Posts Tagged ‘jared leto


The Ivo Vegter Solution to Our Country’s drug problem

I was fresh out of varsity when I met Ivo Vegter in the infamous courtyard that was at the centre of ITWeb’s old offices in Rivonia and though I was at least 5 or 6 beers in, I remember it well.

Ivo was engaged in a passionate debate with someone (I forget who, but you can bet your ass they were probably losing) about how environmentalists are full of shit and I was listening with rapt attention.

See, Ivo is a fascinating person. He has an intellect that is so staggering that is it a truly epic experience listening to the man argue a point. Plus he has a powerful command of the English language and a vocabulary that is so brobdingnagian he is probably one of the few people who knows what that word even means.



Ivo currently writes for ITWeb, Brainstorm, Car Magazine and one of my favourite sources of news, The Daily Maverick which, in my opinion, is one of the few bastions of legitimate, quality journalism South Africa has left.

Ivo fearlessly bangs out a column for The Daily Maverick every Tuesday that covers such a broad variety of topics it’s hard to believe the pieces that get published all come from the same person.

I take great pleasure in reading Ivo’s work not only because he’s great at taking the most controversial and often least popular standpoints on sensitive subjects, but his writing is so damn well researched, backed up with legitimate facts and figures and unapologetically honest that it often leaves me grinning from ear to ear because holy shit, the man can argue a point.



His most recent column really caught my attention though because it deals with the controversial topic of the merits of legalising drugs and not just the softer variety, but EVERYTHING.

It’s an extreme viewpoint and one that, at the time of writing this, has already inspired a number of comments on his piece, many in favour of the legalisation of drugs.

On the surface, Ivo has a solid argument, but it fails to address some very important issues which is why, for once, I’m not sure I entirely agree with him.

Ivo argues that “the criminalisation of drugs is often the cause of drug-related crime, rather than it’s solution” and suggests that instead of threatening people with violence and prison for being involved in any way in the manufacturing, distribution or consumption of “illegal substances”, drugs should be fully legalised and more effort should rather be spent on educating people about the dangers of drugs to discourage first time use.

His argument is also based on the premise that if someone wants to do drugs, they will find a way to fulfil that need no matter how hard law enforcement tries to stop them. Prisons, as one of his commenters points out, are rife with drugs and ironically a lot of prisoners come out of prison more addicted to drugs than they were when they went in.



So fine, in theory his argument is sound – legalise drugs so that they can be better regulated, remove the social stigma associated with taking them and educate people as much as possible so that they know and understand the inherent risks involved in taking drugs.

If people do decide to go off the deep end, invest time and effort in rehabilitating them properly instead of casting them out of society and writing them off as junkies.

There’s one thing his argument fails to address though, and that’s teenage kids.

Presumably if you made drugs legal, you’d have to impose some kind of age restriction on them or you’d run the risk of having curious seven year olds getting loaded on blow. So let’s say, for argument’s sake, that drugs were illegal for kids under the age of 18, like alcohol is.

Ivo’s argument is that you’ll get the kids who are naturally curious or naughty and want to experiment and those who don’t, whether drugs are legal or not, and I agree.



BUT, if drugs are legal, it makes it that much easier for kids to experiment with substances that can instantly fuck them up for life than it would be otherwise.

I was curious as a kid, I wanted to experiment with stuff I wasn’t supposed to be experimenting with, so at 12 years old, me and a friend I got shit-faced on his dad’s supply of Two Dogs Alcoholic Lemonade whilst on holiday one night after the folks had gone to bed.

Had we been educated about the dangers of alcohol? Yes. Did we know what we were doing was dangerous to our health and could lead to addiction? Yes. Did we give a rat’s ass about any of that? Hell no.

Of course the next morning we woke up feeling like ass, our parents shat us out from a dizzy height and, our curiosity satisfied, we carried on with our teenage lives and are now gainfully employed, contributing members of society.

Let’s, for argument’s sake, replace the godawful sludge we drank that night with 2 grams of pure, uncut cocaine and think for a second about how that scenario might have played out.

Our risk of getting instantly hooked would have been a thousand times higher, our little binge would have most likely have cause lasting damage to our brains and I can almost guarantee you that from that moment on, we would have both spent the rest of our lives chasing that first immaculate high no matter what the cost.



Sure, maybe we are an example of those kids, the ones who would have experimented no matter what, but the frightening thing is that nearly everyone I know experimented with alcohol before the age of 16 in some form or other because it is so readily available, who’s to say they wouldn’t do the same with class A drugs?

The sad fact is that everyone I’ve ever met who experimented with class A drugs under the age of 16 end up developing such a hopeless addiction that by their mid-twenties all they live to do is get high and by their thirties, they are completely burned out and unable to function in any way that could vaguely be described as ‘normal’.

All the education in the world can’t stop teenage rebelliousness. As it stands, thanks to the criminalisation of drugs (as backward as it might be) far fewer young teenagers are experimenting with them than there would be if they were made 100% legal.

