Archive: Sep 2007

it takes guts to defend the rights of those convicted of sex crimes, but human rights watch has never been short on guts. their new report, no easy answers: sex offender laws in the u.s., offers a timely appraisal of these laws and their consequences for individuals and communities.

ever speculate about the contents of that ’64 malibu’s trunk in repo man? now, i understand. the strib reports that a big yellow radioactive box was stolen from a pickup truck today in forest lake, minnesota.

To the thief who stole the yellow box out of a pickup truck in Forest Lake late Wednesday or early Thursday: What’s inside of that box is hot, indeed, but not just because it’s stolen.

It’s radioactive.

On Thursday, Minnesota health officials issued a warning regarding the stolen device, which is used to measure the moisture content in soil and construction materials… The radioactive elements are Cesium 137 and Americium 241,

dang. just don’t open the trunk. the life of a repo man is always intense.

aside: the trailer reminds me how often folks will trot out a li’l iggy whenever they seek an edgy vibe. i heard the passenger in a kohl’s commercial tonight, a recent cadillac ad uses punk rocker, and, of course, lust for life pops up in both a cruise commercial and trainspotting. i’m eagerly awaiting the now i wanna be your dog humane society commercial, the m&m’s candy ad and haggar slacks’ commodification of funtime. the juxtaposition is so bizarre in each case that it never seems like a sellout. it just seems like mutant art, as well as a remunerative and hard-earned retirement plan.

were i teaching soc of deviance this semester, i might build an assignment around paul farhi’s fine washington post piece on the early deaths of professional wrestlers.

if you read closely, you’ll find a subcultural/network story, a biological story, a psychological story, a masculinities story, an institutional story, a macro-structural story, and a very sad story.

but this is good journalism as well as good data for a sociology assignment. as my local dailies have been cutting bone and muscle for about a year now, i’m all the more appreciative of a well-written and carefully researched feature article.

i think i’d find some great inspiration if i could get away for the arts in criminal Justice conference in philadelphia this october. here’s a blurb/pitch from the organizers:

The speakers and panelists at the ARTS IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE NATIONAL CONFERENCE in Philadelphia on October 3 through 6 represent the leading experts in arts in corrections. They’re artists, activists, correction officials, and policy makers, coming together to further the goals of criminal and restorative Justice, and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear them!

Some session highlights include:

· Pandora’s Cell: Free Expression in Confined Spaces
Moderated by Judith Tannenbaum, San Francisco Writers Corps
Conference keynote Luis Rodriguez will participate in this panel that explores the inherent paradoxes of making (and sharing) art in prison. What are the gifts and difficulties of opening one’s senses and spirit in a world of “keys, bars, guns being racked” (as prison poet Spoon Jackson put it)? How do teaching artists approach their work in such an environment? What is required to be true to Nazim Hikmet’s observation that one can serve time “as long as the jewel/in the left side of your chest doesn’t lose its luster”?

· A Discussion with Wardens and Superintendents
Moderated by David Kairys, Activist and Professor of Constitutional Law, Temple University School of Law
Join Laura Bedard, PhD, Deputy Secretary, Florida Department of Corrections; David DiGuglielmo, Superintendent of SCI-Graterford (PA); Robert Green, Warden, Montgomery County (MD) Prison; Edward Ignarri, Director of Rehabilitation, Monroe County (NY) Jail; and Leon King, III, Esq., Commissioner of the Philadelphia County Prison System, for a discussion about their commitment to the arts and the successful and comprehensive arts programming in their facilities.

· Special Challenges to the Juvenile System
Moderated by Grady Hillman, Founder, Southwest Correctional Arts Network
In this session, panelists will describe a challenge that they and their organization have faced with the delivery of arts programming in juvenile Justice or with working in the juvenile Justice system in general, and how they successfully addressed it. They will also share the most daunting challenge they’re now contending with.

· Michigan: The University-based Approach
Moderated by Buzz Alexander, Founder, Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan
The speakers from this university-based project will talk about the essential values, practices, and impact on students and the incarcerated behind 12 annual prisoner art exhibitions, 456 plays in 22 prisons, five juvenile facilities, four Detroit high schools, and much more over the past 18 years.

scotland took home the 2007 homeless world cup this summer. have you heard about this?

the league was founded in 2001 as a way to use sport to unite homeless people around the world. though i cannot vouch for their study’s methodology, the organization reports to have made a path-changing difference in the lives of most participants.

cool idea. and, at a time when the united states seems to be stumbling on the world stage, i’m especially proud that these americans took home the fair play award in 2005. good on ya, yanks!

a journal of epidemiology and community health study shows high rates of early death among musicians. the sample was drawn from the ranks of especially successful musicians — those playing on the top 1000 best-selling albums. i’d hypothesize that a comparison of musicians and non-musicians in a sample taken from the general population would reveal much smaller differences. that is, casual or frustrated rockers likely live longer than successful rockers.

one might make sense of this in terms of exposure to risk factors such as substance use, stds, and roadfood. where else might one expect a positive relationship between professional success and mortality? certainly one sees high rates of early death and health problems among professional football players and wrestlers, due in part to weight-related ailments.

kids still grow up dreaming about becoming rock stars and pro football players, of course, but i would imagine that their fallback/safety jobs are almost always better for their long-term health. if one buys the argument that the most serious and persistent criminal offenders are most likely to be incarcerated, mike massoglia’s work has shown a similar gradient for deviant work: those incarcerated as young adults are subject to serious health deficits by midlife.

for a morbid take on the musician/health study, you might try the which dead rock star are you? quiz. according to said quiz, i share certain characteristics with the deceased king of rock and roll pictured above.

ms. sarah is posting on citizen vince, a novel in which an ex-felon “comes face to face with his ambivalence about turning legit when his voter registration card comes in the mail.” dang, i’d better read this one.

i haven’t spent much time with fiction this summer, but sarah’s review drew me in quite effectively. check out the artful passage she reproduces at the end of her post. i would have purchased it online, but i’m sort of hoping to gravy-train off sarah’s copy…