may or may not be related, and the department is now in the hands of the fourth-in-charge, which at this point is just the guy who cleans the place on weekends when the normal custodian plays in a ska band.

BASICALLY THE CITY RIGHT NOW

BASICALLY THE CITY RIGHT NOW

And so the rumors have started flying. Since all of that is just it – rumors – there isn’t really much for any local media to go on and nobody’s saying jack shit on record, for good reason.  So we’ll just list them all here, in order of likelihood, or in no particular order. Who even knows. Most are probably vast conspiracy theories. Don’t trust us to get it right.

 

  • Lenny had an affair with a woman or was dating a woman shortly after leaving his wife and it went sour and there might be some domestic issues there. The former part isn’t a huge secret and may not even be a problem. I mean, shit happens, that’s barely enough to ruin somebody’s weekend these days. He may have done nothing untoward at all. But the latter part, if there was any truth to it, would be career ending. It may be something where the truth is never really known, because of the positions of power involved. 
  • Lenny drove drunk and crashed his car or someone else’s and there was some shenanigans. Well, it’s a theory floating around, that’s for sure, but one with no evidence. Again, however,  It would be career ending as well. I just assumed if you lived in Saugus you were contractually obligated to drink seven bud lights at a chain restaurant and bomb down the right lane all the way to fahkin’ Peabody, guy.
  • He was paying himself for time he wasn’t working, or was working at PAARI, or some other not-okay situation that doesn’t involve being a total asshole but still isn’t cool. 
  • He went to Midori for lunch buffet and totally used his hands to get bonelesss spareribs.
  • He wore crocs and socks for an entire work week.
  • He is personally responsible for why they tore down everything you love on Route 1.
  • 1983-1998- didn’t rewind. Once.
  • Had Star Wars Marathon. Started with Phantom Menace.
  • Walked his dog on Good Harbor Beach in the summer and didn’t pick up his dog poop.

Obviously, this is a big thing. And we like to cut the obvious tense moods with humor. We really liked Lenny, but this could be something that makes him not a good guy. And we may have to separate our feelings for what Lenny has done for our community and beyond from the actual human that the chief is. It’s sad, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the million “he couldn’t have done it!” comments was the similar sentiment that came out directly after Bill Cosby’s allegations. It is inherently hard for us to believe that someone we respected could be a bad guy.

For the record, your beloved The Clam recommends strongly never to put another human being on a pedestal, unrelated to this incident. Human beings, although capable of tremendous greatness are also The Worst. Trust us on this.

And we all hope he isn’t The Worst. While we joke – we don’t want to lose faith in the people whom we trust to impartially, and fairly, lead our city. It’s a huge disappointment to ourselves, our kids… it just sucks. If he is guilty of something, PAARI will continue without him. It’s a great organization run by phenomenal people. We know this.

So until further notice, I guess we all hope it’s that he really loves grabbing crab rangoons with his meaty chief hands.

 

 

 

A not incredibly detailed set of reasons for voting to elect Ed O’Reilly for Sheriff on Thursday

UPDATE NOVEMBER 29, 2017. MR. O’RILEY IS ACCUSED OF DOMESTIC ASSAULT SO WE’RE REVOKING ANY GOOD THINGS WE’VE EVER SAID ABOUT HIM.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/11/28/baker-rejected-bench-nominee-faces-domestic-abuse-charge/gkSmUyirXJVc52cMp6zA3L/story.html

YES THURSDAY. SEPTEMBER 8

So we’re on a bit of a hiatus as we try and get our respective lives in order here at your beloved Clam. But civic duty calls and when the eleventy-fifth person asked us, “Who in the name of blessed Varda Elentári in her Great Hall of Ilmarin should I vote for to become Essex County Sheriff?” (and the denizens of the Clamiverse do talk like this, by the way) we decided it was our responsibility to find out who the best candidate is.

This turns out to have been a huge fucking mistake. There are more people running for Essex County Sheriff than can fit comfortably in a CATA bus. The big, new one. And the whole race is a total shitshow. Trust us, dear readers, you don’t want to dive into this mess without a gallon of absinthe and that tin full of flaky remainders of those hallucinogenic toadskins the weird old Najavo dude sold us on that aborted trip to the proto Burning Man festival in 1991.

