PEBL versus Elf

Give credit to the Elf for pioneering the concept of a solar-powered trike that can replace gas-guzzling cars for commuting and shopping locally.

A few years later, the PEBL was created as the Elf competitor. Last spring, however, Elf shut down their production and is currently seeking a financial rescue that may or may not come. Since hundreds of Elfs were sold over the past six years, it’s not difficult to find a used one on the Internet, often at a fraction of the $10k cost of buying a new one. The Elf started at half that price, but the cost kept rising as improvements were made and features added. Although the Elf is bigger and wider, remarkably, it weighs much less than the PEBL, which means it’s also easier to pedal. In fact, if the battery gives out, and you don’t have an outlet to plug into, or time to let the solar panel refill the battery (something that takes hours and hours), it’s not that difficult to operate the Elf on pedal power alone, something that would be far more difficult with a PEBL. My Elf also came with a variable transmission that’s far superior to the standard 8-speed transmission on the PEBL.

But on just about every other feature, the PEBL blows away the Elf, mostly due to its suspension system. The Elf works fine on flat level roads with no potholes, but the ride can be bone-jarring over bumps. The antler arms can also be difficult to wrestle over bumps. Not so with the PEBL, which is easily steered with one hand. The Elf has a more recumbent position, while riders are more upright in the PEBL. I prefer upright, but some others may prefer a more recumbent posture.

You won’t find many used PEBLs for sale, and the trike probably holds its value better, although if you are bargain hunting, it’s easy to locate a used Elf for a few thousand dollars, a great deal since many two-wheel ebikes cost over $5k. The PEBL battery is easier to charge and holds more juice. Also, the Elf has an open floor and unfinished interior, while the PEBL is fully enclosed and carpeted. The PEBL is more narrow and has a shorter turn radius, but that may also make it more susceptible to rollovers.

The PEBL is a four-season bike easily ridden through rain and snow, unlike the Elf which is designed for warmer weather. Remarkably, the price between the two was not very far apart, which accounts for the PEBL being a better value for the money, as well as a better-built bike.

As for modifications, I replaced the Elf mirrors with larger ones that folded in completely. On the PEBL, I put Batman logos over the BB logo on the front and seat. I’d urge BetterBike to explore a better logo. The Elf logo was stylized letters for Organic Transit, but many see it just as a “T” for “Tesla.” The PEBL also needed a strip of clear tape on the rear hatch hinge because it leaked rain water into the cabin.

The Steven Hager Archives

Going up for sale soon and just the tip of the iceberg really on what I am holding: The Steven Hager Archives.

Need to find a landing spot while I can still function, and where it will be put to good use.

Untitled by Steven Hager, watercolor on paper, 1968.

1963 to 1969
Letters, drawings, short stories, artwork and memorabilia, including the only complete copy of The Tin Whistles, created in 1968. The material covers the emergence of garage rock and hippies in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Few realize the first real psychedelic anthem was The Finchley Boys “Only Me,” never released and written early in 1966, a song that deployed eastern-tinged scales and feedback to great mystical effect. The band was whisked out to San Francisco and momentarily adopted by the trailblazing Cockettes as “the next big thing.” Written by 15-year-old Mark Warwick, “Only Me” was never the same after Warwick left the band. Champaign became counterculture mecca in part because John Cage was living and working there, creating his most impressive ceremonies. Bob Nutt and Irv Azof (of Live Nation fame) became promoters for the local teen rock bands, which included the Knight Riders, for whom I played bass. Also includes documents involving the entrapment case a State Narcotics Taskforce put on me, a case never successfully prosecuted, just held over me for two years waiting in vain for me to cave and go State’s Evidence against my counterculture cohorts. All underground newspaper publishers were subjected to similar ops, unless they were created by the FBI’s Cointelpro in the first place.

1970-1971
Exile to Sweden, thanks to a low draft number, where I lived out my down-and-out in Stockholm fantasies, bought an antique used typewriter and began churning out philosophical musings, some of which involved CIA penetrations on the deserter movement, a wing of which was connected to LSD trafficking. The most notorious dealer had been jailed just prior to my arrival. Penniless, and on a one-way ticket, I bluffed my way through customs wearing a skimmer, carrying a silver-tipped cane, and wearing an improvised outfit out of a bygone era. “I’m here to inspect Stockholm University to see if I want to attend,” was all I told them. I ended up as an extra in the film on Joe Hill and nearly scored a speaking role as the costume crew took a liking to me.

