The Ten Commandments of Exodus

I am the Lord your God. I am the one who freed you from the land of Egypt, where you were slaves.

Do not have any other gods before me.

Do not make any idols. Don’t make statues or pictures of anything from the sky, the earth, or the water. Don’t make idols of any kind, because I, the Lord, am your God and I hate my people worshiping other gods. People who sin against me become my enemies, and I will punish them, and I will punish their children, their grandchildren, and even their great-grandchildren. But I will be very kind to people who love me and obey my commands. I will be kind to their families for thousands of generations.

Don’t invoke my name when making empty promises. If you do, I will punish you.

Take Saturday off. You can work Sunday to Friday, but the seventh day is a day of rest so don’t go to work—not you, your sons and daughters, or your men and women slaves. Even your animals and the foreigners living in your cities must not work! That is because the Lord worked six days and made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything. And on the seventh day, he rested. And what’s good for the Lord is good for you.

You must honor and respect your father and your mother. Do this so that you will have a happy family life.

Don’t kill anyone.

Don’t mess around with anyone’s wife or husband.

Don’t steal.

Don’t tell lies.

Don’t lust after your neighbor’s house or his wife or his men and women servants, or his cattle or his donkeys. You must not lust after anything that does not belong to you.

Exodus 20

Coming summer 2024: Camp Fun

Whee! ceremony for world peace.

Camp Fun Ceremony June 14-23, 2024, somewhere near Bethel, New York, site of first Woodstock festival.

Bring your useful junk to the Free Store. We will build a pop-up eco-village out of recycled and repurposed material that runs mostly on solar power.
Bring camping equipment and building supplies and especially bikes, even broken ones. We will paint them white in honor of the Provos and they will be free to all and there will be bike trails through the woods lit up with fairy lights at night. All the junk goes into the Free Store where it can be claimed by anyone.
Chef RA’s Psychedelic Kitchen will serve free food, 24-7. There will be a jar for donations, and donations buy most of the supplies for the kitchen. Anyone can volunteer and work on any of the crews, including the kitchen crew. If there is no crew to run the kitchen, help yourself snacks will be left out for anyone to forage.
There will be a solar-powered open mic stage. All attendees will be able to vend at the Barter Circle. There will be a peace pole erected during the event.
On Thursday, June 20, a 4:20 ceremony will be held at the pole. Anyone can volunteer to be in the ceremony. The script will be very basic but will have lots of action. There will be a confrontation between a group of monks dressed in white and a group of bikers dressed in black. It will result in the burning down of the monk’s paper temple and the death of everyone on both sides.
At exactly 4:50 (when the sun is closest to the earth), a giant phoenix bird puppet will appear in the distance and will come to circle the pole. A parade from kid village of only kids will enter with the phoenix. The kids will be singing: “All we are saying, is give peace a chance.”
The kids form a circle around the pole and hold hands. The adults form a circle or two around the kids and hold hands. When the circles are complete, the OM begins.

The Fun Vibe

There are a lot of vibe trails, good and bad, but the fun vibe is the best. It’s a delicate trail, easily lost. Sometimes it can disappear for decades. As legend goes, Neal Cassady surfed the hum of a gear-shift, scouted the fun vibe and gave it to the Beat Crew. The Pranksters got the trail from Cassady and shared it with Jerry Garcia, Timothy Leary and the Beatles. Some people dream about being a rock star, but I always dreamed of being a Merry Prankster and riding Furthur’s top deck with Cassady at the helm.

In 1997, High Times began advertising the first Hemp World’s Fair in Oregon, just a few miles from where Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs and the Merry Pranksters were living. Our hope was to combine forces with the best vibe scouts we could find, hold a sacred ceremony and find the center of the true fun vibe.

Early in the spring, I flew out to Oregon and met Ken Babbs and the owner of a possible 15-acre site. Well, the site looked good and plans were going great. The focal point of the event was going to be a silent meditation on Sunday from dawn until noon, followed by an OM. Babbs gave the event its name (WHEE!).

But we hit a glitch as the Pranksters unexpectedly pulled out.

“We have to do a July tour in Europe for our record company,” said Babbs sadly over the phone. But I still had Stephen Gaskin, Paul Krassner, John Trudell, Dennis Peron and a bunch of other good scouts. It was too late to call WHEE! off. The truth, however, would emerge at 4:20 pm on opening day as the Pranksters intended to play a prank on me all along.

The original plan had to be adjusted several times.

After months of preparations, I arrived to start construction. Although the main stage was built and water and power lines had been dug for some booths and kitchens, it was really just a barren field with a two-stories of twisted metal, rotten wood and garbage piled in the center. About 40 people were camped around the property. Zero and Roberto rode into camp with me.

Just looking at the pile of garbage made me dizzy. The Oregon sun was blazing. The only shade was a grove of pine trees way over in the parking lot. I knew the crew would melt down quick unless they got a steady supply of food and water. Fortunately, Sun Dog Kitchen was on site, straight from the nearby Rainbow Gathering.

I entered the Sun Dog camp and immediately caught sight of some freshly born pups. “Aww, puppies,” I said lurching forward. Like a fearless Zen master, the mom darted out from a picnic table and sunk two teeth into my Levis at the knee. “Damn,” I said, “You just ruined my best rainbow-stripe jeans.” Meanwhile, I’m thinking what a bad omen this is. After I customize my jeans, I tend to get overly attached to them.

“I fingered the hole and noticed the strike was surgical, not a mark on my flesh. The Sun Dog crew jumped out of the corners to get between me and the angry mom.

“There’s no dogs… supposed to be here,” I snarled.

Roberto appeared. “I have a dog,” he said wistfully. “Look, there’re dogs all over the place.” As he swept his hand across the horizon, I noticed three or four more dogs scampering about.

Lee, Stevie D’s straw boss, let me know he was vexed by the mission of preparing 3,000 free meals over the next week.

“Whatta ya need, Lee?” I said. “Give me a wish list.”

The site before construction started.

I walked out into the field and called council. Mostly young brothers came, many of whom seemed to be from One Love Zion Train, a tour group sponsored by Universal Life Church of One Love. They handed me an envelope filled with flyers and propaganda on their noble quest to scout the vibe all summer.

“Come on, boys,” I shouted. “We’re on a sacred mission to build hippie Disneyland! And we only got six days to do it!”

“What do you want us to do?” asked five voices and 40 faces.

“First, we gotta get rid of that pile of trash!” In a matter of seconds 80 hands hit the garbage pile.”

“Come on Stoney,” I said walking toward the rented Ford pickup. “We gotta make a supply run. Where’s that wish list?”

Before the day was through, Stoney and I visited every discount center in Eugene, and that Ford had with enough food and drink for 50 people for three days, along with every other type of supplies we might need, including 20 pairs of work gloves and a precious erase board and five fluorescent erase markers.

At sundown, after we made it back to the site, the garbage pile was half gone. A gorgeous sunset cloud formation appeared over the stage, while behind us, an almost full moon rose over the mountains. A dozen geese flew past in V formation. “Squawk, squawk,” said Alpha Goose as they whooshed toward the sunset. I felt their bird energy as they scouted their vibe trail. Sun Dog blew the conch for dinner. We circled up, held hands and did an OM, followed by everyone throwing their hands in the air and yelling, “Whee!”


We believe in doing what is right and respecting others, with no judgments or dogma, only true love and respect for all living beings. All faiths are connected to the One and the One is connected to us. The train is an ongoing experience for the caravaners of voluntarily spreading the unity love vibrations that make this the 30th anniversary of the Summer of Love.”

I was sitting in the back of an RV parked next to the stage reading a flyer created by a large tribe of volunteers who arrived first on site. The radios arrived late, so it was hard to get the crews properly coordinated. So far, we had 14 members of Sun Dog and 73 other assorted volunteers on site, two dozen of whom were part of the Zion Love Train.

Garrick Beck rolled in, set up his tipi and split. Garrick, Plunker and John Buffalo were hired as crew chiefs on the Temple Dragon Crew (TDC), which was supposed to handle people problems inside the venue and protect the ceremonial spaces. I tried to encourage them to arrive early by saying whoever rolled in and started work first would be security crew chief. That turned out to be a big mistake. Three days before the other two, Buffalo reported in.

Hippie security is a little-known art form that has been evolving inside the counterculture for over 40 years. Groups like the Diggers in Haight-Ashbury were among the earliest proponents of this art form. Whenever anything bad would happen on the streets of the Haight, local residents would try to handle the problem using nonviolent persuasion. For example, if some brother disrespected a sister, that person would suddenly find himself surrounded by people wanting to discuss, in a quiet, rational manner, why the brother felt it was okay to be disrespectful. The fact no one would resort to anger or violence would usually throw the perpetrator so off-guard that he’d end up analyzing and apologizing for his inappropriate behavior. Techniques of nonviolent communication were eventually perfected even further by the Merry Pranksters, who knew how to “create a movie,” pull a person into that movie and alter the perceptual frame of reference of a situation to their own benefit.

Many professional security guards rely on telepathic hostility and thinly veiled threats of physical harm to enforce rules. But hippie security never resorts to hints of violence. Every security situation is unique and negotiable. Over the past 30 years, the Rainbow Family Gathering has been a superb training ground for people interested in studying nonviolent security techniques. The Shanti Sena (peace eyes) is the name that has evolved for this group. The subculture emerged out of Vortex, an event actually created secretly by the governor of Oregon to lure protesters away from Portland by allowing them to hold a free rock festival in the woods far from any cities. The event was so successful, the governor came out to help with clean up and thank all the hippies. He ended up in a giant OM circle and was apparently never quite the same again. And neither were many other participants in the OM for they were soon planning an even bigger gathering to be held in Colorado. They landed near Strawberry Lake close to the Continental Divide.

Plunker and Amazin’ Dave are the leaders of the Rainbow Shanti Sena. Both are Vietnam vets, except Plunker came from the backwoods of Montana, and Dave’s family are big-wigs in Texas close to the Bush family. Dave and Plunker have been hard-wired together since Vortex. For decades Dave served as Rainbow’s FBI-liason and assisted their investigation into the murders of two women who attempted to hitch-hike to the West Virginia gathering. That case dragged on for years and took many twists and turns before the man convicted ended up being exonerated.

The strangest thing happened on the day the radios arrived and were turned on for the first time. We were getting massive interference and had to call in the radio rental company to try and fix the problem. The engineer they sent out did a sweep and found a transmitter inside the front-right hubcap on my RV. I assumed it was a low-jack-type device, but after the event was over, I asked the owner and she assured me her RV did not have a GPS transmitter.

Amazin’ Dave showed up and I hired him on the spot. He moved into the Mission Control RV with me to handle the late-night problems while I was asleep. Six22 was handling the boo-boos. His cat Ganja moved into the RV with me and Dave.

By the end of the day, the garbage pile was gone and the fence was ready to go up.


The professional, licensed-and-bonded company we hired for 24-hour security had rolled in and set up on the 15th. I explained we had our own internal security crew. I wanted the professional crew to work the perimeter and guard the fence, but I didn’t want them to deal with people. That was for TDC. If we had serious problems, we could always call in the professional security guards. But I was confident TDC could handle the job.

However, during the night, the professionals suddenly packed up and left without so much as an explanation. I stayed up all night at the front gate without a single security guard on duty, feeling like Michael Corleone at the hospital in The Godfather.

John Buffalo arrived early in the morning and I explained the situation. “I’m making you crew chief of TDC, and you have to coordinate all security,” I told him.”

Meanwhile, Diego’s bus rolled in to set up the Gypsy Village, and Felipe’s bus rolled in to set up Family Village. The site map had changed drastically already, so I drew the current map on the erase board and discussed possible locations. Both crews picked new sites and started putting up tents and tarps. The Gypsies brought a huge circus tent for workshops and seminars.

We had a fence crew, sign painting crew, vendor staking crew, carpenter crew, fire pit crew, kitchen crew, Gypsy crew, tipi circle crew, stage crew and Family Village crew all working feverishly by mid-afternoon.

The biggest change in the map came when I staked a huge area overlooking a small pond as Doggie Village. There were supposed to be about 50 vendors on that very spot, and I was already wondering how I was going to explain this to people who had paid for those booths.


The vendors started arriving early in the day, and most were shocked to find the site map wasn’t the same anymore. Beth, who had been recently hired as vending director of the Hemp Expo, was greeting vendors as they rolled in. Poor Beth was engulfed by hysteria. I could identify with her situation and tried to help. The most remarkable thing about the whole event was how Beth kept her head and never melted down once.

Most of the vendors were actually quite nice and friendly and easy to deal with once the new site was explained. However, we had a few problem cases, like the Babylon vendor, who was selling Pepsi and hot dogs out of an RV with a generator. I put him in Bus Village, where he belonged. He happily took that spot, but by the end of the day, he tore down the fence separating Bus Village from the site and demanded to be moved inside. Garrick moved him to the Gypsy camp, but the Gypsy crew exploded after he turned on his generator. The fumes were blowing right into the Casbah Tea House. So we moved him again, this time right next to our beautiful fire pit, where his exhaust blew into the amphitheater. Even so, he kept complaining about all the money he was losing.

“Nobody wants your Babylon food,” I said finally. “Why don’t you go solar and sell organic food, or better yet, pack up and leave?” Of course, he was making plenty of money and had no intention of leaving.

Around this time, most of the High Times staff were arriving for the first time, and there was tremendous confusion between the property owner, the Rainbows and the newly arrived HT staff. This was my fault for not holding an orientation meeting, but everyone was working so hard, I didn’t want them to stop. Some people continued to be confused because the site had changed from the original map. There were over 30 radios on site, plus a large number of CB units, and Thursday was the day of radio screaming. If the slightest problem came up, meltdowns would start yelling on the radio.

Plunker saw me starting to melt down, came in, led a silent meditation circle, and we went back to work. Plunker had taken charge of the fire pit. Fire was a real hazard, due to a lot of dry straw on the ground. Plunker led the response to the Great Wyoming Rainbow Gathering Fire, when several thousand Rainbows stomped out a three-acre blaze which had topped the trees and threatened to destroy an entire national forest.

Firepit opening ceremony. I’m in the white hat and Plunker in the black.

The final fire pit was heart-shaped, facing the Gypsy stage, with four rows of amphitheater seating carved out of the mound of earth displaced to make the pit. It was so beautifully constructed I almost burst into tears just looking at it. Felipe came down from Family Village to lead a service and sanctify us with sage as we lit the ceremonial flame at sundown.

That night, the vendor crew stayed up until 3 A.M. leading convoys of vendors into the site, making sure their vehicles were parked safely.


On opening day, the medical crew that had agreed to work the event did not show. Another crew, led by midwife Daphne Singingtree, came in on an hour’s notice. Daphne had been lobbying hard for the job for three months, so I was happy to see her roll in with an entire medical team.

Cathy Baker and her mom Judy had arrived to take charge of the money. She was jumping around with a big knot on her third eye, all frantic, unable to make clear decisions. I’d already lost my voice from having to talk to large crowds for six days, so I tried to stay low-key and not let her energy penetrate me. She spent most of her time asking people what I was doing wrong so she could demonstrate her power and influence over me. She never asked me what needed to be done. But Cathy was surprised to discover the hardest working staffers were volunteers and loyal to me. “Why do you listen to him?” Cathy would ask them. She’d been trained by the lawyer who stole High Times to mistrust my motives.

“Listen,” I said softly, “I’ve got an important mission for you. I want you to go to Sun Dog, pour yourself some fresh lemonade and wait until I get there.”

Cathy Baker makes an appearance in the hilarious “The Strategic Meeting” a 20-part playlist on my Youtube site that gives the first accurate inside look at High Times internal politics.

Neither Cathy nor her mom stayed for the Sunday ceremony (the whole point of the event). They ended up vastly overpaying most of the volunteer crew, and then stiffed the property owner. He had invited them into his home because he wanted a meeting without me present. But he didn’t realize the scope of their imperial standards. Judy was so upset by having to sit on a stained chair in a filthy house she departed the site without giving him the $5,000 he was still owed.

Commander Gorman had taken over the mic at Mission Control. Early in the day a few people ran up on him with requests over the radio he didn’t feel like dealing with just that second. In retaliation, they changed the name of his post to Mission Impossible. The new name stuck for the remainder of the event.

The parking lots were in chaos, but inside the fence was peaceful hippie heaven, with lots of good food at low prices. The stage was even running close to schedule. The 420 Show with the Cannabis Cup Band rocked and was the main event of the day. Engineer Charlie sculpted a wonderful sound. A crew meeting was scheduled for 11 P.M., just after the main stage closed.

Since I could barely talk above a whisper, Garrick was crew chief on the meeting. I drew a map on the erase board to show how the site had changed and where the new fire lanes were. Then all hell broke loose. Everyone was pissed about the problems in the parking lots (which were being operated under the supervision of the property owner), and the lack of laminates for free food. For about an hour there was a lot of hot air, but no solutions. Then Gideon spoke.

Gideon is not the sort of brother who does a lot of talking at council. Although he’s a big bear of a man, he scouts a very mellow vibe. But Gideon was all fired up, like Crazy Horse talking to the Lakota warriors before the Custer fight. He laid out a plan and offered to hold down the night gate himself. Then he led the crew in a chant of “Break even, break even.”


I drove into camp around 8 A.M., having spent the night at the Ramada Inn. Gideon was still on the gate, a big wad of cash in his fanny pack. I parked and walked around camp, moving signs to their proper locations, stocking the info booth that hadn’t quite happened yet and checking the fire lanes.

While I walked TDC on the backline, I pulled up on a huge spotted male dog, who could have been cast as White Fang in a Jack London movie. The dog held a long stare on my eyes, and I stared back while I reached for my radio mike.”

“Mission Impossible, we got a big Alpha off its leash.”

“This is Doggie Village, what’s your twenty?”

“Between Doggie Village and Gypsy tent.”

“We’ll pick up the dog.”

“Ten-four. Over and out.”

It was amazing how fast the radio could fix things. It was like a magic wand that made energy clouds appear like so many tornados.

Later that day, I got a big surprise when Ken Kesey and the Pranksters, all wearing green masks, pulled up in front of Mission Impossible in a white Cadillac convertible. Babbs jumped out of the back seat and showed me his watch.

“Look,” he said triumphantly, “it’s exactly 4:20!”

“Commander Gorman, get this crew on stage immediately!” I shouted.

“Ten-four,” said Peter.

Babbs handed me a green hemp scarf with rainbow stripes. It had two holes cut for my eyes.

There was a lot of noise and chaos. Everybody was pressing toward us because they wanted to meet the Pranksters. But I had a telepathic moment with Babbs, when time slowed and the background faded. He spoke to me in a silent way only Kenmasters know how to do.

“If you put on this magic mask,” he said, “you’ll become invisible.”

A flock of geese flew overhead and burst our bubble. Everything sped up and got crazy again. Next thing I knew, I was on stage wearing the mask, being introduced by Fantuzzi as Phoenix 420.

Birth of the masked Phoenix.

“One week ago, I fell asleep in the back of a car after a party,” I said. “When I woke up, the car was parked in the center of this field. Only it didn’t look like this. There was no hippie Disneyland. There was only a two-story pile of twisted metal, wood and garbage. And forty hungry, homeless hippies! And the next day we were a hundred homeless hippies! And we built this New Jerusalem! I guess they wanted me to say this because I was one of the crew who worked so hard! So let’s hear it for the crews, who worked for free!… In case you don’t know, WHEE’s name came from Ken Babbs. He’s one of the Merry Pranksters, the greatest vibe scouts of our time. The Merry Pranksters couldn’t be here because of some Babylonian record-company tour. But we do have the Green Vipers, so let’s have a warm welcome for the Green Vipers!”

And out walked Kesey, Babbs, Mountain Girl and their crew.
Meanwhile, I melted into the crowd to explore my newfound invisibility.

Kesey, Gaskin, Babbs.

Just then the strangest thing happened. I began reading auras for the first time in my life. The overwhelming majority of people at the event were radiating happy vibrations. But there was a very small minority with darker emanations. Instead of walking around the site, I found myself seated on the ground in a hidden spot with a clear view of the kids’ playground. I was convinced an evil force was watching the children, and I began paying close attention to a tall, middle-aged man with a military haircut who was hanging out at a vending booth next to Family Village. He was watching kids playing on the swing sets and jungle gyms we’d erected. I noticed the man did not have a wristband, indicating he had not paid to enter the venue. I decided to work my best Temple Dragon magic on him, so I walked up with a big smile on my face.

“Howdy, brother,” I said, “are we having fun yet?” He eyed me suspiciously and gave no comment.

“Hey, where’s your wristband?” I continued. “Everybody’s got to have a wristband.”

He smirked but said nothing.”

“I’ve got some extra wristbands if you need one,” I continued, reaching into my purple hemp fanny pack. “You should put one on so security doesn’t kick you out. If you can’t afford to pay the admission fee, that’s no problem, I’ll give you a wristband anyway. But if you can make a donation, we’d really appreciate it because we didn’t break even on this event. In fact, we’ve lost thousands of dollars. So if you could afford a small donation, we’d really appreciate it.”

“I don’t haf any money,” he said with a thick German accent.

“No problem,” I said putting the band on his wrist. “Why not just open your wallet and show me? And if it’s empty, then you don’t have to pay anything.”

There was a long pause and I watched him take mental notes on my Temple Dragon belt, with its radio, flashlight, medical supplies and various Batman-like emergency tools. He knew he was dealing with someone who could call in reinforcements. Although I was all smiles and happiness, inside I was beaming telepathic messages that I knew what he was all about and I could read his mind like a book. Rather than show me his wallet, he reached in his pocket, pulled out a wad of cash and handed me a 20.

“Gee, thanks,” I said.

Just then Felipe walked by and I made a big deal of introducing him to the stranger. But he abruptly broke off from us and walked away without telling us his name.

“There’s something funny about him,” I said. “He’s been staring at the kids and I don’t like his vibes.”

Felipe nodded his head and agreed he seemed a bit out-of-place. We began spreading word among the TDC to keep an eye on him. But he must have known something was up because he left the site within an hour and never came back.


By 8 A.M. it was apparent Sunday was going to go into the high 90s with high humidity. A silent meditation was planned for the main meadow. We made a supply run for ice, water, soda and coolers. As we passed Family Village, the “no smoking of any kind” zone, Felipe, the ceremony crew chief, emerged.

“We better postpone that ceremony until sundown,” I said. “Otherwise people will be fainting out there. We also need a pole for people to circle around.”

“I’ll work on that,” said Felipe.

On the way back to Mission Impossible, I changed the daily event sign at the entrance to read: “OM at Sunset.”

I rode the TDC vibe for the rest of the day, cruising in Gideon’s golf cart. “This is more fun than golfing,” I told everyone. I found two kids at Family Village who wanted to see their mom at Doggie Village. “Wanna go for a ride? Only if Felipe says OK.”

I took the back fire lane so they had a great view of the pond on one side and the dog run on the other. All sorts of dogs came out to greet us as we cruised past, some staked and some running free. When we got to the corner, I noticed the big Alpha I’d seen on the trail, all fenced in tight by himself with a sign reading “Doggie Jail.” “Why is that doggie in jail?” “Because he’s not a nice doggie.” “Can we go inside Doggie Village now?” “Yes, here’s your mommy.”

As I drove off, I heard the kids shouting, “Mommy, there’s been a mistake, this is not a bad doggie!”

“Mission Impossible, we got a jailbreak at Doggie Village. Two dangerous suspects from Family Village, about four feet high, just tore down the walls of Doggie Jail.”

But that Alpha walked out so meek and gentle and grateful to those kids, that the Doggie Village crew never put him back in Doggie Jail again. Isn’t it funny how adults can learn from kids?

Mission Impossible called me on the radio to tell me that a Krishna crew wanted to come into camp for free. I drove to the gate to greet them and make sure they were comfortable. “Be sure and catch the OM at sunset,” I told them.

Backstage, there was the typical moment of confusion because I always insist the ceremonies be as spontaneous as possible, with lots of improvisation and no script. Naturally, this drives the tech-heads up a wall! And the ceremony crew gets blamed for ruining the clockwork machinery of their rock show.

But because it was Sunday, the stage manager Alvin gladly powered up the wireless so Felipe could scout the vibe by the sacred Peace Pole that had been hastily erected. An old, well-traveled pole it was, with lots of carvings and a purple quartz crystal on top. Gaskin, Plunker and many others started to form the circle, but the circle got confused because there were too many people for just one circle in such a small space.

A Japanese monk jumped on the line and began spiraling it toward the center. Everyone got involved in the spiral hand-dance. When it ended, everyone was holding hands. A call went out for the crew to come to the pole. Gaskin and I walked slowly to the pole and were actually the first to get there. I hugged the pole while the entire 300-person crew hugged me. Tear ducts burst open in every eye, like waves in a sports stadium. My heart opened and I sobbed with joy from the telepathic energy.

Then came the WHEE! OM. “Whee cranked the vibe,” I said while hugging Gaskin.

Late that night, I was getting weird vibes from Plunker who began shadowing me around the site keeping me under surveillance. A large group of the working crew were his associates from Rainbow, and some of them had obviously developed a negative attitude on me. I was being portrayed by some as an exploiter of Rainbow. Apparently, by not anointing alpha Plunker as TDC team leader had been a blunder as there was a lot of ego-jockeying going on. Plunker seemed convinced I was planning to flee the site with the cash. At least I heard him muttering something to that effect to his amigos. This evil intuition on his part could only be due to the fact Plunker handles the cash collected at Rainbow. He could never figure out where the money came and went to because he was watching me and what Plunker never understood about me is I never touched the money at any of my events, or even took any money beyond my High Times salary and travel, room and board during the event. The most common cause for getting fired at High Times was getting caught stealing, and it happened frequently, but the lawyer who stole High Times could never fire me for stealing because I never touched the money, although he had investigators digging into my financial situation to make sure, something he once confided in me. So Michael Kennedy had to look for other reasons to get rid of me. He ghosted my attempt to seek his assistance in mounting a religious rights case to the Supreme Court even though Constitutional Law was his specialty and began spreading the story I was a wanna-be cult leader.

I was on a sacred mission of peace and had no interest in enrichment beyond the satisfaction of attempting to hand down peace culture to the next generation.


Babbs improvises.

Babbs came out to the Ramada to meet the clean-up crew. Zero, Tammy, Donna Eagle, Alvin, Edison, G. Moses and me. We held a playful ceremony upon his arrival and Babbs was so honored he made up a little song on the spot just for the crew’s pleasure.

When is it all right to be too tight?

I can think of one extraordinary night when it was all right to be too tight.

I was so drunk

I couldn’t even stand up.

I fell asleep on the riverbank.

The cops came and arrested everybody else and they never got me.
So it was all right to be too tight.

But you still… can’t… roll… the joints… too tight.

“Thank you, thank you,” said Babbs. “That was a spontaneous song I’ve been practicing for the last twenty-two years and this was the first time I’ve had a chance to sing it. I want to thank you for lasting through the whole thing.”

After the song, I filled Babbs in on the baby girl that had been born in the pine trees at 2:22 Monday morning.

“There was a cry in the woods of ‘help me, help me,’ and TDC came running fast ’cause we thought a sister was being raped. Her cousin was with her and said, ‘Calm down, everybody. Jamie’s just having a baby.’ The cousin caught the baby coming out, and was assisted by a former EMT medic named Sunray. The baby was named Cassady Sunflower Phoenix. The cord was tied with Amazin’ Dave’s hemp twine. Garrick was on the scene. I rolled up just as the baby popped out and interviewed everyone involved. Daphne Singingtree was there, too. It was a real warrior birth. That child might be a great leader some day.”

“It just shows to go you that when things happen, they come into a lot of minds at the same time,” said Babbs.

Babbs wanted drink, but the crew kept feeding him water and pizza. “Don’t end up like Jack,” I said. “Don’t melt down and stay melted. Big Sur, that was his best book. He could’ve called it Big Meltdown.”

“Kerouac, Ginsberg, they died relatively young,” said Babbs. “It’d be great if they were still around. Cassady was unique. All the factions of the Beat crew revolved around Cassady because he knew what they were all talking about. They all strove to be like Cassady. You know what it was? Cassady really dealt on the lag. The one-thirtieth of a second between when you think of something and when you say it. He was always trying to beat the lag. So what he said had to do with what was happening right then. That was Cassady’s thing. And he was always working on it as an artist. And at a certain point he knew that’s what he was doing. But it was such a dangerous thing because speed freaks would try to emulate him, to be rapping all the time, but they weren’t talking about anything, whereas Cassady was really talking about something. He was the true Avatar. The True Seeker of the Vibe.”

