Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Talkback! and Letters to the reader

Marijuana Enthusiasts React
Paul Blake got an arrow splitting bull’s-eye [“Sheriff Leon Lott Should Stop the Politicking,” Feb. 12, 2009). Cannabis (marijuana) is arguably safer than beer, wine or whiskey. Cannabis prohibition is nothing more than government subsidized discrimination. It’s time to treat cannabis prohibitionists like vampires. Truthfully, 
Stan White, Dillon Colorado

Olympian Michael Phelps is in good company.  The list of professional athletes caught using marijuana is long.  Could it be that drug warriors have been lying about marijuana’s health impact?  They’ve definitely been lying about the deterrent value of marijuana prohibition.
The U.S. has higher rates of marijuana use than the Netherlands, where marijuana is legally available to adults over 18.  Marijuana prohibition is built on lies, beginning with the “reefer madness” myths of the 1930’s and continuing to this day with government anti-drug propaganda masquerading as science.  As an admitted former pot smoker, President Obama no doubt knows the truth about marijuana.  Truthfully, marijuana is easily the least harmful recreational drug, legal or otherwise.  If health outcomes determined drug laws instead of cultural norms, marijuana would be legal.  The question is, will Obama bring change or will he continue to subsidize the prejudices of culture warriors?

Robert Sharpe, MPA
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy

Washington, DC 

Dear cancelled Bonnie Rait concert, 

 You really gave us something to talk about. And it’s not love! We won’t forget this, Rait! 
Columbia City Paper

What is Swat Valley?


dpanic  The Swat Valley is a magical place in northern Pakistan where every child is born with the innate ability to batter down doors, rescue hostages, and safely apprehend suspected drug kingpins. Additionally, the area’s notoriously boy-crazy, clique-y teenage girls inspired the hugely popular Swat Valley High teen fiction series.
All lies. I admit it. But the truth is only slightly more fantastical.
The Swat Valley is, by all accounts, a natural paradise. It is frequently referred to as the “Switzerland of Asia,” a description I chuckled at until I found snapshots of Swat on Flickr.
Wa-wa-wee-wa! It is beautiful. To call it the Switzerland of Asia is a high compliment – to Switzerland.

Bringing art to Cayce

arts   The gallery at 1329 State Street in Cayce is actually an architect’s office. And it serves as a perfect venue for the “Art + Cayce” exhibition, which features prints and ceramics that stretch the boundaries of the constructs of form and function.
Professor Virginia Scotchie, head of ceramics at USC and one of the featured artists, has exhibited her work extensively throughout the United States and abroad and has received numerous awards, including the Sydney Meyer Fund International Ceramics Premiere Award from the Shepparton Museum in Victoria, Australia. She has lectured internationally on her work and been an Artist in Residence in Taiwan, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands. Due to her international background, Scotchie’s main goal is to develop a more international ceramic program at USC.
“During my career, I traveled a lot and realized the importance of leaving one’s comfort zone to learn more about other cultures and aesthetics,” she says.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Submission Guidelines

Columbia City Paper welcomes submissions.

We publish investigative journalism (local and national fare) and informative humor. Feature stories run from 1,200 to 2,000 words. Music, arts, theater, articles and news briefs generally run from 500-800 words. That said, we’re more concerned with good writing and daring journalism than word count. Sometimes accept previously published material (if published outside our market). Simultaneous submissions are okay.

We recommend that you read a few back issues online to familiarize yourself with the paper.

Please query with an article proposal via email before submitting a manuscript. Send queries to submissions at, attn: Paul Blake, with “CCP Submission” or “Query” in the subject field.

Payment: varies and will be finalized before publication. Most writing is currently done pro bono.

Accepted material is published an average of two weeks to one month after acceptance. No kill fee offered at this time.

If we think that a particular idea doesn't quite fit with us, just try again with something else.

We do not publish press releases.

Thanks for your interest in Columbia City Paper!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Don't Panic: Elections in Iraq


panicartbaghdad.jpgA couple weeks ago, I mentioned how I keep a list of important things I
don’t understand (canine foot odor, Hillary Clinton’s appointment as
Secretary of State, etc.).
This week, I add to the list.
Why don’t people laugh-out-loud, or at least give a sarcastic eye-roll,
when they hear about U.S. troops overseas assisting elections? Too many
U.S. states and municipalities have dysfunctional voting systems for us
to be proudly tutoring anyone else.
Three months after the November 4, 2008 election, Minnesota STILL
hasn’t resolved its U.S. Senate election. Yet we have 140,000-or-so
U.S. troops in Iraq who just spent much of their January helping run
that country’s provincial elections.
The U.S. is like that sketchy guy who came up to me in Home Depot the
other day. After striking up a nervous conversation with me near in the
plumbing aisle, he pulled out a business card and invited me to a
seminar promising me financial independence.
I was polite, but during his pitch I kept thinking, “If your plan for
accumulating wealth is so friggin’ effective, then why are you at Home
Depot on a Tuesday afternoon sneakily handing your business card to
underemployed strangers with leaky toilets?” All I’m doing is saying.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the good news.

