RHONY’s Luann de Lesseps Reveals She Ate a Bologna Sandwich in Prison: ‘It Was So Sad’

Luann de Lesseps‘ Christmas Eve arrest in Palm Beach, Florida was a frightening experience for the mother of two. But months later, de Lesseps’ has been able to look back on the experience and find humor in some of her lowest moments — even laughing at the meal she was given during the night she spent in jail.

On Wednesday’s episode of The Real Housewives of New York City, de Lesseps recounted her darkest day to fellow Housewife Dorinda Medley, peeling back the curtain as to what happened after she was arrested.

“I had a sundress on, I had no shoes, no blanket, no water, no nothing,” she recalled. “They threw me a bologna sandwich, which was so crazy. You know the last time I had a bologna sandwich? Probably 40 years ago!”

“I took a big bite out of that and inside was the mustard packet,” de Lesseps said, with a laugh. “I pull out, it was almost like a dead fish hanging out of my mouth. It was just so pathetic and so sad.”

De Lesseps was visiting Palm Springs for the holidays when she was discovered trespassing in a hotel room with an unidentified man. The pair had entered the wrong room at the Colony Hotel due to one too many cocktails and a mixup of what floor they were on, she said. When authorities approached her and asked her to leave, de Lesseps got confused and defiant.

Police said Lesseps slammed a door and kicked at least one officer. “Officer O’Leary then attempted to detain de Lesseps and remove her from the bathroom, at which time De Lesseps shoved Officer O’Leary with an open palm to the chest, then slammed the door on Officer O’Leary face, striking him in the forehead. While de Lesseps was being placed in handcuffs she resisted by pushing and pulling away from Officer O’Leary and I,” the police report stated.

The incident, shown on the Bravo program in video that was captured by officers from the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Department on the scene, was a tough one to watch.

RELATED VIDEO: New Video Of Luann De Lesseps’ Arrest Last Year Shows Her Threatening Police Officers

“Don’t touch me,” de Lesseps can be heard yelling at one officer. “I’m gonna kill you. I’ll kill you. I will kill you.”

She was charged with disorderly intoxication, battery on an officer, resisting arrest with violence and threatening a public servant (de Lesseps’ since pleaded not guilty and rejected a plea deal in February).

After de Lesseps’ arrest, she told PEOPLE that that being in Palm Beach nearly a year after she wed now-ex Tom D’Agostino in the Florida destination “brought up long-buried emotions.”

It didn’t help that the Colony Hotel was the same place she had her wedding brunch after saying her “I dos.”

RELATED: How Luann de Lesseps’ RHONY Cast Mates Reacted to Her Arrest

Now sober after a 21-day stint in an alcohol treatment facility, de Lesseps revealed on an episode of RHONY earlier this month that she was grateful the experience pushed her to slow down.

“I’m not proud of what happened,” she said. “But I’m learning a lot about myself. I found the right place to be to take care of myself. I’m finally dealing with what I was trying to drink myself out of — which is dealing with my emotions from the marriage to Tom. I knew that I needed help to get that under control, but I didn’t ask for it. And you know what? I hit a wall. I just wish it wouldn’t have been a brick wall.”

She told similar things in to PEOPLE in April, saying that despite losing friends, she’s found a silver lining in her arrest.

“Unless I was humiliated publicly, I don’t think I would have done anything,” she said. “This was a warning. It was meant to happen so that I could take a step back and look at myself in a different way. I’m grateful to the universe for making me change my life.”


PEOPLE.com

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Clara Harris, the Texas Dentist Who Ran Over Cheating Husband Repeatedly, Scheduled for May Prison Release

Clara Harris, the former Houston dentist who rammed and killed her husband with her car because he was cheating on her, is scheduled to be released from prison next month, PEOPLE confirms.

Officials announced last November that Harris was granted parole after serving 15 years of a 20-year murder sentence. Court records confirm that she is scheduled for release on May 11. She will be on parole until February of 2023, the records show.

