Enter the Knight Riders

It sure was nice of my Yankee Ridge buddy, Stuart Tarr, to recognize my first publication, the Cap’n Crunch Courier (CCC) in his dedication to my 1965 yearbook. Things would really change quickly the next year, as the Generation War heated up and eventually boiled over. I was stuck in a program for troublemakers and had few classes with my friends and intellectual peers.

One Saturday my family went hiking at Turkey Run in Indiana, and I cracked my knee while rock climbing. I smacked it so bad that an egg-like shape swelled up and they put me on crutches for a week. Near the end of the week, however, I found myself in the second fight of my life.

A girl in my class was making a huge deal about what adorable teddy bear eyes I had and was debating this with the teacher and a bunch of other girls. Now, I was super shy and I thought I was going through school pretty much unnoticed by the opposite sex, so I was way too embarrassed to respond. But I saw a frown on Harvey Treat’s face. And I soon heard him murmur: “He doesn’t need those crutches…it’s an act.”

Maybe Harvey had a crush on that girl; I don’t even remember her name. Later in the day, in shop class, I see Harvey has his crew all ganged around and I get this paranoid feeling Harvey is talking about me.

Thankfully, the bell rings and I head for my next class: band practice. I’m opening the door to the band rehearsal room, when I suddenly notice Ronald Dix standing right next to me. Ron kicks me in the shin. (Keep in mind, I’m on crutches.) Without hesitation, I kick Ron back about as hard as I could, at which point Ron lands a fist square on my choppers. I dropped my crutches, grabbed Ron by the throat, back-tripped him to the ground, and pinned on the floor. By this time, I noticed a crowd around us, some of whom were cheering me on.

“You beat his ass,” said Bugsy after everything broke up. See, Ron was smaller than me, but he weighed more. He was a jock, a wrestling champ. He wore a crew cut. He was a member of the Junior Red Cross. He was as goody-two-shoes as it gets and I had no idea why he wanted to mess with me…unless it was a dare Harvey had put him on. I’d never had any dealings with Ron in my entire life.

When I got to band practice, news of the fight had already spread, plus I had a split lip and couldn’t play my trumpet, so I got sent to see Mr. Walljasper, the school disciplinarian. While waiting on the couch outside his door, I started to break down. I was afraid I was going to be branded a rat and didn’t know what I should say. Although it was against my instincts, I ended up telling Walljasper the truth. He called Ron into his office immediately and expressed his disappointment that a exemplary student like Ron had behaved so badly. We shook hands and Walljasper escorted us both to the gym, where a pep rally or something was already taking place. I just remember the intense shame of having to walk through there knowing the fight was being talked about everywhere. I didn’t think I’d won or lost; I just felt sick at heart that I was making enemies without even trying. I was a super scrawny kid, and looked like a pushover to a lot of bullies, but the truth is, once they messed with me, they soon discovered I was a wiry son-of-bitch with a lot of heart.

The next day, the school held the final sock hop of the year, and it featured the debut of the Knight Riders, four guys from my class, one of whom was playing an organ, which was quite unusual. “Gloria” by the Shadows of Knight was my favorite song at the time, but they were playing something just as intense! I was instantly blown away and went to the very front row and bomped hysterically throughout the song. When their three-song set was over, I went backstage (the cafeteria) and let it be known I was a devoted fan on the spot and hailed them as true rock geniuses. I’d thought they wrote that song, but months later, while attending a rehearsal, I’d realize it was “Get Off My Cloud” by the Rolling Stones they were playing. I dropped the Cap’n Crunch Courier and began plotting how I was going to engineer myself into a rock band.

True Origins of the Finchley Boys

I might never have met Eric Swenson if my big brother Paul hadn’t decided to learn to play the cello. My mom wanted Paul to have the best teacher possible, so pretty soon he was going over to the Swenson’s house for lessons, where he discovered his teacher (a member of the famous Walden Quartet) had a son his age also attending Urbana Junior High.

Eric and Paul joined the Dramatics Club that year and got speaking roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The star of that production, however, was Brian Ravlin, who at age 13 was already an elfin creature from another dimension perfectly cast as Puck.