“Then the crew introduced Babbs to Cassady the dog, the same dog the kids had busted out of Doggie Jail.

“He was abandoned on the site,” said Six22. “He’s my dog now.”

The evening turned into a fun ceremony while Babbs relayed details of staying on the vibe trail. I caught on right away it was wrong to say “we crank the vibe.” The vibe cranks itself. You have to be humble when you scout the vibe. Babbs put this information across in such a gentle manner everyone knew it was truly so.

“Hail the fun vibe,” said the crew.

“I pulled a prank with the Merry Pranksters,” I said to Babbs, falling to my knees. “Can I be a Merry Prankster, too?”

“Sure,” said Babbs. “Let’s go out in the moonlight and do the induction right now!”

Since the Ramada was located inside a freeway cloverleaf complex, the crew was reluctant to set foot off motel property, but Babbs led us through some bushes and we unexpectedly popped out on a river bank near a rose garden.
“Everyone take a big whiff,” said Babbs, while pointing at the rose blossoms with a large speckled hawk feather. The feather shimmered and sparkled in the moonlight.

I got sleepy right away and lay down on a grassy knoll. The full moon had an orange glow around it, with psychedelic trails busting out all over. There was a roar of thunder and a cloud of dust, and Furthur, the original psychedelic bus, pulled up with Ken Kesey at the wheel. Babbs led the crew up the back ladder to some seats on the roof. The bus blasted off toward Interstate 5, and actually left the ground and flew into a dark, angry twister that looked about ready to touch ground and create all sorts of havoc.

When the black smoke cleared, the bus was cruising through a hundred miles of hempfields on both sides of the road. The plants were lush with birds of all colors and descriptions which flew up to us in great flocks and sang about how much fun it was to live in a hempfield, with endless food in all directions.

Furthur stopped on a cliff overlooking a lake with a view of the sunrise. There was a bonfire party going on. Krassner and Gaskin were there. So was Patti Smith talking to Bob Dylan. Julian Beck, Judith Malina, Joan Baez and the Tin Man were having a conversation with Jack Herer! But the most amazing thing was that all four Beatles were listening to Neal Cassady, who was hanging onto a gearshift knob with one end in the fire. And Cassady was talking about scouting the vibe!”

I found myself walking between Kesey and Babbs, headed straight for the fire. “We noticed this with Cassady,” whispered Kesey. “The gearshift is the chord. The crew harmonizes because everyone is on the same gearshift chord.”

Kesey stopped and turned to me as if to say something really important. “Strong pot without a message is just a buzz. If you take cocaine, you’ll often pick up a real bad vibe because it’s traveling through those hands. Real nice dope, there’s nothing wrong with it… doesn’t have to be strong. You can tell how important it is by how much energy is raised to fight it.”

“Is this when I get inducted?” I asked.

“Don’t you know?” laughed Cassady, slapping me on the chest. “You’ve always been a Merry Prankster in your heart.”

Everyone laughed because I had what I’d wanted all along and never even knew it. I also felt embarrassed because I’d been so overly caught up with the money situation during the event, just trying to break even somehow. I felt if the event lost too much money, I’d end up losing my job at High Times. But now I instinctively understood if you want to hold a true counterculture ceremony, admission must always be free.

Next thing I knew, I was asleep on the riverbank near the rose bush, almost alone, only the dog Cassady watching over me. On the way back to the Ramada, I found a large speckled hawk feather, and it remains in my straw cowboy hat to this day.”

If you doubt any of this, just watch the video replay:


Friction, Fog and Clogs

The Dutch Santa accompanied by “Black Pete.”

The Cannabis Cup has a center of gravity, and I can feel it. The crew and I are sitting down to breakfast at the Barbizon Palace across the the street from Amsterdam’s Central Station. If anything were to happen to us, this event would certainly spin into instant chaos. In fact, it already has, since we’ve just discovered the annual Sinterklaas parade is shutting down the city tomorrow exactly when we’re supposed to be launching a fleet of buses from the front of the Victoria Hotel.

“No battle plan survives first contact with friction,” I mutter as I survey the $45 breakfast served in a room with no windows and really bad feng shui. I knew it was going to be difficult surviving the recent collapse of the dollar versus the euro, but I didn’t realize the Dutch version of Santa Claus was going to sabotage us. How would we get our attendees to the expo on the outskirts of the city if the smoker-friendly buses couldn’t get through? The 20th Cup hadn’t even officially started and already we’d slammed into a major clog.


Everything is made from energy and energy travels in waves. Some like to define human energy through channels they dub “chakras,” but I like to define telepathy as being psychic gravity because even though people can’t see it, touch it or hear it, everyone knows it’s there because they feel it every time they walk up stairs. You can’t see, touch nor hear telepathy, but you feel its impact during ceremonies. The bigger the ceremony, the stronger the telepathy. Telepathy comes in flavors so a peace circle and a panic-stricken mob produce much different states of mind.

The science of affecting telepathy is called “magic.” Energies can harmonize, repel or remain neutral. The mind is a complex system with many facets but the integration has a center of gravity. When your psyche loses its center, confusion arises. Societies have a center of gravity and so do ceremonies.

All ceremonies run on magic. Most family ceremonies are designed to amplify empathy, and the center is revealed by the seating arrangement at the ceremonial feast. Ceremonies are the best defense against depression, but they can also be triggers for breakdowns because positive energy attracts negativity. So while ceremonies can create harmony, they can also expose dissonance and create flame-outs, burnouts and meltdowns. The counterculture learned to deal with dissonance, friction, fog and clogs in a somewhat kinder, gentler fashion, something known as “staying in the flow.” A true master of ceremonies can drain energy off an antagonist.

Clogs are the natural enemy of energy. Friction can slow things down, but clogs result when movement stops. Depression is a psychic clog. It’s perfectly okay to have unhappy feelings, but that becomes a problem if you can’t move on to more positive ground. The most important thing Stephen Gaskin taught me is that enlightenment is not like ringing a bell or climbing a mountain. “It’s not like you get somewhere and stay there forever,” explained Gaskin. “Nobody is enlightened all the time.” Ceremonies can lead people to a positive place, but nobody can stay positive forever.

Fog is like friction in that it slows down movement, but different in that it’s not based on dissonance, unexpected snafus or communication breakdowns but self-delusion, similar to being love-struck or paralyzed with fear. Fog creates bliss bunnies who can’t fix problems because they don’t see them. In moderation, cannabis enhances empathy and harmonization, but in excess, it produces fog.

I didn’t start my journalism career seeking to evolve into an expert on magic and religion, but once I created the Cannabis Cup, I couldn’t help but investigate that history. The word “cannabis” came down to us from the Scythians, who built the road linking Europe with China and India. “Ma,” “magi,” “magic” and “marijuana” all stem from the Chinese word for cannabis, and this history has mostly been eradicated, but enough traces remain to conclude Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Christianity were all born as cannabis cults, a tradition that also runs through Pythagoras, the Oracle at Delphi, and Socrates (who was assassinated by the state for the crime of “corrupting the youth”).

Many revelations regarding magic were revealed to me through my organizing ceremonies around cannabis for decades, starting in 1967 and continuing to the present. My sensitivity to telepathic energy became enhanced as a result, and this was especially so through the Cannabis Cup.


I had no idea what I was getting into when I created the Cannabis Cup. I thought I might help bring attention to the importance of breeding quality cannabis seeds. When the event started in 1987, there were only a handful of cannabis-seed merchants around the world. Now there are thousands. The first Cup was attended by me, a photographer and a former grower, Dr. Indoors. Three seed companies entered: two Dutch, one American. The entire event was a two-day affair; there wasn’t even an awards show. It was so under-funded that I refused to attend the next four Cups, also run on shoestring budgets. When I heard the publisher was trying to kill the event, saying I was using company funds so me and my friends could get a junket, a different member of my staff was sent. During this time, the Dutch laws regarding seed companies kept shifting, and we were never sure which were actually willing to enter until days before the event. One year all the seed companies dropped out and it turned into a coffeeshop crawl. All the entries were low-grade, the sort of commercial fare offered at tourist traps.

So I decided to return for the 6th Cup, and also opened the event to tourists. Fifty Americans bought tickets. The first 420 ceremony took place and the silver cups handcrafted by Robin “The Hammer” Ludwig appeared.

The next Cup included the world’s first Hemp Expo, which quickly inspired similar events all over Europe as hemp became closely tied with the green movement.

The 8th Cup was the first to fully engage the issue of spiritual rights for cannabis users. Alex Grey, the world’s most celebrated psychedelic artist, created the official art, and Stephen Gaskin, who had petitioned the Supreme Court for cannabis spiritual rights, delivered the first 420 address at the expo.

Gray and Gaskin were two of the most enlightened people I knew, and along with Garrick Beck from the Rainbow Family, they created an interpretation of the Rig Veda’s Soma ritual for the opening ceremony. Garrick brought over the Rainbow Gypsy Theater to stage an Alice in Wonderland  production for the awards show that included dancers, singers, drummers, along with stage and costume designers, all happening on a scale I couldn’t have imagined five years earlier. The production budget had ballooned to the point there was a concerted effort to kill the Cup immediately afterward because it cost so much, but I was able to save the event by licensing it to the tour operator. Mike Esterson and I had developed a good working relationship and Esterson sensed untapped value. He agreed to allow me to continue directing the ceremonies and even covered the expenses for my volunteer video crew so I could also keep documenting the evolution of the event. I believed the ceremonies were historically important.

Rita Marley at the 10th Cup.

For the 10th Cup, I created the Counterculture Hall of Fame, and Bob Marley became the first inductee. Rita Marley flew in from Jamaica to help celebrate. At the end of the awards show, Rita invited the winners up onstage. She grabbed a red display box containing the Sensi Seeds entries, and threw samples into the crowd. A giant freestyle jam spontaneously broke out, one that included dueling raps from rival coffeeshop managers. All the winners ended up dancing together on stage. I had an epiphany as Rita convinced me of the importance of improvisation. From that year forth, we ended the awards with the winners dancing on stage as the performers improvised.

Mike Edison.

The 16th Cup was dubbed the Conspiracy Cup and there was a lot of that going on inside the company, most fomented to remove me from the magazine and events I’d created. It was certainly obvious to the staff the lawyer Michael Kennedy despised me and he kept hiring new publishers in the hope one might fire me. Most of publishers he hired, however, felt my leadership had been driving the profits, and Kennedy’s obsession with having me removed made little sense from a business perspective. But eventually Kennedy found his stooge in Mike Edison, a bottom-feeder known for cranking out dozens of fetish porn novels while playing drums for G.G. Allin, whose trademark was defecating on stage.

The problem was always that sales would sink immediately after my demotion, and pressure from the other majority share owners would force Kennedy to put me back in the saddle so the golden eggs might return. Kennedy ran the company like an intelligence operation and much later I would discover why.

Staffers sympathetic to my vision were purged, while Kennedy stuffed the ranks with offspring selected from his connections in New York society, the rungs of which he’d been steadily climbing for decades through the determined efforts of his wife, who’d gained access through a carefully cultivated friendship with Ivana Trump. The Trumps spent a summer renting the Kennedy guest house inside the Yale enclave in the Hamptons. It was the summer Ivanka was born. Later, although inexperienced in divorce, Kennedy would convince Ivana to dispute Roy Cohn’s iron-clad prenup, for which he was undoubtedly paid a small fortune.

(more to come)






The Bubblehash War

“I knew the 15th Cup, initially dubbed the “Peace” Cup in my promotional campaign, might not turn out so peaceful after all after I received a letter from Holland’s Queen of Hashish regarding a two-page feature in the December issue. Melting under the photographer’s lights, some samples looked like caramel, others like chocolate. The article, “Bubble All the Way” by Kyle Kushman provoked the ire of Mila Jansen, who was not mentioned although the process used to create the hash was based on something she invented.

“What a nasty piece of mistake,” wrote Mila angrily. “I cannot say stop publishing an enthusiastic article about bags that are a copy of my invention, that’s okay. What I would like is maybe an article on how since 1995, my inventions (the Pollinator and Ice-o-lator) have helped win 11 out of 21 Cannabis Cup hash prizes.”

At the time, hash judging was not a strong suit for Americans. Despite its popularity in Europe, hash had remained largely unexplored on this side of the Atlantic. American judges arrived jet-lagged and culture-shocked, and if you threw in a couple hits of Dutch water-hash you threatened to provoke a major meltdown. The antidote was drinking a glass of water while hanging onto the table with pressed fingertips. Nederbubble could be as high as 99.8% resin and despite being frighteningly strong, it was unexpectedly mild to taste. Although introduced by Nevil in 1988, water-hash didn’t appear en masse at the Cup until 1994.

Ten years earlier, Wernard Bruning of Positronic Seed Company, had sent a photo of one of his greenhouses to the Ask Ed column in High Times. Bruning had earlier founded Amsterdam’s first coffeehouse (Dutch code for weed shop) in 1973 (the now-defunct Mellow Yellow). He partnered with original Provo Kees Hoekert to re-create the Lowland Seed Company, founded in 1969 by Hoekert and Jasper Grootveld, which originally sold sprouted seedlings for home growing. In 1985, Bruning founded the nation’s biggest non-profit grow-store, seed/clone distribution center, Positronics. Eventually, he pivoted to medical marijuana and added a weekly newspaper Soft Secrets to his weed empire. Although he sold it in 1994, Soft Secrets became the largest cannabis publication in the world with a circulation over a million and published in seven countries.

Bruning, Holloway, Rosenthal.

Bruning had learned about sinsemilla after a trip to the East Coast and eventually brought over Ed Holloway to help build and run a greenhouse. Rosenthal made contact with Bruning after receiving a picture of the greenhouse. He informed Bruning about a grower named Sam the Skunkman in Santa Cruz. At the time, Bruning was working with an American living in Amsterdam who had the best connection in town for temple balls from Nepal. His name was Michael “Rich” Taylor. Bruning says he paid the airline tickets for both Rosenthal and Sam to visit Amsterdam in order to make suggestions for the operations. Bruning only wanted one of them to be hired as consultant, and the team picked Sam. At the time, none of them knew the mysterious Skunkman had recently been arrested and charged with cannabis cultivation in Santa Cruz, but had bailed out and fled the country, departing with 250,000 seeds. Sam’s partnership with Bruning was short-lived, however, as Bruning grew alarmed by the scope of Sam’s vision. Sam set up Cultivators Choice Seed Company as his replacement for Sacred Seeds.

Wernard’s first greenhouse.

Sam eventually secured a monopoly on production of medical marijuana in Holland under the name HortaPharm B.V., an agreement that required certification from the DEA. Several official DEA plaques were posted in Sam’s high-tech office and grow center created in 1990.

Some wondered how Sam built such an elaborate and professional operation so quickly after having allegedly arrived penniless, speculating he might have been supporting himself through an illegal operation. The real money at the time was smuggling weed into Germany where it reaped twice the price. Right after Bruning ended the partnership, his greenhouses were busted, the first grow busts in Holland’s history, which was convenient for Sam if he was launching his own distribution system.

In 1986, I penned the story that launched a thousand grow ops: The Man Who Would be King of Cannabis. The next year, I created the Cannabis Cup. The event didn’t evolve past a magazine dinner party/cover story for the first five years, but even so, it swiftly established a global standard for cannabis, as well as a center-of-gravity on developments in cannabis and hemp. The Cup also drove a horde of stoner tourists to the Netherlands duringThanksgiving week, when the Dutch celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas (who rides a white horse), and Zwarte Piet, a boy in blackface dressed in Moorish attire (who carries a birch switch for punishing bad children, and bag of candy for rewarding good ones).

Mila Jansen, Manali, India, 1968.

In 1987, John Gallardin of Rockford, IL, invented the Motorized Master Sifter, and began advertising in Sensimilla Tips, a trade magazine for cannabis cultivators. Growers had recently become aware of the benefits of sifting shake on screens in order to harvest trichomes. Wily growers discovered they could shake resin off frozen buds before selling them, and it didn’t seem to affect the weight nor appearance. In other words: endless free head-stash for any grower.

The main difference between 1986 and 1987 was the sudden appearance of screens mounted on wood frames, not just on all the tables at Cannabis Castle, but in grow ops all across the globe. The higher the micron number on the screen, the wider the gap. A 36-micron screen might produce a precious golden powder, while a 100-micron screen captured more green. The Master Sifter used a steel screen in place of silk or nylon screen because it was designed for sifting very large quantities of shake.

“Don’t discard those valuable leaves before removing the bare essence of your growing efforts,” wrote Gallardin. “The Motorized Master Sifter separates the glands without using your hands. Glands are sifted through a stainless steel filter and collected on a gathering tray. Electronic vibration does the work. Hand crafted mahogany with polyurethane finish for long life. Deluxe model with timer & light: $199.95.”

This survey of Dutch cannabis was created by Sam the Skunkman, who would soon attempt to monopolize the production of medical marijuana in Holland.

In 1989, the DEA launched a sweeping nationwide raid on High Times advertisers. It was an attempt to shut down the indoor grow industry, including the Seed Bank and High Times. But High Times was protected by the First Amendment and Nevil remained safe from extradition in Holland.

In 1990, Nevil tried to slip back into Australia to visit relatives, but was arrested at the behest of the DEA, who demanded his deportation to New Orleans. Nevil was held in jail for 11 months before he was able to secure bail and disappear. Nobody knew where he went, except for a few trusted friends. He simply sold the Seed Bank to Ben Dronkers under an agreement that allowed him to move back into Cannabis Castle to continue running the Seed Bank in secret while making other alliances.

Mila and her machine.

In 1994, Mila Jansen invented a tumbler for dry sifting and named it the Pollinator. It was a modified dryer with heater removed. Robert Clark had recently shifted from smoking dry sift to smoking water-hash as it had a higher purity rate and unpressed powder could be harsh on the throat. Clark coined the phrase “if it doesn’t bubble, it’s not worth the trouble,” and spread the mantra around the Cup while allowing sips of his bubbly hash from his pipe. Interest in water hash at the Cup exploded.

Delph’s patent.

In 1997, Reinhard Delph arrived at the Cup with a recently patented Ice-Cold Extractor, a five-gallon conical stainless steel vessel with paper filter that deployed pressurized air bubbles to separate resin heads. The next year, Delph signed an agreement with Mila, who created a water-hash extraction device using a modified washing machine. Mila sewed four screens into two bags to create the first water-hash bag-system. (In 2000 Delph filed for an improved patent on his water-hash device.)

In June of 1998, Clark released “Hashish,” which included a description of the Aqua-X-Tractor, a PVC water-hash device allegedly invented by “Baba Bob.” No mention of Nevil, Mila nor Delph. Along with the earlier ad placed in High Times by his partner Sadhu Sam, these efforts seemed designed to establish grandfather rights on water-hash extraction. Meanwhile, Fritz Chess of Eden Labs in California had also been experimenting with extraction devices between 1993 and 1996.

Marcus Richardson attended the Cannabis Cup in 1999 from British Columbia, and approached Mila about distributing the Ice-O-Lator in Canada, an offer she rejected. So Richardson modified her system by adding several additional smaller micron-sized bags with a pressing screen to wick moisture from the resin. He began wholesaling his “Bubble Bags,” while changing his name to Bubbleman.

Richardson’s product was as good as his instinct for branding. But his two distributors, Fresh Headies and Crystal Mountain, were quickly taken to court by Delph. Richardson settled out-of-court, agreeing to pay royalties. Over the years, Bubbleman became famous, and Delph faded away and died a forgotten man in 2017. After his death, Delph’s family filed litigation to shore up their water-hash patent.

Nevil eventually partnered with Howard Marks and Scott Blakey to create Mr. Nice Seeds. Blakey was the first insider to post extensively on these matters online using a forum on the Mr. Nice website under the name Shantibaba. He remains one of the few reliable narrators in this drama and his story is best told from his own words:

Scott Blakey.

Howard Marks (Mr Nice) and I (Shantibaba) met during the late 1990’s while I was living and working in Holland. A few years previously (1994), I had set up the Greenhouse Seed Company [for Arjan Roskum]. Coincidentally, at the same time, Howard was released from a lengthy imprisonment in the USA. During the next few years, we became very good friends and with the success of my breeding work and help from Nevil, Howard and I discussed the possibility of working together. We decided to start a seed company. Nevil and I were already working together on various seed projects.

In 1998, when Nevil co-owned the Greenhouse coffeeshop in the Red Light Area, and I co-owned and worked with the Greenhouse Seed Company, we decided to do our best at the High Times Cannabis Cup. Until then, Nevil and I, operating as individuals, had won almost every prize for cannabis breeding. On behalf of Greenhouse, we blitzed the 1998 Cup, winning every prize other than that awarded for clothing. We came first and second in the overall Cup. I did not particularly like the event so decided to retire from it that year.

Coincidentally my relationship with my Dutch partner [Arjan] deteriorated. As a result, I sold my interest in the Greenhouse Seed Company and, as a sole trader, set up Mr Nice Seedbank (MNS), which has always been and remains a Dutch company. Shortly afterward, Nevil also left Greenhouse. MNS never entrusted plants to non-growers, including our ex-Dutch partners. Inevitably, confusion results when different companies use the same names for different sub-species, so MNS renamed them all. Seed companies’ most valuable assets are the original mother and father plants, which take many years to collect and select. MNS uses a collection of both Nevil and Shantibaba’s plants, the most pedigreed cannabis plants ever bred. 

In 1999, Dutch law changed and no longer permitted the production of seeds. Due to the Gedogen law. however, selling seed imported from another country remained legal. We wanted to fulfill our project without breaking any laws. Accordingly, MNS moved its growing operations to Switzerland, where the law permits growing cannabis for seed production.

Nevil remained in Holland and continued to produce seeds and refine breeding techniques. Howard pursued his agenda by writing articles, books, and doing stand-up shows. I established Gene Bank Technology in the Swiss canton of Ticino, producing strains and seeds for other companies, as well as furthering the use of cannabis as a medicine and producing unique flower essential oils for the cosmetic industry.

All went well, with Ticino eventually playing host to the legally permitted establishment of over seventy growing shops and countless farms producing seeds. The Swiss authorities regularly inspected the premises and the activities taking place, tenaciously collecting any taxes due.

Then suddenly, in 2003, without any hint of a warning, a Ticino-based Prosecutor launched Operation Indoor, an avalanche of arrests, closures and headlines. The Ticino authorities seized GBT, shut it down, and imprisoned scores of innocent people. To this day, a state of confusion exists in Switzerland as cantons interpret Swiss law whichever way the local politicians want. I received a two-year term of imprisonment in Ticino. (However, I still have all the mother and father plants.) 

The Six Day War

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched a preemptive strike against the Egyptian Air Force demolishing its entire fleet while parked on the tarmac, insuring air supremacy for the duration of a short war.

The Syrians were the real problem as they were plotting a shut-down of water to the Sea of Galilee, a plot uncovered by a Mossad agent high in Syrian secret services. To save Israel, the heights had to be seized. But seizing the heights insured a war with all Israel’s neighbors, a war Israel might not win (unless Israel eliminated the Egyptian Air Force from the equation). These factors became a matter of highest national importance. The Mossad agent inside the Syrian secret services had been uncovered and hanged. The Egyptians were fomenting a plot of their own, one also penetrated by Mossad. So Israel launched attacks on multiple fronts simultaneously, taking the Arabs by surprise.

An American eavesdropping (spy) ship, the U.S.S. Liberty, was unfortunately parked near the coast of the Sinai that day and without warning or notification was attacked by Israeli fighter-planes and torpedo-boats, who conducted an all-out effort to sink the boat. The 294 crew fought valiantly and heroically for hours and although 34 of the crew perished, the Liberty did not sink. Communication between the Liberty and the Pentagon was heavily jammed until long after the smoke cleared. Since the Liberty was collecting transmissions to-and-from everyone in the area, perhaps something was transmitted that required erasure. Long afterwards, Israel paid over $13 million to survivors and their families, in three payouts involving a decade of litigation.

After the Six-day war, a fund-raising campaign to support Israel’s defenses flourished globally. Israel knew the Arabs would seek retribution someday. Every possible revenue stream was milked, and that included enlisting counterculture Jews dealing red Lebanese hash produced in the Bekka Valley. Some of this involved prominent rabbis in New York City known to have young bohemians in their flock.

Tom Forcade testifies before a Congressional committee on obscenity.

According to video testimony provided by Joe Barton, Tom Forcade became involved with a Mossad agent moving red leb out of Beirut, but the agent sadly ended up committing suicide. Barton was a leader in the biggest hippie commune in downtown Manhattan, a commune with a connection to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Laguna Beach, CA, the infamous “hippie mafia” moving the majority of LSD around the world. The network was comprised of peace-loving, blue-class hippies like Barton, and led by the charismatic John Griggs, a former gang leader who believed world peace would manifest if enough people dropped acid. His entire gang joined the mission after one dose and everyone tossed their revolvers into a ravine, never to walk armed again. Barton met Forcade shortly after Tom appeared in New York, and before he started High Times. In fact, he remembers the day Tom got the idea for the magazine.

Timothy Leary and Billy Hitchcock explore their mudras while dosed on LSD.

After Timothy Leary was evicted from the Mellon estate in upstate New York, and lost the support of Mellon heir Billy Hitchcock, he fled to Grigg’s tipi near Laguna Beach, which exposed the secret leader of the hippie mafia to intense scrutiny because Leary had just been declared the most dangerous man in America by President Richard Nixon. Also riding Leary’s coat-tails along with law enforcement was the mysterious Ron Stark, who claimed access to more of the essential LSD precursor than anyone thought existed. It would be used to flood the world with Orange Sunshine.

Griggs was suddenly poisoned by an experimental substance provided by the chemist working with Stark. He died in a hospital in the presence of his wife shortly after arriving at the Emergency Room in the morning after a night of agony.

Ron Stark, Charlie Manson, Mark Chapman. One thing became clear while researching MK/Ultra, which was an extension of secret mind control experiments run inside the Holocaust camps. A novel would be used to manipulate the Frankenspook. Sci-fi material was favored. In the film Manchurian Candidate the trigger was the Queen of Hearts. Entire novels offered a much fatter mind net. It was just one piece of MH/Chaos, the all-out effort to penetrate and subvert freedom movements set off by the SDS. This operation would flood Haight-Ashbury with heroin and speed, and flood the world with Orange Sunshine. At the peak of Chaos sat the lord of counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton, who ruled CIA-communications to the Vatican, Mossad, MI6, all of whom had numerous multi-generational ops with influencers and agents throughout the world. In this role, Angelton could draw on players from other intelligence agencies. These connections could be greased by releasing sensitive info as a bribe. The Vatican has many societies, of which the Jesuits may be the most powerful. But Opus Dei and the Knights of Malta should not be discounted.

Stark expanded the Brotherhood network into Europe.  But someone dropped a dime causing Stark to be discovered in the Grand Hotel Baglioni in Bologna with his family.

The police search uncovered an American passport in the name of Mr. Abbott issued from the American Embassy in London. There was also an international driving license issued in Paris. Telexes and telegrams flowed between Bologna, London and Washington. The man was identified as the long-lost Ronald Stark….Among Stark’s contacts was Imam Musa Sadr, who possessed control over a section of the Shi-ite branch of the Moslem faith and boasted a personal army of 1,000 men. The area controlled by the Imam was said to include training camps used by the Palestine Liberation Organization. (Condensed from The Brotherhood of Eternal Love by Tendler and May.)

Jailed for weeks, Stark convinced a judge he worked for the CIA by exposing a terrorist assassination plot involving Germany’s Red Brigade. He was released and disappeared like a snow devil in a winter storm.

There was a lawyer who swooped in with Leary named Michael Kennedy and he was running a Communist network called The Weather Underground. Kennedy’s chief agents of chaos were Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, and they led a life of privilege while underground before coming out of the cold and getting university jobs with tenure and pensions. While their rag-tag collection of  impoverished college drop-outs lived in great privation, Dohrn and Ayers relaxed in a deluxe Marin County houseboat, dining regularly at the most expensive restaurants in the area. The Weather Underground never seriously threatened the combined might of US police and armed forces but that didn’t stop them from declaring war on America. They told clueless teenage recruits it was okay to shoot police on sight. They instantly became the FBI’s most wanted and got massive media exposure far beyond any threat they actually posed. Their pathetic troops could have easily been annihilated by any special forces squad and every cell had been penetrated by FBI informants. Instead of taking down the network, the FBI disappeared the files, wiping the slate clean.

Brian V. MacDonnell, killed by a Weatherman bomb.