1972-1977
College journalism, first at San Francisco City College, then playwriting at the University of Illinois. My one-act play was invited to the prestigious National College Theatre Festival and garnered a standing ovation. My plays were heavily influenced by Anton Chekhov and Samuel Beckett. Then it was back to journalism as I picked up a Master of Science degree from the University of Illinois. My thesis project was an examination of the recently created anti-abortion movement, which included a visit with the founder of the movement in St. Louis, Phyllis Schafly.

1978-1984
Professional journalism begins, first at Showbusiness Newspaper, the seedy underbelly of the theater business, led by the notorious Leo Shull. A procession of magazine jobs followed before arriving at the Daily News, where I began writing about hip hop in 1980, collecting massive interview recordings from the major creators and then publishing the first history on the subject while landing a film deal with Orion, which became the groundbreaking “Beat Street.” From there I began interviewing leading figures emerging in the art world, including Jean Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf and published the influential “Art After Midnight” so hated by someone at St. Martins Press they shredded thousands of copies only to see the value rise astronomically in a few years. It remains the best document of the East Village art scene.

1985-2005
Started working with High Times and rose to Editor-in-Chief in a few years, while launching a parade of movements, starting with the hemp movement, the medical marijuana movement, the home cultivation with Dutch seeds movement, the Sea-of-Green cultivation technique that transformed indoor cultivation, and led the emergence of Amsterdam as the world cannabis capital. I also founded a legendary garage-revival band, the Soul Assassins, who began performing at major rallies. Began doing college debates with the former head of NYC DEA, and ended up visiting 400 colleges, and videotaped nearly every debate. Switched from taping interviews to recording everything on video, especially the ceremonies. After creating numerous events, like the Cannabis Cup, WHEE!, the Stonys, the Doobies, the World Marijuana Film Festival, I assembled video crews to live mix four-camera shoots in anticipation of streaming events on the internet. Wrote a screenplay based on my garage rock days titled “The Runaways,” and planned a $100k production but failed to raise the funds although a successful reading was staged at the Living Theater to much applause. I launched a parody of “Survivor” titled “Cannabis Castaways” that became so popular it crashed the website repeatedly. The focus of many events was injecting a dose of clean spirituality into the cannabis freedom movement and deploying 420 as the spearhead on that effort.

Bell, book and candle have been the foundation for ritual for millennia, so I created 7-candle sculptures as a focal point for ceremonial altars. Seven colors, seven scents and seven symbols drawn from a variety of cultures to signify unification of all religion under one rule: “Don’t hurt anybody.” This followed my belief cannabis was the original sacrament that launched peace culture, which created Buddhism and Christianity. Aum and Amen are the same thing, just different ends of the Silk Road.

The video crews were needed to document my belief that holding peace ceremonies could foster a template for passing responsible cannabis culture down to the next generation and prove the case of religious use. I planned to send this case to the Supreme Court using the video as evidence, along with my investigations into the history of religion, and how cannabis’ essential part in creating most religions had strangely been written out of history. In 1990, I wrote the first national magazine article explaining how the CIA killed JFK, and then assembled the greatest investigative journalism team High Times money could buy, a list that included Paul Krassner, Dick Russell, Peter Gorman, Mike Ruppert, Dan Hopsicker, and Robert Anton Wilson. Strangely, both campaigns created immense pushback from the bosses at High Times, although it took them years to figure out a way to declaw and erase me.

2006-2018
Created “The Tin Whistle” blog now with millions of views, and self-published a series of books on culture, politics and cannabis, including “Killing Kennedy,” “Killing Lincoln,” “Hip Hop Archives,” “1966,” “Cannabis, Magic & Religion.” Since zero of my original script of “Beat Street” was used (too much sex and drugs), I rewrote it as “Looking For the Perfect Beat,” and hope to see it produced some day.

 

Released a book of my songs with lyrics and chords. Made numerous short videos and built a Youtube site with millions of views.

