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 (below).
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.
Maybe you’ve noticed the appearance of insane ninja shooters is increasing exponentially, a disturbing trend nowhere so prevalent as in the good old USA? My theory is this unfortunate situation is the result of a perfect storm of three trends: pills for all, violence media for all, and guns for all. With the possible addition of some MK/Ultra-style experiments in mind control.
A sideshow to this problem is the way the Tin Foil Hat Patrol jumps on all current events as being created by sinister forces. The world is filled with coincidences and you can connect dots all day long that don’t really connect, so that’s an easy game to play. The disinfo machine ignores real info and diverts people into rabbit holes leading nowhere while helping brand researchers as kooks who believe in nonsense. That’s the purpose of disinfo, which is really a well-practiced art the FBI and CIA learned from the Nazis and British intelligence.
To give a specific example: When Sandy Hook happened, it was immediately branded by David Icke and Alex Jones, the two biggest disinfo artists in the world, as an example of a government-inspired plot. According to them, more than one shooter was involved. Initially, they claimed the event was orchestrated to pass Obama’s assault weapon ban. But then, a few days later, it turned out there were no assault weapons at Sandy Hook, just four hand guns. So how does that help pass an assault weapon ban? Just another case of reality blowing a giant hole through a pet theory advanced by Icke and Jones.
And please don’t make the mistake of thinking either one of those two dudes actually knows what’s going on in the world and is on the inside of the real power structure. They only understand one thing: paranoia sells. And that’s really the only aspect of conspiracy theory banksters are willing to bankroll. Secret societies will always seek to control dialogue by inventing extremes. Somebody big in England is behind Icke, just like somebody big is behind Jones in the USA. It could even be the same person, although you can see major differences in their approaches. Icke is pushing the “Rothschilds rule the world,” essentially the same course charted by the John Birch Society in the 1960s. Today we know the JBS was set-up inside Freemasonry and was involved in the JFK assassination cover-up. The JBS was created as an extremist group to hype the Cold War and they promoted the idea the Rothschilds were secretly running Russia, as well as the State Department. In reality, the Rothschilds evolved as the court bankers of Europe.
Jones, on the other hand, talks about the elites but avoids discussion of both the Mossad and Opus Dei, two of the more important secret societies helping orchestrate world events. You cannot understand what is happening in the world today without studying the primary secret societies, which includes MI6 and the CIA.
Antony Sutton, one of the few deep political researchers I trust, claimed the Rothschilds control less than ten percent of the world’s wealth, and the majority is in the coffers of old money families of Europe and North America. They were eclipsed by the rise of Rockefeller, who has been eclipsed by the computer/internet revolution. Researching the truth of money is beyond my ability, but I believe anything promoted by the corrupt John Birch Society is far more likely to be a rabbit hole than the actual truth. Yes, in many cases, the man running the bank might be Jewish, but that doesn’t mean Jews own all the money in the bank.
The most important financial secret in the world was the recovery of billions of dollars worth of gold stolen by the Japanese and Nazis during WWII. Once recovered, this treasure was hidden inside the world banking system and that crime seems to have been conducted jointly by Opus Dei and Skull & Bones, neither one of which has Jewish heritage inside the upper ranks of its power structure.
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.
As far as I know, I was the first kid in my town to make a homemade skateboard, months before you could buy them. I’d discovered the sport from my cousins, Tom and Jerry, who’d gone to California in 1963, where they discovered surfing. When they returned to Valparaiso, Indiana, they quickly invented dune surfing because waves on Lake Michigan were seldom big enough to ride but the lake was ringed by huge sand dunes. My cousins also started making skateboards and then buying the latest models once they came out commercially. This was years before the sticky wheels with grip revolutionized the sport.
Eventually, the local model-race-car center started carrying the initial round of skateboards. I avoided the typical small board and bought one that would be normal by today’s standards, but back then it was considered huge. It was called The Makaha. I wanted a big board so I could do tricks. My favorite was jumping over a broomstick about four feet off the ground in my basement, but I also liked to jump curbs and lay down flat on my back. Like all boards at the time, it had no kick tail.