What's love got to do with it III







Mike Krewjewski won’t be the only artist at 701 Whaley on February 14th,
but he’ll be the only one using the female body as a canvas. “My
imagery on the human body expresses the concept of the idea of
disposable art like grafitti on a wall. But, a flesh canvas makes it
much more fragile,” he told City Paper.


Feb. 14th from 7pm-11pm at 701 Whaley Street

West Hell MetalFest

Bands to battle for shot at Metal Blade Records compilation

Scratch n Spin Record Shoppe,, and New Brookland Tavern have teamed up with Metal Blade Records (Cannibal Corpse, As I Lay Dying) to search for the next great metal band. South Carolina-based unsigned metal bands can submit a CD/demo to Scratch n Spin to be considered for “West Hell MetalFest ‘09” to be held at New Brookland Tavern on Monday, February 23. This music showcase will be a battle of the bands, with the top five bands chosen by Scratch n Spin competing to advance to the national round of the “Next Great Metal Band Competition.” In addition to moving on to the next round, the winner of the showcase will be featured on an upcoming compilation presented by and Metal Blade.
Brian Slagel, president of Metal Blade (the guy who discovered Slayer), will decide on a national winner once all regional winners have been announced. The national champ will win a prize pack from Puma, Atticus, Krank Amps, AKT Enterprises and more.

Interested bands:

Submissions (including contact info and demo) will be taken through Feb. 17 at Scratch n Spin or can be mailed to: West Hell MetalFest 09, 513 12th St., West Columbia, SC  29169. Bands may also call 803-794-8888 or check out for more details. 

If you plan to go:

Monday, Feb. 23. Doors: 7 p.m. $2 cover. Door prizes and free beer (Courtesy of Scratch n Spin) for all fans over 21, while supplies last.

City Paper Music Pics


Unknown Hinson Feb 21, 2009
New Brookland Tavern

The self proclaimed “king of country-western troubadours” is returning to Columbia on the 21st.  Unknown Hinson is probably more famous for providing the voice of Early Cuyler on Adult Swim’s Squidbillies than he is for being a musician, but that is by no means an indictment of his musicianship.  His shows consist of a great mix of rockabilly, blues and country-western songs interspersed with pontifications about women, rock-n-roll and “party liquor.”  If you’re looking to have some fun and listen to some good music, this is a can’t miss.

If Unknown Hinson isn’t your speed, one of New York City’s favorite jam bands also heads into Columbia on the 21st.  Self described as “progressive groove,” U-Melt will be entertaining fans with a set of original songs as well as several covers. Their music includes elements of traditional and progressive rock, jazz, salsa, and electronic dance music.  The band tours incessantly logging over 500 shows in the past three years, which has produced a very tight technical sound.  The big question here is how long will they play.  They are billing the show as “An Evening with U-Melt,” and it very well could be.  The band once played a seven hour overnight set at a music festival.  With a showtime of 9:30 and bars being forced to close at 2am on Saturdays, you could be looking at a four and a half hour set.

Tariq Mix

Can anybody paint music? See for yourself. Tariq’s solo exhibition at City Art strives to—and many will say succeeds at—bringing the rhythm and fluidity of jazz to the canvas. 
“My work dances with emotion across the canvas,” Tariq says. “I create with bold colors, strong design and composition and lively characters.”
Tariq earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University, where he says the strong African American studies program inspired his art.  Before arriving in Columbia his works were primarily set in a jazz club scene, his paintings focused on the musicians and their instruments. Recently, however, he changed his focus to the jazz audience.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sheriff Leon Lott Should Stop the Politicking

By Paul Blake

Sheriff Lott is using the Michael Phelps incident for his own shameless exposure and abusing his position as Sheriff for political purposes. There are bound to be countless editorials on this subject this week but mine will be different: because when I started writing this, I was as high as a kite. As soon as I heard the news that Lott had ordered the arrest of college-aged kids in connection with the Phelps bong hit, I called a very successful pot smoking friend and said, "I need to smoke." She was very confused as I am known as a staunch non-smoker, but Lott had driven me to the edge.

