The History of 420 in 3 Acts

Waldos on the wall.

ACT ONE
You can trace a line from Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady to Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs to Steve and Dave, who entered San Rafael High School in the late sixties. They were rugged individualists uninspired by the social scene, which centered on athletics and the school’s top jocks, so they decided to create their own fun by embarking on a quest for adventure. The first of these was a visit to a Bay Area research lab developing the very first holographs. Soon, Jeff, Larry and Mark joined the safaris, as these adventures became known.

Every safari started with a sacramental hit of cannabis, followed by the cranking of the tunes, either in the 1966 4-door Chevy Impala with the killer Craig 8-track stereo system, or in Steve’s room, or in one of other sacred spots they shared herb, as getting high was illegal and couldn’t be done in public or around parents. One of their favorite spots was underneath the statue of Louis Pasteur by Benny Bufano, which overlooked the school parking lot. Sacred hymns provided by New Riders of the Purple Sage, Allman Brothers, Poco, Commander Cody, Beatles, The Moonlighters were then employed to lift the vibration higher.

Waldos at the statue of Louis Pasteur.

This crew gravitated to a wall inside the courtyard of San Rafael High, where they’d meet before class and during lunch break to make withering comments about everything around them, and this is where they obtained their name: The Waldos, as well as where they honed their savage wit. You couldn’t smoke pot around school unless it was a one-hitter and done extremely carefully, and even then you risked suspension and your parent’s wrath.

In the fall of 1971 Steve was given a treasure map to an abandoned patch of cannabis on Point Reyes that had been planted by a member of the Coast Guard too scared to return. He wanted some fellow stoners to have the patch, and everybody at San Rafael knew the Waldos were frequent stoners.

“Surely, this is the ultimate safari,” thought Steve. “No more adventurous nor noble quest could be devised by the mind of man.” The Waldos prophetically all agreed to meet at 4:20 PM at the Louis Pasteur Statue to get high, and drive out to Point Reyes to search for the secret patch of weed.  From then on, whenever the Waldos passed each other in the halls, they spontaneously erupted in a salute with the words, “Four Twenty, Louie!” Little did they know how far this ritual would eventually travel, although “Louie” got lost along the way.

For the next ten years, the Waldos went on the most amazing safaris and had the most magical adventures, although they sadly never found that patch. But they always sponsored a big pot party on April 20th, where a ceremonial toke would take place at 4:20 PM. Eventually they started getting married, having families and picking up the sacred pipe less frequently. However, they kept up the safaris.

But soon after the Waldos retired from 420 ceremonies, younger classmen of San Rafael picked up on the magic of numerology and began using the code as a way to evade detection, and some of them started a ritual of congregating on a ridge of Mount Tamalpias with a sunset view of the Pacific on April 20th in order to get high at exactly 4:20 PM as a way to honor the spirit of cannabis. This ritual started with only a few souls, but soon grew to dozens. And that’s when someone got the idea of making a flyer inviting all stoners to the ceremony. Nobody outside Marin even knew that 420 signified pot. But even those gathered at the top of Mt. Tam didn’t have any idea how the code had started. They thought it had something to do with the police.

ACT TWO
I’m often knee-deep before I realize what I stepped into, and that’s how it was with the Cannabis Cup. The idea came to me on the plane, while flying back from the Netherlands after interviewing the founder of the first marijuana seed company, Nevil Shoemakers. The night before, Dave Watson had regaled me with tales of California harvest festivals before C.A.M.P. helicopters forced that scene underground.

Soon, I was back in the Netherlands, organizing the first Cannabis Cup, with a photographer and grow expert. Three seed companies entered, and one of them didn’t even cure their entries but plucked them fresh off the vine.

But when I returned home after that first event, I couldn’t shake a feeling of responsibility. My event demanded a ceremonial framework respecting the true spirit of cannabis and its historical importance and influence.  And that’s how I ended up buying a paperback version of the Rig Veda.

Imagine my surprise when I came across the description of the primary sacrament shared during all ceremonies, a drink called Soma:
“The blind see, the lame walk… he clothes the naked. Soma is a sage and seer inspired by poetry …King of the healing plants.”

