Boing Boing 

Timothy Leary, 1961


Timothy Leary in 1961. (NYPL Manuscripts and Archives Division)

At Wired, Greg Miller writes about Timothy Leary's journey from scientist to "psychedelic celebrity", revealed in new detail by the release of his archives.

Leary may be best known for his role in the psychedelic movement of the ’60s, but in his later years, at the dawn of the internet age he became fascinated by the potential of technology to transform human communication (see the related gallery on video games and other software from Leary’s archives). He also became interested in life extension and space migration, which he discussed in an exchange of letters with astronomer Carl Sagan.

Leary’s main message – and another one of his famous slogans – was to get people to think for themselves and question authority, said Denis Berry, a trustee of his estate. It’s a message that’s still relevant today, Berry said. “Let’s get out of the rut we’re unconsciously following, and start thinking for ourselves and living the life we want to live.”

Top UK cop calls for end to war on drugs, legalization of Class A substances

Pity the British establishment. Like their American counterparts, they keep insisting -- against all evidence -- that they're winning the war on drugs, that drugs are an unimaginable scourge and far worse than tobacco or booze, and that the real problem is that we're not jailing enough addicts for long enough. Despite this, well-informed, respected people continue to publicly state that the war on drugs is a public health, economic, and legal disaster. Last time, it was UK Drugs Czar David Nutt, who called banning marijuana and psychedelics "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo" and wrote an amazing book about the awful state of drug policy.

Now, Mike Barton, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, one of the UK's most senior police officers, has published an editorial in the Observer comparing the war on drugs to the American alcohol prohibition of the 1920s and 1930s. He calls for drugs to be legalised, so that their sale will no longer fund criminal gangs, and for the NHS to distribute drugs -- including Schedule A drugs (cocaine, morphine, mescaline, LSD, oxycodone, psilocybe mushrooms, and many others).

Read the rest

Krokodil, Russia's rot-your-flesh zombie dope, appears in Phoenix


Perhaps you've heard tell of Krokodil, an injectable street-drug popular in Russia that causes your skin to go green and scaly and eventually to rot off all the way to the bone at injection sites, and gives its habitual users permanent slurred speech and jerky motions, earning it the nickname of the "zombie drug?" Phoenix poison-control centers now report that they're treating krokodil users, suggesting that the practice of using the drug recreationally is has begun to spread to American shores. A Google Image search for "krokodil" will supply you with ample nightmare fuel for years to come.

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The dangers of Tylenol

ProPublica has an in-depth story about the hidden dangers of over-the-counter drugs, especially Tylenol. One of the key problems with Tylenol is that it doesn't take all that many extra pills to start experiencing harmful side effects. For instance, the maximum recommended daily dose is eight extra-strength tablets. Just two additional tablets a day, taken over a long period, can cause liver damage. All told, this isn't a massive risk — about 150 people die from Tylenol poisoning a year — but it does illustrate why you can't assume there are no risks, just because it's easy to buy something.

Comic about the Rat Park drug addiction experiment


If you enjoyed Monday's post about Bruce Alexander's addiction-research experiment "Rat Park" (where heroin addicted rats were given luxurious accomodation, social stimulus, and lots of diverting entertainment), you'll probably enjoy Stuart McMillen's 40-page comic about the experiment.

Rat Park drug experiment cartoon – Stuart McMillen comics

Real Stuff: Death of a Junkie

“It was springtime in Seattle, and I was a newcomer. One afternoon I found myself at the Seattle Center, taking in the sights. I was standing at the base of the Space Needle, when I spotted a familiar face. It was Tim Gazaway, a casual acquaintance from my hometown of Boise, Idaho.” — From Real Stuff #3 (Fantagraphics, May 1991).

Read the rest

Bruce Alexander's Rat Park: a ratty paradise that challenges our assumptions about addiction


This article from Garry Tan reminded me of the tremendous work of Bruce K Alexander, a psychology professor who retired from teaching at Simon Fraser University in 2005. I read Alexander's first book, Peaceful Measures: Canada's Way Out of the 'War on Drugs' when it was published in 1990, and it had a profound effect on my outlook and critical thinking about drugs and the way that drug addiction is reported and discussed.

