After I signed the contract handing rights over my script to Harry Belafonte, he slyly grabbed a copy of all my interviews by asking me to provide copies to the Schomberg Library in Harlem. I didn’t realize the library would advertise that fact and lead a parade of researchers, including Jeff Chang, to the treasure trove of early hip hop history. Many decades later, I realized searching my name on the internet mostly turned up links to the Schomberg Library.
I emailed them recently and asked for the return of my transcripts as they hadn’t even given me credit for donating them. After admitting a problem, their lawyer switched gears and claimed they didn’t have my transcripts and from then on, just kept gaslighting me. The day I signed that contract and turned over the transcripts was the day my name and presence disappeared entirely from Beat Street. I got zero recognition upon release and retain little to this day. I got the Morris Levy/Frankie Lymon treatment from Harry Belafonte.
Henry Chalfant was a super cool dude, one of the first photographers to document NYC graffiti. Manny Kirchheimer was the first filmmaker, and his film Stations of the Elevated is online. While I was working on Beat Street, Henry was just completing Style Wars, which was largely the work of Tony Silver. Tony I didn’t like so much. It was Tony’s idea to build Style Wars around Cap.
Belafonte and his crew already had my script, a realistic portrayal of a budding rap group trying to make a record. Slice of life and It also had a Romeo-Juliet style story concerning a South Bronx rapper hooking up with a girl from a privileged background.
But when Belafonte got a sneak preview of Style Wars, everything changed and my script was tossed and they began writing a new one using my characters names, and it was all about Cap, who they renamed Spit.
Cap was never mentioned in my book or my script. But when I asked Phase 2 who were the current kings, Cap was the first name he mentioned. “You have to give him props, because he’s so up,” said Phase.
Graffiti was divided into crews and crews had conflicts that sometimes included dissing each other’s work. Sometimes it involved tag rights, like the conflict between Snake and Snake-1. Snake 1 began adding “king of all snakes” to his tag.
Cap was not the loner they portrayed him as. He was in the Morris Park Crew, some of whom were dust heads. Instead of asking Phase or Tracy about Cap and his crew, Silver focussed on the younger writers in opposing crews building Cap up as the evil villain of graf, dissing the most sacred rules. Some of those kids were scared to death of Cap in real life, but in the film they talked big shit about how somebody was going to cap Cap. I imagine some of that drama could have been coached and encouraged by Tony.
Eventually, Cap was run out of the crew so demonized was he by Style Wars and Beat Street.
Beat Street should have started with the murder of Black Benji and the Ghetto Brothers Peace council.
The opening song should have been “Just Begun” by Jimmy Castor. The sound track should mostly been based on the real street hits, Apache, Mexican, Give it Up or Turnit Loose.
All art and graffiti should have been supervised by Phase and other greats and featured Dondi, Lee, Futura, Zeph, and given cameos to Haring and Samo.
The actors should have been real South Bronx or capable of walking, talking like a real South Bronx teen.
The interiors should have looked like real South Bronx homes, which means the black rappers were more middle class with nice couches covered in plastic, while the Latins more often were under the poverty line with mattresses on the floor.
As a result of these blunders, the film was not very successful. Really it flopped. Christmas theme in July? What happened is it got massive video rental sales. Which was nice as it got me a lot of royalties through the years, although nothing close to what Harry captured.
The Schomberg Library threw a party with Belafonte to celebrate the anniversary one year. I wasn’t invited. That was before I asked for my transcripts back and got snowballed.
Skull and Bones has developed a reputation with some as having a membership that is heavily tilted towards the “Power Elite.” Regarding qualifications for membership, Lanny Davis, writing in the 1968 Yale yearbook, wrote: If the society had a good year, this is what the “ideal” group will consist of:
“A football captain; chairman of the Yale Daily News; a conspicuous radical; a Whiffenpoof (Yale choir); a swimming captain; a notorious drunk with a 94 average; a film-maker; a political columnist; a religious group leader; a chairman of the Lit; a foreigner; a ladies’ man with two motorcycles; an ex-service man; a black, and, if there are enough to go around; a guy nobody else in the group had heard of, ever …”
For much of its history Skull and Bones membership was almost exclusively limited to white Protestant males. Catholics had some success attaining memberships; Jews less so.
Sports was the means by which excluded groups eventually entered Skull and Bones, through its practice of tapping standout athletes. Some star football players were the first Jew (Al Hessberg, class of 1938), and African-American (Levi Jackson, class of 1950, who turned down the invitation).
