Archive for the ‘addiction’ Category

By Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer on flickr

About a month ago, my son emailed me the video Psy – Gangnam Style. He did this because he knows my history with high-energy hip-hop/electronica, an essential music genre for anyone who takes roller blading seriously. I used to purchase bootleg tapes in West Hollywood and then roller blade to the tapes all around Santa Monica.

Today, reports from MTV Europe are that “One of the night’s most popular performers was dance sensation Psy with his record-breaking hit “Gangnam Style”, which won Best Video.

With 710,294,710 YouTube hits at the moment, here is that video:

Last night, Fred (aka Mason/Masoninblue) came across this thing and started listening. We both just circled the drain; the thing started growing on us both and just would not stop. Now, just to confess here, I am 52 and he is 65, and we both ordinarily listen to areas of music that are pretty unrelated to this. Psy is a Korean artist, his genre is K-Pop (Korean Popular) and the words are in Korean with just a bit of English. However, Psy has managed to overcome cultural and language barriers, and his in-your-face infectious and sweet nature appeals to everyone, including us.

His flash mobs are epic, spanning from the largest flash mob ever in Paris, to an illegal flash mob in Jakarta, Indonesia with so many people it simply left the authorities helpless, to others in New York, Rome, Los Angeles, and other places.

Our night went like this: Step – Step – Step – Repeat step….Oppan Gangnam Style! I had to stop briefly when I nearly broke my leg, carrying a cup of soda and doing this dance down the steps. It’s probably safer if you’re old to begin with coming up the stairs. As Fred rubbed the sore muscles of his shoulder, he and I both fantasized about some solid plans to take over this staid town we live in, and instigate a memorable flash mob that would be well worth the jail time. While technically not illegal here, you don’t have to do anything illegal here to get arrested nonetheless.

Psy’s live summer stand concert in Korea is my favorite:

I guess it just feels really good to set aside worry or fear or concern about the sadness in the world today and see something that the entire globe can agree on: a cheesy, really fun dance with a catchy tune and words (yes, we’ve got some of the words memorized). The English translation and ‘Romanized’ lyrics are here.

In this interview, Psy explains that he is a father of twins who are six in Korea and four in the US. Psy took some of his musical training at Boston University. When he was discovered by his current US manager, who wanted to sign Psy, Psy wondered why, and suggested that he take the manager to Koreatown and drink instead.

In yet another video that is hilarious, Psy, in a Spider Man outfit, and his dancers, essentially accost people in the streets, winning over their hearts and getting them to dance. The elevator pelvic thrust is fabulous:

Whop, whop, whop, whop, Oppan Gangnam Style!!

The wiki for Psy.

Addendum: On Psy’s sunglasses:

Psy’s sunglasses are from French eyewear brand Thierry Lasry. I did find some discrepancy as to whether these were from Garrett Leight (probably because the two brands recently collaborated on a limited edition of sunglasses) but upon some closer inspection they’re definitely from Thierry Lasry. Psy really only goes through two different styles of sunglasses and one pair of swimming goggles, but I still had to do some digging through their collections and Look Books to hunt them down.

The first is Variety 1015 from the opening scene in Psy’s video, as well as in the final scenes with HyunA and the flash mob. This was found in Thierry Lasry’s 2011 collection.

Zbigniew Preisner- Damage Fatale:

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

Inmate names are changed.

Ricky’s World, Summer, 2008

At 4 AM, the lights go on in our tiny cell, and a guard opens the steel door. Next to the guard, in the hallway, are five full 30-gallon black garbage bags.

“Well come on,” says the guard. “Help me with these.”

We drag the bags into the cell. The bags are heavy. There is one full bag for each inmate in this cell. The bags contain ears of corn that male inmates picked, from the jail garden. Our assignment is to shuck the corn, and be finished in time to go to work in the kitchen.

I get paid sixty-three cents a day for working in the kitchen but I do not get paid for the corn work, and neither does anyone else. Inmates who merely prepare vegetables for the whole jail never see a paycheck. On the days that we work, we may or may not have time in the outside cage for rec, because we are told that work counts as recreation.

We stare at the bags of corn.

Christina says, “You’ve got to be fuckin’ kidding me.”

“You ain’t never shucked corn?” says Monica. “And you from the country?”

“Hail no.”

“Well,” I say. “I’ve shucked corn. Just not at four o’clock in the morning.”