Described by her parole attorney as a “model inmate,” Harris, 50, helps translate books into braille for the blind, ABC News reports.

In July 2002, the mother-of-two became infamous when she hit her 44-year-old husband David with her silver Mercedes-Benz and ran over him three times before stopping directly on top of his body.

Harris had tracked her husband of 10 years and his mistress, Gail Bridges, to the Nassau Bay Hilton. She ran him over outside the hotel.

David’s daughter from a previous marriage, Lindsey Nicole Harris, who was in the car at the time of the murder, testified against her stepmother at trial.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

In court proceedings, it was revealed that David had admitted to his affair to his wife even before Harris received a telephone tip that he and Bridges would be meeting that night at the hotel. On the day of David’s death, Harris hired the private investigative firm, Blue Moon Investigations, to follow her husband.

A Blue Moon surveillance crew captured David’s murder on videotape, which was used as evidence against Harris.

“She loved her husband. She never would have wanted him to die,” Harris’s lawyer, Kevin Stouwie, told local Texas news outlet KTRK in November. “Her goal was to keep her marriage intact. Her goal was to save her marriage.”

In 2003, however, assistant prosecutor Mia Magness argued that Harris committed a crime and deserved to be held accountable.

“Bottom line,” Magness said, “that’s murder.”


PEOPLE.com

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Life After Prison: Why O.J. Simpson Could Return to Hollywood: “A Lot of People Have Been Calling”

O.J. Simpson, OJ Simpson, Parole hearingO.J. Simpson has been dreaming about the day he would walk free.
Last month the former NFL star turned infamous prison inmate finally got his wish when a Nevada parole board unanimously…

E! Online (US) – Top Stories

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Free Discount Cards Donated To Texas Prison Ministry By Charles Myrick of ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

Inside Serial Killer Son of Sam’s Life Now: How He’s Been Born-Again as ‘Son of Hope’ and Doesn’t Want to Leave Prison

In the years since his arrest ended a reign of terror over New York City that peaked in the summer of 1977, David Berkowitz — the serial killer known as the “Son of Sam” — has rechristened himself the “Son of Hope,” claiming he’s a born-again Christian who wants to remain behind bars, according to his visitors in prison.

The redemptive identity is an attempt to replace the menacing one that Berkowitz, now 64, adopted in taunting letters written to police and a newspaper columnist during a deadly rampage that gripped the city in fear 40 years ago.

His 13-month shooting spree, which killed six people and wounded seven others, will be revisited in the Investigation Discovery documentary Son of Sam: The Hunt for a Killer, premiering Aug. 5 and exclusively previewed in a clip above.

Serving six consecutive terms of 25 years-to-life since pleading guilty to murder in May 1978, Berkowitz “has to wake up every day and remember what he did to innocent people,” minister Roxanne Tauriello, who is a regular visitor to him in prison, tells PEOPLE.

“David grieves over that a lot, and you can’t say to him — you never want to say ‘Son of Sam’ in front of him,” Tauriello says. “He never uses that name, ever.”

“He is genuinely sorrowful and does not want to get out of prison,” she says. “He knows he deserved to die and deserves to be exactly where he is.”

• For more on the Son of Sam case then and now, subscribe now to PEOPLE or pick up this week’s issue, on newsstands Friday. 

Berkowitz’s shootings began on July 29, 1976, when he opened fire on two young women parked outside a Bronx apartment, instantly killing one of them, 18-year-old Donna Lauria. Investigators eventually linked his attacks — several of which targeted couples parked in dimly lit lovers’ lanes — by the .44-caliber handgun he used in all of them.

The cat-and-mouse game he played with police escalated after a shooting the next year, on April 17, 1977, when Berkowitz first called himself the “Son of Sam” in a letter left behind for authorities.

The next month, on May 30, another letter from the killer delivered to then-New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin fed the growing panic.

“He is very aware of the public’s fear and incredible fascination with him,” says criminologist Scott Bonn, who interviewed Berkowitz in prison in 2013 for his book Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers.

