Return of the Nature Boys: The Source Family

“Things are worse than they may seem. Let’s try my little scheme. Yeah! Dream! Some other dream.” Father Yod, Fire in the Sky

Check out the official symbol of the Wandervogel (traveling bird) society born on November 4, 1901, in Berlin as a back-to-nature group that worshiped freedom and the spirit of adventure. Although later co-opted by the Boy Scouts and the Hitler Youth, this society was an influence on the hippie generation, at least in Los Angeles.

Eden Abez (George Aberle) wrote a song called “Nature Boy” about an enchanted lad who wanders far and wide spreading magic vibes. The song became a #1 hit for Nat “King” Cole in 1948. The song was really written about a group Abez hung out with in Laurel Canyon, headquartered at a pioneering raw foods restaurant run by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants trying to keep the original Wandervogel spirit alive. The group also included Gypsy Boots (Robert Bootzin) who opened his own health food store and would evolve into a major writer and prophet for the tribe.

My cousins knew two brothers from Flint Lake, Indiana, who went off to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to go surfing and came back looking like Buddhist monks. They spent the next ten years traveling around the country playing conga drums. The Nature Boy/Wandervogel spirit had obviously infected them.

But the most interesting figure to emerge from this scene is Father Yod (James Baker) a decorated Marine who served in WWII and  founded his own organic vegetarian restaurant on Sunset Strip, a place made famous in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. Father Yod also created an important commune called The Source.

Father Yod had a council of 13 beautiful goddesses, some of whom became his wives, and some of whom bore his children. They lived with their extended tribe in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills. Yod was driven around in a white Rolls Royce and treated like a king, although he left the details of running the kingdom to the goddess council.

I love this shot of Yod’s Temple Dragons (his sons), all of whom were very well-trained by their dad in bow-and-arrow as well as martial arts. Although the group worshiped peace and love, obviously nobody fucked with this commune when the Savage Sons were around.

Like many charismatic leaders of the hippie movement, Yod has been treated badly by the media, which usually paints him as a Manson-like cult leader. Isn’t it weird how anyone who tries to wear a ceremonial hat is branded a fraud and “occult” cult-leader, but when the Pope puts on a similar hat, it’s called “religion” and treated with the utmost respect? How organized religion pulls off this scam is beyond me. It’s all magic, and it all runs on the same spiritual juices no matter who wears the big hat or what that hat looks like.

Music is a major part of spirituality and Yod built a recording studio in the mansion for his improvisational jam sessions. These recordings were sold for a few dollars out of his restaurant, although today the records are avidly sought by a handful of devoted collectors. Yod’s lyrics can be difficult to decipher, but he comes off like an impassioned cross between Captain Beefheart and Howling Wolf .

Check out the documentary The Source Family.

The best mob film you never saw

Ten years before The Godfather forged a mythic image of the Sicilian Men of Honor society, an Italian film exposed that same secret society’s inner workings, styles and rituals with a bit more clarity than Francis Ford Coppola was able to muster. After all, Coppola was working primarily off the testimony of a low-level snitch, so even though much of his film rings true for Italian-Americans, he hit some false notes.

One thing about The Godfather: you never hear the words “men of honor” even once, although you will find them sprinkled throughout Alberto Lattuada’s little-known masterpiece. The film is available for free streaming on Amazon Prime right now and I strongly suggest you check it out asap. But please don’t look up the wiki info first as it will only spoil the plot. The less you know, the more you will enjoy this film.

I have to wonder if it was based on an actual event. “Anatomy of a Hit” would be a good subtitle. It’s a black comedy and will keep you laughing, but there’s a reality lurking underneath this comedy. The psychological underpinnings of the Sicilian brotherhood of death and how that society operates are actually quite realistically revealed.

First abuse case against Catholic Church inspired by cannabis

Mea Maxima Culpa is a devastating HBO documentary on sex abuse inside the Catholic Church and includes an amazing detail. Did you have any idea how this scandal involving the Church actually started?