But talent-wise Eric towered over everyone; he matured faster and developed his immense artistic energies in multiple directions at once. Unfortunately, Eric’s mom was bipolar (long before any of us knew what that word meant—we just called ’em “crazy” back then.) She also had a serious drinking problem. She’d stay up all night several nights in a row, then go bonkers eventually and start banging pots and pans at 3 AM just to annoy Eric’s dad.

Eric told me he and his dad got so pissed they urinated on her while she was passed out on the couch after one of these all-night sessions. Eric laughed when he told the story.

She disappeared one day, and you thought things would get better, but Eric quickly inherited the illness from his mom, going into rages, smashing everything in sight.

He wasn’t like this often, just an hour or two every three months or so. His father padlocked his bedroom and let the rest of the house turn to total shit. The sink was filled with the same dirty dishes for months on end. Most of the other interior doors were broken off their hinges. You understood the depth of Eric’s demons when you realized he could tear a door out of its frame. Eric stopped going to school and started eating all his meals at the local diner, Mel Roots, where his father covered the tab.

Eric had a life we all envied, following his every fantasy wherever it led, staying up as late as he wanted, doing whatever he pleased all the time. The nearby University of Illinois provided a lot of stimulus for him to explore. He was a rising star in the local community theater at 15, playing roles twice his age with ease.

He developed a comic alter-ego named Swafford, named after a detested math teacher at Urbana Junior High. (Many years later, I’d stumble onto Ubu Roi by Alfred Jarry, the pioneering work of absurdist theater and realize Ubu Roi was an exact replica of Swafford–right down to being based on a middle-school teacher of Jarry’s).

Eric invented incredibly complex Swafford routines and acted them out in Swafford’s inimitable voice, elements of which were influenced by The Three Stooges. Some of these were so popular we made Eric perform them over and over, and they got more complex and more hilarious the more he worked on them. One of the grand episodes concerned a foreign-exchange student coming over to Swafford’s house for Thanksgiving, but when the turkey came out of the oven, Swafford’s immense greed was instantly activated and he quickly turns on the student in a rage rather than share his food. I remember snot flying out Swafford’s nose after he removed the imaginary turkey from the imaginary oven, smelled the aroma, and then flipped into a paranoid frenzy.

Swafford was the sort of character who’d stare you in the eye and say “the sun is shining” when it was pouring outside. You couldn’t trust a word he spoke and Swafford was always hustling some con-job.

When the Beatles arrived, Eric had become an instant fan. He liked Ringo the best, so he got a set of drums long before any of the rest of us had real rock instruments. One night in 1966 at the Tiger’s Den, Eric was watching a local band with Mark Warwick, when they both discovered they were practicing to Beatles’ records at home on their own. They decided to get together the next day at Eric’s. They were both 15. It was the beginning of the Finchley Boys, who would eventually become the most famous garage band of central Illinois, although Eric’s participation would end after just one gig.

Cap’n Crunch Courier

Even though I’d been put in a special program reserved for problem kids, the best thing about going to junior high is I got to reconnect with my friends from Yankee Ridge. That’s me and Steve Tyler in the front row and Andy Miller is waving his arm in the back. I joined the newspaper staff (Tiger Tracks) but was soon relegated to being “jokes” editor, which involved copying jokes out of paperback books and turning them in to the editor. The lamer the jokes, the more she seemed to like them.

The head alpha-male in my class was Harvey Treat, who looked like a young John Wayne. Harvey was already starting quarterback, a position he’d continue to hold all through high school. Harvey also played guitar and performed solo at one of our sock-hops. His guitar sound was similar to the Ventures, all instrumental and lots of reverb. When Harvey found out I was on the staff of Tiger Tracks, he asked me to slip his name into the gossip column, which I was able to do once. (“We like the way Harvey Treat sings ‘Heart and Soul’ on the piano.”) But when I tried a second time, the editor nixed it. She, like some of the more conservative girls in school, had already taken a dislike to Harvey I guess.

