Marc Emery's US Federal Prison blog #6
I've been keeping myself very busy since being let out of solitary confinement on June 24th. I have many books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, and letters to keep me occupied, so the days sometimes fly by as I read and write back to people.
Inmates here who have family come visit from out-of-state are allowed to apply for extended visits, of 3 to 5 hours (visits are normally 2 hours long). It took a while for me to get a response from my application to have Jodie get extended visits, since she comes from out-of-country, but I finally got a response on July 14th; I can have an extended 5-hour visit with Jodie one day every month, but only if I don't have any other visits for the rest of the month. Well, I'll certainly take two two-hour visits every week instead of one 5-hour visit a month!
One day, the C.O. (correctional officer) on our range was sarcastic about all my mail. I came to his office in the middle of the range and asked him a question, and he said "You've got no time for that, you'd better get to all your mail and deal with that." He had to make four trips delivering it all to my cell: first the batch of newspapers, then the magazines, then two trips with ExpressPost envelopes and then regular letter mail. He later came to my cell and said, "Emery, do I look like your mailman? Do I? Tell all your people they can only send you letters on Saturdays." I said, "Yes, sir". There was a long pause, then he said, "Emery, I'm messin' with ya'!" Well, they certainly can "mess with" inmates, because we're under their authority in here.
I was showing an artistic inmate some of the photos of Jodie and I together for him to draw. He decided to draw a picture of us smiling at the camera in the sunlight at a rocky beach in Vancouver, with the caption "Fun in the sun at Acadia Beach". In the final drawing the inmate did, I look way too young; he took my age lines out, but I actually like how I look at 51 years old in that photo (it's from last year; I'm 52 now). The C.O. who joked he was messing with me over being "my mailman" saw the drawing and asked me, "Is Acadia Beach a nude beach?" I explained about Wreck & Acadia being the two clothing optional beaches in Vancouver, one immensely popular (Wreck) and the other very small and private. He said he went to a nude beach in Spain, which he very much liked. So, conversations with a C.O. can range quite widely here.
Jodie's wonderful love for me and activism has opened up my supporter base of family folks, children, grandparents, especially mothers – a great many letters to me are from women, mostly mothers with children, who admire me and Jodie and find common ground with us. That's very good to read! Only a minority of letters are from "stoners". I have 8 pictures of families with kids, so people obviously feel I am a representative for their children, to bring about a world of peace and liberty so they can grow up in safety and freedom. It's darn flattering people think of me as their representative for their rights and the good cause, so I really appreciate that, possibly more than any other accolade.
On June 20th, the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald ran a full-sized FREE MARC logo on the front page of section 3, with the article from the LA Times taking up a whole page inside. It was incredible! Wowzer! That blew my mind. The inmates loved it here; they started a "Free Marc and his friends!" chant, and I had to shoosh them! I'm so pleased with the clipping I received of it. That's prime media space we could never afford to purchase.
These two guys in Newfoundland, Colin and his dad Terry, have printed up 5" x 8" maxi-cards with the FREE MARC logo on one side and GOOGLE MARC EMERY on the other side. Colin said that hearing I was in solitary made him angry, so he printed up 1,000 cards that he puts in "price holders" on the shelves of supermarkets and stores. He made 250 fridge magnets of the FREE MARC logo, 1,000 giant postcards that he puts in peoples mailboxes as he walks down various streets in St. John's (I spoke there at Bannerman Park on my Farewell Tour with Jodie last year), and 6 giant outdoor FREE MARC EMERY and GOOGLE MARC EMERY outdoor banners. They put the Free Marc fridge magnets on restaurant fridges and even made giant magnet images (12" wide!) for the sides of cars and fast food restaurant drive-thru signs. They're quite excited to help out, and wow, that is some serious Newfie activism going on!
On July 1st, we got locked down and had a surprise inspection of everyone's cell (which has happened a few times since). The whole morning was taken up with that, a lot of C.O.'s going from cell to cell and looking through everything, while we were all in the gym area waiting for them to finish. Any rule you broke you were reprimanded or lost something; I was told my cell was very good (clean, no contraband), so nothing happened to me.