“He is a gnome-looking, bald, chubby guy with red cheeks, and he comes bouncing in to meet you,” Bonn tells PEOPLE. “He is quite different from the sullen ‘Son of Sam’ from the ’70s.”

After his capture, Berkowitz’s claims that he’d been ordered to kill by a demon (through a barking dog) initially led him to be judged mentally unfit. After that ruling was reversed and he was ordered to face charges, Berkowitz avoided a trial by pleading guilty.

In 1987, Bonn says, Berkowitz “reached a bottoming-out in prison. He didn’t want to live anymore and contemplated suicide.” But Berkowitz told Bonn that God forgave him after a dark night of despair, and he says he found religion that same year.

“He claims to be a born-again Christian,” Bonn says. Called “Brother Dave” by other inmates, Berkowitz now participates in an online ministry that is operated for him by evangelical Christians.

“He gets thousands of hits for that site because he is an interesting character,” Bonn says.

Adds minister Tauriello: “I cannot reconcile his deeds with the person I know today. It is hard to believe that at one time he was so wicked, so evil, so violent.”

In an interview with ID, however, retired N.Y.C. police Capt. Joe Borrelli wasn’t sold on Berkowitz’s conversion, saying, “It doesn’t make up for all those young women that he killed.”

“He is not putting on a façade, and he is not doing anything to get out of prison,” Tauriello says, noting that “years ago he wrote a letter to Gov. Pataki stating he does not want to come out.”

“He told me in conversations that he deserved to die, that he should have died, but at that time in New York, they did not have the death penalty,” she says. “He destroyed the lives of his victims, the parents of his victims and those that survived, who have to live with the fear of that.”

Now, according to Tauriello, Berkowitz says “one of his goals is to warn young people on the road to destruction. One of his ministries is to reach out to young people to show them the consequences of actions.”


PEOPLE.com

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Free Discount Cards Donated to Ga. Dept. Of Corrections & Rogers State Prison by Charles Myrick of ACRX

ACRX Recognition Gallery: American Consultants Rx
http://www.acrx.org -As millions of Americans strive to deal with the economic downturn,loss of jobs,foreclosures,high cost of gas,and the rising cost of prescription drug cost. Charles Myrick ,the President of American Consultants Rx, announced the re-release of the American Consultants Rx community service project which consist of millions of free discount prescription cards being donated to thousands of not for profits,hospitals,schools,churches,etc. in an effort to assist the uninsured,under insured,and seniors deal with the high cost of prescription drugs.

The American Consultants Rx discount prescription cards are to be given free to anyone in need of help curbing the high cost of prescription drugs.

Due to the rising costs, unstable economics, and the mounting cost of prescriptions, American Consultants Rx Inc. (ACRX) a.k.a (ACIRX) an Atlanta based company was born in 2004. The ACRX discount prescription card program was created and over 25 million discount prescription cards were donated to over 18k organizations across the country to be distributed to those in need of prescription assistance free of charge since 2004.

The ACRX cards will offer discounts of name brand drugs of up to 40% off and up to 60% off of generic drugs. They also possess no eligibility requirements, no forms to fill out, or expiration date as well .One card will take care of a whole family. Also note that the ACRX cards will come to your organization already pre-activated .The cards are good at over 50k stores from Walgreen, Wal mart, Eckerd”s, Kmart, Kroger, Publix, and many more. Any one can use these cards but ACRX is focusing on those who are uninsured, underinsured, or on Medicare. The ACRX cards are now in Spanish as well.

American Consultants Rx made arrangements online for the ACRX card to be available at http://www.acrxcards.com where it can also be downloaded. This arrangement has been made to allow organizations an avenue to continue assisting their clients in the community until they receive their orders of the ACRX cards. ACRX made it possible for cards to be requested from online for individuals and organizations free of charge. Request for the ACRX cards can also be made by mailing a request to : ACRX, P.O.Box 161336,Atlanta,GA 30321, faxing a written request to 404-305-9539,or calling the office at 404-767-1072. Please include name (if organization please include organization and contact name),mailing address,designate Spanish or English,amount of cards requested,and telephone number.