I knew Soma was supposed to be a mushroom, something accepted as gospel by the academic community, but in my heart, I instantly realized this had to be a description of cannabis, and there had to be some incredible cover-up going on that dwarfed the cover-up Jack Herer was pushing about the industrial uses and environmental benefits of hemp.

I stepped out of my office to smoke a joint and reflect on these matters, something I had been doing in my office, but had recently departed, as I had moved to a former warehouse in the back of the building, something necessitated by a crackdown on smoking in the front offices. But the crackdown had just been extended to my refuge in the former warehouse, so I was forced into the stairwell.

The recently appointed news editor was there, along with a member of the Cannabis Action Network from the Bay Area who was dropping off a flyer. There was also some hippie dude I didn’t know who proceeded to pull out a stash of whippets and he began inhaling them in rapid succession. The news editor asked when he was going to share, and he said, “Sorry, I only have my dose and nothing more.”

I fired my joint, while the dude from CAN showed me a flyer that had been circulated at a Grateful Dead show in Oakland. “Check this out,” he said. “It’s really silly.”

Pythagoreans greet the sunrise.

I don’t have immense satori moments often, but I’d been time traveling through the Vedas for hours and still had a foot in distant past, so when I saw that crude flyer asking people to come to the sunset-view ridge of Mt. Tam at 4:20 PM on April 20th, it assumed Biblical proportions in my mind, and I expressed these feelings instantly, because this was surely a sign, and something that could be employed to give deeper meaning to my Cannabis Cup ceremony. But for those not into numerology or the study of secret societies, this sort of thinking is silliness with no meaning. Some people “got” 420 and used the magic to enhance their experience and legitimize pot in ceremony, while for others, it remained a funny excuse to light up and nothing more.

I told my staff that day I intended to use the code to build a case for spiritual rights under the Constitution. “This ceremony manifested spontaneously, and is evidence of the power of cannabis to create ceremony and culture,” I said. “We’re going to make this a big part of the Cannabis Cup and the Freedom Fighters.”

Later on, I was crushed to discover the news editor had run a joke item about the flyer, failing to even mention my pledge to deploy the code as a fulcrum for legalization. No matter, John Holmstrom, editor of the Hemp 100 page knew exactly what I was doing and from that day a mention of 420 was on every Hemp 100, and that page had a fanatical following.

Certainly Chef RA, Jack Herer, Rodger Belknap, Thom Harris, and Linda Noel “got” 420. They were the shock troops in the hemp legalization movement, who helped me found the Freedom Fighters, the first national hemp legalization group. For many years we drove to rallies in a magic bus (a new one each year as they were always breaking down). We hosted free campgrounds, with free kitchens, and published a free newsletter. Back then, the rallies were all held at precisely high noon, a trend that would continue for well over a decade. But the Freedom Fighters always held council at 4:20 PM, passed a feather and plotted how to best legalize in our lifetime. Just as every year, one of the Freedom Fighters was selected by open council to attend the Cannabis Cup as a celebrity judge.

I hadn’t been to any Cups since the first one. But in 1993, I held the first 420 council at a Cannabis Cup. In truth, it was a clumsy ceremony, as no one but me had any idea what 420 represented, including Jack Herer. Some people will claim 420 was already widespread within the Grateful Dead community in the 1980s, but that is not true. It was known to teenagers who lived in Marin County in the later part of the decade and was on the way out when High Times began promoting it.

At the 7th Cup, the 420 ceremony blossomed and became epic and stayed that way for the next 15 years or at least until High Times booted me out of the event. Most of the chiefs of cannabis in Amsterdam attended that 420 ceremony and spoke from their hearts. Eagle Bill was a major force elevating those ceremonies and it could not have happened like it did without him. I ran into Bill on my way to open the Pax Party House on opening day, and noticed he carried a hand-carved staff. I asked if he would like to be the ceremonial high priest and use his staff in place of a feather. The impact of this request on Eagle Bill was profound. To say Eagle Bill “got” 420 would be a vast understatement, as he rapidly elevated to become the primary guiding spirit of the event.