Alexander is well known for his Rat Park experiment, which hypothesized that heroin-addicted lab rats were being driven to drugs by the emisseration of life in a tiny cage, tethered to a heroin-dispensing injection machine. Other experimenters had caged rats with heroin-injecting apparatus and concluded that the rats' compulsive use of the drug proved that their brains had been rewired by addiction ("A rat addicted to heroin is not rebelling against society, is not a victim of socioeconomic circumstances, is not a product of a dysfunctional family, and is not a criminal. The rat's behavior is simply controlled by the action of heroin (actually morphine, to which heroin is converted in the body) on its brain.").

Alexander's Rat Park was a rat's paradise -- spacious, with plenty of intellectual stimulus and other rats to play with. He moved heroin-addicted rats into the park and found that the compulsive behavior abated to the point of disappearance -- in other words, whatever "rewiring" had taken place could be unwired by the improvement of their living conditions.

Alexander's work appears in Drugs Without the Hot Air, one of the best books on drug policy I've ever read, written by former UK drugs czar David Nutt. Both men are scientists who make the case that the our drug policy is more the product of political grandstanding than scientific evidence.

Read the rest

Gweek 110: "The Boogie Nights of the drug trade"

An interview with journalist Joshuah Bearman about a high school dope-smuggling ring.


Gweek is a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.

This episode's guest:

Joshuah Bearman. In 2007 Joshuah wrote the now-famous Argo article for Wired, which Ben Affleck turned into a movie that won Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards. He has also written for for Rolling Stone, Harper’s, Wired, Playboy, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He also recently co-founded Epic, an online longform journalism site.

Today, I spoke to Josh about a 30,000 word story he wrote for GQ and The Atavist about a group of Southern California high schoolers who started one of the largest marijuana smuggling rings in the world. It's Coronado High, and is available on Kindle for $1.99, or for $2.99 as a multimedia iOS piece from The Atavist.

GET GWEEK: RSS | On iTunes | Download episode | Listen on Stitcher

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The secret behind daft drug names

Insanity at the intersection of trademark law, marketing, and patient safety: "New drug names aren’t just bizarre," writes David Shultz. "They’re dangerous."
In any other industry, calling your product Xalkori would be the business blunder of the century. But this isn’t any other industry; this is pharma. “Xalkori is not just a crazy name,” says R. John Fidelino, who, as director of creative at the firm InterbrandHealth, helped bring the word into existence.

Here's a searchable index of drugs; if you run out, there's always the drug name generator, complete with advertising bullet points and side effects. Somewhere out there, there is a "Prescription medication or evil wizard?" site, but I can't find it. [via MeFi]

The 1960s high schoolers who started a major pot smuggling empire

Joshua Bearman (who wrote the "Argo" story for Wired that was turned into a terrific movie) has a story in the July 2013 issue of GQ called "Coronado High." Josh told me, "The story is an epic tale about a group of friends from Coronado High in the 1960s who started the first major pot smuggling empire, with the help of their former Spanish teacher. What started as a bunch of hippies swimming small bales across the border with surfboards turned into a super sophisticated operation, bringing in Moroccan hash, Mexican grass, and Thai stick by the ton. They made more than $100m over a decade, and lived the life of Riley until it all came crashing down.:

Coronado High was co-published by GQ and The Atavist. The GQ article (which runs 10,000 words) will be available online in September, and the Atavist has published Josh's 25,000 word version of the article, which is available for $2.99 now in a variety of formats, including text only version for the Amazon Kindle.

Below, an excerpt from "Coronado High."

Read the rest

Atlantis - "the world's best anonymous online drug marketplace"

https://vimeo.com/69235119

[Video Link] HighExistence reports on Atlantis, a "new and improved virtual black market" that offers "cheaper rates, advanced features, ease-of-use, Litecoin and Bitcoin support, and encrypted chat."

A turf war is on. Silk Road has enjoyed a near monopoly on the digital drug business since its inception in 2011, but its tenure is over. The new competition is great for consumers–various black markets will vie for market share by offering more features and a better user experience. In an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, the CEO explains that compared to Silk Road, Atlantis takes lower commissions, has less downtime, has a more “modern” interface, has a feedback system for rating buyers as well as sellers, and supports built-in message encryption.

Also, Andy Greenberg of Forbes bought weed from the top three online black markets (Silk Road, Black Market Reloaded, and Atlantis) and found Atlantis offered the best consumer experience. (Here's a video interview with Greenberg about online black markets.)