In 1964 I started publishing my own newspaper while in junior high. It was called The Cap’n Crunch Courier. When Cap’n Crunch came out, it broke all records for sugar content in cereals, forever earning a place in my teenage heart. None of the original issues of that esteemed fanzine seem to have survived, unfortunately, although I did locate some of the drawings I did for the first issue (above), in which I published an entire page of cartoons devoted skateboarding. I had a couple of skateboarding buddies, one named Steve Tyler, whom I made fun of here, and the other named Stuart Tarr, who also become a journalist.
Here’s a photo of me (left) and Tyler in class at the time. You can see I was a class clown, always instigating one hilarious prank or another, like my snowball fight in Leal School against Patton’s gang. That’s Andy Miller waving his arm in the back. This had to be during winter because I’m wearing a heavy sweater my mom knitted for me. She always made the best sweaters and socks around winter time and got inspired with her knitting after we went to Europe for a year.
Within a few years, our skateboards would be replaced by cheap Japanese motorcycles. It started with a film called The Great Escape, which depicted Steve McQueen jumping a fence with a German clunker built like a Harley. My cousin Tom had earlier led us into dune surfing and skateboarding, so, of course, we followed Tom into this new passion for off-road motorcycle racing, although none of us but Tom had a driver’s license. My brother even stuck with the sport, although today he rides track and not off-road.
Many religions have an apocalyptic element embedded deep inside their dogmas. Since religion attempts to explain the origin of the universe and since everything has a beginning, then everything must have an ending at some point down the line. The Zoroastrian tradition laid the framework for predicting the coming apocalypse and that tradition has been imitated by various religions for eons.
But the real fervor for this type of thinking seems to be peculiarly American, starting with the granddaddy of survivalists William Miller (above), a veteran of the War of 1812 who became convinced the return of Jesus Christ was imminent in his lifetime. Miller’s cause was taken up by thousands, including a publisher who spread his dire predictions through a publication called Sign of the Times.
Many people gave up all possessions to await the end with Miller, and when it didn’t come on schedule, it became known as “The Big Disappointment.” Undeterred, many followers went on to form the Seventh Day Adventist Church, as well as other splinter groups, all of which maintained a fanatical belief in the imminent end of the world as we know it.
My generation was the first to grow up under the specter of nuclear annihilation and that might explain why so many of us buy into fears of an impending apocalypse. In the 1950s, this fear took the form of building atomic fallout shelters in basements as we prepared for World War III to engulf the globe. Early on, some shelter builders wondered if they also needed to worry about their neighbors when the complete breakdown of society as we know it inevitably took place.
However, in most cases of disaster, communities band together and help each other. They seldom turn on each other like mad dogs, which is what some Americans seem to be expecting and why they feel the need to arm themselves in anticipation of the apocalypse.
In 1981, when I became a reporter for the New York Daily News, I decided to document the survivalist movement that had just appeared. Soon this movement would morph into the militia movement and would continue expanding until the bombing of a Federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. That attack killed 168 people, the deadliest act of terrorism in America until 9/11 happened six years later. But the bombing also spelled the end of the militia movement for a time as the country sickened towards violence. April 19th was selected because it was the same day the Branch Davidian siege ended in Waco with 76 fatalities, all killed supposedly because the FBI believed they were planning group suicide. False allegations of child abuse were also circulated to help bring that siege to its violent conclusion.
Why are people so easily manipulated by these sorts of false fears? Fear is the basis of all mind control and you can see how effective it is in the psychological mechanism of Christianity. We live in a world in which millions of people carry a fervent wish for an apocalyptic end to all humankind. This is not a nightmare for them, but something to hope and pray for, all part of their God’s master plan to punish the wicked and reward the virtuous believers like themselves. Yes, the world is coming to an end someday, probably in a few million years, but the bigger question is whether the human race can conquer irrational feelings and construct a more harmonious environment for us all, one based on empathy and compassion instead of fear.