I own the rights to all my journalism, books and video, including all work I did with High Times, and have the largest archive of High Times related material, including maps to where all the bodies were buried, and the keys to understanding why my investigative journalism, as well as my campaign for spiritual rights may have upset the powers-that-be.

Not long after my departure, High Times began losing millions of dollars annually.

Meanwhile, I became a specialist in navigating the fake conspiracy network which I call the Tin Foil Hat Patrol, something deployed to discredit legitimate deep state research.

 

New York City’s best grower/dealer?

Strange how High Times kept bringing me back. The final go-round was the most excruciating of all, but I always had a sense the powers-that-be were playing defense against me when they should have been on my team.

While I’d been away this time for two years, video operations entirely ceased, and this happened during the same time frame that Youtube took off and minted a generation of video stars outside the establishment pipelines. The magazine had bizarrely gone no-pot for a disastrous year followed by a nothing-but-pot policy.

I knew nobody was really on my team, but I dove into rebuilding my video operations, but this time on a professional scale. I turned my office into a video studio and shot and edited video every day. Making this foray into film and television was my biggest priority, although I also brought back real investigative journalism, something the magazine was in dire need of, and penned two of my greatest features, one on the CIA’s LSD attack on a French town after WWII, and the other was on an unknown Canadian named Rick Simpson. Both articles attracted attention, something High Times hadn’t seen much of since I’d departed.

But my pride and joy was my High Times Reality TV pilot that I was working up for Comedy Central. I’d already had a couple meetings with the head of the network and they were watching the show’s progress with great interest. I was working on creating the cannabis alternative to Sasha Baron Cohen. Unfortunately, much of the staff were somewhat devastated upon my return as no doubt they’d been expecting the promotion themselves, and some had zero intention of working with me on anything. It certainly helped this attitude along that the owners were ringleaders of the vibes against me.

The first half of the show got screened at the free Woodstock Film Festival. The second half was shot but the footage was hijacked and used to make a generic “welcome to the Cup promo” film that ignored the Borat-style film I’d shot, and replaced it with an endless parade of bud shots.

Hopefully, some day, I will finish the project. But in the meantime, you can check out part one here:

 

Cannabis Castaways

When CBS announced a former British commando had moved to Hollywood and was launching a survival elimination game show called “Survivor,” I instantly knew the concept was going to be a big hit, mostly because it was mining tribal traditions, something I’d been doing for over a decade through my events and organizations.

Of course, I didn’t want some cutthroat competition, just a group of cinematic stoners checking out all the strains of the annual Cannabis Cup. Maybe that sounds easy, but it’s actually quite a daunting task unless you’re an experienced bud-tender or distributor who knows his strains.

We had a talented young comedian, a hip hop music producer (and grower), an aspiring performance artist, a medical user, a noted activist, and a super hottie from England. They were all thrown into a one bedroom houseboat in Amsterdam and told they had to stay onboard until they had tried all the strains, which were released slowly in increments of a half dozen or so at a time.

After 36 hours or so, the young comedian requested to get off the boat and soon announced he was off pot for good. He had entered the contest not really being very experienced with cannabis, but only wanting to win the contest and get some notoriety for his comedy. As a joke, he rolled a dozen strains into a giant joint and began toking on it. Within a few minutes, you could see a pronounced change in his body language.

The Castaways picked the Cannabis Cup winner that year, and I was planning on another season, and keeping some of the Castaways as characters in my tv universe I was building, but when they returned to the States, the hip hop producer’s estranged wife initiated a custody battle to bar access to their daughter based on his participation in the show. When he called me hysterically after the judgment, I asked for a copy of the transcript.

I’d just won a similar custody battle based on my being editor of High Times initiated by a bipolar member of my wife’s family, so I had experience with the terror this dude was going through, and you don’t know real mental terror until someone swoops in and seizes your only child.

But, at the same time, I had to admit the transcript read like a Cheech and Chong script. The producer had denied being involved in the show from the get-go and the lawyer led him down a garden path until he produced a copy of High Times with him on the cover, holding his distinctive cane, a cane he now held firmly in his grasp in the witness stand. The producer went down in flames.

