Saturday, June 22, 2013

Rebellious Nashville Musicians Cozy Up To Weed

Source: Vancouver Sun
By Sarah Boesveld, Postmedia News

“Give me weed instead of roses / Bring me whiskey ’stead of wine / Every puff, every shot you’re lookin’ better all the time.”

Ashley Monroe’s voice is sweet-like-Dolly’s as she proposes an illegal drug as marital aid, the need to get a little wild in the face of monotony.

The Nashville singer-songwriter can also be heard on some country radio, dropping the most controversial line in the current anti-small-town-stuffiness single from her all-girl country band, the Pistol Annies: “So I snuck out behind the red barn/And I took myself a toke/Since everybody here hates everybody here/Hell I might as well be the joke.”

They’re surprisingly blatant references to marijuana, a drug that that’s common and yet surreptitious — still a restricted substance in North America save for, until last fall, the states of Colorado and Washington. These mentions are also somewhat jarring to find tucked in a genre more broadly associated with corn-fed good ole boys than law-busting rebels.

But the 26-year-old and her band are far from the only ones in on the Nashville pot party. Country music has always been a haven for outlaws — that White Lightning George Jones enjoyed early in his career could have been moonshine or something else; either way, it was definitely illegal.

But just as country enjoys a slight uptick in mainstream popularity today thanks to Blake Shelton in The Voice chair and Taylor Swift feigning surprise at every turn, the pot lobby is also enjoying an upswing of support. For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana — 52% — a Pew research thermometer on popular opinion reports. In a recent Slate article that asked ‘When did country music and weed get so cozy?’ writer Rachael Maddux draws parallels between pot approval and dope references in country music through time, dating back to the 1970s.

“If my popular music geared towards a younger demographic, I’d be surprised, frankly, if it wasn’t talking about smoking weed and smoke in all of its ambiguities,” said Jocelyn Neal, associate professor of music and director for the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Popular music reflects popular experience — if people are toking, or at least open to talking about toking — it’s fair game for songwriters, says Kristine McCusker, a music scholar at Middle Tennessee State University near Nashville.

“It’s supposedly illicit behaviour that many are doing anyway and these singers are simply validating a shared audience experience.”

Take Kacey Musgraves. Touted as country’s next great hope, this 24-year-old songwriting wizard is sending up more dope smoke signals than most, with liberal nods to marijuana dropped throughout her debut album Same Trailer, Different Park, released this spring. “When the straight and narrow/Gets a little too straight/Roll up a joint, or don’t/Just follow your arrow wherever it points,” she sings in Follow Your Arrow, a twangy answer to Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.

 On the critically acclaimed Merry Go Round — her first single about stunted life in a small town — Musgraves sings ‘Mama’s hooked on Mary Kay/Brother’s hooked on Mary Jane/Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down.” She’s publicly paid homage to her hero, Willie Nelson — Nashville’s most prominent pothead who, somewhat surprisingly, sings very little about his drug of choice, Maddux points out. Musgraves’ current single is the aptly titled Blowin’ Smoke.
Still, these young artists are merely adding to a slow forming pile of positive pot references amassed over the decade. In 2008, The Zac Brown Band vowed to “lay in the hot sun and roll a big fat one.” In 2005, Kenny Chesney mused about “floating ’round through Gorda Sound/With a cooler and a bong.” The 2003 Toby Keith tune Weed with Willie, is, well, what the title suggests.
So when did those square-boy Okies from Muskokie start hitting the bong?

Well, they haven’t — not exactly, Neal points out. There’s still plenty of clean-cut, dirt -road, beer-drinking, four-wheel-drive songs in mainstream country (think Shelton’s new hit Boys Round Here). Some of these more rebellious songs are an answer to that, and a reminder that today’s country owes as much to outlaw rebels like Lynyrd Skynyrd as the clean-cut likes of John Denver.

“This generation of musicians in the country scene is actually drawing on a more southern rock lineage and more rebellious than the mainstream lineage or lineage that touts behaviour and parental expectations,” she said. Mega country star of the moment Miranda Lambert — and the celebrity behind the Pistol Annies — often subverts class, generational and gender expectations.

She does it in her current radio chart-topper Mama’s Broken Heart (which happens to be co-written by Musgraves). And it’s done again in Hush, Hush, when Monroe’s character sneaks out behind the red barn for a little herb.

While Lady Antebellum and Brad Paisley aren’t lighting spliffs on their current records, Neal says, they’re certainly dropping references to southern rock idols.

“You can find these alternative streaks within contemporary country and that’s where we’re finding what might be described as some of this edgier songwriting, pushing the norms of middle-class respectability.”

The fact that women are the ones smoking dope also challenges a long-running dilemma in country music experienced in the 1950s by the iconic Patsy Cline, Joli Jensen, a media scholar at the University of Tulsa says.

“Can a woman be “really” country if she isn’t demure, ladylike and standing by her man?” she asks. “Can she be really country if she is rowdy, redneck, raising hell like a man? Or if she uses drugs and alcohol to ease her loneliness and pain, just like a man? [She can] more so now than before, but not totally.”