After Kennedy died, NORML created a lifetime achievement award in his honor, and strangely enough Dohrn, who had never done anything for legalization, was the first recipient. She had, however, promoted group sex, violence against police, and expressed admiration for Charlie Manson’s crew for having the guts to “stab pigs.” She’d engaged in the most outrageously violent rhetoric, and never expressed any remorse for the bombings or killings or friendly contact with agents of enemy countries.

Dohrn and Kennedy were avowed Communists allegedly working on a World Communist Revolution and they were responsible for bombing a San Francisco police station on February 15, 1970. Their shrapnel pipe bomb caused the death of Officer Brian V. McDonnell two days later. There was enough evidence to indict Kennedy and Dohrn, but somehow they escaped prosecution.

This bizarre award is a stain NORML can never remove until NORML admits Kennedy defrauded them while stealing High Times in order to enrich himself. Despite these crimes, Kennedy always remained protected by NORML founder Keith Stroup, who had gone straight from the University of Illinois to work in Senator Everett Dirkson’s office. Dirkson was the most powerful Republican in Congress at the time. From that post Stroup moved into Nader’s Raiders, recruits fresh out of law school selected from the ranks of children of the super rich. The Raiders got out in front of the counterculture revolution by creating consumer protection litigation that also paid well when they won their cases. Nader ended up on the cover of Time magazine several times, a rise to leftwing influencer so rapid it can only be attributed to some hidden hand of power.

The Yippies were created on December 31, 1967. Paul Krassner provided the name and Abbie Hoffman, Anita Hoffman, Nancy Kurshan, and Jerry Rubin attended the ceremony. Krassner had founded the most influential counterculture publication, The Realist, as a satire magazine in 1958.

Krassner had performed a violin solo at Carnegie Hall at age six. He would later say he had been brainwashed by constant practicing and never had anything close to a normal childhood. Inspired by Lennie Bruce, he launched a career in show business as a comic who carried a violin.

Krassner and von Hilsheimer.

In 1962, Krassner interviewed a doctor who performed illegal abortions. The Realist soon became an abortion referral service. One day a mysterious character showed up at The Realist and soon became a co-conspirator with Krassner. He called himself Rev. George von Hilsheimer. Apparently, before launching his own religion, von Hilsheimer had been posted to military intelligence in Berlin.

Hilsheimer convinced Krassner to fund an experimental school to the tune of around $50 a month, and deployed the magazine to recruit students and staff. His first attempt (Camp Summerlane, Rosman, North Carolina) ended with the entire camp fleeing in terror from gunshots and explosions instigated by the local townspeople, who’d been enraged by rumors of nude swimming in the lake. Or maybe it was the inclusion of one girl who was half-black on the student roster. The town attack took place on July 11, 1963.

There were a few schools through the decades, up and down the East Coast, but in 1973, Hilsheimer was arrested by Volusia County deputy sheriffs and charged with practicing medicine without a license at his Green Valley School for emotionally disturbed children in Orange City, Florida. The charges were dropped after a raid of the property was deemed improper by the state attorney’s office. So Hilsheimer skipped (just like Ayers and Dohrn).

Meanwhile, kids from the school have come forth over the years with tales of hypnosis, forced injections, electroshock, psychic dreaming, sex with adults, rampant drug use and other weirdness.

Krassner and one of his favorite contributors, Robert Anton Wilson, launched fake news in 1967, inspired by Kerry Thornley, who had been stationed at the secret U-2 base in Atsugi, Japan, alongside Oswald.

Kerry Thornley.

You can tell by the photo Thornley was a flower child influenced by the Beats, Merry Pranksters and Maynard G. Krebs, among others. But after his Warren Commission testimony (which “proved” Oswald was a Communist), Thornley attended at a spook-infested summer camp in Colorado popular with the Koch family, co-founders of the conspiracy-mongering John Birch Society. And upon graduation of that program, he moved to California to become chummy with Johnny Roselli (one of JFK’s assassins.) Thornley then moved to Atlanta and commenced a long correspondence with Wilson during a time Wilson was letters editor of Playboy magazine, the first and perhaps only national magazine to interview DA Jim Garrison. Garrison was a rare public official with balls enough to go up against the CIA.

Wilson was heavily influenced by Thornley’s tales of secret societies running the world, a cosmology that bore similarities to the suddenly popular Morning of the Magicians, a text published in France in 1960, but released in America in 1963. One online reviewer sums the book up thusly: “Medieval alchemists producing atomic bombs and atomic fusion; the Nazi movement inspired by memory/dreams of Atlantis; the Earth is hollow and we live on the inside; the Moon, Mars and Jupiter and the stars are made of ice; and three Moons have crashed into Earth, producing great evolutionary jumps and de-evolutionary lapses, like “Gypsies, Negroes and Jews.”

Thornley wrote a similar opus to launch Discordianism, a goof religion. The opus was published in the style of an underground fanzine, a confusing mix of parody rituals, little-known Illuminati facts tossed with horror fantasies plucked out of Edward Plunkett and H.P. Lovecraft, who’d invented terrifying tales of monstrous conspiracies at the beginning of the century. Horror fantasy held a magnetic attraction in the LSD-fueled Sixties, and the higher people got, the harder it became to discern facts from fantasies, especially when so many fantasies revolved around the JFK assassination. It seems possible counterintelligence realized the Kennedy assassination could best be concealed by wrapping it inside stories of magic powers and alien visitations.

Mae Brussell came from a wealthy family, graduated from Stanford and Berkeley, and her father was a prominent rabbi in Los Angeles. She purchased all volumes of the Warren Commission as soon as available and launched a career as a radio host examining holes in the official story. Later, her research appeared in the Realist, and attracted the attention of John Lennon, who donated money to help publish her book. Much of her work involved Operation Paperclip and the MK/Ultra and Nazi connections to Kennedy’s assassination.

Robert Anton Wilson.

In 1977, after publishing Illuminatus!, Robert Anton Wilson was interviewed in Conspiracy Digest about the JFK assassination, the Illuminati, Aleister Crowley, UFOs and other issues. Brussell wrote a scathing response accusing Wilson, John Lilly and Timothy Leary of being CIA stooges leading the youth into a fake drug-addled utopian fantasy involving space travel. “Ask Leary or Wilson anything practical about today’s miseries and they change the subject,” she wrote. Wilson responded by denying he was a CIA dupe, insisting he was “a high official of the agency since July 23, 1973.”

One of the primary precepts of Discordianism was never believe anything about anything, and Wilson never wavered from his roll as a Prankster-deceiver. In hindsight, however, most of the nonsense people believe today about the Illuminati has roots in his fantasy trilogy, and his work shows little evidence of scholarly research into the history of the Illuminati. Wilson believed the-eye-in-the-pyramid was an Illuminati invention and ridiculed the suggestion the society could have been a Jesuit penetration of freemasonry.

Actually that is certainly one of many valid possible explanations, not something to be ridiculed. According to Wilson, the Illuminati were “good guys” fighting against royalty and religion, and not some devious intelligence operation deploying ends-justify-the-means morality. Wilson introduced the idea that the number 23 was an Illuminati concept (it never was) and usually insisted the society had died out shortly after being founded. He believed Oswald shot Kennedy and Garrison’s investigation was a fraud.

Wilson’s biggest contribution to Discordianism was called Operation Mindfuck or OM, and involved disturbing a person’s reality matrix with some mind-blowing conspiracy information and then trailing off into some make-believe maze of confusion. Life as zen koan wherein any sufficiently ambiguous answer works for any question whatsoever. If you ever got really high on psychedelics and had friends fuck with your head, you’ll recognize the sadistic underpinnings of Operation Mindfuck, and how it runs contrary to real investigations into conspiracies.

Within a few years, however, Antony Sutton published a factual book revealing how Yale University’s Order of Skull & Bones deploys remarkably similar rituals as the original Illuminati, and the Boners have successfully penetrated the upper levels of the CIA, investment banks and military industrial complex. Prescott Bush was a Boner and also acted as Hitler’s banker on Wall Street to the point of being chastised for trading with the enemy after the war. The society was created prior to the Civil War by the cousin of the heir of the American opium cartel (Russell & Co.) after visiting Southern Germany, and based off a secret fraternity he’d been inducted into while there. After establishing Bones, he became the biggest financial backer of John Brown, the terrorist who sparked the Civil War’s armed confrontation. No, this is not some Operation Mindfuck going down, just some simple truths that most people have yet to comprehend.

Mae Brussell.

Brussell, in the meantime, was not up on Sutton’s research. Instead she began making outrageous claims, connecting dots that probably didn’t connect, accusing almost every celebrity death of being orchestrated by the CIA for some nefarious purpose, much the same way every school shooting is instantly branded a fake event by today’s Tin Foil Hat Patrol. Brussell claimed there were immense assassination plots to derail youth culture and even claimed Charles Manson was a Manchurian Candidate under hypnotic control. That was one of her wildest theories, and one that may actually have been true, although it would take decades for any solid evidence to emerge.

When Krassner began checking out her evidence of a Manson-law enforcement connection for a potential book on Manson, Krassner claimed it didn’t add up. He suffered a paranoid meltdown at his dentist’s office and departed the plains of conspiracy theory forever.

Karl Koch.

Meanwhile, Karl Koch was the son of a right-wing publisher in Germany, and he began rebelling against his dad as a teen. Karl had an early interest in computers as well as a fascination with the Illuminatus! Trilogy, claiming to have read the book 30 times. Karl may have been Wilson’s biggest fan and the two met briefly at a hacker convention. Karl was especially taken with the magic number 23 and seems to have swallowed Wilson’s imaginative suggestion that George Washington could have been assassinated and replaced by Adam Weishaupt, something based solely on a slight resemblance between the two men and the fact the eye-in-the-triangle appears on US currency (even though Weishaupt never used that symbol). Of course it was all OM and Karl got mindfucked.

Despite operating with only a primitive Commodore 64, Karl successfully penetrated a number of military-industrial websites around the world and sold passwords and other information to the KGB to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, a connection established by his cocaine dealers. Most of the money he earned from hacking flowed back into the dealers’ hands. Karl descended into a paranoid cocaine-induced psychosis for a while. Meantime the German authorities offered up a hacker’s amnesty in order to crack the subculture and Karl took the offer, but was soon found in a forest, burnt to a crisp. Strangely, his death was ruled a suicide, but a more likely explanation is the drug dealers killed him in retaliation for going state’s evidence.

Karl died on May 23, 1989.

The Peace Cup

When planning an important ceremony, better tweak the vibes as correctly as possible going in; otherwise they’ll get more unraveled as the event progresses. The theme for the Cup was “peace,” but I wondered if peace would prevail after the outbreak of a silent war over water-hash rights.

A mind-boggling 27 coffeeshops and 17 seed companies had entered, so I knew changes had to be made in how strains were judged. How could anyone possibly be expected to judge 27 types of cannabis and 25 types of hash in four days? Also, since judges have to purchase samples from the shops, just buying a gram of each sample would necessitate spending over $600. The solution? A celebrity pre-tasting. The plan was to collect the coffeeshop weed samples, bring them to a private dinner party, and have eight experts narrow the field of 27 strains down to a manageable number.

In the past, relatively small amounts were distributed at 420 ceremonies, banquets and other special events, while the celebrity judges received samples direct from seed merchants at the traditional kickoff dinner. But the new strategy called for a new packaging concept. Our Dutch liaison purchased 27 glass jars, each of which held 60 grams of pot. At its peak, mounted on a tiered pedestal, this became the most glorious display of quality herb I’d ever seen.

Coffeeshop owners saw this pyramid of cannabis power when they came to register their strains, and they were amazed as well. It was fascinating to watch them crack open jars, take whiffs and make cryptic comments in Dutch. Some years are better than others; last year, for example, was… disappointing. But this year’s crop easily exhibited the best quality I’d ever seen! Even Derry from Barney’s Breakfast Bar, last year’s winner, was intimidated. “I thought I had a chance,” he said. “Now I wonder.” Derry was especially rocked by Tweede Kamer’s entry, New York City Diesel, grown by Soma.

After the coffeeshop owners departed, and the strains were photographed and entered into the Temple Dragon logs, I removed all names from the 27 jars, replacing them with letters. I had one jar left over after “Z,” which happened to be New York City Diesel. It got an umlaut “Ë.

Needless to say, the Cup video crew somehow found time in their hectic schedule to sample some strains. New York City Diesel had an overpowering ruby red grapefruit aroma unlike anything else. This jar became the most poached item on the table. There were several Nederbubble hashes that looked spectacular: Daisy Cutter from Bushdoctor, Blueberry Ice from the Noon, and Scooby Snaxx from Katsu. But most spectacular was the Jelly Hash from De Dampkring, concocted out of two of Soma’s favorite organic strains. Deep chocolate in color, it snapped apart when stretched, and light showed through when a slab was held to a window. It was the most super-pure hash I’d ever seen. Was this Soma’s breakout year? Previously, he’d only won a few minor awards. By the end of the first day, the video crew already had a mantra: “It’s all about the Jelly!”

This would be a good place to interject that Nederbubble was not universally admired as the ultimate cannabis experience. Some compared it to whiskey versus wine; “I can’t be smoking water hash,” said one breeder. “I’d never get anything done. It’s too strong.” “I like the taste of imported hash better,” said a coffeeshop owner. In the past, we’d often separated Nederhash and imported hash into two categories; this year they were lumped together, uncomfortable bedfellows, as we would soon discover.

The following day, we photographed and videotaped the seed strains. These were divided into two categories: indica and sativa-dominant. Judging of these strains was reserved for celebrity judges.

I was especially impressed by Sage from THSeeds. Run by two American refugees, THSeeds has been vying for an award since the 9th Cup, always bringing in a remarkable plant but never scoring a trophy. Would this be a winning year for them? The competition in the sativa category was intense, with a large number of Hazes, the most difficult and time-consuming strain to grow. The tour operator suddenly began having hot flashes over the appearance of so much weed in one place. At the eleventh hour, he was struck by a premonition the banquet was going to get busted. I chalked it up to paranoia from excessive Nederbubble testing. But clearly, I was the one on Nederbubble, as every jar contained twice the 30-gram legal limit for personal-use cannabis possession in Holland. Even coffeeshops are only allowed to have 500 grams on hand at any time. Break the 500-gram rule and the police will yank your license. Forget about personal possession—we were carrying over three times the legal limit for a coffeeshop! No wonder Mike was worried.

“Get rid of two-thirds of the weed,” he cautioned. “There’s a new government in town, and the narc squads have been doing hit-and-runs on coffeeshops. There’s a clampdown going on.”

“Are you crazy?” I said. “The celebrity judges need as much as possible for the pre-test. We’ve never had any problems with the cops in Amsterdam.” Well, not exactly. At the 7th Cup, we were booked into the exclusive Okura Hotel. We’d heard Cheech and Chong had thrown a film wrap party there in the ’70s, and assumed the hotel was cool with pot. But management called the police about “unauthorized pot-smoking” stinking up the hotel. I was asked to distribute a letter requesting that judges confine their toking to the Pax Party House across the street. Privately, I told everyone to keep a towel under the door, open a window, and keep it cool, the usual tricks mastered in college dorms across America. The head of the local precinct ended up visiting the expo at the Pax, and must have picked up on our burgeoning effort to spiritualize cannabis use. I got the impression he approved of us—or at least liked us—because he ended up cooling out the Okura staff, who wanted us ejected from the premises ASAP. It had remained my sole confrontation with the authorities while throwing the town’s biggest annual pot party for the previous 14 years.

Meanwhile, my hotel room was transformed into a video-editing studio, and every spare second was spent trying to edit the video presentation for the opening ceremonies. We’d missed videotaping one or two hash varieties that had arrived late. They’d been tossed into a bag with the already-videotaped hash, so I laid all the hash on the floor in alphabetical order, and tried to match the video clips to the samples to figure out which ones were missing. Rather than pack up the hash and hide it, I left the samples on the floor and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door before we hustled off to the pre-test dinner.

I wasn’t a big pot-smoker when I came to High Times. Not that I would ever turn down a free hit, but I never went out of my way to acquire marijuana, and it never became a major part of my life—not until I started working at High Times.

In 1969, when I was in high school, we thought of ourselves as members of “the movement.” We marched against the war in Vietnam, smoked marijuana, rejected establishment religions, and experimented with new ideas in spirituality. Many of us thought our movement was destined to take over the world. But where did this movement come from? Initially, I assumed it originated with European bohemian culture, but the more I investigated the history of the modern counterculture, the more convinced I became Europe was not the source.

Peace culture is probably as old as time, but our counterculture version began forming in New Orleans, which was established as a French colony by John Law in 1717. The colony was supposed to generate profits for rich investors in France, but obviously didn’t produce quickly enough. Three years later, Law was run out of France, and immigrants who had joined his get-rich-quick scheme survived only through the help of the local Choctaw Indians.

Very quickly, a focal point for slaves, Indians, and nonconformists appeared in the city. Originally named Place des Negres, it was soon renamed Congo Square. It was the only place in North America where blacks, whites, and Native Americans could congregate and hold ceremonies—a cultural autonomous zone. Mainstream European culture had long been dominated by fundamentalist thinking, a mindset that creates crusades, inquisitions, and blind obedience to male authority figures. But Congo Square allowed for natural ceremonies to emerge. When a cultural autonomous zone is created, peace culture spontaneously erupts. Native American activist and poet John Trudell calls this “all tribes culture”; I call it “the counterculture.” The Hopis call the saviors of the earth, “Rainbow Warriors.”

Although African tribal culture played the dominant role at Congo Square, Native American culture provided a huge element as well, still in evidence at Mardi Gras today. Congo Square spawned jazz, which spawned rock’n’roll. The culture traveled up the Mississippi to Chicago, where white guys like Mezz Mezzrow got involved. Mezz was heavily persecuted because he married a black woman and created the first mixed-race jazz band. His book Really the Blues is a masterpiece, one of the most under appreciated works of American literature. Once the culture landed in New York, it inspired the rise of the beatniks. It jumped over to San Francisco and help create the hippies.

Wherever you find this culture, you will find improvisational ceremonies, marijuana (or some similar mind-expanding sacrament), and an absence of bigotry. The counterculture fosters spontaneity and improvisation—not dogmas. That’s why counterculture people look and talk different. We are free to customize our culture on the spot, because our Bible is written in our hearts. When Louis Armstrong shaped and defined the solo, he was grooving in that ceremonial space that invites spontaneous creation. Just like when Grandmaster Theodore invented scratching, or when Willie Will of the Rockwell Crew invented the head-spin. They were channeling improvisational energy. Corporate mainstream culture does not create such astonishing cultural innovation.

The more I studied the counterculture, the more I realized our goal was not to create a religion, write a book, establish dogmatic rules of behavior, or create elaborate chains of command under centralized control. The goal was to create temporary autonomous zones where improvisational ritual could take place. All we had to do was hold the ceremony and allow the vibration to emerge.

Most people know 420 started in Marin County, California with the Waldos. But the Cannabis Cup was the first international event to embrace the 420 concept wholeheartedly, and played a major role in spreading 420 ceremonies around the world. It seemed like peak moments of improvisational ritual began emerging at every Cup, especially at the 420 moments, although you never really knew when or where the vibes might suddenly jump off. Some people had full-blown spiritual epiphanies at the event.

It wasn’t until the 8th Cup that I started trying to educate the media about the rituals that were spontaneously emerging at my ceremonies. All the press ever wanted to know was , “How can you judge so many strains in four days?” Morley Safer and a 60 Minutes crew came. At the press conference, we unveiled a portrait of Cannabia by Alex Grey, and Stephen Gaskin spoke about his experiences in jail and the refusal of the Supreme Court to hear his religious-rights argument. I explained how soma, the central sacrament of the Rig Veda, was actually cannabis. Safer didn’t attend our little show, but the 60 Minutes crew filmed it. The next day I learned my scheduled one-on-one interview with Safer had been canceled. Needless to say, no mention of counterculture spirituality appeared when the segment aired. I now realize my interview with Safer had been cancelled by Michael Kennedy, who was close friends with Shana Alexander as both spent their summers in the Boner enclave in Wainscott, NY.

One of my favorite characters appeared at the 8th Cup (also called “The Rainbow Cup,” because Rainbow Gathering veteran Garrick Beck directed the ceremonies). Despite the freezing temperatures, a character arrived dressed like a sadhu from the Himalayas, barefoot and robed. But every time some significant improvisational moment occurred, I noticed this mysterious sadhu was right there in the thick of it. I never saw anyone get so connected with the vibe so fast, before or since.

In an attempt to force the press to deal with counterculture spirituality, I established the Counterculture Hall of Fame at the 10th Cup. By honoring spiritual leaders of the culture, I also hoped to define the culture, as well as channel energy on a righteous vibe, not high-holy or bliss-ninny vibe, but truly righteous. The first inductee was Bob Marley, and his widow, Rita, made an unexpected surprise appearance. We’d already created the Cannabis Cup Band to provide a musical backdrop for the ceremonies. Rita was so impressed with the band that when she heard them at soundcheck, she gave me a look of amazement and asked, “Who ARE these guys?” She’d never seen so many white guys cranking reggae. The band had a couple ringers from Jamaica, including a close friend of Bob’s, Ras Menelik,” who’d been Marley’s official Rastarfarian priest.

Rita closed the awards show by singing “One Draw” with the band, and she invited the winners to come up and dance on stage during the song. It was an amazing moment, and ever since, the winners were invited on stage and danced at the end. That’s how our ceremony grew. We waited for peak improvisational moments to emerge, and when they did, they got incorporated into the ceremonies.

After inducting Louis Armstrong, Mezz Mezzrow, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs into the totally sexist men’s counterculture Hall of Fame, we finally got around to inducting a woman, Ina May Gaskin, at the Goddess Cup , where the bliss factor hit a peak. The bonding and heavy support vibrations left many helpless and teary-eyed. Patti Smith provided an inspirational performance many felt was the highlight of the event. Later, I was crushed to discover French activist Michka felt cheated because a video spoof of Survivor called “Cannabis Castaways” had upstaged the goddess vibration at the kickoff dinner. Instead of presenting a documentary celebrating the Goddess, I screened a campy MTV-style reality show. I hope we made up for it with our Ina May Gaskin induction later in the week. Ina May created the modern midwife movement, and her popular classic Spiritual Midwifery remains a most enlightening birth book.

When Krassner, founder of the counterculture press, was inducted the following year, I dropped the network-TV concept and concentrated on making a serious documentary detailing Krassner’s contributions to the counterculture. It was a breakout year for the Cup’s video productions, which were becoming more and more important to setting the vibes for the event. But I wouldn’t uncover Krassner’s bizarre intel connection for decades.

For the 15th Cup, I wanted to channel Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. I tried hard to get Joan to attend and made tons of overtures to Dylan (although we were never actually sure if he got any). Later on, after reading Dylan’s brilliant memoirs (Chronicles, Vol.1), I’d learn about Dylan’s rage against being turned into any sort of counterculture spokesperson.

Joan’s cousin, Peter Baez, a California medical-marijuana activist, did attend, however. Larry Sloman, who had dogged Dylan and Baez during the historic Rolling Thunder tour in 1975, agreed to give a seminar. I picked up the new edition of Sloman’s account of the tour, On the Road with Bob Dylan, and was mesmerized to find a peak ritual moment happened during a sunrise ceremony presided over by a Native American named Chief Rolling Thunder. It was clear from the book Dylan had an understanding of counterculture spirituality, and had even painted his face like a Native American warrior during the tour. He also wrote a song about pot called “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” If you multiply those numbers together, you get 420. How cosmic is that? I intended to play the song every night at the Melkweg, just to see if anything major would jump off afterwards.


After the pre-test, we started packing for the trip back to the editing studio (my hotel room). It was very late, and I wondered where we were going to find a cab. One of the Amnesia crew had a vehicle parked outside: essentially a three-wheeled motorcycle with a flat-bed pickup on the back. He insisted on taking us home—“Ride like a real Amsterdammer!” After we loaded the equipment and weed, there was only room for three of us. I heard some comments like “not exactly street-legal.” Wouldn’t that be funny, I thought, if we got stopped and they searched our bags? We still had over a thousand grams of weed, earmarked for the display case, the kickoff dinner, photo shoots, and Pax 420 ceremonies.

It turned into a hair-raising ride, on some bike trails, some trolley tracks, and even some real roads, but we made it back to the hotel without incident. The crew helped carry the bags up to my room on the second floor. When we stepped off the elevator, we were hit by an overpowering aroma of cannabis. “Somebody must be toking up big-time,” I said. But as we got closer to my room, we realized the smell actually emanated from within. Even worse, the “Do Not Disturb” sign had been removed, indicating penetration into our sacred Temple Dragon lair.

It appeared the night staff had changed the sheets on my bed and left a fruit bowl, so I assumed they overlooked the enormously stinky piles of hash on the floor. I turned on my computer and we started viewing tape, comforted by the knowledge that tomorrow all this weed and hash would be transported to the Pax Party House, where the finest samples were going to be placed into a display case for all the judges to see.

Some ten minutes later, I heard a noise at the door and the words, “Amsterdam Police, get on the floor!”

I didn’t even look up, assuming it was one of the crew playing a joke. I was thinking, “That’s not funny.” Then I looked up and saw a policewoman, quickly followed by what appeared to be a SWAT team. I hit the floor, and my hands were cuffed behind my back.

They pulled each of us out of the room separately. I was escorted through the lobby, which was thankfully empty, except for a dozen more police. Who did they think I was, Pablo Escobar? I was placed in the back of a police car and driven across town and put into a cell by myself. Naturally, I just wanted to get a call in to the High Times attorney in New York, but that was not Dutch policy. “No phone calls,” they told me. Someone predicted I would remain in jail for the remainder of the weekend, meaning I was going to miss the Cup kickoff banquet as well as the official opening festivities.”

“The cell was freezing. I napped for a few hours, but woke up cold and couldn’t get back to sleep. In the morning, I was unexpectedly loaded into a van and taken to a different station in what appeared to be the most exclusive part of old-money Amsterdam. My handcuffs were removed, and I found myself in a corner office on a high floor, where I met the top drugs cop, who turned out to be a warm and gentle guy. All my Cup documents, the codes to the pre-test, my video-shoot schedules, copies of High Times, a copy of my book Adventures in the Counterculture, and other Cup-related documents were spread out on his desk. We shook hands; he noted mine was somewhat clammy.

“I had a rough night,” I shrugged.

After examining my papers and discovering who I was, this policeman decided to release me, against the advice of the prosecutor who’d wanted us held all weekend—provided I signed a confession to possessing the three kilos of pot and hash. He explained I would likely have to pay a fine in a few months to clear things up.

It’s not allowed to have this much cannabis in your possession,” he explained. “But I can see you are a nice guy, and your event should go on.”

Several hours later, I found myself outside, breathing fresh air and feeling the awesome beauty of freedom, and was reunited with two crew members, both of whom were completely off the hook, thanks to my signed confession. The police returned all my essential documents. It was almost 4:20, and we’d blown an entire day’s shooting schedule. Worse, we’d just gone from the weed kings of Amsterdam to absolutely weedless! Even our personal stash had been confiscated. The product and glass video shoots we were supposed to have executed this day would be jettisoned like heavy bricks on a long march. It would be a struggle to catch up, since we had multi-camera shoots in twin locations to arrange for the next five days, and presentation videos that had to be edited for each event.

“Don’t tell anyone about this,” I murmured as we rode the trolley back to the Leidseplein. “Knowledge of this could cause widespread discomfort and wreck the vibes. We must act like nothing happened, like we overslept or something.”
We went back to the hotel room, which was emanating fearful vibes, and found the videotapes intact and my computer still functioning. Next to the computer was a huge slab of Jelly Hash—no doubt mistaken for a melted chocolate bar.

Then I noticed 30 Scooby Snaxx laminates. The room started emanating a lot less trauma after hits on Jelly and Scooby! In 15 seconds I went from feeling like I had to check out of the hotel immediately to feeling like staying. There simply wasn’t time to relocate anyway. I had an hour to edit the video presentation for the kickoff dinner, which was supposed to include the results of the pre-test. In my haste, I listed Morning Glory first and New York City Diesel second, because Morning Glory had the most overall votes. Later, Kyle would suggest that Diesel should have been number-one, because it received the most first-place votes.”

“By the time we got to the Pax, the kickoff dinner was starting and it was time to roll video. Of course, Mike Esterson wanted weed, lots of weed, since everyone was pressing him for samples. Reluctantly, I explained in confidence what had happened. When I told Mike where I’d spent the night, his face went white. I had to eat crow too, about how stupid I’d been not taking his advice.

