There’s something very special about her Majesty’s Secret Service and the Sicilian Men of Honor. They are, in fact, the greatest assassins of our time, although Seal Team Six was doing it’s best to capture that honor before, unfortunately, getting decimated in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan shortly after the bin Laden operation.
It’s funny how your perspective of these two powerful secret societies boils down to personal preference. Both societies have attained mythic status to the point of replacing the cowboy/indian dialectic that dominated the early film industry.
For many decades, the cowboy films portrayed the invading culture as the “good guys,” but later, that perspective seemed to slip closer to something less blatantly powered by propaganda. In today’s media, you can pick 007’s Queen, and, by extension, the Royal Houses of Europe as your “father” spirit guide; or, on the other hand, you might prefer a regional tribal leader of Italian ancestry, and, by extension, the Vatican? I can’t help but notice the British have attained a more favorable PR image than the mafiosos, who are typically portrayed as deese and doose individuals lacking any real cultural refinements, a low-brow style now likely preferred by many Italian youth, who might strive to be thugs, same way a Cheech and Chong I’m-high- all-day approach is preferred by other teenagers, although both approaches may not work out as well as they might think over the long-term, as opposed to those who seek a more intellectual and responsible approach to life.
You notice when the CIA wanted to whack JFK, they immediately turned to Johnny Roselli, a man of honor who actually rivals James Bond in style and substance, only Roselli was a real dude. They could have just as easily gone to the British SAS, where the real James Bonds of today actively reside. But William Harvey chose Roselli, a man who actually knew Kennedy socially and undoubtedly shared a few of the same mistresses since he rivaled Bond in the romance department as well as the assassination department. It’s funny how there’s no films about Roselli, even though he confessed to killing JFK many times before found floating in a barrel in Biscayne Bay, cut up into little pieces. Whatever happened to omerta, John? Did you actually have to brag about it so much?
For whatever reason, spooks and godfathers are the two dominant media themes of our time, both being mined primarily for violence pornography purposes: punches, shootings, explosions, multiple graphic murders and assorted traumatic imagery. The usual stuff the media wants to fill our little kids head’s with. Sometimes you have to wonder if these two memes emerged randomly, or whether they truly do represent the undercurrents ruling our banking industry?
The National Institute of Health (NIH) just released the first image of the internal structure of the brain, and it turns out to be wired like a Persian carpet: long strands of perpendicular ribbons. Although the image displayed here came from a monkey brain the NIH crew added: “This grid structure is continuous and consistent at all scales and across humans and other primate species.”
Most of my early life, I had a really bad stuttering problem. When I was excited, it was very hard for me to communicate. I didn’t realize how embarrassing my affliction was to my father until the day I took my first bike ride. My older brother Paul told me it would be easier to learn if I did it on a hill so I could keep my speed up without pedaling. I didn’t know anything about braking, I just took off down the steep hill in front of our house in Arlington, Massachusetts. It was an unpaved, gravel road, unfortunately, quite bumpy, and, right as I neared the bottom I hit a pothole and lost control. After the crash, I ran back to the house in tears. I was really pissed at my brother for encouraging me to go down that hill. When I found my father he asked me what was wrong, and all I could do was stutter. “Come back when you can tell me what happened,” replied my dad coldly.
That was the beginning of my problems with authority. I went back to my room, thought it over rationally and decided my dad was not only not perfect like I had thought, but he had done something very wrong. I didn’t mention the incident to anyone after that, but this revelation turned me against blind authority worship that nationalism and fascism both feed on. Authority would never look the same again.
Later in life, I wondered what had created that stuttering problem and remembered a recurring nightmare I’d had starting in nursery school: I was in the back seat of a car crash in front of our house. That nightmare had stuck with me for years, which is the only reason I still remember it today. Eventually, I linked this to a vicious beating I’d taken from my grandmother for crossing the street. Although my grandmother thought I’d run across on my own, in fact, another parent across the street had signaled me it was ok to cross. My grandmother was just visiting from Kansas and didn’t know about our neighborhood kid-crossing code. I guess my mom witnessed the whole thing and told me about it later. I realized while my grandmother was spanking me (pants down, in front of the neighborhood), she was yelling about a “car accident.” So that trauma incident undoubtedly created the nightmare, and, so I thought, the stuttering problem.
But lately I’ve begun to consider another factor: left-handedness, which runs in the Hager family. I was allowed to be a leftie when it came to writing and drawing, but somewhere along the line, both my brother and I were switched to right-handedness for sports, probably because it was much more difficult to find left-handed gear. I’ve come to consider that forcing people to change their natural handedness can lead to dyslexia and/or stuttering. What you are doing in these cases is fighting upstream against the brain’s natural wiring pattern. It can be done, but for some people, there will be serious complications. There appears to be a strong duality in the wiring pattern.
Sometime in 1967, my dad became the first person to notice a change in me, and, in fact, he’d already formed a theory on it. While we were sitting at dinner one night, he turned to me and said, “You haven’t stuttered since you started smoking marijuana.” Now, my dad went to Harvard at the same time as Timothy Leary, which is why we lived in Arlington in the first place. But he hated Leary with a purple passion, and felt pretty much the same way about the emerging counterculture. Obviously, marijuana was forbidden in our house, but my dad was wise to my developments and directions and secret ceremonies. Did marijuana cure my stuttering? Can’t say for sure, but the stuttering disappeared right around the same time I discovered cannabis.
Ever wonder why a British assassin is the most revered cultural icon of our time? You have to wonder who came up with the idea of Queen Elizabeth opening the Olympics with Bond. At first, I could not believe that was the real Queen; it had to be a look-alike actress, but soon I realized, yes, the Queen wants to put some of the James Bond assassin juice into her own aura.
I don’t think James Bond could have gotten so big if not for JFK. Soon after he was elected, the young Kennedy revealed his love of Ian Fleming’s books to the press and pretty soon, those books were being serialized in almost every newspaper in America. Kennedy did some spy work himself. In fact, he was romantically involved with a possible Nazi spy while in England. JFK started the war in Naval Intelligence, the same outfit that made the secret deals with Lucky Luciano to watch the docks, and prepare Sicily for invasion, in exchange for some wink-wink arrangements with the French heroin trade, but he got moved out to the Pacific possibly in order to get sheep-dipped as a war hero, or so many believe. While JFK was saving a man’s life, however, George Bush was jumping out of his bomber first instead of last like a pilot’s supposed to, so he probably botched his war hero sheep-dipping by being responsible for a couple of unnecessary deaths, or so the legend goes.
Soon after taking office, Kennedy told the CIA that he wanted to meet “the American James Bond.” In other words, who’s the top assassin who handles the high priority wet work around here? No doubt Kennedy wanted to talk shop and spy craft.
But when the CIA brought him their number one assassin, William Harvey, Kennedy was unimpressed. Harvey was a thug and had none of the social grace of a James Bond.
But there was a man of intense charisma and social grace, who became Harvey’s go-to assassin. Harvey would soon approach this man about killing Castro—more on that later.
Meanwhile, after taking LSD with one of his many mistresses (Mary Meyer, who was handing it out to lots of people in Washington at the time), JFK began opening up secret, backdoor lines of communication to Cuba and the Soviet Union. He successfully negotiated the first nuclear arms treaty and probably wanted to restore relations with Cuba and avoid a land war in Asia.
Yes, acid turned Kennedy into a pacifist but that should be no surprise since it also propelled Steve Jobs into creating the personal computer. Unfortunately, Kennedy’s pacifism and peace incentives put him into conflict with the most powerful force in the world, the war party that employs war as a strategic means of extracting the greatest possible profits from the misery and suffering of innocent people.
After JFK ordered all operations against Cuba ended, he discovered Harvey was still fomenting terror in Cuba and plotting a Castro assassination. JFK ordered Harvey sacked, but instead, James J. Angleton moved him to Italy. He was once the CIA’s greatest assassin, after all, even though his health is now failing due to stress and heavy drinking, but his services might be needed very soon, or so Angleton surmised.
But who was the real-life American James Bond? The one with the wit, charm and grace of a British lord mixed with the skills of a ninja warrior?
That would be Johnny Roselli, a “man of honor” in the Sicilian tradition who worked for the Chicago family interests in Los Angeles under the supervision of Sam Giancana, and who also worked with William Harvey on matters of intense national security. Roselli knew JFK, and, in fact, was instrumental in helping introduce him to Sam Giancana’s mistress, who soon became a carrier pigeon between the two, sending messages back and forth while Kennedy plotted his peace missions. Meanwhile, the CIA was plotting how to capture the heroin franchise from French control in Indochina. (Soon, any poppy fields not under CIA protection would be bombed out of existence.) Strange that Roselli would become an assassin of JFK. Roselli was sent to babysit Giancana’s mistress after the event. She was hysterical and Giancana was afraid she might talk to someone. Most of the other potential whistle-blowers were just whacked.
During this period, Roselli would drift in and out of my hometown, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. One of his favorite mistresses ran the local newspaper (where I worked on weekends) and television station. And when she needed someone to whack her philandering husband, she went first to Harvey, who was living in Indiana. Harvey turned down the assignment, so Roselli took care of it. None of this would be revealed until decades later, after all the principle characters were dead.
Ian Fleming was a real British James Bond, by the way. He handled a lot of the most sensitive undercover agents, including Aleister Crowley. His books are Cold War cartoon fantasies, however, as Fleming did not want to spill the beans on any real secrets, although he might have been able to offer some insight into SIS operations inside the USA. Funny how British spies are never uncovered or talked about in the media, especially the really famous ones from history, like Aaron Burr and Benjamin Franklin.
Someday history may show a new global empire was forged on 9/11 2001. Evidence has emerged that massive amounts of financial fraud occurred just prior to and during the attacks. Mark H. Gaffney has released an entertaining book Black 9/11: Money, Motive and Technology (Trine Day), that charts some of the more interesting developments over the last decade of citizen research.
I especially enjoyed his retelling of the Pentagon plane strike, which managed to kill an entire budget staff in charge of investigating the $1.3 trillion that had just been announced missing the day before. This office was located near the ground in a difficult location to hit by a plane. Yet the well-known location of the HQ of the Joints Chiefs was a direct line up the Potomac and a much easier target? The pilot decided to avoid the easy shot on the chiefs in order to execute a swerving turn at low altitude and high speed right into the accounting office where all the evidence was being stored of the Chief’s possible criminality in the missing trillions? Who can be expected to swallow a coincidence like that?
In fact, 9/11 was planned for years and maximized in multiple directions. Gaffney illuminates some of the history behind Marsh & McLennan and AIG, the two major players in suspicious trades, as well as Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard of the CIA, and Kroll Associates, a Wall Street spy firm owned by AIG. Richard A. Grove has testified that a new internet mainframe for moving electronic money was installed on the floors of Marsh & McLennan just weeks before the attacks, and at the time, Grove and a group of insiders concerned about money laundering had been invited to a meeting scheduled for 9/11. Grove was late, or he would had perished just like all the others who showed up on time. It’s going to take decades to sort out all the possible patsies that could have been lured to a death trap that day, a list that certainly includes the Pentagon accountants and some potential whistleblowers seeking redress from inside their corrupt corporations.
All did not go according to plan that day. Obviously, Flight 93 didn’t complete its mission. One wonders whether that plane was designed to hit Building 7, and, long after it missed it’s target window (and the British media had already declared Building 7 “down”), they reluctantly brought down the building without the jet cover story, which likely would have been designed to strike Guiliani’s command post near the top floors to wipe out the crime scene and anoint Guiliani a folk hero, as he was moved out of the building only minutes before the plane may have been scheduled to hit.
Gaffney’s book avoids a lot of the really obvious crackpot junk that has bogged down this investigation with so much muddy water so no one can see to the bottom of anything. Conspiracy research is dominated by disinfo artists, and almost everything you read about this event has passed through their pipelines. Most “insider” information is cleverly built to eventually implode from disinfo buried inside a kernel of truth. Gaffney’s biggest source throughout the book is Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer who became famous by attaching himself to the CIA/Contra/Cocaine controversy as an insider whisteblower.
After Gary Webb published Dark Alliance and was savaged in the media for being the messenger of bad news, I called Gary and offered him a column on CIA drug dealing in High Times. Gary demanded about five times more money than I was prepared to pay him. This was before Gary fell on hard times financially. Anyway, right afterwards, I offered the column to Mike Ruppert.
On 9/11, Ruppert was a well-known and frequent poster on a CIA-Drugs discussion group at yahoo.com, a group that included many reputable citizen researchers, including Daniel Hopsicker, the first person to discover Mohammed Atta’s links to sex clubs and cocaine parties (hardly the activities of a devoted jihadist). Right after the first building went down there was a lot of discussion on how the event looked like demolition and not a fire collapse. Ruppert immediately blasted all thoughts of explosives, using exclamation marks and all caps and calling people idiots for even suggesting anyone should go near that building and start collecting evidence of controlled demolition, which would have proved a much wider, deeper conspiracy. These bizarre posts by Ruppert were seconded by a virtual Ruppert sock puppet on the site, who died shortly thereafter. Soon Ruppert led us all off on a wild goose chase in Canada, promising a two-bit con artist named Vreeland had the evidence needed to bring down the government! Then he led everyone in a ever wilder goose chase called “Peak Oil,” which was actually just a scam to double oil prices in a time of actual glut. Eventually, I had to fire Ruppert as I had long ago lost confidence in the reliability of his information, and he seemed to be evolving into just another fear-based demagogue like Alex Jones and David Icke.
So while I enjoyed reading Gaffney’s book, there are parts where speculation gets in the way of solid research, and Ruppert is treated like a honorable source of info and not the disinfo artist he’s proved himself to be. But don’t let those reservations deter you from an entertaining afternoon of dot connecting. Just try to avoid the rabbit holes that abound through-out.
It’s just been revealed James Holmes was seen one time by Dr. Lynne Fenton after he flunked his oral exams and was ejected from grad school, losing his grant in the process. Fenton immediately sent a threat assessment warning to the school’s internal security. Something meaningful must have happened in that session, because Holmes also sent a notebook filled with info about his violent plans and even called the doctor’s office from the movie theater just prior to launching his attack. I wonder if Holmes was on medication, and if so, did that medication cause a manic reaction resulting in his flunking out of school, followed by a complete psychotic breakdown? Although the conspiracy disinfo crowd (David Icke, Alex Jones) have been spreading stories about Holmes being a possible MKULTRA assassin, the truth, more likely, is, he had a manic reaction to medication, the same thing that probably happens to loads of people all the time who are placed on medication. Unfortunately, there are no facts and no government study. The pill industry shredded their findings on psychosis and no one wants to address the fallout we’re experiencing from putting half the country on mind-altering chemicals. The new twist on this story is that Holme’s father works in the banking industry and the attack is somehow connected to the LIBOR scandal? It’s difficult, however, to fathom what benefit this tragedy might provide to shelter English banks.
The kids aren’t going crazy because of the CIA, my friends, they are going crazy on pills. At least, that is my take on our current sad situation.
Most people think the mafia was first exposed in 1957, when hundreds of members were discovered meeting at a private estate in Appalachia, New York. Until then, FBI Director Hoover claimed essentially there was no “organized crime” in America, while concentrating most of his efforts harassing communists and pot-smoking jazz musicians. However, a little research quickly reveals that story is a fantasy. In fact, the mafia was named and identified before the turn-of-the-century, long before Hoover arrived on the scene. The “mafia” became a household word in 1888, after the murder of newly-appointed New Orleans police chief David Hennessy.
“The dagoes did it” mumbled the police chief before dying. People today have no idea of the racism that confronted the average Italian immigrant in those days. Even in a melting pot like New Orleans, Italians were not trusted nor respected by the average white citizen. At the time, unloading the banana boats was considered the worst work on the wharfs, reserved for the lowliest of stevedores, the Italians. At first, the Provenzano family controlled fruit unloading in New Orleans, but soon a rival group, the Matranga family, greatly undercut their prices and hired away their foreman, Jim Caruso. One night, the Matgrangas were attacked by some Italians with shotguns and the Provanzanos were arrested and put on trial, which ended in mistrial.
Days before the second trial was set to begin, Hennessey was murdered. A mass roundup of Italians took place, with representatives of both clans being jailed as they each pointed fingers at each other, claiming the other side was involved in a secret brotherhood of death, the mafia, with representatives in major cities across North America.
Problem is, no one could figure out which side was telling the truth.
And Hennessy had a very complicated history. He’d executed former police chief-of-aids Thomas Devereaux with a bullet to the back of the head, a murder witnessed by many but ultimately forgiven because Devereaux had just shot his cousin Mike, who’d later be found executed anyway. In 1881, the two Hennessy cousins pinched Giuseppe Esposito in New Orleans. Esposito was wanted in Sicily and is considered one of the earliest of the mafios to migrate to North America. But Hennessy belonged to a working man’s social club with both rival clans, and seems to have been sincerely trying to negotiate a truce between them.
Most of the testimony about the mafia would quickly be forgotten, however. One thing Sam Giancana used to say: if you want to know the killer, look for who survives. (Using this logic, his brother Chuck believes Santos Trafficante accepted the hit that killed his brother Sam, and even thinks Johnny Roselli pulled that trigger, as he had just defected from the Giancana outfit. I believe William Harvey is Giancana’s real killer, however. Roselli did clean-up work after the assassination, and told several people he was one of the shooters. And when Congress began investigating, both were soon dead within a few days of each other. Similar, in fact, to what occurred with Hennessey.
Employing Giancana’s logic, the Matranga family represented the real mafia, since they eventually morphed into Carlos Marcello’s well-connected outfit. So even though a Sicilian family was already installed on the docks of the Big Easy, they were swiftly pushed aside by a better-connected group that devastated wages being paid to Italian stevedores, cutting their daily pay almost in half.
But after this murder of the chief, innocent victims from both clans were shot, beaten, dragged and hanged in the streets of New Orleans by a howling, blood-thirsty mob. The best book on the subject The Crescent City Lynchings was written by Tom Smith. I particularly enjoyed reading the testimony of Joe Provenzano, as he described the initiation ceremony as told to him by his ex-foreman Caruso. At the time, there already was a national Murder Incorporated, operating across the country, and, apparently, the price for murder wasn’t even that high. And the ceremony for the made men wasn’t all that different from the one Joe Bonnano would undergo in New York City forty years later. When Hoover took power at the Department of Justice, however, he dismissed all this talk as unfounded conspiracy theory. Makes you wonder what Hoover was really up to, doesn’t it? Especially since the Sicilians were helpful in pushing the Communists out of the labor movement, just as the Matrangas pushed out the Provenzanos.
Unlike some immigrant cultures, the Sicilians clung together after immigration and kept their tribes united, even in the New World. They did not join the local political machines, but preferred to create their own. The Sicilians were so tight, in fact, that soon after establishing their communities, the most respected leaders took steps to organize on a national level. Eventually, they set-up a “Commission of Peace” to deal with conflicts like the one that had broken out in New Orleans. But in 1888 that commission was not yet functioning. And the Sicilians always broke down to one of two styles: the first rooted in the working class poor “Black Hand” extortion societies, and the other based on the landed, old money traditions and their concepts of honor and revenge. The former tended to get involved with prostitution and drugs while being completely ruthless, while the later preferred gambling and alcohol and a code of ethics that kept the animals under control.
After the Hennessey murder trial failed to convict a single murderer, however, New Orleans demanded street justice. Around 250 Italians had been rounded up, including members of both families. Eventually, a grand jury indicted 19 people, nine of whom were immediately put on trial for the murder, but the prosecution was filled with obvious perjuries and the trial ended in acquittals for all. A mob led by William Parkinson and the town blue bloods marched on the jail, busted through a wall and savagely beat, shot, dragged and lynched 11 Italians, most of whom had already been found not-guilty or acquitted and several of whom were clearly not involved in the crime. “The Italians have taken the law into their own hands, and we had no choice but to do the same,” explained Mayor Shakespeare after the savagery was over. But in 1892, President Benjamin Harrison ordered the payment of $25,000 to each of the families of the victims who were Italian citizens.
Meanwhile, in the early 1900s, the New York Police created a special undercover Italian squad to investigate the Sicilians in New York, led by Joe Petrosino. The police knew almost nothing about the inner workings of these families, so strong was the rule of omerta. Petrosino undertook a fatal mission to Sicily in an attempt to find out whether the North American families were, in fact, taking orders from Sicily. He was murdered soon after arrival, creating yet another intense wave of anti-Italian sentiment in America.
These two murders, in fact, were the reason the Sicilians set up a Commission of Peace in the first place and it was also the reason why they put a ban on the murder of policemen and politicians (a ban that held until Giancana and Roselli accepted an offer from William Harvey to assassinate JFK). After Don Peppino (Joseph Bonnano), the most respected of the Sicilian godfathers, heard about the JFK assassination he was deeply troubled and felt nothing like that could have happened had the Commission been able to hold firm. After all, Peppino had successfully thwarted Dutch Schultz’s plot to murder crusading prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey, which would have provoked an all-out war with the establishment. The Commission wasn’t just about organizing criminal enterprises, it was about protecting their fellow Italians from racism and preserving their unique cultural identity.
Law enforcement has long been obsessed with finding the Capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses), even though that position seldom existed except in fantasies. Even though the clans were organized in Sicily as an underground army to resist their invading oppressors, the families were run mostly as private fiefdoms and did not interfere with each other. When a New York don attempted to anoint himself Capo di tutti capi, he was typically assassinated by rivals. Giancana eventually evolved into the closest thing to Capo di tutti capi, just based on the reach of the Chicago outfit.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that insiders began to reveal how the clans operated internally. The film “The Godfather” was one of the first peeks inside the culture, but Puzzo was not a true insider and that book and film are rife with false rumors. A better picture began to emerge after several books were published by members of the Bonnano family. Don Peppino had led the opposition to drug dealing and supported a ban on both prostitution and drug dealing that was routinely ignored throughout the culture. But the young Turks running the newer families wanted the drug money, and they plotted against Don Peppino, eventually attempting to assassinate his son, who had been put in charge of the family’s day-to-day operations after the Don moved to Arizona to escape what he called “The Volcano” (New York City). His son had been raised in Arizona, attending private schools and ROTC and he was not really accepted by some of the street thugs. Persecution of the Bonannos, the most respected family, led to the breakdown of omerta and the Commission of Peace. Reading Don Peppino’s book (A Man of Honor), the best book of the bunch, one can’t help but feel there are good and bad elements in both cultures, and after retiring, Don Peppino was hounded by some of the worst elements in the FBI until his death. The FBI attempted to turn almost every friend he made out west into a secret informer against him. Don Peppino was like an old gunslinger trying to retire but young bucks (from both cultures) wanted to make a name for themselves and wouldn’t let him. One of these was named Rudy Guiliani, who used the book to prove the existence of a Mafia Commission and successfully put the heads of the Five Families of New York in jail, using the book as a blueprint of who to go after. Despite this, Don Peppino lived long enough to die of old age at age 97 in Arizona, on May 11, 2002. His first born son, Salvatore (Bill), who had been the first to break omerta by speaking to Gay Talese, died a few years later in 2008, at 76. Bill became a successful Hollywood producer of films and TV specials about his family. Don Peppino had survived numerous heart attacks; Bill succumbed to his first.
When the hippie generation first emerged around 1966, they had a tremendous, global impact almost immediately. The hippies influenced the Beatles, for example, not the other way around. The movement was actually deeply ethical and spiritual, and involved respect for nature and native cultures, as well as a deep suspicion for the oil companies, who had emerged as the world’s dominant corporations. Their relentless campaign to turn everything in America into plastic really annoyed us. Plastic was a bad word to hippies. We hated it.
One thing we didn’t hate was marijuana, which was the primary sacrament from day one. All sorts of other plants and substances quickly followed. We needed people to cultivate, transport and sell these sacraments. These people were closer to priests than outlaws to us since they were providing our sacraments at great personal jeopardy.
It’s no accident that the most spiritually advanced hippie clan was also the most successful smuggling and dealing operation in North America. I speak of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love based out of Laguna Beach, California and founded by hippie saint Johnny Griggs.
The Brotherhood became known as the hippie mafia, and their story became a tale of drug smuggling and police interventions. The Godfather was John, picture at the left. But the hippie mafia story is a little bit like the blind man describing an elephant by touching its toe. Nick Schou recently wrote an entertaining book on the Brotherhood and he couldn’t understand why John’s widow couldn’t relate to it. The illegal part of hippie life is like the visible part of an iceberg. The heart and soul of the culture lies submerged, out-of-view. And that is the spiritual side, known to made members. We have no official ceremony for this initiation, but we know how to recognize when one gets “zapped” by this unique, non-violent form of spirituality. But to the population at large, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love remains just another “crime syndicate.”
Which is why I can relate to the so-called “mafia.” See, the Sicilian immigrants that came to America arrived with a very strong sense of tribal culture and clung together and supported each other. The most successful among them, the man who produced the most jobs, became “the father” of his clan, and among his duties was to negotiate disputes among family members and navigate towards peace. Because Sicilians lived under conquerors for centuries, they developed a unique sense of justice. When a Sicilian feels dishonored, he does not go to a policeman or the halls of justice, both of which were historically controlled by an enemy culture. He does things the Sicilian way, which is to say in a dark alley from behind with a stiletto to the throat.
When prohibition set in, all the immigrant cultures had criminal gangs, and the Irish were among the strongest. Nucky Johnson was the grand poo-bah of that culture, but Joe Kennedy was probably a close second. But the biggest money-makers at the time were probably the Jews in Canada, the Bronfmans. But slowly, the Sicilians took power. Why? Perhaps because their spirituality was stronger and they were more dedicated to their tribes. And maybe also because they were students of Niccolo Machiavelli, who taught them the strategies of force. Those who seek only to do good inevitably lose to those willing to commit evil. The great dons of the past were often educated, well-read and deeply spiritual, although they’ve been stereotyped as virtual morons with mustaches. The reason “The Godfather” resonated so strongly is that this elaborate and ancient culture was actually investigated for the first time.
Strangely, after Joe Kennedy’s son became president, his brother launched a vicious campaign against Jimmy Hoffa’s control over the Teamsters, and Hoffa’s greatest ally, Carlos Marcello of New Orleans. For the most part, these investigations became centered on the Sicilians, as if they were the only organized crime in the country. From their perspective, RFK looked more like a political demagogue than righteous crusader. RFK called up some of the most respected fathers and treated them with the utmost of disrespect. This was done because he wanted to subvert their influence over the labor movement, when, in fact, they’d been leveraged into that position to replace the Communist Party, which, in fact, was just another intel op, part of the grand chessboard where all sides report to the same bankers. The media is always trying to paint the picture of organized crime as one grand criminal conspiracy instead of the complex web that actually exists. If there is a grand conspiracy, the perpetrators are hiding inside the halls of the Pentagon and the Wall Street banks, and scapegoating hippies running grass or even Italians running bingo parlors isn’t going to threaten that situation anytime soon.
Many people who lived through the recent shooting in Colorado will spend much of their lives from here on dealing with PTSD, as do many of our soldiers returning from overseas combat. You simply can’t be exposed to deadly fire from automatic weapons without suffering some degree of this debilitating and little-understood mental disorder.
I recently read a scientific study that said it was better to stay awake as long as possible after experiencing a traumatic event. Once you fall asleep, the trauma can amplify inside you as you sleep. At least, that was the upshot of the study, which indicated rats exposed to trauma were better able to process that trauma if they were prevented from sleeping for many hours, while the rats who were allowed to sleep immediately after the trauma had much more difficulty readjusting.
My life changed after I went to my first National Rainbow Family Gathering. I had no idea what the mental health impact of landing in a world that provided free food and free medical care for everyone was like. And I didn’t realize the profound impact peace meditations and love energy could have on a damaged psyche. I saw a lot of healing going on at the first gathering, much of it involving Vietnam Veterans.
Recovering from trauma is easier when its done in a group and that’s what meditations like the Rainbow Family Gathering are really all about. When thousands of people gather together and pray for peace in silence, there’s a telepathic energy that can affect everyone in the circle. It’s already been proven that violent crime rates fall immediately after peaceful meditations. Not just for the people in the meditation, but for the surrounding community for miles around. That’s the power of telepathic energy. That study was done decades ago, yet aside from the Rainbow Gathering, you won’t find many people organizing peace meditations to deal with PTSD.
I’d encourage the residents of Aurora to gather next Sunday and hold a community prayer service in an open park or field for the purpose of praying for an end to senseless violence. Ideally, the prayer should include several hours of silent meditation. In order to direct these prayers, it’s important to have a focal point for the energy. I prefer a peace pole, but any sort of altar will do. In this case, the pole or altar should have the names and photos of the victims on it.
If the community leaders don’t want to organize a peace circle like this, I’d recommend counterculture high school kids organize the event on their own. If it does happen, one thing you an count on is that a lot of people will be shedding tears during the meditation. That’s a good thing because tears can be a purification to help wash away PTSD.
One of the most important things hippies learned nearly fifty years ago was that love energy could be amplified and shared. That’s why we were called the “love generation.” Outsiders mistook this for sexual energy because we were the first generation to reject the concept of abstaining from sex before marriage. But sex and love are different energies, even though they often converge. Love energy is the most healing power on earth.
The other treatment I recommend, obviously, is cannabis. I don’t think there’s a medication on earth as effective in reducing trauma than cannabis. I remember when I was arrested in Amsterdam for having 2 1/2 kilos of pot and hash in my hotel room. Tourists are only allowed to posses five grams of cannabis at a time, so having that much in my room turned out to be a big problem. The narco squad busted into my room in the middle of the night and arrested me and my video crew while we were trying to edit footage. I spent a restless night in a cold jail cell. The next day, however, the chief of police let me go. He’d just read my book “Adventures in the Counterculture,” which began with my examination of the JFK assassination. I think the chief was impressed by my understanding of deep political events because he treated me as an intellectual equal. He told me were were in the richest neighborhood of Amsterdam, where much of the old money currently resided. “Your event should go on,” he added, which is why he let me walk free. All I had to do was take responsibility for the weed and hash. I ended up paying a multi-thousand euro fine and never had a problem in Amsterdam since. The chief told me the main reason he could go so lightly on me was because no hard drugs had been found in my hotel room. Had any white powders turned up, I would have gone to jail for many months. When I got back to my hotel room, I wanted to check out of that hotel immediately. I could still feel the trauma from the police breaking into my room and throwing me on the floor, handcuffing me, and dragging me out of the hotel. It was not a pleasant feeling, and I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep comfortably in that room ever again. And I had another week to go in Amsterdam. But then I noticed a slab of Soma’s jellyhash sitting on my desk. I guess the cops thought is was a chocolate candy bar or something because they took all the hash and weed, but left that hunk of dark, gooey, waterhash. I was expecting to get out of that hotel as quickly as possible, but after a few hits of Soma’s jelly, I realized staying in the room for the rest of the week was no longer a problem. That’s how effective cannabis can be on PTSD.
When I was in high school, the thought of a teenager coming to school with an automatic weapon and opening fire on his fellow students did not seem very realistic. Even though we had students in my class with obvious mental health issues, no one exhibited the sort of out-of-control violent behavior that has almost become the norm in America.
In the 1960s, a new culture tried to emerge, one that represented a turn away from violence, but sadly that culture was so ridiculed and despised by the mainstream that it was quickly co-opted and practically erased off the earth. Ask any teenager today what he thinks of “hippies” and the answer is not likely to be very complimentary.
Meanwhile, the amount of violence pornography in our culture continues to accelerate. Just turn on any TV on any night and check out what movies are available. The overwhelming majority will be filled with gunshots, graphic beatings and senseless deaths. There’s so much violence in mainstream culture that I can hardly stand to watch TV anymore since I have little interest in watching violence pornography.
Can you imagine the sort of world we’d be living in if the hippie culture had actually been celebrated and respected by mass media? Instead, the media taught our children that hippies were dumb, dirty, shiftless and lazy. Not to mention addicted to illegal drugs. Meanwhile, half the country is now addicted to pills that create mania for about 10% of users. Mania leads to psychosis. And psychosis leads to paranoia. Paranoia can lead to violence. That’s why I say we have created “a perfect storm” by allowing guns for all and pills for all. Don’t expect this situation to improve anytime soon.
I have some suggestions for how to deal with the situation, if anyone cares to listen. First, non-violence needs to attain the same level of respect in our society that violence currently holds. Many people’s reaction to the recent shooting in Colorado is to arm themselves, as if carrying a concealed pistol would protect you when your assailant is dressed in full-body armor and carries an automatic rifle? Putting more guns in the hands of inexperienced users will likely just get you more deaths and you can’t fight violence with more violence since all that does is keep the cycle moving endlessly.
Obviously, we need to eliminate the gun show loophole. But more than that, if you’re going to be taking SSRI’s, or similar mental health medications, you should surrender your lethal weapons. In fact, any patient experiencing mental health issues who is given a prescription for a mental health medication should not be allowed to bear arms. That also goes for anyone who has been admitted to a psyche ward.
I’d also recommend gun owners not be allowed access to lethal bullets. Let them buy paint pellets or rubber bullets for their target practice. The only people that need lead bullets are the people who are killing animals and people. Unless you have a good reason for possessing lethal bullets, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy them, and possession of illegal lethal bullets should be a serious crime. In order to get a permit for lethal bullets, citizens should be required to pass a course in gun safety.
