The 10 Greatest Western Films of All-Time

The Wild West was certainly a key focus of my youthful imagination, as a cowboy outfit was my first Halloween costume and I had a pair of cap guns before I reached the first grade. Nothing was more exciting than going out to see a Western movie.

Our national psyche was shaped through a Western mythology, first in the tabloid presses and periodicals, and then through film and television. At least it was this way for the boys of my generation.
Even though the first real narrative film made was a Western, the genre was mostly relegated to the B-grade teams. John Ford was the master who elevated it to A-grade, and started that evolution with his first Western with sound, Stagecoach (1939).

There was something truly primal about the story of 9 people cast adrift in a dangerous wilderness and having to shack up in a lonely outpost surrounded by hostile forces. This film was so influential the Beatles drummer took his name from the lead character.

Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), tells the story of two partners, one descending into madness, the other redeemed through good deeds. Part western, part thriller, this is naturalism at its finest, meaning the forces of mother nature dwarf the energies of man.

The Searchers (1956), is John Ford’s greatest masterpiece and a much more mature effort than his trail-blazing Stagecoach. Obsessions collide across an immense wilderness as the complex plot unfolds, investigating some uncomfortable issues involving racism, cultural survival and revenge. This may have put the primary meme into the minds of a generation because in ten years many of us would soon be hitchhiking west in search of cultural meaning.

Gunfight at OK Corral (1957) represents the height of romanticism and an epic gun battle, and is probably best viewed on a giant monitor. I haven’t watched this in a long time, so I don’t know how well it holds up, but I always felt one of its greatest values was its restraint. Although the actual battle in real life lasted only a matter of seconds, John Sturges was able to build up to it with the help of an outstanding musical score, and his version of the fight itself was fairly realistic and little like the gory battles of today.
true-grit-movie-poster-1969-1020167547Everything seems to move in waves, and just like 1939 produced an incredible explosion of amazing films, something special happened with Westerns in 1969. Maybe it was the last gasp of a dying genre, but three of the greatest appeared over the course of a few months. The plastic phony Western of television and early 1960’s films were rejected suddenly and realism returned, or at least more realistic outfits and characters. True Grit (June 11, 1969) was the first of these to appear.

The Wild Bunch (June 18, 1969) was violence unleashed, the good-guy bad-guys go bad then good, then shoot up the place big-time. I’m sure Quentin Tarantino must have loved this film and I know a lot of violence junkies who got off watching it over and over. But it’s truly a classic Western in many ways, shades of a return to the O.K. Corral. And as the Western has evolved, it gets harder and harder to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (October 24, 1969) A final ode to romanticism, and perhaps the first modern woman’s western? Loosely based on the real story, this comic buddy tale involves a seldom-seen female lead in a genre completely dominated by men, although in truth, Butch likely returned to the USA and lived a quite life of quiet anonymity nothing like the end described here, but that’s another Western that didn’t make the list. But if romantic comedies are not your cup of tea and you want something with more of an edge, try McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971).

Little Big Man (1970) was the first post-modern western and a tragicomic masterpiece. Not many Westerns were told from the point of view of a Native perspective and this is one of the few. The film turned the genre upside down because we had to deal with the savagery inflicted upon Native culture from their own perspective. Some may prefer the maudlin Dances With Wolves in this regard, but that film doesn’t even come close to my top ten.

Lonesome Dove (1989), was a return to realism in epic splendor, and shows the value of having a great researcher-writer. This story was actually supposed to be made decades earlier with John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, which would have been amazing. Thankfully, Larry McMurtry didn’t give up on the project and eventually saw it through to fruition to immense success. Not really a movie, but a miniseries, nonetheless it transformed the genre.

Maybe you thought I was going to pick Django Unchained as my final choice? To be honest, I haven’t even seen it yet, but I much prefer the Coen Brothers to Quentin anyway. I didn’t know what to think when they said they were going to re-make one of my top ten Westerns, but I was impressed with the results, as well as the effort to remain as historically accurate as possible. Released in 2010.