It started with a group of deaf men (who’d been sexually abused by the same priest as kids), hanging out later in life, smoking pot, and while smoking, they decide to take on the mission of seeing that priest defrocked in order to protect any more children from what they’d suffered. But after the Church did nothing to respond to their allegations, and after the courts said the statute of limitations had expired on the crime, the men put “wanted” leaflets with the priest’s picture on cars in front of the Milwaukee Cathedral. This act is what eventually blows open the doors of silence on the rampant sex child abuse going on virtually untouched and unabated, probably for centuries, within the Catholic Church, even though the Church knew the extent of the problem to the point of estimating the financial cost of settling the global cases as over $1 billion. Those deaf guys from Milwaukee eventually won the first of those settlements and created a landslide that has already paid out more than double the original Vatican estimate.

Don’t you find it strange that the original reefer madness was actually launched by the Vatican in the Middle Ages, when they made possession of cannabis proof of witchcraft and punishable by burning at the stake? And now cannabis has struck a nearly mortal blow to the Vatican as these child abuse cases have devastated the credibility of an institution already struggling to hold onto its flocks in the industrialized world.

And now today we hear the first Pope in 600 years is going to resign immediately after surviving a huge scandal involving his butler leaking secret documents to the press, a disclosure supposedly intended to purge deep corruption inside the Vatican? Or did I miss something?

During my freelance career, I did one story for the New York Times, by the way. It was on the National Theater for the Deaf. I think even then they clued me in on the fact that pot was popular in the deaf community.

The Conspirator: an overlooked film on Lincoln’s assassination

I just watched a film about the Lincoln assassination on Netflix. It’s a Robert Redford production that was released a couple of years ago, but it didn’t even hit my radar back then. But the film certainly strikes some timely chords today.

The Conspirator shows how Secretary of War Edwin Stanton completely controlled the investigation into Lincoln’s assassination, which concentrated only on finding minor characters on the fringe of the conspiracy, but did nothing to locate the actual figures in command of the situation. I’ve written earlier about the possible involvement of Albert Pike, a Confederate General, in Lincoln’s assassination. At some point, the possibility of a much larger conspiracy will have to be addressed. Pike, after all, was the most powerful Mason of his time. Lincoln was not a member of the Masons. But Edwin Stanton certainly was.

Today many people seem to think John Wilkes Booth acted alone because that’s the only way political assassinations in this country are spun—probably to protect the guilty—but, in fact, the plot also included an attack on Secretary of State William Seward. Some people think Seward was marked for death in order to engineer the line of succession, but at the time of the assassination, the Secretary of State was not even in that line, which, by the way, has been re-tooled several times over the years.

In the movie, the conspirators are tried by military tribunal and experience none of the rights of a civilian trial. The film adeptly shows how Stanton cared little for civil rights. His only concern was to get some people hanged and hanged quickly. After this sham trial, a law would be passed insuring the rights of every American citizen to due process and a fair trial—even in times of war. Unfortunately, those rights seem to have been rescinded by the Patriot Act.

Hopefully, someday our rights to a fair trial will be returned. I’m sure future generations will look upon the Patriot Act and everything that followed, including the current sham trial taking place in Guantanamo Bay, with horror. After railroading Mary Surratt onto the gallows, the government was unable to convict her son John in a civilian trial 16 months later after he was captured following an extensive manhunt. John had participated in a failed attempt to kidnap Lincoln with Booth and then fled the country after discovering the plan had switched to an assassination plot. If a civilian court could not find John Surratt guilty, it’s doubtful his mother would have ever been convicted in a legitimate trial.

There are many stories told that Booth escaped, though, and the others were just patsies, since some members of Booth’s famous family have always asserted Booth did not die in a fire in a barn outside Port Royal as the government asserts, but, instead, another’s charred body was substituted and Booth walked free. Booth’s dentist ID’d the teeth in those charred remains as being Booth’s and the corpse did have a broken ankle, which Booth may have suffered after jumping to the stage following the assassination, although his diary claimed that happened later, during the escape when his horse slipped and fell. The mysteries linger. But I believe it was Booth who died in the barn, and he was killed to prevent him from spilling the beans on who actually paid for the assassination. We just know it involved a New York element.