Atlantis, the new virtual drug marketplace

Seattle cops give away mini-Doritos with weed law advice at "Hempfest"


A program called "Operation Orange Fingers" will see Seattle cops will welcoming attendees at this weekend's Hempfest with miniature bags of Doritos with links to the department's Marijwhatnow? guide to staying on the right side of the state's law that decriminalized simple possession of sub-one-ounce quantities of marijuana.

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Audio memoir of original Disney Imagineer, with free sex-and-drugs excerpt!

Last week, I blogged about More Cute Stories: Volume 1, an audio memoir of Rolly Crump, one of the Imagineers who help build Disneyland and maintain it in its early years. I've had a chance to listen to it since then and it is fantastic. Crump is a charming raconteur, and he treats us to many fascinating remembrances that shine light on the personalities, engineering, business reality, and weird and wild times that made up the early years of Disneyland.

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Naming prescription drugs

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How do pharmaceuticals get names like fluoxetine, atorvastatin, modafinil, or sildenafil? Those are the generic names for some common prescription drugs. The drug company with the patent on the pill gets to choose the generic name. The U.S. Adopted Names Council has rules on such matters though, as The Week's James Harbeck writes:

• "Prefixes that imply 'better,' 'newer,' or 'more effective;' prefixes that evoke the name of the sponsor, dosage form, duration of action or rate of drug release should not be used."

• "Prefixes that refer to an anatomical connotation or medical condition are not acceptable."

• Certain letters or sets of letters also aren't allowed at the beginning of new generic names. These include me, str, x, and z.

Every name has two main parts. The back half of the drug name is the same for all drugs in a particular class — for instance, there are a whole raft of cholesterol-lowering drugs that end in -vastatin: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin (Zocor), and several others.

"How do prescription drugs get such crazy names?" (via NextDraft)

image: detail of Damien Hirst's "In Search of Nirvana" (2007)

Cyber-crooks mail heroin to Brian Krebs


Brian Krebs is a security expert and investigative journalist who has published numerous ground-breaking stories about the online criminal underground, much to the consternation of the criminal underground. Krebs has been the victim of much harassment, including a dangerous SWATting (where someone called a SWAT team to Krebs's door, having told them that an armed gunman was inside).

Most recently, a Russian crook called Flycracker crowdfunded the purchase of a gram of heroin on the Silk Road, which he mailed to Krebs, having first called the cops to alert them that Krebs was a narcotics trafficker. Luckily for Krebs, he lurks in the same forums in which this was planned, and knew of it in advance and tipped off the local cops and the FBI.

Read the rest

Head-shop CCTV catches police informant/undercover planting crack


Charlie writes, "There is a smoke shop in Scotia NY, owned by a young black man. There are many, many smoke shops in the capital region, but the rest are owned by white people. Undercover police decided to send an 'undercover agent' (an informant facing his own jail time) to investigate. Shortly after, the owner was charged with possession of crack cocaine. He was facing almost a decade in prison. Just one hitch though: the owner had video cameras set up in his shop. The videos captured the informant dropped a bag of crack on the counter; planting the drugs. The charges were dismissed, the informant has suddenly "disappeared" and the owner is now considering a law suit."

Read the rest

Poverty does more damage to kids than crack

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have been following and studying the brains and lives of so-called "crack babies" for more than 20 years. Now, they're beginning to publish their findings, and what they're finding is not what they expected. The researchers saw few statistical differences between kids exposed to crack in utero and those who weren't. But they did find big differences between the exposed babies and the controls when compared to children who grew up in wealthier families. Now, they're coming to the conclusion that it's poverty — not crack — that may present the biggest risk to children's neurological development and their later opportunities in life.

Prototype dissidents: Timothy Leary and Václav Havel at the dawn of the internet age

A previously unknown connection between Czech dissident Vaclav Havel and American psychologist Timothy Leary is revealed by an inscribed copy of Leary’s 1977 Neuropolitics.

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Help name California's pot legalization bill

Peacelove sez, "The good folks at SaveCannabis.org need your help naming the 2014 Cannabis Legalization Act. The Act itself has been open source written (the full text can be seen and modified) and is aiming to be the most tightly-crafted, airtight act possible. Finding the right name is crucial, too. I like 'Cannabis & Hemp Freedom Act of 2014," since it contains the correct and underused names for the plant and combines them with 'Freedom,' something for which I think a lot of Americans would like the chance to vote YES."

