As her home state gears up for a crucial November 4 vote on Amendment 2 – the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative – fired up, fed up and folkin’ hot singer-songwriter Ellen Bukstel(www.ellenbukstel.com) is “stirring the pot” (pun intended!) once again with her biting and incisive (but delightfully infectious) song and provocative music video “Who’s The Pusher Now?”
In her latest socially conscious opus, penned by Ellen with her friend Nick Annis and music producer son, Brett Segal, the maverick, multiple award winning songwriter and performer and legalization advocate also takes clever, pointed jabs at our government’s hypocritical war on drugs, big pharma and the dark, little known realities of quota and profit driven private prisons.
“This song is about educating people and telling the truth about medical marijuana use and the hypocrisy, lies and propaganda we’ve been inundated with for decades,” Ellen says of “Who’s The Pusher Now?”, whose incendiary song was first nominated for a 2013 Hollywood Music In Media Award (HMMA) in the Music Genre category and whose video is currently nominated in for a 2014HMMA in the Music in Visual Media. It was also a nominee for the 2014 Libby Award for Best Music Video and received an Honorable Mention for Song of the Month, July 2014, from People’s Music Network. In addition, “Who’s The Pusher Now?” the song was a finalist in the 2014 International Acoustic Music Awards.
“With the election coming up, there’s a great need for awareness on so many issues. Medical marijuana is at the top of my list for several reasons, most obviously for the health and welfare of people wanting, and often needing an alternative to the Big Pharma drugs that are literally killing hundreds of thousands of people every year. My other goal is to continue educating people with the facts and to help get it fully legalized, as it has been in states like Colorado and Washington, so we can get innocent people out of prisons – including those who have been needlessly incarcerated for victimless ‘so called’ drug related ‘crimes.’ The stats on these injustices in our legal system are staggering. I hope that those who connect with me and are inspired by the song will read more about it and understand the modern day slavery that is happening, literally all over the country.”
In a recent article about the video on the pro-legalization website http://www.tokesignals.com/
“Who’s The Pusher Now?” powerfully and candidly expresses Ellen’s disdain at the hypocrisy of our government incarcerating people for fallacious marijuana laws while blithely providing legal protection for deadly pharmaceutical drugs that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year.
Cleverly rhyming the names of FDA approved drugs (“Methadone, Fentynal, Halcion, Phenobarbitol…Percocet, Thorazine, Opiates, Amphetamine”) to make its points, the tune chronicles the U.S.’ foolish history of supporting the proliferation of severely addictive and deadly drugs while punishing those who possess and use pot, still a Schedule 1 drug despite new medical marijuana laws in many states.
Ellen’s edgy and provocative video for her folky, New Orleans-flavored song – which features compelling, colorful and often hypnotic original motion graphics – also finds a dynamic way to slay that second, lesser-known-to-the-public dragon: the fact that private, corporate owned prisons make big profits when they are filled with non violent low level drug users.
Ellen and her band of musicians (appropriately nicknamed “The Criminals”) are shown behind fast moving cell bars in orange prison jumpsuits – with images filmed on a green screen, with all sharing the same jumpsuit! The clip also shows a bright, animated stamping “Drug money machine” and cell manufacturer assembly line as she sings “Let the government take a bow.”
There are images of headlines on yellowing newspapers made to look like hemp, with inserted photo graphics of Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. Crafty images of grinding gears, pill manufacturing and film clips of social protests bring her lyrics to life in a visceral, emotionally compelling way. Truly, the viewer has to stay glued and watch multiple times to catch all the clever visual nuances that match the blistering lyrics note for note.
The opening and closing images of the video frame the tale brilliantly, as the clip launches with the words “We The People” from the United States Constitution stamped on a slow burning joint, and wraps up with an explosive image of Ellen singing in front of fire-orange graphic of our Capitolbuilding.
Even before she started her amazing streak of close to 50 music and songwriting awards, nominations and acknowledgements, from an impressive variety of prestigious organizations since 2002, Ellen was challenging her audience to laugh, dig deep and embrace the crazy emotional rollercoaster of life. She’s done it with every daring turn of phrase, her diverse community involvement and an activist musical and lyrical heart that harkens straight back to the 60s. In the colorful words of one of her thousands of fans who has been touched and transformed by her music, she’s “folkin’ hot.” Her previous politically charged popular satirical songs include “Hey Mr. Politician” and “They Lost My Vote.”
“In Florida,” Ellen says, “I met and have become friends with Robert Platshorn who was released after serving three decades in prison for trafficking marijuana. During his parole, he created ‘The Silver Tour ’ to educate Senior Citizens about the value that marijuana can have for their medical conditions as compared to traditional, government approved meds. I have been working with him to raise money to finance a media campaign to help the amendment pass this November. In my eyes, he is a hero for taking his misfortune and against many odds, spending all of his time educating people and trying to get Medical Marijuana legal in our state.”
“It can help people of all ages and with all sorts of illnesses,” she adds. But my song and getting Amendment 2 passed is just the beginning of a larger crusade. I plan to be that persistent, bold voice in the wilderness for a long time – and I’m so grateful that so many are getting on board and opening their eyes to the truth.”
The making of the “Who’s The Pusher Now?” video was an incredible bi-coastal effort by a true family production team. Ellen started on the East Coast in South Florida, recording the song with her son, music producer and sound designer Brett Segal (who co-wrote it with her and her friend Nick Annis), then filmed all the “Criminals” live on a green screen with veteran filmmaker and friend,Robert Baldwin. She then sent files to the West Coast (Los Angeles) and worked closely with her other son, award-winning filmmaker Todd Segal, who created and produced all the motion graphics, editing and post production.
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