Once upon a time there lived a young dragon who loved to protect the weak and he became so popular, people built a temple in his honor to celebrate peace culture, and invited him to live inside. Donations flowed in from all over the empire because most people desire peace on earth, especially the ones who have tasted war. The nice dragon moved into the temple and kept guard on the treasure inside.
Another dragon lived nearby and was devoted to conflict and war. He was not popular. He was greedy. He liked to play people by pretending to be a nice dragon. But he was not nice and had blood on his fangs. But when it was useful, he pretended to support peace, which is how he infiltrated the temple and poisoned the peace dragon. The treasure was soon sold to buy a waterfront house in the Yale enclave in the Hamptons, a waterfront mansion in Palm Beach, a horse farm in Ireland, and an apartment on Billionaires Row in Manhattan overlooking Central Park. The temple transformed into a nest of thieves.
There’s also a labyrinth, race horses with 5-pound ticks, and another savage murder in this story, and it’s not a fairy tale but the real story of what happened to High Times, and how the company was stolen by the secret leader of the terrorist Weather Underground and then run into the ground.
Since I filmed most everything I did while at High Times, and since I have the rights to exploit that footage, I’ve made a feature about a meeting that transpired after the art director got into a pissing war with the son of Tom Forcade’s sister.
At the time, the magazine was the envy of the industry, with the highest sell-through rate and highest paid advertising of any magazine in its class. We had 100,000 paid readers and 55 pages of paid advertising. (When I’d arrived, the magazine had under 20,000 readers.) The advertising, by the way, was the sleaziest stuff possible: Fake pill ads and then fake bud ads. But those rip-off ads brought in a half million a year so the bad dragon loved them.
The magazine was gutted by the bad dragon, but finding out what really happened was a voyage of discovery through the labyrinth.
Fortunately, I filmed the bad dragon in action, including a visit from his co-conspirator, a former military intelligence operative who came to the office to deliver a two-day magic show intended to persuade the impoverished and naive staff that blue skies were ahead.
Check out my 20-part series “The Strategic Meeting.” It plays just like a Christopher Guest mockumentary, but it’s all hilariously true.
Just keep in mind, bad dragons have no empathy and never display any real feelings, just backhanded compliments amid layers of sarcasm. If you look close you might catch the sneers.