I was arranging everything around the afternoon 420, but the crew got so devoted they began doing 420 AM ceremonies, and these rapidly became the most legendary parties at the Cup, held in the Quentin lobby after the awards show. Everyone collected mass selfies under a clock at exactly 4:20.

In 1995, Vancouver got credit for staging the first April 20th 420 ceremony outside Marin County. Marc Emery, Dana Rozek, Cindy Lassu and Ian Hunter had a hand in manifesting this event, although Marc was initially opposed to the concept. It continues today as the longest-running April 20th ceremony in North America.

In 1998 I staged the first New York City 420 celebration on April 20th at Wetlands featuring The Cannabis Cup Band. In later years, the band held an April 20th celebration on board a boat that traveled around Manhattan island. (I wouldn’t stage another public 420 event on April 20th until 2017, when the Temple Dragon Band did a free performance in Tomkins Square Park in the East Village.)

In 1999, Debby Goldsberry staged the first major 420 event in the Bay Area in Golden Gate Park, although it turned into a one-off. However, the already established free 420 gathering on hippie hill continues to this day. The Mt. Tam sunset ridge ceremony was shut down in 1990. Without the efforts of High Times, 420 likely would have died out in the early 90s.

ACT THREE
Even though High Times became the magazine success story of the 90’s and the Freedom Fighters spearheaded the return of the rallies, re-igniting the sleeping marijuana movement, success only seemed to bring problems for me, as I was soon forced to disband the Freedom Fighters and there were constant pressures to shut down the Cup as well, or at least remove my supervision. I moved home to concentrate on events and how to document them for posterity as I felt there was something important in these 420 ceremonies. At the time, I was primarily interested in building up WHEE! as the premiere cannabis event in North America.

I’d been trying for years to get Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters over to the Cannabis Cup, and had lured Mountain Girl when she was poor and adventurous, but at one point realized if I wanted to do a ceremony with Kesey, it was going to have to happen in his backyard, and that’s what happened. The first year (1997) we had over 300 vendors and 20,000 attendees.

Of course the Pranksters “got” 420 immediately, and the reason the code suddenly began skyrocketing through the Grateful Dead scene was threefold: first, Rainbow Family and Dead Family were basically the same thing and the Freedom Fighters and 420 had acquired a huge presence at Rainbow; second, Jack Herer and Chef RA “got” 420 and they became influential figures and spread the code; and three, and probably most important, the Pranksters “got” 420, and began actively pushing it. And Kesey was the most influential person in the Dead scene after Jerry Garcia.

One day, I got an email from Mike, the travel agent of the Cannabis Cup, who had been made producer of the event with me directing the ceremonies. He forwarded a message from Steve in San Francisco who claimed to have started 420 with his friends in 1971. The part that caught my attention was Steve wasn’t seeking money, he just wanted 420Tours.com to know the real story. He was writing to the Cannabis Cup travel package website because Mike had put up a forum for posting 420 Cannabis Cup stories, and this website drew the attention of the Waldos, who had been following the spread of 420 across America with much mirth and amazement.

By 2002, head shops in the Bay Area were stuffed with 420-t-shirts, buttons, hats, posters, and various other memorabilia. The code has become a well-known secret inside cannabis culture and been written about in High Times and celebrated as the central ceremony in the Cannabis Cup and WHEE!, the two biggest and most influential cannabis-themed events at the time (if you don’t count Kumba Mela). Still, however, outside the Bay Area, the code remained an enigma, even to most stoners.

I ended up flying out to San Francisco and meeting the Waldos and holding epic ceremonies with them for days, all of which were captured on video, as were my 420 ceremonies with the Pranksters and the elders of the Rainbow Family. In fact, whenever I get together with Pranksters, Waldos or Rainbow Elders, the same magic improvisational energy always emerges, along with an overwhelming desire to have fun. I never doubted the Waldo’s story, and read the truth in their hearts before I examined their documents. But the powers-that-be at High Times never trusted me, and the publisher spread the story I was suppressing competing tales on the origins of 420 because the Waldos were my friends, implying it all a massive hoodwink on my part.