The irony is, that if this place, in Hickman Kentucky is not country, I do not know what country is. We are in the middle of nowhere, someplace near Tennessee, seven miles or so from the now-swollen Mississippi River.

I enjoy shucking corn and I enjoy work, but being forced to work with Penny in the kitchen after we shuck this corn is, I think, a little over the top, as far as punishment goes.

During our walk to work in the kitchen, where we will work unaccompanied by any guard, Penny engages in some transparent brown nosing of the guard, that includes ratting out the previous guard for various petty non-offenses. Penny’s brown nosing is usually more pronounced on the nights that she plans to steal stuff from the kitchen, because in her way of thinking, solidifying a chummy relationship with a guard on the way into the kitchen will elicit a less-than-thorough strip search on the way out.

While I have often joked about attempting to smuggle packets of this or that from the kitchen, I cannot imagine stealing while in jail, and so I refrain from it, and I refuse to ‘hold’ stolen items in my things, back in the cell.

In the kitchen, we pass the large ovens that sometimes have the porn magazines stashed behind them by male inmates who also work in the kitchen at staggered times, and I go to get a hair net, while Penny tries to hustle the guard out of food for consumption during work in the kitchen. Penny’s modus operand is to spend as much time as possible eating, hoarding, snooping around the place off camera, and stealing stuff, while pausing to look up Bible passages, criticize my work, question my faith in God and conclude that I am most likely a non-believer on the fast-track to Hell.

Penny locates a bible and I locate the work list for the night. Penny says something to me about how, according to the Bible, God allowed the holocaust to happen, in order to make the world a better place, and I say a silent prayer to the God of my own understanding to please not allow me to kill Penny with my bare hands, on the spot.

The work list says:

-make 50 gallons KoolAid.
-make 250 butter (margarine) cups.
-make 250 onion/pickle packs.
clean vent hoods.
-clean bathroom.

The rate-limiting step will be the onion/pickle packs, which take forever, even with two people, but while I begin this task, Penny takes out 1/4 pound of margarine, and fries up an enormous plate of onions for herself. While Penny is eating, I make the KoolAid, then do the butter cups, then slice the onions, and then begin assembling the packs.

All told, I completed 240 of the 250 onion/pickle packs, while Penny berated me for using and recording the allotted amount of Equal that I used for the KoolAid, instead of fudging the paperwork, and stealing the sweetener. This annoys me. While I have joked around about taking stuff, the fact is, that in the cell, in my things, I have commissary receipts and matching sweetener packets for every teaspoon of sweetener I have had in my possession. In my mind, I am not going to risk parole denial over theft of a teaspoon of sweetener.

For refusing to participate in petty jailhouse theft, Penny tells me that I really need to read James.

In the cell, Penny and I get along better, and one day, she tells me that she wants my help in preparing her for her GED, and I am thrilled because I love to teach. However, I realize, early in this process, that Penny never learned her times tables. I make some flash cards and say, “Okay. Let’s begin with the twos.”

Each day, we tackle a few more flash cards, and Penny begins to make progress.

I begin to re-think my initial harsh judgments of Penny. I had known nothing about her, or her life, or her struggles. I conclude that Penny is utilizing the same ineffective coping skills in jail that she used on the outside, because those skills are the only skills she has.

We become friends.

Later on, Penny asks for my help with a letter she is writing to a treatment center. The letter says:

To whom it may concern:

My name is Penny Stenson. I am in jail at Fulton County Detention Center in Hickman, KY

The reason for my unfortunate stay is my alcholism I am writting in hope of getting information about your program I would also appriciated a admittance application I only hope to get treatment for my sickness

Im look for a 30day inpatient program
I have three children that need there mother to be clean.
They are on there way to foster care by Decmber if I dont recive help. I am willing to go any were that will give me a bed date right away. I am willing to tr…

She hands me the letter and asks, “Can you help me with this?”

I read the letter. I feel the tears forming, and the hitch in my throat.

“Sure,” I say. “Of course I will.

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account in Kentucky.

I would like to share my letter to the parole board that I wrote in Ricky’s World requesting parole after ten months of incarceration. Parole was granted.

As many of you know, I was convicted of a no-drugs, no-alcohol, no-bad-driving DUI (Kentucky rejects exculpatory scientific toxicology testing and favors all-over-the-place speculation from a lying deputy), possession of 0.144 grams of “gonna be crack,” and tampering.