I contacted the comedian because I wondered if he wanted to work on an animated film about our project. A lot of the comedy we’d worked on together during the event had been successful. We’d produced a sitcom every night for four nights running and showed the results to open the shows at the Melkweg. This mini series was treated with waves of applause and belly laughter and was obviously the most entertaining thing we’d produced content-wise from all my improvisational explorations.

But the comedian freaked again, and sent a letter to all the Castaways saying I was planing on mining their personal tragedies for profit and advised them all never to speak with me again. He certainly never did.

But we did get a live web show so popular it kept crashing our website while it was on, and the highlights were immortalized in a DVD you can watch here:

Forever Fun

It’s unfortunate how little video footage got captured during the first Whee! festival outside Eugene, Oregon. The entire adventure had begun as my plot to establish a Weed Woodstock. (Although, in truth, the original was funded almost entirely by weed money, and the event helped cement Woodstock as a weed distribution center.)

I remember taking the trustees to lunch at some five-star restaurant and saying, “You have to be committed to a new event for five years, because that’s how long it may take to break even.” But I assured them after five years, my Whee! fest would be as big if not bigger than Woodstock. And I believed this because the event was promoted as a prayer for world peace, a serious non-denominational ceremony recognizing cannabis as the sacrament of peace culture.

Of course, Whee! exploded immediately, drawing 20,000 to the event, most of whom got in for free and were fed free by a non-stop crew kitchen, and anyone could volunteer to be crew.

After the OM circle, someone handed a bottle of whiskey to Felipe and said he was done with this. Felipe and I did a bunch of powerful ceremonies together, and that was certainly one of the best.

But the day after the event ended, we invited the Pranksters to our motel room to celebrate and eat pizza. Only Ken Babbs showed up, and this is what transpired. The next day, we went to see Kesey, and he introduced me to non-linear video editing, just going prosumer. I had been a devoted follower of improvisational ritual theater as practiced by the Pranksters, and took this direction very seriously, devoting the rest of my life to capturing video of the ceremonies I was staging. Sure glad I kept these memories, and if you want to know what Hager ceremonies look and feel like, this will clue you in.

As soon as I got back to New York, the trustees informed me that Whee! had been a financial failure. Although I knew that was a lie. Through immense efforts I manage to resurrect one more Whee! at the same site the next year before my precious Whee! ceremony was cast to the winds, and thus ended my longstanding campaign for the recognition of spiritual rights for cannabis users.

 

Chef Ra Escapes Babylon

Tom Forcade had multiple film projects in the works when he committed suicide. He’d recently bought controlling interest of a smuggling project, and went to show a rough cut to Robert Evans in Hollywood. Forcade had just paid an editor to whip the chaotic footage into a story. He put a lot of effort into trying to make sense of that footage, some of which involved footage of a real smuggling operation, but Evans sadly told him the edit still wasn’t working.

Apparently, Forcade’s moves into Hollywood contributed to two things: cocaine and guns. According to Gabrielle Schang, Forcade didn’t carry a pistol until after being introduced around Hollywood. He’d been a dealer and distributor and magazine publisher, but was also branching into smuggling and film at the same time. His most precious documentary project involved filming the Sex Pistols historic tour of America. Forcade bought a plane and sent Jack Combs on a mission. He never recovered from Jack’s fatal crash at the end of that ill-fated mission. And that also ended any High Times forays into the film world until I arrived.

Before coming to High Times, I’d launched a moderately successful film project called Beat Street, and never lost sight of expanding my efforts into the world of film and video. When prosumer equipment finally reached the realms of the masses, I began documenting everything, quickly evolving into the most video-centric magazine editor on the national stage. I shot thousands of hours of footage, and often assembled 7-person crews to do four-camera edits with live switching of my major events. All this was working towards the creation of a counterculture television network.

The first project I pitched to the trustees was a Chef Ra travel guide to Jamaica. I was creating an entire galaxy of High Times stars and Ra was intended to be one of the brightest.

Imagine my surprise when the trustees tell me they are putting up thousands of dollars to make the Chef Ra film. That was the good news. The bad news was the project was being given to the aspiring filmmaker son of the head trustee. I didn’t get to play any role in the film until the end. They spent a week in Jamaica and shot a lot of random footage and needed Ra to help work it into a story.