I immediately grabbed a pizza from the freezer, a few beers and a large bag of Cheetos and headed her way. The bong I smoked from was more of a work of art than a pipe.

A blown glass USC Gamecock, appropriately, sat perched on the edge of the bowl area, which is where I packed the marijuana. I took a deep hit, and for a moment I was almost grateful that the stresses of the Michael Phelps case drove me to it. I don't remember much after that “exploding memories in a minefield of tension sporadically relieved by pleasure. " Wow look at that carpet. I never really noticed it like this before; it's like a jungle, a complete ecosystem! I should take a trip to the Amazon this summer. That's how mankind is supposed to live, man. Forget your laws and rules and, Woah! Don't change this channel! Harry and the Hendersons! Wow, man! I haven't seen this movie since I was a kid!

On Feb 3, The State, reported that Lott would "charge Michael Phelps with a crime if he determines the Olympics hero smoked marijuana." On Feb 9, WIS TV reported that eight were arrested directly related to the Phelps incident.

It is a nightmare scenario for all involved. But, last night was a dream within a dream. At one point, I dreamt I was a typical Jewish liberal girl from New York who was dreaming about sharing two bedroom flat with Barack Obama , yet I was upset by how much he hogged the bathroom. I was torn because I didn't want to seem critical so early in his administration, but I really need to take a wiz. It's funny, though, you don't need to be a liberal or conservative to know when someone's hogging the bathroom. And, that's just what Sheriff Lott is doing.

For all the hype our sheriff is giving marijuana, all in all, its effects were somewhat disappointing; all I wanted was to sleep and the pizza never made it out of the freezer. This morning I was up at 6:30 a.m. with no hangover and have actually been extremely productive (unlike nights when I crack the seal on a bottle of hooch).

Yes, people will say that our grand ole' sheriff is simply enforcing the law as it is written.  But a sheriff in his daily duties does not simply instruct every employee to enforce every law on the books, a sheriff chooses how his resources (deputys, cars,  equipment) are utilized to maximize the safety and well being of the citizens of Richland County.  This is because no cop shop in the nation has or will ever have the resources to enforce every law on the books every minute of every day (each citizen would need a personal law enforcement official to accomplish that).  That's just a fact.

So in this instance, instead of utilizing his resources to stop violent crime like rape, armed robbery and murder, the sheriff has diverted resources to get his name mentioned in state and national media outlets (do I see a gubanatorial run in the future?).  If you are so hung up about the sheriff and his mercyless drive to enforce the law consider this.  Under Title 63, Chapter 19 Section 2430 of the South Carolina legal code it is "It is unlawful for a minor under the age of eighteen to play a pinball machine."  I guarantee that this law is being broken at least 5 times across Richland County as you read this (it would be more but pinball machines are a bit hard to find now-a-days) and not one person is being brought to justice for the commission of this criminal offense!  If you are part of the "it's the law, the law must be enforced" camp, this constitutes a derelection of duty by the sheriff.  I would think that during his tenure as sheriff no individual has been arrested for breaking this law.  Shouldn't an inquiry be started to examine his ability to handle his duties as sheriff if he can't enforce such a simple law?  Silly you say?  Any more silly than wasting tens of thousands of dollars arresting multiple people for inhaling smoke at a private party which has the effect of making people less likely to committ violent crime (unlike booze)?

The point isn't how incredibly stoned I was or how dank the buds that I burned into my lungs.

At the end of the day, when the collective media exhales, this will likely be viewed as a ridiculous personal story that should have never been given much attention in the first place. Lott will look like the power hungry, attention seeking and irresponsible politician that he is. If it wasn't for his selfish mentality, we wouldn't have over crowed prisons with non-violent offenders and we could focus on things like educating our children. Lott is more of the problem than the eight men arrested. Assuming most of them are pursuing a higher education, his interruption of their education for a weak attempt at personal gain is appalling.

It's enough to lead a man to the pipe.

Send your personal "tobacco pipe" pics or photo shop a celebrity smoking reefer and send to attention Sheriff Leon Lott at

Friday, February 6, 2009

Can foreign countries bribe the U.S. Secretary of State?


The list of important things
I don’t understand is long, and growing.

Why, for example, do my dog
Mathilde’s feet always smell like Fritos? My other dog Sarah’s feet
never smell like anything. They live in the same house and go on the
same walks. Their feet should smell the same.