movies


An old set of Limelight flyers (above) that take us back to better days.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/limelight-no-simple-pill-to-swallow/

I like the careful consideration to the subtext of the film– without calling the feds to the mat, the film suggests that there was massive misconduct. As someone who lived through the experience first hand, I know just how horrific the prosecutor side was because the initial indictment had claims that turned out to be false, and yet they did not drop the case but instead added murky charges like RICO. And once the headlines were printed, there was no way to recover from the damage. The feds lied repeatedly (and without any recourse) and said they while doing surveillance that my father took cocaine from his desk drawer and laughed as they put this in a report which was in his first indictment. Try defending yourself in federal court and in the court of public opinion when the NY Post read like a Giuliani newsletter.
My dad wanted someone to get answers from the prosecutors and the DEA agents because they never took the stand– I was hoping they would trust that the director was law enforcement friendly and could give their perspective. Sadly, I still want answers. Even without realizing that I was part of the film, no one on the government side would speak to rakontur– even a DEA agent who participated in a puff piece book (where no one from the defense side was ever asked to counter what he claimed) refused to be interviewed– he must have been too busy playing golf with Lord Michael (I am being literal and not facetious). DEA headquarters only agreed to an interview if “Gatien” was not mentioned– so basically we got nothing to explain how they could in clear consciousness proceed with the case knowing that every witness was lying to get a 5K letter (not one person who cooperated did ANY time despite mandatory minimums for their crimes which were on wiretaps and undeniable, and most significantly HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH MY FATHER but their own profit making schemes).
Incidentally, my dad’s disappointment in the film is authentic and not some marketing ploy. He felt that the feds got away scot free once again.

It isn’t very often that we write something that doesn’t head directly into oblivion, but lo and behold, we were enormously gratified at the notice that Jen Gatien, who we consider royalty, has given to our Twitter and to this little page of ours.  Above appears Ms. Gatien’s very much appreciated comments on our thoughts on Limelight, as well as some of her personal feelings about the hardships her family suffered at the hands of the federal government.  It was also wild to have some very nice words tweeted about us by the film’s director, who’s films we absolutely love, Billy Corben.

Billy Corben ‏@BillyCorben
Fascinating comprehensive analysis of @rakonturmiami movie LIMELIGHT: Rise & Fall of Peter Gatien https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/limelight-no-simple-pill-to-swallow/ … via @crackbillionair

What a tremendous thrill to be noticed by Jen Gatien and Billy Corben.  We are very grateful to them for taking the time to read what amounted to a voluminous stack of text, some 4,000 plus words.  We had felt any real readers we have, appreciating the nature of this site, would want to know our take on Limelight, and so, when we lost the original critique during Hurricane Sandy, we endeavored to reproduce it.  By the way, we should thank our readers as well, who have pushed us up to 2.1 million views since we clicked on in March of 2010.  Thanks all.

Still, had we known that Ms. Gatien and Mr. Corben would grace us with their time, we probably would have primped the piece up some more.  We definitely meant Mr. Gatien no disrespect whatsoever.  We’d like to be clear on that.  Peter Gatien is a hero of ours who symbolizes all that is great about NYC and what NYC should be about, minus the fascist element.  As always, we only mean to speak candidly here in this space, and hope Mr. Gatien can take some solace from the fact that we did indeed understand the outrageous persecution he was subjected to, and thought the film did a good job portraying it, even without the participation of the persecutors, who frankly, had nothing to gain by going on the record.

In fact, their silence only underscores their maniacal intent, devious perversions of the law and the news, and acts to verify their standing as the true villains, the overwhelming face of evil.

When we look back on better days, the preferred memory is Limelight VIP all the way, lounging in that little glass room in the steeple, or surveying the dance floor from our convenient perch.  It was a very lucky thing that we were a part of.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

“I ended up that day finally at the federal lockup in Brooklyn.  The lights went on at 6 O’ Clock the next morning and within ten minutes I was approached for any drug I wanted.  Heroin, coke.  I’m supposed to be able to prevent it, but meanwhile, in a place where you’re strip searched 6, 9 times before getting to your bed, it’s okay for them to have it.”

                                                                                                     — Peter Gatien

“You go to any rock concert, for example, at either The Meadowlands or Madison Square Garden and you are gonna have hundreds if not thousands of people using drugs and you’re not gonna see the management of The Meadowlands or Madison Square Garden indicted.”

“There was a young prosecutor, very little experience.  Her name was Michelle Adelman.  I mean, she was obsessed with Peter.  She had a big picture of Peter behind her desk in her office.  I remember going in there one time and saying, ‘This is not healthy.  Get a life.  This is just a case.'”

“…regardless of how prominent the individual is, I had never seen such a scorched earth mentality.”

                                                                                                    –Ben Brafman

“The motto was get Gatien at all costs.”

                                    –John Dabrowski (P.I. & former Nassau County Cop)

We understand Peter Gatien’s criticism of Billy Corben’s 2011 documentary, Limelight.  The legendary club owner was hoping that the film would be less of a monument to him than a cautionary tale of governmental overreach, or so he told the New York Times in September of 2011.  We’re not sure if Corben meant it to be, but the early minutes of the movie nearly present Gatien as both the finder and the founder of the club scene.  We would think, even in a movie about The Limelight, that Corben has some obligation to at least mention the genesis of the club scene.  The creator of the modern dance hall/dance club genre was Bill Graham, a holocaust survivor and transplanted New Yorker to San Francisco.  Graham had observed the radical success of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author Ken Kesey and his crew, The Merry Pranksters, with their Acid Test parties, held during the mid 60’s at roving locations in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and later, Mexico, when Kesey became a fugitive from the law for violating his probation (he was arrested for possessing approximately 3 grams of marijuana).  Graham rented out San Francisco’s old Fillmore Auditorium in 1968.  The Fillmore was depicted in the Hunter S. Thompson book and subsequent movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in a most memorable scene, when Thompson, played by Johnny Depp, drops part of a hit of LSD, paper form, onto the sleeve of his coat in the Fillmore’s bathroom, where another club patron seizes on that opportunity, and proceeds to suck the acid off of his sleeve.

