Steven Avery is the real Forest Gump

Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, two Columbia University film students, learned about Steven Avery from the New York Times and decided he’d make an interesting documentary. Those who watched the Paradise Lost series will experience a sense of deja vu, for this is another murder trial in which the real murderer likely appears as a witness against a designated patsy. Meanwhile, the wheels of justice remain on a narrow track that allows the culprit to walk free.

One thing Stephen Gaskin taught me about enlightenment: it doesn’t require a high IQ. The learning disabled can attain serenity as easily as the geniuses among us. Steven Avery is a real life Forest Gump and his sense of dignity far exceeds that of the villains and stooges conspiring against him.

Mostly, however, the documentary series shows how police, the justice system and media circle wagons to guard against exposure of corruption in the system. The police have become laws unto themselves and woe betide any individual who dare question their ability to game our legal system to insure convictions. Evidence presented at this trial was more than sufficient to exonerate Steven. The key pieces of evidence in his favor are two recorded phone calls between him and his girlfriend while the actual murder was taking place, and the fact the DNA on the latch key was obviously planted, likely from a toothbrush. Until Zellner came around, Avery never had a truly competent attorney.

Since Steven was suing the local police department, they never should have had access to the alleged crime scene. All evidence is tainted because the local police took charge of the investigation and were the ones who discovered the suspicious evidence days after the property had already been searched multiple times by more appropriate authorities.

The real crime scene should have been uncovered when the cadaver dogs led the handlers into the quarry pit, where rib and vertebra remains were eventually located. Only the larger fragments had been moved to Avery’s burn pit. Avery’s blood in the vehicle must have been planted simply because his fingerprints were not found inside the vehicle.

I don’t think America can sleep soundly until justice is served and it’s time for a national commission addressing police violence and corruption as well. Communities should not be living in fear of their police, yet many are.

The biggest lesson learned from Paradise Lost is often the most obvious suspect turns out not to be the killer, so I’m wary of jumping to quick conclusions, but a new suspect emerged as the front runner after the second series was aired. We don’t know exactly where Teresa was shot 11 times, but she was never loaded into the back of her vehicle. Zellner shows how the blood marks on the inside of the rear hatch are much more likely the result of splatter flying off an ax head used to chop up the corpse. That SUV was reported to an officer, who seems to have had it driven back to the Avery junkyard, while most of the charred bones moved to Steven’s fire-pit.

There are two crimes here, the murder and the frame-up. In cases of murder, the primary suspects initially investigated are typically people close to the victim. But in this case, only Avery was investigated, while Teresa’s ex-boyfriend and any possible other stalkers ignored.

Ryan Hillegas quickly became my primary suspect, an opinion formed while watching him in the role of search leader.

He now works as an out-patient therapist at a Lutheran hospital.
Since Hillegas admitted accessing Teresa’s cell phone after her disappearance by guessing her password, he’s the most likely person to have erased any final messages, and we know at least one was erased.

Zellner also implicates him in helping someone move the vehicle onto Avery’s lot, where it crashed into another vehicle, damaging one headlight.

Another suspect from the first series was Scott Tadych, who has had a long series of encounters with the court system.

Scott & Bobby.

Tadych also has a history of violence, and a previous lawyer representing him was Mark Rohrer, Manitowoc County DA (and now a judge). Rohrer’s firm, Roher and Fox, included Jerome Fox, who became the presiding judge in Brendan’s trials, the authority who signed off on two blatantly coerced confessions.

Thus we have a cluster of self-interest circling Tadych, who became a key witness in the rush to judgment against Avery. And thanks to series two, it seems possible Tadych may have had an accomplice in Bobby Dassey, who apparently changed his testimony of what happened that day and joined his step-father Tadych in becoming a key witness against Avery.

The police who tweaked the evidence to insure a conviction could also have been the murderers, however, simply because the insurance company refused to cover the county based on a loophole, which left the police department and individual officers liable for millions. So not only were some officers in jeopardy of losing their careers, but all their assets as well. They certainly had the ability to put Steven under constant surveillance while searching for any possible solutions to their legal dilemma.

Len Kachinsky comes off as a completely corrupt toady of the Republican Party who’d just lost an election when he was inserted into the case as a public defender. He was later rewarded with a judgeship, although he’s recently contracted cancer.