Yale became coeducational in 1969, yet Skull & Bones remained all-male until 1992. An attempt to tap women for membership by the Bones class of 1971 was opposed by Bones alumni, who dubbed them the “bad club.”
“The issue,”as it came to be called by Bonesmen, was debated for decades. The class of 1991 tapped seven female members for membership in the next year’s class, so alumni changed the locks on the Tomb, and the Boners had to meet at the building of Manuscript Society.
A mail-in vote by members decided 368-320 to permit going co-ed, but a group of alumni led by William F. Buckley obtained a temporary restraining order to block the move. Other alumni, such as John Kerry and R. Inslee Clark, Jr., spoke out in favor of admitting women, and the dispute ended up on The New York Times editorial page. A second vote of alumni in October 1991 agreed to accept the Class of 1992, and the lawsuit was dropped.
One member of the 1991 class wrote to alumni, “Being a part of Bones is often an embarrassment, a source of ridicule and occasionally a good way to lose a friend … Very rarely is the Bones still seen as an honor, and never is it seen to represent the mainstream of Yale.”
When fomenting counterintelligence operations, the initial plans do not stop with the essential deed but stretch far into the future. Influencers and rabbit holes must be created. The clash between influencers will be orchestrated. That is done to divide people into one of two groups, both secretly controlled by counterintelligence. The legends created become “fact” over a few decades, while the real whistleblowers are de-toothed and disappeared.
As the first person to publish a national magazine article on how and why the CIA killed JFK, I became an influencer who needed to be de-toothed and disappeared, which is exactly what happened. Many years ago, a writer from Vice in Brooklyn took me to lunch at Cafe Luxembourg. The editor-in-chief was following my research on JFK and Lincoln assassinations and wanted to do a major expose on my research. Two days later, I was informed the story was off, and that editor had been fired.
When I wrote my first article, I was aware of Bones and their role in the event. Specifically, I knew Bonesman Prescott Bush had misdirected a lot of journalists, as well as at least one film crew. He played a major role in controlling the story from behind the curtain.
My article centered on James Jesus Angleton as primary conspirator, although I assumed he was working with the Dulles and Rockefeller brothers.
I don’t know where I picked it up, but supposedly, Angleton did not pledge to Bones. He would have been class of 1940. But when The Good Shepherd came out about his career, the film made it clear he was a Boner. Now there is no evidence of which society he tapped to, if any. If you have any, please put a link to the evidence, or remain silent.
Angelton was really a Brit at heart, raised in England’s posh schools. He was half Mexican and raised a devout Catholic.
Bones class of 1940 included McGeorge Bundy, who was JFK’s National Security Advisor. He played a key role in getting us into the Vietnam War, something JFK wanted to prevent. His advice to JFK was erratic during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Andrew Orrick was also Bones 1940. He went to Hasting College of Law in San Francisco after graduating, the alma mater of Michael John Kennedy. After running Nixon’s campaign for governor of California, Orrick became administer of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Orrick may have been tapped because he hit the longest home run in Yale baseball history, a record that likely no longer stands.
Towson Hoopes, class of 1944, Under Secretary of the Air Force.
Barry Zorthian, class of 1941, was US press officer in Saigon for 4.5 years, all during the early stages of the war.
John Chafee, class of 1947, Secretary of the Navy.
Charles Whitehouse, class of 1947, ambassador to Laos and Thailand and secret CIA agent.
George Bush was class of 1948. He was running the supply depots used for terror ops inside Cuba. Also a secret CIA agent.
William Sloane Coffin, class of 1949, clergyman and leading anti-war, anti-nuclear activist. Also a secret CIA agent.
John Kerry, founder of Vietnam Vets Against the War, went on to lead the coverup of the Iran-Contra-Cocaine scandal, in which Republicans were able to remove Jimmy Carter, who was pushing renewable energy and world peace. Obviously a secret intelligence operative.
This is just a tiny sampling of the power of Bones, and you can’t ignore the fact they were put in strategic positions on both sides of the war. The possible connection between Angleton, Orrick and Communist lawyer Kennedy (who ran the terrorist Weather Underground network before stealing High Times from the employees and running it into the ground while siphoning profits into his bank account) needs to be examined. It might explain why Kennedy began working to get rid of me right after I published that article about the CIA and Bones killing JFK.
On April 19th, 2021, at 4:30 PM, a ceremony for peace by Steven Hager and the Seeds of Doubt will premiere on Youtube. Several songs from the film have already been posted on the site. “In Search for the Grail” is the film’s theme song.