I also began a college lecture tour in 1995, debating Curtis Sliwa for five years, and then the former head of the New York DEA for additional 14, and “Heads versus Feds” traveled to over 300 colleges and universities over 19 years and I videotaped hundreds of debates as well as collecting local TV news coverage. The event became one of the most popular college lectures of the decade, producing standing-room-only audiences in multi-thousand seat theaters. The debate was so lop-sided I had to coach Bob on which points he should ditch and which ones were my weakest. Our carefully crafted performance was stuffed with stand-up comedy interspersed with moments of high drama, and instead of polarizing the audience, we drew them closer together. By the end most everyone agreed cannabis was not for kids, and should be respected, not abused, but it was also not a crime worth destroying lives over. We always had a line of medical marijuana users asking questions, some of whom were Vietnam Vets begging Bob for compassion, and he provided it.

There were also hostile attacks on Bob that required my immediate tamping down. Whenever Black Belt Bob felt obliged to invite an abuser to engage in a more physical confrontation, I knew it was time for me to jump out with, “Don’t blame the cops…they don’t make the laws! They are trapped in this nightmare just like we are.”

One of my central points for legalization was prescription medications posed far more danger than cannabis, and eventually we would see tremendous devastation from over-prescription of legal drugs, something that quickly became all-too-true.

I told college kids not to intoxicate, but concentrate on their education although I did provide dispensation for one day only. On April 20, at 4:20 PM if they held a circle of hands, and a moment of silence for world peace, it was okay to partake of the peace culture sacrament. Nowhere was this embraced more ardently than Boulder, Colorado, which is why for a brief time, Colorado grabbed the center of gravity on 420.

At every debate I invited Bob to attend the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, all expenses paid so he could try cannabis for the first time. Bob always declined and the repartee that followed produced the biggest laughs of the night. (Many decades later, after Bob developed back problems his doctor recommended cannabis. Bob tried it and it worked, so he wrote a mea culpa for the media.)

I also urged students to have a peace ceremony at 4:20 on April 20th, while urging moderation, reminding them “the less you do, the higher you get,” and ended each debate with a plea for the creation of a local student-run legalization group, and urged students to hold annual events on April 20th, and have local bands play to raise money for the chapter.  I promised if they made that group and held that 420 ceremony, I would return some day to celebrate with them.

According to Allen St. Pierre, former head of NORML: “Without Hager, I don’t think there’s any way that this interesting numerology would have crept deep into American culture and commerce.” But he remains the lone cannabis influencer who acknowledges my contribution.

One of the earliest schools we traveled to for the Heads versus Feds debate was Boulder, Colorado, and that school soon started a 420 ceremony that got so big the University had to shut down the entire school on April 20th just to try and stop it. And that’s how Denver got the center of gravity on 420 for a few years. My agent booking the debate always booked April 20 first every year, which meant I could never attend any 420 ceremonies on 420 except my own.

I’ve long supported the position 420 is a tool for legitimizing cannabis as the sacrament of peace. I was never in favor of students doing breakfast dabs on exam days. I knew some students get overly attracted to intoxication early in life, and it holds them back, but on the other hand, I never believed anyone should go to jail, lose a student loan, or custody of their kids over cannabis. Limited experimentation can be beneficial to some teens. I suggested using 4:20 PM as a guide for an appropriate hour for the adult population to hold cannabis ceremonies away from the children. I also granted dispensation to the students for one day annually, provided they attended a peace circle while imbibing.

Sadly, in 2016 that former news editor posted a story about how he “discovered 420” that failed to mention me at all. He then told a Huff Post reporter that I had nothing to do with promoting 420, and that the code took off on its own, as if my events and ceremonies had zero to do with what happened. This same person denied the story of the Waldos for years and had always pointedly refused to participate in my ceremony at the office.