Since Tiger Tracks wasn’t really providing much of an outlet, I soon created my own publication, The Cap’n Crunch Courier. (The name was taken from my favorite breakfast, which had the highest sugar content of any cereal in the supermarket at the time.) I wish I could find a copy; I thought I saved some. It was a comedy fanzine that I Xeroxed at my dad’s office in the biochemistry department. My mom encouraged me to publish the paper and helped me make the copies. One of my main targets was Mr. Walljasper, the assistant principal and school disciplinarian. There were a lot of funny stories and cartoons about me and my friends. My cousins Tom and Jerry had turned me onto a new fad in California that had just emerged: skateboarding. My weekends were spent tooling around campus on my Makaha board.

Fortunately, I do have some of the original cartoons I published in the Cap’n Crunch Courier. I remember sitting in the lunchroom one day and I looked across and someone was showing Mr. Walljasper a cartoon making fun of him that I drew and published. I ducked down and just hoped nobody pointed me out as the culprit. Walljasper was interested in finding out who was responsible, but he never did confront me or catch me handing out copies.

When JFK was assassinated, they herded us all into the gym for a moment of silence. By the following year, the Generation Wars would commence. Some people call it the Generation Gap, but it was really a war.

The Mind’s Eye

Captain Whizzo stopped by High Times looking for illustration work, and we gave it to him. His pen drawings were always amazing. More important, the Soul Assassins had hired Whizzo for our second gig (he did have the only authentic ’60s-style light show, and we were—in our minds—the most authentic ’60s-garage-sound revivalist group). Whizzo clued us into a garage rock scene that had recently kicked off in New York, run by Ivy and Ann. Ivy was the daughter of the famous doughnut spokesman from all the commercials, but we wouldn’t learn that factoid until later. Of course, we immediately sent a Soul Assassin tape to Ivy, and, of course, she loved it! And she wanted to book us at the next possible opening, which was at least two weeks away. Meanwhile, I’d sent Andre Grossmann to scout out the Minds Eye and bring back some photos of the scene, you know, a basic recon mission. While going through his photos, I picked out a photo of this exotic rock goddess. “Who’s this girl?” I asked Ivy. “Oh, that’s Allegra,” said Ivy. “She’s in a band. I have her phone number right here.” I immediately called Allegra and invited her up to my High Times office for an important meeting. When she arrived, I got right to the point. “I have this band, the Soul Assassins, and we’re looking for three girls to join the group, and I want you to be one of them.”


Allegra thought it over for a day and decided, no, I have my own band and I don’t want to join your girl group. But I do know the perfect person for you. Meanwhile, Flick had already discovered a girl he wanted in the group. I hadn’t met these girls yet, but I knew their names were Abby and Kimona 117. Even better, Flick had located an amazing new drummer named Dave Rodway. Soon, we would all meet for the first time. You can listen to the original Soul Assassins at Bandcamp.com

The Snowball Fight

People often ask me how I evolved into such an anti-establishment character and I explain it all happened in the 5th Grade. I’d moved around a lot, from Boston to Cambridge, England, to Munich, Germany, back to central Illinois, where I was born. So when I entered 4th Grade at Yankee Ridge I was bilingual and spoke German with a perfect Bavarian accent. It was hard making friends with all those changes. But it got even harder the next year because I was moved to Leal School when my Dad bought a Tudor-style brick house on Delaware Street.

Leal  was very different from upscale Yankee Ridge, much more working-class. Phillip Patton (sitting next to me in the center of the front row above) had a little gang he started with three of his buddies. I sat behind Phil and he tried to recruit me. West Side Story had recently come to the Princess Theater and that movie deeply affected me. I understood instinctively that forming a gang was a noble quest, but instead of joining up with Phil, I decided to create my own. Andy Miller (top row, second from right) was my initial co-conspirator in this mission, and all the early meetings were held at his house. I must have pulled the rest from another class. There were about six of us to start. I do remember Eric Steffenson (who would die tragically young) was one of us. And, of course, Bugsy, who lived near Andy and would become the central figure in my early creative writing.