I was sentenced to eight years from the bench. However, as you also are aware, Judge Craig Clymer sentenced me to four years in writing. After I went home on parole with a parole plan in place, Judge Clymer issued an arrest warrant, claiming “typographical error” in the written order and doubling the sentence to eight years. I believe now, and I have always believed that the fake parole and rearrest was a purposeful act on the part of the judge; it is impossible that the judge was innocently unaware of star witness Deputy Eddie McGuire’s penchant for lying and changing his testimony numerous times under oath. That I refused to ‘go along with the flow,’ and that I had the utter temerity to take a firm position infuriated this judge. Fake parole, that is, allowing someone to experience a brief taste of freedom before burying the person again, is a very effective way to tell a person that you do not care for her.

When I wrote my first parole request letter, I was in a bit of a quandary, because while I was well aware that the parole board probably wanted to see me discuss what I had learned from my crime, I maintained the position that I did not commit a crime.

Rather than admit to and discuss the ramifications of a crime, I did accept full responsibility for drug and/or alcohol involvement in my life, and I acknowledged the consequences that I could bring upon myself, related to such involvement. I reiterated what I had learned and accomplished during incarceration, and crafted a parole plan.

I am placing this letter online, because some folks visit this site through such search terms as “how to make parole on the first try.” Since I did make parole on the first try, I will share the information.

Note: A letter from an inmate is only one aspect of a parole board’s decision to grant or deny parole. For example, they have before them an inmate record card reflecting any disciplinary write-ups or issues suggesting poor institutional adjustment. I had no write-ups, and so I knew that the parole board had a ‘clean’ card in front of them. I provided hard copies of certificates of completion from Bible studies, as well as letters of recommendation from various sources. I provided a hand-written letter from a fellow inmate that I tutored.

I am not sure what role inmate family letters play. I have seen some pretty awful family member letters (I saw such a letter one time that said something like: My son is a thieving, conniving sociopath. If you let him out he’s gonna kill somebody), where the inmate was granted parole in spite of family wishes to the contrary and so, I am inclined to believe that the parole board considers the fact that family members may present not the most objective points of view.

I would also like to add that the parole-granting process is largely shrouded in secrecy. No one can tell you for sure just what they do consider.

Also: McCracken County Jail denied work, work training, education, 12-step meetings, treatment, and even church attendance in one instance, so most of my accomplishments were in Ricky’s World.

Offender Records Section- Parole
State office Building
5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601

From: Rachel Leatherman #218896
Fulton County Detention Center
2010 S. 7th Street
Hickman KY 42050

Re: Respectful request for parole

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a 48-year-old nonviolent offender and a registered nurse. I am responsible for my own actions, I fully accept my addiction, and I realize that contributing to it in any way is a serious crime.

I have put forth my very best effort to learn from this incarceration- the severe consequence of drug involvement, as well as a plan for living in recovery.

I have accomplished the following:

-steady work in the kitchen, 7 days a week, never quitting, never being fired.

-AA meeting attendance.

-I tutored a fellow inmate in math.

-Bible studies (certificates enclosed) through: Rock of Ages, Know Your Bible, International Prison Ministry, Croosroads, Emmaus, Pacific Islands Bible Institute, Purpose-Driven Life.

-weekly one-on-one sessions with a priest.

-self-reflection through artwork and writing.

I have made the following concrete steps toward a parole plan:

-continued psychiatric therapy (inquiry sent)

-ongoing 12-step involvement, and plans to be around supportive, sober people.

-employment (arranged)

-return to school for training (if possible)

I am ready to be a positive part of my community on release, by being responsible, self-supporting and helpful to others.

I realize that sobriety is my first priority. I will choose to be around people who are supportive of my sobriety (as is my husband). I will not associate with people who drink and use.

I believe that I can use my incarceration experience to benefit others, by sharing my own experience.

Please consider me for parole.


Rachel Leatherman 218896

For anyone who is in a position of seeking parole, I think that it is important to maintain a clean institutional record. Joking around about rule breaking is one thing, but acting out and collecting write-ups may lead to parole deferment.

My disclaimer here is that I honestly do not know how the board makes these decisions. I do know that Class D nonviolent offenders do not meet face-to-face with the board, so many people write their letters and include supporting documents. Class Cs do meet with the board (I hear it’s kinda brutal).

Note that the letter is short.

Barn at winter by Crane-Station
barn at winter by Crane-Station on flickr. jail art done at Ricky’s World.