American Consultants Rx is working diligently to assist as many people and organizations as possible. It should be noted that while many other organizations and companies place a cost on their money saving cards, American Consultants Rx does not believe a cost should be applied, just to assist our fellow Americans. American Consultants Rx states that it will continue to strive to assist those in need.

‘Prison Break’ Reboot Cast Explains Why the Reboot Makes Sense

FOX’s popular drama “Prison Break” ended its run in 2009. But seven years later, given the industry’s fascination with reboots, the series is back with the original cast. Show creator Paul Scheuring returns as well, working with executive producers Vaun Wilmott and Michael Horowitz to craft the nine-hour story. The cast and creatives appeared at… Read more »

Variety

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Boy Oh Boy, Is Masculinity a Prison or What?

No one has to “talk sports” to like sports.

Lifestyle – Esquire

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SALISBY DALISBY & BROTHERS @ TEMPLOKATIS PRISON: Times Before the Galaxies

SALISBY DALISBY & BROTHERS @ TEMPLOKATIS PRISON: Times Before the Galaxies


Salisby Dalisby has been forced the 154th time to “go through again” as a baby to new Sanctiant parents. Salisby was able to enjoy his new family for about five years until a very bad dark Lord and Kingpin abducted him using their cloaking technology. They put Salisby with many of his cousins on a huge space ship-battle cruiser that turned out to be a very long space cruise, after the cruise was over, Salisby ends up in the dark Lord’s prison system for about a century. During the prison time there were many attempts to rescue and free Salisby by his former Grey Master friends. This is a world of magical Sanctiant orders and has been the norm for a very long time. The strange dark crime Lords conducted all kinds of research experiments on the lighted Sanctiant families for many purposes only known to the bad guys. Find out about what the latest magical order that contributed to the upcoming Galactic new Sanctiant Universe, after Salisby and his new family become totally had been stressed to their limits by association with the dark crime group.

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JACKED!: Brute Force Prison Workout Secrets Revealed

JACKED!: Brute Force Prison Workout Secrets Revealed


If you want to get ripped as fast as humanly possible…without spending any money, going to a gym or lifting a single weight. then this new book shows you exactly how convicts in prison do it! And more important, how YOU can do the same thing. The book by acclaimed fitness expert Rich Bryda is called: JACKED! Brute Force Prison Workout Secrets RevealedIt’s short, raw, and completely devoid of page filler and fluff. We don’t waste your time, we respect your time. We also know you want to know the system, you want only specific answers, and you want a step-by-step plan of how to do exactly what you need to get JACKED! JACKED! is based on research from one of the world’s top fitness authors and shows you EXACTLY how even small, “stringy” men enter some of America’s worst prisons. and end up putting on slabs of pure muscle onto their arms, legs, back and chest. Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from following the info in this book: Watch extra body fat melt off your body quickly and naturally – without changing your diet. Pack tough and lean muscle onto your arms, legs, chest and back (making even your hardcore weight lifter friends secretly wonder if you’re taking steroids!) Become more flexible, limber and functionally strong. (“Functional” strength means survival – it’s what animals in the jungle have, and you will too.) Build up more endurance in your entire body – letting you perform feats of strength for extended periods of time without tiring. (This is based on the way your central nervous system connects to your muscles – you’ll see it all explained in “plain English” inside.) Watch your shoulder, back, and joint pain fade away in as little as a few weeks as you toughen your limbs, knees, and elbows. Experience better digestion, sleep, and a sense of well being. Feel waves of self-confidence swell up inside you – and start walking around like you’re 10-feet tall and bullet proof. (Automatically making people back down and submit in your presence – pe

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Iraq Documentary Filmmaker Turns His Lens on the US Prison Pipeline

The above is a work-in-progress for a documentary film about rehabilitative theater with incarcerated young men of color called The Odyssey Project.