For some bizarre reason, I named us “The Roaring 21 Club” and we had a secret sign, which was a perpendicular line with two horizontal bars. Maybe it was a take-off on a Christian cross since I was still a Lutheran at the time, attending Sunday school every week. When a big snowfall hit town, I challenged Phil and his gang to a snowball fight in Carle Park. Unbeknownst to Phil, however, right after he accepted this challenge, I went around school recruiting about 30 extra members for my group, most of whom came from lower classes. I quickly gathered them all in the pavilion on the east side of the park and taught them the secret sign so they would be official members. At the appointed hour, Andy and I stood in the center of the park with three or four others, while the rest hid in the bushes around the perimeter.

Before long, Phil and his gang came screaming into the park with gobs of snowballs in their arms. When they got close, however, I gave the signal and everybody came running in, surrounding them, pelting them with snowballs. They valiantly tried to make a fight of it, forming a circle with their backs together, but it quickly evolved into a remake of Custer’s Last Stand, so they took off running towards Dennis Seth’s house, which was their nearest refuge.

We followed, raining snowballs on their backs. When we got to the house, we pelted it with snowballs. There was a jar of nails on the porch that got broken. As soon as that happened, I pulled my troops back to the park and boy, did we have a hearty chuckle, many of us bent over double, others writhing on the ground, as I recounted the engagement from the battlefield, pointing out where the various highlights had taken place. “Did you see the look on Phil’s face when he realized the was surrounded?!! Hahahaa!”

But the next day, Phil got called into the principal’s office over something he’d done, and while there, he told the story of the snowball fight. The principal wanted to see everyone involved and when we showed up, he had to move the meeting from his office to the gym. He lined up Phil’s gang on one side, and mine on the other; it was like 40 versus five. He looked at me and said, “Do you consider this a fair fight?”

I didn’t know what to say. It was just a snowball fight, fer christsake, I’m thinking. But that principal made sure when I moved to junior high I was put in a program for problem kids. My classes were weird, full of people with learning disabilities and serious issues with violence. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I realized other classes weren’t like mine. Other classes actually had serious discussions and were learning all sorts of stuff, while I was basically being warehoused in a room filled with dangerous bullies and idiots. I blame it all on West Side Story.

Phil later confronted me in the school yard and we had a fistfight to settle things that became quite a famous showdown at the school, gathering a crowd that was evenly split between who they wanted to root for. Phil boxed me in the ear pretty hard. It was my first fight so I just landed body blows. I didn’t have the guts to swing for the face or head, not yet, anyway.

When I look back on this now, I realize the creation of secret societies is probably wired into our DNA. Another thing that springs to mind: Within a few years The Merry Pranksters would become my biggest role models, accomplished scouts on the Fun Vibe trail, who actually replaced my media-induced street-gang mythology with The Magic Bus, the true secrets of which remain little-known today. I know some. Not as much as Babbs and Mountain Girl, and the grandmaster now resides in the unknown dimensions. This I know: The snowball fight was a prank. Nobody got hurt. Under Prankster rules, I should not have been shamed, and my education should not have been torpedoed. How many kids in America were there like me, shunted into a separate education system for lost causes and instigators?

My take on the generation gap

Hey, Steve, I see you have a lot of books out and that’s really cool. But there’s so much material, where’s the best place to start?” —Longtime Fan

Depends on what you want to read about. My best book right now is probably the one on the Kennedy assassination, and after that the one on the Lincoln assassination. But if you like Hip Hop, then the best book is my complete archives on that subject, and the paperback costs under $12. But if you want to delve deeply into my development as an author, the best place to start is with 1966, which contains my earliest work as a writer. It’s all fiction and a wonderful introduction to the real story of the 1960s. From there, I’d suggest reading Magic, Religion & Cannabis, which contains my autobiography from that period and will explain a lot about where my head was at the time. My first short story was titled East Village, and written at age 17. It takes place in New York’s East Village in 1966, a very important year in counterculture history. That’s when thousands of male teenagers began pressing their parents to discontinue the ritual of visiting a barbershop once a month, so they could display locks like their rock role-models. For many parents, however, having a well-shorn male child was just as important as having a well-trimmed lawn. The biggest battles may have taken place in the fall— many could escape haircuts during the summer, but not when school started.