Fortunately, he had the seed-company samples, which had been stashed at another hotel. It was enough to satisfy the celebrities, but not the crew, most of whom were mystified. “Where’s the weed and hash?” It became the crew mantra, because they found so little available during the event. Only four people in the room knew why. I spent the night handing out Scooby Snaxx here and there, trying to stretch the little stash I had.

The three hash judges, Jorge Cervantes, Freedom Fighter of the Year Shawn Heller, and the winner of the 420tours contest, were supposed to get samples at the dinner. Mike got on a cell phone to round up some hash, but the samples didn’t arrive for 24 hours.

Other than that glitch, the Cup went off without any further incident. Mila had her confrontation with Kyle at the Pax. De La Soul, Fishbone, Defari, and many other hip-hop acts performed great sets, and everyone remarked how the crowd was the most polite and well-mannered ever. The peak improvisational moment came when the Cannabis Cup Band took the stage and introduced Article Dan from Trinidad, who made up a song on the spot titled “Your Time, My Time,” and dedicated it to High Times and the Cup. For the rest of the event, one could hear judges singing those lyrics in coffeeshops around the city. “My time, your time, my time high! Who’s really high? I’m really high!” Article Dan’s performance, along with all the other highlights of the Cup’s entire history, was released on the first Cannabis Cup DVD.

The day after the awards show, I went to the traditional 420 ceremony at the winning coffeeshop, which this year was Barney’s. Soma burst into the room like a man on a mission. He’d just purchased $200 worth of the winning Old Church hash. He threw it on the table with disdain. He sat down and loaded a bong with a slab of Jelly. He held another slab in his hand and worked it into a ball as he sang love and praises for his Jelly, which sells for three times more than any other hash in Amsterdam. Then he turned his attention to the Old Church hash. “If Helen Keller and her two blind sisters were the hash judges, they could not….”

Bluebird had given a similar speech after failing to capture a hash prize at the 8th Cup. For many years thereafter, the Bluebird refused to enter the event, even though they clearly had some of the best hash in Amsterdam. By some karmic coincidence, someone mentioned that the Bluebird had just gotten hit by a narc squad. Soma looked stricken. He stopped his rant, pulled out a cell phone and called Harry to make sure he was OK. And he was. Whew. “Hey, I agree with you,” I told Soma. “Americans can’t judge hash. The Jelly was the best hash. It deserved the Cup in my opinion. I’ll tell you what; they gave me a Cup at the awards show. I’ll give my Cup to De Dampkring in recognition of the Jelly.”

Soma whipped out his cell phone and called Paul at De Dampkring, so I could repeat those words to him. However, I neglected to tell them that particular Cup, which was supposed to end up on my fireplace mantle, had been stolen from the backstage area the night of the awards show, so it was probably going to take a while to deliver on the promise.

Later that night, I told Arjan from the Green House what had happened. “You are making a big mistake,” he said. “First of all, that hash from the Old Church was sold to them by the Rokerij [owned by Arjan’s brother-in-law]. It’s called Christmas Butter, and only six kilos a year are produced. It is my personal favorite hash.”

Suddenly, there I was again, smack in the middle of the biggest, longest running competition between two cannabis titans: Arjan of the Green House and Paul of De Dampkring. These two had been vying for the Cannabis Cup for years—although De Dampkring did drop out for three years because they got tired of having to spend so much promotion money to compete. We’d changed some rules to make the contest more fair, and as a result they came back into the fold. The Cup wasn’t the same without Paul and Arjan battling it out. But my mind was already plotting a new ceremony. Medieval silversmith Robin “The Hammer” Ludwig had to forge a Cup on Overlook Mountain, on the winter solstice, near where Bob Dylan bought his first house and lived for many years, an area rich in counterculture vibrations, holy ground for peace culture. I needed to deliver this Cup to De Dampkring , and hope it brought enough positive energy to clear the air, because the 15th Cup… It really was all about the Jelly.

The Man Who Would be King of Cannabis

The house sits near the crest of a dike in a remote section of Holland near the German border. Built around 1880, it’s a grand structure with 15-foot ceilings, elaborately carved moldings and custom stained-glass windows. This is far from your ordinary 19th-century mansion, however, as Nevil, the man who lives here, breeds cannabis and sells the seeds for a living. Instead of wine cellars, this mansion’s basement is filled with indoor grow rooms.

On Thursday, November 6, 1986, Nevil returned from his daily pilgrimage to a nearby post office. It is raining lightly and a cold breeze blows off the Rhine. Although the sun made a brief appearance early in the day, massive, billowing clouds have obliterated it.

As Nevil enters his house, he is assaulted by his watchdog, Elka. He climbs the stairs to his living room, flops on an old couch, and starts opening his mail. “Breeding is a matter of bending nature to your will,” he says while drawing a toke on a joint of Skunk #1. “There’s not a coffeeshop in Holland that can produce better weed than this. But I don’t sell it. I give it away—or I throw it away.”

In a few short years, Nevil has made an incredible transformation from penniless junkie to wealthy entrepreneur. Although he’s an effective and efficient businessman, cannabis is his business, so things are run a bit differently around here. For example, resinous buds of exotic strains are strewn haphazardly about the room, as are large chunks of hash and bags filled with seeds.

Nevil is a displaced Australian of Dutch heritage, and has a quiet, understated sense of humor. He lives in relative seclusion on his estate, breeding marijuana, playing pool, watching videos, waiting patiently for his many cannabis experiments to bear fruit. He has his doubts about the future of the marijuana business in the Netherlands, but these doubts disappear in a whiff of smoke whenever he samples a new, successful hybrid.

“In the beginning I was quite keen for people to come here and visit me, but I found it takes large amounts of my time,” he says. “I have to sit around and smoke with them. Now it has to be someone worthwhile, someone who has a large project in mind. Most American growers are looking for the same thing: strong, overpowering, two-toke indica with huge yields. My number-one seller is Northern Lights.”

After the mail has been sorted and delivered to the in-house accountant, Nevil visits the basement to inspect his prize plants. The doors to four grow rooms are wide open, disclosing the blinding glare of dozens of sodium and halide lights. Powerful exhaust fans circulate the air, and the smell of cannabis is overpowering. Three of the rooms are devoted to young seedlings, while the largest contains 40 flowering females in their spectacular resinous glory.

Nevil placed this classified ad in September 1984 High Times.

It’s no secret that an explosion of indoor marijuana propagation has taken place in America: grow stores are sprouting across the nation and high-wattage grow lights are selling faster than Christmas trees in December. The reason for this sudden interest in indoor growing is no secret either: high-quality marijuana has been nearly impossible to find—unless, of course, one personally knows a grower. But any pot farmer will tell you good equipment does not guarantee a good harvest. The most important element, in fact, is good seeds. And until recently, good seeds have been as rare as a $15 ounce of Colombian Gold.

Thanks to Nevil, however, this sad situation has changed. Every day letters pour into his post office box, containing American dollars wrapped in carbon paper to avoid detection. The money is for seeds. Not ordinary pot seeds, but the best, most potent seeds on the market, seeds that will grow gargantuan buds dripping with resin, seeds that cost between $2 and $5 each.

Nevil’s seed factory is perfectly legal. The Dutch government views Nevil as a legitimate, tax-paying businessman. Seed merchants are held in esteem in Holland, and even though Nevil is something of a small-fry by seed merchant standards, he is a protected national asset nonetheless. In 1985, his company supplied $500,000 worth of seeds to 15,000 American growers. If you smoke high-quality marijuana, chances are good the buds may have been grown with Nevil’s stock.

There is a big difference between growing marijuana and breeding for quality. The best-known example of the long-term effects of breeding are the Cannabis indica plants that arrived in the United States in the ’70s. For hundreds of years indica plants were bred by Afghani farmers for disease resistance, early flowering, large buds and wide leaves. The strain was developed for hash production, but it was also useful for American growers who had difficulty with sativa strains, most of which require longer growing cycles.

Ever since indica arrived in the USA, breeders have been creating hybrids that take advantage of indica’s early flowering and sativa’s bell-like high. The results of these experiments first appeared at secret harvest festivals in California, Oregon and Washington. Then, in the early ’80s, a legendary underground organization called the Sacred Seed Company began distributing these remarkable hybrids. Nevil’s company, The Seed Bank, sells many strains originally developed by the Sacred Seed Company, including the famed Skunk #1, Early Girl and California Orange. More recently, however, some of the most mind-blowing strains have come out of the Pacific Northwest; Northern Lights, University, Big Bud and Hash Plant are adequate proof that Seattle and Portland now hold the breeding crown. Needless to say, Nevil’s Seed Bank obtained cuttings and seeds of all these varieties as well.

Who is Nevil and how did he come to found this amazing company? The man who would be King of Cannabis is the son of Dutch migrants who settled in Perth, Australia in 1954. His father trained telephone technicians, while his mother became a counselor for unwed mothers. They were adventurous, hardworking Catholics, and they raised their six children strictly, sending them to Catholic schools.

“I wasn’t the most malleable child,” admits Nevil. “From an early age I had an aversion to authority. I was the first-born, and I saw myself as a sort of pathbreaker for the rest of the children.”

Despite his rebellious nature, Nevil was intelligent enough to jump two years ahead of his peers, a leap that resulted in his being the smallest in class. “I got beat up a lot,” he admits. “A typical day would start with the teacher calling me up in front of the class to smell my breath. ‘Yep,’ she’d say, ‘You’ve been smoking.’ And I’d get six of the best straight away. And that was just to start the day! Usually a thing like that would put me into a bad mood, so the rest of the day wasn’t much good either. It worked out I got the strap 900 times in one year, the school record.”

Nevil was not your typical juvenile delinquent. At age seven, he began raising parakeets; two years later he joined the Parakeet Society of Western Australia. “My best friend across the road got some parakeets,” he explains, “and I got extremely jealous. After he started breeding I became quite adamant I’d do the same.”

He eventually became friends with one of Australia’s leading parakeet breeders, Bob Graham. “I learned an awful lot from him,” he says. “He was a quadriplegic and he was incredibly intelligent.” Nevil learned Mendel’s laws of breeding and began charting dominant, recessive and intermediate traits for his birds (something he would later do with cannabis plants). “I bought some of Graham’s stock and got immediate results,” he says. “When you breed parakeets, you breed to an ideal. It’s like sculpting with genes.”

When he was 15, Nevil was sent to a state school and forced to repeat his third year of high school. Consequently, he caught up with his classmates in size. “I got into a few fights,” he says with a smile, “just to get back for all the times I’d been beaten up.”

Although discipline at the school was considered harsh, it proved a cakewalk after Catholic school. “The first time I was brought before the headmaster to be punished, he made me hold out my hand and he tapped it twice with a cane,” recalls Nevil. “I thought he was just aiming. I closed my eyes and waited for the real pain, but it never came. I was quite shocked. I thought, ‘Well, now I can do anything I want.’ I ignored the dress code and dressed how I pleased. That didn’t go over well, and I managed to get kicked out within three months.”
He also discovered marijuana.

“I had an American friend who suggested we buy some,” he says. “I remember thinking, ‘Okay, I’m not scared.’ We both pretended we’d done it before, when, in fact, neither of us had. After scoring from someone at school, we went back to a shed outside his house. I volunteered to roll joints, even though I’d never done it before. There were three of us and I rolled three joints, one for each of us,” he laughs. “It seemed logical at the time, still does, actually, even though it was more normal to pass joints. But we didn’t know any better. It was Indonesian weed and we got extremely ripped. I really liked the sense of time distortion—everything happened so slowly.”

There was plenty of high-quality reefer going around Australia, and to insure a steady supply for himself, Nevil made the jump from smoker to dealer in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, to satisfy his parents, he found a legitimate job.

“As long as I couldn’t be the Pope, my mother wanted me to be a doctor or veterinarian,” he says. “My father didn’t see this as a possibility and just wanted me to get a job. Fortunately, I was offered work as a lab assistant at a local university, which was semi-professional, eh? And I was working, so they were both satisfied.”

Nevil did well at the position. So well, in fact, that he was made acting head of the anatomy lab with responsibility for the operating room, animal room and office. He was given the only set of keys to the drug cabinet and placed in charge of ordering drugs when supplies ran low. For someone interested in sampling illicit chemicals, it seemed like the perfect job.

“Having heard horror stories about cannabis and how bad it was for you, I decided everyone in authority lied about drugs,” says Nevil. “I knew cannabis wasn’t harmful. I concluded the harmful effects of other drugs must be exaggerated as well. I started with barbiturates. I knew many people used them for sleeping tablets. Eventually, I tried morphine. I was quite good at giving injections. There’s something very professional and doctor-like about giving yourself an injection. I had to inject rabbits and mice all the time, and if you can hit a vein in a rabbit’s ear, you can get any human vein. I veined the first time I tried. Morphine made me feel good. I had friends who were already addicted to heroin and they encouraged me. Soon, I had a bag filled with tablets, pills and chemicals of all sorts from the lab.” Unfortunately for Nevil, this situation was not destined to last. Within a few months, he was arrested for drug possession. And it didn’t take long for the police to figure out where the drugs had come from.

The head of the anatomy department suggested Nevil be sent to a treatment center. His parents agreed, and had their son committed to a university psychiatric ward for six weeks. “I wasn’t addicted at the time,” says Nevil. “I used far too large a variety of ingestables to become addicted to any one thing. After I was released I had the option of working part-time at the university—to build up my position again. But I felt the stigma of being a known user. It was a bit unbearable. So I left and started hanging around with people who supplied smack. Even though I started shooting smack, I never sold it. I just sold weed.”

One day Nevil woke up with a terrific backache. His hips and the base of his spine hurt terribly. He went to a doctor and was given some pain pills, which proved useless. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong. Nevil went home, and the pain still wouldn’t go away.

“Then I realized, ‘Shit, I’m addicted,’ ” he says. “It was quite a substantial shock even though I knew it had to come eventually.” He enrolled in a methadone program, which proved to be an extremely dehumanizing experience. “They made me beg for drugs,” he says. “I didn’t like that. I was scoring weed in Melbourne and shipping it back in huge speakers, telling people I was in a band. I was making what seemed like a huge sum of money—$5,000 a week.”

Unfortunately, Nevil gave a free sample to a girl who was later arrested by the police. The girl identified Nevil as her supplier and a long court case ensued, one that eventually reached the Australian version of the Supreme Court. Throughout the trial, Nevil was enrolled in a methadone program and under psychiatric supervision. “I got the feeling things were coming to a head,” he says. “My drug problem seemed quite insurmountable and the case didn’t look promising. So I flew to Thailand.”

For several weeks Nevil lived in a cheap hotel in Bangkok, shooting heroin until his money ran out. He skipped out on the bill, moved to another hotel and began hawking his valuables to raise money. “I found a taxi driver who would take me to exclusive shops in the city,” he says. “The driver would get a kickback from the store for delivering Europeans to the shop, whether they bought anything or not. After we left, the driver and I would split the kickback.”

However, after they’d visited every shop in Bangkok (and were no longer welcome at any of them), Nevil telephoned his parents and asked for a plane ticket home. Unfortunately, the police had already appeared at his house with a warrant for his arrest. “It didn’t seem prudent to return to Australia,” says Nevil with typical understatement. His parents sent him a ticket to the Netherlands and the address of an uncle living in the countryside.

After Thailand, Nevil’s habit was really out of control. Upon arriving in Holland, he immediately enrolled in a methadone program and discovered he required 24 tablets a day to stay straight. “I handled that for about six months,” he says.

“I was trying to cut down, trying to fit in. I had unemployment benefits, which is enough to survive in Holland. But I was feeling quite lonely.” Six months later, he moved to Tillberg, the center of Holland’s smack scene.

In 1980, Junkie-Union appeared in Holland, a pro-heroin movement protesting police raids and abstinence-oriented therapies.

Obviously, Tillberg was not the sort of environment conducive to kicking heroin. Junkies had taken over the city, converting pubs and hotels into shooting galleries. “My first day in town, I went to a bar called the Lawyer’s Purse,” he says. “Smack was being sold up and down the counter. It was a madhouse. Apparently, the police didn’t—or couldn’t—do anything about it. It went on like that for quite some time. When the police would close one place down, everyone would move to another bar. It was a fairly rough town and I went through a time of hardship. I had no money except welfare. I had a raging habit. I was living in a town known for being tough and criminal. I cost the state large chunks of money as I went through all the available drug rehabilitation programs. After having made numerous failed attempts at stopping, I decided no one could help me. Which is true. No one can help a junkie. He can only help himself. So, I decided to kick heroin on my own. I convinced a doctor to give me ’ludes to sleep and a synthetic opiate, which probably didn’t do anything. I stayed home and suffered for six weeks until I reached the point where I could handle alcohol. Then I started drinking every day, a half-bottle of Scotch in the morning, a half-bottle at night. I used the ’ludes to sleep, so that there was always a certain part of the day blocked out. Eventually, I got sick of hangovers and turned to grass. I decided it was probably the only acceptable drug.”

In 1980, while still trying to kick his habit, Nevil stumbled across a copy of the Marijuana Grower’s Guide by Mel Frank and Ed Rosenthal. “I’d grown some weed in the bush in Australia,” he says. The book helped reawaken Nevil’s interest in genetics. Why not combine his two favorite pursuits, breeding and getting high? Nevil applied for a loan to build an indoor growing chamber for marijuana. Only in Holland could such a request be taken seriously. “The drug program I was enrolled in gave grants to drug addicts to get them started doing something useful,” he explains. “I told them I wanted to grow weed indoors. They weren’t thrilled with the idea, but they gave me the money anyway.” The unit employed eight five-foot fluorescent lights. “There was a vacant lot behind my apartment, and I filled it with weed. I had Nigerian, Colombian and Mexican seeds. The Mexican was the best. I still have the strain. My dwarfs come from it.” Although there wasn’t much demand for homegrown weed in Holland, hash oil was a valuable commodity and could be sold easily. So Nevil became a professional hash-oil maker.

Nevil used petroleum ether, an extremely flamable liquid, for the distillation process. “I was heating it with thermostatically-controlled electric plates,” he says. Unfortunately, Nevil didn’t realize the thermostat on the heater had to be placed in another room because it sparked when turned on. He had a sink with 40 liters of petroleum ether, as well as a can with another 10 liters on the floor. One day he turned on the thermostat and a spark exploded into a flame, which instantly turned the room into a raging fire.

With eyes closed, Nevil ran to the adjoining room and dove out the window, bouncing off a roof and rolling onto a sidewalk. “My first thought after hitting the ground was to save my dope,” he says with a laugh. He ran back inside, grabbed whatever hash oil he could find, and buried it in the backyard. He went back again and collected whatever valuables he could find. “Then I went next door to tell the neighbors,” he says. “They were shocked by my appearance. I didn’t realize my hair was singed, my face was black, my clothes were torn. I was covered with burn blisters.”

Twenty minutes later the police arrived, followed by the fire brigade and an ambulance. At the hospital, the burn specialist told him he was lucky to be in such pain, because it meant the burns weren’t third-degree. He was given a shot of morphine to kill the pain. The next morning, Nevil refused further shots. “I knew I’d turn into a junkie again,” he says.

Despite horror stories from his doctors about being scarred for life, Nevil was released two weeks later with no visible damage. There was one permanent change, however. Nevil decided not to make hash oil anymore.

Since Nevil had been reading High Times, he knew revolutionary new indica strains were appearing in the United States, even though none were available in Holland. If only he could grow weed the Dutch would consider palatable, then he’d be in business and could sell marijuana instead of hash oil. He searched through copies of High Times hoping to find an indica seed supplier. “I looked for hidden meanings in all the ads,” he says. “Of course, it was just fantasy on my part. I knew how difficult it was to get good Nigerian and Indonesian seeds in America, and I wanted to trade with someone.”

Eventually, Nevil realized there was only one way to obtain good seeds, and that was to become a seed merchant himself. He hired a lawyer to investigate the legal implications and discovered it was possible to sell cannabis seeds in the Netherlands. Within a matter of months, he sent his first ad to High Times.

“I expected there were thousands of people just like me, and as soon as they saw the ad, I’d be in business,” recalls Nevil. Business, however, was disappointingly slow for the first few months. Why? Probably because most readers found it hard to believe high-quality seeds could be obtained so easily.

Nevil doesn’t discuss his distribution system, but there is no doubt the seeds were getting through. Most of the money he received went back into improving his seed strains. Nevil went to great expense to obtain seeds, a commitment best illustrated by a secret trip to Mazar-I-Sharif in Afghanistan. According to the Moslem legend, one of Mohammad’s sons died in the city. Consequently, it is a very holy place. It is also known for high-quality hashish. Although hash from the area had been readily available in Holland in the ’70s, the Soviet invasion of the country greatly reduced exports. In 1985, an Afghan refugee told Nevil the fields around Mazar-I-Sharif were being destroyed. “That was all I needed to hear,” says Nevil. “I caught the next plane to Pakistan to save the strain.”

The story of this adventure first appeared in Regardies magazine and was written by former High Times reporter A. Craig Copetas. After being smuggled into a refugee camp near Peshawar while lying on the floor of a car, Nevil made contact with a 30-year-old Muslim fanatic who had a throbbing vein that ran from between his eyes straight up his forehead. The man took a lump of black hash out of his pocket and told Nevil that it had been processed by his uncle, a man known as Mr. Hashish…. Surrounded by four men who were pointing machine guns at him, Nevil set about negotiating with Mr. Hashish, a Mujahedin commander, and finally persuaded him to send a squad of his men 280 miles into Soviet-occupied territory and come back with two kilos of healthy Mazari seeds.

“He thought I was ridiculous because I didn’t want to buy hash or opium,” recalls Nevil. “Nobody had ever come there before to buy seeds, and at first he had no idea what I was talking about. I stood there trying to explain genetics to this tribal hash leader in sign language. When he finally figured out what I wanted, he asked for too much money. I took a zero off his price and gave him ten percent up front. He called me a bandit, but I had the seeds four days later.”

Nevil also went to great lengths to obtain ruderalis seeds, a little-known cannabis strain that grows primarily in Russia. Although some American growers had sold so-called ruderalis strains in the past, Nevil undertook the necessary trip to the Russian-Hungarian border to authenticate the plant.

Ruderalis is not known for spectacular resin content, but it flowers automatically — regardless of photoperiod—which makes it a potentially useful hybrid, especially for outdoor growers. Nevil began crossing ruderalis-indica hybrids with his Mexican dwarfs. The result?

An indoor/outdoor bonsai marijuana tree that matures within two months and never reaches a height over two feet. Such a plant would be difficult to detect from the air and it could take years before the DEA even figured out what it was. (After several years, Nevil abandoned his ruderalis experiments.)

“Since becoming a seed merchant, I’ve directed all my energies and money into finding people with superior strains of cannabis and getting seeds out of them,” says Nevil. “And I can honestly say, I’ve never heard of a strain I wanted that I wasn’t able to get—one way or another. Theoretically, there is someone out there growing better stuff than I am using my seeds. Why? Because tens of thousands of plants are being grown with my stock. Selection from tens of thousands gets phenomenal results, while I can only select from a few hundred. I’m not holding back anything. Any grower in America can experiment with the same stock.”

Epilogue 2023

Intel had been tracking me long before I left for the Netherlands to interview Nevil. The night before I flew back to New York, I was waylaid by Robert Clarke and Sam the Skunkman, who had recently sold seeds to Nevil, including Skunk #1 and Pollyanna. Sam told stories about the harvest festivals in Santa Cruz before CAMP shut down the ceremonies. Skunk #1 was a legendary award winner created by a grower’s collective known as Sacred Seeds. On the plane back, I got the idea of creating the Cannabis Cup, something I began working on as soon as I landed. Nobody was using the word “cannabis” at the time. Even scientists like Dr. Lester Grinspoon preferred the Mexican slang term, marihuana.

Sam began his plot for global domination by partnering with Wernard Bruining, founder of Mellow Yellow, which had started as a squat with a house dealer but had changed names and become a huge operation. Wernard designed the club as a hangout where he and his friends could get stash, and that expanded into a cafe supported by had two huge outdoor greenhouses. Ed Rosenthal wrote about the grows and introduced Sam to Wernard, who quickly became alarmed by the scope of Sam’s plans. Shortly after Wernard ended his partnership with Sam, his two grow ops were both busted, the first cannabis grow ops taken down in Holland’s history.

Cultivators Choice catalogue, 1985.

A few months later, I was back at the Castle collecting samples for the first Cup. Nevil and Ben Dronkers had agreed to participate but Sam kept waffling. He eventually agreed to join the competition days before the event kicked off. The three judges included the photographer (Jeff Vaughan), the new grow writer (Bram Frank), and me.

I dubbed the photographer “Jiffy Schnack” because he couldn’t walk past a street vendor without buying and consuming something. When not snacking, Jiffy could be found holed up in his boatel room, chain-smoking Northern Lights and blasting Metallica on his Walkman headphones.

Jiffy tried chain-smoking Skunk #1, but it gave him a headache. He openly disdained the praise Bram and I bestowed upon the strain for its wonderful flavor. Eventually Jiffy declared his intention to throw the contest to Northern Lights by voting down Skunk #1.

It was the first attempt to rig the Cup, but would not be the last. Sam attached himself to the three of us and eventually got wind of Jiffy’s plot, and began pressuring me to cancel his vote. Since there was no Awards Show nor celebratory dinner (we were on the thinnest of budgets), the Cup would not be publicized until the issue came out in four months. I recall Sam complaining about not being given a real trophy to take home when he arrived to inspect the issue prior to printing. (It wasn’t until the 6th Cup that unique cannabis trophies were created by Robin “The Hammer” Ludwig.)

One moment stuck out while visiting Nevil to pick up his samples for testing. Nevil wanted to inspect the competition, but Sensi Seeds had turned in fresh-picked buds so wet I didn’t see how we could smoke them. Nevil peeled off some buds and blasted them in his microwave. Sitting next to the microwave was a tall jar filled with water with a green deposit on the bottom. Nevil informed me it was his new technique for making hash with water, something possible because the water entering his house was exceedingly cold.

When I returned to the office and began working on the issue for the first Cup, Sam and Rob arrived to deliver a photo of Skunk #1 for the cover. They were giddy with excitement as they wanted to take out a display ad in High Times. In return for $10 cash, they promised to deliver the secret of turning stash into hash (or mold into gold). The ad ran as a trade agreement in exchange for use of a photo of Skunk #1 on the cover. Rob was a comics fan and commissioned Flick to create an illustration. Flick was paid in stash. Rob had initially stayed at my apartment while visiting New York, but had switched to Flick’s smaller abode, possibly because it afforded him a get-high buddy capable of keeping pace with his intake. The more mysterious Sam, however, never made an appearance anywhere in New York outside that one visit to the office.

It took decades before I realized that giddiness may not have been due to the anticipation of making a fortune selling a sheet of paper for $10, but by forging a trail for possible grandfather rights on making water hash. I got a letter from Rob after the ad was published telling me not to run it again as it had served its purpose. The description claimed the final product had the consistency of “chewed bubblegum.”

Sam and Rob often seemed focussed on some distant pot of gold and global domination in cannabis genetics usually seemed part of that vision. I sensed Nevil’s rise in status in the realm of cannabis might be threatening their swagger. Like Tom Forcade, Sam was an outlaw hidden in the shadows, never photographed, and nobody knew his real name, only a string of aliases: Sam the Skunkman, Sam Selezny, Sam Selgnij, Sahdu Sam. Nevil, meanwhile, had played Abbie Hoffman to Sam’s Forcade and seized the glory.

Like many American’s at the time, I paid little attention to hash, being fully satisfied taking a few sips off a flavorful joint, although the Dutch quickly converted me to their art of rolling with filter tips. I served as a judge for the first Cup and instantly knew judging was not my thing. Unlike Jiffy and Flick, I had no love of constant weed and hash smoking and received more satisfaction studying the hidden history of cannabis in religion, an attitude that put me at a social disadvantage among hard-core, hash-smoking afficionados.

I sensed the primary reason for being waylaid by Sam and Rob right after departing Nevil’s was simply so they could prove their head-stash was better than his. Nevil was fine-sifting the finest Haze tops at the time and not all that eager to share his pressed hash with a novice like me. Sam, on the other hand, was doing the same with Skunk #1 and his head-stash was a golden, unpressed power that made a tiny liquid pool in the center when hit with a flame. Nevil’s hash didn’t do that.

Eventually, liquid would not be enough and hash would need to bubble like lava to be considered pure, but that was still a decade away.