To topple the central banking monopoly, just Occupy Bitcoin

logoI made a foray down to Zuccotti Park and enjoyed the Rainbow Family vibes of the encampment, but I always suspected the movement was penetrated by spooks early on since the ad campaign that launched the movement was initially funded by a Wall Street insider.
You probably haven’t heard much about the Occupy Movement lately, and winter often has a way of damping down outdoor demonstrations, but I can fill you in on the latest big developments: There’s an active branch of the movement called Occupy the SEC, who are attempting to influence the Securities and Exchange Commission, the agency created after the Stock Market Crash of 1929 to regulate the stock market. Since Occupy the SEC is well covered in the CIA-run Washington Post, one wonders if it might be a case of a controlled opposition leading the charge against the establishment? Certainly their professional website shows zero evidence of counterculture leanings. I really shouldn’t mouth off about the group, however, since I’ve done zero research and it could be a group of well-intentioned lawyers, but just the fact they can afford to mount serious litigation and have it covered glowingly in the Post leaves me wondering.
Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 12.38.16 PMHere’s the other big news: for $42 you can order a giant poster of the Zuccotti Park encampment in its prime from Walmart. Here’s how Walmart describes it on their website: “Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, New York City, New York State, USA is a licensed reproduction that was printed on Premium Heavy Stock Paper which captures all of the vivid colors and details of the original. The image size is 27 x 9 inches. This print is ready for hanging or framing and would make a great addition to your home or office.”
I’ve joined a different movement, one I actually think has a good chance of success. Strange how few activists are promoting bitcoin, although I’m seriously investing in this new frontier as a way to stick it to the man. I wanted to get in much earlier, but didn’t have the loose cash available, or I’d already likely be a bitcoin millionaire by now.
bitcoin1But what really sealed the deal is the way the media kept attacking this new money system. All the high-powered economists and major newspapers were predicting a quick demise after it shot from $200 to $1,200 in one month, and then fell back down to $500 when China’s banks stopped trades until further notice. One website posted diagrams of the Dutch tulip bubble next to the bitcoin bubble and claimed they were tracking identical paths.
So I started buying when they were selling for $540. It’s been on a rocky road ever since, and thanks to the hacks of a number of exchanges, price now hovers between $300 and $400.
But in five years, I expect that to be much higher.
Only 21 million bitcoins can be produced and around half have already been mined and the codes grow increasingly complex and the coins are harder to mine as we go on. After all 21 million coins are in circulation, their value mint skyrocket to some ridiculous figure, but you won’t live to see that day.
In 2014, I wrote this book to promote Bitcoin, and although the figures are out-of-date, the philosophy behind why we should support it is not.