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.
-Albert Camus

Frog Gravy is a nonfiction incarceration account.

Inmate names are changed.

Frog Gravy contains graphic language.

McCracken County Jail Cell 107, winter, 2008

Meg announces to the cell that she is on her period.

“So?” says Christie.

“So, I get out in two weeks, and I can get some dick!”

Meg lives in a motel on the outside, where she trades her body for drugs. She has nine children; many of them were born while Meg was in jail. After Meg is released and after she gets her ‘dick,’ her tenth child will be born in prison, but we do not know this yet.

She has made the comment about getting some ‘dick’ to be mean, because she knows that the rest of the cell occupants are serving lengthier sentences than she has ever had to serve, and that we will be unable to know a man’s touch or have sex, and she will.

When the announcement about dick does not elicit much of a response, Meg starts in on Christie, who, having been denied drug court and now faces 24 years for nonviolent drug-related charges, is desperately depressed. Christie stays on her bunk all the time now, crying.

One of Christie’s felonies, by the way, is for a cold check in the amount of something like one dollar and seventy-two cents, whereas Meg, who will walk out of the jail and get some dick and get pregnant two weeks from now, has a lengthy history of theft and possession charges that, for some reason, she has never had to worry much about, in terms of serving any time.

Rather, during her frequent yet brief accomodations in the McCracken County Jail, she busies herself with the passive-aggressive practices of constant manipulation and torment of fellow inmates who will be serving lengthy sentences entombed in cement with no hope. Each time, Meg leaves, and gets some dick, among other things.

Meg says to Christie, “I think you are overreacting.”

“I can’t help it,” says Christie. I’m not overreacting. I feel really, really, really bad inside. People notice that there is something wrong. I can’t quit crying. I don’t mean to be such a bitch about it. I just don’t know what to do about it. I sleep 15 hours a day now. I can’t handle this.”

“It’ll be all right,” says Meg, who, two weeks from now will be having sex.

“You don’t know that,” says Christie.” I’m sorry. This isn’t me, but I just don’t know what to do.”

Christie cries.

Down the hall, Harry yells from his isolation cell, “HELLLLP! PLEEEEASE! Somebody! Let me out! Helpme helpmehelpme helpmehelpme Helllllpp…”

Sally is on the phone, calling her mother “a fucking whore.”

Sally calls her mother every five minutes or so, and treats her like a disobedient child. She says, at maximum volume, “I love you! Shut your fucking mouth, you’re nuthin’ but a lazy whore.”

Sally’s mother shouts back. Sally also screams at her 17-year-old son on the phone. She holds the receiver and says to us, “He ain’t got his books for home school yet. Can you believe that shit? My mother ain’t even got his books! She ain’t nuthin’ but a useless whore, don’t do nuthin’ but lay on her back all day.”

The son is supposed to be homeschooled by Sally’s mother, who is addicted to Vicodin and who never completed the eighth grade, because Sally is in jail.

The son is also apparently very sick, with some kind of severe illness that Sally cannot define. Munchausen by Proxy I think to myself, although I never say it. I think this to myself privately because Sally also self-reports severe, undefined illness in herself, and the mother is dysfunctional, and there is too much collective severe-yet-undefined illness in a young group of closely connected people. Sally looks healthy and robust. It is Christie, crying on her bunk, unable to get up, that I worry about.

I like Sally, and we get along well. I do not agree with how she speaks to her mother or her son, but Sally is amicable to fellow inmates, and she has a delightful sense of humor.

Meanwhile, Meg has come back to the cell from a brief visit to the jail library. The library is a jail cell with mostly paperback romance novels and religious materials, and a remarkable dearth of literature. Meg sets an arm load of romance novels onto the steel table, and then starts gossiping about YaYa, who was in the library, gossiping about Amy. YaYa is not here to defend herself.

Meg says, “I just wanted to hit her.”

I say, “She’s pretty big. Maybe that is not such a good idea. You know, hitting her.”

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”

Meg taps on the wall to the cell next door, to arrange for her delivery of drugs for the evening, in the form of the inmate-next-door’s psych meds. Everything went okay for her first delivery, and I secretly hope that everything will continue to go okay, because when Meg is on someone else’s psych meds, she usually shuts up.

They make some arrangement.

Later, I am doing exercises on the floor next to the steel door when the steel door flies open, nearly hitting me, and there stands Tiffany, the sergeant, and she is irate. She says, “Who got the note from Carter!?”