My friends Bugsy and Maarten pulled off a daring escape for a few weeks, landing in a crash-pad in the East Village, which was experiencing an explosion of teenage runaways, and celebrating up a storm, all of which came to a sudden halt when a society teen was found murdered in a speed-freak shooting-gallery. Their adventures inspired me to write my first short story.

Next, came The Steam Tunnels, which takes place in 1966 and involves my climactic confrontation with my parents. After this day, I’d never be forced to get another haircut. I soon moved down into the basement and transformed it into a psychedelic play-land. It became the rehearsal studio for my band, The Knight Riders, my art studio, and a clubhouse for all my friends. My mom called it “The Den of Iniquity,” so I painted a sign on the entrance: “Are you sure a nice person like you belongs in this Den of Iniquity?” I was exploring the steam tunnels at the same time, and actually did consider moving down there permanently for a second. One night we thought we’d been caught by the University police when the lights came on unexpectedly. It turned out to be Guy Maynard, lead singer of the Seeds of Doubt, and a friend of his. I had to run away from home twice before I could negotiate a livable arrangement with my parents, one that afforded me the freedom that I needed. I was branded “emotionally immature,” because I wanted to be in charge of my life’s trajectory. The threat of reform school, military academy, and/or the dreaded “electro-shock therapy” was always hanging over my head. I wrote The Steam Tunnels at age 20, five years after it happened. Wesly Pinter is a composite of Bugsy and John Hayes, founder of the Knight Riders.

Then came the The Stockholm Manifesto, written while living in Sweden trying to evade the Vietnam War, which is free to download in any format.

I’d eventually get kicked out of Sweden and flunked my physical thanks to a sympathetic psychologist. I just told him I didn’t fit in the Army and they wouldn’t want me. He asked how I knew that and I told him I’d gone to Valpo University and been put in a dorm, and ended up in a huge conflict with a lot of people in the dorm who didn’t like my style. Then I began to shed a few tears. Hey, I was on the chopping block—an impeccably-groomed master-sergeant had escorted me to the psychologist’s office. Very few potential inductees even saw the psychologist. You had to demand to see him! I’d already been identified as a flight risk. You had to sign an oath right off and I refused, saying I was sympathetic to the Vietcong, and considered the USA the aggressor nation and refused to fight. After that, they kept a eye on me. What I was counting on was my weight. After days of fasting, I was probably around 125. I had some magic number in my head that if I was under that, I would be 4-F. The weighing-in however, was extremely fast and sloppy and they were taking everybody they could get by 1971, so my fasting was of no avail. The sergeant guarding me was already letting me know I was going downstairs in ten minutes and getting on that bus to boot-camp! Just as soon as you get out of that office, hahaha, you dirty hippie! He didn’t say that, but I knew he was thinking it. It was a spider looks at the fly moment. But that sergeant was positively crushed when the psychologist branded me 4-F and his little fly flew out the front door, back to freedom! It was one of my peak ecstasy moments and it had all been a lot easier than I’d thought. I sure could tell that sergeant was pissed this little fly got away and the Army never got their claws into my brain.

