Goodbye Buckthorn Man

I hate to interrupt The Buckthorn Man, but I just want to let you know that I am blogging on SteemIt now.  My latest outburst: Is Freedom a Disease and The Unaccountable DEA.

The time has come to say Goodbye to The Buckthorn Man.  It took throat cancer to cure me of my schizophrenia — I am no longer The Buckthorn Man.  This is hard for me to swallow because I’ve always identified with the following sentiment expressed by Thomas Paine:

I undertake nothing, but what I believe to be right; I abandon nothing that I undertake.

In September 2017, I was refreshing myself in the waters of the Scuppernong River at my favorite bathing spot below the bridge near the marl pits, and it was such a gorgeous, hot, day, that I went in for a second dip.  When I emerged, my right ear complained that it was full of water — you know the feeling — and I could not clear it.  I tilted my head, poked my ear and rubbed my neck and there discovered an enlarged lymph node.  I recognized immediately the squamous cell carcinoma that had attacked me like an invasive species back in 2011 and 2016, was back.  Did the Spirit of the Springs kindly warn me that I was in trouble again?

This time, the cancer manifested in a tumor at the base of my tongue and it was deemed inoperable.  I delayed beginning the recommended chemotherapy and radiation treatment for 2 months while I explored the option of using Cannabis to “cure” the cancer.   This would have required moving to a state where I could get Medicinal Cannabis, specifically, a remedy currently in use for the same type of cancer I had consisting of a 50/50 combination of THC and CBD oils.   I simply could not organize myself to quickly move to California, Oregon or Colorado.  By the time I finally returned to Froedert Hospital to begin the treatment, the tumor was 5 times bigger and a much larger dose of chemo and radiation (both sides of my head and neck) would be required.  I finished my chemotherapy and radiation treatments on 1/4/2018.  I’m healing slowly… hope it is gone for good this time.

This woke up The Buckthorn Man to the fact that…

It is always necessary that the means that are to accomplish any end be equal to the accomplishment of that end, or the end cannot be accomplished. It is in this that the difference between finite and infinite power and wisdom discovers itself. Man frequently fails in accomplishing his ends, from a natural inability of the power to the purpose, and frequently from the want of wisdom to apply power properly.  The Age of Reason, By Thomas Paine.

… and I decided to hang up the chainsaw; I needed to change my life.  The noise, toxic fumes, exposure to toxic herbicides, long grueling hours in all weather, sun exposure, pressure I put on myself, stress on personal relationships etc. etc… may have contributed to weakening my immune system thus opening the door for the cancer to re-emerge.   This is, admittedly, speculative, but I believe it is time to say Goodbye to the Buckthorn Man.

I am still committed to contributing in some way to make the world a better place and I’ve decided to focus on local issues here in Milwaukee.  You may have heard about the “Opioid Crisis” and the corresponding Federal, State and Local Government responses, all of which ignore the root cause of the problem, which is drug prohibition and its manifestation as the War On Drugs.  Please read: The Harmful Side Effects of Drug Prohibition, by Randy E. Barnett, for an excellent exposition supporting this thesis, and Lysander Spooner’s “Vices Are Not Crimes”, a brilliant anti-prohibition essay.

The Common Council of Milwaukee created the Milwaukee City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force in an attempt to address the issue, and I have been attending as many of their meetings as my health allowed.  You can read some of my musing on this issue here and here.  My latest comments to the Task Force are below and you can view all of my comments via this Youtube Playlist.

Lately, I have been converting old history books, and some relatively new ones to audio.   I moved any interesting footnotes into the text where they were referenced — so you hear them in context.  I went over the texts with a fine-toothed comb to remove any stray characters, correct any typos and take out anything we don’t need to hear e.g., the book title repeated on every page.  So, the recordings are pretty clean.  You can download them via the links below.

Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, by Zbigniew Brzezinski

The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, by Alfred McCoy

History of the Great American Fortunes, By Gustavus Myers (Volumes I, II and III — 1936 edition)

History of the Supreme Court of the United States, by Gustavus Myers

Triumphant Plutocracy, by Richard F. Pettigrew

History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America Vol I, by Henry Wilson

History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America Vol II, by Henry Wilson

History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America Vol III, by Henry Wilson

The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, by Lysander Spooner

Principles of Secondary Education, by Alexander Inglis

The History Of The Lives And Bloody Exploits Of The Most Noted Pirates

My plan going forward is to work on my back-yard garden, continue following the business of the Milwaukee Common Council and County Board looking for opportunities to get involved, and studying history.