Johanna Harcourt-Smith was 26-years-old when she met Timothy Leary. After Leary turned informant, she was branded a CIA-honeypot by Allen Ginsberg and shunned by just about everyone. For a time, most of the counterculture turned on Leary and his acid queen.
The primary person Leary ratted out was a lawyer named Michael Kennedy who’d engineered Leary’s prison escape through the terrorist Weather Underground. Leary was only told they “were political people,” not that they were terrorist bombers responsible for the death of a San Francisco policeman. The Weather Underground sought to use Leary as a publicity tool by sending him to Algeria to live with Eldridge Cleaver. They wanted to replay the film Algeria, which documented the success of a terrorist Islamic-Marxist revolution led by downtrodden Muslims, who had no rights in French Algeria. Hundreds of thousands died in their fight for independence, and the Weather Underground was envisioning a similar scenario in the USA, except led by middle-class teenagers. The real mission, however, was driving the left violent in order to marginalize and isolate it from the mainstream.
In 1969, Leary successfully legalized cannabis for a brief moment when he appealed a pot conviction all the way to the Supreme Court and won, so the antiquated 1937 Marijuana Tax Act had to be swiftly replaced by the Controlled Substances Act, which broadened the reign of terror on medicinal plants.
In 1987, when I arrived at High Times the entire editorial staff had recently been fired over the Christmas holidays. The magazine was teetering on insolvency and circulation had cratered. The advertising base consisted of two companies selling lookalike pills obviously intended to be sold as real on the blackmarket. Caffeine was likely the primary ingredient. The magazine had recently relocated to save money on rent, and the files that survived were in a shambles. There were no photo files, and no manuscript log for unsolicited articles. All unsolicited material disappeared into a black hole. The publisher was an accountant who kept the magazine running by cutting expenses. But the publisher turned out to be a puppet for lawyer Kennedy.
Tom Forcade had created a trust to gift the company to loyal employees in the event of his demise, but when Kennedy learned of this, he immediately engineered a trip to the bank vault where the document was stored, and wrote his name on the list of trustees, while promising to serve as “protecter” of the agreement.
Soon Tom was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and Kennedy conspiring with Tom’s widow and family, including Tom’s lawyer uncle, the author of the trust. He was a former tank commander in WWII who’d been recruited into military intelligence. Employees began exiting en mass, mostly through sudden firings, but some because the thrill was gone. High Times became a treacherous environment run like an intelligence operation, where information was on a need-to-know basis.
Since the counterculture media had died or been co-opted by the 1980s, being put in charge of a nationally-distributed magazine represented a huge opportunity and I had no problem turning the financial situation around instantly just by upgrading the magazine’s content and focusing on celebrating the remaining counterculture, which included the Grateful Dead followers and Rainbow Family. One day A. Craig Copetus, one of the original High Times employees, visited the office. He seemed surprised to hear Kennedy had taken control. “Right before he died, Tom held a meeting and told us not to let Kennedy get control,” said Copetus. Obviously, Tom had second thoughts about that trip to the bank vault.
I sent a letter to Kennedy outlining my plans for creating universal, non-violent ceremonies that would focus on ending the drug war. I was already doing these cannabis-infused ceremonies in Amsterdam as part of the Cannabis Cup, as well as filming them, and felt a class-action lawsuit could be successfully mounted to protect hippies from persecution by claiming pot was a legitimate sacrament. To bolster these claims, I’d been accumulating evidence Zoroastrianism, the foundation for Judaism and Christianity, had originated as a cannabis cult, and the smoking bush of Moses was a reference to the inspirational power of cannabis. Despite offering a splendid opportunity for Kennedy to double-pay himself and get tremendous publicity for himself (and for the magazine), and increase sales, and especially because it would save countless thousands from jail and financial ruin, Kennedy never responded to the letter.
What Kennedy did instead is launch a series of campaigns to have me fired. A series of publishers were installed, all instructed to “start looking for a new editor.” Attempts were made to kill the Cannabis Cup, but I managed to offload that to Michael Esterson for a licensing fee. The agreement also kept videotaping alive as Esterson agreed to cover that cost. But as soon as the WHEE! festival became profitable, and Mountain Girl agreed to move the festival to her estate, Kennedy summoned me to his office, where he unexpectedly declared WHEE was dead. Kennedy informed me it was a huge waste of time and resources. Bolstering this lie required support from the publisher, who was Mike Edison at the time, who would soon be fired, and who later write a revenge memoir branding me as incompetent. Apparently, among my many crimes was believing the assassinations of the 1960s deserved further investigation, and that a group of teens from Marin had invented 420.