The Xerox Art Movement of 1980-81

 

Between 1980 and 1981, a lot of emerging artists knew the Zeitgeist was changing and were experimenting with new media hoping to catch whatever wave might come along. For a year or two, Xerox art became the rage for many. In fact, Jean Michel Basquiat was doing it before he started painting on canvas, and the form may have even helped him segue from writing cryptic poems in the street to inventing his own image vocabulary based on opening up his inner child. Tom Forcade, the founder of High Times, by the way, was an influence on Jean’s teen years because Forcade was the most legendary character living downtown in the 1970s. Jean dumped a box of shaving cream on his high school principal, something that might have been inspired by Tom throwing a pie inside Congress during an investigation on pornography a few years earlier. One of Jean’s biggest boosters at the time (Glenn O’Brien) was momentarily Editor of High Times, and wrote the first major article on the new writers like Jean and Fab Five, although no one thinks of Jean as a writer today as he quickly backed away from that scene.

Of all these Xerox artists, Keith Haring was one of the most political, using Burrough’s cut-up technique to rearrange headlines from the rabidly right-wing New York Post to convey shocking messages (left). Haring was also very prolific. Anytime he did something, Keith usually went all-in, and his short-lived Xerox phase was no exception. Kenny Scharf might have been living with Keith at the time, although maybe they were just in school together but he also joined in with his own Xerox art.

Vapo Jet is the title of this piece, and it has to be one of the most phallic of all Kenny’s early work. The Fifties mom wearing Jetson-style sunglasses quickly became a recurring archetype in Kenny’s personal iconography. I wonder sometimes if my Xerox art collection is worth anything? None of the pieces are signed and it’s pretty easy to make forgeries, although I’ve never tried.

Keith eventually switched from cutting up Post headlines to inventing his own personal iconography, and that switch took place during the short-lived Xerox art movement. By New Year’s Eve 1980, Keith’s new vocabulary was fully formed (left). Meanwhile, Kenny went to soak up the vibes at Stonehenge that spring and made a color Xerox that shows him with Samantha and Bruno.

Remembering Paul Krassner

I’ve made it one of my life’s missions to celebrate the under-celebrated counterculture figures, a list that includes Mezz Mezzrow, Johnny Griggs, John Sinclair, Tom Forcade, Ina May Gaskin, Stephen Gaskin….and, Paul Krassner, the dean of counterculture journalism.

Krassner created the first counterculture magazine, The Realist, and immediately became a target for a wide variety of intel ops. They followed him for the rest of his life. For a brief time, he was publishing some cutting-edge conspiracy research, but soon veered out of that orbit because it was making him paranoid. He was investigating possible CIA links to Charlie Manson at the time.

In a strange way, Krassner’s satire pioneered the creation of fake news because he loved inventing the wildest stories just to see if people would swallow them, and in most cases, someone always did.

Funny little known story: When Tom Forcade arrived in New York with great spiritual fervor, he was flying the colors of Sinclair’s White Panther Party, but Sinclair’s entourage did not trust Tom and revoked his chapter while John was in jail, leaving Rev. Tom in charge of the Free Rangers. Tom quickly decided Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin did not deserve to be chiefs of the movement and started a counter-revolution against them. But during that attempted coup, Tom never, ever spoke badly of the third in the Yippie trinity, Paul Krassner, and even offered him the job of editor of High Times, but Paul later went to Penthouse instead, which was probably a great loss to the potential of what might have been. (Later on, Ken Kesey would also choose him as a co-editor.)

At an underground media conference, Tom stole $500 from Jerry and burned it secretly in the parking lot because that’s a political act Jerry had encouraged. Tom would later brag about it in his little-known book Caravan of Love and Money.