I probably won’t “See You At The Springs” again but I hope you enjoy the work I did there — while it lasts.

25 thoughts on “Goodbye Buckthorn Man

  1. Paul, understand your retirement from your alter ego and hope your transition to this alternate focus supports you physically, emotionally and mentally. I have some of my own thoughts on the topic you are speaking on and even though it would probably be difficult, would like to talk about it with you.



  2. So sorry about this. I made a suggestion about medical options you were considering and it was deleted before it was delivered to you. Oh well…..


  3. Paul, you have been, and continue to be, a great inspiration to me. Thank you for your years of service to our wetlands and water resources. I wish you health and happiness as you enter new service arenas. I look forward to hearing about your new adventures the next time we meet.

    Tracy Hames
    Wisconsin Wetlands Association


  4. Good luck Paul! It’s a great loss to see the Buckthorn Man move on to other things, in terms of the Scuppernog Springs area. You, and all your hard work and contributions will be missed! But you have many talents – directing them to some of the important interests you have now are valuable & needed. Seeing you speak out and try to bring enlightenment and sincere testimony to those struggling with how to solve our many social problems is so important. Best wishes as you pursue another area for your passions! Cathy


  5. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for what is perhaps the last email from the Buckthorn Man. You did good work and you continue to do so by speaking out against archaic and counterproductive drug laws. My father was also a firm believer

    Christopher Belleau



  6. Oops, email sent before I could finish it…. As I was saying, my father believed drugs should be legal. It appears very evident that countries without these laws don’t have nearly the numbers of addicts.

    Anyway, I’m glad to know you are still fighting the good fight to make the world a better place.

    I leave for Florida in 10 days. I have the same 4 shows lined up as last year. I’m planning to take my assistant Mark and Aurora. Aurora will only stay for 10-14 days. She is being homeschooled this year, so this is the best opportunity to bring her with me that we will have. We’re trying to get her into a private school and hoping for some financial aid with her acceptance.

    I hope you are feeling well and that cancer is never ever an issue again for you. Let me know if you are up for assisting at any art festivals.





  7. Good luck Buckthorn man. Thank you for all your work around our State. My outdoor adventures have been enhanced by your work.
    Perhaps in your new ventures you can save tax payers from another backdrop-like disaster.


  8. Good bye Buckthorn Man
    You’re not abandoning anything, though, you just switched tools and I’ll see you at the Springs plenty. I’ll see you in all the work you’ve done. I’ll see you in every volunteer I meet.
    Whenever someone takes a wrong in People or Nature and gives it their all to make it right I’ll see you Buckthorn Man and I’ll thank you.


  9. Paul, I’ve missed seeing your updates and I’m sad the Buckthorn Man will not be apart of you anymore. I’m thankful for everything you’ve done at “The Springs” as well as Ottawa Lake Fen, and frankly, I’m amazed that you’ve accomplished so much. I was enjoying the fen last autumn and I saw your name on a sign. A few feet further, a little Dekay’s Brownsnake was enjoying the habitat you’ve helped restore. I walked further down the trail and saw a Garter snake crossing the stream. I’m hopeful that your work will give these habitats many great years and hopefully someone else will step up and continue your work before the buckthorn takes over again. You’re an inspiration.

    I often wish I lived closer to “The Springs” so I could do my part in helping the area stay as high-quality as possible. I think about it a lot. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening in my near future. For now, I’ve been enjoying the native garden I’ve created and expanded on over the past four years. It started as 64 square feet and is now nearly 1,000 square feet. It doesn’t compare to what you’ve done, but it’s a little bit of a restoration of my own. I’ve seen a lot of species taking advantage of it and I hope I can convince others to plant native gardens of their own. It makes me happy going outside all Spring, Summer, and Autumn and seeing it filled with life.

    I hope you’ll still swing by the Springs from time to time. I’m sure mother nature would be thrilled to catch up with you.


  10. Paul, You have been an inspiration to so many, including myself. Every time I visit the springs I think of you and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the springs and how your work has enhanced the experience.

    Give ’em hell in your new arena.

    Mark Miner


  11. Hi Paul,

    I watched your testimony last night. Wow! Blown away. Whoever said “Courage is shaking in your boots but saddling up anyway?” You got huevos grandes mi amigo! Cajones grandes!

    Three cheers for you!



  12. Paul: it is with sadness that I respond to your post. I thank you for the astounding positive transformation of the habitats at the springs. I really enjoyed your enthusiasm when I was able to help your crew . I wish you well, full recovery and long life !


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