Bill Graham, who was born Wolodia Grajonca, was unpopular with some of the celebrities of the Haight-Ashbury counter culture movement, like the Pranksters, because he didn’t deem them worthy of free admission.  Graham, who earned a business degree from City College, understood invariably that The Fillmore was a business.  He was an excellent businessman who also gained prominence as the manager of Jefferson Airplane.  When some Haight-Ashbury residents pressured the police to crack down on his establishment because of the notorious hippie element, Graham bought a suit of clothes, slicked his hair, and went door to door to all neighborhood businesses, to explain to local businessmen how much opportunity for revenue that hippie element created for the neighborhood.  When asked how he was able to persuade the local community not to pursue their complaints about The Fillmore, he replied, “Pressure.”

Bill Graham is well chronicled in The Haight-Ashbury: A History, by Rolling Stone reporter Charles Perry.  Perhaps the best work to date on Graham, if less comprehensive, is Tom Wolfe’s amazing nonfiction novel, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test.

We were also left unimpressed with Corben’s depiction of the beginning of Ecstasy culture in NYC.  We’d characterize crediting “Lord Michael” for essentially bringing MDMA to New York as a convenient truth for the purposes of this film.  While MDMA was first created by German scientists trying to develop an appetite suppressant for plump housewives, it was America who put the chemical on the map, thanks to our good friend Dr. Shulgin, in large part.  Ecstasy scenes in California and Texas were thriving throughout the 1980’s and a great deal of their Ecstasy made its way to NY, though Lord Michael seems to be the only chump to get himself on the map for transporting a substance, and in small numbers mind you, that was not yet illegal.  But Lord Michael’s tales of bringing in several thousand hits from England, if we can agree that such piddly “smuggling” is small potatoes, is an argument which would refute Gatien’s criticism about the essence of the film.

We love Corben’s body of work, which includes Cocaine Cowboys and the lesser known Square Groupers, a compelling collection of stories from 70’s era marijuana traffickers.  We’d have to applaud Corben for Limelight as well–especially for Limelight–because this was an establishment very near and dear to our hearts, and because any governmental over-reach is too much.  In fact, we feel no need to be as diplomatic as star club owner Peter Gatien.  This movie is about tyranny to us in a very obvious sense, and the subject of that tyranny is our very demographic–the liberal intelligentsia.

The Limelight’s venue (above), which had to rankle conservative types because it was a former church, though officially deconsecrated.

What’s most germane to this story is that Rudolf Giuliani, whom Gatien supported in his bid to become mayor, whose first wife was also his cousin, made a target of Gatien when Nicholas Marinelli supposedly died the night after supposedly purchasing drugs at The Limelight.  Marinelli, from a privileged background, whose family had the personal ear of then NJ governor Thomas Kean, called Giuliani personally about Gatien, who then unleashed the DEA upon Gatien, an easy target because of his success, notoriety, and villainous eye patch.  We also do not think it helped Gatien’s cause the way the club was portrayed in the 1992 movie, The Bad Lieutenant, starring Harvey Keitel as a dirty cop who went to the club to score drugs (frankly we are surprised Limelight made no mention of that, though Corben may not have had permission to use that movie for this film.)

If you read that as a joke, it’s not how we meant it, though we get how preposterous that should be to you.  There is no greater danger to our liberty than inbred mayoral scum doing favors for mush mouthed cronies along political back channels that seek to destroy the lives of people according to their looks, lifestyle, and progressive attitudes.  And oh, by the way, Marinelli committed suicide, and the official cause of death is listed as death by asphyxiation.  But the government was not about to let a good scapegoat be obscured by mere, actual FACTS.  In making the case against Peter Gatien, the state was also putting a sinister face on Ecstasy, a “new” and little known drug, giving our great nation a leg up in the Machiavellian propaganda machine that is the war on drugs.

While on the topic of facts, how about USADA Linda Lacewell’s oh so ignorant claim that Ecstasy commonly contained heroin and PCP?  Frankly, that may be our “favorite” bit of drug war propaganda of all time.  Ecstasy databases like DanceSafe, EData, and even the woefully disgraceful PillReports  have thousands of lab results including chemical compositions, Reagent test results, and failing those, user reports.  When one searches those databases by chemical, or should they even go report by report, dating back to the 1st published information on specific Ecstasy, there is approximately 1 pill per 1000 (0.1% of all Ecstasy) suspected to contain PCP.  We’d estimate an even smaller percentage suspected to have heroin.  Granted, the Ecstasy information available is still flagging, but only because the establishment prefers us to believe what they want us to believe as opposed to what’s true.  A person like Linda Lacewell, a Draconian moron of her ilk, would like us to believe that there are serial killers out there whose modus operandi is death by Ecstasy, preying on people by giving them heroin or PCP, which, are not even deadly drugs necessarily.  When pressed however, Lacewell and those from the same school of drug war propaganda, attempted to connect MDMA with cardiac arrest, before the weak declaration that MDMA causes…heat exhaustion.  Ecstasy has been classified as non lethal, and benign by main stream medicine.  Please recall Peter Jennings’ ABC special called Ecstasy in which Jennings declared on national television that a person could use MDMA sporadically throughout their entire life while suffering zero long term effects.

Now, can an Ecstasy pill contain heroin?  Absolutely.  Have they?  More myth than fact, and we’ve never seen a legitimate composition report of a pill sold as Ecstasy that contained heroin, in 2 decades of analysis, but it is possible.  It’s also possible that the Jets can win the Superbowl.  But can we all appreciate the chances of it happening are about the same as a snowball’s chance in hell?  For we are not able to call it a reasonable assertion that heroin and PCP routinely make up Ecstasy with statistical significance based on scientific data.  Then again, how much scientific data is really being consulted by men who marry their blood relatives?  How much scientific data was used in consultation with the Salem Witch Trials?  And how often really, does this government tell, we the people, the truth as opposed to crude distortions?

