Monday, April 28, 2008

Correction & Apology

(The following was composed Friday afternoon, but Charter prevented me from sending it out until I could find a way to bypass them by installing my own SMTP server. This is the first mass test of my new system, I hope it works. My apologies for the delay. The whole affair with Charter has scrambled my mail list too, so if you have opted out of the list and still get my reports, please let me know and I'll fix.)

Having received one outraged response (and many supportive ones) to my posting about Sean Costello, I do see the need to step back a bit from what I reported. I went with the news from very inside sources, friends' internet groups, and the grapevine in general that Sean had passed away from a drug overdose, after hearing and reading over a week's worth of what were nonetheless rumors waiting for an official report. All those rumors could still be wrong, so here is the latest official word I could find via Google and AJC:

The cause of Costello's death has not been determined; it will be a couple of weeks before toxicology test results are available. The Fulton County medical examiner's office has said there were no signs of foul play in the Cheshire Bridge Road hotel room where the musician was found.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the singer's non-profit, The Sean Costello Foundation for Bi-Polar Research, are requested. To donate, call 678-384-0063 or e-mail
I do apologize for sending an unconfirmed report, that puts me down in Drudge territory. Those of you who've sent me various multi-forwarded emails know that I always Google them and if it's a hoax (and it usually is) I write back that it was false and shouldn't be sent out without checking. As most of you know, I usually insist on including links that confirm what I'm talking about. This time, I did not and should have, because doing so would've forced me to see the cause of death is still officially unknown. I don't know that the results of the toxicology tests will ever be made public, or even that they should be. If the tests do come out negative, and if I am so informed, I will be very happy to have been wrong, and will say so immediately. I will not wait 10 days to collect more info as I did before. I want to make very clear my respect and honor for the man,
and my condolences to his family and friends. If on the other hand the tests confirm what I said, I will say nothing further to draw attention to this unfortunate event, as the people who need to know will already know. I already wish I didn't know as much as I do about the whole sad affair.

But most of all, my lack of realization that mentioning the topic at all would pour salt in fresh emotional wounds was shockingly stupid. I deserved some of what I got. I have promised to never again compose emails after 3AM, I need all my wits and then some.

(fresh material follows)
Now, taking Sean out of the equation, let me add that within the same two week period I'd been made aware of four other drug & alcohol problems within my circle of friends and family. When Sean passed away, that was all just too much for me and I just had to speak up. These matters have to be discussed, embarassment or not, because lives and families are at stake. Silence equals death. So please, if there's someone in your circle that needs talking to, or more, care enough to do what it takes. You don't want to live the rest of your life wondering if you let a friend die. I know.

Unfortunately the gentleman who demanded this apology won't receive it because he also demanded to be removed from my email list, and I obliged as I always promised I would. To the couple dozen of Sean's other friends and insiders who wrote to thank me for what I said and share grief, thank you for taking the time, that was nice of you. For the rest of you, once again I am sorry. Doing the right thing badly is still bad, and I hope you'll forgive my fumbling.

I'm just a poor boy whose intentions are good,
Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood.

There's a little bit more I should have clarified and supported. I also mentioned that poppy farming in Afghanistan is way up (true, 300% in the last 10 years) and that "the Taliban used to keep a heavy Muslim boot on the poppy fields there" (also true). However, further research muddies the waters quite a bit there. Some believe that the Taliban's restrictions were actually coldly calculated to keep the price of drugs high, to protect their (unproven) profits. The Taliban is allegedly betraying their conservative morality by selling (or at the very least allowing to be sold) opium and all its derivatives. They also supposedly made up to $25 million a year from
a tax on poppy production. But it gets stranger. Osama allegedly "has talked about going after the West by coming up with a new, more potent strain of heroin and getting it into Europe or the United States to undermine them." Oh goody. Also, the Northern Alliance (resistance against the Taliban) funds themselves mostly, you guessed it, by farming and selling opium. And here's the forehead-smacking finale: in 2001, the US Government gave $43 million to the Taliban to "support drug eradication in return for a Taliban pledge to eliminate Afghanistan's massive opium crop." That program is reported to have had "mixed results". I'd say so. For one thing, immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the Taliban appeared to be dumping their stockpiles on the market, and the price of heroin in Europe dropped from $746 a kilogram to $95. So, if I seemed to be defending the Taliban (I was not, I am no fan of ultra-conservative totalitarian theocracy) I hope you'll see that I do not care for them one bit. If you want more info, just Google "Afghan poppy" and get all you need.
Old but very relevant article:
Afghan poppy production since then:

That was a lot more than I thought I was going to say, but I felt I needed to clean my messes up. I promise to be more careful. For instance, I will go to bed and re-read this tomorrow before sending it.

Now, while I'm here, a bit of music report: Friday's show at Little Alley was fun as always, but much more so for being Barbara's birthday party. My thanks to her many devoted friends and family who came out to party with us and have an extra good time.

Saturday was one of those busy days: a full slate of students, a drive-through meal, and an outdoor show at a wine-tasting party (as a duo with Mary Langdon, supporting her CD "Lovers and Liars"). Then a dash down to the Emory neighborhood to play what turned out to be a high school graduation party with Rashaan Griffith Band. I fully expected to be hated, to hear comments like "Hey do you geezers know anything from this century?", but that was not the case. The little cuties actually requested nothing modern, they asked for Mustang Sally and Play That Funky Music and other hits of the 60s and 70s, and then danced with joyful abandon. Sometimes I love being wrong. But after 12 hours of either playing guitar or driving, it was good
to be done for the night.

Many of you remember Leszek Wawer, the Polish guitarist who jammed with us so often at Darwin's and other places. He wrote me from Chicago with the following:
Hi everyone,
My friend Leszek (there's more Leszeks out there, can you believe it?) has a live broadcast on May 1st of the guitar event that has been taking place annually in my beautiful city of Wroclaw over the last several years.

The Thanks Jimi jam with more than 1500 guitar players earned Leszek his entry to the World Guinness Book of Records. And then, it is truly unique event and shows Leszek's amazing organizational skills - especially as the concert is being held in the heart of beautiful city of some 2 million people.

Give it a trial this coming Wednesday - I think it will be really interesting. See the city. Hear the music. We may all want to visit Wroclaw next year. I am taking early reservations...

What: Thanks Jimi Festival
When: Wednesday, May 1, 11AM EST

Here are some high lights from the previous years of the event clearly showing it is an interesting event:

Leszek (the one you know)

Also, Jon Schwenke writes the following about his Tuesday night gig with Andrew Black and John McKnight:
Thanks so much for the plug @ Londzell's. However it is no longer a jam. Jason Pastras, Luke and I host one @ Bradley's Bar in Marietta on Wed fron 9 to 12 though.
I hope you can come enjoy some music this Wednesday at Bella Bocca in Marietta, or Friday at Little Alley in Roswell. Or one of the other fine groups at a venue near you. Live people need live music. Thank you and good night.

Something fun:

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