But we rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

We rocked that turtle-neck-tweed combo pretty hard, as I remember

Here is just a sample of what we found:

  • One of the candidates running as a Democrat does not seem to have been a Democrat since before May.
  • One of the candidates will draw a pension from another government job while doing this government job, which we guess is cool since he earned it, but wow.
  • Some of the candidates are already managers of the corrections system and some are taking thousand-dollar-plus donations from their employees, which is also wow.
  • One of the candidates when asked about re-creating a similar effort to Gloucester’s Angel program in Lynn said something on the order of “addicts in Lynn don’t want to get clean,” and now his defenders say he was taken out of context which I can only believe if the statement before was, “A totally dipshit thing to say would be…”
  • One of them is apparently driving around in a truck with NH plates, as one does here in MA.
  • A bunch of the candidates want to privatize the corrections health care system, which is a mistake we’ll talk about in a second.
  • And other stuff. Lots and lots of other stuff.
  • Feel free to wade into this shallow pool of derp yourself and figure out who the best one is. Or do what I’m doing and vote for Ed O’Reilly on Thursday.

YES, ON THURSDAY

Did you know there was a primary on Thursday? There is. So go to your voting place and vote.

Ok, so Ed. I’ve seen him around the scene for a couple of decades now. First of all, he’s not an employee of the corrections system. He comes at this job from the other direction, from the people the system is set-up to serve.

Yes, serve. The corrections system is a service. It serves us, the public by carrying out the sentences handed out by juries and judges and it serves the people in the corrections system by offering them a safe and hopefully rehabilitory experience.

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

Like these guys, who when they get out will be the hottest flashmob talent money can buy

“Screw them, they committed crimes,” you might think. But you would be oh-so-wrong. Regardless of how you feel about what makes people commit crimes (and if the Gloucester Police Notes are any guide, the answer is: Being within 500′ of the Maplewood 7/11) folks caught up in the corrections system are not going away. Most of them are only going to be in jail for a short while, the average sentence is about 3.5 years. So if they go in and don’t get some kind of treatment, skills training, education, or something to prepare them for a normal life outside the walls, then they are going to be back in our towns and neighborhoods causing problems and costing the system more. So you’d better hope the system serves them and well.

Which brings us to the privatization issue. Private companies want to save money. The way they do this is by minimizing expenses. These companies make more profit if the people in their care for a few years don’t get diagnosed and treated for chronic issues. And then these folks get back outside where the public and private systems have to deal with them at much higher cost. Good call in opposing this Ed, because it’s dumbass.

As I said, Ed has been around for a bunch of years. I see him at all the right things, public service events, education events and so on. His angle at the Sheriff gig is coming from the right direction, and as we’ve learned with the Angel program- focusing on the people with the problem rather than the massive public edifice we’ve built to contain it and only ever winds up perpetuating it, is the right approach in my book.

But my last reason to vote for him is the most Clamtastic. I was cranking down a portion of my daily hogshead of coffee at Pleasant Street one day when Ed walked in. Being an obnoxious wag, I said, “Ed, if you’re running for sheriff, you should dress like one. You know, hat, chaps, the whole deal.”

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all "Sheriff of Nottingham"

Or, as the Clam crowd would no doubt prefer, go all “Sheriff of Nottingham”

He brushed by me toward the people he was meeting and without missing a beat and said, “I save that for the bedroom.”

Huzzah, good sir. You have my vote. UPDATE: AS OF NOVEMBER 29, 2017 NO HE DOES BLOODY NOT

 

Gloustec Podcast

Hey there nerds.

Did you know there are nerds in Gloucester? Did you further know there is all kinds of geeky crap happening here all the time? Too often folks don’t talk about all the crazy technology and science stuff going on locally because we are overshadowed by those dorks in Cambridge doing stuff like finding a workable fusion solution or curing cancer.

Screw those guys, there is plenty of locally awesome science, tech and geek culture going on right here.

So one day Myself and Joey C of Good Morning Gloucester and our own beloved Len Pal got together and said, “What if we did a podcast where we talked about geeky stuff as it relates to our crazy little island? And also bikes and how to best watch Game of Thrones without a TV and Len’s crazy trip to perform for Neil Degrasse Tyson, Stephen Hawkings and the guitarist for Queen who is also an astrophysicist (a real thing that happened) and electric cars at City Hall and all that? And we could drink beer and eat pizza.”

The question is obviously rhetorical and thus here it is. It’s funny, it’s informative and it’s mostly three dudes shooting the shit about hopefully interesting topics.

Click Here to go to the Podcast on Good Morning Gloucester

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