Toxic Hot Seat: Your Couch is a Chemical Bomb

I was getting so disappointed with HBO I was actually thinking about cancelling. Boardwalk Empire started out okay, only I can’t imagine why they didn’t tell the real story of Nucky Johnson’s war with William Randolph Hearst. Now that show has jumped the shark so many times I’ve lost interest. But yesterday I was surfing the documentaries and came across the newly released Toxic Hot Seat.
This is truly an eye-opening revelation. Did you know most house fires are started by cigarettes? The cigarette companies actually had to put chemicals in their products to keep them burning constantly like that. I guess that was to make more money because cigarettes smoke themselves. Notice that spliffs go out right away and don’t burn down any houses, but if you fall asleep with a cigarette in your fingers, you might not wake up. The fire doesn’t kill you because toxic fumes usually get you first.
Back in the early 1970s, the cigarette companies knew they had a serious problem with house fires, so they went after the furniture makers. Instead of making cigarettes safer by eliminating some of the chemical additives, the cigarette companies decided furniture must be made safe from cigarettes. Pretty soon all the foam used in furniture was laced with tons of deadly chemicals, all to make us safer? This was certainly a win-win for the DuPont company. The entire concept was absurd, but we are still paying the price. And it’s a lot higher than you might think.
Yes, much of our furniture is toxic and emits clouds of fumes every time you sit down on your couch, although you can solve this problem by getting a couch made before around 1972. Hard to imagine today, but there was a time when foam had zero chemical additives. If you’re wondering why autism and other mental disorders are epidemic, consider the role of chemical pollution. Some of the worst pollution comes right into our homes disguised as furniture. What makes this situation even more ridiculous is that this toxic furniture turns incredibly more deadly once it catches fire. Yes, the retardant slows down the ability of the foam to flame up….for a few minutes….but once the foam does catch fire, and it will, then those chemicals vaporize and can enter your system easily. Talk to some firefighters about the epidemic of cancer in their profession and they’ll tell you it’s from the vapors created by toxic furniture.
Maybe this documentary can change the situation. There’s no justification for continuing to dump all these toxic chemicals into our homes. We really need a furniture company to come along and stand up against this nonsense. One of the primary chemicals we are talking about is BVO, brominated vegetable oil. And you know something really bizarre? The soft drink manufacturers put BVO into many of the citrus-flavored soft drinks. BVO use in food is banned in most civilized parts of the world, but here in the United States, we let our kiddies lap it up in sugar-laced drinks? And we wonder why some of our kids are having mental problems?
What this country needs is an all-out assault on the chemical industry that keeps making up new toxic molecules every year and dumping them into our homes. There’s been little effort so far to slow down this poisoning. I sure hope this eye-opening documentary starts a groundswell of protest against BVO. And stay away from Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange and Gatorade drinks with citrus. Always check the ingredients because soft drinks containing BVO will list it on all their bottles and cans.

In Praise of Flick Ford

After the Soho Weekly News folded, I went looking for a new place to publish my landmark 1980s uptown-downtown journalism. Ah, yes, the tawdry East Village in the 1980s, a time and place that someday may be as widely celebrated as the Summer of Love in San Francisco, because it was equally revolutionary and exciting.
My first book, Hip Hop, had disappointed me as it looked rushed out and I guess it was. For my next book, I wanted to work more closely with the designer. I noticed the East Village Eye on a newsstand and that caught my eye because I loved the new wave art direction. Soon, I met the publisher Leonard Abrams, and the art director David Allen, who had two other art directors he loved working with, Flick Ford and Brian Spaeth. The illo (above) was drawn by Flick, a portrait of the two of us, based on a photo from the East Village Eye.

I was living on the Upper West Side, where I still reside, a former reporter for the New York Daily News, hanging out mostly with friends from Illinois who had all penetrated the upper ranks of the corporate media world. But suddenly I shifted gears and started hanging out in the East Village almost nonstop for ten years.

I’m shy, so I like extrovert buddies who can start a conversation. Larry Green was my sidekick in high school and he always reminded me of a young Fred Astaire. Very suave and he loved to dance. I remember thinking: odd, a dude in the dance club, but then Larry told me it was the easiest way to meet hot girls.

Well, Flick reminded me of a young James Cagney and he could entertain and sweet talk the opposite sex better than anyone I knew, excepting Chef Ra, and Flick became my sidekick for the next decade. He certainly had a style all his own and I radically adjusted my look just from hanging around with him.

Flick, Brian and I would go on to form the Soul Assassins, a legendary band from the period. We all worked at High Times at one point, and now we’ve gone in different directions, although I think all three of us are doing our best work right now. I’m tremendously impressed with Flick’s latest book, Wild, 75 Freshwater Tropical Fish of the World.

I didn’t catch on to Flick’s obsession with fish until one day when out of the blue he got a small tank for his apartment. I returned a few weeks later and his apartment was filled with huge tanks, fresh and salt water. It’s safe to say the fish were talking to Flick. And what do you think they were saying? Save me?