But while a Mary Jane reference is dead obvious to one listener, it could completely escape another — likely those in the traditional “naive” country radio demographic, Neal says. Very few have noted the possible lesbian relationship in the Dixie Chicks song Long Time Gone, she says. And when Johnny Cash stumbled out into the Sunday morning wishing he was stoned, did he really just want another beer buzz?
But all good songwriting lends to gentle ambiguity that’s open to interpretation, Neal says — and who’s to say the artist or songwriter herself is actually a pothead?

Until marijuana is legalized, perhaps we’ll have to be satisfied with veiled references to weed. Maybe then, the joint will be hoisted as proudly as a red Solo cup.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Calgary, Canmore, Bragg Creek, High River, Alberta braces for flooding, declares state of emergency

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Message from State of Local Emergency Information

"Due to the volume of information and requests, we are unable to respond to questions and comments posted on this blog. If you require immediate assistance regarding the flood situation please contact 3-1-1 or if an emergency, 9-1-1."

Road Closure Information
Evacuation information/maps/reception centres

State of Local Emergency declared - Calgary Flood

Lat update available. Most of the city's (Calgary) traffic cams are not functioning.

1:15 a.m., June 21, 2013 Red Cross contact information
If you are concerned that family members have been evacuated and you are unable to reach them, please contact the Red Cross in Calgary at:
1:10 a.m., June 21, 2013 List of City building closures
  • Alberta Trade Centre (315 10 Avenue SE)
  • EMS#3 (1807 Macleod Trail SE)
  • Cliff Bungalow  (2105 Cliff Street SW)
  • Fire Hall #1 (450 – 1 Street SE)
  • Community & Neighbourhood Services – Bowness (5000 Bowness Road NW)
  • Victoria Park Garage (1075 – 7 Street SE)
  • Municipal Complex (800 Macleod Trail S)
  • Calgary Public Building (205 – 8 Avenue SE)
  • Andrew Davison Building (133 – 6 Avenue SE)

12:50 a.m., June 21, 2013 CTrain Service Disruption Due to Flooding

Due to rising water and flooding risk, Calgary Transit CTrain service is being limited to those areas not impacted by potential flooding, effective immediately.

In the south, CTrain service will run between Somerset and Heritage stations.

In the northwest, train service will operate between Crowfoot and SAIT stations.

On the west line CTrain service will operate between Kerby Station and 69 Street Station.

In the northeast the CTrain service will run between Franklin Station to Saddletowne Station.
CTrains will operate in both directions between the identified stations.

Service will be augmented by shuttle buses where possible.

These safety measures are being taken to eliminate risk to citizens by operating trains through areas where there is imminent flooding in tunnels and at switches in the inner city.

Calgary Transit apologizes for the inconvenience and thanks you for your understanding.

12:30 a.m., June 21, 2013 Road Closure Information

Road Closure Map

Bridge closures status
** All bridges on the Elbow River under review for possible closure
** All pedestrian bridges on the Elbow and Bow Rivers - being reviewed by Maintenance / to be closed 
16 Avenue NW, between Sarcee and Home RD (over Bow River)  - closed
Baines Bridge (at the zoo)  - closed
Centre St bridge under-deck  - closed
Pedestrian deck under LRT bridge to Sunnyside  - closed
4th AV Flyover - closed
Old Langevin Bridge  - closed
Shouldice Bridge – closed
85 ST Bridge, between 48 AV NW and Bearspaw Dam RD NW – closed

Signals on Flash 
25 AV and Macleod TR S – back in operation
Blackfoot TR at 17 A ST SE  ** Also reported Streetlights out in general vicinity

Emergency evacuations are underway in the communities of Mission, Elbow Park, Stanley Park, Roxboro, Rideau and Discovery Ridge.  Evacuations have been announced for Cliff Bungalow, Victoria Park, Inglewood, Stampede Park, Erlton, Bowness, Sunnyside, Westmount, Montgomery and Bonnybrook.  These communities are closed to all through and local traffic.  Egress only is permitted on all routes out of these communities.  Detours crews are working with CPS to complete the evacuations.
Just added – Riverbend and Quarry Park

Detours/Road closures
16 Avenue from Sarcee Trail NW to Shaganappi Tr NW  closed

Glendeer area
Heritage Drive from Heritage Meadows Rd to Glenmore Tr SE    closed
WB Glenmore Tr ramp to N&S Deerfoot Tr           closed

Elbow River
4 St north of 26 Avenue/Elbow Drive - closed
5 St at 26 Avenue - closed
26 Avenue between 4 & 5 Streets SW - closed
Elbow Drive from 26 Avenue/4 Street to 32 Avenue - closed

Memorial Drive/Zoo
EB Memorial Drive ramp to St. Georges Drive     closed
No access to Memorial Drive from the Zoo island.  St. Patrick’s/St. George’s/Zoo island access to south shore only.
EB Memorial Drive NW from 10 St to Edmonton Trail (west intersection)        closed
WB Memorial Drive NE from Edmonton Trail (west intersection) to 10 St             closed
Crowchild Trail ramps to Memorial Drive EB        closed

M&R monitoring areas of known slope instabilities
Roads paving tandems are being dispatched as per request from Dan.  The trucks have been turned over to Water Services.