That’s not the best way to make a great documentary and it showed in the final product. But it remains the best portrait of Jim Wilson we have, and since Jim co-wrote the script used to stitch the scenes together, it carries his creativity and compassion.

The first documentary on the emerging hemp movement

Modern life is evolving so fast it’s hard to imagine the vibes going down 30 years ago. Which is why it’s so entertaining to check out a documentary I produced early in the 1990s titled Let Freedom Ring: the Origins of the Hemp Movement. It came out just after my discovery of 420, but three years after I’d created the Freedom Fighters with the help of Rodger Belknap of West Virginia, who quickly became our organization’s chief funder and spiritual advisor.

The Freedom Fighters went from a handful of High Times staffers to the biggest cannabis legalization group in the world in two years, while the Ann Arbor Hash Bash went from a dozen hardcore devotees to many thousands cramming the diag at the University of Michigan. Marching into rallies in our Freedom Fighter outfits was the ritual that helped galvanize a national movement.

Shortly after the film was released, however, Rodger was railroaded into jail, while High Times forced me to disband the group, allegedly because NORML was unhappy about the competition, which seemed weird since our newsletter had been recognizing and supporting NORML chapters from inception, and many Freedom Fighter state groups were also affiliated with NORML, including the chapter in Boston that created the Boston Freedom Rally.

Our big campaign was bringing activists together for major rallies. We organized free campgrounds with free food and a free bus ride to the rally. When Rodger asked me what was needed for the organization, I told him we needed a school bus and council tipi. Within a few weeks we had both and took off for the Rainbow Gathering in Ocala, Florida, where I flew a High Times flag and nobody cared.

Tripping with The Baronet in 1967

Meet Sir Thomas Willes Chitty, 3rd Baronet, grandson of a former Master of the Supreme Court and managing editor of Halsbury’s Laws of England, who’d been elevated in 1924. In the complex world of British peerage, the Baronet resides in a somewhat grey area betwixt commoner and royal, the lowliest of inherited titles.

After a brief stint in the Royal Navy, Chitty decided to become a novelist, something that may have been encouraged by a contest he won while at University College in Oxford challenging anyone to imitate the first 150 words of an unpublished Graham Greene novel. (Greene was England’s most famous living novelist at the time, although few knew he was also attached to MI6, reporting to Kim Philby, who’d later defect to Russia after spending decades spying for the Communists while running the Soviet desk at SIS.) Strangely, the second, third, and fourth-place winners of that same contest turned out to be Graham Greene himself, submitting under pseudonyms.

While his first novel (Mr. Nicholas) was well-received, it failed to sell enough copies to support Chitty and his new wife Susan, who was also an aspiring novelist, so he took a job as a publicist for Shell Petroleum. Mr. Nicholas had been a blistering critique of suburban English life, exposing the hypocrisy of the upper class, while his next book, For the Good of the Company, published in 1961, took on his former bosses at Shell.

In 1967, Chitty landed a cushy writer-in-residence at the University of Illinois. It was a similar appointment to the one John Cage had recently landed, only Cage was attached to the music department. Landing in the cornfields of Illinois at the beginning of the psychedelic revolution was an eye-opening experience, and when Chitty returned to England, he published High, a fictionalized account of his year at Illinois. In 2014, when he passed over to the great beyond (and his son inherited his title), Chitty’s obit in The Telegraph included this line: “The novel High, which he wrote shortly after his return from America, gives some clue to the impact the counter-culture revolution of the time had had upon him. He admitted that taking LSD was ‘the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in 20 years.’ He tried it, he said, because his most intelligent students recommended it.”

In order to protect his famous family’s reputation, Chitty published all his books under the pseudonym Thomas Hinde, and only one or two can be found on Amazon USA, so you have to search deeper but copies are available for a pittance on other sites. High was somewhat experimental and quite entertaining, especially for anyone familiar with the U of I campus during the late sixties. The main character is a British author-in-residence who conducts an affair with a student while consorting with a rebel crowd of misfits. It contained a novel within a novel as the protagonist struggles to write a book that parallels his experience. When it first appeared, High was compared favorably to Nabokov’s masterpiece, Pale Fire. I would compare it with one of my favorite novels, The Hair of Harold Roux, written by the great Thomas Williams, who was greatly overshadowed by his famous student John Irving.