Of course, that was 30 years ago. Today, Flick is widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest fish painters. He travels the globe catching fish so he can watercolor them straight from the water and then he mostly returns them to their habitat. Wild is an attempt to document the earth’s freshwater phenotypes. I guess you know life began in water so these fish are some of our oldest ancestors. And many are disappearing and have been replaced in captivity by flashy hybrids, which is cool, except what happens when all the original phenotypes are gone? In case of emergency, it’s up to the conservationist to capture, protect and preserve these phenotypes and that’s really what Wild is all about: inspiring a new generation to respect the natural order by honoring the ancestors of the earth. This is not just a book of paintings, however, but an encyclopedic compendium of vital information and includes maps of origin and instructions on captivity.

Here’s Flick’s Rainbow Trout from the Upper Missouri. You can’t really do these images justice with web shots, however. The fish literally jump off the pages and many are so colorful you wonder why anyone felt they needed to be enhanced through breeding. Even more astonishing are the prints and original watercolors Flick carries when he’s on tour. I thought I’d give you a heads up on a rare opportunity to meet a colossal talent in person.

And check out Flick’s website here:

Chauncey Holt was Meyer Lansky’s accountant

One of the more interesting JFK books is an autobiography of Chauncey Holt, who claims to have been Meyer Lanksy’s accountant, forger and occasional pilot. Holt managed to outlive his gangster and CIA associates, which is why he was able to tell his story eventually. You might recognize him as one of the three “tramps” photographed in Dallas that fateful November day fifty years ago.

The other two photographed with him in the Plaza have since been identified Charles Harrelson (Woody’s dad) and Charles Rogers, although when the photos first surfaced, a huge effort was made to ID Holt and Harrelson as Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis. It was actually James Angleton, head of CIA counterintelligence who planted the story Hunt was in Dallas that day, which was true, although Hunt seems to have had little idea what was going down. He was a propaganda expert who may have been placed in Dallas as a diversion, as the Plaza was filled with spooks and gangsters, most of whom had zero idea the President was about to be killed. See, spooks and gangsters often play their games with little background information or just a made-up cover story. Everything is done on intel rules: “need to know” basis, with most not knowing much of anything, except you do what the bosses say or face the unhappy consequences.

Organized crime and the intelligence agencies work hand in glove and the corruption of our political system is worse than you ever imagined. Holt was a lifelong criminal and he makes no excuses for his behavior. He does, however, provide an important window on the assassination.

I know Johnny Roselli was one of the shooters because Roselli confessed many times to multiple people. The other two shooters, however, may have been James Files and Charles Nicoletti, although there were multiple professional assassins in Dealey Plaza that day. Of course, the number-one suspect for the on-site team leader and a possible shooter has to be William Harvey because he was working closely with Roselli on assassinating Castro, a plot that was diverted to JFK after the oligarchy lost confidence in JFK as he was “changing too fast.” Many in the CIA believed Harvey took the kill shot.
Apparently, after Mary Meyer gave JFK some LSD for one of the lovemaking sessions, Kennedy decided to join her mission to manifest world peace and he began learning the strings of power to aid in his mission. No doubt, the military industrial complex became quite alarmed by this unexpected turn of events as they viewed JFK as little more than a chronic womanizer who stole lines from President Lincoln for use in his best speeches.

Holt, like most of organized crime, did not like Kennedy and felt he had betrayed their cause after they helped him steal an election from Nixon, something that mostly happened in Chicago. While attacking Carlos Marcello and Jimmy Hoffa through his brother Robert, JFK was also trading secret messages with Sam Giancana through their mutual mistress. It certainly would be interesting to know what was in those messages they traded as Giancana would soon be involved in assisting the assassination effort, sending his three best hit men to Dallas.

Although Holt died in 1997, long before this book was published, he did participate in a documentary available on YouTube that is worth watching. Like many involved, Holt did not come to Dallas realizing they were going to assassinate the President. Even among the spooks and gangsters at the scene there was confusion as to what had actually gone down and who’s secret agent(s) had done the shooting.

New book on JFK fails to connect the dots

You know the CIA brought out some big guns to create a cloud of smoke around the JFK assassination for the 50th Anniversary. Former New York Times reporter Philip Shenon has worked for years going over all the recently released documents. He was on Face the Nation yesterday and went over some of the more bizarre details of the case, dots that he just doesn’t seem to be able to properly connect. The book has already been the subject of a massive review in the Washington Post.