The biggest fallacy today (spread mostly by that same person) is the code was spread through the Grateful Dead. Even Wikipedia falsely makes this claim as if the Waldo’s parents gave the code to the Dead who spread it to their followers. In fact, the Dead never mentioned 420 all through the 1990s. Meanwhile, every High Times magazine for decades was pushing 420 on the Hemp 100. That is where most Deadheads picked it up. That and the hundreds of college lectures I was doing across the country urging people to celebrate the sacrament of peace culture.

I’m hoping some who see this will “get” 420, and take their consumption to a higher level on the magic day rather than just as an excuse to get intoxicated. Only then will we be able to forge a culture worthy of being handed down to future generations. If you treat the plant with respect, there can be magic, but for those who partake without wisdom and become too attached too early in life, it mostly becomes a very expensive habit. The other thing I’ve learned is that if you want to have a true counterculture ceremony, everyone must be invited, which means the ceremony has to welcome everyone and can’t just be about stoners getting high and nothing else.

Last year to celebrate the holiday, I posted a 420 ceremony on Youtube. Check it out and learn some history on peace culture.

 

Is graf a part of hip hop or not?

GrandFlashGrandmaster Flash has opened up the longstanding debate on the basic elements of hip hop culture. In a recent interview, he stated writing has nothing to do with hip hop, and should be considered a separate movement apart, and not an integral element. In fact, Flash blamed the media for incorporating writing into hip hop, and a lot of writers immediately agreed with his position.
I have to admit being a bit stung by some of his comments because I wrote the first major magazine article on the subculture and put the words “hip hop” into play in the national media, and included writing as a part of the culture.
Writing was a city-wide phenomenon that started in the late 1960s in upper Manhattan and spread to the South Bronx before going all city, all boroughs. It spread quickly wherever there were subway tracks and trains. When the original masters of the first generation emerged as gallery artists calling themselves United Graffiti Artists, almost all were from the South Bronx, and the list was headed by Phase 2 and Bama.
kool_herc_1Few realize today Kool Herc began as a writer, long before he got his first deejay system, and he ran with Phase 2 and Stay High 149, both of whom would go on to have epic status. Herc threw his first jam in 1973, and hip hop was his to incubate for the first three years. Coke La Rock was the first emcee during this period, inventing lines like “you rock and you don’t stop,” and putting “ski” on the end of everything. Coke was also the weed dealer, as well as emcee and deejay whenever Herc took a break. I’m pretty sure Herc considers graf a part of his culture, why else would he pose in front of it?

Afrika Bambaataa at Bronx River by Sylvia Plachy
Afrika Bambaataa at Bronx River by Sylvia Plachy

In 1977, Afrika Bambaataa began forming what soon became known as the Universal Zulu Nation, dedicated to peace, unity and having fun. Bambaataa declared that deejaying, emceeing, breaking and writing were the four elements of what he named “hip hop,” a phrase invented by Cowboy and made popular by Lovebug Starski. You simply can’t discard the fact the primary visionary behind this movement expressly included writing as a part of the culture from its inception. Bambaataa will tell you he had this vision of a new culture in 1974, shortly after he discovered Kool Herc, so he dates the birth of hip hop not with Herc’s first jam in 1973, but a year later.
There have always been hundreds of writers who say hip hop never influenced them, and they are correct. Most writers never attended a hip hop jam, and didn’t know much about the culture until the media began covering it around 1980, and even then, awareness moved very slow at first because there was so much resistance to recognizing the culture. But it is incorrect to say the media invented the “graf-rap” connection, because that honor goes to Bambaataa.
BreakbyFuturaIn 1981, I went to an exhibit titled “New York/New Wave” at PS 1 curated by Diego Cortez. Although panned in the Village Voice, that show changed my life. There was a huge room filled with photos of over a hundred subway cars, but one in particular drew my interest. I’d recently been given a copy of “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow, which had recently become the second 12-inch gold record in history, and the first rap song to go gold as well. The subway car that caught my eye was “Break” by Futura 2000. I contacted Diego, got Futura’s phone number, and ended up attending a Soul Artists meeting on the Upper West Side. Futura introduced me to Fred Brathwaite, who gave me Bambaataa’s phone number. And that’s how I ended up writing a story called “Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip Hop” for the Village Voice. So, I entered this universe through graffiti, and while I respect Flash and the many writers who reject any hip hop-graf connection, I know one actually does exist.