It was really hot in the prison in early July, but they fixed the air conditioning so now it's not nearly so overwhelming. With no fresh air and limited air circulation, it's good to have the AC on when the summer heat hits. They also fixed the ice machine, so I can cool down the water I drink. I never have soda pop or any juices, because everything except water makes you thirstier!
Here is our daily prison routine:
5:40 am: Cells unlocked
6:00 am: Breakfast, free range time*
6:45 am - 7:30 am: Lockdown
7:30 am: Cells unlocked, free range time
10:45 am - 11:15 am: Lunch
11:15 am - 11:45 am: Out of bounds**
11:45 am - 12:30 pm: Free range time
12:30 pm - 1:15 pm: Lockdown
1:15 pm - 3:30 pm: Free range time
3:30 pm - 4:30 pm: Lockdown
4:30 pm - 5:00 pm: Dinner
5:00 pm - 5:30 pm: Out of bounds*
5:30 pm - 9:40 pm: Free range time
9:40 pm: Lockdown
* "Free range time" means any time that we are not locked into our cells, and I use that time to check and send emails through the Corrlinks program in the computer room, or play dominoes and socialize with other inmates.
** Out of bounds means the other shift (there are up to 100 inmates in my unit DB) is eating, and our level cannot access the computer room.
I did my Pre-Sentencing Interview on July 6th. The lady from Court Services came by with my lawyer Troberman, and asked me questions about my past. None of it involved the actual "crime" of selling seeds, it's just background information like family, addresses where I lived, my siblings, my criminal record, my history of (non-)drug use, my education, my income, etc. Pretty dull stuff really. I thought it was all about what I did and why I did it, but it was so she can prepare a report for the court at my sentencing hearing on September 10th. I can't imagine it being controversial or even that interesting. It's boring because I own very little, have massive debts, my family is "ordinary", I haven't got a big criminal record – there's nothing very interesting about it on those levels.
I wrote a letter to my childhood best friend Roy, but instead of telling him about this place in a straightforward way, I wrote a funny sarcastic review as though it were a bad hotel with the worst shopping and restaurant service. I raved about the "21 day all non-inclusive Special Housing Unit" for a spa, and "the clothing store where you can buy the exact same style as everyone else". After a lot of mockery I ended with, "The motto of New Hampshire is 'Live Free or Die'. Apparently 'Live Free or Die' is on the state license plates. In unsurpassable irony, the license plates are made by prisoners at the state prison in Corcord, New Hampshire. I guess the state motto isn't worth the license plates they are printed on." Writing about this place in the form of a package-tour holiday from Hell might be a fun idea. Sections like "Vitamin D is over-rated", "Special Housing Units: because you're Special", "The Sea-Tac Slim-fast diet... as seen on Oprah", "We're Known by the Company We Keep", "Playful Supervisors Keep the Fun & Games Going 24/7", etc. I think its got endless potential!
Jodie wrote in her July 5th blog about our visits on July 2nd and 4th. On the 4th we got to have photos taken together. I bought five photo tickets, so we were able to get five pictures of us in the visiting room, which I'll send to Jodie once they arrive (it takes 3 weeks, they say). On the 2nd, I had to take a drug "breathalyzer" test before my visit. I got through 52 years of my life to get to my first drug test! It felt kind of accomplished to blow 0.00. It's strange though, because I'm not sure how it would detect anything, or how any inmates can possibly get drugs – I haven't seen any here, and it's maximum security, so I don't know how anything could get in.
I was sent a transcript of Jodie's speech at the Cannabis Day rally in Vancouver on July 1st. Cannabis Day is our celebration on Canada Day, and it's been happening since 1996 at the Art Gallery downtown. Between 5,000 and 10,000 people take part, with music and speakers, tents and booths selling pipes, bongs, and every type of cannabis and cannabis-infused product imaginable. It's always a wonderful time! This was the first major marijuana event in Vancouver that I was not part of, but my wife did an incredible speech in my absence. I wrote to Jodie, "I hope many, people see that barn-burner of a speech on YouTube.com/PotTVNetwork. I hope that is put on CC home page right away. Promote that heavily on Facebook & MySpace. Put 'Marc Emery says Mrs. Emery is a wonderful speaker, and this is a beautiful, touching, urgent, loving speech to all Canadians and the Canadian Cannabis Culture.' Way to show me how it's done, Mrs. Emery. This is a good one, you do 5 minutes better than anyone I know, including me. You are incredible!"