I believe I have a cameo in the book. You see, there was a house near Lincoln and Nevada Streets that held frequent beer bashes attended by the literary crowd, as well as by me and Larry and Bugsy. You’d typically find us gathered around the refrigerator, guarding the beer supply. The key giveaway is we wore black leather jackets favored by Black Panthers. Bugsy had recently brought in the first major delivery of LSD from the streets of San Francisco, and one of those blue capsules may have ended up in Chitty’s mouth.

If you want a glimpse at life at the U of I from a distinctly British perspective, this book delivers, though it might take some time locating a copy. One suspects the public libraries in town as well as the University library might have one.

Shoot-out at the C-U corral

According to the book The Countess and the Mob by Maureen Hughes, some of Champaign’s noted families (Robeson and Davis) helped keep Champaign wet during Prohibition. Another name connected with gangsters were the Sansones, an 11-member family born in Sicily that had immigrated through Ellis Island before settling in Champaign.

Michael Sansone’s profitable taffy concession stand was kept at Crystal Lake when it wasn’t touring the summer county fairs, while his brother Henry’s popcorn wagon was parked near the Virginia Theater. That popcorn had the most amazing taste and I’m sure many others tried to coax out the secret ingredient to no avail.

Local lawyer Julius Hirshfeld was one of Henry’s regular customers and Henry’s stories of pheasant hunting on his property somehow spread through Hirshfeld all the way to Al Capone, and thus began the annual pheasant hunting pilgrimages to the Sansone property just outside Champaign.

According to local legend, sometimes Capone and his boys would rent out the entire Turk’s Head rather than drive back to Chicago. The other option was booking the top three floors at the fanciest hotel in Champaign, located across the street from the train station. Turk’s Head may have used by his crew when they wanted to keep a low profile while in town, as the police station and newspaper office were all clustered within a block of that train station, while Turk’s Head was buried in campus-town.

Henry realized that setting up hunting trips could be quite lucrative and decided to expand his hunting schedule to include George Bugs Moran, an enemy of Capone. This shouldn’t have been a problem, writes Hughes, Sansone scheduled Moran and his boys on opposite weekends from when Capone was down.

This would have worked well, except the scheduling was done by word of mouth, and one weekend the dates got mixed up. One particular Saturday when Moran was hunting, three black cars pulled up two hours later, and five men got out, including Al Capone. Everyone was dressed in hunting gear, so it was hard to positively identify anyone. By mid-morning, the men from both gangs were just two or three hundred feet apart when one of Capone’s men asked why Moran was there.

That’s all it took for the shooting to start.

Both gangs retreated to their cars, and several had to lie in the back seats all the way to Chicago because they had lead shot in their rear ends. So ended the hunting trips to Champaign.

Operation Mindfuck mindfucked me

Judge Jim Garrison.

In the late 1960s, a brave New Orleans District Attorney suspected a coverup in the JFK assassination. Since crucial segments of the case fell within his jurisdiction, he initiated a secret investigation. Unfortunately, this investigation was immediately penetrated, revealed to the public, and for the rest of his life, Jim Garrison was blanketed in spooks.

Suddenly, ordinary citizens like myself were forced to become amateur sleuths, lining up available dots to determine what happened because it was obvious intelligence footprints were all over the case, and the Warren Commission’s magic bullet theory made no sense. But suddenly, there arrived a lot of noise and confusion, and some of that was a result of Operation Mindfuck.

Paul and Robert; photo by Steve “Fly’ Pratt.

Mindfuck began with a missive from Robert Anton Wilson to his editor at the Realist, Paul Krassner. The Realist was one of the only outlets covering the emerging psychedelic revolution, as well as the latest research into the political assassinations. Although circulation was small, influence over the counterculture was immense. Wilson’s instructions included: “circulate all rumors contributed by other members,” and “attribute all national calamities, assassinations or conspiracies to the other member-groups.”

After the Garrison investigation was exposed, Garrison was forced to rush his case to court, where he easily convinced a jury JFK had been assassinated as a result of a conspiracy, but failed to convince them Clay Shaw had been Oswald’s CIA handler and paymaster. (Many years later, it would be determined that role probably fell to David Atlee Phillips.)