11 p.m., June 20, 2013 Mandatory Evacuation Further Extended

A state of local emergency has been declared for the city of Calgary due to the potential of significant flooding. The level of the Elbow and Bow Rivers continue to rise at a rapid pace.

Portions of the following communities are facing mandatory evacuations. If you are in an identified area, please self-evacuate immediately.

Chinatown/Eau Claire
Cliff Bungalow
Deer Run
Discovery Ridge
Downtown/East Village
Elbow Park
Quarry Park
Stanley Park/Elboya
Victoria Park
Westmount/West Hillhurst
Windsor Park

While evacuating, residents are asked to:
• notify their neighbours before evacuating their homes
• mark an ‘X’ on their own front doors visible from the street for uniformed personnel (CPS and CFD) to confirm that the area has been evacuated

What you should do
Pack enough clothes, prescription medicine, personal identification and other essential items to last at least one week. Arrange for you, your family and your pets to stay with friends or relatives. Evacuees who cannot arrange for alternate accommodation will be provided with food, shelter, bedding and other essential services at one of these reception centres:

  • Southland Leisure Centre, 2000 Southland Drive SW
  • Acadia Recreation Complex A, 240 90 Ave SE
  • Centre Street Church, 3900 - 2 Street, NE
  • Village Square Leisure Centre, 2623 56 Street NE
  • South Fish Creek Recreation Centre, 333 Shawville Blvd SE (please access through west doors)

People can take their pets to the Animal Service Centre, 2201 Portland St. S.E. or The Calgary Humane Society, 4455 110th Ave SE, if they cannot arrange accommodation for them.

Recommended Measures
The City of Calgary advises residents in the affected areas to minimize the potential flood damage by taking the following measures:

• If you are in the flood evacuation zone, do not worry about turning off electricity or gas. Enmax and Atco will turn off power and gas in the areas, as necessary.
• Install the cap in the basement sewer floor drain if you don't have a mechanical back flow prevention device in place.
• Move valuables such as photographs and personal and legal documents, from the basement or a lower floor to an upper floor.
• Remove newspapers from basements because wet newspaper can stain carpets with ink
• Listen to local radio and television stations for further updates.
• Visit The City of Calgary’s website for information, at

Emergency Response
The City is asking all citizens to help the authorities who are responding to this emergency by observing these restrictions:

• Do not drive to the affected areas unless you are involved in the emergency response. Extra traffic will prevent the authorities from responding quickly. Pedestrians are asked to stay off all bridges.
• Do not use the phone unless you are requesting help or reporting an important event.
• Unnecessary phone calls could overload the telephone system and limit the authorities' ability to communicate.

Call 311 only for flood related calls. Call 911 in case of emergency. Please visit for current information.

10:45 p.m., June 20, 2013 Calgary School Closures in effect

On Friday June 21, 2013 ALL SCHOOLS for both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will be closed due to ongoing flooding issues in Calgary and region.

Westmount Charter School now closed.
Calgary Arts Academy a K-9 Charter School is closed.
The Calgary Board of Education schools are contained within the limits of the city boundaries. The Calgary Catholic School District includes the communities of Chestermere, Airdrie and Cochrane. Catholic schools in these communities will also be closed on Friday June 21.

Further information will be posted on the school board websites tomorrow and throughout the weekend.
Parents of students not part of these boards are encourage to contact their schools directly to determine if they will be open tomorrow.

State of emergecy declared in Canmore


Meanwhile, heavy rain also prompted officials in the mountain town of Canmore, about 100 kilometres west of Calgary, to declare a local state of emergency after the banks of a creek that runs through the community became unstable.

About 40 homes south of the pedestrian bridge over Cougar Creek were evacuated at 2 a.m. MT on Thursday, Canmore Mayor John Borrowman said.

“The situation is actually bad and getting worse,” he said. “Now some of the smaller creeks are starting to flood.”

The evacuees were taken in at the town’s civic centre and at two local hotels.
Other residents are being alerted to be ready to move if necessary.

High River, about 70 kilometres south of Calgary, also declared a state of emergency early Thursday morning after the Highwood River started overflowing its banks.

The hamlet of Bragg Creek, 44 kilometres west of Calgary on the edge of Kananaskis Country, is also in a state of emergency as the Elbow River surges over its banks.

Just downstream in the townsite of Redwood Meadows, administration manager Pat Evans said the water is higher than it was during the last big flood in 1995.

In southwest Alberta, parts of the Crowsnest Pass are being evacuated because of high water levels.

Imminent life
threatening danger
Be aware and be
System testing in

Current Alerts

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