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.
Maybe you noticed the RFK Jr., finally came out and branded the Warren Commission a “pack of lies.” JFK, Jr. already did this many years ago (and may have paid the price) but this ends the speculation of “why isn’t the family talking?” Perhaps someone will produce an honest documentary. It was, after all, the event that changed the course of American history, a coup by the big money powers with three major players doing the dirty work: Texas oil, the Chicago outfit, and the CIA’s Cuban exiles. I’d be happy to work on a comprehensive documentary since one of the three shooters was Johnny Roselli, who was also the lover of the owner of my hometown newspaper, The News Gazette, where I worked in the 1960s as a junior copy-boy.
But when you get down to the nitty-gritty, you’ll find James Jesus Angleton conspiring with Allen Dulles (as well as perhaps Dulles’ cousin David Rockefeller). These were some of the men behind the curtain in those days, although there were a bunch of them high up in the military involved as well. It was Seven Days in May come to fruition, just as JFK had feared.
My theory is 9/11 was perpetrated by a drug cartel. The Taliban had virtually wiped out opium production at the time, which was okay for a few years because opium warehouses were overflowing and prices were low and the cartel may have wanted to drive prices higher. But eventually, the poppy fields had to come back, which meant the Taliban had to go. Opium came back bigger than ever after 9/11. Let’s make one assumption: there was a connection between those two events.
If you lay out a brief history of banking, the evidence leads to one inescapable conclusion: banking and illegal drugs have been in bed together for a long time. So whoever is running the biggest drug cartels, is likely also running a major bank somewhere, at least, that is what history has taught us. These are not the figures you see in the media, but the real power behind the throne, the men who actually collect the cash and wash it clean.
I don’t pretend to know who these people are, although some would say it’s the English royals and others would say it’s the CIA, while still others might say it’s the Mossad. I just know it’s not a bunch of people living in tents in the Middle East. They are pawns in the game.
After my article on Futura 2000 came out in the New York Daily News, Futura quickly catapulted to international stardom, and among the first patrons to arrive on his doorstep were The Clash, who hired him to paint a canvas backdrop during their performances and gradually worked him into a feature performance slot on the tour. After The Clash asked Futura to write a rap song about himself, he sat down and composed 7-verses on a long piece of cardboard, filling both sides to the maximum in his immaculate style. Futura never mentioned his strained relationship with Ali or the incident in the tunnel, though, which is the part I found so fascinating, but did give Fab Five Freddy an entire verse. In my book, Hip Hop (which has just been re-released with color photos and illos), Freedom, otherwise known as Chris Pape, tells his version of the Futura-Ali saga, there are so many variations. The photo of Futura (above) was taken by Stephen Crichlow around 1982.
To give you an idea of how crazy things were at the time, immediately after publishing the first article on hip hop in the Voice, I’d written a story about Arlene Smith and the Chantels, which went into their relationship with Morris Levy, who would later become a thinly-veiled character in The Sopranos epic. Levy routinely took all publishing rights from his acts, something common at the time. Although their records were huge hits and Arlene was the first goddess of rock’n’roll and pioneered the girl group sound, she ended up feeling used and exploited and broke. Her story was a bit sad, but my editor at the Voice, Thulani Davis, who was black herself, loved it. It was a message I wanted to send to the Sugarhill acts, who were then about to be destroyed by Sylvia Robinson, who was busy creating her own phony hip hop acts like the Sugarhill Gang, who would have been laughed off the stage at a South Bronx jam, since their style was so soft and weak in comparison to the delivery of a Busy Bee or Melle Mel or Grandmaster Caz or Kool Mo Dee.
