If the marijuana legalization efforts currently underway in California receive some unexpected financial support from Hollywood over the next few months, drug war opponents may be able to thank Whitney Houston. And Tony Bennett.
Mere hours after Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hilton hotel bathroom on Saturday afternoon, Bennett took the stage at a pre-Grammy Awards party that Houston, 48, was to attend. Drugs must have already been on Bennett's mind -- the next night, he would accept an award for a duo he did with Amy Winehouse, who died last summer at 27 -- for the ageless crooner used his stage time to beg the assembled glitterati to dedicate themselves to a preventative cause: outright legalization.
"I would like to have every gentleman and lady in this room to commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs," said Bennett, to the sound of some applause.
Bennett didn't repeat this call on Sunday in front of the television cameras -- and Winehouse's parents -- but so what? It's A-listers at Clive Davis' party who have money to burn, not unwashed masses at home (where the drug that killed Winehouse is legal).
It's not yet known what killed Houston at the age of 48 -- reports on Sunday said that she had fluid in her lungs when she died in the bathtub of her hotel room -- but drugs, and her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, are credited for killing her career in the decade prior. Drugs, too, are blamed for helping send Winehouse's life into the spiral that eventually killed her.
"First it was Michael Jackson, then it was Amy Winehouse, and now the magnificent Whitney Houston," said Bennett, before launching into the call for legalization (which, looking at the tape, caused his drummer to react with a seeming chuckle). "So that they have to get it from a doctor, and not from some gangsters who sell it under the table."
Cynics will note it was a doctor that gave Jackson his "milk," Propofol, and that it was withdrawal from alcohol -- which is legal -- that killed Winehouse.
Maybe that's why the New York Daily News, never one to waste a pun, branded Bennett "dopey" and compared the plea to the time when Bennett suggested the "blowback" theory applied to the 9/11 attacks, asking "Who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists?" Maybe that's why Bennett didn't repeat his Hamsterdam push in front of the television cameras, or Winehouse's folks -- who revealed that Bennett donated $100,000 to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, which "provide[s] help, support or care for young people, especially those who are in need