Did the CIA plot Nixon’s assassination?

Tom Forcade came to New York City from Arizona to work for the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS) formed by six of the largest underground newspapers in 1966, a list that included John Wilcock’s East Village Other. When Tom arrived, the UPS offices and archives were located in Jim Fouratt’s apartment, but soon moved into Tom’s after he took over.

Tom was suspicious of Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, and questioned their qualifications to lead the movement, so rather than join the Yippies, he created his own counter-revolutionary movement, and to make sure everyone knew where he was coming from, he named it the Zippies, implying it was the peppy alternative to last year’s revolutionaries. Tom would have been the public face, except he was also a pot smuggler and dealer, which forced him to stay in the background, which may have contributed to his jealousy concerning Abbie who was always on the mic. Tom eventually built a speakeasy in Manhattan that sold pot by the pound to dealers, a place where suitcases were stacked to the ceiling.

According to a major pot dealer of the period, Tom began working with a Mossad agent on some big projects shortly after arriving in New York. Apparently, this agent eventually committed suicide. Tom used to tell this dealer if the Feds ever came after him, he had information that would embarrass them. But soon Tom committed suicide as well.

A.J. Weberman was one of the biggest weed dealers in New York at the time, and he became Tom’s co-conspirator in creating the Zippies after he discovered Tom had a better, cheaper connection than he did. Weberman also ran a weapons training camp in the Catskills for volunteers wishing to help defend Israel from Arab annihilation. After outing Bob Dylan as a dabbler in heroin, Weberman wrote a book on the JFK assassination stating Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis was one of the tramps and also a shooter, a view he holds to this day.

While Sturgis was up-to-his-neck in the plot, and may have even driven the murder weapons from Florida to Texas as he claims, he is neither one of the tramps from the famous photos nor a likely shooter for JFK. However, a new book by Roger Stone claims Stugis was enlisted a few years after the JFK hit to assassinate President Richard Nixon.

According to Stone, the CIA feared Nixon was going dovish on Vietnam, and they also greatly resented his detente move with China. Sturgis was told to procure weapons and make preparations for staging a confrontation between Yippies versus Zippies that would erupt in gunfire, and during this melee, Sturgis was to make sure Nixon got fatally shot.

Sturgis went ahead and got the guns, but when it was finally revealed who the target was, he backed out. Later on the CIA employed the Watergate burglary as a lever with which to unseat Nixon.

Last year, Stone released a book claiming Lyndon Johnson engineered the Kennedy assassination, and while I’m sure Johnson was aware of the plot, it’s unlikely his power extended to the top of the Pentagon and CIA. So even though Stone is a beltway insider once close to Nixon, I don’t fully trust his judgment on some key issues. But he does bring interesting information to the table.

Some say Nixon bought his detente move with China by returning one of hundreds of funds created from black market gold stolen during WWII and then disappeared. Much of that gold originated in China and had been buried in the Philippines for years before being washed by Opus Dei working with some Bonesmen. At least that’s the story I’ve been able to piece together.

But now I’m wondering more about the possible double agents planted inside the Zippies and Yippies who were going to instigate the melee so Nixon might be killed. It seems fascinating the Yippie-Zippie split was well-known at the highest levels of the CIA, almost as if they had a hand in instigating it, but as someone who once had access to Tom’s correspondence and private writings, I have to say I don’t believe he was a spook, although he may have been surrounded by them, some of whom have yet to be identified.

Remembering Tseng Kwong Chi

Perhaps someday someone will make a film of my book Art After Midnight and explore the New York social scene born in the shadow of CB’s by freshman art students from around the world, converging at a time when world’s collided and paradigm’s began shifting in downtown New York City.