Birth of the Assassinettes

Our first gig (a High Times Christmas party) was a huge success, drawing a standing-room-only crowd of over 500 to the restaurant on the first floor of the McGraw Hill Building. We couldn’t wait for our next performance. The success, I knew, was at least partially due to distributing free mushrooms to the crowd. We resolved to continue that tactic for all future gigs. The great thing was we got people dancing at a time when people didn’t dance in New York. The only band I knew that created an instant dance scene was The 52’s, so we were in good company. I also knew that in order to build our fan base, we needed female fans. Guys show up in force at gigs where they know hot girls can be found. How were we going to attract a bunch of hot girls, I wondered? I soon came up with a plan: we would form a sister organization for the Soul Assassins called “The Assassinettes.” My girlfriend at the time, Claudia Cuseta (who I’d met working the front desk of Tommy Boy Records) was the first one to be inducted and she quickly recruited her best friend, Helena, to join as well. Flick came up with the third girl, Mean Jean, who was going out with his hairstyling buddy from high school, Romeo. That’s them in the photo, from left to right: Claudia, Helena, Jeannie. Hot, eh? Yes, they added quite a lot of pazazz to our second show, even though they only performed on three of our ten songs. Flick had booked us a gig in a bar downtown and Captain Whizzo, who had recently dropped by High Times to introduce himself, agreed to add his psychedelic light show to the festivities. I think we paid him $50 and all the mushrooms he could eat. Of course, we also brought shrooms to hand out to the crowd a half hour before showtime. Much to my surprise, East Village Eye rock critic James Marshall showed up. I wasn’t sure if James liked me at the time; I knew he was extremely hard-to-please musically-speaking. Imagine my surprise when he comes down to the dressing room in the basement after the gig to tell Flick and me how much he enjoyed the show. At that point, I knew nothing could stop us. The crowd, needless to say, had gone berserk cheering us on. I remember getting eye-contact with Flick during a peak moment and both of us smiled as if to say, “It’s working, man!” Problems would soon emerge, however, as the Assassinettes began to squabble. Jeannie and Claudia were clashing, and inexplicably, Helena was taking Jeannie’s side against her best friend.  I was head-over-heels in love with Claudia at the time, and I couldn’t take the stress of refereeing the disputes. This conflict was also affecting my relationship with Flick, so I disbanded the original Assassinettes. We needed to look for three new Assassinettes, I told Flick. And the number one rule next time around is nobody from the band sleeps with any Assassinettes! This would solve the problem, or so I thought.

You can listen to the Soul Assassins for free, or download some of our best tunes for 99 cents at our Bandcamp site.

Madonna’s Illuminati Moment

A few years ago, immediately after a Super Bowl, Alex Jones’ Info Wars claimed Madonna’s halftime performance was an Illuminati ceremony worshiping the devil. This report was preceded by an update on chemtrails, another valuable barometer for disinfo op in progress.

“Baphomet is an idol used by Satanists to worship the devil,” says the British lad who does most of the broadcasts for Info Wars, while showing the incriminating evidence (left).

Like chemtrails, illuminati is a certified mind-control buzz-word fostered by a well-funded disinfo industry to hype fear, confusion and misdirection. The Illuminati was a secret society that plotted European domination from a base in Bavaria, but they employed science not satanism. The world has always been peppered with such secret societies fighting for a bigger piece of the skim, because powerful people love to plot, they love skim, and they really are running the world!

What is unusual about the Illuminati is they were uncovered, supposedly thanks to a bolt of lightening killing one of their couriers. They were a Jesuit nest inside Freemasonry, which for centuries remained the most powerful secret society, and many of those lodges may have been assets for British intelligence the entire time. Secret societies in Bavaria were banned after the Illuminati plot was exposed, but isn’t it obvious that ban had little impact?

The Illuminati were recruiting among the noble classes. They were supposed to be devoted to overthrowing the monarchies, but seemed more interested in the pursuit of power and influence. The Enlightenment was spreading across Europe, (just like hippies spread from the West Coast to the East several centuries later). The Enlightenment was attracting insiders in the royal families, some of whom may have been serious about democracy and others who were probably just acting as spooks. If the Vatican didn’t create the society, its spies would have penetrated it fairly quickly. The genius of the Illuminati was constructing cell structures that allowed it to grow without compromising members, most of whom never knew each other. The Communists inherited many of the techniques, which is why some consider Communism an Illuminati op.

Power is an evolution passed through the generations, and every generation has the ability to make its mark. Religion is a tool used by those in power to manage the population. The state religion is easily adjusted when necessary, changes guided through the machinations of secret societies. The vast majority of these societies will never see the light of day. The only known chapter of the Illuminati is Yale University’s Order of Skull & Bones.

Baphomet was invented by the King of France as a device to take down the Templars, who he was deeply indebted to. It was a bastardization of Muhammad. Much later Eliphas Levy resurrected the concept by creating Baphomet as a pagan deity representing the unification of male and female, heaven and hell, above and below. The same thing as a yin-yang symbol or a star of David, both of which are also ancient male-female unification symbols. Levi was about to become a Catholic priest when he changed direction and took on a Jewish name and created the modern Tarot cards. He had a deep impact on the history of magic, influencing Aleister Crowley among many others, who, we know now, was a sometime agent of British Intelligence. Ian Fleming, who created James Bond, was Crowley’s handler during WWII, although he was most active as a spy during WWI. You want a conspiracy? How about the evolution of a British assassin into the biggest role model in America?