His sadly comical machinations resemble the nervous William H. Macy in Fargo as he led his client down a garden path to making a false confession. How many public defenders like him have been steered into politically sensitive cases? Suffice to say the strategy is probably not that unusual. You simply never know who that pro bono attorney is working for if you aren’t paying for him yourself.
James Lenk, who appears to have retired since the trial, remains the most suspicious person in planting evidence. Lenk and fellow officer Andrew Colborn had just recently been deposed for Steven’s lawsuit, and during their deposition some valuable evidence emerged pointing toward a conspiracy involving their boss Sheriff Tom Kocourek to keep Steven Avery in jail after it should have become clear another party had confessed to the crime. After Steven was exonerated, Colborn wrote a “cover-your-ass” memo concerning a phone call he’d received six years earlier, which was six years too late to save Steven.
On November 3, 2005, the day Teresa was reported missing to police, Colborn placed a request to his dispatcher to run license plate SWH582. Minutes before, he’d been informed about the location of the vehicle but filed no report. This is crucial info uncovered by Zellner.

One of jurors who was recused during the trial remains haunted by the outcome. The original vote taken was 7 to acquit and only 3 to convict. It appears the police may have had some strong allies on that jury who convinced the others to render a split verdict on the charges, convicting Steven of a murder he obviously never committed.

Farewell to Stephen Gaskin

I first heard about Stephen Gaskin the third time I visited the Bay Area around 1969. The people I was crashing with in Oakland were avid attendees at the Sunrise Sunday Morning Services in Golden Gate Park. They tried to lure me the week I was there but unfortunately, I overslept and missed it. But I understood something meaningful was collecting around Stephen.

In some ways, he was an accidental guru. His trajectory happen to coincide with the rise of the hippie movement and among his primary interests were science fiction and Eastern mysticism. His creative writing class at San Francisco State morphed into a spiritual community that stayed with him almost until the end, and one that built the most successful counterculture community in the world. It took me a lifetime to figure this out, but Stephen’s greatest talent was his ability to read an audience, absorb its vibrational energies and then improvise a sermon that touched that audience in deep and meaningful ways. He could take the most complex concepts of Eastern mysticism and translate them into Jimmy Stewart-like homespun English. Stephen had the abilities of a psychic, but used those talents only to help people remember their own forgotten wisdom.

After I started the Cannabis Cup, I felt obligated to investigate the history of the spiritual use of cannabis, and part of that investigation involved going to The Farm in Summertown, Tennessee, to finally meet Stephen in person. When I arrived, he’d just discovered not only was I the editor of High Times, but also the author of a glowing review of The Farm’s free ambulance service in the South Bronx in the New York Daily News in 1981. For me, arriving at The Farm was a holy moment. I hadn’t realized Stephen’s plans for a global hippie Peace Corps. had been scuttled by an internal coup against him. It was a testament to his level of enlightenment and serenity that Stephen stayed in the community after that coup, although he was strangely forced to vacate his house recently in order to have contact with his eldest son.

I ransacked Stephen’s best writings on spirituality to put together a book called Cannabis Spirituality, which eventually became a classic, although it’s very hard to find today. Living on the Farm led to some major revelations on my part. Mostly I became aware of the incredible amount of trash my lifestyle entailed, while Stephen and Ina May produced none. Their food came from Ina May’s vegetable garden, and all liquid was drawn from Stephen’s well. I had my glass beer bottles and aluminum coke cans as well as all sorts of plastic and paper garbage collecting around me constantly. The only trash can was a little bucket outside the front door that I could fill up easily before lunch. It made me understand how much more spiritual their lives really were.

I’d grown up with the Merry Pranksters as my primary guide, and was mostly surfing the fun vibe, but Stephen’s trail was absolute love. There were some minor tensions between some of the various tribes from ’60s, with many gurus to choose from, although none higher than Stephen. I always looked upon Tim Leary as more entertainer than enlightened being. Leary was a brilliant mind, but he was also a martini-drinking meat eater who often showed bad judgment, while Stephen never wavered from his core principles. I may have helped bridge some gaps between the Pranksters and Stephen through my events like WHEE! and the Cannabis Cup because I brought both sides together in ceremony, and bridging gaps is what most ceremonies are about. Most of what I know about ceremonies, I learned from Stephen, but he also never prescribed a single ceremony to me, but told me just to let them manifest on their own. It took me a long time to figure out how to do that.