On Giuliani’s marriage to his second cousin, which lasted 14 years, FYI, before being annulled, in grand Roman Catholic style reminiscent of the warrior popes of the middle ages, which were just about on Giuliani’s same wavelength:

http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Stossel/story?id=2395516&page=1#.UJsZf442UqY

http://www.cousincouples.com/?page=famous

http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/entertainment-celebcousinpairs/7/

http://www.realchange.org/giuliani.htm

Or Google it yourself.  There are only 722,000 search results that pop up when one searches “Giuliani married cousin.”  We thought it a very interesting use of device the way that Corben pulled the story of Gatien’s drug case together.  Raconteur indeed.  At the very outset of that portion of the movie that gets into the drug charges levied against Gatien, the first round of charges that is, Brafman, the best criminal attorney in the country, bar none, who has won acquittals for Gatien, Sean Combs, a laundry list of mafioso, as well as sweetheart plea arrangements for Daphne Abdela (“The Baby Faced Killer”) and Chris Paciello (who participated in the home invasion murder of Staten Island housewife Judy Shemtov), in addition to other star clients like Michael Jackson and Plaxico Burress, released a statement saying that Gatien ‘at no time in his 20+ year career owning clubs ever condoned drug use.’

Hold the thought.  Because when informant, murderous scum like Michael Alig and Sean Kirkham brag to the Feds that Gatien personally binged at drug parties that he organized, the law, having caught Gatien in an apparent lie when he wasn’t even under oath, expanded their charges to include ones that claimed that Gatien used such parties as a reward for his employees for allegedly excelling in his alleged criminal Ecstasy drug distribution operation.  Brafman had a responsibility, pre-trial, to counter the massive public relations blows coming at Gatien, rapid fire, from the inbred mayor, the NYPD, the DEA, and the federal government.  If Brafman was indeed correct in his exchange with ADA Adelman (“this is just a case”), then we may conclude that tactics like the pile on effect–creating a litany of tack on charges that give the appearance of guilt–is standard operating practice for “the people” (*cringe*).  Trustworthy prosecutors (oxymoron) may charge people with multiple counts where truly applicable, but the pile on effect does, as Gatien said, run counter to a most basic right of the actual people, which is the presumption of innocence.  For is it not more difficult to maintain the presumption of innocence when a person is facing 5 charges as opposed to 1 or 2?

What about Gatien’s specific remarks about the charges that connected his sporadic drug use to racketeering?  Isn’t he right when he says that a jury of working class, middle class people, tasked to deliberate on his freedom, will be pre-prejudiced by the fact that on occasion he binged on cocaine while frequenting prostitutes, if they were in fact prostitutes?  How is Peter Gatien, multi-millionaire/captain of industry/playboy/hotel drug partier, going to get an unprejudiced jury of his peers, in a drug case, when somebody like that has no peers?  Peter Gatien as the original Peerless Price.  Precisely why it was so imperative that Gatien retain Brafman in the first place.  An attorney like Brafman can create peers from the unlikeliest jury pools, and only one steadfast juror who follows the judge’s instructions closely, is needed to render a not guilty verdict.  As Brafman said in Limelight, after inquiring as to a possible plea arrangement, the best option was to represent Gatien in court and take their chances with the jury system.  Brafman:

“I went down to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and said, ‘this is like, crazy.  If we wanted to resolve the case, what would be the sentencing guidelines that you would think was appropriate?’  They looked at me and said ’11 years.’  They assessed Peter Gatien criminal responsibility for every pill sold by anyone that they seized in the course of the investigation.  They multiplied out the math and it came to 11 years.  I looked at them like they were nuts to suggest that Peter Gatien, who was running 4 venues at the same time, could be criminally responsible for what went on at any given moment at any one of the venues was something that I thought I could win in a court room.”

Super heavyweight criminal attorney Ben Brafman (above).

To keep suit with the very logical Brafman, should any crime be committed in a club, the club owner is not automatically criminally responsible for conspiracy to commit such a crime.  The nuisance abatement laws in NYC which permitted the police to shut any business’s doors in which there were 3 incidents in one year, if applied to strictly to clubs, would see every club shuttered.  Let’s be completely honest.  There are thousands of drug deals going down on any given night in any major venue, club, concert, festival, and so on.  The irony is, The Limelight was not nearly the drug supermarket, “a drug buyer’s paradise”, that it would become after Gatien had relinquished ownership.  Drug use should be an indicator more as to what is likely in a free society, not an indictment on that society, and never an indictment against the operator of the venue, unless truly warranted.

Sean Kirkham, in fact, conspired with the authorities (who, by the way, were so unreliable and were guaranteed to be ruined on the stand by Brafman that the prosecution could not allow their testimony) for the purposes of creating the charges against Gatien.  As Gatien explained, “the only way to prevent those drug deals from happening on those nights was to not open the doors.”  How do you, after all, prevent the DEA from running their own drug ops at any given place at any given time?  One has to consider exactly why then, do the nuisance abatement laws exist if not as a tool for tyranny, which is defined as an arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic use of authority.  But then, Sean Kirkham re-flipped, and claimed that prosecutor Eric Friedberg, who was brought in to buoy the government’s case as it headed to trial, because Adelman and her little crony were essentially amateurs not fit to duel Ben Brafman, was someone with whom he had had a homosexual relationship.  Friedberg, who was the chief of the Federal Narcotics Bureau.  LOFL.  Though probably not a guy who hooked up with a gay club kid who dabbled in counterfeiting, a clown nontheless, so that was a nice laugh which came around the one hour mark of the film.  But when the trial began, it was Michelle Adelman, who in the opening statement, admitted to the jury that the government had exactly zero evidence linking Gatien financially to any of the crimes he was charged with.