Operation Green Merchant

High Times was always a cutthroat environment. When I arrived as a full-timer in 1985, the editorial and art staff had just been sacked right before Christmas. The trustees running the magazine had pulled the annual staff Christmas bonus due to sliding sales. Someone leaked the story to the New York Post and word came down from on high the squealer needed to be exposed and punished. Nobody confessed nobody squealed, so everyone was fired.

The magazine was obviously being busted out and had been in sharp decline for years while the trustees took out millions a year for themselves through cutting budgets, expenses and salaries. There was no editorial budget, as most content was ad trade or given free, especially cultivation information. Aside from cultivation, the content was uninspired with the exception of Dean Latimer’s occasional contributions. But after Larry “Ratso” Sloman resigned, nothing like what Tom had produced or intended appeared until my arrival, mostly just steady promotion of cocaine, heroin and porn. I didn’t have a lot of respect for the people responsible for this transformation, and maybe they sensed it.

Peter Gorman.

Upon arrival I began scouring the files for ignored submissions worth publishing and found several, including one by Peter Gorman, who’d I’d soon hire full-time. He was a natural reporter and once tracked down a leader in Earth First by leaving messages at a sports bar in his general area right before a game involving his college team.

John Holmstrom.

I kicked out the hard drugs and began promoting flowers and fungi. The publisher, however, demanded at least one hard drugs quote remain in every THMQ and the trustees always sided with him and if they didn’t he’d find some other way to torment me in retaliation. I imagine it might have been difficult watching me turn the company around on a dime, since it put his incompetence on display. I began promoting indoor cultivation as the best means for avoiding the black market entirely, and indoor grow articles began appearing in every issue, mostly on closet gardening in small spaces.  The ads for the equipment swiftly followed. John Holmstrom, founder of Punk magazine, was brought in as my executive editor and for a couple of wonderful years we had a blast transforming High Times into a cross between National Lampoon and Covert Action Quarterly.

The parties were legendary, mostly due to the High Times house band, the Soul Assassins. The lead singer, Flick Ford, was my sidekick in those days and had recently designed my groundbreaking book, Art After Midnight. He’d soon become art director of High Times. But it was only after we added an amazing trio of super hotties from the Lower East Side dubbed the Assassinettes that we developed a rabid downtown following. One night Malcolm Forbes pulled up on a Harley to check out our packed show at Continental Divide. That’s how far the buzz had traveled in a few short months. What I didn’t realize, however, was High Times had become the biggest seller at Tower Records on both coasts. There were no celebrations or announcements by the publisher. I knew advertising had skyrocketed, but the business side remained silent about money pouring in from the sudden rise in circulation. Instead, the trustees secretly upped their bonuses and began investing profits into phone sex lines. High Times catered to the sleaziest, bottom-feeding ad base in the industry as the publisher never saw an ad he didn’t like, and the explosion of phone sex advertising convinced him this is where the company needed to invest some money, and the trustees agreed.

Bill Kelly.

One of my goofier ideas was an homage to my favorite deejay Bill Kelly at WFMU who was largely responsible for promoting a garage rock revival in the New York City area. During his show, Kelly would read Ed Anger columns out of the Weekly World News, making fun of Anger’s illogical rightwing rants. I created a column in High Times called “My Amerika by Ed Hassle” supposedly written by a rabid Grateful Dead fan who was lost in tin-foil-hat lunacy. The character was designed as a goof on hippie fascism, something known as “woke culture” today. Hassle was the first anti-woke influencer disguised as a pro-woke influencer. It only took a few months for him to become the most popular columnist in the magazine, surpassing grow guru Ed Rosenthal, although I often wondered how many of his fans were in on the gag and how many swallowed his kool-aid rants. Aside from his monthly column, Hassle soon began appearing in multi-page comicstrips on a wide variety of topics, carving out a sizable presence in the magazine.

The ad that got Hassle whacked.

I’d asked Flick to make Hassle come to life as a cartoon character. I was executive editor at the time and Flick was a freelancer suddenly doing multi-page full-color comics. I suggested he should get some creative rights as he was being paid far below scale, a request that soon provoked Hassle’s removal. Kennedy gave me the bad news in the form of a comedy news release wherein Hassle was victim of a mafia hit. It felt like he was stomping on me and laughing at the same time. Whenever Kennedy made some imperial pronouncement like his killing off of Hassle, it was always non-negotiable. I had no idea at the time he was the real power behind the throne running the company, and not the trustees, two of whom were his puppets. The third (Tom’s mother) would get axed the first time she sided with me on anything. I was sent a letter by Judy instructing me to never to speak nor write her mother ever again. Aside from Tom, the mother was the only honest one in the family.

Around this time, Kennedy was representing the head of the real Italian mafia in the huge Pizza Connection trial. Kennedy was paid a quarter million and his entire defense amounted to putting the capo and a few underlings  on the stand just long enough for them to confirm there was a ban on heroin trafficking within the order. When that defense failed and the client got convicted, Kennedy put out the word it was his last mafia case. He might have been worried about getting a hit on himself.

But after Operation Green Merchant put the corporation in peril, I made a plea to bring back Hassle to save the company by igniting an activist response to DEA harassment on High Times. NORML had initially refused to be associated with the return of the Hash Bash, indicating Kennedy had likely been telling them not to get involved with my antics, but that changed after 10,000 people showed up on the University of Michigan diag.

Kennedy was seldom seen or heard-from, although everyone at the office remained on tippy-toes during his infrequent visits because his temper tantrums were legendary. Right before Hassle was purged, Hassle’s latest comic strip had blown the whistle on the government cover-up of alien spacecraft secretly sucking trichomes off outdoor cannabis plants, something responsible for a national decline in pot potency. Hassle had only managed to uncover this operation after being abducted by UFOs. Although all memories had been wiped by alien doctors, snippets were later recovered through hypnosis. The strip was a parody of the sort of UFO material found in supermarket tabloids, stories I assumed were planted by intelligence agencies to divert the dumbest among us away from any real conspiracies like the JFK assassination or MK/Ultra brainwashing. Even today I believe phony UFO stories are constantly floated by intel to keep people diverted and confused.

High Times catered to the most disreputable ads.

The night before the 15th anniversary party, the publisher was abruptly fired in one of Kennedy’s secretive midnight moves. Had he not been fired, that publisher would have become one of the biggest shareholders since he had purchased Tom’s widow’s shares, allegedly for $50,000. Gabrielle Schang wanted out of the company after Kennedy seized control from her, but that didn’t happen until after she’d fired most of the original staff, cutting down the vested-employee list considerably. Any employees hired after 1990 weren’t going to qualify, so my staff and I were the last ones in. There never was any information about the trust or what we stood to gain when it dissolved. Even after the trust dissolved in 2000, none of the employees were allowed a copy of the articles of incorporation, possibly because one stipulated minority shareholders could never audit the finances.

Much of what Kennedy did was illegal. Lying, cheating and stealing was in his wheelhouse and he ran High Times like an intelligence operation, on a need-to-know basis, while playing people off each other. Many decades later, the reason became clear: Kennedy had stolen the company from the rightful employees and subverted its founder’s mission, which had been to funnel all profit to NORML. But NORML only got some free ads, which cost the company nothing. Millions in profit went straight to Kennedy and Tom’s sister, Judy Baker, except for what the accountants could steal.

Another fact became clear as well. Kennedy had been the secret leader of a terrorist network of avowed Communists who attempted to instigate a violent takeover of the Constitution by planting bombs and distributing weapons and explosives, mostly to blacks either recently returned from Vietnam or released from prison.

The Weather Underground murdered at least three police officers and were involved in the kidnapping of Patti Hearst and subsequent shoot-out between the Symbionese Liberation Army and police. Supplying MK/Ultra psychopaths with automatic weapons had been their prime directive. Like Charlie Manson, who was likely being run by MK/Ultra scientists, the Weather Underground sought to instigate a race war. Even after Timothy Leary outed Kennedy as the leader of the nation’s most-wanted terrorists, Kennedy escaped serious investigation and his terrorist group was lionized afterward by Hollywood while the two primary leaders under Kennedy came out of the cold and waltzed into university gigs with pensions.

On October 26, 1989, agents arrested 119 people while raiding stores in 46 states. Business records and customer lists were carted away by the wheelbarrow. Many of these companies went out-of-business immediately and for the next two years, names and addresses seized would be milked during ongoing raids. Typically, if your address appeared on the list, they’d check your power consumption and if it was deemed excessive, a flyover of your property with an infrared camera would follow.

Operation Green Merchant was well-planned and executed by the DEA and intended to shut down The Seed Bank, High Times, Sinsemilla Tips and most of the indoor grow industry in one fell swoop. The DEA had worked on the plan for over a year infiltrating grow stores with agents posing as medical users who entrapped clueless employees by discussing cannabis as medicine.

By the end of 1991, DEA agents had interrogated hundreds, including scientists at NASA’s horticultural research facilities who had ordered grow equipment, while arresting 1,262 people, dismantling 977 indoor grows, and seizing $17.5 million in assets. Dozens served between 4-to-15-year prison terms, many with mandatory minimums that blocked any sentence reductions.

The first day, two DEA agents showed up at the High Times office to deliver a subpoena on me. I was ordered to hand over all correspondence I’d had with Nevil while making an appearance in New Orleans. I didn’t know it at the time but one of Nevil’s primary remailers in Michigan had turned State’s Evidence and provided names and addresses of all Nevil’s customers he had shipped seeds to.

Ed Hassle to the Rescue

There were serious worries Green Merchant might black swan the company, but it really only killed off most of the advertising. The media for the most part rallied around freedom of the press, and I got invited on national television to expound the virtues of hemp and medical marijuana. At the time, few seemed aware that petrochemical poison was creating immense negative health issues and severely impacting the health of the planet. When I tried to discuss these issues, the commentators thought I was talking about the oil crisis and not an environmental crisis.

I got permission to bring back Hassle, who made a plea for people to join the Freedom Fighters. The idea was to create a wave of protest rallies across the country. Any members who attended a rally (or wrote a letter to an elected representative supporting legalization) got a Freedom Fighter pin. New pins were made annually. All it took to join was a one-time fee of $15.

The Freedom Fighters were asked to participate in improvisational ritual theater by dressing up in Colonial outfits and carrying drums to the rallies. Members were encouraged to seek out news crews covering the rally to discuss what hemp legalization could do for the environment. Instead of stoners smoking weed, rally coverage shifted to people  in tricorn hats talking about how President Washington was a hemp farmer, who once wrote: “Make the most of hemp seed. Sow it everywhere.”

The result caught me by surprise. Thousands of people began sending in $15 and joining the fight for hemp legalization. Suddenly, I had a war chest for activist activities. I produced a documentary on those years, the first of many I’d create at almost no cost to the company. Strangely, the company never attempted to exploit the steady flow of video content, which included feature documentaries, internet TV shows like the Cannabis Castaways (based on just-launched Survivor on CBS), stoner comedy shorts, and multi-camera music videos that were pouring out of my office. I thought I was laying the groundwork for our own cable channel and I was getting meetings with the heads of Comedy Central and Lion’s Gate, so my work was taken seriously by some. The Castaway project became the most popular feature on the website upon launch (even though it was restricted to postage stamp size), but my video was soon quietly junked, after which I was never allowed input to any of the company’s websites ever again.

I decided to kill off Ed Hassle but was having trouble figuring out a way to explain why since he was so popular. I settled on a 1,400 word interview on how the Freedom Fighters had begun as a party, but had morphed into a serious national movement. I’d created numerous independent state chapters and the heads included Jack Herer (who was unknown outside Oregon at the time), Debbie Goldsberry and Rodger Belknap.

Mike Edison wrote a revenge book supposedly a tell-all from inside High Times, but mostly involving Edison’s various bands and firings, highlighted by his addictions to hard drugs and alcohol. The slim chapter on High Times is almost entirely devoted to slagging me off.
Whee! ceremony for world peace.

The Whee! festival had just happened and made a lot of money. Over 15,000 attendees and over 300 vendors. Thanks in part to Edison, the event was killed, although I was able to revive it the following year only because High Times had stiffed the landowner for $5k we owed him and he filed a lawsuit which he agreed to drop only if I came back and did another so he could collect phone numbers on all the vendors. His plan was to continue the festival without High Times or me involved. They massively overpaid the volunteer staff tens of thousands but stiffed the landowner. Why? Because he invited Judy Baker into his house to have a discussion with her without my attendance. I suspected he was a tweaker as a lot of his hangers on certainly were, and I had never been invited into his ramshackle house. Apparently Baker was so disgusted she wanted him punished for having forced her to sit on one of his filthy chairs.

After the Freedom Fighter movement took off and almost everyone thought Ed Hassle was really Ed Rosenthal, it irked me so I decided I would kill off Hassle a second time, even though he represented Flick’s best comic ever. Unwinding the history of the Freedom Fighters was a bit complex and I thought the easiest way would be in the form of an interview. The interview mostly concerned economic and environmental benefits of hemp.
Edison portrayed this interview as an advertisement for myself, implied I put myself on the cover (never did) and went on for pages ridiculing my attempt to create a national peace ceremony that would recognize cannabis as the sacrament of peace culture. He also ridiculed my belief 420 could help legalization and that the code had been created by high school kids in San Rafael. Instead, he claimed I was trying to cast some friends as the originators for my own selfish reasons and nobody knew who really created it.
Mike Edison.

Obviously, Kennedy hit the roof after the interview came out and was still talking about it seven years later, but Kennedy had said nothing to me. It wasn’t until Edison published his revenge book that I realized the interview started Kennedy’s campaign to fire me. Maybe because I threw shade on NORML, who had been blocking rallies and protests because they felt such events were counterproductive. Kennedy didn’t want NORML participating in the Hash Bash initially, and NORML sent a cease and desist to have their name removed from flyers that year. That all changed after the Hash Bash began drawing tens of thousands to Ann Arbor.

Rosenbaum was Angleton’s mouthpiece in the media.

Many years earlier, Ron Rosenbaum had written a 10,000 word interview with Kennedy that positively crawled up his ass and stayed there. Now this was surely an advertisement for Kennedy, who charged $60k to handle cannabis cases, more than twice the going rate, You’d be lucky to see him in court as all cases were handled by his assistant, unless you were super rich, high on the social ladder or a celebrity. In some cases, it was about negotiating a quick plea deal and keeping the retainer.

Shaping and molding public opinion is a multi-generational operation conducted at the highest levels of national security, which secretly manipulates media through strategically placed influencers. For a brief time in the 1960s, an independently-owned counterculture media appeared, and was peppered with intel influencers upon inception. I was 15 when I joined the counterculture revolution and soon created my own newspaper, The Tin Whistle. For this, I was targeted by State Narcotics Agents, who captured my fingerprints and terrorized me with fake charges. Over time, the counterculture media became dominated by intel influencers. Walter Bowart of the East Village Other certainly comes to mind. He thanked MI6 super spook William Stephenson in the forward to his mostly fake expose on MK/Ultra. A lot of journalists who had been investigating CIA links to the JFK assassination suddenly veered into Area 51 and evidence of alien visitations. (Jim Marrs being just one of many.)
Over the decades, I’ve watched the percentage of Americans who believe the CIA assassinated JFK drop precipitously, a result of the media’s disinformation. New Times magazine appeared supposedly as the alternative to the CIA-connected Time-Life complex, but the magazine was created by a former exec. of Time-Life who brought in the son of a Time-Life, Inc. president to edit the magazine, as well as a Yale grad with a pipeline into James Angleton’s office named Rosenbaum to write critical features. Rosenbaum had attached himself to Tom Forcade before High Times was created. He helped cover up Angleton’s role in Mary Meyer’s murder and destruction of her diary. By 1974, the alternative media was almost completely compromised with the notable exception of High Times. But the intel influencers were already positioned in the shadows, ready to take command when the opportunity afforded. Rosenbaum was contributing under his own name and also writing a column on cannabis. In a nod to British intelligence, the columns were credited to “R”.
After Tom’s death Rosenbaum penned a cover story on how pot was “over” and running was the new drug. At the same time, New Times closed down and the staff switched to a magazine called “Runner.”
Slowly, America changed direction from trying to change the world to trying to change themselves. The “Me” generation didn’t emerge spontaneously. It was riding a sled.
Meanwhile, influencers who had been investigating the falsehoods of the Warren Commission switched sides, announcing anything but Oswald alone did it was a deluded conspiracy theory. Intel operative Jerry Rubin traded in his Pancho Villa outfit for Brooks Brothers. Rosenbaum published stories on how Danny Casolaro committed suicide. He also helped cover-up the role of some Yale Boners in JFK’s assassination. Intel’s multi-generational disinfo strategy involves getting their influencers out in front of the pack first so they can better lead the pack off a cliff.
In case you missed what happened down the road: Kennedy squandered millions in a failed attempt to dominate the hemp industry while playing defense against me for decades, refusing to permit me to execute another idea and blocking my content. Meanwhile, I wasn’t allowed to participate in any of his hemp-related schemes, although everything was based on something I’d brought to the company. I’d been trying to raise consciousness, but it became clear all Kennedy wanted was to make more money. When I’d finally had enough and requested a buy-out on my ten percent of the company, he seized my archives and threatened litigation on me. Years later, when the company failed to honor the measly monthly payout, I sued and got my archives and my lawyer’s fees back, along with every cent they still owed me. But it took two years of stonewalling by High Times to get justice..

The Bubblehash Wars

Ed Hassle’s Freedom Fighters started as an attempt at a High Times fan club, but it took off so fast I suddenly had some access to a promotional budget. After I published the interview announcing Hassle was being phased out because the Freedom Fighters had become a become a serious political force, Kennedy began searching for any excuse to fire me. I had also announced my intention to investigate the JFK and MLK assassinations. What many today don’t realize is the hemp movement started as a conspiracy theory in which cannabis had been secretly made illegal everywhere so it wouldn’t compete against plastic and other oil products.
One day a sinister letter arrived addressed to Ed Hassle and postmarked Atlanta, Georgia, containing a threat against President Bush and signed “a freedom fighter.” I knew immediately this was an attempt by someone to set me up. I got hundreds of letters from activists, but none were like this one. The letter was written on heavy stock with a sharpie and seemed the product of a disciplined mind, nothing like the stoner scrawls I got from many activists. The letter also indicated a CC had been sent to NORML. Real activists didn’t CC hand-written correspondence.
In hindsight it’s somewhat obvious Kennedy instigated the letter to destroy the Freedom Fighters. Eventually, I was called into a meeting with the trustees where they demanded I turn the mailing list (the biggest in the movement) over to NORML. Thus ended my access to thousands of volunteers, funds for travel, and the campaign to create pot rallies everywhere quickly ran out of steam, although the established rallies continued to grow without the Freedom Fighters. We had been organizing some of the biggest political events of our time, and although this went ignored by the national media, the plan to get Freedom Fighters wearing tricorns talking about hemp on local TV was successful. After NORML took over, all the street theater ended. After the Secret Service visited the Atlanta focalizer, followed by a break-in to his house a few days later, he resigned, followed by a number of other state leaders. Our last newsletter was Vol. 4/#1, indicating we were in our fourth year when dissolved.
There are two streams of disinfo locked in endless flame wars online, and both slag off Nevil unfairly. I never testified before the Operation Green Merchant grand jury in New Orleans, and neither did Nevil. Nevil never told me Dave Watson dropped a dime on him. What Nevil told me was that Watson was Sam’s real name and he was working with Australian law enforcement to create a genetic database for tracking illegal grow operations for the purpose of enhancing sentencing. Similar to Wernard, Nevil cut off all contact with Watson when he realized the scope of what Watson was doing.
Arjan Roskum was the first to tell me Sam and Watson were the same person.

Later, a Dutch journalist/politician investigated Watson and discovered he held an exclusive government contract to grow cannabis for medical research in Holland. Apparently, Watson also had permission from the DEA. Watson had been busted in Santa Cruz on March 20, 1985, bailed out, and departed for the Netherlands with a suitcase of 250,000 seeds.

A Dutch radio show would continue the research by interviewing a Santa Cruz sheriff who confirmed Watson’s arrest on cannabis charges. I wrote a blog “The Mysterious Mr. Watson” that drew out a lot of these characters, although I had to ban some when flame wars erupted. The original blog comments were lost when High Times threatened a lawsuit regarding my website, although I did retrieve the blog itself through the WayBack Machine. Nevil was well aware the snitch who turned him in was his remailer in Michigan, Ray Anthony Cogo. He provided a link to Cogo’s grand jury testimony.
Ray Cogo.

Cogo responded by claiming Nevil was MI6 and I was CIA and he turned over hundreds of names of seed buyers (even though Nevil instructed him to destroy those records immediately after mailing to protect the customer’s identity) in order to shut down our intel op. Obviously, Cogo bartered those names and addresses as his get-out-jail-free card. Nowhere in his testimony is any mention of MI6 or CIA, and if Cogo’s real motivation was exposing spooks why not go to the press with that story? In fact, Cogo has been offered many times to discuss his testimony with a podcaster and always refuses.

Very little of what you read about this online is unbiased. The pro-Watson sock-puppets and supporters claim Watson was never busted and he is a true hippie at heart whose life was transformed by LSD, and not the ruthless capitalist he really is.
The pro-Cogo camp is very small and peppered only by kooks from intel’s Tin Foil Hat Patrol, as anyone can easily find Cogo’s testimony to the grand jury, but they create just as much noise and confusion as the pro-Watson camp. The first person to expose Watson’s bust in print in America and accuse him of being a government agent was Joe Pietry, who also claims I am a government agent. (File under: get your influencer out in front and run off a cliff.) There never was any evidence Nevil nor I were intel influencers. In fact, I’ve devoted much of my life to exposing real ones inside the counterculture, most notably Kennedy, the lawyer who ran the Weather Underground, stole High Times, threw out the mag’s investigative journalism, and ran that once-esteemed publication into the ground while sucking out all the profit.


Midsummer Night’s Madness: The Day a Town Went Bonkers

Pont-Saint-Esprit, France, site of a famous stone bridge across the Rhone first described by Symon Semeonis in 1323.

Friday, August 16, 1951, was a day unlike any other in the ancient town of Pont-Saint-Esprit, a close-knit community on the banks of the Rhone River, founded in the fifth century and filled with Roman and medieval architecture. Strangely, the first victims in what soon became known throughout France as le pain maudit (“the  accursed bread”) were all animals.

An astonished Laurain Moulin watched her cat suddenly go into convulsions and keel over dead in the kitchen. Moulin opened the door to the barnyard and saw several ducks staggering by, while others marched in unison, acting more like penguins. One duck was lying dead on the ground.

By early evening, the local doctors’ offices were filled with patients complaining of nausea, upset stomachs, insomnia and chills; their pupils were dilated, their temperature and blood pressure below normal. By morning, hundreds more were exhibiting the same symptoms. One woman in her twenties began having seizures. That night, two of the three doctors met to compare notes and concluded that over 200 people had been stricken by some sort of food poisoning that was linked to the town’s favorite baker, Roche Briand.

Wide-eyed and babbling, townspeople began appearing on street corners at all hours, some acting paranoid, others wearing beatific smiles and speaking of universal love; still others were dizzy, confused and had trouble executing the simplest chores. A few were hallucinating so wildly that they could barely distinguish fantasy from reality. An ambulance was called for an elderly man named Felix Mison, who seemed on the verge of a heart attack.

At 6 am on Sunday morning, Emile Testevin was spotted lying naked on the ground near his home, writhing as if in intense pain. He was brought inside by his mother. Although Emile’s father was already hallucinating, he took a wobbly bicycle ride to fetch the nearest doctor. The physician was puzzled by the behavior of the elder Testevin, who seemed positively bursting with euphoria while reporting his son’s condition.

Emile’s father hadn’t slept for two nights and was alternating between fits of depression and bursts of incredible energy and strength. As it turned out, barbituates and other sleeping medications had little impact on Pont-Saint-Esprit’s growing population of insomniacs, although they did seem to help with some of the convulsions. It was at this point that the doctors began to suspect ergotism as the cause of the mysterious outbreak.

Ergot is a parasitic mold that can form on rye, wheat and other cereal grains in high humidity. During the Middle Ages, epidemics of ergotism had appeared sporadically in Europe, usually after heavy rains during the harvest season. Symptoms included convulsions, seizures, nausea and vomiting. Many of the afflicted also experienced strange hallucinations, and their fingers and toes became gangrenous. The disease became known as “St. Anthony’s fire,” named after the order of the Roman Catholic monks who became famous for treating the illness (although treatment consisted of little more than putting patients in a hospital filled with religious icons). In 1650, a fungus was first suspected as the cause of the epidemics, but it wasn’t until 1676 that the first mention of ergot appears in the English language. The most severe outbreaks took place in Gatinais in 1694 and Wurttemberg in 1735, although today some researchers believe that the Salem witch trials of 1692 were also the result of ergot poisoning.

Felix Mison died on August 20, the outbreak’s first casualty. By Monday morning, the 14th Mobile Brigade of Montpellier and other police officials and toxicologists began filtering into town in the first attempts to restore calm and determine the cause of the illness. However, things were destined to get significantly worse before they got better. One hour before midnight, on Friday, August 23, shrieks and screams began resounding throughout the town, screams that would continue into the morning. The next day, the streets were filled with people in various states of undress, some completely naked, babbling incoherently. Some believed they were being eaten alive by snakes or insects; others became violent and tried to strangle their friends or relatives. It was especially wrenching to see children in the throes of such psychic distress. Homes were trashed as the residents piled up furniture against the doors and windows to protect themselves from imaginary invaders.

Unfortunately, the police responded with the worst possible tactic: tackling and restraining the delusional people and forcing them into overflowing barns and other makeshift hospitals that were being set up all around town to isolate the sick. At times, it took a dozen men to capture and subdue a single person. The following day, reinforcements arrived in the form of the militia, armed with more ambulances and more straitjackets. It was decided to move the delusional people into secure asylums, a strategy that merely amplified their desire to escape, while isolating them from the comfort of their familiar surroundings. Those who resisted violently were given electroshock therapy at the asylums, increasing their pain and confusion.

The police arrived at Emile Testevin’s home and insisted that he be taken to the asylum despite his family’s objections. Although Emile was calm now, he’d experienced some violent moments, and the police were concerned about what might happen should the 200-pound giant become agitated again. Emile was loaded into an ambulance already filled with psychotics who couldn’t understand why they were being removed from their homes or where they were going. One man cried out, “My belly is full of snails! I am sending out radio messages everywhere! Get me an x-ray and you will see!!”

When the ambulance arrived at the asylum outside Marseilles, Emile was the last to be unloaded. Seven men couldn’t remove him from the vehicle. The orderlies approached with a straitjacket, but when they tried to put it on him, Emile grabbed it and ripped it in half. The militia arrived with more men and more straitjackets. Emile tore through six more jackets before he could be subdued. He was taken inside, strapped to a bed, and locked in a secure room.

But when an orderly came back to check on him, Emile had somehow eaten through the leather straps (breaking many of his teeth in the process) and was bending the iron bars in the window so he could escape. Six orderlies were needed to move him to a subterranean room with no windows. By now, two other men had died, along with a woman who suffered from hyperthyroidism. The woman reportedly showed the early signs of gangrene on some of her toes, an almost certain indicator of ergot poisoning. Depending on whose statistics you trust, between five and seven people (most of them elderly and frail) would eventually die from the mysterious illness.

But just as the ergot theory was taking hold, an autopsy of Felix Mison, the first victim, indicated traces of mercury in his system. Although no traces of mercury would ever be found in bread samples or any of the other victims, many investigating scientists rushed to conclude that mercury-treated seeds were the culprit. Case closed.

Arthur Stoll.

Unexpectedly, however, two scientists from the prestigious Sandoz Laboratories in nearby Switzerland turned up in Pont-Saint-Esprit at the height of the outbreak: Arthur Stoll and Albert Hofmann, the chemists who discovered LSD-25. They had stumbled across the hallucinogen while investigating the active molecules in ergot, minute amounts of which had been used by European midwives after the 1700s to heighten contractions and stop postpartum bleeding. Sandoz wanted to know whether active ingredients in ergot had any medical applications.

Albert Hofmann.

Hoffman and Stoll had come to Pont-Saint-Esprit, they claimed, because the townspeople’s symptoms were much closer to LSD-25 than ergotism. At the time, however, no one had even heard of LSD. Hofmann had once described it as potentially “appalling, frightening and shocking.” He added that if LSD were ever to be used improperly, it might cause more destruction than the atomic bomb.