One of Garrison’s chief supporters in the media was Art Kunkin, founder of the Los Angeles Free Press. Kunkin received a letter from the “Order of the Phoenix Angel” stating the jurors involved had all been members of the Illuminati, the evidence of which was that all had only had one nipple. Meanwhile, Krassner published “The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book,” which seemed entirely plausible until it ended with LBJ in the back of Air Force One fucking JFK’s head wound to change the direction of the bullet, a story that momentarily got traction in some gossip corridors inside the Beltway. If you’re going to tell a lie, make it a whopper and it’s more likely to be believed, as Goebbels used to say.

This sort of pranking was not new to Krassner. After all, the Realist was a satire magazine that mixed fact and fiction on a regular basis in the interest of comedy. In 1964, after Lenny Bruce got blacklisted, the Realist published his death notice. Bruce was not amused. He got enlightened, and then was disappeared, a trajectory I’m not personally unfamiliar with.

Kerry Wendell Thornley.

Soon, Wilson created a fake religion through the inspiration of Kerry  Thornley, who in hindsight could have been an MK/Ultra mind robot. Thornley was posted in Japan with Oswald and before the assassination, moved to New Orleans to write a book about Oswald. He gave key testimony to the Warren Commission to convince them Oswald was a true Communist at heart. It later turned out Thornley was well-known to Clay Shaw, and after testifying in Washington, he moved to California and became buddies with Johnny Roselli, who always claimed to have been one of the shooters before ending up in pieces in a drum barrel in Biscayne Bay.

Wilson and Thornley planted stories about the Illuminati in various leftist, libertarian and hippie publications, introducing the secret society to the counterculture. “We accused everybody of being in the Illuminati,” Wilson recalled. “Nixon, Johnson, William Buckley, Jr., ourselves, Martian invaders, all the conspiracy buffs, everybody.”

Col. Aquino, Sammy Davis, Anton LaVey.

After I became editor of High Times, I made Krassner a regular contributor and assigned him feature stories on the history of the counterculture. Krassner soon introduced me to Wilson, and he also began contributing. At this time, I had my own research going into the Franklin Savings and Loan that involved child abuse at the most famous Catholic orphanage in America, Boy’s Town in Nebraska. A key figure in my investigation was a colonel stationed in California named Michael Aquino, who had become the number two satanist under Anton LaVey, before creating his own Temple of Set.

A boy in Nebraska claimed Aquino was involved in programming children. The Discovery Channel funded a documentary, but it never got aired, although you can watch the rough cut on Youtube while it remains up (see video below).

Suddenly a data dump on the case that included details on Aquino’s background appeared on the internet, posted by a relatively new researcher named Dave McGowan. I asked all three of these writers to suggest a conspiracy story for High Times. Wilson submitted a story on Priory of Sion that tracked into the Masonic lodge P2 that had been fomenting terror events under a leftist false flag in order to destroy the left in Italy. Krassner wanted to attend a David Icke lecture, something that eventually morphed into a book dedicated to Wilson titled: “Murder at the Conspiracy Convention.” McGowan sent me a manuscript titled “Wagging the Moondoggie,” which claimed the moon landings were faked. Meanwhile, the Aquino data dump disappeared from the web.

After I emailed McGowan that I would never publish anything so absurd as “we never landed on the moon,” he got immediately hostile, and also became suspicious of my email address, phoenix420@hightimes.com. “Phoenix is the name of the CIA’s biggest assassination project, and 4/20 is Hitler’s birthday, so what is going on with you, Steve?”

Meanwhile, Krassner’s manuscript arrived, and it seemed in order until suddenly a murder took place towards the end and chaos broke out at the conspiracy convention. There was a lot of dialogue between Icke and Krassner, some of which had actually taken place between Krassner and Mae Brussel years earlier, before Krassner determined Brussel was off the deep end and lost interest in real conspiracy investigation. We never had a real conversation on the subject and he explained his loss of interest in conspiracy on a freakout he had at his dentist’s office. Conspiracy theory was making him paranoid and unstable. But I was horrified to see Aquino enter his story and get painted as an innocent victim, so I immediately called Krassner on the phone and asked about the murder.

“I made it up,” said Krassner.