So why then would a person conspire to distribute Ecstasy and throw parties to reward his Ecstasy salesman, if not for profit?  Because Gatien had an overwhelming interest in seeing club patrons high?  High people do not spend money.  But that’s besides the point, really, because not only couldn’t the government make any sense as to what Gatien’s possible motives could be, but also, by the time of the trial in 1998, there was exactly one major witness left to their case trying to implicate Gatien, the infamous Michael Caruso (“Lord Michael”), whom Ben Brafman not only exposed for the scumbag he was on cross examination, but also, raised the spectre of possibility that Caruso was a murderer, when Caruso broke down in tears on the stand, begging the court to believe that the questionable circumstances surrounding Caruso’s roommate’s suicide were indeed true, and to believe him that he did not participate in that roommate’s death.  The government’s case was essentially blown in the course of that cross, if not by Adelman herself during the opening statement, which is precisely the reason why Brafman is known as the best attorney in the world at cross examining witnesses.  Brafman, who has made an extraordinary career at criminal defense, is practiced at exposing liars, breaking down snitches by the dozen in your average mafia case.  And it all begs the question, as Village Voice reporter Frank Owen (who authored The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture) put it in the film, “then what the hell are we doing here?”

But you had an overzealous prosecution emboldened by a hell bent, inbred mayor, who had essentially struck out with their over-riding strategy, which was, as Gatien said, ‘to break him and make him plead’, and now had to take its chances with a couple of sketchy, unscrupulous criminals, against the Ben Brafman because there was no backup plan (*at that time*).  Brafman should have won a dismissal, but we’re sure he was happy to settle for not guilty on all counts.  But at the end of the day, those not guilty verdicts read by the Gatien jury in 1998 were not by any means the end of the government’s persecution of Peter Gatien.  Also, it was where Corben’s film takes a stunning turn in complexity.

One of Michael Caruso’s allegations, shoddy as they may be, gave us pause for consideration.  Caruso alleged, and though it was not even illegal at the time, to have once given Gatien 20 hits of Ecstasy, as a “display of respect.”  It was not necessary for Brafman to disprove that statement, and, it could very well have been true.  Gatien was an imperfect man, a real human being, and we thought the film did an excellent job of presenting a very complicated figure in Gatien, in a way that did not sanctify him.  Gatien said he had never used drugs in his clubs, ever.  Okay.  So maybe he got some drugs at the “massive drug supermarket” that was The Limelight, or Tunnel, or Palladium, or Club USA.  Again, he’s not under oath when he makes a statement like that, and it’s not unreasonable to think that he may have gotten drugs from Caruso.  I mean, who didn’t get E at a club like that at some point, if you are in the scene?

The implication, whether true or false, does “dirty” Gatien, and frankly, one of the things that drives us here on this page and in our other projects and in life is to legitimize the use of psychedelics, so a Gatien or his patrons, people like me, do not face damage to their reputation for using them.  But we aren’t there yet.  We aren’t even close.  So there is Gatien, the deceptive drug user, but also, Gatien, the irresponsible business man.  In watching this film, who out there feels that Gatien’s explanations about how much it cost to run his empire were valid?  I do believe they were true but at the same time, not valid, if that can make sense.  Hiring teams of artists, architects, and decorators to constantly transform and remake the club, from party to party, is not the way to run a successful club.  We hate to malign Gatien, but we are compelled to be honest.  Every successful non Vegas club we’ve ever seen has put on the show with minimum frills, save for the act.  You must spend on the music and the sound, and not necessarily on the decor.  Gatien’s style was garish which happened to work well in Atlanta where he had a campy dance floor built over a shark tank and whatnot, and for the 80’s and 90’s in NYC we see why a similar approach helped attract patrons.  But at the end of the day, you are there for the music.

Bill Graham understood the importance of keeping costs down, something that Gatien doesn’t get.  Had he gotten it, he would not have had to sell his clubs for what amounted to a song, even in the face of mounting a 5 year defense against the federal government.  To do $25M in revenue a year for ten years or whatever the numbers were, is ridiculous, and very hard to sell to me when it’s done and there’s no money that it wasn’t wasteful.  Also, hard to sell to the owner of Circa in Toronto, which Gatien ran for a while, before the ownership tired of his wasteful spending practices.  And why was NYC’s King of Clubs relegated to Toronto in the first place, having hit a home run against the government in his drug case?

Well, that’s because Gatien, a Canadian citizen, never naturalized as an American citizen, despite having an American wife and children.  One of whom produced this film (Jen Gatien, DeerJen Productions).  So when Gatien was convicted of tax fraud, which Brafman and Gatien admitted he was guilty of, the US government, still with a healthy hard on for Peter Gatien some 5 years after Brafman beat them clean in court, exercised the right to deport Gatien, as President Bush, another Republican who does not know who inspector Javert is (we loved the story relayed in the film by former mayor Ed Koch, who told Giuliani “Rudy, you are pursuing people like inspector Javert with an intensity that is not acceptable”, to which Giuliani replied, “Who’s Javert?”) gave some quid pro quo to America’s mayor, who we again remind you, is inbred trash.  (After 9/11, the Patriot Act was passed, which allows the government to deport non citizens guilty of fraud.)

Gatien somehow did not see this coming?  The government’s war of attrition took a turn in the Al Capone-esque direction, when they couldn’t get Gatien for drugs and racketeering, and frankly, he needed to be beyond reproach having had such a large bullseye drawn on his back, a “scorched earth policy” the likes of which his attorney had never before seen.  Then again, when the government crawls up your ass for ten or twelve years, they are eventually going to find something that stinks.  Who among us has never broken the law?  Then again, are we all out there committing fraud, which in this case, was a willful misrepresentation of his business’s tax records?  Would we be stupid enough to do so after seeing our freedom already so vehemently threatened?

The government aimed to get him and they got him, and what difference did it make to them really if it didn’t happen on the first try?  Well, the difference it made was that it strengthened their resolve and fortified their approach to where there wouldn’t have to be a trial next time around.  They would still find a way to see Gatien go to federal prison and then unceremoniously deport him from the United States.