“Who’s Carter?” I say.

“Who got that note from Carter!?”

Just then, we realize that Meg’s drug arrangement has not gone as planned. Carter, the inmate next door who was on psych medication, had wrapped two pills in paper and ‘fished’ them underneath her cell door and into our cell, under the door. But it did not work, because the note got stuck.

Tiffany leaves. Meg goes off on Carter. “Dumb bitch, she shoulda knocked.”

Meg smiles, giggles, and laughs, as though she had nothing whatsoever to do with the note or the pills in the note. She dismisses the whole incident, and gets on the phone to make arrangements with someone on the outside to smuggle cigarettes into the jail. Later, she tries to get me to make an appointment with the nurse and lie about some ailment, so that Meg can get Tylenol pills, or any pills. I refuse.

When I refuse, she makes fun of me, of my trial, of my conviction, of my lengthy sentence, and of the fact that she will be getting dick two weeks from now and I will not be getting any dick until it is too late for me to have sex, because I am too old.

In my mind I try to come up with reasons for meanness and lack of empathy among warehoused humans in the same predicament, and I wonder if people in the train cars during the holocaust were mean to each other. What is it, exactly, that brings out such hate? Perhaps it is overcrowding or demeaning, dehumanizing treatment, or lost confidence in ‘the system,’ or female jealousy, mental illness, lack of stimulus, or hormones, or frustration and separation from love, touch and family. Maybe it is a combination of everything.

I fold my cranes out of scavenged paper. I move them around. I adjust the towel on my head. I go into the bathroom and climb onto the steel toilet and look through the slit to the dumpsters outside.

I return to the steel table. I put the tiny cranes with the big cranes.

I stay silent.

Written by Masoninblue and reblogged from


by annalise.ellen creative commons @ flickr

The seven deadly sins are:

1. Wrath,

2. Greed,

3. Lust,

4. Sloth,

5. Envy,

6. Gluttony, and

7. Pride.

I doubt that there is an adult alive today who has not been gripped at least once by each of these demons, but I will leave that subject for another time.

Today, I want to share my thoughts with you regarding our nation, its relationship with these demons, and what will become of it if we do not act.

Piercing the veil of propaganda, I see our federal government captured and controlled by the too-big-to-fail banks, multi-national corporations that privatize profits and socialize losses, a paranoid national intelligence network that invades everyone’s privacy, and the military industrial complex. Our nation is war and war is big business.

Like moths cocooned alive in a spider’s web powerless to resist a slow agonizing death as its insides are slowly sucked out, we the people have been reduced to mere tax revenue units expected to pay for endless war and cover all of the financial-sector losses from the TBTF banks gambling in the world casino. Meanwhile, the private sector regards us as nothing more than interchangeable minimum-wage labor units to be exploited to the fullest extent possible without enjoying any benefits.

Our nation is known by all people of the world for its all-consuming quest for world empire via never ending war to seize valuable diminishing natural resources. Greed, which is Number 2 on the list of deadly sins, is god. Neoliberal economics is its Bible and nobody talks about the Golden Rule.

I see a nation seized by wrath against people with brown skin and illegal immigrants.

I see a nation seized by lust for natural resources that belong to others.

I see a slothful nation unwilling to change and work on developing renewable forms of energy.

I see a nation seized by envy for world empire.

I see a nation seized by the gluttony of wanting it all.

I see a nation seized by the false pride of American exceptionalism.

As I look ahead at the future, I see the ship of state capsized at sea by the seven deadly sins.

I see no other possible outcome unless we heal ourselves, take back our government, and kick the corporations out of the Temple.

Although the path to redemption and illumination will be long and difficult, we know where to find it because others have led the way and marked it for us. Remember always that one must die to be reborn and the seven deadly sins can be conquered by the seven virtues.

1. Wrath is conquered by Peace;

2. Greed is conquered by Generosity;

3. Lust is conquered by Purity of Intent;

4. Sloth is conquered by Courage and Effort;

5. Envy is conquered by Compassion for oneself and others;

6. Gluttony is conquered by Temperance; and

7. Pride is conquered by Humility.

Never forget the Golden Rule.

What do you see?

Cross posted from my blog.

This video is inspirational, and if you have not seen it, you must. These guys make me want to keep going and never give up.

I will be blogging another Frog Gravy today. In the meantime, please have a look: