Freeway Ricky's Crack in the System

freeway_07-31-2012Marc Levin has a new film, and it’s a mindblower: the true story of Ricky Ross (Freeway: Crack in the System/Blowback Productions).
I was fortunate to be invited to a debut screening last night and it propelled me back to the 1980s, when crack appeared in LA and NYC, and Iran-Contra-Cocaine started to explode onto the front pages.
Ricky started as a ghetto teenage tennis prodigy, and was well on his way to becoming the next Arthur Ashe when it was uncovered he was illiterate. After losing that career path, Rick turned to street hustling to survive, and became LA’s biggest cocaine dealer in short order, making over a million a day at his height, and working directly under a CIA-asset Danilo Blandon, who was flying arms to Nicaragua and filling the planes up with cocaine on the return trip—coke supplied via a system setup by Carlos Lehder (who now walks free thanks to his testimony against Manuel Noriega).
Gary Webb stumbled into Rick’s story, only he didn’t stumble, he was directed by the voluptuous and highly-educated Coral Baca, who some say was/is Lehder’s girlfriend and was allegedly working at AIG, a company with notorious offshore connections. Baca dropped out of sight for years after Webb’s book was published, while the CIA went after the groundbreaking journalist with everything at their disposal, eventually destroying his career and causing his suicide. (Webb was not the only significant journalist attempting to investigate Iran-Contra-Cocaine, that dangerous mission included one Danny Casolaro, who was murdered while his precious octopus conspiracy files disappeared.)
At the height of the game, Ross was unexpectedly betrayed by Blandon and became the designated patsy, and was put away for life via a manipulated Federal three-strikes law, while Blandon and the CIA assets soon walked free. Rick lost everything, ending up in prison in Texas, where Levin first visited him a few years ago. At that time Rick told Levin he’d be getting out soon via appeal. And he did.
Obviously, Rick is a force of nature, and used his years in prison as an opportunity to teach himself to read. He became a voracious reader and now lectures on literacy in schools and prisons across the land, sharing his hard-earned wisdom.
Maybe you know a Florida-based rapper stole his identity and made millions pretending to be a cocaine kingpin, when in fact he was a correction’s officer on the other side of the divide. When Rick got out of jail, he sued for $10 million and half the royalties, but the judge got vicious and threw the case out while ruling Rick had to pay the rapper nearly a half million dollars in legal fees. I have to wonder if somebody got to that judge, because this should have been an open-and-shut victory for the real Ricky Ross.
When the film comes around next month, check it out. It makes a great follow-up to the recent Kill the Messenger, which focused on Gary Webb.

Five new paperbacks

4booksholidaysI’d been hoping my fans would switch to reading books on tablets so we could save some trees, which is why I’ve been releasing nothing but ebooks for the past two years, and sales have been slow but steady, although some fans keep clamoring for print books, so I unleashed five today.




Inside the Patty Hearst Kidnapping

Where are the counterculture journalists of today? The sixties produced a bunch of us, but we desperately need reinforcements because our society has become awash in idiot culture, short-term attention spans, click-baits, celebrity gossip, and runaway narcissism. But it wasn’t always like this. There was life in America before the dumbing-down campaign reached epidemic proportions.

PM Press published two of Paul Krassner’s penetrating essays on life behind the curtains in the seventies, one on the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and the other on the murder of Harvey Milk. This book is a quick read designed to appeal to even the shortest of attention spans, but it also plumbs deep into the murky waters of the national security state, which took over the country long ago, and apparently had numerous operations ongoing in California in the seventies designed to derail the counterculture revolution.

The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and brainwashed her into joining their violent revolution, which included robbing banks, territory already well charted by the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany as well as the Weather Underground, a pro-violent off-shoot of a once non-violent Students for Democratic Society.

If you can’t get control of a movement through penetration ops, the other way to co-opt any movement is by creating a more fanatical and violent alternative that can accuse the movement leaders of being too timid. This sort of game has been played for a long time, yet few journalists ever catch on.

Krassner caught on, although his groundbreaking conspiracy research often got all mixed up with his political satire. Real investigative journalists in America tend to die young: just ask Steve Kangas, Danny Casolaro or Gary Webb. It’s unfortunate, Krassner dropped his conspiracy investigations because they began making him paranoid. To make matters more confusing, Krassner practically invented fake news in the 1950s and 60s by writing satirical stories in The Realist. His favorite trick was to make up something so outrageous it couldn’t possibly be true, but fill it with details that fooled people into thinking it might be. The best example would be his account of LBJ fucking JFK’s head wound in order to alter the direction of the fatal shot, something a few people in the Beltway seemed to have briefly swallowed.

Fortunately, satire is not a part of this collection, not really. While covering the Patty Hearst trial, Krassner discovered the family of an SLA member had hired Lake Headley, an ex-police intelligence officer, to find out what the SLA was all about. Headley soon informed them the SLA was part of the CIA’s CHAOS program. Donald DeFreeze, founder of the group, was a documented police informant who had probably been subject to mind control during his incarceration.

It’s strange how the publisher promotes this as “satire,” when, in fact, it’s just good journalism, the sort we need more of today.