Both Hofmann and Stoll seemed certain that the ergot in the flour had somehow broken down to LSD-25. Ergot alone, they reasoned, couldn’t be the cause of the outbreak, because large amounts were needed to cause such widespread symptoms, and any bread tainted with such high concentration would be discolored and obviously rancid. LSD, on the other hand, was odorless, colorless, and thousands of times more potent. Both scientists agreed that mercury poisoning wasn’t the answer either, because no kidney nor liver damage had been found in any of the patients.

The events at Pont-Saint-Esprit would remain a mystery for years to come. The victims formed an association to sue the cartel that controlled flour distribution in France in the 1950s, but this powerful group would be very successful in delaying, appealing and subverting their case. That only left the baker, Roche Briand, to sue, but he’d already lost his business (no one wanted his bread anymore) and had become an insurance salesman. Ten years later, none of the victims had received any compensation for their suffering, and there still wasn’t a scientific consensus on the cause of the outbreak.

In 1968, John G. Fuller published a book titled The Day of St. Anthony’s Fire (Macmillan). He focused exclusively on Briand’s bread as the cause of the outbreak, dismissing other theories that the townspeople put forward (including the possibility of a chemical-warfare experiment). However, today many researchers will be inclined to look at Fuller as a person of interest in a possible coverup. Immediately prior to his book on Pont-Saint-Esprit, Fuller had published an account of Barney and Betty Hill, the first recorded case of alien abduction, an incident that allegedly took place as the New Hampshire couple returned from a vacation trip to Canada in the early 1960s. Many researchers have come to the conclusion that thousands of Americans were secretly hypnotized and dosed with LSD in the 1950s and early 60s as part of the CIA’s mind-control experiments, and the Hills may have been two such victims. According to this scenario, the alien-abduction story was planted through hypnosis to mask the activities of government scientists. The current alien-abduction mythology may, in fact, be largely an invention of the national security system as a cover, which might explain why UFO documentaries and features are so prevalent in the media, while investigations into the deep state exceedingly rare.

John G. Fuller.

There are several other connections that cast suspicions on Fuller’s work, including his relationship with hypnotist Dr. Andrija Puharich (aka Henry K. Puharich), a parapsychology researcher most famous as the man who introduced spoon-bender Uri Geller to the world. Puharich as been linked to the CIA’s MK/Ultra mind-control program and was also involved in a series of bizarre seances with some of our country’s wealthiest elite. Another connection is Dr. Karlis Osis, founder of the Parapsychology Foundation in New York City, a research institute that worked closely with the CIA over the years. In the late 1950s, Osis offered Fuller the opportunity to be the first journalist to try LSD and write about its effects. Fuller turned down the offer. While these connections don’t prove Fuller was a witting accomplice of the CIA, they do suggest that he may have been a writer that the agency employed whenever a story needed containment.

In 2008, the events of Pont-Saint-Esprit were further investigated by Steven K. Kaplan, a professor of European history at Cornell University and an internationally recognized authority on French bread. Although it was written entirely in French, Kaplan’s Le Pain Maudit was the subject of a feature in the New York Times. Kaplan went to Pont-Saint-Esprit after the book was published to give a talk about the incident. Although 30 chairs were set up for his appearance, over 400 people attended, demonstrating that the town had not forgotten the experience. According to the Times, “The government did its best to smooth over the incident and after many inquiries and court cases the affair was finally dropped in 1978. Explanations abound, none of which Kaplan finds satisfying. The most popular one, poisoning by a form of ergot fungus, he finds unconvincing. Mercury poisoning caused by Panogen, a cleansing agent used in wheat containers, was disproved although Kaplan says the government used it as a coverup.”

Frank Olson.

And there the matter would have rested, were it not for a researcher named H.P. Albarelli Jr., whose book A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments finally broke the case wide open. Albarelli spent ten years investigating the death of Olson, a US Army biochemist who’d allegedly killed himself in New York City on the night of November 28, 1953. Initially, Olson’s family was told he had jumped through a closed window (wearing only his underpants) from his room on the 10th floor of the Hotel Statler. What the CIA didn’t initially mention, however, is Olson had been dosed with LSD without his knowledge six days earlier and had been interrogated for 48 hours by mind control experts in an attempt to determine how much of a security risk he posed. Olson, it seems, had grown weary of his job, which involved weaponizing chemical and biological agents for the CIA at Camp Detrick (now Fort Detrick) in Frederick, MD, and was planning to ditch his career and start over as a dentist. However, before he could gracefully exit his high-security position, Olson made “a terrible mistake,” one that would bring about his untimely death. Albarelli determined that mistake was mentioning the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident to someone at Camp Detrick who wasn’t cleared for the information, who then reported him to the camp commander as a potential security risk.

Over 800 pages long, A Terrible Mistake is a riveting exploration into the CIA’s mind control and chemical weapons programs. When revelations about these programs threatened to emerge, then-CIA director Richard Helms made sure that most of those files were burned. But Helms was sacked by Richard Nixon during Watergate, and the new CIA chief, James Schlesinger, was also convinced the abuses needed to come out so they wouldn’t be repeated.

Former CIA Director William Colby (right) talks with former Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs Brent Scowcrof (middle) and former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller (left) about the Vietnam War during a break from a meeting of the National Security Council on April 24, 1975.

A congressional commission controlled by then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller was eventually created in 1975 to investigate allegations that the CIA was illegally operating inside the US. Colby was called to the White House by Rockefeller at the start of the investigation. According to Albarelli, Rockefeller lashed out at Colby during the meeting. “What the hell are you doing?” he said. “Why are you revealing all this stuff? Don’t you realize the commission is a dog-and-pony show?” The commission would eventually reveal that a Camp Detrick employee had died as a result of being secretly dosed with LSD. Although the report took great pains not to mention Olson by name, it soon became clear just who that person was.

One of the primary reasons why the existence of these programs had to be concealed is that they revealed secret connections between the CIA and the Sicilian men-of-honor society known popularly as the Mafia (and internally as Cosa Nostra). The key person in establishing this connection was a former OSS counterintelligence operative and narcotics agent named George Hunter White. White was the person who brokered the deal that set Lucky Luciano free and opened the doors for the French Connection to flood the US with heroin. White operated safe houses in New York and San Francisco where hundreds of people were dosed with LSD and then interrogated as White observed the sessions behind a two-way mirror. Low-level Mafia operatives were frequently the victims; meanwhile, upper-level Mafia members seemed to enjoy a close relationship with White.

George Hunter White.

According to Wikitree: “George Hunter White was born in Los Angeles, California on June 22, 1908.  His parents were Lafayette Dancy “L.D.” White, a Louisiana native who descended from a prominent family of physicians and plantation owners, and Hermine Brunner, the daughter of German immigrants, whose father made a significant amount of money in the lottery business. During White’s childhood, his grandparents on the Brunner side went through a much-publicized court battle involving alleged domestic abuse; this resulted in George White’s grandfather, Herman Brunner, living with the White family in Alhambra, California in the years leading up to his death in 1912.

In the 1930s, George White took a job with the Border Patrol, which led to a position with the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). He applied several times to be a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), however, he did not demonstrate the right qualifications for the job. White continued to move up in the FBN, holding posts in California, Oregon, Texas, and New York.

White’s work in the FBN in the 1930s had already gone beyond routine drug busts. He worked directly under Harry Anslinger, the Commissioner of Narcotics, and was assigned to high-profile cases that allowed him to make a name for himself. In the mid-1930s, he infiltrated a drug trafficking organization known as the Hip Sing Tong, apparently achieving a level of trust with the members after having “hung around the Oriental restaurants until he was accepted as a regular.”

Hip Sing Tong were involved in the “Tong Wars” in New York City’s Chinatown in the early 1900s.

As noted in his 1975 obituary, White’s overall personage and attitude led people to believe him honest and friendly (“For all his great bulk, Col. White was a wide-eyed sort of man, hale and very hearty…”). White took a “blood oath” with the Hip Sing Tong and stayed within their ranks for two years. In 1938, White and other Federal agents rounded up the group’s leaders and sent over 30 Tong members to prison. As noted by Douglas Valentine in the publication Counterpunch, the Tong case “cemented White’s status as the FBN’s top agent, and subsequently involved him [in] its most important, secret investigations.” [10]

George White was in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945. He attended “a British sabotage school near Toronto, Canada” during this time. In 1943, he left the FBN to begin working for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a precursor to the CIA. In the OSS, White and other agents, “on a quest for truth serums,” secretly added the substance tetrahydocannabinol acetate (THCA) into food being consumed by “suspected communists, conscientious objectors, and mobsters.” [11]

In the early 1950s, White was tapped by Anslinger to work for the head of the CIA’s Technical Division Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, and Gottlieb’s project MK-ULTRA. [12] MK-Ultra was designed to be a test of the potential mind-control properties of psychotropic drugs, most notably LSD. While other scientists and CIA contractors were charged with dosing the substance through laboratories, universities, hospitals, and prisons, White’s territory for his MK-Ultra assignment involved unsuspecting citizens in large U.S. cities.

When Olson was brought to New York, White was supposed to take charge of his security, but he suddenly and unexpectedly had to depart for Los Angeles to attend his mother’s funeral. In his place, White selected Pierre Lafitte, a CIA operative who was also a member of the Corsican Mafia, to guard Olson and make sure that he didn’t escape.

Francois Spirito.

Olson was probably moved to the Statler (now demolished) because Lafitte had a cover job as a security guard there. When it came time to move Olson out of the hotel, Lafitte brought along another Corsican associate, Francois Spirito, to help him. Then things got out of hand. “Lafitte and Spirito killed Frank Olson,” claimed Albarelli. “Some people have misunderstood my book and think it was a planned assassination. In my view, it wasn’t. I think the intent that night was to take Olson back to Rockville, MD, where the CIA maintained an asylum for troubled people they didn’t know what to do with. And it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Olson would have ended up hanging himself or dying from some drug overdose a few days later. But to plan an assassination where two guys throw someone through a closed window? It doesn’t make any sense, especially considering the guy they murdered just spent the last ten years figuring out how to kill someone with a pinprick. It’s just too dirty and too quick to have been planned.”

The smoking gun that Albarelli obtained through the Freedom of Information Act was an undated White House memo sent to CIA director William Colby that mentioned “George H. White, Pierre Lafitte, FNU Spirito and the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident.” This White House memo helped Albarelli put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. He was also able to establish two of the key players in the 1975 coverup: Donald Rumsfeld, then chief of staff to President Gerald Ford, and Rumsfeld’s top aide, Dick Cheney. On July 11, 1975, Cheney wrote a memo to Rumsfeld titled, “The Olson Affair.” The memo included statements that the president should make about Olson’s death at an upcoming press conference. Although the US government eventually reached a settlement with Olson’s family, Ford himself always maintained that the death was a suicide.

While working on this story, I came across an illuminating quote from one of the CIA’s scientists, Dr. Henry K. Beecher, in which he discussed the use of LSD in doses “so small that one can calculate that the water supply of a large city could be disastrously and undetectably (until too late) contaminated with quantities readily available…It should not be a difficult trick to sink a small container near the main outlet of water storage reservoirs, and the container arranged to ‘excrete’ a steady flow of the material over a period of many hours or days.”

At the time, some government scientists believed LSD could be a major advance in “non-violent” war. They were certainly interested in exploring its effects on civilian populations, especially at high doses.

Although a number of other large-scale LSD attacks were in the planning stages, most seemed to have been dropped abruptly. A Detrick employee said, “There was an adverse effect [in France]…what would be called a ‘black swan’ reaction.” However, the Special Operations Division did aerosol spraying through the exhaust pipe of an automobile driven around New York City (Operations Big City and Mad Hatter). “Although White’s records of the experiment were destroyed by the CIA in 1973,” said Abarelli, “We know he twice detonated aerosol devices filled with LSD, and also did at least one LSD experiment within a New York City subway car.”

But why Pont-Saint-Esprit, out of all the towns and villages in the world? “I never asked that question about any of the CIA’s LSD experiments,” said Albarelli. However, it turns out there were two US Army bases located near the town, and one of them may have housed Frank Olson and other members from the Special Operations Division at Camp Detrick for a few days during the experiment. Olson’s presence in Europe at the time was conclusively established after Albarelli examined his passport.

Unfortunately, Albert Hofmann, the man who first tripped on LSD, has since passed away. It would have been interesting to quiz him about the incident, which is curiously absent from his memoirs. When I told someone who knew Hofmann about these revelations (and Hoffman’s own possible role in the coverup), he responded by saying “Albert always said he wasn’t any angel. I wonder if this incident is what he was talking about when he said that.”


Appointment with the Apocalypse

Detail of Albrecht Durer’s Four Horsemen after the Book of Revelation; woodcut 1498

Morale at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) might have been reaching an all-time low early in 1993. The previous summer, the agency had initiated and botched a case against Randy Weaver in Idaho. (Weaver later collected $3.1 million in restitution for the death of his wife and son. ) Then came widespread accusations of sexual harassment inside the agency. 60 Minutes, the most-watched news show in the country, jumped all over that one.

FBI surveillance on the mother and son killed by snipers.

The ATF brass wanted something to turn around the bad publicity, and they wanted it fast. In March, they were scheduled to appear before Congress to defend their annual budget. The solution? They began planning the biggest, most elaborate raid in ATF history. On February 28, a mile-long, 80-vehicle caravan pulled out of Ford Hood, Texas and headed 50 miles northeast for an appointment with the Apocalypse near Waco.

“Raiding is the expertise of the ATF, and statistically, it’s not as dangerous as one might think,” writes Dick J. Reavis in The Ashes of Waco. “In 36 months, the agency had called out its SRT or SWAT teams 578 times, executed 603 search warrants, mostly against dope dealers, and had seized some 1,500 weapons. It had encountered gunfire on only two of its raids, and the only fatalities (three of them) had been among the suspects.

The ATF videotaped the planning sessions, as well as the training maneuvers at Fort Hood. Many agents carried cameras along with their flash-bang grenades, nylon handcuffs and assault rifles. A video camera was mounted on one of the three helicopters that were scheduled to arrive with the raiding party.

Unfortunately, there were serious problems with the raid’s planning and execution. The search warrant contained inflammatory and prejudicial comments. Legal citations were incorrect. It contained blatantly false information about a methamphetamine lab, info which had been fabricated to obtain free military assistance. Two-thirds of the warrant involved charges of child abuse, a crime for which the ATF had no jurisdiction. Many consultants had urged the ATF to conduct the raid before sunrise, but the designated time had been moved to to 9:30 am. The plan involved multiple “dynamic entries,” which meant forced entry from numerous sides and levels simultaneously.

The planning was shoddy because the ATF needed the raid to happen fast, and expected a cakewalk. It needed to happen during good lighting conditions to optimize the video footage. The target, a religious community called Mount Carmel, had been under observation for over a month. It housed about 130 people, of which two-thirds were women and children. The occupants ranged from very elderly to babies and included two pregnant women. An undercover agent who’d penetrated the community reported endless hours of Bible study, with two communion services daily. The last thing the ATF expected was armed resistance in the face of their overwhelming firepower. Had they a better understanding of the Students  of the Seven Seals who lived at Mount Carmel, the ATF might have realized they were about to stick their nose into a hornet’s nest.

St. John.

The Search for a Living Prophet

The Romans threw John the Apostle into a pot of boiling oil as punishment for spreading Christianity; but he survived and eventually was banished to the Greek isle of Patmos, where, around 90 AD, he wrote the Book of Revelation, a violent prophecy in which the unbelievers (read: Romans) are subjected to horrible tortures while the true followers of Christ are lifted into a golden city in heaven. Think of it as the original vengeance drama. Written before much of the New Testament, Revelation was placed at the end of the Bible. Martin Luther warned that excessive study of it could lead to insanity. It ends with a plea for the Apocalypse to come quickly.

William Miller.

In 1831, William Miller launched the Second Advent Awakening, the biggest American-born religious movement in history. According to Miller’s calculations, the end of the world was due on Oct. 22, 1844. Miller attracted a huge following of doomsday advocates, the survivalists of their time. When Jesus and the Apocalypse failed to appear at the appointed hour, the devotees had to recover from what they dubbed the “great disappointment.” Miller’s followers eventually blossomed into 84 groups of churches with over ten million members worldwide, the largest of which is the Seventh Day Adventist Church, with about 750,000 members in the United States. Adventists believe the Second Coming is imminent, and that the power of prophecy will flourish in the final days. Despite this, only one person since Miller has ascended to official “living prophet” status.

Victor Houteff.

In 1935, Bulgarian immigrant Victor Houteff declared himself a living prophet and was promptly banished from the church. He assembled a large band of devotees at Mount Carmel Center in Texas. Upon his death in 1955, his widow took over and announced the Second Coming was due April 22, 1959. But when the date came and passed without an Apocalypse, 10,000 members were left in disarray. Most stopped sending in contributions, leaving self-proclaimed prophet Ben Roden and about fifty “Branch Davidians,” as they called themselves, in charge of the once prosperous Mount Carmel.

Lois Roden.

Following Roden’s death in 1978, his widow, Lois, took over the church. Lois not only proclaimed herself a prophetess, she attracted a lot of attention in Adventist circles by declaring the Holy Spirit was feminine.

Vernon Wayne Howell joined the congregation in 1981. Born in Texas to a 15-year-old single mother, Howell had been passed between family members and physically and sexually abused during childhood. Due to dyslexia, he was held back many  times in school, earning the nickname “Mr.  Retardo.” At age nine, he became a devout Seventh Day Adventist. By age 12, he’d memorized large tracts of the King James Bible.

Vernon W. Howell.

When Howell arrived at Mount Carmel, he was a stuttering, insecure boy given to fits of self-pity. More than anything, he wanted contact with a living prophet. He formed a secret sexual liason with Lois Roden, then in her late sixties. With his encyclopedic command of the Bible, Howell became an inspirational figure whose “visions” were taken seriously, despite his ninth-grade education. This angered George Roden, Lois’ son, who saw himself as the future leader of the group. George suffered from Tourette’s syndrome and frequently exploded with uncontrollable rage and inappropriate behavior. When Howell took a 14-year-old member of the congregation as his wife, Lois acted the jilted lover and confessed her secret affair during Bible study class. George expelled Howell and his teenage bride from Mount Carmel at the point of an Uzi. Most of the congregation followed Howell to East Texas, where they lived communally in wretched conditions. Thus began his conversion from inspirational figure to living prophet. In 1987, Marc Breault joined the East Texas enclave and became Howell’s right-hand man, helping recruit dozens of new members to the community.

George Roden.

After his mother died in 1986, George Roden became completely unglued. Determined to wrest back his congregation, he dug up a corpse and challenged Howell to see who could raise the dead. Instead, Howell reported the corpse abuse to the local sheriff. The sheriff wanted evidence, so Howell and several armed followers crept back to Mount Carmel under cover of night with a camera. Before they embarked on this mission, however, Howell outfitted everyone with identical camouflage fatigues and armed them with AR-15 assault rifles.

A gun battle ensued and Roden was wounded. He would have likely been killed, except the neighbors called the police, who broke up the gunfight and arrested Howell and his men for attempted murder. During the trial, Roden wrote angry letters to the judge, threatening to reign down a pox of AIDS and herpes on him. The judge sentenced him to six months in jail for contempt. The trial ended in a hung jury. Two years later, Roden was convicted of an ax murder and locked in an insane asylum.

David Koresh and family.

Meanwhile, Howell and his followers rebuilt Mount Carmel, which had fallen into disrepair. They maintained a 24-hour armed vigil against possible retribution from Roden, who’d briefly escaped from the mental institution and continued to assert his ownership over the property. By paying back taxes and occupying the site, Howell hoped to gain full legal ownership within five years. In 1990, he changed his name to David Koresh and announced the Apocalypse was commencing in five years.

His group called themselves “Students of the Seven Seals,” not “Branch Davidians,” as they would later be known by the news media. Koresh yearned for recognition as a living prophet from the Adventist Church. His group lived a happy and communal life. They were an eclectic group of races, cultures and nationalities, some with advanced degrees in theology. One was the first black graduate of Harvard Law School.

Koresh formed a rock band, and the elders viewed him as a possible MTV-style prophet who could breathe life into a dying religious movement. He drove a souped-up Camaro and enjoyed target practice with semiautomatic assault weapons. He believed guns would come  in handy during the 1995 Apocalypse. “What are you going to do when the tanks are surrounding us?” he’d ask his congregation.

Adventists believe the Bible contains clues concerning the date and nature of Judgment Day. They also have a religious obligation to take claims of prophecy seriously. By creating down-home explanations for many confusing passages in Revelation, and by memorizing all 150 Psalms and treating them as prophecy, Koresh created a fresh take on doomsday Christianity that was irresistible to some Adventists. His congregation was not a collection of brainwashed zombies, but an educated and highly spiritual community. Koresh frequently came to Bible class straight from work, his hands soiled with axle grease, the tones of his voice always conversational, never bombastic like a typical Southern Baptist.

Life at Mount Carmel was spartan, but people stayed because it was spiritually charged. One never knew what outlandish prophesy Koresh might spout next. He had a knack for constantly topping himself, like Jackie Chan dreaming up new stunts. Serious problems began, however, soon after Breault left the community and moved back to Australia, a split that coincided with Koresh’s celibacy prophecy, which he called “The New Light.”

“At the time of the end, those who have wives should live as they have none,” said Koresh, quoting the Bible to support the new policy. It was time for male members at Mount Carmel to become celibate, except for Koresh, who was obligated to sire 24 children by 1995. He already had several wives at Mount Carmel, one of whom he’d seduced when she was twelve. (Koresh later admitted it was difficult keeping former couples from getting it on once in a while, just as it was difficult keeping his harem sexually satisfied.)

It wasn’t your typical American family, but the children were Koresh’s jewels. They were reportedly extremely well-mannered, quiet, obedient and showered with love. They’d never seen a television, never eaten junk food, never been to a public school. Their welfare had been monitered by the Texas Department of Human Services. The children showed no signs of physical or emotional abuse.

The community sincerely believed Koresh’s interpretations of the Bible, and accepted him as “The Lamb,” the only person capable of opening the seven seals that would bring about the Apocalypse. His matings with teenagers was unlawful, but conducted with parental approval. It was considered a sacred honor to bear his child. “It’s not like I really want to do this,” Koresh would always explain. “The Lord is telling me I have to.”

Marc Breault.

Instead of turning his newlywed wife over to “The House of David,” Marc Breault embarked on a vendetta to expose Koresh. He hired a private investigator to document Koresh’s history of statutory rape. When he couldn’t get the press or authorities interesting in the story, he began mixing exaggerations with real facts to produce a tantalizing stew of tabloid sensationalism. Eventually, he gave the story to an Australian TV show and began working on a book deal. Meanwhile, based on his evidence, the ATF elevated Koresh to ZBO.

Zee Big One

Zee Big One (ZBO) is “a press-drawing stunt that when shown to Congress at budget time justifies more funding,” wrote investigative reporter Carol Vinzant in Spy. “The attack on the Branch Davidians complex was, in the eyes of some of the agents, the ultimate ZBO.” In the spring of 1992, a United States Parcel Service driver opened a box of grenade hulls that were being shipped to Mount Carmel and reported it to the local sheriff, who alerted the ATF. A member of Koresh’s community was developing a profitable and entirely legal business selling firearms and survivalist fashion wear at gun shows. The empty grenade hulls were sewn into ammo vests, part of the official David Koresh survival gear.

On July 30, 1992, gun dealer Henry McMahon called Koresh, saying ATF agents were at his home asking questions about him. “Tell them to come out here,” replied Koresh. “If they want to see my guns, they are more than welcome.” The agents responded by motioning silently, “no, no,” and getting McMahon to hang up.

Robert Rodriguez

In January 1993, three undercover ATF agents occupied the house across the street from Mount Carmel and began videotaping and gathering intelligence. Although it was obvious they were government agents, Koresh welcomed their arrival and spent considerable time discussing the Bible with agent Robert Rodriguez, trying to convince him the government represented a false Babylonian power. He urged Rodriguez to move into Mount Carmel so he could have a better understanding of the community. They engaged in target practice together and inspected each other’s weapons. Koresh noticed Rodriguez’s gun had a hair trigger, standard issue for a police sniper, and had been converted to full automatic fire, normally an illegal modification unless one registered the gun and paid the proper taxes. “This is a dangerous weapon,” noted Koresh.

The day before launching “Operation Trojan Horse,” the ATF reserved rooms in local hotels for over a hundred agents and personnel. They also alerted the national and local media to be ready for a big story that was about to break. A highly inflammatory article attacking Koresh as a child abuser appeared in the Waco Tribune-Herald the morning of the raid. It wasn’t difficult to see a massive operation was underway, aimed at Mount Carmel.

David Jones, a local postman and Mount Carmel resident, was tipped off to the upcoming raid when a news cameraman asked for directions to “Rodenville.” While they spoke, an ATF sniper team drove past and National Guard helicopters flew overhead. Jones raced to Mount Carmel and found Koresh discussing theology with Rodriguez. He whispers in Koresh’s ear that the Feds are in route. Koresh remains calm. “We know they’re coming,” he said while shaking hands goodbye with the agent. “Do what you gotta do.”

Chuck Sarabyn.

Rodriguez called ATF Special Agent Chuck Sarabyn in a failed attempt to cancel the raid as the crucial element of surprise had been lost. Instead, however, Sarabyn panics and orders his troops to speed up, “They know we’re coming!” The Ft. Hood convoy was at Bellmead Civic Center, ten miles from Mount Carmel, with seventy-six ATF raiders loaded into two unprotected cattle trailers pulled by pickup trucks.

Despite the clear possibility of an ambush, Sarabyn felt he could not cancel a ZBO.

David Thibodeau.

There are many versions of what happened next, but the most believable accounts come from the surviving residents of Mount Carmel. Their perspective has been best documented by David Thibodeau, the drummer in Koresh’s band, in his book, A Place Called Waco. “David appeared in the cafeteria accompanied by four or five men armed with AR-15s,” writes Thibodeau. Koresh told his congregation to keep cool. “I want to talk it out with these people,” he said. “We want to work it out.”

A few minutes later the cattle cars filled with agents pulled up broadside to the front door. The first shots were probably fired by agents into the dog pen in front of the building, where an Alaskan malamute lived with her pups. All the dogs were killed. There is also evidence one panicky agent accidentally discharged two rounds into the radiator and windshield of an ATF vehicle.

Perry Jones

Koresh opened the front door. He was unarmed. “What’s going on?” he shouted. “There are women and children in here!” When he failed to hit the ground upon command, the agents opened fire, fatally wounding 64-year-old Perry Jones, who was standing next to Koresh. The door slammed shut and residents began to return fire. Under Texas law, defending oneself against excessive police force is legal.

Wayne Martin.

Within seconds, Harvard Law graduate Wayne Martin, a local attorney, called 911. “There’s 75 men around our building shooting at us at Mount Carmel,” said Martin. “Tell them there are women and children in here and to call it off!” Ten minutes passed before Lieutenant Lynch, a deputy sheriff known to Martin, picked up the line. “I have a right to defend myself!” shrieked Martin. “We want a cease fire!”

Strangely, there was no line of communication between local law enforcement and the raiding party, even though Lynch had visited the ATF command center earlier in the day. The command center was filled with phones and fax machines, all ready to blanket the news media with press releases, but had no communication with the raiding team. Apparently, none of the raiders had cell phone.

It would take two agonizing hours to arrange a cease fire, and it happened only after ATF agents ran out of bullets. During that time, six residents were killed and four were wounded, while four ATF agents were killed and sixteen wounded. Many of the wounded agents were lying helpless on the field of battle. Of all the residents, Koresh was the most seriously wounded, a bullet had blown through his side. News photos reveal ATF agents in panic and disarray, loading their wounded on the hoods of vehicles.

The ATF had arrived in overwhelming force, including air support, and assaulted a church, only to be driven back by less than a dozen armed men and at least one woman shooting back. Suddenly, instead of a ZBO, ATF had one of the biggest pubic relations disasters in American history in the making. The ATF agents were quickly replaced by the FBI, the media were drawn back a mile from the scene and all lines of communication to Mount Carmel were severed. “A crazy cult is holding their children hostage,” went the standard press release.

The most damaging “evidence” of what really happened that day is the bizarre disappearance of all videotape shot by the ATF. The explanation given was that all cameras malfunctioned simultaneously, producing no tapes whatsoever. It’s far more likely the tapes disappeared because they supported the claim of Mount Carmel residents, all of whom insisted the ATF fired first.

Even worse, no written reports were filed by any agents on the field of battle, a startling reversal of ATF policy. Later, when agents were questioned about the skirmish, interviews had to be canceled because they were producing evidence favorable to the defendants inside Mount Carmel.