Pot Stories for the Soul was the first book I edited when I launched High Times Books in 1999.  Okay, I didn’t edit a thing. Krassner is untouchable, but I did play a somewhat crucial role. The original manuscript was titled Amazing Dope Stories and contained not just pot, but all drugs. After being blown away by the material, I suggested to Paul that we break it into three books and call the first one Pot Stories for the Soul, to be followed by Acid Trips for the Soul, to be followed by Mushroom Trips for the Soul….

But after the first volume came out (and won the Firecracker Award and became a Book of the Month select), we got hit with some legal threats from the Chicken Soup for the Soul people and the other two volumes got their names diverted to avoid a lawsuit.

A new edition contains tons of new material as well as a new intro by the Dean himself. Five stars.

Oh, and check out my documentary on Paul:

HBO and Showtime present opposing views on Obama

 

Did you notice that HBO and Showtime have dueling perspectives on President Barack Obama currently airing? On HBO, you can view By the People, a loving documentary of Obama’s rise to power; while on Showtime, Oliver Stone tears Obama apart in the closing segment of his series on the Untold History of America, a finale that seemed primarily focused on showing how Obama was really a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and his velvet glove has disguised a fist of steel.

Obama is clearly one of the most intelligent and charismatic Presidents in history and his election was a tremendous watershed for the country, a wonderful thing for all, but especially for minorities. However, I couldn’t help but marvel at the complete lack of minority representation in his inner sanctums as shown in the HBO documentary. Clearly, Obama did not rise to power like a Martin Luther King, a grassroots activist with a team of peers. Obama’s career, it seems, has been much more carefully crafted, no doubt carefully guided by people inside the political power structure.

As Stone makes clear, Obama was secretly the candidate of Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex, since they gave far more money to his campaign than they did to his opponent. Meanwhile, although Obama was swept into office on a promise and hope of change, a lot of the same faces paraded into positions of power in his administration, while the perpetual war plans continued unabated, even though the wars have clearly bankrupted the nation. Obama doesn’t have the courage to face down the Joint Chiefs the way JFK did after the Bay of Pigs. But then, Obama probably doesn’t want to end up like JFK either.

I believe Obama’s grandfather worked for the CIA and this played a role in his political development. I saw this claim initially made in a DVD circulated during the election that claimed Obama’s real father is Frank Marshall. That claim may also be true. However, the DVD then jumped the shark by asserting Frank Marshall took topless pictures of Obama’s mother while she was underage and sold them to men’s magazines. And that allegation is what took the whole story off the deep end and guaranteed it would never be addressed in the mainstream press. But this is they way a lot of disinfo ops work: conceal the truth by wrapping it in lies.

Watching the two shows back-to-back is a real eye-opener, sort of like dueling propaganda pieces that cancel each other out. We can always hope Obama slips off leash and tries to do something to end the madness of promoting a fake war on terrorism that destroyed our Constitutional rights. So far, however, we’ve seen no signs of that happening anytime soon.

On the Road Again?

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I probably won’t be checking out The Hobbit this weekend, as the reviews are dreadful and I didn’t even care for the bloated Rings trilogy. However, there’s an upcoming release that does attract my interest, a remake of Jack Kerouac’s masterpiece On the Road, a book that launched thousands of teens on vision quests around the world to find their true identities, while searching carefully for any potential sacraments that might aid in that mission.

Today a lot of people complain On the Road is meandering and structureless. They fail to understand the book introduced a new zeitgeist and trumpeted the appearance of an emerging counterculture that had been incubated inside the jazz scene for a century. Kerouac found an edge where Zen met Congo Square, and the two cultures were essentially revealed to have the same foundations. The counterculture actually began in Congo Square in New Orleans and the one element it prizes above all else is unfiltered, improvisational energy. On the Road was the literary equivalent of a wild jazz solo. And just as important, the book introduced tribal and Eastern concepts of spirituality which allowed a new spiritual vocabulary to emerge, one that dealt with vibrations and telepathic energies.