If you’ve been following my analysis of this case, you understand that the murder of Win Scott is a key element because Scott did his own investigation into Oswald’s trip into Mexico and wanted to shine a spotlight on his relationship with a woman who worked at the Cuban Embassy, a woman he suspected may have even been a double agent for someone.

Shenon did cover some of the incredible destruction of evidence that started two weeks before the assassination when Oswald delivered a note to the Dallas FBI, a note that was quickly destroyed. The destruction continued for months afterwards. Never has so much important evidence in a murder case been so recklessly destroyed. Oswald’s note may have indicated a plot against the President, or revealed his role as a deep undercover informant for CIA counterintelligence chief James J. Angleton. We will never know what was in Oswald’s note, just like we will never know what was written on the official autopsy, the notes of which were immediately burned. Oswald also tried to leave a note at the Dallas police after he was taken into custody, and that note was also immediately destroyed by the police.

There were tremendous machinations inside the Warren Commission to conceal and destroy evidence and limit the investigation. This critical woman from inside the Cuban embassy in Mexico was not interviewed even though she seemed to have crucial knowledge of the plot. The reason? According to Shenon, Chief Justice Earl Warren explained: “We do not interview Communists.” This seems especially odd since one of his staff actually contacted Fidel Castro about the case. There was a lot of early effort to paint Castro as a possible controller of Oswald, an effort that was quickly abandoned when it was decided he would forever remain a “lone nut,” which is the preferred way for intel to conduct assassination ops.

Bob Scheiffer intro’d his segment on the book by stating upfront it comes to the “right” conclusion, which is Oswald acted alone, even though the evidence of a massive coverup is overwhelming at this point, which just goes to show how controlled the US media is. After 50 years no cracks in the official story are allowed, even though the entire disinfo facade has crumbled and even people like me are cracking the case open now that so many whistleblowers have come forward over the last 50 years.

The Executive Action Team Richard Bissell and Angleton assembled to kill Castro that involved Johnny Roselli was diverted for the Kennedy hit. Immediately afterwards, a trail of dead bodies began appearing around Angleton, one that included some of his friends, as well as his old buddy Win Scott, who had become dangerous because he was doing his own private investigation into the assassination.

But there is no way Angleton would have pulled this off without the complicity and instigation of his superior, Allen Dulles. And the conspiracy also required the complicity and tacit approval of J. Edgar Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and some highly placed people inside the Pentagon. I’d assume the cabal reached into the upper ranks of the oligarchy that really rules America. The Texas oil crowd (Hunt, Murchison) put up the $200,000 cash to pay the four shooters, who certainly included Roselli, although Murchison was soon busted down to near-nothing.

I’m sure the first thing Bobby Kennedy wanted to know was where was Harvey that day since he and JFK ordered Harvey sacked for engaging in murder plots to kill Castro. They wanted those plots ended so they could make peace with Cuba. Harvey was soon a broken alcoholic, hidden away in Italy, although he seemed to have advance knowledge of the hit and may have tried to recruit QJ/Win.

World peace is not what the oligarchy seeks, since the highest profit involves manipulating religions to make war for profit.

Understanding how politics and religion really work to keep the masses in line is key to achieving enlightenment in the modern age and I write about spirituality and deep politics because you need to understand both to achieve real enlightenment.

An Apology to Elephants


Lily Tomlin has produced a most amazing documentary. Only 40 minutes in length, I guarantee anyone who watches this film will have a hard time ever attending a circus again. I don’t think I ever went to a circus that displayed elephants, but I’m sure never going to even think about paying to see such a spectacle as long as I live.

Elephants are some of the most sensitive creatures on earth: huge telepathic engines for emotion and love vibrations. Their deep attachment to each other is well-known and when a lover, child or friend of an elephant dies, it’s not unusual for that animal to go into mourning for six months. Looking at an elephant in mourning, you get a real sense of how that vibration shuts down all their chakra centers.