Saint Stephen passed over to the unknown dimensions on July 1, 2014.

Ritual or Superstition?

I find some of the magic being practiced today somewhat backward, although the Catholic Church remains a major repository of ritual magic, despite the current scandals.

They deploy candles in almost all their rituals, and their use of candle magic seems more evolved to me that what the average wiccan believes, some of whom will tell you if you take a candle of such and such a color, and say such and such words, then so and so will fall in love with you, or give you a job, or drop dead from a heart attack so you can inherit the family fortune.

Yes, telepathic vibrations are real and spoken words can have telepathic impacts, but when you toss a vibe like that out it’s like tossing a coin into the sea and expecting your dreams to come true. Not really much going on and probably doesn’t have much of a success rate.

One of the things about magic that really bugs me is that the serious books all storm through the shamanistic history of the world looking for some magic secret they can bring home and make a fortune off of. Problem is, magic only works when people believe, and the more people that believe, the more powerful the magic. You can’t take a ceremonial ritual from one culture and transplant it suddenly into another and expect real results. And yet this has largely been the history of sorcery and witchcraft.

After being exposed to the Living Theater, I fell into a little known art form I call Improvisation Ritual Theater. The counterculture is improvisational at heart. So I didn’t need to study someone else’s ideas about magic and spirituality. I just let the spirit flow through me and tried different ways to amplify the energies, which, I learned, come in flavors, or if you prefer, frequencies.

At first, when I was organizing the Cannabis Cup ceremonies, I went to Stephen Gaskin and lived with him for a few weeks while ransacking his written material to assemble a guide to ceremonies that became the book Cannabis Spirituality. I figured as long as I needed to learn how to organize a counterculture ceremony, I might as well turn to a recognized expert.

But the funny thing was, when I asked Stephen to advise to me on the Cup ceremonies, he only said “I don’t prescribe ceremonies. I just let them unfold naturally.” And that’s really the difference between “being spiritual” and just being. The more spiritually aware people are consciously channeling ceremony and ritual in order to enhance their lives and chart a course through the telepathic frequencies: love, fun, peace, serenity, bliss is the counterculture recipe, and all cultures have a unique combination.

Compare that approach with say, “kill a frog and put it in a jar and go to the crossroads, draw a circle, put the frog in the center, and blah, blah blah.”

Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

Anyone that helps open up energy and creative flow is the real deal, and so is anyone who uses ritual to heal. But anyone who tells you they have discovered the secret to life and sells mantras is a hoodwink huckster. And there’s a lot more of hucksters than enlightened beings.

Enlightened beings radiate serenity, although a huckster can fake that. Unenlightened beings radiate negative and hostile energies.

How Could Anyone Be So Evil?

I didn’t post a blog yesterday on 9/11. Instead I watched the survivors’ memorial from Ground Zero, thankfully free from politics this year (although I could have lived without a stern policeman’s face between all reader’s of the names). The bell ringing and silence at moment of impact is a fine ritual. I carry much grief from that day, especially since I was in New York City, and, although I lost no personal friends, I shared the grief that consumed the city.

In the wheel of life, the same basic dramas get played out over and over by every generation, although once in a while a giant wave probably appears, some intense uptick (or downtick) in energy, like what happened in Congo Square in the 1800’s, for example.

While Skull & Bones and the Sicilian “men of honor” were just creating their Brotherhoods of Death, black African slaves from French plantations on Haiti were mingling with Native Americans to create the foundations of blues, jazz, rock’n’roll and hip hop and create a culture free from racism. Ceremonies from both sides transformed this country, although in much different ways and the two sides have been in conflict almost from birth, as when Harry Anslinger went after the jazz musicians, or J. Edgar Hoover went after the hippies.

When you run a power center that has existed for hundreds of generations, you probably get a better feel for the generational ups and downs in energy that take place, as well as the impacts of war and other disasters. Isn’t it strange those slaves were brought in to create the world’s sugar cartel, the first white powder drug to rearrange the global balance of power (but not the last)?  Another strange reality: those two brotherhoods of death actually conspired together to create an explosion of heroin and cocaine into America, another rearranging of the world’s balance of profits.