Though the prosecution admitted that they had no evidence that Gatien had profited from the sale of drugs in his clubs, they hardly needed proof to levy the accusation.  It was like this: ‘while we don’t have proof, um, the guy wears an eye patch, for the love of God and country.’  The refute was like this: ‘why would Peter Gatien, grossing a zillion dollars a year, risk his freedom and the life as he knew it in order to make a few extra dollars selling Ecstasy?’

Indeed.  So why would he run a tax scam for a few extra dollars then?  Is the answer a study in complexity, a testament to human fallibility, or an indicator that the government was right all along that Gatien was indeed a criminal?  We think it was two out of three.  We don’t think Gatien a criminal.  We think, in the end, that this film was such a profile of tyranny, of the arbitrary wielding of might, wreckless and whimsical and incompetent and blatantly sinister and yet successful, all at once.  Gatien is perhaps too close to the matter to assess Corben’s film properly.  Or, rather, Gatien had a hand in the making of the film, and that in his assessment, the best way to see it to success was to be critical of his portrayal.  For why would a man assail the work of his own daughter publicly, if not for a ruse that could lead to financial prosperity?

In the end, the government was not about to get beaten again by the Gatien/Brafman dream team.  They have to live with getting beaten by Brafman when they are foolish enough to take him to court, but not by Gatien, who in the end, does get to go down as a criminal in the version of the story as they choose to tell it.  Because he “allowed” people to do drugs in a place when we live in a society where people are doing drugs anyway, everywhere, and who do not need our permission.

In the end, Gatien is a phenomenal interview and Brafman a legendary one, and Corben a genius at bringing their story together, and the government’s, the grandest of long cons, a coup d’etat by which they broke a man at a trial they lost so that he wouldn’t have the power to fight another fight.  And Gatien, banished, in exile in Toronto, essentially because despite the tremendous opportunities in America, he never loved America enough to join it, always leery of the mechanisms at play which generated those opportunities.  With good reason.

We say to Peter Gatien, “THANK YOU!”  That the money is no great loss. Can’t take it with you.  Gatien not only provided establishments for people like me, but also, for all the people, no matter their color, their sexuality, their age, their dress, what they looked like or spoke like or whether they were from Brooklyn or Jupiter.  We hope he truly takes heart in his freedom as he says, and that he isn’t the lonely Canadian outcast, a media distortion to this day.  Gatien was a wild success in his industry and in life who conquered NY and embarrassed the government.  He may no longer be peerless, but it is only a precious few who has withstood what he has and came out as well, alive to tell.

From a child of The Limelight.

Crackbillionair (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Walt and Jessie outside their new season 5 lab (above), one of many ingenious highlights so far this season.

Going down the stretch last year with the last few episodes of BrBa, we had predicted that money issues were going to be a problem for Walt this year, following along with that same theme, really begun when Skylar gifted that $600,000 to Ted.  Such was cemented when Walt, hoping to pay Saul’s guy to professionally disappear them, went to get the money out of the crawl space and it was gone.  Then Walt laughs maniacally, does the whole unhinged psycho thing, about to further entrench himself as the bad guy even worse than Scarface’s Tony Montana, along with the overlying show theme, “from Mr. Chips to Scarface.”  Obviously even Tony Montana drew the line at hurting innocents, and yet Walt was to use a child to reclaim himself with Jesse, when he most coldly poisons Brock with the Lilly of the Valley plant, and then blames it on Gus.  Walt chills us with the whole ‘now who do we know who would ever hurt a child’ speech, even more so as we look back to it at the start of season 5 when those in the audience who didn’t already surmise as much at the end of last season got their proof that Walt had indeed one upped Tony Montana.

We also got our confirmation of the Walt/money issues storyline when Walt has Jesse spot him the money for magnet project, citing an “IRS issue” and when Walt shows up at Saul’s, looking for an explanation as to how Saul could okay this idea to give all of his cash to Ted.  They obviously aren’t cooking, with the lab destroyed and Gus’s operation no more, and so that grand irony comes back into play, that Walt got involved with these shenanigans in the first place to make money, has broken just about every law including murder to get that money, and had bought a car wash to launder that illegal cash, but now finds himself with no money to launder.

Thankfully Vince Gilligan moves the story along at a fast clip, straightening out some of the heavy Gus aftermath in s5 e1, especially with Mike, while establishing the impetus behind Mike’s need to get back in the game due to his own financial reasons which become clearer in e2, when Gus’s illegal accounts are frozen.  By the end of e3, and with the help of Saul, “the three amigos” (sorry Saul), that unholy alliance between Jesse, Walt, and Mike, have not only put a new cook operation together, having worked out both logistics and particulars, but they have already cooked up a batch and gotten paid.  Good thing.  We were hoping for a quick resolution to last year’s money issues so that the show could concentrate on portraying what it is like for the duo at the top of the game, as the show’s ads have foreshadowed, with Walt centered around stacks of money, along with the caption “ALL HAIL THE KING”.

Great to see them flush with money, or as Badger (Matt L. Jones) says to Jesse after he and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) rent some musical equipment for the op so they have cases in which their moving lab equipment will be stored, “stacking Benjies til the rubber band pops.”  By the way, how great was it to have a scene featuring Badger and Skinny Pete?  But that’s what Vince Gilligan consistently provides us with, the kind of moments that hardcore fans of the show just relish.  Whether it be Gus being blown up by Tio’s bell, which had been going off to no avail for almost 3 seasons, Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles), in his final diatribe providing Hank with the ‘not who he seems’ speech, or any scene, for that matter, which features Saul Goodman.

This show has obviously struck a chord with the nation, pardon the pun, Skinny Pete, as we have now Lego sets depicting Walt and Jesse’s Crystal Ship and Laundry Lab, and while last week, Kim Kardashian and Aaron Paul are chatting it up on Twitter about Vamanos Pest.