The next year, the trust dissolved and Trans High Corporation gifted to the employees. I was given some token shares along with a handful of other real employees, but Kennedy and Tom’s family held the majority. Kennedy moved into the High Times office and began running the operation into the ground. Meanwhile, I could never comprehend why Kennedy was so angry with me all the time since I’d been making him millions and sales sank without me at the helm. He was living on billionaires row on Central Park South, his summer residence was an ocean-front property in the Yale enclave in the Hamptons, and he also had a winter home in Palm Beach, as well as an estate in Ireland. I was a single dad living hand-to-mouth with two kids with a disabled wife to support at a different location, and just eking by thanks to the debates I was doing on college campuses against the former head of the New York DEA.
One day, I was summoned to Kennedy’s office where he introduced me to Buffalo Mailer, Norman Mailer’s son. Kennedy wanted Buffalo to provide some young energy to the aging editorial staff, so he was being installed as Executive Editor and I needed to introduce him to staff as if it was my idea.
The following day, I was again summoned to Kennedy’s office upon arrival in the morning, where a shame-faced Mailer held a copy of a just-released New York magazine, which contained an interview with Richard Stratton where he announced his next project: running High Times. Kennedy had made a secret deal with Stratton and Mailer was Stratton’s stalking horse. I felt sorry for Mailer, for allowing himself to be dragged into participating in a slimy hoodwink. At the editorial meeting later that morning where Mailer announced the real situation to the staff, only Natasha shed tears for me. The others were already angling for elevation on the masthead.
I was moved out of the office so as not to interfere with the transition. I could never understand why nobody wanted my participation as I’d always thought of magazines as a team effort, and the goal was assembling the best possible staff. My investigative journalism had been a significant part of the magazine’s success, so why wouldn’t that continue? Instead, my contribution was limited to a 500-word monthly column, for which I was paid a steadily dwindling salary.
One day I got an email from Johanna saying she wanted to talk. I’d believed the stories about her being a CIA agent, but I was having second thoughts about that, as well as the truth concerning Kennedy’s participation in the Weather Underground. I knew Bill Ayers remained a close friend since I’d recently edited Kennedy’s adopted daughter’s wedding video.
I soon began formulating my alternative history of the 1960s, in which Tim Leary and Charlie Manson are manipulated pawns deployed to de-tooth the counterculture. Knowing I was on treacherous ground, I sent an email to Kennedy requesting permission to interview Johanna. Strangely, I got a response right away, and it contained an emotional plea not to because the memories remained an open wound. That email was nothing like any other email I ever received from Kennedy. It wasn’t like him to show weakness.
Johanna died recently from breast cancer, but she was able to finally get her story out. She’d watched Wormwood on Netflix and felt compelled to contact the filmmaker, who’d instantly agreed to interview her. During the film, it becomes apparent Johanna felt she was being manipulated into Leary’s orbit and it was through surveillance on her that the CIA was keeping tabs on Leary. But she’d never been a knowing participant. And I believe this is the way a lot of intel operations work. Few have any clue to the unseen strings or who the puppet masters might be.
Johanna had become promiscuous at age 15, and a parade of powerful people connected to arms trafficking and illegal drugs soon became her friends and lovers. She became part of the Rolling Stones jet-setting entourage. At 26, she was likely nearing the end of a glamorous career as swinging super hottie, when Aleister Crowley devotee Anita Pallenberg (who’d inspired the Stones “Sympathy for the Devil” phase), told her to look up Leary because he was available and hiding out in Switzerland.
At their first meeting Leary pulled out Crowley Tarot deck.
I was disappointed the film never delved into whether Johanna could have been sold by her mother to the CIA as an MK/Ultra sex slave. She’d had a raging libido from the age of 15, and typically held at least eight males under her command at all times. The reason Wormwood resonated so deeply could have been because her role as an acid queen was ordained.
The sad truth about Leary is he was half-visionary and half-huckster. His first book on the psychedelic experience was based around the Tibetan Book of the Dead, magic incantations intended to lead the dying to nirvana, basically the same hoodwink MI6 operative Somerset Maugham deployed in the Razor’s Edge, in which the secrets of the universe are located in Eastern philosophies. Imagine leading people from India or China to adopt Catholicism as the true faith. Enlightenment is not like climbing a mountain. You don’t reach the top and become released from temporal bondage. There is no nirvana, no heaven, no hell, no eternal soul. You’re just replacing one Santa Claus story with another. The real secret to magic and religion is it only works on believers.
Strangely, the Weather Underground celebrated the Manson murders, and held Charlie up as a counterculture hero for “killing pigs.” They also celebrated Sirhan Sirhan for the same reason. Both Leary and Manson were held in isolation at the same prison, but their cells strangely located next door, allowing them to communicate.