What they don’t tell you is that getting elephants to do stupid tricks is a complicated process. First the animal’s parents and adult tribe are usually all assassinated in front of the children in Africa. That’s done to harvest ivory and meat. Then the elephant kids are rounded up and shipped overseas to a circus or zoo. Once the toddlers arrive at a circus, they have to be “tamed,” which involves six men. First, they put ropes on every leg and pull the baby elephant off its feet while one man holds the trunk and another sticks a bullhook into the animal’s anus. The bullhook is a steel torture device designed to stab or hook the animal’s most sensitive parts, usually a tender spot right about the eye. Baby elephants are beaten and tortured until they lose their spirit. At that point, they’re ready to learn tricks, like standing on their hind legs, a completely unnatural position for an elephant.

imagesInterestingly enough, elephants posses great powers that have never been put to use. Had an orphan elephant been showered with love and adapted willingly to living around people, keep in mind he or she is much more sensitive to smell compared with a bloodhound. And probably more intelligent too. Imagine if that elephant had been honored and treated with respect and dignity, instead of being beaten into submission? Almost all are suffering from PTSD, and you can see that in their unnatural head-rocking behaviors. Instead of being treated like a slave, what if that elephant had just been treated like another person, with feelings, emotions and some basic rights? Elephants may lead the way to ending the worldwide abuse of all animals who are denied all dignity in their existence, pumped up on pills and standing in their own feces for most of their short lives before being harvested for human consumption. You know, animals emit telepathic vibes just like we do, so imagine the signals emanating from those animal factories.

Thankfully, people are starting to wake up to this atrocity, and thank you Lily Tomlin for bringing this to our attention. A couple in California created an elephant sanctuary so old elephants no longer of use to the circuses can come and try to get some healing in their final years. One of the most moving parts of the documentary concerns two baby elephants who were separated after coming to the states, both tortured for years, and much later in life, they reunite at this sanctuary. The deep emotion these creatures feel for each other despite being separated for decades was obvious. In fact, elephants spend a lot of time touching each other, rubbing against each other. If they could hug they would since they are obviously sharing compassionate energies on a regular basis.

So check out this amazing documentary while it’s on HBO. It will make you sad, but it’s something that might actually help turn the tide and help stop the abuse. And never, ever, buy anything made of ivory again.

HBO’s Epic on Dick Cheney

Can anybody actually sit through that 2-hour epic HBO is running? I always start spacing out after 20 minutes as I find it impossible to focus on Dick Cheney for longer than that. What an over-inflated, pretentious bore of a documentary, eh? The show is a coverup and apology parading as history, a complete distortion of truth, although I’m sure it unintentionally sheds some light in some dark corners despite the carefully selected cast of characters and facts. It plays like Cheney had final cut.

Yeah, the whole “weapons of mass destruction” was a complete lie, they expose that, but the documentary never goes into the structure of the Neo-Con take-over of America and the complex agenda that came with that takeover. The plans for an Iraq invasion as well as the plans for Iraq oil were carefully worked out before Saddam became the unexpected scapegoat for 9/11. According to Greg Palast, the real reason for the invasion was Saddam was dumping oil on the market in a way the oil cartel didn’t like, which kept prices down. The Neo-Cons drew up a plan to sell off every asset Iraq owned, but the oil cartel wanted to make sure the spigots were turned down so as to weaken OPEC’s hand in negotiations? This is the news today at least. You’d be surprised how much the intelligence agencies hover around oil production and distribution as they are considered the keys to the kingdom so long as oil continues to run the world. Only thing more profitable is war and drugs, which usually go together like a horse and carriage.

Here is what I took away from the HBO show from what I’ve seen so far:

We know now that Watergate was really a CIA plot to remove Nixon from power. What happened when Nixon was gone? Rumsfeld took over. Ford was a figurehead president, who didn’t even have his own staff. Rumsfeld brought Cheney into the White House. Ford didn’t know him from Adam. A year later, Cheney becomes the youngest Presidential chief of staff in history. Then Rumsfeld and Cheney made a huge power play, taking out a host of Rockefeller allies. And even though Rockefeller was Vice President at the time, it seems Rumsfeld and Cheney were wielding more power. You have to wonder what power group engineered these two people into such lofty positions.