“I wanted to tell the story of the criminal justice system”

Iraq, the BP oil spill, the rights of union workers, food insecurity, and the juvenile incarceration system aren’t necessarily the first things that come to mind when one thinks of a summer afternoon in Santa Barbara. However, they’re what documentary filmmaker and longtime Santa Barbara resident Mark Manning concerns himself with. I walk down a red brick path through a verdant garden to arrive at Manning’s office at Conception Media, which is in the back cottage of a nice town house. Inside, a husky sleeps on the floor, a few screen-savers swirl on several monitors in the background, and Manning goes about brewing herbal tea after kissing his beautiful wife goodbye for the afternoon. He probably went surfing this morning, but he spent all last summer filming incarcerated youth.

After journeys across the country and world for his documentaries, what about the Odyssey Project — a partnership between UCSB and the juvenile justice system that brings incarcerated young men into a theater workshop — caught Manning’s eye? Why this, for his newest film?

“I always look for a way to tell a real important social issue through characters. To humanize the issue,” Manning says, leaning back in his chair.

“I wanted to tell the story of the criminal justice system…and I did it because I was a little bit afraid. I had some fear about meeting them. I realized I don’t know anything about young people of color who are locked up. I’m living a life of white privilege here; Santa Barbara is one of the centers of white privilege in the world. To tell the story of the prison pipeline here is a good juxtaposition.”

So, last summer, Manning and his crew followed the “personal odysseys” of the incarcerated young men participating in UCSB professor Michael Morgan’s Odyssey Project theater class. Those young men created pieces of personal creative writing and art, performed their own spoken word raps, and acted and danced alongside UCSB undergraduates in a public performance retelling The Odyssey as an epic tale of contemporary homecoming. The Odyssey Project film, if it gets produced, has the potential to change the way juvenile incarceration works in America by demonstrating how successful the arts can be as a tool for rehabilitation and reducing the recidivism rates of jailed youth. Manning’s company, Conception Media, collected the footage without certain knowledge of where funding would come from to finish the film.

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An incarcerated youth performs in The Odyssey alongside UCSB undergraduates (photo credit Clarissa Koenig)

It’s a labor of love, but Manning wasn’t paid to make the award-winning Road to Fallujah, either. Social justice is what makes Mark Manning tick, and what I find most fascinating about him is that this wasn’t always the case: he came to Santa Barbara when he was still a teenager to go to diving school so he could work for Big Oil out in Louisiana. Born and raised in California’s bay area, Manning was a surfer from early on, and wanted to make a living on the ocean. “There was an oil boom going on at the time,” Manning recalls. “I did underwater welding, burning, construction, explosives, whatever it took. Working 60 to 600 feet down underwater. Fun job, made a lot of money.”

But somewhere in those two decades of working for offshore oil companies, Manning slowly grew a conscience. “I didn’t like the way things were going,” he says simply. So by the time he signed up for an eight-week night class in filmmaking, he knew firsthand “how powerful those corporations actually are. How big they are.”

“A sophisticated machine”

By chance, Manning heard a program on the radio about a documentary about Palestinian children. He quit his oil job, took that filmmaking class, and started making nonprofit PSAs in Santa Barbara. It was 2001, and he couldn’t believe 70% of Americans supported the war in Iraq. “Go up and down State Street and ask people why,” someone suggested.

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Mark Manning (photo credit Clarissa Koenig)

Manning followed that suggestion — except he didn’t just go to downtown Santa Barbara, he went all over the country, talking to Wall Street bankers, members of the Ku Klux Klan, farmers, urbanites, in the South, the Midwest, Los Angeles. He asked them all the same questions, “and no matter the class, race, gender, or location of the person I asked,” Manning says, “they all said the same thing. If they were for the war, they said it was because terrorists hated us for being free. If they were against it, they said it was about oil.” But whenever he asked the interviewee for a fact to back that up — even one — from the Wall Street bankers to the KKK members, no one really had any. Thus Manning made the film American Voices, and in doing so, he learned that the mainstream media is as powerful as the big corporations he’d been working for. “It’s a sophisticated machine out there, influencing all of us.”