Today, the ATF tells a much different story: “We were ambushed by a hail of machine gun fire the moment we got off the cattle cars.” This explanation doesn’t hold up. Photos reveal Mount Carmel heavily peppered with bullet holes, while the vehicles used as cover by the ATF bear few signs of incoming fire.

Dr. Alan Stone, a Harvard psychiatrist and law expert hired by the government to write a report on Waco, concluded: “If they were militants determined to ambush and kill as many ATF agents as possible, it seemed to me that given their firepower, the devastation could have been even worse….the agents brought to the compound in cattle cars could have been cattle going to slaughter if the Branch Davidians had taken full advantage of their tactical superiority.”

Tragically, the fact four ATF agents died while attempting the initial dynamic entry calls into suspicion any statements made by agents at the scene. Why? Because “testi-lying” (fabricating evidence against suspected criminals in order to obtain convictions) has become standard operating procedure for some agencies, and an unofficial wall of silence protects police engaged in vigilante retribution against cop-killers. Many law enforcement officers will always believe Koresh and his followers got what they deserved, and if it requires a few lies to make it stand up in court, who cares?

The Siege

The FBI brought in ten Bradley fighting vehicles, two Abrams tanks and a multitude of other armored vehicles. Shortwave radio and cell phones were electronically jammed. The only contact out was a single phone line the FBI ran from Mount Carmel to FBI negotiators off-site.

Koresh requested that Robert Rodriguez be installed as a negotiator, a logical choice since they had already developed a relationship. The request was denied. Instead, the FBI created a team of revolving negotiators, none of whom developed any sensitivity to Seventh Day Adventist doctrine. FBI negotiators dismissed all religious talk as “Bible babble,” not realizing Bible quotations were perhaps the best tool for bringing the residents out.

Early on, Koresh agreed to voluntarily surrender if a one-hour tape explaining his theology was aired on national radio. However, the night before, the residents had dug out the medicinal whiskey supply and held a party in the chapel while he lay wounded upstairs. Koresh abruptly canceled the surrender by saying God had told him to wait. “Some of us blamed the previous night’s binge, saying we’d sinned and acted wildly,” writes Thibodeau.

The FBI responded angrily and began a psychological war, playing loud music and the sounds of animals being tortured. Searchlights beamed into the building during the night. “Every time we thought we were cooperating, people were coming out, or we were doing what they asked, we’d be punished, almost right after complying,” says Clive Doyle, one of the survivors. “The electricity being cut off, the music being played, all that kind of stuff just gave us the attitude they certainly did not mean what they were promising, that we couldn’t trust them. All the things that went on for the next fifty-odd days just confirmed in our  minds they had no concern for our children at all.”

During the siege, snipers routinely mooned women with their exposed buttocks. They also gave the finger to the men inside and loudly called them “cocksuckers” and “motherfuckers,” behavior that contributed to the residents impression that they were surrounded by an immoral force sent by Babylon. Meanwhile, the tanks and armored vehicles circled Mount Carmel, crushing cars, trampling graves, destroying property and contaminating the crime scene.

During the siege, 35 residents voluntarily left Mount Carmel, mostly children and the elderly. The elderly were immediately put in chains and treated like hardened criminals, while the children were fed candy and other junk food. Most of the people remaining inside became convinced surrender was not a viable option by watching how the FBI treated those exiting Mount Carmel.

On April 15, after the residents celebrated several days of Passover, Koresh informed the FBI that God had given him permission to write down his interpretation of the Seven Seals, a major breakthrough since he had never written down any of his philosphy. He feverishly went to work on the manuscript. As soon as it was done, he planned to surrender. His aides expected the work to be completed within a week.

But the mood of the FBI had turned permanently sour. Residents were no longer able to peacefully surrender after April 15. Instead, anyone who left the compound was immediately subjected to a barrage of deadly flash-bang grenades. Apparently, the cost of keeping so much law enforcement and equipment at the site (estimated at $500 thousand per day) had reached the limit. Deep inside the bowels of the federal government, a final solution was being hatched for the Students of the Seven Seals.

The Final Solution

In January 1993, the United States and 130 other countries signed the Chemical Weapons Convention banning the use of CS gas in warfare. Use of this toxic chemical had been condemned by everyone from Amnesty Internatonal to the US Army.

On April 14, 1993, the Department of Justice secretly flew in two military officers, Brigadier General Paul J. Shoomaker and Colonel William “Jerry” Boykin, then Commander of Delta Force (B Squadron) Special Ops at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. They were flown by FBI transport to Waco to “assess the situation,” then flown to Washington to meet Attorney General Janet Reno, to discuss “contingency plans that may be used to bring the situation in Waco to an end,” according to an Army Operations Command memo obtained by WorldNetDaily in August 1999.

On Saturday, April 17, Reno suddenly agreed to the use of CS gas in ending the Waco siege. She would later offer several reasons for approving the gas attack: Intelligence had indicated Koresh was sexually abusing the children. Armed militia from around the country was converging on Mount Carmel to free the residents. The perimeter had become unstable. Finally, the agents at the scene were suffering from fatigue.

At 6 am on April 19, while it was still dark, the huge speakers began broadcasting a new message to the 83 people inside. “The siege is over. We’re going to put tear gas in the building. The tear gas is harmless, but it will make your environment uninhabitable. You are under arrest. Come out now with your hands up. There will be no shooting. This is not an assault.”

From several sides at once, M60A1 tanks modified for demolition began punching holes into the walls of Mount Carmel. According to the plan signed off on by Reno, this phase of the gas attack was supposed to continue for 48 hours if necessary. However, in the fine print of the plan, the part Reno may not have read, rapid escalation of the attack was approved if the tanks drew fire from the residents. Within a few minutes, four BV tanks began firing ferret rounds into the building. Four hundred canisters had been stockpiled for the attack. Ninety minutes later, they had practically expended the supply and put out an emergency request for more canisters.

“By noon the building is a tinderbox,” writes Thibodeau. “A thick layer of methylene chloride dust deposited by the CS gas coats the walls, floors, and ceilings, mingling with kerosene and propane vapors from our spilled lanterns and crushed heaters. To make things worse, a brisk, thirty-knot Texas wind whips through the holes ripped in the building like a potbellied stove with its damper flung open.”

Shortly after two pyrotechnic ferret round were fired into the house, one in the rear and one in the front, two fireballs raced through building. Within seconds, the entire structure was in flames. According to the survivors, the only logical exit for most people was through the cafeteria. Most of the women and children were huddled in a concrete vault nearby. The children had no gas masks, so they sought shelter under wet blankets. When people tried to exit, they were driven back into the building by sniper fire. With their escape cut off, they roasted alive.

Nine residents survived, all of whom emerged from locations visible to the telephoto lenses of the network TV cameras. The presence of those cameras may explain why they survived, unlike the unfortunate ones who attempted to exit through the rear.

Fire trucks were available to put out the blaze, but were held back and not allowed near the scene until nothing but ashes were left. Meanwhile, the tanks ran over bodies and pushed debris into the fire to make sure nothing remained standing. Texas Rangers, who were not allowed near the scene until much later in the day, believed the FBI was salting phony evidence, while destroying the crime scene to make an investigation impossible. What little evidence did remain disappeared quickly.

After the smoke and dust cleared, the ATF flag was run up the Mount Carmel flagpole, signaling victory. Only the bunker where the moms and kids roasted alive (or were poisoned by gas) was left standing. Meanwhile, the official press release went out and the official story became: “The cult set fire to the building and committed mass suicide rather than surrender.” It was spun in the media as a Jim Jones-style event.

Dr. Nizam Peerwani, medical examiner for Tarrant County, was in charge of the autopsies. Although 21 people appeared to have died from gunshot wounds, all bullet fragments were immediately confiscated by the FBI and never subjected to independent analysis. Many of the bodies were decapitated or mutilated beyond recognition. According to the official report, “There was a particular instance where all that remained was the arm and hand of a mother clasping a small child’s hand and remains of an arm. You could see how tightly the child’s hand was being squeezed by the mother.” The body of one charred six-year-old was bent backward until the head almost touched the feet, the result of CS gas suffocation. Two fetuses died instantly, expelled after their mothers’ deaths. Autopsies revealed 20 of the dead had bullet wounds, including Koresh, who was shot in the back of the head. Among the 25 children, one three-year-old had been stabbed in the heart with a knife. The major question unanswered: how many residents committed suicide to avoid being roasted alive and how many shot by snipers? Residents had been afraid to flee, as many believed the snipers wanted them all dead.

Texas Rangers tried to investigate, but were prevented from examining crucial evidence. It took four years before lies spread by the Justice Department unravelled, including the assertion no pyrotechnic rounds had been used, and no shots had been fired into the structure during the final assault, statements thoroughly debunked by the 1997 award-winning film Waco: Rules of Engagement by William Gadzecki.

The Cover-Up

The government engineered a slam-dunk cover-up almost immediately. A blatantly biased judge was selected for the criminal trial, held in San Antonio in 1993. “The government is not on trial here,” he would say repeatedly. Eleven members of the community were charged with the murder of the ATF agents, but the evidence against them was weak. The judge gave the jury 67 pages of instructions about how to render a verdict. After four days of deliberations, the jury found all eleven not guilty of murder or conspiracy to commit murder. Four were found guilty of manslaughter, with four others convicted on weapons charges. The jury felt none of the defendants deserved long prison terms, and they expected another trial to take place, one for the architects of the original assault plan.

The judge ignored the jury. He accused the defendants of firing the first shots and setting the fire and proceeded to sentence four defendants to 40 years, one to 20 years, one to 15, one to 10 and one to 5. The jury was outraged During appeals, all sentences were greatly reduced.

Thanks to the work of independent investigators, the cover-up began unraveling, as numerous assertions by ATF, FBI and Janet Reno kept turning up false. They claimed no pyrotechnic rounds were fired by the FBI during the siege or gas attack. They claimed no Delta Force assassins were on site. None of these assertions would hold up under scrutiny.

Journalists like Dick Reavis were paraded in front of Congress and lambasted for showing sympathy for Koresh and his community. The sickening bias of Congress was clear in the award-winning documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement. The most damaging evidence uncovered by the filmmakers was an infrared videotape shot from a helicopter during the CS gas attack, which revealed two snipers firing into the cafeteria.

After the initial cover-up failed to hold, Reno appointed former Senator John Danforth (R-MO) to conduct an “independent investigation,” which lasted 14 months, employed 74 people and cost $17 million. The investigation sifted through 2.3 million documents, interviewed 1,001 witnesses and examined thousands of pounds of physical evidence. Danforth state emphatically that the “government did not start or spread the fire….did not direct gunfire at the Davidians, and did not unlawfully employ the Armed Forces of the United States.” The report was a morass of obfuscation, utilizing Orwellian doublespeak at every turn.

In the preface, Danforth stated that he investigated whether the government engaged in “bad acts, not bad judgment.” He noted that 61% of the country, according to a Time magazine poll, believed the government had started the fire, a matter of grave concern. Instead of seeking the truth, he set out to calm the citizenry. “When 61% of the people believe that the government fails to ensure life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also intentionally murders people by fire, the existence of public consent, the very basis of government, is imperiled.”

Only one man was criminally charged by Danforth: William Johnston, a former assistant US attorney in Waco who helped draw up the original warrant and was one of the lead prosecutors in the San Antonio trial. He was indicted on five felony counts and threatened with 21 months in jail.

Apparently, Johnston’s real “crime” had been to allow filmmakers into an evidence locker, where they discovered pyrotechnic rounds mislabeled as “silencers.” Later, he came forward and admitted he’d lied by saying no pyrotechnic rounds had been fired into Mount Carmel. Johnston quietly worked out a plea-bargain agreement that resulted in no jail time.

The ATF fired Charles Sarabyn and Phillip Chojnacki, two of the raid’s commanders. But when the agents threatened to sue, they were reinstated with back pay. ATF director Stephen Higgins was eventually forced to resign, and Deputy Director Daniel Hartnett and two other ranking ATF officials were temporarily suspended. However, one of them, ATF intelligence chief David Troy, was later promoted.

The internet was flooded by contradictory statement about the massacre, and the survivors have split into camps. The cover-up continues, and some websites are undoubtedly counterintelligence operations designed to confuse and divide, like chaff and flares dropped from a jet with a heat-seeking missile on its tail.

The most frightening development, the militarization of the police, has grown exponentially, as have the ranks of the government assassins.

The Second Anniversary

In 1995, a highly decorated veteran of the Gulf War named Timothy McVeigh (who was videotaped two years earlier as a spectator at Waco) became the designated fall-guy for the bombing of a nine-story federal building in Oklahoma City, a bombing staged on the two-year anniversary of the Waco tragedy.

One third of the Alfred E. Murrah building was destroyed and 168 were killed, including 19 children and two pregnant women. Most victims were crushed by falling debris. Thus the legacy of Ruby Ridge and Waco was captured through the greatest act of domestic terrorism on American soil, an event that shocked America and took most of the wind out of the sails of a growing militia movement. In other words, this event had the opposite effect of the FBI’s burning of Mount Carmel.

Andreas Strassmir.

McVeigh had been living at Elohim City, a right-wing religious compound and militia training camp where he’d met Andreas Strassmir, head of security. Strassmir’s grandfather had been one of the founders of the Nazi Party while his father had been chief-of-staff to German chancellor Helmet Kohl. He allegedly left the German army after four years in order to move to the USA to work for the DEA using his father’s CIA connections, but ended up at a remote white separatist cult in Oklahoma, where he became known for agitating for “blowing up a federal building,” according to ATF confidential informant Carol Howe, who had penetrated the cult. Although the plot involved a number of people, most of them disappeared from the official narrative, with the exception of McVeigh and his closest associates.

Strassmir, meanwhile, immediately fled back to safety in Germany after the bombing and remained hidden from public view while McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001. McVeigh could have been a spook working some deep-cover assignment involving hypnosis as well as wearing a biometric chip who got played like Oswald. He was so cool at his execution, I had to wonder if he was convinced the execution was going to be faked and he should act dead for the press until they were ready to relocate him into witness protection.

It’s somewhat suspicious McVeigh had zero statements 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 one can get.

Rollie Rohm and Tom Crosslan.

On September 3, 2001, two cannabis activists would be assassinated by government snipers in Michigan. They planned a Waco-like siege so they could spread the real story of hemp legalization while exposing the brutal oppression they had been subjected to just for being activists for legalization. Their young son had already been taken away by the state, and the state was coming next for all their property and assets. Cornered in this way, they took up arms to make a last stand, but were killed quick before they knew what hit them, and long before any media could catch on to the real crime. Just as many bodies at Waco were mutilated, so was the body of Rollie Rohm, castrated while still alive, his assassins standing over him gloating while he bled out. It’s just something assassins like to do once in a while.

A few days later some planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York City and all mention of the two killings at Rainbow Farm disappeared like a snow devil in a winter storm, their misguided but brave attempt to recapture the legacy of Waco a failure.


Psycho Cop

Highway B.

On September 16, 1986, a self-employed building contractor traveling east on Highway B, a two-lane road linking Plain and Sauk City, Wisconsin, accelerated to pass a pickup truck. Normally, he would not have paid attention to a pile of plants in the bed of a truck, but this was two days after President Reagan’s nationally televised address launching a new war on drugs, and the plants looked like marijuana. Even more suspicious, the truck had out-of-state plates. So the civic-minded contractor decided not to pass the truck, but followed it five miles into Sauk City, intending to follow the vehicle home and report the address to the police.

Entrance to Derleth Park, where 34 marijuana plants were found.

Halfway through town, however, the driver of the pickup realized he was being followed and turned onto a dead-end street leading into August Derleth Park, driving to an isolated parking lot near the banks of the Wisconsin River.

Rather than follow the pickup into the park, the contractor spun his car around and drove two blocks to the Sauk City Police Department. He raced downstairs and confronted Betty Neumeyer, the dispatcher.

“I just followed a truck carrying marijuana into town!” he said excitedly. “He drove into Derleth Park. It’s a white Ford pickup with Texas plates. The driver is wearing a cowboy hat.”

Neumeyer picked up her microphone and called Officer 63, the only policeman on duty. She tried three times to reach him, but received no reply. Conservation Warden John Buss happened to be standing at the xerox machine, overheard the conversation, and realized Neumeyer was having trouble locating a squad car.

“Betty,” said Buss. “I don’t have a firearm and I don’t have my credentials, but I can drive down to the park and maintain radio contact. I won’t stop the guy, but I’ll watch him for you.”

“I’d appreciate that,” said Neumeyer.

Buss ran upstairs, hopped into his truck and drove toward the park entrance. As he turned the corner, Buss spotted a white Ford pickup with Texas plates traveling toward him in the opposite direction. The pickup swerved around Buss and made a left turn on Water Street. The driver looked to be in his late forties, a typical good ole boy in a cowboy hat.

Buss radioed Neumeyer. “I’m following a vehicle matching the description,” he said. “The tailgate is down and there appears to be a green leafy substance in the back….suspect is turning right on Washington Street….”

A few minutes later, Officer John Mueller, age 40, returned to this squad car and was notified a white Ford pickup believed to be containing controlled substances was parked in a driveway at the corner of Oak and Ash streets.

Mueller started his engine and headed across town. His day usually consisted of issuing warnings for minor violations or refereeing family squabbles. Drugs were a more dangerous matter. He popped another piece of gum into his mouth and chewed furiously.

Mueller was considered a model officer, professional, polite, well-groomed, affectionately dubbed “John Boy” by local tavern owner Jeff Lawson on account of his youthful appearance. But on September 16th, Mueller was uncharacteristically haggard,  his normally greased and combed hair unkept. His uniform, normally starched and spotless, was dirty and wrinkled. Mueller was planning on getting married in a few months and the sudden change might be explained by the proximity of the event, at least that’s what some people thought.

The truth, however, was more bizarre. Mueller thought he was engaged in a top-secret mission for the Federal Government, a mission so sensitive not even the Federal Government knew of its existence because Mueller’s directives came direct from the White House.

He was admittedly a bit foggy on the exact nature of the current assignment as messages were delivered in code, sometimes in newspaper headlines, sometimes during incidental meetings on the street with strangers. The messages were often difficult to decipher and their intensity had been mounting since Sunday night…the night Mueller watched President Reagan’s speech…the night Mueller stopped taking his Thorazine because the commander-in-chief told him drugs were evil.

Hopefully, it would not be long before Mueller learned more details concerning his current mission. Meanwhile, his snub-nosed .357-caliber Magnum revolver was loaded and close by his side.

After following the pickup to the driveway, Warden Buss, age 26, executed a U-turn and parked nearby. The individual with the cowboy hat knew he was being watched because rather than get out of the truck, he stayed scrunched down in the front seat, occasionally peering over his shoulder at Buss.

Wisconsin River.

Buss was a relative newcomer in town. In 1982, after graduating from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in biology and environmental law enforcement, he’d become a State Conservation Warden assigned to the Sauk City area in October 1985. Buss was a devoted outdoorsman with a wife, kids, and a pair of pedigree hunting dogs. His number one concern at the moment was the apprehension of midnight dumpers who were polluting the nearby lakes and rivers. He’d never been involved in a drug bust before.

In a statement given at the Sauk City Police Department that day, Buss described the arrival of Officer Mueller at the scene:

When John arrived, I advised him to look over his right shoulder at the pickup truck. I advised him I was unarmed, did not have my credentials, but I’d stay and backup. John turned on his squad lights and parked behind the pickup. I got out, walked over to him, and explained the whole scenario. John got out and approached the truck. I stood to the left behind him. John opened the door and asked for identification.

“What for?” said the individual.

“Get out of the truck,” said John.

The individual swung his body around placing his feet on the running board and said, “This is as far as I go.”

John grabbed his arm and started wrestling him out of the truck. I came over and grabbed the guy’s left arm.

John slammed the guy to the cement, and I was pulled down with him, like hanging onto a rope.

I mean, BOOM!, we went down. There was really no need for that because the guy wasn’t really resisting to the point of fighting. John pulled out his handcuffs and put them on one wrist. I put them on the other.

“Relax,” I told the guy, “I’m a State Conservation Warden.”

I searched him for weapons, pulled out a pocket knife and wallet, and tossed them back at John. John was saying a bunch of stuff. I don’t remember what, but it was like he was talking to someone else. Then John walked back to his car. The guy started to roll over on one side. “Just lay there and hang tight,” I told him.

I walked behind the truck and found some green leafy substance in the back. I was looking at some seeds when John came up.

“John,” I said, “do you have any evidence bags to put this in?”

“Don’t worry about it,” said John. “This is resisting a Federal Agent.”

He was talking slowly, chewing his gum overly hard, and staring at the truck as if he could eat a hole right through to the pavement. It went through my mind that maybe John was working with the Feds somehow. I just kept picking up leaves and seeds. John walked over to where the individual was lying on his belly in handcuffs.

I heard a shot, looked up and saw John shoot the guy in the back of the head a second time. I saw orangish muzzle flash coming from his gun. John was standing upright, holding his gun with both hands.

John turned around, looked at me with real starry eyes, and started marching toward me, as if he was in front of a drill instructor. He was holding the gun at a 45-degree angle. He stopped about three feet away, with the gun pointed at my belt.

“John,” I said, “You’re not going to shoot me, are ya?”

I was going to take off running because the guy was lying down on his stomach and John shot the fucker…I’m sorry…the individual….in the back of the head. But there was no place to run.

John was looking right through me. “Don’t…worry,” he said. “This….is…resisting….a….Federal….Agent….”

I figured I was going to get it. I mean, I was scared. I wanted to disappear, just disappear. John holstered his gun, walked back to his squad car, and got inside. I looked at the guy on the ground and saw a lot of blood. The body was quivering. I knew he was dead or mortally wounded.

I don’t know if I ran, walked, flew, or what, but I went back to my truck, got in and backed down the road. When I felt I was far enough away, I stopped and opened the door. This might sound crazy, but I had a shotgun loaded with buckshot in the truck and I thought, if John comes down I road I’m going to have to kill him.

I tried to call in, but John got on the radio before me, so Betty told me to stand by. Basically, John said he had a 10-42, which means end of duty, although we sometimes use it to mean a traffic fatality, instead of saying over the radio that someone is dead. He requested an ambulance.

Finally, I got on the radio and said, “We got a 10-33, we need officers. Get one and two down here,” meaning the sheriff and chief deputy. At the same time I made a few notes.

John got out of his car, walked up to the body, and took off the handcuffs. I think he felt I’d left. He was looking around, but he never made eye contact with me. Then he marched into the middle of the road. People were coming out of their houses, gathering around.

John stopped in the middle of the street and started directing traffic like a Milwaukee police officer, real rigid.

But there wasn’t any traffic.

The deceased in his driveway.

The twin cities of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac are nestled around the bend of the Wisconsin River about 150 miles northwest of Chicago. The towns have a combined population of 54,000, and share a school district, sewer system, weekly newspaper, and police force. Despite their closeness, they maintain separate identities: Sauk City was settled primarily by Germans, while Prairie du Sac was settled by English. The nearest major city, Madison, is 25 miles to the southeast.

Battle of Bad Axe.

Sauk City has a rich past. On July 21, 1832, Black Hawk and 50 braves fought a holding action against 1,000 government troops in a forest south of town. The lopsided battle succeeded in giving the Sauk women and children time to cross the Wisconsin River to safety. Unfortunately, the tribe was massacred 12 days later at the Battle of Bad Axe.

After the natives were disposed of, the white settlers moved in, led by Count Augustin Hrzstzy, who founded a vineyard nearby. His vines continue to produce today even though the Count left abruptly, moving to Napa Valley, where he founded the California wine industry.

“Many Germans who came here were members of the Frei Gemeinde,” says Tracy Madison, editor of the weekly Sauk Prairie Star. “They were local intellectuals, very cultured and well-read.”

A larger, less progressive contingent of German settlers moved into the state and formed the Wisconsin Synod, an ultra conservative wing of the Lutheran Church. It was in this tradition John Mueller was raised, the second of seven children.

John Mueller at the trial.

Mueller was born in Jefferson, a town similar to Sauk City but located halfway between Madison and Milwaukee. His father changed careers several times, working as a security guard, mortician, postal clerk, and finally food store manager. In 1964, Mueller graduated in the middle of his class at Lakeside Lutheran High School, where he was a member of the school band. On the surface, Mueller seemed a typical teenager. He worked a paper route, collected stamps and restored old cars. There was, however, something odd about the boy. “John was a good kid, but always just a little bit different,” says Harry Minshall, owner of the funeral home where Mueller’s father had been employed.

Upon graduation, Mueller enlisted in the air force. He was granted high-security clearance, became a communications officer, and was posted in both Japan and Thailand. Mueller refuses to discuss his work for the air force, except to say that he was a radio technician involved in top-secret matters. Immediately after leaving the service, he was hired by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Created by President Harry Truman in 1951, the NSA was the most powerful intelligence agency, larger than the CIA,  but its very existence was considered classified and not revealed until 1975 in a Congressional investigation.

Most of the public never learned about the agency until 1983, when James Bamford published The Puzzle Palace, which is likely the official cover story parading as an expose.


Located inside Fort Meade, halfway between Washington and Baltimore, the NSA HQ is the Taj Mahal of eavesdropping “almost the size of the CIA’s Langley with the United States Capitol sitting on top. In 1978, the agency controlled 68,203 people, more than all the employees of the other intelligence community put together….no law had ever been enacted prohibiting the NSA from engaging in any activity,” according to Bamford.

The NSA was a secret agency with a license to wiretap anyone. Long before computers and smart phones, the agency’s capacity for electronic surveillance on virtually anyone was staggering.

The agency always had a special interest in the civil rights and anti-war movements, which overlapped considerably. In 1971, President Richard Nixon sought NSA assistance to dismantle the counterculture through a nationwide data base for drug users. Many years later, the NSA claimed to have shut down that project after only two years.

In 1969, at the close of his second tour of duty, Mueller called his parents and informed them he was going to England for a three-year tour. They assumed he was still in the service, but he wasn’t. Mueller’s work in England was sensitive and he couldn’t tell his parents the truth. He relocated to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 80 miles west of London, and purchased a red MGB sports car.

Like many servicemen during the waning years of the Vietnam War, Mueller had difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Within a matter of months, he was displaying signs of a mental breakdown that seems to have been precipitated by an unhappy love affair.

A nurse who interviewed him later wrote: “John talked about the girl with whom he was serious. He appeared to have many feelings, some of resentment, but could not express them. It was shortly after John wrote her a letter and got no reply that he smashed up his car while drinking.”

After wrecking the car, Mueller returned to his apartment, went into a frenzy, and smashed everything in sight. He was hospitalized and lost his job. Three weeks later he was discharged with a prescription for Stelazine, an antipsychotic.

In September 1970, Mueller boarded a plane and returned to his parents’ house in Jefferson, where his mental health continued to deteriorate. Despite his problems, Mueller made a sudden, unexpected move one week after coming home: He married a woman five years his junior. At the time, the family knew something was wrong, but kept silent.

Mueller found a job working for the Jefferson Well Drilling Company and seemed determined to lead a normal, domestic life. The plan failed.

On the night of June 30th, after much encouragement from his family and his wife, Mueller admitted himself into the Madison Veteran’s Administration Hospital. According to a psychiatrist’s report: “Several family sessions were held and it came out John thought he had murdered a prostitute while in England. The accuracy of this statement was not confirmed, but John continued to believe he had committed such an act. He told his minister that he knew he would never be forgiven for anything he had done, and would never accept the minister’s reassurances that he would be forgiven.” The diagnosis? Acute paranoid schizophrenia.

On August 5th, Mueller was discharged on a daily dose of 800mg. of thioridazine (the maximum allowable dosage), combined with 200mg. of Thorazine. (In other words, enough tranquilizer to turn the average human into a lead-footed zombie.)

Six months later, Mueller was hired as a law enforcement officer, working for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. The following year, his wife gave birth to a boy. Mueller was not present for the birth, however, having been recently admitted to the veteran’s hospital, where he remained for four months. Hospital records made pubic during the trial contained the following summary:

“After exhibiting several days of agitated schizophrenic behavior, including gouging his eyes superficially with a pencil, (Mueller) tended to gradually improve his behavior….Although we had some hesitation about his return to police work, and are hopeful that he will begin to consider other less threatening work options, we discharged him to outpatient treatment, to be followed weekly by psychology and social work service. He was to continue his medications, Thorazine 50mg. four times daily.”

The Sheriff of Jefferson County wanted to keep Mueller on the force on a part-time basis working jail duty. However, Mueller grew dissatisfied with this arrangement and quit.