Aaron Paul ‏@aaronpaul_8
“@KimKardashian: Anyone else think the same thing about those extermination tents or was I just crazy?” Meth lab. It’s always a meth lab.

Whilst we speak of meth labs…

Walt and Jessie in their laundy lab (above) in their hazmat suits, with blue crystal Lego in the left corner.

And of course, the Crystal Ship in Lego (2nd).

The new lab, a roving lab which borrows from the successful mobile aspect to their RV setup, but which is all the more brilliant and realistic, considering that they do not own the homes in which they are cooking, that they are hiding in plain sight, and that there are frequent stories about temporary meth labs in the news, as that is the latest innovation/industry trend limiting legal exposure for chemists.

http://www.homelandsecuritynewswire.com/meth-lab-found-fema-temporary-housing-joplin

Also, a very nice touch it is to encase the temp lab in a Dexter style kill scene bubble tent.  Bravo!  As brilliant  as the new season has been with details, there’s just no getting around how bad Walt actually is, as he continues to further his criminal mastermind.  No regular viewer of the show could do anything but marvel at Walt in s5 e1, when Mike asks him why he should take his word that the magnet worked.

“Because I said so.”

Damn.  Then when Walt, in a scene eerily reminiscent to Michael Corleone in The Godfather II at the end of e1 tells Skylar, “I forgive you.”  (for blowing his money on Ted).  Walt is bad, alright.  If those aforementioned scenes didn’t do enough to illustrate, then what of Walt socializing with Brock (Ian Posada) over at Jesse’s (“I heard you were in the hospital”)?

Sure, that was chillingly cold, but for us, whatever Walt had to do get his relationship back with Jesse was justified, re-establishing the balance between the two that we most enjoy when the duo’s delicate camaraderie is in place.  And we know it’s only temporary, obviously.  In this modern Greek tragedy, there is no way for Jesse not to find out that Walt poisoned Brock and no way for Jesse to avoid learning that and feeling the acute misery and anger that will come from that knowledge.  If we were to venture a guess as to the real end of days for the show, it would have Jesse perhaps killing Walt over it, as we agree with the many fans who feel that Jesse is going to be the one to take Walt down.

But before that, we think there will be a whole hell of a lot more messes for Walt on the home front.  Obviously things have become very sticky with Skyler so forlorn, this week, plunging herself into the pool in a half hearted suicide attempt.  Is it only a matter of time before Walt decides a different approach with the wife is needed?  Recall that Walt has hidden that ricin in the house, and from what we know about BrBa, sooner or later they are going to have that ricin come back into play.

Mr. White (our Mr. White, not Walt) suggested that Skyler might get a ricin cigarette of her own.  Great forethought there.  We are gonna add our own to that theory, as we can’t see how things could break any worse for Walt than if Walt Jr., now a fast car driving little bad ass, were to ingest the ricin by accident.  We see Jesse, Walt, Mike, and Skyler all breaking much much worse by the show’s end, in true step with classic Greek tragedy.

And for show and Greek mythology enthusiasts, how great was Walt’s line at the end of e3, when he tells Jesse that perhaps, like Icarus, Victor had “flown to close to the sun”?  From Gilligan, that’s more likely deft foreshadowing than use of clever reference, though with Breaking Bad, it is no doubt a double entendre.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon), who was not reprised in Viva La Madness.

Sidney (Ben Whishaw) and Tammy (Sienna Miller) who also weren’t reprised.

Near the start of Layer Cake, [xxxx] and Morty go to lunch with Geno and Jimmy Price at Pepe’s Barn.  As far as we are concerned, that scene and the conversation between [xxxx] and Price at lunch, and then in the bathroom, were outstanding, having perfectly conveyed the path of the book, overall.  They are just two scenes of many outstanding ones in Layer Cake, as Connolly is most genius at language, obviously proving that out with giant scenes for Eddy Temple, and Geno and frankly, most of the people who had speaking parts.  When [xxxx] gets kidnapped and filled in?  Phenomenal.  And then again, when Eddy fills [xxxx] in with the layer cake speech at the end.  And then, in the movie, [xxxx] shows why he’s already up the layer cake farther than Mr. Temple knows, or Mr. Ryder, in the movie.  You know we are bigger on the movie’s ending, where he leaves with a leg up, than the book’s most disappointing outcomes.  And you know why.  So we’ll not get into that, though as always, I would certainly entertain comments, as it has become a spirited discussion between the fans of the book.

There was no big setup moment.  Or good setup moment.  And frankly, we thought the first 100 pages were extremely tedious and uninteresting.  But the sequel, Viva La Madness, a good ten years in arriving after Layer Cake, perhaps got it done in other ways, as we have walked away about as best we could be satisfied with a story in which Connolly skunked nearly a dozen worthy characters.  It bothers us also that he didn’t really write any that were that stirring either.  Viva La Madness opens slowly and leaves you wanting for old characters.  Look, I think you knew I’d be honest.  Gene, Mr. Temple/Mr. Ryder, Tammy, Trevor & Shanks, Tiptoes, Billy Bogus, and many of the flashback characters, in the very least, were all compelling characters who all the fans have really gotten attached to.  How could you not?

Here’s another thing, while we are airing the complaints.  It doesn’t sound like him in all parts.  I don’t really know what’s going on there.  But Connolly was using phrases that seemed out of character.  Again, comment me on that if you like.  It would be too difficult to explain and we do not wish to be so overly critical.  We said what we needed to say on that.

But the book does start to satisfy.  And when you are in full clip, you are reading this beast furiously.  Because Connolly is that kind of writer.  He writes a good, compelling, fun story.  And because the characters are a bit too drab or a bit too “heads the balls”, you want the two good characters, our man [xxxx] and Mr. Mortimer to win more than ever.  Anything else will be indecent.  And that is what we always said from the start was the problem from the first book, then corrected in the movie, and then seen to not need correcting in the new novel.  The good guys win.  Finally.