That Vulcan hand signal, by the way, is an ancient Judaic priestly mudra designed to infer long life and blessing, and can be found on many tombstones (left). Leonard Nimoy saw it used in his synagogue and introduced it to mainstream culture.

Anytime anyone attacks an entire spiritual cultural, whether it be Christians, Jews, or even Satanists, they are spreading hate speech and playing into the hands of the sorcerers who manipulate religion to manifest war for profit. There are good and bad people in all cultures, and when it comes to investigating black ops it’s important to stay focused on real people, with real names. I’d just as soon watch a halftime show with pagan symbols rather than Christian symbols, but I respect all cultures and seek to unify them all as they are rivers flowing to the same sea. And in a land with freedom of religion, all religions that do no harm are tolerated.

But I know nothing I say will stop the manipulated Tin Foil Hat Patrol from having a knee-jerk reaction and believing that Madonna is an agent of the devil, when, in fact, the real message of her show was: World Peace. See the real Illuminati, they create wars for profit, which is why all potential peace messiahs die young. So spreading peace really isn’t what the Illuminati are all about. They foster racism, hatred and war. But the Illuminati are very clever and being a wolf-in-sheep’s clothing is their practiced art, and their campaigns are always well-hidden behind some great charity or worthy cause, or appeal to your inner goodness, or disinfo campaign like Alex Jones. It’s called the “hoodwink” and Alex has a role in the game.

What Really Happened to Beat Street?

Review by: Sifu TORO on Feb. 03, 2012 : star star star star star
I’m sitting here after reading the script thinkin’, WHY!? Why did they re-write it into a story so far from the original script, and so far from the reality of where Hip Hop came from? Steven Hager wrote a script that really takes you into the reality of early 1980s everyday life in the South Bronx, with respect to the pioneers of Hip Hop. I would really like to see this script on the big screen some day. The script is a piece of Hip Hop history. Pay the $2.99! It’s really worth it!!

Others, like Alisha, who had brought my original script to Harry Belafonte’s attention must have also wondered what in the world had happened. What happened to the slice-of-life drama I created?

What happened is Andrew Davis was chosen by Orion Pictures to direct the movie and I had a private meeting with Andy at my apartment right after he was hired. I played a bunch of classic hip hop records for him, telling him it was essential to get songs like “Apache” and “Just Begun” into the soundtrack for the climactic break-dance battles. (But none of these songs would ever make it into the film.) I also told him that Harry wanted to make all these crazy changes to the script and I didn’t agree with them. “I’m not worried about Harry,” replied Andy. “I know how to handle Harry.” On paper Andy and I should have gotten along: we both were graduates of the journalism department at the University of Illinois. But I could tell I was already being jettisoned from my own project. Andy was taking over and becoming the new script writer, and my script was getting tossed out the window. In fact, I never spoke to Andy again after that day. He was not interested in my input. In all fairness, Andy became a very accomplished director of action films within a few years. I particularly liked his “The Package” starring Gene Hackman, filmed mostly in Chicago. But Andy never became a great writer. And Harry ended up clashing with Andy and firing him off Beat Street. A TV director was quickly brought in to finish the film, but by then, the project was in a shambles, and the story had lost all cohesion.

Hip Hop to Soul Assassins

While I was researching my hip hop book and film project, I got inspired to get involved in music again. I’d left that scene behind in 1967 after being kicked out of my Illinois garage band for taking LSD. In all fairness, the Knight Riders did offer me to rejoin a few days later, but the chemistry was already ruined.