Hopes that Mueller might regain his mental health received a severe setback in 1974, when he discovered his three-year-old son Danny was suffering from reticuloendotheliosis, a rare blood disease. Mueller had difficulty accepting his son’s illness, eventually concluding it was God’s punishment for his own sins. In March, Mueller suffered another breakdown and was taken to the hospital, where he exhibited inappropriate behavior (smiling while discussing his son’s illness and boasting of earning $100,000 a year as a salesman).

Strange enough, after being discharged, Mueller was hired as police chief of Mazonanie, a small town south of Sauk City with a reputation as the local “Dodge City.” He held that position for four years and remained emotionally stable, despite his son’s death in 1975.

In 1978, a daughter Paula was born. Mueller and his wife met with their pediatrician, Dr. Dvorak, and discussed Danny’s death in detail for the first time. Although Dvorak wasn’t sure of the cause of death, he admitted that valban, cortisone and cobalt treatments may have been a contributing factor.

According to Mueller’s wife, the statement had a lasting effect on Mueller, leading him to believe his son had been killed by drug treatments.

Later that year, after a dispute with the town board (a board Mueller would later accuse of being involved with drugs), he was fired. Mueller went to a junior college for a period and attended a training session in Texas in hopes of buying into a job-motivational teaching franchise.

The night he returned, his wife jokingly spoke of getting a divorce. Mueller was unable to sleep and had a number of crying spells. His wife called the hospital and Mueller’s doctor recommended an additional 25mg. of chlorpromazine, which allowed Mueller to sleep.

The following night, however, Mueller was unable to sleep even with the additional medication. Several times during the night, he hallucinated blood on his wife’s arm and leg, and was unable to stop thinking about his son’s death. On July 9th, he was driven to the hospital and remained under observation for six days.

“We felt John’s calm appearance and behavior represented his attempt to control with rigidity his fragmented thinking,” wrote the attending doctor. “With his observing ego, he was probably acutely aware of this fragmentation and wanted to appear normal. As he had been maintained on chlorpromazine as an outpatient, we attempted to control him by increasing doses. However, on the second hospital day he acutely decompensated, because acutely agitated, disorganized, and paranoid, with blocking and required tranquilization with I.M. and seclusion.”

After his release, Mueller went through a succession of menial, dead-end jobs. His wife insisted they separate and remained apart until their divorce became final in 1983. At the divorce proceeding, Mueller’s wife suggested a program of “mental health consultation” be established, a suggestion that went ignored.

Mueller’s violent tendencies surfaced several times during his visits to the hospital. On January 1, 1982, he escaped while undergoing treatment and wound up in a “scuffle” with a stranger in a city building. The stranger later dropped the charges after discovering Mueller was a mental patient. The next morning, Mueller refused medication and attempted to leave the ward without permission. He was stopped by a nurse smoking a cigarette.

“What’s that smell?” he said. “That’s cyanide. Put it out.”

Mueller grabbed the cigarette and tried to put it out on the nurse’s arm. After “Code Orange” was called, he was removed to the quiet room.

“It is God’s will that I go in there?” he asked repeatedly. “I want to see God’s will. I’ll go into the quiet room, but its against my will.”

Mueller continued to refuse medication, stalked around the room, and constantly looked over his shoulder as if someone was sneaking up on him.

The next day, Dr. John H. Greist, the psychiatrist who wrote the most probing and detailed analysis of Mueller, visited the quiet room. According to his notes that became available during the trial, Greist:

“Entered seclusion room at 11:41 am with Mrs. Keepman while Mr. Mueller was asleep. He appeared to be asleep. When awakened, he attempted to sit up, then lay down again. I asked to feel his pulse and he quickly rose and moved back against the window, pointed at me and said something about ‘Satan.’ He appeared frightened, was staggering, and moved toward the door, grasping, but not hurting, Mrs. Keepman. We gradually moved him to return to his mattress after considerable persuasion.”

Downtown Sauk City.

In the spring of 1983, Mueller’s brother, Wayne, was working for a car dealership in Sauk City, and noticed an announcement in the Sauk City Star for a police officer. He sent the paper to his brother and suggested he apply for the job. Mueller passed the oral exam with flying colors and was sent to the Madison Area Technical College Police Academy, where he also excelled. He was chosen to give the class valedictory speech, which was later described as being “carefree.”

Thanksgiving was frequently an upsetting holiday for Mueller, and shortly after assuming his duties with the Sauk City police force (the weekend before Thanksgiving), Wayne noticed his brother was having problems sleeping again. A restraining order had just been placed on Mueller limiting visits with his daughter.

“John talked slow, in left field, cooked supper, which was cold, was drinking more beer than usual, and wanted me to leave the apartment to see a friend even though my family was there,” recalls Wayne. Later that night Mueller’s landlord informed Wayne that his brother had been up the past two nights pacing the floor. Wayne visited his brother, who claimed to be upset about over his recent divorce. John also objected to his daughter being allowed to listen to rock music, which he described as being “really evil.”

Wayne went home, but had to return after a late-night phone call. This sequence was repeated a second time, and Wayne drove his brother to the hospital. He returned home at 5:30 am, and received yet another phone call. “I should watch out if I were you,” said John, “because they are out to get me.” Wayne asked who “they” were, but received no reply.

Later that week, when Wayne visited his brother in the hospital, John informed him that he needed “to go to Washington, DC, to meet with the generals in the Pentagon to solve the world’s problems.” Wayne told a psychologist his brother went into a trancelike state, babbling words that were recognizable but didn’t fit together to make sense, and then said, ‘the Holy Ghost has just spoken, believe it.'”

Eagle Inn.

Although Mueller managed to hide his mental illness from most people, he had a harder time fooling women than men. At his favorite hangout, the Eagle Inn, where he ate most of his meals, the younger waitresses were certainly wary of him. Mueller asked a few for their phone numbers, but they refused. Mueller followed one of them home in his squad car, and she got so flustered that she fell and twisted her ankle.

However, there was one woman who was not afraid of Mueller: Patsy Murphy. An attractive divorcee with two children age 8 and 11, Murphy had already been through one bad marriage plagued by alcohol and violence. As far as she was concerned, Mueller was a dream date who showered her with attention, sent her romantic letters, and behaved with impeccable manners. Even more important, he was a quiet man willing to listen thoughtfully to her many problems.

In August 1986, Mueller and Murphy visited the Wisconsin Dells. Within a month, they were engaged to be married. Mueller found a house in Prairie du Sac he wanted to buy. He needed money and became interested in starting a photography business as a side hustle.

On September 10th Mueller visited a local attorney to seek advice on filing a suit against a woman who had accused him of molesting girls while on duty. The following day, he called his brother Lynn and asked him to come over and look at a house he wanted to buy. Lynn felt his brother was having trouble focussing his thoughts and asked what was wrong. Mueller replied: “There’s lots of pressure, a lot going on.”

On September 14th Mueller got off work at 7 pm, and drove straight to Murphy’s house. For several days he’d been looking forward to seeing the President’s speech concerning the war on drugs. Still dressed in his uniform, Mueller sat rigidly in front of the television, staring intently at the screen, saying nothing until the speech was over. After dinner, he drove home and threw all the alcohol in his apartment away. The President had told him drinking was evil, and Mueller always obeyed his President. He also decided not to take his medication. Without a tranquilizer, however, Mueller was unable to sleep. He spent the night pacing the floor, listening to a cassette tape titled “How to Relax” by Norman Vincent Peale.

The following day, Mueller and his fiancee had a meeting with Mueller’s pastor concerning their upcoming wedding. Murphy, a Catholic, was planning to convert to the Lutheran faith. Mueller arrived at Murphy’s house looking unkempt and frazzled. He explained his unusual appearance by saying he’d “been up all night with diarrhea.” Murphy offered him some coffee, but he requested water. “Well, you know where the water is,” said Murphy. Mueller then changed his mind and asked for coffee.

While driving to the church, Murphy admitted she was nervous. Mueller uncharacteristically walked ahead of her into the church.

During the meeting, Mueller seemed preoccupied with minor matters, while Murphy tried to plan the details of the ceremony. The pastor asked if Murphy was aware of Mueller’s background. Murphy confessed she knew very little about her prospective husband. At this point, Mueller became agitated and asked to leave the room. While he was gone, the pastor told Murphy about Mueller’s mental problems. Mueller abruptly entered the room and stated it was time to leave.

The couple drove to Mueller’s apartment, which was, atypically, in a state of disarray. A bottle of pills from the Veterans Administration Hospital was on the table. “What are these for?” asked Murphy, picking up the bottle.

“You know, for a chemical imbalance caused by my drinking problem,” said Mueller evasively, while leading her into the living room.

“What do you want to tell me?” asked Mueller.

“I don’t think much of your pastor,” said Murphy.

Mueller began to cry. “If he’s going to get personal, I don’t ever want to go back to that church.”

Later that night, Mueller arrived at the Eagle Inn for dinner and discovered the booths were full. He took a seat at the counter and ordered the daily special. Les Tesch, the owner of a local gardening store, sat behind him.

“I always had a lot of respect for John,” says Tesch. “I felt he was the most sensible, down-to-earth officer on the force. We got into a discussion while he was waiting for his food. I told him I was 100% behind Reagan. I don’t think we have room in our society for people who take drugs. I told him they should get capital punishment. They should be blown away. John didn’t say anything. He just nodded his head.”

That night Mueller was unable to sleep and paced the floor continuously. At 8:30 am he arrived at Murphy’s house for breakfast looking wild and glassy-eyed. His hair was uncombed, he couldn’t sit still, and he swore repeatedly. “He’s been caught with his pants down in the squad car,” he said of one of his fellow officers. Mueller’s hands were shaking. He ate a slice of toast with peanut butter, got up to leave, kissed Murphy, and left a smear of peanut butter on her face.

Later that night, he called Murphy at work and spoke in a slow, robotic voice. “Is this Patricia or Peaches,” he asked. “What are you doing? Don’t ask me any questions. I’ll do the asking. You tell me the whole story. Tell me what you did. I know it’s been bothering you for a long time.”

“What’s the matter? asked Murphy. “Give me a hint.”

“You know,” replied Mueller.

“Stop it,” said Murphy breaking into tears. “You’re scaring me.”

“Keep it warm, keep it real warm just for me,” said Mueller. “I’m hanging up now. I’ll be here until two. You can tell me the whole story. Bye-bye.”

Murphy knew something was seriously wrong and called Mueller’s pastor. The pastor called Mueller, but Mueller refused to discuss anything, saying he had to leave for work. Murphy then called Neumeyer at the police station and asked to speak with Chief Rentmeester.

“John sounds really strange,” said Murphy. “I’m afraid something is wrong.”

Neumeyer relayed the message to Rentmeester, who responded by saying Mueller had been quietly lately, but that he was always quiet.

A few hours later, Mueller unholstered his .357 and pumped two rounds into the back of John Graham’s head. Fired at point-blank range, one of the bullets entered on the left side of Graham’s neck, creating fractures in and around the second and third cervical vertebrae and damaging the spinal chord before exiting on the right side of the neck. The second entered behind the left eyebrow, caused extensive brain damage, and exited through the right ear. Either shot would have been sufficient to kill.

Det. Sgt. Manny Bolz was the first member of the Sauk Country Sheriff’s Department to arrive at the scene of the shooting. After hearing details of the murder, he arrested Mueller and delivered him to the county jail. Bolz searched the August Derleth parking lot and found 34 marijuana plants in the bushes. He also searched Graham’s toolbox in the truck and found a baggie containing a groomed marijuana bud. Bolz’s case was not against Graham, however, who was dead, but against Mueller, and a search of his home was even more revealing.

The small, second story apartment was filled with religious books and Republican Party propaganda. There were framed photos of Bush and Reagan, a flag folded military style on a chair, a notebook filled with letters addressed to Reagan, and several self-improvement books, including How to Sell Yourself, Write Better, Speak Better, The Miracle of Speech Power, and Professionals at Their Best.

While Mueller’s strange life gradually unfolded during his trial, the unfortunate victim remained something of a mystery. “I didn’t even know John Graham existed,” Chief Rentmeester told James Romenesko of Milwaukee magazine. “Nobody in our department ever had contact with the man, even as much as giving him a warning ticket.”

Unfortunately, Crystal Graham couldn’t provide much insight into why her husband might have been driving a load of marijuana, and continued to insist he did not smoke nor cultivate cannabis. Mrs. Graham portrayed her husband as a genial, laid-back country boy whose only interests were hunting, fishing, and listening to the Statler Brothers. This does not seem strange, however, if one considers Mrs. Graham is a former undercover narcotics officer herself.

“(My husband) would talk to most anyone,” she said. “He couldn’t sit still. Four walls would get to him. He was a collector of anything and everything, and especially if it had something to do with hunting. He loved knives and guns.”

Townhome where the Grahams resided.

Born in Winter Garden, Florida, Graham was the son of migrant workers, and spent most of his youth traveling the country working on farms. He joined the air force and was stationed in San Antonio, where he married Crystal Olson. That same year he obtained a job with the phone company in Orlando, Florida. Crystal, meanwhile, joined the Orlando Police Department.

In 1971, she was given the plum assignment of infiltrating the office of a local chiropractor who was suspected of providing cannabis medication for an extra fee to clients. Crystal enjoyed this sort of clandestine work, She got into the office by answering a help-wanted ad placed by the chiropractor and got the job. For several weeks, she witnessed drug transactions and later became the state’s chief witness at the suspect’s trial.

As a result of her undercover work, Mrs. Graham became the first female officer to win the National Police Officer of the Year award, which is why she bristles at any suggestion her husband was a stoner, despite evidence to the contrary. According to her somewhat farfetched scenario, her unemployed husband was coming home with the marijuana just to show her so he could say something like: “Honey, you ain’t gonna believe this, but this stuff is growing wild. Now just look. I can go down there and cut it, and here it is,” she said.

Four days after the shooting, at the suggestion of his attorneys, Mueller was interviewed by Dr. Greist, who attempted to find out if Mueller was disassociating during the shooting. He asked Mueller to describe what happened on September 16, 1986, beginning at any previous point in time that made sense to him.

Mueller spoke at the incredibly slow rate of ten words per minute.

“I was laid off and initiated looking for work in various aspects of the employment market, and during the months of employment search learned of the Sauk-Prairie Police Department opening.

On April 11, 1984, Deputy Ward, Officer and Mrs. Chileen and I attended a meeting in Milwaukee. Vice President Bush presented an address at this meeting. Christmas, 1984, is a memorable event. The White House received Christmas cards from me. The President and Mrs. Reagan sent me a Christmas card. The Christmas card arrived on or about January 12, 1985. The return address on the Christmas card was the White House. The President and Mrs. Reagan’s congratulations for my support are contained in the Christmas card. Continuing correspondence made many changes.

In September of 1985, I traveled to Washington, DC, for the purpose of sightseeing. The Capitol tour is a highlight of my trip. When I returned to work, I was blessed with much work. Since then, my interest continues with the programs of the President.

My familiarity with all programs is limited. However, I listen intently to the words of the President.

On Tuesday, September 16, Lieutenant Harmon reported to my residence at his convenience. At approximately 1410, Lieutenant Harmon and I proceeded to Lieutenant Harmon’s residence. En route to the lieutenant’s residence, Lieutenant Harmon stated a phrase that was not familiar to me. However, I interpreted the phrase in connection with government action. The phrase was: the wild geese are flying. The meaning has been defined to me as specific commando action.

I never heard that phrase prior to Tuesday, September 16.

Continuing our travels to Lieutenant Harmon’s residence, we met no opposition, that is, we did not receive any calls. When I changed shift, I then proceeded on patrol and was requested to ask the police chief to call the police department. I delivered the message to the police chief and then was requested to assist another officer. Conservation Warden John Buss requested assistance with a vehicle containing controlled substances.

My thoughts were to administer action to prevent illicit controlled substances. At the time, I believed to be serving in my official capacity as a government servant. I believed that a continuing obligation existed and continue to believe this obligation exists. The obligation I believe exists with the specific nature of my duties with the National Security Agency. In 1969 and 1970, I believe a formal obligation existed. Since 1970, I believe the informal obligation still exists.

The shooting cannot be considered a part of my informal obligation. The actions taken at the scene of the controlled substances on Tuesday, September 16, are not a part of the written obligation that exist. The reasoning I use with that is at the present time our nation is plagued with illicit drugs. Everyone is concerned about this devastating enemy is doing what they can do in their own way to eliminate the existence of illicit controlled substances. I believed and still believe that in defense of our country, state and cities, an action that is threatening to harm the people our a nation, a strengthening move must be taken.”

Three days before Oliver North claimed innocence in the Iran-Contra-Cocaine affair on account of righteousness, John Mueller appeared in Circuit Court in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The proceedings did not take long. The prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, and four psychiatrists all agreed Mueller was suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia. Judge James Evenson ordered Mueller taken to the Mendota Mental Health Center in Madison. During the sentencing, Mueller looked passively around the room, an eerie smile fixed on his face. He continued to maintain his innocence, and was quite upset to learn he’d been fired from the Sauk City police force.

For many decades, Mueller’s grasp on reality had been tenuous and he reached for the firmest anchors he could find: God and country. But both let him down.

In a world where most people support the delusion an old man is watching everything they do, how can anyone maintain a sense of reality? It’s a paranoid’s fantasy, yet billions subscribe to it largely because influencers in the media, schools and government support the delusion.

Crystal Graham’s attorneys eventually presented a $2,880,000 lawsuit against the Village of Sauk City.

Mueller was one of the few associated with the case who was eager to talk to me.

“I would like to allow you to make some interviews,” he said over the phone, sounding confident, clear-headed, and effusively polite and gracious. “The condition would be some monetary amount,” he continued. “The amount would be $10,000. Until you meet this condition, I would ask you not to speak to my fiancee or my family.”

“Blessed are those persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Oliver North, Feb.26, 1987

I asked Mueller if he’d been following the scandal unfolding in Washington, the one that blamed the surge of cocaine into North America on a CIA-created army in Central America using Colombian cocaine to fund a war on Communism.

“Oliver North was a man who ordered generals around,” replied Mueller. “it’s strange that my life would be connected with his.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to either of us, Big Pharma was already preparing plans to addict countless millions on recently invented psychoactive substances like Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft and Adderall.

While claiming a war on drugs with one hand, they began drugging the nation with the other.


Moretum & the hidden history of cannabis

Moretum, an early poem by Virgil

A poor farmer named Simylus awakes before dawn and rekindles the embers in his hearth.
Simylus grinds grain and wakes his African slave Scybale to fetch wood for the fire. He makes dough with the flour and kneads a loaf of bread. While he waits for it to bake, he mixes garlic, cheese, coriander seeds, vinegar, and a variety green leafy herbs in a mortar and pestle, and spreads the result on hot bread and consumes it before starting out to plough his field. The poem is most notable for coining the term “e pluribus unus,” a reference to moretum being ready to eat once the various colors and ingredients have merged into a single light-green paste.


Long before humans appeared on earth, tools had already been invented by earlier primates. We don’t know which came first, fire or the mortar and pestle, but it wasn’t until primates discovered both that most of the energy that had been required by the stomach and intestines to process plants could redirect into developing bigger brains. Our distant ancestors in Africa discovered early on that pounding plants, seeds and nuts with stones made both cooking and digestion easier.

The Ebers Papyrus, named for German Egyptologist Georg Ebers, contains the first written description of a mortar and pestle. It dates to 1550 BC, although it likely was copied from much earlier scrolls. Containing 700 medicinal remedies and incantations, the scroll is 20 meters long (approximately 110 pages). Ebers bought the manuscript from Edwin Smith in 1872, and three years later, Ebers published the first translation.

In the 16th Century BC, the Phoenicians were developing their alphabet, the first hymns of the Rig Veda were recorded in Sanskrit, and the Sumerian civilization was eclipsed by Babylon. Sumerians had invented beer, discovered opium (the happy plant), and learned how to make flour by pounding wheat berries. One of their favorite treats was pistachio encrusted dates. A mortar and pestle would have been used to pound the pistachios into powder before dipping the honey-soaked dates.

The Rig Veda describes the making of soma, which was considered the greatest medicine, the “king” of healing plants. There are numerous mentions of “pressing stones” used and the clacking sounds they made. Strangely, virtually no historian seems to realize “pressing stones” is Sanskrit for mortar and pestle.


In the 1920s, some historians began pointing out the obvious: soma was most likely cannabis. In fact, the descriptions of soma match the current recipes for modern bhang, which remains a popular drink in parts of India. Whole kolas, leaves and flowers, are blanched in boiling water and then pounded into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Typically, almonds, spices and hot milk are added, but the ancient recipes often included opium and ephedra.

In the late 1930s, Reefer Madness was launched by the just-created Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and a well-funded campaign to demonize cannabis swept across the world. At the same time, a campaign to misidentify soma as a mushroom was initiated by a vice president of America’s most powerful bank.

Check with Wikipedia today and you won’t find much of anything useful in the description of soma. The academic community refuses to accept the obvious and continues to obscure the real history of cannabis.

Someday this house of cards must fall.


Meanwhile, I encourage everyone to get a mortar and pestle. Pestos are easily made using any nut or seed with any green plant and any spices. Our modern pesto recipe originated in Northern Italy in the 1600s, but for millennia before that it was known as moretum.


Also made in mortars was Manna, the food that saved the Jews from starvation. Manna was just hemp seeds crushed into hempseed flour, which was baked into wafers. I have a separate blog on that subject if you seek further proof and clarification.

Poem attributed to the young Virgil and comprised of 124 hexameter lines and written in the Greek tradition (as in Callimachus’ Hecale and other poems involving meals with gods and people, aka Theoxeny).


Already had the night completed ten
Of winter’s hours, and by his crowing had
The winged sentinel announced the day,
When Symilus the rustic husbandman
Of scanty farm, solicitous about
The coming day’s unpleasant emptiness,
Doth slowly raise the limbs extended on
His pallet low, and doth with anxious hand
Explore the stilly darkness, groping for
The hearth which, being burnt, at length he finds.
I’ th’ burnt-out log a little wood remained,
And ashes hid the glow of embers which
They covered o’er; with lowered face to these
The tilted lamp he places close, and with
A pin the wick in want of moisture out
Doth draw, the feeble flame he rouses up
With frequent puffs of breath. At length, although
With difficulty, having got a light,
He draws away, and shields his light from draughts
With partially encircling hand, and with
A key the doors he opens of the part
Shut off to store his grain, which he surveys.
On th’earth a scanty heap of corn was spread:
From this he for himself doth take as much
As did his measure need to fill it up,
Which ran to close on twice eight pounds in weight
He goes away from here and posts himself
Besides his quern,’ and on a little shelf
Which fixed to it for other uses did
The wall support, he puts his faithful light.
Then from his garment both his arms he frees;
Begirt was he with skin of hairy goat
And with the tail thereof he thoroughly
Doth brush the stones and hopper of the mill.
His hands he then doth summon to the work
And shares it out to each, to serving was
The left directed and the right to th’ toil.
This turns about in tireless circles and
The surface round in rapid motion puts,
And from the rapid thrusting of the stones
The pounded grain is running down. At times
The left relieves its wearied fellow hand,
And interchanges with it turn about.
Thereafter country ditties doth he sing
And solaces his toil with rustic speech,
And meanwhile calls on Scybale to rise.
His solitary housekeeper was she,
Her nationality was African,
And all her figure proves her native land.
Her hair was curly, thick her lips, and dark
Her colour, wide was she across the chest
With hanging breasts, her belly more compressed,
With slender legs and large and spreading foot,
And chaps in lengthy fissures numbed her heels.
He summons her and bids her lay upon
The hearth some logs wherewith to feed the fire,
And boil some chilly water on the flame.
As soon as toil of turning has fulfilled
Its normal end, he with his hand transfers
The copious meal from there into a sieve,
And shakes it. On the grid the refuse stays,
The real corn refined doth sink and by
The holes is filtered. Then immediately
He piles it on a board that’s smooth, and pours
Upon it tepid water, now he brought
Together flour and fluid intermixed,
With hardened hand he turns it o’er and o’er
And having worked the liquid in, the heap
He in the meantime strews with salt, and now
His kneaded work he lifts, and flattens it
With palms of hand to rounded cake, and it
With squares at equal distance pressed doth mark.
From there he takes it to the hearth (ere this
His Scybale had cleaned a fitting place),
And covers it with tiles and heaps the fire
Above. And while Vulcanus, Vesta too,
Perform their parts i’ th’ meantime, Symilus
Is not inactive in the vacant hour,
But other occupation finds himself;
And lest the corn alone may not be found
Acceptable to th’ palate he prepares
Some food which he may add to it. For him
No frame for smoking meat was hung above
The hearth, and backs and sides of bacon cured
With salt were lacking, but a cheese transfixed
By rope of broom through mid-circumference
Was hanging there, an ancient bundle, too,
Of dill together tied. So provident
Our hero makes himself some other wealth.
A garden to the cabin was attached,
Some scanty osiers with the slender rush
And reed perennial defended this;
A scanty space it was, but fertile in
The divers kinds of herbs, and nought to him
Was wanting that a poor man’s use requires;
Sometimes the well-to-do from him so poor
Requested many things. Nor was that work
A model of expense, but one of care:
If ever either rain or festal day
Detained him unemployed within his hut,
If toil of plough by any chance was stopped,
There always was that work of garden plot.
He knew the way to place the various plants,
And out of sight i’ th’ earth to set the seeds,
And how with fitting care to regulate
The neighbouring streams. And here was cabbage, here
Were beets, their foliage extending wide;
And fruitful sorrel, elecampane too
And mallows here were flourishing, and here
Was parsnip,’ leeks indebted to their head
For name, and here as well the poppy cool
And hurtful to the head, and lettuce too,
The pleasing rest at end of noble foods.
[And there the radish sweet doth thrust its points
Well into th’ earth] and there the heavy gourd
Has sunk to earth upon its belly wide.
But this was not the owner’s crop (for who
Than he more straightened is?). The people’s ’twas
And on the stated days a bundle did
He on his shoulder into th’ city bear,
When home he used to come with shoulder light
But pocket heavy, scarcely ever did
He with him bring the city markets’ meat.
The ruddy onion, and a bed of leek
-For cutting, hunger doth for him subdue-,
And cress which screws one’s face with acrid bite,
And endive, and the colewort which recalls
The lagging wish for sexual delights.
On something of the kind reflecting had
He then the garden entered, first when there
With fingers having lightly dug the earth
Away, he garlic roots with fibres thick,
And four of them doth pull; he after that
Desires the parsley’s graceful foliage,
And stiffness-causing rue,’ and, trembling on
Their slender thread, the coriander seeds,
And when he has collected these he comes
And sits him down beside the cheerful fire
And loudly for the mortar asks his wench.
Then singly each o’ th’ garlic heads be strips
From knotty body, and of outer coats
Deprives them, these rejected doth he throw
Away and strews at random on the ground.
The bulb preserved from th’ plant in water doth
He rinse, and throw it into th’ hollow stone.
On these he sprinkles grains of salt, and cheese
Is added, hard from taking up the salt.
Th’ aforesaid herbs he now doth introduce
And with his left hand ‘neath his hairy groin
Supports his garment;’ with his right he first
The reeking garlic with the pestle breaks,
Then everything he equally doth rub
I’ th’ mingled juice. His hand in circles move:
Till by degrees they one by one do lose
Their proper powers, and out of many comes
A single colour, not entirely green
Because the milky fragments this forbid,
Nor showing white as from the milk because
That colour’s altered by so many herbs.
The vapour keen doth oft assail the man’s
Uncovered nostrils, and with face and nose
Retracted doth he curse his early meal;
With back of hand his weeping eyes he oft
Doth wipe, and raging, heaps reviling on
The undeserving smoke. The work advanced:
No longer full of jottings as before,
But steadily the pestle circles smooth
Described. Some drops of olive oil he now
Instils, and pours upon its strength besides
A little of his scanty vinegar,
And mixes once again his handiwork,
And mixed withdraws it: then with fingers twain
Round all the mortar doth he go at last
And into one coherent ball doth bring
The diff’rent portions, that it may the name
And likeness of a finished salad fit.
And Scybale i’ th’ meantime busy too
He lifted out the bread; which, having wiped
His hands, he takes, and having now dispelled,
The fear of hunger, for the day secure,
With pair of leggings Symilus his legs
Encases, and with cap of skin on ‘s head
Beneath the thong-encircled yoke he puts
Th’ obedient bullocks, and upon the fields
He drives, and puts the ploughshare in the ground.