I selected Tseng Kong Chi as a primary photographer for my 1985 book, although I included all the great photographers who documented the scene, especially Harvey Wang, who took this photo of Tseng performing with Keith Haring at Club 57. I’m pretty sure this was before Tseng assumed his Chairman Mao identity, and that Club 57 was the lab where Tseng honed some skills. Club 57 was an orgy of creativity in action.

When they finally make a great film about this scene, it won’t be about Basquiat, Haring or anyone else, but the entire community because everyone who attended these ceremonies made a contribution. Like most movements, 50 stars were involved, but there were 500 in the audience, and the audience is just as important as the stars when it comes to birthing new movements because they add the necessary psychic energy to lift the movement higher. And Tseng was certainly one of those 50, so its wonderful the Grey Art Gallery has recognized him with a long overdue major exhibition.

Without Tseng, where would Borat be? If only I had a video camera back then and the foresight to follow Tseng around like he followed Keith—only Keith was chalking subway panels while Tseng was crashing the biggest old-money events in town with a self-created VIP name-tag and a non-speaking Mao persona. He even got photos with Henry Kissinger and Henry thought he was some visiting dignitary from China and not a performance artist. But this was performance art on a whole new scale.

Maybe you know this movement took massive energy from the collision of hip hop and punk? I like to think of Tseng’s work as 3D graffiti because it was all about getting up. When a writer starts, the first mission is to formulate a word, tag, nickname, message to be promoted. The Mao character was Tseng’s tag in a way and I think he remained mute because Tseng was shy and it took a lot of confidence for him to launch into these epic social scenes and remain in character.

The Grey Art exhibit includes an enormous print of a photo Tseng shot for the back cover of the book, inspired by a continuing series Tseng was working on, in which he was photographing Keith, Kenny, Bruno, Carmel, Ann, John, Min and a few others. He had a series of group shots taken just before some big ceremony or night on the town. I asked him to do the same thing for the back cover, only I wanted to include some other major characters in the book, like Patti Astor, Steve Maas, Animal X, Joey Arias, David McDermott and Peter McGough. I probably talked it over and we decided it should be kept down to a dozen to be manageable. And at the last second, Kenny Scharf dropped out, and although Jean Michel was invited of course, I didn’t realize including Jean could only be guaranteed if we’d taken the photograph at his place on Great Jones. There may be people left out of this photo still harboring faint grudges today, and I wish we’d just invited all 50 stars and made it like Sergeant Pepper’s. Next time I’ll know better.

As the objective reporter, I didn’t want to insert myself into the photo, so I didn’t even attend the shoot. In hindsight, another mistake. But Tseng did call me as soon as John Sex walked in the door. “He doesn’t have his hair up,” said Tseng, massively disappointed. I think we’d both envisioned John in the center with his giant pompadour. “Don’t worry,” I said. Later when I saw the photo, I noted Joey had come prepared to upstage John’s hairstyle with something more epic than a giant blonde pomp—black devil horns.

Oklahoma City 20 years later: spooks surrounded by dimwits

Did you think this horrific terror incident wasn’t going to peel like an onion? Because that’s what’s been happening over the years. I noticed this quote today:
“…agencies are as often investigating and arresting each other’s shadowy operatives as they are cooperating. Nowhere is this more apparent than in regard to Elohim City, where several of the key “extremists” may well have been government agents unwittingly egging one another on. This kind of compartmentalization, while perhaps understandable in intelligence operations, nonetheless can lead to tragedy. That may be what happened in the case of Oklahoma City, when ATF’s efforts to nab the German were thwarted by other entities.” Roger Charles
The Oklahoma City Bombing is considered the worst domestic attack in American history, but that ignores the presence of several Middle Eastern spooks in the operation. The New American obtained a copy of the sworn affidavit of FBI Special Agent Henry C. Gibbons (dated April 20, 1995) relaying the testimony of an eyewitness near the scene of the explosion who “saw two individuals running from the area of the Federal Building toward a brown Chevrolet truck prior to the explosion.” “The individuals,” says the FBI affidavit, “were described as males, of possible Middle Eastern descent, approximately 6 feet tall, with athletic builds.”