Everything wrong about medical marijuana marketing in California, in a single snapshot


I snapped this photo of a popular medical marijuana dispensary storefront in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles last week. To me, it represents everything bone-headed about the way LA area pot shops (which operate in a legal gray zone in a conflicting patchwork of federal, state, and local laws) market themselves.

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Former UK drug czar calls banning marijuana and psychedelics "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo"

Former UK drug czar David Nutt (and author of the amazing and indispensable Drugs Without the Hot Air) has published a paper in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience called "Effects of Schedule I drug laws on neuroscience research and treatment innovation" where he, and his co-authors (Leslie A. King and David E. Nichols) call modern drug policy "the worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Copernicus and Galileo." The Independent summarises the paper:

The paper, which is published to coincide with a conference on scientific research with psychedelics at Imperial College London, points to evidence that cannabis, MDMA and psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms) have unexplored medicinal benefits and argues that laws should be updated.

Small clinical studies of MDMA, which was originally used in the USA in the 1970s to improve communication in psychotherapy sessions, suggested that it could play a highly beneficial role in the treatment of PTSD patients. The paper’s authors said the drug could also help with “end of life anxiety” and couples therapy”.

Medical use of marijuana is already legal in 17 US states, and the drug has been shown to have benefits such as anxiety reduction and pain relief. However, Professor Nutt said that UK restrictions had blocked development of therapeutic applications for any of cannabis’ 16 active ingredients.

LSD, meanwhile, was widely researched in the 1950s and 1960s, with more than 1,000 papers investigating outcomes for more than 40,000 patients, with evidence suggesting that the drug might be an effective treatment for alcoholism, before bans on the drug around the world ended further research.

'The worst case of scientific censorship since the Catholic Church banned the works of Galileo': Scientists call for drugs to be legalised to allow proper study of their properties (via Reddit)

High on life (and that third cup of coffee)

The new DSM 5 (and the old DSM-IV, for that matter) includes caffeine intoxication as a valid mental health diagnosis. The new version has also upped the ante, adding "caffeine withdrawal" and "caffeine use disorder" to the list. It's worth noting, though, that the diagnosis criteria is based on a key point — do these behaviors significantly impact the patient's ability to function in daily life. That's, apparently, what makes a difference between everybody in America — sans Mormons — being a caffeine freak, and a few people having a problem. Of course, that distinction is also pretty subjective.

Rob Ford crack-smoking video is "gone"

Gawker's John Cook has finally gotten in touch with the guy who offered to sell him a video of Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford smoking crack. Bad news: the guy says the video is "gone":

But I have heard independently from others familiar with the goings-on in Toronto that leaders in its Somali community have determined who the owner is and brought intense pressure to bear on him and his family. Toronto's "Little Mogadishu" neighborhood is located in the ward Rob Ford represented when he was a city councillor; though he is a conservative and a racist buffoon, I am told he has long-standing connections to Somali power brokers there.

Which brings us to this past Friday, when the intermediary called to tell me that he had finally heard from the owner. And his message was: "It's gone. Leave me alone." It was, the intermediary told me, a short conversation.

"It's gone" could mean many things. It might mean that the video has been destroyed. It might mean that it has been handed over to Ford or his allies. It might mean that he intends to sell or give it to a Canadian media outlet. It might mean that the Toronto Police Department has seized it and plans to use it as evidence in a criminal investigation. It might mean that it has been transferred to the custody of Somali community leaders for safekeeping. It might be a lie. The intermediary doesn't know. Neither do I.

The Rob Ford Crack Video Might Be "Gone"

Toronto mayoral disaster: illegal deletion of staffers' email?

More news from the embattled mayor of Toronto, Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford: after two of his senior staffers walked out on him following questioning by Toronto homicide detectives, it appears that someone illegally ordered the destruction of their archived city emails and call-records -- as well as the archived electronic communications of Ford's former chief of staff, whom Ford fired under mysterious circumstances.

The Star heard concerns at city hall Wednesday afternoon over the potential destruction or hiding of the records of three staffers who resigned or were fired during the ongoing crack cocaine scandal. Sources told the Star the records were in danger after city employees were directed to delete them.

The Star sent a request late Wednesday to the city asking for email and phone records of the three staffers in question for the time period during which the video at the heart of the scandal has been discussed.

Emails sent by city employees, including political staffers, are automatically preserved by the city, though emails related to “personal” business are exempt from freedom of information requests.