And they get laid.  On my word, [xxxx] gets laid, finally, and the pussy is very good.  That’s great.  We who are rooting for him want him to get laid.  So they gave us that as well.  The book is really not as colorful as the first.  It’s also not as black and white.  It’s quite grey, in fact.  And that should be one’s outlook, and perhaps not so black and white.  Remember, they are commodities traders, and they do make fair compensation.  It is a business at which men like them are successful.  That they do not complete the $100M score, and only come out with a several million dollar score is really nothing to cry about.  This book goes down over a period of about twenty days.  So if you are getting 3M to walk away with, you have been fairly compensated for those twenty days worth of work, especially if you are already a murderous drug dealer.

We have to say we really like it.  We liked the ending.  More grey.  That black and white first book, was really tainted in our mind, by the ending.  You don’t have that here.  The characters we like are rich and safe.  Yay.  The plot is well developed, and complicated, and it is a real page turner.  Exactly what you want.  But we just weren’t feeling these new characters.  We are sure that Connolly and Vaughn will punch them up better if/when the movie becomes a reality.  So we are not gonna cry about that.  If a book is not perfect you are going to have to live with some flaws.  Connolly might have had the one truly great story that made Layer Cake the lightning bolt it was.  That is not going to be easy to duplicate.  But it’s a good sequel to Layer Cake and was well worth buying and reading and anticipating as we did.

Smiler’s alright, but the Venezuelans and the other Brit’s were just brutal, not interesting.  Sonny and Roy? The Toff?  Ih.  He’s alright.  Ted Granger?  Not really impressed.  But this book was funny, and was compelling from about page 100 through to the end.  We did not expect this book to be better than or equal to Layer Cake.  As we have suggested, that may be impossible for Connolly.  But if you like this kind of fiction, drug crime fiction, it’s really the only game in town, and the very big boys who Connolly describes are doing very similar things to the things that Connolly describes, especially in business.

So we have to say kudos.  We were immediately satisfied.  We sat on writing this for many months, as we read it fairly immediately upon release.  And our opinion hasn’t changed any.  We’ve seen a lot of people reading the ‘Layer Cake Sequel Approaches’ post, so we may as well let you know our thoughts.

Viva La Madness should be a satisfying read for Connolly fans.  And they should want to see it on the big screen, where once again, the book will outdo the movie.  But we say all this while fully acknowledging that Connolly is a master in the genre, and we have to thank him for bringing some compelling stories to us.  Thanks JJC.  But if we could suggest for next time, please bring back some of the old guard.  There would be no questions as to any book’s interest level with some of those characters in the mix.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)       

Green Fleur di Lys with a full range of their reagent test results (above).

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the page has been light on hits these months.  Indeed it is so.  We figured that we may as well mirror the times, with so little decent product in the form of pills popping up to peak our attention.  We aren’t crying about it, don’t get us wrong.  Why would anyone make a real pill that’s illegal, when they can make a totally legal bunk knockoff?  Especially when a lot of the people out there are too stupid to know the difference.

Bringing us to mincha23 and his girlfriend and their trip report, recently filed with www.pillreports.com.  Take a look:

Green Saints  
 
Date Submitted: June 6, 2011, 4:14 am GMT
Submitted By: mincha23 (member since June 6, 2011)
Name: Green Saints
State/Province: California
Logo: New Orleans Saints
Colour: Green
Shape: Round
Texture: Chalky
Edges: Round
Report Quality Rating: (5 stars, 1 vote)
Description: If this is your first time, DO NOT TAKE..
Suspected Contents: Piperazine + Another
Rating: Unknown
Warning: yes
Tested: no
Consumed: yes
User Report: 1030PM: Popped the first one with some friends1045PM: Took another, no feeling1130PM: Took another, very light feeling but nothing major.1150PM: Dropped one last one.1240AM: All of them kicked in and kicked my ass. Feeling good, looking at the lights and felt amazing. Not as good as the other pills I took.

200AM: Same feeling but slowly coming down. These pills made me feel really lazy, and did not want to do anything.

400AM: Able to drive about 25 miles to go home. As soon as i started to drive felt really sick, and my gf threw up as soon as we got home.

600AM: Went to sleep, slept well. Easy to sleep on.

1200PM: Woke up and felt really lazy, went back to sleep.

600PM: GF still feels sick cant get out of bed.

900PM: Still sick and cant move!

So mincha23 popped ’em and kept popping them until he had a piperazine overdose.  And his girl too.  Brilliant.  Bravo.  This kid truly was born yesterday.  Certainly not the responsible reporter the likes of the kaspkes, chemlovers, and jm6755s of the world.  Honestly, I don’t think I’d have shared that bit if it were me.  With this level of stupidity, we doubt it would have mattered if he had known the proper name of the pill, but apropos nontheless that he’s tagged them as Green Saints.

Have we not been over and back with this?  But who are we, really?  Just an army of one, but we’d like these pills off the market already and have only been calling for all of North America to avoid these pills for more than a year now.  Even www.pillreports.com knows what’s up with these biscuits.  We don’t commonly refer to hits as biscuits as some do, but in this case, the texture of the pill calls that word to mind.  If you have handled these pills, you’d notice that they are kind of airy, kind of porous. 

Now we’ll begin to put the current state of affairs in Layer Cake like terms, as we are getting very juiced for John Connolly’s sequel, Viva la Madness, set for release in a mere 3 months time.  Part government indifference, part shameless greed, and part user stupidity have teamed to give us a market flooded with piperazines, because they are legal, much like the way that MDMA replaced MDA in the scene several years ago.  Why take the risk to keep MDA alive when it went schedule I when chemists could add an extra methyl group and gain 16 years of legal freedom, prior to analog laws?  Where did it get us?

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/welcome-to-the-layer-cake/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/a-1st-look-at-cracks-book-7400/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/34-methylenedioxyamphetamine-d-e-a-code-7400/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/3-4-methylenedioxy-n-ethylamphetamine-foxy-methoxy/

Well, MDA, the real deal, has been backburnered into obscurity, and today’s crackhead is lucky if he can tell the difference between MDMA and piperazine, and needs pillreports to sort it for him.  How’d you like to be the guy to roll in, pardon puns, to the ER having been the fucking dope to stroke out on ringworm medicine and industrial lubricants.