I stupidly sent a copy of the story to Arlene before it was published, however, and she showed it to her agent, who called me and told me to retract the story and he would help me write a better version. When I refused, he said he was personal friends with Voice music editor (Robert Christgau) and my story would never see the light of day in the Voice. And that’s exactly what happened. Christgau blocked publication of a story that had already been accepted by Thulani. (You can read that original story on Arlene on my smashwords site though.)
So I drifted over to the SoHo Weekly News, where a news editor named David Hershkovits expressed interest in publishing my ongoing hip hop research, the only such editor in America at that time. I first wrote a story on Crazy Legs and the Rock Steady Crew and then David asked me to go interview Futura, who was just back from a European tour with The Clash. Futura graciously handed me the piece of cardboard (above) that he’d first written his rap song on, and he said I could keep it, which was nice because I’d already paid him $100 for a framed photo of his Break train, and this was a major trophy he threw into my lap.
After returning from Sweden and flunking my draft physical, I tried a few jobs, like canvassing for one of Nader’s political action groups (see, The Mysterious Saul Alinsky), and also working phone sales for a mob operation selling discounts to Vegas casinos masquerading as radio quiz-show jackpot awards. Both those operations seemed similar and equally sleazy, although the Nader group paid in full, while the mob op disappeared overnight owing me hundreds. I also tried working in an automobile plant producing bumpers, but wasn’t cut out for that grind.
So I went back to college for free, enrolling in San Francisco City College to study journalism, film and theater. I had little money and no car, but I found a room a block from the school for $50 a month that was owned by a Filipino woman who also lived there. She had rented the downstairs to her best friend, Rose. The upstairs had three tiny bedrooms. Ronnie moved in first. Then I arrived. Then our landlady decided to move into the pantry behind the kitchen so she could rent another room.
Ronnie had once been signed to a major film company right out of high school and, according to him, was being groomed as a leading man in the John Wayne/Rock Hudson mode when his career tanked for some reason and he was obviously gay although we never discussed his orientation. Ron had a lot of stories about Hollywood in the early sixties, and was a bit bitter, but had now morphed into a master of bilking the welfare state of California, which is what I guess I was doing in a way too, collecting my free education in a state I’d just moved to. Ron became a model for a character in a play I would soon write. I even have some correspondence from him, although I lost touch with Ron quickly and I’m sure he never saw the play.
Funny how I took a photograph of my desk, starting in Stockholm and then continuing in San Francisco. I was convinced I was going to become a famous writer some day, and was already documenting my progress. I did write one story during this period, The Stockholm Manifesto, based on my experiences in Sweden evading the draft, a story available for free on my smashwords site. You’ll notice my ceremonial elements are assembled in this photo: two candles, the record player and albums, expensive bottle of bubbly, and a bunch of manifestation prayers adorning the wall above my headboard.
One day when Rose came up for a visit, I told Bugsy I wanted to get a picture of her for my archives, so he sat in the living room and I took Rose’s picture over his shoulder. The following semester, Bugsy’s brother Don and I moved into the house next door and I think we were even paying less rent for more space.
The picture on top shows me seated at my trusty Olivetti. Within a year, I’d write my first play on that machine, inspired by my year in San Francisco attending City College. And that play would be my first big break as a writer because it was staged at the University of Illinois and then invited to the National Theater Festival Regional, where it got a standing ovation. But that’s another story with another set of pictures. This is the real place that story was based on, inhabited by a real cast of characters. If you ever want to check out that play, however, you can read a sample for free on my smashwords site. It’s called Mrs. Roses’ Boarding House.
This story is dedicated to Jan Hutton, whose crossed to the spirit realm on June 27, 2013. Jan was a willing participant in all my improvisational ceremonies, no matter how crazy they seemed at the time, because she had a deep connection with the spiritual vibrations. Her spirit is a good place to be.