Manning’s current work on The Odyssey Project film grows out of the belief that relying on that “sophisticated machine” of mainstream media to tell the truth about incarcerated young men of color would be an exercise in futility. This belief was informed not only by his experience working for Big Oil and making Voices of America, but his firsthand experience in Iraq. As Manning interviewed people for the documentary that would become American Voices, he met Nadia McCaffrey, the mother whose son Patrick was killed in Iraq and who became famous for standing up to the Bush administration (which had claimed it banned the press from documenting military caskets coming home for the sake of the families’ privacy) by inviting the press to view the return of her son’s casket. Nadia asked Mark if he’d come with her to Jordan on her subsequent peace-building mission, where Iraqi families and American families who had lost children in the war were going to meet. That’s how Manning made Journey to Peace. “There was a lot of press there, just not American press. I was the American press,” Manning says wryly. “Some people needed to vent. Some needed to testify. Some people had lost their kids just days before that meeting. I mean, it was raw.”

And in challenging the fear Manning himself had around youth of color in the prison pipeline by embarking on this new documentary about The Odyssey Project, he discovered a similar rawness in the extraordinary space that professor Michael Morgan creates every summer with incarcerated youth in his very own Santa Barbara county. “Just getting to know these incarcerated young guys,” Manning recalls, shaking his head, “and seeing the friendship and relationships and seeing the beauty involved there, the willingness of everybody involved to drop preconceived judgements together, reminded me of watching the American and Iraqi families come together. They just let it go, and that’s where peace happens.”

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Incarcerated youth rehearse for The Odyssey alongside UCSB undergraduates, summer 2014 (photo credit Clarissa Koenig)

“The Truth is in the Voices of the People”

While making Journey to Peace with Nadia, Manning befriended an Iraqi woman name Rana, who regularly stopped US Marines from dropping bombs by telling them where she was running to among their targets and emerging with women and children. When Manning went into Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and lived in the city of Fallujah, he did so alongside Rana as one of the only outsiders to live un-embedded in Iraq. Rather, he lived simply as another human in the holy city, which had been the site of the Iraq War’s bloodiest battle in 2004 after four American contractors were killed there. Manning made it a point to tell the story of Fallujah from the perspective of the Iraqi people, and when the resultant film, Road To Fallujah, was released in 2009, it hit the festival circuit with a life of its own, garnering a few awards to boot.

“What’s generally missing in the media,” Manning explains, “are the voices of the people in the stories. You have paid-for pundits, paid-for research, but not those voices. With the Odyssey Project, that’s the missing element of the prison pipeline: where are the voices of the people who are in the pipeline? Where are those voices? That’s where the truth is. The truth is in the voices of the people.”

We conclude our interview by talking about courage, which it takes to make documentary films that might make a difference, sure, but Manning is talking about that of the incarcerated men themselves: “their courage to explore their emotional side, which is difficult when you have to be vulnerable with the new peers you just met, and then with the other people you’re incarcerated with and deal with whatever the framework is there. The courage was a constant blessing to be around. To get along with each other, to drop judgements, to listen, takes courage. And they have it.”

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Incarcerated youth perform The Odyssey alongside UCSB undergraduates, summer 2014 (photo credit Clarissa Koenig)

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Fela Kuti in an Unpublished Interview Conducted After His Release From Prison

The release of Alex Gibney’s new documentary on the late Nigerian pop star Fela Kuti spurred me to sift through my own personal journalistic archives to find an audiotaped interview I conducted with Fela in 1986.

And here it is, a transcript and audio clip of my mostly unpublished interview with Fela, perhaps the first one-on-one he granted after being released from prison in ’86.

On June 17, 1986, seven weeks after his release from Nigeria’s toughest prison, Fela spoke exclusively with me. And, bravely, he remained defiant against the military regime in Nigeria that had imprisoned him.

As is the case with many interviews that I conducted as a writer for music trade weekly Cash Box, the Q&A remained unpublished (except for a few lines published in the June 21, 1986, issue of that magazine).

