Highest greetings from Amsterdam, where I’ve just returned for the summer (if all goes well) to continue my efforts to set up my personal foundation called Stichting John Sinclair in order to make a proper repository for my life’s work, my intellectual properties, copyrighted writings and albums, and artifacts of my creative endeavors including my poetry and book manuscripts, master recordings, and related materials.
I’ve always preserved the materials created by my work as an artist and activist with an eye to the future when I’m no longer here, and in the past I’ve created an archive at the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan for most of the materials and artifacts I’ve amassed over more than 50 years of activity so far. When I moved from Detroit to New Orleans 25 years ago, I left my Detroit jazz archives with the Museum of African American History so they would be available to Detroiters into posterity.
Now I want to create something that’s more than an archive and also more directly under my intellectual control so I can preserve my works in poetry, music, journalism, recording, performance and broadcasting in perpetuity and in a single digital realm. This has been my dream for years, to gather all my things together in one place and make them available long after I’m gone. You can call it an ego trip if you want to, but any sort of artistry is a true ego trip in the sense of following the mental trips one’s self takes and follows in the course of making something in art and of one’s life.
There’s also the evidence of my work outside the art and music world as a cultural and political activist, a relentless opponent of the War On Drugs and a zealous proponent of marijuana legalization all my adult life. I had the honor and the pleasure of kicking off the marijuana movement in Michigan 50 years ago, and in my old age I’m trying to hang on long enough to see the battle won once and for all.
I helped campaign for the first marijuana ballot initiative in California in 1972 and returned to Ann Arbor to make the first feeble attempt to launch a Michigan Marijuana Initiative, beginning a trajectory that hopefully will culminate as a result of the current efforts of MILegalize in full legalization in our state following the November elections this year. At the same time I had the privilege of assisting in the institution of the $5 marijuana law in Ann Arbor, and I was on the Diag for the first Hash Bash and helped for several years to make sure it continued to take place on the first Saturday in April every year.
In more recent years I’ve appeared in support of marijuana legalization at MassCann in Boston, in Seattle and Oregon and Denver and Maine, and frequently in Michigan in many diverse settings. Now, since I first came to Amsterdam as High Priest of the Cannabis Cup in 1998, I’m part of the cannabis culture here in the long-time marijuana capitol of the world, and I’m striving to unite all these strains of my life in one location under the aegis of the John Sinclair Foundation.
I’ve been blessed in my work and my widespread travels over half a century to make legions of friends all over America and Europe, and I’m calling on them now to help me build my foundation. My friend and long-time supporter Sidney Kuijer of the Ceres Seed Company and the Hempshopper stores has backed my internet radio station at RadioFreeAmsterdam.com, my own website at johnsinclair.us and my FaceBook page for most of the present century, and he’s agreed to serve as the head of the Stichting John Sinclair.
My friend and roommate in Amsterdam for the past several years, drummer, deejay, webmaster and producer Steve “Fly Agaric 23” Pratt, now in Bristol, is playing a key role in the organizational effort and is creating a new website for the Foundation that will integrate the several sites I work from now, including the site he maintains for us called Fattening Blogs For Snakes.
The Fly is also going to direct our crowd-funding project on Indie-Go-Go that launches this month and will run for the next 60 days, working with another friend and Stichting board member in Bristol, guitarist, nightclub manager and former charitable fund-raiser Dylan Harding. Another board member, Jerry Poynton, now in Athens, organized and maintains the literary estate of his late friend Herbert Huncke, the original literary character who helped bring together and inspire Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs to create what became known as the Beat Generation, to which we all owe our present existence—including the central place of marijuana in our lives.
In Amsterdam we’ve just gained the valuable participation of Kai van Bentham, an ex-Canadian community arts organizer and web specialist, and Marianna Lebrun, bassist, translator and activist. Finally, my long-time friend Hank Botwinik, mime, actor, and veteran media manipulator, has agreed to join our board of directors and help us reach our organizational goals. Hank and I started Radio Free Amsterdam together with our late comrade Larry Hayden on January 1, 2005, and he sponsors our programming stream at streema.com.
For the past ten years Radio Free Amsterdam has been my central passion in life, and I’ve spent thousands of hours creating original programming for the John Sinclair Radio Show and other series, gathering original radio programs from fellow deejays Bruce Pingree, Leslie Keros, George Klein, Steve The Fly, Elisa Mancini, Tom Morgan, Cary Wolfson, David Kunian and others, editing these shows into one-hour episodes, annotating and attaching playlists for each show, posting the episodes on the Radio Free Amsterdam site, archiving every program posted for perpetual access, and reposting each episode to our live stream server at streema.com.
This is a lot of work for one old guy, but I derive so much pleasure from this activity and it serves both artistic and educational purposes: I believe I’m creating a serious, carefully organized, fully accessible archive of American roots music programming—blues, jazz, gospel, soul, funk, Afro-fusion, reggae and other classic forms—and presenting the music in the classic radio format that gave me my life in music, with knowledgeable deejays sequencing the music and commenting on it from their own unique viewpoints.
First of all it’s something you can listen to as an alternative to the horseshit radio and media programming of today, and my pledge is that if you listen regularly to Radio Free Amsterdam for a year, you’ll have a whole different perception of what good music is about, where it came from, how it developed, and why we should always give it a central place in our lives.
Radio Free Amsterdam is on-going as the central focus of the John Sinclair Foundation, and our fund drive, if successful, will allow us to secure proper licensing for the music we play, upgrade our delivery system and our website, and provide for continuous promotion of the station so we can turn more people on to our mix of Blues, Jazz & Reefer at RadioFreeAmsterdam.com
That’s the end of my sermon for today, but I hope I can convince you, my readers, to check out the John Sinclair Foundation fund drive at Indie-Go-Go and our new website at TheJohnSinclairFoundation.org. We’re seeking people who will join the Foundation as members and support us in our efforts to develop and grow into a self-sustaining alternative institution. And, by the way, FREE THE WEED!
May 22, 2016
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