Two people familiar with the system said the emails of specific political staffers cannot be permanently erased from the system.p

Rob Ford video scandal: Concerns raised over safety of email records

Toronto mayoral car-crash: homicide detectives search mayor's office after tip on crack-smoking video; top staffers quit

More drama from the world of Toronto Mayor "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford -- first, reporters from two rival news entities independently verified the existence of a video showing the mayor smoking what appeared to be crack cocaine and passing racist remarks about the kids on the football team he coached.

The mayor was told by the Catholic high school where he coached football that he was no longer welcome around their boys. The mayor's chief of staff, Mark Towhey, was escorted out of the building by security after the mayor fired him, allegedly after he told the mayor to go into rehab, and insisted that it would be a bad idea to take back the athletic equipment he'd given to the school that had just canned him.

Then, after the mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, pursued an approach of near-total silence (apart from some perfunctory denials), the Globe and Mail finally ran an investigative piece on the mayor's family that it had been working on for 18 months, detailing extensive familial connections to unsavory criminal drug-dealers (and the KKK!) and alleging that Councillor Doug Ford had been one of the top hash dealers in Toronto's western suburb of Etobicoke. This prompted the Ford brothers to finally break their media silence and go on a mini press-tour, calling reporters "a bunch of maggots" and Globe editor-in-chief John Stackhouse "a disgusting human being," denying everything. They especially denied that there was a video smoking crack, leading some to speculate that the wealthy Ford family had bought off the video from the drug dealers who'd been shopping it around.

Then Toronto homicide detectives raided the mayor's office, following a tip that the mayor's staff knew the where the video was.

And now, finally, the mayor's press secretary George Christopoulos and his assistant, Isaac Ransom, have both quit.

Mr. Ford told a scrum of journalists outside his office that the pair had “decided to go … down a different avenue.” He said he was told of their departures around noon.

“I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours and I want to thank them for working hard in this office,” he said, flanked by his brother Councillor Doug Ford.

Mr. Ford declined to say why Mr. Christopoulos and Mr. Ransom had quit, but said he never wants to “hold anyone back from moving on for future endeavours or opportunities that they may have.”

Mr. Ford announced that Amin Massoudi, Doug’s executive assistant, had agreed to become his new communications director. An earlier statement said Sunny Petrujkic would be interim press secretary.

The mayor also responded to a Globe and Mail report that a senior member of his office was interviewed by police last week about a tip linking the alleged crack video to a recent Toronto homicide.

“Everything’s fine. I have no idea what the police are investigating,” Mr. Ford said.

Two senior members of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's staff resign [Elizabeth Church and Jill Mahoney/Globe and Mail]

Globe and Mail: Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's family are, variously, a drug kingpin, a gangster, and affiliated with the KKK

The Globe and Mail, a respected national Canadian newspaper, has run an absolutely sensational and jaw-dropping investigative story chronicling the shady lives of the immediate family of Toronto Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford, including his brother, City Councillor Doug Ford.

The Globe piece details how Doug Ford was allegedly one of the top drug traffickers in the Toronto suburb of Etobicoke, supplying the lower-level dealers in the region and running with a notorious gang, many of whose members ended up junkies and were arrested for habit-feeding property crimes.

The piece also discusses Randy Ford, who was also allegedly in the drug trade, and who was arrested for his part in a kidnapping, allegedly over a drug deal.

Ford's sister, Kathy Ford, is alleged to have ties to the Canadian chapter of the KKK, and to have been involved in spectacular, drug-related violent incidents.

Finally, the Ford brothers' close advisor, David Price (heretofore known as Rob Ford's former coach), is described a Doug Ford's former drug-dealing partner.

Rob Ford has been in the news since last week's revelation that both the Toronto Star and Gawker claimed to have been shown a video in which the mayor of Canada's largest city smokes crack cocaine, passes racist remarks about the kids on the football team he used to coach (he's been fired from that job) and calls Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau (son of Pierre Trudeau), "a fag."

Ford has been refusing to speak to the press or answer questions -- apart from a few cursory denials -- ever since, and I think this prompted the Globe to go digging in his past to see if there was anything in his history or family that suggested he might be involved in hard drugs. I'm guessing Ford wishes now that he'd just had a press conference.

Update:: I stand corrected: the Globe has been working on this story for 18 months.