The Beats were inducted at the 12th Cannabis Cup, and Carolyn Cassady, the great love of both Jack and Neal, was the High Priestess. The thing Carolyn most wanted to convey was that everyone was extremely conservative in the 1940s, including the Beats, most of whom had conventional ideas about love and marriage. Jack’s biggest accomplishment, according to Carolyn, was his ability to inject meaning into everyday life and to treat every moment as a sacred experience.

By the way, if you attempted to read On the Road and were turned off because the narrative wasn’t pronounced enough for your taste, I suggest you pick up Big Sur, Kerouac’s greatest masterpiece. You won’t be disappointed.

The 12th Cannabis Cup provided a huge jump in terms of the video I was self-producing on limited budget because that year iMovie was released, giving me an opportunity to really delve into non-linear editing. Check out the short highlight reel I produced that year:

The Truth About Food

In 1983, a joint team from China, Cornell University and Oxford University began a 20-year study into the relationship between diet and disease. The results were astonishing: heart disease and obesity are the result of food toxicity and malnourishment and do not even exist in those communities that consume primarily fresh vegetables and fruits. In 2004, one of the lead researchers, T. Colin Campbell, published The China Study, a book summarizing the results of this massive research effort. This book should have made the front pages around the world, yet few seem to realize its significance.
A few doctors, however, took note and began treating heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity as food-borne illnesses. Predictably, many of their extremely ill patients completely cured themselves of their health problems simply by switching to a plant-based diet and avoiding processed foods. These results were recently dramatically revealed in the documentary, Forks Not Knives, released in August, 2011 and now available on Netflix and Amazon Prime. These miraculous cures often took as little as three months to take effect.
One is left to ponder why this obvious solution to childhood obesity is currently being ignored? And why do most of our schools offer nothing but deadly food to our children? The current situation is very similar to the 1960’s, when most intelligent MD’s realized smoking tobacco had already created an explosion of lung cancer. Yet this information was largely ignored as the tobacco companies continued to reap huge profits for decades, despite the trail of misery and death created by their products. Now we have a trail of misery and death created by our food industry. I do not believe the current food industry is capable of reform, and will only seek to keep increasing its profits through factory farming of animals and bioengineering toxic products to protect their monopolies. We need a massive conversion to organic farming, ban GMO’s, and remove subsidies for corn, wheat and soy beans (the three most toxic crops at this point).

If there’s anyone out there reading this who’s had any success introducing healthy food to school cafeterias, I’d appreciate hearing from you. Since marijuana will soon be legal, I’m looking for a new cause to work on, and getting a safe alternative menu introduced into our school systems asap is high on my list.

The Success Secret

If you’ve never heard of Napoleon Hill this may be one of the most important blogs you ever stumbled onto. Personally, I never heard of him until very recently, even though he’s the father of positive thinking. The recent film The Secret is really just a bland retread of Hill’s incredibly effective insights. Without knowing anything about him, I’ve been practicing some of these strategies most of my life, starting when I visualized myself into a garage rock band at age 15.

Hill was a journalist sent to interview Andrew Carnegie, and that interview changed his life. Carnegie convinced Hill success in business could easily be achieved by virtually anyone, provided they followed a few simple rules involving telepathic energy.  A lot of Carnegie’s insights are surprisingly similar with my concepts on energy, or, as others like to call it, spirituality, although I’ve only recently stumbled onto these insights through Hill’s book. The basic concepts include the ability to form group telepathic mega-minds capable of visualizing a path to success while banishing all thoughts of failure.

Just as Carl von Clausewitz wrote extensively about the telepathic energies of war (fog, friction and centers of gravity), Napoleon Hill outlined the telepathic energies of success in business. This only happened because Carnegie encouraged Hill to visit hundreds of successful people and document the similarities of their strategies for success. The result became one of the top ten best-selling books in history: Think and Grow Rich, published in 1937 after 20 years of research. It’s not really a book about making money, however, but about how to architect a telepathic environment that assures the success of any endeavor. Ken Norton attributed his success against Muhammad Ali in 1973 to having recently read this book.

Think and Grow Rich is in the public domain and can be downloaded in pdf form from a variety of sites.