By the time I went to my first National Rainbow Gathering, I’d already been hanging out with Garrick Beck in the East Village for over a year, and also attending the Rainbow picnics in Central Park, which I stumbled into by accident one afternoon. So when I arrived at my first gathering, I came well prepared and even carried a bunch of water-based florescent paints so I could make cool signs, paint faces and customize my camp. I built a pretty elaborate scene next to Garrick. This is where I first met the great Fantuzzi, the star of the midnight jam sessions.
Of course, my life turned 180 degrees after that experience. I’d been focused on the garage band scene at the time and leading my band the Soul Assassins to rock’n’roll glory on the Hemp Tour while leading the fight to legalize marijuana, but suddenly I had an urge to put a major effort into spreading Peace Vibe Consciousness. First thing I wanted to do was visit my cousins in Florida. Tom had saved me in 1970 by buying a one-way ticket to Stockholm so I could escape the Vietnam War, an experience both my cousins had been through and neither wanted me anywhere close to that national nightmare.
After Vietnam, my cousins had spent a few years traveling the world. I maintained correspondence with them during this time, and kept everything, including all the Vietnam letters. Someday I’ll put that up on Smashwords, as Tom is a great writer and very funny. They both became anti-war activists right after leaving the service. Eventually, they settled in Delray Beach and got jobs as lifeguards. But they had a secret hideout in the Florida Keys, where they would go on vacations whenever they had time off. I went there to initiate them into the Rainbow Family. My plan was to build a sort of private gathering celebrating the Rainbow spirit, something I thought might convince both my cousins to come and join me at an upcoming regional in Ocala, Florida.
Before my cousins arrived I constructed a giant peace pole and designed some ceremonial spaces.
There were psychedelic signs everywhere. I had a bag of mushrooms and brewed up some mushroom tea, the drinking of which would be our first ritual.
Just to get the right vibe going, after the mushroom tea and ceremonial face-painting, I started reading from the autobiography of Red Cloud.
Most people don’t realize the counterculture came out of Congo Square in New Orleans, and it started as a merger between Black African slaves who had been living in Haiti working the sugar plantations and the local native Americans. You can see the Native influence in the New Orleans ceremonies of today. That influence is huge on hippie culture as well, and it’s a path for all people to experience vibes of Native culture without actually becoming a wannabe because our version is a hybrid of all cultures, which is what Rainbow is really all about. After an OM around the Peace Pole and drumming and chanting, it was time to get into the boats. My cousins had two sailboats at the time, a big one and a little one.
Jerry built the little one himself, as well as the trailer he lugged it around with. It was a masterful craft, very fast and seaworthy. As I recall, there was a race to see which boat would get launched first and Jerry won easily. Once we were out near the Gulfstream, it was time to go snorkeling, one of our favorite things to do in the Keys, and this was before the pollution killed most of the coral.
Then I got the inspiration to do an underwater OM, which actually worked out fantastic since we could all hear each other clearly and it seemed to have a calming effect on the ocean around us.
(I’d later try to do one of these in Jamaica with the High Times staff, but soon discovered they were all wearing life-preservers which made submerging impossible.)
After the underwater OM, I got fascinated by a lonely baby jelly fish and followed the transparent little creature back to his nest, where thousands of relatives were breathing in unison. I was thinking about doing an OM with them, but then suddenly snapped out of my mushroom fog and realized what a dangerous situation I was in. Very suddenly I was swimming full-speed back to the boat.
We loaded up on the big boat and headed back to the safety of our camp. It was a great week, and I had a blast creating my little hippie disneyland, but, in truth, although my cousins went along and joined in on the ceremonies, they didn’t get drawn in enough to want to ever attend a Rainbow Gathering. In fact, Jerry admitted he’d accidentally stumbled into the Ocala Gathering one year and been scared off and freaked out by the sight of some naked hippies. That was the difference between me and my cousins. I had joined the counterculture as a teen while they had joined the army, so going to a gathering for me was like going home. Why it’s so hard for outsiders to get over the nakedness I’ll never know. It’s just another form of freedom, and if you never use it, you aren’t really free.