Jodie will be speaking at Seattle Hempfest this year on August 21st and 22nd, just as she did last year. It will be interesting for me to be so close to the biggest marijuana and hemp event in the world, but while locked up in prison; I've never even been to Seattle Hempfest. Jodie will visit me on Friday the 20th, and again in the morning on Sunday the 22nd, so she'll be able to tell everyone there that she's seen me and spoken to me that very weekend!
Commissary arrives every Wednesday, along with laundry. Every week we get our commissary form to fill out, and I buy stamps, envelopes, writing paper, and any snacks I want to get, like tuna packs and trail mix nuts. I've bought a variety of spices, garlic sauce, other sauces, so I've been zesting up the food we're served. I never eat chips or chocolate, because junk food makes me feel uneasy. Mondays are always a good day because mail comes, and a flood of newspapers from the weekend (Jodie has me subscribed to the New York Times, the Seattle Times, and USA Today). I get fantastic reprints from our wonderful friend and activist supporter Chris Goodwin in Toronto. He sends me these amazing dense printouts with hundreds of neat facts and trivia that are like 200 lines of pure information, and several pages of it. I find them mesmerizing. If I were to go on Jeopardy, they'd be just the thing to read in the warm-up room. That's what they need here: Inmate Jeopardy, and if you win, you get 6 months off your sentence. That's a bankable idea!
I'm reading "Hitch 22" by Christopher Hitchens, after finishing "The Armageddon Factor" about Canada's evangelical Christian government and how the fanatical religious right has infiltrated our Canadian media and legal system. Hitch-22 is a beautifully written memoir; his charm and wonderful use of the English language is very entertaining, seductive and inspiring. He is so clever and "charming" keeps coming to mind. I'd certainly love to have dinner with the guy, that's my first and constant impression. You just love every sentence this guy writes. The Armageddon Factor is revealing and informative, but I don't think we have reason to fear (Jodie is always very anxious and worried about it) – we just have to demonize Prime Minister Harper & His Band of Punishment Freaks appropriately at all opportunities. Harper is cold as ice. He's a lot like Nixon, a lot of getting back at enemies, revenge and punishment; he has no friends, and power/manipulation is his only lust. His wife isn't living with him anymore after having an affair with an RCMP officer, because he doesn't care about sex, love, friends – only power over others. He is full of hate. He has no joy in life other than seeing his enemies flail. Nixon was the exact same. Both have and had contempt for virtually any free thinker. We absolutely must get rid of the Harper Conservative government in Canada.
Another book I just received is "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness". A number of the black inmates want to read it after I'm done. It's all about how blacks make up a huge proportion of incarcerated drug offenders. Chris Goodwin sent me a lot of poetry from a book of black poets, lots of Tupac, Black Panther stuff, so the African-American guys think I am different, obviously, from the usual white inmate. One fellow is getting me to read his urban autobiographical work of 'fiction' he's writing. More of them are calling me Prince without sarcasm, and one guy put me in his cool rap song. My "cellie" (cell mate) says all his kids and and their friends are super impressed I'm his cell mate; they all know of me, he says. Many inmates have family and friends who are fans of my work and excited to be able to say their friend or husband/boyfriend/brother is imprisoned with me. Even visitors have recognized Jodie and are eager to share their stories about how they know of us.
I hope my supporters are continuing their efforts to end prohibition and free all the peaceful, non-violent drug war prisoners. As I have said before, as far back as 2004, "Let my incarceration galvanize you to action". And remember, one person can undo the evil of several thousand people. You should never underestimate your power. Plant the Seeds of Freedom and Overgrow the Government!
- Marc Emery's prison blogs are compiled and posted by Jodie Emery based on emails from Marc