It wasn’t until I began interviewing all the kids in the South Bronx who created hip hop, that I got the urge to get back on stage. And at first, I edged into hip hop as a deejay, enlisting my two best friends, at the time, David Bither and Jeff Peisch, to join as my emcee group. Jeff rapped his own lyrics, while David blew wild sax solos, and I scratched up some break beat records Bambaataa had clued me onto. We held a performance at the cavernous apartment on the Upper West Side Jeff and I were living in. All three of us were rising freelance writers at the time, working for Horizon magazine, and other publications. Jeff and David got a cushy gig that summer with Lincoln Center. “High-level executive meeting” was Jeff’s code-phrase for smoking a joint during work. Our initial performance was attended by many critics and music-industry insiders, all of whom positively raved about how great we were. If nothing else, we certainly had attitude. Dave’s sax playing is what took it over the top since Jeff’s rapping style was more of a white-boy parody of real rap, talking about his Sony color TV set and Klipsch speakers, and other toys he coveted. We probably could have become something, but I had also been moving in circles around the East Village, writing for the Soho News and East Village Eye,  and soon discovered garage bands were very much in fashion downtown. Laurie Lennard was going out with Jeff at the time, and was one of the top goddesses on our scene, a real go-getter who eventually landed a job booking talent for David Letterman. Laurie would later become famous for marrying Larry David and producing “An Inconvenient Truth” with Al Gore. According to Jeff, her body was an exact replica of Marilyn Monroe’s. That’s her in the red sweater with her arm around me in the above photo. Jeff would soon become news director of the newly-created MTV, and then an award-winning producer for Time/Life, while David eventually landed his dream job co-running Nonesuch Records.

I’ve always been a rocker at heart. So I switched gears and told my friends to come to a rehearsal for a garage band I was going to start. I had two cardboard boxes set-up in my bedroom and a pair of drumsticks. That was going to be my instrument to get started. I tried to enlist Dave to play organ, as he knew music theory, could write songs, and sang like a bird. But Dave would only come to the rehearsal if he could play lead guitar. He’d already been in a few bands as a keyboardist and wanted to make the switch. Flick Ford, my favorite art director at the Eye, was a natural choice as a lead singer. He had a dynamic energy that could bowl you over when he was on. But I didn’t know if Flick could sing, so I also invited Rick Dehaan to show up because he had a great rock’n’roll look and had recently tried to commit suicide. I thought this project might pick up his spirits. Rick’s psychiatrist asked him what concrete steps he was taking to make improvements in his life, and Rick replied: “I’m playing the lottery.” “But that’s not very concrete, is it?” replied the psychiatrist. The next day Rick won a million dollars. At that point I was probably thinking we could use Rick to buy equipment. Brian Spaeth helped me conceive the whole project. Brian had been through a similar experience as me, having been unceremoniously booted out of the Fleshtones, the reigning gods of garage rock in New York. The only band that could touch the Fleshtones at the time was probably the Lyres out of Boston. I met Brian when I began working at High Times as Executive Editor. It was a relief to finally land a weekly paycheck after being a freelancer for months. Anyway, I told Dave I’d already promised lead guitar to Bob Brandel, one of the best guitar players from the garage scene in Illinois, who was now working for NBC news as an art director. So that became the core of the band, which I soon named “The Soul Assassins:” Brian on bass, me on cardboard boxes, Bob on guitar and Flick singing. We knew right away we were onto something. Brian didn’t like the idea of two lead singers at first, but I told him the lead singer’s ego was always the biggest issue in any band and that if we had two, it would help keep their egos in check. Rick never had an ego, but Flick soon developed a whopper. But then so did I, I suppose. (I guess the funniest confrontation was the night Flick got drunk and said, “I am the head dick in the band.” To which I replied: “That’s right, Flick.” We were both pissing on the roof at Dino’s on Sixth Street.) I soon pulled in Brian Morse, who had drummed briefly for the Finchley Boys back in Illinois, which allowed me to switch to rhythm guitar. Our first gig was a High Times Christmas party, and the film director John McNaughton (a grade-school friend of Bob’s) flew in for the party and played organ on a couple of songs. You can listen free to the band, and download songs for 99 cents by clicking the Soul Assassin link in the middle of the links at the top-right of this page.

Below from left to right: John, Bob, Flick, Me, Brian Moores, Rick, Brian Spaeth, moments before taking the stage for the first time.