Kuti is probably best-known today as the inventor of Afropop, a massively influential musical form that mixed jazz, rock, funk and revolutionary politics.

Fela was also famous for having fought against oppression in Nigeria. In the early ’80s he was imprisoned by his country’s autocratic regime for three years on what appear to have been politically motivated charges.

After he was released from prison in April 1986, he visited New York City, appearing at a Manhattan press conference on June 13, 1986 (my interview was not a part of that conference) before performing for Amnesty International at Giants Stadium in New Jersey on June 15.

Here’s an edited version of the conversation I had with Fela on June 17, 1986. (And here’s a link to audio clips of my conversation with him.)

Paul Iorio: It must be a big change for you to be out of prison now.

Fela Kuti: Yeah, it’s a big change for me. It’s a good change.

Iorio: Did you write a lot of songs in prison?

Fela: No. I just kept my brain blank. I left my mind blank in prison.

Iorio: You were transferred to Kirikiri. Was that, as they say, Nigeria’s toughest prison? And was it tough on you?

Fela: [Kirikiri] is one of the toughest prisons, but it was not tough on me. I lived through it. It was tough on the body. I lived through it….

Iorio: Do you think your spirit is stronger because of this experience?

Fela: Much more stronger.

Iorio:There was a period when you were in the hospital and they transferred you over to Maiduguri prison. At that point nobody heard anything from you for about six weeks. What happened to you?

Fela: They just took me to the prison … and it was very, very uncomfortable, very far away from everybody. And visitors weren’t allowed for me for about five months.

Iorio: Were you afraid for your life?

Fela: No, no, no, I was never afraid for my life…. We just try to face the government….

Iorio: Are you still going to speak out against the Nigerian government? … You’re not going to back down?

Fela: No, I’m not going to back down. I still intend to [protest the government]. I’m not backing down….

Iorio: Would you ever consider getting involved in Nigerian politics … ?

Fela: Yes, definitely.

Iorio: You mentioned that some of the military people have your records and like your music.

Fela: Oh, yes. Everybody in Nigeria likes my records.

Iorio: Do you think Amnesty International had a lot to do with getting you out of prison?

Fela: Not much. They tried to make people aware of it. But there’s not much they could do….

Iorio: While you were in prison, what was the worst thing that happened to you?

Fela: The worst thing that happened to me [while I was in prison] was that my record was produced by somebody else, Bill Laswell. And that really fucked me up in prison.

Iorio: That was “Live in Amsterdam”?

Fela: No, no, “Army Arrangement” … destroyed me completely, fucked my mind up…. When you’re in prison, you can’t do anything about what’s happening outside.

Iorio: But at the same time, people were being carted out dead every day; there were beatings.

Fela: Oh, yes.

Iorio: But it never happened to you?

Fela: No.

Iorio: Was that because everybody knew who you were?

Fela: Yes, exactly.

Iorio: You were more than disappointed with “Army Arrangement.”

Fela: Yes, Bill Laswell’s production. I had a production [before I went] to prison. So they abandoned my production and put in a new one…. They knew that [I’d given] instructions that it not be produced by anyone. They knew how I felt about it.

[I was unable to contact Laswell for comment on this claim. Of course, Laswell is welcome to give his side of the story in the comments section here.]

Iorio: How about “Live in Amsterdam”? Do you harbor any bad feeling that EMI released that instead of releasing “Perambulator”?

Fela: EMI did so many bad things. They didn’t look out for my interest at all…. They just wanted to rush something out…. “Live in Amsterdam” wasn’t a good recording. I only [made] it happen because the system wanted it, because the company complained … and demanded a live album.

[Any executive from that era of EMI is free to rebut Fela’s statements in the comments section.]

Iorio: Is there a Fela record that you consider is your best?

Fela: No, I don’t.

Iorio: Do you think that you could live a better life as a musician if you were to leave Nigeria?

Fela: I could never leave my home…. It inspires me a lot.
Entertainment – The Huffington Post
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