I find it odd so many Americans refuse to accept the reality that 9/11 was a huge op, involving many intelligence agencies, and we desperately need a new investigation to clear the country’s karma. Certainly there is no down side to such an investigation, although I’m sure every effort will be made to compromise it before it even starts. Refuge and protection for all the whistle-blowers who have suffered so far for coming forward and refusing to tow the government line would be a step in the right direction.

But what’s really needed is a new generation that wants to turn away from the violence that permeates our culture. When hippies become respected cultural icons and Obama invites Stephen & Ina May Gaskin to the White House, you’ll know we’re headed in the right direction. Just to see some hippie activists get treated with respect for a change (instead of being ignored) would do a world of good in helping inspire a new hippie generation.

And before I stir up all you punks out there, let me school you on something: The punk generation always had a left and a right, and the left side were hippies in punk outfits, just like Joe Strummer eventually admitted. The original punk is not Legs McNeil. In my town, his name was Jim Cole, founder of the greatest garage band in the state, The Finchley Boys.

But the real reason I wrote this blog is to answer the question: how could people in the government be so evil as to let thousands of innocent Americas die? For people that stage war for profit, the deaths of civilians or military forces has never been a consideration, why would this generation be any different? Trillions of dollars were involved in 9/11: Federal Reserve securities were destroyed, massive insider trading went down. For someone making a few billion dollars that day, you really think the deaths of a few peasants, useless eaters, makes any difference if it helps cover up the crimes? To me, those victims were like the people left to suffocate in the tombs created to hide the trillion dollars in stolen gold after WWII, the money nobody ever talks about, money that was captured by Skull & Bones, and used to foment changes that could be mined for profit around the world, and maybe even help foster a violent, dumbed-down culture easily hoodwinked and led to war by a transparent false-flag operation. Imagine if that trillion dollars had been used in a positive manner, to help the starving, uneducated masses of the world. What a different place this would be. And you know something, a new investigation of 9/11 just might blow the lid on the Black Eagle Fund scam that’s been going on.

The Secret to Enlightenment

“Harmony is the key to the universe” —Confucius

Many people make the mistake of thinking religion is something handed down from God, manifested on earth by a chosen prophet. By design, that sort of thinking turns every other religion into a false culture, making jihad not only possible, but transforming jihad into an honorable ceremony of death. In fact, spirituality can be found in all things, good and bad, and one man’s noble cause is another man’s holocaust.

All these systems run on magic, no matter what they tell you, or what side of the fence you’re on, and magic works under basic principles, most of which are obscured to keep mud in the water and keep their magic working on you without you realizing it. Magic is the original form of mind control, and once you understand that concept, you can slip off the leash. The first step to enlightenment is realizing all religious services are, in fact, magic ceremonies, and although ceremonies can have many forms, the most common form are ceremonies of harmonization, designed to create a group telepathic mind to focus energy on an idea, icon or symbol. The tools used in these ceremonies take on telepathic power as a result of the meditations. But that power only works on those who believe in the ceremonies. If you don’t believe, there’s no magic. It’s basically the same whether you’re sitting in church or going to a live concert to hear your favorite band. Both are magical ceremonies.

One of my satori moments came while visiting one of my primary spiritual teachers, Stephen Gaskin, when he said: “You know, Steve, enlightenment is not like climbing a mountain or ringing a bell. It comes and goes. Sometimes you’re enlightened and can stone people with your presence, and sometimes not.”

The idea of an individual retreating to a high mountain cave, meditating for years, finding enlightenment and returning to civilization is a false myth, although such meditation may be necessary to quiet a manic mind.  One thing about spirituality, there will always be scores more fakers and frauds than real messiahs. We found that out the hard way in the 1960s, a decade that brought out the craziest of New Age cults. I ended up sticking with just a handful of elders: Stephen and Ina May Gaskin, Ken Kesey and the Pranksters, Wavy Gravy, Chef Ra, these titans emerged as my spiritual teachers.