In recent years, the Ford family home has become known for the annual barbecue, attended by hundreds of neighbours and a Who’s Who of Conservative luminaries – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. But in the 1980s, the finished basement at 15 Weston Wood Rd. was one of the many places Doug Ford did business, the sources said.

“Justin” recalled descending to the basement on one occasion to buy hash from Mr. Ford, and on numerous other occasions watching as it was sold.

He said he couldn’t recall exactly how much hash he purchased that day, but that it was enough to require a triple-beam balance scale – the kind used in most high-school science classes. Normally, street-level dealers in that era relied on Pesola scales, the compact tubes often used by fishermen to weigh their catch. “If you went over [a quarter-pound], you had to go up to the three beamers – because you could get up to a few pounds on it,” he explained.

As a dealer, Doug Ford was not highly visible. Another source, “Tom,” who also supplied street-level dealers and has a long criminal record, said his girlfriend at the time would complain, whenever he was arrested, that he needed to be more calculating “like Doug.” Mr. Ford’s approach, sources said, was to supply a select group that in turn distributed smaller amounts across Etobicoke.

Globe investigation: The Ford family’s history with drug dealing [Greg McArthur and Shannon Kari/Globe and Mail]

(Thanks, Charlie!)

Whatever happened to crack babies?

The wonderful Retro Report (which revisits popular news stories of the years gone by and follows up on their claims) has posted a great, 10-minute documentary on "crack babies," concluding that the promised crack baby epidemic of kids with gross deformities who couldn't attend regular school never materialized. The documentary says that the entire phenomenon was extrapolated from a single, preliminary study, and that most of the "crack baby" effects were actually the result of low birth weight.

Crack Babies: A Tale from the Drug Wars (via Kottke)

NMA on Rob Ford's crack video

Taiwan's Next Media Animation -- basically, news-of-the-weird, made weirder with instant machinima-esque videos -- weighs in on the allegation that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught on video smoking crack.

Crack smoking Toronto mayor Rob Ford caught on tape!

Gawker reporter claims to have seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack


Gawker's John Cook was contacted by a tipster who offered to sell him a video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack for more than $40K. As proof, the tipster provided a photo of Ford posing with Anthony Smith, recently murdered in a gang-style shooting. The tipster claimed that Ford buys his crack from a dealer who services many of Toronto's elite, including "Ford's longtime friend, people on his staff, his brother, a prominent hockey analyst, and more."

Gawker didn't want to spend the $40K to get the video, though they did send Cook to Toronto, and he claims to have seen it. A CNN source tipped off the Ford people that the video is in circulation, and there the story stands:

Here is what the video shows: Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford. "Pierre Trudeau was a faggot!" is the one phrase the lodges in my mind. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales.

In one move, the owner stops the video and draws the device back into his pocket.

"You took this?" I ask.

"Yes."

"When?"

"Within the last six months."

"You're sure it's crack?"

"Yes."

"You've seen him smoke crack before?"

"Yes. Gotta jet."

And he is gone.

Cook reports that someone with a Hotmail account identifying himself as Dennis Morris and claiming to be Ford's lawyer sent him an email threatening to sue him if he publishes. I'd be interested in knowing whether "Dennis Morris" is registered with the Law Society of Upper Canada, but they don't appear to have an online registry.

Rob Ford is one of the worst politicians in Canadian history (really saying something). My nickname for him is Mayor Laughable Bumblefuck. He's weathered some severe scandals during his tenure in office, but I think that this one would be terminal, and may even take down his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, a guy widely held to be the brains in the outfit.

For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine [John Cook/Gawker]

Update: dsac86 says in the comments: "The Law Society of Upper Canada has an online directory, and there is a Dennis Morris registered [http://www1.lsuc.on.ca/LawyerP...]. Dennis Morris has also represented Ford on a couple of other legal matters."

(Thanks to the dozens of people who suggested this, emailed/tweeted about it, left me voicemails, and shouted it to the heavens)

It's a face! A skull! A mushroom! Psychedelic drawing lesson

Katana Leigh sez, "I want to provide memorable ways to learn to draw that are interesting and visually entertaining. The proportions of a red spotted button mushroom are the same as a skull and these LSD colors provide maximum contrast so you can see the process and hopefully copy it. Not your boring art lessons but a new way to think about seeing."

How To Draw A Skull 2: when a mushroom is like a face (Thanks, Katana!)