I had no idea how to fix this mess since I was on deadline and crunched for time, and even though I knew this piece was putting mud in the water on Franklin, I went ahead and published it against my better instincts because I respected Krassner as the dean of counterculture journalism. Knowing what I know today, I would have rejected it.

Many decades later, I did some investigations into the Illuminati, only to discover Yale’s Skull & Bones is the only chapter we know of for sure, and that fraternity is just a recruiting ground for potential members, and not a place for hatching crimes (other than crooking, which involves stealing ceremonial objects and possibly also, human remains, which actually qualifies as a black satanic ceremony).

The point is to bind 15 juniors into a cohesive unit that will always put the order first. The new inductees make their bios available to the older members and some careers will advance accordingly. There is one rule: In any situation, a Boner must be chosen before all others, qualifications be damned. And since the original Illuminati plan was to have two wings: one involving people of high moral calibre and the other involving people willing to do anything necessary to achieve goals (and never let those two wings mingle), you can’t blanket all Boners with some universal condemnation.

The other significant factoid is that George H. W. Bush’s father was high in Skull & Bones and may have crooked Geronimo’s remains, which is why his tribe requested their return a few decades ago. One of the Bush brothers is the lawyer who represented the society in the court case. And, of course, George himself is wrapped up in details all over the place, including a memo he sent Hoover on “misguided Cubans,” as well as the fact many were warned to stay away from the Franklin story because it tracked straight to the top of the Republican Party. That was President George H. W. Bush they were undoubtedly talking about. Maybe you know Georgie has a flair for groping the asses of young girls on stage near him despite being confined to a wheelchair. And he typically uses the same lame joke while abusing them, something about “David Cop-a-feel.”

In keeping with the bizarre aspects of this case, William F. Buckley, one of the targets of Wilson’s wild Illuminati attacks, is a high-placed Boner, and we know this because he personally padlocked the door to the tomb when one class tapped some females. The entire society had to vote on the issue before the girls could be admitted.

Real conspiracy research involves real people, with real names, committing real crimes that can be brought into a courtroom. Mindfucking created a huge problem, and certainly played a role in keeping a lid on some dark deeds. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a bit more sophisticated and more careful. By the time I had things almost figured out, I was already disappearing.

Meanwhile, the Wilson fan club hounds me for saying Wilson’s Illuminati research is bunk, although they admit it’s 99 percent fantasy. In my world, it’s a sin to mix fantasy with conspiracy research. That is called fake news today, and we have too much of it. Meanwhile, McGowan went on to write highly detailed stories on how the Boston Marathon bombings were fake (nobody got hurt) and how the entire hippie counterculture was invented by the CIA. He died young of cancer and if you question any of his obvious rabbit holes, there’s an organized Tin Foil Hat Patrol that will appear to defend him and attack your credibility. Same thing with Wilson though.

I made a few trips out to Nebraska to do my Heads versus Feds debate with former NY DEA chief Robert Stutman and made friends with John DeCamp, the lawyer who appeared on the scene to represent the abused kids pro bono. DeCamp informed me one of his clients had identified Aquino as being involved, and accepted my invitation to the Heads versus Feds debate, sat in the front row, and during the question and answer segment, I introduced him and thanked him for his efforts to help the kids. Somewhere I have video of the encounter. What I didn’t know at the time, was that both DeCamp and Stutman had been posted under William Colby’s Phoenix Vietnam assassination project that destroyed the fabric of Vietnamese culture by assassinating the alpha tribal leaders. According to what DeCamp learned after the war, the people making the list of who should be killed turned out to be double agents. They were killing to make the Commie takeover easier, not resist it.

But then DeCamp, I much later found out, had lived at Boy’s Town himself as a teen, spoke Farsi, married a Vietnamese woman, and had remained extremely close with CIA chief Colby until Colby’s suspicious death by drowning.

If you can figure out this wilderness of mirrors, let me know.

By the way, I certainly don’t suspect Krassner as some nefarious operative, based simply on how little traction he gets in the mainstream media when should have gotten his own TV show fifty years ago. He was the key person who opened the door to Kesey world and convinced Kesey I was one of them. No doubt there are dimensions of mindfuckery yet to be explored and I’m just skimming the surface of intel psyops.