There’s definitely a middle ground that Ivo touches on in his argument when it comes to the policing and education behind drugs and drug use but to legalise them all outright would be to open up a can of worms that would eat through the fabric of society faster than an addict could vacuum an eight-ball.



Album Review: 30 Seconds to Mars – ‘This is War’

I’m all for a little on-stage banter at rock concerts, it’s nice when Mr Big Rich Rockstar acknowledges the thousands of screaming fans that have just financed his new holiday house in the Hamptons, but when Jared Leto opened his mouth to speak (read: swear) between songs at Cokefest 2008, the general consensus was that he really shouldn’t have.



‘Alright all you crazy motherfuckers! I wanna see you fucking crazy motherfuckers fucking jumping up and down and fucking going crazy during this next fucking song, ok? Fuck yeah!’ Sure Jared, whatever. Wipe your face, your eyeliner’s running.

The best part was when he climbed the giant 50ft scaffolding rig on the left hand side of the stage all the way to the top and then, staring out at the Alberton Racetrack declared, ‘You should see how fucking beautiful you all look from up here!’

Me, I got so excited, I couldn’t help but pump my fist in the air while chanting, ‘Die! Die! Die! Die!’

They’re a pretentious band, and why the hell shouldn’t they be? Besides the fact that Mr Leto is every angst-ridden 13 year old girl’s (and in some cases 13 year old boy’s) ‘happy tissue’ fantasy, the band’s second album A Beautiful Lie catapulted them into international stardom almost overnight and was certified as platinum after selling 1 million albums worldwide.



So it’s no wonder that fans and critics alike were keen to sink their teeth into This Is War, which was released in December last year, to see which direction the band would take after the previous album.

Before I launch into this, I think it needs to be said that I never heard their first album and only caught the singles off A Beautiful Lie, so I’m writing this largely from an outsider’s perspective.

So what did I think of the album? Well, if I had to sum it up in a word, sadly that would would be ‘meh’.

The album was produced by Flood (aka Mark Ellis) who has worked with everyone from The Killers to PJ Harvey, The Smashing Pumpkins and more importantly, U2.

I say this because the U2 flavour on this album is undeniably strong. This Is War can best be described as stadium emo at its best. Almost every track is wrought with maudlin emotion and over-sentimentality, punctuated by slow, eerie Depeche Mode synth sections and Leto’s sometimes whispering / sometimes screaming vocals.



The album starts slow with the opening track ‘Escape’ that introduces the two most irritating aspects of this album – the monotonous Tibetan chanting that begins and ends the album and the vocal sections that are sung by a huge crowd of people who sound like they’re mostly made up of prepubescent girls.

‘Night of the Hunter’ however, is a vast improvement. The hard, cascading drum beat and Leto’s rasping, screaming vocals hook you on the first listen and, along with the effects-laden guitar riffs, carry you through all five and a half minutes of sheer emo hedonism.

This segues nicely into ‘Kings and Queens’, which is a surprisingly upbeat, anthemic track with a reverbed guitar riff in the verse that smacks of U2, but keeps the song interesting. On the first listen you may not think much of this track, but it does grow on you in time.

However, from there on in the album starts to miss the mark. The title track, ‘This Is War’ sounds like a rehashed version of ‘From Yesterday’, the acoustic track ‘100 Suns’ starts out well enough, but shoots itself squarely in the foot thanks to the inclusion of the aforementioned faux ‘crowd’ harmonising with Leto’s vocals and clapping at the end of the song, which I can only assume is because at 2 minutes, ‘100 Suns’ is BY FAR the shortest track on the album.



You’ll listen to ‘Hurricane’, ‘Closer To The Edge’ and ‘Search and Destroy’ 20 times and still not remember them, ‘Vox Pupuli’ contains the most cringe-worthy, gag-inducing crowd chanting I’ve ever heard on an album (‘This is a call to arms / Gather soldiers / This is a battle song / Brothers and sisters / Time to go to war’ – bleaugh) and the closing track ‘L490’ is pure filler and nothing else.

Having said that, track 10 (‘Alibi’) offers a nice change of pace and is the only song on the album that comes across as being sincere, thus proving that there might actually be real people underneath all that man-scara.

‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ with the classic lines ‘Enemy of mine / Fuck you like the devil / Violent inside / Beautiful and evil’ is also noteworthy. The dark and heavy bassline is the closest this album comes to being badass and as such, definitely deserves a mention as one of the stronger tracks on the album.

All in all, there is hardly a track off This Is War that can stand up to the singles that came off A Beautiful Lie and unless you’re a die-hard 30STM fan, there’s a good chance this album won’t make much of an impression on you and after 4 or 5 listens you’ll lose it underneath the passenger seat of your car and never find it again.

Call me a cold-hearted bastard but after hearing This Is War a number of times, all I’m left thinking is that maybe it would have been better if Leto had fallen off that scaffolding back in ‘08.


Final Verdict: 5/10