The secret is realizing you have the power to invent your own ceremonies, and the more you hybridize and raid from other cultures, the deeper your ceremonies will project across the astral plain. The real avatars are people like Bob Marley and John Lennon and not the ones wearing big hats in big cathedrals and temples. Creativity and spirituality are the same thing. Through ceremonies, you can discover magic. Just ditch the dogma because there’s really only one rule: don’t hurt anybody.

Who’s the counterculture messiah of today?

I was in a meeting with one of the coolest execs in the entertainment industry, talking about a possible history of the counterculture documentary (a project I would certainly love to work on), when she asked me, “Who is the grandmaster of counterculture today? The living Jack Kerouac of our time?”

I didn’t think much more about it until I got home, but after a few hours this question really began to bug me. Just who is the living Jedi Knight of the counterculture, the Temple Dragon who commands our greatest respect?

I gotta say, it’s a toss-up between Wavy Gravy and Ina May and Stephen Gaskin.

But when you jump down to the next generation, its sort of a ghost town, although Seattle Hempfest founder Vivian McPeak certainly comes to mind in a field of shadows.

I love this photo from the original Woodstock, btw: Wavy and Krassner, two Jedi’s of the counterculture meet on the ceremonial field and exchange zen-like epiphanies, no doubt. And though you might not recognize him at first (I know I didn’t), that’s Abbie Hoffman in the tie-dye standing between them.

10 Most Sacred Spots in America

1) Congo Square, New Orleans. This is the actual birthplace of the counterculture, where Native Americans, African slaves, and a wide mixture of European whites first gathered to create an improvisational culture, blending elements of all their histories to create the popular, non-violent, hybrid-vigor culture we know today as the counterculture.

2) Hippie Hill, San Francisco. Located at the base of Haight Street, just steps from the corner of Haight/Ashbury, Hippie Hill was the ceremonial gathering place for the birth of the hippie movement.

3) Laguna Beach, California. Just as important as Hippie Hill was the influence of John Griggs and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. There is a little-known surfer-hippie connection that has not been fully explored yet. Surfers who took LSD early in the sixties were among the first people to reach true enlightenment. The real center of energy may have been the auditorium on Newport Beach, but unfortunately that temple of surf rock was torn down.

4) Woodstock Festival, Bethel, New York. The first Woodstock was a true gathering of the tribe, and a place where the counterculture first realized itself in enormous numbers. It was our hippie version of the Sermon on the Mount. Also worth mentioning is Magic Meadow, Woodstock, New York. Located near the start of the trail to Overlook Mountain, Magic Meadow is the main ceremonial location selected by early beatniks and hippies who flocked to Woodstock as a haven for counterculture spirituality. Overlook Mountain also had a long history of use by Native cultures as a primary site for vision questing.

5) Strawberry Lake, Colorado. Located on the continental divide, Strawberry Lake was the site of the original Rainbow Family Gathering. The authorities tried to close all access to the site when they learned ten thousand hippies planned on camping there over the week of July 4th, but despite the roadblocks and police presence, all the hippies managed to sneak into the site via the back trails.

6) Camp Winnarainbow, Laytonville, CA. Wavy Gravy is the foremost master of ceremonies of the counterculture and he built the second most successful counterculture community in America. Wavy is the master of improv energy and channeling the fun vibe. His camp is the perfect place to send your kids to learn about counterculture spirituality.

7) Ken Kesey’s farm, outside Eugene, Oregon. The original bus, Further (or Furthur) is parked here. Kesey is our counterculture version of Odysseus, and his magic bus ride was a seminal moment in counterculture history. Wherever that bus resides will always be a most sacred spot in counterculture history.

8) Mount Tamalpias, CA. The birthplace of 420 and the site of the original April 20th ceremonies. Since cannabis is the primary sacrament of the counterculture (and has been used since its birth in Congo Square), the birthplace of 420 will always be a most sacred location for the counterculture.

9) Owl Farm, Colorado. Located a short drive from Aspen, the home of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson radiates with intense vibrations from all the ceremonies held on the site.

10) National Rainbow Family Gathering. Every July 1-7, the gathering is held in a different National Forest so this is a mobile sacred spot that moves around every year. The Rainbow Family is the heart and soul of the counterculture. Everyone needs to make a pilgrimage to this event at least once in their life to see what a world without violence and bigotry actually feels like.