But mainly, we need more ceremonies of peace and more respect for peace culture in society. Almost all our major ceremonies (like the Super Bowl) are celebrations of warrior culture. I respect warrior culture, and it certainly exists for a good reason. But we have lost our balance and gone overboard with warrior worship. The peace people also need to be respected. And right now, that isn’t really happening.
So bring back the non-violent culture of the 1960s. It’s been nearly 50 years since that alternative to mainstream society’s values appeared, and its about time for that culture to make another run at transforming society.
After the Sopranos raised the bar, HBO brought in Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg to provide the follow-up franchise, and they certainly didn’t disappoint at first. The once little-known origins of a national crime syndicate born in Atlantic City are now known throughout the world because the acting, writing and production quality of this show are peerless. Playing against type, Steve Buscemi really brings Nucky Johnson to life, a man who wielded power with immense grace and charm, although Nucky’s velvet glove hid an iron fist. But not all is great with this show, in fact, and there are some minor flaws I feel should be addressed:
1) Face it, the title credits are a disaster. While the Sopranos’ theme-song was a sheer delight, this entire sequence quickly turns to torture. The show is loaded with great songs from the period, one of which obviously should have been used; and the set recreation of the Ritz and nearest pier (built in Brooklyn) were amazing. I’d so much prefer to see a fly-over of Atlantic City in the 1920s than extreme close-ups of the craggy-faced star and some broken glass (no offense, Steve); this opening is claustrophobic and has mediocre music.
2) There is no attempt to maintain historical accuracy, and the show is constantly jumping the shark. Historical dramas are so much more effective when accuracy is maintained. The telescoping of time can still be achieved. I wish the writers had just told the real story. They could have thrown in an invented character or two, but this version really confuses fact with fiction. I would have based the show around Nucky’s confrontations with William Randolph Hearst, who was his real mortal enemy.
3) The real Nucky lived over half the year in a large apartment overlooking Central Park. He was a fixture at the finest clubs, casinos, and speakeasies in Manhattan during the roaring twenties, well-known as the biggest tipper in town. Nucky is never seen out and about in Manhattan, where he rubbed shoulders with the super rich and famous. Atlantic City was a working class resort town. Nucky transformed it into the convention center of America, which gave him leverage in national politics. When in Atlantic City, almost every day, Nucky would get into a push-cart and for hours hand out dollar bills to the poor, his incredible generosity (learned from the Commodore) is largely missing. But this generosity had a purpose: it was used to maintain his loyal minions and keep them supporting the local Republican Party monopoly.
4) The Atlantic City boardwalk pushcarts were pushed only by blacks, usually big, strong ones. And most of them had canopies to protect the occupants from the sun. Most people with money did not stroll on the boardwalk, but moved about in pushcarts. When gangsters showed up in town, after breakfast at the hotel, they traveled straight to the beach in a pushcart, removed their shoes and socks, rolled up their pants, and waded into the water. This is how many important meetings were held, not in Nucky’s suite at the Ritz. In the show, only whites push the carts, and none have canopies, and we never see the image of men in suits standing in a circle in the ocean with their pants rolled up to their knees.
5) Margaret Schroeder was a real person, and Nucky did ban her husband from his gambling establishments because he had a gambling problem. But Nucky didn’t kill Hans and marry his widow. Nucky only married on the eve of going to jail, and then only to have a secure connection to the outside world. Naturally, Nucky married the most beautiful show girl in town, and they remained faithful for the rest of their lives. The show girls had immense power. In fact, Nucky’s downfall was really initiated because William Randolph Hearst fell in love with a show girl and discovered Nucky was also making advances at her at the same time. Hearst was a Democrat and unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of New York. He’d soon launch reefer madness in retaliation for losing a million acre ranch to Pancho Villa’s pot-smoking army in Northern Mexico, but first he launched Nucky madness in retaliation for Nucky trying to seduce his girl. At one time, Hearst actually had plans to take over and run Mexico as his private fiefdom, plans that were shattered by Pancho’s revolution. But it took years for Hearst to bring Nucky down. Strangely, although Hearst was considered a strong opponent to British influence in America (evident in his support for William Jennings Bryant), Hearst made most of his fortune in mines owned with J.P. Morgan and the Vanderbilts, our staunchest anglophiles. And his campaign against Nucky’s corruption was certainly hypocritical considering he created the bloodiest newspaper circulation wars of his time. Nucky was not a psychotic murderous thug like so many of the elite rich and streetwise gangsters he circulated amongst. He had no competition and no need to kill anyone. Nucky owned everything in Atlantic City. Nucky’s real legacy should be his efforts to end the murder and competition and work out a peaceful plan for a bright economic future. His downfall through Hearst’s legal campaigns against him just happened to coincide with the end of prohibition and the depression; the combination destroyed Atlantic City. After spending a few years in jail, Nucky returned to a much different town, although he continued to be a fixture at all the important ceremonies, wearing his signature blue Homburg and red carnation.