Nowadays, the really pukkah gear is not pressed all fancy in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is done.  Pukkah gear is manufactured by pharmaceutical companies in sketchy places, and shifted as powder, so as not to have a logo on it.  It’s piperazine pills that have the fancy stamps, for the most part.  Pressed shit is a must test, and we mean, chemical test, unless your boys really, really know the deal, as we laid out for you in the case of those luscious Red Diamonds.   If your gear tests really well, up and down and back and forth, chances are, powder got shifted here and pressed here, unless you are out west, where Mexico has got the game on lock.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/green-fleur-di-lys-dangerous-pipes-in-southern-cali/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/red-diamonds-still-lighting-up-nyc-in-style/

It’s 2 years later, and this firm is still passing off these pipes, and they aren’t even changing the colors up anymore.  We hope all of the community starts paying attention, but our hopes are dim.

Be Smart,

Crackbillionair (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Evan Almighty.  Date Night.  Dinner for Schmucks.  We’ve got no problem saying this: The Office, a superior outift with exceptional writers made Michael Scott, not the reverse.  The tired Seth Rogan/Paul Rudd movie factory may have given us 1 good Carrell film–The 40 Year Old Virgin–but little to nothing else with Carrell worth watching.  Most of the reaction we’ve heard with regard to Carrell leaving The Office has been pessimistic pertaining to the future of the show.  We, on the other hand, have no doubts that The Office can function without Michael Scott.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/the-office-goodbye-toby-hello-holly/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/the-office-andy-to-shine-tonight-in-special-episode-see-video/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/the-office-season-finale-better-than-expected/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/office-finale-to-lack-excitement-hear-music/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/steve-carell-done-as-michael-scott-after-next-year/

We think Steve Carrell is crazy to leave The Office, which will undoubtedly be the absolute best product he has ever worked on.  We think it’s a poor decision to abandon his $300,000 per episode salary.  And we are extremely confident that the show, which has perhaps needed a shot of enthusiasm for a few seasons (not for lack of trying with the guest addition of Timothy Olyphant and Amy Ryan’s role reprisal of Holly Flax), can be an excellent and dynamic program and can return to the top of network sitcom television.  The Office can even reach new heights if they follow through on their plans to replace Michael Scott’s character with someone from outside the show.  While we love Jim, Dwight, and Andy, none do anything for us in the lead role.

The late summer talk about The Office producers contacting Flight of the Conchords alum Rhys Darby (top) and Eastbound and Down star Danny McBride (bottom), and to a lesser extent, recent rumors about Arrested Development star Will Arnett (middle) have our full attention.  McBride has seemed to generate the most excitement and buzz so far.  Frankly, he is absolutely hilarious as crass, washed up pitcher Kenny Powers, and has one of the funniest hairstyles of all time.  From what we’re reading though, at least out of HBO, is that McBride is unlikely to get the gig.  Producer Paul Lieberstein (Toby) recently denied that McBride was in the running, but it was confirmed that McBride would be doing a guest spot this season.  HBO has been less coy than Lieberstein, saying that McBride is signed up long term to do Kenny Powers, is paid very well, and went so far as to suggest that McBride would have no interest in joining the cast of The Office.

The cable network issued no similar statements with regard to Darby, leading us to believe that something is cooking.  We would emphatically endorse the hire.  Darby, as Brett and Jemaine’s band mannager on Flight of the Conchords was exponentially quirky in a way very reminiscent to the Michael Scott character, only with a New Zealand accent and the added awkwardness of a tourist with less than zero street smarts.  Darby, like Carrell, has even demonstrated his proficiency with the occasional musical number.  Darby’s low profile in America and immense respect in comedic circles would be a win win for a program in need of new talent and a network looking to make a reasonable deal with an actor.

The wildly popular and recognizable McBride would not come cheaply and without obstacles, or at least, that’s what HBO wants us to think.  And we have questions about how well McBride will do without the luxury of of his hysterical foul mouth rants and drug humor, which is not about to play on NBC.  He’d be unwise to leave the role of a lifetime on Eastbound and Down for the huge pressure associated with filling Michael Scott’s shoes.

Recently several Arrested Development actors have been mentioned for the job, including the legendary Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale, and most notably, Will Arnett, who Ricky Gervais has been publicly pining for.  We love Tambor.  “Hey Now” Hank Kingsley?  Classic.  George Bluth Sr?  JT played that role to a tee.  And we look forward to his frequent cameos as himself on Entourage, the long term client of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven, another Larry Sanders Show alum).  Tambor isn’t really new blood to us though.  Hale is not a heavy enough hitter, and Arnett, though we love him across the board and loved his GOB character to death, we have way more enthusiasm for Rhys Darby, who we feel is the perfect fit.

Though we will not be surprised if Arnett gets the nod, having done a guest shot on his wife Amy Poehler’s very funny NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, and having played a corporate foil to Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy for 3 years on NBC’s 30 Rock.  Can Arnett jump to a 3rd Thursday night NBC sitcom?  No doubt he could.  But how about Ricky Gervais shuts the fuck up so that BJ Novak (Ryan), Lieberstein, and Mindy Kaling (Kelly), all Office producers, can go with their gut and bring in Darby?

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/parks-and-recreation-season-finale-the-april-ann-and-andy-love-triangle-see-video/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/community-jeff-and-britta-do-the-deed-finally/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/11/04/walking-dead-zombie-nation-or-zombie-community/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/30-rock-live-episode-tonight/

Can you tell that we are really hoping for an Office dick meeting?  Wait…that sounds bad.  Just a Murray Hewitt/Flight of the Conchords reference!

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/hbo-takes-flight/

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/layer-cake-author-on-the-drug-problem-we-should-be-more-grown-up-about-it/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/welcome-to-the-layer-cake/

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