“They took you off the streets so I could continue your work,” said Manson.
The Soul Assassins held a few rehearsals when I decided to bring a girl group into the act. Originally, this was designed as a way to build a female fan club, all of whom would become Assassinettes, but the promotion stunt eventually morphed into the stars of our show.
The original Assassinette was my girl friend at the time, Claudia, who I’d discovered while she was working as the phone receptionist for Tommy Boy Records. Claudia was a disco queen from Queens, half Italian, half Jewish. As far as style goes, few could touch her.
I think I asked her out on the spot or maybe it was my second visit to the office, but I was gaga over her immediately and couldn’t stop thinking about her.
Claudia had attracted others, most notably Jellybean, who had an open relationship with Madonna at the time. He offered Claudia a job as his assistant but when Madonna found out she hit the ceiling and had it squashed immediately, which hurt Claudia’s feelings since she was currently unemployed, something I suspected might have been somehow related with her unexpected involvement with me. Obviously, Tommy Boy never understood her value, but she would end up doing A&R for Profile Records before launching her own label called Maxi.
Flick brought in Jeannie, Romeo’s girl friend, and Claudia brought in her best friend, Elena, and the original trio appeared first in a club downtown that probably doesn’t exist anymore. Afterwards the girls were mobbed by horny guys while I immediately went down to the dressing room alone. Along the way, “Little Girl” by the Syndicate of Sound came over the sound system, a song we had actually played. Some stranger on the steps blurted out, “sounds exactly the same!”
I changed into a t-shirt as I was dripping sweat, when his imperial highness James Marshall, the dean of East Village rock critics, appeared in the doorway. I had no idea Marshall had even come to the show but was prepared to accept whatever withering comment he wanted to make.
Much to my surprise, he gave us an unqualified rave review, and I thanked him sincerely.
Shortly after this gig, there was trouble in paradise as Elena and Jeannie confronted Claudia about being off key, and that confrontation crushed Claudia and put her into a tearful state.
My Solomon-like decision was to start over. If Claudia couldn’t be chief Assassinette, I needed a new trio, as having the other two without her would be an endless psychodrama afflicting my harmony with the crew.
After calling the band together, and announcing my decision, I also established the first band rule: no sleeping with any Assassinettes.
A promoter had recently created “The Mind’s Eye” at Tramps to revive the garage psychedelic era, the music made by real teens before record companies perverted everything. I sent Andre Grossmann down to photograph the new scene and he came back with really cool photos, one of which jumped out at me. After working up a nice puff piece to promote the club, I invited Ivy, the genius promoter, to come to the office to check out the layout.
“Who’s that?” I asked Ivy pointing at a picture of an exotic multi-ethnic girl with purple streaks in her hair.
“Allegra of the Black Orchids,” she replied. I got Allegra’s phone number and invited her to the office to see her picture in the layout. I told Allegra I wanted to recruit her for my new girl group. I didn’t know it at the time, but that exotic look was half Vietnamese and half Sephardic Jew.
Allegra showed up with Abby, and right away explained she fronted her own band and couldn’t join my girl group, but felt sure Abby was the one I needed.
I don’t think Abby had ever been in the sunshine. Her skin was porcelain perfection. Built like Marilyn Monroe with a face like Betty Page. Abby must have based those bangs off Betty as she soon produced a Page homage video starring herself.
Abby had to be one of the most popular and highest-paid topless dancers in the Tristate Area but never did gigs in Manhattan and none of us were ever allowed to watch that show but safe to say some of the moves made it into our show. Abby worked for a posh private library and no doubt pulled down a significant salary there as well.
Flick found Kimona 117, who had more of a hip hop background, while Abby possessed a PhD in garage rock history. And since they were both alpha females, one wondered how this could harmonize. But once Kimona opened her mouth and belted out a few notes, everyone in the rehearsal room, including Abby, took a step back. Kimona had a voice like Joplin. It was obvious who was going to be the female star of the show.
Abby brought in her best friend Lucy. They were both from Boston and both were professional dancers. It was really confusing trying to figure out who of the three was the sexiest, even when you lined them all up together, but I guess most guys picked Lucy, who eventually became the most popular runway model for the East Village look. Those three girls bonded into a real sisterhood.
And that rule about not sleeping with Assassinettes? Well, I forgot to tell the girls about it and they had their own agendas, so while some hookups happened, others misfired, and it did turn into a bit of a psychic mind-field sometimes after all.