It was strange how the entire world media immediately jumped on the bombing as an act of Arab terrorism and instantly related it to the initial foiled attempt to down the World Trade Towers, but 48 hours later, everything suddenly shifted and the crime was placed solely at the feet of MK/Ultra patsy Tim McVeigh. Funny how that move seem to backfire, though, because enlistments in the militia movement, which had soared after Waco, fell off a cliff after Oklahoma City. Suddenly being a domestic right-wing survivalist lost all glow post McVeigh.

But I always suspected the German spook Andreas Strassmeir as being heavily involved. He was whisked out of the country quick like those rich Saudi’s who feted many of the 9/11 conspirators down in Florida right before that event went down. I wonder how long it will take to find all the connections between Oklahoma City and the two World Trade Tower attacks.

Andy the German comes from a long line of political insiders and he quickly became head of security at Elohim City, where this plot was likely hatched. Yet both elements, the highly-connected German spook, and the two Middle Eastern men, would be universally ignored by the mainstream media.

As more data filters in, however, the hoodwinks become harder to hold down. One of my favorite characters in this drama is BATF honeypot Carol Howe, who did weapons training with Andy.

Howe penetrated the Christian Identity Movement by writing a letter to leader Dennis Mahon stating she was “23, pure Aryan, considered beautiful, and wanted to fight for her race and culture.”

Hard to believe, but the dimwitted radical right has at its roots the much more sophisticated Knights of the Golden Circle, a pre-Civil War, pro-slave secret society that recruited among the educated and wealthy. After the Civil War, however, the Knights began their gradual de-evolution to their current status: a smattering of spooks surrounded by dummies who actually believe in the dogmas, a world in which almost everyone suspects the other guy of being a spook if his IQ is over 80. And it appears spooks operating in this world seldom know each others’ true identities and many believe they are playing the other guy, when, in fact, they are pawns in the game getting played.

You can tell how high spooks are on the chain, however, by who survives. McVeigh was probably a spook working some deep-cover assignment involving hypnosis as well as wearing a biometric chip. He was so cool at his execution, I have to believe someone convinced him the execution was going to be faked and he should act dead for the press until they were ready to relocate him in witness protection. And it’s suspicious McVeigh had zero statement to make before the execution, and left only a poem as his final statement. “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul. My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

That’s about as nebulous as it can get.

The 44th Anniversary of 420

One fine fall day in 1971, an enlightened group of high school students at San Rafael High School in Marin County invented 420 as a secret code for cannabis. These Waldos were the younger generation of the Merry Pranksters, and I say that because both groups manifested an immense amount of creative energy, and continue to do so, and 420 was just a tiny piece of their contributions. Someday a book or film on the Waldos will be made that brings their story to life, because their 420 ceremony is now as big (or bigger) on the astral plain as the Prankster’s Magic Bus, which means 420 is approaching Wizard-of-Oz like significance in the universal group mind.
Like the Pranksters, the Waldos were sacred clowns who invested fun into all their adventures, and both used cannabis as a tool to elevate those energies. There are lots of lessons to be learned, but the most important is the necessity to band together in groups to pass through life’s ceremonies. Both the Waldos and Pranksters had strong harmony that keeps them unified to this day. You can’t manifest culture on your own, it has to be done in groups. You’ll also notice both the Pranksters and the Waldo’s have a zen-like appreciation for living-in-the-moment, and injecting theatricality into daily life to invest it with deeper meaning.
I organized 420 ceremonies for a long time before I discovered the Waldos, and when I finally flew out to meet them, I ended up jamming and playing with them for days. In fact, It was very similar to what happens when Ken Babbs and I get together. Someday I hope we can bring all my jam buddies across the world together for an epic 420 jam session.
This was actually my first year in a long time celebrating 420 in New York City. I took the afternoon boat ride around Manhattan with the original Cannabis Cup Band on Saturday. It was an epic experience and I got to share some thoughts about cannabis and spirituality, and we lit the seven candles. We could use a daily 420 boat ride like this because it sells out instantly.