I guess the best thing about the documentary is watching how a dozen junior lawyers at the Justice Department were able to squash illegal searches that had grown out-of-control, but what they don’t tell you is that the CIA and other agencies like them routinely do illegal searches every day. When you work with the bad boys, bad things happen and nobody is ever the wiser. That sort of activity is part of the culture of winning the fake war on terror. And too bad those lawyers didn’t shut down Gitmo, that national embarrassment that will follow W’s legacy for the rest of his life, pulling his karma like an anchor. That would have been a real achievement.

Jetsonism is Nirvana?


Lots of people ask me about the spirals I keep drawing all the time. You notice I put a spiral on the center candle. Where did this fascination with spirals start anyway?

Well, truth be told, it started with Kenny Scharf. I went to interview Kenny around 1981 and he showed me a piece of paper about spirituality, religion and the use of icons (which I now call sigils) that he’d recently written while coming down from mushrooms. I was blown away by the insights Kenny expressed in that essay and keep in mind, Kenny was only 23-years-old at the time, just out of college.

I’m looking for the original xerox Kenny gave me of those ideas on art and spirituality. Can’t seem to find it in this immense archive I’ve collected over the last 45 years, but I did locate a copy of the same material that was printed in a 1983 brochure for a solo show at the Tony Shafrazi gallery that may have been Kenny’s breakout moment (see left).

The essay concluded with the line: “Hydrogen God is the creator: sun, planets, earth, man. The sun being hydrogen, fusing to helium as an after product. Man plays God by using atoms, destroying himself in the process: nuclear catastrophe. Jetsonism is Nirvana.”

The one thing in this essay that really stuck with me however, was how a spiral could take you to a higher level. Kenny had stumbled onto this magic after he’d painted one on his ceiling and began staring into it while high on mushrooms. It actually helped him take his art to a higher level and I don’t think he’d deny this.

I grew up worshiping the Merry Pranksters, who created a ton of magic in the 1960s. When they painted their bus Furthur, they made it magic in the process. Then they began painting themselves and everything around them, transforming their world. I don’t think Kenny knew anything about the Pranksters, his magic bus icon probably came from the Partridge Family. But Kenny instinctively understood the magic of customizing everyday objects, ritualizing them in the process. At the time, Kenny had recently customized a vacuum cleaner and was taking it for walks around the neighborhood like it was a pet dog, all part of the magic world he was manifesting.

Today, the specter of nuclear annihilation has diminished considerably, but the threat of environmental and/or social collapse still hangs around, although I refuse to get involved with apocalyptic thinking. Fear is the basis for all mind control.

Nothing is Everything

I woke up, reached into my treasure trove of moldy manuscripts and pulled out a doozy titled “Nothing is Everything” set in my hometown of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, in 1977.

These stories have been compiled into one volume titled 1966.

The first in this autobiographical series is a black comedy titled East Village that involves Bugsy and Maarten traveling to New York City at the end of the summer in 1966 and landing in a crash pad in the East Village terrorized by a speed freak named Yukyuk.

The second, titled The Steam Tunnels, is a tragedy that takes place around the same time only set underneath Champaign-Urbana in a world that still exists today.

The third is The Stockholm Manifesto and involves my scheme to avoid the Vietnam War by relocating to Sweden for a few months.

And now we have the fourth, which takes place several years later.

After graduation from art school, Bugsy drifted around North America for a few years working odd jobs, while I went back to school and ended up with a masters in journalism. Right after I graduated, life in C-U, once a hotbed of counterculture activity, turned sour as the counterculture headshops and hangouts had already been displaced by chain stores.

My cynicism may have hit rock bottom around this time. The story about the girl-friend is 100 percent Bugsy though. I’d already written about my first real girl friend in The Stockholm Manifesto.  Many of these stories can be read for free on my Smashwords site.