December 29, 2008
Mandatory minimum levels established for most major drugs
BOSTON — At the behest of its students and faculty, the prestigious Berklee College of Music has instituted a strict, cutting-edge substance abuse detection program aimed at maximizing the musical education of its over 4,000 students.
The school, which prides itself on the promise of a rigorous and pragmatic education, hopes that drug testing will drive elevated student performance and better prepare each pupil for post-Berklee life in the music business.
“This all but guarantees a true and bona fide Berklee experience for every single student at the school,” said a spokesman for President Roger H. Brown.
According to the new regimen, every student will be tested on a monthly basis by urinalysis and blood sampling, with screening for the presence of at least thirteen drugs including marijuana, alcohol, LSD, psilocybin, nitrous oxide, cocaine, oxycontin, ecstasy, nicotine, and ketamine, a horse tranquilizer.
For each drug, the college has adopted a scientifically determined minimum level of intoxication, below which no student should drop for any reason over the course of the semester.
A failing test result will subject each un-intoxicated student to a detailed penal hierarchy ranging from detention to permanent expulsion, depending on the severity of the infraction.
“Decisions of the drug testing board are final, although an amendment to the student bill of rights provides for an optional appeal in front of the review board, which by regulation consists of three faculty, three students, and one outside member,” said a representative from the student council.
Although policy changes made now do not take effect until the beginning of the next academic year, the announcement of future drug testing is already motivating students towards new levels of achievement.
“When I heard about all the drug testing I was like, damn, that’s hella strict. Am I going to be able to keep up? I guess we all just have to do our best for the sake of the education,” said one student, who goes by the name “Stash.”
“He used to be so famous,” say industry insiders
NEW YORK — On January 31, actor, comedian, author, and former celebrity Steve Martin will release his first-ever album of original banjo music, boldly defying industry conventions in a radical attempt to salvage his foundering career.
“Is this a joke?” asked one entertainment columnist. “You can never tell with this guy.”
As his star has faded in recent years, Martin has frequently made clandestine club appearances in the Manhattan area, playing banjo with anyone who might have him.
“At a club you’ll typically find Steve Martin on the same bill as high school kids and amateur strippers, which must be pretty rough for someone who used to be a household name,” said Arturo Baronista, a New York nightclub regular.
And Martin’s increasingly rare television appearances now merely involve the former actor as a backup instrumentalist for much more famous banjo players such as Earl Scruggs, Tony Trischka and Bela Fleck.
Tellingly, Martin’s own website provides frequent and extensive updates about his banjo projects with only rare mentions of the other activities, such as acting and comedy, for which he was once so famous.
According to statements released by Martin, an impressive roster of musical superstars such as Matt Flinner, Russ Barenberg, and Dolly Parton will accompany him on the upcoming recording.
“By associating himself with luminaries like those, he reinforces the notion of his own celebrity,” said celebrity expert Emma Beaton. “This whole project is likely a carefully calculated ploy motivated by Martin’s insatiable lust for fame.”
Strangely, the album also features Brittany Haas, a homeless fiddle genius from the streets of New Jersey.
“She is not allowed to sleep here,” said John McEuen, the album’s producer.
Martin’s banjo skills are formidable, but the buildup to his CD release has some industry insiders longing for the old days.
“I still think he’s pretty funny,” said McEuen.